Map of the World

Before you die, what do you want to do?


My answer would be: travel the world. An odd choice for a homebody like myself, I know, but traveling is all I want to do. I have a list of places I’m dying to go, but I’m open to all locations really. I just really want to experience new things.

A lot of my favorite books to read are food memoirs, which almost always involve travel to another culture. I’m so inspired by the authors act of picking up their life and immersing themselves into different languages, different lifestyles and, of course, different foods!


I recently came across a book I’ve wanted to read for years: Maphead by Ken Jennings. I’m not a Jeopardy devotee, so I didn’t really know who Ken Jennings is, but his voice is really nerdy and really fun. Plus, he’s super smart and imparted a lot of his map knowledge on me throughout the book. Some of my favorite tidbits:

-71% of children used to walk or bike to school, now only 22% of kids do. The radius around the home where kids are allowed to play has shrunk to a 9th of what it was in 1970. Kids are just not exploring the way they used to.

-Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is a town in Wales. For reals.

-The Earth tone “real” version of maps sell better than the colorful standard world map.

-Giovanni Cassini surveyed France in the 1670’s and making the topographic map took so long that his grandson was the man who finally finished the project.

-Seoul, South Korea is the most dense city in the world with 17,219 people per square kilometer. That’s twice as dense as Mexico City and 8 times as dense as New York City.

-“It’s the importance of the place to the genre, not just slavish imitation of Tolkien, that explains why today’s fantasy authors still make sure maps are front and center.” Aka: Fantasy geeks like myself loves maps because it allows you to completely immerse yourself into a different world!

-Most of the kids who enter the biggest geography bee in the US are from small towns and want desperately to explore the world. Very few kids from larger cities bother to enter.

-Only around 20% of Americans have a passport.

-The US Interstate Highway System dates back to 1919, when Dwight D. Eisenhower drove a military convoy across the US. The trip took 62 days, lost 9 vehicles and reported 230 accidents. Paved roads ended outside of major cities, turning into mud, dust, ruts and even quicksand. In 1956, he signed the Highway System law, authorizing 41,000 miles of super highways to be built, the greatest peacetime public works projects in history.

Geotagging, Geocaching, it was all so, so interesting. If you’re interested in travel, maps, nerdy stuff… have a read!

Modern Romance

I’m not one of those people who looks fondly back on my “single days”. I wouldn’t wish singledom on my worst enemy.

It still feels pretty weird to me that I’ve been in a relationship with someone for 2 years. For a large portion of my life, I was desperately single and every tryst in romance ended up with my heart being broken by some seemingly impossible/horribly embarrassing situation. Now, I sleep next to the same man every night. We make decisions together. We plan things together. It’s so cool!

I’m also at a weird point in my life where almost everyone I know is also in a serious relationship. We talk about boring things, like how we tried out a new dish, refinished furniture and spent the weekend binge watching The Blacklist. I still my remember my single days vividly, how downright terrible they were, but they make me appreciate John so much more.

One of the night’s John and I were binge-watching Netflix on the couch, we came across the new Aziz Ansari stand up. We LOVE Aziz Ansari and we loved his newest special. It seemed like he’d come a long way, he seemed so much more mature (and how dashing was he in that suit!) and I loved his jokes on modern romance. But I hesitated on buying his book. He’s a great actor and a great comedian, but author? I wasn’t so sure. I also felt like he covered a lot of what would be in the book in his stand up.


Last week wasn’t a great week at work and to make myself feel a little better, I went and bought books. The new Mindy Kaling book had come out and in a last minute grab before the cashier, I threw Aziz into the pile. The cashier probably ended up thinking that I must REALLY love Indian people. 

Needless to say, I spent the entire weekend in bed with Aziz. I could NOT put the book down. He struck the perfect balance between data (I’m a data nerd) and comedy. I literally laughed out loud while reading several times and when I shared those parts with John he did too!  The book was well paced and even though the message was downright depressing at times, you couldn’t wait to read more.

He made some really great points that I have to share:

-Texting as a medium facilitates flakiness and rudeness. I can’t tell you how many times someone has written something rude or canceled plans last second. Also, something was was so infuriating to me: people LIKE when people don’t respond to texts right away. Something about the wait makes you want that person to contact you even more. In my experience, if someone takes hours to respond, or doesn’t respond at all, they probably aren’t worth keeping around.

-Between 2005-2012, more than 1/3 of couples who got married met through an online dating site. I’ve been pretty open about my time on, but apparently people are still really private about this because they view it as embarrassing or desperate. This makes me so, so sad. I have friends and family members who are single and HATE being single, but view online dating as a last resort still. I’m sorry, but the only places go to regularly are yoga classes, work, and the grocery store. That is SO few people. Our worlds are small, the internet is huge. 12857432-This brings me to my next topic: I did online dating all wrong. I chose what I thought I wanted, which is not what I currently have. I set my preferred age range to 10 years older (John is 11 years older), no kids (John has 3), and preferably brunette (he’s a redhead who is going grey). John had his profile to exclude all non-drinkers, because he considered all non-drinkers to be super religious at the time. Thank goodness we met at work! (In 2010, 10% of couples met at work)

-Even though I don’t trust Tinder and Grindr to be anything more that what they claim to be, Aziz seemed to be a big proponent and said he knows a handful of couples that created lasting relationships from Tinder. Are you single? Are you on Tinder? I’d love to pick your brain!

-He’s also a really big proponent of fun dates, especially for the first date. A lot of people are so jaded in dating that they only do the “let’s get coffee/drinks” date, which is a flub from the get-go. Once you run through the same bunch of questions, you’re left holding a lukewarm coffee and feeling pretty bored. My favorite date ever (this was years and years ago) was a surprise concert in the middle of nowhere. The same guy also took me to a drive in movie. We never did a “typical” date and it ended up being such a fun summer!

-I went to high school when phones started to have decent cameras (flip phones, remember Razors and Sidekicks?)… which means only one thing: sexting. Sexting was THE thing and wasn’t considered a very big deal. I can’t even imagine what it’s like now! The rates of sexting are still increasing and people in relationships sext just as much a single people. Interestingly enough: people with iPhones are twice as likely to sext than people with Androids. jpansari-articleLarge

-Then there’s ending a relationship. In a 2014 survey of almost 3,000 18-to-30-year-olds, 56% said they broke up with someone over digital media. 88% of people admit to looking at their ex’s Facebook page after a breakup

-All relationships are split between passionate love and compassionate love stages. Passionate usually last 12-18 months and your brain releases high levels of dopamine, similar to doing cocaine. After this manic phase ends, compassionate love takes over and grows over time. It’s calming, stable and more trusting. Can you guess which one I prefer?

-In Philadelphia in 1932, 1/3 of couples married someone who lived within a 5 block radius of them and the average age of marriage was 20 for women and 23 for men. In 1960, 68% of US citizens in their 20’s were married, but in 2008, only 26% of 20-somethings were married. Now, the average age of marriage for women is 27 for women and 29 for men. And in cities, the average age for marriage is around 30 for both sexes. As a society, we are waiting longer to get married, or deciding not to get married at all.

And some weird statistics from other countries:

-In 2013, 45% of Japanese women aged 16-24 where not interested in or despised sexual contact

-In the US, 20-40% of men and 25% of women in a marriage will have at least one extramarital affair, but 84% said cheating was “morally unacceptable”. In France, 55% of men and 32% of women (the most in the world) will have at least one extramarital affair. The percentage of French that find affairs morally unacceptable? 47%.

-1/3 of Japanese people under age 30 have never dated and in a survey of 35-39 year olds, more than 25% had never had sex

-Japan’s birth rate ranks 222 out of 224 countries. As he says, “Japanese people are legitimately worried about running out of Japanese people.”

Is this all super fascinating just to me? My guess is no. The world of dating and relationships is so awful and complicated and difficult and exhausting. We need as much help as we can get. And at least Aziz can make us laugh even though we really just want to cry.

Please, buy this book. Read it. Tell your friends about it. It’s awesome.

Things Are A-Changing

Photo on 9-7-15 at 8.15 PM #2I’m not all that great at change and the past year has chock full of life changes. Of course change is normal. And a lot of things in my life that have changed are perfectly normal, but are just more difficult for me. The last couple of weeks were full of big decisions, the kids going back after spending the summer in Seattle, and the weather taking a sudden turn from a hot summer to a blustery and chilly fall.

Labor Day weekend was supposed to be John and I’s relaxed weekend where we planned to sit in front of the TV and not move for three days. Of course, we did much more than that, especially when he decided to refinish a huge stereo console as a fun project, but I tried my hardest to just absorb being BORED. And it felt so nice! I could’ve used a week more honestly.

The past few weeks I’ve felt a bit paralyzed by all the change. I keep telling myself I’m going to do this and do that, but end up just going to bed early or zoning out in front of the TV. The weather getting darker sooner has definitely contributed to this, because all I want to do is curl up in bed when it’s storming outside. But I’ve told myself that I’m going to jumpstart my attitude, starting tomorrow. My goal is to get more done with my days. I need to start going back to yoga classes, plan a trip, get our house ready for Halloween and hunker down on some personal projects. It’s a lot, and thinking about it overwhelms me, but I know it’s necessary to kick myself into gear.

If you have any suggestions for how you jumpstart yourself during a funk, I’d love to hear them!

The Importance of Alone Time

Sometimes I get nervous thinking about just how much alone time I require.

I need a lot of time to reflect, meditate and relax, more than anyone I know.

IMG_4888I’ve recently moved back to Queen Anne, my original Seattle neighborhood. I’m living 1 block away from the apartment I first moved into before real paychecks, before cats, before boyfriends. At that point in my life, I spent all my time absolutely alone. I walked to work alone, I sat mostly alone at work, I went home and cooked alone and watched TV alone, sat in parks alone and explored new places alone.

Some of my memories in that apartment are the most vivid of my entire life. Because I was alone, I was forced to be more aware, to be more present, to take in every detail. I sometimes envy those days of quiet, the girl who could do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted.

My most vivid memory is actually a bad one really. It was a day in January or February and I decided I wanted to go on a run. (I NEVER run). As I was running, it began to hail. And then it began to snow. My lungs were on fire and my legs felt like jelly, and I had to stop, I was in so much pain and so mad at the crazy weather. When I did, I realized just how quiet it was. No one was around me and my hoarse breathing was the loudest sound for blocks. I realized I had never felt so alone. I could’ve been the only person in the world at that moment.


Though I miss those quiet days of my past, I also have to remember just how lonely I was. So lonely that I picked up two cats to add to the mix. That I called my best friend and my mom every. single. day. That sometimes I’d sit in coffee shops, reading or writing, just hoping someone would speak to me. I also have to remember that during these lonely times, just after the snow running day, I decided to try online dating. Though my life was the most calm it has ever been, I was alone and I didn’t like being alone.

As much as I love the people in my life, I don’t want to be around them all the time. In fact, I resent spending a lot of time with someone. In this way, my solitude seems selfish. I wouldn’t disagree that it is. But I also know that being alone and wanting alone time isn’t all that uncommon.


In 2013:

-19% of households consisted of a married couple with kids

-27% of the American population lived alone

-105 million people 18 and older had never been married

As I entered my first relationship, my overwhelming love for another person made me want to spend as much time as possible with that person. He wanted the same thing. For months, we spent almost every waking moment together. I’m not even kidding. It was unhealthy, and we both kind of knew it, but we didn’t want to hurt the other person and we weren’t quite sure what to do with ourselves anyway. We slowly made time for ourselves, and for other people, but it was a painful process and a tough lesson to learn.

It will always be a balance for me, and I may never be able to manage a sweet spot for very long, but I’m always searching for that perfect balance. I know my alone time hurts other people, and it puts large gaps between friend-dates, but I think at the end of the day, they can understand. I love my alone time, but I also need my friend and family and love time in there too!

Pull it Together

If you’ve seen me lately, you know. I’ve let myself go.

I never do my hair, most of my clothes are wrinkled, I hardly wear any makeup and even if I start the morning off with the best intentions and a carefully applied swipe of lipstick, it’s gone by lunchtime. I’ve just stopped caring as much.

In May, I chopped 6 inches off of my hair and no one noticed. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a curtain of long brown hair to flip around and everyone around me couldn’t care less. In some ways, I felt sad and missed my long hair because I thought my mid-length hair made me look plainer. But really, I just didn’t care all that much either.

Summer came early this year, right around my big hair cut. Suddenly, I didn’t see the need in drying my hair, because no one noticed that I painstakingly dried and curled my hair every day. While I was at it, I’m sure no one noticed my skin care routine. Or how filled in my eyebrows are.  Or that my nails were painted. For the most part, I had become completely laid back about my appearance, but not more comfortable in my own skin necessarily. I haven’t felt more beautiful with this new minimal approach, just more lazy.

While I’d love to get to the point where I find myself to be ravishing sans makeup, I’m not quite there. (Though John keeps trying to convince me, I should probably just believe him already) I’m getting closer, but I’m not quite there. The thing is, I love lipstick. I love pretty dresses. I love fashion. These are materialistic things, but they are things I am passionate about. Now that things will be cooling down for the fall, I hope I can get to a place where I am comfortable applying my fashionable sensibilities to a much more toned down morning routine.


All this to say that I recently saw a movie, A Man From U.N.C.L.E. and it was amazing. Funny, smart, fast paced, witty, sexy, and glamorous. I would highly recommend the movie to everyone, but I think the one thing that really stuck with me was the incredible fashion. The film was set in Europe in the 60’s, so everything is vibrant and quirky and sleek. It made me want to step my fashion game up a bit. It also made me want to become a spy… but I’ll work on the fashion thing first!