07 February 2018

Not a New Year's resolution, but you're probably going to call it one anyway.

Husband did the Whole30 for 4 months to reassess his eating habits and felt so much better during that time that he opted to stick with most of the dietary restrictions after the program wrapped.  I wasn't looking for that hard of a reset, but his experience made me want to take a look at what I was eating.  

I decided to cut out what I suspected were my 3 trigger foods for the month of January: sugar, dairy, and grains.  During the week, I only got sugar from fruits and veggies and skipped dairy and grains all together.  I still allowed myself 2 unrestricted meals on the weekends because a date night and a friendship brunch are weekly necessities for my mental well-being.  And dammit, it's the weekend.

The first few days of January, I felt like I was going through withdrawals. I guess I was. Remarkably, I felt less like a living baguette after about a week. Then my skin started clearing up. Then I dropped 5 pounds.  As I started feeling better, the cravings subsided, my mood evened out, and even my anxiety eased up a bit.  Food science is way cool.

Flash forward. This is the first week of February and the first week I started sprinkling in a tiny bit of bread and sugar during the week.  I haven't been missing dairy at all (until I find myself fantasizing about ice cream and cheese). Anyway, this week, my skin basically smacked me in the face.  It was the physical equivalent of my pores screaming, this bitch just doesn't learn!  So, I think I'm back on the wagon.  

I went into high school not realizing I was chubby (#babyfat4dayz) and kind of wished I'd stayed in that oblivious headspace, because once the realization sunk in, I became super restrictive with my diet. My weight dropped, I started getting cast in bigger parts, and I felt more social, which probably led to having more friends.  But, at the time, those were my driving motives, not being healthy.  I eventually found a happier medium, but as adult, I've been cautious about being too cautious.  That said, January's weekday/weekend experiment worked well for me.  And that's really what it's about: figuring out your body, eating well in a way that's sustainable for you, and just feeling better.

Keep on keeping on,

04 February 2018

Good old days.

A Hindu, Muslim, Jehovah's Witness, and atheist walk into a bar.

Actually, we were 13, so it was more like walking to 7-11 for Coke Icees on the regular.  And Mimi's once when we were having a ladies-who-lunch moment. Their corn chowder has yet to be equaled, in my budget foodie opinion.

I have always been attracted to people who were different from me and these were my closest friends through elementary and middle school.  We did theatre together and were in a number of clubs, mainly focused on academics and community service.  We had secret Batman-themed nicknames (I was Catwoman, obviously) for passing notes in class. This was before cell phones, y'all.  We did splinter off at times and would have our own inside jokes—my Indian friend and I used to refer to ourselves as the Indus Valley Girls. I don't think any of the boys--or some of the teachers--got that one, but it made our moms chuckle.  Anyway, even when we would pair off, I don't recall us ever going through a mean girls phase.  We all just really liked each other.  We were consummate over-achievers, which turned out to be our downfall since we all got into different merit-based high schools. But for a solid six, formative years, they were the best friends a gal could hope for. 

Despite our closeness, one quirky thing about the friendship was how infrequently we hung out outside of school. None of us were ever invited to the Jehovah Witness' house, nor was she allowed to visit any of ours.  I always thought of her as my closest friend, yet we never once went to the movies, had a sleepover, or celebrated one another’s birthdays.  It seems strange in retrospect, but it wasn't at the time.  My weekends were spent with my family, many cousins, or the kids of those in my parents' circle of friends. School friends were left at school.

When I went home a few months back, I found a treasure trove of old photos that I’ve only begun sorting. Here's one from the vault:

Embrace the different. Life’s more interesting that way.

Keep on keeping on,

16 January 2018

No, but really.

My beautiful, smart, talented lady friend shared something today about the maddening conversations she's had on the ethnicity vs. nationality front.

It made me think back to growing up and living in California most of my life.  These conversations are so commonplace to many of us who don't appear decidedly white.  One of my best friends from high school is of Jewish and Filipino ancestry and has had Chinese-directed racial slurs yelled at him.  Another good friend from college is straight up Guatemalan, but has definitely been asked about his Jewish heritage.  

My own ethnic ambiguity has been up for debate much less since moving to Washington. Maybe people just keep to themselves more up here, or maybe the Pacific Northwest winters have made me pasty. Either way, you'll hear no complaints from this half-breed introvert.

But, just for chuckles, here are some actual conversations I've had with curious, nosy, and/or entitled strangers:

Imbecile: Are you Hindi?

Me: That's a language.
Imbecile: Are you Islam?
Me: That's a religion.
Imbecile: Are you Mexican?
Me: The odds are in your favor given my perpetual tan and that Latinos out-number white people in California, but nope.

Imbecile: So, where are you from?
Me: California.
Imbecile: No, but like, where?
Me: Southern California. (Read: I know what you're getting at, but I am in no way obligated to share this information. Plus, I'm really only in this to see how long it takes to get to, "Well, what kind of brown are you?")

Imbecile: But, where is your family from?

Me: My mom is a white chick from California of Northern and Eastern European ancestry. My dad immigrated from Pakistan in the 80's and his parents were from India.
Imbecile: (Triumphant) I knew it!
Me: You mean what I just told you?

Imbecile: So, do you speak Arabic?

Me: No.
Imbecile: But, you're Middle Eastern.
Me: Negative. Pakistan is part of South Asia and they speak Urdu, which written resembles Arabic and Farsi, but spoken sounds like Hindi.
Imbecile: So, like Sanskrit?
Me: No. Namaste.

Okay, maybe I didn't say namaste.

Keep on keeping on,

10 January 2018

Greyt start to the year.

Happy 2018 everyone! We forking make it! Sorry... "The Good Place" is on Netflix. I love Kristen Bell.

Last week, I had a shift at Loxley's former kennel. It's among the very best rescues for greyhounds and greyhound-mixes. If you're looking to adopt and are anywhere near Washington state, you'll find a world of information at Greyhound Pets. We also hold meet-and-greets throughout the year, so come see the pups.

People ask me about Loxley all the time. Maybe I post too many pictures of her, maybe I just don't look antisocial enough on our walks, I don't know. But, here are some things I've learned working with the breed and of course adopting one.

Let's start with the greyt stuff:

+ They're often incredibly, ridiculously affectionate. Just giant cuddle bugs.
+ Greyhounds have 2 settings: on and off. When they're on, they're excited, playful, and running. When they're off, they're cats.
+ They're typically quiet and many don't bark. The howling you sometimes hear when greyhounds get together is called "rooing."
+ They just want to be near you. A bed in every room is the way to go.
+ Loxley is pretty greyt at entertaining herself, given a fair amount of cardboard to chew on, paper to shred, and did I mention, she's a cat?
+ They're very enthusiastic about training, having been bred to be. As long as you know what you're doing and you're willing to put in the work, you can usually count on an eager and focused partner. As a former professional animal trainer (who's worked with a number of mammal species), I can say she's one of the most receptive creatures I've been fortunate enough to train.

And what can be less than greyt:

- I cannot overstate how fragile these dogs are. They're big, but not very sturdy. They have incredibly thin skin, so a little scratch in the yard can bleed a lot. Loxley is pretty young and dopey, and she still hasn't figured out her proportions or turning radius. She's always running into things (greyhounds can run 40+ mph so watch out!). Your owner skills need to be in overdrive because there’s just zero self-preservation instinct.
- They have wacky normals and CBC/chem (blood) levels. Bonus: they often also react poorly to premeds and/or anesthesia. Doses that would be fine for other breeds of comparable size could be fatal to a greyhound. You need to find a vet who’s experienced with greyhounds.
- Separation anxiety is common. Loxley used to roo a lot when we’d leave, but we worked through it by leaving for short periods and then working on duration. And by giving her lots of toys and enrichment while we’re out—mom and dad leaving isn’t scary; it’s playtime!
- Dental disease is common. Plan for $500-1000 dentals at your vet every year.
- This is not a breed that’s going to hang out while you work on your car, like a lab. If they see something interesting, they will run. You need a yard with a high fence. Loxley can clear 4’.
- I think the biggest challenge I see with rehoming retired racers is that people expect too much out of them. Potential owners often think that because they've had race training, they must be house trained. They're not. Most have never had a home outside of a 3x10 kennel. They will need socialization, obedience training, and housebreaking. They can also have the same bed or food related aggression as any other ex-kennel dog. I encourage prospective adopters be patient and have realistic expectations. Remember, no one's perfect in a new situation right off the bat. 

Keep on keeping on,

30 December 2017

And here we are.

I'm a perfectionist by nature and feel like my brain is perpetually on overload trying to suck less/do better, so I've never cared about New Year’s resolutions. But, in 2016, I felt like I really didn't read enough books and figured a quantifiable goal would be helpful. I shot for book a month (which still felt shamefully low given my librarian heritage, but whatever, it was realistic and still plenty more than I had been reading.) I ended up reading 13 books in 2017 and here they are.

Scrappy Little Nobody – I'm a long-time Kendrick fan and her book of theatre kid essays was the perfect way to kick-off the year.

The Descendants – Purchased while I was on Kauai and read in both the right place and headspace.

Why Not Me – Thought Kaling's first book was stronger, but still dug it.
The Handmaid's Tale – Timely, poetic, and resonated with me more than 1984 and Brave New World ever did.

The Bell Jar – Long overdue. I love Plath’s poetry. Don’t know why I held off reading her only novel, but it’s incredible.

The Princess Diarist – Rest in power, Carrie. You were a force to be sure, and such a strong part of my childhood.

Lads Before the Wind – Came highly recommended and doesn’t disappoint if you’re interested in the origins and evolution of marine mammal training.

Lads Before the Wind – Continued…dense, but worth it.
A Wrinkle in Time – Heard about the film coming out next year and decided to reread this childhood fave for funsies.

Ender's Game – Definitely better than the movie. The final chapter really stuck with me, so much so that I tore it out and saved it from the copy that Loxley otherwise obliterated.
The Stand – One of mom’s favorites and, therefore, a solid pick for my introduction to King.

The Stand – Continued…felt like a quick read, but I guess it wasn’t.

The Stand – Finished it, loved it. No plans to dive into King's more horror-laden work, but I’m always down for post-apocalyptic tales of good and evil.
Sense and Sensibility – Liked the character development and storyline more than Pride and PrejudiceMansfield Park next, maybe Emma.

Something Wicked This Way Comes – I’ve read Fahrenheit. Now, I’ve read this. I’m just not into Bradberry.

Slaughterhouse-Five – I didn’t have any expectations, other than that it would be really good. It was better.

A friend asked if I'll up my goal to 14 books in 2018. I don’t think so because it was never a competition. The resolution was meant to be a fun way to jump start the practice and help me be more mindful my time. So, I’m sticking with a book a month. Brownie points for extras and we’ll see how it goes. Happy New Year, all, and whatever your resolutions, be gentle with yourselves.

Keep on keeping on,

23 December 2017

Hibernation mode.

Maybe it's Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or just life in the Pacific Northwest.

Keep on keeping on,

16 August 2017

One year.

It's been a year since I gave up full-time employment in one field to pursue life as a freelance writer in another. And about 6 months since I landed a staff position with one of my top clients during that time.  It's been a big year.  Here are today's musings...

Top 5 things I miss about freelance:
1.  Not wearing a bra most days, and by extension, doing less laundry.
2.  Taking fancy phone meetings in my pajamas with my furry babies at my side.
3.  The sense of control and autonomy, plus the zen of being alone.
4.  Spending very little time in the car.
5.  Seeing Lake Washington from my desk every morning.

Top 5 things I do not miss about freelance:
1.  Rarely being on-set and missing out on the kinesthetic learning and theatre-kid camaraderie.
2.  The unpredictable and elusive paycheck. Also, what are these "benefits" you speak of?
3.  Not really having work friends. Sad face.
4.  Saving for taxes is stupid. Paying a higher percentage (as compared to someone who is employed and earning the same amount) is bullshit.
5.  I'm supposed to find my own projects and clients?!

Keep on keeping on,

19 June 2017


May was a good month for this wanderer.

I spent half the month in Europe on a belated honeymoon with the hubs. Four cities, two countries. It was my first time visiting Europe in a decade and our longest trip in the nine years we’ve been together. My best friend (a Swiss resident) and one of my closest friends from college (a Dutch native) crashed our honeymoon, so I managed to get in some friendship time toward the end of the trip too.

Most of our travels center on nature/parks or art/architecture. This trip was largely focused on the latter. I love being immersed in the old. Feeling transported through time. Thinking about all the people who’ve tripped upstairs before me.

One of the places our travels took us was Granada, Spain. I booked an esthetically on-pointe and ridiculously reasonable Airbnb in the medieval Moorish district of Albayzín. The area is so old that a cab from the airport can only take you so far. Our driver turned off the main street, and soon we were bouncing down an ancient cobblestone road. He dropped us off in a courtyard and our host walked up a moment later. An innkeeper by day and DJ by night, which explained the turntable he carried with him. We walked the rest of the way to the house, enjoying the quiet night and our first moments in a neighborhood as old as time. We entered the house, a cluster of eight apartments with a lush, open courtyard at the center. The house had white plaster walls with exposed brick, red tiled roofs, vibrant tapestries, and colorful Spanish tiles. And then he led us upstairs. To the rooftop deck. With a midnight view of the Alhambra, illuminated against the darkness. My heart all but stopped.

Albayzín and the Alhambra are world heritage sites and here’s the skinny: The Moors were Muslims who inhabited north Africa, Malta, Sicily, Portugal, and Spain during the Middle Ages (700s-1400s). The Kingdom of Granada was established in 1230 which marks the start of the Muslim dynasty--the Nasrids--who constructed the dope af Alhambra palace. It was originally built as a fortress in 889 AD, later expanded by Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar, and then converted into a palace by Yusef I. For over 200 years, the area flourished artistically and economically until the fall of the Moors to Ferdinand and Isabella. The Alhambra then became their court (from which they sent their boy, Chris Columbus, on his misshapen search of India in 1492).

When we left the house the next morning, I half expected to see a crew setting up to film the next Indiana Jones. The Arab and Muslim influence is palpable and permeates throughout this part of Spain. We walked down winding cobblestone roads, surrounded by ancient white plaster buildings until we came to the town center. From there we continued our walk to the Alhambra, passing small shops and cafes along the way.

The Alhambra is comprised of multiple complexes with different aesthetics and histories. My main reason for visiting was to see the Nasrid Palaces and Generalife. The palaces were exquisite. Every surface appeared to be covered in some combination of cool white marble, wood inlay, tile, or plasterwork with the most detailed Islamic calligraphy. The gardens also didn’t disappoint--lush, diverse, and geometrically perfect. Plus, you've got to love a good ancient fountain. Or 87. It’s an oasis everywhere you turn.

We ended the afternoon across the street at a rooftop garden restaurant. Lunching on regional cuisine like creamy sliced potatoes, stuffed chicken, and saffron rice with nuts, honey, and golden raisins, I thought about how much this place has seen. From the cultural prosperity of the Moors to the extreme oppression of the Spanish Inquisition that followed, the city has been through it all. Changed, but still standing. It was a good reminder for me that, one way or another, life goes on.

Granada was really the only leg of the trip where I left feeling unfinished. Until next time.

Keep on keeping on,

05 May 2017

A Seattle first.

Every couple of weeks, I pass by a small mosque (masjid) on my way to Target. After the initial Muslim travel ban was enacted, I noticed colorful posters of support tied along the property’s fence. Unable to read the messages from my car, I did some sleuthing. I was happy to see that the community support didn’t appear to be in response to any sort of vandalism at Idris Mosque (it was just in response to the more systematized hate crime perpetrated by the Executive Office).

Turns out, the unassuming brick building was actually the first masjid in Seattle and has an interesting history. Learn more here.

Keep on keeping on,

29 April 2017

It's getting hot in herre.

Coinciding with Trump's 100th day in office, I attended People’s Climate March in downtown Seattle today.

The fact that many of our nation’s leaders so vehemently refute the science of climate change is outrageous. It's just plain unacceptable to deny what is now data-backed common knowledge when considering environmental legislation. 

No one present today appeared to be under the disillusionment that walking would somehow solve climate change. That isn't the point. The point is to demonstrate solidarity, draw attention to an issue that our representatives are choosing to ignore, and lend a voice to reason.

On that note, it was wonderful to see an array of groups turn out today. And participating made me more considerate of how people are coming at climate change, viewing issues and solutions through different lenses. Vegans came to discuss the merits of their diet in relation to carbon and methane emissions. Christians came with signs conveying messages of stewardship. I showed up as a trained biologist concerned with Executive and federal overreach, particularly with regards to the rollbacks on academic and research funding, undermining of EPA protections, and threats to National Parks and federal lands. And on a personal level, to stand with my friends who are working scientists and academics, fighting to keep their research alive and accessible.

Keep on keeping on,


Proceeds from the husband's Rogue NASA tee were split between Girls Who Code and the National Math + Science Initiative. Mine went to a number of foundations committed to protecting public lands and our national parks.