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A letter from my 18-year-old self »

I got a letter in the mail the other day. It was from me, eight years earlier, my senior year of high school (it was originally meant to get sent when I was 23, rather than 26, but I’m almost happier that it arrived later). It came with a prompt:

CONGRATULATIONS!! You are about to conclude 13 years of schooling. For most of you, this is the first major milestone you are overcoming in your pursuit of an education; for ALL of you, this is the beginning of a new life, a new road on which you are starting to walk, and a new perspective on the world and your place in it.

Write yourself a letter reflecting on your education for the past thirteen years, on what you have accomplished in your life and education up to now, and which details your hopes, dreams, and goals for your future education and plans. What is some advice that you have learned in the past 13 years that you would like to be reminded of? How do you think that your education thus far has prepared you for the future? Why do you want to continue learning? How do you think you will affect the world? What are some goals you have for yourself? Reminisce, review, and reflect on yourself and your life as it stands now. Write a letter that will draw you back to this time but that will also push you forward to the future … YOUR future!

This is what I wrote to myself:

Dear me,

First of all, I wonder if my handwriting will have evolved by the time I am twenty-three.* In all my years of education, I have been decidedly undecided regarding the way I want to form my letters. At present I seem to have settled on a mishmash of cursive-print.

Anyway…the past twelve..or thirteen..or fourteen years of school seem like a finger snap to me now. And the most random things stand out, especially from elementary school. Middle school is mostly a blot, but some memories are pleasant. And high school…was better than I ever imagined it could be. I have friends, and status, great teachers, good grades…it’s actually been fun. I sort of wonder how college could ever prepare [sic, I think I meant compare] - I’m sure it will be quite the culture shock. But also, an adventure. A glorious adventure.

I hope I’m ready. I don’t feel particularly brilliant, but I suppose I can hold my own. I have a foundation of love, support, strength, wisdom, faith**, and quirky memory. I have a family that could not be more of a blessing. My loved ones assure me that I’m ready. I am almost ready to believe them.

Even if it turns out I’m NOT, what a wonderful opportunity college is. What freedom, what joy to live for myself, by myself. And, in my curiosity and love for learning, I eagerly anticipate that my brain, which is currently [image of a small brain surrounded by question marks] will be stretched and provoked into [image of a much larger brain surrounded by exclamation points]. Or at least, that is what I hope will happen. Who knows what awaits me? I have no set goals, I only want to learn, and keep learning, soaking in all I can (except completely unnecessary Calculus), amazingly never reaching my saturation point (except during final exam week).

And keep myself. I know I’ll change, it’s unavoidable. But let it be for good. Let me continue to pursue what I love, drawing, writing, reading, singing. Do not give me a spirit of timidity - help me to be BRAVE, and joyful, faithful** and smart.

But, although I hope to keep doing what brings me pleasure (harmless, innocent sorts!***), don’t keep me in my box. I want to taste all I can. I want to become a connoisseur of life. I want to become REALLY GOOD at something, not just pretty good at a handful of things.**** I want to find my medium, my place, my purpose. I don’t know what I want to be (commercial airline pilot? masseuse? bee keeper? mortician? lounge singer?), but I want to love what I become.

I may never make a dent in the world, but that’s okay. Maybe I’ll make little differences. I’ll cultivate my own life.

The most important thing I have learned so far, besides having a healthy curiosity, a positive mindset, and a sense of humor, is simply this:


Phileo or agape - it’s important.
Keep it.
Initiate love with wild abandon.
Nourish it.
Never fear to love.
Encourage it.

Never give up on love. There is so much love to be found, and so much to give.

Whatever specific relationships I keep, or release, find again, lose, rejoice in, am devoted to…

Love endures.

I have been so lucky to have a family that daily teaches me the value of love.

So lucky to have a Lord who loves me enough to forgive me (forgiveness is important too), who saved me.**

And all my wonderful friends - lost, forgotten, strong, weak, wonderful, wonderful. Remember them, remember to make the effort.

So. There isn’t much more I can say, except to recap:

1) Keep an open mind.
2) Keep an open heart.
3) Take it to the limit.
4) Embrace life.
5) Never stop learning.
6) Love, love, love.

This is going to be an amazing life.
All the best of luck!


(at 18)

I alternately cringe and smile fondly at my youthful, idiot self. I’m so desperately sincere! So naive! And I write like I’m trying to impress a teacher (probably because I guessed that my teacher would read my letter - not sure if she did..but it’s a pretty safe bet).
But wait, there’s more! Evidently I finished my letter and still had time to burn, so there’s another sheet of impromptu thoughts, and they are a little less…effortful:

By the way…
Today is a Thursday!

I recently got a Costco card.

I live in Bellevue (at Lala’s again!) and Issaquah (3>

I went to Alex’s prom last Saturday - it had fondue fountain. Mmmmm…
Prom #2 (TBCS [my high school]), on a boat, is this Saturday.
I am in love with Alex, and I am going to marry him.*****

The Voltaire at Dilettante cannot be forgotten. Nor can Seattle in all its glory - and Rocky Horror nights.

I went to Districts [for Varsity Golf] yesterday and shot a 121. (I love golf.) Don’t forget - 25% hips, shift weight from right to left, head down, chin up, trust the driver, it is magnificent.

My locker is the snazziest.

Celery is amazing.

Go with God!**

And dissect as many critters as possible.******

Bubble Tea is amazing.

There you have it. A glimpse inside the mind of a nerdy teenager. It’s funny - in some ways, I am still exactly the same person. I’m still not as cool or charming as I think I am, or maybe I’m cooler and more charming than I know (that would be nice). But I think I would make my 18-year-old self happy. I have retained my core personality, but with the improvements that come with years and experience and some serious heartbreak. I would also infuriate my 18-year-old self, because I would mock her - lovingly, but incessantly.

*My handwriting is still EXACTLY THE SAME, almost eerily so.
**I thought I was a Christian, but it turned out that I was still an agnostic, just momentarily brainwashed by the private school I attended.
****Still working on this. I realized the other day that I’m mostly mediocre at everything I do. This does not keep me from feeling like a cool chick most days, for some reason. Delusions of grandeur, probably.
*****Thank GAWD I did not. In fact, as of this month, all three of my great former loves are now married, and not to me, and I’m sincerely happy about that.
******I was really into science, biology in particular. We’d just dissected fetal pigs in class and I thought it was so cool. But this sentence is still really creepy.

In pursuit of healthy living »

No, this isn’t going to become one of those blogs. I don’t aspire to use the words “ketosis” or “crossfit” here, or anywhere. I mean, no promises, but I feel reasonably sure that I’ll never be that girl. I did go on a day-long hike with Tyler and Boots, though, to Lake Serene!

Since being diagnosed with hypothyroidism, I’ve planned for some time to visit a nutritionist to help me navigate my dietary limitations and boost my health. I’m already vegetarian most of the time, but I also tried going gluten-free for a little more than a month. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it was also much harder in a way - every time I went to a restaurant, I had to hunt for the one or two things that would be both veg and GF. And I began to dream of things like baguettes.

I visited the nutritionist for the first time this weekend. She was recommended to me by a friend as being body positive, and she definitely was! We didn’t bother with weight or calories or any kind of body shaming. Instead, we talked about my goals, discussed some strategies, and did a visualization exercise. I was told to imagine the most wonderful, peaceful place I could, and then give that place a path to my “food house.” I was allowed to imagine whatever I wanted inside the food house, and I could stay as long as I wanted, and return whenever I felt like it. I literally imagined a cabin full of bread. So, since being gluten-free hadn’t seemed to really impact my health, negatively or positively, we decided that the restriction itself was unhealthy and that I could slowly reintroduce gluten into my diet. I was very pleased with the news, but I didn’t immediately run out and eat a whole pie… just a bunch of peanut butter pretzels and a piece of chocolate bread and a quesadilla. That’s all, though.

Since then, however, I’ve made several healthy, satisfying eating choices that look and feel a lot different than the scavenging I usually do. It felt good to get permission to plan just a couple meals a week, and to allow pre-made meals (from Trader Joe’s, natch) to supplement those. Today I had a hummus and veggie wrap for lunch with a side of sweet, dark cherries that I bought at a roadside stand, and tonight I made a watermelon, mint, and feta salad with whole grain baguette on the side. And I feel good.

Getting a tarot reading »

I love the Yes and Yes Network of Nice and I take advantage of the generous hook-ups all the time - they’re wonderful! This month, I was intrigued by Mariya’s offer to do a tarot reading for Yes and Yes readers. I sent her this email:

I’m wondering what the semi-near future holds. I’ve been in a relationship with a great person for 2 years, and I’m about to start grad school (for Community Counseling). I want to know if these two things are going to be successful, I suppose. And I kind of want to know what kind of person I’m going to turn out to be. I’m 26 and I still don’t feel very grown-up! Will I be worthy of the kind of future that I want (loved, happy, satisfied with my job)?

Mariya sent me a picture of my cards..

..and wrote back:

Let’s start with your relationship. What I can tell you is that it can be successful, but you have to learn and continuously finesse certain skills to keep it going in the right direction. In a way, every relationship can be considered successful as long as you learn and grow through it, but in your case I can tell you what you need to focus on. What’s key is your communication skills - both ways. The idea is to learn how to express your ideas and wishes clearly, without leaving each other to guess. It’s finding a balance between clarity and kindness. You want to be direct, but keep in mind that all your words are coming from love, if that makes sense.

Now for your education will also be a great journey if you understand that new knowledge overrides old. So if you come across something that contradicts something that you learned before, then unless it feels intuitively wrong, take it to be a development of your old knowledge. That sounds abstract, so let me give you a visual. Imagine that all the education and information that you got up to this point is the first section of a large staircase. What you are about to learn is the next section. The steps are different, but you would never have gotten to section two without climbing section one first. Therefore, let go of any old ideas or concepts that seem to be out of place now, and let yourself be guided by the new. This is hard to put into words, so feel free to ask questions if I’m not making myself clear.

The person you will be - or should be given you choose the right path in life - is someone who follows her passions and doesn’t give up when the situation gets tough. You follow your calling no matter how challenging things can get, because that’s when you know you’re close to the finish line of your goal. And you definitely do deserve all the good that will happen, and you need to remember to celebrate yourself, celebrate people you love, and celebrate life. By honoring all of the above, you will be more than worthy of life’s blessings.

Finally, I wanted to share something I saw about your life in general. Your path in this life is one of a clear mind and joy. You’re in a position to feel great and spread light to people who need it, so never forget that. Keep in mind that just one smile can make someone’s day, and that kind of stuff can become your greatest talent. All you need to do is not take yourself too seriously and enjoy every day.

I like tarot because, even if it’s not “real,” it still helps me refine and clarify thoughts I’ve already been having, or it gives me a positive message I can hold on to. This reading made me feel happy and purposeful. Thank you, Mariya!

I shopped the Nordstrom sale »

And all I got was frustration! (And, okay, a couple of bras.)

The other night, I left work and immediately headed to Nordstrom. Inspired by memories of back-to-school shopping with my mom and blog posts by stylish women, I was so sure I’d score some great finds.

But what I learned is that the stuff they have briefly discounted is bullshit. Maybe I’ve gotten pickier, but this isn’t the sale I remember. It’s not the sale my parents remember, either, who recall that in the glory days, everything was discounted, not just a few mediocre racks that people are only interested in because discounted wares are appealing on principle. I was looking for wardrobe staples, but what I found was mostly shoddy polyester, cheap cashmere, and ill-fitting designer throwaways.

Most of the time, I’m picky about my clothes. I don’t have a huge budget, but I have high standards. I will hunt forever for the perfect this or that, and I’m rarely willing to settle. I want to love my clothes, and I want our love to last. I want the classics I buy to stay classic, not fall apart within a year. I really hope that Michael Kors's premonition comes true:

“I have my predictions – I’m sure technology will continue to have an impact on fashion, particularly the way people shop. I think quality will be increasingly important – we’re moving away from a time of fast fashion.”
"Nordstrom" used to be synonymous with "quality." Has that changed? Or has quality become a luxury for the super-rich? Not necessarily, if you’re a diligent thrift, consignment, or eBay shopper - but sometimes I just want it to be easy, especially when my body seems to be constantly morphing.

If you must go, your best bets are shoes and brassieres. Stay away from anything in the middle. If you’re like me, it’ll just make you sad.

Hypothyroid, body image, and fashion »

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism this year, which was both disappointing - I have to take medication every day for the rest of my life to make my thyroid work properly - and a relief. I’d gained so much weight so quickly in the past year, and it was no longer a mystery why my clothes fit one month but not the next and why I was tired and cold all the time. I’m happy with my body at any weight and I generally have good self-image, but it was frustrating and disheartening to suddenly feel like I had literally nothing to wear. I was feeling less cute, less confident, and less attractive clothed or naked, and I wasn’t cool with that.

I take my daily medication and I’ve gotten back into working out, but while I work toward a happier, healthier me, I still need to feel comfortable and confident in my clothes. I used to think I was reasonably stylish and that I knew how to shop for my body type, but even at a pretty average size 10, I wasn’t finding much in stores to excite me.

Recently, I chatted with an aspiring personal stylist about my wardrobe challenges and goals. She asked me to measure myself and to take pictures of my body from the front, the side, and the back.

No makeup, no hairstyling, no filter, no (gasp) bra! IT’S THE REAL ME Y’ALL.
While the pictures are not the most photogenic of me, I recognize their benefit: they give me a more realistic image of my body and my shape. (Plus, if I ever get super ripped, they can be my “before” picture! Ha.)

I cleaned out my closet and donated anything that didn’t fit or flatter to Goodwill and thredUP. I’ve also stopped following style blogs that aren’t representative of my shape or size, and intentionally followed more blogs like Franish, Chic On the Cheap, and Nadia Aboulhosn on Feedly and Instagram. They inspire me to try new and different fashions, and maybe even branch out into the mystifying world of accessories. I’ve also plumped up my Pinterest inspiration board.

In closing, here’s a new style adventure for me. I discovered that I love rompers and want to wear them alllll the time:

Nashville (Come back now, y'all.) »

So.. I went to Nashville more than two months ago and I’m only just now blogging about it. Terrible! I went to Nashville for a few reasons: first and foremost, I’m a “Yelp Elite” (which basically means I have too much time on my hands, so I review a lot of businesses and I’m rewarded handsomely with free drinks and appetizers), so I was invited to Yelp Spring Break, an annual adventure held this year in Nashville. Secondly, it was my birthday and I wasn’t doing anything else interesting. Thirdly, I watch the show “Nashville” and I had built up some pretty heavy expectations for Music City. I invited two of my best girlfriends, Katie and Lara, and off we went!

We took a red-eye flight to Nashville and arrived around five on a Thursday morning, at which point we all took a three hour nap in a lounge outside of security. Despite the blaring televisions and the frequent loudspeaker announcements, it was among the more comfortable airport waiting areas I’ve visited. Highly recommended for the multiple large, squishy couches.

After that, we took a taxi to a nice, air conditioned (very important) AirBnB loft in East Nashville, which is basically the Capitol Hill or perhaps the Brooklyn of Nashville - trendy hipsters abound. Most of the Yelp events took place downtown, so we learned a hard lesson very quickly - Nashville is not the most walkable city. We walked from East Nash to downtown the first day and never did it again afterward. The heat! The sweat! The humidity! The honking cars! The chub rub! Awful. Unfortunately, Nashville has a terrible transit system so we mostly relied on Lyft trips. (None of our drivers knew about Yelp, which seemed odd. We did our best to educate them.) On the plus side, our walk led us to our first Nashville meal, Edley’s East Barbecue, where we split a big pile of brisket (have I mentioned that I forsake any and all diets, including vegetarianism, when I’m on vacation?) and some sides. It was gooood.

After a lackluster happy hour at The Southern, the first cool place we went was Hatch Show Print, a printing press that has churned out posters for some of the greats, such as Patsy Cline, as well as modern performers. I bought way too many t-shirts there.

This place is next door.
Later that evening, we went to a Welcome to Nashville Yelp reception at Anthem, but we were all tired and crabby and it was really difficult to track down the people with appetizer trays, so we gave up and went home. Katie got right into bed, but Lara and I were hungry, so we wandered a little ways down the road from our place and found King Solomon’s Gyros. The guy who took our order was apparently the owner; he had a cast on his wrist, had just returned to work after a convalescence, and as a result was extremely, weirdly particular about what he would and would not sell us (because he hadn’t been around to make sure everything was perfect, apparently). Instead, he personally made us two gyros each (the first one on the house), off-menu barbecue style, with chicken and then lamb, so we could give him our opinion. They were quite tasty and I was apparently starving, because I ate both of them easily and then split a dessert with Lara.

The next day, we had no plans until the evening, so we got to explore Nashville. We had lunch at Monell’s, which is evidently an institution.

Yep, they still had their Christmas tree up.

It’s a family-style restaurant where you sit down to eat with a bunch of strangers and only take as much food as you can finish. I was unusually interested in chatting with strangers (maybe the Southern atmosphere rubbed off on me a bit) so I found the experience delightful.

Next, we went shopping in the fancy Belmont/Hillsboro neighborhood, which reminded me of Madrona. We visited imogene + willie and Katy K Designs and I pretended to lick a sign, which is gross because I actually hate ranch dressing.

And then it was time for ICE CREAM!

Look at all those flavors! Do you know how hard it was to choose? But the staff were really gracious and patient about offering samples, and eventually I was able to decide on Banana French Toast, Brambleberry Crisp, and Chocomole. The BFT had chunks of banana in it; the Brambleberry, likewise, had whole berries and oats in it. The Chocomole burned low and perfectly in the back of my throat. Lara and Katie also enjoyed their choices, which included Savannah Buttermint, Buckeye State, Salty Caramel, and Dark Chocolate. This may be sacrilege, but Jeni’s has the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted and I wish it would come to Seattle right now.

Later that night, we went to another Yelp event, the “It’s Spring Break Y’All” party. It was held in a space that looked too large for the number of guests, but there were nice things there like vendors and snacks, and a dunk tank featuring a man in what looked like a bumblebee outfit. Katie, softball star that she once was, dunked him with ease, and then went on to destroy some green inflatable pigs.

There were not any similarly attired men in attendance.. it was weird.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the shockingly Seattle-esque Barista Parlor. I felt right at home, and my iced coffee and biscuit sandwich were stunningly good.

Then we checked out the shopping in East Nash, and a chicken festival.

We capped off the night with dinner and free music out on the patio of The Listening Room Cafe.

The next morning, we attended Yelp’s “Bloodies, Brunch, and Braids" event at the Lucy Pop Salon. We were promised a delicious brunch spread and "endless" Bloody Marys, but alas, it was more like a continental breakfast and the Bloodies were extremely limited. However, we were happy with our stylists and our braids looked cute.

With our braids newly spiffed and ready for the paparazzi, we made our way to Jackalope Brewing Company. I have a special affinity for jackalopes since being terrified by them as a child, so it was a mandatory stop even though I hate beer. I knew at the very least that I would find a t-shirt or a tumbler, and that I did. There was also a very interesting antique mall across the street, and it was next to the train tracks, so basically my two favorite things combined.

We wrapped up our day with “Thelma and Louise” (which seemed appropriate for our girlfriend adventure) at the Grassy Knoll outdoor movie night in East Nash. The evening was warm and the atmosphere was neighborly, and I tried tempeh tacos and boiled peanuts for the first time. It was a lovely way to end our stay in Nashville.

Fourth on the coast »

I know the Fourth of July has come and gone (wow, did it go quick!), but here are just a couple of pictures taken near Pacific Beach, where we stayed in a big beach house with a bunch of friends and had the best time ever.

I found this horrifying sweatshirt in a shop in Ocean Shores.

I also found THIS horrifying sweatshirt in a shop in Ocean Shores, but I was looking for it because I needed to buy it for Tyler as punishment - he hadn’t brought any warm jackets to the coast even though he knew the HIGH forecast was only 64 degrees!

Unfortunately he made it look kind of cool.

"Bellwether": sexist art at Bellevue City Hall »

Junichiro Iwase’s “Moonwalker 5.” Couldn’t find a less tiny version of this picture, so enjoy how blurry it is blown up.
"Bellwether" is Bellevue’s biennial sculpture exhibition; right now, art is displayed all over the city. This pair of eggshelled mannequins, created by artist Junichiro Iwase, is installed at Bellevue City Hall. If a bellwether is something that leads others, or shows what will happen in the future, evidently art will continue its trend of sexism and the exploitation of female bodies.

As a disclaimer, I will say that this installation was initially aesthetically pleasing to me. The eggshell texture is cool, and for some reason disfigured mannequins always seem “artsy.” But the more I look at these mannequins, the more pissed off I get. Why is the female mannequin almost entirely covered in eggshells, except for her tits?? (And her one, lonely arm, which I assume is there to make sandwiches or give handjobs or vacuum, amirite?)

I am so obviously not a prude, and that’s not what this is about at all. If both the mannequins were flaunting some sexualized body part, I’d be like, “Neat,” and I’d move on with my day. But that’s not the case. The male mannequin’s “modesty” is entirely clothed in shells; he has nothing equally titillating on display. (I went around the back of the mannequins just to make sure he wasn’t secretly wearing cheeky eggshell chaps or something. Sadly, he is not.)

Here’s what this art is saying to me: the body parts not covered by their fragile eggshell armor represent strength. So a woman’s strength is in her sexuality, while a man’s strength is in his literal strength, his muscles (arms and legs).

I know that art rejects “shoulds,” and rightfully so, but I thought it was part of art’s job or goal to challenge the status quo, not reinforce sexist cliches and gender roles.

Stitch Fix #10 »

See Stitch Fix #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8, #9
Would you like to try Stitch Fix? Sure you would! (Thank you for the Fix credit!)
Check out my Stitch Fix style inspiration board.

I’ve reached a Stitch Fix milestone: the tenth box! Was it the magical culmination of all the reviews and input I’d given after each of the nine boxes that came before, as you might expect?
Spoiler alert: no.
Special requests: I asked them to try for boyfriend jeans again, and I mentioned that I was headed to Paris and needed stylish, travel-friendly clothing.

Here’s the note from my stylist, Lisa:

All I had today in the way of boyfriend jeans is a pair of “not-distressed” Mavi Gold jeans. Wear these jeans cuffed on your trip with the U.S.A. made light pink Market and Spruce Ikat print pocket-front knit shirt and a pair of flats or heeled sandals. Other alternatives are to wear the pants with the blue Daniel Rainn snake print cross-front hi-lo bouse or the Daniel Rainn Swiss Dot & Floral Tie-Neck Blouse and a pair of blue flats. Let them know where you’re from with the red, white and blue, American made Gilli striped maxi dress which you can wear with heeled sandals in Paris! Let me know how this fix works out in Paris! Have fun trying these on!

1. Gilli “Amie” striped belted maxi dress, $74

I laughed when I read the bit in the note about this dress: “Let them know where you’re from with the red, white and blue…striped maxi dress..” Firstly, the French flag is also red, white, and blue - in stripes, no less! Secondly, the last thing I want to cop to when I’m in France is being an overly patriotic, “freedom fries”-type American tourist.

If this dress looks good on me in the pictures, it’s only because I’m so damn good at posing. It highlighted my less pleasing curves in an unfortunate way. I was also annoyed that the stripes were only on the front of the dress.

Verdict: returned.

2. Market and Spruce “Elaine” Ikat print pocket-front knit shirt, $48

Before I tried this on, I figured it would be the one thing I’d keep. In the picture, it looks pretty and comfortable. But in person, it’s just kind of boring, and the print is a noxious combination of salmon and grey. I think I also just don’t like Ikat that much.

Verdict: returned.

3. Mavi Gold “Rider” boyfriend jean, $128

These jeans hated me.

The feeling was mutual.

Verdict: returned.

4. Daniel Rainn “Wayne” swiss dot & floral tie-neck blouse, $68

I briefly considered keeping this shirt, but it squeezed me in weird places (the sleeves mostly) and I kind of felt like one of my mother’s 1970s Barbies (they would have looked much better in it, especially Ken).

Verdict: returned.

5. Daniel Rainn “Drake” snake print cross-front blouse, $68

Usually I avoid things like cross-front blouses and snake print. Snake print looks tacky to me most of the time, and the cross-front blouse thing had not been working for me, so I was surprised to like this shirt.

It still needed more of a nipped in waist, though, and I wasn’t willing to pay $48 more ($68 - $20 deposit) for a pricey shirt I didn’t love.

Verdict: returned.

So there you have it. The first box to have everything sent back.

Spokane Wedding »

I’m so behind on posting, I know! But May was a busy month. I went to Nashville and to my stepsister’s wedding in Spokane (the subject of this post) and I’m already on my way again to a new place (France!), so I’ll probably stay behind for a while. But I can at least post some nice pictures.

My stepsister, Lauren, got married to Gabe Memorial Day weekend in a family member’s backyard. (The term “backyard” is a bit of a misnomer; it was actually a gigantic field.) It was a really nice weekend and a lovely wedding. I was one of the unofficial wedding photographers, which was a fun honor for me.

Lauren gets ready!

Gabe and Lauren wanted to light a unity candle, but Lauren had never struck a match before..? I think. It was hard to understand. But all the groomsmen tried to help. It was cute.

Lauren and Gabe got their engagement rings tattooed on their ring fingers.

After dinner, I hid in the field.

The coconut-covered bars are lamington, a popular Australian dessert (because Lauren’s mom, my stepmother, is Australian, Lauren loves them).

Taite enjoys a cupcake and Dad is very proud.

How to get your first tattoo »

A year ago today I got my first ever tattoo, to mark the milestone that was my 25th birthday. I knew that I was interested in supporting a local, well-rated, woman-owned place staffed with nice people, so after hunting around, I settled on Two BirdsI called two weeks in advance, and the nice gentleman on the line penciled me in to the last slot of the day (note to first timers: call earlier!).

Feeling nervous!

I showed up on my birthday a little early, because I was nervous and because I wanted to make sure they had all the information I had sent in. I had an appointment with Suzy (the co-owner), who was not quite ready to work with me because she needed to eat her lunch, because she is a person - but she did still sit down with me for a minute before taking her break, which was really cool of her. (At first she didn’t seem very personable, but she was great after she got to eat, which leads me to conclude that she is the type of person who gets crabby when she’s hungry. My boyfriend and my sister are like that, too, so I didn’t mind.)

When Suzy got back from lunch we discussed the phrase that I wanted tattooed, including the font, the sizing, the ink, and the placement. She resized the phrase for me so that it would fit better on the top of my shoulder, where I wanted it, and she didn’t mind redoing the stencil when I decided it wasn’t in quite the right spot. 

You can faintly see the outline of the original placement.

Suzy was entirely professional and respectful, and gave me all the help and the space necessary for me to make my decision. It was obvious that she wanted me to be happy with my tattoo. Because there weren’t any other appointments going on, she also let me bring three of my friends in to watch and to talk to me during the process, which really helped me relax.

I was so nervous before getting my tattoo that I peed twice in the half hour before my appointment. But, you guys, tattoos feel like nothing! “That’s it?” I asked, once Suzy started in. “It feels like I’m a beekeeper and a handful of my bees got really mad at me at once, but it’s not bad at all!”

Okay, so it hurt a little bit during one part.
Suzy was done with the tattoo in about fifteen minutes and it looked AMAZING. At first she’d had some misgivings about the font (it’s cursive script and a little intricate) but she duplicated it beautifully, with fine, controlled lines. 

Afterward, I got the spiel on how to take care of my new tattoo, and I paid up. I’d already put in the $60 deposit, so I only had to pay another $25 (minus tip). Pretty inexpensive considering that it will last for years and years! I’m already trying to think of another idea for a tattoo..

Note: “plus qu’hier, moins que demain” means “more than yesterday, less than tomorrow.” It’s from a French love poem, but for me it just means that I want to be better every day.

Diary of An Egg Donor »

My Friday favorite is that a week ago I completed a second egg donation cycle. I did the first one in 2012, after responding to an ad in The Stranger. It could have been totally shady, but instead I met a wonderful coordinator who matched me with a fertility center and with a hopeful parent-to-be. I actually got to meet the parent, which is unusual for egg donors. She is a smart and successful woman who didn’t seem to want for anything in life, except for a baby. It was so magical to get to know her and to go through the cycle with a specific person to root for. At the end of the cycle, she was able to get pregnant and had a healthy, happy baby nine months later - and I got to meet him!

I became an egg donor because I was excited about the monetary compensation (I had student loans to pay off, after all) and interested in a new kind of adventure, and it evolved into so much more. Donating my eggs, especially to this mother, was one of the most meaningful experiences in my life. When my coordinator let me know that another couple wanted to work with me, I said yes with no hesitation!

Reflecting on my first donation, I wished that I had kept a diary of my experience. So this time, I did! I hope that it helps readers get a sense of the experience, especially women considering egg donation.

January 7th
The Tests

It’s been more than a year since my last donor cycle, so the agency with which I work needed to ask a bunch of questions to update my family tree and genetic history, draw several vials of blood (like seven! but it goes fast), and make sure that I’m mostly sane.

I had an especially nice chat with the counselor today. We connected over my career aspirations, and she explained the results of my Personality Assessment Inventory. Apparently I was more honest this time about my faults and foibles than I was in 2012. Obviously I still tested positive for “really awesome,” though. (And a little narcissism, go figure!)

January 10th
Test Results

The reproductive agency called today to let me know that the results of my blood test came back, and my thyroid levels (TSH) were a little high. They’re putting me on thyroid medicine right away and I’ll be re-tested in four weeks. I’m crossing my fingers tight that this isn’t a harbinger of a canceled donor cycle.. or of serious health issues. Today’s call threw my groove off a bit!

March 18th

Sooo I’ve been on thyroid medication for like two months now and it is just making my thyroid all wonky. They changed my dosage and hopefully that’ll do the trick. I have another blood draw (TSH blood draw #3!) next week. Happily the egg recipients seem patient. I must have great eggs. Couture eggs.

March 28th

My thyroid is still not cooperating. The doctor thinks that they may have re-tested me too early, however. I’m disappointed.

April 1st

MUCH BETTER NEWS! The agency called me and I was so sure they were going to say that the recipient had given up on me and better luck next time. But instead they told me that my TSH levels were pretty close to what they needed and they had just tested me too early, so they were going to go ahead and approve me to start the egg donor cycle. I will start the ovary-plumping, egg-encouraging medication next week. I’m so excited!

April 8th

Had urine and blood samples collected today and turned in a waiver that says I got a new tattoo within the past 12 months and that it was given in a reputable tattoo parlor that uses sterile needles, et cetera. I also had my first (transvaginal) ultrasound of the cycle! No cysts on my ovaries and things look good.

April 10th

FedEx delivered my medications today. There are a LOT of them. I need to refresh my memory on how to administer them!

April 22nd

It’s supposedly the week of my egg retrieval surgery, and I’m feeling excited and impatient. I’ve been injecting myself with medications each day for a little over a week now. The injections are administered by syringe into my belly. The first time I did this, in 2012, I was so scared. But it was a total breeze and didn’t hurt at all. This time around, I feel like an old pro and I’m barely phased by it at all. Tomorrow I have another blood test and ultrasound, and hopefully they like what they see.

April 23rd

I had the blood draw and ultrasound appointment today, and GOOD NEWS! They are ready for me to administer my Lupron trigger tonight. That basically preps me for ovulation and egg retrieval surgery, which takes place 36 hours after the trigger. I’m so excited!

They gave me a printout of my ultrasound. Look at those happy little overstuffed ovaries!

April 24th

My last blood test was this morning. I responded well to the trigger and I am set for surgery tomorrow, yippee! For now I’m just going to relax and look forward to the amazing nap I’ll get tomorrow when I’m under anesthesia. I don’t get to eat or drink anything after midnight tonight until after surgery because I am a gremlin, but that’s no big deal. My ovaries feel bloated and tender and I am ready to be done.

April 25th

I checked in to surgery half an hour early and put on my cap and gown.

A nice nurse with a great handshake administered my IV and answered all my questions while I signed the consent forms. I walked to the OR and climbed awkwardly up onto the bed, which was a little too high for me - especially embarrassing considering my tush was hanging out in the surgical gown. But soon the oxygen mask was on me and I was asked to take deep breaths, and then… I woke up where I had started, groggy and a little crabby at having been disturbed from a wonderfully deep nap, and suddenly ravenous.

Wake up and take a selfie.

I felt very well otherwise, and ate animal crackers until it was time to be released. When I checked out, the nurse at the front gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers that the recipient parents had had delivered - so sweet! I went home with a prescription for antibiotics and pain medicine.

May 1st

Almost a week later, I still feel perfectly fine. (I did learn the hard way yesterday why you’re supposed to take antibiotics with food, but I’ve recovered from throwing up in the office restroom.) Donating my eggs this time around was another wonderful experience, and I hope I get to do it again soon!

It's May! »

Why yes, I will post this every single year:

Hooray for the month of my birthday! Hooray for uncommonly nice Seattle weather!