Sunday, October 30, 2016

5 Simple Rules for Being a Grown-A** Woman

....well, according to me anyway.

Pinterest lists amuse me. 15 Five-Minute No-Fuss Hairdos! 30 Steps to Kardashian Glutes! 20 Ways You're Treating Your Underwear Wrong! (In a quick mental pass, I only came up with not washing them, wearing them inside-out or putting them on backwards. Apparently there's so much I don't know!)

Today, here is a list of my own. I turn 30 in a few months, and I've taken it upon myself to watch the Sex & The City series before that big day because it feels like a rite of passage -- single women surviving in their 30s! (Um, in the 1990s when I suppose chain-smoking was in.) Some messages in the show are better than others, but it remains entertaining thus far. So with my very-busy-almost-turning-30 life in one ear and the narration voice of Carrie Bradshaw in the other, here is a little advice column of my own.

5 Simple Rules for Being a Grown-A** Woman

1. Champion Other Women. This is one I definitely didn't get when I was younger. When I finally opened my eyes to feminism, the problems were there -- subtle and blatant sexism, institutionalized misogyny, rape culture, a gender-based wage's no joke, and it's no small issue. Here's what I know: there is room for more than one woman at the table at a time, and if there's not, we need to make more room. I read a great article about the myth of the catty woman, which said that if women compete with each other it's not because we're naturally bitchy -- we've been trained by a bent culture to know that there's only so much space to go around, and also that the actions of one woman speak for all women. The result? Little elbow room in the board room and a tendency to dissociate ourselves from each other to avoid going down as a pack. Pleasant, isn't it? And so not necessary. I love my female friends, I love my female coworkers, and I love seeing strong women do strong things. No woman is an island, my friends. Let's stick up for each other.

2. Take Care of Yourself. It's a real truth that food sticks to your [insert your personal trouble area here] with increasing tenacity the older you get. My body doesn't recover from misuse and abuse (see: not drinking enough water, eating enough real food, practicing better oral hygiene, taking care of my skin or getting enough good sleep) the way it did in my early 20s. I look ahead and know what I don't want my health to look like in 20 to 30 years, and so I try. I'm not perfect at it, but I try, and that matters to me. Please note this applies to mental health as well. Do you need a therapist? It's worth your money, ladies.

3. Set Boundaries. As someone who has a tendency to feel ultra responsible for the feelings of all the people around me (my therapist nailed that one on the head at our first meeting a few months ago and I immediately knew she understood something important about me), it takes a lot for me to say no and set boundaries. Say no when saying yes will do you harm and/or take you away from the things you truly value. The side effect of boundaries? Some people might not like it. Then again, not every friend is worth having -- especially if they take more than they give.

4. Loosen Up a Little. A couple weeks ago, I went on a trip to a wedding and, in an uncharacteristic manner, stayed out until 4 in the morning. I'm a fairly controlled person -- I almost never fly off the handle, I work hard to stay balanced, I keep a fairly predictable sleep schedule, etc. But occasionally? It is a luscious feeling to not give a damn and do what simply feels like a fun thing to do. Stay out late! Go on a spontaneous trip! Paint your nails a weird color! Apply for a job that intimidates you! Ironically, tipping myself off balance til 4am made me feel more in balance than I have in awhile.

5. Make Your Own Rules. Did you read all of the above? Did you hate it? Good news: you can ignore it all you want, because I am me and you are you! I spent so much of my life checking my own gut feelings at the feet of other people's rules, and shedding that scenario from my life has made me one very happy human. Sometimes you have to answer to other people -- like your boss, or you know, the law. But other than that, it's up to you! You are up to you. And you don't have to apologize or explain your reasons to anyone. Oh, how magic that realization is.

Relevant little trinkets I bought recently:

Friday, September 30, 2016


and it awakes

crisp breaks of fire and frost
a synchronous pull
of burn and cool

a lullaby waxing
to the waning thrum of sweltry summer

that singe of ruby and spice
that birth of flame and ash
a charcoal slate
and fresh pages
with smoky edges
that crinkle under hand and foot


a perennial ember
that carves and takes
and clears a space
creates a hollow
sparks and scrapes

then soothes with icy hush

and tips you forward
empty and full and raw and ready

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

bare-faced & angry

today i was angry

today i didn't wear makeup, because i was angry

earlier this week, i watched that old Dove Evolution video, where they show the physical and digital makeover performed on a female model before she's deemed worthy to be on a billboard

last night at the presidential debates, ms. clinton called out mr. trump for his past derogatory comments about [insert many things, but also] a woman's physical appearance

[insert any time/day], i grow weary of my MBA textbooks featuring stories rife with male characters and bereft of female presence

this morning, i parked my car next to a group of men

and i had to pause and think, do i feel like getting out of my car or waiting a minute. just in case they want to stare because i am a female and i am here and they are here

and all too often, "i am here and you are here" is all it takes for consent.

consent to my personal space belonging to someone else. the default permission setting is "yes, go ahead, no need to ask or avert."

it's a compliment. it's a small thing. don't overreact.


it's an invasion. do react. there's nothing "over" about it.

though most likely, i'd put my head down and walk faster, or wait it out in my car

today i was angry

i looked in the mirror, after my morning workout, and my face was flush and vibrant with energy

i put the mascara down

i have nothing against it, inherently. sometimes it is fun. sometimes i like to dress up! some days owning my space means putting my head up, wearing something flashy and layering on the lipstick and glitter eyeliner because i can.

it first became a daily thing for me when i was 13.


no regrets. because it was fun, and it was exciting, and i felt so grown up.


eventually i wasn't "ready" without it

eventually i looked too tired. too splotchy. too sweaty. too young. too old. too sparse. too full. too bland.

as a feminist, i believe in a woman's right to do whatever she wants with her body -- makeup or no makeup. that's the beauty of you being in charge of you, as a woman. that's the beauty of truly owning your own space and allowing other people to own theirs.

but today, i felt the raw ache of the habit of disguising my skin and coloring my features to feel socially presentable. i felt the sting of my male classmates and coworkers rolling out of bed and meeting a minimum beauty standard by default. i felt the realization that it's not something some of them ever even consider. i felt the weight of expectation as heavy as the days that number it back to [whenever in history woman became a thing to be acted upon, a body to serve as an accessory, an actress that needs permission while never being asked for her own, an entity that isn't allowed to be angry without being shrill/bitchy/hormonal].

and my avenue to reclaiming my space today might seem trivial or silly or privileged or naive. and tomorrow, i might feel like wearing it again.

but today, i wanted my bare face to be enough without it. i wanted to be enough without it.

because today i was angry

and sometimes, the little protests are what we need and all we have

so today i was mine. and i was enough without it.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Livin' La Vida Espana (...I went to Spain...)

Back at it again with the travel bug!

With a less busy period at work and a break from school coinciding on my calendar, I couldn't help but hop on a plane to a new somewhere. The destination of choice this time: Spain!

I originally planned to hit up Spain last year but ultimately chose Italy instead. Newly inspired this year by the travels of my amiga Camille, it bumped back up in my list and, spoiler alert, I was not disappointed.

Spain is....flavorful! Architecture, the language, landscapes, little beige towns nestled in the middle of screams summer and warmth to me. Probably because it was like 100 degrees outside. Tip: don't travel to Spain in the dead of summer, haha. But seriously. It's a lovely and beautiful country but I suggest aiming for spring or autumn. Though, all the sweating inspired me not to wear any makeup but the occasional lipstick for 9 days and I really didn't hate that, so I'll take it!

Hit up 4 cities on this trip, so in order of visit....


Barcelona felt like San Francisco! Maybe because the graffiti told me several times that I should become a vegan. Barcelona's shining gem is Gaudi -- whose work is most prominent in La Sagrada Familia (did I photograph it? I tried. It's too big. Google it.) and Park Guell (all those funky tiled pics below). Gaudi is color and detail and quirk. Also hit up a flamenco show!


Seville is the spot I would choose to live in. It reminded me of Florence! Slower paced, with small shops and plazas with Spanish guitarists and a general meandering vibe to it. Ate some delicious beef filet here (sorry to the graffiti in Barcelona for my meat consumption), grabbed some boba tea, toured Real Alcazar (a palace where they filmed the Dorne scenes, for any Game of Thrones fans out there), hit up a cathedral or two....good stuff all around. Except when I smashed my phone on the ground, but it worked out because I happened to be in a neighborhood with no less than two iPhone repair shops. Weird, but I'll take it. (p.s. the green floral skirt WITH POCKETS I'm wearing below is made my friend Kayla at Lark Skirts -- go check out all her prints!)



Granada! Even though I said I'd choose to live in Seville, Granada is where I'd escape to on the weekends. It has a blend of Spanish + Arab culture that really worked for me. Highlights: La Alhambra (a castle on a hill) and an Arab bath house. Think candle-lit rooms with tiled walls and multiple pools in various a massage with red amber oil....yeah didn't hate this experience at all. It's like a public pool times 10,000 cool points.


If Barcelona is San Francisco, Madrid is NYC! Seriously, other than moments when I had to interact with people primarily in Spanish, you could have fooled me that I'd woken up in the United States while in Madrid. (Though the Spanish architecture definitely levels up over NYC.) At this point in the trip I was a bit out-muggled (see: tired of being around crowds of people, especially in the summer heat) but Madrid made it up to me with some yummy churros and a sunset rooftop view, pictured below.

...aaaand that's a wrap. El fin. And now Ima get back to enjoying what's left of my break from school, focusing on work ramping back up, and napping off the jetlag.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

7 Travel Tips for Social Media Safety

Occasionally, while scrolling through my social media feeds, I cringe and think, "Oh no, please, don't do that." 

Well, we probably all do during election season :) But specifically, my little red flags go off with concerns for people's personal safety with the info they're tossing out online -- especially while traveling. Rather than nervously comment individually on people's posts in an attempt to shield you all from harm one by one, ima just compile it here.

1. Don't post in real time.

One of my friends really took the champion cake for this recently by posting her Europe pictures an entire 2 weeks later, so convincingly that I had no idea her posts were delayed. When you're out and about, it's not a good idea to immediately post a pic of you, with an identifiable landmark in the background, with a location tag, with a bunch of hashtags that strangers can find you get the idea. Save those pics for later or the next day and post them safely from your hotel room or the next city on your route. No one's the wiser, and you're that much more unfindable by any real-time creepers.

2. Don't talk about your upcoming plans/schedule.

Bad Idea: "So excited to tour Vatican City tomorrow morning!" *insert arms-crossed NOPE emoji*

3. Don't mention when you're traveling alone.

Look, everyone has that Eat, Pray, Love fantasy of going it alone on an adventurous solo trek. If that's you, great! Just don't tell the world about it until later :)

4. Don't talk about where you're staying.

Photos, a hotel name, a picture of the street view from your window, etc. Your hotel/Airbnb is your safe space! Don't make it easy for random people to be able to track you down.

5. Don't post info about your home situation.

Sure, it's tempting to post pics of that cute new house you bought with that visible house # and uniquely identifiable paint color in the background. It's tempting, and it's also a terrible idea -- especially when you've also posted while traveling so people know your home base is empty and unguarded. Also, one of the most common ones I see: posting on Twitter/Facebook about how nervous and/or excited you are when your spouse or roommate is out of town and you're home alone in your dark, quiet house (no! don't do this! horror films are made of this!).

6. Don't post pics of your boarding pass, train ticket, etc.

If you really want to use it in a photo, arrange the shot so any trackable details (flight #, departure or arrival time, etc.) are hidden. How many times have I covered private info in photos with my thumb or other random objects? It's like an art form. Good job, thumb and other random objects.

7. Skip all of the above, and make your account private.

If you want to run free with any of the above, you could just lock your accounts down and make sure you legit know and trust every person who you let follow you. Personally, I prefer a public account (at least with Instagram and Twitter) and an appropriate level of precaution.

And while we're on a roll....

Bonus Non-Travel Tip: Never post your exercise route.

I love when people are excited about a run they completed. I feel super nervous for these same people when they post a map of the route they ran -- especially when they say it's their usual or favorite route. And when said route probably begins and ends at their home address (see #5). Careful, my friends!

Get out there and see the world, but see it smart :)

And now I am done feeling overprotective of everyone's safety and you may go back to your regularly scheduled programming, whatever that might be. (For me, it's continuing to peruse that new Harry Potter script. Thoughts TBD!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

You Don't Know Your Story Yet

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control
Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story

If you're unfamiliar, that line comes from the musical Hamilton.

Which, I saw in New York in March. YAY

At work, I interact with cohorts of recent PhD grads who are transitioning into new roles -- taking their research backgrounds and learning to use it in ways that local tech companies want to hire. Neat.

Recently, we had a session where we chatted about some of their anxieties around the phase of the program we're now in -- the interview phase! If you've been around my blog for a few years, you know I have...very relevant...experience with the rollercoaster emotions of this realm.

tl;dr version -- moved to California 3 years ago for a job that immediately fell through, and thus spent the next several months interviewing, getting turned down, working a retail job at Anthropologie, getting cash for odd jobs off Craigslist like taste-testing popcorn, etc etc etc.

The thing is, looking forward, you don't know yet what your story will be.

You often know what you want your story to be. You typically have a plan. And when you can't see how that will pan out, or you can only see setbacks moving you away from that plan, and you worry that it's due to something you're somehow not doing right, it's incredibly unnerving.

Take my story. A couple months after arriving in California, shortly after I started working for Anthropologie, I interviewed for a job at Google. GOOGLE! This was the dream. This would be the perfect shiny bow on my own "young, scrappy and hungry" story. (another Hamilton reference YAY) My moved-to-California-and-had-a-setback-but-pushed-through-it-and-WOW-GOOGLE story. This was going to be the best.

And then, it wasn't. Because after several rounds of interviews, they told me no. And I cried in the parking lot of my retail job before cleaning myself up and heading in to earn my $10/hour for my $900/month rent. I was financially worried, but also emotionally crushed. That offer was supposed to be my success story. Right?

A year later, I did indeed have a job at Google. It was the third position I interviewed for at that company. And one of twice that many I applied to at Google, and one of dozens and dozens and dozens I applied to at countless other local companies. And it felt like a dream. And I knew I deserved to be there. Was it a fluke, if they told me no before? Nope. Because there are a thousand different reasons why a job interview might not pan out. And it may not say a damn thing about your skills or ability to succeed.

It's just....your story.

Looking back at myself, rolling into California in July 2013, would I have actively chosen a route with so many detours to get to where I am right now? Probably not. Looking back, would I change any of the details? Probably not. If I changed anything, it'd only be the faltering confidence I had. I'd sit myself down and tell myself I had reservoirs of grit and determination and nerve I didn't know about yet, and also important things to learn that would ultimately shape the jobs and path I later secured.

What I didn't know then, is that my own job setbacks and interviewing saga would provide me with an empathy and passion that pointed me away from a writing career and toward a people development career. What I didn't know then, is that the very thing that made me cry and took my feet out from under me is what later gave me clearer vision and steadier legs to stand on.

As I wrote at this time 3 years ago: "I'm fine with missed shots and almost-theres and you'll-get-it-next-times. I'm fine with bruised knees and scraped palms and frustration and delayed success. I'm learning how to fall, so I can learn how to skate."

Looking ahead, I didn't know my story. Looking ahead, I wouldn't have written it the way it was ultimately written. And looking back, I'm really damn glad life took the pen out of my hand and wrote it better.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Blue Apron Review

This is a story, all about how...

...I never cooked and then started trying. For the last couple years of my life, I had jobs that included the perk of free food. Translation: I fell hard out of the habit of cooking, ate out a lot on weekends and/or scrounged for oatmeal in the back of my cupboard. And then I got a new job, had to feed myself again, and found myself living off avocados and ritz crackers.

And then Blue Apron came on to my radar.

What is it? A subscription service that delivers a box to your door once a week, including 3 meals for 2 people (you can tailor this if you've got a family to feed). For me, that means 6 meals since I get to eat the leftovers because party of 1, yo. Except sometimes I have a guest so I share.

What comes in the box? Adorable little packages of food/spices/etc in just the right amounts you need. So, no buying things in bulk only to have the extra ingredients go bad. (see: story of my entire adult kitchen life)

Does it go bad on your porch? I often leave my house for 13+ hours at a time on weekdays. Luckily, the food comes in a box packed with insulation and ice packs. All is well when I crawl in at 10pm after a day of gym/work/class/whatever. *eyes glaze over*

Did someone pay you to write this post? Nope. This is just me genuinely saying stuff because I feel like it. And because as a full-time working adult & grad student, I need things like this real bad in my life to keep me from accidentally living off granola bars.

How much is it? $59/week. So for me, $10/meal. Basically what I'd spend eating out, and usually that was on something quick (see: not healthy) I could grab wherever was convenient. So, the price point is not objectionable given my lifestyle. Especially since it causes me to finally eat vegetables. Also, you can see the recipes a week ahead and skip a week at any time if a) the food isn't up your alley, or b) you'll be traveling or whatever and don't need meals that week.

Can I have a free hint? Why yes you may thank you for asking. Since I've been using the service for about a month now, I've earned some referrals to send a free delivery to a few people who are new to Blue Apron. If you want one of those, holla at my email: katildablog at gmail dot com. I hook you up amigo.

Is the food good? Yes. Yum. And decently healthy. And has much variety. And you can specify if you are vegetarian, or don't like fish, etc.

What do I like? I'm learning to cook! Any of the recipes I've made, I could make again. And that's neat. I feel impressive! One time I made empanadas! Sometimes I mince things! Basically this involves cutting things real small while chanting "mince mince mince mince mince" to myself to the tune of Rihanna's "work work work work work." I MADE PEACH SALSA YESTERDAY WHO AM I

What would I change? They're super into cucumbers. I am super not into cucumbers. I am borderline drowning in cucumbers. Also, they assumed I would own some basic things like olive oil and paper towels. I happen to own olive oil, but it's been 3+ years since I owned paper towels. I found myself needing to dry a pork roast with nada but real towels on hand to do it. Blech. Also, while I love the refrigerated box, I wish there was a list that told me exactly what things in the box need to go in the fridge. Because sometimes I guess wrong w/ the veggies and then they get weird. So. A little more instructions there would be muy helpful! Also, what the hell is the gel in the ice packs. I felt like I was drowning a snowman trying to get that down my sink drain.

Can I see pictures of your favorite meals so far so I can be super impressed by you and the things you've cooked? Yes. Yes you may. I've made several but these are the ones I happened to take pics of! Please note they made more food than pictured on the plate. I was just being dainty for photography purposes.

Chicken, Kale Slaw & Sweet Potato Fries

Brown Butter Gnocchi w/ Squash & Soft-Boiled Egg
p.s. this one was NEXT LEVEL. Will be repeating on my own for sure.

Sweet Chili Chicken w/ Coconut Rice

Baked Empanadas de Picadillo w/ Lime Crema

Roasted Pork & Summer Salsa