Meet L. He’s kind, funny, quirky, and loves IKEA as much as I do. (Not a mean feat.) We met online (thank you, OKCupid!), spent two weeks exchanging increasingly longer messages (with a combined total of 30,000 words) and after a series of epic dates, each one better than the last, we decided to make this a thing. We went Facebook official on Sunday (I know, I know, why is that even a thing?!), so I figured it was high time my blog readers met him.

Once I'd told my mom we were kind of a thing, she requested a picture. This was the result. (The middle one is my favorite, even if it is blurry.)

Once I’d told my mom we were kind of together, she requested a picture. This was the result. (The middle one is my favorite, even if it is blurry.)

Why I like him? He thinks my oddities are adorable, rather than weird, says my accent is lovely and surprising, loves that I talk like I write, and listens to me talk about Europe without getting bored. He banned his dog and cat from the furniture as soon as he found out I was allergic, is generous with his time and his money, and is just the right kind of ambitious to fuel my own passions. He’s an artist, but not a starving one, and combines creativity with an analytical mind that keeps on surprising me. He shares my snarky sense of humor, sings along with musicals in the car (and doesn’t mind that I’m way off-key), and, truth be told, my knees go kind of weak when he looks at me.

Our first kiss was in an IKEA parking lot and as odd as it may sound, it couldn’t have been more romantic. Here’s to us making plenty more memories in the time to come.



I turned 27 on Saturday, March 1st. I spent it with L., a wonderful guy I’m dating, and whom I’ve been quiet about because it’s been going so well and I didn’t want to jinx it. On Friday, we drove down to Provo to see John Lithgow’s “Stories by Heart,” in which he mixed a PG Wodehouse and a Ring Lardner story with stories of his own childhood and was absolutely captivating for two hours. Thank you, E., for gifting me the tickets!

On Saturday, I got to sleep late, skype with my family (who, in three different skype conversations, all proceeded to sing me happy birthday because my family is adorable), bake a cake (Smitten Kitchen’s bittersweet chocolate and pear, in case you were wondering), and spend about two hours at the Sam Weller’s bookstore, combing every shelf to my heart’s content. L. bought me two (second-hand) books, Madeleine L’Engle’s And Both Were Young, and Zoe Ferraris’ Kingdom of Strangers, both authors I’ve read before and both books I didn’t know existed, so that was exciting.

On Sunday, I first went to church (and even went up when it was time for the birthday blessing/prayer, even though my introvert self resisted the idea of getting up in front of everyone), then met up with L. again, for a walk through Liberty Park in the sun and an afternoon spent at Beans and Brews, with a book, a muffin, and a soy hazelnut latte.


Yes, I have once again managed to find a guy that thinks reading together at a coffee place is a perfectly reasonable and wonderful way to spend an afternoon. I’m sure you see why I like him.

I have been swamped with papers to write and chapters to research and a bunch of other stuff to do, so it was absolutely lovely to take the weekend off. You know me, I like low-key birthdays, and this was about as low-key as it gets, and about as perfect.

in which I clearly need to get a life.

–Someone stumbled onto my blog after searching for “eat sleep love study train”. Given the amount of times I talk about train travel, I can see how that happens.

–I had major jet lag after I came back from California, mostly due to that one extended nap I took on the day of arrival. I never really partied as a teenager or undergrad, so I was totally unprepared for the week of staying up till 2 AM and sleeping till 11:30 that followed. I’m back to a semi-normal sleep pattern now, thankfully.

–You can totally tell it’s the new year by my basket at the grocery store. I went from a size 16 to a 12 last year, but I’d like to get down to a 10, and that involves a lot of fruit, apparently. Especially since my New Year’s resolution of frequent running is thwarted by the snow we’re having right now. Oh well, at least I’ve got the healthy eating part of the equation down.

–My sister sent me this link, about the physics behind literature. Awesome.

–I finally watched the Christmas special of Downton Abbey and just sat there, thinking, “Holy Moses, what just happened?”. There I was, remembering season’s two finale, which was so romantic I almost cried, and then THAT happened. I had to watch last week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory to cheer me up again.

–I’m reading Rachel Held Evan’s A Year of Biblical Womanhood right now, and am loving it. Expect a review forthwith.

–Speaking of reviews: I was planning to recap all the books I read in 2012, but didn’t manage to do them all before January 1, 2013. So expect that to happen before 2014, hopefully.

–I did not have a very exciting week, judging by this list.

oh christmas tree

E. and I flew into San Francisco on Thursday, and I pretty much don’t even remember eating dinner, that’s how tired I was. So after a long night’s sleep, we started off Friday with a latte and a crossword (of course) at Brewed Awakening, one of our favorite coffee places here in Berkeley. Then commenced the Buying of The Christmas Tree, which mostly turned into the Driving To A Plethora Of Stores To Buy Lights and Ornaments, And Then To The Target and Home Depot Two Towns Over Because Everything Is Sold Out Everywhere. And then we discovered that the CVS near our house was actually well stocked with everything we needed, and we could have avoided all the drama involved in fighting through the throngs of people and cars. But we got our tree, that’s what matters. And because what makes the tree special is the ornaments, here are my favorites:

Ribbet collage2I bought the colander ornament at Sur la Table in San Francisco, because I love cooking and colanders are cool. The middle ornament comes from the White House gift shop in DC, and the ornament on the right is meant to be a Buckingham Palace guard from my visit to York to see E. It was more recognizable before I dropped it and severed its head from its body.

Ribbet collage1Peets (and/or coffee) is a big part of our lives here, as you can tell by these ornaments (one for each of the last three years). If we keep this up, we can one day do an entire tree dedicated to coffee. I would like that.

a most miraculous happening

So I’ve been without Internet for five weeks or so. It’s a very long story, and it involves multiple language barriers and unhelpful customer service representatives, and many, many, emails and aborted phone conversations. Basically, I would come home from work every day and hopefully check my modem to see if the light was flashing, signalling my connection was still blocked. Then I’d wait a day, try again, and fire off another angry email that they needed to make this a priority, preferably yesterday. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Yesterday, I came home from a lovely weekend in the Netherlands and checked, more out of habit than anything else. But lo and behold: the light was steady. As I opened Firefox, I felt like a kid in a candy shop in that I couldn’t decide what to do first: watch all those episodes of tv series I’ve missed? Or go browse Pinterest to my heart’s content? Or catch up on the Savage Love archives? Or clean out my Google reader? Or email my mother? Or skype with someone?

In retrospect, what I should have done was rescue my dinner from the oven. But even burnt pizza tastes good if you’re finally connected to the world again.

mom in Dortmund

It’s been a little quiet over here, partly because I still don’t have internet at home (long story), but most importantly because my mom came to visit me last week. Moms take precedence over blogs, any day.

One good thing about having my mom come over is that she’s not very good at sitting still and is likely to take over all the little projects around the house that you’ve been meaning to get to but haven’t yet. So now my kitchen is reorganized, the recycling is no longer sitting in a corner but in the bin downstairs where it belongs, my dying plant has been resuscitated and I have a basil plant sitting on my windowsill. My spare blankets are in the storage room, my bags are no longer thrown down willy-nilly in the hall but carefully placed in a big bin, and we spent till midnight on Saturday re-arranging all my artwork till we had the precise vibe we were looking for. It amazes me that my apartment can look so put-together.

In between the various beautification projects going on, we drank a lot of coffee, watched three movies, wandered through both the city center and then Ikea, and managed to find time to discuss all pressing family issues. And of course, we ate. Enchiladas the first night, curry and naan the next, risotto the third, and the last night saw us at a Turkish restaurant near my apartment. It was a lovely weekend and I was sorry to see her go home again. And not only because my apartment has never looked so clean.