My period was late a few weeks ago. I thought about doing something about it, told a very select number of people, and then waited until it passed.

And that, I realized, is my M.O. when it comes to just about everything in life.

I was a few years late to New York City, a few years late to realize that classroom teaching does not prepare you to easily change industries, a few years late to realize you would never be the one.

But I don’t believe it’s too late. Playing catch-up this past year has been exhausting, but my regrets are few and my accomplishments are great.

I didn’t come this far to only come this far, and most people don’t make it as far as I have. 



India is the most difficult country I’ve ever traveled.

It is difficult to buy train tickets. Difficult to cross the street. Difficult to find clean public bathrooms, to communicate with taxi drivers, to feel the beads of sweat soak into your conservative outfit. To keep your heart from breaking when experiencing the largest divide between extreme poverty and excessive wealth I’ve ever seen in such close quarters. To know who is exhibiting great kindness when they read confusion on your face and who is grinning as they try to rob you blind.

I sigh, and tell people that this is harder than I like. I like the rows and rows of tourist travel agencies who you can cross examine in Vietnam. I like the street food you can trust in Peru. I like the sellers who bargain easily in Morocco and the 7/11s in Thailand. I like the tried and true backpacker route of Southeast Asia. 

But it’s also difficult for me to stop smiling here. It is difficult for me to turn my brain off as it buzzes with everything new I am learning and every mistake I am making. It is difficult to be angry when those mistakes only cost a few dollars to fix, and I find myself grinning from ear to ear every time we find ourselves in the wrong place and squish into the back of a rickshaw or onto a non-AC bus to get back on track. It is difficult to stop eating, even after a bout of food poisoning gave me my first opportunity to use several of the air sickness bags on one of our flights. It is difficult not to be in awe of the travelers here who embrace the difficulty in order to stay and do good work. It is difficult not to trust these people who smile and gawk and waggle their heads.

It is difficult to feel ready to go back to where it will be easy, when I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of this place.

What I learned from a year of online dating

I believe in love. I believe in chemistry and soulmates and fate, but I also believe that all of that works a lot better if I give it ample opportunity. And so, 2015 was a year of swiping, matching, and hoping for the best.

“People aren’t always going to be magical right away. Maybe they’ll become magical, or they’ll become garbage…. How are you going to know if you don’t spend time with them?”

This year, I have dated boys who have talked endlessly about themselves, who can’t spell “you’re,” who ask me to describe my trip in such intricate detail that you’d think they were taking notes for my autobiography. One boy’s idea of small talk included asking me what internships I had while I was in college, and several found it appropriate to comment creepily about how much they would’ve looooved to have a teacher who looked like me when they were in middle school. I’ve had boys freak out when I didn’t text them within an hour, boys ask me to put my mouth on their body parts before I even met them, and boys tell me there’s nothing wrong with Donald Trump. There have been boys who lived at home and boys without cars and boys with credit scores and SAT scores low enough to give me pause. Ones who’ve showed up for first dates in band t-shirts or at 4am because that was the only time he didn’t work or who didn’t even show at all because he forgot to set his alarm before a nap.

I’ve had boys mansplain to me about longterm travel. About being a teacher and our education system. About writing. About things I’ve earned degrees in—especially when they haven’t. About foreplay. About being a woman.

A boy I was dating for five months continued online dating the whole time we were together, so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when he borrowed my car for two months and then didn’t buy me a birthday present. Another I was seeing for a few weeks had a Mitt Romney bumper sticker on his oversized SUV. Another waited 10 days before mentioning that his wife had passed away last year, and he was a single father.

I still believe in love. I still believe in chemistry and soulmates and fate, and that the stigma of online dating doesn’t make any sense. (The one boy I’ve ever had to call the police on picked me up at a bar, the old fashioned way.)

And this year, there have been boys who showed me around unfamiliar cities and bought me $100 dinners and were nothing but courteous. Boys who showed me new bars and recommended new books and told me I was beautiful. Boys who held my hand and brought me cookies and rubbed my shoulders after I got home from work. Who drove to my side of town just to see me, who daydreamed adventures with me and then took days off work to make them happen, who talked about me to their moms and were proud to introduce me to their friends.

I’ve learned that jealousy, insecurity, and “crazy” messages are not specific to one gender. That everyone is vulnerable on an app that encourages the shallowest of interactions. That sometimes a boy will message you a week after you stop talking to him and ask you to hang out because, “You’re cool and other people on tinder kind of suck.”  That when a boy explains his loss of interest in you by describing himself as “a puppy who just gets really excited about new things,” there is nothing to do except to start feeling sorry for his next girlfriend. That “I’m just kind of curious” is not the best basis for messaging with and/or dating a new boy. That in the end, it is still just as important to be kinder than necessary.

One of my best and oldest friends, skeptical of my newest pastime, gives me the only advice that I’m going to take as I continue swiping, matching, and hoping for the best in 2016: “Stop dating average and below-average, when what you’re looking for is someone as good as you are—someone above-average.”

interesting times

My former student asks me if my life now is different from how I imagined it when I was her age and I almost laugh. At 27, I am almost twice her age, and absolutely nothing in my life is what I would’ve imagined. I tell her this, and I think a big ball of stress immediately leaves both of our bodies.

But it’s never wrong, I say. Just different.


I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about apologies and forgiveness. I am working on being more honest, pushing to stop myself at only saying what I really mean.

I had been using Sorry as a filler word— what other word can mask insecurity and laziness and anger and hurt and blame and frustration and all of the emotions I used to hide with an unnecessary apology? I haven’t found a replacement yet, so I feel the word form in my throat, roll around in my mouth, and leave a beat of awkwardness when I swallow it. The hardest part is determining when I am actually really sorry for things—which is surprisingly infrequent. And it leaves me feeling guilty and spent, like I am wrong to stop apologizing for my very existence.

Forgiveness has been harder. At first, I thought I needed to forgive more, but I don’t think that’s it. In line with my unnecessary apologies, I tend to hand out forgiveness like candy on Halloween. I believe in being kinder than necessary, but this often means allowing myself to be stomped on over and over by repeat offenders who have already shown me who they really are. I am struggling to hold back to only when I mean it—the need to forgive comes in waves, like seasickness that leaves my insides churning. I want to believe the best in all people, I want to treat them as I would like to be treated even after I already know that they don’t feel the same. But I also want to stick up for myself, hold true to ultimatums that will leave me better off in the end, and believe that there are some people who need to work harder before they deserve the grace of my forgiveness. Even more difficult are the times when I know I should forgive myself.

I think I need to stop living my life in optimistic quotes that stick on my bathroom mirror.


There is a Chinese curse that says: “May you live in interesting times.”

But it can’t be wrong, I think. Just different.

you are what you settle for

We can’t let ourselves be the people things happen to.


I plan to thru-hike a trail north of Houston over my Thanksgiving break—first by myself, then with a boy, then again by myself—but a week long walk in the woods is starting to feel much more intimidating than my 10-month jaunt around the world. The world is full of interesting, friendly people. The woods is full of time. And maybe I’m not sure if I can handle a week with no distractions from my own mind.


My return to regular life came saddled with a long distance boyfriend (who didn’t last long), and a weird new set of daily expectations. More than one year later, I’m still struggling with the monotony of routine—the thing I was most craving when I was living out of a backpack—and even more than that, I think I’m struggling with the monotonous people who don’t struggle with routine.

Boys I’ve dated since my return have found my experiences enviable and my adventurousness enchanting. I have turned myself into a shiny pebble that boys like to show off to their friends. But as they sit around just checking off the traditional boxes in their ordinary lives, I feel myself squirm. I thought I wanted this security, but I just can’t see it. This is not the life I have chosen for myself—and I don’t know how to be with someone who has.

I find myself staying with boys who are lost. Those who have not yet reached their potential, and so their routine has not yet been determined. They are exciting and carefree… and irresponsible and young. They have let themselves become the people things happen to. And, frustratingly, I have let them become the people who most often happen to me.


My favorite podcast airs an episode about depression, and I find myself agreeing with certain statements a little too frequently. But I don’t feel personally sad like I did once before—instead I just feel sad for most other people.

“When I was depressed—and I think a lot of depressed people share this—I really didn’t believe that anyone was happy. And I believed that people that were happy were faking it…”

What if I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that someone can legitimately be happy in a typical, mundane life, with a typical, mundane job? What if I want more so badly that every single day that I don’t find it feels wasted and sad?

I want to be someone that happens so badly. I don’t understand people who don’t.


Looking for more, I applied to the Peace Corps back in August, and they are considering sending me to live and teach in China until my 30th birthday. Back when we were speaking, The Bartender told me I had to go if I got it. It wasn’t that simple then; it’s still not that simple now.

Serving would mean leaving my entire life behind and letting the Peace Corps happen to me. Turning it down would mean letting my reasonably happy existence continue to happen to me, without very many more chances for change. I am constantly consulting my compass, but I still don’t know which of these feels more like the move in the right direction.


I am introduced to a boy who asks me intrusive, intimidating questions and worms his way inside of me too quickly. He is also in the midst of a life-changing decision, and it makes me feel safe to know that I’m not alone. He is fluctuating between teaching and music and I wonder if maybe I have been approaching my life all wrong. The only job I’ve ever loved doing for free is writing. It was the only thing that kept me grounded during my year away.

Why have I been letting teaching happen to me—always too scared to look at my words as a legitimate career option?


I lose my wallet in the last five minutes of our weekend trip to Austin, and as usual, I wait longer than most before thinking I should probably cancel my credit card. When I get an email the next day from a girl asking how she can return my wallet intact, I am perhaps the only person who is not really surprised. I’ll keep my naïve optimism and let the kindness of the world happen to me, even if it means dealing with the fact that sometimes I expect—and experience—strangers treating me better than my ex-boyfriends.

An open letter to a former love

Sometimes it is necessary to create your own resolution. Posted publicly because.

I was like you once: I gave up a perfectly happy relationship without a word. I tell myself I wasn’t ready, but in all honesty the best way to put it is that I was scared shitless. I cared about him immensely but the risks and compromises and potential froze my heart and my courage, and I just stopped. He was still reaching out to me, still calling me babe, while I was shamefully, meaninglessly kissing strangers on the beaches of Thailand. I regretted the way I handled it—and I wonder (half-sad and half-maliciously) if someday our ending will haunt you the same way.

I will admit that we were not perfect, but as far as I can tell, that’s not what our breakup was about. Of course, it is always possible to be wrong when one side of the story is all you have, but unfortunately silence provides no answers or clarification.

Independence, you told me.

I lost myself in you, and you in me, I think. We latched on to each other so quickly, were so quick to merge our lives and schedules and interests together, that we forgot how much we both want and need and value independence. I skipped outings with students, frequented the gym less, shortened weekend work sessions at the expense of better lessons—you left your friends at the bar earlier, stopped writing and taking pictures, spent less time with your family. We both changed our sleep schedules and eating habits. And for a while we were happy together, I think we really were. But we also never actually asked the other one to do any of those things for us—we just made the sacrifices that we thought the other one wanted from us. And that’s when we lost ourselves in secret resentment, frustration, and the struggle of living our lives by someone else’s rules.

I went back recently and read some blog posts from the height of my travels. From days that I spent analyzing couples: mocking some couples’ reliance on one another and admiring others for having a type of loyal monogamy that I’d never had before. I questioned if I could do it—be in a relationship and also have the independence that I craved. I am now realizing just how difficult that balance is to maintain, how this may be the crux of the success of any relationship I’m ever in.

Given more time, more chances, more patience, I’m still not sure if we are actually right for each other. Our relationship will always be one of compromises, because both of our professions ask so much of us. But I think this is also why our lifestyles can complement each other—why it might even be easier to find that balance of independence and monogamy in each other than if we dated someone in our own industry. There is so much time hiding in between our schedules that we can take advantage of if we each allowed the other to add just a little bit of selfishness into our relationship.

I know that forgetting, starting over is easier for you. I never saw the complete pattern before now—that not only do you fall into monogamy quickly, but you also fall out just as fast. This is the opposite of me, and I know myself well enough to know that I will hold on to this for far too long. I tell myself that this is because I know there was something there—some indescribable connection between us that pulled us together in the first place and made us long for each other so deeply during those few months we spent together. I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but I’m pretty sure—whatever it was—that is the thing I have always been looking for in a boy. And I wonder if—through the weeks we spent apart and the days we laid in bed, during the weekday date nights and errand-filled weekends—you felt it too.

I also know that we are at different points in our lives. I get that your livelihood hinges on your constant flirting with strangers, while mine hinges on getting a solid 7 hours of sleep every night. And I know that when I was a senior in college, the last thing on my mind was settling down. Even with someone who would help me clean out my garage, read ruminations about my dad, make chocolate chip pancakes on Sundays—someone who might actually be good for me in the long run.

I wonder what will come of this. If despite my best efforts to solve the puzzle, you have already thrown away the pieces. If your stubbornness will continue to rival mine. If this silence will outlast any possibility of reconciliation. If you have already forgotten.

I was at both my best and my worst when I was with you, something that I believe was also true for you. I have also been at both my best and my worst since we broke up, so maybe this has less to do with you than I think.