Oh, America

Unbelievable. I moved back to the States a year after Washington State legalized gay marriage and recreational marijuana all in one fell swoop and today the Supreme Court of the United States just issued their ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and 5 to 4 the justices favored Hobby Lobby.

Basically the ruling boils down to this: the government can’t require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs.

Sweet baby Jesus.

Women deserve better than this. Much better than this.

It is really hard to believe that this has just happened in the United States in the 21st century. We are fighting over birth control–in a country that has the worst paid maternity leave in the quote-unquote first world. We are fighting over birth control–in a country that has probably the worst, if not the most confusing and convoluted, health care system in the first world. We are fighting over birth control–in a country that is failing to provide a high quality education to everyone and our children can’t keep pace with the rest of the world.

Ug. This whole thing is disgusting.

The only redeeming thing to come from all of this? Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissenting opinion. You can read the whole thing here. Ginsburg’s dissent starts on page 60 and while t is dense is beautifully written and carefully argued. (Thanks Wittenberg for my liberal arts education, a minor in Political Science and the course on Civil Liberties and the Constitution. I may not be a lawyer but I can still read a decision with the best of them.)

The fact that she has to write this infuriates me.

What’s the big deal? Woman have bodies. Women have sex. Woman can and should be able to prevent pregnancy if this is what they want to do. This should be an option that is available for all women not just those who can afford it.

Why do we fear birth control so much and why do we desire to control women’s bodies this much? What are we so afraid of?

And more to the point, what’s wrong with this country?!

Summer in Seattle

This is just to say: the nights are getting longer in Seattle and I am loving it. It’s 9:30pm and there’s not a cloud in the sky and it’s just cool enough that outside I am a little chilly in a tank top and a draped scarf.

I guess it’s just to say: it doesn’t get much better than this.

I can’t believe that today is the last day of June and tomorrow we’re ringing in July–2014 is half done and I have no complaints. None. How lucky is that?!

Weekend adventure in Denver

My weekend in Denver was loads of fun. My friends N. & B. are doing super between a recent-ish move to the city, challenging jobs that they seem to really like, a new home and a cookbook. Wow!

I found myself so happy for them. They were just radiating energy. It was (and is) contagious. In fact, I’ve had an overwhelming urge to cook everything in N.’s new book. The only problem with that? I have an awful lot of leftovers. His cookbook: Love Your Leftovers.

I didn’t know what to expect from Denver but I have to say, l loved it. Everyone was exceedingly nice, the city was very easy to navigate and the weather?! Well it turns out I kind of miss sunshine and sunglasses.

It turns out that a long weekend in Denver was exactly what I needed. Oh and some of that local beer.

More to follow on my adventures in Denver.

Denver and thoughts about travel

This afternoon after work I’m flying to Denver to catch up with my friends N. & B. I can’t wait to see them. They’ve had so many exciting things happening in their lives recently between a lot of newish things including: new jobs, a new city, a new house and a cookbook that N. has been pouring himself into. Needless to say we have lots of wonderful things to celebrate.

I basically packed my bag for this trip on Sunday night. Then I re-packed it last night worried that I’d forgotten something. The funny thing is I ended up taking things out rather than adding more. I thought: I’m only going for 3.5 days. It’s nice not to be weighed down by things.

This morning when I woke up I thought, tonight I’ll be falling asleep in Denver. But what’s more interesting to me is the fact that this is the first trip in the States in my adult life that’s just for fun. It’s not bundled up with something else–a long layover, a conference or a wedding. I’m going to Denver because I want to.

A little part of me worries that when I moved back to the States that I wouldn’t travel for the sake of traveling as much, or any more. Flight are more expensive in the States than they are in Europe and in Europe everything seems new and unexplored.

What’s more, I had a group of friends in Bulgaria who were always looking for the next adventure. Friends who were always up for booking flights and cheap hotels and just going. Friends who would rent a car for the weekend and drive. Friends who would book the first flight out of Sofia at the end of the work week and the late night flight back home again on Sunday so that we had as much time as possible to explore–who needs sleep, when there’s so much to see?

I think that this concentration of energy, passion and excitement is generally the exception as most circumstances don’t support it. To live abroad with other expats who have the same vacations you do, who basically make the same amount of money as you do and who in large part are living abroad because they want to explore, travel and experience new things makes for a pretty stellar combination.

But look at me go, I’m taking my first State-side trip. Denver here I come!

How to drink coffee like a European

Seattle is a city that loves coffee but in large part it seems to be the bigger the better–larger sizes and more shots of espresso. I have a sense that there might be a shift in this mentality in some of the smaller craft coffee shops in the city but at this point it seems to be the exception to the rule.

Europeans pride themselves on their coffee habits. Smaller sizes–think 4, 6, or 8 oz.–and sitting down to drink said coffee in a cafe.

How to drink coffee like a European?

1. Pick one of these three classics: a short coffee, a long coffee or a cappuccino.
2. Add a side of water. In some cafés around Europe this is standard. Your coffee comes on a silver tray–coffee, tiny spoon, a tiny cookie on the saucer of your coffee and a glass of water. If you really want to up you game, order sparkling water. The bubbles make this water fancier than still water.
3. Sit outside at a tiny bistro table on the sidewalk with your body turned toward the street. Part of drinking your coffee is being seen.
4. Under no circumstances should you take your coffee to go. Who does that?! Heathens. That’s who. Having a coffee alfresco–or otherwise–is having time.
5. Old school Europe also encourages one to smoke a cigarette after his or her coffee but truthfully I think this habit is falling off with the influx of new anti-smoking laws. And if you ask me, that’s just fine.

The downside of drinking coffee in Europe?

1. Surly waiters. No one makes and serves coffee as cheerfully as Americans.
2. Sometimes the coffee is bitter and requires sugar to drink it. It’s not clear to me how carefully or how often some espresso machines are cleaned.
3. The best seats are taken.
4. Not all cafés serve breakfast pastries but almost all of them serve cake!

8oz Cappuccino: a little Europe in Ballard

On Saturday morning I called my sister and asked her if she was up for a little adventure. She said, yes. Yes, just to be clear, is always the right answer. I told her we were going to track down a little Europe in Ballard. C. said to me: what does that mean? I said: you’ll see.
Bauhaus Ballard

I a lucky that my sister is a good sport. A really good sport.

I picked her up and we stopped by BevMo and Fred Meyer. Neither of these stops were really related to pretending we’re in Europe. We spent an embarrassingly long time in BevMo. Basically we walked up and down every isle of an over-sized liquor shop. commenting on all of the alcohol. In Fred Meyer, I picked up a crazy assortment of things: new pink nail polish, pickles, pickled veggies, green olives, balsamic vinegar, as well as an orange, a lemon and a lime. My sister spent the whole time laughing at me.

I bought her a big bag of pretzels so I think we’re even now (but maybe I should have bought her two bags to be on the safe side).

Then we drove back to Ballard.  I found a spot and parallel parked perfectly on the first try. I’ve never owned a car in my adult until moving to Seattle in October so things like this still bring me joy. Frankly, I hope they always will.

Mr Gyros

Falafel Sandwich at Mr Gyros

We walked by Mr Gyros and I said: let’s stop for a falafel sandwich.  We decided to split one. It was perfect and even better was the fact that we stopped by at like 2:45 and the shop closes at 3pm so we were inside eating falafel and watching other people get turned away. Your disappointment at being denied Mr Gyros makes my falafel sandwich taste that much sweeter. (Yes, I’m a horrible person.)

Half a falafel sandwic later, we wandered down the street to Bauhaus Coffee. We ordered little cappuccinos because we were pretending to be fancy and European.
Menu at Bauhaus

Coffee cups at Bauhaus
I ordered 8 oz. which seems pretty spot on for Europe. C. ordered the 12 oz. cappuccino. I raised my eye at her–that’s too big to European. She gave me this look: I’m not actually in Europe. I am in Ballard.

I let it go.
Chairs at Bauhaus

Me at Bauhaus

Me at Bauhaus
We drank our coffee out front.  Bauhaus makes a damn good cappuccino.

C. at Bauhaus
My only complaint? Look at the size of this spoon. Really, I require a little teaspoon to drink a little cappuccino.
Little coffee, Big spoon

Buying alcohol in Washington

So my first post on live like a European in Seattle was going to be a post-work, post-gym cocktail with Campari. The cocktail is stupidly simple and dead easy to make. But, only if you have Campari.

The Campari is a most and the one thing I couldn’t find at QFC my local grocery store. Needless to say, this is not a European cocktail post today.

Up until about a year ago, we had to buy any alcohol that wasn’t beer or wine at a state own liquor store. It was something about taxes, access and safety(?) or maybe just power and control(!!). These state run stores had pretty good selection because well, the only thing they did was sell alcohol.

The state run store in Walla Walla was smallish and kind of depressing. Nobody really decorates a state run liquor store. But the on very clever thing was that the shop was set up so that all the shelves could be stocked from behind. This resulted in an odd semicircle display of alcohol available to the public but these things happen.

This store and those like it are no more. Grocery stores can now sell liquor. Ah, that’s capitalism and democracy at its finest. The democratization of alcohol!!

In practice what this means is that you can liquor anywhere (well, almost) but the selection is pretty limited to the basics–or maybe it’s better said this way: to the crowd pleasers. Whiskey, vodka, gin, rum. Yep, yep and yep. Campari? Not so much.

That’s okay. I guess half the fun is going to be the hunt. Wish me luck!!

The Approach of Summer in Seattle

As the calendar rolls closer and closer to July, I’ve found myself missing Europe. All of it. The cobblestones, tiny cafés, getting lost, finding yourself, the long hot days spent poking around in museums or laying out on a beach with the rest of Europe. There’s a lot to miss.

Really you can’t feel to bad for me. I did spend the past six summers in Europe. And yes, I realize when I put it that way this longing for Europe is kind of obscene.

But here I am. I’m starting a new job. I don’t have any vacation time nor do I have the money to head off to Europe this summer.

So I’m going to make do with Seattle. In fact I’m going to do better than that, I’m going to bring the best of Europe to me.

Watch out.


So I had visions of a return to the States that was easy. Get a job, find an apartment and plan future holidays. Ha.

Things seldom work out exactly how we imagine.

I applied for lots of jobs and sold clothes part-time. Selling clothes in a big department store was fun, at times annoying and great exercise. Over the course of a long shift 5+ hours I would walk 4 or more miles depending on how busy the fitting room was.

In February I got a contract position to work in health care via my past work at Georgetown and the networks that stem from things like this. This first position went from three weeks to nearly three months and this then rolled into a second position and finally a third permanent position.


There’s something to be said for being in the right spot at the right time. In large part that’s how I secured my new position.

It’s nice to know that I’ve got a real job. You know the kind of job with insurance, a retirement plan and paid time off. It’s one less thing to worry about.


Hello June!

I have a feeling that June is going to be my month. First of all spring is here and maybe even summer. I’ve gone to work bare legged a few times. I’ve shed my raincoat most days and last week and this week I’ve sat outside to eat lunch.

I just celebrated my birthday with old friends and new friends. I threw a party with my sister after she bought a $10 wedding cake from the culinary arts program at her community college. We sent a quick text to friends: wedding cake and cheap champagne and they came. Basically everyone should throw a party like this.

My sister’s birthday is fast approaching. I already bought her birthday present and gave it to her. I’m apparently horrible at secrets. But to my credit I knew that she would love the blouse so shouldn’t she wear it, enjoy it and love it?! What’s more, we’re going wine tasting in Walla Walla at the end of the month to celebrate.

Before Walla Walla though, I’m going to Denver to visit friends from DC. Just to be clear, by visit, I really mean I’m going to eat Nick out of house and home. I also plan on bringing him some treats from the Pacific Northwest.

On top of all of this, after months of working part time at a department store and then doing full-time contract work for most of 2014, I have a real job that I’ll be starting the middle of this month. Yay!

Yay, June.