Should I leave DC?

I have been thinking really hard about leaving DC and going somewhere else. For a while, I thought seriously about moving to Seoul. Then I actually visited South Korea, and now that idea is totally dead in the water. (More in a later blog post.)

I have a new city in mind–well, actually, it was my Plan B after Seoul–and now it’s looking like a pretty good option. I won’t name it here because I don’t want to jinx it. And I haven’t even been there yet.

Today I was googling “moving to a new city” and came across this quiz/article, “17 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Moving To A New City.” Thought it might be fun to take it. Answers below.

1. Can I afford it?

Yes. DC is like the 3rd most expensive city in the US, and the 6th in the world. I’ll be able to save some money, but not a ton, by moving away.

2. Do I know anyone that lives where I’m going?

A former landlord now lives there, but I don’t think she liked me that much. Other than that, no one.

3. What are the good/bad neighborhoods?

Good question. I don’t really know.

4. What’s the cost of living there?

Still pretty costly. Only slightly cheaper than DC.

5. What’s the job market like?

Good for tech types, but unclear for other industries. (I’ve applied to some jobs in tech before and never heard squat back.) I might just keep my current job and telecommute.

6. How much does it cost to register my vehicle?

I don’t have one and never will.

7. How do the school systems operate?

I don’t have kids and also nopenopenope I don’t want to think about this.

8. How much is gas where I’m going?

Doesn’t matter, because I will never get a car.

9. How long do I want to stay there?

Oh dear. I don’t know. A year? Maybe longer if I like it? I am deeply noncommittal and can only be tied down by a lease.

10. Do I really need this where I’m going?

This is one of my biggest questions! How much am I going to have to toss, given that it would be a complete cross-country move? Should I keep my bed frame? My mattress? What about my cooking utensils? My plants?

11. What is here that I’m going to need out there?

A fantastic Thai restaurant. A good hairdresser. Plenty of safe trails to walk and run on. Walkability and ease of public transportation. Environment-conscious people who recycle and are passionate about supporting progressive policies.

12. When should I leave?

End of July, beginning of August.

13. What am I losing if I leave?

The beautiful National Mall. The museums. Easy access to every embassy/consulate in the world. All the free cultural events. The privilege of calling the nation’s capital home… 😥

14. What am I gaining if I leave?

A new experience in a part of the country that I have never visited or lived in before. A much, much larger dating pool. Exposure to the tech industry. Opportunities to make new friends. Proximity to Asia. Beautiful abundance of wildlife and nature. Great coffee. And the opportunity to get a dog!

15. What is my goal for moving out there?

To try something new. To meet new people. To start a new chapter.

16. What’s my back-up plan?

Honestly, I don’t know.

17. Is this the right move?

We’ll see! I’m planning to fly out there next May to scout it out. Stay tuned.


On turning 26

jardin du luxembourg
People-watching at Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris this summer.

I recently turned 26. Thanks to Obamacare, we now have a modern definition of exactly what constitutes adulthood in America, and that is the day you are officially kicked off your parents’ health plan for good. This is why turning 26 feels a little special–I am, according to society, Someone Who Now Has Her Shit Together.

And I do, for the most part, thank God. I have a full-time job, a mid-level career at a nonprofit, working with civil society organizations across the world to further a meaningful cause. I graduated with a master’s degree earlier this year. I recently moved out of a group house and into my own studio apartment, which I keep clean and tidy on a daily basis. I brew my own lattes and mochas with a stovetop faux-espresso maker. I own two plants that I have managed to keep alive thus far.

But there’s a lot of uncertainty, too, things that keep me up at night. I have a massive amount of student loan debt–more than I make in a year, payments that leave me essentially breaking even after rent and groceries each month. I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now. Trying for the foreign service again? Living in a different country? Or feeling stuck? I am alone, and sometimes lonely. And then of course there’s the disastrous political insurgency that has crippled this country. The DC region has the highest concentration of anxiety and neurosis per capita I’ve ever seen–and that shit is contagious, yo.

One more thing I’ll mention about getting older: I am hungry all the time. Like all. The. Time. I am watching my calorie intake with an app, and I am exercising more, but still. How am I not 200 lbs yet?!


My new studio apartment


In August, I moved from a three-bedroom house to a studio apartment. My rent went up by $300 a month, but I have to say — so worth it. I’m now a 15-minute bus ride from work and a block from the metro. The building has a concierge that holds mail for you, so I no longer have to worry about packages being stolen off my porch. I can go in the kitchen and cook whenever I want, without having to share the counters or entertain small talk. There are cons, too, of course: just this Saturday, the entire building was evacuated twice, at 6pm and 1am, due to faulty fire alarms going off. I can sometimes hear my neighbor singing loudly at midnight. And when I cook, the smell permeates through the entire apartment. But overall I would say, again, WORTH IT.

I’ve finally finished decorating the apartment, so here are some pictures. Mad respect to people who take photos for house tours on Apartment Therapy. They make it look so easy, but it’s actually hard af trying to get everything to fit within the frame. Here goes. Continue reading

‘Kindly revert’ and other email quirks

I have started a new blog.

In this first post, I would like to discuss a topic that is fascinating to me: emails, and the way we write them. I am just coming off two-plus years working at a large intergovernmental organization (DC speak: IGO) where only about 20 percent of the staff was from North America. As I transition into my new job at a small nonprofit that consists mainly of Americans, I am noticing certain phrases, quirks and patterns in my email style that were shaped not only by my years at the IGO, but also by the various bosses, interviewers, and other individuals I’ve come in contact with during my professional career. It is worth reflecting on a few of them, below: Continue reading