The Best Part About Being 21


You’re totally expecting me to say champagne brunch.

It’s tempting, I know. Breakfast and bubbly drinks are my weakness; guilty as charged.

But no siree. This birthday business has nothing to do with gourmet dinners, raging parties, or bomb diggity surprise shindigs. It’s not that those things aren’t awesome in their own right. In fact, it just so happens that I specialize in planning events that are sixty shades of crazy.

(Tahoe or H’s birthday at Cafe Japone, anyone?)


I digress. I’ve had two truly outstanding birthdays in my life. Equal parts essential and touching. Sorta ridiculous. Mainly batshiz-cray.

On my 14th birthday, my best friends AT and AL planned a surprise birthday party at a local restaurant. I had NO idea. We’re talking ground zero cluelessness. And to say I was surprised would be a complete understatement. I was on the doorstep of disbelief.

It was then that I experienced one of the strangest phenomenons of my life: I was so taken aback by the surprise that I started crying uncontrollably (out of happiness). I didn’t even know that was possible. In fact, I rarely cry, but on that day, you would’ve thought the damn Hoover Dam itself had sprung a leak.

For my 21st birthday this year, I told my friends that I didn’t want a surprise. Nobody (including me) ever really feels like a big to-do when even bigger exams are around the corner. Finals are a party pooper. It’s lame, but it’s logic.


The thing about logic though? Birthdays have this bonkers weird “exception” clause, wherein logic doesn’t apply. True to form, my friends pulled off an entire birthday week–complete with things far above what I asked and beyond what I expected. There was a surprise dinner here, a ridiculous “employee appreciation” here, and of course, an infamous night at Georgetown’s famous bar, here. There were kind wishes from coworkers, spaghetti (squash) + wine with A, hugs from P & Y, the best convo with S, and sweet little thangs from so many people near and far.


Last night, there was a simple and low-key birthday evening at home with my favorite food made by L, H, and P.  (PIZZZZZZZZZZZA. Oh, you thought I was fancy? Think again.)

And finally, there was this video below, which was everything I wanted in the world for my birthday. And much, much more.

Featuring: friends & family from Cape Town, Paris, Singapore/New York, the Great Wall of China, Mississippi, Philly (Penn), Indiana, New Haven (Yale)/New York, Atlanta (Emory), and of course, home sweet home in California.

Video clips start at 3:00. And I highly recommend that you at least watch the end, beginning at 8:00 to see my parents’ crazy skit.

But really, everything about this video is pure, cheesy gold. It’s awkward and hilarious. And to me, it’s absolutely perfect.

The best part about being 21 is not the happy hours or the champagne brunches, the plans or the parties, the dessert or the dance floor. It’s really dang simple.

To love and be loved is the greatest gift of all. I know that’s some straight cheddah, but on your birthday, it’s all gouda. So thank you–all of you. For everything.

As for the waterworks?

Yeah, that damn Hoover dam seems to be leaking yet again.

With love & other hugs,


Filed under Reflection

Dream Big But Never Sleep


Adventure (n). It’s safe to say I spend half my time thinking of ridiculous things. And the other half actually doing them. An impromptu, whirlwind tour of the East Coast for the week(end) constitutes both the former and latter.

Solo? You betcha. Fear is not a friend of mine. Plus, I have an uncanny habit of making and finding friends along the way.

Going to a Jesuit university has its perks, namely five sweet days of break that feel just too good to be true. High fives to the Easter bunny. Unceremoniously wedged between Spring Break and finals, it’s a catch-breath before finals pulls a berserk attack. I’m starting to dream of those hot summer nights on the horizon.

But hot dang, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. April stands for adventure (n.) – so we’re doing just that. Genius is as ingenious does. Run with it? I thought you’d never ask. We’re going places!

New York City strikes me as grit disguised in big dream glory. Even with its brisk, fuggedaboutit tone, New York has always been a bit of a dream. You see, it paints bright-eyed girl with dreams too big for baggage (guess who?). It’s the endless and constant supply of doing that tempts a hopeless doer. And it’s the challenge to make it big where and when the changes seem so small. I’ve warned you that I’m a hopeless dreamer, with an eye for the unlikely.

I’m hanging around NYU, right at the intersection of Banker St. and Hipster Ave. I’ll likely be found at Moth Slam with M or walking through the Village with no particular destination.

Yale seems downright collegiate. While their bulldog mascot is sadly nowhere near the caliber of Georgetown’s (ha! ;)), I’m excited to see the place that high school best friend SC has shown me only in ridiculous stories.

Columbia | Barnard: Rumor has it that all students must be able to swim across a pool before graduating. I dig that sort of crazy creativity, meaning I’m already a fan. I’m seeing friends S and N. Waffles are a given.

Happy Wednesday, friends. It’s time to meet the city that dreams big but never sleeps. Funny, that city sounds a lot like someone I know? Oh right, that’s me. -L


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10 Little Things I Learned in March

We’re on April’s doorstep. And absolutely nobody is mad about it. We’ve been chasing a freezing March and winter out of the house like a cat and a mouse. We’re moving on and moving up! April is when the beat quickens and where the magic happens. The famous D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival is on daily countdown. Easter is ready or set. The Farmers’ Market is a go. Georgetown Day, an exemplary of district debauchery, is on the horizon.

And because you know I wouldn’t dare go out with a bang, the last day of April marks my 21st birthday.

Do it, and do it big. Fear is not a friend of mine.

But first…March! Let’s talk.


  1. Being back at the Georgetown Farmers’ Market makes this house feel like home. There’s the world’s best waffles, punny jokes at max capacity, and good vibes all around.

  2. Miami is equal parts wild, weird, and wonderful. And The Electric Pickle is truly one of a kind. It has a strange way of making up for lost time, while making you realize time was never lost in the first place. Killin’ it is just part of the job description. It’s hilarious and janky and unexpected at its finest. But hey you, that’s been our m.o. since Day 1.

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  3. Love thy parents who do thy taxes. Pay in unlimited hugs. (generously)

  4. I’m consistently underdressed for the weather and overdressed for everything else. This could plausibly explain why I ended up in business casual on a bicycle last week, speeding between a formal presentation and the farmers’ market. Note to self: heels on wheels and freezing rain is a unique sort of experience. It washes away any semblance of hubris…in a very real I-can’t-feel-my-toes sort of way.

  5. Shit happens. Here at Georgetown and beyond. Laugh when it happens. Keep friends close and a metaphorical plunger closer.IMG_6650
  6. Life has a bonkers crazy habit of knowing you better than you know yourself. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I thought I had something figured out, only to realize I’d been looking at it upside down and backwards the entire time. When life does come full circle, don’t be a square and get hung up on a corner. Let it come all the way ‘round.

  7. The beach is my natural habitat, and the ocean is my second skin. Let me live in a bathing suit and t-shirt forever, and I’ll die a happy woman. No pants; no problems.1964962_10152418708287868_1933159672_n
  8. Money can buy lavishness in excess for a pretty penny. Ironically, excess is rather worthless.

  9. Winter has overstayed its welcome. Being stuck inside is a handy reminder of why its important to put yourself out there every day.

  10. When the CEO of Chipotle comes to Georgetown and invites questions, stand up. Speak up. Challenge the idea that you’ll look stupid. Remember that queso is your first language. And when the Head Honcho hands you his autograph, a free burrito, a personal thank you plus his contact info, embrace the art of a high five (because holy guacamole, ya know?).



Filed under Reflection

What’s Shakin’ Bacon


I’m halfway between a sea of snow and a tandem of thoughts. It’s nearly April! Bonkers. There’s snow. Still? Major bonkers.

Procrastination? We’ve got it bad, friends.

Let’s take it easy and make it basic today. We’re going with the 5Ws: who, what, when, where, why. No frill, just chill. And mainly just because.


Who is 36 days away from a birthday?

Who’s putting a smile on your face?
C, who keeps up with my relentless sarcasm all the way from Cape Town. P, who kept me sane with a Monday night dinner date at my favorite restaurant in DC.

What’s shakin’ bacon?
A head space that is all over the place. Multitasking is typically my first language, but I’m knee deep in a few too many things (including snow). I’m going on 6 Gmail accounts open and 10n farmers’ market e-mails halfway written. Wicked procrastination on learning about FDI and nonlinear optimization.

Whatcha listening to?
Kodaline. Equal parts wintry and acoustic. And a bit of nostalgic summer throwback because this summer’s festival lineup is almost hot off the press.

What’s cookin’ good lookin’?
Grilled cheese on farmers’ market multigrain & a fan-freaking-tastic cup of joe whose caffeine buzz is making Tuesday and this post doable

When are you going to write a real post?
Good call, dude. It’s coming!

Where to?
Back to Miami, please & thank you. Sunshine Rx.

Why ya writing?
My thoughts are sorta cloudy, and explanations aren’t coming easily. Winter has overstayed its welcome, but it’s also dead giveaway that I haven’t written or journaled in awhile.

But hey! We’re making it through this crazy Tuesday.


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Bienvenido a Miami


bienvenido a miami. simply & smiling–

(but with no less sass)

a fair share of sun on the daily, blue moon on the nightly. and tomorrow forecasted to be a high five and a half, up high and down low.

if that sounded poetic, it’s by pure happenstance + sheer luck.  and mainly my way of saying sleep is callin’ my name right now like yo mom/pops does when they means business:

“aleeeeeeeeexaaaaaa. laurennnnnnnnnnnneeee. cotcamppppppp, are you getting enough sleep?”

jury is still out on that one… 

ps. sweet dreams. 



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Dear Sister, Even if You’re Not

I envisioned this post as a time capsule of sorts. While studying abroad in Nantes, France, I decided that I would one day want something that would be a one-way ticket to an experience of memory, a memory of experience. I wanted something that would make me feel as if I was transported back to the moment when I sat along the Erdre River with my two bare pieds noirs (literally “black feet”), dusty and darkened from wandering barefoot. So without further ado, I present the letter that I wrote to the most important person of my experience–my “host sister.”


Dear Mélissa,

I’m writing to you, but you will likely never read this letter. Mais si tu vois ça, n’hesites pas à demander à Nathalie pour une traduction – j’utilise beaucoup d’argot, mais elle fera de sa mieux. (If you do, ask Nathalie to translate- my English is replete with unique slang, but she’ll do her best.) I’m writing to you to explain the thoughts that rest idle when the words have run elsewhere. I’m writing to you because there’s no map to sincere gratitude that has sufficient instructions when you’re lost in translation.

The words “host sister” find their way ever so subtly into my conversation.  The title comes easy now that it’s slipped its way into conversation with friends and family so many times. It’s easy, convenient, just a smidge endearing, but also quite amusingly incorrect.

We are not technically sisters. And while nobody would guess it, you’re not part of my host family either. (Though truly you are considered such, more or less.) You are a student, renting the room for two years now in this house we call ours and studying at the same university in this charming city. Our rooms sit side-by-side and are linked by the bathroom we share, like many other things.

I love that we are always known as les filles (the girls) in the house. We’ve taken to taking meals together, swapping cheese and sharing bread. I never get sick of laughing about the time when we gleefully put ribbons in our brother’s shoes on his birthday. I love that we’ll both bemoan missing Nathalie’s amazing pumpkin soup and tease the other if she does. I’m constantly amused by your endless love of coffee. And by the time you’re on cup #4, I know full well to join you pronto. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It warms my soul that you rush to greet me, when you know I’ve had an unkind exam at way-too-early in the morning. You are the first one to ask me how it went. To tell me “ça va, c’est fini” (it’s ok, it’s over), when my lower lip trembles in response. Whether you knew that or not, I needed it more than anything.

When I bounce into a room, I love that you offer to make room on the couch for me. And share the blanket too. Blanket sharing is serious business in this world of friendship. I try to politely refuse every time so as to not make you move. And I laugh every time you shoot me a raised eyebrow and eye-rolling glance that clearly says “shut up, and sit your ass down.” You know me a good handful of steps beyond politeness.

I love that you put my host brother, Cyriaque, in his place when he gets sassy up in your grill. I love that we’ll eat seconds of dessert at any given chance because we rejoice in just how sweet life is. I love that you know my class schedule and that I know yours. That you’re my confidante for all questions bizarre and embarrassing (and believe me, I ask a lot). I love the way you talk to your 2 year old (?) nephew, like your heart is so full of adoration that every word is laced with a love plain and simple. You’re kind and silly, easy-going and always ready to answer my next question.

I loved that night you bought hard cider during our spontaneous trip to the grocery store — “2 for tonight, and 2 for another night,” you said. That we cooked dinner, filling the kitchen with music and soul-soothing laughter alike. I love that I uttered the words ‘Ryan Gosling’, and you took your hand to lips and declared, “Il est parfait!” as I lost myself to laughter. I love that we later hung out and watched The Notebook en français, with you reminding me to make myself at home in your room that sits mere steps from mine. I loved the risotto you made but loved the pride that shone in making it even more. I love that you asked me twice if I was forgetting anything before leaving…even though you knew I likely would anyway. That like my sister, you stopped me before going out, straightened my smile, and beamed saying, “Tu es jolie!” (you’re beautiful). 

I smile from head to toe realizing how good of friends we’ve become so quickly, even with that transparent language barrier that tries to draw a line between two. I try to imagine what it would be like if I could speak fluently in French, or you in English. If this sweet companionship could be even better.

I love that I never guessed we of all people would be best friends. But I couldn’t be happier that we are. I wonder if we’ll keep in touch and what it’d be like if/when you were to come visit me in California. I think about how much you’ve given me comfort in being here and if I could ever do the same in return. I think about how much I’ll miss you. But above all, I wonder if you realize what all this has to meant to me…that at the end of the day, I would be proud to call you my sister.




Filed under Study Abroad

{snow day}

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happy snow day from washington d.c.!

the reader’s digest version: 

brought to you by a royal sh*t ton of snow [atta girl, mother nature!]
beer for breakfast, chillin in da snow [crushin it]
homemade cinnamon rolls & coffee [fo real]
and 0% productivity [duh]
and that one boy next door who just yodeled for the 536th time. [no comment]



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