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Existential Turtle Time

A collection of adventures, reviews, and contemplation

Bucket List Item #6d: Visit Chicago

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Taken from a bridgehouse overlooking the Chicago River. Peep the Chicago Tribune building in the background!

This past summer, I lived and worked in the Windy City! For starters, it definitely wasn’t as dangerous as I imagined it would be—given, I stayed in a relatively safe area (South Loop near DePaul, for all the Chicagoans out there), but I grew up associating this city with guns, violence, and its title as the “murder capital of the world.” Yikes, right? Continue reading “Bucket List Item #6d: Visit Chicago”

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A Visit to the World’s First Nutella Cafe

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A little under 2 months ago, the world’s first Nutella Cafe opened in Chicago! An avid Nutella fan (I’ve literally finished jars by the spoonful), I was beyond excited to check it out while I was still in the city. Continue reading “A Visit to the World’s First Nutella Cafe”

The Dilemma With My Career-Marriage-Family Timeline

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We all have one, right? I think for women especially, visualizing when we’d hope to get married, land our first real job, and have kids isn’t a novel idea. I call it the “career-marriage-family timeline,” and I’ve had one floating around in my brain for years. Continue reading “The Dilemma With My Career-Marriage-Family Timeline”

Best Reverse Pickpocketing Ever? 


I don’t know this dog, nor did I take this Polaroid picture. As I paid for my food at Panda Express, I noticed this Polaroid wedged between the two business cards I’d been holding in my right hand. It definitely wasn’t there when I entered the line. I’ve heard stories of reverse pickpocketing before—a practice in which items are given to strangers instead of taken—but this has GOT to be the most adorable case of it ever.

“Why Men Love Bitches” by Sherry Argov

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I have a love-hate relationship with this book. There was a lot of advice that I found super problematic (e.g. in order to win a man’s trust or respect, you must manipulate him), but there were also parts that had me snapping my fingers with one hand and turning the page with the other. See the issue? Continue reading ““Why Men Love Bitches” by Sherry Argov”

“The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

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This book is for those who know they can be much happier than they currently are and especially for the ones who are apathetic about the topic as a whole. Through this yearlong project dedicated to improving all aspects of her life, Gretchin Rubin reminds us that we can be proactive when it comes to our personal happiness.  Continue reading ““The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin”

Money Water

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My commute to work is a short, 10 minute walk in one direction. Along the way, I pass multiple eateries, clothing stores, Chicago’s largest public library, two pharmacies, and even a law school–all of this, squeezed into just 5 blocks worth of space.

I also pass over a dozen homeless people. Same path, same space. Every day.

Living in a city where encountering homeless people is the norm affects everyone differently. To some, it makes turning a blind eye a lot easier. To others, it evokes both pity and a desire to help. Personally, and a bit shamefully, I found myself experiencing a mix of both. Continue reading “Money Water”

Special Pigeon

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“You’re the special pigeon in a flock of regular ones!” I remember laughing and telling this to my sister after seeing a brown pigeon for the first time in NYC last summer. Nearly a year later, on my commute to work I spotted this one! I have a strange fascination with them and think they’re beautiful. So if I ever call you a “special pigeon,” it’s a compliment–believe me!

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling

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This. book. was. HILARIOUS. It has all the sass and wit you’d expect from Kelly Kapoor (though there is an entire paragraph devoted to how different she is from the author), along with all the insight, sarcasm, and honesty that only Mindy Kaling could so expertly deliver.
Continue reading ““Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)” by Mindy Kaling”

“Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari

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This book was honestly a lot more informative than I expected it to be! Ansari (it’s so strange calling him by his last name–like most people, I know him more as a comedian than as an author, but props to the man for being just as versatile as he is hilarious) does a great job at infusing humor and personal anecdotes into his extensive research on what it means to date in the 21st century.  Continue reading ““Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari”

Lessons From My Best Friend

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I’ve known my best friend since 4th grade. Technically we met in kindergarten, but 4th grade marks when we decided to sit next to each other for the first time and talk. A few months ago marked the 10 year anniversary of that day—our friendiversary, if you will. I am so incredibly grateful for the fact that she’s been in my life for an entire decade, and I can’t wait for the countless friendiversaries to come (cheesy, I know, but stick with me). From becoming god-friends of each other’s dogs to rejoicing in Contemplative Moon Time, I have learned so much from this wonderful human being. Below are a few of the life lessons she’s taught me over the years: Continue reading “Lessons From My Best Friend”

Don’t Mourn. Act.

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I never considered myself a political person until recently.

This was only the second time I had ever voted (my first was in the primaries), and trust me, there have been many opportunities for me to exercise this privilege since my 18th birthday. I abstained from local elections, never attended rallies, and generally steered away from political topics in conversation. While aware, I was passive. And when the new presidency was announced, I thought to myself, “Is there anything else I could’ve done?” even though I already knew. Complacency, at any point in the political process, has never been appropriate. Continue reading “Don’t Mourn. Act.”

The Guilt of Dropping Engineering

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This past summer, I decided to transfer out of my engineering school. The confrontation of my intense desire to, as well as the actual steps I took to do so, were all extremely emotional. My mind was racked with disappointment, sadness, and so much guilt. Was I being a cop-out? Was I tanking my future? Who, besides myself, was I letting down? Continue reading “The Guilt of Dropping Engineering”

“Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne

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I was expecting Around the World in Eighty Days to be very Eat, Pray, Love-esque, in the sense that I thought it’d make me want to jump on a plane and explore the world. It didn’t; the book is more about precision than it is about wanderlust. But that’s actually something I loved about it: it was filled with adventure without getting caught up in the sentimental details that are typically found in books about travel (e.g. “Here’s how my trip to *insert place* changed my life forever…”). Continue reading ““Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne”

Olympic Mindset

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I. LOVE. The Olympics.

Two days ago, I sat on my couch and finally tuned in to the most exciting international event of 2016: the Rio Olympics. I didn’t become a huge fan of the infamous games until 2012, when for the first time I witnessed the magnificence of Aliya Mustafina’s stage presence, the glow and optimism of Gabby Douglas, the grace of Aly Raisman’s floor routine, and the heartbreaking fate of Jordyn Wieber’s all-around potential. (If it wasn’t obvious already, gymnastics is my favorite sport to watch by FAR.) I would sit cross-legged on the floor with my cousin, late at night and barely a foot from the TV screen, avidly watching the gymnasts do the seemingly impossible. And if I still had it in me when the events were over—even after holding my breath and crossing my fingers during every pass—I’d stick around for the daily medal count and recaps. Continue reading “Olympic Mindset”

“You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero

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THIS BOOK WAS SO FUN TO READ! It was exactly what I needed after a pretty difficult past year. It’s so easy to play the victim and stay in a pessimistic mindset when things are repeatedly going badly, but this book shook me out of that state and brought to my attention how lame it is to wallow in your own negativity. You Are A Badass emphasizes how you could and should wake up every morning, pumped about your day and loving the fact that you get to be you. And if you’re not….then, well, you’re kind of half-assing your life. Continue reading ““You Are A Badass” by Jen Sincero”

“Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut

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This is one of the most unique books I have ever read. When I finished it, I was honestly speechless. And once I finally overcame that initial shock, my first thought was: what the heck did I just read? Continue reading ““Breakfast of Champions” by Kurt Vonnegut”

Bucket List Item #18: Become a Published Writer

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Wasn’t the novel that I imagined would be checking off this item, but hey, it still counts! Continue reading “Bucket List Item #18: Become a Published Writer”

Lessons From My Sister

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My sister is a role model, a teacher, a confidante, and an inspiration. I cannot stress enough how much she has shaped me, and if you’ve had the privilege of knowing her, then I’m sure that applies to you as well: wherever she goes, she makes an impact. Despite being only four years older, she’s acquired an incredible amount of wisdom. Below are some of the best things I’ve learned from her: Continue reading “Lessons From My Sister”

Bucket List Item #16: Eat a cannoli from Carlo’s Bakery


I used to be a huge fan of Cake Boss, so eating one of their famous cannolis has been the dream for quite a while. When I realized that a Carlo’s Bakery would be opening in my hometown—even better, during spring break when I’d be back—I knew that this fantasy was finally in reach. Well, kind of. Continue reading “Bucket List Item #16: Eat a cannoli from Carlo’s Bakery”

“Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton

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This book was basically the OG love affair novel of early 1900s American literature. You’ve got a troubled marriage, forbidden but passionate love, and the typical introverted and awkward male protagonist who is suddenly transformed into a romantic when infatuated by a captivating new stranger. Continue reading ““Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton”

Lessons From My Mom

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I swear, my mom is Superwoman. She has done absolutely everything to pave the best possible path for my sister and me, and I cannot thank her enough for being such an amazing caretaker and role model. Her sacrifices, her kindness, and her grace are unmatched by anyone I know. Below are just a handful of the many lessons she’s taught me: Continue reading “Lessons From My Mom”

Lessons From My Dad

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Everyone in my family has blessed me with bits of wisdom to carry throughout my life. I haven’t always agreed with my dad, but I realize that without him, I would be an incredibly different person (and probably a much less productive one). As I think about the way our relationship has developed over time, I recall the many lessons he’s taught me, the best of which are below: Continue reading “Lessons From My Dad”

Compartés Chocolatier

Not your typical breakfast bar. Compartés Chocolatier is AMAZING. These handmade, fashionably packaged, and downright delicious chocolate bars from LA are worth a try—definitely going to try their s’mores bar next!   

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey

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As of yet, this is the best self-improvement book I’ve ever read. As Covey points out in the introduction, The 7 Habits distinguishes itself from others of its genre through its emphasis on the Character Ethic instead of the Personality Ethic. Continue reading ““The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey”

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