Shameless in Seattle

Where Gabby (mis)advises you on how to travel, eat, drink, and read.

In Which My Mother and I Keep Austin Weird

On my first day back from Austin, Texas, I find myself reading a Holy Week Myers-Briggs to figure out which Catholic saint shares my personality. Since I am not Catholic, nor sure of my Myers-Briggs personality type, I quickly take this as a sign that I should stop and do something more productive like write a blog post.

As some may know, and some most certainly do not, I gifted my mother a mystery vacation for her *significant birthday this year. Starting in January, I sent her what I hoped were cryptic clues in the mail. These purple pieces of paper appeared at her doorstep in Birmingham, Alabama, suggesting she pack “2 wigs and hiking shoes” and be prepared for things to get “really weird.” They kindly requested she memorize this poem for recitation. They told her a range of dates and a range of temperatures.

On the evening of March 22, I called her on the phone “from Seattle” to “give her more details.” I was actually on her front porch with my suitcase. Then I was in her kitchen and she was screaming her head off. For the good and bad, this hyperactive shock system is something I have inherited.

Early the next morning, we were off. She still didn’t know our final destination, or if she did, she did a great job of pretending she didn’t, at our layover in Charlotte. At this point I was dying to talk about the trip, so I gave her more obvious clues, and she guessed it right before we headed to the gate to board.

There was no big specific reason to go to Austin, Texas, just a lot of little ones. Great weather in late March, a big mix of indoor and outdoor activities, foodie joints and live music. Most importantly, Mom and I had never been there, so even if we ended up walking through cold rain down Dirty 6th with newly buzzed mohawks and botched tribal tattoos, at least it would all be new.

Mom's best friend Beth, who lives in Prague, had a bottle of Veuve Clicquot waiting for us when we arrived. FANCY.

Mom’s best friend Beth, who lives in Prague, sent a bottle of Veuve Clicquot to greet us when we arrived. FANCY.

Temporary Tattoo.

Temporary Tattoo.

We had a charmed week. In the morning, we’d wake up in our adorable periwinkle guesthouse, drink our coffee, and plan our day. We’d go for a run down Shoal Creek Trail, slowing periodically to huff low-hanging wisteria blooms or be terrified by the throaty death-noises grackles make. In the afternoon, we might go for a hike, lounge at Burton Springs, peruse the Blanton Museum or Mexic-Arte, or consignment shop hop.

Live a Great Story <3

Live a Great Story ❤

Final Touches.

Final Touches at the Graffiti Castle.

One of my most cherished moments from the week was when, after a long sweaty day of tromping around the graffiti castle and Zilker Park, we ducked into the bathroom at a Mexican restaurant and PUT WIGS ON. As we were fussing with them in the mirror, women came in and acted like everything was completely normal, which was hilarious. BECAUSE WE WERE PUTTING ON WIGS. When Mom put hers on, it was sticking out like crazy in all directions. She looked like a nameless male rocker from the 80s. Absolute perfection. I wouldn’t trade that moment for the world.

Wiggin Out.

Wiggin Out.

So natural.

So natural.

But enough of that. Let’s talk FOOD. We splurged on one meal out a day and did it right. The Culinary Final Four = our multi-course dinner at Olive & June (special shout out to the butternut squash which was pretty life changing), the spicy margarita at La Condesa, the scallops at Swift’s Attic, and the overall vibe and decor at East Side Show Room.

Olive and June

Crudo Appetizer from Olive and June.

Sommelier with our Uva Rara.

Sommelier with our Uva Rara.

We ended the trip by dancing our hearts out (feet off? arms away?) to Bob Schneider, outside at the Nutty Brown Café amphitheater.

Long lost friend Jomo drove from Houston to meet us at the concert!

Long lost friend Jomo drove from Houston to meet us at the concert!

I’ll always be grateful for the good time Austin showed us, and this sweet one-on-one time with my mamacita. Texas forever a week!

* Number censored in light of social convention. This will be the only social convention I agree to follow in this blog post.


Funeral Speech


I don’t hate many things. Having cold, wet feet… witnessing someone be mean to someone else… getting locked in a dryer… These are the only things that come to mind immediately.

Oh, and the idea that I might not get to speak at my own funeral.

This is why, every year on my birthday, I sit down and write a speech to be given, on my behalf, should I die within that year. The process alleviates my anxiety and (added bonus) makes me super appreciative of everyone in my life. Yesterday was my birthday.

I began with the sentence: I do not think anyone has ever had a greater life than I.

And I meant it. Which is a little crazy. If this speech is ever delivered, it means I died at age 23. By that fact alone, I don’t think anyone would say, “Wow! What a lucky young woman!” But I meant that sentence with all my heart. At the risk of sounding completely full of myself, I stand by it. I do not think anyone has ever had a greater life than I.

There are so many orphans. Who am I to have a village of mothers and fathers to encourage and inspire me throughout my entire childhood and beyond? Why do I get to stand on a bluff on San Juan island under a harvest moon while a ferry ghosts across the bay? Why do I get to see churches made of bones, ramble through Chianti vineyards, and dance, and draw, and kiss? There are so many lonely. Why do I get to hitch my wagon to the star that is Andrew Stahlman, the most intelligent, humble, and thoughtful man in the world, wake to find his arm across my chest, breathe the appled scent of our mornings?

Things go my way almost without fail. It’s November, and yet I can see Mt. Rainier like thin white paper pressed into the blue. The sun is strong today. My body is strong. I don’t have a single ache. My fingers smell like the cold Louisiana satsumas I just peeled and ate by the segment. I spend my days reading poetry and writing it. I walk from our apartment to Bauhaus, where I take off my scarf, order a cup of drip coffee with almond milk, and write the rest of the morning. I go for long walks and memorize poems by Hopkins, Wright, and Keats.

I am grateful beyond words, which for a poet, is both humbling and a little annoying. And so I digress.


Here’s to you, whoever you are—

may your life also strike you as the greatest ever lived.

an incredibly self-absorbed exercise, in which I interview myself about The Wedding Experience, Nintendo 64, and Poetry Seminars, in that particular order

One month and 24 days have passed since marrying the man I wanted to marry, which means I have now had ample time to relearn how to make Jigglypuff sing in Pokémon Snap. I mean, reflect on how magical my wedding day was and write a thoughtful analysis to make all of you envy me and my still-gallivanting rainbows of love bliss.

But rather than do that, I will now engage in an incredibly self-absorbed exercise, in which I interview myself about The Wedding Experience, Nintendo 64, and Poetry Seminars, in that particular order.


Q) The old English saying goes, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”

A) [long pause] I’m sorry, was that a question?

Q) Yes.

A) OK, well my hairpiece was a vintage piece from Prague, which a dear friend sewed pearls onto and sent over for me. So that’s old.

Vintage wedding hairpiece

My dress was new. I thought I wanted to borrow one, but then I went shopping and… the money jumped from my hands.

I borrowed this gorgeous freshwater pearl and bead bracelet from MaryBeth, who also did my hair and make up for the big day.

bracelet something borrowed

And my toenail polish was blue.

Q) Did you put a sixpence in your shoe?

A) I don’t even know what that is.

Q) What was the hardest thing about planning the wedding?

A) Picking the date was pretty darn stressful, but that was nothing compared to compiling the guest list. We knew we wanted a small, intimate wedding, but there were also tons of people we wanted to invite. In the end, we narrowed it down to family and individuals we just couldn’t imagine not being at our wedding, especially those individuals who knew both of us as a couple. I am a major people-pleaser, and I still have nightmares about people being offended they weren’t invited, but I know we made the right decision. A large wedding wouldn’t have been our style.

Q) What was the deal with Andrew’s shoes?

A) Andrew wore dress shoes for the ceremony, but before the wedding and during the reception, he wore Nike Dunk Lo Pros. Because that’s who he is. For a while he had me convinced that he was going to wear them for the ceremony too.

One of my earliest memories of Andrew at Auburn involves stalking (I mean, looking at) this picture of him on Facebook:

Andrew tux and Nikes

Here was a guy who was going to do his own thing, no matter what people said was normal or expected, and I found that incredibly attractive. However, I did shoot down his request to wear these particular Nikes at the wedding. (I know, I know. I’m cruel.)

Like really? This color scheme would have clashed so hard.

Like really? This color scheme would have clashed so hard.

Q) From the whole day, what image stands out the most?

A) To be completely honest, the ceremony was a bit of a blur. I remember my dad whispering something about how he was going to push me into the grass while we were walking down the aisle, and I remember being floored by how beautiful Andrew’s vows were (despite being written on Hampton Inn hotel notepad paper), but other than that—all I remember is a hodgepodge of breeze and Andrew’s lips and sunshine and apple blossoms and gorgeous music.

Pews and AltarYellow flower wedding bliss

At the reception though, I saw some things that are burned into my mind forever. At one point, people took props from the photobooth (think lion masks, tiny green umbrellas, fake chickens, and disconnected telephones) and started dancing around with them. It was so surreal. Somehow one of Andrew’s soccer bros started wrapping my mother in a telephone cord and spinning her around. I will never forget that.

Mother of Bride DanceLion mask dance wedding reception

PS. People are STILL raving to me about our band. Shout out to Accent for bringing the barn down.

Q) If you could change one thing, what would it be?

A) I was so ready for things to go wrong at our wedding. I was prepared for the world’s first hail storm tornado. I was prepared for the cupcakes to not show up, my dress to tear, and the reception band to play Cha Cha Slide for our first dance. What I was not prepared for? Everything to go perfectly. Which is, somehow, what happened.

BridesmaidsFirst dance wedding barn


I only wish I had a time turner like Hermione so I could have spent more time hanging out with people. I felt a little like I was on a conveyor belt, hugging and greeting everyone on the run all night. But other than that, which couldn’t be helped, no. I have nothing I would change.

Bride and Groom


Q) Gee, Nintendo 64’s are so old. The games must be really affordable now!

A) Incorrect. Mario Kart costs $299.99 on Amazon right now. Can you believe that? TWO HUNDRED AND NINETY-NINE DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS. And that’s with Prime.

Q) Everyone is annoyed with how much you talk about Pokemon Snap on social media now.

A) Once again, is that a question?

Q) No, just an observation.

A) Well I never owned a Nintendo 64 growing up, or any gaming system for that matter, but I did go over to Cristina’s house any chance I could because she had one, and she had Pokemon Snap, which was like, the greatest game ever, IMO. When one of Andrew’s friends gave him his own Nintendo 64 back as a wedding gift, we discovered that we shared, not only an apartment now, but also a nostalgia for Pokemon Snap. So we bought it.

Best part.

Best part.

If you would have told me I would be playing Nintendo games a few months ago, I would have laughed at you like Simba laughs in the face of danger, but here we are. (Sidenote: It turns out, marriage changes you a little bit. I now genuinely like soccer, beer, and frequently aww over DOGS, for example.)


Q) What the bleep is a poetry seminar?

A) I’m about to find out! On Sunday I leave for the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. Supposedly it’s like half writing conference (workshops, readings, lessons, etc) and half writing residency (sit down and write stuff). Only about ten students get to go, and a lot of the alumni are now National Book Award winners and stuff, so I’m pretty pumped. And stuff.

Q) How do people react when you tell them why you’ll be gone for 3 weeks?

A) Assuming they aren’t writers themselves, the reaction is usually some mild form of “I can’t tell if she’s joking or not.” Poetry as a time-intensive pursuit is such a foreign concept to most people; they don’t get it at all. Sadly, when I get in these situations, I usually find myself playing it off like “Yeah, my life is a big joke, HA HA HA!” I totally see how writers’ circles become really closed off and insular. Until you have a best-selling book or something, it takes a lot of balls to defend what you do to people who are out there working “real jobs.”

Silverstein bearded man

Q) I don’t really have any more questions regarding poetry seminars.

A) That’s OK.

Q) Well that’s all the time we have! Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions, Gabby. Can I call you Gabby?

A) Anytime, Alter Ego. Anytime.


Studies have shown that 4/5 teenagers experience Angst. The other 1/5? They revealed themselves to be teenage-shaped lawn ornaments during the final stages of experimentation, at which time it was too late to subtract their results from those of actual teenagers.

All this to say, it is scientifically proven that teenagers are Angsty.


It doesn’t matter what their circumstances are either. An orphan teenager slinging cocaine on the corner of Bad News Street in a hand-me-down, periwinkle du-rag is just as likely to be Angst-ridden as the upper class beauty queen and valedictorian whose parents wrote Happy Birthday Perfect Sunshine! on her birthday pancakes.

I know this from personal experience in both of the above situations. Angst is not circumstantial.

So what does cause Angst?

All the parents in the room are nodding their heads. They know the answer. Hormones.



“But, but, but… the doctors said…”

Just shut up and listen. You may want to pull your beanbags closer, too.

Psychologists will tell you that everything is the result of Nature and Nurture. This is a lie, as well as a terrible title for a horror movie. Psychologists are just saying this so you will leave them alone to conduct their weird rat drug experiments in peace.

But I am here to tell you, without personal agenda or secret motive, the truth.

Teenagers get Angst from novels.

Preposterous! You say in your head. “Preposterous!” you say out loud, if you are an old British man with hairy ears. My child was never exposed to novels! Well, they were in school, but those things were dense and depressing even when I had to read them “back in the day”!

Not preposterous. Just true.

Novels have filled our once-children with more passion, sadness, and frustration than can be expressed in a rational way. Ever heard of John Green? I rest my case.

“So let’s ban novels!” you say. “Let’s burn them all!”


Keep your pants on, crazy. We can’t ban novels.  What are you, a character from Fahrenheit 451? You of all people shouldn’t want novels banned!

Plus, if we banned them, teenagers would be Angsty about the fact that they weren’t allowed to read them, so it would be a really expensive overreaction with zero benefit for our superfast texting mini me’s.

So why am I writing this? Clearly I am not writing to cure Angst. It is an affliction that cannot be cured except, in some cases, by Time. I am simply informing you of its cause, that you might understand the teenagers in your life more effectively.

You could even ask them about the latest novel they’ve read. Who knows? Maybe they won’t burst into tears and rip their shirts before slamming the bedroom door in your face.

One can only hope.

How to make friends in a new city (in Ten Easy Steps)!

So you just moved to a new city. Maybe this is your first stint in what college seniors like to call “The Real World.” Suddenly, you realize that meeting people is hard. You’re not looking for a Best Friend… that slot is already occupied by someone who now lives many states away from you, probably someone with whom you once played Little League Baseball or double dog dared to kiss Kacy Tucker. You’re just looking for someone to go to Wine Tastings with you when your boyfriend has the flu, or to meet you for Margarita Monday at the Greasy Gringo.

I feel your pain, and so I have come up with these 10 easy steps, a simple roadmap through the unmarked back roads of life to the destination of Friendship[1]:

1. Quickly brainstorm five things you like, but are not sexually attracted to.

      Example: 1) Books 2) Sweet Potatoes 3) The whiskers on small rodents 4) Jamie Lee Curtis 5) Kleptomania

2. Get dressed as if you are going to the grocery store.

3. Do not go to the grocery store. Instead, locate the largest reflective surface you own (ie. refrigerator door, shard of shiny glass, mirror, etc.) and stand in front of it. Attempt to stereotype yourself based on your appearance (ie. “Cool Mom,” “Unwashed Sportsfan,” “New Vegan with Chip on Shoulder,” etc.).

4. Say to reflection: “I am a ______________ (insert stereotype here) and I deserve a friend.” Example: “I am a New Vegan with Chip on Shoulder and I deserve a friend.”

      Repeat until hungry.

5. Scramble yourself some eggs, and eat them.

Dear Gabby,

                  I am allergic to eggs. Does this mean I am destined for friendlessness forever????  PS. Big fan of your column!                                                                


                                                                  Allergic to Egg but Not Friendship

                                                                  North Dakota

Dear Allergic Egg But,

                  I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that yes, you are destined for friendlessness forever. The good news is that it’s not because you’re allergic to eggs! It’s because you live in North Dakota!



6. Wait until Saturday.

7. Go somewhere where people who stereotypically look like you go to hang out on Saturdays. For example, if you have dreadlocks and wear rainbow clothing made of hemp, go hang out near a rainbow! Or if you wear heels and enjoy burnt coffee, go to Starbucks and say things like “The company budget does not allow for such frivolity!” into an imaginary Bluetooth headset.

8. Scan the room (or meadow, lighthouse, underground fortress, replicated American colonial village etc) for Conversation Starters. Top CS’s include Visible Tattoos, Clothing Logos, Headphones, and Pets.

9. Stand in the vicinity of Potential Friend and say something that could be directed at them or to no one. Tone is key.

      (For example, “I want to get a tattoo, but I’ve heard they’re addictive so I’m scared.” Or, “What time is that Big Game tomorrow?”)

      When they look up at you uneasily (don’t worry, they will if you repeat yourself enough), pretend to notice them for the first time. Laugh. Say, “I’m sorry.” Then introduce yourself, and employ the first interactive hand gesture that comes to mind.* Unless the first one that comes to mind is a karate chop to the face, in which case, refrain.

10. It’s all downhill from there! Exchange phone numbers, strategize weekly rendezvous, and exchange $10 edible gifts at Christmastime. 



Enjoy your new friend!

[1] I have a degree in Creative Writing. 

Why you should change out of your onesie on MLK, Jr. Day

Yes, sleeping in is great. So are three-day weekend trips to the lake, America’s Next Top Model marathons, and the ability to alternate between checking Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram on an endless loop without ever changing out of the red onesie your mom got you for Christmas. All these things are great, but Martin Luther King, Jr. Day shouldn’t be (entirely) about that. 

Growing up, MLK Jr day wasn’t presented to me as a day off of school; it was presented as an opportunity to go out into the community and do something. There are TONS of public service opportunities organized for that day (by United Way, local churches, etc.) and all you have to do is sign up to join or show up to help out. Sure, I grumbled some when I was fifteen and my dad got me up early on my day off, but when I look back now at, say, the MLK Jr Day I spent painting the walls of an inner-city school, I’m so proud of that. I’m more proud of that than my GPA, ACT score, and Who’s Who award combined.

I always thought, as a kid, that everyone approached Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in this way, but as I get older, I realize that not everyone was lucky enough to have a dad like mine.


This morning I looked up MLK Jr events in Seattle, and I saw that there was an event at Mt. Zion Baptist Church at noon. Michele Norris (Yes, THE Michele Norris aka Voice on All Things Considered) would be the keynote speaker, and it was a no-brainer. 


It was the most diverse crowd I’d ever been a part of, and one of the sweetest experiences of my life.

Everyone looked so happy. The Greater Works Chorale sang (AMAZING, by the way), and a group of children and adults took turns reading “Race Cards,” 6 word sentences about how they felt about race. Then a scholarship was awarded to a man who used to be a gang member and an alcoholic (cue the tears). He is now a single father, sober 10 years and pursuing a degree in social work and developmental disorders. He stood up there in the nicest suit, and we gave him a standing ovation that almost brought the roof down.


And Michele Norris was as wonderful as I’d expected her to be. Funny, thoughtful, challenging. She talked about her own family’s reluctance to talk about race and how it had shaped their experience in America. She invited all of us to engage in conversations about race, to write our own 6-word race cards.

The event ended with everyone holding hands and singing “We Shall Overcome” together (I know, right? Cheesy as all get out). But it was awesome. All I could think about was how unheard of something like that would have been fifty or sixty years ago: a 20 year old white girl holding hands with two black men, them holding hands with a Chinese woman, an Indian man, a teenager wearing a hijab…

We still have a long way to go here in America when it comes to race. (All you have to do is listen to some people’s stories to know that). But events like this always leave me with the most positive sense of hope. If we actively pursue equality, we will keep getting closer to it.

So I encourage you: Enjoy your day off of work or school, but try to spend at least part of Monday doing an act of service Dr. King would be proud of. At least watch the “I Have A Dream” Speech in its entirety on Youtube, or read a sermon of his. I promise, you won’t regret it.

10 Things You Don’t (Might Not) Know About Portland

I just got back (fresh off the train, actually) from my very first weekend trip to Portland, Oregon. So, obviously, I am now an expert, and it is my duty to inform you of 10 things you may or may not already know about Portland.

1. 75% of Portlanders dress like they’re starring in a Wes Anderson film.Image

Fur. Athletic bands. Unruly facial hair. The whole nine yards.

2. And the other 25% dress like The Capitol on a budget.



3. Places that shouldn’t serve breakfast, do so. Proudly. Bowling alleys, strip clubs, furniture stores… Doesn’t matter. You can get yo vegan pancakes on.

4. Movie Theaters only show one movie.


Well, the one we wanted to go to did. And it was such a cool theater, I didn’t even care! Also, the wine helped. McMenamins Bagdad Theater and Pub.

5. Portlanders love food trucks


Yes, even more than you do. Downtown, there is a congregation of about fifty that takes up an entire block. And they offer every kind of ethnic food available. (Every wanted to try Georgian food? As in, from the country of Georgia? Now you can!) Personal favorites include the PBJ’s Grilled cart and the Cultured Caveman.

6. It rains…


Even more than it does in Seattle (by 0.4 inches a year) AND YOU CAN TELL. Seriously, if you’re going to Portland, bring a lined windbreaking rain coat and waterproof shoes.

7. It’s weird if you’re NOT vegan.


Almost. But really, if you have any sort of food preference (vegan, vegetarian, gluten free), Portland is the place for you.

8. There is an abundance of moss.


Moss on steps. Moss on house. Moss on boots. Kate Moss. You name it.

9. There are bridges (huge fancy bridges) EVERYWHERE!


I mean, I knew there was a river running through Portland, but nobody told me how awesome the bridges were. I highly recommend walking over one if the weather isn’t too bad. Killer views.

10. People in Portland are nice.


They may have purple hair and wear metallic lip stick and own their own chickens and have tattoos of cats on their arms, but they smile, hold doors, and are genuinely happy to see you in their city.

Ever heard of a sunchoke?

Neither had I, until yesterday at the Ballard Farmers Market when I saw some tall bearded man practically upturning the entire crate into his eco-friendly tote bag.

It's like a weekly circus... for food!

It’s like a weekly circus… for food!

I asked him, as one must ask tall bearded men so enthralled by mysterious vegetables, “Excuse me. What do you do with those?”

Enter scene from Forest Gump. “Well you can make roasted sunchokes, sunchoke parsnip puree, slice em up raw, make grilled sunchoke, sunchokes on a salad, sunchoke soup, sunchoke key lime pie…” He went on and on, and before I knew it I had a handful of the ugly things and I was giving Andrew a look that said Trust Me. I have the endorsement of a Tall Bearded Man with an Eco-Friendly Tote.

Oftentimes the ugliest vegetables taste the best... They've had to compensate with personality.

Oftentimes the ugliest vegetables taste the best… They’ve had to compensate with personality.

Sunchokes: Otherwise known as Jerusalem artichokes, sunchokes are the root vegetable at the bottom of a pretty yellow flower. They look a lot like ginger root, and raw they taste a lot like a water chestnut. Cooked, they taste like a much tastier potato.

Slicing sunchokes

We prepared them very simply (as I tend to prepare all things) by slicing them fairly thin and coating with olive oil, fresh ground sea salt, chopped garlic, and fresh rosemary.  Baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until they were soft on the inside and nice and crispy on the outside. (We also saved some raw for chopping up to add crunch to a spinach salad.)

Served with some roasted balsamic beets and baked salmon with ginger and soy. Two thumbs up.

Sunchokes, beets, and Asian salmon

Moral of story: Don’t be afraid of sunchokes! If you like potatoes, you’ll LOVE them. And personally, I might even like them better raw.

Until next time,


The First Thanksgiving

Since Andrew couldn’t go back to sweet home Alabama for the traditional family Thanksgiving, we had our own little version here in Ballard. And I got to cook it, which means I got to design a menu that incorporates all my favorite foods (Yay!) I also learned some things. For example, turkey brining= a lot messier than anticipated. But worth it, in the end. (Maybe. You’ll have to ask Andrew.)


Rosemary Satsuma Sidecar

Honey Garlic Brined Turkey Breast

Celery Root Parsnip Mash

Roasted Brussels with Turkey Bacon

Brandy Maple Cranberry Relish

Sweet Potato Apple Cakes

Get the Recipes Here

It’s a good thing this meal was so good because we’ll probably be eating leftovers for years to come. Thanksgiving food was not designed for just two people. Speaking of which, Andrew and I are going to play some pick up basketball so we can come back, watch the Steelers’ game, and eat some more…

Until next time,