How to Talk to People

I have friends who worry that they are incapable of making new friends. Or they fret that they’ll have absolutely nothing to talk about when they go on dates. They believe themselves to be awkward and dull, with nothing to offer of interest.

I am far from an extrovert, but what I do have is endless amounts of curiosity. I want to know the insides of people’s minds, the fluctuations of their hearts, the secrets in their souls. I’ve probably quoted this before, but I absolutely love this Neil Gaiman quote:

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.” 

Being a journalism major was such an amazing thing for me, because it meant I always had an excuse or reason to go out and talk to people, and prod at their brains. (Not literally, of course, for that I would’ve had to be pre-med).

So, for you awkward special snowflakes, I present the “Gaby Way to Talk to Anyone and Absolutely Everyone”.

Dressing wacky? Also a good conversation starter. Or a way to scare people off. You choose.

Do you dress wacky? Also a good conversation starter. Or a way to scare people off. You choose.

Ask random questions
There are a few questions in my arsenal that I’m always curious to know. What is your desert island meal, the things you would eat if you could only have one meal for the rest of your life? What would your super power be? And of course, because I’m a nerd, what is one of your favorite books?

Seek out their knowledge
Never believe you are the smartest person in a room. There is almost always something to learn from the people around you. They are an expert on something. What is it? Underwater basket weaving? Did they go through a crazy childhood as a circus nomad? Meet a celebrity and have a completely unexpected experience? Find out. Talk about it. Ask about it.

And share your own experiences and knowledge! Keep that dialogue going.

Explore mutual interests
You may have found out some of these through your random questions. Even if you seem like total and complete opposites, there’s probably something shared between you two. Pro-tip, people like complaining. Commiserate over the terrible winter we just had. It did suck, didn’t it? (See, it works!)

Know your current events
So, this actually requires you to be interested in the world too. Find out what’s going on. Even if it’s just about Brangelina adopting another child, know something current and relevant. Read the news or watch an unbiased source. Then ask people what they think. What’s their opinion? People want to be heard more than anything.

At the crux of all this advice, the main points are to be genuine and curious. It’s not about you. That sounds harsh. I mean, if all goes well, they’ll be interested in knowing more about you too, but view each person as an infinite universe and you’re Spaceman Spiff, Captain Kirk, the Doctor, Luke Skywalker, etc etc.

I’ll leave you with one more quote, because I am addicted to words. Just keep this attitude and you’ll be fine:

Do you know, in nine hundred years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important before?” – the Doctor

Love always,

Sushi Fridays

So life can’t be CRAZY EXTREME ADVENTURE all the time. I don’t think so at least. I’m sure there’s a 1% somewhere who is going sky-diving one day, climbing Mt. Everest the next, then wrassling sharks with lazor beams on their heads for dessert.

Yeaaaah. Not the other 99% of us. But I love finding everyday adventures, whether it’s a impromptu trip to our favorite out-of-the-way smoothie shop, going on a run and taking roads I’ve never explored, or even just acting like a tourist and doing things I should’ve done years ago.

One of my favorite adventures (and somewhat of a tradition now) is trying a new sushi restaurant every week or so with a few of my friends. They started the tradition on their own and I’ve sort of glommed on. It’s a pretty delicious adventure.


And I mean, I especially benefit because sushi is generally gluten free! Win!

(Though fun fact, I ate California rolls for ages after being diagnosed with celiac, because I didn’t realize the imitation crab was full of gluten and thus out to kill me)

We’ve gone pretty hardcore dorky with this hobby. We even have a Google spreadsheet we share with each other, where we rate restaurants on very important things: ambience, price, food, and of course, the quality of the miso soup.

There’s a section for comments too, which was meant to talk about specific dishes, but has devolved to our comments about weird things at the restaurants. Such as, ‘families with mail-order brides here’, ‘children eat here by themselves’, ‘drunk, creepy man pawing at woman in pink pantsuit’. We’re nothing if not honest.

The furthest we’ve gone for sushi together is Massachusetts, though only because we were there for a wedding. Still, we’re traversing the county and surrounding areas that we’ve spent the majority of our lives in.

Maybe it’s not the most exciting thing to that 1% skydiving, mountain-climbing, shark wrassler. But I love reconnecting with my friends after a week, and going somewhere new. It’s our version of a weekly family dinner, except… sushi.

One of my favorite things in college was the ‘family dinners’ my roommates and I occasionally had, or meeting up at Starbucks and chatting away for hours. We were in Starbucks nearly every day. Sometimes… three times a day, no shame. Thank goodness they took my meal plan.

So now I get to repeat those mini-adventures again. I love sushi, I love my friends, I love car rides and seeing new places. So it’s win-win-win.

We do branch out to other cuisines too–smoothies (totally their own food group), tacos, and whatever strikes our curiosity. I’m sure once we have our own places, we’ll cook more too, and I look forward to future potluck dinners. That’ll be the next tradition!

Love always,

Traditions: The Dyeing of the Eggs

The purple crocuses have been peeking their bright petals out of the thawing earth. There’s still snow on half my lawn, but the sun has finally stopped hitting snooze on its alarm button. Spring might just finally be here, on the coattails of Easter.

I’ve gone on about how I love traditions and rituals. I love seeing how people mark the passing of time with holidays, events, and ceremonies that are special to them.

I’ve been lucky enough to experience and learn about other rituals, like Chinese New Year, a Passover Cedar, and hey, the summer solstice in Iceland is certainly on my bucket list. But this week, it’s about sharing one of the traditions I’ve grown up with: dyeing eggs.

Dyeing eggs in tea cups, because we are classy

Dyeing eggs in tea cups, because we are classy

Fun anecdote. I got my friends and myself kicked out of a particularly religious Spanish teacher’s classroom after-school in high school once. Why? We were playing video games in her room, and I was blathering on about the origin of Easter Eggs, when she came out of her backroom and thumped a bible on the desk in front of me.

“Find where it says that in the Bible!”

Quizzically, and taken aback, (for this was public school, after all, and speaking of religious matters was verboten) I asked her if she had heard of the Dead Sea Scrolls and whether she believed they were canon.

She said yes. And then I quipped, “Well, those aren’t in the bible”, and after being at a loss for words, she promptly kicked us out of her room.

Ah, religion, y’all.

Anyway. Where do Easter Eggs originate? Like all religions and cultures, they were appropriated from somewhere else first. (We get the name Easter from the pagans). According to Wikipedia, decorated, engraved ostrich eggs have been found in Africa and are an amazing 60,000 years old! And decorated eggs have been found in the graves of ancient Egyptians as well.

It gained its Christian aspect when Mesopotamians dyed the eggs red (a practice still done in Eastern Christian churches) to symbolize the blood of Christ. Cracking the egg is supposed to be like cracking open Jesus’s tomb for his resurrection.

It’s so fantastically morbid, I love it.

Of course, eggs have meaning all of their own. They connote new life, and a multitude of other faiths and cultures, from Iran to the ancient Zoroastrians to the Pagans, use painted eggs at their springtime holiday. The earth is cracking open from its frozen shell of winter. A new start begins.

My mother used to hollow out the eggs, and decorate the shells with little drops of fabric paint, turning them into shimmering, textured, fragile spheres. They seemed like eggs for tiny dragons maybe, or fairies.


I like trying to do very simple designs. I made Pabu and Aang from the Avatar-verse. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much where my craftiness both begins and ends. I don’t need to dye them all to symbolize blood, you know. I appreciate them for their burst of colors, their promise that spring is on its way, just still playing hide-and-go-seek with us.

This year, my friends and I have around 50 eggs to dye. It’s going to be messy and wonderful, and we’re doing a photoshoot with bunnies and the finished eggs. Hmm.. Easter bunnies. There’s another tradition, but this one I’m going to leave a mystery for today.

Love always,

Inspiration 3.31.15

A jolly Tuesday to everyone! Last week, I celebrated the birthday of not one, not two, but three friends! All you lovely darlings rock. Keep doing you. It’s crazy that tomorrow is April. To think, this week we’re already dyeing eggs and stuffing our faces with chocolate bunnies. It makes me feel like I’m time-traveling sometimes. What comes to my mind is the quote, “The days are long but the years are short”. Blink and you’ll miss them.

Here are some links I found in my recent, never-ending internet travels:

Have a exquisite, extravagant, elegant week!

Love always,

Accomplished: Visit San Francisco!

Last Thursday, I took a trip to San Francisco with my father for the weekend. I hadn’t been there since I was a baby. Fun fact, we almost moved there when I was an infant—sometimes I wonder what the West Coast version of me would’ve been like. Probably, I’d have dyed hair and be saying ‘namaste’ all the time.

golden gate gaby

Things about San Francisco:

  • The hills are enormous. I expected them to be hills, not miniature mountains. My legs were so sore after all of the walking we did!
  • Food. Food everywhere. Of every kind. If I lived in San Francisco, I would go all Pac-Man and eat everything
  • Bikers, joggers, dog-walkers… this is your city! It was lovely to see so many outdoorsy people out and about, being active
  • Diversity! The city’s population is one-third Asian, which was a welcome change from growing up in homogenous suburbia
  • Weather – perfect with a dash of more perfect. Although not quite hot enough for me, San Francisco weather was lovely, breezy, and warm enough to not be bundled in a billion layers

So what did we do?

Friday, we went to the Presidio, which is this re-outfitted army base. It was gorgeous. We visited the Presidio Graduate School, a wonderful, innovative graduate school that bestows MBAs/MPAs, but with a focus on sustainability at the core of every lesson. All of the students and professors were so passionate and motivated. It reminded me of my alma mater, seeing how much people actually cared.

After visiting a class, my father and I went to the Golden Gate Bridge and then up and over it. My inner middle-schooler was screaming because the tv show (Charmed) I was obsessed with back then used the bridge as a frequent backdrop! I had no chance to climb up and stand at the top, unfortunately.

Golden Gate Bridge, the view of the hills from our hotel, and some pretty accurate graffiti

Golden Gate Bridge, the view of the hills from our hotel, and some pretty accurate graffiti

We went toward the Muir Woods, though we didn’t have a chance to explore. Those winding, curvy turns with no guardrail and a steep tumbling drop made me super nauseous. Even my father, a bit of a thrill-seeker, was saying how often they must have to rescue people (or recover bodies). I could never drive there.

On our way back into the city, we went to this cliffside that overlooks the bridge. When the fog rolls in, you can see the top of the bridge poking out from up there. People were biking up there. People were biking everywhere in San Francisco. I don’t know how they tackle those crazy hills.

We had dinner with people from the graduate school. Presidio Social Club is a renovated army barrack and my goodness. If I lived in SF, I would be SO FAT. Luckily everything is super expensive, so if I lived there, I couldn’t afford any of it. And I tried raw oysters for the first time.

On to Saturday!

Full House!


We started off by driving around the piers and people-watching. The piers had a huge open-air market that made my veggie-loving heart happy. We drove to the Full House house, and there were a bunch of bros who got there as we were leaving and they were all, “IS THIS THE HOUSE?! I need a picture!”

We drove by the Painted Ladies, and then stopped in the neighborhood of Haight-Asbury. It’s where the Summer of Love originated. There were the quirkiest stores there: Rasputin Records, East Asia hippie-dippie stores, a huge vintage clothing store, among countless others. It was Greenwich Village, turned way up. There was a guy in a tie-dye shirt with a beard crossing the street just as we were, holding out a plastic baggie of pot, totally nonchalant about it.

Haight-Asbury: Vintage store, Rasputin Records, a really awesome outfit

Haight-Asbury: Vintage store, Rasputin Records, a really awesome outfit

After that, we explored Chinatown and from there, we made it down to Union Square, where there was an art exhibit going on. I particularly enjoyed heart sculpture with Yoda’s face on it. We had lunch at a sushi place, Sanraku and omg. I can’t get over the food in this city. The population of San Francisco is extremely diverse so there is every connotation of food (and some of it gluten free!) around. And the roll I had was amazing – avocado, cucumber, and tobiko on the inside, with salmon and lemon slices on top. NOMMMM.

We explored North Branch, and passed by Coit Tower, which overlooks the whole city. We saw the spiraling of Lombard Street. We made it to Fisherman’s Wharf again, where we watched as the fog eclipsed Shutter Island and as piles of sea lions basked in the attention of tourists.

A cathedral, Union Square, and Chinatown

A cathedral, Union Square, and Chinatown

Dinner that night was at a club called the Battery, which is more of an actual club, than a nightlife club. We ended up sitting outside, having more wine!, and getting vittles. I had these rice crackers with black sesame seeds in them, and tuna poke, which was chunks of raw/seared tuna with avocado, macadamia nuts, and big tobiko. See?! I WOULD GET SO FAT IN SF.

We walked back to the hotel afterwards, and my legs were crying. And then it was our last night… very tragic, but we did enjoy all the TCHO chocolates the hotel left on our pillows.

Like all trips, it was over far too soon. Hopefully my next trip will be sooner rather than later!

Love always,

Inspiration 3.17.15

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Last year for St. Patrick’s Day, my bestie and I were having green beer on a rainy day in EPCOT. Okay, she was having the beer. Holiday or no, I’m still allergic. This year, we’re celebrating a bit more locally, but it will still be fun! As an Irish-descended person, I am always happy to honor parts of my heritage. This week, I wrote a post on BiblioSmiles about Irish-related books, so we’re all about the shamrocks over there as well!

Sunday, I attended the regional Scholastic Writing Awards ceremony, which my company adjudicated and hosted. It was so amazing to see these young writers come together to celebrate their achievements. Lèna Roy, the fabulous northern NYC metro branch manager of Writopia Lab, wrote about it on her blog.

What else? The sun is staying with us a little longer every day, and despite there still being snow on the ground, spring can’t be too far away.

Here are some links, while we wear t-shirts anyway and hope the world warms up through our sheer willpower.

  • One of my favorite authors passed away last week, Sir Terry Pratchett. Take a look at some of his best quotes to understand why he was so brilliant
  • Gluten free kolaches! What are kolaches? Czech pastries with a cream cheese filling and streusel topping. Yum!
  • Speaking of foreign foods, this list of Norwegian foods to try is exciting. I like the tagline, ‘it looks a lot scarier than it tastes!’
  • Why fitness, and life, should have a ‘choose your own adventure‘ mentality. Don’t get trapped by yours or others’ perceptions of yourself
  • This gorgeous wedding is right out of a Tolkien novel, mixed with Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • What happens when a cisgender, hetero man wears makeup to his office for a week?
  • This Christian woman challenged herself to wear a hijab for Lent this year. Her results so far are surprising and inspiring

Have a dazzling, dreamy, decadent week!

Love always,