How To Throw A Ballot Party


A ballot party is a fun, easy way to spend time with friends and become a more informed voter.

The concept is really simple. All you have to do to host your own is print out sample ballots and invite your friends over for dinner. As you eat, everyone researches a different line on the ballot on their phone or computer (good sources of information include the local news, voter guides from trusted organizations, and candidate questionnaires like those from the League of Women Voters). Then, you talk about what you learned and everyone fills in their sample ballots. Everyone takes home their own ballot––and no one has to share their choices––but we all get help learning about the issues and our voting options. It’s especially great for becoming informed about all the down-ballot races and referenda without feeling overwhelmed, and it gets us to vote where our votes count most (did you know that, at the local level, races can be decided by just a few votes? Or even a coin toss in the event of a tie?)

Devin and I have been hosting ballot parties before every election for the past couple of years, and honestly, I look forward to them the way I look forward to a holiday. This year we’re planning on making a soup and a big salad, but if you are less inclined to cook, I think it would also be fun to get together with friends and order pizza. The best part is that a few days after the party, I head to the polls with my little sample ballot in hand, confident that I know what I’m voting on and what choices I want to make.

What do you think? Is this totally nerdy? Would you ever host your own ballot party? I’m happy to help you plan one if you’re interested!

How To Throw A Ballot Party

“I am calling to ask my senator not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Content warning: sexual assault 

supreme court

Continue reading ““I am calling to ask my senator not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.””

“I am calling to ask my senator not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

MADE: Pickled Rhubarb

It’s rhubarb season, and, if you know what rhubarb is, I know what you’re thinking: pie, pie, pie.

I hadn’t heard of rhubarb until I was 19 years old. That was the year I got to share a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie with my friend Clara. That little piece of pie was delicious and life-changing. I’m serious. It helped me get a job, start dating Devin, and find myself in a perpetual pie contract. So yes, I know how good strawberry-rhubarb pie can be.

But rhubarb is bountiful. It grows and grows and grows, and if all you’re doing is putting it in pie, you’re missing out.

My first venture beyond rhubarb pie was this upside-down cake, which I highly recommend.

Next I started putting it in salads. I’ve tried tons of salad recipes, most of which call for pickled rhubarb. And last spring, I figured out my favorite way to pickle it. A few people have asked for the recipe, so I’m sharing it here (though really, it is so easy, it hardly qualifies as a recipe. Perfect for summer!).

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 11.50.21 PM.png

Quick-Pickled Rhubarb

• 2–3 rhubarb stalks (depending on their size)
• 1 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup water

1. Slice the rhubarb in half-inch pieces
2. Place in a container that has a lid (I like to use a pint jar because the lid seals tightly).
3. Pour in the sugar, vinegar, and water.
4. Shake up the jar.
5. Make sure the rhubarb is completely covered. If you need, add a little more vinegar/water.
6. Leave in fridge for at least 2 hours (1.5 if you’re really hungry––but the longer it marinates, the better it tastes.
7. Serve with your favorite salad.

If you need a salad recipe to go with this, I like to use kale chiffonade, millet, strawberries, and toasted hazelnuts. Between the strawberries and the rhubarb, I don’t usually use a dressing, but you could always make a strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, if you’re feeling fancy.

MADE: Pickled Rhubarb

Let me mean different things

When I move to New York after college, I work at a restaurant where I meet a man who “works in publishing.” He’s an editor who comes into the restaurant alone to read book reviews and to meet with one of his authors. I tell him I want to work in publishing. He gives me a copy of an anthology he edited, invites me to a reading.

The reading is in the Rare Book Room at The Strand, and it is Intimate. When I walk in and sit down, one of the authors featured in the collection turns to me and asks me who I know at the event. “I’m a friend of the editor,” I say.

Her eyes narrow.

“No,” I want to protest, “The only thing I’ve ever given him is more water, a napkin, a spoon. The only thing he’s ever given me is a copy of this book. I liked your story in it.”

before the reading 3
(One good thing about coming of age with digital camera technology is that I know exactly what I was wearing that day. I took a picture right before I left the house with the camera in my laptop. I stood on a chair in order to capture the whole look: a poofy pink skirt with a brown cotton jacket.

I’d decided to document my outfit because I wanted to remember the occasion –– my first literary event in New York City! –– and because I thought I looked like a cupcake in a crumpled paper bag. Hardly the outfit of a seductress.)

But I am 22, and sometimes my body means things I don’t want it to.

I want to ask the author, a stately woman with blond hair and pearls if she remembers her body being a hurdle to personhood, a threat to her safety. “When does it stop?” I want to ask. Instead, I read her mind. She is thinking about age-appropriate women who become ex-wives and the young women who “take” their places. She is thinking that men’s preference for younger women is really the preference to dominate.

She is thinking, in short, all the same things I think, but she can’t see past my body, and she thinks I am the problem –– or at least, complicit.

My face feels hot during the reading. I get my book signed by all the authors in attendance, trying to think of interesting things to say about each of their stories as I stand over them at the signing table. All of the authors are men, except for the woman who thinks I am bad. I leave quickly.

The next day the editor emails me to thank me for attending the reading. He says he hopes “we’ll have more time to talk, next time.”

I wait 12 days to write back. I re-read the email over and over, trying to figure out if his tone is flirtatious, before deciding that it’s not. In my reply, I try to sound like the professional I dream of being. I ask if would be possible for me to ask him some questions about his “career trajectory” and any advice he has “for someone hoping to work in [his] field.”

He writes me an encouraging email, saying that summer is a difficult time for job hunting, but he thinks something good will come up for me soon. He offers to talk to me at the restaurant or at his “family apartment” in the city (something rich people who live in Connecticut have, I learn).

I am working when he comes to the restaurant, so he suggests his apartment as the most logical place to meet. I spend the rest of my shift wondering if I should go or not. I text Devin to ask what he would do and he says he would go. I think about how Devin’s body has never been anything but safe, and I am sad and a little angry.

(This, I think, is the hardest part about dating a straight White man: the window into an alternate existence, always just out of reach.)

The career counselors from my college said, “Network, network, network!”

I said, “How?” and followed their advice.

1. Find someone who has your dream job.
2. Invite them to get coffee.
3. Ask them about how they got their job, and see if they’ll help you get a job.

The career counselors never mentioned that it might be harder for some of us to do this kind of networking. A college graduate is a college graduate is a college graduate, their “career tips” implied. I believed them at first.

I spend the rest of my shift filling tiny to-go containers with salad dressing, answering the phones, refilling water glasses, and smiling at the customers. The whole time I am making a list.

+ He’s never been creepy.
But all our interactions have been in public.
+ His emails are business-y.
But why did the female writer look at me like that? Maybe she knows something I don’t.
+ Oh please. He probably suggested the apartment because he’s clueless. Maybe he’s hard of hearing.
Or maybe not.

My shift ends and, despite my daydreams of visiting an apartment overlooking Central Park and launching my career with a firm handshake, I can’t make myself go.

Instead I
• walk  to a street-level restaurant “overlooking” a subway entrance
• stare at greasy croissants in a pastry case
eavesdrop on millionaire women 
• think about how patriarchy means circumscribed.

Let me mean different things

A birthday favor

vote for dreamers
Photo from Election Day, Nov. 2016

Today is my birthday, and I’d like to ask you a favor. If you’re a U.S. voter, could you call your legislators and ask them to pass a #CleanDreamActNow?

All you have to do is click here and fill in your information. Then, your phone will ring and you’ll be connected to Congress! (The website also has a call script, so you don’t have to worry about what to say.) The whole process takes less than five minutes, and it could make a huge difference.

Even though approximately 80% of Americans* support a path to citizenship for DREAMers, Congress has refused to act. DACA permits are expiring every day, and things are going to get much worse after March 5th –– unless we make our representatives do their job and represent us.

Here’s some information on DACA in case you’re confused or unfamiliar (  ) and here’s a story about why DACA matters.

Thank you, friends. I love you.

*83% according to Fox News 

A birthday favor

Winter Sun

I shared this a couple of months ago on my Instagram, but at this point in the season I need a reminder to make the most of winter, so I thought I’d share it again.

It’s taken me ten years of living in the North to realize that enjoying winter is as much about warmth as it is about light, but I finally feel like I know how to thrive in this season. Here are my hard-won tips:

1️⃣ Wake up earlier.

2️⃣ Throw on your most comfortable clothes.

3️⃣ Get out of the house or sit by a window—do whatever you need to get👏🏼that👏🏼sun.

4️⃣ And then, when you’re sleepy because it’s been night time since 4 PM, 😴 go to sleep so you can see the sun again tomorrow ☀️

…I should probably end this post here, but let me tell you about my seasonal sun analogy in case you’re curious about the underlying philosophy to this wintertime advice ; )

OK so, Summer Sun is like your super cool extroverted friend who goes to every party/brunch/concert/whatever. You don’t have to make plans to see her because she’s always down and all you have to do is show up to the party.

Winter Sun, in contrast, is like your kind, thoughtful introverted friend. You have to make plans to see them because they don’t go out much, but you always feel good about yourself and hopeful about the world after you hang out so it’s worth the extra effort.

(I only came up with Winter and Summer, but if I had to guess, I’d say Spring Sun is melodramatic but entertaining and Fall Sun is that one friend who’s always going on walks. What do you think?)

Winter Sun

Happy Valentine’s Day (hold the heteronormativity)

Did you know that in Mexico (and throughout Latin America) Valentine’s Day is known as the Day of Love and Friendship? (Colombia also celebrates el Día del Amor y la Amistad, but it’s in September, for some reason? Colombianos, explain yourselves. ; )

It’s always been one of my favorite holidays, for obvious reasons: I love pink. I love hearts. And I love friendship. I actually always forget that it’s known as a super romantic ~couple’s holiday~ and I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated in a couple-y way. I also always forget that the color red is associated with Valentine’s Day, so clearly I live in my own valentine bubble!

heart cake 2015

I do like to celebrate by throwing a big party with my friends and making my home as pink as possible. This year Devin and I made it a dance party, featuring some of our friends’ favorite songs (we asked everyone to include their favorite dance song when they RSVP-ed). It ended up being really fun, so I decided it would be fun to share the playlist plus a few photos of our Valentine’s Day treats!

This is from our first Love & Friendship party in 2014. You can tell Devin and I were feeling extra environmental because we made cupcakes without liners, and we dyed the icing pink using water that we used to boil beets. (Don’t worry, we’ve since learned to use frozen berries, haha.) Related: my cousin Caren and I tried to dye the snow in front of our apartment pink using the rest of the beet water, but it ended up looking more “crime scene” than “cute.” (OK, this caption ended up being way more embarrassing than I thought it would be.)
In 2015, Devin surprised me by baking a bunch of heart-shaped cakes, and everyone got to decorate their own!
This year I made punch for the first time, complete with an ice ring, which is just a fancy word for a big piece of ice you make in a bundt pan. I know it kind of looks like someone dropped a cake into the punch (aaah!), but if you don’t think about it too much or stare too hard, it’s kind of pretty, no?
…and here are the treats at the end of the night because I forgot to photograph them earlier. (That three-tiered stand was a gift from our friend Nabeel, and it is my favorite thing in the world : )

P.S. A few other Valentine’s Day posts: 2012 + 2015 + 2016

Happy Valentine’s Day (hold the heteronormativity)