kait gaiss

not-so-closeted geek

Health Class for Adults

by kaitgaiss on February 6, 2014, no comments

Last week I was stuck, miserable in bed, having been hit by some kind of 24-hour bug. It got me thinking about health and what that means in a world of busy days, insurance plans, and living in a city that’s filled with every kind of delicious greasy food item you could dream of.

For most of my life, I never had to make a decision about whether or not to go to the gym. As a student-athlete, I had chunks of time out of my day that were purely devoted to practice, weight-lifting, and conditioning. But outside of being an athlete, if you spend time on any university campus you are constantly in motion. One minute, you’re off to class. The next, you’re running nearly a mile across the quad to make a group meeting. Looking back, I seriously wish I had been counting my steps (quick kudos to my new Jawbone Up) to prove how much college-Kait would destroy current-Kait in terms of sheer activity. Plus – and perhaps most importantly – all this meant I could order Domino’s and cinnasticks to my heart’s content.

Which brings me to today. In the real world, you work at a desk, sitting down, for a majority of the day. To say I felt the effects of being sedentary immediately would be a bit of an understatement. Since then I’ve migrated to a standing desk, but there’s been this question eating at me for the last six months…

What does the word “healthy” mean for me now, and if it involves exercise, when am I going to actually do it?

After a couple months of swearing to go to yoga every night, to then trying to work out around lunch at the gym next-door, to swearing off exercise entirely…I think I’ve found the answer. Perhaps you’ll find this helpful as well.

What I’ve found is that the only time I personally will ever go and perform some kind of deliberate physical activity is right before I hop in the shower. It has to be quick – twenty to thirty minutes at max – or else it eats up more time than I can commit to. So if I’m showering in the morning, I run around the neighborhood as soon as I wake up. If I’m showering at night, same thing. Weekends are reserved for yoga, since that’s when I can devote a full hour and a half to it.

Now, this took me six months to figure out. People put health and fitness up on a pedestal sometimes, but when you break it down, it’s simple. If exercise makes you feel good, you only need to fit in 20 minutes where you can. A fancy yoga mat isn’t necessary, nor are those Nike iDs you’ve been eyeing. Just put on the shoes you have, and hit the pavement.

“I Know”

by kaitgaiss on January 23, 2014, no comments

Throughout my entire existence – and my mother can attest to this – I’ve had a tendency to say, “I know.” When someone gives me instructions, I get frustrated. “I know, I know,” I say, “I know.” I believe the fear of seeming ignorant or slow is at the root of this. Yet when my sole response to advice is, “I know,” I only come off as uncoachable.

What I’m slowly realizing is – I’m trying to get to the punch line quickly – no one is expecting me to know everything.

Regardless of whether I think I know or not, I am twenty-two years old. I have a lot of learning ahead of me. And as an insatiably curious person, it’s learning that I desperately want. Lucky for me, for the majority of the day, I am in a position that requires constant growth and learning from experience. What is expected of me, as opposed to knowing everything, is to have ideas and opinions. There are no concrete facts, no index cards to memorize, just the simple desire to add something to the conversation.

This paralyzation of being incorrect, or of feeling inexperienced, is counteractive to everything else I do and feel towards my life right now. As a young person, in a new city, doing work that I love…the doors for novel adventures are wide open and the roads leading out from them are endless.

And why try to pretend I know so much? It seems that would take the fun out of everything.


by kaitgaiss on October 24, 2013, no comments

I’m a big fan of The Great Discontent. It reminds me that no one ever really knows where they’ll end up, and that the paths we take are, well, namely based on just figuring out what feels right.

This month, The Great Discontent features Elle Luna. She makes a great statement about feeling uplifted by the presence of ambiguity.

“I think back to the different phases of a project at IDEO—it’s not so different from life, really—I’m in the exploratory, divergent phase. The part where you brainstorm a lot and encourage wild ideas and defer judgement. I believe that the longer you can hang with that ambiguity or unknown, the greater the results will be at the end. This was true for IDEO projects, it was true for Mailbox, and now it is becoming true for my life. I didn’t know what I was going to do with all the art I was creating, but I kept making it anyway.”

Are we asking for too much?

by kaitgaiss on August 28, 2013, no comments

Met up with an old friend for dinner last night. She graduated in 2012 and thus has a full 365 days of wisdom and advice to offer me as I conclude my first few months as a post-grad professional. She was asking me about my new job and I said that after seven weeks, I’m finally happy. The onboarding process was difficult, and I will not lie, I was beginning to explore other positons. My head was (and continues to be) filled with questions. What am I passionate about? How do I channel this into my work? Do I feel like my job is pushing me to grow into the individual I aspire to be? Am I finding enough time outside of work to cultivate outside interests while also developing my personal relationships with friends and family?

In the last 10 days or so, I’ve found respite from these questions…a quiet peace of sorts. I’m truly enjoying the time I spend at work and realize that this concept of work-life balance is somewhat…imaginary. What’s a life that so harshly distinguishes between “work” and “real” life?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I spent last night at Makeshift Society listening to the women behind Rice Paper Scissors share their experiences in what it takes to build a food business. The following question was asked:

So it’s clear you’re doing what you love, but how much of your time do you spend doing the unlovable tasks that are necessary in making it actually happen? The number-crunching, food prep, the stress not knowing if a pop-up will actually come through, etc.

And their answer was around forty percent. Forty percent of their time is spent doing all the shit tasks that are needed to pull this dream of theirs off. I love that. Because it’s true…work is rewarding, but sometimes, work is work. And you just have to grit your teeth and realize that you’re going to be in the thick of it for the next day or week or month or so, but that the end product is going to give you so much back in return.

So my friend and I are talking about this, right? And she’s bringing up how many young people she knows who have meandered from job to job and city to city in their first year post-college. I think there is certainly some truth to this wandering. If you’re in a dead-end job or in an industry you get zero energy from, it’s smart to leave. But what is the line between finding your passion and asking too much from life? At what point do we need to buckle down as a generation and get to work?

I’d like to end with beautiful quote I stumbled upon:

“I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before.”

- C. Joybell C.

This is how I want my work to feel, right now, for me. I want to be broken open by it and emerge as something greater than I was before.

La Cocina Street Food Festival

by kaitgaiss on August 20, 2013, no comments

This weekend, like many in my life, centered around food. It all began with an event I’ve been eagerly anticipating from the very moment my taste buds landed in San Francisco…

La Cocina’s Street Food Festival.

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with La Cocina since I arrived in SF. I could just summarize their mission statement, but I think they describe what they do best.

The mission of La Cocina is to cultivate low income food entrepreneurs as they formalize and grow their businesses by providing affordable commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance and access to market opportunities. We focus primarily on women from communities of color and immigrant communities. Our vision is that entrepreneurs gain financial security by doing what they love to do, creating an innovative, vibrant and inclusive economic landscape.

Impressive, right? The work they do is so compelling and clearly makes such a positive impact on the lives of those who run small food businesses. Plus, the addition of new characters to the local food landscape is something I’m always pretty damn excited about.

Thus, when Saturday morning rolled around, I made my way down to 20th and Folsom to purchase my “Just Snacking” passport and start sampling the goods. I began with a sweet corn pudding from Hapa Ramen, one of the first few trucks (couldn’t make it one block in before caving). I was surprised by how refreshing it was, the chilliness of the pudding perfectly complemented the heat of the day. Despite living on 26th and Folsom last summer, I’m still taken aback when I hit Mission and am forced to discard multiple layers of clothing. Oh, microclimates…

From there it was on to Hard Water for Parker House Rolls with Honey Butter. After four years in North Carolina, what can I say? I have a near-constant hankering for sweet southern cooking, and homemade rolls with honey butter will always fill the hole Durham left in my heart. My sheer giddiness for food made me a little forgetful though…which is why I don’t have photos from the first segment of my feeding frenzy. But that all changed with a Penang Peanut Taco.

From Azalina’s, this taco is the result of scallion flatbread, curried chicken, and coconut jam all fried up into a taco-like creation and spiked with a pickled something to top it all off. I ate this and Azalina’s sweet potato dumpling. The dumpling was rather cute in fact, a small semi-flattened mash of sweet potatoes, cherries, and coconut. Yum yum.

We then moved on to what has since emerged as my new current obsession: Rice Paper Scissors. Run by two bad ass chicks who just want to make Vietnamese street food, I had their Pho Cuon Chay (fresh pho filled with beech mushrooms, fried tofu, and Thai basil) and Grilled Baby Octopus. The octopus was marinated with fish sauce and caramel – a combination I don’t think I knew existed prior to Saturday. Atop the octopus was rau ram (a Vietnamese coriander), salt and pepper, lime, and Rice Paper Scissor’s homemade sweet chile sauce.


Valerie and Katie – the masterminds behind Rice Paper Scissors – are speaking at a co-working space I recently discovered a block from my apartment in Hayes Valley. If you’re interested, it’s going down at Makeshift Society this Friday at 7 PM.

Following the pho and the octopus, plus some free cupcakes and Clairesquare samples, and oh yeah, a cocktail…I was stuffed. I retreated back to my apartment to recover. Yet, when my boyfriend suggested a few hours later that we head back to Mission, I was rushing out the door, my pants fitting just a little bit tighter than they had when I first slipped them that morning.

The Festival at noon and the Festival at 6:15 PM practically seemed to be two different events – all the major hits of the day were out of stock, and the lines had all but disappeared. Tyler went right for fries from Fritas Shack. Think cheddar cheese, heaps of homemade guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and carne asada piled on top of shoestring fries.

Tyler was in heaven.

How else to finish off a day of gluttony but with a cleanse? Ours involved a double scoop of Tahitian Vanilla and Beer Nut ice cream from Humphrey Slocombe.

Movers & Shakers

by kaitgaiss on August 19, 2013, no comments

The same movers and shakers and creators and makers who put their nose to the grindstone to create beautiful things are the folks putting it aside at the end of the day and getting out there.

[Daily inspiration from Warby Parker's Class Trip]

New adventures

by kaitgaiss on August 11, 2013, no comments

As I top off my first month living and working in the Bay Area, I find myself trying to make sense of this new reality. Over the course of the last four weeks, I have dragged hundred pound duffle bags from San Jose to San Francisco, enjoyed multiple outdoor patio brunches courtesy of my food-truck-drivin’ Airbnb host, hustled my way into signing a lease on a great apartment in an even better neighborhood, re-painted said apartment, and – oh yes – begun my life as a young professional.

A lot has happened in just four weeks…

I’ve somehow morphed into an urban cyclist and expert of Caltrain commutes.

I put the windows down, blasted some tunes, and embarked on my first California road trip – hopping in the back seat of a car to float in this dream-like canyon river named Arroyo Seco (though it translates in Spanish to “dry creek”).

With the addition of some new Craigslist purchases and a fresh coat of paint, my apartment is starting to feel more and more like a home…a place where I can hunker down for the next few years.

And, my office no longer feels like non-navigable alien terrain, but a comfortable place where serious hours are spent learning and doing great, valuable, and exciting work.


After a full month of transit mishaps and learning how to balance work and personal pursuits, I feel more at ease. My first item of mail (a utility bill…) arrived last week and the reality of it all hit me. I now have a San Francisco address.

Here’s to being young and figuring it out.

Day 5: Post-Grad Travels

by kaitgaiss on June 12, 2013, no comments

So…our flight to Barcelona has been cancelled. The French do love to go on strike. Apparently the air traffic controller is centralizing in France and people are on the brink of losing their jobs. Was talking with some locals about this (and whether they were exaggerating or not..), in the U.S. you’d just get kicked to the curb in this type of situations. But in France, the government must then find jobs for everyone who will be fired. They came out with a plan a few days ago, but those affected want better benefits.

Anyway, our flight was affected. Since are smartphones are only a shell of what they typically are stateside, we didn’t hear the news until we arrived at the airport. We looked at the Departures monitor, and in big red letters next to three-quarters of the flights was written CANCELLED. An enormous line ran in front of the Vueling information booth. In typical mob-mentality form, I went to find the end of the line. Tyler, on the other hand, knew better, and went straight to an agent and found out the next flight to Barcelona is on Saturday…three days from now. At least we’re able to get a refund for our tickets online. I’m still wondering if the people in line even knew what they were waiting for. Sometimes, myself included, we just wait. Merely because that’s what everyone else is doing.

Seeking refuge in a Starbucks now that has 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi. We’re down to the last minute, and I think we’ve worked out our plan from here. Most trains to Barcelona have also been cancelled due to strike (don’t know why, but finding this news made the strike feel like an epidemic), but with my travel insurance, everything is covered from transportation, food, and lodging. We’ve got people with Wi-Fi looking for night trains that will leave from Paris at 10PM this evening and get us to Barcelona by morning. From now on, keeping all my receipts.

Here are our options. A. Stay with Guillane in Paris tonight. B. Stay with Guillane’s friend in Lyon and rent a car. C. Rent a car, drive to border, rent another car to Spain, return French car to France, drive Spanish car to Barcelona. D. Eurolines bus to South of France, then another bus to Barcelona. E. Scratch Barcelona.