Hello, friends. I haven’t written in a little while as I’ve been processing our new reality of quarantine and social distancing. It’s been challenging in the obvious ways but also quite revelatory on a personal level. I was video conferencing with a candidate yesterday and she said something that stuck with me: “I didn’t realize how go, go, go I really was until I was forced to stop.” I think many of us share that same sentiment.

Many of us live our “normal” lives going from one activity to the next. Work, gym, appointments, social engagements, meetings, events, volunteering, etc. We’ve been forced to halt all of this and boil it down to essentials. Work from home, socializing virtually, exercising in isolation. No matter how engaged you might be, you can’t deny you’ve had to scale back immensely. You’ve now got time to think, sit with your emotions, and understand your priorities. Your real priorities.

For me, each day has been touch and go. I am solo in my apartment and so I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and I’ve come to some realizations. For the past few years, I’ve buried myself in work on purpose. I love what I do and I don’t think this is a bad thing per se, however, I realized that without the hustle and bustle of jam-packed days at the office, I’m very lonely. Not in terms of friends and family, but romantically speaking. I declared it wasn’t important, that I am very independent and self-sufficient. Only the latter part is true. I am missing that kind of connection.

That’s not to say I am demanding immediate action, but just recognizing this undeniable truth about myself felt like one of the few positives of my experience of what’s happening in our world. Beyond that, it’s reaffirmed for me that health comes first and relationships are everything. I feel very grateful to have supportive and responsible parents, family, friends, and colleagues during this time. I took for granted our times together and I would like to think that when this blows over, I won’t do that again.

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It’s hard not to feel a bit creature-like, all cooped up at home. Regardless of your status, we are all struggling because we’ve had to severely restrict our comings and goings. It’s hard not to feel like we’re imprisoned. I will admit that at times I feel a sense of foreboding and deep anxiety. I’m trying to cope with that with healthy activities. I thought I would share what’s been comforting me during these strange times.


Whether going for a walk outside or dancing around my apartment (all activities I’ve done in quarantine), music has accompanied me and made me feel all sorts of ways. Transported, nostalgic, hopeful, grateful, reflective. It’s never made me feel bad though. I’ve included a playlist of what I’ve been listening to lately. It’s all over the map genre-wise, so there’s something for everyone.


I’ve increased my exercise actually since being in quarantine. Yoga, strength training, and walking outside have been my go-to options and at no point have I regretted a single moment of movement. In fact, exercise has probably been the most impactful stress reliever. That natural buzz of endorphins makes me feel the most accomplished and alive, even in my small studio apartment.

Virtual Connection

To keep the loneliness at bay, I’m finding that video and phone calls have been very helpful. From Zoom meetings with my eight colleagues (we looked the Brady Bunch in nine squares) to the FaceTimes with family and friends, it is reassuring to see the faces and hear the voices of my loved ones. It’s also nice to commiserate over the struggles of being in this same boat and try to find some humor and levity. Much easier to do with others than solo.

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Keeping it simple with today’s post.

  1. My health.
  2. My family and friends’ health.
  3. The seriousness with which my family and friends take their health, coronavirus, and the recommended precautions.
  4. Solo walks by Lake Michigan.
  5. A caring boss and the ability to work remotely that will allow me to maintain income.
  6. Access to food, water, and hygiene products.
  7. An emotional support network.
  8. Working electricity and heat.
  9. Access to the Internet, information, much needed comedic relief (Chris D’Elia’s YouTube channel) and other forms of entertainment (The Murder Squad: Jensen & Holes podcast).

I am encouraged by the shows of support, kindness, and unity both locally and worldwide. That said, as grateful as I am, I am feeling really badly for those that don’t have these things. If there’s anyway I can help anyone else, please let me know!

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This morning I woke up at 10:40 am; absolutely unheard of for me, but I’ll attribute it to stress management and wanting to stretch out the pleasant dream I was having for as long as possible. The first thing I decided to do was go for a very long walk. I was feeling incredibly stir crazy all day Friday, so it seemed vital. I got some coffee at Starbucks and headed to the lakefront trail. I walked five miles in all, taking the time to call some of my loved ones to check-in. The trail was sparse with people and there were blockades for the 5k Shamrock Shuffle, which I assume was canceled. My point being is that I felt so much better moving my body and getting exercise, even if not at CorePower or in a group setting. Highly recommend for stress and anxiety relief.

On the way to the lake, I noticed clusters of men in their twenties, dressed in green, clearly to party for St. Patrick’s Day. I also walked by Durkins, as usual holding my breath, since it’s the smelliest, most disgusting bar in the city. Much to my chagrin, it was swarming. Patrons of Durkins should be quarantined anyway (sorry Steelers fans), but it made me angry because they’re only thinking about themselves. Go get drunk at home, you dingles! You have a responsibility to other people. I get that you’re 22 and you want to party, but consider your parents, grandparents, colleagues, and other people you will interact with that will be more at risk.

Before I got back to my apartment, I popped into the nearest Walgreens to see how depleted it was. There were plenty of paper goods, though low on bleach-infused cleaning supplies. That made me feel a bit better. This changed when I walked back outside and saw my doctor running down the street (I live close to his office). That was fun. Who doesn’t want to see their doctor running in plain clothes? He had khakis on. Why are you running, Dr. Lee? It certainly didn’t make me feel apocalyptic or disconcerted at all…

Anyway, all this to say exercise your body and exercise caution. Don’t be selfish or contrarian. It’s not a good look, especially when you can party at your own home. Until we know more about the coronavirus, methinks following the CDC’s advice of social distancing is a little more important than catching a buzz at a pee-smelling bar.

Namaste, friends.

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Hello friends. I hope you’re doing okay. I feel that most would agree with me that yesterday really marked a turning point with regards to anxiety levels regarding the coronavirus. It’s hard to focus on the facts and know how extreme or necessary recommended precautions are. As someone that likes to be prepared, I found myself at the Walmart on Broadway this morning, stockpiling cleaning, paper, and frozen goods while on hold with Chase Travel to cancel my flight to Boston, which I was supposed to be on as I write this.

I was up late last night, monitoring the news for updates, particularly regarding closures of public gathering places. I spoke to my mom and we talked about regrouping in the morning. We decided to cancel our plans, much to our sadness. With all of the museums closed and the advisories to stay home, it just wouldn’t have been enjoyable. My office has gone remote for today, but I decided to still take the day off. Yesterday was stressful. Business was directly affected by coronavirus due to the lack of certainty and safety precautions.

Words like pandemic are inherently alarming. Health concerns are arguably the one thing universal to all humans. I’ve never been alive or at least mature enough to experience anything like this before where life is essentially put on pause. I wonder how to maximize this weird suspension of routine. Should I get more sleep? Should I be reading the news non-stop? What can I do now that I’ve been to the grocery store? I’ve already been obsessively washing my hands. Unfortunately, the recommendation to stay home and wait it out doesn’t jive with my personality. I’m a “do-er”. But there’s nothing to really do that I haven’t done at this point.

My hope is for the best-case scenario and this blows over now that people are staying home. Realistically, I don’t know that I believe that is what will happen. I just sincerely hope people stay safe, try to stay calm, and that the media provides factual information and stops fear-mongering or inciting racism against Asian peoples. No one wants to be sick, but being humane is not mutually exclusive. I’ll pause my existential pondering for now. These are odd times, no doubt.

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It’s been a busy week in my world. On Tuesday night, I celebrated my friend Sarah’s birthday at The Press Room in the West Loop. I had been there once before for cocktails with my friends Britt and Kylie, but we did not order any food. This time, of course, we did. We ordered several small plates and the seafood options (scallops and crab cakes) stood out as group favorites. The wine selection was great as well and I enjoyed a few glasses of La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva. The ambiance was very pleasant and ideal for an intimate birthday celebration. The Press Room’s decor, you can imagine, contained a lot of studded chairs and stools, bankers green, and vintage appliances. I recommend it for a quiet evening for two or a small group. There is a private event room that would be perfect for a wine tasting as well.

The birthday girl celebrating with champagne!

The next day was a busy day at work, including a quick CorePower Yoga Sculpt session at lunchtime. After work, I went to the Admin Awards event downtown in the River Point building. I attended in place of my friend and colleague, Andrea, who is a very deserving nominee. She is one of the most organized, detail-oriented, proactive individuals I have ever known. She is on the right career path, no doubt! At the event, I talked with some wonderful administrative professionals, some I’ve worked with as well as some new friends. It was nice to witness the appreciation for the oft unsung heroes that are office administrators.

Andrea is a nominee at the Admin Awards!

The rest of the week was fairly eventful at work and so on Friday evening, I decided to stay in and go to bed early as I was to be on the road early the next morning. On Saturday morning, I got up and picked up my ZipCar and drove to my brother’s house on the way to my dad’s in Ottawa. It was a quick and easy drive. When we got there, we visited for a little then drove a few short blocks downtown to a newer restaurant downtown, called Burger and Sushi House (B.A.S.H.). I was very impressed. It looked like a place you would find in the city, with the lofty industrial decor, including a greenery wall and a neon quote sign. The food was really good too. It was a pleasant surprise to see Ottawa developing and modernizing.

Afterward, we went back to my dad’s and both boys fell asleep promptly, so I listened to my new favorite podcast, The Murder Squad: Jensen and Holes, while my dad’s dog laid next to me and I pet her. Eventually, they both woke up and we visited a bit longer. My dad made me move random items around and showed me important things around the house for future reference. We hopped back into the car around 4:30 pm to return home. I was home closer to 7:30 pm and went to bed early again, waking up at an unusually late hour this morning of 9:30 am. I’m always pleased when I sleep in as it rarely ever happens.

Sleeping beauties.

So far today, I went for a walk, spoke to my mom and my friend Arie on the phone and ordered some groceries for delivery. I’m still working on logistics for my upcoming move since I’ll have four days in between homes but I remain very excited about my new apartment. That said, I need to remind myself to enjoy the next few months and not take them for granted.

In the short-term, I am looking forward to a bowling outing with my company on Wednesday evening as well as a quick weekend away in Boston with my mom. I have never been, but am planning to arrive early Friday, explore a bit on my own, then meet up with my mom that evening when she’s done with her conference. We are going to the JFK Presidential Library on Saturday morning; I truly can’t wait for that, the sites, and some really good seafood!

Have a great week, all! Wash your hands well. Also, don’t worry, I’m still playing Sonic 3 & Knuckles when I have free time.

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Hello friends. I am currently seated in a coffee shop enjoying an oat milk cappuccino, post-dental appointment. You may say this is counterintuitive, but I’m very pleased to share that the dentist said my teeth are perfect. I’m borderline obsessed with my teeth and taking care of them, so you can imagine the gratification I felt in hearing that. She said, “keep doing what you’re doing”. No problem, Doctor!

I’m having what my generation calls a self-care day. In a few hours, I’ll be getting a massage, then immediately after, I’m going to the hair salon to get a touch up in color and a trim. My hair has gotten too long because brushing it has become a chore. I spoke to my uncle this morning and shared my plans for today when he asked, and he suggested I get a mani/pedi as well, ha! I may just do that…

Last night, I attended a cozy game night at my friends’ Alex and Brad’s lovely home and many belly laughs ensued. I’m not sure what I’ll do this evening after my many appointments, but I will possibly continue packing a little for my move, though I’ve made great progress already. Perhaps I’ll browse online for sofas, decor ideas, etc. Maybe make a budget. Research dog ownership further. Or I’ll just keep playing Sonic 3 & Knuckles on my computer because sometimes I like to pretend it’s still 1994 and I am not an adult with many responsibilities. This is game I played religiously as a kid and it brings back very good memories. I’m a sucker for a vintage game, as always.

Otherwise, not much to report. Work remains very busy. I’m going to Boston for a quick weekend visit in mid-March. I’ll meet up with my mom who is there for a work conference. It will be my first time there so I’m looking forward to that. I’m still counting down the days until I have in-unit laundry…

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Hello all! It’s been a week or so since my last post. Since returning from my amazing trip in Austin, Texas, things have been busy! Work has been occupying much of my time and energy, which is a-okay considering 2020 has started with a bang for me professionally. The job market is strong and I have been working with exceptional clients and candidates. It’s very exciting!

Also, the last few weekends have included a lot of fun activities. Two weekends ago, my dear friend Britt came in for a girl’s night out with me and Kylie. In addition to pedicures, we went shopping, then out to the Laugh Factory, followed by a decadent dinner at Sepia. This past Saturday, I traveled by train up to Arlington Heights to celebrate my other dear friend, Andrea’s birthday as well as her daughter Izzy’s second birthday. So much fun!

On my own, outside of CorePower classes and walks outside, I’ve been keeping active with the initial packing of my apartment. Yes, I know, it’s so early, but consider what you know about me. I’m moving on May 4th to a building in Lincoln Park that has all of the amenities I’ve been wanting, nay, pining for including in-unit laundry (praise the lord), dishwasher, balcony, elevator, rooftop deck with grills, fitness center, and a beautiful kitchen.

I can’t explain how excited and how over my current living situation I am. I can already tell this new property management company is incredible, though I feel that anything would be better than my current one with their lack of responses, sense of urgency, etc. The new management company has already sent me emails about their Rewards Program and events. I look forward to moving somewhere that offers these local perks and a chance for community. I don’t know any of my current neighbors by name and am only vaguely familiar with one gentleman a few doors down.

This new opportunity also brings an opportunity to redecorate. I will be purchasing a new couch and dining table and chairs (my current bistro table and pair of chairs is for sale, if you’re interested and can do pick-ups in Chicago)!. Now that I have a more modern bed frame and a gray bedspread, I will continue to choose gray with accent colors (possibly pale pink, teal, etc.). We will see. I am just thrilled for this upgrade!

Other than that, planning a few long weekend trips with my mom this spring. Also continuing research on dog ownership. Looking forward to the changes and warmer weather ahead. Have a great week, all!

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Hello, friends! Last week from Thursday to Sunday, I was in Austin, Texas on a solo vacation. This was my first time in Texas and my first trip alone and I want to share my experience in case you decide to visit Austin someday or if you’re considering going on vacation by yourself. Or perhaps, you are just curious to know what I was up to, which is super flattering, thank you! I think the best way will be to break it down day by day, so let’s start with Thursday!


On Thursday I arrived at Austin Bergstrom International Airport at around 10:45 am. I took a Lyft first and foremost to where I was staying. I couldn’t check in yet, so I decided to go kitty-corner to Whole Foods to buy some basic groceries: oat milk for coffee, oatmeal, apples, and a few snacks. From there, I hopped back into a Lyft driven by a retired Texas cop with three daughters, who gave me safety tips for the weekend. He took me to a place called Joe’s Bakery where I devoured some beef tacos and then headed back to my accommodations, which I would classify as something between an Airbnb and a hotel. It is called Locale and I chose their Downtown Austin location on Lamar and 3rd Street, which was a bit west of the main action. I was upgraded to an apartment with a king-sized bed for free and had a double sink in the bathroom, plenty of closet space, a granite countertop in the kitchen and an inviting, modernly design living space. They provided a fully stocked kitchen with all of the utensils and cookware, coffee, and more.

Then, I took a Lyft to the Texas State Capitol and caught the 3:30 pm tour. I learned about the six points of the Texas Lone Star (Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States, and the United States) and that the building is the largest in terms of the square footage of all state capitols. We were taken underneath the dome with the Lone Star in the middle (apparently it’s over eight feet wide). The tour guide was a bit hard to hear due to the raucous with elementary school kids and their teachers shushing them bouncing off the walls. Luckily, it was quieter in the Senate and Congress meeting rooms.

After this, I walked to the Bullock Texas State History Museum and was admitted for free since the museum was only open for about 45 more minutes. I was only able to get through the first floor, which covered early Texas history. As you can imagine, it was very violent! Afterward, I walked back to Locale to rest and get ready for dinner.

I booked a table at Fixe Austin, an elevated southern food restaurant with romantic, rustic decorating and phenomenal food. I drank a nice, earthy pinot noir from Santa Barbara and had an “appetizer” of a warm homemade biscuit straight from the oven, Meyer lemon butter, and homemade blueberry preserves that was nothing short of euphoric. For my entree, I had a red grouper, Carolina gold rice grits, local beans, sweet corn, red pepper chow chow, benne seed furikake with a side of charred broccolini, smoked Apache bleu cheese fondue, Meyer lemon. The meal was unbelievably delicious and I had a very attentive and friendly waiter. There was a fairly raucous group nearby with a cackling woman with big blonde hair dressed in black sequins. I was in too good of a mood, or perhaps a food coma, to mind all that much. By the time I was finished, it was around 10 pm and I was exhausted from walking all over, so I went back to Locale to rest up for the next day.


This was my favorite day because it contained two activities that I enjoyed the most. Also, the weather was the best, maxing out at a sunny 75 degrees, while Thursday had been in the forties (still an improvement from Chicago)! I made breakfast at my apartment, then walked through the University of Texas, Austin campus to the LBJ Presidential Library, which took just under an hour. I bought a ticket for $10 and walked the museum for an hour or two. Three of the 10 floors are open to the public. The museum is incredibly well-planned with permanent exhibits and a reproduction of the Oval Office during his presidency. My favorite part was being able to listen to snippets of LBJ’s secretly recorded conversations with notable people from Jackie Kennedy to J. Edgar Hoover. LBJ inherited a very difficult and intense time in American and World history. His legislation was generally progressive and well-meaning, but was overshadowed by the Vietnam War and other foreign relations fiascos. Still, I got the sense that he cared intensely about this country and quite literally wore his heart out during his leadership. The LBJ Library was an incredible, immersive experience and it spurred me to continue researching the period. Even for a non-history buff, I think it’s worth a visit.

After that, my feet and legs were tired and achy from walking and standing all morning and I decided it was time for lunch. I went to Casino el Camino, a divey rock bar with phenomenal hamburgers, recommended to me by my mom. The burger did not disappoint, but it was a long wait, so I just sat and enjoyed some ice tea and music from the jukebox. 

I went back to Locale and got rid of my jacket since it had warmed up substantially. I walked across the Colorado River to Barton Springs Bike Rentals and Tours, for the two hour “Austin in a Nutshell” bike tour. It ended up being a total blast. I was joined by a friendly Executive Assistant/Office Manager from Los Angeles and three ladies on a girls trip, hailing from Denver, Colorado. Everyone was extremely friendly and good humored. We were lead by the most enthusiastic, funny, and upbeat tour guide named George who shared tidbits and historical, yet modern facts about Austin. He obliged us all by taking our photos at various stops as well.

After this, I walked back to Locale and showered off all the sweat and dust then took a cat nap. Dinner on Friday was at The Grove Wine Bar + Kitchen, local wine bar known for their thin crust pizzas nearby that I’d been eyeing on my walks. I ordered a custom pizza with my favorite, spinach and onions, and had two glasses of Colene Clemens Margo Pinot Noir from Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley, Oregon. There were a few cute couples around and this was the only time I wished I had a dinner mate with me. I became quickly distracted by a loud mouth idiot that was laughing and shouting. You could tell he was trying to be “the guy” and he was wearing dumb purple loafers. Fortunately, I was able to watch as the manager asked him to pipe down! I was even more exhausted from the walking and what was closer to a three hour bike tour (my group was especially chatty), so I went back to Locale around 11 pm and passed out like a baby!


On Saturday morning, I had some oatmeal and coffee, then decided to walk on the trail along the Colorado River to get to the famous Greetings from Austin mural. A nice couple took my photo and I took theirs, then I hopped in a Lyft to Viva Day Spa where I had a custom facial that was very relaxing and refreshing. With my freshly glowing face, I got back in a Lyft to Kendra Scott’s flagship store on South Congress, which was adorable. I treated myself to a custom engraved ring as a sort of memento and a simple gold necklace to match a pair of earrings gifted to me for Christmas. In addition to the custom engravings, there was a color bar available where you could customize your jewelry. You can imagine the boyfriends and husbands sat around waiting for their ladies to make decisions.

I then walked north on South Congress to go to the famous South Congress Cafe (another recommendation from my mom). The wait was two hours but I was able to immediately snag a seat at the bar; one of the perks of solo travel. I ordered eggs Benedict on fried tomatoes and a potato pancake. It was delicious! Afterward, I continued up north on South Congress and people watched as I went. It was buzzing on Saturday; you can tell Austin enjoys its brunches and shopping! I walked all the way back from Locale to work off my meal, getting there around 2 pm. I took a nap then cleaned up to go to the Rainey Street Historic District. It was wild! Full of people drinking and partying and having a good time. I didn’t hear any live music, but rather there were DJs playing contemporary hits. It was a little too rowdy for me, especially by myself. If I were with girlfriends or a significant other, I would have stuck around, but the bars were full of groups and I felt it would be awkward. Instead, I stumbled upon The Roosevelt Room on 5th Street, which was way more my speed anyway. I had a basic glass of pinot noir but was really there to enjoy the ambiance: dim lighting, craft cocktail, speakeasy type of vibe.

I will say that since my dry January, I really haven’t had a strong desire to drink. I had a total of four glasses of red wine on this trip and nothing else. I mention this because I absolutely think you can have a great time in Austin whether you drink or not. In addition to a general lack of desire to drink, I think as a solo female traveler, I felt more comfortable enjoying a glass with dinner and beyond that, staying aware and alert. There is a legitimate homeless problem in Austin and while only one approached me that alarmed me the entire trip, I felt way more confident being out at night with my wits about me. I listen to too many true crime podcasts anyway.

For dinner, I went to Torchy’s Tacos, the Austin staple that everyone said I must go to. I ordered the beef fajita, the beef brisket, and a chicken taco. They were great, of course! I walked back to Locale after this (it was early enough and very close). I debated going out, but I decided not to as I had what I thought would be an early flight in the morning (it got delayed by two-three hours).

To sum up, Austin, Texas is a wonderful place to visit solo, as a couple, or with a group. While Texas is of course imbued in Austin’s identity, the city’s motto is “Keep Austin Weird” for a reason. It draws in residents and tourists alike from all parts of the country and the world. It’s cosmopolitan while being earthy-crunchy. Austin struck me as friendly, easy to navigate, and generally progressive. The people I encountered were open, kind, and helpful. The Colorado River, Lady Bird Lake, and the surrounding greenery were beautiful and accessible with newer, expensive pedestrian bridges and riverside trails. The food was varietal but consistently good. The history of Texas and the pride of the locals were evident and fascinating. The only downsides included the prevalence of homeless people and the lack of live music opportunities, though admittedly, I prioritized good food, museums, and outdoor experiences first. I had also visited before South by Southwest in March, Austin’s days-long music festival. I would highly recommend a trip. Thank you for reading!

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After years of the same, creaky full-sized mattress with my “Psycho Mrs. Bates divot”, it was time to upgrade. A mattress is no small purchase, but I had been considering a Casper for a while, thanks in part to the advertisements on nearly all my favorite podcasts. So I embarked on some research, looking at reviews on independent YouTube channels and various blogs. This research and Casper’s controversial “100 nights risk-free” return policy, enabled me to make my decision to purchase a queen-sized mattress and upholstered bed frame.

Goodbye, old bed!

I found two guys on TaskRabbit (which I highly recommend for your household-related projects) to remove my old mattress, box spring, and bed frame. I then received the Casper bed frame, which was easy to assemble and looked fantastic. It was delivered on a Friday, three days after placing my order. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that the mattress wouldn’t be shipped with it; the text specifying that items from the same order may not ship together was minuscule. As a result, I had a beautiful bed frame, with no mattress for about a week! I was not happy. After sleeping on the floor for a couple of days, I let them know of my frustration. They apologized and sent me two free pillows. Nice, but not really what I needed. Lesson learned: don’t get rid of the old mattress until the new one comes!

A little over a week later, I finally received my mattress. I had one of the TaskRabbit guys carry the box up the stairs; I probably could’ve done it on my own, but I didn’t want to injure myself and my back and neck aren’t in great shape. Once the box was inside my apartment, I removed the rolled-up mattress and removed the plastic. I could hear and see the mattress filling with air, which was fascinating. I took the box out to recycle, and voilà, I was done.

I was enthusiastic, of course, to get off the floor, but I have to say, my sleep has been incredible. The Casper is somewhere between firm and soft and even though its memory foam, I don’t find myself getting too hot. Having a queen-sized bed is wonderful as well; more room and the feeling of envelopment. I got new bedding as well. A cozy gray furry comforter and sham covers. When I move in May, I will be transitioning away from the navy blue accents and will get different throw pillows/blankets. But for now, this is what it looks like.

At last!

My overall rating of the Casper mattress experience is 7 out of 10. The deduction comes from the frustrating delay in delivery. They should make it more obvious that the items will ship separately. Beyond that though, I’m sleeping very well so far and if for some reason, I’m not any longer, then I have 100 nights to return!

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