The Way to Papakōlea

The website said “you need to hike 2.5 miles (one way) from the parking lot to the beach.” That sounded like the perfect afternoon to me. I walked across the parking lot and a Hawai’ian woman in faded capris and an ill-fitting tank top, sweat causing strands of her long dark hair to stick to her face in clumps, said, “Wanna shuttle ride to the beach?” I smiled and said, “No, thanks.” She persisted, “It’s 3 miles. Each way. Over an hour walk.” Music to my ears, I smiled and said, “Thanks, I’ll walk.” I had my day pack, filled with plenty of water, snacks, and a jacket (so not needed in the heat of the afternoon but I’m from San Francisco and old habits die hard).

I walked towards the water, then along the coast. There wasn’t a path per say, just various road-ish ways where vehicles had driven over the years.

Paths to the green sand beach

I wondered if all the roads led to the beach. They sort of kind of looked like it. But they also looked like they could diverge and I had no idea which one led to where I wanted to be. I also wondered why I didn’t see any other walkers. I made my way to the coastline so that I could be closer to the ocean. The sound of the waves and the mist of salt spray calmed my soul. I sat on the lava and ate an apple, letting the sound and spray wash over me.

 

As I continued to walk, a pickup truck or two occasionally passed. Each time, the driver leaned out the window, waved, and said, “You need a ride?” I’d smile and say, “No, I’m good” and he’d say, “You sure?” I’d nod and wave as he drove off, a few people bouncing along in the back of the pickup. Red dust rose and I waited until it settled, somewhat, to continue walking. I came over a crest and saw a bevy of pickups parked atop a cliff. There it was, Papakōlea, the green sand beach, tucked away at the bottom of a cliff. I sat at the top of the cliff, relishing the cool wind blowing from the water. I sat, and thought, and sat, and watched, and sat, and was happy.

Panorama

100 Looks Great on You!

Happy Birthday, National Park Service! I hope I look as good as you do when I reach 100! To celebrate your big day, I spent the afternoon wandering through Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. There were very few visitors there, and I loved walking the ancient pathways and listening to the waves lap against the shore, taking in the peaceful atmosphere. As I stood staring at the sea, I witnessed a sea turtle resting. I watched as it breathed in, raising its head ever so slightly, then watched as it sort of harrumphed, dropping its head onto the sand and spitting a dribbly stream of water. I walked over hardened lava, and felt the heat, from today, from years, from centuries, rise.

On the Pacific Surfliner

It’s a perfect, foggy, mystical morning for a train ride down the coast of California. I feel at peace on trains. The methodical, rhythmic cadence of the car. The pace, staring out the window, seeing a new landscape every few seconds. And on this trip, the ocean. The tracks hug the cliffs dropping to the expansive ocean, blues and grey for as far as the eye can see. This morning, the chill, mysterious fog envelops the coast. Maybe it’s because I’m not naturally a morning person (I like to sleep), but when I’m up in the morning, I’m experiencing a secret world. I’m intrigued by the silence, the quiet, the peacefulness.

Morning train ride

Morning train ride

From the “Buts” to the “Ands”

I hear people say “Black Lives Matter, but…”

  • all lives matter, too.
  • they must have been doing something suspicious if the police pulled a gun on them.
  • they were armed as well (I think).

And I want the conversation to turn from the buts to the ands, saying, “Yes. Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter and Philando Castile died too young and Alton Sterling died too young and Delrawn Small died too young and Jai Williams died too young and Kawme Patrick died too young and Tyrone Reado died too young and Lafayette Evans died too young and Sherman Evans died too young and Germichael Kennedy died too young and Donte Johnson died too young and Ismael Miranda died too young and Jay Anderson died too young and Deravis Rogers died too young and Angelo Brown died too young and Quencezola Splunge died too young and Isaiah Core III died too young and Antonio Richardson died too young and Rashaun Lloyd died too young and Clarence Howard died too young and Antwun Shumpert died too young and Michael Moore died too young and John Williams died too young and Lyndarius Witherspoon died too young and Keith Bursey died too young and  John Brisco died too young and Willis Walker Jr died too young and Henry Green died too young and Demarco Rhymes died too young and Willie “Meek” James died too young and Rodney Smith died too young and Michael Johnson died too young and Osee Calix died too young and Ollie Brooks died too young and Devonte Gates died too young and Terry Frost died too young and Doll Pierre-Louis died too young and Vernell Bing Jr died too young and Michael Wilson Jr died too young and Joshua Beebee died too young and Kentrill Carraway died too young and Jessica Williams died too young and Jabril Robinson died too young and Arthur DaRosa died too young and Jaffort Smith died too young and Arthur Williams Jr died too young and Michael Gibson died too young and Alton Witchard died too young and Deresha Armstrong died too young and Burt Johnson died too young and Reginald Dogan died too young and Charlin Charles died too young and Ashtian Barnes died too young and Joshua Brooks died too young and Willie Tillman died too young and Demarcus Semer died too young and Jorevis Scruggs died too young and Rico Johnson died too young and Demetrius Dorsey died too young and Richard Bard Jr died too young and Kisha Arrone died too young and George Tillman died too young and Edson Thevenin died too young and Robert Howard died too young and Rodney Watts died too young and Pierre Leury died too young and Quron Williams died too young and Diahlo Grant died too young and Lamont Gulley died too young and Dazion “Jerome” Flenaugh died too young and Laronda Sweatt died too young and Kevin Hicks died too young and Darius Robinson died too young and Cameron Glover died too young and Matthew Wood Jr died too young and Kimani Johnson died too young and James Simpson died too young and James Brown III died too young and Deriante Miller died too young and Jermon Seals died too young and Dominique Silva died too young and Alexio Allen died too young and Robert Dentmond died too young and Torrey Robinson died too young and Thurman Reynolds died too young and India Beaty died too young and Scott Bennett died too young and Christopher Nelms died too young and Lamar Harris died too young and Jacai Colson died too young and Peter Gaines died too young and Marco Loud died too young and Keith Montgomery Jr died too young and Tyre Privott died too young and Arteair Porter Jr died too young and Akiel Denkins died too young and Kionte Spencer died too young and Greg Gunn died too young and Cedric Ford died too young and Christopher Davis died too young and Travis Stevenson died too young and Marquintan Sandlin died too young and Kisha Michael died too young and Che Taylor died too young and Paul Gaston died too young and Dyzhawn Perkins died too young and Calvin Smith died too young and Calin Roquemore died too young and Ali Yahia died too young and Sahlah Ridgeway died too young and Peter Fanfan died too young and Mohamed Barry died too young and Jerand Ross died too young and Shalamar Longer died too young and Eric Harris died too young and David Joseph died too young and Marese Collins died too young and Wendell Celestine Jr died too young and Antoine Scott died too young and Randy Nelson died too young and Peter John died too young and Charles Smith died too young and Bruce Kelley Jr died too young and Randolph McClain died too young and Christoper Dew died too young and Christoper Kalonji died too young and Johnathan Bratcher died too young and Janet Wilson died too young and Cedric Norris died too young and Timothy Albert died too young and Crayton West died too young and Henry Bennett died too young and Rakeem Bentley died too young and Carlton Murphy Jr died too young and Rodney Turner died too young and Eric Senegal died too young and Germonta Wallace died too young and wow, that’s 136 Black people killed by police in the first 188 days of 2016 and that’s a whole lot of killing and maybe it’s time to address the systemic racism that allows this to continue to happen.”

Let’s Recognize Love

I’m in Washington, DC this week for work. My teammates and I walked through the city this evening, passing by the Capitol, listening as the symphony played out front, timpani drums booming. We walked further and found ourselves gazing at the  Supreme Court. I walked up the numerous steps to the massive door of the Supreme Court, reliefs etched into panels. I stared upwards at the huge columns. I touched the elaborate carved marble and felt shivers on my arms. This was where so many important decisions had been made. Brown vs Board of Education. Loving vs Virginia. Roe vs Wade. United States vs Windsor. Obergefell vs Hodges. Laws that guaranteed civil rights to all people, not just the ones who had previously accessed such rights to education, marriage, health decisions. I walked away as the moon rose feeling hope that, yes, our government is (eventually) a force for good.

As we turned to head towards Union Station, we passed the United Methodist Building. I identify as a Methodist. It’s been a part of my identity since I was five and my family moved to Rural Hall, NC. I’ve had periods throughout my life where I struggled with my faith, wondered if there was a capital G God, and preferred to sleep in on Sundays rather than attend worship service. But for the most part I value my Methodist upbringing. It’s one of inclusion and tolerance, mostly.

As we passed the building, I noticed the marquee had a phrase on it. I like to read church marquees; they often are a source of clever puns. This is what I read:

“Let Us Not Tire of Preaching Love”

And I was angry. Really angry. How about we recognize love instead? And not discipline clergy who perform same-sex marriages or clergy who are in same-sex relationships? It’s up for discussion in committee, but does it really need to be discussed? We say that all persons are of sacred worth. We say that we believe in grace.

Let’s believe in love in all forms. Let’s not just preach about it.

We can do better.

Let us not tire of preaching love

Let’s recognize love instead

Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship

From Lesbians Who Tech:

Are you or someone you know an LGBTQ women who wants to learn how to code?

Apply for the Edie Windsor Coding Scholarship!

Let’s be real, coding schools are expensive. And they’re not always the most accessible to the underrepresented communities who need them the most.

Learning how to code could mean a new job, a more inclusive app, and more visibility for LGBTQ women in the tech sector.

This is why our coding scholarship recipients receive 50% tuition coverage to the coding school of their choice, such as Dev Bootcamp, Hack Reactor, Make School, and more.

Application deadline ends July 1, so take the first step to kickstarting your coding career now and apply here!

All ages and backgrounds encouraged to apply.

I had the absolute pleasure of hearing Edie Windsor speak at the Lesbians Who Tech Summit event in San Francisco earlier this year. You can learn more about Edie Windsor’s amazing story here.

Joy and Pain

Today is my birthday, and once again I am overwhelmed and grateful for so many people sharing well wishes and messages of joy and love – by phone, by Facebook, by text, by phone calls. I spent the day at Stanford University, watching my godson graduate and listening to Ken Burns give one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard (commencement or otherwise) about what our government has done right in its history, and how that will be jeopardized if Trump becomes president. Burns urged us to vote and do whatever is necessary to keep that unqualified candidate out of office. I was surrounded by family/friends that I’ve known for over 20 years and that I’m so thankful to have in my life. I watched as families and friends cheered for loved ones, shed tears, gave hugs, and took photos together. It was a day filled with joy and love and pride and gratitude.

And pain.

One of the first things I read this morning, before all the birthday love, was of the mass shooting that killed 50 in Orlando. A crime of hate. A crime against LGBT people in this month in which we dedicate to celebrating pride and acceptance. A crime that could have been a lot more difficult to commit if we had stricter gun safety laws in this country. I said a prayer, not just for the 50 who lost their lives too early, in an act of violence that truly is unimaginable, but also for their friends and family and co-workers and neighbors and lovers – all that are grieving and overcome by sadness, disbelief, and anger. As I finished my prayer, I thought, “This is too much. Almost every single day I’m saying a prayer for people I don’t know; people whose lives have been taken too early by mass shootings. I’m saying a prayer and offering condolences to thousands of people for deaths born of hatred and enabled by irresponsible regulation. Prayer isn’t enough.”

When I returned home tonight, I decided to share my thoughts, not just with my Facebook and Twitter friends,  but with my elected officials. I want my elected officials to know that if they do not pass legislation to stop this madness, I will not only not vote for them, but I will do everything in my power to ensure that they are not re-elected. If you feel the same,  write your elected officials. You can find your Senators’ information at this page and your Representative’s here. If you’re interested in a template to send, a good one to begin with is here. The time for the violence to stop has long passed.

Bar Angelo, Larrosoaña

13 March 2016

I intended it to be a quick stop. I needed bread and fruit for the next day’s breakfast and there was one supermercado that our hospitalero thought might still be open. Thankfully, it was. As I gathered the items and placed them on the tiny counter, Angelo offered me a glass of wine. “Porque no?” I responded with a laugh. He offered me a healthy pour in a teeny, tiny, flimsy plastic cup. We chatted for a few minutes and then he disappeared. Shortly after, Janis Joplin blared from the speakers. It was then I noticed the vinyl LPs lining every inch of the ceiling. And the poster from Woodstock on the wall. He proudly explained that during the summer, his supermercado is the most happening place in town. He opens the sliding glass doors, blasts the music, and the party extends well into the night.

Others staying at the lone albergue open in town entered the small supermercado and he offered them flimsy cups of wine as well.  He greeted each of us in our native language – English, French, Swedish – as well as in Spanish. He shared that he’ll be visiting Sweden in November, at which Julia, from Sweden, expressed surprise. It’s not exactly a popular month for tourists. He explained he likes the cold weather, and this would be his third trip to Sweden during the winter months. We raised our glasses and cheered, made our purchases, and left Angelo grooving to his music.

“Buen Camino!”

13 March 2016

Given my previous day’s experience with taking the path I was warned not to, I wondered how successful this network of yellow arrows would be. Would I see them? Would I wander? Would I find my way?

Martin and I left the monastery at that magical moment in the morning when the sun’s first rays are peeking over the horizon and the shadow of the moon is dropping opposite. With our first steps out the door, we each slipped unexpectedly. I righted myself just before making full body contact with the invisible ice on the sidewalk. Not worried anymore about the arrows, I was worried about whether my bones would survive intact the remaining 790 km of the Camino. “One step at a time,” I reassured myself. “Just one step.” Slowly I navigated my way to the road, where plows had pushed the snow aside and the way was relatively easy walking.

We had been warned that we would need to take the road for a while (snow and ice made initial parts of the Camino impassible), but that it would be clear when to join the trail again. We followed the road until we saw the first yellow arrow pointing us to right, towards a snowy field. We attempted to go down the paved slope and repeated the morning’s routine, slipping and sliding and falling, thankful for backpacks that broke backwards falls. We decided to continue along the road, wary of the condition of the path we couldn’t quite reach.

Further along, we happened upon another arrow beside a closed up house, again, pointing towards a field. We could see the arrow, but beyond that the path was covered with snow. We looked around for other pilgrims, hoping for a clue we were on the right path. The small village was sleepy, not yet awake on this Sunday morning. The shutters were drawn on the houses, no evidence of life yet stirring. We stood looking at the arrow, wondering if this really was the correct path. In my mind, I wondered what prevented mischievous kids from painting alternate arrows, arrows leading to nowhere. It seemed like a plausible prank. We shrugged and started down the path, when we heard a voice behind us say, “No, this way.” We looked around, and there was an elderly woman, still in her housedress, with the upper half of her front door opened. She leaned on the sill of the bottom half of the door, and motioned along the road, explaining that it was too dangerous to take the Camino in this weather, it was better to take the road.

Where had she come from? How did she know that we needed help? How had she seen us, with all the windows on her house shuttered?

We thanked her profusely and as we left, she smiled and warmly said, “Buen Camino!”

Lost in Translation

12 March 2016

We sat in the common area at long tables and benches, some people drinking wine from a gallon-sized plastic jug, some people reading their guidebooks preparing for the next day’s stage, some people chatting, some people eating. I looked around the room, wondering how many of these people I would come to know along my Camino journey. I sensed a new presence in the room and looked up to see a priest standing beside me with a bottle of something precious cradled in one arm and a stack of small plastic cups cradled in the other. He filled the small cups with the herbal liquor and passed them out freely. In Spanish, he invited us on a special tour of the monastery. A small group of perhaps 10 or 15 pilgrims gathered. Don Valentine surveyed the group, asking how many people needed an English translation. Several people raised their hands. He said he didn’t speak English. Lino, the Italian man I had chatted with (in Spanish) at dinner, pointed to me and said I could be the translator for the group, if Don Valentine would speak slowly. I protested – “Hablo un poquito español” – to deaf ears. I wondered how well my 37% fluency (according to DuoLingo) would fare in this situation.

You know those dubbed foreign movies where the characters speak for minutes and minutes and there is one short line of English overlaid? And the actors’ mouths keep moving but there is no English translation? And you suspect you’re missing part of the dialogue? That was basically how I performed as a translator.

Don Valentine would speak (not so slowly) and speak and speak. I would have been hard pressed to summarize what he had been saying, even if it had been in English. My memory simply isn’t that great. I focused on translating his words from Spanish to English, remembering key facts in my head, and waiting for a break in his speaking to share with the English speakers in the group. After several minutes of him talking and me staring intently at him, trying so hard to make sense of his soliloquies, I’d look at the group and say, “The monastery was built a long time ago.” Another several minutes of talking. “There was a big snow storm.” And more talking. “The arches exploded.” An Italian in the group who claimed he didn’t know much English corrected me. “They imploded.” I encouraged others to continue contributing to the translation efforts.

New arches were built, and covered with a roof with wood from Finland. We saw the original workings of an ancient clock. We stood behind the stained glass windows. We snuck around balconies in the dark, guided by a couple of headlamps. We oohed and aahed at the high Gothic beams. We heard explanations for the symbolism in the sanctuary.

I walked quietly back to the dorm room, content that even if nothing else of note happened on the Camino, I would be content. This night exceeded my expectations. And I had at least 30 more ahead of me…

IMG_5949

In the Roncesvalles Monastery