Skimming Deep

Searching, traveling, talking, reflecting, and exploring. Read along with me as I continue on my journey through life.

History in the Making

It’s Election Day, 10:00pm Pacific Time, and the future of the country hangs in the balance.

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How did we get here?

Did anyone realize how divided a country we are? Along race lines, gender lines, values, beliefs, ideas of democracy and what the United States of America stands for?

It’s been a long journey, seeing the two main parties arrive at the two candidates who are fighting for their lives and our futures. and I really never thought it would come to this.

What do the next four years hold for us as a country? No matter who wins, it’s clear that there is a large number of people who won’t be happy with the result. How do we move forward as the “UNITED” states, not the “DIVIDED” states?

This campaign has been eye opening for me in so many ways. I’ve been surprised at what people will believe. I’ve been surprised at how much racism and sexism still exists at very deep levels all over the country. I’ve been surprised at what people will ignore or dismiss to be able to justify their choices. I’ve been surprised at how people will make decisions that go against their own interests.

How do we move forward from here? What will the history books say about this election? What will tomorrow look like?

A Nice Vigorous Hike: Purisima Creek

Since moving to our new place, we’ve been trying to find some good places to hike. Hiking in the Peninsula in the Bay Area is very different from hiking in the East Bay. It’s hotter, more exposed, and browner, I find. I’m missing the East Bay hikes (Tilden Park, Wildcat Canyon, etc.). But we’re determined to find something!

So we found Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve. Bay Area Hiker is a great website for finding hikes in the Bay Area, and this suggested hike was quite nice. We found it easily, and though the parking lot was crowded on a late Saturday morning in the fall, we were able to park on the side of the road. This is listed as an easy hike, but we noted that the description says there is a 1200 foot decline and and then the loss is regained, so it ended up being more of a moderate hike, I’d say. We worked up quite a sweat because it was pretty warm for a fall day (in the 70s) and in the direct sun it was almost hot.

Some of the nice aspects of the trail was that it goes through forest and then hits open space. There are some really nice views of the bay at the beginning of the trail and then of the ocean later on. You can see Half Moon Bay at a point.

The hike description talks about an open space for a picnic, but it was just too hot that day to stop there, so we went down the trail about another quarter mile or so and found another clearing that was temporarily shaded. At least it was shaded for long enough for us to have a nice picnic lunch.

The North Ridge Trail ends; it’s not a loop. I think we’ll be back to this area for more hikes in the future.

On the Road Again

It’s that time of year again: vacation!

We’re taking a road trip through the Pacific Northwest, end goal – Vancouver. So far, it’s been quite nice, despite the varying weather – hot, cloudy, rainy, cool…

Our first day involved a lot of driving – about 660 miles straight from home in the Bay Area to Portland, OR. We got a decent start in the morning, didn’t hit too much traffic, and just rode I-5 all the way up for almost 12 hours, stopping only for restroom breaks, a picnic lunch, and gas.

The most noteworthy aspect of the drive was passing Lake Shasta which is almost half its normal volume because of the drought of the past four years. It was breathtaking to see how low the water level was – we could see the starkness of bare land below the tree line.

Then once we hit Oregon, we were engulfed in forest fire haze.

We listened to some podcasts to pass the time, and we were lucky to hit on some good ones:

  • From 99% Invisible: The Sunshine Hotel – a fascinating story told by a Nathan Smith, manager of this men’s flop house. He’s an amazing and captivating storyteller with the voice of a man who’s lived a rough life and yet remains positive and hopeful even in the midst of squalor, vice, and despair in New York’s Bowery.
  • From On Being with Krista Tippett: Simone Campbell – How to Be Spiritually Bold – an interview with Sister Campbell of Nuns on the Bus. As a “recovering” Catholic, I struggle to see the good in the Catholic Church with its rigid, sexist, and old-fashioned rhetoric and ideology. But listening to Sister Campbell on this interview was incredibly inspirational and moving. Here are just a few quotes from her interview:
    • “…for me, this journey is about continuing to walk willing towards the hope, the vision, the perspective, the opportunities that are given.”
    • “Just do one thing. That’s all we have to do. But the guilt of the — or the curse of the progressive, the liberal, the whatever is that we think we have to do it all. And then we get overwhelmed. And I get all those solicitations in the mail. And I can’t do everything. And so I don’t do anything. But that’s the mistake. Community is about just doing my part.”

We got to our first AirBnB in time for a late dinner. It was a cute place, an attic room in a craftsman home on the edge of the Alberta Arts District which is in northeast Portland. A nice neighborhood to stay in.

#10: Memory

Two nights ago, nine African American individuals were shot and killed in cold blood while in prayer at Emmanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The killer has been apprehended. This tragedy has left me stunned, angry, sad, frustrated, and questioning.

Our country’s collective memory is short, especially when it comes to racism and the oppression of people of color. And then something like this shooting happens, jogs our memory for a short moment, gets us talking and acting, and then the 24-hour news cycles ends and moves us on to the next big movie or celebrity gaffe.

The memories this moment jogged for me were other awful events from the past few years:

  • the killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and the many other black lives whose soul and breath were taken unjustly and unceremoniously by police violence
  • the shooting in Newtown at Sandy Hook Elementary School
  • other mass shootings perpetrated by white men who were often written off as mentally unstable with no recognition of the larger system and society that has created these killers

President Obama gave a speech after the shooting. Some of his statements really resonated with me as I try to stay hopeful and optimistic that maybe THIS time there will be more action taken to control the rampant presence of and access to guns in our country.  He said, “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. And it is in our power to do something about it. I say that recognizing the politics in this town foreclose a lot of those avenues right now. But it would be wrong for us not to acknowledge it. And at some point it’s going to be important for the American people to come to grips with it, and for us to be able to shift how we think about the issue of gun violence collectively.”

He also quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from a speech he gave in response to the killing of four African American girls when a church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed by Klan members. I went to read the full speech and it’s amazing, beautifully written (and I’m sure spoken), and inspiring. Here are a few excerpts, but I encourage you to read and re-read the whole thing:

And yet they [the four girls] died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death… They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream.

and then there’s this:

Now I say to you in conclusion, life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. It has its bleak and difficult moments. Like the ever-flowing waters of the river, life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons, life has the soothing warmth of its summers and the piercing chill of its winters. And if one will hold on, he will discover that God walks with him, and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair to the buoyancy of hope, and transform dark and desolate valleys into sunlit paths of inner peace.

Let our memories not be so short at all the injustice people of color, especially black people and communities, have endured. When will Dr. King’s dream be realized?

#9: Laughter

There’s nothing like the laughter of a child.

I was skyping with one of my nieces, and for some reason she just got tickled with my saying, “Night, night!” to get her to pretend-sleep. And she’d crack up and roll around in her blanket and then get up. And we’d repeat the ritual, “Night, night!” “Heeheeheehee!!!”

Children’s laughter is so free of any artifice. It bubbles up and shakes their whole body. It’s contagious. It’s pure. What happens when we get older?

I love being with people who make me laugh. Laughter and vulnerability go hand in hand. Making someone laugh, you have to crack jokes, be silly, and open yourself up to uncertainty, “Will they laugh or not?” And when laughing, you open yourself up both physically and emotionally.

What an energizing feeling to laugh full from the belly! Laughing so hard your abs hurt and your cheeks are stretched beyond their capacity. Tears roll down your face, and you can barely breathe. Laughing in the company of another person causes an unending feedback cycle where you laugh and they laugh harder making you laugh even harder and on and on until you can’t remember what you were laughing about in the first place!

I laugh at a good joke.

At the great lines in Modern Family, especially those lines by Phil and Cameron.

At my nieces and nephew saying and doing funny and cute things.

At talking stuffed animals.

When being silly with loved ones.

What makes you laugh?

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