Thursday, November 16, 2017

brussels with my brother

For the first time since 2011, I'll be home for Thanksgiving. Dare I say I'm nervous? I'd considered a staycation in L.A., serving turkey to the homeless... but then my grandmother was diagnosed. And so I decided to be in New York, with her (though uncomfortably, I keep forgetting my grandpa won't be there, too). We'll drive down to my aunt's apartment on the Upper West Side and enjoy that grand home-cooked meal I've missed. We'll be all together again, maybe. I'm really hoping my brother will be able to make it as well.
You may recall that he and I spent the holiday together last year. He was finishing up his master's at U of A and wouldn't be able to make it home, and I had far too many vacation days to use before I lost them. It was quite the adventure. I flew into Paris (where I crossed paths with my sister), then Amsterdam, and then, Brussels. I wanted to go somewhere he hadn't yet been.
We explored some, he caught up on sleep, and I indulged in more contemporary art. Brussels is delightfully walkable and was dressed up in all its spirited glory. As for Thanksgiving, we were lucky to have found a traditional feast being hosted by The American Club of Brussels. I can't express how stimulating it was to be surrounded by such diversity of people, experiences, and ideas, again.
My heart was so full of gratitude as my favorite American fête came to a close then. And really, despite my anxiety now, that feeling is not far out of reach: in early December, I'll move to San Francisco (!) and contribute to the work of the International Institute of the Bay Area; I have the support of more L.A.-based friends than I ever imagined possible; I'm healthy and financially-able to spend time with my wacky family both before and after the initial transition (Christmas). Wishing the same good fortune to you and yours ♥

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

about charlottesville

I remember how it felt, at the age of 9, to learn racism still existed—to "realize" that to be Mexican meant something, and it wasn't good, not here. I was stunned, shaken into a shame that took years to release; and from which many an admissions essay was inspired.
Since then I've become more critical of my privilege that existed throughout and the guilt that followed. I may have grown up in a bigoted country (albeit quietly), but I wouldn't argue individually-targeted oppression. I've been very fortunate; my parents' hard work and sacrifice literally paid off. And all the while, systemic inequalities continue to persist. To have felt ostracized and to have unabashedly been marginalized is an entire spectrum of nuanced experience. Valid, real, true. Bless this fractured America of ours.

Neither hate nor violence is new to this world, and yet... the events that took place in Charlottesville were viscerally sickening; as is the lack of poignant and morally sound leadership. Hearing about Barcelona and seeing Detroit this past weekend (however imperfect a film) further emphasized my disillusionment. I can't imagine a more necessary time to be reading Rebecca's Solnit's Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities. Nor to stumble across a horoscope such as this one: "It’s easy to take on the imagined weight of this whole world, more and more, until you can hardly stand underneath it. Don’t imagine away your own power, this week. Don’t imagine away the strength you have to keep moving, to keep living, to make the changes on the ground that matter." What does that look like you, too, might have asked yourself. It's not too late:

Get informed about what exactly happened in Charlottesville. Understand the why. Sit with your discomfort while doing so.

Make a donation to organizations that are making a difference now. Regularly fight passivity as well as hate.

Show up, because... yes, there are still points to protesting.

Do not stop paying attention, please.
These days, it’s especially important to have a great source of news and push yourself outside your bubble. Two podcasts we highly recommend: Code Switch, an eye-opening weekly NPR podcast hosted by journalists of color who address the trickiest questions about race in America. And The Daily, a 20-minute weekday podcast from The New York Times. (Yesterday’s episode included first-hand footage from a correspondent in Charlottesville; and today’s episode detailed a city councilor’s experience during the fight over the Robert E. Lee monument, and the chain of events that led to this weekend’s violence.)
It’s Been a Minute is another podcast to add to your playlist. Host Sam Sanders took on the topic of “Charlottesville and White People” in his latest episode. For his part, Sanders sees the hashtag #ThisIsNotUs, which went viral in the aftermath of Charlottesville, as unhelpful. “Even if we don’t think we’re part of the problem, we’re part of the system that has a problem,” he says. “That means that every day we have to ask ourselves what we’re doing to make things better or worse. And a hashtag like #ThisIsNotUs… that’s just a cop-out. -Cup of Jo
No matter your defined race at this moment in time, recognize white privilege. white supremacy, white male terrorism.

Positively influence the next generation—whether or not you're a parent or an educator.

Take better care of yourself and those you care about (as an ally, if applicable).

Friday, August 4, 2017

one long weekend in kauai

Recently, in a one-on-one meeting with a new team member (p.s. I've been promoted to management! woot!), I was asked why I'd virtually stopped blogging. I don't really know, I replied; alluding to the hardships of the past three years and how I must've simply become less comfortable baring all as I've matured. It was only later I realized that that wasn't entirely true. I stopped because I was told to. And in doing so, I got out of the habit of sharing and connecting here with those near and far, known and not.
The truth saddened me. One day, I do want to share those darker days publicly (the world could use a helluva lot more vulnerability), but until I'm ready, I frankly miss not regularly acknowledging how freaking satisfying everyday life can most of the time be and how worthwhile it is to challenge oneself to seek new interactions and experiences. danielle abroad should accept nothing less, right?
So we'll start by wrapping up that solo work/pleasure trip to Hawai'i earlier this year. I flew to Kauai' on Saturday morning and spent four full days reading, relaxing and being rejuvenated by the natural beauty that permeates throughout the island and its residents. It felt similar to my time in Death Valley yet I was an entirely different place personally: a lot more in love and a lot less ill at ease.
The first night at an early dinner, I was given an orchid for my hair and a table overlooking the garden. I ate quietly in gratitude, in awe of my surroundings as well as how much life I've lived since that first time I dined so well solo. I fell asleep shortly thereafter.
I awoke to a cacophony of birds at 4am (way to go, time difference) and held myself over with papaya from the backyard before I ventured to nearest coffee shop for caffeine relief and heartier fare. I found a beach on the northeast side of the island, and went.
That day, I also had shaved ice for the first time, and enjoyed a spur-of-the-moment beachfront massage, and met the loveliest clients for a training in their kids' school library. I also finished my second book, three of four of which I'd purchased the day prior
I opted for even more indulgence the following day with a cinnamon roll for breakfast and fresh poke on the beach, and hikes past cows and waterfalls and friendly tourists. Later, I also had my first Mai Tai as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean... and all the while I lounged on an island in the middle of it! A perspective that clearly continues to amaze me. I told my sweet boyfriend so.
And then, it was time to return to the mainland. It was April 4th, eight weeks to my 29th birthday. I'd checked all the HI boxes I hadn't realized I'd invented: visit beaches on every side Kaui'i; read all four female-authored books; eat my weight in local produce and fish; send a postcard to the man who helped me trust myself again, and another to my ever-supportive family; be grateful.