Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spreading the Word

Deep down I am an activist. I want to change the world and make it a better place. Deep down I am also a coward who is fearful for my safety.

The internet is a great place for me to be an activist, because I can say what I need to say and you can take it or leave it. It relieves each of us from accountability.

In this case, I am taking action and inviting you to join me.

Tonight, I came across an issue that is a bit disturbing: Victoria's Secret shut down a viral campaign called "pinklovesconsent.com", because they were using their brand name, "pink", and heart logo. This campaign was merely trying to create a catchy parody that would capture people's attention long enough to educate them that "consent is sexy". Pink loves consent campaign was working to combat the culture of rape that is rampent in our country. This is a good thing, so why does Victoria's Secret want to shut it down? Because this is "confusing" their customers. But I digress...

If you want to more information read HERE and at the Huffington Post.

Below is the letter I wrote to Victoria's Secret customer service. It was a small step toward activism and I am getting the word out on Facebook and here. However, the reality is that a big company like this isn't going to make changes simply, because they will loose my business. But imagine if they lost hundreds of peoples business, especially during the holiday season? That might make them listen. And if they lost thousands of peoples' business from all over the country? That might make them change.

Man or woman, I urge you to get involved: write an email, post the article, tell someone you know about this issue. We need to combat the culture of rape that is prevalent in our society and lend our support, our money, and our voice to those, like FORCE who are trying to create a culture where consent is sexy.

Dear Victoria's Secret Customer Service,

I am an Angel Credit Card holder and exclusively buy my intimate apparel at Victoria's Secret. I like the styles, the fit, and easy accessibility. In the past I have been disappointed by rumors of poor working conditions for your garment makers. This is just heresy, because I have not been able to find any direct studies that show that Victoria's Secret's garments are made in sweat-shops. However, your garments are made in countries like India, Shri Lanka, and China, to name a few, which are notorious for their dangerous working conditions, measly pay, and loose labor laws. I considered pulling my business and encouraging others to do the same, but I did a little cross comparison and realized that most intimate apparel is manufactured in countries with similar working conditions, pay, and labor laws. I decided to keep my business with Victoria's Secret. 

Now I am reading about the issue with the FORCE website, "pinklovesconsent.com". As an advocate for consent and as a woman, I am appalled that you are fighting for your brand over educating the public about consent. As a company, you should be HONORED that FORCE is using your brand to create awareness on this very important subject. I am not sure about the legality surrounding the use of your logo and name, but FORCE  says that parody is protected under the 1st amendment. Either way, it is just tacky and offensive that you asked and then compeled them, through lawyers, to take it down. 

I was already contemplating taking my business to competitors, because of the labour issue and have not been very impressed with the products or customer service recently. Now, I am definitely taking my business somewhere else, unless Victoria's Secret can change their tune. Get on board with consent! Change the culture of rape that is rampent in our society. As a store mainly for women, you should be empowering women. FORCE is trying to do just that, so you should be supporting them, funding them, and thanking them, not getting in their way. Your argument for making them take down the website was that you did not want your customers confused. This customer is not confused: it is crystal clear to me that you are A company I no longer want to support. 

Robyn Hall 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Reducing Car[bon] (Part 1)

Currently Robyn and I are halfway through our self-titled Great Bike 'N' Rail Adventure to Southern California.

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner
In brainstorming the trip, we had several objectives, goals, and questions. A few of them are as follows:

Could We? Is it even possible? Can two people travel 500 miles each way within California using only pedals and public transportation? This is a step beyond the family pickup at the train station or airport. Could an entire trip, door to door, be done without the use of a car, especially to suburban destinations? 

Should We? What are the practical issues facing car-free travel? Will we be able to fit a week's worth of supplies in our panniers and still look presentable for Thanksgiving dinner? Will the financial and environmental savings offset the inconvenience of unpredictable public or lengthy self-powered transit? 

Would We? Would we eagerly embrace this car-free adventure? And afterward the trip is completed, would we consider it a one-time experience? Or a new approach to long-distance transportation? 

We made it to Murrieta, although not without several challenges along the way. Once our trip is complete, I hope to follow up with several observations, pictures, reflections, and recommendations for long distance car-free travel. In the meantime, I leave you with the one question most clearly reflected on the face of those we discuss our trip with:

Are we crazy?

 The Details:
- Jumping on BART from San Francisco to Oakland Jack London Square
- Taking the Amtrak bus from Oakland to San Luis Obispo (originally this was to be a train, but it was delayed 11 hours, so we took a bus instead)
- Riding our bikes from San Luis Obispo to Robyn's extended family in Los Osos
- Riding our bikes back to San Luis Obispo
- Taking Amtrak to Los Angeles Union Station
- Taking the Metrolink to Corona
- Riding our bikes from Corona to my parents house in Murrieta (we almost made it! but we were 10 miles short before it got too dark!)
- Carpooling to the Rose Bowl to watch Stanford take on UCLA
- Taking Amtrak from Los Angeles back home to San Francisco

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Part 1: Love your City

The photo is framed in our foyer. Snapped innocuously enough as the two of us strolled through the Tenderloin a year ago, the photograph spoke to my soul. Since then, the image has been imprinted to the back of closed eyelids, seeping through my conscious. To me it has become the artistic representation of my two years spent in San Francisco.

I first spoke the words to Robyn in late 2011. We had recently relocated to the south end of the mission district. Bicycling the early-morning surface streets of an autumn San Francisco gave me clarity of thought not found when previously underground. And as graduate school decisions, although not imminent, looked on the horizon, I told her:

I think I'm falling in love with San Francisco.


By love I mean a deep passion for the city and all its residents to prosper. By love I mean a desire for beautiful public spaces to emerge from curbside parking or abandoned lots. By love I mean removing the shackles of violence and slavery from our "unlovable" neighborhoods. By love I mean innovations in the building industry to reduce our energy consumption and footprint. By love I mean intentionally creating space, conversations, or opportunities for people to ask spiritual questions about God. By love I mean feeling the shared pain of the community when injustice occurs. By love I mean...

This is new for me. Never before have I loved my city, no, not like this. I had constructed hazy warm recollections- most likely not my own but instead mental recreations of stories told to me- of my early years in Santa Barbara and Pasadena. My relationship with Murrieta was like my relationship with my first car: the Ford Taurus was functional, spacious, and sometimes frustrating, but I never knew anything different. San Luis Obispo was a place of tremendous growth in my life, and certainly when the beautiful hills turned green in springtime I exclaimed "I love SLO!" more than once. But on reflection I see that was a surface love, an infatuation and fondness for a beautiful and important location. As I grew and matured, SLO seemed a location ever the same, a location unwilling to ask the same questions I held in my soul.

San Francisco is an easy place to love. We can bike and bus everywhere, instead of sitting in traffic. We have incredible community events such as Off The Grid. It is more convenient to try to live as Ordinary Extremists. All which make San Francisco a fantastic training ground to learn to love a city. Perhaps in future years Robyn and I will be called towards a geographic location less glamorous, less affluent, less... easy. Perhaps not. Either way, my soul now has a new tagline:

Love your city.

Coming soon:
Part 2: Love your Neighborhood
Part 3: Love your Campus?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ordinary Extremist

Today I went to the local cooperative grocery store, Rainbow Grocery, to pick up some fair trade, organic, and/or local items. Recently, we discovered that toiletry items, like shampoo and soap, come with a human price tag. Workers who make these items are not paid ethical wages and the farmers who provide the ingredients are not paid a livable wage.  In an attempt to not take advantage of others, we decided to buy fair trade and organic soap and shampoo. These, sadly, can only be found at our co-op.

While riding home, I was thinking about a documentary called No Impact Man. Find it on Netflix instant if you are interested. This man lived intentionally in a way that would have limited impact on the earth for one year. To do this he bought local food, lived without electricity, and only used a bike as his only means of transportation. The journey his family went on was convicting and unimaginable. It seems very extremist.

Some people when they look our life say we are extremist. Danny rides a bike to work most days. We don't own a car. We are constantly looking for USA made clothing and household items. We are willing to pay more for things made locally. I do not have insurance by choice and instead pay into a Christian cooperative where people all over the country share each others medical bills. Danny and I care deeply about human well-being, the care of our earth, and living in counter-cultural ways.

We are motivated by Jesus' teachings to love unconditionally and with his power, right the things that are wrong in our world. It is wrong that Fresno's air quality is so poor, because of pollution from cars in the surrounding metropolises. It is wrong that farmers who labor over coffee beans are paid pennies for what we pay dollars for on a daily basis. It is wrong that children are taken from their homes and forced to mine for precious gems. So, because we love Jesus and he has given us everything, we buy local, organic, and fair trade. Oh and we ride bikes.

As I was on the bus I was thinking that my purchases put me closer to living like No Impact Man. And I smiled. To me, this is becoming ordinary. This is the way we are living. One life style choice at a time  to better love our neighbors, both near and far, and our world. Some would say we are extremist, but to me it is just ordinary.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chasing Bubbles

There are fleeting moments of pure happiness. I experienced one this week while watching kids chase bubbles. It was the end of a long day. Our feet dragged as if there were milestones embedded within our soles. My watch seemed to be moving backwards as I longed for the twenty minutes until my charges would disseminate into the arms of their adoring parents. Six of us total marched as a gauntlet crew, toward the grass with a foreboding from trying to kill time.

The first bubble was released into the atmosphere. Shrieks and laughter filled the college campus. Passer-byers, young and old, were compeled from their inner world to grin. Squeals of delight followed the children as they lept toward each small rainbows The sound would decrescendo until a twitch of my wrist and the invisible momentum of the wind would rush through my magic wand creating a stream of emerald, ruby, and diamond orbs. Jackets were cast to the ground no longer needed because of the rare San Francisco summer sunshine streaming down and the warmth that bubbles up when distracted by play. The children would rush back to me as the tide rushes back to the shore, the twinkle in their eyes betraying pure happiness.

From the treasured sunshine to the elegant simplicity of children playing to the fleeting beauty of bubbles, the moment was complete. I was content. Why can't all of life be like chasing bubbles?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Empire State of Mind

In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made of,There's nothing you can't do, now you're in New YorkThese streets will make you feel brand newBig lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York-Jay-Z

At the end of May we got to take a spontaneous trip to New York City to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. I received a full scholarship (flight, room, and food stipend) to attend NCORE 2012, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in higher education, through my Gates Millenium Scholarship community. There will be a later post on my experiences at this conference. With my travel taken care of, we changed our anniversary and summer vacation plans and off we went to the Big Apple. 

We arrived on a Thursday night and Friday was jammed packed. We were staying with my best friend and maid of honor in our wedding, Catherine, for two nights. She lives on the boarder of the East  Village and Noho, so we decided to do all the downtown stuff on Friday morning. This included ground zero- just looking at the new construction- wall street, and Staten Island ferry. On our way to the ferry we found a little alley with restaurants and pubs and had to stop to get a flight of beer. 
Handsome Man

Beer Flight
On the Staten Island Ferry
The reason we took the ferry...free view!

Once in Staten Island we got hot dogs and hopped on the next ferry back to Manhattan. We took the subway up to the NYC Modern Musuem of ARt, affectionately called the MOMA. Every Frifay there is free admission, so it was packed! We did a quick two hour walk through of the six floors. Next, we headed to the Empire State Builbiding and waited in this line....

Line at Empire State Building
...For about an hour and then were told that we would have about another hour to two hour wait and there was no visibility at the top. We decided to cut our losses and come back early another day. We headed to Korean BBQ and then called it a night.

Korean BBQ
Empire State lit up for Memorial Day
 Saturday was Brooklyn day! We LOVED Brooklyn! It felt like San Francisco with the farmers market, people with canvas bags, and bikes everywhere. We ate pizza, strolled the streets, and got our discount Broadway tickets. Walking back across the Brooklyn bridge provided some amazing views and opportunities to avoid tourist on bikes. Once back in the city we went back to Ground Zero to see the memorial. It is a very humbling place to vist. That night we went to the Broadway play, The Columnist. We did not know anything about this play and were by far the youngest people in the audience, but it was a great performance and loved "taking in" a play in New York.

Manhattan Bridge

Danny and the Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge
The City

The Surviving Tree at Ground Zero
Ready to see The Columnist

By 8 am the next day we were at the Empire State Building and at the top in less than an hour. Best way to do it! After taking in the views we headed over to Macy's to see the wooden escalators. Then we headed back to our hotel for some down time before heading out to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We went to a matinee of the new Broadway musical Memphis. The music was breathtaking and had lots of dancing. We both left with stars in our eyes. For dinner, we headed down to little Italy and had an amazing meal and stroll around the street fair that was taking place. It was a romantic evening with my love.

So excited there is no line!
Us at the top

View to Downtown from the top. The tallest building is the new building at the World Trade Center that is almost complete. 

Wooden escalators at Macy's, the largest store in the world!
After the Show
Where we had dinner. (Would recommend!)

Party in Little Italy

Our last day, Monday, was an all day bike ride around central park. My friend Catherine joined us and we may have converted another person to become a city bike rider! It was a great way to see the park. For lunch we headed up to the West Side, by Columbia University, to find the restaurant fasade used in Seinfeld television series. It is called Joe's Restaurant and is an excellent New York dinner experience. That evening, I started my conference and brought our adventure together to an end. Well, so we thought. We had a nice anniversary surprise when Danny's Tuesday afternoon flight was canceled. While it is never fun to have a cancelled flight, which messed up Danny's work schedule, it was nice to be able to go out for a glass of sparkling wine after my conference that night.

Catherine and Danny at Bethesda Fountain

Danny at Seinfeld Restaurant
Us with the view of the city

We are very grateful to have been able to take this trip and experience this city together. New York's lights did inspire us as Jay-Z promised, but it wasn't to live in New York. Rather, New York made us more remember the sparkling lights on the other coast. It made us long for our dreams in the city we experience and love everyday: San Francisco, our home. 

BEST day ever!

I wrote this back in October, but never posted it. As I am waiting on a job again and do not have the affirmation of my professors close at hand, it encouraged me to remember what God did in the past. I may not "feel" the joy I did the day I wrote this, but I can choose that joy today. 

Yesterday I felt undiluted joy. It has been awhile that I felt giddy like this. I actually went running down a hill to meet Danny.

The reason? A job and the public affirmation of a paper I had written. Kind of depressing when I think about it, but there are some deeper reasons why it brought so much joy.

I am growing: Personally and professionally I am changing, growing, and adapting. This is something to be joyful about after so many years of not feeling like I was developing new skills. After so many years of being bored in my undergraduate study, it feels good to be challenged. However, it was nice to to be public affirmed for the kick-ass-paper I wrote. After three years in ministry at Cal Poly it feels good to be chosen for a job in the "real" world. It has been a struggle to find a job that validates my experiences and learnings from Intervarsity. I did not do ministry to get a job, but it has been a frustrating 6 months of looking for a part-time job. My skills of public speaking and self management that InterVarsity taught me were to my advantage in this interview. I was actually compared to Bill Clinton! So, it gives me joy to see that through the sludge of growth, a couple of flowers are beginning to bud.

I have been noticed: This is not taught as a good thing, but I can't lie. It feels good. Plain and simple. My little heart is desperate for recognition and now I have received it. It is a challenge for me to not be so swayed by others opinions of me and I am working on being less dependent on others' opinions of me. However, I don't think we notice each others' accomplishments enough. Critique is long lived, but congratulations is only momentary. More affirmation needs to happen to compensate for the its transient nature. I need to take this advice myself and celebrate those around me. I need to notice the kind actions and the job well done of those around me and proclaim it.

I am excited about the vision: The reason I can write a good paper is the fact that I LOVE what I am studying. The reason I can sell myself well in an interview is because I truly believe in what they are doing. I am excited to work with people who are striving for justice in the juvenile justice system. I love going to class and talking about theories with classmates who are self reflecting and changing their own behavior.

I'm challenged: Growth is happening. People see it in me. But just because today is a good day, I also know that the next challenge, which will help me grow further, is just around the bend. I know that this job and the next paper will keep me thinking, improving, and changing professionally and personally.

The joy comes from the fact that I am where I am suppose to be, even when it's hard.

Off the Grid

Photo Credit: Danny Hall
Back in the early spring we went with some friends to Off the Grid, which is an event when the food trucks of San Francisco gather in one place to delight the peoples' sense of taste. There are Indian, Mexican, American, Korean food trucks that gather in a specific location on specific nights or afternoons during the week. We went to the one at  Fort Mason. What we saw when we got there was incredible. Rather than just six trucks that we had seen at a previous experience in a different neighborhood, an entire parking lot was surrounded by glorious food trucks offering tantalizing snacks like sushi, chili fries, and cupcakes.

Curry Up Now Truck, Photo Credit: Dany Hall

We strolled around until each of the six of us had decided where we wanted to eat. Danny and I chose the Curry Up Now truck. Indian curries that make your nose and eyes run in a portable wrap? Yes please! Danny chose a vegetarian naan that wasn't as portable, but just as tasty. We grabbed some Mexican Coke and parked our behinds to listen to the entertainment: a reggae, Latin, rap group whose free style included "San Francisco" at least 40 times. For dessert we split a miniature nutella and strawberry creme brule. AMAZING!

Photo Credit: Danny Hall
This event is one of the many reasons we love SF. People were out, exploring new foods, new sounds, and enjoying community.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Commute by Bike - Getting Started

Interested in becoming a fully-fledged bicycle commuter? You're in luck! In honor of today's bike to work day in San Francisco, I thought I would put together a short list of my advice for a bike commuter newbie.

Using a bike as your primary means of transportation to work can be an overwhelming experience. Most people are not even sure where to start. My suggestions?

Step 1 - Reflect. Why do you want to ride your bike to work (or school, or downtown)? Is it finding the time for exercise during your busy schedule? Are you trying to lower your carbon footprint? Do you enjoy being outside in the fresh air instead of inside a traffic-lodged car? Are you trying to save money on gas and parking? Are you planning on transitioning to a car-free lifestyle? There are plenty of fantastic reasons to spin those pedals. If you understand your conviction for two-wheelin' it, you will be more likely to push through during the "learning curve."

Also understand there will be sacrifices, like leaving earlier in the morning, or showing up a bit sweaty to work. Can you live with that?

Step 2 - Research. Imagine you just moved to a new city and have no idea how to maneuver the new freeways and main roads. This is exactly what it is like when you start riding a bike in your city for the first time. You need to discover the main "biking" roads. Start with your city's local bicycle coalition. They will often be a great resource for local routes and will often offer a downloadable map. Also use the bike tool on  Google Maps to look for local bike routes and give you estimated trip duration. It is surprisingly accurate. At the beginning, my ride to the office took exactly the 35 minutes predicted.

Step 3 - Buy. For me, the biggest obstacle to a bike purchase was sticker shock. No, you cannot get a good new bike for $200. Don't even try. For a new bike, you should expect to spend $500 minimum, and a high quality commuter bike will be from $1000 to $1500. No department store bikes from Walmart or Target! My bike was $1000 dollars, but in the last year I have ridden it over 1,000 miles. Let's say my bike lasts only 5 years (I expect it to last at least 10) and I ride it only 5000 miles. Average cost per mile? 20 cents. Average cost per mile to drive a car? 59.6 cents. So realistically, that $1000 price tag is a fraction of what you are paying to drive.

I suggest visiting at least 3 bike shops. Bike shops have agreements with different manufacturers, or brands, of bikes, so you will find new options at each shop. There are lots of different types of bikes depending on what you are looking for (touring bikes, cyclo-cross, road bikes, mountain bikes, folding bikes, single-speed). Do you have a lot of hills? Do you prefer speed or comfort? My suggestion is to look for a steel frame. Although a bit heavier, steel will be most comfortable for longer rides and sturdier when carrying heavier loads. If you can afford it, an internally geared rear hub is amazing for city riding. Be specific on what your needs are, and most bike shops should be able to offer a couple options that will be a great fit for you!

Step 4 - Accessorize. Fenders are a must to keep you dry and clean. I highly recommend a rear rack and pannier set (I have this one) for storing a change of clothes. Although some prefer a messenger bag, I like the panniers because it keeps the weight (and sweat) off my back. Get some rechargeable bike lights for night riding, a sturdy U-lock, and a nice helmet.

You should invest in some warm bike gloves, and a windproof jacket does wonders for me in San Francisco. Once you become more comfortable, I would highly recommend a pair of hybrid shoes for clip-in pedals. I have these.

And if you are especially trendy, shops like PushBike offer fashionable, bike-friendly attire.

Step 5 - Ride. Expect it to be an adjustment at first. Be patient. Don't give up. And eventually the warm sunshine, the cool breeze, and the joy of life on a bike will win you over!

I'll see you on the streets...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Internal Conversation

I catch a glimpse of myself smiling in the passing store window on my way to the bus.

"I just wrote a blog post about how I identify with Blair from Gossip Girl. Now, I am planning a post about how I resonate with Katniss from Hunger Games? Robyn, those characters are complete opposites. One is a prissy privileged dress wearing young woman who meddles in other people's lives and the other is a tough, non-approachable, pants wearing young woman who finds a way to stick it to those in power while fighting for her life."

This time I laugh out loud, startling the older gentleman walking the opposite direction.

"Of course. How fitting that I identify with both the feminine and the badass motif. I am both of those. Maybe someday I will star in a movie about a dress wearing super-hero. Damn, there goes my bus."

Monday, April 2, 2012

One year car[e] free

In 2011, we ditched the '95 Honda Civic hatchback and began the great car-free experiment. One year later, Robyn and I both feel it has been an overwhelming success. The bus is slower, but it creates windows into the soul of the city. I get to exercise for 30 minutes each way on my 5 mile bike commute. And a lack of wheels inspires creativity in planning our unique urban backpacking trips.

But have we actually saved any money?

According to AAA, if we had owned a medium sized sedan and only drove 10,000 miles a year (both conservative estimates), our true cost of ownership (factoring in depreciation, mileage, maintenance, insurance, etc) for one year would run around $7,391.

7.4k per year for a car seems steeper than I would have expected. But upon closer inspection, even that figure might be light. Gas is figured at $2.880 per gallon (hahahahaha!). Also, even with the assumption we would not rent a parking space at $200+ per month, we still would have to pay public transit for one of us to get to school or work.

Compare that figure to $6,000, our total cost for one year of transportation in the post-car era.

The costs roughly fell into the following categories:
~ $1680 for monthly transit passes within SF.
~ $500 for public transit outside SF, such as Robyn's commute to Oakland.
~ $300 for taxi rides on that occasional rainy day or late night at the bars.
~ $2150 to use car-sharing services such as ZipCar or Relay Ride by the hour or day.
~ $750 for rental cars and gas on multi-day trips like Thanksgiving vacation.
~ $620 for airline flights (and you could argue that would be a cost with a car anyway).

What I love about being car-free:
1) Flexibility to choose different car models. Whether it was the Mini Cooper Convertible for a wedding in Santa Cruz, the SUV for tailgating with the parents at the Stanford game, or the Tacoma to load up the bed for a camping trip in the redwoods, we have the flexibility to choose whatever type of car we want.
2) No oil changes, no car washes, no maintenance worries, period.
3) Riding my bike or reading on my commute. No wasted time driving, and no stress.
4) The extra $1400 in my pocket.

Yes, there are some major drawbacks to not having a car, but for us, it was the right decision. I know someday we may have to go back to a car lifestyle, but until then, we will hold out as long as we can.

Friday, March 30, 2012

...You know you love me xoxo

The Cast of Gossip Girl
Guilty pleasure confession time: I love Gossip Girl. There is something about it that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I love the feminine fashion, the irrelevant parties and galas, the glamorous New York, and of course the never ending drama. 

Blair Waldorf
The character I resonate with the most is Blair, the spoiled Eastside princess with a flair for meddling in matters that do not concern her. Blair is constantly scheming and striving her way to the top of the social ladder. At the same time she is vulnerable, lonely, and trying to learn how to leave her childish ways behind and become a lady, with little guidance. She relies on her friends and her significant other for the emotional support that should come from her family. 

There are many reasons why I am drawn to Blair and I could write a complex, introspective blog on why I laugh and cry with her. But I'm not going going to. I just wanted to share so that next time you sit down to watch your guilty pleasure television show you will know you are not alone. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


No, not with a baby. You freaked out, didn't you?

Rather, I have been contemplating how writing my thesis is like being pregnant. Never having been pregnant, I can not say for sure if it is an exact comparison. I rely on my friends who have been pregnant  to determine if these thoughts relate at all to pregnancy.

  • I was thrilled and a bit giddy when I first found out what it entailed.
  • Now, being so close to the end, I just want it to "push" it out and be done.
  • I am ready for my bundle of joy that everyone will ooh and aah over.
  • The weight gain...I am heavier now than when I started.
  • Lot of friends asks me about it every time I see them and I don't really have much new to report. Only I can sense the minuscule changes that happen on a daily basis. 
  • I'm worried about the "delivery".  I'm worried that I am going to mess it up. I'm worried that something will go wrong. I'm worried that it will be painful. 
  • Some nights I can't sleep.
  • I have done quite a bit of reading in preparation for this big day. 
  • Danny has picked up the slack around the house. He is supportive and understanding, while doing his best to sympathize, but really he can not fully understand. (Thankfully, maybe one day, he can experience a thesis even though he can't ever experience a pregnancy.)
  • I am trying to restructure my life in order to see that this "baby" of mine has the best chance at being the best it can be. 

Carrying from conception to birth only applies to a thesis for now. But I have a new appreciation for those mothers out there. I can still have a glass of wine after a particularly grueling "pregnancy" day.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What does it have in its pocketses, Precious?

After picking up a copy at City Lights Bookstore, Robyn and I have taken turns reading through The Hobbit aloud before the non-reader inevitably drifts off to a sleep filled with dreams of dwarves, trolls, and one barefooted Mr. Bilbo.

While I absolutely cannot wait for the movie to come out, it has been an unparalleled joy to sit with Robyn by my side as we slow down our eyes, absorb with our mind, and let our imaginations run wild.

Because, as spoken word artist Taylor Mali puts it:

Once upon a time, we grew up on stories, 
and the voices in which they were told.
We need words to hold us, 
for the world to behold us, 
for us to truly know our own souls.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Le[n]t It Be

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, le[n]t it be

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, le[n]t it be

Le[n]t it be, le[n]t it be, le[n]t it be, le[n]t it be

Whisper words of wisdom, le[n]t it be

Last week signified the beginning of  Lent , the 40 day window before Resurrection Sunday which Christians often observe by fasting or giving up an item of luxury. Although in years past I have either ignored Lent or treated it as a social challenge rather than a spiritual discipline, this year is different. 

At SF Lighthouse, we are corporately journeying through the seven sayings of Jesus on the cross, through the Sunday gatherings and the daily blog devotionals. Yesterday was also freedom Sunday, where we talked about our Slavery Footprint (I own 34 slaves) and gave a portion of tithes to Because Justice Matters.

I agree with one of my favorite authors here when he says "In a world of instant gratification, [Lent] is a chance to practice delayed gratification - to fast - so that we can truly appreciate the blessings we have."

Personally, I have decided to give up all meat (except for fish). This sadly means I won't be eating from that delicious magical animal that produces bacon, sausage, and pork chops. 

I feel this Lenten season will be an important time for me, both spiritually and practically. I expect it to be a time of repentance, of appreciating blessings, and of refocusing for the very big future questions that loom ahead.

Take it away Paul...

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, le[n]t it be

For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see

There will be an answer, le[n]t it be

Le[n]t it be, le[n]t it be, le[n]t it be, le[n]t it be

There will be an answer, le[n]t it be

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


A few years back, my brother Andy gave me a book titled The White Boy Shuffle. It is an incredibly poetic, imaginative, and perceptive work that makes me both laugh and cry. Now upon my second read, I realize this may be one of my favorite novels of all time.

Thought I would share one of the more lighthearted and fun excerpts from chapter four:

That first day Nick [Scoby] and I went to the park, about fifty players were standing in the hot sun, waiting their turn to play. When the game in progress ended, Scoby walked onto the court, touched his toes, alternately lifted his feet by the insteps until his heels touched his butt, and waited for whoever had winners to tell him who else was on his team. There was some unspoken protocol at work, and Nicholas apparently had diplomatic status. Soon a huge crowd gathered around the sidelines. Right from the start there was an intensity on the court that hadn't been present in the previous game. Players who usually spent most of their precious court time arguing and disputing every call were silent and stealing glances at Scoby whenever they made a shot or did something particularly impressive. Scoby's pregame announcement - "Niggers who come here for the attention best to leave now" - seemed to have had some effect.

I watched Nicholas play a few games and tried to figure what the big deal was. His team always won, but it wasn't like he was out there performing superhuman feats. He didn't sprout wings and fly, he didn't seem to have eyes in the back of his head. There was always someone who jumped higher than he could, handled the ball better. Nick would make five or six baskets and that was it.


We played until nightfall. During what was shaping up to be the last game of the evening, it became impossible to see the basket farthest away from the streetlight. It was as if we were playing at the lunar surface during the half-moon. One side of the court was in complete darkness and the other fairly well lit. The score was tied at ten-ten and someone suggested we call the game a draw on account of darkness before someone got hurt. Scoby said, "Next basket wins." My team had the ball and we were shooting at the visible basket. The high schooler in the gray shirt took a short shot that circled around the rim and fell out, right into Nick's hands. Scoby took two spped dribbles, losing the man who was guarding him, and headed upcourt. When he crossed half-court he disappeared into the darkness, then quickly reappeared in the light without the ball. A second later you heard the crashing of the chain net as the ball arced through it.


Skipping the ball through my legs, imitating the moves I'd seen during the course of the day, I rounded the corner onto Sherbourne Drive and realized what Scoby's rep was for: he never missed. I mean never.

To Clean or Not to Clean

Recently, while getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist, I began to ponder cleaning. I was thinking that I was going to become the best flosser in the world. I would go home and floss that night and the next night. My teeth were clean now so why not keep them that way? Well, because, I realized that it is much more satisfying to floss when I really need it or when I am know I am going to the dentist. That is what happen this time. I started flossing two weeks before my visit and the dental hygienist was impressed. Ha!

Next, I started dreaming about vacuuming once a week, instead of when I noticed pieces of lint on the ground or company was coming over. I thought about becoming that person who wiped down the bathroom every week and mopped every two weeks. I wanted to become the housekeeper who completes her chores like clockwork!

But alas, I never would become that person. Why? Because it is much more satisfying for me to clean something that is dirty rather than something that is clean. So, I will probably only floss and vacuum when my teeth and floors need it. Gross? Maybe.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"It's okay, I'm white"

“it’s okay, I’m white, if something happens, the police will protect me…”
“it’s okay, no one wants to rob the white guy, it means the police will get involved…”

Every two weeks on a Tuesday evening, I walk from Powell Station to Tenderloin After School Program where I volunteer at the teen homework night. It is a two block walk that brings up more fear, insecurity, and soul-searching than any other steps of my week and to cope, I often find myself repeating, in some form or another, the phrases above.

From my suburban high school days to present day, I have taken psychological comfort in the fact that the police have my best interests at heart. But seldom other than my two block trek do I let the reality of that privilege bubble to the surface where I can consciously acknowledge its presence.

During my two blocks, I feel guilty that I hold this privilege, and so I try to bury it. Because it is a privilege I will never have to give up, and that makes me feel good. feel safe. feel protected.

So I don't know what it is like to be these two kids. I will never know, and the truth is, I don't want to know.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cash is Money

 = $$$

I hate carrying cash. In the last five years, I have hardly ever done so. It's heavy. It can be misplaced. And in an age of digital bookkeeping, it creates a huge hassle when I am trying to track and categorize our spending to fall within our monthly budget.

But for small businesses, cash is money. Literally. A recent interaction with Bob, the owner of Coffee Adventures near my new office location in North Beach, reminded me of this. While I was apologizing for not having cash on my tiny purchase, Bob told me about his current dilemma. His Credit Card fees are going up and he has to decide whether to take the hit, or start charging a minimum transaction fee. Current market price on Credit Card fees means my $3 cappuccino, for which I used my credit card, costs Bob around a 1.5% debit fee on the purchase price + $0.25 transaction fee. This ends up being about $0.30, or 10% of my purchase fee! In no way can a small business sustain that type of overhead on minor purchases and remain competitive. 

Since our move into the Mission District, we have made the conscious decision to start carrying more cash. Sure, on bigger purchases, the transaction fee is much less significant, which means a credit card purchase makes much more sense for everyone involved. But for our local coffee shops, restaurants, and produce markets, I now understand why so many can't afford to take on the extra burden of the credit card.

So how will I track all this cash flow in our budget? Well, there's an app for that...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ticket to Ride

I love riding the bus. Not everyone agrees that the bus is the best means of travel, but for me, it is the best. No, riding the bus is not faster than BART. No, riding the bus is not as healthy for you as walking. No, the bus is not as comfortable as the light-rail trains. But a bus travels across a gentrified city. A bus has the capacity to welcome a larger variety of people into its interior. Today, on my trip from Sutter and Van Ness to home, I saw a women knitting a pink hat, a hipster man and his guitar, a father and his son, a ghost of a man coughing, a heart shaped ballon that needed a seat all to its self, a group of four boy-men listening to rap and coming home from making a difference in our communities, and a teen-ager with a fruit popsicle yelling, "Hold the bus!"

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Marriage, Queen, and the Holy Spirit

Three things I love. Three things that have spoken to me this weekend. Three things that have blessed me. Three things that moved me out of frustration over my limited ability since breaking my finger.

My Marriage: Somehow the mystery of "oneness" is happening to us. Our once independent and some times differing opinions on issues are become more "our" convictions. We are working together. We are playing together. We are following our own passions, together. It is a mystery, but I love it. The part of us that has two working hands served the limited part of us to make sure we got the house cleaned.

Queen: Hits the emotional nail on the head. Their songs gave me the joy to dance around when I have been fearful of even moving. I was reminded that I am not alone in my pain. Their songs are sad in the lyrics, but the rhythm and melody are upbeat and strong. When life is sad and frustrating, I want to live with vibrancy and strength.

The Holy Spirit: I was reminded that I am in fact broken, just like my hand. I am limited. But Jesus doesn't care. I don't need to worry about producing an excellent thesis, a clean house, a list of potential jobs, or a network of impressive people. He loves me even if I sit on the couch and let me hand heal. Simple idea in Christianity, but my heart keeps forgetting that Jesus' love is all I need to find my worth.

Beautiful Inspiration is Truth. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spoke Too Soon

A day after I wrote the previous blog, I fell off my bike and broke my pinky finger on my right hand and seriously sprained my hand. Three days later Danny had food poisoning and had to stay home from my family Christmas celebration in San Luis Obispo. We have slowly been getting back to "normal" and I just chuckle at life.

Even when crappy things happen, there is still much to be thankful for: I'm thankful there was no car behind me. I'm thankful for an understanding boss and a couple of weeks to heal before school (and typing) started. I'm thankful that Danny got sick over a three day weekend so there was plenty of time to recuperate.  I still see God's hand upon us even though 2012 has started a bit rocky.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year, Content Feelings

Reflecting on this past year, I realized it was a pretty awesome year for us. There were no major heartaches or hard events. No, 2011 was a year of healing, blessing, and so much fun! Here is a list of the things I am thankful for from 2011:

  • Four feet of fresh powder for our first snowboarding trip of the season.
  • Two more snowboard trips.
  • Began tutoring at the Tenderloin After School Program.
  • Enjoyed a membership at the Modern Museum of Art.
  • Found Lighthouse Church, which became our home church.
  • Beloved Community in Daly City where we made some amazing friends.
  • Coffee with Lindsey Smith weekly.
  • Deepening relationships in my Masters Classes (e.g. Beer Club).
  • Trip to Colorado to see JJ and Tessa.
  • A 36 miles round trip bike ride for Danny's Birthday (1,000 ft elevation gain).
  • Five weddings. Danny was in two of them.
  • Celebrated our 1st Wedding Anniversary in 40 mph gusts of winds while camping with Danny's family in Gaviota California. A unique celebration that was a perfect way to celebrate our crazy first year.
  • Had a professor tell me that he was really impressed with my growth since starting my program.
  • Completed my first year of my Masters program: 100+  written pages, 1,000+ read pages, and millions of conversations later, I have learned so much!
  • A week in Coasta Rica with the Halls for my first family vacation with them.
  • Celebrated my mom turning 70 in June with a surprise tea party!
  • Spoke about Race, ethnicity, and reconcilation during InterVarsity's Fresno Urban Internship.
  • Worked with Destination Science during the summer: Great to contribute to the household expenses and to work daily with kids.
  • Summer in the City: Concerts at Stern Grove, a trip to Sonoma, Outside lands concert, bike trips to explore.
  • Joined the Hall Fantasy Football league, so participated in my first "Draft Day" (yes, it is a whole day, where we draft together in person).
  • Camping in the Redwoods with Church friends.
  • Went to my first college football game (Stanford vs UCLA).
  • Tailgated for the first time.
  • Saw Charlie, my brother-in-law play a couple of times with the UCLA band.
  • Blue Angels/Fleet week, enough said.
  • My other brother-in-law, Andy and his girlfriend came for a visit one weekend.
  • We moved to a more sunny, less hilly, and mold-free area of SF.
  • We now live below Dorothy, a friend from church, who is quickly become our SF family.
  • Went to the Academy of Sciences for FREE!
  • Backpacked with Danny in Marin headlands.
  • A surprise birthday party for me!
  • A wonderful holiday season with my mom and extended family at Thanksgiving and Danny's family at Christmas.
The main theme for me this year has been family. Danny and I continue to build our own family while learning how to be apart of each other's root family. Nothing like a week trip in a foreign country to bond you with your in-laws! Our church community is beginning to feel more  like family as we continue to develop friendships with them. As a church, we also want to take our "family" into the larger community of San Francisco and welcome more people into our relationships. For me, my "school friends" have also become a sort of family: I call them "my people". They understand me more than any other group of people I have ever encountered. we are there for each other as we sort through many emotions and thoughts. They challenge me as I dream of what I will be when I "grow-up" and hold me accountable to making a difference in the world.

I know that 2011 was not so good for other people. For that I feel blessed, humbled, and grateful for such an amazing year. I did not deserve such a wonderful year, but the Lord has been good to me. May 2012 be such a year for you no matter what 2011 was like.