On Hearing of the Parkland Shooting

News alerts lit up my phone, one after another, announcing each new round of details on today’s shooting at a high school in Florida, America’s eighteenth school shooting so far in 2018. I worked out this afternoon, mouth agape at the footage the TV news station had on repeat for the duration of my cycling set, tears welling up thinking of the parents about to learn they’d lost a child or spouses a partner, surrounded by strangers going about their lives just as I was. When exactly did we get used to this?

I remembered something I wrote a few years ago, after the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Remember that one? Maybe not. Awfully, they start to blur together. Reposting the (admittedly unpolished) reflection here, an attempt at “collage” writing, and which feels, sadly, just as fresh today as it did nearly three years ago: Continue reading “On Hearing of the Parkland Shooting”

Serena Watches TV… and Is Mostly Disappointed

Welp, it came to pass of late that I watched some movies and TV. Or TV-like substance delivered via the new interwebz talkie dealers like Amazon and Netflix. But what’s a girl to do between 1) awaiting admissions decisions that will determine the course of the next several years of her life, 2) a little bit of contract work, and 3) a 46-hour wifi-less Amtrak ride? (Yes, I did it again, and yes, I still loved it.) PSA: Apparently you can download shows in advance for those long rail-bound hours! And yeah, I am only just learning this because I am 1,000 years old.

I had some thoughts about these shows, though, and thought I might save you some hours with a few reviews… Continue reading “Serena Watches TV… and Is Mostly Disappointed”

All Quiet on the Midwest Front

Photo: Anthony admires the Chicago Cultural Center. Photo by me, ceilings by Tiffany’s (yes, really).

Welp, it’s been a while, friends. What have I been up to? In short:

  • Hanging with family in Chicago, which is a gorgeous, friendly, frigid place that after five years away I find I love even more than I thought. Also, my cousins’ kids are hilarious and adorable, as well as larger and more numerous now! It’s been a blast to see them at the family holiday parties.
  • Ringing in the new year with a friend from the bike trip (pictured above), with whom I got to do all these lovely Chicago-y things, like see live blues at Kingston Mines, ride my beloved el train, and eat deep-dish pizza not once but twice (his request).
  • Applying to grad school, including the cram-studying for and taking of a beast of a test, the endless writing of essays, and the heaps of confusion and self-doubt that inevitably go along with all that. Whee!
  • Cooking. A lot. (Read: forcing/tricking my parents into eat more vegetables.)
  • Working out, because a) I plan to get back on that bicycle in a couple of months and tour some Southwest locales, then loop back up to the Pacific Northwest to scam those routes I couldn’t do last summer; and b) the local park district classes are full of sassy old broads who do not hesitate to vocalize their annoyance with a particular exercise, lol, and I want to be their friend.
  • Erm… not writing on this blog. Oops! But writing elsewhere. And hoping to get more regular here again…

Okay, if anyone’s interested in joining me for some bike-packing this spring/summer (slash if anyone even reads this blog anymore), lemme know!

Walking in the Suburbs Is My Favorite… Thing!

Alright, so it’s no “eating in Italy” (my parents can attest), BUT I do deeply enjoy walking to places in the suburbs, especially somewhat far-flung ones like my parents’. People in their cars think you’re kinda strange (but also learn to watch out for us oddballs and perhaps even feel inspired to walk a block themselves). You get a little exercise, which can be a nice break from, in my case, studying. And at this modest pace, you see things you didn’t even notice were there before, things someone else put a little effort or personality into that would normally just blur past out the car window. Things like: Continue reading “Walking in the Suburbs Is My Favorite… Thing!”

Tea, As I Know It

It smells like a childhood June night, but it is an adult October one.

Soggy, slow breeze through a screen window, moon near full, haloed by the blur of a light humidity and me not wearing my glasses.

I put on the water to boil, some modern magic of pipes and infrastructure that spares my lungs some intimate soot but burns with a blue that confirms an invisible, millennia-accumulated cost. Only long things burn that blue-bright. Periwinkle perish-bright, orange edge flicker. Continue reading “Tea, As I Know It”

Train Travel Tips; Plus, Overheard on the Amtrak

Image: This is how you hydrate. (I don’t think you’re *supposed* to bring booze on board. Mea culpa.)

Hear ye, hear ye, jetsetter pals of mine. I know flights are right quick and cheap and all…

// LONG ASIDE: seriously, the SEA-ORD flight was cheaper than this train ride… but I still bought it because rail-rollin’ is a little more carbon-neutral than flying, and even though I know my teensy individual actions are just that, I just witnessed and choked on the whole f*cking West Coast burning in fire or heat waves, so…. I bought this stupid litttle ticket. CLOSE LONG ASIDE, and APOLOGIES. //

…but rail ridin’ is pretty jammin’, and I think you should give the Amtrak a second (or first… let’s be real about this, probs your first) thought, becerrrrrrzzzzz: Continue reading “Train Travel Tips; Plus, Overheard on the Amtrak”

Made It!

Image: A friend who rode some of CA with me and reintroduced me to the magic of the BUS. (Confession: I bussed some small legs of wretched, heat-wave-scorched California and feel precisely zero guilt over it.)

Yesterday evening, I rolled merrily into Oakland, California, the home of my wonderful childhood friend, Ashley, and her rad husband, Tiger. The two of them hosted me and a friend graciously, fed us well, and reminded me what it looks like to “adult.” And sure, I mean that in the way that their apartment is lovely, their careers are meaningful and impactful, and they’ve even got a little one on the way. But I mean that much more so in the sense that they exude an easy, well earned self-possession and groundedness, individually and together. It’s a gorgeous thing to see.

This trip started out of a few places, a few reasons, but central to it all, in fact, was some existential fretting over whether I was doing enough in this world, making good and meaningful change and honoring the gifts and talents I possess. I’m closing it out with more questions than answers, but better questions, I think, and a happier, more ambitious little heart. I’ll Amtrak it back to Seattle later this week and work on next steps. (Yes, I had wanted to do more of inland Oregon after this Seattle-to-Oakland leg, but I’m honestly done for a good long while with wildfire smoke and heat waves, all. Maybe in a little bit. Anyone wanna redo the Oregon Coast with me? Or something around Bend, once it clears up??)

Meanwhile, I’ll quote Ashley herself, who, upon learning of my initial reasons for taking this trip, describing myself as feeling “mindfucked and heartfucked” (my crude words, not hers), told me: “Okay, maybe ‘mindfucked and heartfucked,’ but NOT SOULfucked.”

No, indeed, old friend, and feeling all the more powerful and thrilled for whatever the hell comes next.

About That Climate Project…

I had all the best intentions on this trip of undertaking a sort of climate storytelling project I’d been dreaming of since college. What I didn’t realize as I set out that grand aspiration was how much time it would take me each day just to manage my planned mileage and find food and water and such. I wish I’d thought to slow down earlier on, to pitch my itinerary and wing it a little more on this campground-rich coast. I didn’t. Continue reading “About That Climate Project…”