Sunday, February 05, 2017


Back in July, I visited the nieces and neffy in Michigan to help them move into their new house.  We took the kids out to see Finding Dory. (Who knew at the time that the new President would later screen it at the White House?)

Nothing beats Finding Nemo, but Finding Dory was cute. There's a new cast of characters, including a hilarious escaping octopus. I like the fact that Dory's parents and friends support her in living her reality with short-term memory loss.
In another ocean-related adventure, over Thanksgiving I took the same nieces and nephew* to see Moana. We were excited to see it because yes, a Disney "princess" movie finally highlighted a South Pacific culture, but also because their cousins in New Zealand (where the film didn't open until Boxing Day) are part Islander.

Representation matters. And I loved Moana.  I loved it despite the very legitimate controversies about Disney telling peoples' stories, an annoying crab character, a Maui demi-god that was basically a reworked Hercules (see: colonialism and previously mentioned issues with Disney storytelling), and a vague blending of all South Pacific cultures into one (Tokelauan, Tongan, Samoan, Maori) that a Western audience wouldn't truly understand. And though I love Lin-Manuel Miranda, I'm not entirely sure his lyrics and singing style were the perfect fit for Moana.

But I loved it for my half-Samoan Kiwi nieces with part-Maori cousins. Brave was great: they are part Scottish too and come from many traditions of strong women. But Merida didn't look like them; Moana does. Frozen was great: they dressed up and did their hair like Anna and Elsa and dreamed of snow and ice. But Arendelle's Scandinavian balls bear little resemblance to the Island dances and hakas they are learning and performing in their mixed suburban community.

I am, however, preparing myself for endless Skype sessions filled with "How Far I'll Go" renditions.

* the Latino/Filipino/German/Scottish ones

Friday, January 27, 2017

Home to roost

It is currently closer to the advent of the Year of the Rooster than it is to the dawn of 2016, but either way, now is a good time to reflect on my annual "firsts" from the past year.

2016 didn't see any exciting international trips (except a triathlon in Canada), but there were certainly a lot of new places I experienced.
  • Zion National Park and Bryce National Park in Utah, a state I have visited only once before and only for work. This time, I got to explore it with friends. The parks are beautiful! And the Pacific Northwesterners learned a lot about how flash floods happen and how eons of them shaped the canyons of the southwest. We're used to glaciers doing that in our neck of the woods, not water! We also took advantage of our flights out of Sin City to see the gorgeous Red Rock Canyon, which I will admit made me think a little more highly of Las Vegas.
  • Spoke at my alma mater (on behalf of the ACLU). I've spoken at high school around the Seattle area, but never at my own. It's changed a lot! But it was kind of comforting to see a lot also hasn't changed.
  • Volunteered for a major international sporting event -- the Copa America! It was really cool to see how all the pieces come together for a huge event. And once my pre-game volunteer shifts were done, I got to be inside the stadium for the games themselves!
  • Drove a big-ass U-Haul truck because Mi Hermana y Mi Cunado had never done it, and yet as first-time homebuyers in the Michigan 'burbs they had a ton of stuff.
  • Hiked to base camp on Mt Baker accidentally with a friend who wanted to rebuild her climbing skills after a surgery. We just kept going and going until we found ourselves at the bast of the mesmerizing and beautiful Easton Glacier, with a bunch of climbers in tents scattered around us!
  • Participated in a triathlon! Well, a sprint triathlon, in which everything is smaller or shorter than a full tri. I only ran the 5K part; teammates did the swimming and biking. Still! It sounds bad-ass, and I wore the medal as I drove all the way home. The border guard even commented on it. :-D
  • My triathlon team's mascot
     was this little squirrel. 
    He was my only companion
     on the long drive from 
    Vancouver, WA to Vancouver, BC
  • Drove to (and around in) Canada. I've only ever been a passenger in someone else's car as we drove 3 hours up to the border, waited in line, and crossed. This time I did it all on my own -- and from Vancouver, WA to Vancouver, BC!
  • Got rear-ended by a young lady who'd recently moved to the PNW from Arkansas and wasn't accustomed to heavy rains. She was visibly shaken, and neither of us was seriously injured (though my back and neck hurt later and I felt nauseous for a few days, all signs of whiplash). I guess I'm incredibly lucky that I've never been in a car crash before. And this particular instance was pretty clear-cut (I stopped at a red light, she didn't and hit me); I thought dealing with insurance would be a nightmare but it hasn't been at all.
  • Worked on a political campaign outside of Washington State! I doorbelled for Catherine Cortez-Masto (who won and made history as the 1st Latina in the U.S. Senate) and Hillary Clinton in...
  • Reno, NV -- a city surrounded by beautiful hills and mountains that I tried to explore on my short breaks, mainly because the town itself is a little sad. But I also got to see...
  • Lake Tahoe -- I wish I could have spent more time exploring, but the lake was pretty and gave me some needed downtime during the campaign cycle.
  • Cried at the result of an election. And in public! I've gotten a wee bit teary before, but never actually shed tears on E-day. And not just in the bar where I was watching the final returns with friends, but on the street afterwards and on the walk home. I guess "sobbing" more accurately describes what occurred. Which brings me to...
  • Understanding the phrase "My blood ran cold" because it happened the minute I got an AP alert calling the presidential election results. My entire body literally went cold. I'd never truly understood that phrase before until that moment.

Despite the election results which have spilled into a horrible start to 2017, 2016/ the Year of the Monkey itself was actually a pretty good year. I started a new job that I love, where I have more creative direction and agency. I got to see parts of the country that I hadn't explored much before -- specifically, the American Southwest. I got to spend more time with my nieces and nephew as they moved to a new city and started new schools.

So bring it, 2017.  Let's see what you and the Rooster have in store!