My Apologies

My Apologies

Hello Readers, if you’re out there. I wanted to apologize for my long breaks between new articles. I recently submitted a reworked version of Recreation Hypothermia to the World Nomads Travel Scholarship competition and I did not win. I have been reading through the winning entries and am thoroughly impressed and see where I have plenty of room to grow. That being said, I’ve realized that I can’t do three things poorly and would rather do one thing well. As the school year is coming to an end, leaving more time for my personal writing, I’d like to focus on making my novel as great as it can be and get it out to agents. That means I need to take time to focus on it 100% and not feel guilty about not writing articles here. Sadly, that means I will be taking a hiatus from Goode Travels.

I hope that the muse will move me a time or two and I may come back to share an anecdote or some local travel suggestions, but I’d like to remove the pressure from my life to have to do so. One day I hope to come back to this on a more regular basis as well. For now, I bid you adieu and will leave you with some of my favorite travel photographs I’ve taken from around the world.

One day soon, I do hope to come back and write a few stories surrounding these photos.

My trip to Peru with my brother in 2015-

IMG_1450
I desperately wish she had stepped a little more into the light when I took this shot, but I didn’t want to take more of her time.
IMG_1448
Some boys playing in the markets of Cuzco

IMG_1405

IMG_1056
Three couples kissing simultaneously. Friday Nights in Cuzco.
IMG_1015
The best street food is from little old ladies.
IMG_1252
The fog parting to reveal the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu

Czech Republic and Berlin 2009-

IMG_4883.JPG
A view from Prague Castle
IMG_5048.JPG
Sedlec Ossuary in Czech Republic
IMG_4737.JPG
Detail on the Astronomical Clock in Prague
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Boy contemplating adding his own pee to the David Cerny pissing statue
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Communist Era dorms of Prague

New Zealand 2008-

IMG_2207.JPG
A flower blooming at the top of a glacier.

America – Date Forgotten

IMG_2045.JPG

IMG_2054.JPG

IMG_0131.JPG
My brother taking photos in Sedona, AZ. I don’t know why I’ve always loved this photo but I do. Maybe because he was my first photography teacher.

At that, I hope I have left you with some glimmers of hope for future articles when my time will be best served to write them well. It has officially been a year since I started this little travel blog and I am so proud of it and don’t hope to let it linger for long. Good bye for now and thanks for reading.

*As for the featured image above, I mean no harm. I see it as a playful farewell to myself from some gnomes in Berlin who I wish I had brought home with me in 2009.

Snow.Snow.Snow!

Snow.Snow.Snow!

img_3030

The tires of the car whirred, spinning in place, and spewing snow out the back. The Honda was stuck halfway in and out of the driveway blocking the 4-Wheel Drive vehicle in front.

“Take the sled, shove it under the wheel to give it some traction,” I suggest.

The neon green sled, the thinnest ten dollar plastic is brought forward.

“Ayla will be so sad if we destroy her sled,” my friend says about her daughter.

But we need something flat. We’ve tried medium logs, the base of a shovel. The green slide is shoved under the tire. We all stare at the car, the neon is garish against the snow. Collectively we change our mind. If we’re stuck in this cabin in Lake Tahoe, at least one person should enjoy her time here.

James removes the sled from the ground and passes it back to Gena who takes it to snow covered backyard, treasuring it like a lost relic found. The snow isn’t stopping. A small, wet falling turns to light flurries. The limbs of the trees are weighted down with it. Large crashes resound around the house as branches break off and send plumes of white wafting from above and below. Brad revs the engine again. James digs around the wheel base.

img_3059

I walk away to grab my camera. I meet Gena and her daughter in the backyard. It is the first time for both of them seeing snow. One is three the other is thirty-four, sharing this moment for the first time. Gena is on her knees, scooping the crunchy white matter into a ball. They are building a snowman. He is tiny. No higher than my knee. Ayla leans down and pushes a baby carrot into his face for a nose. Two coffee beans become his eyes and a macaroni noodle is placed upside down as a frown. This is not a happy snowman, but he exists.

img_3091img_3082

Ayla doesn’t want the snow in her glove. She is cold. She stares at the glove on the ground and laments it. We try to tell her that if she wears the glove the snow won’t get in and it will keep her hand warm. The snow continues to fall. The backyard is turning into a swimming pool of tufts of white snow.

img_3079img_3061

Gena grabs the sled. Ayla climbs in. They circle the backyard. Baby-voiced “weees” circle me as I take photos. A louder shout is heard from the front yard. The boys have unstuck the car. We run to the front to meet them.

img_3097

James has piled enough small sticks and logs to make a flat, snow free area from which the tire was able to break free. Brad pulls the Honda into its original spot. The driveway is free. I look around. The snow is only getting thicker. In the distance all I see is white sky.

The boys crowd into the car. Will I be going to the mountain today? No, thank you. I follow the girls back into the house as the boys head for the ski resort. We watch the snow fall outside the window, warm inside, covered in blankets and drinking hot cocoa.

We remember the turkey. Gena bravely pulls out the innards while I stand behind and watch. As she rips the plastic tubing that holds them inside the carcass a miniscule piece of turkey flesh flies through the air and flings into my eye. We laugh. I wipe my eye incessantly while Gena rubs butter into and under the turkey skin. Soon the house is filled with the heartwarming smell of slowly cooking turkey meat. It feels like Christmas only its February.

img_0007

The boys come home. We join their snowboard aching bodies in the hot tub. The snow continues to fall. Our feet are freezing as we carefully try to jump through the slush on the ground to make it to the tub. Everything is pins and needles. Then we look up. The snow coats are faces. We’re so warm we can’t feel it. It floats around us, falls on our shoulders, catches in the buns in our hair and makes us look like we have mini-snowman on our heads. Our sad snowman in the yard looks on at us disapprovingly. Gena is amazed. We linger even after the boys have gotten out.

img_0099

 

The snow never stops. Loud cracking sounds bang against the windows as snow and limbs break off and fall around the house. We jump each time we hear it. We wake to an even thicker coating on the ground, the trees almost pure white. Our friends go sledding. James and I make it halfway to the ski resort and turn back. We get hot toddies at a bar by the lake that we can’t see through the blizzard. We return home. We read snuggled together in bed with the blue light of the storm swirling outside the window. Suddenly everything is dark. The lights have gone out.

We meet our friends down stairs. All our iPhones brandished in front of us with the lights on. A glimmer of light emanates from the corner of the room where we only just started a fire. We search each cabinet for candles. This is someone else’s home. An AirBnB. We find one tapered candle and light it for the table. We have the leftover turkey in the fridge. We make a sandwich assembly line in the kitchen by the light of our phones. We eat around the candle light. The light flickers back on. It is time for Ayla to go to bed.

We set up Catan, our fifth round of a different expansion. We grab our wine. We stoke the fire. We throw aluminum foil covered smores into the wood stove. The chocolate melts around the marshmallows as we build our cities and conquer Catan. We laugh. We are warm. We are fed.

img_0020

The next day, the sun comes out. But a little part of us wishes it hadn’t.

img_3054

Snow by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH2KGboA35c

Sanctuary City: Part Two

Sanctuary City: Part Two

As promised, this second post is about being home and taking refuge in the place that we rest and come back to. I live in San Francisco, CA. I have lived in this city for over 12 years and I am also a Bay Area native. I am happy to have grown up in a liberal bubble and have the privilege to travel the world and see what is beyond the boundaries of the area I was born in. Not everyone has that privilege and I would just like to name that, I can afford to travel and I take the opportunity to do so often. Maybe you are an arm chair traveler and this blog is your way to see the world, and if that is the case, I salute you. Please come back and please keep reading. Home can be a wonderful place to explore and to find solace in just as much as the newness and exoticism of travel.

In that respect, this blog post is dedicated to my home and the ways I incorporate my travels back into it. While I attempt to make a trip once or twice a year, let’s be honest, the bulk of our time is spent in the place we pay our rent or mortgage to be in. We have to live our daily lives doing things like feeding the cat, making dinner, going to our jobs. This shouldn’t mean that our homes can’t be lovely reflections of our travels.

When I was younger (remember I started my world travels at 15) I would buy a lot of tchotckes, little cheap trinkets that they sold at tourist attractions. They had no real purpose and they all eventually ended up in boxes to be packed away in the back of my closet.

img_3015
The totem was from Seattle or Vancouver, the Buddha from Hawaii and the watercolor was bought in Italy. These are on display in my bookcase.

As I got older, I wanted to be sure what I spent my money on was useful in some way. I didn’t want to just fill my house with things for thing-sake or bring useless gifts home for friends. I became more mindful about my purchasing decisions. Perhaps I’d rather spend that money on an experience or food from a local vendor. Where would my money be going when I spent it on a tourist goody, to Chinese manufacturers or to the local people?

img_3026
One of the storage boxes containing shot glasses and old honey and olive oil jars. In the background you can see a mug I actually use daily from my travels in Iceland.

I find the best way to decide on my purchases is by asking the following questions: Can I eat it and if so can I get it home? Can I display it in my home and will it stay on display or end up in a box? Am I supporting the local population with this purchasing choice? Can I afford it?

Due to these questions, here’s what I buy the most of: honey, alcohol, art and local artisan crafts.

img_3029
I love this Iceland puffin mug-bought in a tourist shop but something that I actually use. In the background you can see the carved hippo I purchased in Kenya on display.
img_3111
Different types of alcohol specific to each region: Peru, Costa Rica, France, Italy. The rooster is a wine stopper from Portugal. These are great to share and bring home as gifts for a tasting party.

I would rather share an experience with my group of friends or have art that will last on my walls forever. After returning from Portugal, my friend Caroline and I hosted a Portugal party and broke out are ration of sardines, olive oil and wine we had bought in the country while on a Douro Valley wine tour. We shared our love of the food we enjoyed for those two weeks with our friends and family over the course of one afternoon. What a great way for them to experience the tastes of a foreign place from home!

img_3125
I am a big fan of Afternoon Tea and these boxes highlight some of the tea I’ve picked up in France, Iceland and England. You can keep reusing them to fill up with different tea year after year. Functional, pretty and a good memory from that time period.

The other things I love to bring home are artisan goods. Something that I can wear, put on my walls or use in my house. We visited a local artisan collective in Peru where we bought woven table runners straight from the women who made them rather than from the big name stores in the cities. The table runner lives on my kitchen table most of the year.

md_14795
© Michael Goode

img_1096

img_1087
Making the dye from nature

I try to actually use things I bring home. This sheet from India hangs at the foot of my bed. Not only does it keep Bean’s cat hair off my white duvet, it also potentially blocks all those scratch marks she leaves on my bed from view.

img_2934

img_2908
I still wear this bracelet that I picked up when visiting the Masai in Kenya
img_2955
Technically this puppet has no purpose other than to please me, but my father and I got a lot of kick out of what we dubbed “Elmer” when we road around the countryside of France after I purchased it in a toy store in Lyon.

It’s important to display the things we love. I added this hook on my wall to display a kimono my Japanese grandmother brought back for me after her last trip to Japan. I wear it on a cold day but I get to admire it year round.

img_2956

In the background, you can see art that I collected on my travels as well. I keep a gallery wall in the hall and basically add art to any open surface throughout my apartment. Buying art from local artists is one of my most favorite purchasing decisions when traveling. My favorite piece is from the Peruvian graffiti artist JADE. I found it in a trendy boutique in Barranco. My brother and I did a lot of shopping in the San Blás neighborhood of Cusco and found a boutique that featured local artists, where I got the painting to the left of the Jade Rivera piece by Natalia Lizarraga.

I also like to keep things to remind me of what the name of a boutique was or an especially good restaurant. After all, it helps me with this blog. I use to keep the mementos in scrapbooks but after reading a Martha Stewart article, I decided to start throwing things in keepsake boxes and displaying them on my book case instead.

All I have to do is pull one out and riffle through it. I keep my travel journals and a small photo album of some of my favorite images from the trip in the box as well. And that brings me to my last favorite item to bring home from travels: photos.

I don’t like to let my photos linger on my hard drive. Instead, I get them professionally printed out. I have used the Apple photo book feature in the past to make the small photo albums in my boxes but recently I branched out and used Social Print Studio for the first time. I ordered 48 of my Instagram photos and they were delivered within a week and were beautiful. I am not being paid to give them a shout out but I can’t sing the praises of this Bay Area start up enough. I will definitely be using them again.

img_3108
Some of my Valentine’s Day themed travel photos on display from Social Print Studios.

Passion Passport recently did an Instagram challenge featuring people’s favorite Travel Treasures. You’ve seen some of mine, what are yours? How do you display them in your home?

Sanctuary City: Part One

Sanctuary City: Part One

I called this post Sanctuary City for two reasons. One, San Francisco has been a sanctuary city since 1989. We have felt the need for that status more than ever in the political turmoil and unrest that is settling itself around the country right now. The title is a nod to that, for sure, but I also wanted to remind myself that a sanctuary is by definition a safe space, a refuge. San Francisco isn’t just a sanctuary city for the nation, SF is also my actual home, where I come back to after I travel, where I feel safe, where I recharge my battery before I can go back out into the larger world again.

For Part One, I wanted to explore a little of this sanctuary city that I call home, a little corner of my world. For Part Two, I will showcase a little of my actual home and how I bring the world into it. Both posts will be based on my desire to get better at photography this year, so this is less about writing and more about visual storytelling.

I asked everyone for photography lesson books for Christmas and am saving up to get a new lens for my Canon Rebel. With the sun actually out for once, I decided to take a walk down Divisadero St. in San Francisco this week and take pictures of things that I gravitated towards. Here is a little taste of one little street in the great place that I call home.

 

img_2982

I wanted to practice using the Macro feature on my camera to explore odd details you wouldn’t necessarily notice. I live in what is considered Lower Pac Heights which is directly above Western Addition. I loved the cracked paint on these old murals and the way the two interplayed with the late morning light.

img_2984

My walk took me to the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Divisadero and Grove where I purchased some tasty citrus fruit.

img_2986img_2989

On the corner is 4505 Burgers and BBQ which is a great place to stop for some brisket and sit out on the picnic tables with a beer in your hand when Karl the Fog takes a break for the day and lets the sun shine.

img_2993
I was more interested in the kegs against the red wall then the people eating on the other side.

img_2992
Even the dogs are enjoying the nice day
On our way back up the street, we stopped in to two boutiques I’ve always wanted to peruse but stopped myself solely because of my desire to buy things and not being able to afford it. First stop Tanner Goods to find the man a nice leather backpack. The shop was well-manicured and had everything for the SF modern man from bar supplies to hygiene kits. Everything was immaculate and perfect and the price was, not shockingly, well above either of our pay grades so we left empty handed.

img_2995
Funky table in the store that draws using a system with weights
I wanted to look at some girly things too so we hopped across the street to The Perish Trust where I could imagine what having a millinery in my kitchen might feel like…and also wish I had a house to interior decorate.

img_3010img_2996

img_3006
The Mad Hatter’s closet
It may have all been hipster-inspired madness but I loved the mixture of textured ribbons, wide brimmed hats and checkered floors. I’m still learning the features of my camera and had wanted to focus on the hat in the center, but because of its depth in the back of the room, my camera brought everything in the foreground into clear focus. While not my intention I do love that you can really see all the texture and colors at the front while almost feel like the back of the room is sucking you through a rabbit hole.

As any good San Franciscan will do on a free Sunday, we skipped the line out the door at the Mill (though I love their cinnamon toast) and headed over to Mojo for some equally good Ritual coffee without the wait (Fun Fact: Four Barrel was started by the guy who started Ritual, so same same.) and took that coffee on the road to stop in open houses that we will never be able to afford. Yay SF and being one of the most expensive cities in the world right now. Makes a teacher feel good. After looking at the small three bedroom apartment, we rode the squeaky elevator to the roof and checked out the views of the Victorians across the street.

img_3012
I liked the juxtaposition of the two chimneys with the beautiful houses behind them. The chimney stacks look like prison towers. 
Remember this is only a hop, skip and a jump from Alamo Square and the famous Painted Ladies but who says you can’t see equally pretty house fronts from your roof deck.

If you want to get better at photography too, here are the two books I’m working through:

Sidenote: I’m not being paid by DK or Canon, I just really like these products. *I wouldn’t mind being paid by someone to promote their product if I like it so hit me up (wink wink nudge nudge).

Dante’s Eyes

Dante’s Eyes

Another blast from the past. Italy 2004 continued…[Warning: some R content]

img_9914
Kim and I lunching in Capri

June 5, 2004 

Frescoes are a poor man’s Bible in a time when a Bible cost as much as a house.

Dante’s eyes in his statue look alive but trapped in stone, possessed or dying. Dante was excommunicated and tried writing very well to be reinstated to Florence. Milan Kundera’s theory is that being excommunicated from your home makes you a better writer.

I need to get kicked out.

dante_santa_croce_florence
By Bruno Barral CC Wikimedia

 

June 6, 2004

The poppies on the hillside look like light blood stains on green pants, scraped knees and grass stains. Boys playing in fields snatching at footballs and shoulders, tumbling to the ground and bruising. Wrapping their knobby bones and flesh together for mere seconds then pushing apart and running with a continued fervor.

One of the girls on the trip is eating an orange like an apple and biting into the skin and swallowing it.

img_9916
Hotel view in Sorrento

We went on the Blue Grotto boat ride around the Isle of Capri. Drove into a cave –sounds of water clapping against polished white walls. Echoes of voices like shards of glass cutting the water and hollowness. The water rises and sinks sending diamond bracelets dangling from stalactite hands. Dipping my palm into the turquoise Mediterranean Sea and when it dries in the Italian sun there is a shimmer of salt coating my fingers.

sommer_giorgio_1834-1914_-_n-_2217_-_capri_-_grotta_azzurra_napoli
Giorgio Sommer [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
 img_9913

img_9915
Statue on the rock in Capri – Scugnizzo

The young man working the snack bar on the jetfoil to Capri looks like a man in a movie, not from good looks but in the nature in which he inhabits the room. Silent, sad eyes. He lightly probes the room. He trails a pretty older lady as she walks by then resigns to making espresso, staring at the slowly filling white cup with the same sad, empty expression. In the movie version of his life, we follow him back to his room. We call him Dante. He’s lonely, horny. He jerks off in his bedroom watching commercials for self-tanner. He imagines himself with the older lady. He lightly touches her breast. The linen of her shirt. Hesitates, pulls his hand away. His sad eyes searching her face. And then he’s back. Back to us, making the cappuccino, back to being alone.

img_9910

And for the hell of it, another poem:

Apollo and Daphne

Perhaps the characters will be named

Apollo and Daphne

Chasing one down a long hall of

glowering ancient busts,

Climbing into a laurel tree and

shivering from fear

and the cold night air. A predator

at the base with a gold

Arrow in his hind. Naming

oneself after a Greek myth

is only so cliché that it can

be new again.

The lead in her side causing an itch,

a tearing of the flesh, a vomiting

at the look of those loving eyes.

Let night come! She pleads,

Let the sun go away.

Let the leaves fall around the

Crowns of your head.

In Dante’s writing, the reader visited Heaven and Hell and everything in between…if that sort of fiction interests you, check out my satirical novel about religion on my other site here. A new chapter is posted each Wednesday afternoon. And don’t forget to add your email to both sites to follow all new content.

The Papal City

The Papal City

In honor of The Young Pope on HBO, I thought I’d share some more journal reflections from 2004 and a poem – what? Poetry? Read to the end for that lyrical treat.

June 4, 2004 – Vatican City

The walls of the Vatican support the hills of Rome. A cathedral built over a dead body of a saint. And in its walls, building up from the earth, it grew into his name, San Pietro, making rotting bone into crumbling wall. An idolatry of architecture. Walking over a grave.

St. Peter, crucified and buried outside the city. A heretic, outcast. 260 years later and his cathedral is revered, so easily reversed. Being outside the city, it was easily defeated and soon enough the walls were wrapped around to protect, to hold up the hills. Its own city, The Vatican. More prized than Rome itself.

img_9813

img_9809

Perugino has Christ give Peter the keys to Heaven, a symbol of the Renaissance. St. Bartholomew holds his own skin that was taken from his body in life causing his death. And in this empty skin that he holds, Michelangelo’s face appears. St. Catherine holding her own spiked wheel was covered and her head was turned towards Christ after the artist died. The bodies emerging from the green, yellow ground with gap-toothed ugly faces and skulls draped with linen, a covered hand reaching up to a fleshless chin. The bodies are huge, holding up books and crowded among pillars. God is in a human brain touching Adam’s finger.

last-judgement

The Sistine Chapel smells like air conditioning, coldness and slightly like paint or the stuff that cleans paint. It also smells like bodies, lots of bodies pushing and gazing.

I get dizzy, staring up and circling all the bodies moving and twisting, separating the light from the dark, night from day.

brain

Air conditioning, it’s all I smell.

There’s a demon in the orange, red glow of Hell. His head shaded in grey with fur horns or thorns circling his skull. They pull and push and throw the writhing bodies down into the pits. Pleading to be freed one last time. To be redeemed and resurrected like Christ, wearing holes in their hands and feet and praising the light.

Jesus on the cross pieced together like a plastic action figure with bendable arms reaching out on the beams. Blood runs from his ribs down to his thigh and streaks down his arms to his pits.

How horrible is the guards job in the Chapel, silencing people all day long?

img_9812

And now, a poem (apologies for the spaces between each line, unintentional):

A New Blue

A bird nesting in ash

rising with glistening new feathers

from its own death,

The columns of St. Peter’s

rise into a horseshoe of human 

forms and masonry

A grave beneath a city of God

on Earth

Handed to the red Cardinals,

a bird of a different color

Rotting bone into crumbling wall

Building into a new name

San Pietro

Holy City

A heretic crying dirty words

outside the city walls

Pentecostal pinnings, a bird

voice warbling an ugly song

turned on his side and drained

of life

Blood rushing to the Christ points

and draining into a pool that

no PietĂ  would care to show

The apostle rotted away

outside Rome centuries

piling up on his dirty bones

Ash upon ash 

Dirt and dust

Clay in shapes and rebuilding

A man in breaths

A wall is built up

A cathedral     A holy sight

A religion

And a man becomes Saint

Michelangelo paints us God

Creates a new blue

Sistine Chapel images from Commons.Wikipedia – Public Domain

Travel in Trump Era

Travel in Trump Era

For the day after Predator-in-Chief (thank you Jane Fonda) was sworn in for office, I thought it would be pertinent to repost this old article. Enjoy and see you at the Women’s March today.

I’m going to apologize right now. Things are about to get political, real political. And if you don’t like it or you don’t want to hear it, then I advise you stop reading right now…It’s your choice. I’m sorry that it’s come to this.

Things in America have been a little rocky these past few weeks, to say the least. I have been slowly moving through all stages of grief in the decision (that in my mind) is still pending for President (Electoral College doesn’t actually vote until Dec. 19th — he won’t be my president until after that is finally tallied and counted). While I am extremely worried for my home front, I also worry about what this means on an international scale. England tried to warn us with the last dying chirps of the canary during their Brexit vote, but we didn’t hear those furtive peeps, instead we kept marching, right into the heart of the coal mine just before all the air went out. More backlash populist movements could be rising up in countries all over the world. The refugee crisis is not abating, more acts of terrorism are happening around the globe, violent protests are targeting tourists. The world doesn’t feel safe right now. So what does this mean for world travelers?

One of the travel magazines that I subscribe to had a message to travelers telling them not to worry, to not fear travel or let that fear stop you from going to that destination you’ve always wanted to see. Having been in Thailand during the bombings this past August, I would say letting that fear go is easier said than done.  But I will admit, I didn’t go home even when my family was pleading for me to do so. Perhaps that’s because I wasn’t actually ever at a bombing sight. Would I still have had that strength and resolve to finish my trip if I had been standing near one of the flower boxes that exploded in a number of tourist locations across the country? Probably not. How do you come back from being targeted just for being an outsider?

And that brings me back to my own country. How do we come back from making our own citizens feel like outsiders? How do we make them feel comfortable walking through their own neighborhoods? They don’t have a home to go back to, they’re already there. The pain and fear they’re receiving is right in their backyards. Women, people of color, Muslims. To pretend that there isn’t a backlash of hate and racism clenching it’s dirty fist around our country right now is akin to staying in our bubbles with our hands pressed over our ears and our eyes closed tight, pretending that if we can’t see the bad man than the bad man can’t see us. How do we remove ourselves from our privilege to help those who are feeling disenfranchised, wondering if they’re going to be safe in their own home or rounded up and put in internment camps like the Japanese were during World War II? And if you don’t know anything about that, then you need to ask yourself what history you’ve been learning (or more appropriately not learning) in school.

During the Bush era, it was hard being an American in a foreign country. Your plans were to say you were from Canada if push came to shove or to pretend San Francisco was a country unto itself. “Don’t worry, I’m from San Francisco, I’m not like the rest of the country, I promise.”  But what does that say about you as a person, as an ambassador representing your home, that you’re so willing to rebuke it, rebuff it, throw away all that you are and all that you could stand for as a proud American because you’re afraid of what someone, whom you’ve just met, might think of you. I proudly tell people that I’m fifth generation West Coast, fourth generation Californian. I think of being from California as a demarcation of my heritage. I’m not of native descent, but I’m more closely tied to the culture and ideals of a liberal, free-wheeling California than I am the smattering of European countries that run through my blood. I have no connection to those places in body or spirit. I don’t know any Hungarian, I can’t make a homemade Italian pasta, the closest I come to being Portuguese is the time I visited, but put me on a snowboard and send me down a mountain in Tahoe, give me some flip flops and a pair of jeans and I’ll happily stick my feet up on any open chair to lay back and relax on, California is in the heart of me. And do I want to renounce that? Pick up my Italian passport (yes, I will have one soon) and leave? Do I want to travel around the world with Trump as our leader, proudly shouting that I come from America and gosh darn it aren’t we the Greatest (Again?).

No. I don’t want any of those things. I don’t want to leave. I want to see us moving progressive social ideals forward like women’s rights and gay marriage. I want to see this country bring our education standards back up. I want to see us explore a single-payer health care system and get people to understand that taxes are important but that reforming what they go to (education rather than the military for instance) would work better for us than cutting them. If that’s what people mean by making our country great, I’m all for it. If that can happen in my lifetime, I will be proud to travel the world waving my American flag and waxing on about how great the California Bay Area is (minus the rental costs).

But I fear these things won’t happen under a Trump presidency. I fear that I will have to explain to everyone I meet that I’m not one of those Americans…I’m the one who voted for the lady. I was with her. I will have to try to explain why we thought this was a good choice for our nation. I will have to be an ambassador for all the poor decisions we’ve made leading up to this one, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, choice of a “leader,” and I will do this because I won’t renounce my country. I won’t pretend to be Canadian…but I will, probably, continue to point out at that I’m from California, as if we were our own country, because that’s who I am.

And I do worry. I worry that Americans will be targeted in foreign countries. I worry that kidnappings will increase (to pretend that these things don’t happen is another way that we lie to ourselves but I will admit that the numbers have gone down from 12 to 0 in the last 3 years). I worry that I could get into confrontations that could be violent. I worry that I will leave, that I’ll have to leave because all my worst fears of who Trump could be as a president will come true and this will lead to a mass exodus and more refugees for the world to deal with.

I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that this is all hyperbole. I hope for the best in us. I hope that the electoral vote will be the biggest surprise in American history. I hope that I will move from denial into action. I hope that my brothers and sisters in world travel will support America and Americans when we most need it. I hope for us all to become a safer and more loving world to all its citizens in the future. I hope for hope. And with that…I will sign off, hoping that this article made you think, made you curious, made you mindful or made you care about what is going on in the world as well as what is going on in your own backyards.