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Dykes on Bikes

pride.JPGWomen in bright t-shirts stand in front of barricades blocking the streets surrounding Dolores Park. The green of the grass is almost unseen as people stumble over blankets, bottles, umbrellas, beer pong tables, and popup tents covering the field between 18th to 20th Street. A female MC, with a soft afro and denim overalls hooked on one shoulder, introduces the next guest on a small stage near the lower west side; speaking into a microphone, her voice hardly travels to the middle of the park over the music, the commotion, the party.

The public rager continues to attract more festive attendees as the Saturday afternoon progresses. By 4:30, the park is lightyears past maximum capacity as people spill over the sidewalks, pour onto streets, drunkenly flooding the three blocks along Dolores. This is when the rev of motorcycle engines begin to roar and echo off houses between the Castro and Mission district. I throw on a neon-yellow safety vest and follow the sound, lining up along a bus disguised as an old-fashioned trolley. Behind me is a street-wide banner held by countless women and a crowd behind them, holding signs, blowing whistles, spreading love and cheer.

Believe it or not, this beautiful pandemonium is a day-long rally ending with a march known as Dykes on Bikes. (Hence the motorcycles).  The Dyke March spans Valencia to Castro Street and a couple blocks in between. This year, I volunteer as a safety monitor, keeping an eye on the jubilant crowd. Volunteering is not new to me; I began volunteering at a young age, an experience I love for being “hands-on,” and sharing my time with people, communities, and organizations in need. What I love most about volunteering at events by myself is the opportunity to meet new people.

Since it’s my first year volunteering at the Dyke March, I’m paired with a volunteer-veteran named Emma (if you’ve volunteered for a few years, you’re assigned a walkie-talkie and headset). We monitor the crowd and I stay on Emma’s left side so she can hear the communications on the headset in her right ear and hear me with her other. She explains what to look out for and the other duties we have as floaters.  As we walk the park, Emma tells me about experiences she’s had being trans and about how the Trans March doesn’t get as large a turn out as the Dyke March, but (of course) always loves going. We make it to the perimeter of the north side, where a vintage firetruck is parked and a small crowd of pedestrians and firefighters in uniform are gathered. Emma says “there’s the Fire Department recruiting every year at the Dyke March…they’re looking for strong women,” I giggle in agreement. Emma repeats a new report on the headset, a child has gone missing. As the safety team, we search. Luckily the missing child was found shortly, playing in the sandbox. After this tense bit, we retreat to the volunteer tent to take our break, resting our feet and snacking on pizza.

My second volunteer shift I’m paired with an energetic twenty-year-old named Kaleigh, who exclaims June is her most favorite month. Why? It’s Pride Month (duh, she adds). Kaleigh and I roam the park, each holding one side of a giant bucket with dollar signs written with thick sharpie. Kaleigh enthusiastically informs people that the Dyke March paid eleven grand to clean up the park after last year’s kick-off; we raise forty-six dollars in donations in merely thirty minutes. I’m not sure if it’s encouraging people to clean up their trash or Kaleigh’s slogan that drew money out of people’s pockets…She went around shouting “if you’re not gay, you owe us a dollar!” Some may not have donated, but they definitely laughed. If we aren’t collecting money, at least we’re entertaining.

Volunteering allows me to walk at the front of the parade to maintain order (what little order there is at an enormous gathering for gays). This, by far, is the best feeling, dancing in a line of volunteers, waving to the crowd, and being part of the human race, who have so much in common, but the immaculate similarity here is positivity and homosexuality. Accepting myself has been one of the most challenging aspects of my young life, but now I stand as an integral member of the lezzer community. I’ve never been so proud to be myself, never felt more connected, than I do now marching.

This is what happiness is. Spending the day volunteering for an event, which supports a cause I am deeply passionate about. These are the moments I live for; meeting and gathering with people who extinguish the feeling I have of being the alone or different. We are all one in the same. These moments are so exhilarating that I’m drained! Although I’m completely exhausted from all the walking (26, 003 steps in total), the amount of joy that fills me witnessing such amazing support from the LGBTQQ community and our allies gives me life. I have enough adrenaline to walk another five blocks to Mission. Nachos and cerveza replenish my body for the journey home and an even larger fiesta the following day…

Strawberry Fields

FullSizeRender (1)I’ve been busy lately. It’s times like these when aspects of my life are pushed to the back burner (for example, I’m currently writing from a boutique hotel in Carmel Valley. I’m on a business trip and wanted to post this yesterday but time escaped me once again, impeccable illusionist).

Last Wednesday, I sent my dad an email with a list of links and descriptions of ideas of how we could spend Father’s Day. I spent the remaining evenings of that week grocery shopping, stocking up on hair product, filling out an amended tax return, then a trip to the post office, lawd knows what else…Plans for Father’s Day were the last thing on my mind (I was literally thinking I will cross that bridge when I get there).

Saturday, I’m standing at that bridge. At the top of our list was a Beer Brunch on the Hornblower Yacht that cruises around the bay with a breakfast buffet and open bar. Sold out. Alcatraz Island tours were booked into mid-August. The Oakland A’s game wouldn’t have worked out because we had dinner at a family friend’s house later that afternoon and, with the game starting at 1 p.m., we wouldn’t have had time to swing both. My list of suggestions was dwindling.

Luckily, where I live in California is quite diverse (the city is north, the beach is south, and I’m surrounded by the heart of Silicon Valley). In particular, the county where I live used to be known as The Valley of the Heart’s Delight since the entire area had been acres of orchards before the .com era and the subsequent tech boom. This state is known for a lot of things: Bay Area, redwoods, liberals, Hollywood, surfers; I heard once that there’s nothing Californian’s can’t cure with yoga and avocados (born & raised, I vouch it’s true). What’s often overlooked is California’s agriculture, where most of the avocados I eat are grown. Perfect weather and great farmers leads to plentiful produce and successful agri-business.

There are plenty farms around California where you can pick the fruit and pay by the pound. A about an hour or so due west of my house is Davenport (population 403) and ten miles north of that tiny town is another, Pescadero. Swanton U-pick farms can be found on those map dots and it just so happened that Father’s Day falls in mid-June, the end of strawberry season.

I woke up late Sunday morning with four hours of sleep from staying out until 7 a.m. doing lawd knows what with my friends. I also battled a mild hangover well into the afternoon (does being sick all day constitute a “mild” hangover? Let me revise: severe hangover). Sorry, Dad. It took all my willpower to dress myself and usher “Happy Father’s Day” with a sickly smile. The drive down to Pescadero was a freaking nightmare; I was nauseous the entire way. The coastal town was filled with local-tourists just-passing-through, while the sun was shining behind bright silver clouds, no heavy breeze rolling across the horizon. We were accompanied by other families, with children of all ages, on the same venture to pick fresh fruit off the vine.

We had both never picked strawberries before. I’m happy that we were able to enjoy that first experience together (while I was holding my shit together…trying to not yak on the plants or simply pass out from sheer exhaustion). I’m nearly a quarter of a century old and my father has got to be damn-near three times my age. I’m thrilled that you can live a life full of amazement and wonder as he has; yet, there will be infinite opportunities to try new things.

“I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

Anthony Bourdain said “I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.” He passed away last week (R.I.P, Legend. You inspired the billions of people on this small planet). I’m sure many of you can relate to this quote, I sure do. My dad is aging, as am I, and I appreciate all the moments I spend with him, doing things we do everyday, trying things we’ve never done before. We all know how important it is to spend time with our family, friends, lovers, and others. I truly appreciated this Father’s Day and look forward to the Father’s Days ahead of us.

Aside from feeling like a punk about my last-minute Father’s Day plans and being almost too hungover to function, I made a memo-to-self for next year:

  1. Plan far enough in advance
  2. Don’t stay out too late the night before
  3. Set an alarm for Sunday morning
  4. Have fun!
  5. Tell Dad you love him

Do  you have Father’s Day traditions or festive suggestions?

The Quest Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Why live? Life was its own answer. Life was the propagation of more life and the living of a good a life as possible –Ray Bradbury  (The Martian Chronicles, 1950)

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I wanted to be an actress. I took acting lessons, went to auditions, and I think I landed a commercial once (but my parents didn’t want to fly me down to LA, rather I stay in elementary school, from what my little brain remembers haha). I wanted to be a vet; started volunteering at the Humane Society when I was 13 and completed 4 years of Future Farmers of America (FFA) in high school. I wanted to be an astronomer, trophy wife, translator, farmer, social worker, author, blogger.

You know when you have goals and those goals change? When what you wanted  when you were younger is no longer what you want now. You know those dreams you’ve always had, never really gave up on, but also never acted on?

This is one of those dreams. (excepting I’m finally acting on it)

Being a blogger is one of those things I’d always thought I’d do. But, I never started a blog, I guess I didn’t know what to blog about, thought no one would read it, or even wondered if I was cut out to manage one. My internal monologue talked me out of beginning one every time.

I’m far past the edges of early adulthood, gazing (or peeking behind my fingers in utter terror) at my future. I’m 24 examining my life and satisfaction of it on a scale of bored to extremely happy, finding my score to be somewhat neutral. Then, I got to thinking…What could increase my happiness on the satisfactory scale?

There are aspects of ourselves we know, yet somehow forget over time.  This is one of those things I had totally forgotten about, as I filled my life with a plethora of sports, organizations, and hobbies throughout adolescence, well into college. I had been totally distracted by life that starting a blog was a far-fetched idea, not nearly a priority.

Recently, I’d been speaking with friends about my goals and passions, in hopes of discovering how to bring a little more life to my life.  I find reading & writing entertaining; blogging came up and so did that internal monologue. I’d always told myself writing a blog wasn’t even a possibility. This time, my friends talked me out of listening  to myself. They instilled faith in me that I could start one (John Lennon & Paul McCartney had it right: I get by with a little help from my friends). Thank you, beautiful souls and supportive loved ones.

On this journey to live a happier and more meaningful life, I’ve decided to give this a shot because 1) even if no one reads it, I’ll still be entertaining myself. LOL. 2) I have nothing to lose.

Step #1: Start a blog.

Check.

What’s your step #1?