Pre-move Travel

San Francisco and the Redwood Forest

Someone let me schedule a trip and it was extra

Shall we go in chronological order? My therapist and I spent 2018 remembering I am not a very concrete person. She was right every time she reminded me. I’m going to try to keep this short, but we’ll do it in three sections.

Museum of Ice Cream

I didn’t really sleep on my flight from Seattle, but when I left the airplane I still felt groggy as if I’d just woken up. By the time I figured out how to store my luggage, I had moved on to cranky and un-caffeinated.  My dictionary has reminded me this is not a word, but I want to capture the moment so I’m keeping this fake word, but adding a hyphen. This matters because I wasn’t very functional for those first few hours and I couldn’t decide what to do.

Eventually, I walked across Chinatown. It reminded me of Chinatown in New York City, not where I was living in Seattle. There were fresh markets with people everywhere and no sidewalk space. It felt nostalgic. I didn’t see any living creatures for sale, but I was still groggy so I may not have noticed. On the way to City Lights, I walked through a tunnel and realized I was making a pilgrimage for my early 20’s self. It was a bit too early, so I found a donut shop and ordered an omelet.  Yes, I understand what I did there. By the time I was finished, the bookstore was opened. If you want to know what I bought, you should be following me on Instagram. If you want to know what I’ve read, I’ll talk about that later because I don’t read light, easy books.

As planned, I finished the day with a friend from Seattle. She was in town handling a family emergency and had spent most of the day in court. We planned to finish the day in celebration. By chance, the court had decided in her favor on everything, so we actually had things to celebrate. I’m not going to go over touring her old neighborhood, the cable car jokes, or walking the labyrinth at the cathedral while I lit a candle and said a prayer (yeah, I know I shouldn’t have because I’m not catholic, but sometimes a girl has needs and she’ll talk to whatever gods might be near), but I will tell you we went to the Museum of Ice Cream. I’m not going to use my words anymore and you are welcome for this series of photos

Loving a maraschino cherry.
Devouring the cherry
Swimming in a pool of sprinkles
What face do you make when riding Gloria Steinem, the unicorn?
Before pushing the button, I was a regular person.

Leaving us all wondering, is there such a thing as too much sugar?


I heard repeatedly throughout Pacific Association of Women’s Martial Arts (PAWMA) camp we’re only supposed to be using 70% of our energy. That leaves 30% we recycle through ourselves to ensure we always have energy.

I was late to camp. By the time I arrived, all of the chaos of where I was sleeping had been decided. At some point, I met a board member who said, “Oh, you’re Visola!” I believe I turned beet red and I hadn’t even been there. I car-pooled from the San Francisco airport with someone who trains in Oakland. We struggled together with GPS, airport parking garage dead zones and managed to go exactly the wrong direction for a few minutes. After that, we were laughing about the things that matter in life, swapping stories about trying to adult, and talking about what community looks like for us. Honestly, it was like riding to camp with one of my oldest friends in Iowa.

We drove through a redwood forest. I was excited to see what that’s like, but I was driving and the roads were curvy. So, in glimpses, I caught sight of trees growing together in small collections. At slow points, I noticed the way the bark separates and holds together. When I finished unloading everything at camp, I spent a moment at the edge of camp admiring the forest. There were no wanderings through the forest like I had hoped. There simply wasn’t time.

After skipping the first class, I volunteered to be a friendly face for someone flying in from Seattle at the last minute. While waiting for her, I went through Kung Fu forms, some combinations where I move across the floor, and making up other combinations. I was so hungry I ate Cup Ramen. It was chemical bliss. I could tell you a complicated story about how the following week I had a test and one of the board members from that test was watching this entire thing and thinking about what to do at my test, but really, I’m already struggling to not make this blog post super detailed and boring.

Even so, you probably want to know what classes I took.

  • Pangamot (Philippino hand fighting)
  • Judo Basics (where I managed to look like I didn’t know how to receive a take down when the teacher was looking and was totally embarrassed)
  • Chin Na Grabs and Escapes (a Tai Chi punch attack, basically)
  • Yin Yoga
  • WuShu Form – Nanquan (I have a slow mo video of this)
  • Rock Climbing (where I decided ¾ of the way up I didn’t care and stopped)
  • Wudang Dragon Gate Immortal Deer Kicking (a Tai Chi from)
  • Hun Yuan Qigong
  • Beginning/Intermediate Class (with the highest ranging teacher in my lineage)
  • The Martial Artist as Stress-and-Shift-Master!

What I hope you see here is an attempt to ground myself, slow down, and maintain motion. It’s what I want to see, so if I can get you to see it, maybe I can trust it. I used expansion into areas where I’ve never trained, styles outside my comfort zone, and slow form fighting to really try to help with what I’m doing personally and prepare for the green belt test I had the following week. I wasn’t entirely successful, but that’s how progress works.

A group of us from Seattle also played hooky and took a beach class. The group included my sifu, so any residual guilt I had over not wasting my scholarship melted away. Like a fool, I forgot how cold the Pacific Ocean is. Everyone got to hear how I squeal when I can’t with how cold it is.

We left camp by heading toward the beach instead of driving through the redwood forest. Another from the group took us to her favorite play to get dim sum in Palo Alto.

Returning to the Apocalypse

Our carpool included a Californian who thought it would be grand to go to Stanford. She suggested the Rodin garden and we were all excited. We saw the Gates of Hell and pretended to try to escape being thrown/drawn in. When we went inside the actual museum, we were enthralled by not only the Rodin’s, but also a variety of modern art pieces that challenge perception and a collection of ink paintings that blew our minds. Again, we’ll focus on photos.

Celestial Chaos #8 – Tai Xiangzhou

Ladder of Knives – Yang Jiechang
Landscape – Wang Tiande
Do Ho Suh (I didn’t catch the name of the piece)
The Gates of Hell – Auguste Rodin
Escape the Gates of Hell – Seven Star Traveling Improv

Two of us were flying together and dropped the third off before doing rental return errands. When we actually entered the airport we discovered all of our flights were delayed by a few hours and met back up for beers. While the beers were lovely, I couldn’t help feeling the pull of returning to the smoked out Seattle air and how much I was looking forward to not thinking of it has home anymore. I’m as fascinated by the apocalypse as anyone else who grew up reading science fiction and last year I loved considering how viewing my city through the smoke would affect a Harlan Ellison world building session, but even that wasn’t enough to make it actually home.  I’m overdue for going home by a few years now and it’s just another reminder.

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