We Traveled Home to Oklahoma and Utah for the Holidays

This month has been one of turning inward in many ways. I’ve been focused almost 100% on my new job at Solid Ground. The challenges are steep. Also, over the past two weeks, Nick and I made two trips. First, we flew to Oklahoma to visit my family in Norman for two days. Then, we came back to Seattle to work for a week. Following that, we flew to Utah to be with Nick’s family for two days.

Pictures from Norman and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma:

IMG_282820171217_18304320171215_16572520171217_180300Two of our best friends in Seattle, Brett and Kaelen, were traveling back from visiting Brett’s family near Dallas, Texas. Their flight home landed at the same time as ours, so they waited for us so we could ride the train home together. This is Brett waiting at SeaTac Airport:535271128Pictures from Logan and Salt Lake City, Utah are below. This was the first Christmas for Grady Cole and Sawyer, Nick’s brother’s twins who were born in June 2017. The aerial photos are as we took off from Salt Lake City on Delta flight 633 back to Seattle on December 26, 2017. The photos are of the Great Salt Lake.


This is what it looked like as we made our final approach to land back in Seattle on December 26, 2017:

20171226_16151320171226_161822Here are some posts from my social media feed as well as news headlines from The New York Times and The Washington Post over the past couple weeks. You’ll see the headlines from a massive Amtrak train derailment 40 miles south of Seattle. This happened the morning after we returned from Oklahoma.



I Started a New Job at One of Seattle’s Largest Homeless Service Providers, and the City Cut 15% of Seattle’s Shelter Bed Stock

As I’m writing you, our cat, Ryan, is sitting next to me on the desk in mine and Nick’s apartment:

20171201_090014It’s been a very busy 17 days since I last wrote you. In that time Nick and I purchased a small, real Christmas tree and decorated it. This is what it looks like in our apartment today:

20171209_092400Meanwhile the National Christmas tree lighting in Washington D.C. led by Trump looked almost empty:

Screenshot_2017-12-01-07-51-23I also just finished my first week at a new job as Major Gifts Officer at Solid Ground. The organization is one of Seattle’s largest homeless service providers and I’m in charge of investments from individuals who can give five and six-figure gifts. So, it’ll be a lot like my job at TeamChild, only this time I’ll be part of a team bringing in more than $2 million per year.

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 3.06.25 PMJust days before I started my new job, the City of Seattle announced it was eliminating 300 shelter beds in the city, about 15% of the City’s overall shelter bed stock. This is how I summarized it in my own words on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 2.43.17 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-09 at 2.43.28 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-09 at 2.43.37 PMSince I began writing to you at the beginning of 2017 (almost a year ago!), keeping track of what’s going on has become more of a task, rather than what it started as which was more of an art. Still, I want to keep you in the loop. So, even though this may be more of just a dumping of pictures and headlines, I want it to be part of the record you have from me.

The news continues to be very bad both locally and nationally and the nightmare-inducing headlines are relentless. I want to share some of what’s gone on in the last 17 days as captured in screenshots from my cell phone.

Below are some of the local Seattle headlines. Among the top headlines was that our new Mayor Jenny Durkan took office. I have very little hope that she will be more than neoliberal status-quo and accountable first and foremost to Amazon.

Screenshot_2017-11-28-19-39-18Screenshot_2017-11-28-19-33-16Screenshot_2017-11-29-08-59-26Our new Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda was also sworn in. Remember that I spent a lot of time and money campaigning for her grassroots Socialist opponent Jon Grant, whom she beat as she was backed heavily by mainstream neoliberal politicians and establishment money:


Here are some other local headlines and pictures I’ve seen online:

Screenshot_2017-11-27-22-15-21Screenshot_2017-11-29-07-31-42Screenshot_2017-11-28-17-40-44Screenshot_2017-11-27-14-03-58Screenshot_2017-12-07-19-10-51Screenshot_2017-12-07-19-24-55Screenshot_2017-12-05-20-17-15Screenshot_2017-12-05-18-48-59And, below are some of the many national and international headlines from the past two weeks, mostly from The Washington Post. We are barraged with very intense news every day now. I think so many folks are becoming somewhat numb, this is our new normal. However, almost one year into the Trump presidency, I still feel incredible shock about what we’re going through and where we’re headed.


Here are some other memes I’ve captured from social media recently:


City Budget Process Ends With Win for Housing For All Coalition, Despite City Council Failing Our Homeless Neighbors

Seattle City Council’s budget process ended Monday after a weeks-long process. As I’ve described in previous posts, Housing For All members were there every step of the way. We spent countless hours belaboring the fact that a lack of action from Council on more funding and a failure to stop the sweeps is killing folks. The Council failed to fully act with the boldness the situation deserves. We did secure a win though, despite our disappointment. This is what the headline looked like in The Stranger:


So, although Council voted down our business tax during this budget season, they put their commitment on paper in a resolution to pass a business tax by a specific date in March that will generate $25-$75 million per year. I hate how slow-moving government is and how many councilmembers do not act with the urgency we need after at least 86 of our homeless neighbors have died outside this year already!

Here is what we looked like at the podium as we urged Council to do more and as we let them know we’ll continue to put their feet to the fire. This was the final day of the budget process:


Seattle’s National Public Radio affiliate, KUOW, used part of my time at the podium in their online and radio news stories. Here is a screenshot of their story:

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And, here is how Katie Wilson of the Transit Riders Union and Housing For All described our group’s accomplishments in the face of a battle with a Council acting mostly against us (Let me be clear though: this is not nearly enough. We could actually solve the problem if we had a Council that worked in our best interests as a city):

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Here are some other news headlines from The Washington Post and memes I’ve seen on Facebook:


We Spent Most of the Week in City Hall Pressuring Council, Then They Voted Against Both Housing For All Proposals

After our direct action to disrupt the full Council meeting on Monday, we spent Tuesday and Wednesday inside Council chambers at the final budget meetings. We continued to put extreme pressure on the council to pass a tax on big business to fund housing and homelessness services and to stop the police sweeps.

The Council eventually voted against both measures, which was extremely upsetting, however, there is reason to be hopeful as our movement forced the Council to promise to create a new tax that they all can agree on within 30 days or so. It also forced them to pass a measure that improves reporting on the police sweeps, even though it does not stop them.

The councilmembers who voted against the tax on big business: Rob Johnson, Bruce Harrell, Lorena Gonzalez, Debora Juarez, Sally Bagshaw.

The councilmembers who voted to continue the police sweeps of our neighbors: Rob Johnson, Lorena Gonzalez, Bruce Harrell, Debora Juarez, Sally Bagshaw and Lisa Herbold.

During the last meeting on Wednesday, the number of homeless folks who’ve died outside was updated from 78 to 86. We made signs on the fly to reflect this:


I had spent the weekend prior at a socialist organizing event where I presented our movement and tried to rally folks to come be part of our actions at City Hall. This is what the program looked like for the Socialist Alternative event.


Here is what we looked like in Council on both days. We were so tired.




Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.47.11 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.37.18 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.38.23 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.42.34 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.44.30 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.47.42 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.36.17 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 1.36.35 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 6.22.38 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-16 at 6.06.34 PM

These were the news headlines from City Hall in The Stranger:

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 2.32.41 PMScreenshot_2017-11-14-22-16-03Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 2.34.37 PM

This is an excerpt from one news story in The Stranger:

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Here is one more headline which my picture made it into:

Screen Shot 2017-11-17 at 2.46.09 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-17 at 2.45.58 PM

This is what I posted on Facebook and the responses to it:

Screen Shot 2017-11-18 at 9.03.34 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 9.04.33 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 9.04.46 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 9.05.04 AMScreen Shot 2017-11-18 at 9.05.14 AMOur movement will continue in full force. We still demand Council stick to their word about creating a head tax that they will approve within 30-60 days. We also are demanding legislation to stop the sweeps after this budget process. There have been indications that it is fully possible to pass.

Here are some of the recent national headlines from the Washington Post:Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-21-48Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-22-31Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-24-36Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-20-27Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-20-48Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-21-31Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-19-39Screenshot_2017-11-17-12-19-52Screenshot_2017-11-16-20-38-51

We Disrupted a Full City Council Meeting to Honor Our Dead, Homeless Neighbors

As I’ve shown you recently, we’ve been trying an array of tactics in pressuring Seattle City Council to pass a tax on big business to fund homelessness services and housing, and to stop the police sweeps. This week was crucial as it was the final meetings for Council to hear from the public during the all-important budget process. So, we disrupted the full Council meeting on Monday to honor the 78 who have died outside (later in the week, the number was updated to 86).

About 20 of us registered the names of our dead neighbors for public comment. So, the councilmembers called the name of the deceased, then each of us went up with a rose, a poster and dressed in black to say the same thing over and over. We said the person’s name who died, that 78 people have died this year and 14 in October alone. Then we urged them to pass our two proposals to help homeless folks.

After speaking each of us walked to the back and faced the wall, putting the profile poster up against the wall. When public comment was over, every 10 minutes we disrupted the councilmembers’ business by chanting “78 people have died this year!” That was followed by the entire 100+ person crowd saying the name of one dead neighbor altogether. In addition Ty Nolan had his drum and he beat the drum each time we said a name.

Toward the end, about five of us, including myself, were escorted out by security after Council President Bruce Harrell ejected us for saying the names of dead folks. This is Bruce Harrell, he has so often been in opposition to our movement to help homeless folks:

Screenshot_2017-11-14-16-45-48Jennifer Durham is an excellent photographer. She’s a friend from Neighborhood Action Coalition and also part of Housing For All. She captured the whole meeting and our disruption of it. Here is what it looked like through her lens:


And, this is what it looked like on TV on the City Council channel:


Election Night in Seattle Proves Corporations Still Rule, Our Struggle Must Continue

We marked the one-year anniversary since Trump’s election with another election, this one for key races in Seattle: Mayor and City Council, among others. We elected the corporate shill Jenny Durkan by a landslide. This was the headline in the Seattle Times:

Screenshot_2017-11-07-21-53-08To so many of us, this election felt like Trump’s did. Our city is in crisis, we need a leader who will protect what we love, who will be radically accountable to our communities, especially those hurting most from our rapid pace of development. This is an accurate depiction of what’s really in Durkan’s DNA:

Screenshot_2017-10-31-22-11-47Durkan represents the worst in politics. She’s locked up protestors for months without charging them. She disregarded the four men who accused our prior mayor Ed Murray of sexual assault, gladly accepting his endorsement as he shamed his victims. Further, she even went so far as to say at least one racial slur on stage during her campaign. Add to all this, Durkan was the only candidate in the end to promise to continue the police sweeps of our homeless neighbors.

Jon Grant also lost his bid for City Council. Grant was the only person left running in any of our races who was truly grassroots and funded solely by community. He rejected all CEO and corporate money. He was going to be radically accountable to those hurting most. I was so, so sad to see his loss. This is a picture from Crosscut of his election night party. Nick and I were there. You can see me in the background:

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 11.08.38 AMUnfortunately in our current political environment surface identity is only so far as many people look. For example, folks were heavily focused on electing our first lesbian mayor (which Jenny Durkan is) although she is terrible for us and for the parts of the LGBTQ community that are most marginalized in our city. There were gay folks around the country posting how happy and excited they were for Seattle’s progressive win with Durkan. I wanted to vomit. I wanted to scream at them. I wanted to say, “Too bad Durkan is awful and essentially an eviction notice for so many of my friends!”

Jon Grant’s opponent who won is a woman of color, yet heavily backed by mainstream Democrats and establishment money. I am so aware now of how surface level identity can work against progressive movements. People seem to forget that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is a woman and she is crushing the future for our kids. Let’s also remember that Seattle City Councilmembers Debora Jaurez and Lorena Gonzalez often vote against progressive movements. So, identity and lived experience are important, but just because someone comes from a marginalized community does not mean they are automatically the best champion for the folks who are marginalized now.

This is what I posted the day after the election. It was reposted by Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant:

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The next day, I saw Jon Grant and posted about it:

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Here were some other posts and headlines from election night:


Just before election day, we had yet another mass shooting, this time 26 were murdered in a small-town church in Texas. Here were the headlines:


This is what I posted on Facebook:

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This is what other folks posted on Facebook:


Hundreds of Us Occupied City Hall for 18 Hours to Demand the City Stop the Sweeps of Homeless Camps

I was the proudest I’d been in a very long time. The Seattle Times front page looked like this because of what we did at City Hall:

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Housing For All had its biggest direct action since the campaign began. Hundreds of neighbors packed into City Hall for a crucial city budget meeting. We had 150+ people speak during the public comment period, forcing it to run nearly five hours long.

Then, we all camped inside and outside City Hall. Outside we set up tents. Live bands played inside. The next morning dozens of us did a die in on the lobby floor to represent the 66 people who had died outside this year (the number has since been updated to 78).

The action was meant to show force and demand the City Council pass two proposals. One would stop the police sweeps of our homeless neighbors, the other would tax the city’s biggest corporations in order to help fund homeless services and housing.

We had a huge success as we controlled the conversation, drowned out the opposition in the room, and dominated several Seattle news cycles.

Here’s what it looked like inside council chambers during the nearly five-hour testimony. The red signs had names and ages of homeless neighbors who have died this year:

Screenshot_2017-11-05-14-27-06Screenshot_2017-11-05-14-27-34Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.56.05 PMThat’s me about to speak in the photo above. I signed up to speak and was number 25 of more than 150. I showed a lot of emotion and also began yelling. I wanted to show how upset we are with the police sweeps. I felt it was my duty to convey urgency to the best of my ability. I called out councilmembers by name to their faces. I urged them to care for our most vulnerable neighbors, especially since this is the first city budget since Trump took the White House. This is what I looked like:

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.56.44 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.57.20 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.59.11 PMI’ve gotten comfortable talking to council. In fact, we’d been at a budget meeting just one day prior and I was echoing the same message.

City Council Candidate Jon Grant was there for our campout and posted this from the room downstairs that was serving as an overflow room for hundreds of folks who couldn’t fit into the main chambers:

Screenshot_2017-11-01-20-51-20My testimony was reported in several media outlets including KUOW, KIRO-TV, and Capitol Hill Blog. So, I felt my theatrical minute in front of council had done its job, it had done what I was supposed to do as an activist, get attention to the issue. Here’s how one outlet reported it:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 10.04.38 AMThis is what I posted on Facebook during the hearing:

Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.51.56 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.51.45 PMSome of the noise we were hearing in the council chamber was a live jazz band singing “Stop the Sweeps” in the City Hall lobby:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 11.05.56 AMThis is what the campout at City Hall looked like outside on the building’s plaza:

Screenshot_2017-11-02-09-24-00Screenshot_2017-11-03-07-21-39Screen Shot 2017-11-10 at 12.51.33 PMAnd, the next morning, this is what the die-in looked like. City Hall staffers had to walk over us as we laid there for 40 minutes during morning rush hour. It was broadcast on all our local TV stations:

Screenshot_2017-11-02-13-48-37Die inHere’s what it looked like for those of us who slept inside. This is what a friend posted on Facebook:

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 9.40.16 AMThe campout of dozens of homeless folks continued as they moved to a different location in the city. This is what the newspaper stand looked like at one of their locations:

Screenshot_2017-11-02-13-41-19And this was an alarming headline only about a day later:

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Nick and I Went to Utah For Historic Moments With His Family

This marks the longest I’ve gone without talking to you since I started this website. I apologize, but we’ve been so busy! I’m going to pick up where I left off, but I’m a couple weeks behind. At the end of October Nick and I flew to Utah to be with his family during some historic moments. Nick and I met his new twin niece and nephew (the first kids of his brother Nate and sister-in-law Kelli) for the first time. We also welcomed his younger brother Jaxon home from his two year Mormon mission in Japan.

This is what we looked like when we picked his parents and brother up at the airport, minutes after they landed from Japan:airport20171027_102615Nick’s parents live in Logan, Utah which is near the Idaho border. It’s beautiful there, especially in the fall. Here are some of the pictures from our trip:20171028_16322420171028_15161220171026_160101During the trip, I met dozens of Nick’s extended family members as they came to his parents’ house for a welcome home party for his brother. I even attended a Mormon church service where Nick introduced me to everyone as his boyfriend. Nick is no longer Mormon, but it was important to be there for his brother’s ceremony.

Nick’s family also insisted that I be in their professional family photos. Here’s what they looked like:


Days and Nights at Seattle City Hall and Community Meetings

I’m not sure how almost two weeks have passed since I last wrote you. It feels like it’s only been 24 hours. Things have been moving very quickly. I’ll start with the biggest news, and it’s about Housing For All. We’ve worked with three Seattle Councilmembers (Kshama Sawant, Kirsten Harris-Talley and Mike O’Brien) to introduce two very large budget proposals:

1.) A budget amendment to end the police sweeps of homeless encampments.

2.) An employee head tax on Seattle’s largest businesses (those that make $5 million or more in gross revenue annually, which amounts to 10% of the city’s businesses). The tax would bring in $25 million for housing and shelter.

Here was my personal Facebook post and the news headline:

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The opposition to both of these proposals has been fierce. There are many people in our city who are misinformed and just want to see homeless people wiped away from their scope of vision. We encountered this opposition during a full council budget hearing. And, so many of us working on the Housing For All campaign stood up and spoke out in defense of our homeless neighbors. Here are screen shots of us speaking out against the police sweeps and the misinformation during the budget hearing at Seattle City Hall on October 17, 2017:

Screenshot_2017-10-17-15-20-03Screenshot_2017-10-17-15-49-17Screenshot_2017-10-17-15-19-48Screenshot_2017-10-17-15-06-28Screenshot_2017-10-17-15-15-22Screenshot_2017-10-17-15-06-11Screenshot_2017-10-17-15-05-12Following that hearing, we were invited to present the Housing For All campaign at Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s Peoples Budget Townhall later in the week. The campaign field team asked me to present, so I did. Here is a photo of me with Councilmember Sawant presenting the campaign to about 100 folks at City Hall:

Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 9.10.41 AMI’ve spent a lot of time with other Housing For All coalition members in councilmembers’ offices lobbying them to support our platform and proposals. We are also now planning to have hundreds of folks campout inside and outside City Hall on November 1 to further pressure City Council to support our demands. Here was a post on Facebook about that upcoming event:

Screenshot_2017-10-21-11-08-31I’ve been doing all this work, more than 30 hour per week, because I’ve had the time. I am still searching for paid work at the same time that I’m volunteering to help organize this campaign. I’ve been back on Facebook, obviously, and it is honestly kind of annoying me how much I’m posting, but I get so worked up I can’t help myself. Here are some other things I’ve posted:

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Here are some things I’ve seen other folks posting:


Here were some of the major Seattle headlines over the past two weeks from The Seattle Times and The Stranger:

Screenshot_2017-10-15-14-55-22Screenshot_2017-10-19-23-07-57Screenshot_2017-10-19-23-08-01And, here are some of the national headlines from The Washington Post:


Massacre Kills Scores in Las Vegas, and Housing For All Takes Over Seattle City Hall

Nick and I have spent the weekend babysitting my three cousins who live in Seattle. Frankie, Gus and Park are the kids of my cousin Mark and his wife Sandy. They’ve lived in Seattle a long time and have been such a positive influence in my life. They were in Peace Corps in the 90s in Bulgaria, they visited me in Cambodia and they have helped me make Seattle home from the second I landed here in mid August 2014. I also want to say that my nephew Levi turned 3 years old on Friday. Nick and I sent a gift. We love him.

Now, let me start with the biggest news since we last talked. A white, middle-aged American shot and killed 58 people who were at a country music festival on the Las Vegas strip a week ago today. He did it from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Here are what the horrific headlines looked like.


Because of the stranglehold on influence and power the National Rifle Association (NRA) has over our culture, the debate over gun control is STILL raging. We cannot unite behind the idea of something as basic as the fact that guns need regulation. Here’s what it looked like on Facebook as friends in Las Vegas checked in as “safe” and other headlines:

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I can’t help but be enraged at how brainwashed so many of us are around guns. We need regulation. But, so many people lost hope we’d ever regulate guns after a gunman killed scores of elementary kids in 2012 and WE DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT IT IN THE AFTERMATH. Here’s what I wrote on Facebook last week:


Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 12.00.25 PMLess than 24 hours after the massacre in Las Vegas, we were taking our Housing For All demand letter and platform to Seattle City Hall. We had a great crowd. Here are some pictures of what it looked like as we packed City Hall to standing room only. Also, there’s a shot below of a Stevens Elementary PTA mom who I got to come and testify in support of the campaign. I also testified because I wanted to read quotes from two PTA presidents from elementary schools who could not be there:

Council chambersWaiting at the Mayor's OfficeScreen Shot 2017-10-03 at 10.29.27 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-03 at 1.05.09 PMOne of my favorite quotes from all the testimony was this:

“We are people who live in tents, vehicles, and shelters, we are renters and we are homeowners, we are parents, we are teachers, we are tech workers, we are social workers, we are faith leaders, we are members of the many communities that make up Seattle. We are linking arms in solidarity and demanding solutions to the Homelessness State of Emergency. Already 58 people (of the 4,000 who live outside here) have died this year in Seattle because they felt they had nowhere they could go that was safe, welcoming, and inside. This is unacceptable.”

Our City Hall presence came the same week that a judge dealt a setback to our neighbors who live outside:

Screenshot_2017-10-06-08-59-42As if this week wasn’t emotionally charged enough with everything I’ve told you already, we also had a forum to hear from the dozen or so people who applied to be the interim City Council member until the end of November (after the seat was vacated by Tim Burgess who became mayor). After that forum, the Council selected Kirsten Harris-Talley who is an activist who helped lead movements like Block the Bunker to halt the building of a new police precinct campus, and No New Youth Jail which is a movement that is aiming to stop the construction of a new youth jail in Seattle.

The appointment was a major victory for the Seattle Peoples Party and folks who quickly organized TransparenSEA Seattle to force the Council to have an open selection process for the short-term position. I am so grateful for the activists who worked so hard on this. I’ve gotten to know so many of them over the Summer through the Nikkita Oliver for Mayor campaign, and consider many of them friends now.

Here’s what the headline looked like:


Also, since this is my first post in October, I wanted to say that I had such an amazing time catching up with some of my favorite people who visited this summer including my parents, Jessica who lives in Cambodia and who I know from my years living there, and a friend from college Daniela.

20170811_14324720170831_194447Me and Daniela

Finally, here are some of the other headlines we’ve been seeing from The Washington Post during the last week:


And, one more picture that speaks volumes of the disgraceful shitshow we’re in right now. Trump visited hurricane-devastated Puerto Rico and said terrible things as well as threw out paper towels to a crowd as if it were a gameshow.

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