Me too.


Over the past week, I’ve stayed quiet about #MeToo on social media. I’ve talked with friends, classmates and mentors. I’ve talked about social media campaigns and the armchair activism that they embody. I’ve talked about solidarity and the need for visibility. I’ve talked it to death and I think I finally understand how I feel about it. 

I do, honestly, believe that #MeToo misses the mark. I wish there were more men coming forward and acknowledging their role in gender-based violence. I wish there were more men saying #ItWasMe and owning their perpetuation, and asking how to be allies. But I don’t think #MeToo detracts from that. I hope with every fiber of my being that this conversation doesn’t fizzle, that we take this as an opportunity to effect actual change, and stop letting men in power take advantage of us in any way. Admittedly I was inititally critical of and frustrated by the whole campaign. But I am here now deciding to be optimistic. Let this be a wave we all dive deep into. Let this be a vehicle for progress.

The visibility of survivors over the past week has been jarring and necessary and has the potential to build an empowering community. I needed to step away from the internet for a few days because between the fire and the disclosure my heart hurt — in a way that was both angry and empathetic, in a way I wasn’t really sure how to process, so I went and shouted into the mountains.

I’ve spent the past three years working to empower women to feel safe coming forward and men to feel compelled to step in as allies while also acknowledging their complicity. I’m in school right now to do just that. I’ve rambled on and on about how we accept the love we think we deserve and what we deserve is so much better than this. And how no one is alone and how no one deserves to feel like their story shouldn’t be told for one reason or another. But I let myself be silenced anyway.

I’ve stayed silent because, as I so often do, I felt responsible for protecting people in my life from the “bad stuff.” Like my stories of sexual harassment and assault would tarnish the image my loved ones have of me as a powerful, take-no-bullshit woman. Like maybe, I wouldn’t be believed, because as someone who knows so much about this stuff, how could I let it happen to me.

But watching women (and men! And non-binary folks!) be brave and disclose, I wanted to participate. I wanted to say, hey, you said this so I can too and I shouldn’t be scared. But I thought of the looks on the faces of people I love if I were to tell them about when I was twelve and someone grabbed my ass in PE class; or when I was 14 and someone grabbed me and started grinding on me at the toga dance after repeatedly being told to stop; when I was 23 and a man wiped his semen on my face on the bus; when I was 24 and I was run off the road on my bike because I rejected someone’s sexual advances; when I was 25 and I regained consciousness to find a stranger trying to rape me, and I second guess myself. I am afraid to hurt other people with my hurt. I am feeding this culture of silencing because even as I type this my hands are sweating and my heart is beating a million miles an hour because I am so scared of how other people will react.

I don’t want for a second to be treated as a victim. I don’t want anyone to look at me and sigh and say you poor thing I am so sorry. I want my disclosure, for everyone’s disclosure, to be a catalyst for actual fucking change. I want you to hear the shit I’ve put up with and say you know what, I was a silent bystander when my friend crossed a boundary they shouldn’t have; I crossed a boundary I shouldn’t have; I haven’t been doing everything I can to ensure that my friends’ bodies are safe. I want you to understand how ubiquitous this is — I want you to believe every single person who says ME TOO.

I think about how my experiences have shaped me and have made me a better advocate for the youth I work with. How they’ll make me a better social worker. How they make me scared of things that seem innocuous, like boys being nice to me and deep voices behind me in the grocery store, and how hard I’m working to break through that fear. And how as much as I rolled my eyes initially at yet another act of slacktivism, #MeToo made me want to speak up and made me feel empowered and supported.

So for the record, Me Fucking Too. #MeToo. #YoTambien. #CheAvei. And maybe I’m a little behind the curve, and this isn’t newsworthy anymore. But processing takes time and so many of these instances are still fresh — scabbed over but not yet scars. And what the fuck ever. If someone says #MeToo and that’s all they can do, that’s all they can do. But I’ll be here shouting at the mountains and then shouting at policy makers and hopefully one day someone else’s whisper will be a shout because maybe I can make a difference for them. Do what you can. Live within your means. Tell the truth in whatever way you see fit.

Whatever you do, fuck the patriarchy, empower those around you, be a good person.


more on bikes


I rode my bike daily. It was a piece of shit but my most cherished possession and the source of the biggest scars on my knees.

Independence has two wheels and slips in and out of fifth gear after one too many rocks to the de-railer.

I ride my bike daily. Her name is Ginny. As in Virginia Woolf. As in A Room of One’s Own because Denver is mine.

On my bike, I’ve asserted myself as someone who brings safety with her. Doesn’t need it created for them. “Fearless” of riding home late at night even if it’s alone.

I ride my bike daily to prove to myself the space I take up is deserved.

I ride my bike daily down paved roads with stop signs on a trail made just for bikes. No more knee-deep flash floods or popped tires on jagged cobblestones.

Or cat calls.

Or worse than cat calls.

But sometimes, when you tell me

“you look pretty today”

It twists around and warps like an old busted up record player and I hear it the way they said it.

Sometimes when I make a sharp turn I remember brushing myself off in a ditch

bent spokes

broken eggs

rocks in knees

all because I said no



“& I walked off you/ & I walked off an old me” -maggie rogers



Blissed out on Banana trees


There is something about banana trees that makes me weirdly emotional. Riding in a van through the Peruvian rainforest, listening to shitty, dated pop music, I found myself laughing hysterically as we drove through grove after grove of banana trees. Something about how I’d never seen them before coming to South America, and how I don’t know when I’ll next see them. Something about how I used them to clean my house, and cook on instead of cookie sheets, and how funny they look when they fruit and how abuela used to bring me bunches every two weeks even if they had already started rotting, and something about how everyone else in that dilapidated bus thought this ride was so incredibly dangerous, but it felt so incredibly normal to me… I found myself sitting among a bunch of strangers laughing to myself to avoid crying, because in that moment it hit me that in just two short weeks, I’m leaving South America.


I needed Peru so badly. I needed this time to get back to the girl who finds frisson in banana trees and rickety vans and “despacito” on repeat, to rediscover parts of myself I’ve neglected for the past two years, parts that I really like. I start conversations by teasing you for drinking shitty beer. I love really, really hard and I’m not afraid of getting messy and I revel in mud puddles. I like mate in the morning and I have a problem with my backpack exploding on hostel floors. And I really like the person I’ve become over the past two years in South America.


Peru has given me the time and space to really think about what I’m going to miss about South America. I look at people riding in the back of a truck down the mountain with an empathetic envy — when will I next stand in a truck bed, wind whipping my baseball cap off my head, hitchhiking into site as the sun goes down? When will I next pull mint leaves from the side of the mountain and add them to my tea? Will I still dream in Spanish? The night before we left on our trek it rained. We looked up at the sky light, a hole cut in the zinc roof and fell asleep to the familiar sound that sooner rather than later will no longer be familiar. I miss these things as they happen, in the way you miss your best friend when you’re sitting next to them after a long time apart, through a lens of overwhelming gratitude — for how I’ve lived the past two years and the people who’ve shaped my life along the way and for everything, everything, absolutely everything.


The people we’ve met in Peru are the type of people I hope stay in my life for a long time. People who travel the way we do, slowly and deliberately, people who’ve made me nostalgic for home in a way I’ve never been, people who asked the right kind of questions, who have stories of their own, who get just as excited about silly things like banana trees as I do…I am refreshed and inspired and my heart is full.


In the middle of the mountains, during the Santa Cruz trek, a girl in our group asked everyone in the tent: When do you feel most free?

If someone asked me that again, I’d reply with a big goofy smile and maybe a tear and say “Right fucking now.” I’d scream it from the top of a mountain. I want the whole world to know how good it feels to exist in my body right now. I am the luckiest person on the planet.


A month ago, when I was in Buenos Aires, I was scared and edgy and hadn’t yet processed how I felt about my service. I was asked a lot of questions I didn’t know the answers to.

What are you going to miss?

What was the best part?

What was the hardest part?

Answers: all of it, none of it. I don’t know yet. I need time. It was an unfinished story. The shitty first draft that Ann Lammott talks about. And I wasn’t ready to share any of it yet. It was raw and messy and not in a good way. But right now, I get it. I know what stories I want to tell and how to tell them. I know what Paraguay means to me now.

Every day I am both more excited and more scared to go home. Excited, because the next adventure is going to be a good one. Because I can hear Avila Beach calling me and because I feel whole. I feel full. I feel ready. But scared, because I know how easily I’m influenced by my environment. Will I lose these contentment that is so clearly a product of South America when I get back to the land of consumption and excess? Or will I be able to maintain, and have a favorite vendor at the farmers’ market, and take time for morning mate, and drop everything to be a good neighbor or sister or whatever? Will my stories resonate in the way I want them to?

Slowly but surely I’m realizing that my reality is about to be incredibly different. In two weeks, Lance will pick me up at the airport (hopefully wearing exclusively American flag apparel), and I’ll get in the front seat of his truck, instead of the bed of it. We’ll drive down the road listening to Beyonce, not Reggaeton, and we’ll eat In-n-Out, not empanadas. Hot showers. Dishwashers. Whole Foods.

At the end of this week I head to Colombia with my best friend. After that, this adventure comes to a close. What a long strange trip it’s been. Thank you, Peru, for helping me return to that blissed-out baseline I have missed so deeply over the past two years. Thank you every single person I’ve met who has asked questions and let me word vomit. Thank you to the Pachamama. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

the RPCV tour: Part II

Greetings from my sickbed in Arequipa, Peru!

Yeah, I got food poisoning. Or something. Anyway, Kait is out at Colca Canyon trekking like a badass while I nurse my Ritz crackers and gatorade but really, this works out for you, relatives who might read this blog, because now I have time to write.

Peru is a dream I never want to wake up from.

From our arrival, we’ve been scooped up into the arms of these incredibly kind, helpful and funny people who marvel at the fact that we’re gringos who do in fact speak Spanish. We ask questions that no one else really asks because we’re trying to understand the way Peruvians move in the world, the intersectionality of indigenous culture and conquistadores, which fish makes the best ceviche and why…our curiosity is our charm, I suppose. We’ve met some characters, that’s for sure.

We were taken from the airport to our hostel by a jolly, English-speaking taxi driver who told us “I lived in the U.S. for 32 years, but I got deported.” When we asked why he said “I sold drugs. But I’m a good boy now. I found God. I cannot lie to you.” His honesty was at least slightly endearing.

Honestly, Lima is a lovely city. We were told by nearly everyone we met that Lima is only worth a stopover, a resting place to get everywhere else. But we found ourselves enchanted by the city. The ride from the airport to our hostel was chaotic in a way that only a city in a developing country can be, and we took comfort in it. The hustle of the people and the complete disregard for traffic laws made us feel at home.

We arrived at our hostel  (1900 Backpackers Hostel…honestly my favorite hostel I’ve stayed in ever. Wonderful staff, comfy beds, beautiful building) and were asked “ya wanna take a ceviche making class?” and we were hungry and it sounded fun. Mauricio, the dangerously handsome hostel chef, took us to the local mercado where he bargained with the señoras for fish, sweet potatoes, ginger, hominy, hot peppers and limes. Kait and I were more than charmed by him and for the price of taking a walk and buying a piece of fish we ate some incredible ceviche that we helped make (and by helped I mean, we peeled some ginger and watched Mauricio cut the veggies like a pro and died a little inside). That night we stayed in for dinner at the hostel just to see what he was making, which really worked out to our advantage because we met other really lovely humans worth pulling all-nighters for.

We spent the next day with another PCV and a friend Kait had met in Patagonia who coincidentally went to my high school (small world right?) and ate ceviche at a hole in the wall (el Cevichero, in mercado Suquillo, go there) and wandered along the coast, which looked like La Jolla, built up on the bluffs, one long stretch of parks and beautiful apartment buildings with garage doors because the people who live in said apartments have cars worth protecting. We got on the night bus to Huaraz feeling dreamy and like Peru was a place we were going to fall hard and fast for.

We arrived in Huaraz at 5 a.m. and made our way to our hostel where the owners were kind enough to let us check in early and let us sleep in a bed for a bit. If you’re ever in Huaraz, stay at La Casa de Maruja. It was a little far from town, but our stroll to the Plaza de Armas was our first act in acclimatization so it works out. Huaraz is very Uyuni-like, it serves as a base camp for backpackers heading to Huascaran National Park, where we spent one day hiking to Laguna 69 (a name that even made us sex educators giggle every time we said it) and then three days doing the Santa Cruz trek and HOLY CRAP, MOTHER NATURE, YOU ROCK. So does the human race. We made friends on both hikes. Actually, we haven’t met an unpleasant person yet on this trip.

Our trekking group consisted of four Americans, three French girls, a Canadian girl and an Israeli couple. Our guide, Jaime was the biggest jokester and we spent most of the three days laughing at each other over just about everything. Unexpected friends are my favorite kind. We got along so well we had a celebratory “we’re finished!” dinner and then three of us took a night bus to Lima together (which in true South American fashion, was three hours late).

We’re in Arequipa now. I mustered myself out of bed to explore the beautiful plaza and drink a banana ginger smoothie from a cute cafe.

I know I mentioned in my last post the feelings of fear/insecurity re: men and I am so grateful that Peru has shown me otherwise. I walked through town today in a sundress (it’s beautiful out!) and not a single person cat called me. On our hike, we walked through a group of men fishing on the river and they greeted us politely with “buen dia!” and made sure we had enough water. Gloria Steinem mentioned in “My Life on The Road” (aka mine & kait’s travel philosophy bible) that machismo is a product of conquistadores, and that within indigenous cultures it doesn’t exist, not even in their language is there a difference between man and woman, their pronouns are neutral. That equality transcends language (in Huaraz, we heard a lot of Quechua on our hikes). I feel safer in Peru than I ever did in Paraguay. It makes me somewhat sad that I’ll always have that little black raincloud over my service, but it warms my heart to know that Latin America as a whole isn’t such a scary place for women. I still have some issues to sort out, but I feel significantly less scared than I did at the start of this trip, and that’s something worth being pretty excited about.

Here’s hoping my body bounces back soon, there’s more hiking to do.




So I didn’t think I was gonna write in this blog anymore. My creativity kind of tapped out in the last five months of my service — monotony doesn’t really inspire you to write new things. But here I am in my friend’s apartment in Buenos Aires after a 20 hour bus ride and suddenly there are words again.

I just finished leg one of my RPCV tour. Iguazu Falls, Argentina. It was the only part of my trip that was alone, which was nice because after leaving Paraguay I was feeling feels that no one deserved to be on the receiving end of (also why I haven’t called you in a  couple of weeks, Mom).

I hopped my last Paraguayan bus to Ciudad del Este last Saturday. Of course, the bus took longer than promised and of course, I missed the last bus to Puerto Iguazu, but it wouldn’t have been Paraguay if something hadn’t gone askew. There were only a few people on my bus, it was quiet, the soy fields and sparse trees of the country I’d tried to call home for the past two years flew past my window…I was leaving. I ate my last bus chipa. I hopped in a taxi to my next destination and stamped out of Paraguay for the last time. It felt happy and sad and frustrating.


Happy — because I’m done. I’m free. I will hopefully never again worry about being spat on or run off the road when I ride my bike. No more shitty campo buses making me carsick even when I fall asleep. No more inconsiderate neighbors burning their trash when i put my clothes out to dry. NO. MORE. CAÑA. Maybe now my hair will start growing back. Maybe now I can stop being afraid of every man who walks by me in the grocery store. Also, happy because of the sad. I was going into my last week in site feeling nothing but excitement for my trip, no sadness for leaving, and feeling big heaps of sadness meant I really had put my heart and soul into my two years here, I hadn’t half-assed it.

Sad — because when will I next see my favorite Paraguayans? A, H and I sat on my porch my last night in site crying for an hour, because we didn’t know what else to do with ourselves. My host family have been my people for the past two years. They took me in during a really sketchy and unpleasant time in my service and I’m so grateful to them and there was no amount of thanks and i love yous i could say to get across what I needed to say. When I left the States two years ago, I knew that I’d see my parents again. I legitimately don’t know if I’ll ever see my host family again. That breaks my heart.

Frustrated — because of the impact this country has had on my mental health. I am sitting in Mo & Simone’s apt in Buenos Aires now and am trying to sort out how I’m going to get past the man-hating Paraguay has instilled in me. More on that later. Frustrated because my work here seems futile. I don’t know if any of the impact will stick. The infrastructure, the culture of Paraguay says it won’t. Who is my host sister going to talk to about the big taboo topics I have no problem confronting? Who is going to encourage my brother to continue to be respectful, faithful, and challenge the machismo stereotypes of Paraguay? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the rest of Paraguay will tell my sister to sit down and shut up, and tell my brother that he’s less of a man for only having one girlfriend. I hope they don’t cave in.

Frustrated — because if one more person tells me what a good person I am for serving in the Peace Corps I am going to lose my head. I am no more noble than a doctor or a journalist or really any other human in their mid-twenties trying to figure out their place in the world. I want to give you all a blanket thank you and want to stop talking about ME. I have stories I’ll want to tell, but right now I need to process it all so I have something real to say to you instead of talking out my ass. 

So I went to the Falls by myself and thought about my happy sad frustrated feelings and got instantly happier the second the mist hit my face. When a wave crashes on the shore, you can see that the bubbles and water droplets came together and formed one big wave. That water is both big and small. But at the falls, the water falls in big giant sheets. It was the best kind of feeling small. I love feeling small in the face of nature. Sad dispersed pretty quickly. I was beyond content being alone (with like a million other tourists) and some big water. Frustrated of course manifested itself when a man who took my photo made a slimy-sounding comment about my looks. Of course, that man was attached to the friendly couple from San Diego I had met and was chatting with. Their guide and driver. But they were so eager to hear about my service and she worked with battered women and they were a gold mine of familiar California chit chat so I stuck with them, despite the weird vibes from their guide. Eventually it was time to go and they offered me a ride back to my hostel and I said ok because I was already sunburned and the bus stop had no shade. I spent the whole car ride, especially the part after the driver dropped off the couple, feeling uncomfortable. He drove too fast, he took weird, zig-zagging turns like he might be trying to confuse me or get me lost. He kept saying my name which sounded slimy and dirty in his mouth.

When I told another volunteer that story, they got it. But the second I told someone who hadn’t lived in Paraguay, it felt like maybe I was projecting. It felt like maybe I am being overly cautious? I don’t know. I still haven’t figured it out. Paraguay has set me up to assume the worst about men, and I have never felt like that before. I have great, respectful, marvelous feminist men in my life. They have created an unrealistic expectation of what men are like. And Paraguay has done the same, only opposite. I don’t want to be scared, but honestly I am.

Yesterday, after discovering bed bugs in my bed in my hostel in Puerto Iguazu (classic south america), I hopped a bus to Buenos Aires to reunite with some loves from college. In true South American fashion, my 1 p.m. express bus arrived at 2 p.m. and made 10 stops as opposed to the promised two. We arrived five hours later than expected, and the whole ride I sat next to someone who smelled like fish guts. I was cranky when I arrived, but then I stepped out on to the streets of Buenos Aires, a city that a year ago grabbed me by the heart and said “come back soon” and I am so, so glad I listened. I drove through the city and grinned, like that scene when Lizzie McGuire arrives in Rome and her taxi casually rolls past the Trevi fountain and she gasps. That was me. I am Lizzie McGuire. Some seventh grade dreams do come true. So I’m going to be here until Friday and then play by the ocean and then meet Kait in Chile and maybe if creativity strikes again I’ll write some more but no promises. 

This has nothing to do with Peace Corps

The year Obama was elected, the wall in my history teacher’s classroom read


and for homework we read Howard Zinn and The History of Women in the United States

and we voted for Obama in our mock election and shouted his name at the top of our lungs at the end of the presidents song long before he was elected.


Barack Obama took office when I was sixteen. I tacked the front page of The Press Democrat with his inauguration photo on my wall.

“We have chosen hope over fear.”

I realized today how crucial those two statements were and continue to be in the decisions that I have made and will make. I realized today how crucial it was to watch the Obamas as I grew up, and how important it was that he was elected when I was sixteen. Just old enough to give a shit. Just old enough to know how important this was going to be. Sixteen year-old me, armed with patriotic dissent and a shit ton of hope, somehow became twenty-four year-old me, swinging condoms full of water and shouting from the rooftops about the importance of consent. I can honestly say that none of that would have happened if it hadn’t been for the culture of courage set forth by the Obamas. My president made me brave.




I feel so incredibly lucky to have grown up with the Obamas. To have spent my high school career in a place where we filled classrooms with the Grateful Dead on vinyl and posters of MLK and Harvey Milk and Gloria Steinem; my college years surrounded by advocates for first-generation college students, consent gurus and defenders of democracy. To now be working in a place where I can encourage youth across an entire nation to speak out for gender equality. To see the smoke before the fire.


So today, well, it’s already inauguration day here, so I guess yesterday, I thought about all those sixteen year olds who are just old enough to give a shit, sitting in their history classrooms, wondering what this means for their futures. To the sixteen year olds who will watch the inauguration in class and be scared rather than hopeful, please don’t forget

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

So thanks, Obama, for eight years of hope, for giving me a space to be brave.

Oh and thanks, Mr. Horner, for putting a poster on your wall that maybe was only there to cover up a hole or a stain but is regardless v important.

I have never been good at conclusions in writing so I’m just gonna leave this here.


An ode to my Abuela

In the coming month, I’m going to try to post something I’m grateful for in Paraguay every week. I’ve been so negative about my service and the country as a whole lately and my shit attitude doesn’t help anyone, especially me. It only makes sense to start with the woman who always cheers me up on the bleakest of days.


“Do you want mate?” Abuela asks me while thrusting the guampa into my hand. It’s a little too hot outside to drink mate, I think, but I sip the familiar mix of yerba, rosemary and siempre vive flowers through her fancy silver bombilla that my sister and I bought her for her birthday this past year.

“It’s better for you than terere,” she says matter-of-factly. This is my favorite thing about her. She makes ridiculous comments like this with such conviction, but not the conviction of someone who’s trying to convince you of truth, but that of someone who doesn’t realize that there could possibly be any inaccuracy in her statement.

“Why is that?” I asked her, hoping to hide my cringe as I burned my tongue…again. Will I ever learn?

“Well my Abuelo and Abuela, they always ate lunch at eleven, and then at noon, they started drinking mate,” she replied.

“That doesn’t answer the question…” my host mom says, rolling her eyes and laughing at her mother.

But Abuela doesn’t give a single shit. She goes on sipping her mid-afternoon mate that’s better-for-you-than-terere even though it’s the same thing just with hot water instead of cold. She is the epitome of contentment.


My Abuela is my favorite member of my host family. She is arhel (difficult, bull-headed, sometimes downright bitchy), she never wears a bra, she loves pizza, she thinks Dengue was invented by the U.S. government, and she loves to fish. She is a woman of very simple pleasures, but when it comes to treating herself, she loves Johnnie Walker Red.

Abuela was the first person in my community to stop treating me like I was special. Which might sound like a weird reason to have so much affection toward her, but trust me, not being special is great. Well before any other member of my community, she made me wash dishes after lunch, she showed up on my porch unannounced asking to borrow something, she gave up on finding me a boyfriend. She made it clear I was one of her own. If I ever leave overnight, or on vacation, she is the first person to greet me upon return like I’ve just returned from war.

Once I thought a cow ate my favorite wool socks from the clothesline, but then I saw them on her feet the next day.

“My socks are dirty,” she said. “I’ll give them back I promise.”

The next day they were washed and return to my clothesline.

In the wake of one of the darker months of my service, Abuela has continued to be a sassy, free-boobin’, pizza lovin’ light in my life. She reminds me that even if work is falling apart and I feel under utilized in my community, I am still loved and I still have a reason to be here. She is the first person I think of when I souvenir shop on vacation and the only person in the family who can out-drink my host dad.


My host mom leaves for Asuncion to visit a doctor. My siblings and I are on our own for dinner, which always means homemade pizza and life chats. I pull a pepperoni and olive masterpiece from the oven and laugh as my sister, brother and I tell stories we wouldn’t dare tell in front of my host mom.

“DO I SMELL PIZZA?” Abuela, who has been asleep for an hour, shouts from her room.

The kitchen is silent as Abuela enters, ready for second dinner.

“Oh, is this sex talk pizza?” she asks, cutting herself a large piece.

We all muffle giggles.

“Well,” she sighs, “What do you wanna know?”