2016: A New Year of Travel

Happy New Year! It has officially been a week since we were all preparing to countdown to 2016, with that fiery motivation to have a better year burning in our hearts. As an effort to hold onto the momentum (and inspire you to do the same), I’ve decided to put together a new list of resolutions, just for Cleaving Leaveland and traveling.

Goals to Carry Into 2016

1. Be Where I Am. This was a hard one for me last year for a few reasons. The first is that when I packed up to leave New York City and embark on two years of traveling the US, I left behind a very strong and empowering community of friends. Even when I ended up in places like Seattle where I made a lot of strong friendships, I found it difficult to appreciate them because my eyes were always looking at my friends in New York. The second reason it was so difficult to be present was that I kept getting let down thinking I was going to end up in one place and job opportunities, or lack thereof, put me in another place entirely. But when missing out on living in Austin meant opening up my eyes to the amazingness of Seattle, I realized that my disappointment had been a waste of time and energy. This is an adventure after all. Which leads me to my next goal…

2. Keep An Open Mind. Traveling is not really an exploration if I have a locked mindset of where I want to be and what I want to see. Last year I was hoping to get to Austin and instead went to Seattle, which quickly became my favorite city in the US. Just this January I had hoped to end up in New Orleans, and instead I’m off to Long Beach, CA. I have only been to Long Beach once in my life and I mostly spent my time there partying in a college house. This is going to be a whole new adventure for me. I was really hoping to do some ghost tours, take piano lessons, and see some alligators in the south, but maybe I’ll take a surfing lesson or two instead. Last year I was not a happy camper to end up in Phoenix, but it ended up being one of the most transformative 3 months for me in my travels. So this year I plan to keep an open mind, and go wherever the wind (and jobs) take me.

3. Stop Watching TV. Okay, so I don’t really plan to stop watching all TV all the time. But I have been sitting on this one for a while. Then recently I saw a video of Obama talking to school-aged children about what it means to have a family. One of the more profound statements he made was that if you come home, and you sit in front of the TV watching a show or playing video games, then you’re not really there – you’re checked out. If watching TV is not helping me to “be where I am,” then it’s time to cut it out of my daily routine.

4. Run Outside Often. Or take walks. I like to run for exercise, and I’ve found that taking care of my health outdoors has led me to come across places I would have never explored otherwise (like the crystal shop in Seattle or my favorite independent bookstore in Phoenix). So I’m going to get outside often, whether with running, biking, or just taking a walk.

5. Record More. This is different than writing more, for me. I want to start really recording what I love about places, especially on the blog. Taking notes on the best Pho I found in Seattle or the cutest Bed and Breakfast I happened upon in Pennsylvania will add richer illustration to the map of my travels, and may come in handy as I revisit places later.

So my list only has 5 goals for blogging and traveling, but I’m hoping that keeping it short and simple will help me accomplish them more thoroughly. I have other personal goals of course (take another class, volunteer, pass less judgment on others), but this list should be enough to take my travels and Cleaving Leaveland to the next level. As some of you will know, I’m engaged to get married in late summer of 2017, so this will be my last full year of traveling. I plan to take it to the fullest. Come with me and enjoy the ride!


Capitol Hill’s Rainbow Crosswalks Spark “Rogue” Crosswalk Painting and Social Dialogue in Seattle

On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, Seattle’s historically LGBTQ neighborhood, Capitol Hill, unveiled 10 rainbow painted crosswalks in honor of Seattle Pride Week. The total cost for this project was $66,000, or $6,000 per crosswalk, a price the city was happy to pay to mark the neighborhood a safe space for the LGBTQ community and remind newcomers and longtime resident’s of Capitol Hill’s colorful roots. The crosswalks were a great success for Pride Week and prompted the city to install more throughout the neighborhood in a more permanent capacity.

Not long after Pride Week, the rainbow crosswalks of Capitol Hill sparked a group of unknown painters to grab cans of paint and color a few crosswalks in the Central District. Two areas of crosswalks are now painted in red, green, and black stripes, representing the Pan-African flag. Seattle’s local King 5 News interviewed members of the group of painters and residents who could confirm that it was mostly a neighborhood-wide organized effort.

“This neighborhood used to be predominantly black at one point in time,” Central District resident Tiffany Jones told a K5 News reporter. “It’s a sense of pride. It’s our culture. It’s who we are.”

In an attempt to respond positively to the Central District crosswalks, the city of Seattle has since posted a list of Community Crosswalk Guidelines, outlining the rules and costs of coloring crosswalks to represent your neighborhood in Seattle and encouraging community members to take part in this social project by submitting ideas to city hall. The Central District crosswalks appear to follow physical guidelines that the city laid out (such as that the paint must be in vertical or horizontal stripes), but were obviously instated without being sanctioned and slapped with the $25 per square foot price.

“That’s gay pride, this is African American pride,” another resident told K5 News. “There is no difference.”

Though home to one of the most culturally and racially diverse zip codes in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is also known to be predominantly white and segregated in most areas of the city. Back in mid-August of 2015, Black Lives Matter activists voiced some of these unsettling facts of racial segregation and oppression when they disrupted Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ speech in Seattle. Side-stepping city hall to paint the Central District sidewalks appears to have initiated a similar conversation about the visibility of black residents in Seattle.

While everyone loves the rainbow, Seattle is already widely known for being an LGBTQ-friendly city outside of just Capitol Hill. Residents “going rogue” and painting the Central District crosswalks colors of the Pan-African flag is a much louder effort to celebrate a more greatly overlooked population of the city.

“You spent $66,000 on the rainbows,” said Jones. “Spend $66,000 on the black flag.”

The crosswalks have remained colorful for nearly 2 months now, and while some residents voiced that the painters “should’ve gone to city hall and asked,” the Seattle Department of Transportation recently issued a statement that the Central District crosswalks are here to stay. As for other neighborhoods, we’ll have to wait and see what colors residents choose to represent their communities.

I think this is a good thing for Seattle. The city has been known for its racial segregation and its ignorance of racial issues. Today, with the growth of Amazon and other tech companies, the city is more white and male as it’s ever been. As a woman and former New Yorker, this is more depressing to me than ever. But the city’s response to this public act of racial protest, when it could have so easily (and literally) been washed away and made into something small, indicates to me that maybe there’s hope for change.

My First Sounders Game – Go Seattle!

Loving Seattle is all about enjoying the little things the city has to offer: the beautiful landscape and the opportunities it presents, the comradery of the middle class culture, the unexpected weeknights that light up with karaoke, and also… soccer. After a summer of putting it off, I finally made it to my first Sounders game.

The Seattle Sounders are the most sold-out soccer team in the United States. They play their games in CenturyLink field, the same field as the Seahawks football team. If you’re not a sports fan, you may not know that CenturyLink is designed in such a way that its acoustics are the loudest of any stadium in the country – loud enough to hit low points on the richter scale. My mom loves hearing that when she knows we’re hanging out on a fault line.

Seahawks fans are known as the 12th man because their noise serves as a 12th man on the team, affecting how the other team plays. But at the Sounders game I saw that the fans are much more than just loud noise.

The game I went to was a rivalry game – Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers (we won, woo!). And so while the loudest Seattle fans hung out right behind one of the goals, a top section was clearly completely occupied by Portland fans. Both sections had drums, both had chants that were more verbal than what I grew up with in Cleveland (Can I get a D-Fence anyone?)

This is no joke. #soundersvstimbers #centurylink #SundayFunday #SeattlevsPortland

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Here are just a few of the Sounders chants, which sounded almost tribal with the ohh-ing and the drums:


The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle
And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle
Like a beautiful child, growing up, free an’ wild
Full of hopes an’ full of fears, full of laughter, full of tears
Full of dreams to last the years, in Seattle
. . . in Seattle!


Us Verses Them

Whoa…Oh…Oh…Hey…Hey…Hey… (four times)
When it’s us versus them, you can always count on me
When it’s us versus them, it’s a Sounders unity

There are several more, many of which actually don’t appear on the website. And I know there’s even more for the Seahawks. At one point, the score was 1-1 and the Portland section was getting pretty loud. That was until the Sounders scored a second goal. Then the Seattle fans section started chanting, “It’s getting pretty quiet over there!”

I laughed. The Sounders won. Victory.