Thailand Part 4: Elephants


"Introduce yourself, say your name, say her name," the guide instructed. I touch her, the rescued, wrinkled giant. "Hi Mae Thai, I'm Leslie." Our guide voices my excitement, "See? She knows her name!" Mae flaps her ears and I find myself grinning as big as she is.

Elephant Smiles and Me Introducing Myself

My favorite photo


Thailand Part 3: Please leave shoes on same shelt


The first time I came home from an extended trip in Germany, my brain went sluggish reading posted signs. Everything felt easy all of a sudden. It's funny how you adjust to the constant struggle to understand where you are or what you're ordering. (Pig Knuckle? Again?)

I've been fortunate enough to find myself in countries that allow me to struggle through communication. I'm the sort of person who is ashamed of not knowing the local language, or even more than a spattering of words in any other language than my own. I've spent whole weeks nearly incapable of communication and exhausted by the idea of trying to ask for directions, so I just didn't. [Enter typical "like a male" joke here.] I went mute for my time there and avoided talking to anyone apart from people at work or others traveling with me. Continue...


Thailand Part 2: When Things Fall Apart


Listening to "When things fall apart," while walking to Yoga in the sunny morning streets of Chiang Mai, feels completely right. Everything is falling apart, yes, but I'm told it's also exactly how it should be. I can't disagree given my surroundings.

Even here where sun beams pour out of the sky and people's faces, reality has a way of finding me. Even here, where my soul is happier than it has ever been, reality comes knocking with reminders of humanity and death and illness and impermanence. Continue...


Thailand Part 1: The Magic


I've finally arrived. Friends ask how I like it in Thailand on text messages. They don't see the wild grin as I pause to reflect before I answer, "My outsides finally match my insides."

There is another pause before they text back. I can not see the perplexity on their faces, but I hear it when they reply, "I'm glad you like it." Continue...


When in Rome


I’d only been in Rome a few days before taking off for a very swift tour of a few other cities, but when I walked out of the train station having arrived back again in Rome, my heart leapt at the familiar sight. “We’re home!” It cried. A familiar feeling washed over me and I felt my body relax as I easily navigated the way out to the cobbled streets that were completely unfamiliar a week before. 

How strange travel is, to change a person so quickly.  Continue...

Bucket List Item #25 - Rome


Just after college, I started a bucket list. I wrote it in my little journal and gave it some serious thought, taking a few weeks to finish it. At 24 years old, it was born from a young, limited view. I suppose that is the point of a bucket list; to help the person writing it become a more rounded, fulfilled, and aware future self.

Yesterday, I crossed off #25. Continue...

Childhood is Global


The bus trip to Alicante is brief but the visual treats are plentiful. There is the first circle of restaurants and cafes just around the corner of our stop. There is the square with the giant palm tree and workout equipment with the elder gentleman in jeans, sweater, and a cap, doing a slow peddle on the stationary bike. There are the children running along the sidewalk teasing each other and the parents pushing toddlers glowing as they grip a new toy from the market. An older brother holds his sister by the shoulder and gives her a casual kick in the butt from behind and she lunges at his arm before they settle back in their walking rhythm next to each other with ease and familiarity. 

It’s just over a mile between stops but we pass dozens of tiny communities. The older generation wanders arm in arm with their partner or adult children, holding a cane in one hand and gripping the support of their loved one in the other. The lady with the bulky coat and shopping trolly shuffles to get off the bus and the gentleman standing near the exit moves out of the way and helps her quietly, without her seeing, positioning the trolly so she can pull it off the ramp.  Continue...


Traveling Mercy: a letter from time, if time travels by airplane


I opened an old favorite book this evening. I ruffled through the pages with the well worn, and thus loved, tags and underlined passages. I flipped to the end and saw a note I’d written on my solo flight back from my first over-seas trip September, 2001.

I smile as I read the scribbled letters. I remember this flight very well. It was four days after the terror attacks of Nine Eleven. I flew from Heathrow to Seattle alone in the very back of the plane, scared, deathly afraid of everyone, just wanting to be home with my new fiancé. Continue...


Conference Talk: Leiden 2014


Today I am giving a talk about women in technology. This is something I’ve been preparing for since I first learnt Basic at age 13 on a Commodore 64. I’ve had several amazing men encourage me in this field and even in the age of feminism and women’s rights, there is still a lot of speculation and discussion around women equality in technical and scientific fields.

As one of only two women in my Graduate program at Western Oregon where I studied computer science, the idea that more women weren’t in the undergrad or graduate program boggled me. At the same time, however, I struggled with things like Java and building Server Sockets until I would vision jamming a knife under my large toenail as more enjoyable. Continue...


Reflections on A Talk, A conference, A week


It wasn’t what they were expecting. I called it the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie talk. I baked in a discussion about gender equality within the title “Creative Development.” I think someone in the second row rolled their eyes.

It was probably the 8th or 9th time I’ve been on stage. It’s always so hard to begin the speech you’ve been feverishly obsessing over. The last nine months, since Low asked if I’d speak, were filled of notebooks and research and outlines and more outlines. I was a proper freak stopping a TED talk or an audiobook to jot down a point I wanted to expand on or integrate in my talk. I spent more than a few meetings scribbling notes to myself in Evernote, only partially related to the meeting topic but relevant to a future conversation I would have with myself first, and an audience second. Continue...