Personal Reflections & Essays

Mental Gymnastics on the Trail

When I was a kid, we camped a lot. Like, a lot a lot. If you are a famous National Park west of the Mississippi, we probably stayed at you. If you are a lonely KOA in Nevada, we probably didn’t have a choice. The fabled Three Week Vacation (a veritable institution in the Becker household) took place every few years and loomed large over the preceding six months.


I’m waiting in line to get some eggs and coffee at a cafe in the Mission. It’s one of those younger businesses on the outskirts of gentrification, the forward guard. The line stretches far out the door, but it moves fast. Nevertheless, I overhear fifteen minutes of a strained conversation between two twenty-or-thirty-somethings standing behind me.

Lessons in Walking Uphill

Every Sunday, I lace up my boots, walk out the door, and begin the steady ascent to the summit of Bernal Heights. There are many hills in San Francisco, but this one is my favorite. Gentle and unassuming, Bernal was a safe haven in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake. While other parts of the city liquified and burned, Bernal’s solid chert foundation provided a home to displaced people. Over a century later, I learned to seek refuge in the same iron-red rocks.
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Exit Strategy

“I think that must be it,” I said, pointing at an unmarked brown storefront across the street. My husband Fernando and I were meeting with a small group to celebrate our friend Devin’s birthday. This, a start-up-themed escape room, was our first activity