The Ocean Knows My Name

A visual poem honoring mama moana as the keeper of ancient memories, the one who connects the Pasifika diaspora with our home islands.

The ocean knows my name
she wrote ancient stories on my soul
memories not mine riding tides
like my voyaging ancestors

In time, the ocean leads me home
not to stay, simply to show
that I belong
to coral sand and coconut trees.

When the heart aches
to be whole, to return
her waves sing comfort
catching tears to carry home
so the sand will remember me.

I ask why the ocean should know me
an abundance of life in your waters
the very depths assigned to your care
and ocean replies
I, too, am one of hers.

She reminds me 
our bones are volcanic rock
salt water flowing in our veins
home and belonging
echoing inside our skin
like the sound of waves in a shell.

Is it enough for home and place 
to meet in us?
People of the ocean
guided by currents of gratitude
for the gift of knowing and
being known by an ocean.

The ocean knew many names
before she knew mine
she will know many
after we are gone.


Audio Connections

Exploring the Art of Radio and Podcasting

This is a talk I gave for a the Saddleback Arts: Live at Home series. We dig in to the two sides of our voices and how voice can be a powerful tool for creation, connection, and change.


Remembering Brian

After learning of the passing of my friend I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the meaningful impact one person can make in the life of another. Radio is how I met Doc Halliday and so it seems most appropriate to remember him with the voice he taught me how to use. You are welcome to listen in or simply read.

Mentor. Dear friend.

In the last couple of weeks, these are the two terms I’ve used to describe Brian Halliday. While they certainly apply, they also seem woefully inadequate. How can you describe a person who was so incredibly important to your life in just a couple of words that capture the nuance of the thing?

I was 17 when I met Brian. Up to that point, my entire life’s ambition had been to become an Olympic soccer player. But I was just coming back from reconstructive knee surgery and that dream was painfully receding. I’d settled on pursuing a degree in library science because I loved reading and well, what else was going to do with my life? 

You can’t.

Until an ordinary Saturday afternoon when I called in to answer a trivia question on Inside Soccer, a local talk show hosted by Brian “The Doc” Halliday and Brian “The Mighty” Quinn. I won.

We listened to a lot of radio growing up and I loved it, but it never occurred to me that I could be on the radio. Or even that radio was something people did to make a living.

That small victory lead to a terrifying invitation: to be a student “guest host” while The Mighty Quinn was on vacation.  I was a quiet kid – I barely spoke to people I knew and liked. Speak on the radio to an unknown number of people?! No way! But Brian was persuasive. And he suggested we could talk about the fan website for local women’s pro team that I  wanted to promote and my ambition overruled the fear.

I remember walking into the studio at the Clear Channel offices with my brother as a buddy. All the racks of radio gear, blinking lights, knobs and dials. Meeting Wayne, the show’s board op and producer. 

That’s it. I was hooked. 

I was also pretty terrible on-air. But that didn’t deter Brian from continuing to offer opportunities. First, as a contributing reporter covering the San Diego Spirit. When Inside Soccer moved to a new, an internet-only radio platform, Brian invited me to become the show producer. I spent 5-6 hours of just about every Saturday preparing, engineering Inside Soccer. He suggested I host a regular 20-minute segment on women’s soccer. He even invited me and Carl Hammond to fill in for the entire 4-hour show when both Brian’s were out of town.

He was well regarded for his ability to spot potential in soccer players and I guess that’s what he saw in me: potential. A potential that I could not see for myself. I often wondered how I got so lucky when the next opportunity from Brian arrived.

After I transferred away to finish my bachelors degree, Brian remained a fixture. He called regularly to check in. Asking about my studies, my family, ambitions and just life. “You don’t call, you don’t write, you don’t send food parcels!” was a message I heard often on my voicemail.

He had advice, encouragement, a listening ear, and even words of admonishment when the occasion warranted. Oh, and the teasing. There was no end to his teasing me about basically everything. That was so was needed because I’ve always taken myself and life more seriously than is sometimes healthy. I learned to laugh at myself, how could I not when I had his boisterous, joyful laugh alongside me?

I want to circle back to the admonishment part for a minute. At the time, Brian was one of the few people I could talk to about my relationship with my dad. Dad and I had a really difficult relationship for a couple of decades. I didn’t realize it then, but I had turned my dad into a one-note villain in the story of my life. Brian was the first and only person who pushed back against the way I was characterizing my father. “He’s just a man,” Brian was so kind and gentle when he said those words but I was still angry. How could he not take my side when I had been so hurt? Treated with such injustice? Eventually I came to understand that Brian was right. My father was just a man after all, complicated and messy like everyone else.

In the years since, we’ve gone from cordial to the foundations of a real, meaningful father-daughter relationship. I’m not sure this level of reconciliation would have been possible without fine line Brian was able to navigate in delivering truth with compassion and kindness. 

It was Brian who came up with the name Spirit of Tivaevae for my documentary project. 

Brian who taught me that I could do great things, if only because he told me that I could and would.

Brian who showed me that I had a voice – a physical voice that could talk to people around the world on the radio. And in the sense that I had something of value to share with that same world.

It seems right to remember my mentor and very dear friend in this way. Sitting behind a microphone in a radio station studio. 

Have fun, be safe, and we’ll see you on the radio,” is how Brian used to close the Inside Soccer newsletter.

So long, Doc Halliday. I’ll see you on the radio.


Protect Mauna Kea: Alondra Park Hoʻolaulea

The Hawaiian community of Southern California gathered during the Ho’olaulea at Alondra Park on July 20th, 2019, in solidarity with Hawaiians fighting to preserve Mauna Kea. The demonstration began with sign waving on the street before a procession into the festival for prayer and a moment of silence.

Morning procession to the stage

Art begins with relationship

Last November I traveled to Auckland to attend the 2018 Pacific Heritage Arts Fono. What a privilege it was to learn from master artists! So many lessons. I’ve been unpacking those lessons ever since.

The word I kept returning to was relationship. Pacific cultures are community centered, unlike our individualistically driven American culture. Creating art can be so vulnerable, sometimes it’s easier to create from a vacuum, insulated from others.

There was unquestionable value in learning tangible skills from the master artists. But for me, even more valuable was the time spent listening, hearing the stories of others, their struggles and triumphs.


Hikianalia in San Diego

I got the chance to watch the welcoming of Hikianalia, a traditional Polynesian va’a (canoe) when she arrived in San Diego.

This was meant to be a different kind of video but I had an experience. It was magic; I could have stayed on Hikianalia for hours. 🙂 Have you ever had an experience like that? I’d love to hear about in the comments!


The Heartbeat of PIFA – Pacific Islander Festival San Diego

The power of PIFA San Diego is in the cultural villages! Experiencing the peoples of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia at one massive festival has made a positive impact on my own life. It can do the same for yours – come join us next year!


48 hours in Mendocino county

There’s a particular beauty to the rugged coastline of northern California. Don’t get me wrong, I love my sandy Southern California beaches, but a chilly wind (even in the dead of the July) whipping at your face as you stand on the edge of a tree lined cliff while the pacific ocean swirls violently around the craggy rocks below? It stirs something wild inside you.

It’s exhilarating. I love California a little more with each visit to the north. In fact, I think I need to make this annual July trip because it’s such a nice break from the triple digit heat at home.


super bloom & sunrise

Got up before dawn to catch the end of the super bloom earlier this week. We watched the sun rise over Lake Henshaw and wandered through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The crowds were streaming east by the time we left to pick up a treat from Mom’s Pies in Julian and head home.


In honor of the best person I know

I wrote this piece on June 29. Nine days later, mom had a stroke. She is doing great — amazing, actually. I mention it here as a historical footnote of sorts. The timing of the original writing was…uncanny. Suffice it to say that we are all extra grateful to be celebrating our mom this year!

Today is a special day in the Turori family.

Today we celebrate the birth of the woman who is the glue that holds us together.

If you’ve ever thought of me (or any of my siblings) as a kind or responsible or just decent human, you can thank my mom.


To honor the best person I know, here are five of the best life lessons I have learned from her.