New Starts


It’s an illusion, right?

That a new year can wash away any parts of the past that cling to your heart like tar.

The election.

The negative pregnancy tests.

The loss of a friendship.

Your mother in August, on the phone and nauseous with morphine withdrawal as she recovers from surgery (her 20th? 23rd?): the replacement of a hip her surgeon described as “rotten”.

Nazis with tiki torches.

April 18th, arriving and passing again. (Your baby, if it had gone full term, would have been two.)

New cyst, same ovary.

That thing in the White House, spewing bullsh*t, coating the country in residue.  Continue reading


Why I Marched (and What’s Next)

16174568_10158122566750644_1981493841808400818_nIn the months leading up to the election, both my mom and my dad said to me in separate phone calls from Canada, “I think he might win.” In conversation we used the man’s name but I refuse to do that here, to taint this space with the name of a misogynist, a racist, a liar, an abomination. Both my parents followed the campaign and they were both concerned. But each time I responded with an adamant no. “It won’t happen,” I said. “A country that elected Barack Obama twice won’t elect this man. It’s not possible.”

On the night of the election I shared a photo on facebook of Hillary Clinton in a suit and rainbow sunglasses, riding a unicorn. “Let’s do this,” I wrote. Here was a woman who had spent her life serving others, a Yale-educated lawyer who worked with disabled kids while at the Children’s Defense Fund, who became the First Lady, a two-term Senator of New York, and the U.S. Secretary of State. I had watched her opponent, a narcissist with limited intellect and zero political experience, slag her repeatedly to his followers, physically stalk her on a debate stage, struggle to speak in full sentences, and spew hate and ignorance and lies over and over again, encouraging his followers to do the same. I had watched him mock and demean women, people of color, a disabled man. I had heard the tape of him bragging about sexual assault, and then after, the voices of his supporters defend him. I was disgusted. I was ready for the country to vote and in doing so to silence him, to show the world that this isn’t who we see as a leader, that this isn’t what we want for our future.

Continue reading

Our Road Trip to Now

fullsizerender-29We took this photo (or, rather, the young couple also pulled off on the roadside in front of the California Welcome sign took it) on June 22nd. It was a Wednesday. We were nine days into our 13-day camping trip, our hatchback close to bursting with gear and my legs almost certainly unshaved. We were headed to the Redwoods, which proved to be the highlight of the trip, their 200 and 300-foot treetops existing in another ecosystem from the one we stood in, tilting our faces up and squinting.

When Joe and I realized back in February that we’d be moving to California in a matter of months, the first thing we did (after celebrating his acceptance to PA school) was start booking campsites. Rushing down one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines in a race to “get settled” seemed a wasted opportunity. We would take two weeks, we decided — sleep next to the ocean at night and walk its shorelines in the mornings, camp-stove coffees in hand; hike through forests where the trunks of fir trees frame the sea, its surface blue or grey or green depending on the sky; point out birds I can never remember the names of and sit next to fires together watching the smoke change direction and wondering how wet or dry the wood might be, drinking wine from plastic cups and looking at the moon. Getting settled is part myth anyway, isn’t it? Life doesn’t sift itself into tidy resolutions. You can unpack your boxes and hang your art and start searching for the walking routes you want to take in your new neighbourhood in a different part of the country, but inside, there will always be a stirring, that question — what’s next, now that I am here?

dsc02230 Continue reading

On Leaving Portland

IMG_1278The original title I had written for this post was “On Moving to Vallejo”. But as I am currently sitting on the floor of our bedroom, the contents of our apartment stuffed into two storage pods parked outside, on our final day in the city that we moved to three and a half years ago, what feels most relevant is that to actually move to Vallejo…we have to leave Portland. And we love Portland.

I should back up. Remember that long post I wrote about our search for a house to rent in Portland, how I fell in love with one last December that we came very close to getting, but didn’t, and it left me feeling kind of defeated? Well, it’s a good thing someone else rented that perfect house with the yard on Ramona Street, because in January, Joe was given an interview for a PA school in Vallejo, California. It was the last school he had applied to, almost as an afterthought. With just 44 seats in the class and 250 people interviewing, we knew it was a long shot, but we also knew it was possible. That this could be his chance.

After a two-week process in which we conducted mock interview after mock interview in our living room and strategized answers to every possible question we could think of, Joe flew to California with a stack of flashcards, his suit, and a new pair of dress shoes. I said a few prayers to whatever Gods might be listening and hoped, hoped, hoped. We’d gone for dinner with our friend Sam two nights before and when we told him the odds that Joe was facing, he said, “But they invited you to interview. They must have seen something in you from your application. So the opportunity is there.”

These words stayed with me, and when doubts cropped up, I clung to them, and reminded Joe of them. The opportunity is there. Continue reading

Cottage Grove Getaway

IMG_1252.jpgSometime in the last few years, Joe and I started a tradition of giving each other ‘experience’ gifts for Christmas instead of tangible ones. We each plan an activity/date to do together and then present the gift in some sort of creative way.

While brainstorming ideas for Joe’s gift this past December, I went down an internet rabbit hole that led me to a town called Cottage Grove — the ‘Covered Bridge Capital’ of Oregon.

Hmm, I thought. Covered bridges…

As some of you know, Joe and I had our wedding photos taken under a covered bridge. While I had envisioned our photo session taking place on the beach and in the forest (sunlight glowing…during ‘golden hour’…), a typhoon storm blew into Oregon on our wedding day, making outdoor photos impossible. Thankfully Joe and our friend Steve discovered a covered bridge in the area, so after our ceremony, we drove to it, and my best friend Melissa worked her camera magic for an hour while we stood under the bridge.

It was literally our shelter in the storm.

High Res C&J full bridge.jpgWhich, in thinking about it now, is a pretty good metaphor for marriage. Life can be tough, right? Having Joe alongside me to weather the ups and downs really does feel like having permanent shelter.

So, when I found out there was a ‘Covered Bridge Capital’ in Oregon, it seemed like a fun idea for his gift. I started searching Airbnb (a favourite pastime), and came across this adorable tiny cottage. Rustic! Rural! On a farm with animals! I was sold. Continue reading

‘Round the Web: April 2016

FullSizeRender (23).jpgHow’s everyone doing?

Joe and I are taking off later today to spend the weekend at this very rustic cottage on a farm outside of Cottage Grove, two hours south of Portland. (This was my ‘experience’ gift to him for Christmas…so we’ve been looking forward to it since December!) The plan is to do a little bike tour to six covered bridges in the area, explore Cottage Grove, have a picnic at Dorena Lake, and of course chill at the cottage (found on Airbnb).

On Sunday the owners are going to give us a tour of their farm, complete with geese, chickens, ducks, and rabbits. If I’m on the ball I’ll take some photos of our trip and share them in a post sometime next week. :)

Until then, a few links for your Friday/weekend browsing…

* Ijeoma Oluo on why Beyonce’s Lemonade is about much more than infidelity.

* Raising men who do housework.

* Every interaction between two strangers walking dogs ever.

How ’empowerment’ became something for women to buy.

* Why everyone on TV has the same hair.

* Five spring hikes within two hours of Portland.

* “Stop telling me I should have kids.”

* Excited to start reading this book this weekend.

* How about this ‘chore date’ idea? I think I’m into it.

* Lastly, let’s bubble wrap this man :)

xx ~C.

A New Way to Look at Creative Frustration

188HI finally got my hands on a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book “Big Magic” from my local library a few weeks ago, and have been stealing a little time before sleep most nights to absorb her refreshing perspective on creativity.

The book is packed with insight on how to push through fears that create creative blocks, how to get over perfectionism, and most of all how to stop taking ourselves and our creativity — of all forms — so seriously. Reading it is like feeling a cool breeze through a suddenly cracked-open window while you’re sweating it out in a hot chamber of creative angst. Not that I’ve been feeling that particular kind of angst as of late, but I certainly have in the past, and will no doubt again. It comes with the territory.

One of the underlying ideas Gilbert expounds on is that Continue reading

Line Break: ‘A Poem for Someone Who is Juggling Her Life’ by Rose Cook

photo-1452914793772-af331bf6e4b6.jpegThis is a poem for someone
who is juggling her life.
Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.

It needs repeating
over and over
to catch her attention
over and over,
as someone who is juggling her life
finds it difficult to hear.

Be still sometimes.
Be still sometimes.
Let it all fall sometimes.


Rose Cook is an English poet. This poem is from her collection Notes From a Bright Field, published in 2013.

California Dreaming

IMG_1112Starting a story about California with a picture of palm trees is highly unoriginal, but I decided I don’t care. I like palm trees. I like the wild shapes their leaves make against the clouds, and the patterns of the bark, wrapping in circles from the earth to the sky, and how their refusal to look like anything else on the planet makes you feel like you’re somewhere exotic when you spot one, even if where you are is a city on the west coast of America.

But then, this isn’t just any city.

This is San Francisco.

And I realized, while we were there, that I am in love with it.

IMG_1056 (1).jpg Continue reading

‘Round the Web: March 2016

photo-1417721955552-a49ac2d334e8 (1).jpegHi all, I’m back from our trip to California and ready to head into April…but not without saying goodbye to March with a little ‘Round the Web action! I’ll be sharing some photos from SF next week, but until then…

* This incredible home makeover made me cry

Honest Illustrations About Adulthood

* Have you see James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” sessions? It’s new to me, but the most recent one is with Jennifer Lopez, and it’s highly entertaining. J. Lo seems so fun and cool!

* 10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be

* This penguin and this 71-year-old man know how to do friendship

* Great tips on how to shop for clothes…in a way that’s socially responsible

* Wow, what an inspiring list of 50 + films about women

* If it’s been a while since you had a deep belly laugh, I recommend reading David Sedaris’ latest essay The Perfect Fit. It’s hysterical.

* Lastly, for the ladies…10 Common Bra Problems, Solved

xo ~C.

Image by Paula Borowska