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.

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.

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Weekend in San Francisco

photo-1416184008836-5486f3e2cf58 (1).jpegWhen I was in high school, one of my big dreams was to live in San Francisco with my friend Stu. We had some sort of 60s-era fantasy about being wild and free flower children, letting our creativity blossom and our destiny flow.

Fast forward to my mid-twenties, when I finally did visit the city, with my mom. The trip was in celebration of her turning 50, and we stayed at a cool hotel called The Cosmo (I think) which had a complimentary wine hour in the lounge every afternoon, ate dinner in The Mission, and browsed the shops. I loved the city, and always hoped I’d return. Continue reading

‘Round the Web: February 2016

photo-1433424165784-75568b0aca13How’s everyone doing?

Last night I had the chance to see one of my favourite Canadian singers, Basia Bulat, perform in Portland. She was amazing! (I went with Joe, who got us tickets as part of my Christmas gift.) This woman plays a zillion instruments and sings with her whole body, every part of her in the song and in the moment. It’s such a joy to see.

Today we are heading to our friends Dianna and Evan’s place to watch the Oscars with our Portland crew. We all had vague intentions of “dressing up” for the event but have decided to go to to the opposite end of the spectrum instead, with a theme of pajamas/extreme comfort. Dianna is going to make her famous “Rotel” dip, which is literally just canned Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta cheese, stirred and heated. It’s completely gluttonous and stupidly delicious. (I can’t wait.) Very intrigued to see how Chris Rock deals with #oscarssowhite and hoping he doesn’t hold back.

Onto the links, if you’re looking for some coffee (or whatever else you may be sipping) companionship…

What a beautiful Modern Love essay

10 ways to tie a scarf

Breasts: The Odd Couple made me smile and think back to my ‘late bloomer’ years. “I was only twelve, but already understood that a mismatched set put me at a cultural disadvantage. We girls pick things up along the path to puberty, collecting whispers like wildflowers and poring over teen magazines as if reading sacred texts.”

* Currently reading this book. And this one. (Lots of easy-to-implement wisdom in both.)

Barbie’s got a new body (Finally!)

* Have you seen the movie Room? Joe and I watched it a couple weeks ago, and we both thought it was excellent. I enjoyed this interview with Brie Larson, the lead actress, on the radio show q recently, discussing her intense preparation for the role.

The problem with “diversity”. (And a vote for inclusion.)

* Lastly, the best parts of being in love…13 couples and one solo artist on what being in a relationship means.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

xox ~C.
(Photo by Anette Grolle)

Inside Portland’s (One and Only) Cat Lounge


This winter was the rainiest in Portland since Joe and I moved here, with a streak of 25 days of rain in December — the wettest month ever recorded in the city’s history.

I grew up in rainy Victoria, B.C. and love the Pacific Northwest, so I’m no stranger to wet days. But this was a LOT of rain. Combined with the short days and dark looming by 4 pm, the weather started to feel a touch limiting. Working from home, I love/need to spend time outside, especially on weekends, partly for the dose of nature and fresh air but also so I don’t become a total hermit. (I am definitely one of those half introvert/half extrovert people…but winter tends to play up my introvert side.)

What are your rainy season activities? Joe and I have been watching lots of movies (not to mention the series Master of None, Making a Murderer, and Transparent season two), reading books, playing board games (in which he continues to kick my ass at scrabble, don’t get me started), de-cluttering the apartment…but recently a twinge of cabin fever had me craving something totally different. I wanted to visit somewhere in Portland we had never been, in a part of town we don’t usually hang out in. I wanted to shake things up and do something weird. I researched a bunch of options and came up with a random list of ideas for what became our ‘weird day’ mission, which happened to coincide with Valentine’s Day.

Top of the list: Purringtons Cat Lounge.


Purringtons is a cafe in Northeast Portland where people go to hang out with cats. Cat cafes are popular in Korea, so I had heard of them while living there, but I never visited one which, looking back, was a total missed opportunity. Now they’re popping up all over North America! Purringtons opened just over a year ago, and it’s Oregon’s first-ever cat cafe. Continue reading