Category Archives: Portland



And that is how you open your first home game as a professional team.

The video only caught one of the banners; this is what that end of the arena looked like:

Portland waited 36 years for this and it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
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Posted by on 15 April 2011 in Happy Thoughts, MLS, Portland, Sports, Timbers



Or some such nonsense.

My ever-changing relationship with my hometown is just that: sometimes tumultuous, filled with spite and resentment or sometimes filled with so much longing and lust that if the luggage wasn’t stored in the creepy attic, I’m sure I’d be packing and buying a one-way ticket right now.

A great deal of my time was spent alone.  It wasn’t planned that way, but it was a nice surprise.  I read an actual newspaper over breakfast, took walks in the rain, mindlessly rode the bus whilst lost in my iPod and spent hours sitting on the floor of a book store surrounded by my stacks; the Must-Haves and the Desperately-Needs and the I-Cannot-Live-Withouts.


Encompassing an entire city block downtown,  one of Portland’s treasures is Lan Su (previously known as the Portland Classical Chinese Garden).  And it never occurred to me until this trip that my only visits to Lan Su were to show it to others, I had never been there on my own.

Living in a single place for so long can make you take it for granted.  It wasn’t until we left Portland in 2008 that I realized I had no photographs of it.  Why would I need permanent pieces of places, people and things I saw every day?

Now I fear people mistake me for a tourist whenever I’m in the Northwest.  I dress like a native but walk like a visitor.  People do not know what to make of me there.  Or here.

I settled into the tea house at the garden.  There was a woman in her 60s, eating noodles and marking pages in South American travel guides.  At a table in the far corner was a Catholic Priest, a Rabbi and a man that I could only guess was a Hindu of Indian ethnicity.  Wondering if I was watching the real-life setup to a joke, I strained my ears to eavesdrop on their conversation.  They were planning an inter-faith wedding ceremony over Chinese tea and won-tons.  The Hindu recited a poem.

“That’s beautiful.  Say it again.” whispered the Priest and turned to a clean page in his notebook.

I am not a regular tea drinker, I am from the coffee-addicted Pacific Northwest, after all.  But I appreciate and really enjoy the methodical and deliberate actions of Asian tea ceremonies.  There are tools for transferring leaves, ceramics that enhance scents, dexterous hands that balance fragile gaiwans and water that blooms.

There was also the most delicious mung bean mooncake I’ve ever encountered and it took all my will to behave like an adult and not shove the entire thing down my gullet while simultaneously ordering 500 more.

Maybe it was the calm atmosphere, but I felt I made some inner peace with Portland.  I cannot deny that it is a part of me.  A huge part.  The Husband and I are in agreement that if his job ever took us back to Stumptown, it would have to be for the right reason: because that is where we belong and not simply because Charlotte is not.

An observation by a younger sister rang true:

“In Portland, you can walk to a building or a house or a church and say, ‘This is what happened here’.  But in Charlotte, you can’t stand in front of anything.  It’s all gone.”

The disconnect I have with Charlotte probably has something to do with this.  The city was leveled in the name of progress and the citizens are angry, with good reason.  Now Charlotte is stuck, refusing to move forward on anything out of fear of losing what precious little is left of the historic Queen City.

Natives to the region also feel the disconnect, but will never admit it.  Their continued obstinance is why Charlotte will be left behind.  And although I regularly mock Charlotte, this saddens me greatly.

The Husband believes some of Portland’s perceived “folkiness” is nothing more than naïveté, which I fervently deny!  No matter how weird, how unlikely, how tiny the intended minority, Portland gives everyone and their wild ideas a platform.  They may not work, they may find no support, but the city is one continuous pitch/brain storming session and has the necessary community that listens and will actively respond.

I know there are other places in the US like this, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few.  The greatest challenge is deciding which one will bring me contentment and which one will be content with me.


Posted by on 31 March 2011 in Photographs, Portland, Reality Check


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>Without Fail


After any extended flight or time in an airport, I usually come down with some type of head/chest cold nastiness. 
And so it begins.  The tea kettle has been working overtime and I’m thinking of purchasing a few acres of forest to make up for the destruction I’ve caused with my personal tissue graveyard.
While I gather my thoughts about going home, I will leave you with a few photos.

Tower of Cosmic Reflection

Chinese Paper Bush


Posted by on 28 March 2011 in Photographs, Portland




Today I
  • Watched a hipster drop her precious Voodoo Donut on the pavement while attempting to send a text message.  Probably about acquiring a Voodoo Donut.
  • Dropped a boatload of cash at Powell’s, but it’s money well spent.  I cannot foresee a day when I will own just enough or too many books.
  • Took a harrowing ride in my sister’s deathtrap of a car.  I’m pretty sure it’s not street legal since parts of it are actually being held together by duct tape.  K, if you’re reading this, I will give you the money for things like mirrors.
  • Stood on a corner and smelled the intoxicating aromas of the endless food carts.
  • Conversation with a waiter included “The greens come from our rooftop garden” and “Would you like to see our chicken coop?”
  • Reaped a benefit of working in health care: I am friends with plenty of doctors and nurses that will treat me and usually for free.  Downside of this benefit: Previous manager was way too excited to jab a needle into my knee (don’t worry, I’m fine).
  • Drank the best damn cup of coffee I’ve had in a very, very long time.

Posted by on 23 March 2011 in Portland


>My Hometown


Most people ask about the rain.  Then the beer.  And depending on who is asking the questions, not so subtle probing about what type of environmentalist-liberal-socialist-hippie-elitist-heathen I am soon follows.

Since leaving Portland, I have only been back twice.  The most recent was March of 2009 and that was for a tragic event, not giving me a lot of time to thoroughly enjoy the city.  The time prior was to be a part of a wonderful wedding in the mountains and I nearly had a nervous breakdown at the airport when it came time to leave.
This time was going to be different.  I wasn’t there out of need or necessity.  It was a vacation and I was not to dwell on my perceived greatness of Portland or downfalls of Charlotte.
As the Pacific Northwest is prone to do, it rained. A lot. Cue cliché scene:  I was watching the rain while sitting in an independent bookstore cafe, drinking fair trade, shade grown, locally roasted coffee and eating an organic vegetable sandwich on bread from the bakery up the street.  Tourists are easy to spot by their umbrellas.  The locals just pull up their hoodies; rain dries.
At that moment I realized I was what I had denied for so long: the Portland Snob.  “No shit.” and a round of laughter was the reaction I received from friends upon sharing this revelation.
My relationship with Portland is by far one of the most complicated in my life.  I adore the quality of life it offers, but loathe it for being so damn insular.  The casualness, accessibility and intelligence beckon me, but the bubble of self-importance repulses me.  I whole heartily miss the forests, mountains and environmentally progressive agendas, but can do without the holier-than-thou attitude.
I walked back to the hotel in the rain.  It was so comforting, not like the apocalyptic thunderstorms I’m subjected to in the South.  I saw bums peeing in China Town, a hippie yelling at the driver of an SUV, businesses and restaurants proudly displaying advertising for the upcoming Gay Pride Parade, women with unshaven legs and cyclist after cyclist after cyclist.
Part of the trip was marred by food poisoning (Canada!  I shake my fist at thee!), but ended with a stunning day on the muddy Willamette watching the famed Dragon Boat Races.  I tried not to think about returning to the oppressively hot and humid Carolinas, where a cross-burning happened at a church the day before we left, a State Senator called the President and a gubernatorial candidate “ragheads” and then clarified the matter by stating he was proud to be a redneck.  Instead, I consumed an entire Elephant Ear at Saturday Market and wondered how my vegetable garden was coming along.
The Gods, with their twisted sense of humor gave me an extra reprieve from Charlotte in the form of canceled flights; allowing a night in Chicago.
I do not see myself living in Portland again or anywhere within the Pacific Northwest for that matter.  It’s too far from the urban landscape I so desire in the Northeast and Europe.
Or maybe I’m destined to be an elitist nomad; never to be satisfied.  At some point, I’ll need to figure it all out.  Until then, I just continue wanting to live in a place that doesn’t look at me like I’m insane when I ask for my coffee in a travel mug, offers recycling to its patrons and has a comprehensive public transit system that can get me there.
View from hotel window the morning of the Grand Floral Parade.

Long tradition of families camping out along the parade route and/or marking their spot on the street the night before.

Gates of China Town behind people decorating the street before the parade begins.

Not even rain can keep the people from drinking their beer.  Outdoors.

Dragon Boats.

Posted by on 15 June 2010 in Portland, Reality Check, Sadness


>A Reversal


I began typing about my annoyance with the talking heads on various political shows, but decided to write about two things that made me laugh today. This and this. Yes, a blog about the new Star Trek movie and another about drinking.

Hmmm….probably a small, sad glimpse into my social life.

What made me laugh was not the writing, but the comments that followed each post. Some people are very excited about the new Star Trek movie, but holy crap are people irate that the author referred to the group as “Trekkers” and not “Trekkies”. The same scenario plays out in the blog about drinking. One author refers to Austin, TX as “The Portland (OR) of the South”. As a native or Portland, I followed this…barely. He then writes he heard Portland had good coffee and tea and maybe he should go there one day to try them.

Coffee and tea?? Are you !@#$%^&* kidding me? What about the BEER? You are writing an article about drinking alcohol and all Portland gets is a nod for coffee and tea?

Apparently I was not the only Portlander to read this and have their head explode in disbelief.

Portland has the most craft breweries of any city in the United States with 28 (more than the other Beertopia: Köln, Germany) with many more in the surrounding areas. Portland has tours dedicated to breweries and is home to the nation’s largest independent brewers’ festival, a holiday brewers’ festival that is not to be missed, as well as the world’s largest organic brewers’ festival. Beer is served with breakfast, baked in cakes and once spouted from a downtown fountain.

But, I digress.

Many thanks to the New York Times readin’, beer lovin’ geeks out there that made my day.

…and for the record, Portland does offer some amazing coffee and tea.

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Posted by on 9 April 2009 in Beer, Drinking, Finger Wagging, Portland


>Modus Tollens


It wasn’t hearing the flight attendant say “or-uh-gun” and not “or-ee-gone” or even seeing actual mountains and not some hill named “Mt. Whatever”. It wasn’t the Crater Lake license plates or the thick gray cloud cover. It wasn’t even seeing vegetarian sausage and vegan scrambles on the standard menus or having a recycling receptacle next to the garbage can in the hotel room. It wasn’t watching the sun come over Mt. Bachelor or witnessing the marriage of dear friends by a Priest known to so many in their childhood. It was not even the much anticipated pint from Alameda Brewhouse.

Mt. Bachelor from the Sunriver Resort.

It wasn’t the Willamette River, blinking KOIN Center or seeing names like Burnside, Glisan and Pettygrove. Not driving under the 12th Street Overpass; utilized by so many Simon Benson Polytechnic students returning from lunch at Lloyd Center. It wasn’t looking up Terwilliger Boulevard and being unable to calculate how much of my life was spent on The Hill as a student, an employee and patient.

I knew exactly where to go if I wanted to Dance on Air, consume exquisite tater-tots or purchase a claw-foot bathtub and stuffed hippo in a single stop. I considered walking up a favorite staircase in beloved building or taking in a movie with a micro-brew. And yet, it was not any of those things, either.

It also wasn’t the cart offering burritos larger than my head or the showcasing of responsible pet ownership by residents cleaning up after cherished canines. Not my best friend with her baby. It wasn’t foggy Marine Drive or a lone clock tower telling me to Go By Train. Not Powell’s, Saturday Market, Red Lines, Blue Lines, Yellow Lines or hackey-sackers in Pioneer Courthouse Square. It wasn’t even the ubiquitous bicycle lanes or PDX’s green carpet.

Mt. St. Helens with Mt. Adams behind her.

It was the window seat on an express jet between Portland and Seattle that took advantage of a crisp, clear morning. The pilot seemed to have sensed my need or perhaps it was just luck we circled at such an angle to see the unassuming Montgomery Park Building and Big Pink. For those privy to the orientation of the aircraft, a quick glance revealed those glorious green spires that make runners push their bodies to limits unknown every October. The 45-minute flight wasn’t long enough for me to absorb the views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams. As we got closer to Mt. Rainier, I felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I did not live here anymore.

Can you find the Space Needle?

As we circled Elliott Bay, I realized it wasn’t so much that I did not live here but that I lived there. This is when I began sobbing. Once in Sea-Tac I could barely pull myself together to send a text message to Matt : “I don’t want to go back to Charlotte.” I don’t think he knew just how serious those eight words were to me; I was the last person on my connecting flight since I was not convinced I was getting on the plane until the very last moment.

Here I sit. Back in Charlotte. Wondering what to do now.


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