ubud jungle

A Tiger Trap Love Story

Bee took the next step forward in the darkening evening, humming inside with vacation happiness and that nice buzz from the 2-for-1 cocktails at dinner. She fell straight into a tiger trap—otherwise known as a giant hole on the side of the road.

In many other parts of the world, there would have been a sidewalk where she stood. Smooth, except for the occasional cracks children hop over to improve their luck. Wide enough for streams of people romanced by their own distractions to pass each other, without making eye contact or brushing shoulders. Protected from motor vehicles whizzing past, simply by being elevated from the road and reserved for pedestrians.

If, for any reason, such a glorious sidewalk is obstructed, a bold warning sign bordered by unmistakable florescent orange cones alerts the pedestrians to ensure their safety.

Not here. Where the sidewalk ends…a lot. If there was a sidewalk to begin with. Even still, it’s no tiger trap.

A married couple Bee once knew went to Southeast Asia for their honeymoon. It was a romantic adventure, until the husband fell into a tiger trap in a remote part of Cambodia. She had been hiking in front of him. When she turned around, he was gone.

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changi airport

Enlightened in a Foreign Comatose Airport

The world Bee had known shifted permanently when the woman rose from her prayer mat. It was 5:07am, in a foreign comatose airport halfway across her microscopic universe.

After 18 mind-altering hours on a plane, Bee couldn’t remember how to walk. Each step was its own careful performance as she dragged her body across the vertigo-inducing carpet. She felt like that dead guy from Weekend at Bernie’s. But without the other two dudes keeping her upright—no 1980s windbreaker and bushy mustache to help her out either.

Humming its mechanical song, the moving walkway carried nobody. Regardless, it glided forward on its devoted expedition.

People clung to shadowy edges, avoiding dim spotlights from the airport heavens above which mocked their undereye circles and ashy skin. Weird music floated across the cavernous terminal—failing to soothe, succeeding as an agitator.

Bee stumbled when she saw her, this veiled woman so beautifully grounded on her protected island. The top end of the woman’s prayer mat rested against the moving walkway. She pressed her slender, dark hands against the mat and sat back on her heels. Her mat was crooked, but she didn’t adjust it.

While everyone else avoided the unflattering overhead lights, she basked in her exclusive sunbeams. While everyone else waited impatiently for their journey to begin, she savored the journey that had already begun.

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pittock mansion sunrise

Capturing the Magic Hour to Save and Savor Our Lives

How you start your day is how you shape it. If you don’t start your day the way you want to, someone else will shape it for you. This applies to anyone: a student, a professional, an entrepreneur, or a parent.

The term “golden hour” defines this fragile moment in time. The golden hour is a critical time for saving a life and savoring a life.

In the medical industry, it is “the first hour after the occurrence of a traumatic injury, considered the most critical for successful emergency treatment.” In photography, it is roughly the first hour of light after sunrise, and the last hour of light before sunset, when the quality of light produces optimal photographs.

Photographers sometimes call it the “magic hour.”

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lompoc tavern 23rd closed

The End of Lompoc on 23rd: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I write this blog with fresh beer-flavored tears puddled on my laptop keyboard. Since 1993, Lompoc Tavern on 23rd has been that “come as you are” place to gather with friends and neighbors.This week on September 26, Lompoc will close its doors at their Northwest Portland location forever.

lompoc closing

I barely know how to begin to express my love and sadness for our local watering hole as we approach last call. I am truly a writer without words, but I will do my best to pay a small tribute.

This won’t resonate with everyone, unless you have experienced the unapologetically charming dynamics of a true neighborhood pub. It’s not about the pub, but about what happens inside.

lompoc friends

I always wanted my own version of Cheers, but I could never find the right spot. That all changed when I moved to Portland almost five years ago and settled into an apartment right above a locally loved brewpub…Lompoc Tavern.

Lompoc was always a place anyone could come to. Didn’t matter if you looked like shit or felt like shit, if you just worked out or were going out, if you had a fantastic day or a crap day.

lompoc beer

When Mr. H and I first moved to Portland, one of our first pints was consumed downstairs at Lompoc. Lindley, who is now one of our friends, poured that first beer from the tap. It was an IPA, crisp and full of body like many of the best Pacific Northwest beers we hold so close to our hearts.

lompoc lindley

We didn’t know anybody yet, but we felt welcome here. We had no family or friends in Oregon, but over time we began to fill that emotional void at Lompoc.

In 2014, I came here after finishing my third novel, Nola Fran Evie, to celebrate.

lompoc tavern booth

Earlier this year, I came here after finishing my fourth novel, Virasana, to celebrate.

lompoc celebration

After a dry month without booze, this is where I had my first delicious beer.

dry month celebration

Multiple discussions over Lompoc pints inspired us to leave our full-time jobs and start a business together.

goodbye lompoc

“I’ll have a Gunnar.” When you’re not in the mood for a pint, this is how regulars order a smaller beer. It’s named after the outstanding guy on the far right, Gunnar.

lompoc regulars

We have started our week the same way for almost five years…at Miser Monday. This is the only place in town you can find a great beer for a smoking deal ($3.50 for a pint, but it used to be $2.50).

People read books at the bar here, because…why the hell not?

lompoc bar reading

This was the best place to chat with friends and neighbors…and meet new people. There isn’t a bad spot to sit, whether you hunker down in a dark wooden booth, savor people-watching on the patio facing 23rd Avenue, or get cozy around the rad horseshoe-shaped bar.

We sat on the patio when it was nice out and when it wasn’t nice out—when we had a lot to catch up on or when we wanted to enjoy a pint together in comfortable silence.

For dreary days, Lompoc had the best dark beer in Portland, LSD (Lompoc Strong Draft), to warm you up. As soon as the temperature dropped below 60 degrees, we ordered LSD’s with manic consistency.

Our bartender, Lindley, recently said: “Fuck the groundhog. I know when it’s fall, because Hugh and Britt start ordering LSD’s.”

lompoc tavern bar

When my grandmother died last October, I received the text message I knew was coming from my mom while I was sitting at the bar. I stepped outside onto the Lompoc patio to give my mom a call.

I cried and looked at the street—it was dark and the leaves whispered as they fell. I went back inside after I got off the phone, because I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to be at Lompoc instead.

Mr. H and I raised our pint glasses and toasted: “To Nana.”

lompoc service

Lompoc Tavern was the one constant over the past five years—as we built a new life for ourselves in a foreign city, as we experienced growth professionally and personally, as we built an alternative family of friends.

lompoc tavern friends

Portland is a booming city, one that now changes dramatically in a matter of months. I am partially to blame for this economic growth, since I was part of the eager herd that migrated here from somewhere else.

Seems like you blink, and suddenly a high-rise apartment building soars into the sky. Rents have been out of control for everyone. Businesses are ousted or bulldozed to make room for the shiny and new.

lompoc tavern sign

I sometimes ask: Where is the Portland I fell in love with?

I could always depend on an exceptional pint downstairs at Lompoc when I needed to remember. I never imagined the day would come when I would have to say goodbye to the piece of authentic Portland I was clinging onto.

lompoc patio with dog

When I found out the news, I tried to keep it together. Naturally, I ended up bawling into a paper napkin at the bar.

I suppose it’s time to start making new memories in the establishment that takes over the space. I hope that we can retain some of the wonderful qualities we created together over the years, but obviously many things will never be the same.

lompoc tavern closes

This is the end of an era.

This is where we ordered cheesy spuds and a Pamplemousse IPA more times than I can count. This is where we started and ended our week.

This is where we talked about nothing and everything with great friends and strangers. This is where we shed our workday and became ourselves again.

This was our Cheers.

lompoc patio hangout

Lompoc, you are an iconic OG Portland establishment—you will always be loved and missed by your friends in Northwest. Thank you…cheers.

cheers lompoc

Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
The troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name

wallis simpson badass women in history

Badass Women in History: Wallis Simpson

I’m not usually the kind of gal who gets excited about royal scandals. Quite the opposite, I swiftly roll my eyes and move past the headlines. That is until I learned about Wallis Simpson in a film written and directed by Madonna.

A Madonna movie? Yep. I’m a loyal Madonna fan, as anyone who knows me will confirm. I was beyond curious when the “Queen of Pop”—quite out of the blue—chose to make a movie about Wallis Simpson, the two-time American divorcée who became the Duchess of Windsor.

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