cat in a bowl

A Tribute to My Relentless 80-Year-Old Cat

This is clearly a crazy cat lady post. Feel free to run if you 1) Don’t like cats for whatever reason or 2) Think cat writing tributes are completely ridiculous.

If you’re still here, also know that I haven’t lost it or hit a wall with my writing. I simply thought it was time to write a tribute to my old lady cat, Panda (real name: Aphrodite) while she’s still here in the realm of humans, rather than writing one later when she moves on.

Why do we write tributes after humans and animals die anyway? Isn’t it better to honor them while they’re alive? Without further ado…

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say no and yes

Saying No Before Yes

I am not immune to the power of words. No matter how many times I’ve strung words together to create stories, even emails, I take pause. I respect their power, the way they stab you in the heart in the best possible way.

How could I better say no to the noise to better say yes to the adventures I craved?”

I came across this question last night and I was floored. Sometimes timing is just so spot-on when you read what someone else wrote. And it’s as if that person is speaking right through the page.

This question was one of several Tim Ferriss asked himself when he reached a fork in life’s unpredictable road. Perhaps it resonates with you or it doesn’t do anything for you at all. Right now, it neatly encapsulates my life.

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rose wine bottle

Abandoning My Flower Cynicism for Good

I used to think flowers were bullshit. And by “used to” I mean 15 years of my life were shrouded in flower cynicism.

During my early dating years, I instructed boyfriends to adhere to my flower rules. Don’t apologize with them and don’t express love with them. Got it?

Perhaps these flower rules seem harsh, but I had my reasons. If petals faded, wilted, then fell to the ground within 3-5 days…how was that tragic performance a symbol of eternal love? How did the cheapest bouquet from the chain grocery store serve as a relationship peace treaty?

One day I was forced to abandon my flower cynicism. Mr. H gave me an irresistible bunch of flowers for our 11-year anniversary.

He kissed me and said: “Don’t be a dick. Happy anniversary.” (Side note…we call each other dicks all the time in this house. It’s our time-out phrase.)

Mr. H and his floral-scented purple, yellow, and green accomplices tugged at my heart strings a little. Okay, a lot.

Continue reading “Abandoning My Flower Cynicism for Good”

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

stockholm streets

We’re Still Our Favorite People

I heard the most beautifully resolute sentence the other night. A man was talking to me and Mr. H about his wife, and he said: “We’re still our favorite people.”

I loved this. It stuck to my heart like emotional glue.

The next day a different man shared his upcoming ten-year anniversary plans with us. He was surprising his wife (and mother of three) with a getaway. That trip wasn’t to the usual romantic destination you might expect, on some white sand beach or big city with reservation-only restaurants. It was Oklahoma City, where they got married.

I loved this too. It stuck to my heart like emotional glue.

I guess I was moved by how much both of these men loved their wives. And, how very real it was. When people have been married for a long time, there is a different level of life experience.

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