Category Archives: Portland

About Portland



To be fair, I thought I should list the good stuff in Berkeley. I think if I could not be living in Oregon or Washington, the Bay Area would be next on the list.

Here goes, what Berkeley has and Portland does not:

1. Fantastic weather! Though, I never minded Portland’s.

2. Diversity! Resulting in fantastic restaurants and the possibility for Ellie to take a “Baby Mandarin” class. Though I’m not spending $30 for Ellie to walk around putting everything in her mouth while the adults recite single words in Chinese.

3. A good school where Jesse can get a PhD in Chinese languages and literature. He said today that a prof (from another university) told him that Berkeley was the only place Jesse could really study what he’s studying.

4. Good donuts

5. Close enough to drive to Parents, Grandparents and Cayucos without Ellie getting pissed off (as much)

6. Year-round farmer’s markets (ie, year round local produce)

7. The Sea

8. San Francisco nearby! (and even just looking at the cityscape from the East Bay)

9. New friends

10. Good, small, local markets for produce and meats and fishes

…and that’s it for now. I’m sure I’ll miss it here when we move to Minnesota for Jesse’s first teaching position.




I’ve been terribly cranky ever since coming back from Portland a week ago. Darn you Portland! I almost think I should stay away so I don’t get grumpy about what I’m missing.

Here is the short list of what Portland has and Berkeley does not:

1. A sister, her husband, their gestating child, their cat and comfortable house.

2. A brother, a sister-in-law who is also a good friend, their fun kids and a comfortable house.

3. Coffee shops with good coffee

4. Coffee shops with good food

5. Coffee shops with places for kids to play!

6. Easy(er) access to good friends.

7. High Chairs and changing tables in every establishment.

8. Nicholas’ and Saburos

9. Good parks

10. Nice little neighborhoods to walk around (Sellwood, Multnomah Village, Mississippi, etc, ad nauseum)

11. A recently transplanted aunt who had lived nearby and was very helpful

I’d better stop. I think I could be writing this list for hours. The point is Portland is better and I know it and I know I will not get to move there for at least 6 years, if ever. Humph.

Daddy, This One’s For You


We had an absolutely gorgeous day today! It must have been over 50, clear blue skies (very unusual in Shanghai) with a gentle, springy breeze. Ahhhhh! And I got to spend it all with my sweetie! Jesse is still spoiling me, though it’s post-birthday now, so we spent the day completely relaxing. We walked a bit, sat around a lot, read our books, and sipped hot beverages most of the day. Now he’s studying Chinese next to me while I tippity-tap a bit on my computer. I wish every day were the weekend.

I’m 31 now, which seems just a bit old for someone who still claps her hands in excitement and likes exotically flavored chap sticks. But you know what? It’s OK! I don’t mind at all being a bit older. I’m pretty happy with all I’ve done thus far in life, and I’m sure glad I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to enjoy it. I’m pleased with the five years I invested in a career at OMSI, and I’m also glad I left and have had the opportunity to see so much more. Our year in Japan was amazing and eye-opening and sometimes, I miss it so very much. My students were sweet and so crazy, Hachinohe was beautiful and we made fantastic friends.

Our short but sweet months in Spain we so very awesome. Living and studying in Europe! With your love! It was, far and away, the most romantic months of my life. Once we’d moved home to Portland, Jesse and I both felt a bit at odds with ourselves, what to do now? We got random jobs, took an embarrassingly long time to move out of Erin and Adam’s apartment and, ultimately, both ended up back in school. Jesse got a second Bachelor’s and I had a fantastic time learning Chemistry (Biology, Microbiology, A & P) and working my butt off to learn it well. We had so much fun hanging out with my expanding family and reconnecting with old friends.

And now here we are taking it to the next level, folks, living in crazy Shanghai, loving and learning even more about each other every day. CHEERS! To living my life to it’s fullest! I can’t wait to take it to the next level and see where we go from here.

I was talking to Momm and Daddy today and he told me how very much he enjoys reading my updates. He said I write in my voice and he can hear me laughing when he reads them. That makes me feel so good! This one’s for you, Daddy.

Snowy Memories


It’s snowing today. Nice big fat flakes that stick for about 5 seconds before melting into the slush already accumulated. It’s peaceful (aside from the screeching brakes and honking still audible from the street) and makes the city seem somehow cleaner.

It reminds me of a day in Japan, when I was walking across town to meet Jesse at his High School. There was a mall near his school that had recently opened up a coffee shop with actual whipped cream on top (rather than whipped weirdness, I never figured out what they were topping with at other establishments) of the mochas. It was snowing in Hachinohe that day and I was walking along with a few of my students, gathering snow flakes on my tongue, saying goodbye to them on the way as they dropped into bus stops, down side streets, etc.. I felt so good that day. The world seemed brighter, richer, promising. I think we’d recently passed the 6-month mark in our stay, that would be February, and I finally felt I had banished the demons that had been with me through Oct, Nov, Dec….. I was no longer embarrassed about looking so foreign, no longer feeling quite so fat, no longer struggling to ask for help from other teachers, no longer desperately missing my comfortable place at OMSI, no longer afraid of falling into a stomach-clenching anxiety in the middle of the night.

That fall in Japan was the most humbling period in my life. The time when I realized my own body’s power, my mind’s ability to make me feel like a crazy, anxious, awful shadow of myself. I have never felt worse and think I never will again. I was so scared about this year in China, that I would feel that way again. That I would psyche myself out and feel so frightened, so out of control and also, so hateful of myself that I could not look in a mirror for fear of seeing that ugly person. You can read about it here, on Diaryland, but I don’t recommend it. It’s not going to make you happy. I can’t stand to read them.

The good news is, I don’t feel crappy. I’m not just OK, either. I feel pretty damn good. That’s not to say I’m not looking forward to going home (counting down the weeks, actually!), but that I think I’ve got a little control over my fears. And I’ve got Jesse. When we left for that year in Japan, we’d been together less than a year, and now it’s been over four. I’ll tell you something – I didn’t exactly show him a good time that fall in Japan, but he stuck it out with me. He’s my life and my love.

All that to say, it’s snowing in Shanghai and I’m going out into it. Good day, folks. Mine will be.

Rainy Day


I laughed out loud twice while reading Dooce* this morning and think I may be feeling better. My first outburst came concurrently with a sip of coffee almost spit out, as she wrote of her husband, when hearing their daughter’s singing along to “The Little Mermaid”, asked if that was their girl in the living room or somebody fondling a llama. I do recommend you check up on Dooce and Leta (Erin).

Today is dripping and chilly and I love it. I told Jesse this morning how I am always comforted by a rainy day and he supposed it might be that it reminds me of Portland. I think, though, that I have always loved a rainy day. The sound of rain, the smell of it, and the possibility of staying in making bread make the rain special. Whether we’re here in Shanghai where the winter is the driest time of year, or in Portland where it gets old after the 100th day of rain, I do like a rainy day. When I was living in the ground floor half of a duplex in Portland, I found I missed never being able to hear the rain on the roof. I’d wake up, go about my “getting ready for work” business and sometimes not know til opening the door that it was rainy. So I put a metal garbage can lid outside my bedroom window where the gutter dripped down and from then on could hear a steady plink!, plunk! when it was raining.

There are little birds just outside my window! They’re hopping here and there and making light little chirpy hello’s to each other. Sigh…small little happinesses.

* I think I fixed that link to Dooce. It’s the stooopid firewall in China that makes me use this other website to post to wordpress and then sticks it’s address in places it doesn’t belong. But it makes me angry and I’m going to stop.