Culinary orgasms and roses in Portland

    I am back!

    I spent the past three days in Porland, Ore., for the annual AAN conference and awards. AAN stand for Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, an organization that includes more than 100 weekly papers from across the nation. Journalists, including Jim Hightower and Arianna Huffington, met for three days of workshops, inspiring speeches and drinking — not necessarily in that order.

    Portland is an amazingly beautiful city — urban without feeling dirty and frayed. The air was so lovely compared to Colorado's bone-dry air that makes it possible for people to mummify just by sitting on their front porches. Our hotel room had a view of the Willamette River in the foreground and Mt. Hood in the background — breathtaking! We slept with the hotel balcony door open all night just to enjoy the air.

    My series about AIDS earned an honorable mention at the conference, which was nice.

    In between workshops, lunches, dinners and trips to the bar, we journalist types were let loose on Portland — will it ever be the same? — to see the sights. Grace, the paper's managing editor, and I paid a visit to the Rose Gardens above the city and found ourselves in a state of rapture over the beautiful flowers. Acres of roses. I really don't know what to say beyond that. OMG! If you know me, you know I'm a rose whore. I loved this!!! I sniffed so much that I expect I altered weather patterns along the Pacific coast.

    I also had the privilege of meeting with a couple of Left Coast RBLers — Linda T., with whom I had dinner one night at Andina, perhaps the best restaurant I've ever experienced, and Ronlyn and her DH and DS. Linda gave me a wee tour of the city, explaining the different districts with a bit of history. Lovely as always, she also suggested I try a drink called the "Secse Huamon." Now I'm not spelling that right — it's supposed to be a Spanish spelling of "Sexy Woman." And let me tell you, that was one amazing drink — jalapeño-infused vodka, passion fruit puree, sugar around the rim. Blew my mind! I understand Leiha and Lina and other traveling ReBeLs have enjoyed the drink, too. The dinner was to DIE for! I didn't have room for dessert, which was a shame, because I bet it would have sent me into a culinary orgasm.

    I also got away briefly for a quick lunch with Ronlyn, who is expecting her second baby boy in a couple of weeks. She looked positively gorgeous. And her son was a doll! He counted in Spanish, told me lots of things about colors and a band called The Wiggles (a TV show perhaps?). Very sweet and polite. Ronlyn's DH is, I am happy to report, a real man in which he puts the needs of his wife and child foremost. He came all the way with her into Portland so she wouldn't have to face a three-hour drive alone. And he wasn't grumpy about it. In fact, he was very supportive and concerned for how she was feeling. He was also great with their son. It was precious to see.

    Grace and I flew back, after attending many workshops and other AAN events, and had the flight from hell. First it was delayed due to mechanical issues (freaked me out). Then as soon as we lifted off, a baby started screaming — and he screamed all the way to the gate in Denver.

    I'm editing the last 60 pages on my novel and will be shipping it to NY this week!

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