I was born in a backwater town in Oregon—Portland—where it rained steadily throughout my entire childhood. Because I couldn’t go outside to play, I read everything within reach—cereal boxes, teen magazines, instruction manuals, encyclopedias (I got up to the Rs), comics, and Kierkegaard. The next time I looked up, 18 years of my life had passed, so I went to college in Boston and got a degree in journalism, figuring it would be a long, enduring career because—of course—people will ALWAYS read newspapers. 

        The Siren call of the West Coast pulled me back, and I worked at the Los Angeles Times as an editor, writer, and travel columnist for 15 years. In between, I published essays in the books Chocolate for a Woman’s Spirit and Chocolate for a Mother’s Heart. And—this is a little bit embarrassing—I won a Harlequin Books romance essay contest. The grand prize was a trip for two to Hawaii, where I learned to scuba-dive, a sport I became so passionate about that I gave up traveling to cold countries in favor of hot countries with colorful fish.

One of those hot countries was Vietnam where, to my disappointment during a reef dive, the fish were as small as guppies. The big ones had all been eaten. But when the Great Recession hit, my husband, son, and I moved to Ho Chi Minh City for 2½ years—becoming the small fish in a big city.

I have also written for numerous publications, including Asia Life magazine;  Chicago Tribune; Baltimore Sun; Christian Science Monitor; Augusta Chronicle; Los Angeles Daily News; Orlando Sentinel; The Standard—China's Business Newspaper; and earlier in my career, a bunch of tiny newspapers across the country that I’m pretty sure still owe me money. Oh, and I’m mentioned in Garner’s Modern American Usage as a perfect example of what not to do: In a travel article on Thailand, I used the word “awaited” instead of “waited.”  Bad me, but, hey, famous bad me!



Volunteering at Go Vap Orphanage.

Beautiful baby wouldn’t let go.

Coffee break with Tin and Homie.