I’m blazing down the to-do list on the brand remodel and life overhaul. It’s been surprisingly easy to chop and hack at those habits and ideas that are no longer serving the overall goal. I’ve been mercilessly breaking apart anything that feels stale, or stagnant. Including old fixed points, and areas in my brain that were vehemently anchored at “never”. Now I’m trying to say things like, “Well, maybe. I’ll think about it.”
This shift from NO to MAYBE has punctured a keyhole space in the old fixed energy, and I can almost feel the rush of fresh air on my face. It’s time for new opportunities to flow. It’s still a little surprising I let things get so overgrown and disheveled. Then I have to remind myself, I came out here to focus—which meant letting everything else go until I made it to the mid-point on The Pillars of Dawn so I could reformulate and re-direct the process. I locked everything out so I could get my build on. That protective “NO” bubble kept my creative world sheltered so I could bring forth these books. Mission accomplished, time to reconfigure and leave the creative bubble.
I feel like I’m crawling out of a very deep hole in the ground, covered in muck, fists clenched around a hard-won prize.
And so here we are, almost one month down, and eight months to go. I took a break from sending out queries. I’ve stacked up a list of potential firms and agencies I’ll hit up after said break. The plan is starting to coalesce into more solid desires and reachable metrics. So, all in all, change is a comin’. It’s that moment when you lurch forward just a little bit, and momentum has a chance to catch. Yeah, I feel it. Here we go.
Venus must be transiting a weird spot in my chart. Ordinarily I don’t let these conversations get under my skin or get me talking. But a couple of drinks and I'm suddenly blathering it all. We’ll call it a cosmic realignment and not revisit again, I hope.
I recently had a long talk with a couple of regulars at the restaurant about the challenges of living in isolation, and maintaining human connections to fuel my work as a storyteller. They always seem to have new questions about what it’s like to be a recluse, live in a woodland cottage, write books, and generally “do whatever the hell you want”. They are mystified by what they call my “obsessive independence”. They’re always asking what’s new up in my little glade, as if anything interesting ever actually happens.
I’ll call the nice elderly lady Gladys. She could pass for a Gladys. Which would make him a Duke, though I’m not sure why those monikers seem to fit for the purposes of internet anonymity. Gladys and Duke have been married for fifty something years, and by their own admission, have fallen in and out of love several times. “Marriage is hard work” they say, since they don’t know I’ve been married before, and would rather resign myself to a coal mine shift than do it again. I mean, never say never I guess. But the possibility is so staggeringly low it’s hard to imagine that scenario entering my life again.
Still, Gladys and Duke are far too interested in my love life, or as Gladys has rightly guessed--my absolute aversion to it. Further still, Gladys has been interested in my books, and recently discovered I write erotica under a pen name.
When Duke made a trip to the gentleman’s privy, Gladys took her opportunity to ask some personal questions.
I was surprised. Embarrassed, even. Yes, I get asked about my books and adult content by readers at inopportune and often inappropriate times (often when my mouth is full or I’m sitting with friends at a cafe), but she seemed genuinely interested and non-judgmental.
So I said, “You know, I’d really love to answer those questions in full, and as you know, I have no shame or embarrassment around the topic…let me write a post and you can read it on my blog when I’ve had a chance to think it over?”
So, here we are.
Yes, Gladys, B. Unbidden (Blush) is based on my life as a sybarite; some real, some imagined, some dreamt. It’s amalgamated. Yes, I do believe in deep abiding, passionate love and intimacy. Some believe that the oceans are Earth’s last uncharted frontier—I believe our human capacity to swim in the totality of Universal acceptance and love with another human being is the last truly unexplored horizon. Or, well, maybe it’s just my last frontier. I’ll ponder that.
Yes, I do a lot of research. Yes, some of it is sexy and fun, and some of it not so much. I could write a whole book on the various and prolific uses of lubricants. Seriously. Some information is too much information.
No, I do not believe in hell as an afterlife punishment system for exploring love and intimacy. I have no personal judgments about anyone else’s way of discovering/expressing love, or of their choice of partner(s), or of their journey/method/practices to reach their own forms of bliss.
How then do I reconcile the need to have a balanced life of love, romance and connection, with my reclusive lifestyle and isolation when it comes to needing those energies to create believable stories and write “vulnerable and sexy” erotica that made her “enjoy that feeling of anchorage within another person?”
“Where is the middle ground on obsessive independence and deep human intimacy? How do you feed them both?”
Damn. Fine. Questions. Gladys.
I wanted to really think about the answer. It’s not very sybaritic to keep avoiding the truth of a situation or of the feelings it evokes. Sybarite ways are to feel it all; the depths, the discomfort, the bitter, the sour, the rank, and yes, especially the empty places.
Damnit, Gladys. Thank you for the opportunity to dig a little deeper into myself and my responses. Here it goes:
Living alone allows me to focus, to imagine without interruption or pressure, or expectation from others. It’s a weightlessness of being, as if floating in a creative amniotic womb. I consider my alone time sacred creative space.
Relationships, as wonderful as they can be, are fraught with unsaid or even said needs, desires, distributions of power, negotiations of time, effort, responsibility—all of which can be totally and completely valid, beautiful and fun. Negotiations are necessary in the healthiest and most fulfilling connections. We are humans. We all have needs. Whether that’s the need to be heard, and seen. Or the need to leave your dishes in the sink and not be nagged about it—the same as the other person’s need is to have an empty sink, see?
Engaging in those negotiations, schedules, expectations, desires is NOT a creative amniotic womb. It’s effort that can feel either positive or negative, and is often exhausting and draining. At least my experience with it has been so. I often stagger out of an exchange feeling smothered or having been a smotherer. No fun either way.
Human intimacy and contact is a real need. Since we have already established my sybaritic patterning, I will admit sex, vulnerability, and contact are all part of that complex matrix of human desires and grounding needs for me. These negotiations are also exhaustive and effort laden. Another human being’s needs, wants, and desires must all be satisfied as well in order for the exchange to be equal and balanced. It must be fair or it’s not going to be fulfilling. That’s relationship work, and it’s often very gratifying, but it’s not a weightless creative space. It’s an active building and development space. (A different kind of creativity)
True intimacy is the matrix wherein trust, vulnerability and willingness come together and partners actively and lovingly hold space for one another to bridge the unknown. How incredibly sexy does it feel when you believe you are held, your uncertainty cradled, your needs recognized? Super fucking sexy, right? Holy moly, what a turn on. Wanna know true partnership? Work on giving and receiving that feeling. Not that I need to tell you, Gladys, you’ve been married half a century—you don’t make it that long without figuring that out already.
I’ll admit I write about relationships, sex, and intimacy in storyteller idealized forms. This can be dangerous as it can set a false expectation or unachievable bar. I further admit, I have adopted that style because there is something so cosmically beautiful in that elevated expression of love, especially when anchored into the human fallibilities and frailties. The contrast is breathtaking, heart breaking, and often just downright inspiring.
And goddammit, Gladys, I need some fucking inspiration in love and romance. Yes, even me. It’s way overdue. So I write it in a way that I hope to inspire myself to keep a very small flame lit, and to help others keep that flame lit as well. (A pilot light for love, if you will) When that flame goes out, we’re all in serious trouble. I write love big and bold and dirty and musical in order to keep the spark within me, so I can go about the day to day knowing that tiny spark can be ignited into a conflagration when the time is right—not before.
Now, all that being said, I appreciate you thinking of me where your grandson is concerned. I’m sorry he’s had trouble finding a “nice young woman to settle down with”. That sucks. I feel for him, I really do. But I am not nice, young, nor settlement material, at least not right now. Nice try, Gladys. And yes, he’s pretty, I agree. Still a “Thank you, but no”. Also, I’m also not sure he’d appreciate you showing off his facebook page (and shirtless ab pictures) to random weirdos like me at the bar. Lots of nutbags living out in the woods, just sayin’.
In conclusion: How do I find that balance? And what am I looking for?
The truth is, I’m not actively looking. I’m waiting.
The truth is--I am waiting for someone very specific. Which is why it’s been such a long dry spell. I want someone so specific that I’m willing to hold out indefinitely, and I’m also quite happy being alone if he never actually shows up. I generally don’t tell people the truth, because one of two things happens: 1) they immediately begin trying to set me up (with their grandson/brother/neighbor/best friend/or uncle who just got out of jail) OR 2) they launch into an unsolicited lecture on how I need to have less specialized requests in a partner if I ever want to have a mate.
“Thank you, but no” to the first one. And as to the second—I’m simply not worried about it. I’m not losing sleep about being on my own…quite like it, in fact.
It’s a true partner for me or nothing—and I’m contented as I am, so why settle? I'm not lonely or unhappy. I'm not lost or wandering. I don't understand other people's obsession with the fact that I'm delighted to fly solo, or that I have a set of standards on which I'm not willing to compromise.
The thing is, I’m a bleeding hopeless romantic at heart. It’s why I write the way I do. I’ve spent fifteen years trying combinations of characteristics in potential mates and deciding none of them work for me, except a very few quality traits that I cannot do without in someone I would consider a partner-worthy adventure. Turns out, those traits are a little rarer and more difficult to find. Not impossible, just uncommon. But they are absolutely worth holding out for, right?
I can live quite happily without a mate—but if I must have one, certain attributes are essential. My faith in him as a man, and my respect and confidence in him as a human are completely dependent on his possessing specific ethical and noble qualities. In turn, I would hope that I possess the same qualities to match, so that any challenges we face will not be in conflict between the two of us over integrity/core principles. I would need to be able to rely on the quality of his humanity in order to put my vulnerabilities in his care—and vice versa. He would need to be able to see me, and I him, and adore that internal cosmos…or we would be short-lived.
And why bother with short-lived romance? Le sigh. I’m over it. Got things to build and a world to rock…aint got no time for flash bangs. (they’re fun, sure, but distracting)
Beyond core principles and nobility of character—literally everything else is negotiable. I have no preference on age, education, appearance, profession, etc. and so forth. I don’t care about his packaging, breeding, or origin. I care about what he is. What does he stand for, even when it’s difficult or inconvenient to do so?
The question of balance is answered in what I’m looking for in a man. How do I find the balance between intimacy and independence? By choosing the right partner for me. My true partner. Someone who will recognize and be able to negotiate my sacred creative time and space. If we cannot work that primary need into the matrix, we just wont work.
Kids? You ask? Oh, Gladys, how I long for the day people stop asking me, “But don’t you want to have children before it’s too late?” as if my only purpose or value is measured by my ability to contribute to overpopulation. The answer is this—I am not unfulfilled by my lack of spawn. I do not feel less a woman for it. I do not hunger for motherhood, BUT I will not hesitate to step into the role if the occasion calls for it. There is no “too late”. The opportunity to mother can appear at any time and may happen completely from outside my womb. Children are a negotiation I will have with a true partner I have utter faith in, OR I will be prepared to fulfill the calling on my own in an emergency if needed. Thankfully, I will only have to endure this question and its expectations and implications of my value to society for a few more years. (I know you didn’t mean anything by bringing it up…you were probably thinking of your grandson’s future which is perfectly natural. No offense taken.)
When I’m dating, I never ask myself, “Do I love him? Oh, crap. Could I actually say yes if he asked?” When I want to know how I really feel about having someone in my life on a permanent, hard work, abundantly beautifully romantic level I ask this question.
“Athena, you can have a life of freedom, creativity, exploration, personal growth, family, community, and blissful adventuring if you leave right now. OR, you can have him. What do you choose?”
If what I know of him or have seen of his behaviors, if what I feel about him leads me to believe in any way that he is the consolation prize for my creative independence and freedom—it’s time for me to go. Preferably while he’s sleeping.
Only when I can honestly answer that I believe I can have a fulfilling life WITH him in it, and that he will make for a better adventure than I could have imagined for myself, I’ll stick around and make coffee while I wait for him to wake up.
I honestly don’t know what I would do if I ever found myself in a situation where I believed I could have it all. It would freak me out. I’d probably panic to be honest. I’m not sure I’d even know what to do with that kind of treasure.
The point is, when you get to be a hermit for long enough, and you love the way your life is playing out, and your road is open, loaded with opportunity and curiosities—it takes a very strong, special man to make you feel like there’s a whole other scenic route worth taking with him. And if he is capable of inspiring that risk, well then…why the hell not?
Until then, I satisfy the hunger for intimacy by writing about it and living in my imagination. It’s a pale shadow by comparison, I know, but it holds me in check so I don’t do something stupid like run off with the cowboy at the end of the bar then break his achy heart. I keep it locked down in everyone’s best interest, right? No need to be hurting other people in an attempt to fulfill desires I know can’t be met. Better to just tuck into the forest and only occasionally come out for a drink at the bar—but never when I’m ovulating, right? Better safe than sorry.
Anyway, damnit all to hell, Gladys. A couple of vodkas and I’m blathering away all the details I never wanted to talk about again. Well played, Master Jedi. Well played.
Long story short, too late…I’m in no rush. This transformation will take some time yet, and I’m in no hurry to be available to anyone. I’m happy. I’m fulfilled. And there’s a spark to be lit when the time is right. I need to clean up some personal messes I’ve made of my body and habits, and get my shit together. I need to put my tools away and tidy up my mind as I’m not currently in a condition to bring my best to a partnership table. I’ve got some work to do, and books to write…timing and fate will do what it does in the meantime.
Thank you, Gladys. Apparently, I needed this. I started out a little irritated, but once I got going it all sort of spilled and I do feel lighter for it. So, next time I see you at the pub, your Tsunami Stouts are on me.
P.S. Tell your adorable grandson to take a breath, it will happen for him. Probably when he’s working on his own personal mastery and not even looking for love. That’s how magic works after all, it manifests when you’re not looking right at the void. It’s likely when he stops aching for her to appear and just goes about his happy life, she’ll land right in his lap. Kismet. And it will make an awesome story.
Part of the update and merge of the brand names under one site means pulling work from multiple sites and archives to re-publish here on the main author page. If you’ve been a longtime reader of TheBlissQuest or Wisegoddess or older works and want to see something pulled out of the archives, please let me know.
For now, I’m adding new categories to the blogroll with archival posts and essays. The RSS feed may flood somewhat over the next few merger months. Some I’ll only be able to do on trips to town, and other’s I can try to use the post scheduler for so it comes out a bit more evenly.
Some categories will include:
Life of a Literary Grunt
Letters to Lovers I’ve Never Met
BlissQuest Archive (Comedy & Tragedy)
Wisegoddess Archives (Mostly old poetry and articles)
The Sanguine Files
Notes to Self (I think I saved 27 through current, but a couple are MIA for the moment) Please let me know if you have any special requests.
If you see anything missing from the list, please let me know. There are like three external eight gigabyte drives with twenty years of writing, a storage cloud, and three archived websites to go through still.
From TheBlissQuest Archive: Spill Into Me...Ode to Coffee
Ode to Coffee: Spill Into Me
Your scent rouses me from sleep, like pheromone dreams of heady sex.
Even as my eyes open, my body remembers you and pulses with wanting.
I stagger from the comfort of bed into the chill of pre-dawn intent on your taste.
Cold floor under foot, crescent moon shrugging off starry quilts outside the window.
I need you.
Burn for you.
I won’t be satisfied until your heavy black body fits snuggly into mine.
Until, your flavor makes love to my tongue, your heat flashes through my veins.
This morning of decadence is my smile for the day.
My early morning lover, you waken me like Siegfried’s Dragon blood.
The world opens to me at your touch.
I am, because you coax me to be. I borrow your strength. Your power humming.
Our embrace is more languorous loving than animal fierceness.
You slip inside me, while I swallow your bitter-sweetness again and again.
Finally, you are spent, and vanish into me like a ghost, or a dream with potent afterlife.
My day begins and I will think of you fondly, flashing back to our time before the sun.
I will go to sleep thinking of you, dream of your heavy body twined with mine and hope to wake soon so I might be with you again.
Another day in the life of a non-glamorous literary grunt.
I’m adding a new category to the blogroll to capture these. It’s my hope to dispel any weird ideas people have about what a glamorous writer’s life looks like. My god, would I have chosen the writer life if I’d known about these before? Well, likely, yes. I’m not sure I really had a complete choice in the matter as the life seems to choose you, really. Still, it would have been nice to know ahead of time what these days might look like.
I’ll try to back link as many as I can, and use this category going forward to house #literarygrunt #amwriting #inhalelifeexhalestory
Then there are some days when you have to tackle the scene you’ve been dreading. You’ve put it off as long as you can. You know it’s going to wreck you to break a character that has become too real, too human. You know they’ll feel it, because you know what it feels like.
You know you can break them because you built their weakness into the arc. You know it will hurt because you’ve experienced that pain before. Pain you would never wish on anyone, not even someone you hate…certainly not on someone you love, even if they are fictitious.
Then you spend the evening afterward sitting in the bathtub sobbing. The water just wont stay hot enough to scald and numb. When the water goes cold you’ll sit on the floor of the hot shower and wonder why the fuck you ever wanted to be a writer, and why is your tea so salty? Oh, way to go, you cried in your tea.
Aftercare is important after these scenes. It’s psychologically taxing to put yourself in the headspace of both creating the break/inflicting the trauma, and writing the character who is simultaneously FEELING the break/trauma.
On days like today, I’m grateful to be single. It’s better that I can just do what I need to do and spare anyone the emotional waves. Scalding hot bath, lots of tissues, warm teas, lots of blankets, and a heating pad nest in bed to recover. (Good Scotch when I’m not on stupid diet).
Although I’m glad to not have to put anyone else through it, there are the animals to consider who camped at the bathroom door while I wept in the bubble bath. Dakota and Buttercup held space for me at a distance, and for that I was grateful.
The characters can’t evolve without the challenge. The arc cannot progress without the conflict. The more you try to avoid the hard stuff, the waterier your story will become. I don’t want a watery story…so some characters are going to have to bleed from the soul and then some.
Which unfortunately means, I bleed too.
Just another day schlepping words into books.
RE-POST from TBQ July 2017 > Re-posting this because it seems relevant as I prepare to step back into the fray of the human world...I'm fighting the suction to tuck back in. this discomfort and fear will pass. It's not real--but I do want to keep this old post handy as a reminder.
There are things I forgot while living in the city; things I’m only just now remembering after a year and a half in the woods.
The sound the stars make when the moon is dark.
The music of running water along the rocks.
The burnished gold light of noon through the canopy, and the subtle stretch of foxglove toward the sky.
Cotton puffs from seeding fireweed.
The slow lumbering wisdom of the herd passing through territory.
Blossoms on a newly fruiting tree, delighted to check out the wonder of this world.
Stillness when a predator has entered the clearing.
I forgot these things, though I knew them in my childhood in Alaska. It seemed back then that it would be impossible to forget the sound of wolf song, or lichen creep. It seemed impossible I’d be out of synch with the tides, the snoring mountains, or glacial tones. But somehow, I lost touch.
Somewhere in the crush of bodies on the sidewalk, angry car horns, the stink of asphalt and harried, stressed out people on their phones to either side of me at a crowded market…somewhere in that window of decade I forgot to notice the sound of a predator entering the clearing.
I forgot to look up at the full moon and sing back.
I forgot to smell new blossoms.
I forgot to acknowledge wisdom as it lumbered by.
I forgot to wish upon puffs of fireweed cotton.
Somewhere in that decade I learned only the breathless rush of survival. The elbowing jostle to get by, stay above the water. The ceaseless spinning to go nowhere.
Somewhere in that decade I forgot the sound of my own voice, the syllables of my own name. Over time it all became a constant, droning tone-deaf buzz.
But tonight, the stars are singing. Ancient lights from across time space glow in my wooded Skybowl. The river dances, and the scent of damp earthen forest soaks my skin. There is no city glow, no electric noise.
Only the soft crooning of the Elder Glade’s lullabies and promises of sweet dreams.
It’s good to be home.
Sheesh. This month hit like an ice-road trucker turning into a skid. I came out of January with so much momentum and with so many intersecting deadlines scheduled to hit at once that I’ve been on high burn for three weeks to try and get ahead of what is about to be a pileup. Trying to mitigate the impact zones and coordinate some stagger if possible.
It might look pretty gnarly through March and part of April—but afterward it should level back out.
The Life Erotic Week Two: Nibbles went live last month. I’m happy to report the feedback I’m getting from male readership is especially encouraging. So far, the most powerful emails have been requests from people asking how they can inspire their partners to be more comfortable and to feel free to be themselves in the bedroom. Huzzah!
While I doubt I’m the most qualified person to answer such questions, I’m happy those questions are being asked. Folks who are openly, and willingly on the legitimate path to discovering those answers are in for some delightful intimacy with the ones they love—and I can’t help but be excited for them. YAY!
The branding merge of my two author names under one site and banner is nearly complete. My works under B. Unbidden were easy to transfer on the digital side. That does leave the question as to how to go about putting The Life Erotic into print format. A trickier process.
My original fears about people being confused and accidentally purchasing the wrong name and ending up with porn when they think they’re getting fantasy fiction appears to have been an unnecessary worry…so that’s a relief. Now I feel a little silly about fighting the merge for so long. Alas.
As far as my small publishing label, BlissQuest Publishing goes, this merge will make it significantly easier to manage business and needs without needing to jump back and forth on different platforms. It will also enable readers to find all my work in one place, rather than me sending them to multiple locations or shopping cart checkouts.
Speaking of checkouts—yes, the next upgrade to the site will include the storefront for book purchases, sculptures from my polymer studio, and the membership lounge. It’s coming.
The Coming Out:
No, I’m not gay, but it would be a huge relief to my dad if I were. No, my coming out is entirely related to preparing to step out of the forest. Eeek. I know. But I’m so happy all tucked in up here, right?
Yes, I’m wonderfully happy and fulfilled. However, the time has come to get in front of my work and speak for these characters. It’s time to give a platform to their voices—so, I can’t keep hiding. I’ve had three blissful, relaxing, beautiful years of solitude and rejuvenation. A cocoon, if you will.
Coming out of that cocoon is scary and uncomfortable, but necessary. The new form I’ll be taking is still in flux. I need to pick the skin that will feel the strongest, most supportive, and flexible to achieve the goals I’ve set for this emergence. There will be plenty more on this transformation on the VLOG and on my Instagram account.
So far, the coming out transformation includes some basic upkeep to my body that I’ve neglected for too long whilst in the happy glow of a three-year writing spree. Yes, that means losing weight, toning up, reconditioning my breath, and re-learning makeup and hair for public presentation. Day one in the camera made me feel like a Baba Yagga forest witch that stumbled out of the underbrush and onto a highway.
Stay tuned…and please feel free to offer some advice or ideas. I’m open to feedback.
The Elder Glade:
Spring is coming six weeks early. I’m really worried about the delicate leaves and blossoms trying to shoot too soon. If we get a late frost we’ll lose whole crops this year. Tillamook County has also endured massive flooding this winter, which has put large swathes of farmland under water.
Up in the glade I got a lot of rain, and the creek swelled, swallowing the island and overflowing the dam. Luckily the wellhead stayed safe, but there will be a lot of cleanup this spring when the sun starts to come back. I have a lot of downed trees and branches to clear.
I’ve also had to make some tough choices about which projects I take on this season. Namely, the beehives.
I’m going to be crushed by deadlines in the next six weeks, and will have to be really selective about my project load and finances—so ordering new bee colonies may have to be pushed back. Sure, you can order and house them after the season—but you run the risk of them not being able to establish before the winter, and there’s just not enough bloomage in my part of the forest to give them a mid-summer cache.
While going through The Elder Glade project load for the next six weeks I realized I’m going to have to triage some things off the list. It will be so sad to skip bees this year. I really love making the honey into mead and having a booming raspberry crop from the extra local pollinators, but, well…time.
Anywhoo, I’ll keep you posted on land updates again soon.
Thank you for all your continued support and encouragement! See you next month.
Apologies for posting this a bit early. I'm about to be avalanched by three intersecting deadlines--so if I don't put the video out now, it might not get posted until summer. So, here are the goings on in The Elder Glade and beyond for winter 2019/2020. I will try to back fill into the gap next video.
The previous seasonal videos made for patrons can be found in the gallery.
As the videos on my VLOG come out about my transformation there are some things to cover.
I have not always been clueless about beauty routines and polished speaking performance. Those skills are way back in the old pool—the archive, so to speak. They are perishable skills, however, and I’m a long way gone from having those memories or practices handy. This remodel will hopefully pull some of those old skillsets to the foreground so I can remember how to use them. Something as simple as being able to twist the curling iron the correct direction while looking in a mirror—who knew that was a perishable skill? Or speak at a podium without chewing my lipstick off.
The fun fact about hermitage is that you get all the focus time you want and need. My time in the wild has done exactly what I needed it to—anchored, re-wired, gave me inspiration, peace, and tremendous amounts of personal joy and fulfillment. In doing all that, I also dropped skillsets, habits, and practices that would have kept me in an old frame of mind. I needed a new, fresh, unencumbered way to think and write.
To that end, I really stopped paying any attention to my face or body. I made minimalism look extravagant. Living fully in the riotous joy of spirit and creativity meant, not caring a fig what I looked like while doing so.
Coming back to the real world is heart-wrenching, scary and exciting all at the same time. I did my first video and got the first real look at myself on camera after a three-year hiatus from care. Wow. I look like I’ve been living with wolves, really chubby wolves. Chubby wolves with no concept of moisturizer.
On the bright side, I’m in such rough shape it should be easy to see progress fairly quickly, so, small blessings. I know, appearance is such a shallow metric—I don’t disagree. But bringing forth the interior lightning to wear on my external persona will, I think, add a whole new level of maturation to my evolving human story. So, I’m looking forward to what the end result will be.
There used to be a time in my life when I was comfortable in a slinky red evening gown at a black-tie dinner on a Friday night, then camping in my Sorrels and the mud on a Saturday night. I didn’t struggle switching back and forth. Then I mostly fell into the camping in the mud and it’s been three years. I’m not sure I’d even remember which fork to use at a fancy dinner.
October 2020 will reveal the transition from inner to outer—and I’ll go from there.
The questions I’ve been getting are inevitably around my hermitage. Sequester was a choice. I have made efforts to actively participate in human interactions at least three times a week. Part of that was to ensure I wouldn’t isolate to detriment. I can easily lock into my imagination and forget to come up for air.
These are the most common questions about my situation.
“Don’t you get lonely?”
Not really. I have a fabulous extended community to reach out to when I need connection. I have a house full of animals, and a forest full of creatures. I also have a brain packed with twelve books worth of imaginary characters who visit frequently. Right, Liam?
On the rare occasion that I do get lonely—rarely. I make a call to catch up with a friend, or go into town.
“Don’t you need internet or cell phone service?”
Yes, and no. I need internet to put my work on line, and manage my communications—but I drive to town to handle that. I need internet on a functional level—but I don’t need the internet to feel connected. I certainly don’t need the time sink that is sitting for hours on end surfing aimlessly at filler videos when I should be getting chapters written.
Do I miss aimless surfing? Hell yes. But giving up internet access in home has allowed me to write four new books. I miss streaming services for television and movies, that I truly miss.
No cell service is a bummer for sure, especially in the world of texting and snapchat when I want to touch bases with people I love. But a landline works, and gets the connection job done.
“How do you live without electricity?”
I have electricity. I have all modern amenities minus cell phone signal and internet. Oh, and cable. And before anyone asks, yes I also have running water and flushing toilets.
“How do you date or meet people if you live that far out?”
I don’t date, but not because of distance. That’s a whole other post for another time, but part of it does tie into the very nifty filter of not having cell phone service. On the bright side, lack of cell access very quickly weeds out the non-contenders. It’s brilliant. Had I known the “I only know how to have a relationship by text” guys would be so easily deterred—I’d have dropped cell service even when I lived in the city. It’s been a huge relief not to have to deal with those fellas.
Still, lack of services and my distance are not actually what keep me from the dating pool. I’ll have to be well into my third glass of wine to have that conversation, though.
“What kind of wildlife do you have?”
I have a herd of elk that pass through the yard regularly. A racoon. Several obnoxious blue jays, hundreds of birds, including a large heron, and an eagle. There are trout and salmon in the creek, coyotes in the den up the ridge, a black bear down the road, and I’ve seen several wolves and a cougar as well.
This area also has beaver, pack rats, rabbits, deer, all sorts of squirrels and mice and gophers. There are nutria, mink, great Pacific Northwest lizards, garden snakes, newts/salamanders, and dozens of types of spiders and crawly critters.
“Would you ever live in the city again?”
Good question. I won’t say never. The beauty of being a writer is that I can do it anywhere. I choose to work out here because it’s peaceful and has minimal interruptions.
My options are always open. I don’t think I’ll ever willingly give this place up, that’s for sure. Even if I split time in a city—this will always be my sanctuary and retreat. It’s haven.
“What is your next big project at The Elder Glade?”
Putting in the new chicken coop and the bridge across the creek. Those are my big projects for the homestead this year. I may only get one or the other this spring and summer—but we’ll see.
After that it will be leveling land and planting the orchard. I’m really looking forward to the day I can pick my own peaches and eat them on the deck overlooking the water.
“What’s the hardest part of living out in the woods?”
There are constant new sets of challenges. Keeping the house and animals safe. Navigating Mother Nature’s curve balls (land slides on the road, storms ripping trees down onto the power line, critters causing structural damage, and so on).
Aside from the Mother Nature challenges, I think convenience of access to amenities has been the toughest. Being an hour from anything means you have to do all your big shopping in one trip. If I forget something, say, dishwasher soap. Then I get all the way home and realize it’s a two-hour round trip to go get it. So I try to keep a fully stocked supply cabinet. If I forget dishwasher soap, I throw together a powder mix of baking soda, and Borax to hold me over until my next trip to town. Worst case scenario, I run back to town…like if I forgot the limes for a margarita. That’s worth running back to town for, right?