Life as a Hermit – Day 8

It was nice to be among people for awhile yesterday. I am not the only one who lives “Out” as they like to call us, those who come in periodically and stock up on supplies, to disappear again for days or weeks at a time.  I appreciate that I am not technically a hermit, but it is the closest description I can come up with. Or at least the most succinct. “Tired of the bullshit social and economic system forced upon us daily and would really prefer the company of nature” is a little verbose.

Kaiju is great, and I can always blow Chet back up, and I love my books and hobbies and daily survival chores. But I miss having a partner in crime. A best friend. I realized this after being single for a number of years. It’s not a husband, or a roommate, or a lover that I miss the most. It is the best friend who listens to whatever has me wound up on a given day; who brings me a Blizzard from Dairy Queen when I’m having a bad day; who will drop everything to go shopping or skating or on a road trip with me from time to time. My husbands were both my best friends. I have left other best friends behind. I lost one to growing apart; another to envy and betrayal; another to an ill-conceived love affair; and another is too far away, although always close in my heart.

This is one of my reasons for living Out. It is easier to be without a companion because of geography than scarcity.  It’s like being in Baskin Robbins without a single flavor you would eat, or simply choosing to be away from it all so that ice cream is not even an option. So I create my own little universe here, on a 2 acre plot in the Rocky Mountains. Sometimes I dream of the impossible. But for the most part I try to remain in the present, and appreciate what I do have around me.

So today, I will appreciate my dog, and my surroundings, and the soothing aspects of solitude. And consider creating an imaginary best friend. I never had one as a kid, so maybe it’s time. And I wouldn’t be the first person to create an imaginary friend, whether due to geography or scarcity, right?


Are you gonna eat your fat?

Do you remember the character, Spaulding, in the 1980 cult golf classic movie Caddyshack? He was the consummate spoiled rich kid. Vacuous, sloppy, self-absorbed, and overweight.

He asked his grandfather, a WASPish judge brilliantly portrayed by Ted Knight, at a country club dinner if he was going to eat his fat.

Completely aside from the potentially delectable picture this paints, whenever I come across a man looking for a side chick, or another “open minded polyamorous adventurer” wanting to find another beneficiary of his many talents, I think of Spaulding: the fat kid that just can’t tear himself away from the buffet.

I have been in unhappy relationships. I have also been single for four years because I know what I want. And although I am open minded and sexually liberal enough to make you never want me to meet your parents, the Spauldings in my life are starting to give me a bitter aftertaste.

You want some carefree no-strings-attached sex, or to continually experience the thrill of the chase and then go home to your comfortable double income home in suburbia to sleep beside your (insert ubiquitous adjective here: tired, understanding, oblivious, adventurous, forgiving, sexless) wife who is always there to hear about your day, pay half the bills, share the worries of parenthood or unemployment or asshole parents with you.

Cake eaters, every one of you. Let me tell you what it’s like to be intellectually honest and willing to take a risk to find happiness.

You’re alone 85% of the time you’re not at work. You can’t afford the lifestyle you left. You might even be fighting your ex for child support, or emotionally abused by an ex or your parents, the closest people in your life. All your married friends suddenly find your singleness awkward and inconvenient, and it’s not like they ever go out anymore anyway. You find a group of “single” friends at a local pub, or a support group, or a team or club. You don’t have anything in common except your marital status and maybe a brand of bourbon.

And occasionally, like once in a blue moon, you meet someone that is worth either a. Dating or b. Dragging home for a night (not both. You’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy).

And briefly you enjoy some physical or emotional intimacy, but  it is transitory. You don’t quite click, or the sex is laughably  bad, and you continue to watch The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and do your dishes every evening before you cuddle up in bed with the dog you swore you would never allow onto the furniture.

But you stay single. You don’t settle. You don’t just date someone so you can have someone to listen to you vent about your bad day, wipe your tears away when the next financial/ emotional/ family crisis dawns, or so you have someone to help rake leaves or clean gutters or load the snowblower into your tiny car for a tune up, or a warm spot in the bed that’s made by a human.

Oh wait. No that’s what I do while you cake eaters have your cake and eat it too.

No, Spaulding, I’m not going to eat my fat. It’s all yours. I hope you choke on it like Momma Cass.






Goodbye, Missoula

Ch-Paqu'un Peak, Mark Mesenko

Ch-paa-qn Peak Sunset
Missoula, Montana
©Mark Mesenko

Romancing Hard Drinking with Hugo and Hemingway

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
–    Ernest Hemingway

“You could love here, not the lovely goat
in plexiglass nor the elk shot
in the middle of a joke, but honest drunks,
crossed swords above the bar, three men hung
on the bad painting, others riding off
on the phony green horizon. The owner,
fresh from orphan wars, loves too
but bad as you. He keeps improving things
but can’t cut the bodies down.”

–    Richard Hugo, The Milltown Union Bar

When I read “The Milltown Union Bar” for the first time, I actually looked around furtively, wondering who had been watching me that day last year when I walked into an empty, but welcoming bar in Missoula.  There were the same cheesy dioramas etched in glass above the long, dark-stained wooden bar, a smattering of honest drunks, and a stranger’s warm invitation to sacrifice your own cares at the same altar that has served so many others before you.

Fifty years ago, Richard Hugo walked into a different bar after moving to Missoula.  Fifty years later, I, too, find myself in a strange city, the same city, fearfully staring down a brand new life.

And I bled along with Hugo as I read the poem once, and again, and again.

Now it is politically correct to shake our heads and deplore the brilliant writers of the past for their drinking habits, without which, surely they would have shown even greater genius? Surely now, in the twenty-first century, we are more evolved.

What was wrong with Hemingway, or Hugo, drinking his way to the other side of the pane,  so that he could continue to live, to write, to hurt.  To bleed.  Now we are expected to do yoga, eat kale, and bond with nature on long hikes to keep our creative demons at bay.  I like most of those things. But I also like walking into a bar where I don’t know a soul, and leaving with a new story, or a new friend, or an inexplicable connection to place and time.  Or simply enjoying the exquisite burn in my throat and sweet, charcoal aftertaste of my favorite elixir – the sweet brown nectar of both Lionel Hutz and my inner voice.

So the next time I walk into my Milltown Union Bar, I will look around. And perhaps Hugo will be on my right, and Hemingway further down the bar to my left. And we will live, and hurt, and drink, and bleed.  Because sometimes, a person knows suddenly, and inexorably, that “you could love here.”

originally published at:

A grocery list to sum up an inspired, serendipitous, unexpected year

I can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since October. I have been back in school taking Creative Writing at the University of Montana. It has been inspiring, fun, invigorating, and, occasionally, still terrifying.

I have met new friends, who already feel like old friends. I have discovered and been buoyed by the support of existing friends to an extent I would never have dreamed. I am living smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world, and it is home. My family remains batshit crazy, but it is supportive and loving and accepting. This is more than many people have, I think.

I am home now in Canada where I will be able to spend three weeks with my boys. I have time to work on my furniture business, with the goal of increasing sales on my Etsy shop, and regular participation in handcraft fairs and events. I am applying for the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Montana, to commence next September.

I have had moments where I was terrified and ready to give up. But for me, giving up now only means temporarily getting a real job and spending more time in Regina.  This is the magic of having taken the leap that I did. I know I can do it again, start again, detour, pitstop, take a breather, if need be. But I know that I am where I need to be.  And, wonder of wonders, I give myself pep talks. I read through old blog posts, and the confident, accepting, wise person that I sometimes am tells me to keep going, that I have been there before and I will be there again.

I do go places now, not just on trips.

Recent randomness I could not make up if I tried



Just a brief summary of my week:

Go on Tinder – meet a real human being. Weird.

Go to Missoula with kids – look at a rental house that I can`t walk all the way into because of the bad energy I feel and go running out.  I am now convinced that a. reincarnation exists, and b. I lived in Missoula in another life (I shit you not). Tell current love interest that I think I am the reincarnated soul of Sacagawea. A girl can dream.

Have best vacation ever in Missoula and find it hard to believe I will be moving there in a month.

I have the best kids ever. They make me more.

Meet a cool lady who asks me to live in her basement, a woman from Regina who is a server in Bigfork, and a couple whose daughter took creative writing at the University of Montana (SO FUCKING WEIRD)

Camp at the best campsite ever on the shore of Flathead Lake. Definitely died and went to heaven for a day.

Get home and find Divorce Certificate in mail. Weird that it`s not weird or even very important.

Happy to be me, here, and now. Weird and grateful.


I have lived my entire life in Canada. Since I can remember, I have known that the climate is not for me. But life offers sometimes inexplicable paths, and today I am prepared to believe that it is nothing more nefarious than that. The path has led me here, after all.

I have struggled. I have struggled with depression; with betrayal by those I have loved; with betraying my own dreams and needs, and no doubt those of others as well. I am blessed, however, with a supportive family, amazing friends (old and new), two amazing children, and a resiliency that I thought was tattered beyond repair.

I still struggle with faith, and with finding meaning and sense. I realize that everyone doesn’t need to make sense of the world. But I do, and that is perhaps my blessing and my curse. But through some miracle I have faith in myself, and a vision of a new life that begins again each day, with a new day. And I am learning to let that be enough.

I have had a lost weekend of sorts, but without the benefit of a Yoko or her personal assistant. I am on what may be the last trip of that lost weekend, before I return to reality, such as it is. And this is what I have discovered in the last 7 months:

1 – I’m the most myself when I’m doing something a little irreverent, a little crazy, a little bit spontaneous, or all of the above. I know this because the people that really know me tell me this all the time. And I think they know it because I have proven it to them over and over again. This is a lesson in surrounding yourself with the right people, the people that make you MORE, the people that don’t want to change you.
2 – I am, as a recent husband told me, a flower that wilts and may even die if left out of the sun too long. Lesson learned. I know this and remind myself every time I breathe the warm air of summer at home, or of the winter somewhere civilized. And if I permit myself to forget this lesson, I will wilt again.
3 – I will either marry again numerous times (two completed marriages so far – I now object to calling them “failures”), or not at all.
4 – Writing is teaching me patience. I write when the mood strikes me; I write what inspires me on a given day. And I don’t give myself deadlines, I just try to write, or even just think about characters and plot lines, every day.
5 – I don’t need to be the parent I planned to be two marriages ago. I will be the parent that follows her heart and gives her children all the love and acceptance that follows from that. I think I will be providing mostly love and adventure more so than stability, but I’ve decided that’s why kids have two parents – their dad seems to be pretty much dialled in on the stability part.
6 – The universe is always speaking. You just need to listen, and sometimes take a leap of faith. Sometimes daily. And if you don’t, you will literally be struck on the head repeatedly until you start to listen. In my case, I had two concussions in two months that made me reassess everything that was left after my second marriage dissolved into a sinkhole.
7 – This will be a terrifying way to live. But I’ve never really been scared of much, so what the hell.
8 – Change is a constant, and ought not be feared. See 8, above.
9 – I’m happy.

That’s a pretty good list of accomplishments in seven short months, I figure. And I suppose on the days I feel like I haven’t accomplished very much, I can just remember how I felt a year ago, look to tomorrow, and smile. Or skip along the sidewalk or go for a swing in the park or have another ice cream cone, should it strike my fancy.