Life as a hermit – Day 1

Well, here I am. My dream is finally a reality. I have a cozy, warm home surrounded by my possessions that bring me the most joy. I am miles from any other human. Just me and my dog. I can do whatever I want all day long.

I woke up this morning to the sun shining in the window onto my face.  I lay there for awhile listening to the silence. And by silence, I mean rustling leaves, birdsong and the sound of wood crackling in my wood stove.

It was a little strange not to see another human face all day, but not that strange. Even when a person is surrounded by people sometimes you go a day or two without seeing anyone.

It is social media I will be most glad to leave behind. It is a little weird to get used to. I have no internet, no data on my cell phone, and no wi fi. So my usual habit of checking Facebook and Instagram throughout the day will have to give way to other habits. Crunches and planks maybe. There wasn’t much on there that made my day better, anyway. It actually made me feel more isolated in a lot of ways. More isolated than I feel now. Isn’t that strange? Maybe it will change. We will see.




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.