So that’s why they’re called Pearls.

I went hiking yesterday. No surprises there. I’ve been trying to go once a week, so the odds of going hiking yesterday are pretty high.

One thing I really love about hikes is that they force me to think. I don’t listen to music or podcasts while I’m on the trail, I can’t play games or read a book, and each hike lasts for hours. I’m stuck inside my head while my body carries me through exquisite scenery, and as I walk, I ruminate.

I chew on old scenes, moments of conflict, problems with friends and family. I chew on irritating comments, people who don’t leash their dogs, and like an oyster with a grain of sand, I wrap each irritating idea in layers and layers of thoughts.

Once, while walking down the sidewalk in front of an old office space, I saw a woman walk away from where her little dog had relieved itself. I made eye contact and asked if she wasn’t going to pick that up. “SHE PEED!” Came the indignant reply.

I can still see in my mind’s eye the woman’s curly blonde hair, her tone, and the coolness of the day under the trees. I remember the little dog’s fur that matched her owner’s hair, and the slender lead with which she tugged it away. I wonder: should I have looked harder before calling her out? Should I have apologized? Should I have saved my own indignance for someone with a bigger dog? A worse infraction? This is only one unhappy social misstep that I chew on as I walk, despite it’s insignificance, and the fact that it happened nine years ago.

So when I found myself, yesterday, turning an idea over and over in my head, looking at it from different angles, refining and imaging the scenario, I was pleasantly surprised to realize it was an idea for a photo shoot.

You see, for the past several years, between pandemic, politics, family drama, and a variety of demanding interpersonal conflicts, much of what I had been ruminating on was an upsetting past. I spent hours and hours and hours of time carefully crafting replies to questions and accusations levied months ago, outlining elegant arguments that will never be heard. As the pearl grows, memories surface, new arguments are drawn up, and another layer goes over the sand, protecting me from it’s scratch.

I can’t tell you what a pleasure it was to realize that I had spent an hour, fully inside my head, thinking about creating. Dwelling on beauty and how to frame it, capture it, share it with people who will see it and want to steal sweet moments with me. Thinking not of what I could have done back then to prevent or ameliorate pain, but of what I will do in the future to create beauty, pleasure, and joy.

It doesn’t hurt that at the peak, as I rested in the sun and took in an expansive view, five bald eagles slipped smoothly out of the sky to circle the clearing. Three adults and two juveniles took turns perching on high, bare branches, riding the thermals to scout for prey, and playing together. They would slowly swoop down, chattering and chirping at each other, and make mock dives at slow speeds just to see which would give way. The breeze kept me from lingering, even the high early afternoon sun wasn’t quite enough buffer, or I’d have stayed longer, reveling in their reveling, taking my own pleasure from watching them play.

I have read that an interaction with a bird can improve your mood for something like 20 minutes afterward. Maybe it was the eagles, maybe it was the sugar rush from my granola bar, maybe it was the relief of going back down after getting overexerted on the way up, I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I had just spent a fabulous night with a delightful new suitor, maybe it was the pleasure of a warm but not hot day with no one else to share the trail, but I had one of those rare moments where I was just happy. Not excited, not simply content, but gently, peacefully happy. It felt good to be where I was, when I was, feeling the way I was.

I’m still marveling at it 24 hours later, in case that wasn’t obvious. Taking still more pleasure in the act of examining the memory. Feeling echos of it reverberate through me. As I look out my window at a stunning sunny day and make plans for more hikes, more activities, more opportunities for simple happiness, I can see where the echos ripple into the future. I can see where new experiences will complement the old, magnifying them.

I feel so incredibly blessed. To have the time and flexibility to take myself away for hours and hours at a time in the middle of the week. To find a trail, lonely and peaceful, and the ability to make use of it. To have the freedom, education, and inspiration to write about it. To have an audience, however small, to share with and to hear how impactful it has been. Blessed to find these pearls of wisdom, of happiness, come from unexpected places. The world isn’t such a bad place sometimes.

I don’t like your truck

I had to rent a pickup truck last month. I needed to haul some lumber and while I can fit a surprising number of pressure-treated 2×12’s into my Prius, its not a surprising enough number to finish my project. I grew up rural. I know trucks well enough to know what to expect. I expected four wheels, a nice roomy bed in the back, and an engine to get them around.

In the back of my mind, I knew that’s not really how they do trucks anymore, but it wasn’t until I reached the rental car lot that I realized how irritatingly off base my expectations were. It was a small lot on the edges of town and they had three pickup trucks to choose from. They all had essentially the same features: a massive double cab with too many seats, air conditioning, bluetooth enabled radios, other modern frills and fripperies… and a six foot bed.

The lumber I had ordered was eight.

I didn’t need a bluetooth enabled radio. I didn’t need room for five people. I didn’t need air conditioning (it had windows, after all). I didn’t need seat heaters or an electric key fob or a backup camera or any of the crap in the cab. I needed eight feet of truck bed.

“How?” I wondered to myself. “How can a vehicle be simultaneously too big AND too small!?!”

Sighing with irritation but without a better option, I took it. Clambering into the driver’s seat, I flashed back to my first time driving a pickup.

I was twelve and a horse girl, like you do when you grow up rural. Horses eat hay so once a year or so we had to go get it. Hay is cheaper when you go get the bales in the field instead of having them brought to you so that’s what we did. As the youngest (and the shortest and the weakest), my job was to keep the truck moving, slow and steady, as everyone else shifted bales up to the tailgate, then mom tetrised them up, four hight and five deep into the bed. I couldn’t reach the pedals without tying 2×4’s to my feet, and that’s with sitting on the very front edge of the seat. Once we had as many bales as we could wedge in back there, I clambered over the front seats to share the two tiny seats with my brother, several beat up tool bags, and a layer of gloves, hats, candy wrappers, receipts, shop rags, and other detritus I find inseparable from a working vehicle.

That truck features vividly in my memories of childhood. It hauled fence posts, heavy machinery, ran the plow in the winter, and brought home at least a dozen Christmas trees before it went to the big racetrack in the sky. It was white and had a hydraulic lift on it. It was scratched, dented, filthy, and beautiful. It was made to haul stuff, not people, and it did it’s job exceptionally well.

I felt the same sense of smallness in this chonky, shiny rental, but without the accompanying comfort. It should have smelled like degreaser and sweat. It should have had room in the bed for everything I needed. It should have been easier to get into. I only ever drove that truck a few times, but riding in it over and over made it comfortable. This one, so much bigger than it needed to be, and yet not big enough for what I needed, didn’t feel right.

Another truck that looms large in my childhood memories was older, but came along a few years later. With a cab even more spartan than the work truck, it got cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The shifter must have been a solid foot or so long and emerged from bare steel to sit directly between my knees whenever we had a second passenger. My short legs meant I always wound up (still do) in the smallest seat, the shortest one, the one with the least room in any dimension, and in that big old Clifford-red ford, that meant the center of the bench seat with one foot in the driver’s side footwell and the other in the passenger side.

The red ford became my brother’s primary ride, and part of the deal was giving me one to school every day. It was how we got to friend’s homes, and how we got them to the creek on hot summer days. This truck was all bed, no cab. Whoever he had a crush on got to sit in the front and the rest of us rode in the back, hot wind whipping past us, each bump in the road jostling us, giggling, back and forth.

Neither of these trucks had a backup camera. You had to learn where your ass was and try to keep it where it belonged, or get a friend to stand in your rear view and wave you back and forth as you wiggled your way back into wherever you needed to be.

Which is good, because that backup camera I mentioned earlier, the one on my fancy new rental? Yeah…. It’s mounted on the tailgate. Which is great! Unless the bed is too short to hold your lumber, and the tailgate is pointed at the ground.

The one and only time I needed to back up that stupid truck, the singular moment when a camera might have been a handy gadget, it was useless. It would have been better if it hadn’t been there are all, considering how distracting it was to have the screen tugging at the edges of my vision while, as I learned to do 23 years ago, someone stood in my rear view and waved me in.

Before this, I already had some strong opinions on people who drive pristine pickups. I feel like I’ve been seeing them everywhere: glistening late model 4x4s with lift packages and exhaust pipes in improbable places. My uncle joined the club some years go with a precious baby that runs on batteries as much as fuel, comes with a push start and an app, has every possible climate control and comfort option in the massive cab…. And hauls a boat twice a year. The driver’s hatred for millennials is probably the heaviest cargo it’ll every carry and god forbid it get a scratch.

These people, folks who value the appearance of physical labor, but don’t actually perform any, fall into the same category as people I call “cowboys with no cows.” Posers who adopt the trappings of people who actually work for a living, claiming the music, the style, the stuff, but none of the hardships, annoy me. There’s a reason cowboy boots have a heel. There’s a reason to drive what is essentially a big-ass wheelbarrow. There’s a reason to have a massive and powerful engine. Those reasons outweigh environmental damage, the space they take up, and some discomfort, but without them, these sorts of things are just a big old fuck you to everyone else. And to try to shoehorn a monster truck into a city lifestyle is just plain stupid.

I like hybrid vehicles, they’re better than the alternative. I like climate control, though opening a window is still the OG AC. I like having the means to build and move and shape, which means I like that trucks exist. And honestly, I probably like your truck, because if you’ve met me and you have a truck, you’re probably the kind of person who has it for a reason.

But I’ve been keeping an eye out, since my rental, and fuck me if I don’t see an awful lot of special snowflake pick trucks whose only serious cargo is the driver’s ego. If that one is yours, my friend I can tell you this: I don’t like your truck.

Book Review: A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara

Wow. This book is…. Well it’s a lot.

I don’t remember how I came across this book. Probably a recommendation from someone, or off a list somewhere. I borrowed it from the library (if you aren’t borrowing ebooks from the library, you should start) and I’m halfway through.

Halfway, I think, is about as far as I’m going to get.

First: it’s relatively long. I’m used to long books. I generally like them because once I get into the story, if it’s good, I can stay with it for a long time. In this case, however, the length portends not hours of joyful immersion, but sorrow instead.

Second: I’m not quitting because it’s not a good story. To the contrary: the story is timeless, poignant, and beautifully written. That’s actually the problem.

The novel tells the story of four friends. We begin around the time they meet in college, and the first section of the book follows one, then another, giving us a sense of their personalities and how they blend into friendship together. We learn of their weaknesses and desires, the simple pleasure they take in each other’s company, and their lives as they grow together into successful young professionals. That element reminds me of Mayflies, a novel my book club chose a few cycles back that tells the story of five young men, romping through a weekend of concerts in Manchester in the eighties. Mayflies ends in bittersweet tragedy as one of the five chooses death with dignity over suffering from cancer and the other four must rally to celebrate his life and support his decision.

A Little Life, however, is bittersweet throughout. One of our four friends, Jude St Francis, had a childhood riddled with trauma until he turned 16 and went off to college. Abandonment, belittlement, beatings and sexual abuse by a multitude of adults and fellow orphans, human trafficking, medical trauma, incidents that get worse and worse as he grows up until finally he is crushed by a car driven deliberately and purposefully by yet another violent abuser. This story is told through a series of flashbacks, each one worse than the last.

That’s the bitter.

When we meet him, he has been befriended by three young men who learn to care deeply for him, even as he refuses, year over year, to divulge any of his history. Without knowing that he was beaten and raped repeatedly throughout his childhood, they tolerate his flinching and cageyness with nothing more than raised eyebrows. They offer their love and companionship, they become protective, while simultaneously respecting his refusal to share. His abuse has given him a limp and lifelong pain, sometimes so severe he can’t move, or even breathe well. Instead of infantilizing him, his friends simply let him be with them, accommodating both his resistance to using a wheelchair, and the wheelchair itself with equal acceptance mostly, most of the time.

And there is the sweet.

The sweet is beautiful. Yanagihara’s prose is dripping with imagery, vivid, both passionate and devoid of judgement. She observes her characters loving each other. She frequently refers to the pleasure these men take in each other’s company. They aren’t lovers together, at least not for the most part. They build lives independently of each other. But they never lose their bonds.

Representations of men’s platonic yet loving relationships are sparse. Many of my clients, and some of my guy friends, have shared how difficult it is to share with and trust other men. Few of the adult men I know have even one other man in their lives with whom they feel comfortable being vulnerable. There’s no one to talk to about their sexuality, their loneliness, their insecurities… though Jude takes many many years before he begins to open up, he is surrounded by others who are secure in their place, who open up and share the secrets of their lives with their close friends, both male and female.

I kept expecting everyone to be gay and start hooking up. Kept expecting this big romantic love story to emerge, but, at least outside of the flashbacks, the emphasis was on men loving men, without needing to have sex with them in order to justify it.

And at every turn the words on the page made me feel. Happy, mostly, eager to see, to visualize, the next moment. I felt joy, pleasure, rueful, invested in the relationships and found myself caring for all of them, even when they each screwed up, had to ask forgiveness, received it, or sometimes didn’t.

Which is why I had to stop. Jude’s background is awful. With every page his back story gets more and more horrific. It’s not like Lolita where abuses happen off-screen (or so I’m told. I  have thus far refused to read it), in A Little Life each time Jude-the-child ends up somewhere that Jude-the-adult knows does’t end well, you-the-reader are there, watching in exquisite detail. As much as I would love to keep reading, to soak in the sense of loving, being loved, and belonging that Jude-the-adult has, I can’t.

I might be able to, if it had a happy ending, but it doesn’t. I know that sometimes life works like that, and I understand that Yanagahira is writing an inescapable truth: that trauma is forever. She tells us with every scene that what we learn as children will always be part of us, and that functional isn’t enough when it comes to treating it as an adult.

Perhaps I’m taking away the wrong message. Perhaps if I finished it, I would draw different themes from the pages. I wish I could. If you enjoy difficult books with difficult scenes, if you are someone able to observe a story without seeing it in your dreams and feeling it in the pit of your stomach, or if you can find pleasure in the juxtaposition of hope and the crushing of it, then this book is for you. I plan to try something else she’s written, to try and experience her prose without disappointment and sorrow at the end.

But I wanted to write about this one, first. I said before that we so rarely see representations of men being emotionally intimate with each other. Though the relationships depicted are flawed, some last longer than others, the people in them make mistakes and some of them don’t make it better, though they end in sorrow, they exist. Yanagahira is as relentless reminding us of the pleasure they take in each other’s company as she is in showing us where they came from.

Though I’m not finishing this book, and the fact pains me a bit, I did enjoy what I got through, and I look forward to seeing where her gorgeous prose takes her when it’s not barreling toward despair.

Update on 6/4/24: I finished it after all. Sure enough, I took away a slightly different message, one leaning more toward compassion and dignity than hopelessness. Turns out I had already made it past the worst of his past, though his later days were in some ways worse. Still, it was worth it.

In All Her Glorious Moods

I’ve taken up hiking. Living in the Pacific Northwest, it’s so incredibly easy to sneak away to a mountain and walk until your feet fall off. So why had I only done it once or twice in the dozen years I’ve been a resident?

Never had a good enough reason, I suppose. So when hiking came up as part of a training plan, I took it up right away, along with the running and the weight lifting and other such exercises.

It turns out that of all the new activities recommended for training, hiking is my favorite. It’s not as uncomfortable as running or as time-limited as weight lifting, and I get to spend hours and hours off in the woods, testing myself and letting my mind wander after my feet.

Since I’ve discovered this, I’ve been out time after time after time. I speed walked Little Si in 47 minutes on my first day out. It took me two hours to summit Mount Si and four to reach Mt Teneriffe. I’ve walked back and forth, through snow and mud and rain and rock, and every time I go I live something new.

On my first try for the summit, I hit Teneriffe connector trail at the two hour mark and tried to keep going, but the snow deepened. Not just any snow but thick, wet, slushy snow. The kind that doesn’t hold you up, only slows you down. I got farther than I thought I would, but nowhere near the top.

With it being so late in the season, I assumed that would be my last chance until spring. I wasn’t prepared for snowshoeing and I figured I’d exhaust this mountain and several more before graduating to tougher stuff in a few months. A few weeks after that first attempt I had an ersatz hike planned. I figured, with the snow and the cold, I would just run up and down Little Si and see if I could improve my time. Maybe run it more than once to pad my workout.

The dawn, though, came with a surprise.

The snow hadn’t fallen in days. It had, in fact, melted. Not all of it, but enough. The freezing point, according to forecasts, was well above the peak. I could try it again, try to summit Mt Teneriffe once more before the year was out and the snow got worse.

This time, instead of rain, cold rain that leeches the warmth from your body and makes sweat feel like melting ice, there was sun. Golden sifting sun, low in the sky, slanting between the tree trunks. I half expected Gandalf to step out from behind a cedar as I turned each corner, zig zagging my way up toward the first challenge. I made the false summit with pride in only a few hours, though I didn’t have time to make it just that last half mile before the day ended.

For a decent while I didn’t try again. I stuck to Mount Si, hit Rattlesnake Ridge a few times, and found a hiking buddy to come with me on occasion. Some weeks I was too busy to go but the cravings to go harder, get better, go somewhere new, drove me back again and again.

So I tried Teneriffe again. In my pride I was sure I could make it. I gave myself what I thought was plenty of time. I had my water filter for refills, I chose a sunny day, brought plenty of snacks, had my hiking poles for stability on the snow… And I made it. The terrifying peak, covered in dense, deceptive snow, with a precipitous drop on the far side innocently hidden until almost the last minute… I defied the limitations of my body, time, and wisdom to slog through snow that can only be described as angry. I made it up, I made it down again, but I got lost twice, fell off the trail five or six times, and cursed the day I failed to heed my body.

Because I’ve been paying attention to it a lot lately. To how I feel physically in any given moment, which is how I knew I shouldn’t have gone past that false peak. But also to my moods, which is how stubbornness won out. I’ve been noticing how the way I feel changes depending on where my body is, and how what I think has little bearing on either.

Like the mountain. I marveled at how wildly different she was each time I went up. Sometimes pleasant and inviting, sometimes challenging yet indulgent, sometimes downright cranky. And other mountains have their own moods. Once, on a rare accompanied hike, we saw them all in one day. Warm sun, cold rain, drifting snowy, and driving sleet, one right after the other as we joyously trudged our way up and down.

I only experience this variety because I go often, and with few expectations. I show up, week after week, and take what I’m given. Mud and rain, snow and hail, brilliant sparkling days, solitude, companionship. Each day, each mood offering me a new experience. Every hike has been wonderful. Whether I’m learning my limits, defying them, or existing conscientiously within them I walk away, literally, with another day under my belt, another experience to treasure.

I expect that the summer months will be grueling, hot and possibly uncomfortable. But also expansive, with more and more trails becoming possible as snow retreats and roads are passable farther and farther up. I’ll only know if I keep going, keep showing up prepared to savor it all.

With some of my regular visitors I’ve started to notice the same phenomenon. When we see each other more and more, we find ourselves more open with our moods. Sometimes subdued, sometimes nervous, but sometimes downright boisterous. Each mood and moment offering a different experience, similar, but new. Like my trips to the mountains: every hike is a long walk, but how I feel and what I experience each time is a little different. The more often I go out, the better I get to know each one, and the more varied my experience. The more I notice small differences. The more comfortable I am with their twists and turns, their ups and downs.

It’s been such a privilege to get to know our local mountains. I’m looking forward to getting to know more of them, and getting to know them better by spending time with them in all their seasons.

In all their glorious moods.

Welcome back, My Love.

When I was a new provider, I met so many new people. People full of joy and laughter, expectations, sorrow and ire, all people who touched me in some way, and many of whom I touched as well.

I have gone through several iterations of me. I have tightened up my boundaries in some ways, eased them in others. I have become both more wary, and more welcoming by turns. I have honed my skill set, tried a variety of bedroom based activities and adopted some into my regular routine. I have been a shoulder to cry on many times, and opened people’s eyes to the wonders of pleasure, and the possibilities their bodies provide.

As happens in this industry and many others, some of my beloved old friends have left me. Some with words of care and parting, a few with anger, but most simply disappearing from my inbox, leaving a lingering emptiness that makes way for new things, but never really goes away.

I have a place in my heart where they live, those who have found love, made their way to new cities, re-prioritized their finances, gone through health changes, or simply achieved what they came to do and moved on.

But I’ve been around a while, now, and old friends have begun popping up out of the woodwork! Pandemic put a pause on many things, and there’s an entire year there that doesn’t feel like a real year. For a while around 2021-2022 I found a lot of folks returning to the demimonde after brief breaks but that felt different. That felt like a collective breath held and finally let out.

When I say old friends, I mean *old* friends. Folks I met in my beginning years, who got to know me before I knew myself. People who can claim to have met me in my very first, dank, barred-window incall with dripping walls, a massive gold couch, the cuddle closet, and that occasional surprise asbestos remediation.

I tell you, it’s a trip. I feel guilty, because my memory is already porous and the years do not do much to bolster those moments that stuck. It doesn’t help that the things I remember, the specifics that stick in my mind, are never those that stick in yours. You remember the nakedness, the sensuality, the sex. I remember getting locked out with you. I remember the broken radiator, the maintenance guy that saw us walking by, I remember your face, but rarely your name, and details often slip my mind.

I will almost always be happy to reconnect with old friends. One of the freeing aspects of this being a professional relationship is that I don’t expect you to behave like a regular friend. I don’t expect to know why I don’t hear from you anymore. I’m not on your Christmas letter list and that’s ok. My emotional state, outside of our time together, is not your problem. There are enough perks associated with our relationship that, while it’s always nice to know where you are and why I haven’t seen you in a while, I won’t be mad when you un-ghost me.


Those intervening years mean something. I won’t hold them against you, but I also can’t credit you for them. If it’s possible to trade on ancient rapport, I will, but even with stored goodwill, I am a different person than I was ten years ago, seven, five, or even one. I hope you are, too. I won’t presume to know you as you are today, and I hope you will do me the same courtesy.

There are so many people I used to know in this sacred, intimate way. I miss many of them, and think fondly on what they may be up to. Sometimes I wonder what they’d think of me now. I know some folks would call me rude, uppity, for saying a firm no when before I had only meek okays to offer. Others might be surprised at how much more self aware I am. Slightly more interesting, if I do say so myself. More collected, as well, though still prone to excited tangents when some topics come up. Less humble than I was, less accommodating (though still good, giving, and game for most things). But with such a greater capacity for pleasure now than ever before.

If you’re reading this, and you’re wondering if it would be ok to reach out again: yes. With extremely rare exception, I am happy to reconnect, and get to know the you of now as well or better than I ever knew the you of back then. Just be aware that if it’s been more than a year or so it’s entirely possible we are re-starting, not resuming our relationship.

And what possibilities, my love, lie there in the new beginning.

Come back, old friend. I very probably miss you.

I don’t know if you’ve heard…

But I’m training for an obstacle course.

“Hey, how would you feel about coming to my city and watching a bunch of hot people do exercise?” Asks a friend.

Thus begins my journey into Spartan Racing.

2020 was a big flop for me. I was burned out by January, in shape but plateauing, and a few months later all the gyms closed. When the world stopped, I stopped. I stopped everything. I didn’t take walks, even though I love them, I didn’t work out at all, despite access to a home gym setup, I didn’t run or hike or anything, and I picked up a nasty carbs habit. I rode the crest of the wave I had built up with regular pilates practice, but as it ebbed, I did nothing to replace it. It took years to get back to a baseline, but it wasn’t a baseline I was happy with.

So when I found myself at a crossroads, this innocent question held far more appeal than my fitness minded buddy thought it would.

Previously, in this particular group of three, I take on the caring role. I feed, I drive, I shop for supplies, and they do whatever sporting event they’ve dreamed up or decided to join. They would be forgiven for assuming I’d rather watch than run.

Too bad this time I wasn’t ready to stand by.

My gym has made some changes to their class structure so instead of daily pilates, I have to stick to twice weekly. How am I supposed to build this fine, fine booty on only two sessions a week? And how am I supposed to get excited to work out when I have nothing to work toward? Sure, I’d love to have an athlete’s figure, but cheese is far too easy to get around here so without a LOT of work (and a LOT of motivation to get it going) that’s impossible.

Enter the Spartan.

I think most people are familiar with Spartan races (and Tough Mudders and other such obstacle races) but if you’re not: imagine a 5k run peppered with monkey bars, climbing walls, enormous tires to flip over or hop through, vertical climbs, horizontal poles to clamber over and under, and more. Basically it’s a playground for adults who like structured play time. Sometimes it’s in a stadium and you have to go up and down the stairs. Sometimes they’re much longer, with even more grown-up playground equipment to navigate.

Suddenly, I had the perfect storm to hand. Plenty of time to train, a variety of very clear functional goals, and a social motivation component. It took me a week to decide to actually do it, and we’ve made a tiered bet so there’s actual money (and if I do well enough, a very nice bottle) riding on my performance, but now I am locked in and have a deadline.

For the past three months I’ve been trying new ways of exercising. I’ve been hiking (LOVE IT), running (only like it when it’s cold out), sprinting (not sure yet, that’s new), lifting weights (love the results), keeping up my twice weekly pilates (love it), and shoving yoga in here and there where I can.

Also for the past three months, I can’t shut up about it. My friends, my family, my patient, darling clients hoping to sneak a kiss in between words… have all put up with me waxing eloquent on pull-up drills, weight lifting form, how much I truly hate running, and the many details that have consumed my life of late.

I would just like to thank you for your support, your patience, and for being one of the reasons I can afford to do this. I marvel at the life I have available to me and it’s you who make it possible. I only hope that my stamina, exuberance, and impressive new muscles are enough to make listening to me gab on about my new journey worth it.

Good Grief, 2023!

We are moving toward the end. The year moves inexorably to a close and we find ourselves reflecting. We hope. Planning for a better year next year.

I believe 2023 was the year of grieving, for me. A year of loss and pain and endings.

In September 2022, a professional conflict that had been simmering between me and my former friend and mentor since the spring resurfaced. She did something I didn’t agree with. I did something she didn’t like. The conflict got personal, then nasty. I couldn’t relax, nor could I reconcile, and the stress of it all had my hair literally falling out. In December we parted ways permanently, and with bad blood.

In November of the same year, a friend’s boyfriend kissed me. The kiss in itself wasn’t a problem, but it brought others to light and over the next few months, I tried to establish new norms of conduct between us. It did not go well. By September, other fractures in other relationships had grown and the tension in ours was the final fissure. The entire social group, one that sustained us through pandemic and saved at least one life, had shattered by the end of the month.

In the meantime, my best friend suffered a mental breakdown. A variety of stressors (stolen car, job woes, a loved one’s failing health, among others) turned my mild-mannered, self sacrificing friend into a ball of rage that careened through her closest relationships at the slightest provocation. It was touch and go for most of the summer but I have reason to expect that this relationship, at least, will emerge stronger than ever. Of the three of my friends, people I was close to, shared secrets and time and love with, only she is committed to our future. She has apologized and she is working diligently toward a permanently stronger position and with her, so am I.

For most of my life, I’ve been a pushover. A people pleaser who would rather suffer quietly than possibly, maybe, potentially upset someone. More than that, I would solve every problem around me, not out of selflessness or love, but to avoid proximity to other people’s upset feelings.

It turns out that when you stop doing that, people who liked you when you did, don’t really like you anymore. For the first time in my life, I stuck up for myself. Like, really stuck up for myself. I pushed back on things I didn’t feel were right, and when the pressure turned up I didn’t run away.

Finally. After doing it over and over for 34 years, I didn’t run away.

I am walking away from these relationships, from this year, grateful and proud. Grateful for the learning opportunities, for the tools I’ve walked away with, and for the good times I had before things fell apart. Proud of myself for making the effort to change things I didn’t like, and for not giving in this time. I feel so much older, so much less afraid. I feel more prepared for the future, more able to handle what others might do. I’m a little more cautious, which is good but also makes me a little sad. I have more patience for other people’s feelings, but less now for their actions. I am willing to tolerate others’ discontent, and unwilling to tolerate bad behavior. I feel victorious in a battle of wills against my old self and after a year long battle, ready to be calm for a while.

Because dear god I’m so glad that’s over. At every stage of every conflict I second guessed myself. I had to constantly remind myself (when I had the presence of mind to realize it) that what I felt was real, that it was reasonable, and that what I was asking for was also reasonable. In dozens of conversations, poring over comments and asides, looking at situations from every possible angle, I checked and rechecked my assumptions. Was I being fair in my descriptions when seeking outside perspective? Did other people’s opinions confirm my conclusions? Was there any room at all for me to be wrong, apologize, and fix this by once again sacrificing my own well being to ease others’ anger?

For weeks on end I could think of nothing else, and the stress of being in the thick of the process grated on those around me. Now that it’s over, I almost feel weird being at peace. Taking a long walk and thinking about the answers to my crossword puzzle and the events of the book I’m reading instead of writing and rewriting messages in my head, jumping at every turn, afraid to say a wrong word and set off another tirade. To say “not much” when people ask what I’ve been up to and realize that’s the truth. To feel normal and sure of myself.

It feels weird.

It feels good.

That, my beloved readers, is one reason I’ve been away so long. Instead of inspiration, my waking hours had been taken up with some things I simply couldn’t share. They were too personal, they were often someone else’s private business, and they were muddled. And now they’re done.

Though my writing schedule is unlikely to return to the weekly notes I once sent, I do have a few things in the wings, fun things I hope you’ll enjoy.

Thank you, again, to my dear patrons who have supported me, listened, and yet been too wise to pry. This year has been a wild ride and I couldn’t have done it without you.

Winter Hours are Coming

How delightful, that as time passes in its inexorable flow, people can grow and change, try new things and learn from them.

Previously, I have encouraged my lovers to meet me in the broad light of day. When an engagement requires I be at a certain place at a certain time, I and my various anxieties prevent me from relaxing in the time leading up to the appointment. This isn’t a problem when I’m only awake for a few hours, but when hours bleed into whole halves of days, I feel more keenly my inability to relax.


It turns out that those anxieties can be curbed through deliberate action. I have discovered that, while eight unfilled hours with a time bound task at the end of them unnerves me, eight hours that hold six hours of tasks within them feel very different.

I’ve recently taken on a challenge. The challenge involves activity. Background on the challenge will come with time but for now; the challenge craves daylight hours. You may have noticed that daylight hours are scarce this time of year, and between the challenge and my seasonal dejectedness, I’ve decided to try something new.

Enter: Winter hours.

Currently: I encourage people, both by my calendar and my rate structure, to visit me during daylight hours. For the near future: I propose an experiment.

I’m going to run an experimental special from Sunday, November 26 through Friday, December 1. My evening minimum will be two hours, down from four, and three hour appointments will be upgraded to four. I hope to test a hypothesis while also potentially meeting both friends who can’t make time during the day and others who could, but prefer evening dates.

Pending evidence for my hypothesis, I plan to continue the change with a small modification. Between December 3 and February 16: my evening hours will be a minimum of three (instead of four) and my four hour engagements will enjoy a loose upper limit (meaning we shall have our up to two hours En Abode and then dinner will take as long as dinner takes)

Terms and Conditions: I moved to my current location near the end of 2019. Right about when I settled in and got excited to explore eating in the area, Covid hit and they all shut down. I require that four hour appointments include food out in the real world and for the duration of winter hours, I strongly prefer we go grab a bite to eat somewhere nearby during three hour gatherings. I also require that appointments (excepting overnights, of course, and the occasional special event) be planned to end at or before 10p. I encourage a start time as close to 6pm as possible.

So get excited for cozy evenings in crowded restaurants, exploratory adventures to unknown eateries, and perhaps the odd fancy dress ball. If there’s a place you’ve always wanted to share that’s only open for dinner, now is the time.

Thank you my friends for your patience. It’s been a long time since I posted anything new and yet I’ve felt, and in some cases seen, your affection sent my way.

To winter!

Making Friends in Spokane (and Walla Walla)

I’m not a big touring girl. I love travel, but I don’t do it often and I generally don’t do it exclusively to work. There are, however, a few places I go regularly and am even looking to meet some new friends here and there.

During the summers, I generally head in the direction of Spokane once a month or so. I am not *in* Spokane, I am about an hour away, but I am nearby. It’s not impossible that I’ll “retire” there eventually, and I wouldn’t mind having a few friends to keep me company. Until that happens, I won’t have a permanent location to host so appointments booked for Spokane will look a little different.

First, the good news. Spokane has a lower cost of living. Spokane *also* has a lower cost of me! Spokane rates are as follows:

90 minutes – 700
2 hours – 900
3 hours – 1200
Overnight – 2500

Now for the catch: you must provide the room (or deposit equal to the going room rate plus 10%). And not just any room. We’re talking Davenport or equivalent. I want both of us to feel secure, comfortable, clean, and sexy. Once we have met a few times and gotten to know one another better, we can discuss meeting at your clean bachelor pad, but I like to stick to one new thing at a time. If I don’t know you, I’d at least like to know where I’ll meet you.

You’ll also want to plan ahead. Like I said: it’s a long drive into town and when I’m back east, I often have things to do I’ll want to plan around.

The other Eastern WA location I visit more than once a year is Walla Walla. Spring and Fall release are a tradition to attend and I require small prompting to visit throughout the year. I stay at the Marcus Whitman (when it’s not 100% sold out) and would LOVE to see any locals who want to share their time. Walla Walla rates are:

90 minutes – 800
2 hours – 1000
3 hours – 1500
Overnight – 4000 (and something from the Patisserie in the morning)

Again: planning ahead will be crucial. And if you don’t see a Walla Walla date on my calendar but you’d like to invite me down, feel free to reach out.

Fun bonus: all my darling Seattle clients may avail themselves of these special lower rates if they see me in Spokane or Walla Walla.

Screening requirements are the same and I cannot provide FBSM at this time. It’s a bit too conspicuous to travel with the table and conspicuous is the enemy of safety, especially in a big little small town.

I am looking forward to meeting, or re-meeting in some cases, darling friends from the rural areas who take their pleasure as seriously as I do but find a trip to Seattle a bit more than reasonable. See you soon!

A Walk to Work Wonders

It’s been a busy few weeks for me. Usually, that brings me joy, but coming on the heels of a very slow couple of months and at the same time as the release of Tears of the Kingdom, I found myself resenting things that I would otherwise enjoy.

Now, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy being busy. An evening at the opera, a night of sleepy snuggles, new friends, an outing with the folks, all brought their own delights and I am happy to have done them. But it contributed to an uncharacteristically black mood on a glorious early summer day.

I love walking. To the store, from the bus, around Greenlake, I will invent chores and destinations so I have an excuse to walk somewhere. I am fortunate that I have a variety of pedestrian friendly places to roam without needing a plane, train, or automobile to access them. As part of my self care, I try to take at least a short walk every day.

Which is why I was surprised at how resentful I felt towards this walk! I knew it was good for me, I had made plans to chat with a friend along the way, the sun was out but it wasn’t too hot… in a few words: the day was perfect, I was about to do something I enjoy, and I wasn’t happy about it.

I’m glad I did it anyway.

It took almost the entire walk to bring me around. An hour it took me, of soaking in sunshine, reminding myself to enjoy moments for what they are and not worry about what they aren’t, and listening to music. I was a few blocks from home when Chandelier by Sia came on my playlist and one lyric jumped out at me: “I’m gonna live like tomorrow does’t exist.”

What if today was my last day on earth? What would I wish I had done by the end? Would I really be upset that I spent a day with my best friend instead of gaming? Would I regret staying in bed all day instead of having a face-to-face heart-to-heart with my mom? Would I lay on my death bed wishing I hadn’t stopped quite so many times to say “I love you” to those I love?

And suddenly, my perspective shifted.

Instead of wishing I could abandon my professional and personal responsibilities, I remembered that there is a reason I opted into them, and those reasons are still real. I realized that there will always be tomorrow for frivolity, that I was glad to have done these important things, and that I could have it all. Eventually.

Sometimes it sucks to be a grown up. To have only yourself to blame when you can’t take a day off. To fret over the future and choose to do the responsible thing instead of the fun thing. But it is also empowering. I can choose to work hard at the things I value: my relationships personal and professional. And at the same time, I can choose to appreciate them. And I can choose to play, too.

So today I exercise, because it’s good for me and it feels good. I work, because it’s good for me, and it feels good. I tell my people I love them, because it’s good for me, and it feels good. I play, because it feels good, and that is good for me. And I take a fucking walk, because it turns out it’s good for me, even when it doesn’t feel good.