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.

Taking the day off.

I had a delightful post ready for last week, or I thought I did, and I have plans to write about the opera in the coming week, but for today, I am taking my first day off in a week. Between a terrible cold, a friend in town, cat sitting, and some delightful visitors, I have had a tremendously full week. Next Thursday you’ll have much to see as I’ll have a backdated post for last week as well as a new one.

In the meantime, I am receiving heart containers from all my darlings and spending the afternoon enjoying the beautiful sunshine.

A Night at the Museum

I’m on the Stranger’s mailing list for citywide events so I learn about all kinds of things to do. Most of the time I’m not that interested. Most concerts aren’t really my thing (I don’t like crowds or loud noises), and a lot of the “events” are just restaurants making up occasions to sell more food. Which is fine, but again with the crowds.

However, every few weeks something really jumps out at me. The Ballet was one. Turns out I’m not really that into ballet, but at least I tried it! HUMP is another. I knew about it, but having a timely reminder meant I got tickets and found a date this year instead of realizing too late that it’s time. And last month I saw an opportunity to spend an evening on the dance floor…. With fossils!!!

Burke After Dark is an event where the special exhibits area at the Burke Museum of Natural History is cleared out and in it’s place they put a dance floor, an open bar, and some nibbles. You can dance until you get sweaty and out of breath, then wander through the displays and exhibits for a while, then wander back to the dance floor. A little Lady Gaga, a little T Rex. A little Michael Jackson, a little cladogram. A little Disco, a little marsupial specimens.

It was a small group, most of them in their thirties or so, and as I took a moment to people watch, I felt this wave of warmth and belonging. I didn’t know a soul (other than my exceptional date, thank you my dear) but I knew them. The one guy getting super dirty with his girlfriend. The nice lady who kept checking to see who was watching her sweet dance moves. The crowd of girlfriends giving zero shits what other people were doing. It reminded me of prom, specifically of going to prom with my theater nerd friends. And all of these strangers gathered here, now, for this unusual crossover event.

There’s a special feeling of safety and belonging for me in those spaces. A place where there’s a crowd of people (but not a large crowd) and enough space to stand apart and observe. Soak it in a bit. I feel like this at parks, or book readings, or sitting in the corner alone at a restaurant: there are people, and they are happy, and they ask nothing of me. They offer without knowing it their camaraderie and I am free to accept it, or not, when I’m ready.

I remember one night, years ago, when I took my book to dinner. I sat up at the bar with my charcuterie plate and a glass of wine and my book, when about halfway through, we noticed each other. Down the bar, another woman and her book, and her charcuterie plate, and her glass of wine. And at the same time, at a table in the middle of the room, another. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the coincidence, but we gravitated to each other and wound up migrating to the table. “What book are you reading?” “Do you do this often?” “I’m so glad we met.” An hour later we had traded life stories, three of us spanning six decades, and shared a unique moment of community with strangers.

These moments, of solitary community, of serendipity, of solidarity, don’t come often. Sometimes I can manufacture them, but usually I just have to stay open and see what happens. This evening was a created opportunity. The organizers, myself, my date who let me talk them into an extravagant evening, the students and faculty tirelessly working, and the other attendees all had to go out of their way to make this happen. I am so grateful to everyone who did, and I am looking forward to the next one.


Funny how things come in threes sometimes.

I spent an afternoon with the cuttlefish and less than a week later, was gifted a book. Science fiction, about alien worlds and megalomaniacs and regular old humanity trying to survive. It featured sentient spiders and computers made of ants, and followed a man, a language nerd upon whose shoulders rests humanity’s last chance, as destiny jerks him to and fro.

After the book ends, a few generations pass, and the next book begins. The spiders and the humans and the ant-colony-computer-based AI all troop off toward a mysterious radio signal and a distant world.

This world is full of sentient octopuses.

Ten days after staring my cuttlefish friend in the eye, I lay on my sofa, reading a scene where an octopus, a human, and a giant spider meet, stare each other in the eyes, and try to learn how to communicate.

It was surreal.

And today, less than a week after closing the back cover on what is essentially a space opera, I stopped, crouched, and stared in wonder at a colony of ants, bustling around living their little ant lives. I wondered if, perhaps, the author of Children of Time didn’t have an interesting idea. If electron based computing power operates on a series of ones and zeros, ons and offs, who’s to say that an ant colony, properly guided with pheromone signals, couldn’t become something more computational than a massive bridge or giant ball? I couldn’t see a pattern in the colony’s movement, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.

Out of curiosity, I puffed a hefty breath at them, enough to life some off their little bug feet and roll them a few centimeters one way and the other. Immediately, their pace increased. The clover leaf patterns and long lines moving in, out, and around the little ant hill sped up wildly, but it didn’t look like anything else changed. The patterns I didn’t see before still didn’t emerge, nor did I notice them changing.

But change they did. Before long, the clover leaf leaves grew and a few individuals found my shoe. Whether or not they recognized it as enemy, I figured it was time to go. I tried brushing them off and that’s when another instinct kicked it.

She bit me!

Not on the toe, but on my glove. I was wearing some simple knit gloves and this tiny little creature latched her tiny little jaws on to the tiny little threads of my glove. Held thusly in place, she bent her booty around to spray what must have been the tiniest, weakest spray of bum acid at me.

This is how they fight other insects and take down prey. Mindlessly, she fought on behalf of her colony, against this monstrous enemy, and she held on tight. Like, surprisingly tight. So tight I couldn’t just brush her off. I had to pinch her body between thumb and forefinger of my other hand, break her fast little grip, and be quick to shake her back onto the ground before she got hold of the other glove.

How wild, these little things! Several people passed me as I crouched entranced, on bikes and on foot. I’m sure they thought I was an absolute nutter. My favorite walking shoes don’t look as comfortable as they are, and the combination of winter gloves and sunglasses can’t have fit in, even in Seattle. Add to that me intently staring at nothing, head bent down close to the ground, a joyful, incredulous, possibly maniacal under the circumstances grin on my face, and you get a bit of an odd sight. At least, the thought occurred to me once or twice while I watched.

I do this sometimes. Watch the world go by at it’s impossibly slow, frantic pace. I once watched dragonflies hatching, moving occasionally from one bursting shell to the next, observing each one at it’s separate, communal point in development. They have to climb out of the water, get high enough on a branch they can get some sunshine but not so high they get spotted by predators, then they split their backs open and push their torsos out first. Though I’m not sure it’s the same for dragonflies, I know that butterflies have to struggle in order for their wings to function. Each wing is threaded with dozens of capillaries that must fill with fluid in order to full expand. I watched wings start crinkled like badly packed vacation clothes and slowly, millimeter by millimeter, straighten and expand into the flat, iridescent wings we’re used to. Then, they start moving their wings. Slowly at first, drying and strengthening them. And then they lift off.

There’s something meditative about watching nature. Children, insects, small creatures of the woods, just going about their lives, carrying out programming that goes back to the dawn of time and led, over generations, to the creature they are right then, right there.

The books are Children of Time and Children of Ruin, respectively. I found them a simple pleasure, if a little predictable. Your “nerd just gives peace a chance and the wildly overpowered other guy turns out to be just like you and wants peace, too” trope is heavily used here, and is spreading. Season two of Picard did the same thing. But the descriptions are vivid, an important literary tool for those of us who see the worlds we read about rendered in our head, and I enjoyed the speculation. What would society look like if we were all jumping spiders? What if we were octopuses? What if we were us, but those others existed? How would we talk to each other? What if my little cuttlefish buddy and I had, over time, been able to communicate with each other and discover, to both of our surprise, that the answer to many of my questions was “yes”?