August 8, 2015


I left Mathews early the morning of July 29 and arrived at Ucross Foundation on the afternoon of August 3. In between I bought apple cider donuts from a roadside stand in Virginia, played pinball in Lawrenceville, drank smoked bourbon on one big rock, ate a famous fried fish sandwich at Nied's Hotel, biked the streets of Chicago on a road bike at night, sipped rose and Hibiscus Ale to the tunes of Old Crow Medicine Show and Brandi Carlile, ate fish n' chips sushi and a chocolate chip cookie swirled in custard, hung out with a cat named Minion, spilled jalapeno hummus in my lap on I-90, camped on a mound of Sioux Quartzite in Minnesota, grilled steak and mushrooms to lantern-light and fireflies, found a bison herd, saw more motorcycles than I have ever seen or will ever see again, hiked seven miles in the Badlands backcountry by myself, saw bighorn sheep and one mean rattlesnake, climbed a ladder to The Notch, at Chef Boyardee and felt ten years old, rock-scrambled at sunset and sipped a beer on top, looked at Saturn through a telescope, crossed the Black Hills, drove through Sturgis on the opening day of the 75th annual motorcycle rally with along with 1 million bikers, and sailed through Wyoming singing Paul Simon, right to the foot of the Bighorn Mountains. 

July 22, 2015


It has been over two years since I have left words on this page. Geographically, I find myself exactly where I was in my last post: still on Stutt's Creek, a creekrat. I went firefly hunting with Allie for the third time this June. She was nettle-stung in the Rappahannock last week; her shoulder is streaked with red beneath her chlorine-green and blonde hair. It reminds me of the scars of lightning-strike survivors, what are called lichtenberg figures. There was a thunderstorm Saturday that came on so strong the whole county lost power and I stood beneath the pines and let it soak me in chest-pounding bouts of rain. I still bike at night, a sweaty wide-eyed thing lit white in the headlights of lifted pickup trucks. I still drink Legend Browns and visit Southwind for jam night, though I haven't worked there in over a year. And I still love this county, its cornfields and marshes and left houses and honeysuckle. Its people, so many of whom are now my easy friends, my new-old friends, my Mathews family.

So what has changed?

In some ways my life more as it was than it has been in the intervening years. After living with a person for two years, I am alone again. My closet contains only my clothing, the fridge only my food. No more cowboy shirts and Coors Light. Back to dresses, back to grocery bags of cucumbers. It's strange and comfortable at once. I miss him without regretting the decision I made. I miss him without regretting the time I spent with him. But I was used to missing him, so that too is a bit of the same.

The biggest change, perhaps, has been to my body. In the early winter of 2014 I chose to make a change, to address an issue that has long bothered me: my weight. I've lost almost forty-five pounds to date. I began in the winter walking miles in slush and wind and snowdrifts. I'm now biking upwards of a hundred miles a week on the backroads through those marshes and cornfields I love so much. I find myself lean and muscled and tanned dark by hard hours under a hot sun. My closet is almost empty and my hair is longer than my shoulders. I still look in the mirror and startle: who is that? But I do not miss her, the person I carved this new me from. I do not hate her, but I am happy not to be her anymore. Not to live in a body defined by its trauma, its grief, its coping mechanisms.

But the real changes are about to happen. I often feel, these days, as if I am hanging my toes off the cliff edge, counting down to the moment I finally leap. In seven days I leave for Wyoming, to spend four weeks at the Ucross Foundation as a writer in residence. It is a scary, thrilling thing, and I am ready. I am ready, too, for all that will come after. After there may be a move to Austin, or back to DC, or to somewhere. After there may be all manner of decisions I can't yet imagine. After there will be changes, scary and significant and necessary. But that will all come after. All I can do now is plan, and bide, and enjoy what time I have here now.