The Best Laid Plans

Plans gang aft agley, but it’s hard not to feel silly after one has posted one’s plans online, and then have those plans come to naught. All these months, I’ve been talking about the big road-camping-hiking-backpacking trip I’ve planned for May, and then zap! I caught a cold. A bad one.

I haven’t accomplished much of anything the past week— the book remains unfinished, the trip preparations have come to a halt, and trail foods never got fixed. (I haven’t even been blogging — didn’t want you to catch my cold.)

I still hope to be well enough to leave Wednesday as planned, but I even if I have stopped coughing by then, I might be too weak. If I left a few days later, driving mostly straight through and staying at motels instead of campgrounds, I’d still be able to visit the people I’d planned to visit (keeping my fingers crossed!) but I would have to forego some of the sights I wanted to see and the activities I’d hoped to experience.

But you never know. Everything could go as planned. And if not, well, I still have my trip book — the binder I’ve filled with maps and directions and descriptions of parks and places along the way — so I can take the trip another time.

It’s interesting (to me, anyway), the difference in my thinking when I am feeling well and when I am not. When I am well, I feel as if I can work toward impossible dreams and maybe even accomplish them. When I am weakened by illness (or by coughing fits), I feel as if even the possible would be impossible.

But thinking doesn’t change reality, even though people say it does. If you don’t think you can do something, you can still try to prove yourself wrong and end up accomplishing what you think you could not do. If you think you can do something, you can rely too much on the belief and do nothing to make it happen, you can fail to accomplish what you thought you could.

Whatever happens next week — and next month — I’ll continue working toward the goal of an eventual epic backpacking trip. That doesn’t necessarily mean I will take the trip because as we all know, plans don’t mean a whole lot if things change and you can’t implement them, but still, it’s the work that counts.

For now, I need to work on getting better.

Hope you all are doing okay.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

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Uncreating and Recreating my Life

It’s been exceptionally windy lately, and will continue to be windy through tomorrow. I still did my faux backpacking treks the past couple of days, though I must admit, I procrastinated this morning. It wasn’t just the wind I couldn’t face, but the struggle to get the backpack up onto my back. I can do it easily sitting on the bed, but I have it on good authority there are no such beds out in the wilderness. In the desert, there are often boulders the right size, but I’ve hiked many places where there wasn’t even a place to sit down except the ground, and sometimes not even that if the trail follows the side of a mountain or swings through a deep forest.

Yesterday, I had such a hard time getting the pack on, I was afraid I would wrench my back, but it’s something I have to learn — getting the darn pack on with nothing or no one to help. Then, it came to me: do the left side first. (The instructions for putting on a backpack were to haul it up on the bent right leg, put your right arm through the strap, then with the left hand gripping the haul strap, sling the thing onto your back, but my left hand isn’t strong enough and even if it were, the wonky arm no longer bends the way it’s supposed to.) I switched sides, and by golly, it worked. Despite the twenty-eight pound dead weight, the pack went on easily.

Then, of course, I had no excuse not to go out walking.

As I was sauntering along with all that weight on my back (plus two pounds of water in my belly pack), it occurred to me that I no longer feel the pull to do an epic backpacking trip. It’s not that I am giving up on the idea, it’s that I’ve already been pulled. It’s no longer an impossible dream, though the dream has to be tailored to my fitness level. It is and will probably always remain impossible for me to do the whole 2,700 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from beginning to end in one season. An average of twenty-miles a day for six months? Eek. Not even many young fit folk manage to do that. But I will be doing some of it, even if only a few miles — it’s just a matter of when and where.

I like the idea of doing the last hundred miles of the northern section and the first hundred miles of the southern section, and then filling in the center. Sort of like the way I colored when I was a kid — first the outline, then the middle. But we’ll see.

My May trip is getting closer, and I still have a lot to do to prepare, most notably searching through my storage unit and the closet in my room for all my camping and backpacking gear so I can decide what to take. (And make sure I don’t leave something important behind!)

Meantime, I am spending most of my mental time on my book, trying to figure out the last section. There needs to be more upheavals before they settle down, but I’ve already uncreated the world and recreated it, so I’m not sure what I can do that doesn’t set up echoes of what’s already been done. I’ll think of something though — in fact, I might take inspiration from one of my silly little water colors, and pull the stars down to earth and the flowers up into the sky. One can do that if one is a writer, especially if one is a writer who is playing god.

I’m still not sure whether to create a Garden of Eden or some sort of cave person environment. (I’ve been trying to find out what a Garden of Eden would look like, but to no avail.) Not that it really matters, but they have to settle somewhere. I don’t want to have to research a whole set of survival skills for them, so it has to be easy for them and for me, this primordial and primitive place where they will raise the baby they are going to have. (And yes, the poor kid will be named Adam. What else could his name be, this first boy child born into the recreated world?)

With any luck and a bit of determination, I might be able to finish the book before I head out, to free my mind for all the new adventures coming my way. So, while I uncreate and recreate the world in my book, I am also uncreating and recreating my own life as I finish the novel, prepare for my trip, and continue my backpacking conditioning.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A Gathering of Gatherers

Once upon an e-time, long ago and far away, there was a social networking site for writers, photographers, and artists of all kinds called Gather. I haven’t thought about this site much lately because, well, because it’s no longer there. The owners sold it, and the buyers only wanted the health site part of the owners’ holdings, and so Gather was deleted. All our photos, articles, discussions . . . gone. Though some people were perspicacious enough to copy and save those discussions, I was not one of them. Luckily, I was able to recreate some of the photo essays I posted on the site, those I was most proud of, such as Echoes, Deep Thought. Or Not, and Short and Witty Photographic Ditty.

Today, when I was talking with my sister about my upcoming trip, she mentioned how wonderful it was that I actually turned online friends into offline friends, and so I told her about two of the women I will be visiting on my way to Seattle. Then it dawned on me — I’d met both of those women on Gather. Not only that, it was my sister who had introduced me to Gather. She’d found a contest on the site that she talked me into entering. And that contest led the way to many new friendships.

It’s interesting to think how one small thing can reverberate through the years. I don’t know if my sister actually changed my life by her urging me to enter the contest, but she sure had an effect, and my life is richer for it.

Gather might have been the beginning, but I have since met others online through my blog or Facebook. Generally these folks started out as fans or fellow grievers and became friends. People often caution me about visiting people I only met online, but I have never had a problem. (Apparently, they haven’t had a problem with me, either, because almost all of them have remained friends.) Over the years, reading and commenting on each other’s blogs, seeing the photos of their families and vacations, participating in various discussions, you do get to know people. (It’s the same as offline, actually.)

I must admit, having people to meet along the way makes any trip a wonderland of possibilities — not just because of meeting the people themselves, but because of all the things they love in their area they want to share, things I would never have found on my own.

People who are fed up with the politics and policies on Facebook and who are looking for another place to hang out would be gravitating to Gather if it still existed. For a while, Facebook was an adequate substitute for Gather, but it is becoming increasingly unfun. (Which is one of the reasons I keep blogging — it makes me feel as if I am in control of at least a part of my online destiny.)

I can’t go back, but I can go forward, and forward means I will soon be meeting friends from Gather and elsewhere. I can hardly wait!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Wishing You the Joy of This Day

A new month starts today, maybe even a resurrection of sorts. Despite the predominately religious meanings of this time of year, there is a more personal spiritual meaning — that no matter how down (or up!) we are, we can find a renewal, a liberation, a breaking open of the constraints that bind us so we can burst forth into a new day, a new way of being.

Or something like that.

After yesterday’s feeling that much of what I’ve been doing is just plain silly, today I am taking a break from all of those things. Well, most of them. Obviously, I am blogging, but I did not go sauntering with my pack (though I did chat with a fellow on FB about various sections of the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington), did not go to dance class (that counts even though there was no dance class today), have not added any words to my book (though I did delete some, which doesn’t seem anywhere near as silly as adding words).

So did doing not much of anything feel silly? Nope. It felt good just to be. To enjoy the moment. I do enjoy the moments when I am doing something, of course, but when I am not doing “nothing,” the enjoyment is sort of a tagalong feeling to whatever it is I am doing — enjoying the desert while sauntering, enjoying the energy of dancing — rather than enjoyment as a separate entity.

I so often feel a push for more — to carry more weight in the pack, to walk more miles, to write more and better, to get stronger, healthier, wiser — that it’s good once in a while to burst out of the winding cloths I’ve wrapped myself in, and step out into the joy of being

I’m overdoing the metaphor a bit, but so what?

It’s a new day. And today I can do whatever I want. Be whatever I want. Well, in my own mind at least. There is still the matter of a body that doesn’t always cooperate, but that is a matter for another time.

Wishing you the joy of this day.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Being Silly

As I was sauntering along today, carrying twenty-eight pounds on my back, the whole thing — the weight, the pretend backpacking treks, the dream of a hugely long hike — suddenly seemed utterly silly.

I suppose if I could see any changes — more muscle tone, a sleeker body, greater energy, anything — it wouldn’t seem so ridiculous, but I don’t see any difference in me at all. I am carrying more weight in the pack than I did at the beginning, but I don’t think it’s because I’m stronger; it’s more that I carried less than I could when I started this project. Back then, I couldn’t carry much because I couldn’t sling the pack onto my back. Once I figured out that it was easy to put the pack on while sitting on the bed, I was able to increase the weight.

But that brings up another silly issue — in the backcountry, there are no beds, so I researched how to put on a pack out in the wild (hoist it up onto a bent leg using the haul strap, hold the haul strap with the left hand, put the right arm through the right shoulder strap, hump it onto your back and then put the left arm through the strap), but that’s difficult to do even without a weak and wonky left arm. I thought of using a rope to haul the thing up my back, but sheesh — talk about silly!

I guess none of this is any more foolish than the rest of my life, such as spending years writing books only a few folks read. Or taking ballet classes when one is leaden footed. Or learning to dance when one can’t distinguish one note or instrument from another. (In class the other day, I was told to do a certain move when the steel guitars started. Total blank. Hadn’t a clue.) Or driving a forty-six-year-old car. Or . . .

Come to think of it, is anything in my life not silly?

But then what do I know — perhaps silliness is the point of my life. Of any life. Maybe God created us and the world and even the universe in a fit of silliness and then went on to more important things.

Since I have nothing more important to do at the moment, I’m stuck with my silliness. At least I’m consistent, but then, consistency is foolish, too.

As if all this weren’t silly enough, I spent the past half hour trying to find the perfect positioning for the image of the bed in this blog post.

Yikes.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Author Arc

There are only two days left of my novel writing month. Unlike the National Novel Writing Month in November, which is about writing 50,000 words in a month, I had no goal except to work on my book every day. The first four days of March were dedicated to editing and reading what I already had written — it’s impossible to finish writing a book if you don’t know what it’s about, and I’d let the poor thing lie fallow for so many years, I’d forgotten many of the details.

Two days of the month were wasted from a novel writing point of view as I celebrated Jeff’s death with tears and sorrow (though not, of course, wasted from a purely personal point of view). I did open the manuscript and stare at it for a while both those days, which has to count for something.

It is interesting that I should be working on this particular book around the anniversary because it was the last book where Jeff offered any input — he always helped with making sure the men thought and acted like men. Some people were disappointed with my last two books —  Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinished — both of which were written long after his death so they lacked the male point of view that kept my first four books from slipping into girlishness. And I have to admit, both Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare and Unfinished are “girlier” than my first four novels, which I doubt Jeff would have liked. But the way I figure, if he didn’t want me to write fiction geared more for women, then he shouldn’t have died.

I have a hunch my male characters in the book I am writing now are losing their edge, but I don’t think it matters. The theme of the story is freedom. How much freedom we are willing to give up for safety, how much safety we are willing to give up for freedom, and in the end, since freedom is an illusion, it’s about embracing responsibility. So, if in this third part, the characters are different from the first two parts, it can be chalked up to character arc rather than author arc.

Usually about this time, as I am sliding down to the end, I have another book in mind, but not this time. One idea I had was to write a murder mystery when/if I ever hiked long sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. I’d probably scare myself half to death writing about death in the wilderness on such a hike, but it certainly would give a book immediacy if I were sort of living it as I wrote it. Another idea is to do a sequel to the book I am now finishing. Two babies were born in completely different circumstances in this newly created world of mine. One of the babies is named Eve. The other Adam. It does call out for a sequel doesn’t it? And yet, this book is more or less a one-note story. Once the gag is played out, I’m not sure what’s left.

Anyway, considering how long I’ve been working on this book, I shouldn’t count my ending before it’s hatched — if I get sidetracked again, it could be years before I get back to it.

I will extend my novel-writing month into April, however, even though I only have half the month to write since I will need at least a week to prepare for my trip. (It’s not just a road trip and a camping trip and a hiking trip, but also a backpacking trip, a city trip with a fancy night on the town, and various and sundry other excitements.) After that week of preparation, I will be leaving. Although I have been calling this my May trip, I will be leaving in April since I have to be back the last week in May to practice for a performance. Let’s hope I don’t lose the dances somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. They were both difficult to learn.)

Does talking about my book constitute working on it? No, I guess not. So, back to work I go, constructing a world and many dangers for my poor characters to suffer through.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

What If?

I faced no traumas today, no conflicts with others, no conflicts with myself, just the normal difficulties that come with trying to haul one’s used body around and make it do what one wants it to do. Luckily, this aging body is only used, not used up, so it managed to do what I asked of it. Like get up in the morning. Like strap on the twenty-seven pound pack and walk three and a half miles. Like go on an errand with a friend.

Now, it’s giving out on me. Actually, no — this poor used body is not giving out, it’s the overused mind that does not want to be tethered to words. It wants to roam free, not thinking, just . . . well, just not thinking. But without words, there is not much of a blog.

Oh wait! Photos! I don’t have to write about where my mind is. I can show you.

Less than four weeks until I am on the road again!

I mentioned to my landlord today that I was going to be gone a month and why, and he said, “I hope you’re bringing mace and a firearm.” I just stared at him, wondering if he were making a joke. But no. He was utterly serious. Then I mentioned to a fellow renter about my trip, and she, too, said I needed mace and gun. Huh? Mine is supposed to be a spiritual journey. (First, of course, an escape. Then a spiritual journey.) There is no killing on a spiritual journey. I’ll just have to be extra careful.

“What if a wild animal attacks you?” they asked. “Or a person?” I had no response to that, of course. There never is a response to “what if,” unless it’s: What if an animal doesn’t attack me? What if I have a wonderful time? What if things go well, and I return refreshed?

What if?

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Sun Shines Brightly on Me

I currently reside in the desert, so very few days pass without some sun, but this month has seemed dark to me. Admittedly, we have had an upsurge of winter-cold days, with lots of blustery wind and even some rain, but the sunlessness has extended beyond mere weather factors.

For one thing, I turned a year older. The years don’t matter to me — what difference does a number make? I never notice the wrinkles unless I look in the mirror, and sometimes not even then. The gray in my hair is not an issue except for my dance teacher who thinks I look good in the wig I use for performances and says I need to dye my hair that color (and except for my sister who thinks I need a purple streak). What does matter is that every added year now brings new aches and pains and weird afflictions, and I have struggled with some small thing every day since the birthday — a pop in my thigh, a cramp in my calf, a swollen eyelid, aches in my fake elbow, and on, and on, and on.

For another thing, March brings the anniversary of Jeff’s death. Like my birthday, the number means little, except to marvel that I have survived so many years of pain and change, but it is a time of remembrance, of yearning, of sometimes even of reliving the last days I ever saw my life mate/soul mate.

This March added another burden, my problem with Deb. Although I do not think I caused the problem, considering that possibility added a different layer of pain to an already untenable situation. For all I know, I could be the narcissist. Do narcissists know what they are? Supposedly they do, at least on some level, so if you wonders, chances are you are not the narcissist. (Narcissists love to make their victims think the problem is with them.)

Another small thing adding darkness to the month was the realization that I will not get as strong or as fit as I would like to be for my upcoming trip, but that’s really a minor blip in the March darkness.

I didn’t just lie down and let March victimize me, however. I’ve been taking shorter but more frequent walks with my backpack. Succumbed to the tears that honor Jeff and the anniversary. Dealt with each small physical infirmity as best as I could. Spent some time writing each day (except for the two days dedicated to grief, and even then, I wrote my blogs). And, most importantly, I did a cleansing ritual in the desert on Sunday.

I discovered this particular ritual on a website about dealing with narcissists. To break the energy and the hold the narcissist has over you, you imagine a thick cord of energy connecting the two of you. You visualize a big, bright pair of gold scissors, such as the ceremonial scissors used for a ribbon cutting event, and you snip the cord of energy. You envision her half of the cord snapping back into her, and you take your half of the cord — all that energy you’ve wasted on her — and send it up into the sun.

So that’s what I did.

Yesterday in class, whenever I thought there might be a possibility of her getting to me, I thought of the sun shining down on me, blazing with the addition of my own energy. How can one be sad under such an image?

Today was the first day I’ve been out walking since the cleansing ritual, and oh! The sun shone so warmly and brightly on me, it gave me new hope for the days that lie ahead.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

I Am an Eight-Year Grief Survivor

Today is the eighth anniversary of the death of my life mate/soul mate. How is this possible? I remember that after Jeff died, eight minutes seemed like a lifetime, eight hours almost an eternity, eight months incomprehensible. But eight years? Totally unthinkable and unimaginable. How did I survive such sorrow? How do any of us survive?

Actually, I do know the answer to that — we survive one agonizing breath at a time.

The miracle of grief is that the pain does lessen over the years, but I truly don’t see how it can — every year that passes is one more year I did not have with him, everything I do is one more thing I could not do with him, every thought is one more thought I could not share with him.

During these past eight years, most people continued on with their shared lives — happy and sad, arguing and making up, in sickness and in health — and I, and all my brothers and sisters in sorrow, kept going somehow, trying to find a place to set first one shaky foot and then another in our suddenly broken and bleak lives.

Over and over, we had to listen to people tell us to move on, and yet, after their sometimes compassionate, sometimes irritated words, those people went home to their husbands and wives, and we went into our sad and empty rooms, apartments, houses to be faced again — and again and again — with the knowledge that who we loved was gone, what we had was gone, what we needed was gone, what we hoped for was gone. All gone.

Incredibly, I have become used to the goneness. Incredibly, I have moments of happiness. Incredibly, I have even come to like being alone. And yet, I wish I didn’t have to do this anymore, this building a life from scratch, this living without him. Sometimes I want desperately to go home to him. If not that, then see him one more time in the flesh. Be warmed by one more smile. Hear one more word.

For those of you who are still comfortably married, how long has it been since you saw your husband or wife. Eight hours? Eight minutes? Eight seconds?

Well, it’s been eight years since I last saw Jeff. Eight years (and five days) since I last talked to the one person who understood me fully, the one person I never had to explain myself to, the one person who shared my sense of humor, my sense of honor, my sense of history.

Eight years. What was totally unthinkable and unimaginable in the beginning remains totally unthinkable and unimaginable.

For those newly inducted into this hall of horrors, I hope you will find comfort in knowing that a person can survive, find a sense of renewal, maybe even find  new dreams.

For those of you who have friends and family who still mourn their deceased spouses, next time you want to tell them to get over it or move on, think about how long it’s been since you saw your spouse and think how long it’s been since they saw theirs.

Eight minutes. Eight hours. Eight days. Eight months. Eight years. It’s all the same. Grief truly knows no time.

The one thing that does change, the one thing that makes the goneness bearable is us. Grief gradually changes each of us bereft into a person who can survive the loss, but that change brings with it another loss to grieve — the loss of the old self.

Have I spent the totality of the past eight years drowning in tears and sorrow? Of course not. The person who was born when Jeff died has never shared her life with another. That person has always been alone, done things alone, developed into a strong person, gained some wisdom. But the person she left behind is still grieving, and last night, the grieving woman came to visit, bringing her endless tears, her great yearning, her profound loss.

And we comforted each other — the woman who died when Jeff did and the woman who was born eight years ago into the world of grief — as we kept vigil until his time of death.

Eight years. Unfathomable.

After last night’s tearfulness, today I gathered my courage and valiantly began my ninth year without him.

And so it goes.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

An Opportunity to Escape

This morning, it suddenly seemed absurd my researching narcissism and obsessing about one extremely unimportant individual in my life, and I had to laugh. Not that narcissism is absurd — the personality disorder has ruined many lives — but I have more important things to obsess about, such as my upcoming trip to visit my sisters. (One sister invited us other two to visit her around Mother’s Day to make chocolate-covered pecan and caramel turtles in honor of our mother.)  Now that is something worth obsessing about!

It’s entirely possible this narcissism thing could be a way of distracting me from the impending visit and the very real problems that could arise. Not that I am expecting problems, as such, but the truth is, my two sisters and I have never been alone together, and I mean never. We’ve all been together with other family members. We’ve each of us been alone with one other sister, but never in memory have just the three of us done anything together, possibly because we are so far apart in age. If I really thought there would be more than a little discomfort I would opt out, but I think, despite us three being almost opposites (visualize a unilateral triangle), we are mature enough — or old enough — to manage a weekend together.

Still, I am driving up to Seattle instead of flying to give me the opportunity to escape if need be. Or perhaps I’m driving because I need an excuse for an adventure, a reason to run away from my problems. Oh, who cares why I am driving. I want to. It’s as simple as that.

I am planning to take a couple of weeks to get there, which will allow me to visit friends along the way, to visit a few national parks and monuments and wilderness areas, and to do some camping and hiking and perhaps see some wildflowers.

Just the thought of being in the open feels like a breath of fresh air on my soul. I hope the reality is the same. (I must admit I have a few reservations about my arm, but one way or another, I manage to do what is necessary, so I’m sure I will be able to continue doing so.)

I’d more or less considered not coming back to the desert at all, just continuing to travel, but since I promised to be back for a dance performance, I’m paying my room rent to give me a place to return to.

I really don’t want to spend another summer in the desert — it’s impossible to do much walking, not even in the early morning, and I would like to continue my backpack practice in preparation for a long hike. On the other hand, I don’t really want to be on the road when other people are out in force, and besides, it’s hot almost everywhere in the summer. Maybe not as hot as here, but still hot.

But that is a decision for another time.

Today the only decision I have to make is what national park land to research, what maps to print out. I wish I could be totally spontaneous, and just go without any sort of plans, but my idea of spontaneity is to drive. And drive. And keep on driving. That kind of driving becomes almost a zen-like experience, because as soon as a thought passes through your mind, you’ve left it behind, but it doesn’t satisfy my need for adventure.

So, I’ll close this post and go open my atlas and see where it will take me.

Wishing us all the best of adventures!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.