Somebody’s Giant

 A short story by Natascha Pearson

18 and up for mature content.

Water bubbles rose in a pot on the stove. It was tight in the kitchen, with just enough room for one adult and a little one. Hot dogs sizzled on the pan and basked in vegetable oil. Next door, the Airbnb renters hooted and hollered as they partied on the balcony. A harsh ocean breeze sent palm fronds throughout the eight-hundred-square-foot backyard. The song “True Colors” came from the television while little Bailey watched the movie, Trolls. She sang the love song, mimicking Poppy’s dance moves. I wouldn’t admit it, but the scene reminded me of her father, Lucas, my boyfriend. He could be so pessimistic at times that I would smother him with love, just as Poppy does to Branch.

            Bailey laughed uncontrollably. “He’s scared to sing, just like Dad!”

            Lucas and I used to eat spaghetti cooked in a teapot on the campfire or split a bag of chips for dinner. Now, Bailey’s request for tonight was mac and cheese with hotdogs. I shave broccoli into the cream. The wind howled in the house like the song in a seashell, filling up the space and pushing on through. Bailey and I sat at the edge of the bed on top of maroon sheets. Bailey stared mindlessly at the TV. I hated that Lucas was gone all day. If we did something else, I could let go of my tension—click. 

            “Dinner is almost ready. Let’s put on some music,” I said, grabbing the new CD player. I popped open The Change I’m Seeking by Mike Love, and the first song to play was “Permanent Holiday.” Bailey knew the words to the song and danced around on top of the flea-ridden casino carpet. I turned off the stove and ran to the restroom in the far corner of the house. The house had a living room/kitchen, that’s where we slept, and then a bedroom with a bathroom. Bailey got the bedroom. The bathroom was covered in graffiti tags that I needed more time to paint over. Bailey came to us overnight. One second we fought for her custody, and the next, she was with us full-time. In the mirror, I was no longer the same person I was a few months ago; my hair was healthier, and the bags under my eyes had faded.

            The two sister cats, Whiskers and Ashes, lay on Bailey’s bed, cuddling closely. Through the doorway, Bailey stood with scissors halfway through her shirt as she cut toward her face. “Fuck, Bailey, be careful! You’ve ruined your shirt!” The fright pulled through my skin, and my hair rose. Not only did I frighten her, which could have made it worse, but I’d also cursed, and now Bailey thought she was in trouble. I ignored the antagonizing itch to call Lucas.

            Bailey watched, confused, and began to cry. I took the scissors away and shouted, “Those are mine!”

            Did I say that? Fuck, I didn’t mean to say that. “I’m sorry.” I hugged her. “Thank you for letting me have them. You scared me. I have child-safe scissors over there that we can use after dinner.”

            I couldn’t believe I left out the sewing scissors. The consequence of hemming the skirt weighed heavily on my shoulders. That could have been the end of Bailey’s life, and it would have been all my fault. What would I have done if something had happened? I placed Bailey’s bowl in front of her. She took a bite and smiled with half-chewed noodles between her teeth after a few munches.

            “This is yummy. You make it the best,” Bailey shoveled bite after bite into her mouth. I’d used the recipe on the box.

             Where was Lucas? The wall clock read five forty-five. He wasn’t even off work. Bailey rubbed her eyes from above her bowl. “Let me put dinner away, and you can—”

            Bailey stood up and walked away. She went to the bathroom and brushed her teeth. It was nice to see that this was already in her routine, surly set by her grandmother during the year she was away from Lucas. I stood next to her and began brushing my teeth, too. We watched each other in the mirror, smiling. She was much shorter and had to stand on a wooden stool to see into the mirror. I spit into the hand basin, and the saliva was mixed with blood.

            “That’s gross,” Bailey said. “Ew!”

            So embarrassed, I nudged her arm. “Come on, that’s not nice. One day you’ll bleed from your gums.” It probably wasn’t true. She would always have perfect teeth. I chipped my nail at the graffitied paint on the wall with the toothbrush still in my mouth while she finished and washed up. “All done?”

            “All done!” She smiled.

            It began to rain, and the partygoers moved inside. A red plastic cup fell from the balcony and into the backyard. The windows were the best part of the living room. The windows covered the southbound wall, and the door had a windowed hexagon with light-colored glass. Zed, a terrier mix, nudged at the entrance until I opened the door, and he bolted inside. The rain came down hard, and the ocean’s musk and bone-chilling air filled the room. As I closed the door and looked behind me, Zed soaked the sheets with dark wet spots.

            “Let’s play a game!” Bailey loved playing with dolls, Uno, or Chutes and Ladders. She walked right past her baby doll and surprised me with Twister. Not my favorite.

            “Sounds great,” I played along. I kicked off my DCs and sat with her on the floor. She pulled the Velcro apart on her pink sneakers and placed them next to mine, hitting the floor hard to flash the lights. I was officially someone’s giant.

            I spun the arrow. I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t playing. She placed her hand on the red. Then I spun again, this time her foot on green. Right hand on yellow. Bent on all fours, she fell when I called left on green.

            “You lasted much longer than I could have.” I spun again.

            “Please, play with me one time!” Bailey pulled at my sleeve. Her small hands had a good grip while she pulled me to the mat.

            I flicked the pointer. “Left-hand green.” We faced one another and placed our palms on the green. I spun again, “Right leg yellow.” And again, “right-hand red.” This time, I quickly took my hand off to turn the arm and put my hand back on red. “Left foot yellow” then “right-hand blue.” Our feet made a line of yellows, and our hands stretched to opposite sides of the board. “Left-hand red.” Our arms crossed, and her boney body leaned into my armpit. ” Right foot green.” I forgot why I disliked playing. This game was a form of yoga.  

            I held my weight on the balls of my toes in a squatted position. “What does it say, Bailey?” I spun the dial behind me, making sure not to shift my weight and fall.

            “Left foot red.” She wiggled her foot from underneath me. She was going for the closest, which left me with the red on the opposite side. With my left hand already down on red, I kicked my leg over Bailey. My foot didn’t catch the floor as my leg came down in a beautiful ballerina plie, and my back came crashing down.

            “You won!” I giggled at my loss. “Do you want to play again?”

            “It’s okay.” Bailey yawned. “I’m tired.”

She moved over to the bed and placed her head on Lucas’s pillow.

            “Okay. I’ll stay up till your dad comes home.” I put on Ancient Aliens because that’s what we used to watch when we were trying to sleep. The words of the paleontologist drowned out as I sank to the floor and rested my head against the mattress. Bailey’s and Zed’s snores became my own kind of counting sheep.

            I woke up, and it was dark in the room, illuminated by a light blue glow from the streetlights out front. Lucas was asleep. He must have put Bailey to bed when he came home. I couldn’t believe I fell asleep. We hardly got any time together. In front of the house, a high-pitched female’s laugh rang louder than the others. I tried to close my eyes and rest.

            I woke up again, this time to the words “Shit, shit, let’s go” from people traveling on foot across the empty lot on the north side of the house. It was unnerving. Something about the way the people were walking. It’s odd how a person can tell someone’s intentions by how they walk or run without seeing it, just by listening. I couldn’t go back to sleep.

            I shook Lucas awake. I was not one for sleepless nights or night terrors.

            “Did you hear that?”              

“It’s probably a trash panda,” Lucas said as he turned away.

            The whistle of the city whirled through my ear canal. I followed in my mind the cars from blocks away—their every stop, acceleration, or tight turn. Suddenly, a woman’s shrill scream broke the silence of the night. The walls were so thin I could hear her tears and the cry of sheer terror. She was in front of our house, the house that housed our child, which helped us gain custody. The place that was supposed to keep her safe no longer felt safe. Everything we’d worked toward seemed like it could all go away in the blink of an eye. 

            Bailey continued to sleep. I sat on her bed and watched her in the moonlight that seeped through the window while she slept through the sirens and the hysteria. Lucas stood outside and smoked an American Spirit for what seemed like hours as he kept an eye on the commotion.

            “Someone died,” he said when he finally came in. He was cold to the thought of death, which made me more unsettled than the chaos in front of the house. “In their car, parked in front of the house.”

            “Should I go out there and tell them what I heard?” my voice quivered.

            “No. You don’t want to associate yourself with this at all. If it were an overdose, there’s a good chance someone wanted him dead. You don’t want that person coming after us.” Lucas turned the lights off and went to sleep while I watched the shadows shift with the car lights that drained through the window. 

            The following day, the block was roped off with caution tape. A tow truck removed the small black Toyota Corolla from the street parking spot in front of the house. My Cherokee was stuck in our driveway with no way to move. Lucas had to walk to work early.

There were groups of people huddled together on the sidewalks. Some took shots from a tequila bottle while others bent over crying. Cops wove in and out of the blocked-off road, holding yellow tape and notebooks. The cops talked to a select few, but the cops didn’t speak to us. People continued to come until the road resembled a block party of lost souls, a chaotic gathering of mourners who couldn’t bring back their dead.

            “Maddie, what happened?” Bailey asked.

            I hesitated for a second. I reached Bailey’s eye level and placed my hand on her shoulder. “Somebody died in front of our house last night. I don’t know what happened. Your dad warned us not to talk to them, okay? Just let them mourn.”

            “That’s sad,” she said. We walked past the crowd, invisible to the men in chains, covered in tattoos, or the woman in skulls and fishnets. Bailey and I walked two miles to the coaster which would take forty minutes to get to the school. We’d kept her in the same daycare she was in before so the transition from grandma’s to our house would be easier for her, even though that meant we had to travel further. Some days I got the car, but more than not, we took the coaster. We brought an old Eeyore doll with us. It sat next to her in the blue train seats. I’d gotten Eeyore from Disneyland when I was six, only a little over a year older than Bailey was now. I passed her a banana, and she took a large bite out of it.

            “Smile,” I said as I got out my camera phone.

            After working a few hours on the house, I returned to the coaster to get Bailey. When I got home, the street was full of people and classic lowriders that had come to honor the man’s death.

            “Spider was a good man. Yolo, pour one out for the homie.” A large man in a Tupac shirt dumped the liquor onto the ground. The cops were gone, which left room for more visitors to arrive. They weren’t very social. We followed behind a woman with a low-cut shirt and a skirt walking in heels toward our house. She cautiously bent over the memorial of flowers, photos, and beer bottles and placed a red candle, which she lit, and a picture of herself on the lap of a large man. In the photo, they were both laughing. I closed the wooden gate behind us, blocking us from the sixty-plus people and the mariachi music.

            Through a hole in the wood, I could see some surfer guys approach a group of mourners. “Did someone die?” one of the neighbors asked, his friends close behind him. A man with a rosary turned his shoulder to the neighbor, closing the circle until the neighbor and his friends walked away.

Cars left, and new ones took their spots. People poured out of an SUV, and a new wave of strangers and tears took on the night, accompanied by music and candles.

            “Maddie, what happens when you die?” Bailey said as we sat on the porch, looking through the wooden gate.

            “You get a second chance, and all the good stuff you do determines where you end up,” I spoke without question.

            “This guy must have been really good if he had so many people that loved him. His second chance is going to be epic.”

            “Yeah, Bailey. I’m sure it is,” I said.

            I picked a book from my childhood off the small wooden bookshelf. I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch; my mother had given it to me, and I read it to Bailey. The words of the story always predicted I’d grow up but could never have prepared me for the love and commitment of being a mother. I held back tears as I finished and kissed her cheek. “Good night,” and I turned off the lights.

            Lucas came home from work. He was breathing heavily from the walk home. He sat on the bed and kicked off his shoes. “My coworker doesn’t do anything. He sits on the toilet and talks to girls on dating apps.”

            “I’m sorry, that must be rough.” I’d spent the day picking up cigarette butts and broken bottles from the backyard, and I painted the ceiling until my arm wanted to fall off. 

            “Yeah, it was.” He kissed my cheek and neck—the smell of freshly smoked cigarettes and a full day of sweat from lifting soil. My mind lingered on Spider and how his death had affected so many people. Whose kid looked at him as a father, or young kids that thought of him as a brother, or how many people would be without their dope? How many people had his dope killed? Lucas’s hands were soft on my skin. He slipped under my blouse and pulled it over my head. He kept kissing me harder until it came to my mind to kiss him back.

            “You don’t even seem like you’re into this,” he said while he got out of bed. He held his head in front of the lamp. I pulled his body closer to mine, frail like a flower but rooted. I kissed the stubble on his chin and pulled his pants to his knees. He entered me from under the blanket, and a moan escaped my lips. I wanted to relax, but my mind kept racing. In the corner of the room, I could see a shadow moving.

            “Bailey,” I whisper into the night. Lucas pushes off me, and I wave her over to us. We scramble to get our clothes on underneath the sheets. I kicked my legs deeper until my big toes found my pajama bottoms, and I pulled them up.

            “I can’t sleep,” she said. Of course, she can’t sleep. I was probably being loud.

            “There is a giant in my dreams who’s going to stomp me like the man outside,” she said. Through the thin wall, someone whistled out, breaking our conversation, followed by loud chunks of intoxicated dialogue.

            “That man wasn’t stomped,” but I couldn’t explain further. All we knew was that it was a drug overdose and he was a well-known dealer. If he was killed or if it was just an unlucky hit, we would never know. “Do you want to sleep in our bed?”

            She nodded her head and climbed into our bed. I remembered having bad dreams as a child and wanting to sleep in bed with my mother. I might not have been her mother, but I’d let her sleep with us.

            “Maddie?” Bailey said in a high-pitched four-year-old voice. “Can you sleep on the floor?”

            I grabbed a blanket and made a spot on the casino carpet. I let Bailey get all the cuddles from her father that I had stolen for the past year.

            The room was silent, except for Lucas’s piglet snores. I missed his touch. A fuzzy animal crawled under my blanket, and Zed cuddled against my belly, above where my legs cupped. He reminded me of having a baby in my belly, and I pet his back like a pregnant woman might her stomach. The room faded, and my body sank into dreamland. 

            In the morning, I made waffles with bananas and cinnamon. Lucas had already left to work by the time I woke up Bailey. “It’s a school day. Get ready.”

            She shuffled between the rooms, grabbing a bow for her hair and socks that matched the pink in her clothes. She liked her independence and being able to dress herself. We brushed our teeth, and I braided her hair. We moved quickly. We had already missed the coaster and would have to take the bus. Together we raced down the street of condos, past the shopping corridors, and behind the movie theater where the bus stop was.

            A man in holey black jeans and a shirt, holding a dirty blanket over ragged hair, was screaming in front of the bus. His eyes bulged, and he pointed at me, shaking, “Cunt, you stole my child, cunt! Fuck! Pedophile! Freak! You stole my child!”

            I took Bailey’s hand, and we walked past him. The bus driver took my money and waved us on. We sat in the middle of the bus, Bailey by the window. The man from outside got on the bus. Fear trickled over my skin as he pulled out a bus pass. The bus driver waved him on.

            “You can’t let him on here,” I said. “Did you not hear what he said outside to my daughter and I? Please don’t let him on.”

            “He has a pass,” the bus driver said, like there was nothing he could do but let the man on the bus.

            He sat up a few rows across us, staring at Bailey, slapping his lips together. His mouth formed the word C-U-N-T as he yacked his lips. He kept trying to get our attention, but I held Bailey close. “Don’t look,” I told her. In his hand was a small Mcdonald’s bag, and he took a condom out of it and tore it open with his teeth as he continued to make a long smacking gesture with his lips.

            The bus came to a stop, and I got off with Bailey even though it was only a few stops down. A kid with scraggly dirty blond hair approached us. “Can you buy me some vodka? Please? I’ll give you five dollars.” I shook my head, and we continued walking past a diner with an American flag advertising “Veteran Specials.” A fitness model passed quickly ahead of us in high-rise jeans, a crop top, and a large sun hat, gossiping on the phone. A skateboarder held a pizza box in one hand and a dog leash in the other as a bulldog hauled him under the beats of the palm frond’s shadows. A man in all black with a mohawk danced to heavy metal in his headphones while flying a sign for AT&T. Further down the street, after Baskin Robbins, was a hydro store with a spray-painted sign and exotic plants. Finally, somewhere familiar, closer to Lucas.

            “Downtown is busy today,” I told Curt behind the counter.

            “Is that Lucas’s daughter? Hi, Bailey.” Curt approached her from behind the counter and held out his hand. Curt’s shirt hung loosely, and his brown hair was slung over his left eye. She took his hand and shook it.

“It’s nice to meet you. Lucas’s in the back, unloading soil,” Curt said.

            Bailey was usually shy, but she took to Curt and talked to him about the plants on display. She quickly returned to my side as I headed to the back of the store. “Hey, Lucas,” I yelled into the back.

            I could hear him talking to some coworkers. He walked around the soil piles, towering over them like a tree. Bailey broke away from me, ran, and jumped into his arms. Lucas’s eyes squinted his lips in a smile. He loved being with his daughter.

            “This guy was harassing us at the bus station. The bus driver didn’t do anything about it,” I said.

            “I’m sorry to hear. You guys want to take the car the rest of the way?” he asked. Bailey nodded her head, and Lucas handed me the key.

            “Thank you for stopping by. I’m glad Bailey met Curt. He’s our newest employee,” Lucas said as a heavy-set man approached him and patted his shoulder. “And you remember Drake, don’t you?”

            Of course, the one who’s always on the toilet sexting. “Hi, Drake. It’s a pleasure to see you again.          

            “Hey, Maddie,” he said, shaking my hand before bending to Bailey’s level. “And this little stinker.”

            “Drake!” she smiled.

“Your daddy is always talking about you and Maddie,” he said, giving me a quick wink as he pulled a lollipop out of his back pocket. I wouldn’t have taken it.

            “Yum! Thanks.” Bailey unwrapped the candy and put it into her mouth.

            “Thanks, Curt,” I said, ready to leave. “Hey, did you hear about a Posole who died a few nights ago? I think his name was Spider.”

            “Never heard of him. What happened?” Curt said, concerned.

            “He overdosed in his car in front of our house. You know we live close to the underpass by the beach. He was probably meeting someone there. I woke up that night to some people talking. They said something like, “Oh shit, we got to go,” and afterward, there was just screaming when his girlfriend found the body.”

            “Sounds like something you all want to avoid getting involved with. Don’t worry too much about it, Maddie. Just keep a bat by the bed.”

            “Thank you, Curt,” I said while taking Bailey’s hand and walking away. It was nice to talk to someone about Spider and almost shocking to think there was someone who didn’t know him. I felt like Spider had been the center of the universe.

            These kinds of days went by quickly. Transporting Bailey to and from daycare three towns away was becoming a hassle. I needed to call her grandmother and tell her it would be easier if she went to school closer to us. I could get a job at the diner, and we wouldn’t have to take public transportation as much. The bad encounters were becoming more frequent. I spent the day spray painting the outdoor furniture, so it had a fresh layer of color that would surely chip after a prolonged rain. Bailey was excited when I picked her up, and we decided to return the car to Lucas so he could get home faster when he got off.

            “Are you sure? I can walk,” he offered.

            “No, it’s okay. It’s a beautiful day. We can walk the last fifteen minutes.” It was more like twenty-five at Bailey’s pace, but I preferred he have the car, so he would get home faster. I was desperate for quality time.

              We walked the rest of the way along the coast. The waves crashed close to the walkway, separated by large rocks where crabs and starfish hid in the cracks. There were fewer people along the boardwalk than on the busy city streets. A woman jogged by wearing headphones, and a man in band patches rode past on his bike. The waves played the beat of their drum, and it was nice to be close to the most natural element in the city.

             “I like it out here. Can we go to the playground?” Bailey asked. Opposite the eroding beach was a playground among a grass field. Children played on the swing, slides, and monkey bars. The playground was a good stop. Bailey ran ahead to join the kids going down the slides. Next to me was a tall blond with inescapably large breasts in a short tennis skirt.

            “How’s it going with Jimmy? Lucy?” she repeated to get the woman next to her to pay attention while petting her daughter’s head.

            “Oh, he’s still playing fantasy football every Thursday. Work trips on the weekend, man’s hardly home,” the woman, Lucy, responded, wearing brown pigtails and a puma jumper with a matching baby bag and sneakers.

            Bailey ran up the stairs with the other girls, nagging them to tag her and coaxing them to play. The kids weaved through the play structure. One girl tripped and started to cry hysterically. Her mom attended to her, and the cries turned to sniffles. The other moms called their kids over, and suddenly Bailey was alone on the playground. The other children and moms huddled in a circle with their blankets and strollers, an afternoon mom’s club.

            When it was time to go, Bailey started complaining, “This walk is so long. Are we almost there?”

            We were close, but I knew three blocks seemed far for a child. “We will be there in no time.”

            The house was between some condos and a dirt lot that led to a trailer park. Dirt and stones paved the driveway. The paint was chipping on the house, covered by two large bushes and some dahlias. The wood fence was tattered and weathered. The house had character. They told us when we moved in it was an old mailing house and wasn’t meant to be lived in. Before we moved in, it was a bachelor’s pad or a trap house.

            I had been painting it navy blue and a dark forest green in Bailey’s room, with gold highlights throughout the house, plus a maroon ceiling and dark purple walls for the living room. The porch had a gothic elegance, with wooden newel posts and rusted outdoor decor, the metal statue I spray painted gold, and the Venus fly traps hanging from the awning. Lucas and his friends had spray-painted the outside walls a year before I came around. Even with the spray-painted flowers and smiling sun, the house was deteriorating. Rats endlessly crawled through the attic, and nights were bone-chillingly cold. But the home made it possible for us to live together. I put the kettle on the stove, ripped two hot cocoa packets open, and poured them into mugs.

            “Let’s play a game!” Bailey shouted.

Healing Through Writing

A 10 Week Course by Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block

I just finished Healing Through Writing, a ten-week writing group hosted by Francesca Lia Block. Francesca has been my favorite writer since I was twelve and read I Was A Teenage Fairy, “a postmodern fairy tale, a teen model’s friendship with a fairy helps her overcome abuse,” ( and the last book I finished was House of Hearts, her newest book with themes of mythology, death, and rebirth taken place at the Salton Sea. I always appreciated her work because she writes about taboo, abnormal, and traumatic topics accompanied (or disguised) by magical realism. Her language, details, and symbols will take you to another world, engulf you in its essence and bring you back into your existence more light-hearted. I always wanted to be a writer, and after reading Francesca’s books, I knew why; I had never felt more understood. 

I recommend this course. I finished my BA at Full Sail University in creative writing but struggled to publish. Since I graduated, I have taken a writing class at a community college. In this course, I read and analyzed plenty. I even started a new story, but I wanted more. I had yet to accomplish what I wanted. I came to Francesca with questions about getting a Master’s. If you read my blog post on my BA experience, you know I am overwhelmed with student loans and think college can be risky. She told me about her writing group. I’d known about it but needed the money for it. We worked out a payment plan, and I was ecstatic to dive in. 

We met on Sundays on Zoom and submitted ten pages a week, along with the answers to the questions she provided. She used the twelve questions from her book The Thorn Necklace and other questions for deeper thinking. These questions weren’t just about writing but about you, the writer. I am a brick wall regarding trauma, but even these questions helped me open up and reflect. As a writer, I learned that we are pushed to express our deepest desires, write about our childhood, admit our flaws, and appreciate our gifts. After all, without these things, good characters wouldn’t exist.

So, of course, I struggled. I struggled to open up, struggled to write ten pages, and struggled to give back good critiques, but I got better at these things. I continued writing a story idea I had when I took my first in-person class by Francesca Lia Block in 2016. The story I worked on was a high fantasy that could quickly go wrong since I was an inexperienced writer. I got so caught up in world-building that I lost concrete details that helped the reader relate or the characters come to life. She asked me to write a non-fiction piece for submission in week three. (I will post it on my blog in the upcoming weeks). It was called Somebody’s Giant, about a death in front of our home in downtown Oceanside. This piece was a great release for me, and it was nice to hear the feedback from my peers. Even though writing non-fiction doesn’t come naturally to me, getting support from my group was healing. 

We met every Sunday evening and worked in a group of four. These writers were very talented. For the price of the class and the amount of writing, the kind of people this class attracts are die-hards. Reading their stories changed me. Giving them feedback, getting their feedback, was more than someone close to me could offer. We are all striving for a common goal, all being vulnerable, and all there to support one another in the process. There was little time to chat, but Francesca allowed us as long as we needed to give each other our reports, talk about our work, and get her feedback. We had group exercises and even sat in a brief ceremony for the full moon. Reading their stories changed me more than I can say for my community college class because I was a part of their story. They took in my advice and comments, and it reflected in the upcoming submissions. They trusted me with their secrets, and the sisterhood bond was healing for me. 

In the tenth week, I didn’t submit my work. I’m not perfect, and I got stuck six pages into my chapter and was overwhelmed with work, illness, and stress. I didn’t move forward. Instead, I focused on my reviews and gave my group the best analysis I could for that week. I would recommend two hours a day put aside for this class, Monday through Friday, with a break on Saturday and a meeting on Sunday. I’m not saying it takes that long to write ten pages but you have to map out your chapter/ or short story, you have to answer the questions, review your classmates stories, take notes and execute the notes from the prior week and write your story. If I could do this class again, I would take the questions more seriously and put aside more time to focus.

I wrote 66 pages, 21952 words for my story Discordia, gained notes on an existing short story and a ten-page non-fiction called Somebody’s Giant. I received four notes (including Francesca’s professional notation) on each chapter. I learned how to become a better writer, how to plan and analyze my process, and I was pushed to write by taking this course. Because she allowed me a payment plan, I was able to manage the class fee, and I would 100% retake this class. 

If you are a reader, I recommend you pick up Francesca’s fiction books. If you want to become a writer, I recommend A Thorn Necklace. If you are a writer, take the course. There is nothing to lose and so much to gain. I am so proud of what I have accomplished in just ten weeks. 

Thank you for reading my blog! I am happy to be back. 

(Some links in this blog post are affiliate links.)

Happy New Year!

Thank you to my 50 followers. I appreciate your commitment.

This New Year has been a resting period for me. I apologize that the blog has been less active, and this can be expected for the next two months.

Opportunities have come up with my edible company, and I am currently trying to settle on a name that captures my brand and stands out from the crowd. Since we also offer salves.

We have sold out of products at Emerald Genetics/ Cal Sole, and our next harvest is in February. We will have on the shelves Gelato 25/ Dosido and OG. Sales and building client relationships have proven to be a challenge. I must constantly reevaluate why our product stands out and what we offer that no one else does. As I’ve been told, growing cannabis in Humboldt county isn’t enough. Even though we can’t hold onto product, I am still establishing myself as a sales face for Cal Sole. You can find Emerald Genetic Products at 101 M Street Dispensary inc. in Crescent City.

I am taking a writing course with my favorite writer Francesca Lia Block. This is the real secret my blog is being put on hold. I write ten pages a week, and I answer some questions that help me explore my characters and also myself as a writer. I then review my peer’s work and then meet on Sundays to review our pieces. It has been a dream of mine to take this course and I am very thankful to be under her guidance.

Little Lost Forest is working on getting its business license and signing up for upcoming fairs. Competing with the artists in Humboldt county takes work. All the talented people seem to come out of the woodwork to live here! So I am going strong with my Etsy and will update it soon.

My best friend, who you might be familiar with, Orion, moved in. He is going to Cal Poly and working on a social worker degree. He will be helping me with the edibles and also with the children.

My husband and I have talked about doing more things together, but we still need to do actually do them. We spent many years getting stable enough to have a child while raising our oldest. We don’t have a lot of time with each other… alone. For now, it is what it is, but since I talk about marriage and relationships in this blog, this is a genuine piece of my life. I miss having “fun” with my partner, like going on car rides along the coast or spending time together at the beach without the kids.

Please take a second to reflect on how you have come into the New Year. Reflect on all the progress you’ve made in the past fifteen days and the goals you have set in place for the rest of the year. Your goals are attainable.

I hope that you are going through the New Year with ease. Enjoy the rain Humboldt County.

Tarot Card Writing Prompt:

Photo by Irina Demyanovskikh

Snapshot. Choose a sing card and write a one-page story that explains or describes what’s happening. Try to add drama. Be imaginative.Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner.


A woman of wings, feathers, and beastly qualities emerges from the embers. She held a half-moon metallic staff with a burning red ember at its center. She hovered forward. The darkness of the underworld is colder, the stillness denser, and the vastness hollower than she had ever experienced on Earth. The creatures crawled toward her in fear, pulled by power. They bowed and trembled, pushing through the energy to graze her presence. She stepped up on the night crawlers and lost souls as they traveled into a staircase, throwing themselves over each other as she ascended out of the darkness until a blue light illuminated Pluto’s gate.

“Come with me,” she spoke to the doomed. “You deserve closure.”

Eris opened the gates of hell for all the creatures to return to earth. She flipped the hourglass and froze the stone doors open until the end of Samhain. “May chaos bring peace and understanding.”

The man on the moon sent Pegasus down from the cosmos and invited Eris for tea, and she gladly accepted.

“A shift,” A strong man with skin the color of bark and the face of a sacred ibis spoke.

“Yes, I have emerged,” Eris lit an herbal sacrament and inhaled, and she found a suitable stone like an altar to make herself comfortable on. 

“To make changes, “Eris spoke arrogantly.

The eternal being Yah’s eye squinted. “I make the changes.”

“I have basked in the light of your earthly realm presence and experienced your ‘changes,’ “she spoke unhindered.

“Well, please… indulge me on your human experience.”

“I was not needed,” she flicked the joint, and plants began to grow from its ashes. Yah quickly stomped them out.

“And what makes you think you are needed now?” Yah said dryly and annoyed.

“I thought you invited me for tea?” Eris responded. She felt no need to reveal her skin or to batter her eyes.

Yah snapped his fingers, and the creatures of the moon, blue earth-dwelling characters, set up a table and porcelain arrangement along with silver utensils.

“What are you doing on earth?”

“Creating chaos. There’s a need for that.” Eris said, making up her tea the way she liked it- black.


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Interview with Adam Schluter: Hello, From a Stranger.

August 24, 2022: Transcribed Zoom Interview

Natascha : Hello Readers,

My name is Natascha with Humboldt counties lifestyle blog, Little Lost Forest. Today I will be talking to Adam Schluter, producer, and photographer of Hello, From a Stranger.

Hi Adam.

Adam: Hey Natascha, thanks for having me.

Natascha: How are you feeling today?

Adam: I’m feeling- I’m feeling pretty good. Honestly, I think you saw I had open heart surgery like two months ago and I just had some weird ups and downs but it’s summertime, it’s wedding season, we’re filming the show, it’s Monday Night Dinners, I’ve just been pushing it too much. I think I’ve just been an introvert crashing, hard but other than that life’s good.

Natascha: You’re looking great and you’re spreading positive energy, you are much appreciated.

Adam: Thanks, Natascha.

Natascha: Where are you talking to us from?

Adam: I’m in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

Natascha: Cool. How’s the weather out there?

Adam: It’s magic, perfect. Like 85 sunny but in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho you have like three months of good weather, June, July, August. September, October are usually pretty nice. You never really know. But then you have literal six months of deep pure winter. There’s six hours of sunshine during the day. It’s brutal. This area is perfect.

Natascha: Do you stay in the area year round?

Adam: No, fuck, no. That’s why I photograph weddings during the summer. I make all my income for the whole year in those three months and then I have nine months off, so I like to spend like one month in the winter because, it’s very ideal like a hallmark town. Everything shuts down, you walk everywhere. It’s like ten feet of snow a month. It’s just gorgeous. But you know if I’m not working, and I don’t have routines in place it’s really easy to succumb to seasonal depression and my mental health stuff. So, it allows me that time to travel out into the world and focus on my project which gives me a lot of purpose.

Natascha: I can understand that we have a year around cloud coverage here in Eureka. Winters can be harsh.

Adam: What do you mean year around?

Natascha: We’re right there by the bay. Right there in Eureka, not in southern Humboldt or in Oregon but right where I’m at, clouds accumulated by the water and were stuck with it.

Adam: That’s tough.

Natascha: Can you tell my audience a little about Hello, From a Stranger?

Adam: Six years ago, I lived in Mexico and I wanted to move to a place with more opportunity. I was in a long-term relationship with a girl that I loved like crazy- with all my heart. I thought we were going to get married. So, we got sponsored by this outdoor company to travel the Pacific Coast highway from the southern tip of Mexico to Alaska and pick the best place to live out of the three countries. 22,000 miles, I spent ten months on the PCH, and I chose this town where I’m living now, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

We spent ten months together. Every day was bliss. We were on vacation, everything was cool. We were both travelers, so everything was cool. We were running from some demons. She was really running from some demons. She was getting over drugs and alcoholism, and a whole bunch of some darkness we were running from.

So, once we slowed down and we moved into this home that I’m in right now we literally had nothing, we only had enough money for the prorated first month’s rent and the deposit- we had nothing left for groceries, for food, we had no jobs, didn’t know anyone. But we made it work, got jobs, figured it out, obviously. Once we got more comfortable those demons came back and it pulled us apart. It came to a spot where I couldn’t do it anymore and we ended up breaking up. I was in a town where I didn’t know a single person and I was way far away from my family and friends, and I moved here with this girl that I thought I was going to marry and be with for the rest of my life and now she’s gone.

I was living in Mexico for three and a half years and I didn’t have a phone, so I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to make meaningful relationships without technology in America, especially. It’s easier in third world countries. I finally hit a wall. I was going into the first winter out here and I was suicidal. I was thinking about suicide, I was actually planning it. And one day, I really just didn’t want to do it to my family. So, one day I was just looking at a world map, just kind of dreaming, still very broke, not very much money. I was waiting tables at a restaurant, but I knew I was going to die if I stayed in this house stuck in my thoughts. I just said fuck it I’ll just do what scares me the most. If it confirms my fears that I’m alone and the worlds not there, then I can still commit suicide and give up but maybe it will wake me up and get me out of my head.

I booked the cheapest flight the furthest I could away, which was Copenhagen, Denmark and almost no money left, again. I was homeless in my late twenties. It never bothered me. I’ve always lived a very minimal life guy. I don’t mind being uncomfortable. I was like fuck I need to sleep somewhere, and I need transportation. The trains- the trains are all over Europe. There’s one company, Euro Rail, that does 95% of all trains in Europe. I just started hounding them to sponsor me for it, I didn’t have a big portfolio, it was just an idea, and we went down to Fort Bay to ask the group that sponsored part of the trip. Okay I can sleep on the trains; I can move around on the trains. From there my only plan was to find the beauty in the world and try to wake myself up creatively and do what scared me the most, which was to say hello to people and to interact with people. It’s easy as a photographer to be behind the camera and photograph stuff from a distance. I was trying to wake up. I was really trying to wake myself up. I knew I had to really challenge myself.

I’m an introvert. I’m terrified of rejection. So, I was like what is the scariest thing I can do? It’s like just go say hello to strangers and try to have conversations with them. That was the base of this whole thing. Now we’re twenty-one countries in thousands and thousands of strangers, been published three times by National Geographic, there’s a Ted Talk. There’s a book and we have a second book coming out on it this year. We started filming the show last year. We’ll have a show coming up here too. It’s still a work in progress. Mental health is not like one and done, alright I’ve solved this. No, I need to continue moving this project forward. It’s because give me a lot of purpose and it reminds me of the things I need to do for my own mental health and just keep trying.

Natascha: Your story gives me goosebumps. Congratulations on moving this project forward.

Adam: Thanks, Natascha.

Natascha: Of course. Out of all the creative outlets you could have pursued what influenced you to talk with strangers?

Adam: I think- A) I was incredibly alone. I felt incredibly alone but I was surrounded by people. It was like how the fuck does that make sense- I’m sorry, I guess you can take that out- I’m surrounded by people, I feel completely alone. We have social media and people around us, but there’s no in-person depth of those relationships, and that’s hard. It’s easy to send a text but it’s hard to sit with someone. It can be awkward sometimes. And ask for help, sometimes, and to give help when it is asked of you. They really need to learn this, because the technology, it doesn’t matter how many friends I have on that. It makes me feel worse. It makes me feel more alone. Because it’s not in person. The cool thing about this, I was actually so afraid, the first night I was throwing up in my room. I was deathly terrified. And there was no turning back. I didn’t have the money to go back. So, I put it all on the line and it saved my life, but I made up this script because I thought I better sound cool approaching strangers. I have to sound like I have this all thought out and put together. The script was on approaching and saying hello to strangers all over the world but only if I saw something beautiful and, in this moment, this is so beautiful would you mind if I took your photograph? That sounds aliquant and cool. but what I found was that when I approached these strangers you have a millisecond to earn their trust. You have to decide if they can trust me, if I’m trying to sell you something, see if I’m trying to get something from you and if you think that I’m bullshit then in that millisecond you’ll just walk away. You’ll never stop to talk to me. I found that script was dis-ingenuine. And so, through hundreds of rejections. I was getting rejected 90% plus when I was using the script. I just became more and more vulnerable. I was tired and beat down, I was still trying to figure this out. And the more vulnerable I became- you know I thought as a man it was dangerous to be vulnerable, weak to be vulnerable and foolish, obviously. The more vulnerable I became, everyone started trusting me and everyone started opening up to me. Strangers are crying on my shoulder five minutes after I said hello to them, it’s like what the fuck is going on. I didn’t have to do anything. I’m awkward and goofy. I don’t have the right thing to say, there’s moments when I don’t know what to say but like- it’s read as authentic and that’s all it takes.

Natascha: Cool. How do you choose your subjects? How do you decide that a moment is beautiful?

Adam: Honestly just pure curiosity. I love to pay attention to the world around me. There are absolutely no rules to it. It’s never forced, there’s days where I’m like I should get some stories today and I’ll go out and I just don’t find anything that inspires me that day but it’s just mostly I try to inspire people to put their phones down and notice the world around them and I feel that if people did that- come here [grabs cat]- I feel that if people do that and get off of the technology I think we’ll have a much more realistic, the actual beauty of the world around us, no fluff, no over optimism, reality by itself is pretty fucking beautiful. It’s pretty fucking special. And so, I just go out into the world, I’ll pay attention and I’ll see something that makes me curious. A lot of times it’s like a person reading a book in a park, it’s a person covered in tattoos, some of that sticks out. But I’ll say this, I never approach anybody that is staring at a phone.

Natascha: [laughs]

Adam: I don’t try to be cynical about that, it’s just really there’s nothing interesting about that and I already feel that your head is going to be completely busy if I say hello to you and it’s just not my deal. I prefer people that are doing something else.

Natascha: While abroad how did foreigners view you as an American?

Adam: Yeah, really cool question. The main reason above all why I wanted to do this internationally is that I wanted to do it in places where I didn’t speak the same language, I don’t look the same as the other people that are with me. I’m doing it all in countries that I have never been to. That I don’t know the customs, the rules, the cultures, and what I’m really trying to show above all, now, is the power of vulnerability and the crucial necessity of intuition. Those two things together are enough to open the entire world to help you navigate it.

I found me by being myself, being vulnerable and being curious, it’s also- people like to see curiosity because you can see that I’m excited about something I’m passionate about it. People open up to me with that. I’ve been in some of the most complicated situations in countries around the planet, like the Jamaican story, I did this for six weeks in Jamaica. I would always be the minority. I wanted to be the minority, as a white guy to be the minority- unlike in America where I’m not. I wanted to really stick out, I wanted to earn that respect and not be able to hide at all and that’s a great example of that. We never felt those differences. We never noticed it. We’re sitting there, we’re not talking about things that divide us, we’re not talking about things that are different, we’re not talking about politics or religion, we’re talking about life and humanity and emotions and relationships and stuff that as humans we all share. Whatever the differences are we never notice them because they really don’t matter, we’re talking about real human stuff and in those conversations we both feel very human together. I’ve always been welcomed. I have only had one bad situation ever out of thirty-eight countries I think I’ve been in throughout my life. This is all spontaneous traveling. I only have plans for the first two nights, to get established and then it’s up to me to meet the communities, interact with the world, leave my comfort zone, and let them lead me to where to go next. I am very very vulnerable in these spots. And they do have chances too but I’m intuitive and that’s crucial but I’m also, the world is a pretty damn good place, it really is.

Natascha: You must be pretty street smart as well.

Adam: It comes with experience.

Natascha: If you don’t talk about current affairs, religion, or politics, do you avoid these subjects or does it not come up, does it not cause people pain and other emotions when you approach them?  

Adam: I try not to set any rules to it. The problem is if we get into a political conversation accidently let’s say, I’m just very honest. I don’t know enough about politics to have a strong opinion about it and that’s by choice. Also, I’m not saying that everyone should be like that, that’s just how I am. I haven’t owned a TV in ten years. I haven’t watched the news in six months. I just blissfully go out into the world to go see the real story and see what it is for myself. I just don’t know a lot about it. If someone is- the problem with politics or religion- people have already made up their minds. They’ve already created their identities. They already know their speech, they know exactly-there’s no balance to that. Most of the time, like 95% of the time, there’s no doubts to those conversations. It’s I know this, and this is this, and that’s how it’s going to be. There’s nothing for me to learn from in that. I learn a little bit but there’s nothing for them to learn also. Those conversations aren’t very connected. If they do come up, I’ll stop it or I’ll let someone do a rant. If it just continues to not be balanced, I’ll just wish them a nice day and walk away.

Natascha: Are there any common topics or themes that arise in conversations?

Adam: No not at all, honestly. A very broad one, I love to talk about relationships. I love to talk about what inspires people, what they do outside of their jobs that give them inspiration or purpose. I love to talk about families, because I’m really trying to learn about those things. A lot of this is me being curious to help myself learn how to continue growing. I’ve never been married, I don’t have kids, I would love those things. I’ve been through some really tough relationships and I’m trying to learn from other people on how to make sense of that but it’s also a way for me to learn about myself too, in conversation. I’ll tell you this- the secret sauce to this is people know when I’m talking to them that my mind is totally clear. They know that I’m listening. They know that I am genuinely there, present in that conversation and that’s what allows people to open up to me so much because they know that I’m listening. If I had bullet point questions, oh yeah there’s that sound snippet – okay, next! They won’t tell you anything. And that’s fair, I shouldn’t. I’m not really listening. But I really am listening and there’s no format to the conversation and that’s why they go so deep.

Natascha: What are some fears or passions you’ve heard of?

Adam: That’s a great question. Passions are very individual and unique. I’ve just heard millions from juggling to painting to, I hear lots of music, to being a mom. Really beautiful stuff. I just love to hear all the stuff that people are passionate about because it inspires me to continue trying to find them myself. Fear is a lot more- there’s definitely a dread in the entire world right now of fear about life as we know it changing so dramatically so as a global humanity, as a global society, whatever you want to call it, were breaking apart. And so there’s a lot of loneliness that is felt all over the world, everywhere I go. There’s less in third world countries because those are really built on relationships because there’s poverty and poverty doesn’t have much besides the relationships. There’s deep, deep, deep understanding being communicated about technology creating a bit of a chaos that we don’t know what to do about. And the world’s very scared of that. What it’s doing to relationships to communication, friendships to love, and daring. The addiction, people don’t really know what it’s going to continue doing to us. It’s just taking us away from each other in person, so I think we’re going to see a lot of the damage that it causes.

Natascha: Thank you for sharing. Can we talk about your hardware for a second? What is your favorite camera and lens for portrait photography?

Adam: Great question. I always use only one lens ever, for my entire project and it is a Sigma R rig 50 ml 1.4 lens. I’m cheap and I travel light. I just mastered that lens. And I’ve always used ninety-nine cameras. I’ve had a Nikon, D7000, but this project has always been on the D750 and I moved it to the Nikon Z6 last year and it’s made my job incredibly easy. What’s so helpful about having the exact same camera and lens for the entire thing is- I’ve always seen the world in pictures. I’m cursed as a photographer, a lot of us are. I already see the exact picture. I don’t need to take out the camera, I don’t need to take out the lens, I don’t need to look through it. I know the lens so well, it’s like in my eyes so well that it saves me a lot of time and also, I already know exactly what the picture is going to be. If it is something real quick, like holy shit this is an amazing shot, I can get it in to take a picture in two seconds I can get the picture and then we can get into conversation. It helps me a lot.

Natascha: Nifty, cheap and trustworthy.

Adam: Yes.

Natascha: I know we’ve talked about this a bit but what is your stance on the social media dilemma?

Adam: I think that it’s the end of the absolute foundation of relationships that is absolutely critical to us being able to move forward. We’re already seeing it, I mean suicides of despair are down to the age of eight now. There’s eight-year old’s committing suicide. It is so heartbreaking.

An example of that is, I was photographing a wedding and there was this adorable girl, she was eight years old too. She had this little dress her mom gave her and we were all running around. And I said, Hey! Let me get this shoot, it is such a beautiful shot of you. I went to take the pictures and she says, no! Not this side of my face. I only like this side of my face. And I was like, you’re eight years old, where did you get it? She was like, my mom says it all the time. And I see it on TikTok all the time. Children are mimicking what they’re seeing.

I didn’t know when it got cool to be so self-critical. Somehow it got cool for people to feel ugly and talk about themselves poorly. If we don’t have self-confidence then- it’s not ego, it’s self-confidence. It’s like pride in the person that you are. You don’t have to have the best body or be the most beautiful person in the world. Just being okay with who you are. It takes some self-work and that’s a gift we should give ourselves and to the world around us but right now that’s just not the norm. The norm is self-criticism, self-deprecating, belittling ourselves. That’s a bit of cancer to other people around us because then other people around us are like hey that persons beautiful, then I’m ugly. They think they’re ugly then I have to be ugly. There’s no end to that.

So that all being said, with this insane addiction that didn’t exist a few years ago, where people wake up with their phones and they go to bed with their phones, everything in the present moment has been lost. And obviously, the less present we are, the more anxious we are, more depressed we are, the more chaotic we are, we’re not planning on the future, we’re not thinking about people that are right in front of us in that moment everything is expedient, everything needs to be fast. And the most important parts in life are not fast. Love is not fast; relationships are not fast. Like communication is not supposed to be fast. And now I feel like I need to jam in a thirty-minute scheduled time with my friends just to catch up on how life is. We can’t live like that; people are dying because of that and have been. It’s just getting worse and worse every day.

Natascha: Thank you. How do you suggest breaking down barriers within a community?

Adam: I think that’s an easy one, I mean A) barriers are obviously constructed on pride, again, whatever barriers have come in between connections has to come from us swallowing our pride first. And so, the only reason that I wouldn’t go out and try to connect with the community and the people around me is if I was being prideful. Like oh man if they reject me, I’m going to be hurt by it or I’m going to be mad about it, so we think about ourselves so much that we end up not doing what the world needs us to do. To help the world out also, so.

For me, breaking down those barriers is forming relationships and conversations that are vulnerable, authentic, but also not focusing on those things that divide us. I mean, because that is just too easy to do and those are based on identity. Not based on who that person actually is. A lot of people right now with social media, all the stimulus and technology, they don’t really know who they are, they don’t really give themselves the time to find out who they are. They latch on to an identity, this is who I am, this is how I think, this is what’s right, this is what’s wrong. Again, there’s no balance to that. Focus on what’s behind all of that. It’s like who are you really and what do you love? What scares you? What inspires you? And not just question, question, question, because that’s not balanced. It’s like telling them about you also, like really having a balanced conversation. It allows people to have this foundation of trust, that all those barriers just melt away.

Natascha: Good. How do you see conversations with strangers as a healing tool? How can a person overcome their own barriers and talk to a stranger?

Adam: Yup, well however to overcome your own barriers, it’s kind of related to the question before. But again, just try. Like that’s honestly all I can say. What do you have to lose other than your pride? Just try. Hey, I want to talk to that girl. Hi, my name’s Adam. How are you? Hi my name’s Natascha. Nice to meet you. Hey ya’- I’m really busy right now, I can’t really talk. Okay, no worries. And then you learn a little bit. Have a nice day, I just wanted to say hello.

Also, I’d say appear to people without expectations and without an agenda because people can feel an agenda, too. So that’s important, to have an open personality when you approach someone. I think the most healing part of conversations with strangers is this understanding that I saw you. Everybody sees you, and we know that everybody sees us. So rarely do people interact with the world around them that even though everyone sees us, we still feel alone. And so, here’s an idea, I saw you, I said hello to you, and I was vulnerable with you. It’s very scary to do but now I know that you see me. And now we’re going to have a real conversation and we’re both going to walk away from that feeling less alone and more connected to the world around us but also understanding that each and every day we can do that. It might be hard, it might not work, it might be awkward sometimes. But we can do that. So now we have that understanding, we’re back in our home or apartment or whatever and our mental health is having a bad day we know what to do about it. Now if we do it, that is up to us but we at least know something that we can do to help.

Natascha: Do… you believe in BigFoot?

Adam: Oh, that’s a cool question.

Natascha: We are big believers here in Humboldt County.

Adam: I was going to say no. But I’ll just say no because I don’t know enough about it. To not know definitively but know I haven’t researched and don’t know enough about it. I watched I’m All Gas No Breaks on the BigFoot rally, it was pretty revealing but I don’t know enough about it. Do you believe in BigFoot?

Natascha: Yeah, yeah. They are interstellar type of beings that can be- not necessary here all the time, kind of jumps through dimensions type deal. I have another Humboldt County question for you, any stories that relate to pot farms for marijuana enthusiasts.

Adam: Oh man, I can do a whole movie on my time there. I mean the whole thing was so wild. We lived in Clear Lake, but it was off the grid in the wild, this was like twelve years ago. It was like the wild west. Those people are recreational. It was like you can have ninety-nine plants with a doctor’s order, if you had one hundred it was a federal felony so like ninety-nine plants. There were no police because Fish and Game Conservation were the closest thing to police that we had. You’re on your own fucking island. Out in the middle of nowhere. Lots of money in the house, lots of weed plants in the house, you have guns in the house, it was wild. And, toward harvest time there’s like no protection, you know, there’s no regulation. Everyone would do these twelve-hour shifts and there’s people sleeping on patios with shotguns. There were these two sixteen-year-old kids that were out there, and they came out on four wheelers. Not on our farm but the neighboring farms, grabbed a bunch of plants and the people from the farm chased them down and the kids accidently drove off the cliff on the four wheelers and killed both of them. It’s the wild west. There’s a lot of- you probably want more of an optimistic story, but you know.

Natascha: That’s a common story unfortunately.

Adam: Yeah, it is. A lot of boredom really, so fucking boring. You’re trimming ten hours a day, and it was before cell phones were big. You get bored of it. Everybody’s on drugs, a lot of people are on drugs because of the boredom, and I never did drugs. I smoked pot and ate mushrooms. I love those two things, a lot. But I’ve never done hard drugs. And everyone’s on some real hardcore drugs. We had people overdosing. One of our closest friends, out there, OD’d and died. It’s just boredom. People really don’t know what the fuck to do. They’re really just sitting in the house together doing nothing at all. Every once in a while, there will be cool stuff. Like one of the owners of the farm who would never talk to us like the trimmers and the people in it, but he’d come in and he was this very ominous figure. He was nice. He’d go up to the kitchen and sterilize every single thing in the kitchen and nobody was ever allowed to go toward the kitchen. He would put on Grateful Dead, and he would stand there for like twelve hours and he’d just be silent. You know never say a word. We’re all feeling his presence. And then he would walk away without a word, and we’d never see him again. So, there’s just interesting characters.

Natascha: Yeah, yup. My zoom is cutting me short. It says I have three minutes remaining unless I upgrade to pro, which was unexpected. Can you just tell us what you plan on doing next?

Adam: In my personal life I am starting to date for the first time in my life. Really trying to figure out relationships. It’s kind of complicated for me, for the reasons that we talked about before. With my show, my project, we just sold forty percent of it to a major production studio and now we have a major team that is taking, really my team- which is just my director and my camera man, two close friends of mine, and were all merging forces. The next six weeks we are creating our new trailer and we’re taking that too market to sell the show. Which we expect it to sell. Hopefully in the next two to three months we’ll have the show sold and you guys will be able to see what it looks like.

But for my Monday Night Dinners, concept which I do in just Coeur D’Alene, I’m going to be taking it on the road this winter. The idea is to put me in a new city, new country, new place, anywhere in the world. I have two weeks to be there. I have to meet all the strangers but everyone that I meet, every stranger that I met and have a story, I’m going to invite them to have dinner on the end of that trip, two weeks down the line because I always wanted to leave the cities and countries more connected after I leave because, you know, I’m meeting these people and then I just leave. I want to put you all around a table together and I want you to meet each other too. Because of my time there, because of all of our time together, we’re just connecting the world, bringing it a little closer together with every place we visit. Hello, from a Stranger is merging with Monday Night Dinners and that would be the actual show. Some really cool stuff. I’m very excited for them.

Natascha: Alright Adam. Thank you so much for sharing with us. These are some beautiful projects you got going on that are very inspiring and feel good. Looking through your art makes me feel- good.

Adam: Thank you, I appreciate you looking at it and I appreciate this time I really do! It’s an honor and an opportunity. I just want to spread it and remind people that they can do this too. I actually need them to do it because I’m only one person and it’s a big world out there.   

Natascha: Thank you, readers, for checking in at Little Lost Forest. Please check out our IG @littlelostforestart. You can find Adam Schluter at and purchase his book at 100% of all sales go back to the humanitarian mission.

LGBTQ in Children’s Animation

Living in a liberal state, I am surprised to hear the uproar in the mom’s’ community on LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) in Disney, Pixar, and children’s animation in general. Children’s’ cartoons have always had heterosexual lead roles. As society becomes more accepting of people in our community, diversity is inching onto the big screen. Yet, some parents insist that homosexuality is being pushed onto their children. For years the princess will one day meet her prince was the “only way” that a child’s movie would play out. I want to ask, “How long are we going to keep homosexuality in the closet?”

In 2013, the hit movie “Frozen” came out, a coming-of-age animation about two princesses, Elsa and Anna, one of whom is overcome with the powers of winter. Frozen was the first Disney movie to portray witchcraft in a positive light, a significant progression compared to Disney’s bias towards Christianity. The hit song “Let it Go” was said to have been an innuendo for coming “out of the closet” and a piece on self-acceptance. Even though I did not find any correlation with to homosexuality in this film, this song started the buzz. When will Disney include everyone in their movies, not just heterosexuals? 

In 2020, the Pixar animation “Onward” was released with a butch lesbian supporting character as the father figure. By no means was this character a leading role. Now with the cat out of the bag, we’re not all made to fit into generic categories. I witnessed mother’s’ taking offense to this character like she was invading their children’s perspective on how they might feel about themselves. If this is the root cause, then these parents also need to reflect on how they view their children, and whether they would love them if they are different. Perhaps that is what Disney has tried to teach people through diversity in their movies: to love everyone and not just those that fit into your category. 

“When The Proud Family premiered on Disney Channel in 2001, it was not only the first original animated show on the channel but one of the few all-ages animation programs on television at the time centered around a Black family.”


Bringing backThe Proud Family” was nostalgic to all 90’s babies. What kind yet strong-headed lead would we want on television for our kids, other than 14-year-old Penny ProudDisney brought it back asLouder and Prouder,” and accompanying the Proud family, in a supporting role is a gay couple with non-binary siblings. They brought in voice actors that also identify as their characters—bringing work and awareness to the community. I am an open space, but it pains me to hear other mothers take offense to this rising trend and the feeling that we can’t be honest with our children about treating people as equals. Let your children follow their hearts instead of making them feel like they have to hide. 

So on that note, is it just a rising trend? This is a rebuttal I heard the other day. “I would be okay with it [homosexuality in animation] if they [animation studios] weren’t doing it to make money from a fad.” 

Well, I hate to break it to you, but as a bisexual female, I have been waiting my whole life for homosexuality to be in children’s animation. I honestly found heterosexuality kind of gross growing up. Seeing the go-to man marry a woman scenario over and over; got me sick. There are so many things we should be protecting our children from,: war, violence, hatred, negativity, but love? If we shield our children from love, what kind of hope are we giving them for the future?

Lastly, Disney released a short film called “Out,” about a man having difficulty telling his parents he’s in a relationship with another man. He switches lives with his dog and they play cat-and-mouse, almost exposing his live-in boyfriend to his folks. My husband didn’t like the movie when he saw it. The situation was all too familiar to him. We’ve all heard of the struggle LGBTQ people may have coming out to their parents. He wasn’t seeing what I was seeing. This was the first step. There it’s “out,” it’s been spoken. For a story to be told, it has to build from the beginning. Otherwise, the audience may not understand the world’s laws, but here it was. I would expect Disney to prep their audience to understand the struggle of queerness through this simple short, so that more complex characters can come into play in the future. Instead of immediately judging the characters, the audience may show compassion. We all live on this earth together. 

Radulovic, P. Feb 17, 2022., The Proud Family creators: ‘There’s not just one view of Blackness or a Black family.’

Finding Time to Work with your Newborn as a Writer

Finding time to yourself with a newborn can be challenging, let alone to write.

As a mom that writes, I have to be very cautious about where my time is going. The days flew by in a blur, and I found myself trying to catch up on last week’s tasks that were catch-ups from the week before. As a new mom finding time to maintain a pre-pregnancy way of living is impossible but creating a work-flow schedule isn’t! It might be helpful to take a step back and evaluate how you are taking the time to execute your plans.

Here are a few tips I found helpful to get back on track after falling behind in my work studies, especially my writing tasks!

Don’t overload yourself. The minute you put too much on your plate, you will find yourself back where you started. With businesses in need of workers, if you decide to go back to work, consider part-time as a new mother and maintain your focus on a single line of work instead of keeping the side gigs you picked up during pregnancy. If you have multiple projects at home, focus on finishing one task.

Wake up early. Laying in bed awake since 7 am with the baby is not the same as getting up and ready. An early start will get your body in motion to excel in your tasks. Making your bed will motivate you to be productive instead of laying back down on the sheets.

Baby’s first nap is an excellent time to write. This nap may only be twenty minutes, but this is the time the writing mom has to jibe. It can be hard to find the motivation once the baby wakes up and later throughout the day. It is also a good time for a friend or neighbor to sit with the baby so your work can be finished.

Now- in my case- the rest of the day flies by, and I’m holding the baby. I can place the baby on the floor for tummy time, and someone will come by and comment on how cute the baby is, pick him up, and pass him to me a minute later. At this point in the day, it is a constant flow of baby and me, even if I try to put him down.

When the baby is feeding, I will find the time to read. Reading helps stimulate the brain after hours of baby playtime. It’s calming and relaxing.

The next chance I will get to set a productivity time is at 6 pm when I go to work. Working for 5-8 hours will give you enough time to sleep and also allow you to spend precious moments with your baby during the day. Working at night can also complement your partner’s schedule if they work during the day. Going to work helps keep a feeling of self and individuality apart from the baby.

Now to keep up with a schedule and do not give up! The schedule might be challenging, and there will be times when you want to not show up, but surrounding yourself with an encouraging team to make sure that you have your eyes on the goal will help you when times get tough.

Write down your goals and watch them be crossed off by following these simple steps.

Writer’s Exercise

I have been reading Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner. I highly recommend this book to fiction writer’s that fancy tarot cards. Here is my first writing exercise, I’d like to share with you based on the Tarot Card, “The Fool.”


The fool is upside down like his ultimate plan of disaster has a higher consciousness guiding him through his travels. His dog looks at him intently. A guard dog, his companion, is a strong dog of the night. The moon shines behind the fool’s head. His makeup has been done with precision. He holds a staff with a pointed edge for the tough journey ahead. The road is long but promising. The fool is in his best outfit and stands with confidence.

Short Story

How very excited am I, to leave this dreadful town behind. Goodbye milk-maiden and laundry girls who never bat me an eye, I am off to better things. Where the road goes, I do not know, and I am sure my mother will be worried about me so. With these charming looks and my trusty stead there is nowhere but up for me.

-The Fool

Oh, look at that fool. He is leaving everything behind and when I was going to set him up with that beautiful broad coming to town to live with her mother and her new step daddy. Now I must devise a new plan. Oh shamats, Dwiddle, where is my paperwork! The fool has made a move! He has left his safe haven and now wonders down the path surly to be eaten by the wolves. I can’t have another one of my men die so young, I must find a better plan for him. Yes, a great plan, indeed! I will stir up a potion, make a concoction, and I will see that this fool makes it to Olympia so he can compete… with the gods! Scrawny, yes, I’m aware. Dimwitted, self-absorbed, melancholy by nature I see. I can work with this. I will turn him into a man, Dwiddle, just wait and see.

-The Creator