This is not the life of a princess, duh

When I pictured living on top of a mountain in the forest, I thought that the dream of me actually being Snow White might become a reality. I mean, I do kind of look like her. Not to say that I am the fairest of them all (at all) but I have the black hair, pale skin and ability to seriously rock a red lipstick.

I pictured foxes and deer eating out of my hand, and a small black bear on the side of the road on his hind legs waving to me as I drove by. There would be bunnies eating purple wildflowers in the field by the barn and all of my domestic animals would roam freely and happily.

I expected to be covered in furry creatures. We would adopt every stray we came across, and nurse baby critters back to health. We would have chickens, goats, horses, pigs, a dairy cow (why not), a gigantic thirty pound rabbit, and a three-legged cat. I would walk out and sing to them as I fed them their breakfast and they would come to me and sit at my feet.

The reality of living on top of a mountain in the forest is actually to my surprise, quite different. I know, I know, I am probably about to blow your mind, but should you choose to abandon everything to live a fairy tale life, I am here to tell you, princesses have never lived out here, and if the have, they were eaten alive, literally.

The animals kind of suck. None of the creatures that I made up in my head exist. None of them love me and want to worship me as their queen. None of them smile and none of them sing. None of them flock to me every morning to wish me a good day.

However, there are very very real animals that snarl and want to eat me. There are ugly, skinny, rabid dogs, also known as coyotes. Coyotes that are responsible for the deaths of two of my beloved cats. They are sneaky devilish creatures that hunt in packs and murder sweet creatures as a sport. There are bear. Not the type that eat honey out of a pot while humming a sweet song and definitely not the type to wave to us from the side of the road as we drive by. In fact, many of the locals have told us the same horrific story of a mother and daughter being mauled to death while hiking around a waterfall. So, there’s that.

There are foxes that do NOT resemble anything friendly at all. They are ratty sly looking creatures that would happily kill all eight of my chickens if given the chance. There are rabbits. Although they are adorable, the only experience I have with them is trying not to run them over as they dash in front of my car, and of my kids desperately trying to keep their babies alive when they end up orphaned due to a landscaping accident. Spoiler alert, they died, everything freaking dies.

I have yet to see any deer anywhere so I am still holding out that they are out there and waiting for me to love them, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are not because there is something bigger and more sinister lurking around, something like a demigorgan*. 

*If you don’t know what a demigorgan is, it’s because you haven’t seen Stranger Things. If you haven’t seen Stranger Things, please stop reading this and go watch it, seriously.

Also, you don’t get to look pretty, like ever. At all times I resemble one of the contestants on Naked and Afraid. Not the skinny emaciated part or the naked part, but the part where I am constantly sweaty and completely covered in bug bites and some sort of mysterious rash.

I have to wear boots at all times because of the threat of Copperheads and rattlesnakes, and most of my clothing has chicken shit on it. My hair is always piled high in a messy bun because again, sweat, but also because any stray hair brushing against my skin feels exactly like a bug crawling on me and there’s enough of that going on in a single day to last a lifetime. Most days I can be found wearing the same pair of cutoff shorts and tank top that I picked up off the floor and shook out because seriously, what’s the point?

Lastly (for now), nothing is ever clean. Snow White does not live in this house, I do, and although she could clean up after seven dwarfs in the matter of one song, I live with a husband, 3 kids, two dogs, two cats, a rabbit, and 8 chickens, and no matter how much I sing, none of the magical creatures come to my aid. Know why? They all died!

There is dirt and dust being tracked in at every moment and bugs sneaking in every time we open a door. The dishes are piled high because for some reason this house was built without a dishwasher, and there are mountains of laundry because I have to wash all the laundry from our cabins here as well. There’s chicken crap all over everything because even though they have the ability to roam throughout our whole property, they like to wait until all the concrete is pressure washed and then unload there.

I’ve waited all of my life to be Snow White and now that I’ve had a glimpse of her life, I am so over her. She can keep her woods, and her creatures and her dwarfs.  I have my sights set on another princess all together. I want to live where everything is crystal clear. Where there is no dust or bugs or critters. I no longer want to sing to the animals, I want to shoot ice out of my hands to keep them away. Snow White can shove it, I want to be Elsa.

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When your dinner party goes to shit, literally

I’m not going to be one of those girls that throws around the word literally and not mean it. I promise I wont say something like, “I was literally a zombie all day because the rooster really does crow at the butt crack of early dawn.” When I say literally, I mean it. Literally.

We were barely unpacked but decided to be hospitable and social and invite our then neighbors and their daughter over for dinner. They were in the process of selling their house to my mother and while the process was underway, they became our favorite drinking buddies, well our only drinking buddies. Every few nights or so one of us would ring the other and decide it was indeed time to throw a couple back and get loud and obnoxious. Don’t judge, we’re in Tennessee, on a mountain, alone.

Anyway, I spent the entire day cleaning the house so that they would walk in and say, “Wow, I love what you’ve done with the place,” or something equally complimentary. I cooked a homemade lasagna and salad and garlic bread so that they would sit down and say, “Wow, what an amazing cook you are,” or something even more complimentary, maybe something with the words domestic goddess, maybe.

As I finished the last-minute details of getting everything ready and I opened up the wine (box), my daughter, who decided she must take a shower in my sparkling clean bathroom or she just might die, called for my help. I used a paperclip to break into the bathroom because she desperately needed privacy but then insisted that I come in there, of course.

“Mom, the shower isn’t really draining, and it looks gross.”

I peered into the shower and it did indeed look questionable but I told her to just get out and that we would deal with it later. Then once the bathroom looked clean again, I think I was the one to use the toilet and realize it wasn’t flushing.  Still not that alarmed or grossed out because I live in a world where poo does not exist, I plunged and flushed and everything went where it was supposed to go. Success! Or so I thought. As I washed my hands I realized the sink was not draining and the pieces all started coming together. I was obviously NOT going to handle a crisis that involved anything with a toilet, so I called in my husband.

He inspected everything and came to the conclusion that we had a clog. Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds. He decided to dig around in the yard to find the septic tank but quickly realized he had no idea where it was.  He tried to call the previous owner (they gave us the green light to call about absolutely anything and assured us they were always willing to help) however, he couldn’t get a hold of them and was only able to reach their son. He was more than willing to come over and help dig up the yard if my husband was able to go and pick him up. By this time my dinner party was looking like it needed to be rescheduled, but when I called the neighbors to break the news about our current shitty situation and reschedule, they assured  me that they were hungry, wanting to get their drink on, and perfectly capable of peeing at their house. “We can work around it,” they said, “It will be fun,” they said.

We agreed to at least hold off until my husband got back and then, party on. I was hopeful that once Paul (my husband) returned with help that we could quickly move past this hiccup and forget it ever happened.

Night was quickly approaching as the men dug and dug and could not find our buried treasure. (Are you picturing gold nuggets buried in poop, because I am. You’re welcome!) They decide to give up and wait for help. Our dinner guests arrived and we just did the best we could. We stayed away from the bathroom completely and washed our hands in the kitchen sink that slowly but surely still drained. The dishes piled up high. I could blame it on the fact that we couldn’t really use too much water, and that’s exactly what I did that night. However, if I’m being honest, I really just hate doing dishes, especially when I can be doing better things, like sitting, and drinking,  and ANYTHING.

The phone finally, finally rang, and even though it was pitch black outside and it was their anniversary, the wonderful humans that we bought this place from headed over immediately. It took about 15 minutes for them to arrive, just enough time for the neighbors to take a field trip back to their house with my kids for a pee break and get back again. Five minutes later, the septic tank was exposed and I was hiding in my house away from the possible stink and any talk of number two.

I decided to make use of my time or at least look really busy so that no one thought they should dare ask me to do anything involving me stepping foot outside, so I tidied up the kitchen. Maybe I just drank wine and walked back and forth with a dish rag in my hand, but that’s neither here nor there.

My son burst through the door screaming, “Mr. Carl just stuck his bare hand in the tank and pulled out a fist full of poop and threw it into the woods!” Now no human in their right mind would stick their bare hand in a septic tank so I knew my son must have been mistaken, but curiosity got the best of me and I ventured outside.

He. Wasn’t. Mistaken.

There were men covered in dirt, holding shovels, one very smart man wearing gloves and holding a flashlight from about ten feet away, and then there was Carl. Sweet Carl who lived on this mountain for 20 years, who knew everything there was to know about every inch of this property, was covered from fingertips to elbow in shit soup. And he was walking straight towards me! I quickly dodged him, opened the door for him to go and wash up and watched him walk through my house and into the bathroom, dripping liquid shit everywhere.

Though I came to find out that it was not an actual shit clog but a tree root that caused this eventful evening, I learned two things that night. First, this new life of mine was not for sissies. Eventually, we were going to have to deal with this kind of thing by ourselves, and though I couldn’t imagine something worse than sticking our hands in a septic tank, I knew that the possibility was probably out there.  And second… There is not enough bleach in the whole, wide, world!

Where is the More???

If you ever had the desire to completely uproot your life and follow “The Road Less Traveled”, you are in the right spot. If you ever thought, “Hey, I want to completely reinvent myself,” you’re in good company. And, if you have ever actually done any of these things and wanted to immediately hit the ABORT button, I’m your girl.

I lived the first 31 years of my life in Tampa-ish, Florida. The beaches were less than thirty minutes away, the grocery stores ah-hem Publix, were on every corner, and there was a different restaurant to order take-out from for every night of the week. The roads were flat, the dress code was shorts, tanks, and flip-flops, and the neighborhoods were Deed Restricted. I was Queen of the Suburbs, and I freaking loved it.  There was such comfort in the familiarity of knowing the ins and outs of three neighboring counties, and to not have to rely on Google Maps every time I jumped in the car. Ok, if I’m being honest, boring creature of habit me loved it,  but deep inside my soul there was always a whisper of MORE.  There has to be more to this life than the every day rat-race. There has to be more to me than this girl who always follows the rules, always plays it safe because she’s afraid of the unknown, and always AlWAYS needs the comfort of  friends to get through the basic trials of life.

When the opportunity came for us to move to Atlanta-ish  (another suburb!) Georgia, I thought this must be the answer to more. I could still live in an incredibly safe and manicured neighborhood, I could be out of my comfort zone and completely reinvent myself while still being completely in my comfort zone.  Fast forward three years, and we were pretty much living the exact life as we did in Florida just with different people playing the parts of our friends. It was fine. We were content, but where was the more?

More came back in October 2016. My husband and I were desperate for a weekend away and were trying to book the same cabin that we had booked (through a friend), a few months prior. Adventure, without too much adventure! Unbeknownst to us, we were smack dab in the middle of the annual apple picking festival and there were no cabins available ANYWHERE. As my very determined husband kept backing up in Google Maps, expanding his search for anything within driving distance, he came across a cabin available in southeast Tennessee right in the middle of the National Forest.  He quickly pulled up their website and came to me smiling. “It’s for sale,” he said. “Nice try, ” I replied.

I’m sure by now you can put the rest of the pieces together yourself. Of course, they had a last-minute cancellation and we snatched it right up. Of course we fell in love with the place and of course, long story short, we bought it. Over the next four months, we renovated our current home, listed it, sold it and packed up our current life, three kids, two dogs, two cats and one bunny and headed to our new more life.  Oh yeah, and my mom came too, because of course, the neighboring property was owned by the sellers sister and they were trying to retire and move away as well.

By the end of February we owned 15 acres in the middle of nowhere, a house on top of a mountain, and 4 Cabins to rent out. By March, my mother was my neighbor and proud owner of 5 acres in the middle of nowhere, a house, and a rental cabin as well.

It all happened so fast, it was impossible to process. By the time my brain caught up and realized it was time to panic, the moving truck had already been returned and we were unpacking the last of our boxes. We were “in town”, (about 30 minutes from our house), and I had a complete breakdown on the side of the road. Not my vehicle, me. These were not my people, these were not my stores, these were not my roads. There was not a single thing comforting about this place. I would never ever get used to this, and to be honest, I didn’t want to. I was too big of a personality, too big of a soul, to fit in this small town.  My 15 acres were suffocating me, nature was everywhere, and I freaking hated it.

I would love to tell you it all worked out, that my moment of panic was just that, a moment. But that wouldn’t be a very good story, now would it? Stay tuned for more