Up In Smoke


The last time I went outside, I wasn’t sure if I could get back in. Wild fire safety was at the front of my mind as the smoke in the air was 500 on the AQI meter (literally the highest it goes). It burned my lungs and throat. I was dizzy and disoriented, weak and sick to my stomach. It was like smoking some bad weed, hot boxing a car, except I didn’t get high, and the car was the entire outdoors.

Most of the west coast has experienced smoke and haze this summer. But some places have had it worse than others and, unfortunately, I live in one of the most smoke-filled areas—the Sierras. The Dixie Fire, Beckwourth Complex Fire, and Caldor Fire, have burned hundreds of thousands of acres and sent giant, pluming clouds of smoke into the air.

The worst part about the smoke is not that it keeps me from going outside, though, that is extremely frustrating since my health has improved, recently allowing me to walk outside for the first time in several years. No, the worst part is that the air quality has been so bad inside, making it hard to breathe nearly all the time.

I’ve been running two heavy-duty air purifiers, along with a humidifier to reduce smoke particles, and wearing a wet mask (affiliate link) inside to further limit the particles. But even with these precautions, wild fire safety is still an issue. The smoke still gets in my lungs. It makes my eyes burn, my lungs wheeze, my sinuses congested, and gives me migraines.


With all this in mind, I now realize that I need to find a new place to live, a healthier place with the cleanest air I can find within the radius I’m able to travel.

I recently posted about this on social media and a lot of people mentioned that nowhere in California, particularly the Bay Area, is untouched by the smoke. And while this may be true (check out a wild fire California map), smoke is a constant issue where I live. Even during the winter, the air here is clouded by smoke from burn piles, camp fires, and chimneys. Breathing in smoke, looking outside and seeing a thick haze blanketing the valleys and roads has become a way of life, a way of life that I need to escape if I want my health to improve. Also, it would be nice to sit outside and see blue sky again, to breathe fresh air.

So, I need to move to a healthier area, which will almost certainly be a more expensive area, where wild fire safety is less of an issue. I also need transportation—a van that is either wheelchair-accessible or one that I can lie in comfortably for several hours (I still don’t know how my body will handle this).

The problem is I don’t have the money for these things. One way to help pay for them is to monetize my blog, something I’ve resisted doing over the last several years, mostly because I hate ads. And I know other people hate ads. But I may have to do this, so I sincerely apologize if there are any ads for dick pills or links to “10 Botched Celebrity Plastic Surgeries.”

Reader contributions also help. If you find my writing useful and enjoy reading it, please chip in so I can be compensated for the time and energy I put into my blog, and so I can find a healthier place to live. I would be grateful!

I will keep you updated on my search for a new place to live. Hopefully I can figure something out by next summer.

Other ways to support this blog . . .

1. Order my memoir! WHEN FORCE MEETS FATE recently won an IndieReader Discovery Award for best nonfiction. If you’d like to support the book (and this blog), please order a copy and leave it a review on Amazon. The book is available from:

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2. The audiobook is also available on all platforms, including Audible!

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