More About Me

I was born on the East Coast, the son of a preacher. My early childhood was good. When I was 10 years old, our family moved from Maine to Washington State to become members of a unique religious group. Well, it was a cult.

I spent the next six years, living and working on a farm. I did everything from digging ditches and building fences to hauling hay and cleaning horse stalls. I literally worked 6 hours a day during the school years and 12-14 hours a day during the summers. I lived in a bunkhouse with about 20 other young men and boys. I spent my Friday and Saturday evenings listening to the misled teachings of the leader.

In 1979, When I was 16, the group was broken up by local authorities. My parents remained loyal. I went into the foster-care system until I was 18. The freedom was overwhelming and I made a few poor choices. I’m glad those days are past.

I spent most of my 20s living in a travel trailer and working at restaurants and mini-marts. I worked summers and traveled the United States by train every fall. It was during this time that I began to play music and write songs. I started playing drums, but quickly picked up the piano and guitar as songwriting tools. I wrote dozens of songs. I spent some time in Nashville. I wasn’t ready for that game.

In the early 90s, I started attending a community college and studied radio broadcasting. I quickly discovered that I had a voice for radio and worked at a variety of radio and TV stations. I continued my education to get a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Washington State University.

I married in 1999. It only took a few years to realize that the marriage was bound to end. She struggled with extreme depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. When Annie was born in 2005, she was unable to care for her. I had to make some hard choices. Now I’m a single dad.

After I graduated college, I started teaching communication courses. I spent a few years teaching in the Midwest before getting a job back at the college where I’d started as a student ten years earlier.

In 2013, I bought my first home. It was a nice little 3-bedroom house in the historic district of Yakima, Washington. In 2019, I decided to cash in on the hot market. I sold my house and paid off all my debt. I rented for two years and now own a condo.

Somewhere along the way, after a few moves across the country, I decided that less was more. I began to take on the philosophy of minimalism. I’ve learned that the less we own, the more we accomplish. Less stuff equals more money. Less distraction equals more productivity. It was with this understanding that I started my Hip Diggs blog in 2014.

Unfortunately, minimalism has become a trend and is simply marketed as another product. I quit blogging about simple living for that reason.

One thing that I’ve always loved is music. I’ve spent countless hours listening to music. A favorite pastime used to be going to record stores and trying out a variety of new sounds. I’m sad to see those stores disappearing.

I learned to play several instruments, including drums, guitar, piano, mandolin, banjo, ukulele, and harmonica. I’ve written more than 1200 songs but I’ve only recorded a small portion of them.

More recently, I’ve learned how to create entire music tracks using an iPad alone. If I ever start a podcast, I know where I’ll get my bumper music. I’m continually pushing myself to explore deeper, musically. I record electronic and ambient music under the name Anderhill.

After writing my first book, A Train Called Forgiveness, I decided that the fictionalized story would make a good trilogy. In 2013, I completed the second book, At The Crossing Of Justice And Mercy. In 2016, I published third book of the Cult Trilogy.

I’ve discovered that I have a more than a trilogy in me as an author. I’ve since written hundreds of poems and several short ebooks. I hope to do more writing in the future.

In 2018, I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer called polycythemia vera. It’s a slow progressing disease. With treatment and medication I should still be able to live a fairly normal life. However, the diagnosis made me think about life and what I’d like to do with the time I have. Travel and creativity top the list. I look forward to being able to retire from teaching in a few years.

Recently, I moved from Washington State to Maine where I lived as a kid. I’m loving it and hope to retire from full-time work in 2024 or 2025. At that time I’ll continue to work part time while focusing on songwriting, performing, poetry, and writing.

Creativity is something that comes natural to me. I’d much rather write a song than watch TV. I’d rather work on books and poems than play video games. Creativity has taught me to continually improve my skills and push myself to become a better writer, musician, and human being. – dse

Photo by Chris Otten