Bad Poetry Reading

I suppose some context is in order, because normally I’m such an upbeat person, but I don’t really have an explanation I’m prepared to fully disclose. In addition to Project Finish Line, which I’ll be writing on more this weekend, I’ve embarked on a bit of an accidental journey that is putting me through my paces, and well…out this came. 

Worry not, my friends, I may not actually be as bullet proof as I claim, but I try to be tough to hit. 

And if you’re reading this, suggestions on a title?

Broken heart, yet still I stand

A shattered shell with grains of sand

Beneath the skin that rip and tear

At throbbing scars already there.

Empty numbness leaves me needing.

Someone stop the jagged edges inside bleeding.

But I walk alone with you forever,

Festering wounds holding me together.

Pull away then turn around 

For though I fight I long to drown

In the merciless sea of time ahead 

That fills my every breath with dread

Of living life an immortal cursed 

To trudge invisible upon the earth 

Across the paths of none who see

What could have been whole is broken in me.

My soul is hope transformed to doubt

Now trapped and screaming with no way out.

At the top of my lungs I silently cry 

Lamenting the second before goodbye 

Where possibilities thrived,
And we were alive,
With reasons to try,
And no end in sight.

But now it’s today,

When you walked away,

Leaving behind you this fractured wraith 

To survive in the absence of aspirations or faith.

So I put on the smile already failing me

To pretend to the world I’m still in one piece

And somehow still similar to

The person I was when looking at you,

But It’s all a lie, for with each ragged breath 

That person is gone, the thing remaining is death.

It’s desperate to fall, but I steady my hand…

Broken hearted, yet still 


I stand.

With Fingers Bleeding

In case you haven’t noticed, I like to think of myself as a writer. Perhaps a wannabe writer, but a writer of some kind nonetheless. The first thing I remember writing was a story in 2nd grade about a pony (Yeah, I know – ground-breaking stuff.) for which I won first place prize in whatever it was. Then it was a “children’s” book in 6th grade in which both main characters died at the end.

After that I started on a story wherein my friends (and some people who didn’t want to be my friends anymore) and I were in a band together, and once again someone was on the verge of dying. I never did finish it.

In 8th grade I had to do an essay answering the question, “Do you believe in ghosts,” which my mom said gave her goose bumps. (And, no, I’m not dumb enough to think my mom’s opinion is one I can fully trust. She’s obviously biased when it comes to her incredible people-creations.) Then I hit high school and started taking journalism. I won two first place awards in two consecutive years for pieces I wrote on site in the Editorial category.

Today most of my writing is for work or messages between friends, but I’m also in my third or fourth year of trying to write a novel. I should say I’m trying to finish it. That shit is hard, and I hate it when authors write great books and then just crap out at the end ala Hunger Games.

All that to say that I’ve been remiss in writing as regularly as I’d like on this blog, and with as much passion as I have for writing, I’ve been marinating on why I’ve been such a flake. I figured out that it’s because I actually think I might have a reader or two, whom I’d like to keep, and a lot of things I want to write about tend to be a bit broody. I’m a brooder – albeit probably the most bubbly, gregarious brooder on the planet – and who wants to constantly read depressing, deep, dark, or uncomfortable stuff, right? It’s much more fun to read light, funny, quippy pieces that have Joss Whedon-like wise-cracking dialogue.

Even I think so.

But here’s the thing: I started a blog for me. To have a place to come and sit down at my keyboard and bleed. To channel my inner Ernest Hemingway or simply word vomit until I’m temporarily empty again. There’s nothing more enticing to me than a blank page. It’s like life. You start with nothing, you learn some things, and then you make some choices, and then people are there, and things are happening, and conflict arises, struggles occur, and soon you have a story – comedy, tragedy, mystery, fantasy, erotica, news, editorials, human interest pieces, satire, poetry, love letters, hate mail, journals…you start with an empty white space, and you end with pieces of life in print.

I’d imagine any artists feels the same way about their craft, but in place of oil or clay I have paper, pen, keyboard.

And while my craft may seem straightforward, it’s not any easier to interpret than Michelangelo’s David or Monet’s many takes on Water Lilies and Haystacks. My voice, my intent, my tone, my heart, my true story…we writers all face the same challenges as other artists – how do we inject all of our heart into our work in such a way that it touches people?

Perhaps that is why I struggle to write for RPS(LS). I seek to evoke emotion, yet I also seek to create connection, and that’s not as easy a thing to do when I’m not a crowd pleaser by nature. And I’m also an Aries, horns and hard head included, so I won’t become one.

So, my dearest reader(s?), as I said on the beginning of this journey: you’ll get what you get. And you’ll get a lot of it. So forgive my pigheaded stubbornness, forgive my need to bleed from fingers and little black-and-white keys for all the world to see. But challenge yourself to walk away not with my tone and mood as your own, but with your OWN interpretation.

And know that I blog on prom dress shopping with my oldest nieces is likely forthcoming, and thus guarantees at least a few laughs.


Hurts So Good

A cover-up of a truly heinous Celtic knot I got in my early twenties.

A cover-up of a truly heinous Celtic knot I got in my early twenties.

  • an evening drum or bugle signal recalling soldiers to their quarters
  • an entertainment consisting of music, marching, and the performance of displays and exercises by military personnel
  • a rhythmic tapping or drumming
  • mark (a person or a part of the body) with an indelible design by inserting pigment into punctures in the skin
  • make (an indelible design) on a part of the body by inserting pigment into punctures in the skin

There are different definitions for the word “tattoo,” and of course there are a host of different meanings for any tattoo a person chooses to have permanently etched into their dermis. And however personal, or not, the decision to ink is, I find that it can be a fairly polarizing topic. As can piercings, or anything some might see as not the norm, can be. In fact, not too long ago, my boss asked me, “Can I ask you a personal question? What’s with the tongue thing?” (I have a pierced tongue, and I also just so happen to be an intelligent, successful, functioning member of society.)

So today I’m going to dive into the way I look at tattoos, and I’m hoping those of you who scoff at tattoos and piercings and/or are judgey little fucks will get all the way to the end of this piece and perhaps rethink your position. Or at least have the grace to shut the hell up the next time you think your opinion on someone’s choice of bodywork simply cannot be lived without.

I like to have meaning – to tattoos, clothing, shared birthdays, coincidences, the names of my pets… Everything on me means something.

Sometimes it’s the art – words, symbols, images, classic art, pinup girls, random “nonsense” (I say it in  quotes because just because it appears to be nonsense to you and me doesn’t mean that it actually is), or American Classic designs from the bygone era of famous artists like Lyle Tuttle (Google it). Sometimes the meaning is in the act itself, the decision to get a tattoo – rebellion, fearlessness, a rite of passage, maybe a drunk night with buddies that you now get to remember forever whether you like it or not. (I have a male friend with a tramp stamp of that variety, or so he tells me.) Hey, it happens…

Extended my cover up and got a koy fish as a sort of memorial after my dad's passing. I call him Joe.

Extended my cover up and got a koy fish as a sort of memorial after my dad’s passing. I call him Joe.

And sometimes it’s the need for the physical release that comes from the riot of sensations only achieved by the tattoo experience: immersing yourself in the smell of ink, Vaseline, anti-bacterial soap; meditating among the white-noise buzzing of artists and their guns; and of course losing yourself in the unique pain of having your skin engraved by rhythmically vibrating needles, followed by the sweet ecstasy that is your artist gently (if you’re known to tip appropriately then it’s gentle, if you don’t then you’re a dick and deserve to get roughed up) wiping away excess ink – and maybe a little blood – with a cool paper towel made moist by whatever concoction said artist prefers. (I also personally enjoy the story telling and cursing of the artists – makes me feel less like I have “trucker mouth.”)

At this point there are likely a few of you who, once again, assume I’m bat-shit crazy (totally understandable, BTW), others who may be preparing to vomit, others who are intrigued enough to keep reading, and still others who totally get what I’m saying.

Keep going – I’ll start to get to my point, you’ll see. 😉

Got this one in Oak Harbor on my last visit to dad's house before he died.

Got this one in Oak Harbor on my last visit to dad’s house before he died.



So what’s the purpose behind the pain? (See? Point coming.)

Maybe it’s the sweet pain of a memorial tattoo that helps you grieve, or the sharpness of covering up a former SO’s name (Tip: it’s always a mistake to tattoo names of non-family or even spouses – kiss of death for any relationship!) and processing bitterness, sometimes it helps release anger or rage, and others experience the pain that comes with a gladly endured physical sacrifice when having something of deep meaning put inside of you forever.

Or, hell, maybe it’s just me that feels this way because, as anyone who really knows me will tell you, I don’t do so well with the emotions and the feels and such. And this is how I process. I find something I can deal with.


Some people journal (or blog!), some people see therapists, some people medicate (prescription or otherwise), some people talk to their friends and family, some people cut themselves, and I’m sure some people are just fully formed, operational adults who have mastered the ability to identify and productively deal with the veritable smorgasbord of human emotion to which we are all subjected. I don’t know who these people are, but I imagine they exist. (Kind of like Big Foot or men who can hit the hamper with their dirty clothes.)

Some people (me) avoid, squash, deny, ignore, get busy (at work, you perv, get your mind out of the gutter), get angry, get obsessed, or sometimes…get tattoos.

I never really recognized this phenomenon until my dad got sick. And then again when he died.




As anyone who’s read my previous blogs, the grief just overtook me. All the way to the core. With every agonizing step, every guilt-ridden breath, every pissed off, desperate beat of my heart. Tears weren’t enough. Telling my Aunt and Grandmother how unfair it all was wasn’t enough. Laughing and joking and trying to make it all somehow morbidly funny, like it wasn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened, wasn’t enough. Driving too fast in the dark, listening to loud music, attending his memorial (potluck style and held at a bar, of course), socializing, isolating, sleeping in his bed, wearing his Cornhusker and Seahawks hoodies, talking to him even when he was gone…nothing was enough. Not enough to put the grief back in the bottle. Not enough to make me feel like I wasn’t alone.

In fact, some days, it’s still not enough.

Because the funny thing about losing someone you love (funny weird, not funny haha – obviously) is that the grief never goes away. We humans, we fragile funny little life forms, are so infuriatingly adaptable that the grief doesn’t leave and it doesn’t actually kill us. It lurks inside and is just there. And you still have to get up every day, and put clothes on, and do things, and talk to people. And you have to keep doing it. Every. Single. Day. Until one day, without meaning to, you’ve regrown yourself around the grief. So now it (the grief, the loss, the bad, the dad-shaped hole in your heart) has a nice, cozy little place inside your reformed being, and it stops poking at you so much. It goes to sleep.

And you can breath again.

And each step doesn’t drag a ten ton ball and chain along with it.

And your heart beats without the feeling of a vice grip squeezing the blood in and out of the chambers.

And then one day you laugh without starting to cry.

But it’s still there.Otter in Progress

And every now and then, something wakes it up and it pokes at you. There’s a lot of things that wake up my grief, even after two years, so I won’t get into that. The point is that it wakes up, and it pokes me. I’m a successful, productive member of society who has to function at a high level each day, so the usual vices don’t work for me – no drugs, no booze, no smokes, no sleeping around, no gambling, no fighting. Not my style. But I need something else to hurt more and less than the grief and all that comes with it.

That’s what made me recognize this particular addiction of mine, but there are other things that make me want the sensation. Things like getting older (and fatter…) make us all a little uncomfortable and need to reinvent every now and then. If my body is my temple, why not decorate the walls, yeah? Other times I come to a deep revelation of some sort that I don’t want to forget, and what better way to remember than to store it in your skin and carry it with you always? And at the moment, I want to add to my otter and make it a sort of memorial tattoo; I also want to find something to get with my best girlfriends; and I’m constantly on a path to self improvement and recently found an Ernest Hemingway quote I love; and my koi fish is a little lonely – he will need some company; plus the Monet on my left thigh leaves my right one seeming a little bare…

discovered layers of the onion that is the human experience, and losses I need somethingone which can only be translated by those who choose to look at it through a different lens.

I need something. So…

I need a tattoo.

tattoo quote