My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Tattoo #51

June 15th, 2011 | Category: Life,Opinions,Tattoos

Tattoo by Fish, Doc Dog's Las Vegas Tattoo, Ybor City

So, this tattoo, #51, is from an Alanis Morissette song, These R the Thoughts, which is off her MTV Unplugged record. MTV Unplugged is tied with Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (SFIJ) as my favorite Alanis record. MTV Unplugged is so great because Alanis’ voice is gorgeous and being outside the typical studio setting you really get to hear that voice. I’ve seen her in concert too, she just has a spectacular, raw, beautiful voice. MTV Unplugged shows her voice, and it has a few of my favorite songs off of SFIJ, which is why I love it so much. These R the Thoughts is only on MTV Unplugged and no other studio record. The song’s basically a series of worries, questions she asks herself throughout a day. The song doesn’t have any hooky chorus, it’s just a series of questions… Why do I feel cellularly alone? Am I supposed to live in this crazy city? Can blindly continued fear-induced regurgitated life-denying tradition be overcome? It’s so not a hooky pop song, or rock song, it’s a journal set to great music. My favorite section, part of which is etched into my arm, Why do I fear that the quieter I am, the less you will listen? Why do I care whether you like me or not? Why is it so hard for me to be angry? Why is it such work to stay conscious and so easy to get stuck and not the other way around? Both of those sections, the latter, obviously, sound so much like the questions I ask myself, the worries in my head.

In a larger sense, sure, I do worry that if I quit writing here, quit trying to get published in print, quit writing altogether, I’d just disappear. Nobody would care, or come looking for me, or even idly wonder, “Whatever happened to that guy, he wrote about zombies and sex, and loneliness and suicide and addiction and dark optimism and some girl? I think it was some girl. He had all those tattoos… What was his name? Michael something?” I think most writers, even the ones who get seriously paid, write because we love the craft and want to be remembered for what we did with it. We write to be known. I don’t think Jeff VanderMeer or K.J. Bishop or Michael Cisco would quit writing if the paychecks stopped. We have words in our blood and we cut ourselves so that all those words come pouring out, and we want people to watch. It’s a little bizarre, but we want people to watch. The words can’t just stay inside, the words flow thorough our veins and bounce around in our heads, we’re full up, so we have to get those words out and put them somewhere else. Yes, I do worry about getting quiet and fading into oblivion.

Really though, it’s much deeper than that, it’s less about a writer’s want and more about something personal. In the song, Alanis is talking about just one person. I only worry about one person not listening, not wanting to know me. The day we met we talked for three hours, I so wanted to know her, and I so wanted her to know me. I was scared that night, that first night, that there wouldn’t be a second. It’s something out of Shakespeare, something only story-tellers tell, but I loved her that night. It was just one long IM, but as ridiculous as it sounds, I loved her. She sent her picture and I only fell harder, I just left the picture open all night. I didn’t want her to be just a dream, it felt like a dream. No one’s eyes could be that beautiful, showing that much intelligence and warmth. We went to our first movie together, those eyes saw mine, I got lost in them. That was just about four years ago and I still get completely lost in her eyes, I just keep loving her more. Every-day I love her more. My words, they’re all hers, they’re all so that she can know everything that’s in my head. Lots of them are here, some of them ended up in print on Amazon.com. There are pages upon pages that no one, save her, will ever see, they’re hers, written for her eyes and no one else’s. Most of the words etched into my skin are hers. It’s all just so she can know me, and be close to me. How can you really be close to someone if you don’t give them everything in your head, beautiful words, dark words, scared words, every word? I love her more than I can explain, but I try, I so try, in flash fiction, in e-mail that’s written after bad dreams, in romantic paper letters. She asked, “Why do you love me and not someone else? There are thousands of women, thousands of mes.”  I didn’t have an answer all in a pretty wrapped box with a teal silk bow on top, the question just scared me. I’ve written a mixed media novel in answer to that question, digitally, in print, on my skin. I didn’t say the right thing, I got frustrated, it just felt like something you say before you disappear. How could she ask that and not know my head, and my heart? I got upset, overly so. Though, the simple honest answer is that when I’m with her, I never want to be anywhere else, with anyone else. When I’m not with her, it’s like part of me is missing, so I’m never completely anywhere since we met.

I got the tattoo when she felt far away, I felt like nothing I said meant anything. So, I got quiet, and I got scared. Now I’m here and she’s somewhere else. I’m lost and drowning in words she doesn’t want anymore, not from me.

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New glasses

June 13th, 2011 | Category: Life

Me and my new glasses, and a black eye

I don’t have anything particularly interesting to write. I got new glasses, aside from my fucked up eye, I think the glasses are kind of fetching.

My head’s somewhere else, I have like, five posts started and unfinished, one pushing a thousand words. I just can’t finish any of them. Can’t, won’t, don’t feel like it, something along one of those limes.

Maybe I’ll post my last three tattoos later. Maybe. Eventually. Of course.

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Thinking about someone

June 12th, 2011 | Category: Life

I’m thinking about someone, I can’t sleep. It’s like part of me is somewhere else, and I want to be there, in that place, so I don’t have this empty feeling in my chest.

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Bouncing around

June 11th, 2011 | Category: Life

I’m still pretty scattered, but I really am trying to post every-day and if I keep doing that, at some point, I’ll write something pretty. So, that’s the plan.

Yesterday, I started a big project, well, I made Lauren, my assistant, start it. A few years ago I got lazy and quit tagging my blog posts, really, my assistant, Sarah, used to tag them and when she retired, I didn’t keep it up. Part of it was, I just missed her, and doing the tags or making someone else do them, that just made me miss her more. So, the tagging stopped. Yes, an assistant’s just an employee, but the good ones, they do get really important. I miss them when they go, there’s a real sense of loss, another person who goes. Sarah was around when my thumb quit working and I could hardly type, hardly talk to anyone, before the NeuroSwitch. People weren’t really around anyway. Sarah was around though, so we’d go to lunch, at night we’d go to the bar, we’d alphabet conversations. She was good with the alphabet and smart to talk with, so she kept me sane when I really needed it. Sometimes, sitting at the bar, with a vodka tonic and ten dollars worth of Elliott Smith in the jukebox, I’d alphabet flash stories that she’d type up after. She was around for twenty-ish tattoos. She stopped me from dying once. She was around when I really needed someone to be around. A fix for a fix, but we were close and had fun. So, yeah, when she left, the tagging stopped.

Anyway, we’re tagging again, Lauren’s off to a spectacular start. Tonight, I go for another tattoo, and then and then and then…

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Screw things up

June 10th, 2011 | Category: Life

I screw things up that I don’t mean to screw up, I lose the people most important to me. I get scared of losing before I actually lose, it’s such a shitty part of me. It’s just so fucking stupid.

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The last post

June 09th, 2011 | Category: Life,Opinions,Thoughts on Music

The last post, that weird italic paragraph, I found a new Nirvana song that brought that into existence. I was listening to this song, The Other Improv (Demo), off their With the Lights Out collection, and it just sort of took over the post. It’s a fun song, one of few I’ve never heard. Their playing, the music sounds done, but the lyrics, it sounds like Kurt’s just making most of them up as he goes. Lots of Nirvana songs seemingly don’t make sense, but the lyrics are written and set, and if you take them apart you see the parts with meaning. Kurt liked mixing sense with nonsense, the nonsense often being the hooky, pop sounding parts that rhyme.  With The Other Improv, you hear he has the general idea of the song in his head, but he’s making up most of the lyrics on the spot. It was fun just hearing him create a song rather than perform something that’s already created.

I’m thinking about Monica, so I just started writing flash without thinking about anything but the words stumbling out of my head and posting it unfiltered. I saw her, it didn’t go right, I got scared of what she was saying, I reacted wrong. I don’t want this, I love her so much, so fucking much. I can’t fuckin’ sleep. God, I just want to go home. It’s like half of me is always someplace else, my head is never completely anywhere, with anyone. It’s like I’m in this car, drinking down some dirt road, and no matter how far I drive, the road just keeps going and I can’t go home. I’m in this bad dream that doesn’t stop when wake up.

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Not feeling amazing

June 06th, 2011 | Category: Life

So, a few weeks ago, I had some sinus surgery. This did not help me, physically or psychologically. I was pretty hazy on Demerol leaving the hospital, the kind of hazy that produces thoughts like, “What if I’ve died and this is actually Hell?” For minutes at a time these thoughts seem completely true. Then, “No, shut up, don’t be stupid. You’re breathing, you’re not dead.” I remember all the nurses, Lauren (my assistant), even the parking valets, they’re all talking about how “tough” I am. They said, “Mike’s so tough.” They said,  “Nobody’s tougher than Mike.” I never feel tough, I was busy arguing with myself whether or not I was dead and in Hell. I felt tiny, scared, old. I think people mistake quiet for tough. I’m not tough, in my head, I’m not tough. I wanted to go right back to my little room, have more Demerol and forget the pain in my face, all the scared in my heart. Though, the drugs, that’s just a fix for a fix. Drugs, liquor, either/or, they’re just a fake feeling of warm, safe, the pretend versions of a love’s touch, kiss, warm brown eyes to tell you you’re not alone. Those are real fixes, for me anyways. That’s all I ever want.

I’m still not me yet, I’m on some anti-biotics that are making me feel sick, which makes me nervous. My head’s a mess. I’ve been trying to hold it together for weeks, and obviously not.

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Magnolia/A weird memory

June 04th, 2011 | Category: Life,Opinions,Thoughts on Music

So, I  watched Magnolia earlier, I really forgot its complete brilliance and beauty. It’s a long movie that doesn’t feel long, basically a series of interconnected stories, themes like, the past repeats itself, mistakes and regrets aren’t unique to the individual. It’s a fast movie in that the cuts between stories are quick, it doesn’t linger on one character’s life for too long. There’s also a lot of camera movement, not shaky Cloverfield camera, just lots of panning, zooming. The cuts and the camera give Magnolia a very fast-paced frenetic feeling, even though its thirty minutes shy of three hours long. It’s also a movie about really fucked up people, people dying physically, emotionally, people whose stories do and don’t work out. I was watching with a friend and she asked, “Are people really like that?” I didn’t feel like putting down the words, I just eyebrowed a “yes.” There’s a scene with Philip Seymour Hoffman, he’s a Hospice nurse trying to track down this dying fellow’s estranged son, trying to fulfill a final request. His son, played by Tom Cruise, turns out to be a pretty famous, pretty vile, motivational speaker, teaching loser guys how to have lots of sex with lots of women. So, Seymour Hoffman’s on the phone talking to one of Cruise’s underlings and says something to the affect, I know this is something like a scene from some movie, but I think movies have scenes like this because this actually happens. I mean, that’s so much of why we go to movies, because we identify with what we see, or we want to do or be what we see. I answered my friend with a “yes” because my experiences have been so much like the characters we were watching. Depression, loneliness, addiction, loss, regret, I know those experiences, felt them, feel them, been drowning in them. Yes, people really are “like that.”

Magnolia’s soundtrack is another reason I love it so much, Aimee Mann contributed most of the songs, specifically written for the movie. One particularly unusual, very moving scene, cuts to each character singing Wise Up. My favorite line, “You’re sure there’s a cure, and you have finally found it. You think one drink will shrink you ’till you’re underground and living down, but it’s not going to stop, it’s not going to stop, it’s not going to stop ’till you wise up.” It’s very surreal, but the scene totally works. It hit me really hard, I broke-down, sobbing. I breakdown quietly, nobody ever notices. Almost nobody. Listening to Aimee’s lyrics, crying, it reminded me of something.

It was four years ago, I was with Sara, my girlfriend then, kind of. We’d broken up, but started finding each other again toward the end of shooting our This American Life episode. So, she wanted us to go see a Chris Isaak concert, and I just wanted to go anywhere with her. The trach was still a little fresh back then, I’d still get nervous going out sometimes, so I’d have wine or brandy before getting into the car. Not the best way to cope, but it worked awhile. I didn’t want to not take her, I didn’t want to be weird and nervous, I just needed the crutch to get there. It wore off and I realized I was okay because I was with Sara, everything was always okay with Sara. So, we’re leaving the concert, which was great, we’re walking back to the car under a summer night-sky. I look up at the stars, bright beautiful stars. I didn’t want to be anyplace else, just right there, under those stars, with Sara. As we’re walking she takes my hand and out of nowhere starts singing Aimee’s You Do, off the Magnolia soundtrack. And you do, you do, you do, you really do… I never thought I could love her any more, but holding her hand, listening to her sing under those stars, I did, and I felt so completely loved. I quit the pre-outting drinks after that night. I didn’t need them, and we went so many more places together. We held each other and sang so many more times. Losing her hurt so much.

I never thought I could find again what I felt with Sara, but I did, so intensely, so beautiful, but that’s gone too. Losing Monica hurts so Goddamn fucking much. I don’t know how to be okay.

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Perfect words

June 03rd, 2011 | Category: Life,Thoughts on Music,Writing

I’ve said that I admire Elliott Smith as a writer, I think he was a genius. He’s a writer whose level of brilliance I aspire toward. He captured human experiences so perfectly, told these perfect little stories of love and loss and sadness and loneliness and addiction in just a few hundred words. Theres’s a special skill in that, no less brilliant and beautiful than the tens of thousands of words that writers like KJ Bishop, or Michael Cisco, or Jeff VanderMeer put into their stories.  It’s not easy to capture how it feels to lose someone you love, to capture it in a way that is universally accessible, in just a handful of words. Smith’s Sweet Adeline off his fourth record, XO, is a gorgeous example of describing the end of love and the aftermath of that ending.

Waiting for sedation to disconnect my head, for any situation where I’m better off than dead.

He felt that, put it into words, perfect words. It’s how I feel right now, and a thousand times before right now, and probably a thousand times after right now.

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Quit me

June 03rd, 2011 | Category: Life

So, this woman I’ve loved for a very long time, years, she’s quit me. It’s, I’ve earned it, I think. I don’t know. I just have to face it, and deal with it, and not break. I really cannot break. I just have to not break.

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