26 January 2016

I Did

I was a housewife once.
It was a little over a decade ago, and I wasn't very good at it. I was doomed to failure, you see, because I didn't know how to make gravy from scratch and my husband was fucking someone else the whole time.
Gravy turned out to be easier than I thought. It's all about getting the flour dissolved in water before you add it to avoid lumps. And whisking. Whisking is important, although I'm not sure if it's the motion of whisking or simply the idea that you must whisk that seems so crucial. Not much you can do about the cheaters when you get those. I guess you just take them lumps as they come.

All of the standard bitter ex-wife descriptions applied to me for a while after that; jello shots, frosted tips, boy toys, club nights, and the like. It was an ugly time that I don't like to remember, I think I was still drinking Michelob Ultra. *shudder* It would take something pretty fucking drastic to snap me out of that light of a beer.
And that's when Jake died.
Bring on the whiskey!
Cover the bottle in drugs!
Light the drugs on fire and watch the world burn!

Losing a brother was decidedly worse than a cheating husband.

In terms of coping, I didn't.
The nights I spent in the bar were not for pleasure, it was pure business. I was being dispatched to kill braincells, and I fucking annihilated them. There are entire stretches of weeks that I have no explanation for; visible scars that I cannot decipher. So many broken flip phones (the 2000's were a different time, man).
Rather than insecure distractions, I sought nothing but escape.

we've all read the eye-rolling darkness of Poe. "trapped in a hell of my own kind. imprisoned within my own mind." (i made that up). We've all ripped at the black that threatens to weave its way through the fabric of our lives on occasion.
That's not where I was.
I was on the corner of shotgunning Jägermeister and blowing people for coke. At the crossroad of way beyond fucked up and The Crossroads (gentleman's club). Careening through the intersection of no plan to make it and going to end up dead. I was seizing all the fucking days. People on benders came to me for a tour.
I was entrenched so deeply in a world of hurt that I feared I would not return.

Then one morning I woke up and I didn't feel good.
This was unusual for a number of reasons.
The first being that I woke up in the morning, rather than crawling from some random bed at two in the afternoon with a premixed jack and diet already in hand. Instead of slowly blinking to life while lying in the dirt next to the last embers of a glowing couch fire at dinnertime the day after. In lieu of whatever the fuck happened that time the State Police showed up for Noodle, or the time they showed up because of the mo-ped incident, or the time they... you know what, I digress...
The second reason was that I could feel.

It took a good solid year and a half, all the booze, so many fucking drugs, and a sprinkle of cancer; but goddamit, I could feel.

It took some seven or eight years to get through the killer cooter germs: time in which I was able to cope, process, digest, cope again, toughen up, sober up, grow up, and then finally un-sober up, un-grow up, and breathe.
I never should have waited to feel. Things kick you in the dick a whole lot harder when you use one tragedy to block out another. My dead brother really pissed me off, sure; but maybe it would have helped me get through if I had relied on people rather than looked to blame them. Maybe, just maybe, I shouldn't have been so mad at my ex-husband. He wasn't right, not by any stretch of the word; I've just stopped believing he was wrong.
Before anyone gets bent out of shape by my lackadaisical attitude on infidelity, please hear this, "I don't give a fuck."
The idea of a committed relationship means something different entirely to me than it may to you. As there is no one that I've dedicated my life to more than my kiddo, THAT'S where my loyalty and my need for honesty both reside. Any person that is involved in her life deserves my respect and consideration, far more than that person may deserve my emotionally damaged irritation over where they've put their dick.
If I stopped speaking to everyone that fucked someone I dislike, I'd never talk to anyone. Ever.

I'm not mad anymore.
I mean, I'll always be bitter, but I think that looks cute on me.

Black is slimming.

18 January 2016

Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebie

My daughter is a square.

Band geek (flute loop), honor society, wants to study physics, has an aversion to drugs and alcohol, nice penmanship; like, what fucking part of my egg did this thing come from?
Thoughtfully helpful, understanding and sympathetic, clear-headed and astute, perceptive, broad-minded and non judgemental; like, are we certain she's of this world? 
Compassionate, emotional, caring, sensitive; like, no really, did she fight the evil twin to death in utero and absorb all the human powers?

Unfuckingbelievable, this child of mine.
It's been a rough road, this I know for certain. There were times along the way when every footprint metaphor in the book came into play. Worn through the souls and the shoes, that's for damn sure. I sometimes forget that for the better part of the last two decades, the kiddo had no choice but to travel the path that I was on.
The highway was my way.
She managed to eek out her own cuts through the dirt on the side of the road here and there over the years. There have been a few potholes, a speed bump or six hundred, and a lot of traffic jamming shit up; and all the while the road was never her own.
Graduation will change that I suppose. Not that I've accepted the inevitable, just making a generalized observation about other people with children who may be graduating high school and wanting to make decisions on their own. Not that it's happening in my life, oh no.
I'm totally not in denial.
I'm quite happy in the knowledge that kids move out of their parents' homes later and later in life with this generation. I encourage another decade, at least, of living at home.
That "my life" bullshit will eventually pop up, I just know it. It will be something innocuous, too; her vetoing my Meat Silverware invention attempts for the fiftieth time (jerky spoons, for fuck's sake!). She'll walk into the kitchen and just throw her arms up in exasperation when I ask for help peeling strips of cured beef from the walls. Again. There will be sighs, she'll call me "mother." She'll tell me she has no desire to eat her food with dried meat. She'll probably say negative things about soup. 
Not going to lie, that will sting. 
I know that the road she will fork out on is coming up around the bend. 

I hope her path runs right next to mine for a good long while. 
Until I die and she plants me in a tree, so at least I'll always be along the way.

But before the highway gets too divided, I need to share some of my own rules of the road. ("Make with the Head" is an understood rule, under the Jay and Silent Bob clause.)
The life lessons that I impart here need to be concise and beneficial, and of the utmost lasting wisdom. I'm on rocky ground as it is, what with her morals being way (waaaaaaaay) above mine to begin with; and I need to round out the journey into her 18th year with just the right amount of deep-rooted conviction that maybe I know what I'm doing.
I don't.
But I'll give it a fucking shot.

Joleen Doreen's Go-To Guide for Functioning
1. Be Happy.
If you can be anything, be happy. Or just be, but laugh while you do it.
2. Unravel
Life is already wound too tight to get caught in the trappings of being tied up. Let go. Have loose ends. Pull some strings. Be fucking plucky.
3. Don't fuck married men.
Just fucking don't.
4. Sing
There's a song there somewhere; find the music, write the words. And always bring car tunes.
5. Don't do drugs that can kill you.
6. See the beauty
In You. In the world. In pain. On the way. Behind the meaning. In art. In You. 
7. Create.
It'll kill you if you don't. (see rule 5)
8. Dance.
It doesn't matter if anyone is watching, just fucking do it. Dance with all the rhythm that you feel. FEEL THE RHYTHM. Belong to the Night, Safety Dancing, because the Commissars in Town, being Silent in the Trees, and there's Kooks Everywhere! 
Shake your butt like a weird pig.
9. Don't fuck married women either.
Just fucking don't. Stay the fuck out of other people's relationships. You'll have enough of your own, you don't need other people's. Find enough of your own. Date everyone. Do everyone. Do what makes you happy. Fuck like monkeys. Don't fuck a monkey. Fuck ten fucking monkeys. Face it head on. Never take it above the chin (adopt a "Chin Down" policy). Don't do awkward. Never be ashamed. Never let it hold you back. Never hold back.
10. Love
As much as you can, forever.

I've had a hard time with the rules over the years. I'm not a big fan of regulation, as regulation is the whore of authority, and authority and I have a contentious past. But you need a map every once in a while, if for nothing other than to point you back to a direction that's not careening out of control. 
Getting lost is ok, that's bound to happen with my mother's genes. Finding yourself is a lot more eventful after you've been lost.
Find your way.
Never go away.

I'm not the boss of you.
Write your own fucking rules.

At least it's an abstract square.

12 January 2016

Titty Pics

I never intended to have sleeve tattoos.

I was a piece-full person for many years. Here and there a smattering, a few groupings; but never a solid ink fan, by any means.
And then came the tree. It started on the right arm, just a few branches rose from the carved trunk. And then the leaves fell. Suddenly more limbs began snaking across my chest and back; and, well, they simply looked foolish without some clouds behind them.
The sky was the limit.
Meaning, "the sky rose up my front to the collarbone, the absolute limit of what is called a chest piece." And what's the sense of having a sky if it isn't the sky over Hogwarts Castle. Probably the finest sky anywhere, in my opinion. After covering one side of my back with the fictional architecture of a boy wizard, it seemed hardly a stretch at all to include his Giant best friend, the Hogwarts crest, all four wizarding school mascots, a magic wand, a Golden Snitch; Harry's patronus, glasses, and scar; dragon wings, Fawke's burning feather, and Dumbledore's epitaphs.

I ran out of empty space on the left arm at that point.

The tree stood alone on the right arm. "I'm not a sleeve person," I would say, ignoring the hours of seepage it took for my Harry Potter tattoos to heal.
Soon after that, I hit a milestone with my job and Thunder and Lightening were added to the branches. And what's a family tree without a voodoo doll? Plus, trees need rainbows like birds need bees.
I'm saying I put all that stuff on there too.
The elbow needed a patch, or else it wouldn't have matched the other arm. Then the lower forearm just looked silly with it's simple wording, best to turn that into an entire comic book. Next thing you know, I ran out of room on the right arm too.

I was left looking at my hands.

Throat tattoos are serious business. Nobody underestimates how much you don't fucking care once you've crossed the throat tat line. Not the side-neck, behind the ear, hidden along the jawline tattoos; I'm talking full-on portrait of your grandmother Erma as a sugar skull corpse's bride throat tattoo. An owl in a fucking top hat and monocle across your trachea. The outline of the icy fingers of Death gripping your windpipe.

Just staring at my hands.

It's a three-finger hobo glove that I'm going with; full back of hand with details that drip down the pointer, middle, and ring fingers. Harry Potter-wise it's pretty subtle; Sirius's mugshot from Azkaban, and the opposite hand, a Padfoot snarl.
Those words are both English and sensical, I swear.
There's a lot of swelling that happens when you ink your hands. I normally swell anyway, as anyone who has seen my guns is already aware of, but swelling on the hands is more than my arthritis signed up for.
I'm old.

Too old for hand tattoos?

Never too old for Harry Potter.
One day I'll do an entire explanation of why I live in the wizarding world. I just haven't found the right title for that story yet.

Staring at my hands.

In 1998, I was in a pretty committed relationship, what with the developing fetus in my uterus and all. I had never done that before; either developed a fetus or the committed relationship part. I screwed one, or both, up more than I've got time to talk about here.

This story that I need to explain later keeps getting longer and longer.

So 1998; cooter and shit all unvacant.
I had planned to briefly pause the collection of skin art that I had started a few years earlier (in the juvenile hall story years) so that I could give birth all fresh ink free. There was just one last etching I wanted to make; and as I've always been artist-loyal, I hopped in my adorable '92 Pontiac LeMans and drove the 120 miles away from my hometown to the basement of a guy I knew that could tattoo. I stopped along the way to see the Impregnator, a much better moniker than "baby-daddy," and spend the night before finishing my trip to Inktown.
The weird thing about being young and pregnant: nobody else cares that you can't play beer pong and get shitfaced. So whilst the near-future college grads all red-cupped it up, my stuffed-embryo ass drank flat soda and silently judged the morons. At one point during the night, the other half of my kid's dna made the suggestion that a tattoo the next day was somehow unnecessary, as I "already had enough,"

They're MY fucking hands.

I went the next day to get a tattoo; defiantly, of course, but also defiantly. Before I could even sit in the chair to get started, I began having some troubles. Ended up in the hospital so that they could stop the contractions, because 5 months just isn't enough pregnant.
I guess.
I never went back for that particular tattoo, or to that particular artist.
The kid was born a month and a half later. She was in a hurry. I didn't get another tattoo for seven years.

This story goes on.
I'll get to that.
I'm getting to that.

First I'm getting my hands inked.

I guess three-finger hobo gloves are my way of preparing you for my throat tat.

I'm not a sleeve person.

07 January 2016

Good Luck With That

I made a resolution.

It wasn't for the New Year or anything, I made it in October.
But everyone keeps talking about them and it felt pretty neat to nod in agreement with the context of social conversation for a change. Rather than the bewildered head shake that is my standard involuntary response to when people begin speaking.
I think resolutions are bullshit.
Change is ok with me, I think change is fine. I'm actually learning to like change. It's resolving to change that seems like a stupid fucking idea. The other 364 days of the year, you're perfectly okay with being the kind of douchebag that sits around drinking shitty booze on the last day of the calendar, wondering which ONE thing you can pinpoint to "fix" to make your entire cracked out existence seem worthwhile?
All the while, the answer is painfully obvious.
You need better booze.

I made a resolution in October.
It wasn't to change a part of myself either. Those are the start-of-year resolutions that inevitably end up in the trash by the third week of January. Nope, I'm not going to stop doing, lose this, tighten that, tone shit, bro shit, avoid sugar, cut carbs, stab pudding, be nicer, smile more, participate in unsolicited kindness, solicit kindness, or engage in any of that other personal-gain nonsense. Resolutions like that are doomed to failure for me because I am a selfish, greedy, uncooperative gluttonous bitch.
I change on my own, inevitably, without the aid of a clock counting down.

Respect is a tricky gambit.
You've got to give to get; it takes one to know one; I know you are but what am I.

I made a resolution in October to learn.
From mistakes, from myself, from change, from the other side, from what I want, from what I've done, from insecurity, from victory, from bbc.
From good booze.
In days gone by, action and reaction tended to fly from my person without much beneficial reabsorption. Spouting off on a tangent about the size of Ted Nugent's dick only gets you so far in life. It's when you develop the ability to detect who bristles at your humor to read a room of Republicans that constructive things can begin to happen.
Walking the line of reportable inappropriate behavior has never been easy; many times in the past I've careened into the "permanent record" side of fucking up. It's not that I don't know right from wrong; I just refuse to recognize its authority.

I made a resolution in October to learn to like myself.
I didn't make the resolution as much as it made me.
I had woken for the day at 9pm to another bout of hating myself and all the acid reflux that comes with it. Bile infused with loathing, and just a hint of why God why. Punching the clock of us versus them, coupled with lack of heart and buckets of discouragement, weighed me down like an anchor and sunk me to a level where I thought I would drown. Down deep in the pool of rotting rancor and hurtful hostility; swirling rage and seething hate; festering discord and sweltering uncomfortability; lingering loathing. And farts.
There's no fucking air down there.
SCBA gear was all I could do to breathe. I donned. I doffed. I goosenecked away the toxic.
That's a hazmat joke.

Respect is a catchy jig.
If you can dish it out you can take it; treat others as you want to be treated; give a penny take a penny.

I made a resolution in October to be nothing more or nothing less than Joleen Doreen.
It didn't go well at first. Because, you see, I have no fucking idea what that means. About a week and a half in, I think I smiled. Maybe it was gas. A few days after that, I might have chuckled. It was probably gas too.
"Fuck it," I thought. "Do this right."
And then I giggled out loud, I laughed with whole heart, I howled with abandon.
I didn't understand things any better. There was no great insight as to who the fuck Joleen Doreen is supposed to be; no incredible A-Ha moment that reflected all that I consist of into some kind of inked graphic novel.
That's a tattoo joke.

Respect is a risky ruse.
Actions speak louder than words; practice makes perfect; it's always sunny in Philadelphia.

Respect is one of those things that grows on its own, even if you keep it in the dark. It feeds on resolutions, but only those made on any day of the fucking year except the last. Or first. Resolutions like the ones you declare in the unbreathable moments; resolutions that scrape the barrel of your existence for meaning. Resolutions that pull you up, one day of hating yourself at a time, to where people look you in the eyes. To where you're good at what you do. To where doing it well IS doing it right. Those are the feelings that respect grows on.

I'm going to learn to like myself, I resolved, back in October.
Still working on it.

Got better booze though.

04 January 2016

All's Fair

Mom sent me a Happy New Year text.
"Remember to write 2016," it said.

What do you think that means?

Do you think it coughs up a wisp of disappointment at my lack of creative effort? Does it smack a bit of an order; a demand of sorts to engage in some storytelling? Issuing mandate or directive, perhaps a plea to get me to put some smattering of nonsense to the page?

I must have thought on it nearly an hour.

I came to understand that my mother thinks that I still write the date. As if I've kept a pencil to paper to tick off the days/months/years gone by in which I've categorically wracked up the same ratio of bad decisions to booze consumption as I had the previous day/month/year before. Like I'm not fully convinced that it's still 2004; coincidentally, the last time I physically wrote the date.

I used to sing a lot.
I tell my seventeen year-old this quite often, almost by way of explanation as to why everything I say is in song form. Or, more accurately, I holler to her from the shower when things get particularly Mellencampy in there. There's not a lot that I won't power ballad, or show tune; and lucky for my kiddo, she's the one subjected to the treat on a pretty regular basis. The life lessons I instill upon my child mostly involve when and where the rhythm will, in fact, get you.
It runs hand-in-hand with the dancing. Dancing is a little harder to sneak into a normal social situation, but I'll sure air-hump the hell out of any problem I possibly can.
I'm on this female-lead rock kick. Classic Joan Jett, Halsey, Poe, Meg Myers.
I never knew what a feminist was. With a headstrong mother such as mine, there was never a need to put an actual word to the behaviors she exhibited.  It was only when I noticed the absence of equality that the burden of defining "Why?" fell to my wholly independent yet systematically oppressed mother.
Why she couldn't find a job.
Why rape goes unreported.
Why the word whore starts with a W.
Why they ask where her husband is.
Why perfume smells so damn bad.
It wasn't the answers that bothered me; everyone knows it's the lack of bee spit that makes manufactured fragrances so rancid. What grated my goat was the coalescence of nonsense and bullshit that generated from the questions to begin with.
It's not the Why?

There was this one summer,s let's call it "1991" (for Gulf War purposes,) in which I was, let's call it "hired" (for Gulf War Purposes,) by my mother's third husband to be the, let's call it a "gopher" (this had nothing to do with the Gulf War). 
He was The Carpenter, for those keeping track.
I was employed to work on a roofing project, of which I had zero applicable knowledge, but I carried a great desire to have money. And was the only candidate for the job (for Gulf War purposes).
It was a rich-lady roofing job. Things were serious. My duties, as they were, involved both measuring the rejected cedar shingles for replacement pieces, AND hauling away the then-defunct planks to be sold off to the sawmill for chipping when the rich lady wasn't looking.
It was a lucrative gig.

Not for me, obviously; but surely for the men running the show.

For a good bit of time, mom's husband #3 (see The Carpenter, above) ran his construction business in partnership with the guy that would eventually become DosDad, herein referred to as Step 2.
But that's a story for another time.
The important thing here is ME.
That story is tentatively titled Shotgun Booze (for Front Toward Enemy purposes.)

I was paid an hourly wage of $3.80/hour, because the 90's were a different time, man. Of that three-fucking-dollars-and-eighty-fucking-cents an hour, nearly HALF of my, let's call it "salary" (I will NEVER blame a war for this), went into the coffers of Step 2.
This was my first experience with the, let's call it "glass ceiling."

Still to this day, the WHY? on that question plagues me.
I assume the answer pertains to both child labor and the ability to exploit women at a cheaper price, but a girl can only dream.

I still sing a lot.
It's just different songs now. More of it pertains to why I think the system is ripping me off and a little less of it is Pink Houses and why I Ain't Even Done With The Night. Well, a bunch less of it. No matter how much it may or may not be my favorite fucking color, if your house is pink I will shit on your sidewalk. And I was done with The Night sometime in 2004.
I'm not sure exactly when.
I think I wrote down the date.

I still sing a lot.

I owe my mom.
There are so many lessons in there that I may have missed, hidden between the circus lion tamer and the 19th century skeleton buried in a wedding dress in the backyard.

I'll dig 'em out eventually.