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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Officially Single (?)

I guess I'm officially single now.

I haven't heard from my attorney in a while - odd because she's usually very communicative.  I looked our divorce up on the county court website and it's listed there as closed.  I downloaded the attached document and it was the Final Decree of Divorce, signed by the judge and entered by the Clerk of Courts.  It seems all kinds of anticlimactic.  I expected a call from my attorney telling me it's officially over.  I expected a huge feeling of relief. I expected I'd want to party, to raise a glass to a shouted hallelujah.

I don't feel like that at all.

I'm sad, in a way that's not normal to me. I've suffered other losses.  I've lost pets, I've lost both my parents, I've had other relationships grow stale and get tossed into the no-more-tomorrows bin.  This is different somehow.  They say that going through a divorce is like going through a death in the family, but it's not - at least not for me.  When my dad died, it was totally unexpected, but not too shocking.  He was in his seventies, he had medical problems, he refused to slow down and take care of himself.  When it happened, it was unexpected, but not surprising.  When my mom passed, it wasn't unexpected at all - everyone knew it was going to happen soon, but I had always been closer to my mom than anyone else in the world - her loss hit me like someone had torn a piece of my soul out and lit it on fire.  I was lucky, in that I had quite a few great people to lean on, who stood behind me and helped me get through the episode.

This is entirely different.  I still have all those great people, but this is something that I have to go through alone.  A couple hugs and the warmest wishes for healing won't fix what I'm feeling.  You can't heal the fact that half my life has been for naught.  The only thing I have left to show me that the last twenty-five years weren't totally wasted is my daughter.  I think back and imagine if I had never gotten married in the first place.  I'd still have a house (that I'm making payments on), I'd still have a car (that I'm also making payments on), I'd probably still have pets, and big-boy toys, and my life would be exactly the same as it is now, except it would have meant something.  I would have been living it for me, instead of wasting it, trying to live it for someone else.

I can think of plenty of ways that my marriage could have been "saved."  Things I could have done.  I could have been more subservient, and let her have her way all the time, instead of just most of the time.  Of course, we would have always been on the brink of bankruptcy. We would have always been in arrears on our property taxes. We would have never been able to be above water.

I could have tried to be more of a dick in the beginning, taken control of our relationship and our finances.  If I had been in control, the marriage would have either been successful beyond her wildest dreams, or ended years ago.  Lots of things I coulda woulda shoulda done to make things better.  In the end none of that matters because we don't get any do-overs in life.  We make our decisions, play our hands, and live with the consequences.

So here's me: forging ahead into a brave new world, with most of my life over and only a few good years left.  What would you do if you suddenly woke up from a coma, and found that you only had a few years left in which to live your life, achieve goals, make dreams into realities?  I'm not sure.  Just have to do the best I can, with what I can, for as long as I can.

This is the public unveiling of my new tattoo.  So far, only a couple people have seen it.  the guy who inked it for me didn't really do the design justice. He made some changes on the fly that I'm not really happy with, but by the time I saw them it was already on me, and it was too late.  Fuck him - I won't be recommending him to anyone ever.

Hope you like it.

My original design

Here's the way it came out.

Like I said, I'm not totally happy with it, but hey - it's part of me now, and there's nobody in the world that has one like it.  

I guess the task now, like always, is jut to try and find some way to make life mean something.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Making a difference when you least expect it.

I'm not sure how to do this anymore.

It's been a long, long time, and so much has happened.  For the zero people that will be reading this, I guess it doesn't really matter.  It's pretty much for me, anyway.

Something cool happened yesterday.  Thanksgiving Thursday.  My first Thanksgiving by myself in nearly twenty-five years.  Ever since Elizabeth left, I've been mostly bored, a little frustrated, and a lot lonely.  I had nothing to do, didn't want to go anywhere, didn't feel like the slow suicide of a day wrapped up in blankets as I tried to force the day to pass me by.  Television bored me.  Radio bored me.  I broke a guitar string.  Surfing the internet got old eventually.  I did something that I don't really do a lot of - I visited Omegle.

  "Omegle (oh·meg·ull) is a great way to meet new friends. When you use Omegle, we pick someone else at random and let you talk one-on-one."

That's their tagline - it's like a poor man's Chat Roulette.  You go to their site, click on the chat link, and a page opens with two windows in it - one for your camera and one for their camera.  The site connects you with someone else totally at random.  Most of the people you'll meet are guys looking for women to chat with, and mostly all those guys want from the women is a mutual masturbation session.  Most of these people are young, and they want nothing to do with a motley old fart like me, so they quickly disconnect, and move on to the next chat.  I don't know why, but I find it really interesting, seeing the multitude of other people fly by on my screen.  I think maybe it reminds me that I'm not the only lonely person on the planet.

Yesterday, at some completely random point in time, the window opened up to reveal a youngish black man.  At a guess, I put him at eighteen or nineteen years old.  He typed, "Hi.  WYD?  (shorthand for 'what are you doing?')"   His next remark was odd.

"Wanna see me kill myself?"

I replied, "Not really."

"Why not?" he asked.  It won't hurt ya."

I thought he was just fooling around.  Weird sense of humor - it takes all kinds.  I bantered back lightly, but after a couple more sentences, I added, "That's a weird introduction line you got."

As we chatted, I realized that he was partly serious.  He was indeed depressed, and that he might actually be on the edge of hurting himself.  He had recently lost some family members.  He had lost his home, and in the interim, was forced to give up most of his possessions and go couch to couch, staying at various friends houses.  He had been parted from that which he cared about most in the world - the only thing he had left - his sister.  He had a cell phone, some clothes, some basic toiletries, and that was everything he owned.  I didn't know what to say.  I was at a loss.  From nowhere, words came to me.

"Do you have a church to go to?" I asked.

"No," he answered, "There's no church nearby, but there is one a couple miles from me.  I guess I could walk."

I didn't know how to say what I wanted to say, but words came flowing out nonetheless.  "No joke," I stated.  "God saved my life."

"How so?"

 "I used to get these thoughts - almost like a voice talking to me, but coming from inside me.  I'd be driving home from work, and think, 'Why bother?  Just pull over - there's a nice place.  Get your gun out, do it on that picnic table.  You'll be free finally.'  Then a louder voice would come in saying, 'No. It's not time yet.'

"Every night - one voice telling me to do it, and a louder voice saying, 'No. It's not time yet.'"

He sat still for a moment.  "Was that voice God?"

"Had to be," I replied.

We chatted for a while more.  I explained that I actually have no church of my own to go to.  I don't believe that the only place you can find God is in a church.  Here's what I told him.  "Not every church is for every person.  I don't actually have a church myself.  I've been to plenty trying to find God.  But I know that God saved my life, even without a church."

I told him to use his phone to call his local churches.  I said that many churches would find him a ride to go there, and that many of them have youth groups where he can meet other people his own age.  I told him that they can counsel him, and help him get through these hard times.  I asked him to pray, and to try to have faith.  He told me he would.  Then he said something that gave me hope.  He said, "You, my friend, may have saved someone tonight!"

We chatted for ten or fifteen minutes more, about a wide variety of things.  In the end, he told me that he was going to call the church and that he felt much better.  He said that he felt that he would be just fine.

And that was just fine with me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


I never knew "Butterface" was even a word until I heard it on the Howard Stern show.   As in, "She's a Butterface. Every part of her looks good... but her face."  That's me.

I look pretty good. In fact I look great.  From the neck down. I hate looking old. I don't feel old.  (Well, lately I do, because my back is all fucked up. But that's a different subject.)  I need to rob a bank or win the lottery or something, so I can fix my face, buy better teeth, make it so I look younger than I do now.  Because in my mind, I'm not 50.  In my mind, I'm 30, tops.

Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like?  I do find myself wanting a Porsche.  I do want to drink, smoke, and listen to music way too loud.  But I also want to sit quietly, sip wine, and go to the theater.  So I don't know.  

I'm feeling really mortal lately. Like I don't have very long left. If I'm going to make my mark, if I'm going to leave a legacy, I need to get it done.  There's not much time left, I think.  I think I need to get busy. 

I remember that my old idea of making a padded backpack for my camera gear didn't work out so well, so I went ahead and ordered a pre-made backpack off   I hope to start caring my gear with me wherever I go. I see tons of things that I want to shoot lately but not having my gear with me makes it a little hard.  Yeah, doncha think?  

Wish me luck. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

My second favorite selfie evar!

I'm not sure I know why I'm writing this post.  If you're reading this, thank you for reading it.  If you actually KNOW me and you're still reading it, then my thanks are doubled!

I've had a busy weekend, but a blah one.  I worked out in the yard all day, burned up some calories.  I'm happy about the way my waistline has been shrinking.  I'm starting to feel good about that.  There are so many things I have still to do.  A friend recently reminded me about the photo essay that I wanted to do and haven't even started yet.  Dang, I really have to make that happen.  I need to get a reliable car that I can bang around the countryside in.  

I want more experience doing portraits, also.  Maybe even...ahem... "intimate" photo shoots.  The only model that I'm "intimate" with is myself, and I bore the shit our of myself... So if you want some photos taken, I'll do it for free.  FREEEEEEE!!!!!

I'm making pork chops tonight, in a spicy tangy pineapple sauce that I learned how to make from the Publix Simple Meals lady a while back.  Geez it's good.   I'll write it down some day.  Until then, just be jealous of me.  I think I'm gonna go have a drink.  

Photo for today... I was just fucking around in the bathroom with the mirrors, and my phone.  I kinda like the way it came out.  If you like it, drop me a note to say so.  If not, then drop me a note to say that, as well.  I never get any comments.  No, I don't think I have any secret stalkers, like one person suggested... I think I'm just not interesting enough for people to comment on.  That's okay, though.  When I'm not boring myself to tears, or manhandling my manhood to completion, I make do. 

I'm editing this post just to say, the more I look at it, the more I think this pic has become my second favorite selfie ever.  My all-time favorite is the pic of me on the nude beach that I posted  here, earlier.  But this one is my second favorite.   I posted it on arfcom, in the "Hunk of the Day" forum (edited to blur out the naughty bits even more than they're already blurry) and they deleted it and gave me a warning.  Hey,  fuck 'em if they don't like me being me.  😆

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The story of my new tattoo.

Also known as:  "How I became a dirty inky."

I'm not actually sure how to tell this story.  I already told about how I originally broke my arm, started taking pills, and basically gave myself a really rough time in this post.

I went into a little more detail in this post...

I don't know if I properly explained how it made me feel.  How I was stuck at home because there were times when I couldn't drive myself around, how I walked a mile and a half one morning to get a haircut.  How I had trouble feeding myself sometimes, and how I couldn't even pick up my four year old daughter because I was too afraid I'd drop her on her noggin.  How I couldn't go back to work for months.  It was a very depressing time for me.  Even back then, I'd decided that when the time was right, I'd do something to cover up this scar.

Well, last Friday was the day.  This past spring, after talking about it for years, I finally decided to do something about it.  I had six hundred bucks burning a hole in my pocket, and I finally decided it was the right time.  I went about it the same way I go about everything - slowly and with much deliberation.  Knowing how permanent a tattoo is, and knowing how much I'd regret having a shitty tattoo, I asked every inky I know for recommendations.  I asked how they chose their art, how they chose their artist, how much it should cost.  I asked on various online forums, and got about the same advice as you would expect from a faceless voice.  I looked at many of the local tattoo shops websites, judging the photos on how I'd like this piece or that piece on my body.  I went around to some of the shops and spoke with some of the artists there.

After talking with the people there, and getting several personal recommendations, I chose Matt Dunlap, from All Or Nothing Tattoos in Smyrna, GA to do the work.  We spoke for a good half hour, as I explained my idea to him.  He listened carefully, and added in some of his own thoughts.  Eventually, he had to get back to work, but he told me that he thought he had enough ideas to go on and we set an appointment.  I'd come back and look over his sketch, and at that time I could either accept it, ask for changes, or walk away.  They did ask for a deposit, which would be forfeit if I chose to walk away, but I figure it's only fair that if you spend your time designing and sketching, you should still be compensated for your time somewhat or you would waste all your valuable earning capacity on tire kickers.

When the day finally arrived, I went back to the shop.  Matt brought out his sketch.  I looked at it, we held it up to my arm, we talked about color, shading, shit that I know very little about.  I said, "Let's do it.

We went back to Matt's work area where he prepped me carefully.  He cleaned off my shoulder, shaved it, made it sterile, and applied the stencil.  Or whatever the fuck you call it.  The "sketch" is actually a transfer, so the image is applied directly to the skin.  He had to adapt it somewhat as he applied it so that it would conform to the curve of my shoulder properly, but all-in-all it was pretty cool. Once the design had set, he started out by doing all the outlines in black.

Matt's doing the lining.
It took the better part of an hour, but I wasn't about to rush him.  Steady fucking hands, I wouldn't be able to get the lines that straight, even with a fucking ruler and a compass.  As Matt is the manager of the store, he had to go tend to a couple things while he was working on me, but I really didn't mind.  Ever since the last surgery, this shoulder tends to get stiff if I hold it in one place for too long anyway, and this gave me plenty of opportunity to stand up and stretch it out.

The lining is almost finished.  You can see the shapes better now.

Eventually, he finished the outlines.

Little bit of blood, not bad.  I expected worse.  I should go into how it felt right about now.  To be honest, it wasn't that bad at all.  It hurt a little, not nearly as much as I had been led to believe it would.  I felt no "endorphin rush", which kinda bummed me out a little bit because I had been looking forward to finally knowing what that feels like.  Matt said that to him, it feels more like a major annoyance than actual pain, and that's about right.  It's like if you take the rounded tip of a bread knife and press it into your skin.  Press it hard enough so that you can feel the teeth bite, and you can feel a small amount of pain, but not enough to actually hurt.  That's what it felt like to me.  I know a girl that loves getting tattoos, because the pain is much more intense for her, and it triggers the endorphins, and she gets (I gather) almost an orgasmic high from them.  I couldn't get so lucky.  Maybe if I had a cute, female tattoo artist I would have gotten a boner...

Anyway, I didn't take any more in-progress photos, because once Matt got to the shading and coloring stage, he was all business.  He had to color all the dark areas in varying shades of black and gray, and all the red areas in varying shades of red and pink.  The only part of the actual process was coloring in the red.  Because he had already lined it, and shaded it in gray, going over it again in red did hurt a bit.  Those areas, coincidentally, are also the ones that are taking the longest to heal.

This photo was taken the Friday night, a few hours after the work was completed.

The theme of the tattoo is growth and healing.  At the base of it, there's an incision.  If you look near it, carefully, you can see the scars I have from having screws penetrating my body holding pieces of me together.  That represents my original injury. Out of the incision, there is new growth.  It's a little thorny, it's got twists and turns, and it doubles back upon itself sometimes.  But isn't that just like real life?  In life there are thorns, there are twists, we may end up going in directions we never anticipated.  Along the way, there are flowers coming out of the vines.  Again, just like real life.  Sometimes you round a corner in life and you see something so beautiful it takes your breath away.  There are people you meet, people you get to know and love.  No matter how crappy things get, there's always beauty where you might least expect to see it.

At the top of the tattoo, there are three birds.  One just taking off, one fighting for lift, and one happily soaring away. You see, this tattoo is a minor saga, a brief telling of one part of my life story.  Not just my tale, I think, but everyone's.  You get hurt, but you grow.  The hurt fades as life goes on.  If you're lucky enough, and strong enough, you find a way to let it pass into your own personal history.  You surpass the hurt, eventually taking wing and flying above it and away.  I'll always feel the physical pain left behind, but this is the start of my journey to let the emotional pain go.  It's taken me a baker's dozen of years to make this start.  I can expect to backslide, from time to time, but overall, I think it's way past time for me to move on.

I'm carrying out the aftercare instructions Matt gave me, which are pretty much the same as can be found on just about any tattoo shop website across the internet.  No issues, no complications.  I like it.  I'm happy.  I'm still getting used to seeing it there, but so far everybody that sees it likes it.  My wife just wanted to know why her name isn't in it anywhere.  In fact, the only negative comment (so far, that I know of) came from my idiot son-in-law, who has several prison-style tats, and I think he's just jealous.

Can't you tell how happy I am?  :)
For what it's worth, if you're in the Atlanta area and you're looking for ink, don't hesitate to call Matt Dunlap, at All or Nothing Tattoo.  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Working out again

I was kind of undecided if I should post this or not.  I guess I will - not like anybody's actually reading it.  (P.S.  If you actually ARE reading this, do me a favor and let me know.  Leave a comment.  Something.  I feel so alone... sniff)

I had quit working out after Liz had the operation on her spine.  Being home to take care of things was too important.  Far more important than exercising.  Sometime last month, I hit a milestone.  I went to the doctor's office and when they took my weight, HOLY FUCK!  I was back up to about 195 again.  I decided that I really, really had to do something.  The doctor treated me for my sinus complaints, and a week later, on my follow-up appointment, I asked if there was anything he could do to help me lose weight.  He said, "Sure, we do that."

He wrote me a prescription for phentermine.  

This wonderful shit is the "phen"s in the old drug combination "fen-phen".  That's the weight loss drug treatment that was killing people.  Yep, phentermine, combined with fenfluramine was basiccally giving people cardiac conditions.  It's okay by itself, I gather.  It's only when you put it together with the other shit that it turns deadly.  What to know about mixing weight loss drugs...

Phentermine by itself is a stimulant, and appetite suppressant.  And it really works.  I've been taking it for just over three weeks, and I can tell that my appetite is much less, I don't have the urge to snack, I don't have the urge to eat great huge meals anymore, either.  I could eat them if I wanted to - it doesn't magically shrink your stomach or anything.  It just makes it so there are no hunger pangs.  And it gives you energy to go all day without eating if you wanted to.  I'm not that crazy - I still eat. I have a low calorie frozen meal for lunch, and I have probably half of what I used to eat for dinner.  No breakfast.  (Yeah, I know it's still the most important meal of the day, so sue me.)  I figure I eat maybe a thousand calories a day, and I've really been losing weight.  I'm down to just a hair over 180 pounds, and I like it.  I hope I can keep going so I can finally reach my goal of 165-ish. I go see him again next Monday, and we'll talk.  He might make me skip a month, or he might not.  Dunno.  I guess I'll find out then.

Anyway, since I haven't done this in a while, here's how I look today...

Welcome back to my world.