Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Image We Project

I really need to stop looking beyond the projected image, because it gets me in trouble every time. Most often it just gets me hurt. I suppose I do it because I have this insane idea ingrained into my head that if I treat others how I would want to be treated it would just magically happen in return. It’d have to be magic, right? Because, seriously, who else walks around thinking about how they treat people? Who spends the time to peel back the layers in an attempt to really get to know someone? Who looks beyond the skin, the image, the resume, the labels, the skills, the talents? I tell myself all the time… “You do, surely there are others.” Well, the magic hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know why I keep getting surprised and hurt, but I do.

I look at the world around me, and I see example after example of a culture and society that can’t even get beyond skin color, much less any deeper layer. We’ve got riots going on all over the country because of racial bigotry and hate (and that’s not aimed at only the ‘white-privilege’ community, but the ‘black-oppressed’ community too). Hate can’t see past the outer shell and it sure as hell don’t solve anything. I don’t want to hear one word on either side of this debate – because at this point all I see is hate, and violence, and stupidity. Whatever efforts were made to open up a much needed dialogue, to peel back another layer, has been destroyed when the fanatics took over and started robbing, looting, burning and acting like dumb-fucking idiots. This whole situation has become lost and out of control and the ones fueling it, stirring it up, are the biggest hatemongers of them all. (No, I don’t want to debate, talk, or discuss it in anyway. Don’t respond to this post with anything to do with this whole issue. I’m done with it. Seriously, I’m done. I won’t engage and you’re wasting your time.)

Want to know how someone feels about something or someone, get them angry. It is how a person responds to adversity that you see them for who they really are, what they really feel, what they really think – things they’ve suppressed, hidden, and pushed down. It doesn’t mean they can’t change their minds – and once felt, always felt is a myth. Feelings change. Thoughts change. Responses change. That’s why forgiveness is so important. Don’t hate them for how they feel at that moment – try to figure out why and then work on changing it. But it does reveal a part of the truth, most often things they don’t want to admit even to themselves. I know it helps me see what I sometimes can’t recognize within myself. When I get angry, I begin to look around to see if I can recognize what hurt me, because 99% of the time my anger is a result of being hurt, most often me hurting myself.

Do I always succeed and rightly recognize my triggers? Hell no. I’m often just as wrong in those assessments as I am in trying to understand the motive behind someone else’s aggression. I’m a hot mess and I know it. I can’t help but wonder, surely there’s others like me. Does everyone have all their shit together, but me? Does everyone else always know the right thing to do, the right way to feel, the right way to respond, the right way to diffuse and understand the situation, except me? Does anyone even give a damn to find out what’s beneath this outer layer? Can they see the eyes behind the mask, or just the shiny glitter on the outside? Can they see the pain behind the smile?

I just want to close my eyes. I want to be like a turtle and hide within my shell. Most of all, I want to stop feeling, stop caring, stop hoping, stop loving. My cruel blind father introduced me to many of the evils in this world, but he also taught me how to see it differently – not with my eyes but with my mind and my heart. My invalid mother with MS taught me the cruelty of guilt, but also by taking care of her the beauty in sacrifice. My weak brothers taught me the stark reality of betrayal, but also what it meant to protect. My indifferent husband taught me the pain of being unloved, but also the pride of being faithful and dutiful and the strength to love myself.

It’s hopeless. I want to submit, but submission requires trust, and trust is something I don’t think I can ever give. I’ve tried. Damn, I’ve tried so many times. I’ve failed. I don’t even trust myself. My fear, my stubbornness, and my lack of trust – keeps me doing the stupid shit that causes people to get angry and push me away and makes me run. Oh, I run. It’s what I do best. I try so hard not to run, because I know running doesn’t solve the problems, just packs them down deeper so they can surface and cause an explosion that ruins any progress I might have made. Yet staying – staying incites hope, and hope leads to pain. It’s painful to hope for something and then watch that hope die. Faith has you believing you’re something more than what you’re not, and it’s awfully painful when you’re made of aware of how you’re really perceived, what your true standing is in someone else’s sight.

I love myself. I think I’m a beautiful, passionate, loving, faithful and honest person. I love to laugh, and I really love to make others laugh. I’m a natural cheerleader. I truly care about the people I’ve chosen to let into my inner circle, which is small, tight, and something I protect with vivacity. I’d do anything to protect them. Everything I am, everything I have, every gift, talent, and knowledge I possess, I share with them – without hesitation – as long as I’m wanted. I’ve lived too many years giving to those who didn’t want me… I can’t do it anymore. I just can’t. Finding out that I’m no one to those I deeply cared for, that I’m nowhere near as precious to them as they were to me… takes my breath away. I literally can’t breathe. But I will. I will inhale …and exhale …and wipe the tears away …and go on with my day.

Till next time,


Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I’ve written maybe a dozen blog posts in the last week but haven’t posted them and never will because they’re just too painful. This time of year is really hard for me, especially lately as I’ve had a brush with mortality. I can’t lie, there are days I miss some of the things I enjoyed in my old life, the holidays are one of them. The holidays are about family.


What does that mean? Come on, what does it really mean? I learned a long time ago that being related to someone doesn’t make them family. I’m related to a lot of people, mostly people that have hurt me, lied to me, stole from me, abused me and used me – all in the name of family, as if that word gave them carte blanche to do what they wanted. I look around me today and laugh, because it hurts too much to even cry about. I’m done. I’m truly done.

I have no mother or father. I have no brothers or sisters. I have no husband, no in-laws, no aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces, and no nephews. I have no church family. All these people told me (or never told me, but were supposed to) they loved me. They lied. Empty words mean nothing. Words lie, but actions speak the truth.

Yes, I’m the one that ran. I’m the one who opened the door and walked away. I’m the one who closed the door behind me and invited no one to come along. I’m the one who finally decided to love herself and realize I didn’t have to take their shit and listen to their lies anymore.

Not one tried to stop me. NOT ONE.

But I am not without family. I actually have a beautiful family of my own choosing and its getting bigger every day.

I have my children, Meagan, Johnathan and Kelly. I love them more than life. I have no doubt they love me. I don’t get to see them much because they’re adults now and living their lives and making their way in this world and I’m not about to try and control them. I’m here for them if they ever need me. But I won’t let them use me, nor will I ever use them. I’ve enough bitter taste in my mouth from my own family to ever subject my children to such selfishness. I would give them the world, but I know they’d only appreciate it if they gained it by their own strength. It’s hard sometimes to back away, let them fall, let them make their mistakes, let them run headfirst into disaster. A mother wants to make their children’s lives easier, to spare them hardships, to protect them from the vultures. But, it’s the only way they’ll truly learn to stand on their own. The best thing I can do for them is to let them know that I love them, mistakes and all. They could never do anything to make me stop loving them. I know the pain of being unloved. I also know the strength in being loved. I may not support everything they do, but I will always support the persons they are… and show them I love them no matter what by being honest with them. I miss them. I mostly miss the sound of their laughter, seeing their faces light up on Christmas. The parts that really tear me up – I miss playing card and board games with them, showing them how to play in the rain, how to slip and slide on the kitchen floor, the clean-up game, the poker matches, the morning cuddles before school, the book debates (Snape is still the hero Johnathan), riding around looking at ‘kismas-ights’, laughing till you can’t breathe at all the Ozzies going ‘moo’, the swimming pool, and all the long talks about everything.

They are my family and I regret nothing I’ve sacrificed for them.

I have other family that have been with me these last couple of years. One is a crazy-ass writer in Washington who frustrates the hell out of me, but who I admire so much. No matter what I do, how much I try to run, how much we argue (and we argue all the time), Jeff also makes me laugh like no one in the world, makes me feel safe, and is always there to encourage me in my lowest moments. He tears me down too and has hurt me more times than I can count, because he’s not perfect and overly opinionated, but he’s real. I don’t doubt his love for me, nor my love for him. He is my best friend. I never see him and may never lay eyes on him (except when we Skype), but he is my family and always will be. He showed me what a true friend is like.

Another is a crazy-ass woman in Florida who lives with her crazy-ass cute dog. Jenna understands me more than anyone in this world. She knows when to push and when to back away and loves me in the middle of my craziness. I love her and all her craziness. She’s my conscious. I share everything with her because I can trust her with the most delicate part of me – my heart. I don’t share my heart with anyone, because I don’t trust them, but I can trust her. She knows all my sins, all my faults, all my fears, all my failures… and yet she seems to love me anyway. I’ve never seen her (except on Skype), but she’s my sister in every way a sister should. She’s family.

There’s a valiant soldier who has the thickest walls around his heart I’ve ever seen, (maybe even thicker than mine) but for some reason he let me into his circle. We’re not close, yet very close at the same time. Emilio touches my soul and I’ve seen a peek at his, and it’s beautiful. He’s a muse for me. He’s a hero to me. I respect him, love him, and want to see him happy. He’s young with an old soul. He’s wise well beyond his years. He’s smart – oh, man, is he smart. Most see no further than his beautiful smile, but I’ve seen his beautiful mind. He makes me think and see life differently. He’s family, and so is his little brother, Michael. I love them both, deeply.

I’ve added a few new members to my family lately. Though they’re recent adds, they’ve already stolen a huge part of my heart – they’re my clan ‘We Are Immortal Gods’. They pick on me, haze me, and tease me more than a pack of angry dogs, but they also surround me, include me, and make me feel wanted and a part of the team. This is MY family, one of my own choosing, not one chosen for me. Though I’ve felt abandoned by God lately, I believe He sent them to me, because our coming together makes no sense, yet it feels right. This is a tight group and they don’t let just anyone in, yet they invited me without hesitation. I’m sure I’ve left them often scratching their heads, making them wonder what they’ve done. They make me think of a pack of wolves – there’s an alpha who leads them, but they move as one, hunt (play) as one, fight with each other on a daily basis, yet defend one another in the blink of an eye. They look out for one another. I already think of them as family and they’re mine… my Flop, my Crimm, my Haze, my Phoenix, and my Furrrball. I’ll fight with them, but I’d also defend them, and will always be there for them however I can. My door will always be open to them.

I have lots of other friends that I consider extended family, cousins perhaps, and I love them too.

I may be alone during the holidays, but I’m not without family. I will toast to them on Thanksgiving because I’m thankful they’re in my life, whether through writing, skype, or video game. My Christmas wish is for their dreams to come true. My New Year’s Resolution is that they find happiness. My Prayer is that they each know they’re much loved.

Happy Holidays,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, November 24, 2014

Someday, Someone

Friday, November 21, 2014


Life is liquid. It moves. It’s constantly changing. It has a starting point, a birth, yet constantly flows toward an end, a death. Along the way there are lots of turns, twists and metamorphoses - sometimes lazily moving at a trickle, and other times it becomes a raging river.

Sometimes I welcome change. Other times I hate it. Most often I’m scared of it. It has a way of bringing beautiful things and people into my life, but at the same time it also has the power to remove them. No matter what I tell myself, I have no control to stop the movements of in and out. The tighter I try to hold on, the more it hurts when it’s ripped from my hands.

I’ve done so many great things in my life. I’ve accomplished so many great things. I’ve also failed and lost just as many. I’m just as scared as the next person. Giving up is not an option. What mask do I wear today? I’m learning, it’s whichever one I need most.

I’m learning so much from being immersed in my world of Destiny and among my clan, We Are Immortal Gods. Maybe perhaps not learning, but being reminded. For instance – I’m remembering essential things through the simple act of trying to upgrade my armor and weapons. Having the right equipment, the right weapons, the right tools, makes a huge difference in my failure or success in a strike, a patrol, or a raid. The more durable, the more powerful, and the more accurate my shot – the better my chance, the lesser my effort, the higher opportunity for success. But, ill equipped, unknowledgeable, and inexperienced works against me and makes things so much harder. However, I’m one of the most stubborn people I know. I don’t give up – well, I don’t give up easily.

I’m running around with a bunch of pros. It’s humbling, yet it’s frustrating at times. It’s also what I need. While I often feel really bad for being a nuisance and a handicap to my clan as they make their way through their challenges, my admiration grows for them greatly with every invite they send. My natural response when I feel a burden is to run. That inner demon that tortures me – using the voices of the past to whisper in my ear of how I’m not wanted, I’m not needed, and I’m not welcomed is working overtime. I have to fight against those voices and trust in the bond of my clan that they do want me.

I want my clan to be proud of me. I want to become as skilled as them and a force to be feared and reckoned, not the butt of a cheesy joke. I want to be able to stand beside them in battle with pride, not be hid in some corner to be protected. The unfortunate truth, one that I’m forced to admit to myself, is that right now I need to be protected, both in the game and in real life. The game is teaching me that though I may not currently be properly equipped or have the strength to stand on my own, or the skill to make a difference (though I will not give up and will continue to increase those skills) – if I open my heart and look around me, maybe I don’t have to go at it alone. I can’t make it alone. Life, just like this game, was meant to be lived, to be played, cooperatively.

In my stubbornness, in my pain, in my fear, I have pushed everyone away in my life. I have run. I have hid. I have built my walls. I have worn my masks. But it’s time to stop running, to get up, put on my armor, and fight back. It’s time to adapt. Change is happening. It always is. I just hope I don’t have to face it alone.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Where, Oh Where?

I had a dream last night that I was on Earth in the Destiny game, only I wasn’t my avatar, EviL Kovthe, I was me – I had no weapons, no armor, no clan (We Are Immortal Gods) beside me to protect me. I was in the treasure room just outside of Devil’s Lair.

Walking around, not worried that Dregs, Shanks, Knights, or evil Servitors were going to kill me, I took my time to admire the treasure. I picked up handfuls of gold, precious stones, and then lastly - a crown. It was the tiara that got me and turned my dream from something adventurous to something dark.

The jewel-studded headpiece reminded me of the lessons I taught a few years ago on Hagar, Leah, and Abigale… and the huge change in my life when I realized I was the same as these great unloved women. This deeply researched lesson changed my whole life. It was the foundation for the decisions I made to seek out something better for myself. I reached out to change my stars, but I haven’t really changed them at all.

I positioned myself to be free, and I essentially am. I can go anywhere, live anywhere, and do anything. I’m not saying making any of those decisions wouldn’t take hard work, a lot of sacrifice, and come with a great deal of difficulty… on the contrary, I expect any decision I make will be fraught with them. All of life is hard. I’ve already overcome so many obstacles, why would I ever believe that I’m done? (LOL – “I’m done”… that’s become one of my favorite phrases now. It’s something every member of my clan says regularly.)

So, why haven’t I moved, why haven’t I left? Why am I dreaming of standing in the Devil’s Lair holding a tiara? That question has been plaguing me all morning. As I was brushing my hair, getting ready for work, that’s what I asked the reflection smiling back at me in the mirror, “Why haven’t you made a move?”

It’s simple: I don’t know where to go.

I’ve learned a lot of important lessons in this life. I’ve learned that stuff doesn’t matter, everything can be replaced, and what can’t be replaced, can be altered or modified. Things are nice. I.e. – I love my XBoxOne. I love Destiny. But it isn’t the game system or even the game I love (though the game is awesome), but what they enable that I love most – interaction with my son, my friends, and my clan.

Spending time playing games together with my son Johnathan – that’s our special time, that’s how we bond with one another, it’s how we share our lives. Working and watching football games with his dad is their thing – and playing video games, sharing music, and playing poker together… that’s ours. It’s the sharing of our lives that’s important, not the stuff or even the activities. With my daughter Kelly, it’s playing cards and visiting Atlanta. With my daughter Meagan, it’s sharing books.

I’ve learned that success, position, fame, and money can be gained and lost, and none of it really brings you happiness. The happiness is in the pursuit or the sharing of those milestones. Yes, my college degree opens Doors of Opportunity, but it’s the journey that means something. When I got my degree – I was alone. I had no one to share the celebration with, well, not till later that night when my soldier showed up unexpectedly. But then he went off and died and left me alone again. When my book hit the best sellers list, even if it was short-lived, I was once again alone. All my friends that meant the world to me literally lived in different places all around the country– but were not there with me to share that moment. When I left my husband, I’ve really learned what it means to be truly alone.

Here I am about to face one of the most difficult journeys of my life – and I’m once again alone. I have dear friends who support me, who love me, who worry about me, and who are there for me emotionally as I face these battles… but they’re not beside me. I’m in that damned treasure room all by myself.

My gaming clan is reminding me of so many things. Most of all, they’re reminding me what’s important in life. They’re reminding me to laugh, to have fun, to be open to make new friends… but they’re also teaching me the importance of bonds, of trust, of camaraderie, of having someone’s back, helping each other out, being there – not just in thought – but being right beside each other as we fight our battles. For much of the game I’ve tried to go it all alone (it’s my thing – it’s what I do… in life and in fun). But, this game wasn’t created to play alone. (What’s funny… that was told to me by someone who spends more time alone than anyone I’ve ever met.)

What my clan does together is amazing. I’m so glad I’m in their clan, because I’d never want to go up against them. I wouldn’t stand a chance. But the greatest thing they’re teaching me right now – is that relationships are important, connecting with people, having someone there with you – to share in your journey, your experiences, your laughter, your failures, your play, and your victories. That’s what living is all about.

So, why haven’t I moved? Because I don’t know where to go to really live, to be happy, to be loved. Wherever I can find happiness, joy, and love … that’s where I will go.

I’ve sat across a dinner table at least two dozen times in the last few months on different dates, looking into various sets of beautiful eyes, trying to see hope behind warm smiles, looking for the slightest trace of the place I seek - hoping for a connection, waiting for lightning to strike. I could have a relationship with any one of them, but the types of relationships they were offering didn’t appeal to me. Most of them had me going through a mental checklist where I was constantly saying, “been there… done that.”

The universe has other plans for me, I suppose. It seems, the place for me right now that makes me laugh, makes me happy, makes me feel loved and accepted, and helps distract me from the trials ahead– is in the middle of a bunch of crazy guys I’ve never laid eyes on. They remind me of who and what I am… a woman, a friend, a warrior, a nurturer, a buddy, …a human. What I have, what I don’t have, what I’ve achieved, what I’ve failed, or what I’ve done or haven’t done – doesn’t mean a damned thing to these guys. They don’t want or expect anything from me, yet they welcomed me with opened arms. I love them for that… it’s probably one of the few times in my life I feel loved and accepted just for simply being the smart-mouthed, funny, crazy me.

Where, oh where, do I go right now? Well, as often as I can, I go back to the land of Destiny and among the great men of my clan “We are Immortal Gods” until I’m ready to find a connection face to face with someone.

Till next time,

~EviL Kvothe

Monday, November 17, 2014

We Are Immortal Gods

It’s a rainy, dreary Monday morning, but there’s a part of me – a part deep down inside that still dares to hope for sunshine and rainbows; a part that forces my eyes open when I find myself knocked out again; a part that is stubborn and refuses to just give up. Perhaps it’s my inner goddess.

Most of you know I’ve been playing the game Destiny on my XboxOne lately. Even in a video game I’m being reminded of a lot of things that I needed to remember. Some of those things are:

– what it feels like to be at the bottom when everyone around me seems to have everything mastered. Just because I’m not as skilled doesn’t mean I’m bad.

– what it’s like to feel excited again, playful, sexy, and funny right in the middle of a fierce battle and a group of confident veterans. It’s hard to just be yourself in every situation. Here lately I’ve felt like I’ve had to hide who I am, once again become what was expected of me, instead of just being who I am.

– what’s it like to face impossible odds, knowing I don’t stand a chance, but give it my best , and keep fighting until I reach the end. Being a sore loser isn’t an option. I may not be as skilled NOW, but I’m not a quitter. I’m not a loser because I refuse to quit. I may or may never be the best – but I’m already a winner.

- what it’s like to be reminded there are kind people still in the world.

I met a group of guys from the We are Immortal Gods - clan. Our meeting was by happenstance when Evil Flopic invited me on a raid (which I’m sure everybody else on the team shakes their head at him now for doing - but they should forgive him because he knew not what he was doing). I have a feeling our meeting was not by mistake.

Watching these guys play, listening to how they interact with one another, how they help one another, how they bust each other’s asses, yet how they band together - is so inspiring. There’s a brotherhood with this group of strangers that is so beautiful I often become jealous of their closeness. They’ve been together for years and through many different games. That closeness isn’t a recent event, but one that took years of making.

My heart is overwhelmed at how quickly they accepted me into their clan. And they just didn’t accept me to accept me (they are only a clan of 6 – and have been for a very long time – so it’s not like they’re accepting everybody, because I’ve seen them play with a dozen or more new ‘friends’ but not extend a Clan membership invitation - which makes them accepting me that much more precious).

This clan has spent countless hours with me, bringing me into raids, strikes, and activities that are inconvenient and often a detriment to them. They do it for me – to help me level up, to teach me how to fight. They have patience with me, and grace – because of my inexperience I bring their whole team down and they have to pick up my slack – and in the gaming world points, status, records, awards … are all important.

These are not mild gamers but players at the top of the leader boards. I go on Crucible Control raids with them, and seriously EVERY TIME the members of my clan (I love the sound of that) are at the top of the leaderboard and have the highest kills and k/d ratios. I’m of course (not always, but most of the time) at the bottom of the list. I’m sure I’m the single reason for a few (there have only been a few) of their match losses. But they’re patient with me and never hesitate to invite me along. They smack talk and give me a hard time (I love it) – but they’re also equally encouraging. The running commentary would have your stomach aching from laughing so hard (don’t get Furball started on the 1-death/1-kill record in a Crucible match). If they didn’t pick on me, I wouldn’t think they liked me. Even if they never said a kind or encouraging word, their acts of inviting me along says more to me than they’ll ever know or could ever say.

These guys may never know (because I’m not telling them) how much I needed them at this time in my life. I didn’t know I needed them until I was right in the middle of them. They’ve become my family even if they never know it.

· The leadership and confidence of Wicked Furball is so inspiring and sexy as hell. When I hear him barking orders and watching the rest of the clan jump into action, he reminds me of a soldier leading his platoon. He’s decisive and direct, not to stroke his ego to be in control, but to lead his team to the best possible victory. He doesn’t need any of us and could outplay us all, but he chooses the friendship, the clan, the best interest of his friends over the records. I admire him. I’ve watched others come into our fireteams and try to take control for control’s sake, but Furball is a natural leader, not in an alpha pissing contest way.

· The organization of Evil Floptic is the glue that binds and keeps everyone together (and occasionally he’ll mess up and invite some crazy-ass woman to join them on an impossible raid and expose them all to something they were not expecting. Isn’t that how the Black Plague wiped out 1/3 of the population?)

· Phoenix is my Battle Buddy. He’s always right there with me, covering my ass, checking up on me, hanging back to make sure I don’t get lost, and when I do, he’s the first to come back for me and lead me where I need to go. He ALWAYS asks me what I need first, before letting me know what he needs to work on. I can depend on him and not feel apprehensive to ask him for help, or feel like I’m bothering him if I connect to him, and that is one of the most valuable aspects I admire most.

· ZeroFX AirB SGT – though not a member of the clan, his silent patrol missions are something else.

The guys brought me for the first time into the Vault of Glass raid yesterday. Oh, it was so intense, and I know I caused distraction and more work for them (by not being able to defeat my share of enemies and having to be rescued and revived more often than the rest), but I nearly started crying (which I would never, never, never let these tough guys ever hear me) when I heard every last one of them (6 in the team) tell each other to revive or rescue me at different points during the raid– “Don’t forget about the girl. Go get the girl. Check up on the girl. Where’s the girl? Hey, the girl’s still alive.” With all the chaos going on – this WHOLE group watched out for me and watched over me. I know I’m being such a girl right now – but that says more about THEM than me.

There are other friends I fight with in Destiny that mean a lot to me that are not part of the clan, but I consider them maybe cousins… LOL… xxTrsXShoTxX, PhillyzPhin3st, KILLER RIP 001, JewsDestroy99, Agent Lead, xLastxHero, Carnassis, and others.

Destiny guardians are just another social community of people with similar loves and interests coming together. Much like the wonderful writers I’ve met on Scribophile and Facebook, I’ve now met another branch of the family.

I will end this post in the words of my (I get to say that because I’m part of the clan) fearless clan leader (and I’ve heard the rest of the clan use it as well… ) “I’m done. I’m done, I tell ya. Done!”

Till next time,


Thursday, November 13, 2014

What Does Your Rockwell Look Like?

I love Norman Rockwell paintings. I think they’re probably some of the best artwork out there, in my opinion. I’m by no means an art expert, but his work NEVER ceases to make me stop, pause, ponder, and feel. Isn’t that the purpose of an artist? I’m an artist too – I paint with words. Sometimes I produce masterpieces, sometimes garbage, most of the time it’s something in between.


How we see the world, how we see truth, how we see each other, how we see nature, science, faith, justice… all these various views stem from who we are, where we are, and what we have, are, or will experience in this life. How I see things today is not how I saw them at 5, or any age in between. The pictures have been colored in more, the lines have become more defined, delicate and broad brush strokes have been added, techniques have been developed and experience has happened. Also, time has moved – aging the older paint, making the fresh paint even more prominent.

I think about death and life. I step back and look at the picture I’ve painted. There are a lot of black and white, sharp images, dark images, but there’s also vibrant colors, soft strokes, and beautiful pastels. But what does the big picture show?

The way Rockwell is able to capture a time, place, feeling, and ideal in his art, you can clearly see the story he’s trying to tell – and it’s a beautiful story. It’s an ideal story, one that I’ve longed for most of my life. In my crazy, mixed up, violent world – I’ve always dreamed of a Rockwell existence. I almost had that kind of world, once. I had all the appearance – the look, the sound, the image, the right job, the right family, the right standing in the community. The only thing missing was real passion and love.

Why are we such cowards? We cling so tightly to our ideals, we miss moments of adding a beautiful stroke of brilliant color to our pictures by being afraid to love one another. We think love makes us weak, but it’s our greatest strength. Love is what makes all the difference. Love is what colors our pictures. I may not live to see tomorrow. Every day is a gift. I don’t want to die alone and unloved, or having missed an opportunity to love someone else. We only get one life. There is no do-over. Paint your life with lots and lots of love – and throw all that other garbage (expectations, philosophies, religion, tradition, rules) out. What does your Rockwell look like?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veteran's Day

Happy? Is that the right word to use? I’m not sure. When I think of veterans it is not happiness I feel, but awe, respect, deep passion, love, and admiration. Most often the feeling is so much bigger than I can contain, and much more than I can often express.

I know many veterans. I’m not surprised that I’m drawn to them, because they’re beautiful to me. I’ve never worn the uniform, was never married to one, for that matter I’ve never even officially been a girlfriend to anyone who’s worn those colors– but I have loved, love, am loved, and have been loved by veterans.

It’s not surprising that my three best friends in the world, the three people I love and admire most, are soldiers. I can’t imagine my life without either one of them, and I hope I never have to live that reality. They’re my heroes, my inspirations, my muses, my friends. Not for anything particularly they’ve done in service, but for who they are as individuals. One is my heart. One is my conscious. One is my soul.

There was a soldier who once had all three parts of me, but he lost his life in Somalia in 1993. I can’t tell him what he meant to me, how much I admired him, how much I appreciate his service and his sacrifice, his love, his dedication, or his commitment. Somewhere deep inside I’m still waiting on him to come find me. I’m always waiting, even though I know he will never come. One of my best friends says he doesn’t believe there is anything beyond death, beyond this life. I don’t know if that’s true or not, I can’t prove anything. I’ve died twice, and saw nothing, but that doesn’t mean something doesn’t exist. All I know is that deep in my heart I hold a hope and a faith, wrapped in the love I had for my soldier, that love will never die. Love is still alive, even if my soldier is not. I believe it will still live even when I do not any longer. Love is bigger than me, bigger than this body. The love I have for my friends – it’s not just a physical love – but a love that transcends the body, more than something the mind can comprehend, and deeper than the soul can contain.

I can’t tell my lost soldier I love him, but I can tell the soldiers that are still in my life. They’re beautiful to me. I often call them that - Beautiful. I’m not sure they understand why I use that term. It’s not in reference to their looks, appearances, or physical features (they are sexy as hell though), but toward the colorful essence wrapped in admiration I see and feel when I look at them or think about them. It’s beautiful. Why them? I can’t tell you why my heart chose them, there’s no logical reason, it just did. I’ve tried so hard to push them away, to forget about them, to not love them with such a deep love, but I fail in every attempt. I think I try to push them away because I’m so scared I will lose them.

When I tell a veteran “thank you” - it’s not just for them and their service, but through them to all those who have served, are serving, and who’ve never come home. It’s appreciation for the life they’ve voluntarily chosen, to give up their daily freedom for one of structure, rules, regulations, duty and service in order to grant me the freedoms and protections I enjoy. Military life is hard. For many, when they’ve returned home after combat they will find civilian life is complicated and filled with difficulty and struggle to fit into the chaos. Lots of heroes come home to rejection, betrayal, confusion, hardship, disrespect, doubting who they are or the value of their lives. I can’t love them all, but I can love them through my three best friends and the military friends I make along the way – by loving them as much as I can.

I thank God for my veteran friends. You are my heroes, and I’m honored to call you friend. I love you with the deepest love of my heart.

PV2 J. A. Sandlin – thank you for your service and your friendship.

Sgt. J. L. Suwak – thank you, Ranger, for your service and your friendship.

Sgt. T. E. Solano - thank you, Drill Sergeant, for your service and your friendship.

I know many more soldiers, marines, pilots, reservists and sailors… too many to name them all because I’m sure I’d forget one in the mix. Forgive me if I do. M.C. Nannenga, D. Mathis, J.T. Watkins, F.A. Rogers, T. Bucher, G.G. Goad, S.M. McDowell, R. Swanson, B. Cerros, B. Christopher, T. Sharpton, C. Tinsley, J. Byrd, J. Banks, J. Sprunk, M. Lawrence, M. Cole, M. Sullivan, S. Hardegree, P. George, R. Conner, S. Formby, R. Herbster, T. Kervin, Z. Starnes.

Thank you all for your service.  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Beautiful Reflection

Hello, Beautiful.
It’s so nice to see your smile.
The glow of life and beauty emanates from within you.
Shadows lurk all around,
Yet golden ambiance surrounds you,
Your vivacity cuts through the darkness.
In your gaze hope dwells and deep, deep love resides.
Rejected. Abandoned. Scarred. These bright hazel beauties often weep.
Yet, they hold fast to the radiant tendril of hope.
Who dares to directly face their gaze?
Who can look upon them and stand before their truth, their passion, their hope?
Not many, if one.
Only light can stand before the light,
For shadows are powerless and retreat into corners in its presence.
Oh, Beautiful Reflection – don’t be afraid to shine.
You are a bright star, a shining beacon of celestial radiance.
It is what you’re meant to do, why you’re made.
Don’t be afraid to love.
That’s all there is – love.

Without love – there’s nothing but a cold, dead, black hole.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Natural Stupidity

Why are our natural responses always the wrong way to act in a situation? It’s sort of like those stupid people in scary movies always making the wrong decision that would lead to a better chance of survival.

In fear, we run away and hide. When has being alone and where no one can see you, hear you, feel you, or know you’re scared, been the best laid plan? In my mind, I want to cling tightly to those who love me or who I love so they can help me feel safe. Instead, I curl into a tight ball and shut everyone out.

In pain, we pull away and get angry at the ones who only want to help.

In depression, instead of surrounding ourselves with laughter, happy people, or exciting and vigorous physical activities that produce adrenaline and dopamine – we lay around feeling sorry for ourselves, being inactive, eating bad food, and ignoring everybody as we wallow in our depravity.

We’re stupid. Life is too short for all this stupid shit. Yet, here I am pushing away those who love me most, not sharing my pain, not seeking comfort in my fear from those I trust. Instead, I’ve been playing with fire and hating myself for it. I don’t know if it’s some kind of mental defect that causes me to punish myself, by hurting myself with destructive behavior. It’s like I’m trying to make those who love me, hate me, before they choose to hate me on their own – as if me making them hate me would make it any better. They would hate me if they knew how I was hurting myself. I hate me. It’s like I’m on a crusade that declares, “Since I’ll never be good enough to love, I’ll bad enough to hate.”

Yeah, yeah… it’s stupid logic. I’m not trying to justify this type of stupidity. I’m just admitting I’m capable of doing it as much as the next person.

The next time you see someone being destructive and stupid, instead of judging them or get angry at them for playing the game, maybe take a step back and look at them with a different set of eyes. Maybe they’re just scared, or they’re hurt, or they’re fighting battles you don’t understand – and they’re lashing out because they’re in pain. Or maybe they’re just assholes.

It’s easy for us – outside the pain – to just say, “Get over it. Grow up.” It’s a different story when you’re on the inside.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

I Dance, I Ditch, I Die

Feel the beat, beneath our feet as the music plays.

You take my hand, I feel the warmth of it as our fingers interlock. But I don’t see them, I’m too busy staring into your eyes, those captivating eyes. They hold me prisoner in their gaze, hypnotized by their intensity. I’m spellbound.

You lead me to the dance floor. I don’t see the other dancers, just you bathed in golden light. Everything else is in shadow. All I can see is your eyes, your smile. We weave through the dancers with agility and grace. You lead. I follow.

We stop in the middle of the dance floor. You circle me, appraising me. Though your eyes are locked on mine, I can tell they see all of me. I’m your prey. You’re the hunter. I long to be devoured.

Your strong hand brushes across the small of my back. I shiver. Your other hand grabs the one hanging by my side. Our fingers lace and you bring my hand to your beautiful lips, brushing their soft, plumpness against the back. It’s like fire licking my skin and dancing upon the hair follicles.

You pull me close and we start to sway back and forth in time to the music. You hold me so tight I can feel your heart beating in your chest. I feel so beautiful, so safe in your arms. Your aroma makes me dizzy. Your warmth makes me melt. Your intense gaze exposes my soul. Your lips snare me, induce me, seduce me.

You dance with me. It’s beautiful. I’m lost. I’m found. I’m scared. I’m safe. I’m alive. I burn. I worship you.

You kiss me, and I cease to exist. I’m yours. I’m lost in you, in your arms, in your love.

The clock strikes twelve.

I feel the fa├žade fade. Fear consumes me. I know you could never love the simple girl inside. In fear, in doubt, and in confusion - I run.

Only in this fairy tale - you don’t run after me. I don’t lose a piece of me for you to find, because you’re not searching for me.

My heart now burns to cinder ash, and I’ve become numb. Many ask me to dance, but I feel nothing – not the music, not the fire, not the passion. The more I refuse, the more they want me, but I only want to dance with one.

Every day I am being transformed into the image of the princess I had once pretended to be – the one you wanted me to be – yet you can’t now see. You dance with the other princesses, hypnotizing them with your intense gaze, seducing them with your cunning cleverness. They don’t run.

My ashes cool and only a cold pile remains. I hate it. I smile, but I’m crying inside. I want to live, but I also want to die. I want the magic, but I have no wand. I’m shriveling to nothing and soon will be nothing but ash floating in the wind. My fairy tale has ended and my Prince is gone. I’m trying to survive. I’m trying to move on. I can’t breathe.

I hate who I’m becoming. She’s everything I despise. I’m no longer Cinderella, but a big, bad witch in disguise.

Till next time,

~Wicked Witch of the World

Monday, November 03, 2014

The Belligerent Stranger


I’ve seen you around lately, but I can’t remember your name.

You do look familiar, but then again, I can’t place you. Have we met before?

What do you want?

Me? What do you mean?

Are you a friend or foe? Because I don’t need more of either.

Where do I begin. So many things have happened in my life lately, I really don’t need another distraction. I’ve got my hands full as it is. A distraction would … you know, distract me.

Oh, you think that’s exactly what I need? Why would you say that?

Forgotten who I am? No I haven’t.

Don’t know what I want? That’s not true either. I know exactly what I want, I just can’t have it.

No, it’s not in my power.

Yes, I put my heart on the line, and it got rejected.

You don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t even know me.

How can you know me better than I know myself? You’re being obtuse.

I’m in denial? I’m dying? Who do you think I am?

No, I will not admit I feel that way. I’m not playing with fire. I’m not trying to sabotage anything.

For a stranger, you sure are a know-it-all. I don’t like your words or your attitude.

Change? Me …change? I don’t need to change. I like who I am.

Yes, really.


I don’t care if they like me or not. They’ll eventually leave me. They always do.

Spiral of what?

I don’t think I like you very much.

What do you mean you don’t like who I am?

You know what, I’m done with this conversation. Piss off.

**Walks away from the mirror.**

Till next time,

~The Belligerent Stranger