Words To Live By

A couple of years ago, I began reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books.  For those who don’t know, the earliest of this series started out as a recurring installment in the San Francisco Chronicle, the local news paper.  I imagine it was sort of like reading a soap opera.  The books take place in San Francisco and center around a young gay man, Michael, and his naive, mid-western suburbia transplant neighbor turned best friend, Mary Ann.

One night, while reading one of the early volumes, a reference was made to an actor by the name of Tab Hunter.  The first thought that popped into my head was that “Tab Hunter” sounds like a made up name (it is) of a porn star (it is not), yet, in spite of not being a connoisseur of pornography, the name seemed vaguely familiar to me.  I never did find out why, but in my investigation I pulled up his IMDb page to see if I would recognize him, or might have seen him in anything.  While I’m sure to have seen him in some of his late career television guest roles, nothing jumped out at me, but as luck would have it, he had starred in a film adaptation of Damn Yankees!, a play I had the opportunity to see in the mid ’90s and very much enjoyed.  It also happened to have significant relevance to my, as yet unpublished (in fact, still unedited) novel I was writing at the time.

While I perused Tab Hunter’s IMDb page I noticed that he was quite a handsome man in his youth, though, to be fair, he’s not a bad looking man now, considering his advanced years.  Anyway, I became curious about him.  Along with adding several of his appearances to my Netflix queue, I also checked out a copy of his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, from the library.  It was there that I learned a lot of interesting things about Tab Hunter.  Most notable to me, especially at the time, is the fact that he is gay, and while Hollywood (and society) would not allow its leading men to come out publicly, in that day and age, Tab never really made much effort to hide the fact either.  In fact, he claims, in his book, that he never really gave it much thought, never questioned whether it was who he really was or what he was supposed to do or be, and he never felt the need to make a declaration about the subject either.  It was just who he was, and he never gave it a second thought.  Too me, that seems like some pretty forward and progressive thinking, even by today’s standards, not to mention in the 1940s and 1950s!  Tab Hunter Confidential is Tab’s life story beginning with his birth on July 11, 1931, in New York City, as Arthur Andrew Kelm (later Arthur Galeen) and ending with his quiet life on a secluded ranch near Santa Barbara, California where he still lives with his “partner” (I hate that word in this context) of 30 years and their many animals.

In the final pages of the autobiography, Tab describes being at his mother’s bedside as she lay dying.  His mother had been a hard and difficult woman who never quite accepted who he was, choosing instead to ignore that part of his life and never discuss or confront the situation.  His description of the woman reminded me quite a bit of my own mother and her general reaction to the news when I came out to her, and so when he describes reading a poem to her on her deathbed, a poem that I felt was very poignant, I found it quite moving:

A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.

A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.

I felt that this poem was a powerful message, and words to live by.  It became the foundation of an idea; an idea which began to shift and grow in my mind.  Over time, it began to take shape until it became something real.

I hadn’t planned to write about this, or share any pictures, until all the touch ups and augmentations were complete and it was completely healed, but circumstances intervened, and here we are.

Today’s prompt (and it actually still is today, as I’m writing this.  Go me!) is Words To Live By.  While I originally thought to find a way to photograph my favorite quote, “Stop laughing!  You can’t fix stupid!”, I decided to try for something that is hopefully a bit more uplifting.  So instead, I now present, in all it’s imperfect, incomplete glory, my fifth tattoo.  The largest, most elaborate tattoo I’ve gotten so far, and certainly the one with the most meaning and significance behind it.  (Not to be confused with the most sentimentality, which is still tattoo number four, all the way!  Which, as it turns out, I don’t think I wrote about here…  Hmm…).

I gave my basic concept to the tattoo artist who created a more elaborate, and better than I could have imagined, design.  The poem, I think, is pretty self explanatory.  The rest represents baring oneself before God, concealing nothing, and basking in the knowledge of God’s grace, mercy and love.  With this tattoo, I proudly demonstrate the certain knowledge that I am a child of God, loved and blessed, free of judgement and condemnation, and that it is not a contradiction to be gay and a Christian.

The finished product is not perfect, however.  As you can see in the third image, the first line at the top, “If I relax” the I and the r are too close together.  The artist assures me that he can fix that and I certainly hope he can.  It was definitely a disappointment when I took the bandage off after I got home and realized that the letters were so close together that it looks like an h “If helax”.  The sun rays, in the colors of the pride flag, need to extend further onto my shoulder, chest and back than they do, and they definitely need to be filled in more.  He told me as he was doing the tattoo that they would need to be touched up.  Blocks of solid color that large rarely heal perfectly on the first pass.  It is also my preference, and he says he can do it, for the colors to be a little more bold and primary, as they appear on the pride flag.

Pride Flag

Pride Flag – Photo credit not mine.

Finally, only after I’d had the tattoo for a few days and had looked at it regularly did I realize, it just doesn’t quite look complete to me.  I have an appointment for this coming Wednesday to have the touch-ups and corrections done and at the same time, I’m going to have him do some augmentation to frame the tattoo in a little better.  I’m thinking more flourishes, similar to what’s at the bottom of the poem along the sides and around my arm, meeting on the inside.  That should be quite an exciting experience since the skin there is quite tender and soft.  It does not go through a lot of abuse, being on the inside of the arm and, therefore, it will be much more sensitive than the outside of my arm was during the original application.

I’ve written about my first three tattoos previously, here, so I won’t get into them now.  If you’re curious, check that post out.  I had intended to link to the story of tattoo number four as well, but it seems that story hasn’t been written…  yet.  I will.  I promise.  It’s a good one.

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Getting On With It

Once again, I’ve been sitting on a “post” that I wrote weeks ago and e-mailed to myself  but never posted.  And once again, I feel like I can’t move forward until it’s been posted.  Some of what’s here is no longer relevant.  That will be explained eventually.  Meanwhile, I must get this posted so that I can move forward…  somehow.

This was originally written on October 2, 2013.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

The noise and the supply of bullshit seem to be unending.  It’s abundantly clear, now, that The Guy doesn’t care about me in the least.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I shouldn’t even be hurt by it.  But I am.  He fed me this bullshit song and dance about talking to people about the disruption, but he remains just as guilty as the rest, and just as guilty as he’s always been.  Seems like utter hypocrisy to me.  He, the one person I’ve spoken to at length about this problem, doesn’t care to be cognizant of his contribution.  So why would he believe anyone else would.

He just walked by my desk and said good morning.  Why?  What’s the point?  He doesn’t talk to me at all, except to say hi and bye.  Sure it’s polite, but we are past polite.  I can’t stand the sound of his voice.  The sound of his laugh.  I hate seeing him.  I wish I could get out of here and NEVER COME BACK.  I can’t wait for that day.

Only it has to be under my own steam.  There’s no way I can survive being unemployed again now.  It’s just not possible.  Yet, my boss is threatening to fire me, when you boil it down, because I’m depressed.  She says I’m being unkind to people, but she can’t give me an example of it.  All she says is that it’s “a tone”, it’s “intangible”, but “it has to stop.”  I really do not know what she’s talking about, as I have made a concerted effort to be as neutral as I can manage with people.  I’m not happy and I don’t have the power within me to pretend to be.  Of course it’s not OK to be rude to people and it’s not my intent to be, but if I’m doing something wrong, I don’t know it, thus, the reason I need specific examples.  (Meanwhile, I’ve actually received several complements from my customers recently, telling me what a great job I’m doing and how invaluable I am to the organization.)

A big part, maybe the biggest part, of why I’m unhappy, depressed now, is because of him.  He is directly responsible for breaking me.  I’m not saying I don’t have any responsibility for my circumstances, of course I do, but he was reckless and irresponsible and he toyed with me and my emotions.  He created this situation and I’m the one left to deal with the aftermath.  I’m trying to do just that, I’m trying to deal with my issues.  I’m doing the best I can.  But these things take time and my boss is not interested.  And now she wants to extend my probation, like that helps anything.  We’re never going to see eye to eye.  We’re never going to agree on how things should work.  We’re never going to agree on what “this industry” is like, or what “good customer service” looks like.

It’s just hopeless.

I NEED TO GET OUT!

~~~~~~~~~

On Friday, October 18, 2013, five and one half months into my six months probation, I was informed that I was “a square peg trying to fit into a round hole”, (that’s an actual quote), and that I was being “released during probation”, which pretty much means they can terminate my employment without notice, without warning, and, apparently, without any documentation of a problem.

The meeting with my boss and the HR representative (someone I had spoken to multiple times about the issues I was having with my boss and my concerns for my well-being, and who never once offered any sort of supportive or encouraging advice) took place at 3:30 that Friday afternoon.  Just half an hour before everyone was to meet up at a local brewery for happy hour to celebrate The Guy’s birthday.  Two separate calendar invitations were sent out about the happy hour and two separate calendar invitations were declined by me.  I’m sure he didn’t expect me to attend, but I can’t help but imagine that some people were surprised I wasn’t there and must’ve asked about me.  Either way, I know that my boss sent out a terse e-mail the following Monday morning informing the entire staff that I was not longer working there and to come to her with any outstanding or new requests.

I’ve never seen or  heard from The Guy since that day.  I can’t say I’m surprised.  I can’t imagine what his response was to the news.  Probably relief, though he’d act like he was sad for anyone who’s paying attention.  I can’t imagine he acknowledges any sort of responsibility on the subject, even though he does hold some.  It’s just as well really.  I don’t know what I would have said or done if he had contact me.  I need to wash my hands of him, and this is the only way to do it, but it still makes me a bit angry.

(Ironically, as a direct result of conversations that took place around the difficulties at work, I’m taking an “anger management” class right now.  That’s a whole post in itself and I’ll discuss it further later, but one of the concepts in this class is that “anger isn’t real”.  They suggest that anger is just a mask for pain whether it’s physical or emotional.  That said, I wonder why I would be hurt that someone I don’t want to have anything further to do with wouldn’t bother to check on me after finding out I had been let go?)

Regardless, I am out of that situation, away from him, never have to see or speak to him again.  I can start to “wash that man right out of my hai–”  oh.  Well, you get the idea.  (I wonder if anyone will understand that reference without clicking the link.)  I no longer have to deal with the stress of a job that was never right for me in the first place.  I don’t have to deal with a boss who is chaotic and disorganized and disrespectful, and sexist.  I don’t have to deal with the film of grit and filth that was a permanent fixture on my beautiful new car, from the asphalt plant or sand factory, both of which were on the other side of the fence from the parking lot.

All of these are good things.  Nevertheless, I am still unemployed, living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, with a brand new car (and payment, gas and insurance to go with it) and not nearly the resources I had the last time this happened.  If I don’t figure something out pretty damn quickly, I’m going to have to make some drastic and very unpleasant changes, I’m just not sure I can face.

Anyway, my first priority these days is earning money and finding a new full time job, but I think about this space often.  Maybe now that I’ve gotten the last of these written-elsewhere-and-emailed-for-later-posting posts posted, I can come back here more frequently, even if it’s just to post short updates on the current goings on in my life…  like this:

First day with full-time glasses.

First day with full-time glasses.

Stagnant

Picture found somewhere on the internet, but I forget where.

I wish I knew how to move on.  I want to put the anger and resentment behind me.  But when I think about what’s lost, what he’s taken from me, what can never be recovered, the one and only tool I know how to use to get passed the anger, I just don’t know what to do.

I feel so lost right now and I don’t know how to find myself again within the confines of my new limitations.  And even if he made amends, it can never be right again.  The damage has been done and can’t be fixed.  After all these months, I should be able to move on, but I can’t.  He took away the most important thing in my life, completely destroyed it, without hope of recovery.  And now I’m broken and battered and unable to regain the peace and comfort I once knew.

Will I ever be able to recreate the safety and kinship I once had?  I can’t imagine how.  Instead I carry the full burden of what he’s wrought, secretly and without hope, because what he’s done can never be undone and I can never be whole, never be healed.

The words bubble to the surface over and over, roiling with sulfur and damnation, and I dare not utter them, lest all that I was taught be true.  I’m supposed to love and forgive him, but how can I?  How can I forgive his reckless and self-righteous actions, when they’ve torn me apart and he shows no semblance of remorse?  How can I love him when I hate him so completely?  He has ruined me and I can’t imagine how I’ll ever recover.

Another one I forgot to note the source.