So, this tattoo, #51, is from an Alanis Morissette song, These R the Thoughts, which is off her MTV Unplugged record. MTV Unplugged is tied with Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (SFIJ) as my favorite Alanis record. MTV Unplugged is so great because Alanis’ voice is gorgeous and being outside the typical studio setting you really get to hear that voice. I’ve seen her in concert too, she just has a spectacular, raw, beautiful voice. MTV Unplugged shows her voice, and it has a few of my favorite songs off of SFIJ, which is why I love it so much. These R the Thoughts is only on MTV Unplugged and no other studio record. The song’s basically a series of worries, questions she asks herself throughout a day. The song doesn’t have any hooky chorus, it’s just a series of questions… Why do I feel cellularly alone? Am I supposed to live in this crazy city? Can blindly continued fear-induced regurgitated life-denying tradition be overcome? It’s so not a hooky pop song, or rock song, it’s a journal set to great music. My favorite section, part of which is etched into my arm, Why do I fear that the quieter I am, the less you will listen? Why do I care whether you like me or not? Why is it so hard for me to be angry? Why is it such work to stay conscious and so easy to get stuck and not the other way around? Both of those sections, the latter, obviously, sound so much like the questions I ask myself, the worries in my head.
In a larger sense, sure, I do worry that if I quit writing here, quit trying to get published in print, quit writing altogether, I’d just disappear. Nobody would care, or come looking for me, or even idly wonder, “Whatever happened to that guy, he wrote about zombies and sex, and loneliness and suicide and addiction and dark optimism and some girl? I think it was some girl. He had all those tattoos… What was his name? Michael something?” I think most writers, even the ones who get seriously paid, write because we love the craft and want to be remembered for what we did with it. We write to be known. I don’t think Jeff VanderMeer or K.J. Bishop or Michael Cisco would quit writing if the paychecks stopped. We have words in our blood and we cut ourselves so that all those words come pouring out, and we want people to watch. It’s a little bizarre, but we want people to watch. The words can’t just stay inside, the words flow thorough our veins and bounce around in our heads, we’re full up, so we have to get those words out and put them somewhere else. Yes, I do worry about getting quiet and fading into oblivion.
Really though, it’s much deeper than that, it’s less about a writer’s want and more about something personal. In the song, Alanis is talking about just one person. I only worry about one person not listening, not wanting to know me. The day we met we talked for three hours, I so wanted to know her, and I so wanted her to know me. I was scared that night, that first night, that there wouldn’t be a second. It’s something out of Shakespeare, something only story-tellers tell, but I loved her that night. It was just one long IM, but as ridiculous as it sounds, I loved her. She sent her picture and I only fell harder, I just left the picture open all night. I didn’t want her to be just a dream, it felt like a dream. No one’s eyes could be that beautiful, showing that much intelligence and warmth. We went to our first movie together, those eyes saw mine, I got lost in them. That was just about four years ago and I still get completely lost in her eyes, I just keep loving her more. Every-day I love her more. My words, they’re all hers, they’re all so that she can know everything that’s in my head. Lots of them are here, some of them ended up in print on Amazon.com. There are pages upon pages that no one, save her, will ever see, they’re hers, written for her eyes and no one else’s. Most of the words etched into my skin are hers. It’s all just so she can know me, and be close to me. How can you really be close to someone if you don’t give them everything in your head, beautiful words, dark words, scared words, every word? I love her more than I can explain, but I try, I so try, in flash fiction, in e-mail that’s written after bad dreams, in romantic paper letters. She asked, “Why do you love me and not someone else? There are thousands of women, thousands of mes.” I didn’t have an answer all in a pretty wrapped box with a teal silk bow on top, the question just scared me. I’ve written a mixed media novel in answer to that question, digitally, in print, on my skin. I didn’t say the right thing, I got frustrated, it just felt like something you say before you disappear. How could she ask that and not know my head, and my heart? I got upset, overly so. Though, the simple honest answer is that when I’m with her, I never want to be anywhere else, with anyone else. When I’m not with her, it’s like part of me is missing, so I’m never completely anywhere since we met.
I got the tattoo when she felt far away, I felt like nothing I said meant anything. So, I got quiet, and I got scared. Now I’m here and she’s somewhere else. I’m lost and drowning in words she doesn’t want anymore, not from me.No comments
This tattoo I got in Savannah, GA, the night before my brother’s wedding. Everybody else is off drinking and watching football, I’m getting a tattoo. That really says a lot, I think. At any rate, if you’re ever in Savannah and find that you’re in need of a tattoo, Stranded Tattoo Studios is the place to go. James, the fellow who did my tattoo, was spectacular, and I’ll just go ahead and say it, is probably the best damn tattoo artist in the entire state of Georgia.
As for the tattoo itself, the whats and the whys.. The lyrics are from an Alanis Morissette song, Hand in My Pocket, which is off her North American debut record, Jagged Little Pill. That’s the whats, as for the whys, they’re mine on this one.
(Again, the grammatical error in the tattoo was done to match the way the lyrics are written on Alanis.com.)1 comment
So, I got this tattoo some months back, while I was in Cincinnati. I got it my first few hours in town, we arrived and by nightfall I was having these lyrics etched into my leg. The lines are from an Alanis Morissette song, Flinch, off her record, Under Rug Swept. The song is really a story, six minutes of flash writing about this connection between two people, this consuming, unrelenting connection. These two lines, they’re my favorite, I’ve thought similar thoughts so many times.
These lines always remind me of someone, this person who’s always with me, even when she’s not. I was thinking about her that dusk in Cincinnati, thinking about how she has this deep affect on me. It’s like she has a key to everything in me, and I couldn’t change the locks even if I wanted to. The affect is beyond reason, and even when it hurts I cannot make it stop. It’s so like the way breathing affects me, the way a lack of air feels miserable, terrifying, and there’s not a Goddamn fuckin’ thing I can do to quell that lack, or change the way it makes me feel. I missed her so much when I woke up that morning, I missed her before I even left Tampa, and it hit me, it really hit me when Flinch popped up on my iPod just as we crossed that line into Cincinnati, it hit me that this one person means everything to me, that no one else holds so much sway to render me so completely happy, and so perfectly lost and melancholy. It amazes me how lyrics can pull so much out of a person, like some sort of magic spell that make the world clear as a pane of glass.
That’s all I care to say about tattoo #41.
(Oh, the grammatical error in the tattoo was done to match the way the lyrics are written on Alanis.com.)1 comment
I find it weird that I can be so many things, so many people, all at once. I can be brave, scared, introverted, outgoing, dark, optimistic, so many traits. So many mes, all at the same time. I try to figure out which me is the real me. I think maybe they’re all me, but I don’t know. Though, if they’re not me, then who the fuck are they? Whenever I listen to UR, I think about these things.2 comments
To me, the song is about how artists practice their craft in spite of criticism, scrutiny, and the pain one feels from being struck by such weapons. People who are passionate about their craft, whether it’s visual art, or music, or writing, they feel a drive to share what they create, to put it out there for anyone to take in. Sharing such creation opens one up to not only praise, but also harsh words and deep criticism. It can be painful for one to have what they create knocked and dismissed, spoken badly of, but that drive to create and share outweighs any feelings of pain that come from practicing one’s craft with absolute honesty. Creation for the sake of creation, whether anyone likes it or not. Alanis writes songs that make people uncomfortable, some just flat out don’t like her, and that dislike hurts, but she simply can’t not write those songs. She can’t not be herself and create with complete honesty.
Whenever I write about depression, or suicide, or sex, or derision toward God, fictionally or otherwise, it is likely to upset someone (especially people close to me). Honesty in writing, particularly when it comes to personal subjects, isn’t always welcome, but this is what I do and I can’t not do it. No matter how much I hate any personal fallout the things I write can cause, this is my craft and I can’t not practice it.
Really, I have something deep inside me, something that pushes me to do things no matter what. I can’t not do things like, tell a woman how completely I love her, even though she might not love me back, or look into her eyes and tell her how much I want to kiss her, to take off all her clothes for the first time. I can’t not travel and experience things, even though something could go astonishingly wrong with the machines, and hoses, and tubes that keep me breathing. I almost died going to a movie last December, but I can’t not go, and do, and be. I do things because I can’t not.2 comments
I’ve never had this much trouble writing, at least, not since I started writing this blog. It’s a bad feeling, not being able to create, it’s frustrating. I know I can fix it, I know I can dig my way out if I try hard enough. I mean, ultimately, writing is the only thing I have that’s truly mine, I can’t quit. Whatever I write is what will be around when I go wherever I go after I quit breathing, it’ll be all that’s left. I want something left. So, this not being able to write nonsense has to stop.
I need to pull myself together. I need to write with complete abandon. My writing is about absolute honesty, I need to get back to that place. I need to write like Kurt, and Elliott, and Alanis, writing without safety nets. Otherwise, the writing is empty and meaningless.7 comments