Being true


This whole duality has been confusing. I’ve been, for most if my life, content to remain hidden. It’s only within the past year that I’ve come out into the open, embracing this other side of me, the true side.

I know that the time will come that I’ll.have to choose who is real and who is not. Will Joe win, or will Stefani? I am both and yet somehow neither.

The greatest thing I have done is begin volunteering in Amarillo as Stef. It’s like I’ve found a place to belong. It’s at once scary and liberating. I just wonder hiw many people I will lose in the process.

Follow me on Stefanilara

Dark thoughts

It’s dangerous when I’m home alone. I have nothing to occupy my time, and the dark thoughts that usually cloud my mind are free to run wild. My insecurities are ripping at my soul, and I feel lost, afraid, alone. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way. At least to this degree.

I’m working on my project, reading and rewriting one scene at a time, but there’s something that is driving me crazy, a hope, a desire, a connection that I was praying would come about that I feel is slipping through my fingers, if even it existed in the first place. I’ve been beginning to question if it had.

The uncertainty is weighing me down, making me reevaluate what I want to do. I have nothing to tie me here anymore, and I’m beginning to believe it may be time to walk away and search for whatever it is I’m missing elsewhere. I don’t think I’ll find it here.

When I look at my job, it’s going well, better than I thought it would. I’m now considering my future with the company. Do I want to move up? Would it be possible to move out of working at the store level? What am I capable of doing? Do I possess the skills to be successful in this company?

I have always maintained that money is not what motivates me. It isn’t. Money, for the sake of money, doesn’t sustain my soul. I need something that motivates me, something to sustains me, something that makes me feel proud. I haven’t found that anywhere. I need something that does.

I have my writing, for sure, but even there I’m slacking. I don’t know if I have the skill necessary to write well enough to succeed as a writer. I don’t know if anyone would care to read what I write. Maybe all I lack is confidence, though I haven’t had anything to boost my confidence, either. I’m probably being too hard on myself.

As much as I’m complaining, I’m probably happier than I have ever been in my life. I feel freer than I ever have. I’ve been coming to terms with who I am, which has been a difficult road to travel. I’m not yet at the end of that particular journey, but I’m further along than I ever dreamt possible.

But for all my happiness, I feel as though I’m missing something, and that’s what has my dark thoughts depressing me. I’m looking forward to trip to Georgia later next month, and in a few months, my trip to Florida. I need an adventure, but I need more than that to sustain me. I need to recharge my soul, my sense of purpose. I want someone, too, to connect with. If only I were so bold.

And at that, I’ll get back to my writing.

My promise for 2017

writewhatscaresyouAnother year has come and gone. On a personal level, this year has been the best year so far. I’ve let a lot of my anger and bitterness go. I’ve accepted some hard truths about myself. I’ve opened myself up more than I ever have. I’ve discovered that I’m capable of loving and being loved. I’ve discovered that I am able to be happy.

However, this year has not been so good as far as my writing. I’m just not taking the time to do it like I should. Work has completely taken over everything, especially these past few months. I’ve taken on more responsibilities, and in turn, it has diminished the amount of time I have to simply sit down and write. When I have the time, I’m so exhausted that I end up vegging out in front of my laptop and while away watching videos on YouTube. I love Grav3yardgirl, in case you’re wondering.

I haven’t worked on anything other than my NaNoWriMo novel, which is no where near complete. I’ve written a lot in the way of short stories, but my blog has been neglected. I haven’t done any book reviews since February, and I promised someone I’d do one. I promise to get to it in January.

My blog is suffering. I don’t receive the number of views I was getting in previous years, mainly because I’m not writing. I don’t write much because I’m busy on a personal journey, one that I chronicle elsewhere, but not ready to share with you. It’s deeply personal, one of self-discovery and acceptance, but there is still a ways for me to go before I’ll share it here.

As for reading, I’m not reading as much anymore. I miss it. I miss sitting down and losing myself within a story, of tagging along for the journey, wondering where the author intends to take me. I miss letting my imagination run wild as I picture in my mind, the action written before me, translating words into action.

So, for my 2017 resolutions, this is what I resolve:

  1. Read more
  2. Blog at least twice a week
  3. Set aside time to write on my works in progress
  4. Love more and hate less
  5. Forgive and let go any lingering resentments
  6. Exercise my body as much as my mind
  7. Learn something new
  8. Travel as much as I can
  9. Learn to live and embrace what life has to offer
  10. Be happy

This is what I resolve. I want to improve my life, to find love, to find happiness. I want to get back to following my dreams of becoming a writer. I want to explore who I am, what I am, to write about my life. There’s a lot to do this next year. 2016 has brought me closer to the person I’m supposed to be. I can’t wait to see where 2017 takes me.

Happy New Year to all my readers, and keep reading!

Short Story: My curse

There’s a certain inevitability to the whole endeavor. Writing it down, it appears as though I may have given up, which I wish I could say wasn’t the case, but for honesty’s sake, I have. I don’t mean to make my plight sound more grand than it is, though for me it comes as a bittersweet epiphany, that in spite of my heart’s desire, despite what other’s may say in contrary to my own belief, I am destined to be alone.

I know. Maybe I’m not qualified to speak in matters of the heart. I admit that I’m too close to see my situation clearly. All I have to speak from is my own experience. So, after searching and hoping for someone, of fighting for and losing countless times, of having my heart pulled out and my emotions drawn out on public display so that the world could see me at my most vulnerable, I have decided to retire. I cannot stomach another heartbreak.

Love. We call most profanities four-letter words. So many are and I’ve come to regard love as another profanity. Many see it as a blessing, but I’ve grown bitter as each subsequent betrayal and rejection tore me down that all I see is a curse. Love is my curse. I am accursed. My heart has been damned.

My issue is that I’m not free to love. My love comes with conditions, though ironically I fall in love freely. I fall in love too easily, and the pain of not having that love reciprocated haunts me. Once I tried in vain to forestall that misery by only becoming involved with only the facile and the shallow, and it worked at first. I gave in to companionship of the body, but my mind and soul desired more.

I wanted someone complex, subtle of mind and spirit. I needed someone to compliment my own desire for knowledge, and perhaps someone who surpassed me in order to force me to grow. But the price is that those who I desire need someone who compliments them, and those types have demands of their own. Most don’t subscribe to keeping secrets, at least the kinds of secrets I have in my closet, but to open myself to them has only ended in being rejected, no matter how delicately they try to do so.

I am not my own man. I don’t know how others like me have found love and kept it. I try, and when I fall in love and desire that sort of intimate connection, the type that compels me to give myself completely, I have no choice but to tell. I’m met with the same response, so often that I’ve come to believe myself defective in some way, unworthy of love and companionship.

I look into the mirror and it has become an abyss. I no longer see the man the world sees. I see a hollow man, a vacuous shadow. I have become more and more of the other sort, the one who believes to his core that he should have been born a girl. I don’t care what people say about gender and sexuality, that women don’t subscribe to needing a man. My experience is that they do expect their men to be men. I seem to be neither, though I wear my mask well enough to fool most.

The last rejection was the final blow, my last hope. I fell in love despite my precautions. I gave in to her when I knew well that allow her to see me would doom us before we had a chance. I told her and before I knew it, she gave me the tired excuse that she wasn’t’ ready to date.

So I give up, ready for a change. I think I see a curtain fall in the future, though I hope to delay it as long as possible. I had hoped to live long enough to maybe find someone who could tolerate me, even revel in my absurdity, but hope can only go so far.

I’m exhausted, and the hour has grown late. Love is fickle and I suppose it has passed me by. I’ll go quietly into oblivion’s outstretched arms. Perhaps in the nothing I will find a measure of peace. At least there, there will be no need for pretense any longer.


Short Stories

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A writing assignment

I wrote this as part of my final portfolio for my Creative Writing class back in 2013. It’s probably the most intimate portrait of what I went through during 2011, and the most painful experience I’ve lived through ever committed to writing. It’s not easy putting it out there, but here it is.

If you’re interested in seeing the video to the song, here it is on YouTube. It still moves me to listen to it, and I think it’s probably one of Pink’s most powerful songs to date, and the reason I’m one of her fans.

~Joe~


Far from perfect

(Discovering a truth in an unlikely way)

You’re so mean when you talk
About yourself, you were wrong
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead

Lyrics from Fuckin’ Perfect by P!nk
From her album: Greatest Hits… So Far!! 2010
Written by: Pink, Max Martin and Shellback

The one thing about my ex, you have to understand,
Music has meaning, a true and undeniable significance.
On her computer she created and saved several playlists
All personal, speaking about what she felt in her heart.
This she confessed to me when we first found ourselves free of
Our respective spouses, and after we finally got together.

She played one of those playlists for me,
Telling me as she did so that she created it for me.
She would sit and drink,
Wistfully listening to those songs as she though about me,
While her children ran around her,
While her husband sat there enjoying the music with her,
Oblivious to the fact that his wife had another man on her mind.
And that man was the most unlikely person
But one the husband always feared because he knew
Deep in his wife’s heart she felt she made a mistake in choosing him over me.
He knew she loved me but she thought she lost her chance.

What could I say to that?
I probably made some self-deprecating joke,
The kind I use to protect myself from pain.
The kind that tends to piss people off.
And that always has gotten me into trouble
Especially with the other loves in my life.
But I can’t deny who I am
I won’t deny what I am.

One day when we were still in the everything-is-wonderful stage,
She emailed me a link to a video and I played it at work

Made a wrong turn once or twice
Dug my way, blood and fire….

I listened, trying not to let my tears show
I listened as the singer reached the chorus

Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
like you’re less then fucking perfect…

All I could do was sit there in my office
At my desk on the computer at work
And all I could do was play it again
All I could do was look up the lyrics to the song
To grasp the meaning behind the song –
To understand why she might have sent it to me.

I confess:
I am guilty of belittling myself
I am guilty of putting myself down –
Of trying to use my jokes as a way to protect myself –
Of trying to diffuse the pain by laughing instead of crying.

I try to cover my shame and guilt of never achieving,
Of finding myself with someone I despised,
Of having a dead-end job.
I felt trapped and forsaken,
A complete and utter failure –
Dejected,
Rejected,
Ashamed of who I had become,
A loser – a waste of space.
I fucking hated who I had become.
I wished I were dead.

But…

I was sent a link by someone who said she loved me,
And I listened to this song,
One that I had heard before but never paid attention,
But this time I listened
This time I heard what I needed to hear.

…you’re fucking perfect to me.

At my lowest she picked me up,
At my lowest she told me what I needed to hear.
And although it wouldn’t last but a few months,
I felt that someone actually cared.

She burned a CD for me that I listened to in the car.
The third song in and the powerful ballad would come on
I listened intently, especially to this one.
Every song was precious to me,
Knowing that she chose them with great care,
But it was her music that would become our undoing.

Her playlist changed.
Not gradually, not subtly
But radically.
All of a sudden it was about partying and drinking.
Avril Lavigne’s “What the Hell” and Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”
Sure enough we broke up.

What of those songs she said belonged to me?
I could no longer stand to listen to them
I threw her CD out my car window,
On a dusty dirt county road in Hunt County.

To this day I can’t hear any of those songs because they remind me of her,
And my stomach tightens up and I want to punch a bitch.
Does that make me a bad person?
I don’t know, but at least it makes me an honest person,
Even if it makes me uncomfortable to accept my own darkness,
My own personal shortcomings.

But that one song?

It became something more –
It became, not a love song, strange as it may be to say,
But it transformed into an anthem,
A mantra,
It was – it is – a song that speaks to me,
Deeper than any other song before or since.

Yes, it will forever remain intertwined with her,
But it is separate from her, too.

In spite of what I may feel,
Despite the ugliness I fear I wear,
Maybe I have value, perhaps I have worth.

I no longer am the pitiful person I was a couple of years ago.
I no longer feel as dejected as I did then.
I no longer feel the all-consuming anger towards her.
But neither have I forgotten,
And I struggle to forgive
Her,
My ex-wife,
Life,
God,
Myself….

I’ve accepted that it was my own life choices that led me to my downfall.
In the midst of my personal Dark night of the soul,
I found a strand of hope to hold on to,
A tether to this most perishable life.
I found an affirmation in a rather profane song.
Isn’t it ironic that sometimes the message has to come from the most unlikely of sources?
Could this be why Life-Destiny-God, sent her to my life –
To give me the message and then slowly drift away?
And I hold onto it, a life preserver in the rough seas,
A reminder of the bad and of the good still to come.

…you’re fucking perfect to me.

(end song)


Short Stories

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