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.


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 –
Ashamed of who I had become,
A loser – a waste of space.
I fucking hated who I had become.
I wished I were dead.


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
My ex-wife,

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

Next story – Lina
Previous story – Open Secret

Music Review: 3 Kisses – Cartboard Cutouts

Cardboard CutoutsI know I haven’t been on much lately. I’m currently on vacation, and it’s been heavenly.Too bad it ends Friday. But that’s not why I’m here. Today I want to write a little blurb about a band that I follow and enjoy.

I want to share the new album from 3 Kisses, Cartboard Cutouts. 3 Kisses is a Punk Rock band, founded in Austin, and currently based out of Wasalla, Alaska. Headed by guitarist and lead singer, Tish Meeks, the band has an electrifying sound punctuated by Tish’s expressive vocals.

In their newest release, Tish and her band return with their strongest showing yet. From their first song, Master of No One, the group delivers over forty minutes of high-energy excitement. The music is hard-hitting, the lyrics clear. This is music written and performed by someone who does so for the love and enjoyment of performing.

There are no weak songs or fillers. Each song is a masterpiece in its own right, a testament to Tish’s talent as a songwriter and performer. If you enjoy good music, I highly suggest you give 3 Kisses a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

Practice and discipline

It’s hard as an aspiring writer to sit back and read a book and not compare myself to the author of said book. Am I alone in this? I know I’m not. I remember feeling that when I became a music major twenty years ago, and I would listen to another student perform. I couldn’t help but feel that my own talent was lacking. So I quit.

It took me a few years, but I learned enough to know that I didn’t have what it takes to be a musician. For someone on the outside looking in, it looks like it could be fun, and it is, but it’s called a discipline for a reason. To achieve any measurable success, either as a performer or a teacher, requires hours of grueling practice and studying, and I lacked the discipline to work at it. The only honest thing I could do was to walk away, and for years I was lost.

A few years later, I dropped out entirely, and my life has taken a circuitous route  though life, adrift on the seas of time, having neither purpose nor direction, and when you have no destination in mind, it’s amazing how long it takes to get nowhere!

But eventually you will collide with something, which I did in 2011 and going into 2012. My life fell apart, and everything I had, everything I had worked, I lost piece by piece, until I had nothing left. Even my pride was reduced to a pile of ash, blown away by the wind.

Keeping up with the nautical metaphor, writing became my lifesaver, keeping my head above water as I tried to find my bearings. Being adrift for so long, with no mind on my direction, it took another year for me to begin to rebuild. I went back to school, taking a Grammar and Writing class to end my academic career. Writing, it seemed, became my new goal.

But when I read the professional practitioners of the art form, I’m struck by how eloquent they sound in my mind. I read my own, and I feel lacking again in talent. Perhaps you’re not cut out for this, my inner doubt tells me, feeding my insecurities. You’ll never be a real writer. Why not give up?

Why not? Because this time, I won’t walk away. I have something to say, so I’m going to say it. I may not use the most flowery language, but that’s not my style. I’m rather prosaic in style, direct and to the point. If something is blue, it’s blue and not azure. If someone is in love, they are in love and not enamored. I’m not adept at creating imagery with words, but I don’t believe that’s necessary to the tales I’ve decided to tell.

I trade in reality instead of fantasy, though I am a fan of the latter. I hope that doesn’t mean that the reader will be unable to create the scenes in their minds as they read my simple words. I have stories to tell, simple and hopefully with some underlying truth. I try not to be allegorical in my storytelling. I don’t want to preach or teach a lesson. What I write is personal to me in some way, and my characters are a reflection of me, of my suffering and joys, of what I am and what I wish I could be.

I believe my writing has matured as I’ve become more practiced with the written word. Next month will be my four-year anniversary of my blog, and I just completed my fourth NaNoWriMo this past November. I’ve written and rewritten many of my books, and I’ve read and I’ve reviewed almost two dozen novels. I’m just getting started.

I’m still a musician, if you want to know, though now I play solely for my benefit. I hope to buy an electric guitar in the near future and learn to play some of my favorite rock tunes. But my music is to soothe my own inner demons even if I still dream of being a rock star.

But I don’t have the discipline to be a musician, but I hope I’ve proven to myself that I do have it for becoming a writer. I’ve toiled in obscurity, known only because I’ve chosen to share a bit of my madness unseen via this simple blog. I dream of more, of having my reach extended, as do other writers, to include a larger audience. I want to be read, and my books enjoyed, by as many people as possible.

Until then, I’ll continue to hone my skills in private, sharing snippets to gauge if I’m ready to risk failure and success. I may not be as good a writer as the authors I read, but in my style, they will never be as good as I am. I will never have their successes, but why should that mean I can’t have my own? I just have to keep practicing.


I need quiet!

For the second night in a row, I’m staying at my brother’s place. The ice on the roads makes traveling home a little too perilous. Since I live an hour from my job, I thought it prudent to stay near so that I wouldn’t have to call in, or worse, drive in this mess. I know I can make the drive, I just get anxious driving 30 mph down I-27.

So I’m at the dining room table, with the Baltimore-Pittsburgh game blaring on the television. Baltimore is leading 20 – 9 on the AFC Wildcard game. I don’t particularly like either team, but I really don’t want Pittsburgh to move on, so go Ravens!

The problem for me is that I can’t work with noise in the background. I need quiet to write effectively. I prefer silence, eschewing even music, unless I’m in public and I’m trying to drown out the crowd. I can’t hear the story in my head with too much going on.

Which begs the question; how do you work best? Do you like to work in a crowd? Do you listen to music? Or perhaps are you like me and prefer the kind of silence that makes most people nervous? You can tell me. I won’t tell.

I just can’t promise that people won’t read what you tell.