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

Next story – Lina
Previous story – Open Secret

Success or failure: What do I choose?

I’ll never make it as a writer…

Quill and Ink

Quill and Ink (Photo credit: cgsheldon)

I can hear the voices clearly sometimes. You’re not good enough. No one will ever want to read your stuff. Why do you even try? The voices are jerks. I hate the voices in my head.

The voices are my own insecurities and doubts. Fear keeps me from doing what I should be doing to get ahead. The thought of another JOB makes me want to curl up into a fetal position and cry. I don’t want to work for the man. I don’t want to waste my life making another rich while I wear myself out. I don’t want that.

And neither does anyone else.

I see the dead look in people’s eyes as they trudge through the muck that is their everyday existence, and I can see the my own blank stare reflected back to me. Clock in, work, clock out, and then try to salvage at least a little bit of our day for ourselves, and our family and friends. We slave to break even, if we’re lucky. We toil just to put a roof over our heads and food to eat. We break our bodies only to fall further behind in life.

It’s happening. Look at the news. Look at the discontent among the laborers. Wages are stagnant, there is no real job growth, and hours are getting cut. The economy isn’t growing because the wealthy have stolen this country’s wealth and are hoarding it for themselves all the while wondering why they aren’t making anymore money.

I finally got a job and I’m off this week. I don’t go back until next week and only for 14 hours. The following week is about the same, but they scheduled me for a day I’m in class. Sorry, but I’m not jeopardizing my education for a go-nowhere-job where they don’t even care enough to get my schedule right. I did that once and I spent over a decade being miserable.

I’m not saying this to trash the labor force. I’m saying this to trash the employers, which is dangerous for me as I’m in the market to find a real full-time position somewhere. I am beginning the transition from student to employee all over again, and yes it scares the hell out of me.

What can I do?

Keyboard

Keyboard (Photo credit: Quinn deEskimo)

My only recourse is to use the only talent available to me and try to write for a living. Right out of the proverbial gate I’m met with the reality that most writers don’t make a living as writers. I wonder; how many aspiring writers are out there right now, toiling away on their computers, typewriters, and even notepads and pens, trying to write the next big thing? I know I am. I’m one of the invisible group, hoping to be taking out of obscurity and made famous for doing what I love.

Hell, here I am writing for free for myself, just to have an outlet to express my thoughts. I have a very limited readership, and I’m okay with that. Although I do want to grow my audience, my main objective is to write for writing’s sake. I write in order to discover what I believe, to put it into words, in a logical manner, that I can defend if I have to. I write in order to practice putting my thoughts down onto paper, or in this case onto the web. I write in order to learn.

You are my teachers and my evaluators. You who have taken the time to read my thoughts have become my greatest assets. I take my blog stats very seriously, and I take my Likes as a positive sign that I did a decent job. When no one reads my post, I feel that I did a poor job and that I need to do better.

My main problem is that I haven’t been as diligent as I should. I haven’t committed myself to write everyday like a writer ought to write. Be it trash or a masterpiece, without taking the time to sit down and actively engage in this craft, I will end up as a dreamer who wants the stars but remains content to watch them from afar.

But I’m not content. I’m tired of laying on the meadows at night, looking up without trying to reach out for those distant points of light. I’m tired of dreaming the dream that I yearn for, but refuse to pursue. I’m tired of hearing that I can do it, that I have the talent, “if only you’d go for it.” I will go for it. You’ll see.

In the meantime I will trudge along on this merry road, working for the marketplace, selling myself for a meager wage. It’s a sacrifice I have to pay, that I’m willing to pay, but this time I do so with my eyes open, with a plan for the future and a hope that I can escape.

We all have our dreams, and mine is to be financially independent, as much as is possible. If I have to work to enrich some man’s coffers, why shouldn’t that man be me? If I have to wear myself out, shouldn’t it be for my own benefit? In the process, if I am successful, I will end up helping others make money.

I just have to remember this: I need to sit down and write. Success or failure rests solely on my ability to set aside some time to write. Unless I sit down and get serious, I’ve already failed. I don’t want to fail, not this time and not with this. Failure is always an option, but success only becomes a possibility if I not only try but I do.