Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A year ago, I was inbetween things
lives, loves, licks, and losses jutted themselves into
the last 80% of September and the first 80% of October
and I read a book about everything.

The first time I read it, I thought the whale was God
and how He/She/It
(if indeed He/She/It exists)
sort of got the ball rolling and then just let it go
allowing nature to take its course and steamroll everything
and that the only thing you needed to worry about
was where you ended up when the ship crashed.

then October turned to November
and I found myself in a new story
an unanticipated one when I was so tired of tales
and so frazzled by fictions

so I read the book again and it was different.
This time, I thought the whale was the world
and how everything is uncontrollable chaos and destruction
it didn't matter what you thought
what mattered was that you kept your head above water
and you rolled with punches
and never stopped reaching for air to breathe
and planks on which to float.

My story
(as stories are wont to do)
I found myself again surrounded by characters and plot twists
third act dénouement and falling action made life imitate Hitchcock
all I wanted was to sleep through the closing credits
and go home.

in April, I re-read the story again
and I thought
that the whale was injustice
and refusing to give up in the face of anything that'd get you down
"Speak not to me of blasphemy, man," he says:
"I’d strike the sun if it insulted me."
and refusing to stop flailing
is the only good you can have
and there's nothing wrong with revenge
except when you don't earn it.

My story continued on and on and on like a bad Tolkein parody
and I kept trying to just make it stop
but it had other plans.
it dragged itself through act after act after act
old characters returned and new characters grew old
and all I knew was that I was tired of all of them.

I was sick of walking cliches that think they're unique little snowflakes
men who hide behind infant hostages
husbands who hide their wives from themselves
mothers who use their children like poker chips
dogmatists that put doctrine over decency
bastards that put their dicks the same place they put their opinions (everywhere)
enablers that bounced accountability off of themselves like a rubber ball

and everyone else that lied so they could sleep at night.

I read the book one more time.
and I thought that maybe
just maybe
the whale was me.
people would provoke it and become destroyed
and they would develop obsessions to capture it
but no matter what harpoons were thrust in its side
it kept swimming, surviving after the whalers
and whomever else wanted to destroy it
had long since drowned in oceans of their own making
and blood and bullet holes kept him moving against the current
because he didn't know what he looking for
but goddamn if he was going to let these tiny people and their tiny spears
stop him from finding it.

I finally got my tattoo.
Lachelle wasn't here for it, but she thought it looked "badass"
(her words, not mine)

someone told me I shouldn't get it "because the Prophet said not to"
(I think the Prophet also said to not be evil
but maybe she only heard excerpts and missed that one)

someone else told me that I shouldn't get it "because it'll remind you of the bad shit"
as if mystery novels
Utah Lake
my birthday
the Jayhawks
blue blankets
good wine
sleepless nights
Sons of Anarchy
stepping onto a campus that was once mine

someone else told me that I shouldn't get it "because you'll always have it with you
and it's really just a scar you're putting on your own body"
but scars exist to remind you of good things
like to be careful around fishing hooks
and not to have appendicitis (a second time, anyway)

I've had a text message locked in my phone for six months
"We could've had everything.
You were always right.
I'm really sorry."

I kept it in there because I needed to have evidence
I needed to be able to remember what manipulation looked like
sometimes it looks like a pretty girl in a black dress
and others it comes in sweetness and apologies

but everyone's got their own white whale
(the thematic irony of which will never cease to amaze me)

I deleted that text message and got a whale inked into my shoulder
because I'll never forget what they tried to do to me
all of them
and I remember being drunk in an Oregon motel room
(it smelled like cheap whiskey and a horse ranch)
realizing that I was miserable
and they were all miserable
but that I had a shot at goodness that they had given up.

and there's no better feeling than finding something decent
and knowing that you deserve it.

the awful thing happened the day before Boobie showed up
but I wish I would've known to write something for you

it would've been short
so I'll just write it here (because it's already so long)
here goes:

"Brace yourself.
I'm on my way.

See you soon."

I love all of you.
and I'll scar myself to prove it.


Sarah said...

I am totally proud of you.

Citizen Andy said...

Bad ass.

Too bad your rationale didn't include this:

Waif13 said...

I love your spirit.
and the tattoo is fuckin awesome.

ps. Please write more.

Meg said...

And as usual, I am completely awestruck by your thoughts and how well you see things. Thank you for being good, an actual decent human. They can be fairly rare.

Me said...

this is my brother and i'll strike you if you insult him.

i dig it, maing.

Lachelleandmanasseh said...

I miss you. I wish I were there.

Joanna Brimhall said...

I like this a lot. Tattoo's should have a good a good reason/story behind them. More so than those 20 something girls that think it would be "HOTT" to have a butterfly on their lower back. it should be more like the Samoans with their tribal ink. So long story short. I like your reason/story, and I really like the tattoo itself.

Ava said...

I love this!
Moby Dick is now on my list.