TODAY IS THE DAY.
october the 15th.
this is it.
as of today,
i've been tattooing for 17 years.
and if we're telling the truth?
what a long, slow, excoriating, excruciating crawl into the future it's been.
how often do i talk to the guys who got my first ones?
the dudes i promised to give free tattoos to for life,
for showing me such trust and faith and all of that noise?
roughly never ever-everrrrrr do i ever speak to or see them.
pretty cool, right?
maybe that's the benefit of being a high-hills hermit of hot fire and lightning.
i don't work for free,
but only because it's not worth making a roundtrip trip up here.....
and considering they were my best men back when i got married for the first time.
weak sauce by the lakeful.
oh, and i'm also super-psyched i get to reference my marriage numerically.
seventeen years of doing this thing that i cant figure out how to leave behind,
mainly because it's the only thing it has lasted,
and outlasted so much of my life until now-
think about it,
i'm still tattooing, six days a week....
but what has gone since then?
all my old friends;
a huge portion of my hair;
three apprentices- ALL of whom went on to become jedis
whilst i've been hanging out in carbonite for ages.
i'm still working and working and working,
even after two intentional hard-flatline DNR career-suicides...
which includes the move to this remote,
and reportedly 'sh!tty-for-tattooing' town in the woodsly goodness,
where i've remained well past the sell-by date,
which for all intents and purposes was a solid decade ago.
and even after triple that number of pink-slippery firing squads,
i've stuck it out, and seen it through,
like the parent of a handicapped kid
who will never not live at home and need constant supervision;
and that's just the tip of the iceberg, too.
that big, cold, juggernaut of slow-flowing immutable mass
of loss and love and labor and laser-guided self-destruction
that comes with choosing the wrench every single time.
i doo-doo that hard style headstrong hurt-the-team-by-beating-yourself-type sh!t.
there're highlights, too:
like my two terrific teenaged kids.
they weren't around before i began this thing.
and this big old haunted household i call the Folk Life & Liberty Fortress
wouldn't be mine without these tattzappin' moviechecks rollin' in.
i've met some worthy warrior poets in the intervening years
since my old lives withered and died,
time and time again,
and whatever remained of my meager glory faded back to black-
it's crazy. neighbors.
i stay here and i work alllll the time.
it's tattooing at the old-school straight-street level.
whatever comes my way, i do.
i'm on that GRIND.
seventeen years in it,
fourteen more-or-less steady reppin' in this area
and what am i doing today?
walk-ins and cover-ups.
this is What Is,
and it's all really happening, man.
no sense in holding onto the past.
while time is terribly short,
my spirit and memory are impossibly long,
it's all still right there.
and i think that's the hardest part of my need to mark the passage of time.
i see it all, i know what's up.
i can't condone an edited folio of my own curated history,
redacted to only include the self-preservative platitudes
that come with not telling the story correctly.
and that's just the thing-
truth tellers can never stop,
especially not when it comes to their own personal narrative.
i think it may be a contest of sorts.
how hard can it get?
and more importantly-
how much can i endure?
not even legal yet,
but a full and legitimate lifetime has elapsed from inception to the present-day.
i got older.
hell, i got old.
there's still so much MORE of all of this.
isn't that the best and worst part?
it doesn't end, it just keeps on going.
this anniversary feels like a 17 yr. old mastiff.
11 years older than it should be,
long overstayed, long in the tooth, infirm, and unwieldy,
a drooling, doddering, immobile mess-
the affection we feel for those unmercifully lingering last gasps and dregs
is cruel at best, and selfish at worst-
maybe it's like an old pro wrestler:
his bleached graying hair thin and broken-off;
his glistening muscularity long gone to fat;
the moves slow and predictable, a parody of lost potential-
nostalgia keeps him in the ring, and keeps us watching,
but that's as good as it gets,
and it hasn't been good for some time.
i know how lucky i am.
and i recognize that i have it pretty easy, relatively speaking.
it's just that i'm a salty sunovab!tch,
and i see where i want to be far more clearly than i see the path to get there.
i'm bulldozing my way through the low country,
hoping to hit the high road,
and the high life,
by moving forward, soooooo slowly.
i AM grateful for the time i have been given.
i just like complaining-
it keeps complacency at bay;
never quiet, never soft.....