10 Years

This month marks 10 years of the existence of this blog.

10 years of randomness.
10 years of updates.
10 years of anonymous stories.
10 years of rambling and ranting.
10 years of pictures.
10 years of music experiences.
10 years of quotes.
10 years of poetic revelations.
10 years of learning.
10 years of sharing.
10 years of musings and inspirations.
10 years of alchemy.

I still remember why I started this blog. I remember it was during the Myspace days, I started to use the blog function. Then I stumbled some profile of a friend of a friend had a link to their blog. And I was hooked instantly on the concept of a blog. I wanted somewhere to put funny pictures, to write random thoughts, and then it evolved to a full blown diary of sorts. I started posting on Myspace, and eventually simultaneously posted on both and then deleted my Myspace. I remember how gratifying it was. One of the best decisions I've ever made, doing that and creating this blog. I just spent the last hour and a half reading and skimming over the many posts I made in the first year of this blog. It is really cool to see the evolution of not only the blog, but of myself. I started this in a very pivotal time in my life, just shortly after my first year of college. I was doing new things, experiencing new things, learning a lot, dreaming a lot, making new friends and memories. It all greatly shaped me. But the blog has too. I have spent a lot of time writing and realizing more about myself as I was writing. I was completely anonymous when I started and still mostly is. Only a few friends knew about it and even fewer friends actually read any of it. I can only count two current friends that still read this, to my knowledge at least. I can look back and see all the self realizations and self discoveries I've made, as I so love to call them. Some of my favorite posts, the ones unrelated to my self discoveries, are the ones that talked about my college classes. They give me a little glimpse into that time. I was very busy then, overwhelmed, but I loved most of my classes and how the made me think and feel. It's so wonderful to be able to see all that, granted I wish I had written more!

This is me today!

I have no clear goal of what I wanted to write today, but I did see a couple posts that I wanted to recreate.

This first one is a quick interview with Mike Rowe, who I wrote about often because Dirty Jobs is one of my favorite shows. I figured I would give myself the same interview in a very quick off-the-top-of-my-head manner without much thought behind it.

What is your favorite word? Beauty
What is your least favorite word? Woot
What turns you on? Intellectual conversations
What turns you off? Ignorance
What is your favorite curse word? Fuck
What sound or noise do you love? The sound of waves
What sound or noise do you hate?  Baby cries
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Forensic investigator
What profession would you not like to do? Drug rehabilitation counselor
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? "I'm real, bitch!"

Another post I wrote that I want to recreate is the Proust Questionnaire.

Your favorite virtue: Love
Your favorite qualities in a man: Open-mindedness, intellect, humor, honesty, decisiveness, and humility
Your favorite qualities in a woman: Open-mindedness, intellect, humor, honesty, decisiveness, and humility
Your chief characteristic: Empathy
What you appreciate the most in your friends: That they know me and make me question myself
Your main fault: Jealousy
Your favorite occupation: Artist
Your idea of happiness: Stress free, relaxed, completely content with every aspect of life at a given moment. The height of inspiration
Your idea of misery: Unending emotional and physical pain and no control of mentality/sanity
If not yourself, who would you like to be?: A man with a profession in nature without a care in the world
Where would you like to live?: Australia
Your favorite colour and flower and bird: Red, Rose, Raven
Your favorite authors: Diane Ackerman, Anne Rice, David Sedaris, Thomas Harris, etc.
Your favorite poets: Homer, Shel Silverstein, Diane Ackerman
Your favorite heroes in fiction: Batman, The Crow, Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn
Your favorite heroines in fiction: Phoenix
Your favorite painters and composers: Salvador Dali, Alex Grey, Sylvia Ji. I cannot pick a composer, but do love classical music
Your heroes in real life: All the people who affected me enough to get me where I am
Your heroines in real life: Ditto
What characters in history do you most dislike: The overbearingly religious, racist, sexist, and violent
Your heroines in World history: Feminists and any woman who made a positive difference and inspired change
Your favorite food and drink: Sushi, tacos, and red wine
Your favorite names:Usually Greek god and goddess names. I'm fond of names beginning in J
What I hate the most: The decline of humanity, being ignored
The military event I admire the most: I don't really have much admiration for the military
The reform I admire the most: The Renaissance. The expansion of art and logical thinking, the science revolution that pissed off the church. As well as the #MeToo movement.
The natural talent I'd like to be gifted with: Mind reading, but in reality, I would like to be a better artist
How I wish to die: For another person or cause
What is your present state of mind: Reflective
For what fault have you most tolerated?: Ignorance
Your favorite motto: I believe in the golden rule but have no mottos....should find one. But as I said in the original questionnaire, I'm always striving for happiness.

Most of my answers were left unchanged. I probably would of left most of them but decided to write more clear answers for some of them instead. I like to think I am still myself after all these years. I've grown a lot and take a lot of pride in that because I did the work on my own. I have been striving for happiness and self growth. The blog and the wonderful people in my life deserve my gratitude beyond words. Because this blog is about my mind, I can still say that I love the person that I am. I am first to tell you my flaws, but also first to see beauty in all around me. Still. Thank goodness, still, I can do that.

Here's to the next 10 years!!



In my last post I talked about getting back into dating, online dating to be exact. A week after my first date I was reminded that dating just can't be that easy. The guy that I went on a date with expressed that he has some depression and wasn't ready for a romantic relationship. Over text he did this and did not respond to anything I said back. I don't doubt his feelings and some of his honesty, but I interpreted and feared despite our conversations that he may have only been in it for sex. Thankfully I did exercise my self control and I did not sleep with him. I'm pretty depressed about the whole thing, but decided the next day to just move forward, being proactive. In the last week I have been messaging someone else and just looking for interesting people. Haven't made any progress yet in meeting anyone, but eventually I plan to go on some more dates.

I did get to see my mom today after she had to reschedule a couple of times. My brother wanted to seek mental help, he came up with it on his own but there is the expected road block. He still has no insurance and cannot get state health insurance. Some people in his life encouraged him to "get his mind straight" first by going to meetings. This is something, I agree, but he still needs medical help for sure. He has become more hopeful according to my mom. He has been going to meetings and hopefully sticks with it.

Work has been slowing down for the summer, but has been generally going well so far. I have great news too. I will be going to Mexico for a 4 day vacation with a coworker. She initially planned to go with family but they bailed and now I'm joining her instead. Up to two other people that I work with may go as well. The trip is next month. I still have a valid passport and it has been 8 years since I have been to Rocky Point and I miss it so dearly. My mom and I have been planning a trip to Tennessee in August. I also recently bought two concert tickets for the fall. I will see Awolnation in August and Nine Inch Nails in September. I'm super thrilled about it too.

I went to my favorite hookah lounge last night, which is a place that I usually go to relax, read, and write. Last night was the last day until the hookah lounge was to close. I almost talked myself out of going but in the end decided to. I'm grateful I went because I had no idea they were closing. It was bittersweet. So now, I'm at another hookah lounge that I've been to a few times a few years ago. I think it just might be my new go-to hookah lounge.

A couple weeks ago I decided to read some of the erotica that I had written in 2015. I spent hours being completely engrossed in it, losing all track of time. I had forgotten most of what I wrote, making it feel like the first time I was reading it. I didn't realize so much time has passed since I started writing it. It was really good, I turned myself on, so I must be doing something right! Trying to work on getting back into that mental state to write some more. Which is exciting!


New Romantic Horizons

Last weekend I went out with a couple friends to a gay bar to celebrate a birthday. I met some people for the first time and had some awesome conversations, very inspiring. I talked with a woman who had just gotten married a couple days prior. We talked about me as a person and she asked why I was single. She said that I was a catch, and didn't understand why I was single. I talked about considering getting back on online dating but hate how difficult it can be. She inspired me by telling me that she had "gone on a hundred online dates" and met her exwife, and then a hundred more online dates and met her current wife. She told me to go for it. So the next morning, I did. I reactivated my account that I had made just after my brother's first overdose. The timing couldn't be more ironic or whatever word fits best here.

That first time I made the account, it was a lovely distraction that filled the time that I suddenly had, kept my mind temporarily off of the duties of helping my brother get better. I had met a couple people in that time but nothing promising, eventually I deactivated the account. Three years later I activated it again, met someone but it didn't work out, and deactivated it again. This is the third time I have reactivated it. So much time had passed, I revamped the entire profile and all the questionnaires associated with it.

The site has changed dramatically from what I remember it to be, making it similar to Tinder in the sense of swiping left or right. It makes it difficult to talk to people unless you both "like" each other. I had several people with high matches, only a few catching my attention. I found one in particular that spoke to me, as soon as I hit the "match" button, it revealed that he matched with me as well, opening up a line of communication. I waited a full day and a half or so to see if he would message me first. He had not, so I decided to go for it and sent him a quick message and my mind was full of excitement, to the point that I couldn't think of anything else, just waiting for him to reply. He did a day later and we talked a couple times about a few things and then eventually exchanged numbers. After texting often for 4 days, we met in person.

Our first date was last night. My first date in several years and probably the best date I've ever been on. We met at a coffee shop, instantly hitting it off. From there we went to a hookah lounge, dinner, and then hung out at my house. He didn't leave until earlier this afternoon. It was rated R for sure but did not involve sex. I am very big on not having sex with people too soon, I have to exercise a great deal of self control. We talked about everything we could, deep things, including things with my brother, my family history, my political views, religious views, struggles with relationships, sexual preferences, etc. He shared a lot about himself, we understand each other fairly well for knowing each other so briefly. I have never felt so comfortable on a date before. There is immense mutual attraction. I have never felt so desired and wanted like this before. It is intense. Glorious. It is very promising and exciting thus far.

The Help

Last weekend my brother and I met up for lunch. I got some answers, none of which gave me peace as I assumed. He did, however, realize that he needs help, mental help. He is attempting somewhat to figure those things out. He does not have insurance or the luxury of leaving work to get the help he knows he needs and wants. I fear and saw that the difficulty of getting insurance and help will prevent him from trying harder, he will quit and eventually think he no longer needs it or that he just can't get it. This is hard. I emphasized that me and others in our family are here to help when he needs it. We are here, you just have to ask, you never ask. He never did ask, not once during our conversation. I don't fully understand it. He is also worried that he has some major health issues stemming from his constant abuse on his body. The depression is obvious on his face. I've never seen him worse.

That's where everything stands at this point in time according to my knowledge. I am going to spend time with my mom tomorrow and maybe find out if she has tried lending a hand.



It has been a week since my brother's overdose. I have not spoken to him directly nor seen him yet. I left a voicemail and he left me one too. We have texted trying to plan to get together, hopefully tomorrow or next weekend I'll see him.

The entire week has been rough, I've been more quiet, pensive, and reserved than usual. I haven't told many people about it at all. Just a few relatives and a couple of my friends know. I contemplated taking time off work, but realized I didn't want to spend time by myself, and my brother went back to work as far as I know too. I just wanted to continue with my life and wanted to see my brother and figure myself out more after that. I currently work Tuesdays through Saturdays. This past Saturday was the hardest...

I drove out to Gilbert early Saturday morning for work. As I just got on the freeway I noticed a sign that said there is a crash at Gilbert on the US-60 eastbound, the exit I needed to get off at. I decided to drive there anyways. When I arrived upon the exit there was no crash, but there was traffic, as I drove closer, I thought I saw a big piece of something broken off of a vehicle that was blocking traffic. Just as I was about to pass it, I noticed a body instead. A black young male laying in the middle of the road on the freeway. He did not look conscious, fresh red blood was pooled around his head. I was damned sure he was dead. Everything in my body leapt and I cried as I drove on, noticing a truck pulled off the road, a man on the phone gesturing towards the body. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw all vehicles at a complete stop, some people getting out. I wished I had stopped, but everything in my body couldn't do anything. What disturbed me was that there was nothing else there, no emergency vehicles, no crashed vehicles, nothing. Just a bloody body. Why was he there all alone? Then I instantly got an image of my brother in the middle of the street. I can't describe the dread and sorrow I felt. I wanted to break down, but just couldn't. Obsessively all morning I kept Googling on my phone every chance I got trying to find out what happened, watching the news on the televisions around at work. Nothing. Still nothing, no news whatsoever. This is a nobody...I checked traffic reports, nothing. The crash that occurred just before was all I could find, that opened up traffic by the time I drove by. Usually a death will block all roads, but that didn't happen, so there is a sliver of hope that he survived although deep inside me I feel he did not. After thinking and talking about it to some coworkers, it is possible it was a suicide since his body was just below an overpass/bridge. To this day I still can't find a single ounce of information and this depresses me more.

This in combination with my brother's overdose has left me wanting to just cry and cry, yet I can't. I feel it well up in me, but I just continue on. Eventually over the last few hours of my work day I forgot about it all, I had some really nice blood donors that I had talked to and made my day better. I had plans to go to two different friends' houses after work which I decided not to cancel because I still wanted to be around people but I did not discuss any of these events with them.

With all this in mind, I had been thinking a lot about my feelings and just expecting myself to breakdown, almost wanting or waiting for it to happen. But it hasn't, I feel okay to say the least. It reminded me that I am stronger than I think. I always seem to handle things better than I expect. Not that I think I'm a mess of a person, but I am easily effected emotionally, and while I have definitely been moody and sensitive, I have been strong. I can handle this.

My decision not to see my brother in the hospital seemed to have struck my best friend in a way that I think she disagreed with me horribly. It made me feel defensive, and mad as I thought about it more. Then I remembered that she does not have the same experience as I do. I've dealt with lifetimes of addiction with many people in my life. She has not. As thoughtful, compassionate, and empathetic as she is, she will never understand where I come from until she experiences it herself. I have yet to discuss this with her and how it made me feel. But it made me discover something about myself, the people in my family, and some friends who have the same experiences. We know.

Universally it is said that you cannot help someone that doesn't want the help. You can't help until they are ready to help themselves. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard my father say this now for over half of my life. When I was 16 my parents divorced for a combination of things but at the root of it was addiction. My father has been sober since their divorce, my mom was an alcoholic before my birth and started again when I was a teenager. My brother has been an addict since he was really young. Other relatives of mine are also addicts or former addicts. My brother's first overdose laid the groundwork for this one. Which in a very sad way helped me deal with this one. I knew that once he arrived to hospital, they would stabilize him and release him no longer than a couple hours later. I knew that he would have the same mental state he did when he went out and got the drugs, he wouldn't be a different person in that time frame. He would be still fucked up and hostile. I cannot see that and will not see that again as far as I can control it. I knew he needed time to cool off and think about what he had done before I could see him. I truly believe that my presence wouldn't of done a damn thing had I seen him. I also know that now whenever I do see him, it will have little affect, but much more than just after the overdose. I should also state that I wasn't the only one that made that decision. My dad didn't see him, my mom didn't see him. Because we just know.

I do know that my brother needs mental help, this is something that will help him far more than just being sober. He needs it, badly. But unfortunately I know the reality that I cannot be the bringer of this information. He will not accept it from me, it has to come from somewhere else...But how? Who? This is where I feel the most helpless. In continuation of my self preservation, do I just let this go? It is hard to say and hard to do either way. I did let my mom know and in our conversation I could tell she never thought of it before and thinks it's a really good idea. But I still don't know if she has spoken to him yet. I'm in the dark still, and I think I have kept myself there. Is it selfish? Sure, I guess, but my selfishness is nothing compared to his offenses over the years. Who is responsible, really, to help these people? I know, deep down, it is themselves, but it leaves the rest of us just waiting around. How many more rock bottoms, how many more overdoses...eventually death will bring guilt to us for not doing enough. But everytime we try and I mean "we" in a collective sense, to all the people who have been in this position with a loved one battling a disease such as addiction, we end up pushing them away or they push themselves away from us. There is such a fine line everywhere in this fucked up situation. I'm not entirely sure what to do or more accurately, how far I will or should go. I have tons of questions for him, but I realize none of the answers will help me find peace. It will only destroy me further. "What about his peace?" I'm sure you're thinking...but again, I am not the bringer of that, not for him. And I probably never will be. Yes, I will be there for him, but minimally so. I know the extent of my hand, my help, it's something to him sure, but mostly impenetrable. Not worthless, but not enough. And this is where it makes me suffer instead. Wanting to help and being able to help, to make a difference are different things. If I knew it would change things I would do it all, but I know it won't. I've accepted that. And this is where people without these experiences don't seem to understand. They don't understand the standing around, the waiting. How could they?

There is so much pain in this. Pain from the event or the addiction itself. Pain from lending a hand, an ear, whatever to whatever extent, and it being ignored, taken to further the addiction, taken and stomped on. There is so much pain in helping someone who will not take it from you. And we've tried, god, we have tried countless times but the results are almost always the same. Eventually you have to draw the line. I'm sure any rational person would come to realize that, but they don't think about that when they watch us wait.

In another light, how do you help those like me? Help the ones that are trying to keep their own heads above water? Help those that have had this repetitive pain inflicted upon them by the very ones they love and try to help? I don't have a direct all encompassing answer, but in this recent experience I realize I just need support and understanding without judgement. I've spent the better part of the week being hurt and worried about someone who didn't agree with my actions than by the overdose itself, so it seems. Or maybe it was a distraction. Granted, emotions are high, yet what does this say about us? We need someone too. So we are all here for each other. Talking to those who have similar experience is a very special thing. We may not realize it right away or at all, it almost becomes something you take for granted because the number of these people in your life seem to rise. There is an unspoken understanding and acceptance with everything you say and feel. There is a common goal, a common feeling, a common train of thought, a common pain. I don't think I have ever been so grateful that I have people like this in my life until now. It is a stark contrast to trying to connect with people absent of this experience. If you're reading this, thank you. It is more than you know. This is also why there is such a thing as Al-Anon, something I think I might need to be a part of in the future. My dad's wife attends their meetings and has recommended it to me at least once before.

After the first overdose, I recused myself from friends for weeks but I did go out, it was on New Year's and I wrote about that experience here [which I realize now is really the most I ever wrote about his overdose until recently]. I ended up spending most of the night crying my soul out and talking with a friend who is a former addict who helped me very much that night. I already know that when I'm ready, I will speak to that friend again.

This post is a ramble at best, helping me form thoughts because I have kept this to myself for the most part as I try to figure my next steps. If you are wondering, yes, it does help me. Tremendously.

This title refers to a song by Ours. The lyrics get me everytime.


Not Again

I have had recent memories stir up to the forefront of my mind, about my brother's overdose on Christmas night of 2010. Today, he had his second overdose. I know very little at the moment, except that he did survive, yet again.

I am still processing, still figuring out my feelings, it ranges everywhere, floating in and out of me.

The only reason I am writing is to help me through this. I never did share the details of the first overdose. I will share them now.

Christmas day I drove my brother and I to our grandparents for our Christmas dinner, we stopped at the convenience store on the way where he bought a small bottle of cheap whiskey which he proceeded to sneak and drink over the course of the night. Christmas didn't go too well. He left and got a ride from another relative before I left. He got home and went straight to his room without saying anything to my dad. When I got home I told my dad about how the night went so he immediately started banging on my brother's door, yelling, as I sat in despair on the living room couch. The yelling started again, but it was different. He was trying to wake up my brother. He was lying on the floor next to his bed. His forehead had a bloody gash and his left arm had a tourniquet and needle attached. As soon as I saw him I doubled over and started to cry and rock my body. This is image has never left my mind, but eventually moved towards the back of my mind as the years went by. But it was all I could see for years. We tried to wake him up, his heart was barely beating. We picked him up and moved him to the bed. My dad called 911 while I called my mom. I waited outside for the firemen to arrive and showed them the way. They had to inject my brother not once, but twice to resuscitate him. He was barely present as the wheeled him out of the house, drove away to the hospital. My dad tore his room apart as I called more relatives to find out what had happened when he left. I have never felt the feelings I felt that day, the confusion, not knowing whether it was a suicide attempt or an accident.

Later my dad picked him up from the hospital and my brother's attitude did not falter, he was still as hostile as he had been during that time. He and my dad got into an argument, resulting in my brother getting out the car. He eventually made it home, walking without shoes. His attitude calmed by the time he arrived home. Where the 3 of us could calmly talk about what happened and what we can do next.

My brother overdosed on excessive alcohol and heroin.

Over the next several months, we had visitors in and out of the house to provide services for my brother. He joined AA and NA. He and I spent everyday together to mend our broken relationship. He was sober for several years and eventually relapsed by choice, thinking he could handle it. He has not been fully sober ever since his relapse but has tried different things such as cutting out certain drugs, or alcohol for varying periods of time. A lot of bad things have happened since, as slightly noted in my posts about our relationship. Our relationship drifted and eventually broke. We recently mended what little we had, but created boundaries to protect each other.

Ever since his first relapse, I told him I would never go through another overdose again. Yet here I am again, lost.

This time it was meth and several other things.

Long before his first overdose he had been a meth addict and eventually quit that and hadn't turned back to it as far as I know. I just saw him on Easter and it was very pleasant but I know there are still troubles in his life. We are all shocked, especially his girlfriend who lives with him. She came home to find his car there, the front door open, his keys and wallet in the house, his phone on the ground outside, and his shirt somewhere. Apparently she got a call that cops had found him passed out in the street near their house. They took him to the hospital. I called the hospital a little bit ago to find that he was discharged but I haven't heard anything else.

21 days ago I saw him. 11 days ago was his 29th birthday.

Earlier this week I had dinner with a friend as we spoke about our families and their addictions. His overdose has been very fresh in my mind. I can't tell if that is a good or bad thing. I wish it wasn't a thing at all. I'm just glad I wasn't the one to find him this time. I can't handle that again.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, 
Courage to change the things I can, 
And wisdom to know the difference."

High & Low

Today was full of highs and lows.

My heart was full, soared with love.

Then it crashed hard, drained out right from under me.


Why Fire?

When people look at me they notice my tattoos, the ones that are most visible tend to have a theme of fire. It is essentially a little coincidental, but yet independently intentional if that makes sense.

The flaming third eyes I have are several meanings bunched up into one design: favorite artist, favorite band, colors of the rainbow, the eye, the flame, third eye, etc. The burning books are a tribute to Fahrenheit 451. The individual reasons are there, but collectively, what is it? I've been trying to think about it lately since a few strangers have brought my attention to it.

I can't give a straight answer but some things come to mind.

Growing up I spent a lot of time camping with my family, almost all camping trips involved a campfire, a time I look back on fondly. I love watching fire, it is one of the most naturally and unnaturally beautiful things in existence, right up there with sunsets, sunrises, and the ocean in my opinion. I could watch it for days. I love the smell, the colors. Even small flames capture my attention. I will say though, I am definitely not a pyromaniac, I do not enjoy playing with fire, in fact I fear it. Which definitely adds to its intrigue for me. I did a search on this blog for the keyword "fire" just to see what I write about it. I've often wrote about hanging out with friends around the fire, the fire inside me, wildfires, and dreams and desires of burning things. For that last thought, I refer to literal dreams, night dreams and nightmares about fires. I've had quite a few, even recently. As for the desire to burn things, that's usually about places or objects of which I find worthless and pieces of shit that deserve to burn. I also love the color red, something that is often associated with fire. Moreover. as a teenager my dream vehicle was a Chevy Silveraldo, painted with flames. For a time, I even wanted flame tattoos on my wrists like Chester Bennington. I owned belts, clothing, boots, and bed comforters designed in flames. I even painted my bedroom in flames, which I never finished.

As a Scorpio, I am a water sign, and I feel at one with water and I could write about water with just as much passion as I could about fire [and I have as seen here]. I am also an Aries moon sign, which is how I process things internally. I process with fire and passion. Everything hits me, burns me, boils me, and the water part of me cools me and covers me, which is why very few can tell if anything is wrong with me. I work very hard to keep that fire contained, except for anger in these last several years, it is becoming much harder and harder to contain. I absolutely associate myself with both fire and water simultaneously.

Wildfires are extremely depressing and scary, but just as astonishing to watch unfold. I am intrigued by natural disasters, and in some morbid sense, want the world to be overcome by them, which it will surely. Even the destruction and aftermath of a fire is gorgeous. All that black. I recently learned that arsonist often remain at the site of the crime to watch it all go down, they are even sexually attracted to the fire. This fascinates me deeply, mostly because I never knew that, but also because I am not surprised. I love watching crime shows and learning about the process of how fire marshals determine causes and sources of fires. Again, I do not want to play with fire or be a part of that kind of destruction, but I do want to learn more about it. I have a deep respect for firemen.

My favorite book, Fahrenheit 451, talks about book burning. Which reminds me that I have burned a bible once when I was younger, probably the only time I played with fire. It was immature, yes, but fun. Anyways, the concept of book burning is such a deep one, almost a sort of sacred act in any which way it is meant to be. It is has this deeper meaning of destruction that ties to culture that can be so hurtful and ultimate. Flag burning doesn't bother me, I could care less, but book burning does. It is offensive to me. But this post is not about books, it is about fire. Perhaps it is the destruction that essentially intrigues me...I'm writing this in a very stream of conscious manner. So this brings up my fear of fire. Fire is very hard to contain once enormous enough. Any little thing can set it off, make it worse and you're done for. One of my biggest fears as a kid was if a fire started in the house while I was sleeping and I wouldn't be able to hear it. In my mind I always planned what I would do, open my window and get the fuck out. But the idea that my things would burn up, my house, even my pets, scared the wits out of me. I never even lit and kept candles in my room until I moved out on my own. Even now I'm extremely careful and never let them burn for too long.

I love burn scars, I like the look and feel of them. Keep in mind I have a heart and feel for the burn victim, but I say this as that burn scars do not scare me away from people as it commonly does. I still see the individual behind the scars, but I also embrace their scars. I had a boyfriend a long time ago who had scars on both of his arms and his chest from a stupid accident. I've also had a few friends with similar scars, who let me touch them whenever I feel like it. I do think that death by fire would be one of the top worst ways to die, it is hard for me to even try to imagine what that would feel like.

Now finally in my ramble of fire, I shall get to the main heart of it. The fuel, the fire, the passion inside me. I often use those words to describe various interests and emotions I feel. I love the metaphors, the descriptors, the similes, regarding fire as a feeling within. It is a natural feeling I have. When I read on old blog posts that make me inspired or sad, I feel the blood flooding me, I feel the boil, the warmth as it fills and shakes me. I feel hot blooded so often, not just due to emotions but due to my physical body itself. I run very warm, many people who touch me notice it. I am my own furnace. I have a warm heart, in more ways than one.

I Love Tennessee

**Please note: I wrote this post on June 6th, 2016, possibly wanting to go back and add more but I ended up forgetting about it and left it as a draft. Today, April 13th, 2018, I am posting it as is.**

It's confirmed, after spending nearly a week in Tennessee again as an adult, I still love it.

I had a list of all a million adult things to complete before my trip, and I'm proud to say I completed every last one of them until the very night before my flight. I packed light, didn't forget anything although I really should of packed a couple more things like pants, a warmer jacket, and some shoes for the lake. But those weren't too bad and were able to be bought.

After I finished everything, I took a little time to myself to relax, smoke hookah, drink wine, and watch Netflix. I slept for 3 hours and woke up a little after 3am, got ready and ordered a cab to the airport. I took an Uber cab to the airport around 4am. I knew that Uber would be available that early and never have to wait more than 5 minutes for them. I will say that was probably the most stressful part of leaving Arizona. My driver was nice but I could barely hear a word he said with his mumbling and weird ways of saying stuff. He kept asking me which way I wanted to go, whereas I'm thinking, "Fuck dude, just get me there the fastest way!" At last, I made it still with plenty of time.

I arrived to the airport 2 hours before boarding with a hangover and not a single place open in sight. Security was a fucking joke. It was such a breeze and so easy and quick, a plus side to booking a really early flight. Security took maybe five minutes but not a single guard told me what to do, so I just based it on watching others and remembering what my friend told me. I had sabotaged my sleep schedule for the past 4 nights, hoping I would sleep on the plane. My first flight was a little over 4 hours long, and I did not sleep at all. I was too excited and eventually got hungry. I tried resting but with no success, I had an empty seat between me and the other passenger, an older woman who slept most of the flight. In total, I had four planes to get on, two on the way and two on the way back, all with window seats. It was a cloudy and nice day in Arizona, I had a seat near the plane's wing. A gorgeous and cloudy view the entire way to Charlotte, North Carolina. I always have this joke that anytime someone leaves Arizona, or at least the Phoenix metropolis, the weather is always great. That's exactly what happened, it's been over a hundred degrees for the past several days before I left, and was only under ninety degrees the day of my departure.

Thankfully, all the flights I booked were from the same airline, American Airlines. So I was able to use their app on my phone, which was extremely helpful. I checked in my flight the morning prior, everything was set and on time. I could look at maps of the airports I was going to, check my boarding pass, I could track my bags, find out the gates I needed to be at and so forth. However, I will say as soon as I got into the airport, I was a little lost. I knew where I was but I thought the machines to print your boarding pass would be more obvious to me. Once I found it, I didn't have a clue how to use it. Eventually I figured it out but I was so nervous and fiddling with my phone and bags in ways that were not beneficial to me. I got my bag tag but nearly left my boarding pass in the machine, not knowing it was there, thankfully I asked an agent who told me and I ran back to the machine before someone else got to it. Once that was done, I wasn't so stupid.

The whole morning, or the whole day actually, I was texting my mom wherever I could. She knew that I was waking up at 3 and I kept her posted on times of flights and what not. It was adorable and fun. Every take off and landing, I would text a handful of people just to let them know I was safe and things were going well.

I took a few pictures from my plane seat. When food and drinks finally came around to me, I ordered the cheapest meal, a little breakfast and Tennessee Jack Daniel's and coke. A little tribute.

Four Peaks Brewery was right across from my gate and wasn't open yet. My friend told me to ease my nerves and get a drink before my flight. I planned on it, even if it was after 4am. However, when it finally did open, the line was ridiculous and my flight was getting ready to board.

Boarded my plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor.

Up in the air above Arizona

My Tennesee drink.
I almost cried when departing the airport. The beauty of the planes and all the things they can do. It still astonishes me how a big machine like that can take people safely across the world. It was so cloudy and the sun was shining on the clouds, making everything bright and white. My eyes had a hard time adjusting to the darkness of the inside of the plane every time I looked away from the window. I kept trying to stop, but couldn't control myself, I just kept staring.

I finally finished one of my books on the flight, Hector and the Search for Happiness. With about 2 hours left of the flight as I was reading, I looked out the window and at a distance I saw another plane above the clouds, like us, with it's smoke trail. It was so beautiful and brought tears in my eyes. It was blindingly bright.

I know it may have been said before but when flying over the all those clouds it feels like the clouds are an ocean. Amazing. Purely.

My connecting flight was in Charlotte, flying over North Carolina was a beautiful sight. When it was announced to start landing, we began to lower and all I saw was a ton of green trees and a lot of lakes. The weather looked great but I was sad never to go outside. My layover was only 2 hours. Just before landing while still above the clouds, I saw a plane ahead of us gradually lowering into the clouds. It looked like a giant shark lowering into the ocean. It was incredible, and soon we followed after it. After we went under the clouds I saw a lot of smoke in the distance. A fire, perhaps, although I could never find out despite researching online. I did see a lot of other planes flying around us, more smoke trails. I was happy in my heart.

As soon as I got into the Charlotte airport I noticed one thing. Everyone stared at me. I'm used to it, but I recognized that in the Phoenix airport, no one stares, I don't really look all that different here. Granted, I was probably the only person with red hair in Charlotte. I went to a bar in the airport, Taste of Carolina, and got a beer. A NoDa Brewing Co. Coco Loco Porter. It was delicious and $10. I drank it, laughed with the bartenders, and wrote some notes of my flight so far. I realized what a bad idea it was to do that though, I had to pee at least twice before boarding my plane and felt another urge the second I got on the plane. My stomach was gurgling and my bladder was full. Finally I used the restroom and felt better and started to read my next series of books, The Hobbit. The plane was hot and packed. It was a smaller plane than the first, more crowded. The man next to me took up the armrests and fell asleep almost instantly. That flight was a little over 2 hours until my final destination in Nashville, TN. Once I was on this plane, most of my nerves were done with. I was excited and relieved that everything was going as planned. Honestly, my nerves weren't even all that bad, surprisingly. I'm usually really anxious, but overall I handled everything quite well. Although, I was really nervous and confused if I needed to get my bag or if it would transfer onto my connecting plane on its own. I had to ask an agent just to be sure, I'm glad I did.

Charlotte airport, a view from my table where I ate tacos. The airport was large with lots of windows to see the nice sky.

Coco Loco Porter, brewed in North Carolina.

Just a blurry photo of the beer menu so I wouldn't forget what I drank.

View from Taste of Carolina.

Boarding in Charlotte airport.

View above either North Carolina or Tennessee, probably the former.

More clouds.
Once I landed in Nashville, I was so happy I was finally here, I may have cried a little. The whole trip was very emotional. In a good way. I kept looking out the window, wondering where I was, I kept thinking "Am I in Tennessee yet? Am I now?" I really wished pilots would tell you as you are flying, where you are. I like knowing what I'm looking at.

Once we landed, I could take my phone off airplane mode and my uncle who was picking me up told me he would meet me in baggage claim. As soon as I was on the escalator I saw him. I think I was more excited than he was. He got there early and took a nap while waiting. Baggage claim is extremely fast in Nashville airport. Got my bag, went to pee, and we were on our way to about a 2 hour drive to Crossville/Mayland, TN where my uncle lives.

The second I walked out of the airport I was thrilled to finally breathe fresh air, to be outside. It was nice and chilly. It was after 4:30pm and I would arrive at my uncle's house in time for dinner. As I would rightfully assume, the whole drive was lined with greenery. Nothing but trees and a gray sky. My uncle and I talked the whole way, I just asked a bunch of questions about the upcoming wedding and we talked about his daughters, my family, the great things about Tennessee, how there is absolutely no traffic and so on. It started to sprinkle a bit as we neared his house. I told him up front that I didn't really pack much in terms of warm clothes but that my plan was to suck up all the cold weather while I was there, I was not going to complain about it once. It was surprisingly cold that night. Even surprising to the locals, it had been warm the past few days, but we were also expecting rain in 2 days. I knew this because I was checking the forecast everyday for the past two weeks prior to arrival. I was also glad that the weather did not cause any delays to my flight.

My uncle's fiancee, D, had been texting me prior to coming and it was sweet because she asked me what I'm drinking and that she had me covered. D is from Mississippi and is a wonderful, or incredibly talented cook, which I was looking forward to. D has lived in TN for 5 years, she only came for 6 months to help her brother who lived there and wasn't doing well. Eventually she met my uncle and has since stayed while her brother went back to live in Mississippi. I've learned through the many stories she shared, that first she fell in love with TN, second she fell in love with my uncle. I have goosebumps because I get it, and I love it. I will say now that I learned a lot about the people of TN, but I will reserve it for when I'm telling stories that involve me learning those things. I can say first and foremost the coolest and one of the first things I learned about the people of TN. Almost everyone is a transplant. Only one couple of my uncle's friends are actually TN natives, everyone else is from somewhere else in the country or even outside of the country. This includes my family and D. My uncle, his ex-wife, and his two daughters are from NY. If it's not already clear to you, this says a lot about TN. It's one of those places that everyone comes to love, it's a place where people are more than happy to love and stay in. My uncle is extremely grateful to have moved there, having living there for nearly 20 years now. His daughters [my cousins, obviously] were very young when they moved there. The exact two main reasons my uncle relocated was that his ex-in-laws moved there, and he didn't want to raise his kids in NY. Collectively, we are all glad the girls did not grow up in NY. We joke that they would be big bitches if they still lived there. The funny thing I should mention to, is that I went to visit my family in NY when they still lived there and everyone had a strong NY accent. The first time I went to TN, 16 years ago, the girls already had a TN accent, and they still do. My uncle's NY accent is there but not nearly as strong as it once was.

Anyways, we finally got to the house and I was happy not to be bound by transportation anymore. We brought my things in and I was greeted by D with so much love. I had met her once before when she came with my uncle to Arizona a couple years ago. From the moment I met her, she instantly felt like family and warmed right in. She reminds me of my mom in some ways, which I can understand why my uncle loves her, he was always really close to my mom [who is his older sister]. I want to write this real quick just to remember it forever. They met at a bar where she was a cook. She's a little older than my uncle too. He got drinks there and wouldn't ever leave her alone, finally she gave in after many nights of late night talking. I'm extremely happy for my uncle. He was in a bad marriage, which thankfully bore him his daughters, but his ex-wife is not a pleasant person. Very controlling, drama-filled, confrontational, and just not very nice. She wanted to see me, but I told my cousins I had no desire to see her. Thankfully, I did not.

Upon settling in, I shared a rum and coke with my uncle and helped myself to some chicken tortilla soup. We talked and enjoyed ourselves. Their home was cozy and modest. A 3 bedroom place on 3 acres with a lake and a lot of grass. I had a small room to myself with an air mattress. The house was dark, wooden panels, with a lot of sentimental things on the walls. Across from the house was a newly built power plant which required cutting down countless trees. However, off in the distance was a beautiful field of grass that lead to the forest. I was sad to see it was fenced off because my body just wanted nothing but to run through the grass and lay in it. Sometime after I got to the house, D's daughter and her two children joined us, they drove up from Louisiana. D's daughter, O, was in her late 30s, Mississippi native who recently moved to Louisiana for her husbands job. O is a typical country woman, she had a thick accent like her mother, she was strict with her kids, had great humor, a nice smile, and could do anything in the world. This is something I love about the country, the self sufficiency of the people. I admire these type of people, much like I admire the wide range of skills and knowledge of my own father [who is from Nebraska].

The view from my uncle's house on the cold night of arrival.

My uncle's house.


Extra dining room.

Living room.

Main dining room.

The beautiful Manhattan skyline mirrors that belong to my uncle.

Front porch.

Before I continue, I realized at some point in this vacation that I felt totally at ease. Something about being in TN after being here before, and something about the country that instantly relaxed me. All of my typical vacation worries and anxiety washed away. I only had a few expectations of this trip, which were achieved. Generally, when I go to the beach or to the city on trips with friends, I tend to be anxious and wanting to do a lot of things and getting easily annoyed when we are just sitting around or doing nothing or things we could typically do in our own homeland. But here, I was chill, and go with the flow.

We stayed up late, drinking and talking a lot. I got to hear countless stories about the area, my uncle and how he met his fiancee and about her family. It was wonderful. It was probably the most my uncle has ever spoken to me. He's kind of a more quiet guy, funny considering his sisters [my mom and aunt] are very talkative and loud. I did realize during my trip that my uncle is very relaxed and funny all the time. It was hectic at times trying to sort everything and get it all ready for the wedding. Yet, he was always cracking jokes and hardly worried about anything. A good complement to his new wife who was pretty stressed out for various and necessary reasons. Shortly after O arrived, I decided that I wanted to go outside and soak up the cold weather. I put on the only kind of warm shirt I had and went to sit on the porch, I took some pictures too.

I had a room to myself, my uncle's small office where I slept on an air mattress. That was all fine for me, for I do enjoy sleeping on those kinds of mattresses. And I appreciated having some privacy. I slept very well and asked everyone to let me sleep in til at least 9 or so before one of my cousins was picking me up so we could spend the day together. We planned on lunch and then exploring a few places in nature.

My cousin Da, is the oldest, 23, her boyfriend T, and their dog Sonny came too. Sonny is an adorable and super lovable dachshund. They picked me up and we went to lunch at some fast food joint called Zaxby's that I would consider is much like Raising Cane's which we have in AZ. At lunch we kind of did a basic catch up. She asked me about my family at home, I talked about our aunts, grandparents, my mom, my brother, and my cousin. We also talked about work, T does very similar work to what I do. So it was cool to hear a different perspective and easily talk about what I do since they had the same basic understanding that most people don't.

After lunch we were on our way to the beautiful Colditz Cove, located east of Allardt in Fentress County. It was probably an hour drive or so. They placed relaxing music and I just stared out at all the greenery. It was much warmer that day, but still very tolerable compared to AZ. The cove is a largely dense forest with a bunch of narrow trails. I was so busy watching my cousin walk and stepping in the same places she did. Been awhile since I've hiked. But every now and then I would stop and take pictures and just take it all in. Pictures will never do justice to the beauty there. It was a Thursday so not many people were there. We ran into a few people on the trail, but once we got to the waterfall, we were all alone. Sonny was incredible, as we walked further downward, they let him off the leash and he would run ahead of us for a bit and then come back to us anytime his name was called. It's amazing the skill that little dog had. He loved these trips. As we got further down, there were caves and massive boulders and rock formations. It became cooler the further in we got. The thing that surprised me was that there was hardly any wildlife, which would be normal considering the trail would clear that a bit. As we got down to the waterfall, we heard birds and saw a couple, but no fish or even any bugs really. And it was relatively clean. The caves along the way to the waterfall were incredible, a good place for shelter if one were ever stuck down there due to weather or whatnot. It was mostly muddy and damp but not humid, which I appreciated. The waterfall isn't very big, and it falls into a nice sized lake, small but deep. The water was cold and I would of loved to jump into it. It was clear and we saw no fish. They told me that during the summer, a lot of people come there and drink and trash the place. But it was still too cold for anyone to come yet. Sonny kept going into the water and running around to the other side, eventually he swam across the river to us. It was adorable. After a while of checking out the waterfall, we walked another trail back. This trail was less dense but require a little bit more climbing. Thankfully T is strong enough to help haul my ass upwards. All while walking we talked about all sorts of things, from different places to see in TN, other places we have each visited, etc. It was fun to get to know my cousin and her boyfriend better since I hadn't really had a relationship with them. She was more open minded than I expected her to be, still with her flaws, but as soon as we met up, we instantly felt like family and talked about anything. Another thing that astonished me was that they never needed their phone to tell them where to go. It made me realize that they do this a lot, they know exactly where they are where I feel like I'm in the middle of nowhere. Even to get to most places in nature in AZ, I need a map. So there was an ease to letting everything fall in Da and T's hands and just go where they take me.


The drive to Colditz Cove.

Following behind Da.

The view down at the waterfall.

Sonny, T, and Da.

Getting closer to the waterfall!

Here's the little lake.

The little waterfall.

I did find a millipede!

After we finished hiking at Colditz Cove, we drove to Jamestown, where T is from. It's a very small town, relatively religious and a dry town as I was told. We went to a gas station, used the facilities, and bought a 12 pack of Coors light and some snacks. I was told there's only a couple bars and places you can buy alcohol in Jamestown. It's a very small town where most people don't mind their own business apparently. Once on the road, T hands me a can of beer, we both discreetly drank while Da drove us to Pickett State Park. At first, I didn't know what to do with the beer, then I saw him drink so I decided to join. This was very comical for me, I laughed and told them I've never done this before but "What's a vacation if you don't break some laws." We drank a couple before we arrived to our destination. It was a longer drive, gorgeous of course. We hid some beers in our bags and started to walk. We crossed a trusty bridge over the lake and hung out in the little wooden ramada, or whatever you would call it. We sat and drank and ate some snacks while talking about the area. It was relatively emtpy, not many people in the area at all. A couple of people walked by us and everyone hid their beers so I followed suit. After the people departed I asked something that was puzzling me. I said to T, "I noticed you are really paranoid, if we were in Arizona, no one would really give a shit if we were drinking, it's almost expected." He told me that for the most part it's not a problem but there are a lot of people who have nothing better to do than ruin the fun of others. That's when we got into a conversation that opened my mind to small town living. I realized one of the first things that I did not like about TN. That mostly people are pleasant if not extremely kind in small towns, but there's not a lot happening so drama can be easily stirred over small things. Once I was told, I understood. The wooden structure had carvings and graffiti of people's names and this person loves this person and what have you.