Tattoos (And What They Really Feel Like)

tumblr_mk6zu24URT1qbgod7o1_500
Standard

I’m tattooed.

Not heavily – though I have some larger pieces – but my collection is starting to add up. Of course, as they do begin to pile up so do the questions.

Did that hurt?
Aren’t you worried about finding a job?
How are they going to look over time?
Aren’t you afraid of regretting them when you’re older?

And my personal favourite:

But what does it mean?

Ah yes, the age old question of what a person’s tattoo(s) mean(s). I suppose that comes with the territory when you’re (mostly) permanently modifying your body; I just always thought it strange that people would be so wrapped up in what someone else is doing with their own skin. I find it quite amusing when the explanation doesn’t match up with their expectations – as if your own personal thought process wasn’t the most important in the decision. Seemingly, tattoos are to impress others, not be an extension of your own expression. As I’ve come to get used to this, I’ve developed silly backstories and meanings for my tattoos – if they’re already going to disappoint I may as well have fun with it. I thought it would be fun to share a few of them, as well as the real reason I each piece was chosen.

Bindrune – left inside forearm
1930986_45952371631_6496_n

Made Up Meaning:
One that I’m particularly fond of is “fish bones”. It’s a common interpretation that I usually take a step further by suggesting that his name is “Adam” and that is in fact why he is missing a “rib”.

Real Meaning:
The very first one! One year at the Edmonton Heritage Festival, I came across the jewelry company Alrun. They take Icelandic words, convert them into Nordic runes, then combine them into one symbol – a bindrune. This particular one translates as “Tónlist” or music. Music has been a really big part of my life, whether connected to growing up listening to tunes with my dad, attempting a band in high school, or it’s ability to settle me in my worst of times. I like the more abstract representation, rather than the typical clefs and notes.

Dada Motto – right outside forearm

1148907_10152161325656632_817312855_n

Made Up Meaning:
A lot of times people don’t believe it’s a real tattoo; they think it’s just ink stamped on. I think that’s a tribute to how well my artist Dave Phelps did this piece. Often times I’ll humour folks and just agree, especially at work: “Oh yeah, it’s been a slow day, I got bored…started playing with markers and ink.”

Real Meaning:
It took a good long while before my next tattoo. This one is pretty straight forward. “Destruction is also Creation” is the motto of the Dada art movement. I’ve always been fascinated by the movement and their paradoxical nature. It’s a motto that has served well as a personal mantra over the years as I’ve had many beginnings and ends.
Bee with Initials – left thigh (directly above knee)

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.11.17 PM

Made Up Meaning:
I usually say PEM is an acronym for a host of ridiculous things and that the bee is that “club’s” logo. Some examples:
Pretty Erect Men
Prickly Elephant Members
Post Erection Menstruation
Pregnant Enraged Masturbators

Real Meaning:
Most people will tell you that getting a “tribute piece” for a friend is a bad idea. Mostly, you just really never know when you may have a falling out with that person – just ask my sister. I don’t particularly feel worried about this one. We may not talk very often or be as close as we once were – possibly less so SINCE I got tattooed – but my friend Paege has meant so much in my life, that she is one of the few people I could conceive getting a tattoo for, that isn’t family. The bee stems from my old nickname for her: “Honeybee”.

Egg Diagram – back of right bicep

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.09.37 PM

Made Up Meaning:
I don’t really get questioned on this one as much as you would expect. I haven’t really come up with a very good story for it. Usually, I just recount it’s real meaning, or fib something like: “I used to work for the egg council.”

Really Meaning:
Honestly? I just really love breakfast. This is the first of several that will depict different breakfast/brunch items in a medical/lithograph style.

Fennec fox with Rose – right outside calf

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.08.35 PM

Made Up Meaning:
This one is fairly new. Some people have thought it was a cat – my sister for one. I’ve rolled with that and told them that it was a cat that came to me in a dream and tried to steal the Beast’s rose. Then I beat him up and with each punch a million different colours spewed forth – I work well under pressure.

Real Meaning:
The fox is a character in the book “Le Petit Prince”, as is the rose. It is one of my two favourite books and is filled with so many wonderful, quotable moments.

Beetle-Dagger – left shin

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.36.40 PM

Made Up Meaning:
This is the newest of the bunch. I haven’t had the opportunity to tell an epic fib. If I had to guess, I imagine I’ll assign it some deep cultural significance: “The beetle is a symbol of power and defiance to my people…”

Real Meaning:
It’s. A. Badass. Beetle. Dagger. Need I say more? I plan to get a bunch of creepy crawlies on my left leg to go with this and the bee. When I visited my good friend in Montreal recently, her man-friend tattooed this excellent piece off his flash sheet for me. I had been talking about doing a beetle with a dagger for it’s “horns” and he happened to have a piece that matched!

So there’s the list as she stands now. As you can see, I’m not totally hung up on deep significance. I feel like each tattoo is representative of a period in your life. At varying times you’re going to have art that you want to depict on your body because it means something special. Other times, you’ll come across art that just looks way better on your body than on a wall. I know that seems like a bit of a frivolous way of looking at tattoos and doesn’t necessary answer the question of regret.

The way I look at it, we’re only here for a short time and it’s best  to mark those moments in the ways we see fit.

-DFP-

Month Apart

Standard

26 years ago, on this day, my life changed forever.

On the way to The Ottawa Civic Hospital, I begged and pleaded with my dad; he would have none of my 3 year-old politicking however.

I was anxious, but also nervous. I had known for months that this day was coming and I had no idea what to expect. Granted, I was 3 and was pretty short on life experiences. Up until this particular point, I had no memories of being in a hospital.

I had my favourite outfit on: a track suit; it was a big day after all. Yellow zip-up jacket, with Kelly green sleeves, and a moose patch on the left breast. The pants were matching green joggers.

My dad parked the car and we made our way to reception. As I mentioned, this day was a long time coming, so everyone was waiting for us. They told us which room to go to, and we started making our way.

My memory is hazy, but I remember walking into the room and seeing my mum there. Despite her exhausted expression, she had a big smile on her face. She told me to come over closer to her; she could tell I was nervous by my fidgeting.

They handed me a small bundle, my dad close by my side to help me keep it balanced. I tried with one final desperate plea to convince him:

“Are you SURE we can’t name her Oscar?!”

The bundle in my arms, was my new baby sister, Caroline. Born 3 years, 1 month (minus a day) after me.

Over the years, there’s probably been more bickering than cooperation. As the older brother, I was quick to try and establish my dominance over my younger sibling. Despite our quarrels, there have been many fun, beautiful, and precious memories, that I will cherish forever.

Some people have lots of siblings, and that’s great; having a full house can be very loving. I only have the one and for me, that’s perfect. There’s a closer bond I have with my sister, that I wouldn’t have gotten with others around. While we’ve certainly cursed each other’s existence at least a few times over the years, I hardly could imagine growing up without one of my best friends.

As has has been the case over the last dozen or so years, I won’t be there to celebrate with her. It gets harder with each passing milestone, to be so far away. Know, my dear sister, that I love you to the moon and back, and that I miss you terribly. I hope you have a wonderful birthday filled with many laughs, and lots of love.

Xoxo

Post-Season

summer-baseball-image
Standard

This started off as a Facebook status, but started to get way too long. Religion also somehow, like a typical YouTube thread, got tangled up into this. Then I remembered: I HAVE A BLOG!

If you know me, or have read an older post or two, you may know that I’m a huge baseball fan. It’s October, which means it’s playoff time. Specifically, the League Championship Series have both started. If you’re not a baseball fan, this one’s not for you…

For those out there complaining about seeing St. Louis and San Francisco in the NLCS, AGAIN…

Suck it up.

These are two exceptionally run franchises. They aren’t the typical big market teams that everyone is so apt to cry about. Even if they were, remember: every owner has the equal opportunity to spend money. Some choose NOT to. So ask yourself, why are you cheering for a team, if the ownership group is not committed to winning? For that matter, why are you even cheering for a team at all? I find I typically come across two rationals, behind longstanding fandom.

Regional Ties
People always want to have some sense of civic pride; or at least they do in the sense of: “I can bash my city, but you can’t, ’cause you’re not from here”. The same seems to carry over to sports teams. People will lament their woeful squad, until a non-fan express the same opinion.

“Whoa back off man! They’ve been drafting really well, and we’re right on the cusp. You just like because you’re a bandwagoner man!”

Well, newsflash: you didn’t really have any say in where you were born. So supporting the team of the city you were arbitrarily born in, it’s kind of a weak platform. You can argue that was responsible for shaping your young mind, and contributed to the person you are today, therefore giving a strong reason for supporting civic pride. Except that, that pride is relative to the fact that you were born in that city. If you were born in a different city, you would be tied to a whole different team. Ergo, you’re a slave to the forces that conspired to place you in that city. Now you can make a case for people who have, of their own free will, moved to a city. Those folks are usually just caving to peer pressure; trying to fit in amidst the common-folk in their new town.

Family tradition
This is usually is born of civic pride (descended from your folks). Even if it’s not, it’s still something that was not a result of your own critical thinking. You’re cheering out of blind faith, for the team your family supports the most vocally, because it’s the only team you get exposed to. Or more aptly, it’s the only team you’re exposed to a reason to cheer for. Kind of like religion…except your mortal soul isn’t invested (well, that’s a matter up for debate to some). Conversely, some people cheer out of spite for their family ties. To be the black sheep, the antagonist (hello atheists); usually a major rival. It’s all very petty.

These are the two major arguments that I seem to come across most, when people are trying to explain why they’ve supported a team for so long. They also seem to be generally accepted logic to argue a “true allegiance”. People who use these rationales, typically like to harp on those with what they consider, “less legitimate” reasons. These include:

-Team colour
-Team Name
-Traditionally good team
-Recent Champion

The last two are typically labelled as “bandwagon fans”. Before I touch on those, let’s tackle the first three.

Sure, team colour/name seem frivolous, but at least they have some sense of personal attachment. I mean, you’re cheering for your dad’s team because why? Why not pick your team based on your favourite colours, favourite animal, or coolest sounding name? Especially for folks like me in the Great White North; outside of the NHL, there really aren’t many options for local ties. Plus, inevitably if you really enjoy the sport, you’ll get to know the players, the history, and all that fun stuff; it comes with time regardless of how your allegiance formed. Of course, if you’re a casual fan, it’s a built in defence mechanism to shut-up over-zealous fans, hellbent on proving their team loyalty.

Back to the bandwagon. I really don’t mind the casual bandwagon fan. I mean, let’s face it; don’t you want to share in the excitement cheering for a champion gives, rather than the dejection of a perennial loser? Especially when you’re young, it’s easier and more likely, that you’re going to gravitate to the most successful team of the day. Eventually that might lead to a longer standing appreciation for the team. My own favourite baseball team for example, the Minnesota Twins, gained my loyalty in the 90’s because they were really good. They were the best and most exciting team to watch, when I first started watching the sport. There’s a deep sense of nostalgia associated with the team; I may not have liked baseball as much if say, the New York Mets were the team du jour.

Now I’m not trying to say people should stop cheering for their teams. What I’m getting at with all this is, it’s a sports team. Your allegiance is probably trivial at best. Relax, appreciate when a great franchise has sustained success. After all, entertaining games are really what should be at the heart of the fan experience. With the fluidity of the market; players being traded and signing elsewhere, why should your fandom be restricted to a team? I mean, sure, I have my favourites, but I find myself gravitating all over the place due to the vast amount of talent across the leagues.

In any case, if you somehow made it through all this, I hope you at least can ease off the gas-pedal when it comes to extolling what a “super fan” you are. Just relax, grab some snacks, and enjoy the games. After all, this is prime sports time. Hockey has started, college and NFL football are in full swing, there’s NBA pre-season, FIFA football, and of course, the best of all: the MLB playoffs.

May the team that sports the best, get all the sports glory!

The Final Frontier

Doré_-_Styx
Standard

13 years ago, I faced a border that everyone inevitably crosses:

Crossing from Life into Death.

I was reckless in my youth. I did things merely out of contempt for authority. I liked to blur the line between moral and immoral. I was a loose cannon.

When I was 16, I ran drugs for a guy named Joe. By no means was this guy a role model. In the same token, he wasn’t some low-life taking advantage of a naive teenager; I knew what I was getting into.

At least, I thought I did.

Heatherington is a particularly scummy area in Ottawa. Nowadays it’s home to a lot of gang activity. In my teens, Heatherington Park was a major pick-up/drop-off site for drugs. Now, let me make this clear: I wasn’t doing work for some big gang or cartel. Which, if I had of thought about it harder back then, should have been a red flag.

The big guys don’t want little fish in their pond.

Long story short, I was doing a regular drop-off in Heatherington. As I got close to the park, I noticed some guys from the bus were following me. I started to get anxious, and before I knew it, 3 guys were chasing me across the park.

Bat to my lower back; I was down immediately.

I went numb momentarily, before the pain radiated through every inch of my body. The assailants were on top of me in no time. Rifling through my pockets, tossing me around like a rag doll.

Then they put a knife to my throat.

I didn’t dare move. They emptied my pockets, then patted me down; they wanted to make sure they got everything. I didn’t dare move. I tried my best to focus my attention anywhere but on the person holding my life in his hand.

Then our eyes locked; I recognized him.

We went to middle school together for two years. He often found himself in trouble for beating up other students. He was a nice guy in general, but his temper always got the better of him; he was prideful.

I thought for sure that was the end for me. I was looking death right in the eyes. I was convinced he recognized me and would not leave it open to chance, that I would turn him in.

Suddenly, his comrades began yelling at him, in Somali (I recognized some of the words from former classmates in middle school.) They stared at him, yelling. He yelled back. And then in a flash, they were gone.

I got to the border, but was spared from crossing.

People often talk about seeing “their life flash before their eyes” in a near Death experience. I had no such moment. Perhaps because I wasn’t truly facing Death; only violence with no motive of killing from my attackers.

There was definite fear, which I am sure is shared with those who have shared near Death situations. Fear not necessarily of dying, but more of pain and torment.

Would it be fast?
Would I in-fact die?
If I didn’t, what would my quality of life then be?

Since that day, I’ve always wondered about why we fear Death. Why, do we put so much weight into something that is completely out of our control?

Is it the prospect of facing the unknown?

We face many unknowns on a day to day basis. Yet throughout human history, we persevere through them. Granted, most of these don’t have quite the finality that Death seems to impose. Since we have yet to find a way to scientifically measure, quantify, or even experience Death, it makes it that much more difficult to want to go through the process. Is Death a pure and simple finality?

Is there an Afterlife?
Will I be Reborn?
Is time non-linear? If so, am I just reliving a series of experiences? Am I stuck in a temporal loop?

Perhaps science one day will advance to the point where we can experience Death, and record empirical evidence. Until then, we are left with the dilemma that Death may in fact be, a finality.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why we fear it.

Many would say they fear Death because they lack a sense of fulfillment with their life. This is more commonly seen in younger persons, who have perhaps not accomplished the goals they’ve set in life. If this is the case, why are so many people complacent and inactive in filling this void? Does the nature of Death itself, not prompt a greater desire for living and learning?

One does not control their own fate; that is to say, whether they live or die. Even those who decide to end their lives, do so at the mercy of their own chemical imbalances; something which they have no hand in.

Since we can to a degree, control our actions on the mortal plane, why are so many of us apt to follow the path of an unfulfilled life?

We seem to hold on to the idea that you must live many years, to have lived a “full life”. Do years really equate to a life lived? I believe most would agree that it is the content of those years that determines this instead. One could live 100 years in a vegetative state, while another 25 years travelling the world, meeting people, trying new cuisines, and indulging in everything our planet has to offer. Who then had the “fuller life”?

Would it not be fair to say: “Collect experiences, not years”?

That’s a lot of questions in one night.

I’ve been taking a philosophy class, and it’s incited me to look deeper into existential questions. I’ve always had a curious mind, but have stopped short over the years addressing these types of topics. Taking this class (plus a fresh new notebook) is opening a new realm of thinking, that is really exciting. It also gives me a chance to put these thoughts into a concrete medium.

I’ve continuously said that I want to be active with this blog, yet seem to constantly hit a brick wall. I’m hoping that since I will have a hard-copy journal, that it will facilitate my blogging ventures. I know that the way my mind works, and catalogues thoughts is a bit messy. However, I hope this blog can become a vehicle for deeper thinking for those who read it, and expanded discussions down the road.

-DFP-

Summer’s End

IMG_0657
Standard

I know summer doesn’t technically end until late September.

Going back to school, and the changing weather makes it feel that way, though. I’m excited, because autumn is my favourite time of year. The air is crisper, the colours more vibrant, it suits my wardrobe better, and of course: cozy foods. I do very much love summer, so it’s bittersweet when it ends. This year stings just a little bit more.

This summer was absolutely packed.

I haven’t written a lot as a result. I seemingly haven’t found any time to sit down and get anything done. I don’t know if the school year will make it any easier. All said, it’s not a bad thing. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a “go go go” summer, and it’s been nice to experience the sights, sounds, and of course people that this year has brought. I’d love to sit down and detail it, I really would. The reality is, it would take up at least 3-4 normal posts, and I don’t want to get caught in a loop of not updating. So here’s a summarized list of highlights/observations from this summer:

Walking > All other modes of transpo.
Vancouver is a stunning city. (Despite questionable inhabitants)
#butts
Feeding the propaganda machine that is, and will continue to be: Operation Dogface to Vancouver.
Beach days. Lots of lazy beach days.
Brunch for days…so many bennies.
Days at the ballpark, and subsequent hotdogs will never get old.
Major reconnection with the outdoors
Cabin. No mobile service = best.

There’s a lot more, too. I’m still coming down from being away from “civilization” this long weekend, so it’s hard to reminisce about the entirety of the last 3 months. However, I’d be remiss if I left out on major point:

People

It’s been the thing I’ve struggled the most with since moving to Vancouver. I’ve come to find that most people I’ve met, follow a pretty specific set of patterns and personalities.. It’s made it difficult to make too many lasting connections. One benefit to this, is that it makes the connections I have made, stronger. This summer has been full of people. I’ve met a bunch of new ones, continued to form bonds with old ones, and let some others go their own way.

We’ve watched movies together, bummed on the beach, gone on picnics in the park, watched the city get sleepy on top of mountains, and squeezed every last drop out of summer we could. If it weren’t for the people I’ve met and known over the course of this summer, there’s no way it could have been such a rousing success. You people are the best.

Now let’s fall in love with autumn.

-DFP-

 

 

Tides

waves-tide-armageddon-scary-ocean-lake-sea
Standard

I grew up by lakes and streams
Simpler things
People were
Quiet and
Reserved
They didn’t pay you any mind
If you gave them no reason to

We lived
We breathed
We just
Were

Now oceanside
These tides are different
Everyone moves fast
Like all they care about
Is being noticed
They lack
In purpose
In intent
In sincerity

Maybe bigger isn’t better

The freedom of no horizon
Seems fanciful
But where do you go
When you feel
Lost?

-DFP-

From The Heart: Honey-Bee

lesinsectes00figu_0458
Standard

Dearest Honey-Bee,

Things have been less than ideal the last couple of years.

If I had been aware of the consequences, I would have done things differently. I feel alone, lost, and sometimes even scared. Not scared for what could and is happening to me, more fear of what might happen to you. I have the worst remorse over leaving you; I’ve never felt so separated.

I remember when we first met like it was yesterday: you were the brash, thin-as-a-stick, gal across the hall and you annoyed the living daylights out of me. In some ways, you’ve carried that tradition on to this very day. You were loud, judgemental, and opinionated. You hated me, because I’d picked up a twang during my recent trip down South. I’d have sooner drowned you than spent 5 minutes with you those first couple of days. Funny how does feelings can still resurface, right? Little did either of us know, a real adventure was brewing…

I tried to date your sister
You came to work for me
You pushed my buttons
I pushed yours right back

We hugged
We kissed
We fought
We loved

Even during the most heated, terrible times, our lives continued to intertwine. 

We fought so hard one night, you pulled a knife on me. You threatened me with violence; I threatened you with leaving. There would be other close calls and we survived them all. Whatever forces had brought us together, they wanted to make sure that we could never truly be split apart. Beyond anger, apart from romance, we were always friends first; the very best no matter what anyone else would attempt to say.

It’s never been easy.

Over these last two years, you’ve been so distant. Not just physically, that part of the equation is too obvious. It’s been a struggle staying in touch. We don’t communicate like we used to. You’re never available and fail to hold your promises. You’ve held me at far more than arm’s length, emotionally. More like the span of an albatross’ wings, which suits our scenario even better since, I feel that is what my loneliness has become: my burden of penance for moving away.

In an imperfect world though, our friendship will never be out of place.

Classic case of round hole, square peg. Countless people told us it was futile, but we kept plugging away until, somehow, we wore down the edges enough to fit. We both took our turns at inopportune times to be more, to fulfill the role of companion, each crashing and burning in different ways. I guess there was always something more intended over that rainbow for us.

Friends eternal.

Pooh and Piglet.

I’ll never love anybody in the same manner. They broke the mould when they made you, and I am the luckiest boy in the solar system to have shared the kind of memories we’ve made together. Right now they feel far away, but I know there will be many more on the horizon.

I love you to Pluto and back. (yep, even if it’s no longer a planet, it’s worth the trip.)

-DFP-