Olympian Ink

I knew I had wanted a tattoo honoring the ancient Greek gods for a long long time. I have been a fan, a student of the gods since … well as far back as I can remember. In high school I even worshiped them as a real religion for a while. There was even an elaborate story written with my friend Ted where he and I were children of the Gods trapped here on Earth due to the vicious jealousy of Hera (note: this is long before Hercules: The Legendary Journeys or Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson – the Lightning thief)

my lightning bolt tattoo

First I went with a lightning bolt, I got a blue and red one as I have blue and red Superman crest on my other arm, but that didn’t seem enough.

So next I got the word Zeus tattooed on my lower back – a tramp stamp if you will (yeah, I can be a tramp).

But even that didn’t seem to do it, so I thought long and hard about what it was that I wanted.

Back in high school I had somehow ended up in woodworking class – I think this was my mothers idea, or maybe we had to take a class like that – kind of like gym or math – something stupid I’ll never do again unless I have to. Everyone else was making gun racks (it is WI after all) or chests and I started to make a chest but it was pretty awful – the teacher told me I should make something that mattered to me so I opted for a symbol for the gods. I called it a star chart – had nothing to do with stars, but had a symbol to represent each of the Major 12 Greek gods. At first I tried carving the symbols in, but I have no talent there, so the teacher taught me how to use a wood burner and I burned the symbols into the wood. I had a lightning bolt for Zeus, a peacock for Hera, a trident for Poseidon, a skull and cross bones for Hades, a sun for Apollo, a moon for Artemis, a sword for Ares, a heart for Aphrodite, a… um, I can’t remember what I had for Hephaestus, a caduceus for Hermes and grapes for Dionysus. In the center of the star chart was this drawing I used to put after I signed anything, kind of a mixture between the Van Halen V looking symbol and Johnny Quick’s symbol (Johnny Quick ironically got his powers by reciting a mathematical equation… oy). The star chart was lost during a move during my drinking days, probably didn’t survive – it was just stained and varnish varnished decorated wood – but powerful wood – lol, powerful wood.

So I thought maybe I’d like a tattoo with those symbols so I started to design what I wanted over a year ago. I’m not much of an artist so it was pretty basic. My idea was given to my tattoo guy Matthew at Jinx Proof Tattoos in Georgetown, who came up with this basic drawing:

Matthew's drawing based on my rough idea

He had also come up with a bunch of the symbols representing the gods, which eerily reminded me of the Star Chart, but I opted for the more artistic version.

I had six sessions with Matthew over the last few months, with a minimum 2 weeks between each visit to ensure proper healing. Last night we finished and I’m really glad. It was expensive, it was time consuming, it was totally worth it!

Olympian Ink Tattoo

Addiction

I spent five hours this afternoon and early evening watching the results of a friend relapsing on prescription drugs – it wasn’t pretty. I was called to his house by his partner and got there as soon as I could. The friend having the relapse looked very little like the person I have known for years, he was pale, shaking, slurring his words, eyes hooded – it was frightening to see him this way. Typical of someone stoned or drunk he wasn’t every helpful when we asked him questions about what he had taken or where he had hidden stash and the more we asked the more the story seemed to change. At one point he got up walked into the kitchen put three pills in his hand and would have taken them if we hadn’t stopped him in time.

His partner, his friends were all worried about him and worried about his partner too. Addiction is a serious disease that can fuck you up pretty quickly if you don’t have a solution. At the end of the evening we had checked him into the hospital for the night with plans for him entering an evaluation center the next morning. It’s a step in the right direction – maybe.

I say maybe because it really has to be something he wants to have happen – he has to want to get better, he has to want it more than anything else or at least be able to fake that want until it becomes an honest desire in his own heart. I don’t know of an easy way to get to that place – for me and countless others it was a painful journey to a dark place where we had no hope left at all, no hope of a future a change or a friend. “a self-imposed crisis he couldn’t postpone nor evade” That’s the key really – the way out is hitting the bottom so hard that your soul has the breath knocked out of it. A place so desperate you’ll try anything, anything to get out of it – but the scary part is when you’re down in that hole you sometimes think the way to get out of it is the way you got down there to begin with and you have another drink or another drug or another whatever you happen to be addicted to and you find yourself sinking deeper and deeper into the self pity that feeds on itself.

I asked him a few times “what are you going to do different this time?” “why will this time matter?” he didn’t have an answer, I don’t have an answer – but I know that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity – so it’s time to go to any lengths now, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and find someone with a solution that might be able to help you IF you’re willing to listen and IF you’re willing to ACT.

When I was at meetings in WI we’d ask each week if there was anyone “counting days” or “under thirty days” and the same guy kept raising his hand each week and I just knew he was a lost cause, I knew that he’d never “get it” and get better. But less than a year later that guy quit raising his hand, and he started putting together days of sobriety and soon he had a few weeks and before I knew it he had a few months and today he has a few years. It’s never too late to find the solution, it’s never to late IF you’re willing to go to any lengths to find what many of us have discovered to be a common solution.

Tonight as I hit the sack I’ll think about all I have to be grateful for, including being there for this friend tonight – it reminded me of who I used to be and how far I’ve come and that if I want to continue on my journey, I need to continue to help other people still struggling to find the path.

Career and Locale Change #changes

For the last few months I’ve been taking classes at night a couple times a week (Tuesday and Thursdays) to learn to be a phlebotomist and yesterday afternoon I took the final exam and am now certified and set to begin my new journey. My instructors at Because We Care here in DC were just so amazing and helpful and made the whole thing seem so easy – I know it’s because they were so good at training us. 

A phlebotomist, in case you didn’t know is a technician that collects blood for testing and for transfusions, labeling the different samples, and keeping on top of all documentation. You’ve probably had a phlebotomist take your blood during your last doctor visit and didn’t even know they were anything besides a nurse. It’s very technical and specialized, I had to work for long hours figuring out the best ways to slip the syringe-needle with minimal discomfort on the patient. I’m actually getting a little turned on by wearing the rubber gloves so sometimes I might spend a little extra time just making sure they are “just right” before I begin.

I had quite a few slips ups during my training and knew when the patient had gone that it would either bruise or at minimum sting for a little bit. But now I’m much more confident and have learned to distract the patient a little bit before I slip it in – mostly I just strike them up in casual conversation; ask them about their families or where they’ve vacationed lately. In my cubicle at the school lab I placed two posters for them to look at to help, one of the posters is a beautiful mountaintop covered in snow with a a couple of skiers on what looks like a milk run – boy does that scene make me wish I was out there this moment enjoying the powder. The other poster is just a couple of kittens, some people are into that I guess. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to go out of your way to please other people – especially if it helps them to relax, I’m all about small talk, but sometimes other distractions work.

In anticipation of this certification I have been putting out feelers discretely for work in places that I’d like to live, you all know the list as I’ve talked about it so many times before but I think I’ve finally settled on Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I’ve sent my resume into St. Boniface hospital there and have already been asked to come in for an interview. My friend Nathan has assured me that I can crash at his house for the interview and if I get the job then I could even crash there until I get on my feet. Wow, I’m finally going to have free health care and I will only have to move out of the “land of the free” to get it. Crazy right? These Canadians not only have free health care, they are getting rid of their penny and have a porn channel… a porn channel! can you imagine? And the winters there I hear are comparable to what we have in the DC area so I’ll be fine.

I’m flying out Monday for the interview and hope to have a job offer this week and if so I’ll be giving notice at my job then packing up and heading for Winnipeg! During my visit in September of last year I just fell in love with the place, the people, the poutine it’s everything I ever wanted and more. They’ve have good quality AA, beefy men and the Blue Bombers – Canada’s best football team and you know I’m a big football fan so I belong in this city. Once I’m settled in I hope a lot of you have the opportunity to visit – especially in January you really want to experience the snow and ice blanketing the city – it’s stunning.

The thought of working in a hospital environment collecting bodily fluids for testing and labeling is just very fulfilling. I look forward to sucking… er drawing the blood out of Canadians for many years to come. I hope that you will all also have the opportunity to feel this fulfilled about a career change as I do.

Becoming a certified phlebotomist is a life long dream I’ve had for a couple of months now and it’s finally becoming a reality.

If you’re late to the party, this was my April Fools Day Post – I pass out around needles and blood, detest snow and cold weather and don’t do “small talk”.