The Time I Married My Stalker (pt. 4)

After starting a new chapter, I moved back in with my mom and started a new job. I eventually saved up enough money to live in a 3 bedroom duplex that was half renovated and probably not technically livable. But I was really happy. I didn’t have any roommates. I was a block from the Santa Fe trail. My illegal neighbors didn’t talk to me but made me a nice bench to smoke on when I sat outside. I would give my friends their address when inviting them over because...I found that really funny for some reason.

It was fall. There was an element of crisp newness in the air. I was dating again. I was dating handsome men all of asian descent. I only realize that now looking back on this event. I was going out every night. Meeting new people. I wasn’t sleeping much and laughing a lot. Drinking champagne on my lunch breaks. 

Yet I felt like everything was being held together by strings. My sanity. My financial situation. The dark cloud of matrimony lingering. Though I wanted to act as though nothing bothered me. That my life was a big joke and I was getting the last laugh. I felt impulsive and destructive. I didn’t care anymore if men liked me. Which was probably the most attractive thing about me at the time.

One day, Ashley and I got out of work early. I started chanting that we should day drink and text my friend Justin to meet up with us. We headed to our regular day drinking spot off lower Greenville at Truck Yard. I, of course, lost my ID a couple nights before at Ships during a night where I decided that throwing drinks was an appropriate way to announce you’ve had enough to drink. Retelling this story I would just laugh and reply, “Classicccccc.” 

If you don’t understand, you’ve probably never drank with me.

So the waitress said I couldn’t drink without an ID, but I wasn’t going to let that get in my way. I asked my friends to order a pitcher and I’d just drink off of the actual pitcher. I’m thinking at most I only drank two beers. I talked trash about the fact they wouldn’t let me drink. Laughed a lot. Then we decided to head over to Dallas Beer Kitchen across the street.

I was leading the way through the exit when crossing my path was… Matt. I didn’t even stop walking I just turned around outside the exit and mouthed to my friends, ‘WTFFFF’. But as I did Matt turned around and asked to speak to me. I nervously laughed and gave Ashley the crazy eyes like ‘SHIT DAWG WTFFFF’. So I said, “I guess?” looking bewildered at the sudden turn of events. Then I changed my mind and interrupted him and told him we were actually leaving but if he stopped by DBK later maybe we could talk. He agreed.

Walking across the street, I just kept saying, “How did he know I was here? You think this was a coincidence? No...no… it’s too weird. He should be at work right now…” My friends were just kind of laughing but they liked Matt. They didn’t ...I guess… see anything wrong with it. Heading over to Dallas Beer Kitchen I felt pretty sober. Matt headed straight over I guess because when I saw him inside he was already at the bar and bought me a drink. I accepted the drink but said, “You know what? No we can’t talk. You owe me so much fucking money for busting out my window. You’ve never repaid shit. You're a shitty person.” And like that he hands me $200. 

Not like that repaid all the awful things he did but I needed that money at the moment and so I decided to sit down with him for a minute. While I was sitting there I text one of the guys I was seeing to meet me up there to hang out. I wasn’t planning on talking to Matt long.

That’s the last thing I remembered before waking up around 1am the next day. That guy I had been seeing said he showed up like 15 minutes later and I was slumped over at the table and Matt was trying to drag me off with him. As in he had drugged my drink. As in … I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t told that guy to show up. The guy stopped him and Matt tried yelling at him that I was his wife. He was confused because I hadn’t told him I was married or ever got married but still thought the situation was too weird to leave me in considering I was just texting him. 

I didn’t really talk about it. I just went to the fridge and got out some wine. I laid in my empty living room with a blanket, shaking and texting people. This guy came out there really concerned and asked me if I had a drinking problem. I laughed and said maybe. It didn’t seem to matter. I drank til I fell asleep. 

Over the next two days, I really started to fall apart. I remember driving on the way to work and listening to Kevin Devine thinking...this is the beginning of a dark time. Like you're standing on the edge of a cliff at all times. You're balancing and making it look like you're fearless and having fun, but the whole time you want to fall off because the impending doom of what’s to come is so paralyzing you’d rather at least be in control of your own demise. 

Maybe that’s hard to understand. Knowing Matt was still around and could still hurt me made me feel like I had no power in the world. I never mentally dealt with anything that went on. The world doesn’t allow for getting help and paying bills and surviving. I was depressed in a way that was probably mostly invisible. At least I thought I was doing a good job of acting okay.

Within two days, I walked out of work without saying anything. I went home and packed up my stuff out of my house. Within 24 hours after that was on my way to Denver. I just wanted to be so busy surviving that I didn’t have time for my sadness. I wanted to be so distracted. I could be at a party and the second I get to my car I would burst into tears. My heart felt so bad. Like a literal ache inside. I felt sick when people were nice to me. That felt even worse. God forbid anyone ask me with concern how I was doing. I would have just fallen apart. So I surrounded myself that were more self absorbed than I was. 

What I found in Denver showed me something I’ll never forget. I went and stayed with my friend Danni. I had known Danni socially but not too well. She’s always been a super nice girl and I really needed a way out. Danni was more that supportive and hospitable. I applied for job. I met her friends. She let me stay rent free on her couch. 

On the night that ended up being the last night I was there. I took her and her boyfriend to his surprise birthday party. See, she called up all his old friends and arranged this whole dinner at one of his favorite restaurants. It was such a simple act. Like probably something that someone who cares about another person would just do. At the dinner his friends were welcoming and nice. Took an interest in talking to me. Asked how Denver was treating me. They just seemed like such nice people.

Ten years from then… I won’t have any old friends to call up. I won’t have someone who cares for me enough to have a party. Even if I did it wouldn’t have gone like that. It would have involved a screaming fight in the car and… too much alcohol...God I fucking hated myself. I didn’t feel good enough to even be around those people. 

The next day I just quietly packed up my stuff again and got in my car and started driving. I didn’t belong anywhere. Maybe I did belong with Matt. He probably hates me as much as I hate myself.

I made it home with $10 to spare. No job. My mom said she didn’t want me moving back in with her. I stayed one night at my brothers. Then I mistakenly … or maybe appropriately answered a text from Matt. 

I know how this is even harder to understand. For me, it was taking that jump into the abyss. To have control over my misery. Just because I left him didn’t mean what he had done wasn’t controlling everything I did anymore. It didn’t seem to matter what I did. I was being weak. I didn’t want to fight him anymore. I didn’t want to fight to survive. It was so exhausting being strong all the time. I had made a lot of mistakes and I didn’t know where to go anymore. 

Walking back into his house was frightening because I knew how hard it would be to get out again. But mostly I didn’t care. I was ready for this to be over.
 

The Time I Married My Stalker (pt. 3)

Here we were, two months into being newlyweds and everything had seemingly fallen apart. Talk about failure. Talk about feelings of shame and being unlovable. No one really seemed to understand or care what I was going through. I understand now that … what could anyone say to make things better?

Matt and I went through an on and off period, with me trying and getting scared away, that went on for a couple weeks. During that time, I let it slip that I was going to Chicago to visit a friend. A guy friend. Unbeknownst to me, I was still logged into Matt’s laptop in my email. So he goes in and buys a ticket for Chicago as close as he can get to my booked flight. It was during a definitely off period. He refused to not go and threatened if I left with anyone else from O’Hare I would regret it. I saw on facebook that morning that he checked in at the airport. I was texting friends and seeing if they knew he was actually going. Who would go across the country to stop someone from being with someone else? I don’t know maybe it's more common than you’d think? But it’s still a lot of money just to be a jerk. Before my flight took off I text my friend and let him know that things had changed and my ex was in Chicago waiting for me and it wasn’t safe for him to come. This guy seemed pissed and like I was being super shady but I really didn’t know how to explain it. I didn’t want him to get hurt over me. 

I was in a real pickle because I had only booked a hotel for one night in Chicago but was going to Milwaukee the next day with this guy. So now… I would have to stay with Matt. Who also knew my booking dilemma from looking at my emails. When he was waiting at my terminal, I tried to play it off like I was excited he was there to meet me and this wasn’t a horrific situation. On the train to downtown, things seemed okay. Matt was slightly drunk from waiting on me at the airport. Pretty quickly, as usual, he went straight into his verbal abuse and blaming me for everything. An example would be that he wouldn’t choose a restaurant and would be nice and ask me to pick. Then after eating he would complain and throw a fit and tell me how stupid I was for picking this place and walk out and leave me with the bill. Or when we went site seeing and he yelled at me for making him walk too much and made me rub his feet for an hour.

Once he fell asleep that afternoon, I left to the hotel gym and went for a run. Within ten minutes, my phone is blowing up with him accusing me of cheating on him and telling him I had to send him pictures immediately. He started calling his friends and telling them how awful I was and that I was there to meet another man and he had to stop me. All in front of me. Making me listen to him embarrass me. Then he pressured me into having sex with him. I was scared of what would happen if I didn’t. Then I went to take a shower and just cried and thought about killing myself. I felt ashamed to look myself in the mirror anymore. I hated that I let this happen again.

The day we were leaving, Matt couldn’t get a flight closer than 12 hours to mine so he had to leave first. He cried on the floor of the hotel room saying I was going to leave him for what he did to me during this trip and he couldn’t leave me here. That he’d never see me again. He insisted that he should take my car keys so that he’d know he’d see me again. I agreed because I wasn’t in a position to say otherwise. Immediately after he got on the train to head back to the airport the hateful name calling text started back up that I was such a whore and I was lucky he even came to Chicago and he was broke and it’s all my fault. He wanted to continue to break me down even when he wasn’t there. Finally I turned my phone off. I had anxiety about him having my keys but… I was pissed at myself for not standing up to him. I was at least passive aggressively standing up for myself by shutting it off.

The rest of the trip, I sat in a park reading ‘On the Road’ and thanking God he was gone. After him taunting me on the way home that he now owned my car because we were married and he might not even pick me up. I just played nice and apologized. He made me stay at his house for a couple days. It would make me feel gross just waking up in that bed. It feels like a hostage situation. You can’t leave and let him know you're leaving. You have to wait until everything seems fine. You're just going to the store or for cigarettes or anything. You can’t take anything with you. Then when things are okay you rationalize that you shouldn’t leave because you have nowhere to go anyways and you haven’t even been outside in days and your anxiety is just so much that ...you just get so beat down.

Against better judgement, I took the bait to go to marriage counseling with Matt. Even the counselor, who asked to see me for a session alone, told me I should get away from him at all costs. That his erratic behavior and expectations for me were severely unrealistic and dangerous. Hearing that so quickly and factually from a third party when…. Most everyone loved Matt. All my friends thought he was the greatest guy. When I’d tell them the things he’d done, they would just shrug it off. Or like that was reasonable treatment for a person like myself. Which kind of made me start hating everyone around me and shut down more. That counselor though helped me come up with a game plan to leave while he was at work and go to my mom’s house even if she didn’t understand or want me there.

And for probably six months it worked… pretty well. Until one day at brunch.
 

The Time I Married My Stalker (pt. 2)

A couple of months before the engagement, I was at Matt's house when there was a knock at the door. He opened it and I saw a sheriff and he quickly went outside and closed the door. When he came back inside I, of course, asked him what was going on. He then told me that a girl he dated before me was coming up with some slanderous allegations that he had raped her. Then insisted that none of it was true and she was just upset that he was dating me now. I pressed for more information but he held onto the story that it was completely made up and nothing would come of it. I was concerned but it was kind of a believable story at the time. He hadn’t raped me or shown any signs of aggression so I took it at face value.

 

In Denver, when I came upon that email his story was that a friend took his phone where he had dick pics from a previous relationship and made these emails as a joke. Again… although this seemed untrue and the pictures of a more recent set up of his room… I wanted to believe it.

 

I had just got promoted to Front Desk Manager of this very upscale salon in Dallas. I had announced to everyone I was engaged. I was trying so hard to turn my image and life around. The thought of denouncing all that so quickly was beyond embarrassing to me. I came to the conclusion that I would continue this for a couple more weeks after getting home then call off the engagement.

 

When we arrived back home, Matt was even more of an awesome boyfriend. He would send me flowers to work. Come see me on my lunch break. Take me out to nice dinners.I quickly pushed all the ideas of him not being who he said he was to the back of my mind once again. He began to push to get married sooner. I didn’t see marriage as a super important thing. It meant a lot to him so I went along with it. We got married at the Justice of the Peace April 24th.

 

A couple weeks later, we had our elopement party. My family was so excited for me. My mom was happy I found someone who’d love me. All my friends loved him. More than they liked me even. Matt was super charismatic. I could take him anywhere and he’d fit right in. Anywhere we’d go he’d show me off like a prize he had won. It felt good. Everything felt really good.

 

After the party, life continued like usual. I was still working out a lot. Going for runs with our new dog, Kava. One day that same week, I wanted to go for a run and Matt complained that he was too tired from his manual labor job and didn’t feel like it. I shrugged it off and got ready to leave. As I was saying I’d be back in 30-40 minutes, his attitude towards me drastically changed. Still I proceeded not thinking much of it at the time then returned. He gave me the silent treatment and stayed on his phone the rest of the night. Being tired after the run I decided to call it an early night and went to bed.

 

An hour later, I woke up with Matt over me shaking me and screaming at me. It jolted me and I was thoroughly confused. I thought something was wrong by how he was acting. He started calling me a slut, whore, bitch… pretty much whatever offensive thing men can come up with. I had never seen him act this way so I tried to console him and put my hand on his shoulder to… hopefully calm him down. I wasn’t mad.

 

Seeming almost repulsed by my touch, he stood up quickly and demanded answers for why I hadn’t slept with him that day. That I was out instead of running, fooling around with someone else. I laughed at the thought because I’m just not that motivated by sex. That infuriated him and he grabbed the jar holding the money we’d received from my family during the elopement party. He yelled that he was the husband and if he wanted to take all this money and go to the strip club tonight he would. None of it really made sense to me because I was coming out of a deepish sleep to a whole lot of nonsense. Why a strip club? Why am I a whore?

 

He began to move towards the front doorway with all the money and that’s when I felt I needed to react because there was $1000 in there. I reached over his shoulder to grab the jar as he was facing away from me. In that moment he threw himself back on me forcing me to the ground. He laid on top of me smothering me into the wood floor. He was pushing into me so hard I realized this wasn’t an accident. Finally I bit him in the back to try and get him off of me so I could breathe.

 

As soon as I did, he stood up effortlessly and with a look seeming pleased with himself said, “I finally have something on you now.”

 

The statement horrified me as I sat up and backed away from him. Matt still was holding onto the jar as he picked up his phone and called the police. I was jarred. I grabbed my phone and rushed to the bathroom and locked the door. The entire time I couldn’t see well because I had my contacts out. I quickly shoved them into my eyes and went to the living room to find my purse. He was smirking while talking to the police about how I viciously attacked him and that I was trying to leave. I couldn’t hear what the operator was saying but he then handed me my keys.

 

I rushed out the door with almost nothing. Within five minutes my phone was blowing up from him. I was apprehensive to go home to my mom’s as it was an hour away and I didn’t want her to worry. She was so happy for me. After I drove to Rockwall I pulled over and answered the phone. Matt told me he wouldn’t press charges on me if I just came home. Also that the cops were looking for me and knew where my mother lived. I turned around and drove back to his place because I thought there’s no way they would take his side. I also didn’t want the cops showing up to where I worked and causing a scene or looking guilty for leaving the scene of a crime. It was all so bizarre to me.

 

When I arrived the cops treated me like a criminal and said that they should be taking me to jail but since Matt desperately didn’t want that they were going to let it slide. I was allowed to go inside and get SOME of my belongings. I was so angry and confused. After getting some of my things, I made the drive back to my moms and telling her that Matt and I got in a fight and just needed some space.

 

I didn’t talk to Matt for a couple weeks after that. I started drinking a lot again. I didn’t really have a place to stay suddenly so I was back to couch hopping or staying at my mom’s. I felt so indescribable. Mostly I guess I felt like an idiot. Things don’t work out for me, I thought. One day after work I invited some random friend of a friend to meet up for drinks and ended up having this crazy, almost what could be considered fun in a pulp fiction type of way, night. We had empty meaningless sex and in the morning he said I could sleep in while he went to work. I never went back to sleep. I laid there depressed and afraid. I had so much anxiety I didn’t want to face the daylight. It wasn’t until two pm that I convinced my friend, Logan, to pick me up and drive me to my car. I laughed off the whole night like nothing mattered. He told me I needed to love myself more and I laughed then agreed. I just didn’t want to be alone. And I felt so alone.

 

Throughout the two weeks not talking to Matt, he was showing up outside my work. Parking across the street. Pulling up behind me when I’d get to work. Leaving notes on my car begging me to come back. I wanted desperately to feel like I did just a couple weeks before. I had a sense of stability for the first time ...ever. It was just one night. It was just one awful night. Maybe I should have waited for him to want to run too. Maybe I was so selfish I couldn’t see it. No one’s ever liked me anyway and probably for good reason.

 

I agreed to meet him at his house and finally talk. At first he seemed to be sincere and apologetic. Then he asked me if I slept with anyone else and I told him yes. He immediately flew into a rage and asked me who and why. I told him who. When he pressed asking why...I responded honestly and simply…”he was nice to me.”

 

From there Matt started throwing glasses and I ran to the kitchen because (it seems so trivial now) I really wanted to get my juicer back. I grabbed it and headed back to the living room where the front door was. He blocked my entry and put his hand back as he was about to hit me. I quickly fell to the ground and balled up just trying to protect myself. He let out a roar of a laugh and began taunting me for being such a pussy. I scrambled towards the door and saw him turn and pick up his golf club. I ran out and made my way to my car. I had a false sense of safety as I locked my doors to my car and exhaled relief.

 

Suddenly there’s glass breaking and shattering. He was on the passenger side of my car smashing it in and calling me a slut. I started up my car and drove down the street. He got in his car too and sped past me flipping me off. In all my fear, I still found it funny that he thought flipping me off was valid somehow.

 

I called the police. Nothing came of it. The officer just warned me that if I stayed with Matt, I’d probably end up dead.

Koneko // Halloween

I just got my first tattoo in seven years two weeks ago, right? Well I follow the shop my friend, Millie, does booking for and saw a Halloween flash they were doing for limited appointments this week.  I asked Millie if any spots were left for Monday and there was actually a time that worked after Dustin could come home and watch Samson for me. How serendipitous? 

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I was nervous going to the appointment alone because well... who likes doing new things alone? But what is more disliked is coming to an appointment with an entourage.  The studio is brand new having just opened a couple weeks ago. I’d say the overall look of Koneko is clean, plants and white. Very modern in ways of the usual tattoo shop I’m accustomed to. And as far as I know, it’s an all female shop.

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As a woman who has had her tattoos done all by men and has mostly felt uncomfortable with the interactions within the shops... or motels... or back country houses in Arkansas...this was a nice change. It feels more like a salon than a tattoo shop. My artist was Dre who has just relocated here from the Bay Area.  

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The set of flash for her special was a one use per tattoo kind of thing before she retired it for the special. I get that because if I’m doing things that I want for my portfolio then I want variety. Dre was helpful and easy to talk to. I went with the ghost kitty trick or treater on my arm between my traditional pieces. She even enlarged it to work better for the space. After she finished the outline, she took some pictures and decided to do some shading as well. That’s super nice since most tattoo artists I have met just seem to want you out of the shop as quickly as possible and don’t really care to do anything extra if they don’t have to.  

Overall the experience really changed how I felt about tattooing. You can be have good customer service in a nice easy going welcoming atmosphere. Who knew?  

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Raw Artists: SAVOR

Back in September I was asked to be in this showcase. The showcase features 60 artists from Dallas and features your work. Initially I was super surprised and hype on the idea. I love curating a whole look. I asked if Jenny could help and they agreed. Previously I hadn’t really heard of RawArtists. I signed on though and first started looking for models. 

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so what started off as excitement quickly led to dread over the next couple weeks. No one wanted to model in the show. No one wanted to buy tickets. I was surprised. Then I thought about it and being on a Wednesday was hard. Overtime Jenny and I sold the tickets and had about three models pinned down for the showcase. 

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one dropped out an hour prior to the show but we had to keep going. In the days leading up to the showcase, I couldn’t make any of my hair pieces work with the material I bought. Overall I was feeling discouraged. Plus with all the models dropping I didn’t want to invest anymore money. I felt like a sore loser but... it just wasn’t in my personal budget. 

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the showcase itself was pretty awesome. There was a lot of miscommunication via email that I just took at face value. Upon arriving I realized I was the only artist without a booth. I shrugged it off and decided the less set up and break down, the better. The night was amazing to feel supported by those who came and those that bought tickets to just support us but couldn’t make it. 

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I was semi jealous I couldn’t have gone all out like a lot of the other artists that were being showcased but we made due with what we had. All in all a good learning experience. We’ve already submitted to showcase in Denver for February. Hopefully we get admitted! Wish us luck! 

Shadow Woman

I had a dream the other night that I went to see a play that I had seen in my events on Facebook. During the play the actors came into the audience like a haunted house show and it was entertainingly scary. That next morning I got a notification that, that same event was that night. The dream came flooding back to me and I clicked the link to buy the ticket.

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‘Shadow Woman’ was being shown at the Cultural Bathhouse at White Rock. I’ve actually

gone to a party there once. It was one of those secret parties where the location is revealed just an hour before the party. That was three years ago now. Since they have redone the nonexistent floors in the basement. We were amongst the first to arrive and lathered ourselves in OFF! spray them had a seat on the front row.  

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The general storyline is that it’s about a girl named Arrah who’s mother has passed away recently and her and her father moved to a new house in the suburbs to try and rebuild their lives. With the help of her friend, Rachel, they uncover the lives of the past owners and unravel the mystery of their relationship. 

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It was opening night and the play seemed to start off a little rocky with props not working but after a while the characters really drew me in with their emotion. If you see this play for one reason only ... it’s the music. It’s like they knew my ultimate Fall time jamz from 2005. From Dead Mans Bones to Nick Cave and a super bad ass Ramones cover. Super creepy vibes all around.  

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The acting was great as well. It really pulled some emotion from me. Especially from Arrah. When she was talking about what it feels like to lose her mother. I can’t even imagine that kind of pain but I felt it sitting in there. And when she explained how she felt stronger after everything...at the end of the show... I can’t understand that too.  

 

Shadow Woman’s story told through a diary found by Arrah also was super relatable to me having gone through an abusive controlling relationship. Seeing two different people in your husband that shapeshifts in front of others. I’ve thought those thoughts.  

 

Go see Shadow Woman at the Bathhouse Cultural Center this month while you have the chance! Do something out of character. Experience someone else’s truth.  

Friday the 13th // Hocus Poke Us

In all my years in Texas, I have yet to succumb to the allure of the Friday the 13th tattoo. For those that don't know its a $13 small flash involving the number 13 and an included $7 tip making it only $20. Other shops have upped the price, which I can't blame them, so when I heard about this pop up at Local Moto in Oak Cliff I thought 'Why not?'

 

It had been 8 years since my last tattoo. My last experience getting tattooed wasn't all that great. Plus theyre typically expensive for good work. In theory though I'd like to get more tattoos so I look more finished overall. I've always admired body modifications without it being too obscene or grotesque. Even plastic surgery. Why not make the best of your time here on Earth? Really garnish that body of yours. I don't take most things in life seriously and that seems to baffle most people... even make some people angry. Sometimes I take life too seriously. When I do it correlates with how happy I am. So I try to make myself happy.

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So I asked Jenny and Dustin to come with me to the the F13 party at Local Moto + Provisions, which is seemingly a motorcycle shop and beer/coffee shop. Next door is the more well know Local Press + Brew featuring cold pressed juices that are also sold throughout the more affluently hipster neighborhoods here in Dallas. I get a lot of anxiety prior to going to an event that's dependent upon getting there early and long lines. I showed up 15 minutes early to the starting time with Dustin and having Jenny say she was going to be a little late to a list being monitered by a very nice lady with 10 people ahead of us. We had some sliders and waited. Jenny arrive 2 hours later and upon arriving putting her name on the list. With 30 people between us. With 4 hours left at the party and not even having gotten to me or Dustin yet... I didn't see that as a good sign for her.

My brother texts me and asked what I was doing and I proceeded to invite him out. When I'm doing something cool... I kind of blank out of inviting anyone else so I'm trying to be better about it. In reality I like to keep my life as small as possible. I don't like people being dependent upon me. I don't like having expectations or feeling obligated to do anything. I don't like going out and running into people I know. I enjoy going into a world full of anonymity. Huge things can be going on in my life and I don't tell anyone. I just hold it close to me like I'm playing a game of poker. Maybe it's control. Maybe... it's getting older. Either way I'm trying to involve people more in my life. 

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2.5 hours in I finally get a text saying that theyre ready to start my tattoo. I go up in the line and the lady holding the sign in sheet tells me my lady is almost ready. I was kind of absent of emotion at that point. I felt the need to be personable towards the tattoo artist as I know an event like this theyre probably more viewed as machines. The whole thing took less than 15 minutes. The tattoo hurt exactly as it should considering someone is ripping your skin with a needle. I was surprised I couldn't meditate as well as I did 8 years ago. Though it wasn't really enough time to even need to.

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I walked out and strangers were asking to see it. I faked excitementand agreed how good it looked. And it did look good. I just don't like strangers. While I was in the chair my brother had arrived so I was in a hurry to greet him. I know how awkward being alone in a crowd can feel. Not that anyone would do anything mean to him but I'm very protective of my brother. Dustin was receiving his  tattoo and Jenny had left to go get her work gear before she started her shift then returning to try and get her tattoo done. Just as quickly Dustin came out of the garage with a cute coffee mug with 13 on the handle. It was my second choice. I excused myself to the bathroom having chugged three waters while waiting.

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While in line for the one restroom for about 100 people which I mentally noted that there must be some code violation for this...but i'm all for breaking the rules so here we go. Then a group of young women tried to skip me but then turned the corner and saw there was someone ahead of me. One of the friends was like, "guy there's a line here" before her friend retreated back behind me. I was in a super calm mood prior to that. I used the restroom then went to leave and the main girl was just blocking the doorway. Without hesitation I just ran into her completely and kept walking. 

That's where the night turned and everything started grating my nerves. I just didn't want to be around anyone. Dustin was annoying me. I felt I needed to eat something real. So I decided we needed to leave. Dustin was disappointed because a lot of his friends showed up and he wanted to talk to them. That kind of annoyed me more though. 

I'd like to say the night ended well... but it ended in a huge fight. I hate that one thing can make me snap where the flood gates of anything and everything that's ever been done to me is unleashed. I mean you can't just avoid everything that triggers you. I mean you can. But then you won't have a cheap F13 tattoo, right?

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Yoga Pod / Jade and Clover Outdoor Class

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Yoga Pod is a new to Dallas yoga studio based out of Boulder, Colorado. Yoga Pod is located close to the Perot Museum downtown. Sure. There's tons of studios in Dallas to choose from. Why do we need another? First, there seems to be a variety of levels and a wide range of heat to no heat classes. Second, Yoga Pod wants you to get a good understanding of basic postures before moving on to other levels. It's recommended to do just the Basics class for four weeks before going up to the next level. That makes me feel like that have an earnest approach to wanting you to learn yoga for more than just fitness. Or weight loss. Or sweating...a lot.

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I talked Jenny into going to her first yoga class ever on Main St. in Deep Ellum in front of all of her colleagues and passersby. Luckily she came with an open mind and actually did pretty well. I had just got done with a pilates class so every move was making me shake like a leaf.  Our instructor was soothing and knowledgeable. She was easy to follow but definitely did a lot of poses that weren't in the standard flow that I was used to. So it kept it interesting and not too difficult either. 

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I have been practicing yoga off and on since...I was 22 at least. I've never been held back from trying things that are new. I don't really have a fear of not being good at something. I can't even really empathize because I feel like I've grown so far from that place. When I was a teenager I was held back by fear of what other's thought of me or of failing but now.... failure is a part of my everyday. So is success. I try not to let either effect me too much because its an ebb and flow. The point of life is to remain peaceful despite storms around you. When you can master that you can then be truly happy.

Back to yoga... my favorite part is Savasana. Corpse Pose. I can get real deep into that pose and its such a great and happy place to be. During this outdoor session, I was feeling the wind on my body. The cool summer night laying down on me as the sun set. Drifting further away from reality. Then BAM! a fire truck heads down Main St. toward downtown and I smiled to myself thinking of the timing of things. How funny life is.

After the class I felt ecstatic. Nothing is greater than the outdoors. Even in a major city. I just love being outside. Even when I'm at home, I'm outside on the porch. It was just such good weather and I felt a good energy all over me. That's what a good yoga class is about. Feeling renewed.

Okay so youre sold and you want to try Yoga Pod? Well lucky for you, first week is free. $2 mat rentals but if you bike there that's free too! Also all month long theyre hosting different outdoor yoga sessions with weather permitting. Check them out and let me know what you think!

24 Hours In Little Rock: Malissa Calaway

I had spoke with my friend Malissa more in recent months having both of us be in similar situations in life. We both have toddler baby boys. We both like sitting on porches and talking way too late into the night. And we’re both somewhat self destructive and hilarious. One of many differences for us was that Malissa had moved back home to Little Rock a few years back just before having her child. As we caught up via text and group text, I had made a decision to visit her for my birthday. Little Rock is one of the last major cities in reasonable driving distance that I had yet to experience. Plus I always have fun with Malissa so it seemed like a no brainer.

 

I had packed up a duffel bag mostly with hair care products and a couple outfit choices for a night out and hit the open road that Friday August morning around 9am. I had stayed up the night prior reading alt right blogs and even sat outside a Starbucks on the way East and wrote a little facebook post about my thoughts on recent events. The drive itself was quite uneventful. Dustin (my boyfriend) kept calling to check in and see where I was and I kept hurriedly getting off the phone. I’m not much of a phone talker or texter whenever I am busy. I like to listen to music and sign and drink too much coffee. I stopped in Texarkana to find some allergy medicine because despite my overdose of energy drinks, I felt ran down already. It had been two hours.

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Malissa didn’t get out of work until around 5pm, so as I got closer in proximity to her location I forked off towards Pinnacle Mountain right there in Little Rock. I just put the name in the GPS and headed off that way. My only meal that day was a bag of Doritos from the road and a little bit of toast before leaving that morning. I had bought a bottle of water before entering the state park but thought I’d be fine. I did find myself surprised at the amount of humidity in the air. Okay, I was more than surprised. I assumed anything north of Dallas would have to be a lot cooler. So I walked over to the Visitor Center and grabbed a map. I just kept staring at the map feeling relatively confused as to where I was and where I wanted to be. Finally I realized I was on the wrong side of the park to begin my ascent to the top of the mountain. Once I had figured out what was wrong, I made a gameplan on how I was going to forge my way to the right trail. Put my keys in my pants and made one last look at the map before heading off along my way.

 

Huge stones and boulders built my path downwards as I had to keep my eyes on the blue paint led by some primitive keepers of the park. At a point where the trail evened out I started jogging through to forest trying to make good time. At that point I came to a paved road to cross and was on the trail for the mountain. This part of the trail was actually fairly populated. I was taking big strides carefully balancing myself on stone after stone climbing upwards. It reminded me of a Jack Keroac novel ‘On the Road’ where he mentioned his friend floating up the mountain with ease. That was me.

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Until I stopped. I kept thinking I was closer and closer. And wouldn’t stop because I just wanted to finish and get to the final climb. Then I arrived. And the final climb was much steeper than I had imagined. It was about at an 80* incline. As I slowed down and came to a halt and allowed some women to go around me, I felt a wash of cold chills flow over me. It made me alarmed as that isn’t a good sign. I drank the rest of the bottle and sat down.

 

I decided with the time and having no more water and signs of heat exhaustion, I should turn back. I cursed to myself under my breathe and noted how much more difficult it is climbing down the mountain than up.

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Climbing up my next steps were at eye level. Easy to keep an eye on all that was going on around me and my markers. After five minutes of climbing down and tripping around, I had lost track of my markers. Quickly I went from okay but worried to completely lost and alone.After about ten more minutes of walking I found an open field that I had crossed at some point during my journey there. At SOME point. Then I couldn’t remember when. Had I just crossed here or did i cross here on the first trail? Did I get this turned around? I started to pull out my phone but then I thought a map couldn’t really help me being on foot. I could still go in the wrong direction. Then I remembered I had turned on my Strava App. Which if you don’t use, its actually an app for tracking your running or cycling or swimming workouts. BUT what it did do for me was track my GPS and where I started and….Oh God. Was I happy?

 

I was way off my original trail and began headed back that way but cross ways trying to cut down on my overall mileage as I as beginning to feel sick. And out of breath from walking. Just walking at this point.

 

As I made my way back to the blue trail… it dawned on me that this was completely up hill. Up boulders. What was a fun climb and descent originally was becoming scary to the state that I was in. The last 30 feet I was sitting down every ten seconds to not get too dizzy. I could see the entrance of where I started and considered this a very annoying way to die. How embarrassing.

 

Crawling out of the woods and back into the parking lot in which I had parked, I grabbed my wallet and headed into the visitors center. The rangers and workers seemed alarmed by my state and asked what I needed to which I asked where they kept their popsicles and ice cream. I also grabbed a water then sat in my car. The strawberry popsicle gave a comforting effect but I just wanted to cry. I’m a pretty calm person and I try to stay alert and positive but once I was safe I just was hit with anxiety of...Why do you do this shit? You could have died? Why didn’t you eat more? WHY WHY WHY?-

 

A text message alert popped up on my phone. It was Malissa asking where I was at. I nonchalantly said just coming close to death and what’s your address?

 

I headed down the windy roads of Little Rock headed to the bakery at which Malissa is employed. I still felt shaken up by the time I pulled up. I was glad it was still another hour before she got off work and I could have time to emotionally release whatever these feelings were that made me want to wear a black hooded robe all night. She handed off her key and address and I made my way to her empty house with no awkward small talk. As I got ready I noticed all her clean makeup brushes and all the nice makeup she had. I had brought my own but I didn’t bring any brushes and was just going to use my fingers but thought….WHY NOT! Malissa had worked for YSL at a makeup counter and had all the best things. I didn’t even bring hairspray with me. After I finished getting ready I drew myself a glass of water and sat on her porch and smoked a cigarette. Just then I saw a car pull up and Malissa and her mother both got her son out of the car and started walking up. I realized my cigarette might not be the best introduction for the boy so i stomped it out and walked their way.

 

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Malissa quickly got ready and we headed down the street to visit her boyfriend at his art gallery showing. Still having not ate I was quickly distracted by the wine they were offering and just stared off into space as Mal was introducing me to everyone as a travel blogger. I’d mentally giggle to myself while nodding. I finally interrupted to say I just had to eat before I went full black out mode and wouldn’t be a very good guest at all. She was understanding and we walked next door. Immediately I noticed the stench of cigarette smoke mixed with burgers and fries that reminded me of my childhood. It was intensely dark and had a haze through the upper part of the walls. It seemed just perfect to me. We sat by ourselves after ordering food from the bar. We caught up and I was laughing until I had to excuse myself to the restroom where I almost peed myself. Thats’ a good laugh. We then headed over to the outdoor market where Malissa seemed to know everyone. And everyone was so kind and inviting. Which is strange coming from Dallas. I walk into a room at random here in Dallas and no one notices. And maybe they wouldn’t have noticed there either but being with Malissa was different.

Outdoor Market with local vendor.

Outdoor Market with local vendor.

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We had to make a quick trip home to relieve Malissa’s mother from baby sitting duties before heading back out for our REAL girl’s night out. It was decided that when we’d head back out we’d go to downtown. It was starting to rain a bit as we walked into this downtown hotel that Malissa raved about the hotel upstairs patio. After grabbing our drinks we’re stopped on the stairs by a man excited to finally meet Malissa as she is a ‘public figure’ here in Little Rock. I just about died with pleasure about hearing that! Our Malissa? A public figure! As we reached the patio, it started to pour down. The rain whipped at both sides of the entry way while we decided to hold out until the rest of the patrons got wet enough to leave so we could rule the area by ourselves.

 

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We laughed more about the man on the stairs and thought about how we’d just have to live here now with the weather being as tumultuous as this. After getting a bit soaked ourselves, we finally drifted back downstairs and borrowed an umbrella then took the stroll back to the car while giggling at the site of us. We got in the car and headed towards a place called Reno’s to meet up with some of her friends.

ALL THE RAIN.

ALL THE RAIN.

 

This is where the night gets blurry.

 

I was apparently banging everyone’s drinks on the table then chugging them.

 

I fell asleep at the bar.

 

I was a great hit.

 

The next morning I woke up on an air mattress in a baby’s room. I walked out of the room laughing already mumbling something about finding my socks. Malissa was warming up her vocals for her show at a drag brunch. I’m surprised she is even awake. What a responsible person. From her house, we head to the show. She’s one of the first to arrive. We sit to the side of the stage ordering fancy drinks and after 3 I can no longer say I’m hungover but back into drunk mode. I sit outside and remind myself that I have to drive home for 5 hours in just a couple hours. I tell Malissa that I”m going to lay down in the car until her time to sing. Just then they call her onstage. She sings Sia. And I am fully blown away. I record the whole thing like she’s my daughter and this is her first talent show. Afterwards so many people go up to her and tell her how amazing she is while I just smile. To have such talent. No wonder everyone in this town loves and adores her. Its really beautiful to see.

 

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From there we leave to go have mexican food to sober me up. I ate until I was physically sick. Which is just my style and had nothing to do with the alcohol, I don’t think. I said my goodbyes to Malissa in the car and drove off into the sunset. If it wasn’t just 3pm.

 

It was an amazing 24 hours in Little Rock despite some initial anxiety. I feel so lucky to know Malissa. So many of my friends are amazing and talented and beautiful. During this trip I got to know her on a more personal level. We talked and laughed so much that I wish I could go back every month and do that with her.

Artist Spotlight: Tiffany Penny

I met Tiffany probably 8 years ago. She was dating someone that was friends with someone I was seeing. I won't use any names to protect us both from embarrassment. Okay me from embarrassment. It was that meeting in passing that led to us later talking online when she moved back to the middle of nowhere (union valley/poetry) where I also lived at the time. I had asked her if she wanted to go get some drinks. The only catch was that I had to go to the coinstar to turn all my change into money. Because I'm a classy person.

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Still Tiffany being the insanely sweet and wholesome person that she is saw nothing weird about this and agreed. I'm pretty sure we went to Ships on Lower Greenville. And if you've been there...its the diviest of dive bars. Outside the bar she sang to me and my friend Justin. No hesitation. Which surprised me. What was even more surprising was  how great a singer she was. 

Not only that but over the years I've found her courage to be inspirational. She's up and moved to Austin and back to Dallas. She's hustled and made her way but by being an earnest person. Tiffany is probably one of the most ambitious people I've met. I've never heard of her being complacent. She does art, she's about to audition to be on The Voice, she's a saleswoman.

I'm sure we'll all hear more from her because I don't doubt her talent and drive. Follow her on Instagram: morningmuses to find out more about Tiffany Penny and all her many talents!

Artist Spotlight: Mary Ellen Ashley

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I first heard of Mary Ellen before I met her. I was actually asked to work her maternity leave so chances were I wasn't even going to meet her. When my temporary job was finished they asked me to stay on as an assistant. Mary Ellen is a mother (obviously), eats avocados, and has recently bought a motorcycle. She's kind of bad ass.

Mary Ellen is also a star on the podcast Weird Girls Podcast which currently plays on iTunes. She's hilarious, educational, and relatable...plus she's worked with me so that's like a few extra cool points. She has an adorable two year old named Rowan who kept us on our toes for the afternoon. 

After I did Mary Ellen's hair and makeup, all three of us headed over to Houndstooth to have some coffee and croissants (babies love croissants FYI). While we were settling in so I could get some of their first shots of her and Rowan, I received a text from Mary Ellen saying the couple next to us were breaking up. I said..."oh shit" and looked over quickly and glanced back to her and shrugged. Don't come to a public place to breakup if you don't want me taking pictures of it so you can remember it forever, ya know?

After about five minutes it felt pretty uncomfortable so we moved to the other side of the cafe. As we talk Mary Ellen tells me how she's moving to Nashville to be closer to her family in November. Impressive. I'm jealous. Starting over. Ahhh. The adventures you will have. 

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Mary Ellen has also bought a motorcycle to fix up while she's out there. Because she wasn't already cool enough. Honestly though guys... if youre into women...and podcasts, check out her podcast:

Weird Girls Podcast is the only podcast that I've EVER listened to. It's available on itunes and go ahead and like their facebook! Thank you again Mary Ellen and Rowan for spending the day with me and having fun!

Artist Spotlight: Alden Mills

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I met Alden one day at the salon after her mother recommended she came to me for a haircut. Alden is an aspiring tattoo artist and currently a microbladist specializing in eyebrows. 

 

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When I was her age the only thing I was passionate about was partying, yet she's put her art first and you can see it in her work. On top of that she is laid back and down to earth. You don't have to worry about her attention being anywhere else other than making sure her clients are happy.

 

Check her and her work out on Instagram: microbladingbyalden 

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Artist Spotlight: Valerie Oviedo

I've been interested in using this blog to spotlight different women in the DFW that inspire and create. The first person that came to mind was Valerie. I've known her in passing just from being out and about. When you meet her she radiates a positive energy which draws you in. Valeria let me play with her hair and talk with her earlier this year about her son and her art. What I find inspirational about her story is despite any setback she uses positive outlets to channel whatever it is she's going through.

Valerie.

Valerie.

When I proposed the idea of doing a piece on her and her life, she was immediately on board and excited about the project. So last week she invited me into her home and I did her hair and makeup while she showed me her art work she has throughout her house. 

"Well...I've always been involved in a form of art ever since i was a child...a baby, " Valerie said. "In middle school was when I started to focus on dance. I would take MasterClasses on saturday at Arts Magnet. I like to credit my mother for everything because (saturday) was her day to sleep in and she'd wake up at 6am to take me to downtown dallas and come back to pick me up later. And because of that I was exposed to wonderful teachers. These classes should have been so expensive- I'm not sure if they still do. But they offered that for free. One of the coordinators, Dr. Roseanne Cox, asked me to audition. And I was being a middle school student and like, "No! I don't wanna. I want to be with my friends!" But that... that was the best choice so far."

 

"I was in dance for about a year and then I hurt my knee...They couldn't kick me out but I could apply for a different cluster. I actually prepared to be in the visual arts cluster. But my insecurities got the best of me. So I just put up my portfolio and walked in for a cold reading for theater and did theater. Which i loved. I did costume design mostly and playwriting. Then i weaseled my way into visual arts by being like, "oh i should totally take visual art classes so i can perfect my thumbnails, etc. And I worked it. And i won. So I ended up taking sculpture classes and ceramics."

I really had no idea she was into SO many aspects of art. As I walked around her house while she was rushing around trying to feed her son and clean up a bit, I observed a theme of sadness/darkness to her art. Her personality is so contrasting in our conversations. Even when I'm rambling about the unfair living wages and rent prices in Dallas, she takes a step back and says that its not that bad. It made me smile because she has a good attitude about things. 

"this is going to be really unfiltered...ten years ago? I would say, "don't have sex with him!" Valeria said while laughing, after being asked what is something you'd tell yourself ten years ago. "ten years ago, fifteen years ago...I would have said, youre good. youre fine."

 

When asked what inspires her art lately she answered, "this one right here." Referring to her son Elias. Together they were so sweet. We went to Cibo Divino and shared a couple slices of pizza per Valerie's recommendation. I loved seeing an insight to another's life. Valerie was warm and open to showing me around and talking about each of her pieces and what they mean. 

I'm hoping to do a biweekly spotlight on different DFW women that inspire and create so if you or anyone you know would like to be involved, then send me a message!