how does one say what he hides inside.

I read Buddhist text, when i find the time to be diligent and sit down.  I’m often brought to tears from the softness of the readings, an accepting voice that I rarely provide for myself.  The stories and lessons lead me to think of wasted opportunities, careless ways I have portrayed through my actions in life.  I don’t know if it should be titled conviction, guilt, or remorse.  There was a time when I sought the christian church, starting in high school when life seemed easily confusing.  The age where boys and girls are propelled into making choices that affect immediate and long term outcomes.  I fell in love with the people surrounding me, the ones trying to do good and hold to standards that children of that age can never meet.  Your weaknesses are always revealed when you sit with yourself and consider every little thing in your life as good or bad, sin or non-sin.

Diving deeper into the Bible, I never gravitated to the old testament, where everything was more black and white, direct response from God with the actions of his people.  For whatever reason, the new testament fell upon me as foreign to its predecessor.  Jesus was a different creature than the God of the past stories, he had heart that gave compassion to those suffering around him.  Maybe because of my upbringing, (where money was never certain, work was a question of if my father would receive a call from a construction site, mom working restaurant server jobs in the night, followed by office jobs that would never have a ladder too high to climb), I gravitated to the beatitudes, the stone not being thrown at a sinful woman, the “wicked” being worthy of the man named Jesus.  I found myself among the meek, the lowly, not out of pity for myself, but because it simply seemed like our blue collar family were the same people being rescued by the mercy and patience of Him.  I committed myself more, sought Christian colleges, with a glimmer of hope that I could become a teacher of his word.  When the tuition fee revealed itself, and the attempts at grants fell through, community college became my reality.  I joke now that God didn’t want me to be a pastor, still not sure He wanted me to be a tattooer, but fuck it, a lil late now to question that.

I moved on past that, with friends by my side, holding me “accountable” to the Word of God.  I met my ex-wife senior year, and she was adorable, with a sense of humor that couldn’t be charted, for it was too weird to understand.  I’ve stolen alot of her material over the years, faces she would make, noises, mannerisms.  We married a month after I turned 21, it was a beautiful day.  At least at that time, which isn’t long ago, dating with a purpose was the mantra of the high school group.  I remember my father warning me I was too young, but how can one tell their son who thinks he has found all the answers that he doesn’t know what will be around the next corner.  As children, we learn from our parents example of marriage, and I was witness to one that endured so much physical and emotional strain, and still survived.  We attended church regularly, but also became adults together, working in fields that both sheltered us with income and shined a daunting light on a post-high-school life.  There are authors out there that write amazing books to help the married, to give them guidance through difficult times, but nothing matches “field-study”.  No one should ever wonder why there is a 50/50 chance of making it in marriage, 2 parts to one pair that don’t always align to make 100%.  In saying this, I’m not looking for a scape goat for my past, an excuse to free me of my errors, more like a clear vision of the immaturity of my age, the lack of experience in life; to understand the complexities of attributes like sacrifice, willingness, humility, compassion, and generosity.  People ask me how long I was married, the answer is always the same, 3 years good with a couple more of separation, ending with divorce.  In the end, we both made poor choices that led us into a place of disgusting lack of respect for one another.

My education in life had just gotten a lot heavier and my spiritual life was in shambles.  I met with a friend on a regular basis, Josh, sometimes in anger, several times in tears, feeling like a fall leaf that could be stepped on and crushed into a million pieces.  We asked questions about God, the first time in my life where nothing was off limits.  In this period and the years following in New York, I could only relate to the desert story of Jesus.  A friend in Brooklyn, shocked to hear of my faith, asked me if I was retarded because of my christianity, or what little i still had left in me.  I once tried to drink and pill myself into a blissful departure from my reality, kinda glad it didn’t work out, some of you may not be glad, i consider that fair.  There were few people of the church around me who didn’t seem to think they knew it all about what was going on in my life.  The title “hypocrite” was given to me, no joke, and I like to keep that one floating around to this day.  Has an honest ring to the human condition.

When I did move to New York, it was to pursue one last attempt at salvaging our broke-down marriage, and to escape the confines of the orange county church mentality- where success in life is a true testament to your faith in God, for who else would provide wealth and security then the man upstairs.  I never have understood how mega-churches never get likened to the temples that Jesus stormed into and turned tables upside down, in furious anger of how people turn faith into a mini-mall of purchasable salvation with this book and that shirt.  From what I gathered, He always moved away from these places, turning to nature, to settle the hearts of his apostles and followers.

New York has been my greatest teacher.  After one month there, nothing was different between my ex and I, we were still up to no good, still untrustworthy, holding onto  a once innocent love affair that grew rotten from our lack of nurture.  I moved out on my own, took on rent well above my means, two dogs below me and a path full of questions.  My new group of guy friends revealed to me that the best way to get over the old is to get into the new, meaning women.  I was 26 at this point, only slept with two women, my ex-wife and the one during our separation, my lack of confidence bled through my pours.  It took almost a year for me to ask someone out, I hibernated away in emotional weakness.  The one I did ask on a date, in a buzzed state of mind, turned out to be more than I was ready for, 5 years my senior, and a wealth of wisdom.  To this day, I consider her the bar set too high.  I’ve worked drawings and paintings in remembrance of her, sounds crazy, but for me, I liken it to a young boy going out of the tribe to seek visions, and the owl of the night reveals itself in that moment, and from that day on, the boy is now a man with the spirit of the owl in him.  She was my owl.  Its taken years following that relationship to grasp the importance of her words.  She would look into my eyes, tell me to be present, to be here now, not knowing I was still lost in the past of my failures, the uncertain future, and the lack of courage to understand her presence.

I left New York, late 2007, even more angry than when I arrived there, cursing the soil of the big apple.  California was my home, where I belonged, and nothing and no one would change my mind on that, not even someone as loving and guiding as Her.  I’m kind of  a dick at this point in my life, thanks to motorcycles, Long Island, and hipster hatred, if I can simplify it into three neat categories.  These last couple years have been amazing, shitty, stupid, awakening, and yet, still heavy with conviction.  I found Buddha! yay! that’s my interpretation of having an aha moment.

But I’m still a fuckhead, confusing I know.  Not really, since I am human and have a little better understanding of how ignorant we can still be in our path.  It’s not like enlightenment means you wake up one day, and can sit lotus, spit mad rhymes about compassion, and cloud walk.  Although that would be rad, to use cali slang.  If you’ve been in my presence, my tongue usually sets fires that turn into low brow humor and stories about my life’s rambunctious turns for the worse, or better, if you enjoyed the audacity of it.

I’ve left a good portion out, in the name of saving some face, but this was written more as a journal/confessional.  I’m attempting to be more “present minded” these days, not speak so much, listen attentively, and find the softness of good love in my life, again.  This is where I would say, “well, I guess I’ll go fuck myself…” but that’s the old me, and the new me says, ” shaka spirit till death do us part.” only because Buddha did it under the bodhi tree.

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its that time.

after months away, i’m here.

that doesn’t mean anything important, just a statement of fact.  i went on a month long trip this summer, lost a couple friends along the way, walked away from a shop, decided to decompose my life to find what would be left in the ruins.  12 years since i got married, a few years after that i got divorced.  fell in love again, but wasn’t ready for love so i sacrificed that in the name of independent thinking.  a man of no wealth, no fame, only the remains of past experience and now even more experience.  no clear thoughts to rely on, only the mind telling a story that sounds real enough to buy into.  people, lots of people, not multitudes, just your regular accounts, that enter my life, make it sound momentous, and then fleeting.  i found Buddhism more profound then my own words, my own western religion, nothing superior about that in fact.  anyways, its a matter of choice what we believe and how we decide to live it out this life.  i’m tattooing less then the first year i started, working side gigs, “construction”, and its the great metaphor of my own life.  i would rather scrape by, then continue to work myself for an industry that shows no mercy to the ones not seeking fame.  i have a facebook, most people find this blog from that resource, and its my great contradiction.  i don’t want the social internet life, but we have moved into a time and place that allows only that, if you choose to stay relevant.  i am barely relevant, and i thank the God that resides over all religions, but gracefully decides to remain silent when it comes to man’s interpretation of which one is the only true voice of the higher power.  i’ve had two dogs, pugs, for 11 years.  they live with me, and i’m thankful for that.  when most have been too human and therefore moved on, the animals have maintained our companionship.  i have worked my life the last couple years, with attempts at love, trials of the chase, finding my own tail to be quite boring after a few go rounds.  your friends stay the course, pushing forward in hopes of becoming the hollow heroes of our past.  it’s the human condition, become immortal through your trade and forever resembling something of importance.  we have found ways to do it daily, checking our phones for update statuses, making sure people like what we post and say and photograph.  no criticism, just an observation of our new reality.  i find nature to be the most observant of who we are; accepting our bad habits, incorporating our negligence, being of willing nature to take the abuse with stride.  we speak of our history, rarely learn from of it.  who has the time to listen to nature when man speaks more loudly.  i am a rambler with a rambler’s tongue, jumping from topic to topic, resembling my lack of focus in meditation.  money, such a great power, even to those like me who detest it.  how many times a day do i contemplate buying something in the name of fulfilling that daily emptiness.  i buy things, resent the purchase, enjoy the satisfaction of ownership, feel guilty because of how it was made, and surrender to another day of commerce and “free” trade.  i have successful friends, money makers, fame walkers, i cheer their success with conviction.  but i know i will not find the same path, and i am thankful.  the dirt road, the tattoo that barely happens, the painting to make rent,  and the fear that follows days without income. 

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LINDSEY HOWARD CARMICHAEL.

So I have this coworker, his name is Lindsey.  Slightly older than me, in the industry a little longer than me, knows more about music than the average music historian.  Lindsey Carmichael first tattooed me over a decade ago, while he was sitting in a small, condensed, walk-in friendly shop known as Laguna Tattoo.  We had met earlier in each others lives, not too far back, only as a result of tattoos and mutual connections.  I gained a respect for him right away, from his clean traditional tattoos, his apron that was worn daily, down to the cigarette smoking outside the shop.  He pegged his pants, had them tapered in a way no one else was wearing at the time. 

When i was given the opportunity to guest spot at Goldrush, I immediately thought about what it would be like to work next to Lindsey.  Now, after 3 1/2 years of being a full time tattooer at GR, I know.  He has been a man i have grown to love, simply for who he is, a character like no other.  There isn’t one description that can be attached to this man;  from his voices, screeches, stories, mannerisms that makes one think he may be manic, Carmichael simply is.  “Hi Everybody”, first words out of his mouth as he rolls into the shop, backpack over shoulder, kean coffee in hand, possibly his phone connecting him to the world in the other hand.  Lindsey loves life for what life has shown him, his experiences are golden and can never be replaced, only contributed to by new memories. 

Like every other tattooer, He is not above self-doubt when it comes to reassurance of the work he has produced.  Just as i get to learn one portfolio Lindsey is showcasing, another is dropped on the table, and just like that, a body of work that makes me strive to work harder.  The man is meticulous from start to finish, nothing is overlooked in his tattoo process.  The craft of tattooing is shown great respect with Carmichael’s actions, I can only imagine who he thinks about while he works, Corbin, Deutsche, Puente, Conn, the list rambles on inside his brain.  I get to work next to this daily, not enough even at that, i am a man of greed when it comes to my friend.  We have traveled the world together, made great strides together, been able to pay respect to our heroes together, sitting down to dinner with them, star-struck.  We would walk back to our hotels gossiping like school children about who we just listened to speak about tattooing and life.  I think we both agree more times than not how lucky we are to share such company, we still love this industry because of our heroes and the paths they have paved before us. 

(A christmas gift from Lindsey, ‘Into You Tattoo    poster- Mr. X)

There is much more that can be said about this man, once you meet him, you make plans to meet him again, and again…  The things that I appreciate about Lindsey are not the loud, obvious characteristics, but the ones that I feel he only shares with me, whether this is true or not.  I show up to work, look over my station, find that there is a new drawing taped to my cabinet, not one I have done, but one Lindsey has already tattooed, I smile to myself.  The “Eric, Bro, listen to this, you’ll never believe this…” story time where he asks me to sit down and give him my full attention.  This is a testament of my friendship with one of the greatest, strangest, most talented men i have come to known.  I am willing to share him with you, only because if you love someone/something, you have to release them into the world… Lindsey can be reached in the USA at Goldrush Tattoo, or seen in Europe traveling with our 3-piece techno group known as SHUGGA BEAR. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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some ideas on skin.

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A map for viewing pleasure, a course to be followed, and the idea that this is a way of life.

 

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the bodhi tree is the place to be.

With a week left before I leave on the summer road trip,  some of the last minute tattoos being done at Goldrush.


thanks for viewing, enjoy the day, be of significant and extraordinary nature for yourself and those around you.

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callings for the restless.

I will be hitting the road once again, soon.  Just when it seems like the dust is settling from a past venture, i kick up my feet in hopes of finding new terrain.  Its not shocking anymore really.  With only my blood relatives keeping me grounded, i find my way out the door without any restrictions, say for a couple dogs and belongings.  The funny thing about my workings inside my head, as soon as i signed the one year lease on my place, i looked at it like a prison sentence.  My father explained to me, (once when we were moving my things across the United States), that my grandfather would move the family with the flip of a coin.  Destiny is in the blood, and I am starting to believe i am destined to be moving and moving till a shackle is back on my finger.  In my early twenties, with the twinkle of youth in my eyes, fatherhood seemed so obvious in my mind.  Imagining myself working out the details of names for children, things we would do, how i would perform in such a role, it all was right there at the forefront of my brain.  Now, ten years later, I have settled into singlehood and become a different being.  Work is my constant child, i try to shape and form my everyday workings into a labor of love.  I go to sleep at night, often worried that i have not accomplished enough, and so i set my alarm for an early rising in hopes of sneaking more hours in for drawing.  I recently told my parents i was no longer concerned with having a relationship, that work would be my love affair, and women have often proceeded to plan my life around their wants and desires…which equals valuable time in my mind, that they wish me to sacrifice, so I can do mundane things and watch mundane shows, and be a mundane person by the time I die.  This trapping i have found myself in, I read of Kierkegaard while studying in Switzerland, that he himself sacrificed love for the passion he found in God.  I’m not comparing God and work, but i do find the time we so value, as a subject for debate in how we as humans decide to possess it, especially in those around us.  I would rather condemn myself to a life lived only in sweeping a temple, then be ruled by someone else and their idea of how my life should be spent.  The zen teaching allows us only to be in the presence of the moment, one teaching for one moment, no two teachings can possess the same moment.  The road has always been a temple for me, and as i sweep my way across it once again, I find favorable peace in the unknown, because the joy of authentic experience is what waits outside our false sense of security.  Our homes, our cars, our possessions that claim possession of us, all useless if they restrict our minds the freedom to explore and be found new in each breath. 

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