This is a self-improvement post.  See all here:

So, it is debatable if tattoos are a self-improvement (definitely my mom would say no), but to me they are a significant means of self-expression, have led to more self-confidence, and provide a creative outlet.  Getting one is a cathartic experience, and is more exciting than just about anything else.  Right now I have a little over 50 hours of work.

I had started pretty late with tattoos, after my last deployment to Afghanistan.  It was successful as far as deployments go and I wanted something to commemorate it.  I was 28.  Quickly I fell in love with the experience, tattoos are very addicting.  I’ve had to pace myself, limit it to once in the fall and once in the spring now, because they can easily cost over $100 per hour.  Basically I use them for motivation, they make a great reward for meeting some goal.

After that first one, I’ve picked a style and themes that fit a spiritual structure for me, tied with significant events and influences on my life.  Prefer color, and enjoy bolder styles that pop from across the room.  Basically I use every opportunity now to wear a tank top.

Tattoos are definitely something that you get what you pay for.  Doing your research is important.  Some styles age better than others.  Also, artists aren’t perfect, and your body morphs with time, so I advise pick a design that doesn’t need to be exact to look good, such as organic things.  It works best when you treat your artist as a partner, and go back and forth on the design.  Finding someone you can trust, who is professional, is key.

Advice for newbies: start small, not ambitious, and in a location that’s easy to cover up until you’re sure tattoos are for you.


Passion #1

Been thinking a lot about what it means to be in love.  Is some of it a choice, or is it something you can’t control at all?  Is overwhelming passion a requirement for a successful relationship?  Unfortunately, I have been in the grip of passion that I can’t control, and it seems I’ll never be able to capture that again.

She was a prior military medic, just starting on a Ph.D., into fitness and philosophy, and a whole lotta tattoos.  Seemed like a perfect match, and I was overcome.  We had two dates and things were great.  Apparently she didn’t have the same impression.  Within a week, my texts were being ignored and I was heartbroken.

For some reason, a different feeling came over me.  I wasn’t going to give up on this one without a fight.  She was an INFJ, and I felt maybe she was just skittish, if I kept things up she could be won over.  I kept sending a text every few days, with no reply.  She had mentioned a her MS graduation ceremony was in a few weeks, and her mom was going to fly in for it.  This became my new plan.  I looked up the ceremony, bought a suit and some flowers, took off work and drove the few hours to the ceremony not really knowing what to expect.

Once there, I was able to sneak into the ceremony building.  Eagerly I waited on my love and kept my eyes searching the crowds of people.  Then I finally saw her, and my heart jumped, she was with a guy!  My angel had just moved on.   I couldn’t believe it.  Maybe it wasn’t her, I texted her number, and saw her look down.  Well, that sealed it.  She looked around in a panic and saw me.  She quickly grabbed her guy and ran outside, supposedly to take some pictures.

I looked down at the flowers I had bought.  Fuck this.  She was getting these flowers, I was on a mission.  When she came back in, she tried to walk past me into the ceremony without an indication.  My heart raced, I shoved the flowers into her arms and said something like “you need these”.  As I walked past her out the building I could hear her guy say an incredulous “really?!”

Exhultant that I actually gave her the flowers, although bummed on the overall outcome, I texted her something like “that’s what you get for ignoring me, but seriously congrats on the graduation.” There was no reply.

If only it ended there 🙂 to be continued in part two:

New Girlfriend

So I have a new girlfriend.  She’s a little older, great girlfriend skills (including in bed!), pretty, and fun.  No outstanding red flags so far (been about a month).  Overall just an outstanding girlfriend.  But something feels missing.

I have always had this horrible problem that if I get an inkling that someone isn’t marriage material I just end it – I never let things grow and hold girls to an unrealistic standard of perfection.  Probably tied to a fear of vulnerability or whatever.  Still there is somethings that seem to give me pause.  Overall she is just supportive, doesn’t really seem to have much ambition on her own.  This is kind of a turn-off for me but I also don’t really know what else to expect given my career and the demands it has.  She does have a legitimate job requiring a college degree.  Also, her age means that if we want to have kids (which I do and she seems to be on board with) we pretty much would need to start soon.  Ideally I’d like to enjoy couple’s life for awhile before crossing that bridge.

Despite these things, I’m sticking with her for now.  I’m just trying to enjoy it and be sincere.  It has prompted a lot of self-reflection, and I realize I’m pretty immature with my relationship knowledge, so it is a growth opportunity for me (which I’m all about!).

We’ll see how things evolve.  I do feel some slight guilt in that I think she is taking me more seriously than I am her.  She does deserve someone who will treat her right and if she wants to have kids, she can’t be wasting her time.  As long as I can sincerely say I’m open to a serious relationship with her, than I’ll keep going.  I miss her when she isn’t around, but I think it’s from my own self-interest than genuine love, which bothers me.

Continuing Education

This is a self-improvement post.  See all here:

It is really important to never stop growing mentally.   As soon as you let your skills stagnate, you immediately start falling behind.  I really believe that.  It is critical that you continue to pursue self-improvement of the mind if you wish to even keep the same status that you do now.  Barring some certain careers  (government positions come to mind, but even those are starting to change), the workforce requires a growth mindset.

I’ve always been partial to part time education, mainly because it’s just a lot easier to see the application of what you are learning when you are actually on the job.  One of my proudest life achievements is completing a technical masters while on full-time active duty.  Took 5 years, had a deployment and a couple moves in there, but ultimately I got it done while taking courses that directly helped me in the job I was in.  And I got to do the thesis on an awesome project for work, which was a nice bonus.  That whole experience has given me the confidence to pursue a Ph.D.

Not everyone is going to want to go down that particular path, but it is advisable that you should work on some education goals that directly help you in the job you are in now, while at the same time eventually building to something that you will want to put on your resume.  Basically make education in your chosen path one of your hobbies.  Ideally, if you are doing it right, you can work on some of your school at work, and some of your work at school.

There are so many great programs out there that a cost-effective, part-time program should be easy to find.  You do need to make sure that it’s worth the money, as there are certainly many overpriced degrees.  Do your research, talk to people, and develop a love for learning 🙂