Sunday, September 29, 2013

Tattoos: history, hope, healing, and, uh, family bonds, which doesn't start with an 'h'.

I've always been intrigued by tattoos.  Not the trendy, kitschy ones that one whimsically gets for fun, but permanent, thoughtful, well executed body art that holds meaning and nuance to its bearer has always been something I've found inspiring.

Back when I was dealing with the worst of my RSD pain, I was having a lot of trouble walking.  I knew, however, that using my foot despite the pain was the only way I could keep it from getting worse.  Among the many somewhat desperate (and in hindsight, stupid) ideas I had for how to accomplish this was the thought that I should get a tattoo on the bottom of my other foot...that way I'd have my own secret art that would only be seen in situations comfortable enough for me to be barefoot, that would represent healing to me - and more importantly would take some time to heal and force me to favor my 'bad' foot instead.  I had a few very intricate thoughts involving roses created out of various animals, or a rose in front of a yin yang with the stem following the curve...all imagery that spoke to me, but it never felt quiiiite right... but in any case, I was too young for tattoos and later I was too worried that having tattoos would make me less cast-able - and really, the bottom of your foot is a terrible place to get a tat anyway.  As I matured and began to view my body and the way it changed with age as work of art unto itself - nature's art, if you will -  it became less important to me to 'show' meaning and beauty with added imagery, so I let go of the idea of having a tattoo of my own.  I couldn't find anything that mattered in a way that was worth making a permanent mark.

Fast forward to this past January, when my mom got her awful diagnosis.  Suddenly something felt worth making a mark for. I had the thought that she and my sister and I should all get some sort of tattoo that would link us all together and represent our bond. Then I started to worry that mom shouldn't be getting a new tat just then, and started to think that maybe just Kelly and I should get something in her honor. Trying to hone in on just what, however, lead me down a long, existential chain of thought that culminated in me deciding that nothing could represent our connection more than our own bodies, since we were literally OF her, we had come from her body and our own bodies are made from her genetic materials...back to the whole nature's art thing.

So anyway, I let that idea go. 

That is, until I saw on Facebook that Kelly was planning to get her first tattoo.

I sent her a text asking what she was planning to get, and shared with her the mental journey I had recently been on with regards to tattoos. She responded by telling me that she was planning to get a small ladybug on her wrist, an ode to mom and the tattoo she has on her own wrist. "You want it?" She asked.

Mom has a story about one of her patients trying to swat the bug off her arm that always amused me.  When Cadence came along, she used to try to catch the bug on mom's arm, too!
That's perfect, I thought, I can't believe I didn't think of that.* It would be a way of linking us all together without mom needing to do anything, and it could potentially even imbue her own art with new meaning that she could cherish. It was simple, it was tasteful, it was a bold move...

We both sat with the idea and talked it though over the course of a few weeks, and hit on a plan that just felt really right, to both of us.

Unbeknownst to mom, we each designed our own ladybugs, in our own style, that fit with the meaning we each needed and wanted individually, and then made appointments to have them permanently inked onto our own wrists, in her honor, with love for her, and each other...

My final design

Kelly's final design

I couldn't be happier with the results. 

My realized ladybug
We told mom about it after it was done, which - since mine was done first and I didn't want to ruin the surprise before Kelly's was done - involved a few hilarious days of me sneaking around hiding mine from her like some rebellious teenager. She seemed touched, and when I got home that evening we gleefully compared ladybugs and made plans to snap a pic of all three of them together next time we get to see Kellebelle.
Kelly's realized ladybug

This was the right choice.  I am feel comforted by and so enjoy my little ladybug companion already - it feels like I've merely uncovered something that was already there.

Many Many MANY thanks to Gilda at Fatty's Custom Tattoz for the amazing work and joyous experience.  She agreed to take this on and fit me into her schedule on short notice, and her work is incredible.  She made me feel so comfortable, and talked to me about the whole story behind it before she began working.  And when she did, she started with a hug.

Gilda rocks.
Also, as a total aside:  It occurred to me as I was sitting in the chair that I got that skirt at a goodwill as a costume for my 8th grade musical. Wow.

* My friend Shino later informed me that I had mentioned this as a possibility months ago, though in this moment, I had no recollection of that, so Kelly still gets full credit for the idea...although we have also discussed how eerie it is that we both had the same instinct, and this just adds to that. Kelly calls it sibling telepathy. She's probably right.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five years ago today: The Puppy Paddle

Five years ago today, we were at the Puppy Paddle with my mom, Kelly, and of course, Pepper:

After the russell sims water park closes for the season, they hold one final event before they dran the pools:  The Puppy Paddle!

Basically, everybody can bring their dogs to swim, play games, win prizes, and all that good doggy stuff.  Music, dog bones, tennis balls, and lots of happy romping jumping and splashing.  Pepper was a bit shy at first, but after some time and gentle encouragement, she was leaping off the edge with the best of 'em. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sudden, slow, sticky clarity

I am ambitious. I am impulsive. But I'm also overly cautious and "practical" in a way that often leads me to thwart said ambition by reasoning away the impulses. This leaves me feeling frustrated and depressed, and it has to stop. 

I have to remind myself that just because something IS doesn't mean it NEEDS to be or that it is RIGHT. I need to learn how to take apart the box once I've thought outside of it. 

I need to be like the people I admire who choose something ridiculous and then make it a reality. I just end up hating myself when I resign myself to accepting that I am powerless.

I think back to working with Steve Wangh and the time he wanted to tweak some quirk of the staging during troilus (a very complex show utilizing at least four separate elements involving aerial rigs) and I, in my stage managerial role, said to him that we couldn't do it the way he wanted to and offered some alternatives. He asked "why?" And I explained that we would have to pretty much take down the entire set, re-rig it, and then rebuild everything around it in a new way-in my mind, as much as it should change, because it hadn't been in the original plan it was impossible. He thought for a moment and then said "ok. So lets do that."

And we did. And it was great. And I need to let myself be impractical and follow my instincts or I'm never going to be happy. I trained myself to live within other people's definitions, to find little ways to satisfy my creative urges and small rebellions made out of compromise.

I need to learn that sometimes, it is ok and even necessary to refuse a compromise that will squish the life out of you, or your work, or something deeply cherished.

This is something I think all my teachers  in college were trying to tell me, something that my psychologist has been trying to help me see, something that I've been trying to find permission to do for years...and it's all finally solidifying for me because of the threat of my children being tossed into a broken "necessary" system unless I do something about it. Somehow, I have to find a way to tangibly do something about it, instead if just whining and submitting to my(their) fate because the alternative is "too hard."

Now how the hell do I start?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Proud Mourning

This morning, my intrepid young lady embarked on her very first solo journey into growing up.  She took the school bus, on her own, to her brand new school, for her very first day of first grade.

I am so insanely proud of her.

Its just first grade.  But you's FIRST GRADE!  Now she'll be all busy all the time until she moves out. :-(

But Oh Emm Gee I missed her so damn much.

I texted a couple friends after she left and I started getting physically dizzy.  They both assured me it was normal.  One suggested a stiff drink.  It's amazing how addicted one gets to one's own children, especially when you stay home and are so involved and trying to let nature steer the general rhythm of your relationship.  All day something deep in my chest kept jumping up my throat growling "this. Is. Not. Natural."

I think the fact that blue school felt so much like home mitigated that factor. But now that we are at a public school and I just have to stick her on a bus and send her away...well it triggers a very existential sort of mommy angst.

Cadence's was not the only first today...James also had his very first day as a judicial clerk today! Even after spending the day being overheated, dried out, over tired and even motion sick on the train, he still came home feeling excited and optimistic about the job, so...HOORAY!! 

Cadence had to leave before James, but she wanted to see him all dressed up in his suit.  James and Hazel took this pic in her honor-they are striking a classic Cadence pose.  
So of course, this was also a first for the rest of us - the first day we've had without them around.  My mom, Hazel, Calliope and I had a very nice day, but we all missed our adventurers.

This is gonna take me a little while to get used to.  Luckily I have things like this to make me smile all the time.

(Goodness knows what will become of me when Calli heads out the door...)

How can you not smile when this is what lunchtime looks like?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Five years ago today: pool fun

Five years ago today, September 1, 2008 saw:

Today, September 1, 2013 saw:

Amazing to think of how much the grow, and how much can change in just a few years.  I am unspeakably grateful for every moment.