Huntress of the Lens


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do...

We had a seven month relationship, short by most standards. It was a blind date, set up by Mara, but she said that even though he wasn't really a people person I would find that he was just perfect for me. When we had our first date I was a little alarmed at how old he was, I usually prefer someone a little younger and more in touch with the current times, but supposedly he was brilliant and the best guy for me, and I was hopeful that we could somehow find a happy ending together. He validated me, and certainly listened to all my problems, asked a lot of questions and really listened to the answers, I really thought things would work out well with us despite his personality. Then he dumped me, out of the blue. He didn't even do it himself, he had his secretary call me and say that things were over between us and we wouldn't be seeing each other any more. He was my Endocrinologist, and I had such faith in him. Being dumped by him was one of the most devastating break-ups of my entire life.

 After treating me for Graves' Disease for all that time he suddenly said my thyroid levels were "normal" and therefore I was fine now. Except I still feel exactly the way I did when I first sought medical help in January, and the headache that was one of the first symptoms that brought me there has become constant and unrelenting. My left eye is still noticeably larger than my right, which he called "Graves' Eye Disease" the first time we met. I don't know how large the range called "normal" is, but I don't feel good at the spot on the line where I landed. It may be "normal" but it isn't right for me. I am feeling so sorry for myself and bereft of hope, because now I feel just as bad as ever but there's no one who is looking for the cause or the cure now. If I have to feel like this for the rest of my life I will dramatically declare that "I can't go on like this." 

I don't feel suicidal, I don't want to miss the rest of my life because of an early death, but I really do feel like I can't go on like this. It's a contradiction of depression that has me feeling paralyzed and frozen with grief. I'm on a shit-ton of medication, all to treat the symptoms but not address the base problem with my health, which I still believe resides in the glowing butterfly of chaos- my thyroid. It's the eye, that's my best clue.

Depression is a funny thing, like plastic nose glasses with skewed lenses. I know so many things intellectually, but when I look through this particular set of eyes life looks bleak and I feel like what I'm seeing is reality. Now when I'm dealing with a slightly warped funhouse mirror that makes me look really thin I'm completely content to accept that distortion of reality, but the nose glasses make it hard to live my daily life. I start believing that it's just like this for me and I become increasingly doom and dire. If I didn't have Michael to love and support me I would be thinking of jumping off a bridge. Bungee jumping probably, because I really don't want to be dead, but I feel like I need a really dramatic statement about how terrible this is and how hopeless I feel. 

Molly has picked this time to leave here and live with her dad full time, she's being 16 and it's more fun over there. This is probably really good for her, but it triggers every abandonment issue I've ever stored in my awareness. I feel dumped by her as well, and being one of the most important people to me ever it just adds the mustache to the nose glasses to complete the costume. I'm alternately sad and mad, and have cried more over her self-centeredness than many issues that you would think were far more damaging. Like when Dottie married one of my two best friends and then he shot himself in the head five years later. I call him Dead Danny and I've cried far more over Molly than him, even though he's become one with the sea and she is just across town. Oh, and I have no Endocrinologist. That thought is like a black bird with tattered feathers and fire for eyes that circles my head and teases my hair with it's carrion claws. I'm in bad shape at the moment. On a side note, I just love my Kindle! As I was writing this an author came on Good Morning America to promote her book "Mean Mothers and Hurt Daughters." I already have it in my book and can start reading it immediately if I choose. Reading it will not be nearly as profitable as writing it, which I could have done. Oh well.

At the same time I'm fully engaged in every form of art I've ever known, and even learning to sew which is a totally new one for me. Creatively I'm overflowing and making so many beautiful things, and I'm loving my chosen career like a drowning woman loves a lifeboat. The creation of beauty is my meditation and my salvation. I make some really cool shit. I'm sewing the dress for my remarriage to Michael in two weeks, and at the same time I'm feeling all the previous things I've written I am excited and looking forward to two days away with my husband celebrating the one good thing I can count on come hell or high water. Michael and my Big Daddy. That's two things that never falter, this could be the beginning of a gratitude list, but I'm wearing my nose glasses at the moment and I'm having a pity party and I don't feel like feeling better. I want to wallow. How do I even stand myself?

Today is the twenty-sixth anniversary of my marriage to my boys' father. That's a long time, how can that be when inside this older, wrinkling body I'm really only twenty-seven? I'm old and I'm ill and I'll be stuck feeling like this forever. Run that like a CD on repeat and you'll have a look at just one room in my mind, the one where I've been hanging out lately. You do not want to visit me in that room. Come and see me at work or when I'm making art, you'll get a whole different person. Twenty-six years, or is it twenty-seven? Did we get married in '82 or '83? If it's that long ago and we've been divorced for over twice as long as we were married how is it that we can't be friends? He's a really cool guy, not the right husband for me but I still wonder why we're not friends. Bleh.

So that is my self-indulgent rant about how I feel today. My eyelid is twitching and I need a shower. I think I'm falling apart, and should probably buy my shopping cart now so I'll have a really nice one to push my belongings around in when the economy finally reduces us to that. I want hand brakes and a solar panel so I can still plug in my computer and blog from the road. I am ridiculous.

At least he didn't say "It's not you, it's me." 

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I write publicly, so I'm always careful what I write about, or who I allude to, knowing that they might themselves read what I say. When it's a glowing review I have no problem putting it out there, but when it's problematic I sometimes hesitate or my fingers become shy on the keyboard. There are a group of young people in my life, my kids, other kids that I gather to myself, and they are acting normal. My troubles are that "normal" for some people is a danger zone for me. 

Molly's not staying with me at all right now, my house is "annoying" and she can't stand "some people" which could be a whole separate blog. For the most part our relationship these days revolves around money, how I might have some and how she wants it. I'll leave it at that, and when it's not too raw I may write about it sometime. When I say "people" I won't be talking about her, she's the absentee tenant of a still-messy room. I'm having some issues with people all around me though, and in the interest of anonymity I'll just lump them all together and call them that.

There are people in my house who are old enough to drink, and go to bars. They come home smelling like alcohol or a little bumbly, and being in their early twenties this is totally age-appropriate behavior. Completely legal behavior, they don't drive to get here after drinking. I'm an alcoholic. It's sometimes torturous to think that I too want to have just a couple of drinks, but in the 2,133 days I've been sober I have learned to follow that thought all the way to its disastrous conclusions and I don't have the first one. There was a beer in my refrigerator the other night, a yucky brand I never would have even wasted my time on, but a tall-can none the less. I stood there with the ghost of old thinking tapping me on the shoulder; that pasty-white eyeless creature that whispers "do it, do it, doitdoitdoit!" and wondered how that would have worked for me if I had opened that door in an alternate frame of mind. It got poured out, I melded my life forever with someone who is also free of all drugs. I really had no urge to crack the seal and drink it, but I was able to see an alternate future spin out before me.

That took an instant of contemplation, much longer to type it than to experience it. What followed was rage and resentment. How dare any of the people who live here, who love me, leave a time bomb ticking where I could inadvertently stumble over it? In text that would read "OMG WTF SRSLY?" 

Other people are super into smoking pot, my oldest and best loved mind-altering friend. There are medical cards that can be obtained in California that make this totally legal as well, and it's also completely age-appropriate. In my refuge, my cave, my cone of silence from the World I smell it, I know it's here. I sometimes imagine what would happen if the pasty cave-dweller morphed into full-fledged addictive Relapse mode. I would throw respect and privacy to the wind and toss this place like a seasoned burglar until I found it. The "normal" who walk the planet have no idea what kind of monster an addict in full force is capable of. I wear a magic crown that, for today, keeps me safe from that. Knowing that it's here and only nominally hidden (or hidden well, I have no idea, I haven't ever looked) torments me in certain moments. Good marijuana is the one thing that will tell you where it's hidden simply by the smell. It smells like the skunk that Michael rendered homeless by ripping out all those blackberries. It wanders my yard looking for a new home and occasionally I catch a whiff of it through my window. Those two things smell the same. Inviting and intoxicating.

Now I have new information from a baby, new to recovery that others are doing LSD. Ah, I broke up with that lover twenty years ago, it holds no appeal for me now. I have enough stored in the fatty cells of my body to experience flashes of that past at the least opportune moments, it took this many years to find out what the long-term effects of a drug that was invented just before I was born might be. I could look at sheets of it, and vials of it in liquid form, or enough sugar cubes to build a California Mission (which only California natives will recognize as a standard fourth-grade school assignment) and suffer no urges at all. But it's here. It's in my house, whether in it's actual form or riding in the bloodstream of people who walk through the door.

The sweet baby-addict-in-recovery is coming clean, both physically and with stories. Having been one of a small group of people some of the stories are about people I know. Words like "Acid" and "Oxycontin" are in tales of true confession. The circle widens and I just hear "chemicals, chemicals, chemicals" and I realize that the razor-wire fence I've built to protect myself from the behavior of the outside world may only be three-sided. I'm inviting the vampire right in the door. A group is closing ranks and now disclosing that our baby addict is a compulsive liar, and "the one who always wanted to do all the drugs, we tried to stop it but we couldn't." All of a sudden the baby is left out in the cold and the others are in a panic that tales may be believed. 

It's easy to write it all off as the drama of the young, but in every myth there is usually a kernel of truth. I stood and looked some people in the eye yesterday and listened to them steadfastly deny, "We're here to tell you that none of that is true." yet one was angry and defensive and one couldn't stop crying. The tears were a symbol of the betrayal that such wicked lies represent. I think I saw the tears of the desperate who couldn't find a way out of the bramble patch that has its thorns firmly embedded in young flesh. One was cool as ice behind glass, and to be true is most probably the only one who was speaking nearest the truth. None of it stilled the whispers of "chemicals, chemicals, chemicals."

It hit me the other day that any time I walk over the borderline of my own small room I am entering territory that may or may not contain some drug, including alcohol. Almost six years clean and here is where I find myself. These people don't share residence with me because we all want to be one big happy group, it's the economic times that have created this grouping. One room. I'm safe because of my magic crown, I can actually go anywhere and not fall prey to a disease that is cunning, baffling and powerful. It's not the intoxicants that pose danger, it's the state of my own recovery. But still. I may as well be living in a mine field, with all the danger hidden beneath a thin layer of earth. I am not happy about this.

One person is moving out at the end of the month. One rarely stirs at all. One works so much that I rarely catch sight of them. All plant their mines in my field. Add to that the supporting cast-members who circle my home like a flock of birds and there is danger everywhere, if I choose to see it like that. Before you tell me to just take my broom and make a clean sweep, know that I have a million reasons that it's just not that easy. 

I want to live with my husband in a safe and sane refuge, I'll just start there.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I saw something on Nightline the other evening that gave me cause for thought. It was in their last segment "Sign of the Times" which is always shorter than the previous stories, and often the topic I find most interesting and wish to know more about. It was about tattoos and regrets, and the booming business of laser tattoo removal.

They had statistics, which I love, forget, and am too lazy to look up now to share with you here. How many people between eighteen and thirty that have tattoos today. How many people over the age  of thirty-five who regret the design they chose way back when, how many are willing to spend the time and money to have them removed. I love a good set of statistics, they lend such validity to any point someone is trying to make if you trust them as a source of percentage. Michael will often say that "Ninety percent of people do such and such." but I know he just means "A lot of people" so I don't tend to give too much weight to it as data. Nightline though, they have whole production and research teams to verify their numbers, they must be for real.

The percentages were high, or at least higher than fifty percent, and anything over half is a lot, right? Their point was that lots of everyone have tattoos, and a startling number of people regret them and don't want them any more. Forgive me Jen, but you are a prime example of this with that side piece that seemed like such a good idea when you got it. It made me feel slightly defensive, and caused me to wonder about my career choice and where I fit into the world. At least I'm doing my part to generate more reportable statistics, not everyone can say that.

I know, even as I draw up the stencil, that many people are going to question their choices later in life when I am asked to do certain tattoos. People get some whack shit, let me tell you. Sometimes I shake my head and think "What are you thinking? You are so going to hate this eventually." even as I calculate how I might cover it later and how much I would charge for that. One guy walked in here the other day with an outline of Bonnie and Clyde, done as Precious Moments characters and wanted me to finish them. I said Shayla would be the perfect artist for that job. It was a time bomb of a practical joke, maybe only I get it. 

Many times I think that designs and what they are meant to convey are extremely cool and well thought-out. Add my artistic ability to express ideas with lines and I think "Now here's something you will love well into your old age, when it's six inches closer to the floor than it is today." Sometimes I say "Nope, not interested in doing that piece." and move on with my day. Often this is due to a combination of the youth of the client and the sheer regretability of their design choice. "I'm not your mother, but I'm somebody's mother, and..." the lecture ensues.

The length of the "name lecture" is proportionate to the age of the perspective client. If they are freshly eighteen it can go on and on, my reasons why getting someone's name tattooed on you are such a bad idea. If they're, let's say thirty, or older it gets progressively shorter, I figure they're adults with enough life experience to make a very bad decision without a lot of input from me. People my own age just get "the look" over the glasses and we proceed. I have stopped many children in their tracks with that over-the-glasses look, most people my own age are impervious to it.

So I'm watching this story on television when I should really be reading my book already and courting my good friend Sleep, and I imagined a strange picture in my head. It was a long line with me at one end, stitching designs into skin, and a plastic surgeon patiently picking them out of the other end of the seam with a laser. For whatever reason, all statistics aside, I am still asked to tattoo people every day, and have been for the last eighteen years. There is a reason I have earned my self-awarded title of Cover-up Queen, I do a booming business in that, and I'm very good at it. There will also be a never-ending story that starts with "Once upon a time, in the land of the very drunk, I let my friend tattoo me because he said he knew how." That alone might provide for my financial needs even if people stopped getting new tattoos. 

I have plenty of tattoos myself that I wish had been done differently, usually I wish they were larger. For years I somehow believed that all tattoos were tiny, and I got a lot of small tattoos. My friend and colleague Jim refers to this as "stickers on a mini-van" and the first time I heard that term I laughed until I almost cried. Some I wish had been done by better artists, and would have been happy had my result simply matched my vision. Jim is covering many of those with a very large lobster and a magnet. It's a long story, don't ask.

Some are on my right arm and I did them myself, and I still don't like them and wish I had approached the project differently. Some, for various reasons I use as teaching aids for clients, showing them what they do not want to do themselves. A good example of this are the pair of chinese characters I wear that were supposed to say "Fire of anger and jealousy/Confident and secure." which was a polarity I was dealing with at the time. When read by someone who is a native of China and not drawing a chart of characters for tattoos, the actual meaning is "Fire Husband." While funny this is not truly tragic, I did marry a red-head after all, but still.

I suppose the gist of the final mini-segment on Nightline that evening was "Don't get tattoos, you'll regret them later." I still want to make a living. I hope the number of people who payed attention was not large, or at least they're not making permanent life-decisions based on television-segment statistical data. The one good thing was I got yet another chance to see a picture of my favorite, horrible, stupid tattoo- The Swayzesaur. That alone can renew my faith in the stupidity and vast imagination of some people, and still makes me laugh until I have to pee.

I would have said no to that one, just for the record.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Jump Ring

Today will close a circle a line we three started to draw about a year ago if my memory serves me. Having read some instructional material on how to create a screenplay, and having seen at least twenty-two movies in my lifetime I suppose this is where the music starts to play one of those poignant and heartwarming violin pieces that let you know the tone of the piece has changed and the credits will roll soon.

I'll leave out the prologue, that part's not interesting, or maybe it is, but it's not integral to the rest of the story. Let's just say that there was one character who drew together three women, stirred them up like a hive of angry bees and then exited the scene to leave us to find our own way. This three-way relationship started with armor on, a battle in a pit of words with real sWords, not the blunted toys used for practice. Lest you think of three adults in combat let me remind you that we all acted like teenagers in our thirst for blood. We were angry bees, and swarmed with hive mentality.

We represent three generations; twenties, thirties, forties. We all could have done more research, maybe been kinder, but we weren't. I have the longest life experience, but I think I was the least effectual in scoring damage, and certainly have the most room to be embarrassed about my conduct. Those things are past now.

The players are Jen, who lives here in town where I do, her big sister Jess who lives in New York and me, who you know. Today I get to meet Jess, who has traveled here with her daughter for a family wedding. Not easy to just get together for coffee with someone who lives on the other coast, this is a big event on my calendar.

Jessica was, for the longest time, my secret hero; single mother living in New York, raising her daughter all by herself; using her art not only to lift herself up but to create income and start a business that I think will eventually eclipse any job she has needed. Just the simple act of living in New York, a place that is the land of far-away, the big dangerous city of subways and taxis is daunting to me. Trains to get to work, trusting that you can get your child and yourself where you need to be without a car right outside the door to hop in and go, New York seems frightening and impossible.

When Jen and I began our original spat her big sister stepped right up and got in the game. She came flying into the arena with claws out, ready to feed me my own still-beating heart for engaging that way with her little sister. I am singleton, there has never been anyone to defend or stick up for me, and the way she dealt her wounds was also the seed of my admiration for her. I have always been envious that they have each other, and that three thousand miles has done nothing to diminish the closeness they share. Plus, she can write. Word World battles with someone who shares my love of precision, my adoration for stating facts and drawing conclusions, a truly worthy opponent. 

I had my awakening back in the springtime, when things were turning green and the light was shining just a little brighter. I saw the two of them differently. I found it easy, or at least easier to own my part in a silly childish drama that would have, could have, should have never happened. The sisters I've come to love were gracious and daring, willing to set aside all past transgressions and start with a newly plowed field. There were no rocks in it, we had thrown them all- nothing but fertile earth holding the seeds of love and admiration that had been inadvertently scattered along the way. We've had our summer growing season, and these sturdy vines have produced a crop I could never have anticipated. Today we harvest. We three will be together for the first time, and this circle will close. If I changed my camera angle I'm sure I would see it as only one loop in a spiral, but from my current point of view it looks like coming around to where we started.

Jess is here for only a short visit, a family wedding. They have a large family, with so many people to see, and their joyous event to celebrate. I get a tiny slice of that time, and it's like chocolate in World War II, one square is enough to savor and know you've had a taste. I'll also get to meet her daughter Gabby, a girl who I think would be the girl in the mirror for Molly, growing up without all of the spoiling and entitlement, the immediate gratification that my own amazing young woman has become so accustomed to. Mirror girl though, because from every word I've read and every picture I've seen she shares the same independent and unconventional streak, she is no sheep either. She knows how to ride public transportation, Molly just rode the city bus for the first time last week. She told me in amazement "That thing goes everywhere, you can get all over town in it!"as though that were a well-kept secret. Mirror girls. I so look forward to meeting Jess' little becoming-woman as well. 

With Jen it's been more of a gradual thing, we've had the luxury of time and location to make our way slowly into friendship. I have come to love and admire her, in that natural way that two women who spend time and get together when they can do. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, we three will gather around today's cauldron, which looks much like a cup holding coffee, and weave the binding. I have long looked forward to this day. 

In the recent sequence of days and disappointments I've lived, this is a bit of magic that will be healing and completing for me. I will benefit from that right now, because what goes down must come up and I'm ready to change my trajectory. I can feel autumn in the air. Where it is a season of dying and drying, the small death of the year that paves the way for the sleep of winter I have always been invigorated by its arrival. It makes me want to move and expand, to go somewhere I've never been. The smell is intoxicating to me. Autumn is the best season for  beginnings in my opinion, but then again the Moon was in it's last quarter when I was born so that may come as no surprise. For some it's a time to gather what's already been grown, for me it is the time to plant the bulbs that will emerge to be the first bits of color in a white landscape. 

I'm from southern California, and moving to the northern part of the state is as far as I've ever come. If I want snow I have to travel to it, but I beg your indulgence in my metaphor, in Word World all is possible. 

I long to abandon myself to this change of season, to grab the wind like my favorite palette of leaves and be borne far and wide. I was a winter baby, and in the cold I am remade every year. Fall is also a time to close the piece, add the finding that holds the jewelry in place and think about the next project. We three women, the maid, mother and crone will gather at once and start the alchemy. Waxing, full and waning, usually a sequence but today an impossibly intersecting plane. We'll just see what comes next.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

X, Y... No Zzzzzzz

Apparently I snore horribly. I wouldn't believe it if Michael hadn't taped it while I was sleeping and played it back for me later. It sounds a lot like when a chainsaw is applied to a particularly tough log that is a bit to thick for the length of its blade. Last night was a really bad episode according to my sleep deprived husband. The puppy cried all night, and when he let the dogs out to put them in the pen at four Jeff disappeared into the half-acre yard and wouldn't return. He was tapping on our window at five, right when Michael II the sequel was coming home from wherever he was. 

My Michael closed last night, and had to work an early shift this morning. He is beyond tired.

I'm really sorry for my part in your sleepless night honey, I wouldn't do it if I knew how not to. When I was looking for illustrations for this, all the pictures were of pissed off women and their men were the serial-snorers. I guess women don't often snore like power tools. I seriously doubt I have an overload of testosterone, it must be the medications I'm taking.  There are several interesting devices being sold to stop this problem, maybe I should try the ninja-face snore-stopper? To be honest I can't picture sleeping in something like this, I can barely be responsible for taking off my glasses and putting my book away, much less turning off the light. When does one apply this little fashion beauty? How would we ever get to sleep if we couldn't stop laughing? I suppose I could bedazzle it and just call it a dream accessory, but really? People wear these? If we're "till death do us part" is this what Michael has to look forward to for the rest of his life? I know he'll never leave me, he loves me too much. Oh, and I also told him that if he tried I would charge him for all those tattoos and go with him anyway. But I feel sorry for the poor man, to sleep next to someone who sounds like a gasoline generator every night for the rest of his life must be on par with the seventh circle of hell.

I don't know what to do about this, I could try the spray, or the nose devices that don't really stick to your nose all night but end up firmly anchored to a shoulder by morning. I just know that I feel really bad that I can disturb his sleep so terribly, even when he is wearing earplugs. I guess this is the "worse" part of "for better or worse."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dogs and boats, and just the right outfits.

The whole time I'm planning my anniversary wedding/circus/dragfest, I'm wondering if I'll be able to actually pull it off with such short notice. So far, the things I need and haven't found are: A corset that's not black. yards of the right fabric to make a skirt while my daughter (the captain of the sewing machine who won't even let me try to learn to use it) hates me and won't even come home (because this house is "annoying"), a full outfit of lederhosen to fit a six foot man, a terrible 70s prom tuxedo that's not powder blue, and a change of date by one day so my maid of dishonor can wear a terrible bridesmaid dress and show up with my best friend.

That's a lot of stuff to find. I have 27 days left to pull this off. I have done more in less time, but never have I felt this bad while trying to do it. The rings part. Do we take off our wedding rings and put them back on, or should we exchange something totally different? We've already done rings, so I'm thinking something different, but what? Something we'll make, I'm sure. I need to write a ceremony, and decide whether we'll read more vows or short essays. Can you hear how much I, I, I there is in all of this? I need to talk to Michael and let him have some input, which is not my style, I usually do everything myself and he shows up looking good and does his part. That's how our first wedding went. 

I put together an event for 160 people and wouldn't let anyone help me at all. It was amazing, it was grand, far beyond our means. I traded tattoos for so much of it. I am just now finishing the sleeve on my florist's husband that pays for the 2,600.00 flower bill. We were given so much as wedding gifts, I traded for the ice sculpture and the oysters on the half shell that adorned it were a wedding gift (along with the BBQ service for our main dish) from a friend of Michael's. One of our friends payed for most of the wedding cake, which was dark chocolate ganache, all shiny with fresh flowers adorning instead of white. It was classic, it was beautiful, and it stuck. We are still married.

This time is really an affirmation that after all two people can go through if you multiply three years by four kids we would still choose each other. Now that I really know who I married I have this deep desire to stand up and say again that I've found my life-partner and will be there till the end of time with him. That's just the wedding though, it's the marriage that counts.

So many of my friends would marry, either today or someday, if they had the opportunity. Ellen and Portia, Matt Morris and his husband, and about eighteen thousand other couples took that opportunity during the short window of time from May to November to do just that. What about my other friends and family who weren't in love yet back then though, when will they be able to plan their weddings, either classical or full of costume, drag and drama? Once again, it's not the wedding that really counts, it's the marriage. Why can I marry Michael as many times as I want to and people I know and love can't legally marry at all?

If Gay marriage is a threat to society, I would think people would hunt me down and wave their signs. It took me three times to find the right husband. With three husbands I am far more a threat to marriage and the good old American Way than any two women or men who wish to make that leap of faith and say "Yes, you are the one" and have it bind legally as well as spiritually. 

Actually, the marriage part took place in the courthouse records department when we purchased and signed our marriage license, the wedding was really just for aesthetics which is why it makes no difference if it's a white or rainbow wedding. Buying a marriage license is somewhat like buying a license for your dog, except it  requires two signatures and birth certificates. Oh, and the people have to be born "male" and "female". That is like only licensing certain kinds of dogs, and excluding others. I can't accept that we get to have the legal paper because we were born the proper breeds. It's ridiculous to me. It's a civil action to buy a license for a car, or a dog, a boat or a marriage. That makes it a civil right. Why do only certain people have this particular right? I certainly know Gay people who own licensed boats and the world hasn't come to an end yet.

I feel a strong urge to commit to Michael again, but also a deep desire to stand up and marry with any and all who want that for themselves. It's symbolic only, we can't be any more married than we already are. It also represents my deep belief that anyone and everyone who is an adult and is not under undue duress should be able to do the same thing. I think we'll get married every year until everyone can. It's a bizarre protest, but hey, I'm an Aquarian and no one expects the usual from me.

On that note, my friend Melanie was in my tattoo chair the other day. She had her first real date with her husband at our first wedding. She said it was absolutely beautiful, but she couldn't see any "Laura" in it. When I told her my plans for this party she said "Ah, now that sounds more like you." I covered all my tattoos in acres of white lace the last time. Why did I think I had to hide who I am? Now that I'm done with that dress I could stuff it and make a love-seat.  I guess everyone has the right to re-evaluate their ideas about marriage and what it should be like. This is a good thing, because if people can't find a way to do that then equal rights under the law where marriage is concerned won't ever be forthcoming for all of the people I love.

God, I really hope I can find the right corset and lederhosen, it's all about priorities, right?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just stay out of it Mom

Five years ago my oldest son bought his dream car. It's an older model RX7, and although I know nothing about cars I know that this one is special. Special in the drifting community, special because it's old and has so much stock stuff about it. He loves that car. To me it's an old silver car, but like I said, I don't know much about cars.

He bought it for cash, and got a receipt and some paperwork, which he hasn't been able to find for years. There were ten months left on the tags, so he figured he had plenty of time to register it and transfer the title. Four months later he got a DUI in it and it had to be parked until he paid the fines and completed the school that goes along with this. I felt really bad for him, he had been drinking but he had a friend drive him where he wanted to go and then stopped drinking for a couple hours so he could drive himself home. He was trying to be responsible, but he still blew a .09 when they pulled him over and since he was only 20 at the time they took him to jail and suspended his license. He then figured he didn't have the money to register it will all those fines looming over his head, and didn't do it at all. For five years. It took him four years to actually start paying the fines, and he just completed the school in March of this year. I had promised myself that it would be his problem to solve, but I ended up paying for most of that school, and guess what, it is not inexpensive. So, hey, now he has a valid license! Yay! 

He got a job after a year of unemployment and is finally ready to get his tags in order. Five years later. We do stuff like that in our early twenties, I know I did. Yesterday he went to the DMV to start that process and there are a few snags. One is the fact that the original seller has since died. Another is that there is a lien on the car from a credit union that no longer exists. The final wall he hit yesterday is that the new credit union, the one that bought or simply absorbed the old credit union will not talk to him, or give him any information on this lien, they say the seller's next of kin is the person they will talk to.

He spent a day of frustration trying to figure this all out, and then Michael found the dead guy's brother who is the next of kin in about ten minutes of internet searching. Oh, but the brother is not willing to be helpful because he doesn't want any of his dead brother's debt to somehow be assigned to him. He won't talk to the credit union.

That is really where this story stops, I'm afraid. You can read those paragraphs over and over and when you get to the part where the brother won't help you can start all over again.

The thing is, my son wants that car, wants to drive that car. He's been sharing Michael's truck with him because Michael has been very generous up to this point. There are bound to be scheduling conflicts soon, and my son needs a car that he can drive to work and all the other million places a twenty-five year old guy wants to drive. "Why don't you get another car for transportation?" I ask, as though that's a reasonable question. "I want that car, that's my car." says he. "But that car doesn't really belong to you, it belongs to the credit union that holds paper on it, and you can't get it registered." say I. "I don't want to talk about this right now." says my son who I think is realizing that he threw that money away all those years ago.

Round and round, like a dog chasing its own tail we go. 

I think this is a very expensive lesson he's going to have to just add to his resume of youngster mistakes. He is willing to keep going round in his head about this car and can't see how to move forward. His new job pays enough for him to contribute to rent and maybe pay me a little bit at a time the one million dollars he owes me. He wouldn't be able to save for a car anyway, whether or not there's a bad economy and there're tons of cars for sale right now. He's depressed, and he's on stop.

On the bright side, he's working five and six days a week, double shifts a lot of those days. He just can't see his way around the fact that he's not going to be driving the RX7, and doesn't want to talk to me about it. I had to let it go for the evening last night, but he's got to figure something out because he can't drive Michael's truck without being on our insurance for long, and he can't get his own insurance on a vehicle that doesn't contain his name in the title line, I don't think.

Round and round. I know my Dad was always able to un-fuck things like this for me when I was his age, but I really don't know what I can do for him. He doesn't want to talk about it though, so I guess I'm supposed to just stay out of it and pray he doesn't get in an accident and ruin our insurance for us.

Kids. The other white meat.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Do

Michael and I spent a lovely day yesterday just hanging out, heading to the beach and stopping at our favorite honeymoon location. The beach was foggy, and although Mac would have liked to try seagull, he was not at all sure about the wave thing. 

We got a final OK to have our anniversary party at the Russian River Resort, so I wrote the facebook invitation this morning. If you'd like to attend, please let me know and I'll send you an invite as well.

I really want to renew my own commitment to Michael, but I also have this idea that others will stand up with us and say "I DO" when the question is asked. I feel so passionate about equality in marriage. I don't believe there is anything about Michael and I that makes us more eligible to be married to each other than anyone else. I have sent my money to the cause of equality, put my body on the capitol steps with my daughter to protest the questionably funded proposition 8, wear the shirt, have the sticker on my car.

Does any of that really do a single thing to bring equal rights to all? I can't say whether it does or it doesn't. I get depressed sometimes when I think that this kind of discrimination still exists in 2009. Our renewal will be serious to us, our marriage is sacred in the Universe, but it's also a chance to stand with everyone, no matter who they are that want the same rights we were born with, simply by being opposite genders. I've seen and been around love that is so profound, so touching that it can only be savored and honored, and yet only some people are allowed to marry and have all the legal rights to go with the title. It's wrong, and I will never stop working toward equality for all of us.

We're going to perform a serious act, in the middle of a fun and silly party. In my mind anyone who chooses to stand up with us will also be declaring something very meaningful and valid. I invite all who wish to join us. To say in front of the Universe and your friends, and all who are there to witness "I choose you, and only you to live my life with, to take on all that comes our way until the very end of my life." is serious business. Because it's in a fun and party atmosphere makes it no less meaningful. Brides and their Brides, Grooms and their Grooms, or other Brides and Grooms (whether married already or not) will be welcome to affirm their lifelong commitment with us. It's my dream to have a whole group of us all standing for love, and when asked "Do you?" to say those magic words that bind even as they set you free: "I DO."

Monday, September 21, 2009

3:30am thoughts on Control and the Sacred Art of Tattoo

Today I won't be tattooing. I've been working every single day thanks to my good friend Holly, who told me she had hired herself to start doing the things I just don't get around to, or don't feel well enough to keep up on. My books are starting to be filled, straight blocks of green all across the calendar week (I chose the color of money for the tattoo entries) because she will only book me so much, and is willing to make people wait, where I have been taking them as they come. It's not wearing me out as bad to have just a certain number of things to do in a day, and I love the look of that full calendar.

Thanks to her, we now take deposits regularly, and have release forms going, and are keeping excellent records at the shop. All of these are ideas that Michael has proposed at one time or another, but I've always resisted help and don't tell me how to run my business. Surrender has started to infiltrate more than my recovery, and I've finally started to learn to let other people help me. I've always seen offers of assistance as implications that I'm not competent and can't do it myself, and my theme song has been "You're not the boss of me!" so I'm always in charge and we do everything my way. The only catch to this excellent plan is that lots of real-world stuff has been falling apart while I play the role of blissful artist. Holly hired herself for ten percent of the payments for the work I do, and she does the same for Shayla. She didn't like the title "shop girl" so she promoted herself to "shop manager" and now she works with me every day. I surrendered and I'm amazed at the result. 

My shop looks flawless, with everything in order, my books are not chaotic, she actually listens to the answering machine and returns calls, and every customer is being greeted personally instead of getting an over-the-shoulder "hello, what can I do for you?" while I tattoo. We're taking deposits, and people aren't standing me up any more. Things are running smoothly, and it's because I've allowed myself to accept the assistance of people who have ideas other than my own. 

When I married Michael he had all sorts of ideas about how my business could run better and be more profitable, but I have always been a control freak about how things run at Flying Colors, it's MINE and no one should be telling me how to run a business that's coming up on it's 17th anniversary. I've run it this long, raised three kids doing it, and don't try to tell me what to do. An excellent statement of independence, except I'm an artist and have no business trying to run a business. The truth is everything that Holly has come in and taken charge of are ideas that Michael has already proposed and I was completely threatened by. "Are you saying I don't know how to run my own business?" The truth is, I'm really not that good at the business end of it.

Learning to let people who have a real talent for certain things do them and leave me to what I'm good at has been very hard for me. I owe Michael a giant apology, and Holly a giant "Thank you." It took my illness to make this happen; yet another thing that actually makes it a kind of blessing, although I wasn't open to the idea that anything good could come from being ill when Dr. Gail first proposed the idea that eventually I may find some good in this terrible thing that has been happening to me. Who would have thought that anyone but me was right about anything? Certainly not myself.

All I have to say is "Holly, I've been meaning to..." and she just does it. Like yesterday. I've had four pieces of artwork that are copies of tattoo flash from 1908 and four frames I bought six months ago in a bag leaning against a wall. I've always wanted to frame them since I got them about ten years ago, but just never got around to it. At least one of the pieces is dated 1908, I think two of them are from the WWII era. I've had them for around ten years, and they've been safely flat in a drawer for most of that time. Within twenty minutes they were framed and looking fantastic. All I had to do was ask. 

Then I asked Michael to come down and hang them for me. That required moving a shelf and using the drill to do it. Too much trouble for me to ever actually do that, without him they would have leaned against the same wall, beautifully framed for another six months. He spent an enormous amount of time hanging them, or should I say preparing them to hang. They had no little fixture on the back for installation, he had to make do with what he found in the shop. Wire ties and an old mouse cord were the supplies, I was tattooing, I didn't see the actual mechanics of that. He used a level and a measuring stick, and they are really well hung. I said it that way so you'd have something to make silly comments about.

Holly and Michael worked on that project together, and it made me think of programs I've watched on TV about psychologists who say they can predict which couples will stay married by giving them simple tasks or assignments to do together. That's actually the thought that has generated all the preceding paragraphs, but why write a few when you can use ten thousand words? They observe couples doing simple tasks like building towers out of paper towel tubes and other silly fun projects. The way the couple work together, who's in charge, whether or not one becomes contemptuous of the other's ideas and methods, all of these things are predictors of the general success of the couple.

Michael and I can make fun out of anything we do. We can laugh and kid each other when our projects get tough, or something falls over and makes a mess. Holly and I can do stuff, but we do have our moments where we are both bitchy and have to point out how the other person is not doing it right. I was thinking of those success-indicator shows I've watched and came to the conclusion that there is no way Michael and Holly could ever be married; leaving out the most obvious reasons, just talking about the way they work together. They frustrate each other to an epic degree.  Holly and I could never be married, because the stress level rises, slower but certainly in the same way. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Holly, I'm saying that Michael and I are perfect for each other. We can laugh as we go along no matter what we're doing. Why in the world did I resist his help all this time? Because I've been a total control freak, that's why.

It took me being ill and totally depleted to allow Holly to walk in and say "I'm working for you now, and here's what you're paying me." It took me being flat on my back to let Michael say "This is what needs to be done, and how I plan to do it, is that alright with you?" I actually have a bright and functioning light on the ceiling over my station now instead of the really cool looking one I ordered from ebay five years ago, because I let Michael choose and install it. Granted, it's not as artistically cool looking as the one I chose, but it works very well and uses regular light bulbs which will be very simple to replace if they burn out, which they won't because he chose the right lighting fixture for the placement. I'm learning giant lessons about not being in control of every aspect of my life, and it's not as bad as I would have imagined.

I've spent years doing everything myself, feeling like I can't count on anyone to do things "right" and if it needs doing then I have to be the one doing it. I planned and executed a wedding with 160 guests, and didn't accept help from anyone at all. It was beautiful, I thought it was perfect. It killed me on my actual wedding day to realize that all the things I had been gathering and making would have to go into someone else's hands to set up, because I had to be the bride and stay in the bride-room in secrecy and preparation. I think I used a half-pack of index cards with instructions and arrows to make sure that it was set up exactly the way I imagined it. That killed me, I felt so much that I needed to do it myself. Everything was put together by me, but I had to let go of the set-up phase and trust others to manifest my vision. I could have learned the lesson all that time ago, but it slipped right by me in the glory of the day. How has Michael been so patient while I learned that I'm not the Queen of the world and that other people are competent to do for me what I always think I should be doing all by myself?

I suppose this blog is really just a time filler, it's now 4:30 and what else to do but write? It's a small statement that I can let other people help me and that I'm not in control of my whole world; for me though that's a huge revelation. I've even been letting Michael drive when we go places. That statement alone would amaze those who know me well. I'm amusing myself with my writing these things down, you're not obligated to read my 1800 words.

Thinking back to the original topic I used for my jumping off point, the idea that my art-form has been practiced in the western world with electric machines for around a hundred years now really seems thought-provoking to me. It's ancient, and yet we here in America have adopted it as a part of our culture for somewhere around a whole century now. It's brand new for me every day, but it is one of the older practices that we humans have been engaged in for as long as people have had skin.

Sometimes I connect for a moment with my ancient colleagues when I'm doing certain pieces. There is a very spiritual and ritualistic element to this very intimate art-form. It is a right of passage, it claims huge landmarks in the lives of some people, it is a sacred element of growth and grief a great deal of the time. There are sittings where I sometimes connect with the Shamanic aspect of the permanent mark, and I can feel the spirits of my elders over my shoulder as I perform the magic rights of tattoo. I did a piece that has very old roots that is a symbol of protection for someone this last week, and I found myself mentally working that thought into the lines as I laid them down into my client's skin. How often do I pray or meditate on the energy I'm infusing into my lines to create something that's more than just a pretty picture? The answer is very often. Many of the images I do are for healing, whether the client knows it or not, and I weave that energy into the act of depositing pigment under skin. These kinds of thoughts are maybe why I really should be leaving the bookkeeping to someone else, I have no business running a business, I am engaged in sacred arts, that's my place in the world.

I also feel I do energy work just by laying my hands on people, and definitely do a lot of counseling in my conversations. The whole thing is so much more than just drawing slightly painful pictures on people. Even in the design-creation phase when I'm consulting I get in touch with who a person is and what they're trying to say, and then weave the magic language of image into the artwork. All of tattooing feels like summoning magic for me, unless it's just another Raider logo or some tribal forms because they "look cool." Even then I feel I'm connecting in a very personal way with every client. They let me under their skin, leave something inside of their exterior boundary that will always be there as long as they inhabit their body. I know from experience that when you cover a tattoo it's still there, under the new design. Once I've done what I do, we'll be together until death do we part. Or until you meet up with a Q-switch laser.

I've not only come to accept that I'm giving up control of some mundane business aspects of the entity and empire that is Flying Colors, I'm getting excited about it. I have Holly, who is perfect for the position she has created for herself. I have Shayla who has joined me in the art, and Jim when he is moved to do it with us. Mostly I have Michael, who is devoted to me in a way that no other human (excepting my Big Daddy, but that is in such a different way) has ever been, and he's willing to give all of himself to help create the space I occupy as I practice my lifelong wish. How in the world have I resisted this for so long? Or isn't that the way most of us feel when a new thought or lesson really sinks in to the level of true acceptance and understanding? I felt this way about living in recovery when I finally got that too.

Thanks for sharing these early morning hours with me, I know I've taken you all over the landscape of my thoughts; without a plan, without a statement and a conclusion; just rambling about and pondering.

When the sun comes up and I've fulfilled my one commitment with my daughter I will have the chance to spend a whole day with Michael, just being together and talking and moving through the world. I'll have no responsibilities to tend to, noother people to be in my specialized kind of service for; just being with my most loved one and seeing what the day has to offer. If I had to choose a day in a week that I knew was my very last I would have one just like this one. I am blessed to have this life that I live, illness or not. My life has rich opportunities to be in service, and fine people to love and support me while I live out my dream. Does it get any better than this? Maybe, but I would be content if it were just like this for the rest of my days.

Except the headache, I am ready to be done with that.