Huntress of the Lens


Friday, August 21, 2009

Pocket Lady

My day went nothing like I expected yesterday. Nothing like the appointment book spelled out anyway. On the books I had Shirley the older southern lady who was coming back to get her tattoo that I just couldn't find time to do the other day even though she had an appointment, and a girl who I called to re-book and then just kind of dropped the ball on because of medication and then shame that came from not re-contacting her in a timely manner. She came back in, I gave her a groveling apology, she accepted and I told her I'd give her her tattoo for half price to make up for it. Called her Ruthie. Then worked on her design for an hour before she got there so that she would know I mean business and was really ready to do the work. Shirley cancelled and didn't want to rebook because Shayla and I had been too raunchy with our humor the first time she was there and she was offended. Granted we can get to sound like the waiting room in a brothel, where all the ladies gather while waiting to see who is chosen to go upstairs with the next client, we do get a tad specific in our joking. I admit it, we were discussing a thirteen and a half inch penis.

The minute I picked up on Shirley's distress I asked if it was a bit too much for her, the face one wears at a really good horror film or when shown a photo of a particularly bad car crash was my clue. She said yes and we toned it down immediately. Too little too late. So no first client. Then my second client, whose artwork I had been working on for so long shows up and I say "Hi Ruthie, ready in a sec." and she says "Why do you keep calling me Ruthie?" and I realize that she's a totally different girl, She also wants a large piece on her side, but if she's not the one I treated so shoddily there's no way I can do this piece at half price. I tried to negotiate a two-thirds price, but now her mom's mad and says she can't get tattooed by me at all and she leaves. by two o'clock I have chased significant money out the door when what I had declared and planned to claim was a profitable day to cover some large expenses.

Next up is Laszlo, a charming Hungarian man for a free touch up. I always touch up solid black, because I work it gently the first time around and to get it black as Dottie's evil heart it just needs two sittings. He brings a man named Daniel with him. I already know it's Laszlo's birthday, because he told me when he made the appointment. When I asked what his big plans for his day were, he said "Daniel and I are going to go back to my home and drink!" They have been best friends for twenty-two years, all the way back to Hungary. Laszlo doesn't talk as much as I'd like, the accent is beautiful, but I like him. I said "Well here, let me give you a hug from a pretty girl to make it a perfect day!" and did just that. He's old enough that I am still a pretty girl.

Daniel, on the other hand loves to talk, and we did that through the whole tattoo. Not only have they been friends for twenty-two years, they escaped service in the communist army together and went to a refugee camp in Austria for two years together. They came to America three weeks apart, and though one landed in San Francisco and one in Washington DC they stayed in touch with family in Hungary who in turn helped them find each other here. Laszlo had one penny when he left that camp, and he found it on the floor. They have a friendship that makes me want to cry. Karen and I have a friendship that has lasted a bit longer than that, but has not one iota of the challenges and triumphs that these two have been through. Daniel was working in the White house somehow, just three months after he got here. Not in the "visiting area" but somewhere there. I'm sure he didn't have the english he has today, but just think about that.

He's made a business for himself that revolves around art as well. He was very interested in the art I do for a living and started asking me questions about mine, and all sorts of other art I have done. "Have you done this? How about that?" and as I answered and started listing all the different medium I have become engrossed with, overtaken by, spent hundreds of hours doing (sometimes without sleep or food) before I moved on to the next thing I realized that I am an artist. Not like eighteen years as a working artist making a living with my skill doesn't qualify me, or that I've been making art since before I went to school would make me an artist, but I've always thought of that as dabbling. In answering his questions and both of us laughing and saying "Me too!" I became a real artist in my own mind. I have been looking at Jenn Honey or Aaron Malakai and thinking they are the real artists, and yesterday I graduated and joined them, at least in my own head. It was a beautiful thing.

The more he talked about what he does, the more I wanted to learn it. I said "Will you teach me?" and he just said "yes, of course I will." not "For ten thousand dollars I will teach you." but simply "Yes." Mr. Toad is going to go on a new wild ride. I have to get to San Francisco, and there is a bridge between me and what I want to know, so I'm either going to have to learn to ride Bart like Angelique (who will teach me, of that I'm sure) or Michael will come with me, or someone else will take me, but I'm going to get there and I'm going to learn this. My skin is tingling right now just thinking about it. New art. Things I've dreamed of and never known anyone who had the skills. Thank you Laszlo for bringing me your lifetime friend who holds keys to one of my dreams. That appointment, although not for money, was far more valuable than collecting dollars!

Then I had an email from Maryam and Jeff yesterday morning, wanting to get in for an unscheduled appointment. I thought I was booked all day but I said come by around noon and I'd see what I could do for them. Since my first two appointments didn't even happen I had time and energy to do work for them after all. Work that kept me in the shop till ten something at night. What can I say, it takes as long as it takes to do what I do. Originally I thought they were married, and on their honeymoon. Then I thought they had come to Napa so he could propose. Nope, just boyfriend and girlfriend. Right. When I look with my eyes that are not eyes I see a long road for these two, it's already a done deal. Their energy, the who they are just captivated me and made me so happy, I kept having this feeling that this is why I do what I do for a living, and saying it out loud. When you love what you do and it's only incidental that people hand you money for it, it is not a job it's a blessing. Their tattoos required my eye for detail and were fairly expensive, on top of that they gave me a very generous tip. There were the dollars I needed to collect to pay those certain bills, and keep food in the house for all these people who are depending on me. Poof, Universe at work, new friends and Joy in love, all rolled up into one exhausting day. Who could ask for more? Not I, that's for sure.

Thank Goodness Michael came down for the last couple hours of the odyssy, I missed him terribly all day and I really wanted a chance to show him this beautiful half sleeve that Jeff has by an artist in Sacramento. I took pictures of it that I want to post on facebook, but I left the artist information at the shop and there's no way I would post someone else's work without giving complete artist credit, that's piracy and I wouldn't consider it. I'll post them from work today. I have mad admiration for the artist who did the piece and it's too good not to share. Maryam and Jeff were my facebook friends within a couple of hours after they got there, and I don't usually go that far on a first date, they just brought out the facebook whore in me I guess.

So Where I thought I was getting an old lady and a young girl I got a Hungarian artist and a couple who reminds me of Michael and me when we first got together, and now that we know each other and are really in love. I won't say "Life is like a box of chocolates..." because I want to slap Sally Fields for ever uttering those words. I will though, say that life is like the Pocket Lady at all the school carnivals of my childhood. You'd give her a ticket and you could reach into any of the many, many pockets sewn into this magical robe she wore, and pull out a prize. Sometimes you would get a plastic spider ring and sometimes you would get a really good prize. No matter how hard you tried you just couldn't predict what was going to be in a certain pocket, you just had to reach in and hope for something good. Yesterday's pockets had some extremely good prizes for me.

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The fish can fly, the dogs and cats dance together and all the flowers are edible.