Huntress of the Lens


Friday, April 30, 2010

Mom's mid-life crisis OR Mercury is retrograde

Mercury is retrograde right now. My appointment book has been out of sync, and I'm having trouble arriving at the right places at the proper time.*

This one concept may be used as an explanation of many things, an excuse not to do something or a key to the ignition of a discussion with my son Andrew that could take three hours. Andrew is a scientist, a physicist, a militant atheist and compulsive master of debate. If you would like to have a vigorous, dynamic conversation with him, this would be a good way to start it.

The entire topic of astrology is something that I have studied for over thirty years, and one that he is dedicated to saving me from, using tactics like "the scientific method" and "critical thinking." He is one of the very few people I know who actually has a higher IQ than I do. (The world abounds with people who are more intelligent, but I limit my observation to people I actually know.) To have an effective conversation with Andrew one must bring data to the table, and possibly site one or more studies that have been done by scientists and other brain-people.

I'm an Aquarian, I can deal with this. He's a Leo, and we almost match each other in the drive to score points in any conversation. My Big Daddy taught me the art of debate when I still needed a booster-seat to sit comfortably at the dinner table. I have shared Andrew's drive to present a counter-opinion to any statement since I was a child. We have some good times.

He lives for physics, and is fully immersed in learning to write equations
to explain what he knows already and is currently learning. I am a hands-on Empath, who sees pictures and colors around people sometimes, and I have a greater than average working knowledge of astrology, numerology and Tarot. He thinks in graphs and equations, I live in the realm of image, feeling, analogy and archetype. We are almost polar opposites of each other in the way we arrive at conclusion, and yet we often find common ground. Mostly we have a blast, I love to listen to him in action and he swears I'll never get Alzheimer's if I continue to work my brain and never stop learning new things.

Andrew is taking a "Philosophy of Religion" class right now, and "Anthropology of Linguistics." Both are necessary for the basic degree he needs to go on to university, then grad-school and finally the doctorate he is headed for. I find both of these classes to be very interesting, although I am not taking them myself. We discuss.

As a "Militant Atheist" (a term coined by Richard Dawkins, eagerly adopted for his own) he is having an interesting time in the religion class. The teacher has a master's degreein Women's Spirituality, something he thinks should not even make it into the curriculum of higher education. Being a physicist AND a comedian he can entertain me for hours with his observations on what he describes as the female mid-life crisis.

"Women hit their forties and realize that they will die some day and they're not hot any more and they become experts on Spirit. Everything becomes about energy, auras, and intuition-which is all bullshit." I trust he will forgive me if this is paraphrase rather than a correct quote from him. I think he would be robbing humanity if he did not experiment with some stand-up comedy on this and other topics he's so passionate about. The teacher has written a book that is a mandatory text for the class "And it's not even on Amazon. It's not a real book, it's a scam to make young people think all her crazy shit is real."

He feels it's his responsibility to point out the flaws in her assertions lest any other young person in his class take away a single thing she says as fact. He does this with logic, and I have no idea if she enjoys having him in her class or hates it. I am certain that they both believe their own positions in their entirety. She already has her degrees and he does not, my guess is that she tolerates him and thinks his aura is red and very tight to his body, with bright blue streaming out in random directions. I think I would love this teacher.

I have studied several topics for decades now, that he will not accept as science. I concede, they are not. He does, however, prove me right in my own conclusions constantly, although I don't point that out. Our conversations are like fencing, like log-rolling, like pillow-fighting. He keeps me at the top of my game, and is my very favorite conversational partner. He will never actually rescue my intellect from astrology, Tarot, energy, auras, intuition, vision or dream knowledge. I'm one of those women over forty who has become an expert on Spirit. I do cherish his attempts though. I think I may be getting better insight to what it was like for my Big Daddy to have a child with above-average mental process, and then watch them use it.

Well, now that I've said all that, Mercury is retrograde. I have promised a friend that I would make sure he gets to Santa Rosa by one-thirty, even though he will be in a meeting that is very important until noon or twelve-thirty. On a good day (meaning that it's mid-day and traffic is usually flowing the opposite direction and Mercury is direct) it takes one hour plus a little to travel that far. I have an appointment for a large and very lucrative tattoo at noon, and am awaiting a delivery from FedEx that I must have today or I will die. Seriously, if I don't get this item today and have to wait till Monday it will kill me. People do die from being impatient and over-dramatic, it's a fact.

I need to be two or three places at the same time, an have not yet mastered teleporting or the alteration of time. If I don't pull this off somehow, either by re-booking this client or having a miracle (assistance from someone else) intervene I will know exactly what happened.

Mercury was retrograde. Simple as that.

*"Mercury goes retrograde about three times a year. It is common to hear people speak of this period with trepidation!

What is actually happening in the world of planets and motion is that Mercury appears to move backwards from the perspective of the Earth. In actual fact Mercury is not moving backwards! If this upsets you don't worry. All astrology is based on the appearance of things. The Sun doesn't actually rise, The Earth turns. You knew that.

So the meaning in Mercury retrograde is found in the symbolic interpretation of this apparent backward motion. It can help us to understand and navigate our world with greater ease.

Mercury represents the power of the mind. It is the trickster god because the mind is the slayer of the real! You know how hard it is to keep your mind on one thing. That is Mercury at work. Mercury likes to flip the channels so to speak! When this planet goes retrograde it's as if someone is pulling the plug at random moments; stealing the remote and demanding that you unplug! Of course we don't like to unplug. We like to keep on keeping on and get where we are going.

The general Mercury retrograde story goes like this: When Mercury is retrograde it's easy to miss the details; to misunderstand what was said; to misread what was written; to get the dates wrong or to forget to show up. This is why the common advise is to refrain from signing contracts, making major commitments or undertaking major new endeavors " -Julie Simmons

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Simple things, why I am such a bitch

I am fully aware that I must be very difficult to live with. I'm also aware that I am not the Empress of the universe, and that I don't get to make rules and expect others to follow them. With that said, this is a list of simple things that I consider to be reasonable requests, and will act as if I have a right to demand compliance from anyone within approximately 50 feet of me.

1. Mouth noises
There are two categories of mouth noises that I simply cannot tolerate. Noises made while consuming food or beverage, and random noises.

Don't slurp, smack, crunch, chomp or take super bites that are too large to process with your mouth closed. Don't consume any food that needs to be inserted into your mouth with several bites, bite and chew each bit separately. (These items include but are not limited to french fries, potato chips and popcorn.)Don't eat crunchy foods that I can hear you chewing even if your mouth is closed. You may like these foods, but eat them somewhere else. Don't put food into your mouth until it is at a temperature you can deal with. All the noises associated with a mouth full of food that is too hot are un
bearable, and "It's too hot!" is not a valid reason for making these noises. Do not slurp any liquid that is too hot to drink silently. I have experimented with
several foods personally, and it is possible to consume any food in silence if this is your goal. Make
it your goal, you're driving me crazy. Please do not EVER remove the food from your fork with your teeth. Under no circumstance can I bear to hear your teeth scrape your fork. If you must chew gum (and it is my belief that unless it's nicotine gum this behavior is entirely ridiculous)do not crack, snap, chomp or blow bubbles with it. Do not take it out of your mouth then reinsert it. This is disgusting.

Random mouth noises:
Whistling, whether it's a tune or just a little meandering whistley sound is just not called for.
whistling should be banned; and while we're at it let's include the kazoo. The kazoo is a party favor, not an instrument and is not appropriate in any situation that is not a children's party. You may knock yourself out at a kid's party, I won't be there, as a rule I can't stand kids. Don't put things in your mouth that are not food, don't chew on paper or fabric or little pieces of God-knows-what. This makes me gag. I understand the need to tap something on your front teeth once or twice to verify what it is (This is a foolproof way to tell if something is glass or plastic, metal or wood) but two taps are all that should be needed for this. Kissing is nice, but the noise it produces is horrible. Sloppy, slurpy kissing should be done in private with someone who can enjoy this with you. Simple common sense should be able to guide you as to what noises should be made with the mouth: none. The one exception is speech.

2. Speech:
I understand that not everyone knows the proper pronunciation of every word, that's what I'm here for. If I inform you of the correct way to pronounce a word, do not repeat your mis-pronunciation. If I, myself, mis-pronounce a word you may point it out to me, because I am reasonable. (Jim got me with parabola just the other day.) I will immediately go to a dictionary
verify that you are correct. As I've already said, I am a reasonable person. Slaughtering the English language is not called for, it is beautiful and complex. "Almost" words are not words, they are nails to my brain. "Supposably," "Irregardless," and "Nucular" are but a small sampling of almost words. Double negatives ("I don't have none of those.") are something we all should have overcome by third grade. Use this beautiful language correctly, it's not some duct-taped old tool you found lying around to just bash things with! I will, on occasion, punctuate things incorrectly. I am more tolerant of other's flaws when I see them in myself.

I will include the written word in this category, yet not include all the rules for writing. There are entire books to dedicated to educating you in how to write properly. This is just my own personal (and highly reasonable may I add) list of things that drive me insane. If you text me, I do not demand punctuation. I understand that a few extra clicks to achieve an apostrophe or a comma can be burdensome and time-consuming. Do not, however, substitute a number 4 a word
or a letter to symbolize an entire word. It's "you" not "U" and the letter Z is not interchangeable with the letter S. It takes as much time to text "was" as it does "wuz" so let's not have any more of that. I understand that no one has the time to edit all of their text messages to be grammatically correct, and that when typing it's fairly easy to let the occasional "teh" slip through when you meant "the." I'm not trying to rule with an iron fist here, but seriously people, this is very important.

3. Movement:
Unnecessary movement, such as but not limited to: Chair spinning, foot swinging, object tapping, ball-point pen clicking or kicking things gently(whether you are seated or not) is intolerable. There is no excuse for doing these things. Stop it immediately please.

4. Breathing:
I should not ever have to hear you breathe. If you need to sniff more than twice it's time to blow your nose. I will be happy to get you a tissue at any time, rather than hear more than two sniffs. If you're running or hiking up a hill I understand that your breathing may be audible. I won't be there to hear it, I don't enjoy physical activity of any kind. All things worth doing can be accomplished while sitting in a chair, but that is simply my opinion.

Exempted from this category is snoring, because apparently I do that myself. I have heard recorded evidence of my own snoring, and it sounds much like a small gasoline-powered device with a two-stroke motorcycle trying to make it to the top of a hill, an angry steer and a hand-saw. My own snoring does not bother me, although yours will. I am not a hypocrite, I will let your snoring go unremarked.

5. Many other things:
Don't put your fingers in your mouth, ever. Wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" after you use the restroom. Don't touch my nose for any reason or tickle me. If you have a habit, it's probably going to bother me. I will tolerate it as long as I possibly can, and then tell you nicely to please discontinue immediately. There is no way to predict which little habits will bother me, that is why I am so willing to tell you when to stop doing something. I'm here to help you become a better person. I do this for my own comfort and out of a deep, yet conditional love of humanity.

Now, who wants to go hang out?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mom, Motivational Speaker and Drill Sergeant- 72 hours

There's no way to describe this tickle I get at the back of my mind sometimes. I'd love to say it's  a vision, or that seeing the bat-light shining in the sky over Gotham City I know that my super powers (meager and imaginary as they are) are needed. I'd love to say that I have some knowing or certainty that is like the sound of a battle-horn calling me to duty. I'd love to say I have some kind of second sight, but really, a lot of being psychic is knowing the dates of all twelve signs and the birthstones for every month. None of that is true, but sometimes the back of my mind gets a sensation and I just go with it. Sometimes it's big things that set it off, sometimes they're very small and easy to miss. 

A couple of nights ago I saw that someone who is a client (but that I like a great deal and really enjoyed chair-time with) had changed relationship status from "In a relationship" to "single." People change relationship status all the time, sometimes it's a long-married friend who all of a sudden has the little red heart and it says "So and so is married." Or one of my friends will go from "In a relationship" to "It's complicated" and I mind my own business. Facebook relationship hearts have become a way to announce that it's moved into real boyfriend/girlfriend status, or that someone's having a fight, or to officially announce a break-up that may last forever or three days. I have over four hundred and fifty friends on facebook, I don't always see everyone's post, but that night I noticed that little heart change in the feed from someone I didn't know that well, but as I said, liked a lot when we were doing tattoo together.

I sent an IM saying "Your posts look sad, if you need to talk I'm always here." I act that way with people who pull my "mother" strings, and some young people really do. The reply was immediately "I could really use someone to talk to, what's your number?" and I gave it. Those three lines of instant messaging changed the next three days of my life.

It was a bad case of broken-heart. It was a person who is far from their home of origin who needed to cry and have someone listen and care. This is my specialty. My Big Daddy has talked me down from the ledge so many times by helping me see the brighter side, or at least that it's not as bad as it seems right in the moment. I know how to do this, I have a great role model. Immediately the person on the other end of the line becomes "Honey" and I go into full-blown MOM mode.

We talked for a while and the conclusion was that we'd meet for coffee before work, and that of course I have a hug for you if you need one.

What came out in the first three minutes of actual conversation was that not only had there been an ugly breakup, but that it also included an arrest and a night in jail. It was really a story of drug addiction, and their using with each other, and a whole laundry list of drugs and insanity. 

I don't really get why it's a laundry list instead of a shopping list, it seems like a like a laundry list would have one item on it: 
1. Do the laundry. 
I think they should call it a shopping list, because you'd be much more likely to put down twelve or fourteen things if you were headed to the store. Of course I digress, when do I ever follow a straight line when telling you a story?

My friend was 24 hours without cocaine, opiates and other prescription cocktails, a mess, but not really sick yet. I called Super-Michael and without even asking why he just said "OK." when I told him we were going to a meeting that night.  We brought my friend to a meeting over in his own town, so he could start to connect with people in his own area, people who could be there in two minutes if he really used the phone list they give all newcomers at meetings.

This is a blog, not a novel, I'll fill in this part with "Then a lot of time and tears went by, and stuff happened." rather than telling every excruciating little detail.

It was apparent by Sunday night that we couldn't let him even drive, much less go back to whatever was waiting for him in his house. When we get clean we need people to help us go through everything we own so there's nothing to find in that moment where recovery is a theory from hours ago, and now that it's the middle of the night and we're alone and terribly sick. We will do whatever drugs we have. 

This is why we stick together in packs, because alone there isn't a single  one of us who can leave it stashed when the sickness hits. 

We took him to our house, and put him on our couch, and he became one of our own.

You've seen heroine withdrawal on TV or in movies, I'm sure of it. It looks pretty bad. It looks like a concerned person sitting with you for a day or two and giving you orange juice and wiping your sweaty brow after you throw up yet again. TV depictions of opiate withdrawal are like Hallmark specials about flowers and bunnies compared to what it's really like to be with someone while they kick those drugs.

It's not like that, it's more like watching someone you care about, through sweat-fogged glass, be tortured in a way that no human should be able to survive. You can listen to the descriptions of fire in all of their veins, and how they know they need to pull all their teeth out; watch them claw at their skin which doesn't fit any more and hold them while they cry. You can even remember your own withdrawal if you've ever gone through one, but you can't touch this evil thing smothering your loved one. They are alone behind its iron clawed, fire-tipped barriers. And they suffer. They suffer in a way that the Spanish Inquisition wishes it could have used for torture, and it doesn't end. 

They know it will never end, and you know that it will. You know that you understand what this is like, and they know you couldn't possibly understand. It's ICU in your living room, and you realize that you are really under-qualified for this, but all you have is your own experience, strength and hope to offer, and Gatorade.

We're very fortunate, Michael and I. We have a golden list of phone numbers, hot-lines to heroes who will drop everything and be here now in a situation like this. There is one number, the platinum one at the top of the list. We called, he came, and the three of us did what no one person could ever accomplish.

Here we are, the Mother, the Motivational Speaker and the Drill Sergeant. If this boy lets us, we are NOT going to let him die. Three completely different ways of speaking and acting, one united love for an addict who is still suffering. "How bad do you want it?" "How willing are you to do whatever it takes to get to the other side of this?" "I love you honey, you don't have to do this alone." We are a force of nature, driven and bolstered by a Power Greater Than ourselves. We're living out the chemical version of the apocalypse, the fight between light and dark, life and death.

Two of us go to his house with him, to clean it out and help him pack for a safe, medical detox and the opportunity to do a ninety day residential treatment program. 

Tearing through all the hiding places, calling out what is found. "This is what I found, I'm flushing now." I pour bottle after bottle of alcohol down the drain, and the smell of it all fills the tiny space. My hands are sticky, I can't wash them enough. I am full of fire and fear, and gratitude that because I stayed in my seat and did what I was told I will never have to go through this myself again if I don't want to. We cleaned house, packed a few things, fed him a meal, brought him to one place we know where the story of The End of active addiction comes true every day. 

72 hours have passed, and now we do all that is left for us to do, we turn him over to a new life if he wants it; if he has the willingness to do what it takes. The three of us hold each other, in gratitude and the Knowing that it's only through the Grace of a Power Greater Than ourselves that we're out here, in this part of the journey, and he's in there taking the first of a thousand steps. We turned him over, and trusted that the Miracle can happen for him as well. We look at each other, the Mother, the Motivational Speaker and the Drill Sergeant and we know that we have escaped the jaws of death, and the only way we get to keep it is to give it away.

Then Michael and I went to class, we made it with maybe five minutes to spare.

Today I am drained beyond belief, maybe how it feels right after you use your adrenaline-fueled super-strength to lift a car off a baby. I am filled with gratitude, and empty of energy, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

I would love to say that I'm psychic and knew I was needed when I saw that little red heart that says someone's relationship status has changed, but to be truthful I don't think it was me at all. 

Monday, April 26, 2010


It's a beast, the subtle under-the-bed kind of monster that you really can't see. It gets in your head and whispers to you, makes itself a part of your flesh and fluid. It's what you know, and you think it's your only friend. You can't live with it, it's killing you and you know it. You can't live without it, because it's all there is and like air you need it in a way that no one understands and it's killing you. It's your addiction, and it's ivy wrapping around your tree-all the way to the top.

Kicking dope, dope-sick, craving, sweating, crying and you believe it will never stop, never get better. It screams and rages, it whines and begs, and it lies. If you believe it you will die. If you ignore it you think you will die. It's the first days of recovery if you let it be, and it is a hell the christian bible never even hinted at. 

People will tell you there's a different way to live, that you never have to use again, that you're not alone in this. These are true statements, but it's very hard to hear truth in them when you know you are dying. 

They call it labor when a woman gives birth, and it's very much the same. This is either your slow agonizing death or the birth of your new life. 

How bad do you want it?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Walking the Yard

I will sheepishly admit that I am one of the many who have made profiles for my dogs on "Dogbook," which is a facebook application that lets you pretend that your dogs are people too. Normally I hate it when someone wants to apply human attributes to something that is not human. 

No, your cat does not think it's a person. No, your dog does not think it's a cat, or want to drive your car just because it chooses to sit in the driver's seat while it waits for your return. No, "God" has no petty human emotions like anger, jealously, happiness, desire or a thirst for vengeance. Humans want to make everything human, it's just what we do. 

I'm just a charming mass of contradiction, I made a Dogbook for all three of my dogs. My dogs are friends with other dogs. My dogs "write" comments to each other, and change their status. This is ridiculous, and still I do it. I believe everyone is allowed to do things that are silly and totally hypocritical to the speeches they make to anyone who will listen, as long as it's harmless and won't cost you your job. Being a Republican who votes NO on any issue that will further equality for all and/or being a pastor who rails against the evils of homosexuality and then cruises the men's bathroom for quickie blowjobs from strangers does not fit into this category. Dogbook does.

I have had a fence around the front part of my back yard for years, and by fence I mean a collection of rotting boards united by ivy and chicken-wire. My two smallest dogs have spent years exploring the joys of violating this perimeter and taking themselves for walks. We had to be careful not to look at that "fence" too hard, because that may have caused it to deteriorate even further. One gate was dependent on a series of trash cans to keep it closed and make it too tall to jump over.

Yesterday a dear friend built us a new fence. It is absolutely dog-proof, and has thwarted every attempt to use the old methods of exit from the yard. I have just spent some wonderful coffee-in-the-sun time watching a very intelligent poodle (named Jeff, you can find him on dogbook) trying to figure out why his whole world has changed, and looking for chinks in this new yard-armor.

He's very slow and methodical about it. First, nose the gate. It has a little give to it, and the latch makes a promising rattle, there must be a way to use this to his advantage. Then he goes over to the other gate, and finds the same thing, yet both gates resist his advances. What about that place where he used to be able to tightrope-walk the cement and go out through the rebar fencing there? Huh, that's got wood fence all the way to the house now. Go down the basement steps and stand with front paws on the short cement wall. That hole was there just yesterday, and yet now it's solid wood. Hmm. Cruise the perimeter again, slowly, nose to every crack. Stand with paws on fence and gauge the height, can it be jumped? No. There is still world on the other side of this fence, and he wants to go there. Repeat this process several times.

His best friend and mate Honey Moon (also on Dogbook) follows behind, but her only contribution is the occasional high-pitched whine, she lets him do all the heavy thinking. She is very smart as well, but specializes in walking very low to the ground, very slowly, in order to become invisible. This is her super power, he is the brains of this operation. She is also able to turn into smoke and slip through the smallest of cracks, but has never been confronted with cracks this narrow. 

I sat in the lovely sun, watching this process and drinking coffee, feeling triumphant that I have finally put an end to the spontaneous trips of these two little escape artists and imagining what they're going to be posting about it on Dogbook. 

Mac Johnson (you guessed it, his profile is there as well) ate some sticks and found an old Kong to chew on. He has never developed a taste for Out-Of-The-Yard, but really, really wants to dig in that box called "Get out of my garden!" since it seems so important that he not go in there. He will always settle for chewing up an entire log after being reprimanded a couple of times.

I live on a busy street, and my little dogs face great peril every time they go on walk-about. I am thoroughly enjoying their consternation at the fact that those days are long gone. Feel free to add any of them to your friend list, they will "answer" you if you post to them.

100% Thanks to Christopher Wilkie and JP for building us that fence. Much love and eternal gratitude!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dirty Hands

It is my bottle-blonde, insane mother-without-a-clue who has somehow brought me to this place. She has attached herself to a Sudanese man born in Saudi Arabia. She's taken me to his family home with her-to the prying and pinching of women who chatter and gesture and examine  me like a hen at market. I am not old enough to become a bride, but this is what it will be like someday when I am. Hummus and sesame oil, and the smell of my fear. The feel of male eyes crawling over me, watching me like a little fruit on a vine, and waiting. 

It is the dream I just woke from, it is the class I'm taking, it is the book I'm reading. It was all woven into a nightmare that was a part of my childhood that carved and gouged me; left its design etched forever into who I am.  Usually I am sure it has grown over with scar tissue. I just woke from it all in the present tense though, and I can still smell the spices and everything redolent of honey and almonds; thick words I can't understand. 

I woke feeling dirty from hands all over me, gauging my shape, the emergence of my little breasts. Women's hands, using a sticky glob of honey and lemon to remove all the hair from my body to show me how a bride is prepared for her marriage bed. A tiny Los Angeles kitchen drenched in dirty sunlight and women who  see things very differently, and stay in another part of the house. They are separated from the men, and cast their eyes down even before family members because they are women, who carry platters of food.

Dirty from his probing worm of a tongue in my mouth, thick wet lips pressed to mine.
"It's how men kiss women honey, when you grow up you'll get used to it and even like it." It's ok, he's going to be my "Baba" now. Was she going to let them take us to their country? Was I to grow up to become a hairless bride? That never happened, we stayed here, although she gave me to him on my sixteenth birthday to take away for the evening. I was given much alcohol (and I suspect some very strong drugs) and he returned me to her by morning. I have no memory of anything that happened, but she assured me that he said I had a good time. He was an officer in the L.A.P.D. and above the law. He refers to his penis as "the baby" and will say "Shhhhh, you'll wake the baby." You don't want to wake that baby.

It's all dreams and memories merged together this morning, and my spirit feels filthy, saturated in sorrow and abhorrence. To this day the sound of that accent makes my skin crawl. 

I'm taking a class: Art History 140-Survey of Islamic art. It has nothing whatever to do with the religion of Islam, it covers a geographic area, a time period, three empires from history. It's fascinating and soothing. The artwork is organized and patterned, held safely within geometric forms that are unable to touch me. Even the soaring arabesques are ordered in a way that are non-threatening. It's all beautiful, intricate, mind-boggling and evokes the chaos of eternity while remaining safely uniform. I am in love with the art. I am in love with the teacher who effortlessly pulls us along like a kites on a string from one area and century to another, letting us look down from a comfortable distance at these almost-impossible monuments to architecture and ornament. Only the recording of the "call to prayer" we listened to on that first night (highly relevant when you're about to spend a semester studying minarets and their ever-present inclusion in an architectural style) that made me shudder; made the membrane between the NOW me and the seven year-old me become so thin.

The class is good, the novel I'm reading again is fascinating, it's only this one dream that has left me a mess.

I grew up to be (in Kelly Cutrone's words) a "Power Girl" who can do anything I want to do. No one yells at me, or touches me, or tells me what to do. It is my world and I'm larger than any other force in it. After being told that I couldn't play the drums in seventh grade band class (nor the trumpet or saxophone) because they were "boys' instruments", after being denied a paper route, after being forced to wear dresses instead of pants until the rules changed in fifth grade, I have learned to disregard my gender and do whatever the hell pleases me. Twenty years ago when I was looking for a tattoo apprenticeship there were very few women in the business. It was a boys' club, and I wasn't invited. I bashed my way into that treehouse and have been a successful, working tattoo artist and shop owner for 19 years now. (subtract a couple of years from the studio-owner number, I was an apprentice first.) 

I won! I roar. I dominate and own. 

The only residue left now shows itself in an occasional dream, where I'm still little enough to be held by the hands of those who would treat me as a commodity. I awoke this morning, filthy from those hands.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Weird kids unite! Read the book, it's always better than the movie!

There's a moment, the same and yet different every time, where a bit of your flesh is held between clamps of one sort or another and you hear the words "Breathe in for me, then out, then in again and out slowly." You know what's coming, you've asked for it and yet here you are again breathing out slowly for the second time again. The bolt of stainless-steel lightning passes through you and it's the bite of every animal that looked so cute you just had to pet it. You pet those animals although others told you "Careful, that raccoon-badger-hamster-moose-ferret-asp is mean, it's going to bite you!" You pet it anyway, because it was beautiful and you knew it secretly loved you. And then it bit, because they do, after all, always bite. A bit of fiddling that's never comfortable and they say "There you go, the jewelry's in!" You're now different. More than you were before. Something alien and beautiful has become a part of your body; adornment for its own sake. You look in the mirror and think "I am Goddess, I am super human, I am made of metal! What the hell was I thinking?"

My Big Daddy and I were talking about this the other morning over pancakes, how it's been a human drive for thousands of years to do this and other things like this. Thorn and bone, fire and blood, we've been altering ourselves ever since someone noticed some virgin skin and wondered what it would look like if they... When considering body modification from an anthropological point of view it's easy to think "Oh those wacky primitive cultures, running around with loin-cloths and soot tattoos, sticking bits of this and that through their extremities. How quaint and indigenous." 

Be me. Walk through Whole Foods, see the faces of those who didn't intend to be watching a National Geographic special right at that moment. We are not of the same tribe, maybe that's the appeal to me? I, like many others, love to proclaim "I don't care what anyone thinks about me!" but that's a big fat lie, I'm sure on some level we all care. I love to analyze the hell out of myself, I'm my favorite topic because I'm an expert on the material.

I was born a blue-eyed baby with one quarter of one eye a honeyed golden spot. An amber slice in a blue pie. It's been commented on my whole life. When I was little, kids were mean. "What did you do, stick a pencil in your eye?" "Do you have two different dads, is that why your eyes are different?" I knew it meant that I was magic, and could see things other people couldn't see. As an only child I had a lot of time on my hands to see these things. I was also left-handed, another trait that will make you stand out when you bump elbows with anyone you're seated next to, unless they too are left-handed. I was different out of the gate. I loved and hated it in equal measure. I was also a fat kid with a very high IQ. Blending in was not an option.

Early on I became a professor of the odd. A weirdness specialist who invented strange things to do and then did them to myself. I happen to have five letters in my first name, in fifth grade I wrote each letter ornately on the nails of my right hand. Having your name on your nails became the IT thing to do, and though I was much copied it didn't gain me entrance into the world of the "normal" kids. They copied me, and I didn't realize then that that was a form of homage. I had already been separated from the Everybody by the school system.

At a magnet-school they set up two trailers at the edge of the playground, one for "EH" (which stood for "Extra Help," the predecessor of Special Education) and "MGM" (which stood for "Mentally Gifted Minors") The reality of that situation is that there were two trailers full of kids who didn't fit, the Retards and the Brains. They turned us loose on the asphalt with the "regular" kids to be entertainment, bait, targets. It was a known fact that to touch any of us was to acquire an incurable case of the cooties, and one of us sitting at a lunch bench with the normals would poison all of their food. Book readers and paste eaters. Fat kids, slow kids, weird kids. We had only each other to befriend, and my group was just terrible to the other, who wants to be friends with a retard? Every kid needs someone to feel superior to I suppose. 

My Dad explained the idea behind that just the other day, as an adult it makes perfect sense. As a child it was exile, and I got a horrible step-dad that same year, the year Dottie came back. It was bound to be the neon sign with the blinking arrow that said "Failure-Right this way NO Vacancy!"  I checked in to the Weird Hotel, and have comfortably lived there ever since.

In early recovery I had the realization that I have been strange, on purpose, for as long as I can remember. If you were going to reject me (and of course you were!) I could say that it was because you weren't cool enough to understand me. You are narrow minded, I am avant garde, this is your problem, not mine. The pink hair, the tattoos and piercings, the inflammatory T shirts just dare you to look at me sideways. Beside all that, I am an artist and was born that way too. We are a unique brand, we artists. (Andrew, I still contend that you can't qualify an absolute, no matter what evidence you find to the contrary on the internet.) 

So I have this big personal awareness explosion and realize just why I have always acted the way I do. Then I sit with it for a few years, and realize that while it may be true, there's a bigger truth at play here in my life. I just like being different. I freakin' LOVE being different, the only one. I was born to be singular, the only one of me you'll ever know. (Here again is another glimpse into my inner life of secret superiority.) I don't watch the movie, I read the book. I have a better than average, yet incomplete grasp of topics, vocabulary and eras than anyone I meet, and I'm multicolored! I swear I would grow feathers if that were possible. Big, colorful, butch male feathers, not little brown "Oh gosh, don't notice my nest!" female feathers. What started as a self-defense mechanism has become a way to walk through the world that brings me joy (and also bolsters my secret superiority fantasy.)

I don't think I'll feel complete until every inch of my skin below the neck and above the wrists is adorned with color and image. Never having liked my face (which looks increasingly and alarmingly like my biological mother's as I age) I feel it is improved with every ring and jewel I have installed. I am an artist, I am a canvas, I'm smarter than you and I don't care if you don't want to sit at my lunch table! This is an interesting and sometimes sad amalgamation of young me and old me. I can't wait to see really old me, and would die to listen to the people who eventually autopsy my body. (That's a given, I know, of course they'll wait till I'm dead; figure of speech, move on.) 

I have a new little ring in my nose this morning. It's still a little tender. I continue becoming, and in the long run it matters not why I do what I do. I have also learned to make a nice living being who I am and assisting others on their path to become who they really are. I don't add anything to the skin of a client, I facilitate them uncovering what has always been there anyway.

Weird kids unite! Read the book, it's always better than the movie.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Where's Waldo and the married carrot

I'm sure my two or possibly three regular readers notice when there are gaps in my blog sequence. There was that real doozy between October and just the other day, and then the intermittent day or two here and there since I've been back at it. Upon much inner reflection I've decided that I skip days when I either feel depressed or don't feel I have anything profound or extremely intelligent to say. I secretly feel like my blog is like a pre-flight instrument check, and if the wings appear shaky I won't authorize the plane to leave the ground. I can be so full of myself. 

I just woke from a really sad/angry/childishly-rebellious/time travel dream that I just can't seem to shake, so I'm not even sure how this blog will turn out. Actually, I never really know how they will end up, I just write a sentence and off I go. My dream was filled with famous people, but they were actually in my family, and I wasn't sure if they were actually in my family or it was a movie about my life and they were playing parts in it. Awake, I can say for sure that Brad Pitt, Susan Sarandon and Oprah were all there, but there were many more. 

Oprah with a freshly pulled carrot, dirt still clinging to it, asking "Can't you still smell the earth on her? She's ready." In a garden setting that would make sense, but we were at a wedding and she was referring to the bride being old enough to marry. Maybe it was a fertility thing, I knew she and Maya Angelou had discussed it before hand. 

It was a wedding at a camp ground, where everyone had arrived in old-school campers like my Auntie Rita and Uncle Bob used to have. She was there, but Uncle Bob was absent. It was Brad's compassionate eyes I looked into when I asked the question "When were they going to tell me that my Uncle Bob died?" "He was always a favorite of yours, I know." Brad is very compassionate, and his eyes will well up with tears even if he doesn't actually cry when you talk to him about things that hurt your heart.

I had arrived back at my childhood through a place where you could time travel right up through the center of a lake, and then walk across the water to the shore without even being wet. This is how I got back to my childhood, but I had no idea how to cross the other way. As in many dreams I was my adult mind in a child's body and subject to the rules and whims of dream authority. I was supposed to make the cake, but couldn't do it right. It was a wedding in a camp-ground, how white trash is that? The last straw was when I was told that it was my job to escort Dottie "The mother of the bride*" to her seat before the ceremony. It all falls apart after that, I never did get a chance to thank Brad for his sympathy and understanding.

*I am Dottie's only child, if she was the "mother of the bride" but the bride wasn't me, who was getting married, a carrot? Such is the way of dreams.

What I have just spent four and a half paragraphs avoiding as my topic is smoking. This project isn't going so well. Without a lot of details or excuses, let me just say that my methods of quitting equalled me wearing a 21 mg. patch, chewing 2 mg. gum and guiltily smoking anyway. For those of you who haven't tried it, this is not an effective way to quit smoking. This is an effective way to feel slightly nauseous and like a completely guilty failure. I also have an irrational fear that the adhesive from the patch will somehow alter the colors of my tattoos (there's not much undecorated  skin on my arms to put one) but that's not even relevant, just something to laugh at. An addict's mind will grasp at any straw.

I'm just smoking again, but I threw away my damn car ashtray. Maybe I'll try not to smoke in the car and pretend that it means something. Basically this has been one big blog about a dream I had and the fact that I'm full of shit. Oh well, you get what you get.

Just got off the phone with a new friend and we were discussing a million things. I'm guessing that if you pay attention and look for clues you will not only answer the question  "Where's Waldo?" but see something very exciting shaping up right here in my little life.

Ciao Dahlings, I'm going to smoke with no patch today.