cold november reign

here’s what’s happening in the next month (in general planning order and including the last week of october):

  • 3+ birthday parties: two dinners, one casino night. (ever wonder why the end of october and the beginning of november is so chock full of birthdays? valentine’s day is appx 38 weeks earlier.)
  • make hella baby food: finger foods are where it’s at, so i need to figure out how to turn squash and sweet potatoes and such into bits of cooked food without being mush and without having to steam and cut up stuff every day. i think cutting and roasting in the oven is where it’s at, but i’ve got to figure out how and do it. soon.
  • planning for charlotte’s birthday: aack! clean the house. finally put up her door-curtain. plan a menu. order food. etc etc.
  • picture time: planning and plotting to get the 3 of us to the photographers before the month gets too far under way. kill the 1 year pictures (ready for party handing out) and the christmas card pic in a single shoot…if we can make it
  • planning for NY trip: because planning, shopping, assembling will be quite time consuming. man needs a suit. we both need winter layers. i don’t want to go to NY looking like i stepped off a farm tractor.
  • VOTE! thank goodness that sample ballot arrived the other day so i can finally start investigating some of the local stuff.
  • charlotte’s birthday: gets it’s own item because it also includes planning
  • toddler transitions: figuring out and beginning all those transitions from baby stuff to toddler stuff. no more formula, “grown up” meals, etc etc.
  • charlotte packing: she may not be going to NY, but she’s still going to need some serious packing for her vaca with her great aunt/uncle
  • 5 day trip to NY: for a wedding + mini-vaca (leaving 3 days after charlotte’s birthday)
  • thanksgiving: complete with 3ish day trip to chicago planning is less of a deal, and fortunately, there’s a whole week after the NY trip to recover and regroup.


i’m going to try and write a 50,000 word novel. i’ve succeeded before, but that was 2006, which was a very different (childless, NY-vacationless) year. my plan of attack is to task and calendar the entire month. i know that the “1800 words a day” plan is not going to work since there are too many days where i won’t have time to write more than 10. i’m going to have to double up and block out some serious time.

fortunately, i still have a week to plot the month, plot the novel, and plot the writing chunks. also, i can stay up late on 10/31 and get some done before midnight. and the plane rides and the airports and the car rides and….

man. i’m exhausted just thinking about it. maybe i’ll take a nap instead.

one gloomy thought before celebrating

it isn’t father’s day, or his birthday, or the day he died or the funeral or any of those anniversaries that flatten my resistance to the absence of my father. it’s june 21, december 21, and my birthday.

last year it smacked me in the face when my dad didn’t call at 10:50 in the morning to wish me a happy birthday. this year when the summer solstice came around and he wasn’t there to whine about the days getting shorter, i tried to prepare myself for today and this morning. i thought i’d buffered myself enough that today wouldn’t be so rough, but as other greetings come in and the clock slowly ticks towards the moment he would have called, i’m finding it hard to keep myself distracted.

is it selfish of me to bring you all down with me? probably, but it’s my birthday and i’ll do what i want, so :p

not my best day

so…it’s been a week. and then another week. …and then a third week? surely not. i think it’s only been the two. anyway, my “a week and then i’ll see,” week is totally up.

the first week was full of all sorts of potential planning. i didn’t get very far because, well, it wasn’t the week for that.

the first week was hard because i still had so much work-related information in my head. i still had ryan coming home with “well, today was messed up because we found out at the last minute…” and i could say “no, someone has known about that for three weeks.”

the first week was hope.

the second week went by in a blur.

the second week was half lists and todo items and half celebrating all my free time

the second week was telling myself how great it was that i had all this free time.

the second week was denial.

today is the third week.

today it’s hard to deny things.

today i look at my facebook and think, “if i was a friend from a past life that i hadn’t talked to in 5 – 10 years, i would think i’d become one of those women who lives their lives through their husband and children.”

today i look back over the last 2 weeks and realize that i was never not with my baby.

today i think more and more that i got a “we’ll still be friends” speech when i was let go.

today i realize that i’ve been avoiding feeling hurt.

today i admit that being “of use” to my husband and my baby and my family is probably not good enough.

today i admit that i haven’t made any plans because plans are scary and i’d rather just wait until i can’t stand it anymore…like i do when i’m in control.

tonight i wallow in this feeling.

tomorrow i wallow in this feeling.

the rest of my week is booked, so i’ll be too busy to notice i’m wallowing.

next week i get the hell over myself and fix it.

serenity achieved – the payoff

since this is largely about the tattoo, i’ll skim over the first part of the day. despite the unfriendly weather and terrain, ashes were scattered, along with a few silver dollars and some roses. it was harder than i thought it would be. we listened to one of my dad’s favorite songs as we drove away and i said good bye one more time.

then came the parlor. sadly, charlotte was not allowed, so we parted ways and ryan took her home. mom and i arrived at all star tattoo almost a half hour early, and filled our wait-time with nervous chatter. (oh, i forgot to mention that i spammed twitter and a friend’s site for parlor reccomendations, and all-star was the clear local winner)

after looking through a few portfolios, pointing out random pictures on the wall, trying not to stare at the other patrons who clearly knew what they were doing, and generally trying not to stick out too harshly, luke came out with a few different mockups of my idea. some had more embellishment than others, but it was pretty much what i’d asked for: the word serenity, surrounded by a bit of scrolly stuff. i asked for one last-minute addition: a small heart worked into the decoration around the word. after all, it was valentine’s day, it was partially in memory of my father, and even though my name has changed, i will always be a valentine.

after a briefer discussion and mock-up for my mom’s hearts, she was up first. hours and hours of “ink” shows had prepared me for what was going to happen, but watching him prep the needles made me a bit lightheaded. i put on a brave face, though, so my mom wouldn’t freak herself. the two interlocking hearts on her shoulder took maybe 5 minutes to do. she took it like a champ, with only a minimal amount of wincing. a day later, her hearts looked great, and like she says, my dad will always be there now, watching her back.

while we waited for luke to clean up his space and prep for my tattoo, my mood changed from nervous to “i want to be on the other side of this experience, so let’s get going already,” which was the exact mood i needed to be in. i asked him to put it on so that the words were legible to me when i raised my wrist and he gently recommended against it. “i’ll put it on backwards, if that’s what you want, but just know that people are going to tell you it’s upside-down.” i knew, but i didn’t care. it was for me. it needed to be readable by me. after he applied the stencil, he asked me to take a look in the full-length mirror. i checked out what the tattoo would look like as i casually rested my hands at my side.

“damn. it’s upside down.”

so luke removed the stencil and put it on properly. another check in the mirror and we were good to go. i warned him that i might get a bit woozy. i have a history of andrenaline rushes/let downs when i get shots, and i’ve actually fainted before. watching him prep my needle was making it worse, so i stopped watching, and started slowing my breathing and centering myself.

did it hurt? hell yes. at first it wasn’t that much, but as he went back over fresh lines, the pain grew. a couple of lines into it, i started to panic, because dear god, there was no stopping and there was no way i was going to make it but i had to make it because there was no way i was walking out with the scrolly bit of a “y” as my tattoo, but it hurt, and what was i thinking in the first place and… i closed my eyes to help me focus. a couple of lines later, i was properly relaxed. it was considerably easier to bear than labor pains. while he was still on the outside edge, i started to smile, because holy hell, i was getting a tattoo! as i was getting used to the rhythm, he moved towards the center, closest to my hand. i found myself needing to redefine my threshold of pain. like fire this was, shooting up my entire hand in a single instant. it wasn’t so much that he was drilling into my skin as much as he was digging into my skin, fishing up under a tendon and attempting to pull it out of my flesh. i went back to my happy place and waited for it to pass, reminding myself he was almost half way done. occasionally, especially when the pain spiked, i would realize i was “perfectly” relaxed and release the dangerous tension. and line by line, breath by breath, my tattoo was created.

to fill the time (which seemed like an hour, but was probably less than 15 minutes), my mother made some idle chatter with luke and occasionally with me. she asked him if the wrist was a particularly painful spot to get tattooed and he said “the best places usually are.” i confess i felt proud of myself, and for a brief moment thought maybe i’d earned a bit of respect from him. then i realized he probably sees his fair share of silly mother-daughter pairs and while we pay the bills nicely, are not “legit” just because we can stand the pain, or choose a visible spot ;)

at the 2/3 mark, i had surrendered to the sensations and probably could have endured a much longer session. by the time he had the outline complete except for the “S”, my un-inked skin actually started to itch, and i was anxious for him to scratch it with the needle. i was able to watch at that point, having properly transcended the pain. even when he went back over the middle section to touch up and shade i was more fascinated by the process than i was really feeling the pain.

when it was over, i was a bit giddy, equal parts impressed with myself for actually doing it and excited about the new pretty on my arm. after a brief photo from mom, it was bandaged up. we got a lesson in tattoo care (and i felt foolish for not researching that ahead of time), paid luke for his time, and walked out of the shop. as the numbness faded, a general soreness took it’s place and a bit later i could almost feel the skin throbbing under the cover. we stopped at walgreens for supplies, and as we were pulling out and my mother commented on her new appreciation for people who have multiple or complex tattoos.

and that’s when i realized i was already anticipating the next one.

serenity achieved – the setup

my mother has been struggling with the right “moment” to scatter my dad’s ashes. her first targets, their anniversary and new year’s day, had come and gone with a confession of “i’m just not ready yet.” a few weeks ago, she had a new idea. we would scatter his ashes on valentine’s day, and finish the day up with memorial tattoos. although she’d been historically opposed to them as a general concept, she had almost gotten one on their anniversary when she was in florida, and knew that i was interested as well.

you may remember an earlier post that ended like this:

there will be a tattoo on me in some form or another to mark this year on my skin as permanently as it’s been marked on my soul.

may it be that i find the serenity to accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

since some time last march, i’d been talking the talk about getting the words serenity, courage, and wisdom in three different places on my body. with mom’s new plan for valentine’s day, i knew it was time to finally put my money where my mouth was and get my very first tattoo. as such, i started focusing on the first word. where would i get it? what would it look like.

two things were certain one: i was too big a firefly fan to have a font with an asian look to it without struggling to convince people it had nothing to do with the show. two: the right place to put the tattoo was on the inside of my left wrist. it needed to be someplace that i could refer to it whenever i wanted/needed to, like a watch.

but a tattoo on my wrist? not only is that a particularly painful spot, but it’s highly visible. then again, i don’t work someplace where that would be a problem, and i don’t plan to ever do so. it would be high enough on the wrist that a long-sleeved shirt would cover it well enough, and small enough that a bandaid or two would hide it for more severe issues. was it worth it though? the hassle of covering it and keeping it covered when i need to, the odd looks because i’m not about to keep it covered without a very good reason, and let’s not forget about the pain. the problem was, none of those reasons override the fact that it was the right place. anywhere else on my body would feel like a cop out. the ankle, the back of the shoulder are both *relatively* accessible places, but just weren’t quite right. the fleshy places were completely out.

as the date approached, i realized that i’d rather not get the tattoo at all than not get it on my wrist. so, with ryan’s “i’m having a hard time even visualizing it” inspiration, i took my wrist for a test drive. i doodled a bit on the inside of my wrist one night, just to see what it would look like to have some black stuff always there. it lasted through a shower and was still there the next day when i went to work. and oh, what a day i chose. after a 10am announcement that included the sudden departure of 3 key employees, the rest of us were left to go about our day in a sort of stunned chaos. those of us in the project management department (me, a project administrator, and a PM who had been with the company for less than a week–our fearless leader was struggling with some serious pneumonia and had been out for more than a week) attempted to keep everything going without panicking ourselves. every time my eye caught the ink on my wrist, my breathing slowed back down and i regained a bit of perspective.

oh. hell. yes. this tattoo was going to happen right where i wanted.