My life in ink.

I have three tattoos. I got the first when I was 18, and my then-boyfriend, later-husband had decided that he wanted to be a tattoo artist. He ordered a gun and supplies from the Internet and set to work on himself, his friends, family, anyone who would sit still long enough. He had a natural talent for it; he really was quite good, despite a total lack of formal training, and I still think that had he seriously chosen that route and embarked on an apprenticeship, he would be an amazing tattoo artist today. But that wasn't the life he wanted. His tattooing addiction lasted just long enough to leave a lasting mark on my left ankle, in the form of an Egyptian ankh, my first tattoo. I choose the ankh for several reasons. An ankh is supposed to symbolize life, fertility, and vitality. It is shaped like a sandal strap, to designate the everyday, not in a mundane sense, but in a lasting, perpetuity sense. At least, this is what the ankh meant to my 18 year-old self, the naive girl who'd read much about the world, and experienced little. To her, this symbol was a symbol of hope and of reassurance. It meant, no matter what, the world will keep turning; life goes on. I was caught at a crossroads back then, terrified to take the next step, "knowing how way leads onto way," scared I would never get a second chance, and that I had to commit myself to one path for the rest of my life. I was wrong, as it happens. I keep the ankh the way it is, amateurishly inked, needing a touch-up, because it marks that specific point in my life. It's a chapter heading, a signpost, a marker of where I've been and how far I've come since.

Ooooo, pretty sock lines and leg hair!
sexy, sexy calf meat

My second tattoo is of text. It reads "simply live" in a black, curvy, sort of elvish looking font up my right wrist. I got this one in Chicago at the Jade Dragon (and  paid way too much for it) in 2009. At the time, my then-husband had just told me he had a crush on another woman (a crush that either already was, or, in any case later turned into, a full blown affair). I was devastated and my first instinct was to get as far away from him as I could. I wanted to get in my car and drive and not ever stop. Instead, I got in my car and drove to Chicago, to a dear friend who comforted me with food and drink and indulgently drove me to a tattoo parlor when I demanded it. "Simply live" meant to me at the time (and still does), to just keep going, no matter what. I knew I was headed for rough waters, and I knew there were going to be moments when I wanted to give up. I needed a reminder that all I really need to do is keep breathing, in and out. I thought of it as a tribute to my friend Molly, who had passed away unexpectedly in September of 2008. It was a way to keep her near me, to say that no matter what, I'm not giving up, because I know she'd do anything to will me the strength to keep going. "Simply live" also means to live in such a way that I pay attention to and enjoy the small things in life, the smell of the air just before a rain, the touch of my son's hand, the taste of ice cream. It's a reminder that I don't need more money, a bigger house, or a nicer car. Everything I need, I already have right here in front of me.

so crisp and new!

So my third, but likely not last, tattoo is also on my right arm. It is a dotted line that curves from underneath the "simply live" text to make several loops and end in a paper airplane farther up my forearm. I feel like each of my tattoos marks an important period of time in my life: the ankh, my adolescence, the beginning of discovery and experience, when everyday was full of possibility and so much stretched unknown before me; the "simply live" text, my young adulthood, the letting go of certain expectations, the loosening of ties, the acceptance that I cannot control my environment, only the way I choose to react to it; and the paper airplane, a new phase of adulthood, where I am learning to embrace fun as I see life through my son's eyes, where I am learning to accept myself and enjoy myself, where I am beginning to strive for my own happiness rather than the approval of others.



I love all three of my tats: they're like children in that I couldn't possibly name a favorite. As long as I keep living and growing, I'm going to keep getting inked. My tattoos are like ironic talismans against self-harm. They are permanent reminders of the impermanence of life, of the constant ebb and flow, the changing of seasons, the getting and the letting go. They provide me with perspective in times when I'm greatly in danger of losing my grip on it. They give me another medium through which to write my life and make it real.


He knows everything, like god.

It has been a beautiful day.

Eliot and I have spent our time outside, soaking up the spring air like thankful new flowers, turning our faces towards the sun. This afternoon I've spread a quilt out in the shade over a patch of dry brown grass, and I've been sitting here with a paperback novel, reading and watching Eliot build endless roads through his sandbox. Our lazy, meandering conversations have kept me entertained all day.

We ventured out early, as soon as I could convince Eliot to trade his dinosaur pajamas for jeans and a t-shirt. On our way up to the park, he casually informed me, "I know everything, like God."
Me: "Uhmmm...is that so?"
Eliot: "Yeah."
Me: "How do you figure you know everything?" (I'm thinking--but NOT saying--"Wow, my kid gets more and more like his dad every day...")
Eliot: "Because. I pray every day."
Me: "You do?"
Eliot: "Yes. I pray at school. Yesterday I prayed for A___'s dog."
Me: "You...prayed for A___'s dog?"
Eliot: "Yeah. She told me she thinks he has an ear infection, and I said if she thinks that, she should probably take him to the doctor. So I prayed."
Me: "..."
Me: "Who ARE you?! And how old are you, anyway?"
Eliot: "I'm four."
Me: "You don't act like you're four."
Eliot: "Well...that's probably because I'll be five next month, Mom."
Me: "Right. That explains it."

A few days ago, Eliot told me he could "speak bird." He assured me that "tweet tweet chirp," when translated into English, means, "Do you like Legos? Well, YEAH, I like Legos! Who doesn't?"
These are obviously the kinds of conversations birds would have. Obviously.

 At the park, we had to come to the rescue of a little girl who was screaming bloody murder from the top of the slide, yelling, "DAD! DADDDDDD!" Dad was nowhere in sight, so I walked up and asked her if she needed help, thinking she had climbed to the top and was now too scared to slide down. She said, "There is a FLY up here and I am afraid of flies and the FLY just landed on my HAND!" Keeping a very straight face, my right hand shading my eyes against the sun, I looked up at her and said, "Wave your hand around, like this," demonstrating a flapping motion with my left. "Ahhhhhhh!" she cried. Eliot calmly stood up from the pile of sand he was playing in, dusted off his pants and sighed, "I'll go save her, Mom. I AM a superhero, after all." He climbed up to the top of the slide, waving his arms around in a shooing motion and told the girl, "I know a song to get these flies away. You just sing, 'Shoo, fly, don't BOTHER me! Shoo, fly, don't BOTHER me!" Then my brave, omniscient son, shoo-er of flies, defender of little girls, grabbed her hand and they both slid down into the sand. It was like the opening scene of a Nora Ephron movie, meant to foreshadow their courtship and eventual marriage, which will no doubt be fraught with charmingly comical moments of misunderstanding caused by lack of communication.

Just now, as I type and Eliot plays in his sandbox, he randomly muses, "I don't like it when people kiss; it's so gross. Every time my dad kisses Heather, I say, 'ewwww...sick!' and so does Bean. Well, Bean can't say that yet, but he WILL. Trust me."

I look over at Eliot, and I'm thinking, "Yeah, that shit would gross me out too," but in responsible mother mode, I merely smile and try not to laugh.

It's been a beautiful day.