Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 - Tattoos and pole dancing?!

2007 was a year of self discovery for me. An awakening of sorts. I've learned more about myself in those 365 days than I have in a lifetime. It is wonderful to re-discover the good things. There are definite areas of self improvement though that will require industrial strength focus. But I guess we all have a vice or two.

In part of my self discovery I realized I need to find "me" again. A few years after my divorce I changed my last name back to my maiden name. There was so much anger built up between my ex-husband and I that there was an overwhelming desire to distance myself in every way possible. It was the first time that the saying, "needing to find myself", made sense. Since murder is still illegal in this state, reverting back to my maiden name was the best possible (and safest) choice. So I did. The kids handled it fairly well. There were questions and I answered them as honestly, yet sensitively, as possible. Now, both of the kids have adopted my last name hyphenating the two last names together. Although not legal, and quite lengthy, many school papers come home with both last names. Kat's 8th grade diploma lists both names. Her choice. Her father was not pleased.

As I said before, 2007 was a year of self discovery; a need to find out who I was once again. Possibly redefining the definition of me. I still am missing a thing or two. Mainly, the need to stop being afraid of what others think. That's big. Confidence is a huge piece of that puzzle. I lost my confidence a long time ago. There are occasional spurts of confidence, but nothing that arrives on a sun up to sun down manner. I am the master of bravado and often appear self confidant and occasionally actually feel glimmers, but deep inside, I am a marshmallow of self doubt. Many would never guess my insecurities. Kathrine Hepburn had a great quote that sums it up perfectly, "Everyone thought I was bold and fearless and even arrogant, but inside I was always quaking." That's me.

So, it is time to change. Time to stop worrying and time to exude confidence, sexuality and a positive self image; even if I am the only one who notices. My first step into this metamorphosis is to finally get the tattoo I've been talking about for years. Maybe to some, tattoos are not sexy. Yet, to others they are very sexy. Sexy or unsexy, for me, it's a symbol of empowerment. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have thought about an angel on my shoulder forever. I never found the right one. They were always too big, too cartoony, too bright, etc., etc., etc. The tattoo bug hit me again last week when I stumbled upon a tattoo parlor.

Our little Barney Fifedum town doesn't have tattoo parlors in its vicinity. Heck, we don't have a library, nor a post office, so a tattoo parlor is pretty far down on the list of establishments our town lacks. But we are only a few miles from Chicago and well, they have a plethora of tattoo parlors. Initially, I drove into Uptown to buy my brother Mark a stove top wood smoker for Christmas at this great little cooking store called The Wooden Spoon. Oh My God! I love that store. They also offer culinary classes that Mark and I may need to investigate. A block away from The Wooden Spoon was a little tattoo shop. I had a few minutes before meeting Maggie for a Christmas drink, so I stopped in to see if I could find my angel. I found my angel, BUT the tattoo parlor was so disgustingly dirty that I felt the need to detox after I left. They weren't tattooing me in that joint if they had the only perfect angel tattoo in the world. When Maggie and I met, I gave her a quick kiss on the cheek and immediately found the bathroom to wash, no scrub, my hands.

So...now that I had the angelic image in my mind, the bug was once again upon me. On my way home I got lost. Typical. My internal GPS has always been broken. Once in the city, I can only go home the way I came, otherwise someone moves the expressway on me. So, I needed to backtrack the way I came, going back to the kitchen store where I bought Mark's gift and then home. I know...ridiculous!!! Sadly though, Chicago's one way streets always throw me off. So, somewhere along the way I stumbled pass a tattoo parlor that looked interesting. Noting the streets, I decided to return soon to see what they had to offer.

A couple of nights ago, I drove out to see if I could once again find the tattoo parlor and my angel. Found both. Since it wasn't too far from Maggie's old neighborhood and near where I delivered Christmas gifts for an office project, as soon as I got my bearings I was OK. I walked in. It looked busy (a good sign) and most of all CLEAN!! Yippee Skippee. Spoke with Hank. Nice guy. A definite flirt. He does the piercings, but he gave me a tour of the tatts. This is a completely different world from my little suburban lifestyle. Also, I realize it's not the smartest thing to be walking into a tattoo parlor by myself at 11PM on a Thursday night. But I've always been a little more independent for my own good and generally Maggie ALWAYS knows where I am off to. She's my wing girl. When going on a date for the first time, Maggie knows the complete itinerary. Stopping by a tattoo parlor at night, Maggie knows where I am. So, never worry. Maggie May knows my whereabouts.

It's not like I can tell Kat, "Sweetie, Mom's going to a tattoo parlor on Montrose. If I don't come home, call the police." Actually, Kat is so into tatts and piercings that she would probably hide in the car and surprise me upon arrival. Her goal for her 16th birthday, besides her driver's license, is for the two of us to go for mother/daughter tattoos. It's the only way she will get one before she's 18. I have yet to promise the requested mother/daughter fieldtrip though. Her father would KILL me. He won't even care that murder is not legal in Illinois.

My angel search is very specific. Nothing cartoony. Nothing huge. Colored, but not too bright. She needs to look realistic and soft. I am not into smurfs, cartoon characters, or anything with fangs or too suggestive. It's an angel for God's sake! Why are there drawings of naked angels, or even worse, naked angels with fangs!?!? I'm sure it's a guy thing and since in a previous writing, I established that I rarely understand men, this is just another area where I am clueless.

Fairly soon, there was my angel. The one found last week at the very scary tattoo parlor. Upon second look, she is a little larger than I planned - probably 5" tall by 3" wide around her wings. Hank explains they can shrink her a bit, but her facial features may be lost. Hmmm. Need to think about this some more. It's still a bit angel on my back vs. angel on my shoulder. Maggie called while perusing various other tattoos and that's when I found a better version of my angel. Yes, my angel. Her colors are a little more muted, blue gown, blond hair (Alexis was very blond...Meg blondish/brown. Perfect!) Since Meg and Alexis are Kat's and my guardian angels this tattoo fits the bill. I still think Daddy is Adam's guardian, but honestly, there weren't any chubby, bald angels with beards to represent Daddy. Sorry, Pop, we are going for symbolism here. Your guardian angel duties will be in spirit only. The price not too bad and would be completed in 1-2 hours. Getting better all the time. Also on my shoulder/back, Hank explains, it shouldn't hurt too much. Oh, yeah. The pain factor. I forgot about that. I also forgot about the needles. This isn't exactly a temporary thing here where you wet a washcloth against the artwork, press it against your skin and and it magically appears.

Do I really want to do this? Does this have trailer trash written all over it? One friend asked if I thought about what it is going to look like in 10-20 years. Not really. Is this a mistake? Possibly. My father would be SO proud! (said dripping in sarcasm). Actually, he is probably doing pin-wheels in his grave! Sorry, Daddy!

Actually, my father was the only member of the family with a tattoo. When he was in the Korean war, he had my mom's name tattooed on his left (?) forearm. She was furious about it. Her concerns were what if they got a divorce, or she died. (Never realized what a fatalist remark that was until now!) What would he do with the tattoo once wife number two came along? His response was that he would tattoo a #1. in front with a line through her name, and tattoo a #2. and wife #2's name underneath. Perfect. Problem solved! He was always a funny guy.

I'm still a little nervous about the whole thing. Do I donate blood one more time before I get my angel since I won't be able to donate for a full year after? It would be the nice, thoughtful thing to do. Lifesource would appreciate it. I've check the BBB about the tattoo parlor - no complaints ever. That's a good sign, but the cynic in me wonders do people who get tattoos really complain to the BBB if there is a problem? Wow, that came out rather snobbish. I am stepping into a whole other world and still a little nervous about the whole thing. Do other people think this way? Truly, what would my mother say? What would Adam say? But another Hepburn quote comes to mind, "If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." Thanks, Kate!

We already know Kat will be jealous...if she has her way her tongue will be pierced, nose pierced (someone please tell me what happens when you have a cold?), plus the following tattoos: sun and moon on her neck (OUCH!!!), the words, "Live well, laugh often, love much" around her wrist (again, Owww!), a red and pink awareness ribbon representing breast cancer and leukemia on her ankle (I think). She has given up on the teddy bear - Thank God!!! I might be missing one - maybe Chinese symbols - which may be my next tattoo if all goes well. I'd like Chinese symbols to reflect life, love and laughter. One tatt at a time please, Missy, but I digress.

So, you see empowering myself with these feelings really isn't easy for me. I want to be one of those people who really is strong on the inside and out - not wishy-washy like the above paragraph proves. Again, one step at a time.

In my ever attempt to banish wishy-washiness, I also decided to try something just a little different. Something a bit outside my norm which would also be fun. The radio station I listen to in the mornings, WTMX, talked about a pole-dancing class that just opened up in the city, S Factor. Yes...pole dancing. In the class you do learn to spin around a pole (which is fun!), but it is so much more. You also learn to feel sexy, powerful, strong and confidant. I've taken an intro class and it's not what people would think. Yes, you do learn to twirl around a pole, but it is also a fusion of Pilate's, dance and yoga. There is a definite workout involved where muscles that I didn't know existed are screaming in toned up pain. I've signed up for 8 weeks and will see how it goes. I need a little excitement in my life. Even if it is for just me.

It's not like there is anyone else around who is interested in what I am learning. The kids might slightly freak if I firefly around a light pole when going for a walk. It's not exactly a Gene Kelly, Singin' in the Rain, twirl around a pole. Besides, being a newbie is cause for bruises and klutziness when you take your first swing. I have yet to feel sexy with 4 huge bruises on my right leg. My first twirl was better than twirls two and three, but once you have the hang of twirling, it is a lot of fun.

Right now this is just for me. To feel strong and confidant. Maybe one day, someone else will appreciate what I've learned, but that's not what is important at the moment. Right now, gaining confidence and strength is my goal. Besides, can you see me trying to explain to my mother and children why I've installed a pole in my room? Nah...not at the moment. Nor can I imagine either of my brother's reactions. To Mark, it would be new material for constant jokes and harassment. Mike would never be able to look me in the eye again. So, for now, this is just for me...and anyone reading this blog.

As for my father looking down from heaven, his baby girl, the one with so much potential, the one he was so proud of. You left before you could see me graduate with honors, or meet your grandchildren. Thankfully, you missed the debacle called my marriage. Yes, your baby decided to start the new year with a tattoo and pole dancing classes; stretching the boundaries of what is acceptable in every day society. Yep...yep...yep. You should be beyond proud! I love you and miss you, Daddy! You can stop spinning in your grave. Instead, I'll take a spin or two around a pole; flashing my angel on my shoulder. I'm going to be OK.

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