this morning, the itchiness of a healing tattoo woke me up, and so i put on some coffee. i haven't journaled properly all that much lately, but i've always made it a point to evaluate around birthdays. you know, check in with myself: how are you living? have you grown this year? the proverbial inchmark on the wall to measure my height. here is a bit of what i came up with:
28 October 2005
So. It is my first entry of being 27. I really donâ€™t know where to begin. There are many words to say, many pieces to put together of this season, and Iâ€™ll do what I can this morning.
It is only 6:30, and the sky is still dark and starry. Itâ€™s cold enough to see my breath and pull up my hood. I am grateful for both. Helen is awake too, thanks to me, watching the news and eating a poptart. Chloe sits outside with me, perched on a chair, and now wandering the porch. And off she goes to explore like the teenager she is. I love that cat.
My birthday was a whirlwind of a day. we went shopping for my party. Cider and pumpkins, flowers and candy, kebab-makings. We loaded up the cart. I had to work (I took 1/2 a day), and when I came home, our home was lit with candles, and ginger and bill were at the door, ready to help with the barbequeing. Friends I never knew would come arrived quickly. Gregg, dee, Joe, joey, Kenny, mamie and Patrick, Patrick, a new friend named Natalie, Barbara, Art, Derek and Brian, Tara, ray. And if I am forgetting anyone, I feel terrible.
This strange group of people laughed and told stories, drank wine and tea, ate chicken and tofu and cake. I got birthday spankings. I got hugs and kisses on the lips from all the beautiful men Iâ€™ve befriended. I was in birthday girl heaven, with cellophane covering my new tattoo.
Ah yes, my new tattoo. My lovebird and her ribbon, linking together two hearts like the holy spirit. Three-fold cord. Three blue stars bearing witness. And the whole host of heaven surrounding. Itâ€™s Helen and me, and my lodestar girls and everyone I have ever, and will ever love, all dancing on my back.
And my God, it hurt like hell. Three hours of pain like Iâ€™ve never known before. But the result? I get to wear this masterpiece until I die. I get to bear witness myself for all my days. And what else is there to joy and faith but that?
Slowly, the old layers are falling away. The ache of missing what I seem to have lost is subsiding. What I have now is just as real and true as what I claimed for myself in Nashville. As a twenty year old girl, I elbowed in to what I knew I wanted for myself: home. Community. Friends that could teach me how to love. A place to grow into myself. And now? Now I am taking my tools and building for myself that place. And I am getting to take everyone outside the door into our home. The neighbors. Ginger. Joey. Julie and Joey Vogel. I am finding my way back to the life Iâ€™ve longed for, full of people for which to create sanctuary. At twentyseven, I have stripped off my hair to start over. I have paid for the permanency of the life I want to proclaim. I am more myself, maturing. And slowly, (despite my bitchiness to the crazy neighbor with the evil dog this morning) I am liking moreâ€”loving moreâ€”who I am. That is grace.
yesterday began as a typical day: work and work and work until seven o'clock. and then i drove. at eight, i had an appointment with carlos. carlos was going to ink into my back a new tattoo.
it all began last week when my long lost brother joe came to visit. we grew up in erie together, became best friends at fifteen, and we've walked each other through the joys and heartaches of high school and our twenties. we hadn't seen each other in four years.
we picked up where we left off last week, creating adventures out of the dailiness of life, and windowshopping at the best little places, one of which was tesoros downtown on congress. it was there that i saw the little platter with the lovebird. it was there that i found my new tattoo.
the lovebird holds in its mouth a ribbon binding together two hearts. surrounding it are a multitude of stars (two of which i already don on my shoulderblades).
and so i brought the platter to rock of ages tattoo parlor on south lamar, to see if they would do it. carlos sat behind the counter wearing a wool hat. covered in beautiful tattoos, he studied the platter from behind grandfather spectacles. he said he could do it. i put down a deposit, and he said he'd have the perfect stencil ready for me by last night.
helen held my hand as i sat hunkered over for three hours last night. my blue stars were a painful and exhilerating experience, but my bird? she was something like how i imagine childbirth to be. there were moments of lightheadedness, and we even had to take a break now and again, so that i wouldn't pass out. however, i found my zen place in carlos' story. he told us about his life as he worked.
carlos spent over a decade addicted to heroin. he told us about the trouble he got in out in hollywood, the gangster drug dealer named cat who took him in ("she killed four men", he told us matter-of-factly). though he repeatedly stole money and drugs from her, she took care of him. and his mother, worrying in texas, found him there by phone. brought him home by bus. he overdosed on the way, in el paso, but was revived by ems at the bus station. they put him back on the greyhound.
carlos told us of wanting nothing more than for his life to be over. he overdosed again and again, and was brought back again and again. six failed rehab attempts. a withdrawal coma. a two year stint in prison, four months of which were spent in solitary confinement. and somehow, in all this chaos, he found (was given?) the tools to resurrect himself. when he was freed from prison three years ago, carlos stayed clean. he shed his old life and dedicated his life to his art. now he is a smiler, and very serious about his work. he's got a girlfriend of a year. and he's planning to propose on el dia de los muertos.
all this he told as he created a masterpiece on my back. his story is written on my body, and i get to keep it forever. we hugged tightly when it was all over.
that's right austin: a chamonix birthday party for moi. on wednesday. 26 october 2005. i turn 27. there will be kebabs. and beer. and maybe even naked swimming. (we don't need no hot weather for that.)
bring your own loved ones and beverages. there's room on the porch.
festivities will be underway in the 8 o'clock hour.
and i'll have a new tattoo to show.
email me for directions if you need them.
though i am working ridiculously long hours, talking down the masses from whatever ledges of frustration on which they find themselves teetering, i enjoy my job.
and the complete death cab catalog is my soundtrack of the day.
and i am wearing scrubs and flipflops.
cubicle life isn't so bad over here.
i realize that there is much to catch up on from my three week's hiatus from the blogworld. and the details of change are aplenty. julie came to visit, as did kevin and josh. life has been a whirlwind of nights out on the town after a long day of training at apple.
and now, things are busier than ever at this fruity place (see new ipod and imac releases today), and this means lots of overtime, handling the phonecalls from the masses. and my long lost friend and brother, joe, is coming to visit me this weekend from california. we haven't seen each other in three years.
i am in awe of friends traveling to me. and i have wanted to offer the best me available.
i've written and thought and wrestled with the fact that i have been maneuvering on autopilot lately. work helps; i keep busy. however, when i find myself alone for any length of time, the despair creeps in, and i get panicky again. i become so afraid that i am the constant observer, the one who misses the experience of her life.
the other night, i pulled anne murrow lindbergh's gift from the sea from the dusty bookshelf. i've owned it for years. yet, this tiny book has remained unread.
on page 45 this afternoon, i found this passage, and was comforted with the universality of my state:
it is not physical solitude that actually separates one from other men, not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. it is not the desert island nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. it is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. when one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. if one is out of touch with oneself, one cannot touch others. how often in a large city, shaking hands with my friends, i have felt the wilderness stretching between us. both of us were wandering in arid wastes, having lost the springs that nourished us--or having found them dry. only when one is connected to one's own core is one connected to others, i am beginning to discover. and, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude.
and so now, in the brief moments of a scheduled break, i attempt to hunker down inside the small walls of a grey cubicle, and quiet myself into some sort of recognition.
(i guess this must be the place.)
what songs/records/artists are rocking your world today?