July 14, 2012
After we’d exited the Studio B tour – WITHOUT my honky-tonk piano (I should add) – Dawn and I did a quick run-through of the Country Music Hall of Fame, which has to be one of the most gorgeous pieces of architecture out there before rushing off to get my peacock tattoo arm sleeve, of which I was now wildly vacillating about putting on my body.
I learned two things there:
a) Taylor Swift has a kick-ass guitar
2) The curator of the Country Music Hall of Fame frowns upon one LICKING aforementioned guitar, even after you explain that it “seemed like a good idea at the time.”
We sorta sped through the museum so that we could make the drive back to the tiny house on the semi-frightening road. We got back to the car, stowed carefully in the Hilton’s parking garage and made our way back to the tattoo shop, the gorge rising as I couldn’t quite recall WHAT, exactly, the tattoo would look like:
What was I DOING? Was I making another tremendous mistake? What if I’d actually wanted something else so people didn’t call me “Bird Girl” for the rest of my days? What kind of nickname is “Bird Girl,” anyway?
Dawn’s GPS decided to play hardball and direct us through routes that were all closed for construction. I was about ready to sink my teeth into the damn thing and make it my bitch, but Dawn handily wrestled it back from me before I could do any real damage. Fear makes you do weird things and I’d begun to question everything from whether or not I should get a tattoo or if I should date the guy sitting on the side of the road drinking what appeared to be malt liquor from a brown paper bag.
The tattoo shop – Archangel Tattoo – and neighborhood had finally, after a long, surreptitious and annoying drive, appeared before us, and, quite frankly, appeared a lot less scary in the light of day (but, really, so do I). Ready for my 4PM appointment, I steeled my nerves and walked into the shop, Dawn following behind, prepared to push me in front of the adorable dude with the twang so I could – at the very least – see if I really did, in fact, want a new tattoo, or if I was simply a walking divorce cliche.
The tattoo guy, Terry, appeared before me to show me what he’d drawn up.
“It’s really fucking big,” he twanged to me, like it was some sort of challenge.
“Fucking perfect,” I beamed. He’d taken what I’d wanted, researched it and drew up a peacock arm sleeve that would match my phoenix flawlessly. I felt, for the first time in weeks, as though I was exactly where I was supposed to be. A thousand pound weight dropped from my shoulders as I smiled a genuine smile for the very first time that day.
“I just need to redraw it for the right arm,” he said. “You guys wanna take a walk and go grab a drink or something? There’s a store about three feet away in that direction,” he drawled as he pointed vaguely east.
“Sure,” Dawn and I agreed.
We trudged out into the late afternoon heat, trying to avoid the raindrops that were falling lazily down upon us.
“I feel like this is something we needed to do – like we were supposed to do it,” Dawn announced as we dodged rain drops. “I feel really good about this.”
I smiled – knowing exactly what she meant.
Armed with a bottle of Diet Pepsi (apparently the South has 47 flavors of sweet tea with absolutely no diet Coke in sight)(also: I’ve never seen so many flavors of pig skin on display like people EAT that shit or something), we marched back through the lazy raindrops and waited.
“Come on back,” my tattoo artist called, leading me back to a room decorated from top to bottom with different types of local art, Lynyrd Skynyrd lazily singing about Tuesday “being gone with the wind,” the comforting buzz of the tattoo gun being used on another customer soothing my nerves. I noted on the wall that I’d happened to be lucky enough to be tattooed by Terry, who’d been winning tattoo awards left and right, or at least, that’s what the plaques on the wall stated. I suppose he could’ve made them himself, but he didn’t seem the type.
Carefully, he lined my arm with the peacock he’d drawn, the purple outline clearly stating that I would be getting not a half-arm sleeve tattoo, but 3/4 of a sleeve.
And thus I began a new chapter in my life – one that would involve taking big risks, learning to lose the fear I’d acquired through my marriage, while reminding myself that while I may feel as though I’m a motherfucking coward, it is not true. I will be brave enough to rebuild my life and do it with grace, dignity while allowing my freak flag to flap in the breeze – there’s no shame in being me.
Gratuitous – yet pointless – shoe shot!
After what seemed to be about five minutes – five minutes of mild-to-extreme pain, let me be clear here – my tattoo guy drawled, “I’m done with the outline – let’s go take a break.”
Out to the quaint front porch we went, where we sat in rocking chairs, rocking slowly back and forth, enjoying the sunset. I asked him the question I ask everyone who has been doing a particular job for a long while:
“What’s the worst thing that anyone’s asked you to tattoo on them?”
He chuckled for a good long while before answering, “I don’t know – most people want bullshit tattoos. I can only do so much with those.”
I nodded, having seen a fair number of particularly awful tattoo ideas. Of special note is the one tattoo I saw that had been clearly done out of some guy’s basement, in which Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbs) was peeing on the word, “X Wife.” Way to keep it classy, people.
Soon enough, darkness began to replace the waning sunlight and it was time, once again, to go back to The Chair. The tattoo pain was somewhere between my back – which barely hurt – to my feet – which hurt like a motherfucker, so while I wasn’t jumping to get back in the chair, I knew that he knew his shit and that my tattoo looked FULL of the Awesome.
I steeled myself for the pain as he began to shade the outline in.
By this time, I was clutching Dawn’s hand like it was a life-raft and trying to remember to breathe. I hadn’t eaten properly in two weeks and while I’m not prone to fainting, the pain had gone from “ouch” to “fucking ouch.” But hey, this was the only birthday present I’d be getting – aside from my “John C. Mayer’s Greatest Hits,” so I gritted my teeth and tried to go to “my place.”
I’d lost track of how many versions of “Free Bird” we’d heard throughout the hours (by this time, I knew it was “hours” and not “minutes,” because my arm now hurt like a motherfucker) when, once again, he announced that it was time for a break. Back to the rocking chairs we went, where customers ingoing and outgoing stopped to chat with me about my tattoo. Apparently, NashVegas doesn’t get a lot of girls requesting sleeve tattoos, which, SURPRISING AS FUCK.
By this point, I’d started dreading Das Chair – while my migraines have given me an incredible pain tolerance (THANKS, MIGRAINES!), I could now feel each individual needle as it went into my skin. I’d have made an appointment to finish that fucker the following day (my birthday), but the shop was closed. So it was now or motherfucking never.
It was about halfway through the coloring of my now beautiful tattoo that it hit me:
This was my only birthday present.
This was one of the last things I’d be able to buy for myself as I was going to have to start finding ways to make money so I could become self-sufficient and move out.
I was getting a divorce.
It was over – my future was a black question mark of uncertainty.
And through the physical pain, my emotional pain began to burble out. While I consider 9-10PM now my “crying hour,” I hadn’t expected that getting a tattoo in a shop full of big dudes would evoke tears. But come they did. It was like a torrential downpour as I performed my favorite party trick, “The Ugly Cry,” to an entire room. Oddly, I wasn’t even mortified – it just felt right to be able to mourn the “never will’s” of my life.
Soon, it was all over but the crying.
And that is how I will approach my new life, in the hopes that one day, someone may put on my tombstone: she was brave.
I’m starting Shit I Found Saturdays here on my blog, which will exist only Saturdays, (betcha couldn’t have gleaned that from the name) which is cool except that the Internet is mostly closed on Saturdays. So let’s fuck that noise and get into cool shit we’ve found around the ‘net (I sorta want to punch myself in the throat for saying “the ‘net”) and bring Saturday back.
It’s like bringing Sexy Back but awesomer.
Join in! We have donuts (lies)!
Shit I Did:
I put this page together for my blogroll, which I’ve been cleaning out. Totes depressing to see so many abandoned blogs. Fill that shit out – my only request is that if you wanna be on my blogroll, just put me on yours.
I pulled out my hair a lot because holy FUCKS does my site look like dogshit right now. This is why I should never hit “Update” on any WordPress blog, ever.
Shit I Read:
Abraham Lincoln Filed For A Facebook Patent in 1845 – I know this is a prank so ancient that dust poured from my fingers when I typed it, but it’s still fucking hilarious. Also: Pranksters, we NEED to do another prank. OBVS.
Violence – So often we forget how after all is said and done, many of us have been the victim of terrible violence in our lives, and we’re left to “recover” on our own.
Graph Paper Press - this is an old wordpress theme site in which, for a not terrible sum, people who have photoblogs and other actual “art shit” to display, can download, customize and use. I get full of the jealous every time I look because I am not a photoblogger, which means I should be banned from the Internet.
Things I Learned In Wisconsin At A Wedding – who doesn’t like lists? And humor?
Fuck You Firefly, Have You Lost Your Light? – totally brave post about feeling empty and broken after a series of shitty relationships.
Lil Bub – the world’s cutest motherfucking cat. I only wish he made videos where he sang and danced.
Shit That Made Me Smile:
Dude, that cat is totally all sticking his tongue out at me. What the shit?
Shit That’s Just Fucking Rad:
A mashed potato vending machine:
We live in the motherfucking FUTURE, y’all.
Also: I now have a new thing to lust after.
People Doing Good Shit:
We all know (because I’ve blabbed about it ad nauseum) that I founded and work on a (nearly) non-profit site called Band Back Together, where we work to break down stigmas of mental illness, trauma, sexual abuse, and darkness by bringing them into light. We are, after all, none of us alone. You are all, as always, welcome to post with us.
Turns out? The Internet is rife with people doing good.
My friend Aaron recently launched Kids Cooperate, a site for kids ages 13-15, 16-18, and 18 and over with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Kids will be grouped together based upon their needs and interests.
Kids Corporate has eHangouts, an rad use of technology that brings teens together in safe, facilitated friendship circles to socialize and support each other. Using Google’s secure video conferencing technology, groups of 9 peers and a facilitator meet for 30 minute sessions to check in, play games, and hangout in a way that builds confidence, develops social skills, and scaffolds the development of real friendship.
I think that’s fucking awesome.
Shit Other People Found:
- From Pete in AZ
Now it’s your turn. What cool shit have you found? Write it on your own blog and link up or throw it in the comments!
Saturday, July 14
The problem with sleeping in hotels is, for me, the lack of direct sunlight cuing my ass to get the fuck out of bed and start my damn day. Hotels, even like the one we stayed in in NashVegas, which boasted beautiful indoor gardens, which our balcony opened up to, are timeless to me. Sort of like hospitals – it can be 2AM or 2PM and it feels the damn same.
Dawn had, like the morning person she is, sat out on the balcony reading trashy magazines for like 8,272 hours waiting for my lazy ass to slog out of bed. When I did, she handed me a cup of coffee and then watched, befuddled as I went to the teeny coffee maker outside the bathroom and made myself a cup of coffee.
“Um,” she said. “You do know that we already have coffee, right?”
“Yeah,” I grunted. “But I’m double-fisting this motherfucker.”
She laughed before saying, “if we don’t go soon, we’re going to miss our tour.”
We’d planned exactly two things for the trip, figuring the rest would just be organic (but not like ORGANIC) and we’d do the shit we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. EXCEPT for the two things we’d planned, which had very specific start times. Like the fucking tour.
Rushing downstairs, we got the car from the valet, who had, thoughtfully, left the driver’s side window open so that Dawn was, effectively, sitting on a slushy, squishy seat. Awesome. I offered her my ass, but somehow she didn’t think it would help. Crazy ass.
She plugged in the coordinates to the Country Music Hall of Fame and off we went. Quickly, we learned that, not unlike Chicago, NashTucky had a “construction season” rather than a “summer.” Grimly we followed the chipper-sounding GPS lady (who I felt like throat-punching, truthfully), to one “closed to construction” street after another.
Finally, we made our way into the bottom of the Hilton hotel in downtown NashVegas, where we parked, all but screaming “FUCK IT” as we watched our tour time tick steadily past. Trudging out of the underground lot, I noted one thing. We were right fucking next to the Country Music Hall of Fame. After all the twists and turns we’d done, that alone was a minor miracle.
We raced to the desk, barely stopping to notice the beautiful atrium, and begged the woman behind the counter to take the next tour.
“Well,” she drawled. “We got one startin’ at one with two seats left. Want ‘em?”
“YES! Thank you, YES, thank you!” Dawn returned. “It’s her birthday and we don’t want to miss this.” I didn’t bother to correct her – my birthday was the following day, but really, we’d be heading back to Chicago by then, so for all intents and purposes? It was my birthday.
The lady behind the counter fiddled with some tickets and a printer that had probably been created well before I’d been born, as I basked in the sunlight like a cat, listening to the delicate strains of a guitar playing through the lobby of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
I only have this moment, I thought, as I was reminded of my hippie parents: the future is unwritten and the past is unchangeable. I took deep breath after deep breath, letting the light inside me. The woman behind the counter eventually handed Dawn the tickets with the instructions, “Get into that line over there and the tour guide will pick you up at one!” She beamed at us, both falling all over ourselves with thank you’s.
As I turned to walk away, she looked me in the eye and said, her voice dripping with genuine sweetness and light, “Happy Birthday, hon.”
A normal response would be to smile and thank her for the well wishes, which I did. Then, I promptly turned around, standing in one of the most beautiful atriums I’ve ever seen, listening to a guy play a lone guitar version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,” and burst into tears. That happens a lot to me when shit gets real: instead of behaving like a normal person, I cry when people are kind to me. If she’d said, “you’re an ugly fat bitch,” I’d have responded with some fairly rude gestures, reported her to her manager and demand a discount on the already-purchased tickets.
But when people are kind like that? It gets me. Every. Fucking. Time.
I stepped outside to regroup, not entirely comfortable with an entire atrium staring at the crazy crying lady, because you know as well as I, the very moment someone near you begins to weep, you want to know why; comfort them, or (if you’re me) hug them, and then create some story in your mind as to WHY this person, standing in the middle of the lobby of a beautiful building is weeping. If’n I’d seen me, I’d have made up some wild tale about John C. Mayer stalking me, vying for my love, while I slowly turned into Lil Wayne.
What? I didn’t say it was PLAUSIBLE. Or did I?
Alas, I digress.
After I’d stopped sniffling like a whiny bitch, a perky chick with long blonde hair was ushering us into a van. Without checking her ID, I hoped we weren’t going off to have our internal organs sliced out (altho, anyone on The Twitter knows I have beautiful kidneys – organ harvesters should BE so lucky), but, I figured, “what the shit? Live a little, AB” as I hopped aboard.
The perky blonde jabbered on at us while we drove past all the places where the greats in country music gave us our roots.
You’d probably not know it, but I’m sorta a music person. Not in the LEMMIE SEE AS MANY CONCERTS AS POSSIBLE kind of way, but I was raised around music. Each Saturday night, my dad and I would stay up until midnight, listening to the Midnight Special, a show put out by our local radio station. It was there that I cut my teeth on the roots of modern rock-n-roll (if there is such a thing) bluegrass, country, folk, and the ubiquitous anti-war songs. Music may not define me, but it flows through these here *taps arm* veins.
We stepped into RCA Studio B, where so many greats had once recorded, and, in a brilliant twist, Roy Orbison’s, “Only The Lonely” cued up immediately. I’d much prefer Journey, Pantera or Styx to cue up when I enter a room, but you know – can’t have it all ways. I, once again, stood with my back to the group, facing the wall while I composed myself. Just what I’d needed – the world’s most depressing song to come on at THAT moment.
Then we saw this. I nearly got a lady-boner:
After I touched the microphone, I wandered into the actual recording studio where The Greats had once stood.
Then I decided that even though I couldn’t play the piano, what I REALLY needed was a Honky Tonk Piano. I got busted trying to move this particular piano into my purse:
I thought it would do wonders for my mood.
They didn’t seem to see it that way.