Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009: A recap odyssey

As I sit here attempting to sum up this year, 2009, I'm overcome by a few strong sensations.

First is happiness. I have two really good jobs that I really like (I never really understood that idea of working at a job that made you unhappy), a devoted husband (again never understood staying with someone who didn't make you happy), a stepson of which I'm immensely proud and a daughter who blows my socks off in oh-so-many ways.

This also extends to the fact that my mom is now living with us. But that happiness is clouded, of course, by the stupid cancer that has tried — without success, I might add — to take her down.

Honestly, my mom's illness, coming on the heels of my dad's death two years ago, was initially devastating. I remember crying on the phone to my brother and asking, "Why is this happening to us?"

I now realize that sometimes sucky things just happen. You can either sit back and let the sucky things make your life suck or pick yourself up and get busy living.

And that's just what we did.

I wanted to include a few pictures from 2009 showing the places we visited and that stuff we did, but it turns out we had a really kick-booty year. I had a hard time narrowing it down. So without further ado, here's a kajillionty photos I'd like to title:

The stuff we done did in 2009

We climbed Mt. Garfield.

2009-03 on mt garfield.jpg

Skied at Powderhorn.

2009-03 skiing.jpg

We celebrated Easter with my co-workers here at The Daily Sentinel.

2009-04 easter.jpg

My band, Riveter, opened for Bret Michaels.

2009-04 Riv BM.jpg

I saw my beloved stepson, Sean, graduate from Palisade High School.

2009-05 Sean grad.jpg

We hiked to Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs.

2009-06 Hanging lake.jpg

Saw my daughter turn 9 years old.

2009-06 mar birthday.jpg

We stood on the Four Corners Monument.

2009-07 4 corners.jpg

Visited the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco.

2009-07 beach.jpg

Climbed the ancient steps to the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde.

2009-07 Mesa Verde.jpg

Bill and I got to see our president speak on health care reform.

2009-8 Obama.jpg

Took a motorcycle ride through scenic Gateway Canyon.

2009-9 Gateway.jpg

Visited the museums of our nation's capitol.

2009-10 DC.jpg

And I started the long and painful journey of getting a giant tattoo on my back.

2009-12 tattoo.jpg

Phew! Just thinking about it makes me exhausted ... and excited to see what 2010 has in store.

Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coming to an end

I guess it's appropriate that as the year is closing change is afoot.

Sometimes it's hard to let go. But what remains is that the only certainty is change. It doesn't matter how much you give love, attention, affection, adoration ... sometimes you just have to let go.

But, 2010 is around the corner and new challenges are on the horizon.

It is with sadness and remorse that I wish the old goodbye, adieu, so long ... I wish you didn't have to go. But I understand it's time. Time for change. Time for new adventures.

And, remarkably, I'm OK with it.

So without further ado, I bid farewell:

Farewell Once-Giant Pencil/Now-Wee Pencil.

But fear not, for I have but a new giant pencil which I am calling Giant Pencil, Too.

The Giant Pencil is dead!
Long live the Giant Pencil, Too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

As Richie and her family begin their holiday traditions, our little family is continuing ours — with some exceptions and variations.

Tree 1.jpg

Tree 3.jpg

We found our tree at the Orchard Mesa Christmas Tree Farm, as we have for the last several years. We had to skip the hayride, which we always enjoy, because Margaret was had a cold and the icy wind hurried us back to our car.

We couldn't find our good Christmas tree stand and then argued over using the bad Christmas tree stand and whether or not the tree should be cut again once we got it home (I said yes, Bill said no. I acquiesced simply because my fingers were too frozen to stay outside and saw a new cut myself). This is not part of our holiday traditions and one that we hope we do NOT continue in the future.

Cutting our own Christmas tree is not something that we did when I was a child. I grew up in the San Francisco-Bay Area where parking lots vastly outnumber tree farms. Instead we'd go to the huge tree lots out by the Oakland Coliseum. We'd walk around, eat a hot dog and find a tree.

Eating a hot dog was almost as important as getting a good tree.

This year when we got home from the tree farm, my mom asked if we got a hot dog.

I think next year that will become part of our tradition — because hot dogs should be part of every tradition, as far as I'm concerned.

Our first Christmas together, Bill and I had no Christmas decorations at all. But we still bought a giant tree and pulled our pennies to buy some simple bulbs, a couple blown-glass ornaments, bows and an angel.

We still use them, but now we decorate our tree with ornaments that we've have accumulated over our 11 Christmases together as a family. I saved all the Hallmark boxes and plastic containers for each ornament and love opening each one. As we put them on our tree, we talk about how cute/pretty/thoughtful each ornament is, where it came from or who gave it to us.

I love this part of the holiday.

This year, I bought some picture frames, sorted through a box of old photos and put a bunch of pictures of my dad out on our piano.

He's the only thing missing this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tattoo transformation: Mucha tattoo phase three

Those that follow me on Twitter and Facebook know that a week and a half ago, I had my third sitting for my Mucha backpiece tattoo.

It was only four hours and I sat much better this time than last. I have it down to a science now. Unlike all the fashionistas that show up on LA Ink, I come in my sweats and my sweatshirt. I fortify myself with my pain relievers, snacks, water (it's gotta be Fuji and lots of it) and my pillow — yes, I bring my own pillow to get tattooed.

Comfort is important to me, especially when I'm sitting for hours while I voluntarily let some guy carve into my skin with needles. (OK, not just some guy, but a talented and experienced tattoo artist.)

I've had many ask me the significance of the images I'm getting permanently inked on myself. It's not as easy as simply decoding the image's iconography. This tattoo is about the images and the process.

Coming up with the images was the easy part. I'm a very visual person. I love looking at images, buildings, people, pictures, artwork. And I'll look at the same stuff over and over again, because the world is so beautiful and interesting.

I knew I wanted something feminine, organic and beautiful. At first I though that I just wanted more floral elements, maybe a dragonfly or a swallow. But then while going through my dear friend Tracee's book on the artwork of Alphonse Mucha, I was moved by the grace of line work and the elegance of his figures and flowers.

I borrowed Tracee's book and spent hours pouring over the images. His graphic work was already two-dimensional and linear and would translate easily into a tattoo.

I looked at all his flowers trying to decide which ones I wanted to add to my existing, lower-back tattoos. But I kept coming back to one image, this one:

Mucha's personification of emerald. I love her beauty and confident gaze. I love the lines of her drapery and of the gargoyle upon which she rests. I love the stylized snake that twists through her hair and its manifold meanings.

I wanted her. But I've seen way too many bad tattoos of human faces. Instead of yielding to my fears, I found the best tattoo artist in the valley, Erik Campbell at The Raw Canvas and hit the go button. As luck would have it, he not only knew the artwork of Alphonse Mucha, but had been wanting to do a Mucha tattoo.

While my girl is from the emerald image, Erik has been borrowing flowers from the other three images in Mucha's Precious Stones series: ruby, amethyst and topaz. All symbols of grace, beauty, elegance. I love these images.

The image was the easy part. It's the tattooing that's the challenge. For me, this process is not just about transforming the skin on my back into a work of art. It's about coming to terms with who I am inside and out.

I've never been happy with the way I look; too fat, too bulky, too lopsided, too big, too lumpy. And it's taken every ounce of will power to post the photo above and below as they show my flaws — my ugliness along side my self-inflicted beauty.
I so wanted to crop off the bottom of this picture. Showing my stretch marks and love handles sends my anxiety into overdrive.

But this is what I look like. This is my woman's body. This is me. And through a regular, not-media-tainted lens, it's not so bad.

But I'm forcing myself to write this. There's still a huge part of my scarred psyche that wants to temper these remarks, make fun of myself, because I know I could look better, more like the women on TV. But I don't.

And as much as I want to be fine with it, I'm still working it out.

As I say to Bill quite often these days when I flare up over tiny things and have a hard time coping, "My dust it up."

All my feelings of insecurities, all the pain and sadness, feelings of loss and inadequacy are floating around my brain, taking over. I usually keep them watered down, but now I'm forcing myself to keep them up and active. I keep shaking them around like snow a Christmas globe, hoping that I can learn and grow from dissecting them and ultimately learning to love them.

Throughout my life, I've thought that if I'd just lose weight, I'd feel better about myself, I'd be happy with who I am. Never once thinking that my problem isn't 25 pounds.

Now I am. And this process, through its physical and mental pain, is proving itself to be transformative in ways I never thought possible.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I have a blue sticky note sitting on my desk with a list of words written on it. The words are intended to remind me of blog posts that I want to write.

But this one is coming first.

This may not be as important as sharing with you all the state and condition of my dearest stepson or as funny as the fact that I almost always have at least one accidentally self-inflicted bruise. Nor as compelling as that I’ve discovered people are seriously disturbed by my decision not to high five.

Over the past couple of years, my perspective on life has changed, or I should say is changing. And my family dynamic is changing as well.

The relationship I have with my husband, mother, daughter and stepson are so much more than I ever thought they could be.

And it’s because I’ve changed and so has how I view the events of my life. Oh, I still blow up over missing iPods and dog pee on the carpet. But I know now that that’s a luxury and also stupid.

This blog entry written by a former-San Francisco lawyer, now Detroit, stay-at-home dad illustrates exactly how one’s world goes from little to big as fast as it takes for someone to puke.

And that’s no joke.