Getting Tattooed with Food Poisoning and Other Tales from Austin

Greetings from my home sweet home here in New York City, after a week that can only be described as “eventful.” I’m referring to my grand Austin adventure, originally planned as a way to start sowing seeds for a new life and instead becoming a grand ol’ vacation in Texas with my lovely G; and I’m referring to what it’s like to say goodbye to people that irrevocably changed your life just by being in it. I talk a lot about how crazy it is to realize how things change over the course of a year, or two years, or five, but this week I learned it’s crazy how things can change in just an hour – or five. But in the spirit of keeping this under 12 pages, let’s start with Austin Adventures:

We start our weekend last Friday at 4am, as I leave A’s place for a 5:45 flight from LaGuardia, stopping in Houston to switch planes before ATX, baby. The plan was to take the earliest flight out so I’d have the whole afternoon to bask in the Texas sun, go to a yoga studio, and generally enjoy my time in my second-favorite US city. Things felt *slightly* weird after boarding the plane and then not moving or hearing anything from the flight attendants for over an hour, but you know, flights can be weird. By the second hour that passed on the plane, I was getting pretty cranky. I should mention I avoid coffee before long flights and was not super thrilled with anything at that point, especially as I’d already missed my connecting flight. By 8:15 we finally had an update: everyone off the plane and maybe we’ll leave this morning. After a HUGE coffee and some airport yoga, I had a smile on my face – I wasn’t going to let a delay ruin my Austin weekend – but starting the weekend with a 5-hour delay should have been a clue that I may love Texas, but it was not about to love me back.

Friday and Saturday went off without a hitch, a perfect two days singing in the car and hanging out with G, those rare moments where we can pretend we do this all the time instead of barely once a year. I sang her Happy Birthday and we ate some of the best desserts (“manna cotta… panne cotti? Just put more in my mouth.”). G’s roommates joined us for Saturday night and we danced on Dirty Sixth among cowboys and bachelorette parties, and in the midst of getting our hair done earlier that afternoon, we hatched a plan to continue a now-tradition the next day during our Austin adventures: somewhat-spontaneous tattoos.

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling a little foggy but overall fine – I’d stuck to beer the night before and made a point to drink water so I’d be comfortable while needles pierced my skin that day. I’m an early riser and the girls were still sleeping, so I ventured down to the hotel lobby for a small breakfast of yogurt (<– that’s important) and cereal while watching an old episode of Ink Master on my computer (*how am I so cool). Eventually G and I went out for breakfast tacos, and I noticed my stomach felt…. not right. I should mention I’m not a hungover puker. Like, ever. I mean okay there have been occasions, but for the most part after heavy drinking, I get headaches and migraines, I don’t vomit. So when I started to feel my stomach churning in the middle of a delicious breakfast taco salad, I thought it was odd, but brushed it off – it had to be a hangover, right?

We went back to the hotel to lay down for a quick nap to stave off G’s hangover before heading out for spontaneous tattoo adventures. I didn’t sleep so much as toss and turn, telling myself I wasn’t about to vomit because that’s not what I do. Turns out that was what I ended up doing for the next hour – stupid hangover! Luckily, after a particularly spirited outburst of the final remnants of my breakfast in the streets of Austin while walking around to kill time before the shop opened, I miraculously felt wonderful. We spent the next few hours in the tattoo shop where we’d been two years before, chatting with the artist, reviewing the design, the familiar buzz of the machine and then just a hint of pain as I reminded myself why, in fact, I’d sworn off any more rib tattoos after the first one. As mine is larger, I was the first victim of the machine, and I watch G get two perfect arrows on her forearm with a mix of awe and excitement. And then my stomach did the familiar churn of the morning, and while her arm was saran-wrapped and instructions for healing were offered, I projectile-lost-everything-in-my-body in the shop bathroom and a nightmare night began.

I have to say, having never had food poisoning before (*and not realizing that’s what it was for a while since I was only vomiting), there really is no introduction quite like a night by yourself in a strange AirBNB in a semi-strange city, alternately wincing as you brush a fresh wound on your ribs and throwing up so violently you can’t breathe. Sadly said violent-vomiting meant my very last day in Austin, the only bright and sunny day, the one where I had two yoga studios picked out to attend and the whole city at my beck and call, was instead spent huddled on a strange bed under the air conditioning, sipping Walgreens-brand Pedialyte and watching Netflix.

I was more than grateful to get home early on Tuesday afternoon, except I knew that meant a terrible goodbye was on its way. It wasn’t the vacation I’d had planned at all – not even a little bit. But that’s exactly how my last Austin adventure went too. And really, nothing that I ever plan for Austin turns out the way I think it will. Maybe that’s the beauty of my relationship with that city: the constant reminders that life is full of little surprises, and forever is composed of nows.

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Swingandamiss

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.”
~ Leon J. Suenes

Things are happening here that I didn’t expect. My week has been rattled ever so slightly and it’s completely throwing me off. I know I promised to post yesterday and now I’m posting a nothing entry today. But please know it’s not because I don’t have anything to say. It’s because right now I have too much to say, and it’s crowding its way out of my brain. I can’t get the thoughts out because once I pay attention to one, another pops up, and then another comes out of nowhere, and then things start happening and I’m so overwhelmed I have to shut my computer down before I scream.

Life throws us curveballs. That’s what it’s here for; that’s what it’s supposed to do. There were two this week that have really rattled me, so much so that the only things keeping me going at this point are the promise of dinner with A later tonight and a weekend with G in Texas. The juxtaposition of those two things is what makes the quote above and the announcement later in the week so darkly funny. None of what’s going on is funny at all, really, but in the comedic relief of life’s curveballs, all I can do when I think about this week, especially after the events this afternoon, is laugh. Better than crying, at least.

Friday I’m posting part one of a two-part entry, where the big “thing” I’ve been alluding to for the past nine months (*I’m not pregnant) will finally be out in the universe. It’s been a whirlwind since I first made a decision to change my life and somewhere in the time between then and now, my whole life has changed around me. It’s wild sometimes, looking around and marveling at how things have turned out. It’s terrifying, sometimes, to stray from your plan.

So in the spirit of wild, terrifying, sad, curvy things that are flying around me like spring fever, I’m going to finish out this day at work, one that threw me an entirely unwelcome but not unsurprising twist, and make my way through the rest of this week before I’m in Texas with my G. Good vibes appreciated, if you can spare any this way.

Hold it back//let it go

I’m super frustrated today.

No, it’s not because I’ve barely been posting lately. That’s also frustrating, don’t get me wrong, but honestly it’s been hard to write this month. My 2016 can be described very simply so far: January and February are a blur of YTT, and March has been catching up on the life I missed during January and February. There has barely been time to clean my apartment or see little miss; there has barely been time to see all the friends and family that are clamoring for my attention now that I have a semblance of free time and there has barely been time to sleep in between all of the above. Blogging, unfortunately, has had to take a back seat to life for March, but I am so hopeful that April I can get into a groove of this new life that’s emerging in 2016, where I’m working full time, in between teaching yoga, in between blogging with some regularity.

And no, I’m not frustrated because I had a bad weekend. Actually my weekend was lovely. I decided to work from Connecticut on Friday, and spent the day with my parents, helping to clean up around the house ahead of the holiday and snuggling with their pup, the sweetest puppy in the world. And this weekend A came to my hometown for the first time to meet my parents (*but mostly the puppy); Saturday was a wonderful day where I gave Mama B a private yoga lesson in the morning and A and I explored all around my hometown in the afternoon, before heading back to the house to drink too much wine with my parents and enjoy every minute together. On Sunday morning, after I finally managed to drag my father away from lending A yet another book or telling us about yet another cheap flight he found for us this summer for our trip to Norway, A and I drove back to Queens and then out to Long Island for too much mac ‘n cheese and more wine. We sat in traffic for more than an hour on the way back last night, but it was time well spent, regaling each other with stories from our wild college days and singing along to Sublime on the radio until we made it back to Forest Hills and I fell asleep for a minute in his arms on the couch, perfectly content after a perfect weekend.

So let’s recap: I’m not frustrated because I’m not blogging. I’m not cranky that it’s Monday because I had a great weekend. It’s the last quarter moon this week so I should feel that it’s a good time for resting and rejuvenating ahead of April, where I have a little event we’ll call four.05 happening next week and a trip to Austin to visit G a few days after that. Basically everything in my life is reminding me how grateful and lucky I am for every piece of my days and my life and yet I’m sitting here at my desk after barely sleeping last night because I’m so goddamn frustrated about something it’s driving me nuts. And what’s worse? I can’t even talk about it here.

Next week, starting on Friday, I have an entry scheduled to publish. It’s one I’ve been working on for nearly eight months now, and it’s one anyone who’s been reading this blog for that long will have been anticipating for about that long: next Friday, I’m finally going to talk about the Big Change that I’ve been referencing since last summer. There’s a very specific reason that I’m posting that entry next Friday, but something I didn’t anticipate when I started writing the entry was that it would actually require two parts to tell the full story. It’s not Part One I’m worried about posting next week, either. It’s Part Two. Because while the content of the story won’t change in either part, there is a major point in the surprising conclusion that I can’t talk about yet, because something needs to happen first before I do.

The thing that needs to happen is something I can’t control. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a really long time and something I know from the deepest part of me. It’s a thing that I know is true not just for me, and it’s something that has gotten to the point that it’s so tangible it almost hurts. It’s something that I can barely hold back anymore but it’s something I can’t give first unfortunately, as much as part of me wants to because I’m bursting holding it in this much, and I can’t do it much longer. So I’m frustrated, holding something in that just wants to be known. Why tell you about this, instead of just pushing the posts? I’m not sure, really. Part of me is tempting fate, being so open about this; the rest of me doesn’t care. I can only hold so much of myself back from this space anymore, having been held back for most of this year already. I suppose you’ll have to tune in this time on April 11 to see if part two holds true.

First Quarter

When you have a unique tattoo in a super-visible spot, people have a tendency to approach you about it in public. Strangers at Whole Foods, on the subway platform, hell even strangers in the office frequently approach me, usually with some variation of “I love your tattoo! What does it mean?” Some people are offended by these questions, as tattoos are next-level personal, but I don’t mind that much. I explain it’s the phases of the moon (“Oh! I thought that was the moon!”), and it represents the yoga journey I’ve been on in the past almost-two years. I don’t get into the nitty-gritty of how the phases represent the larger journey of life, that everything comes in waves if you know what to expect and when; that preparing yourself to face life head-on based on where the tides are currently turning helps put the hard days in perspective, blah blah hippie stuff, etc. Usually just saying “it’s the phases of the moon for yoga” is enough for most people to move on.

This week leads up to the first quarter moon, halfway between the new moon and the full moon, and this is the week where challenges present themselves. The new moon is a time to sit, reflect, set hopes and intentions for the moon cycle and look ahead to possibilities; the first quarter is where obstacles manifest and your goal, leading into the full moon, is to find ways to handle them. Once I started tracking the moon, I noticed that the second week of the cycle, one of two things would happen: there would be a number of tiny frustrations (bad commute, long day at work, can’t find my favorite yoga leggings, etc.), or something would happen that triggered a strong emotional reaction. Honestly, I prefer the former of those two things. It’s easier to breathe through a number of small frustrations, especially when you know everything will be okay. It’s harder to breathe through a cold, hard truth staring directly at you, and it’s even harder to stay focused on the fact that everything is going to be okay.

On Monday, my boss/friend stopped by my desk to download on my life, asking pointed questions about my weekend and teasing me lightly about this crazy 2016 life plan of mine. We had a silly, easy conversation, but in his teasing, he said something that’s been on repeat for me ever since. Essentially, he made me realize that for the past month, I’ve been living in a really comfortable bubble of denial that I’ve been purposely ignoring for fear of it popping too soon; and he made me realize that I’m holding onto my comfortable denial, because I’m afraid if I confront the situation head-on, everything will not, in fact, be okay.

Sometimes it’s hard to reconcile with the fact that things won’t always go our way. This is a lesson I learn weekly in NFL regular season as a Jets fan, this is a lesson I learn daily as a New Yorker forced to ride the subway, and this is just a lesson we all learn in life over time; but just because we know and understand this lesson doesn’t mean it sticks with us. I found myself trying to bargain with the moon this week, like maybe if I hope hard enough my challenges won’t be related to a conversation I don’t want to have that is rapidly approaching. Hope is deceptive; it’s wonderful but after an eventful few years I have a tendency to distrust hope and optimism in favor of “preparing for the worst.” Now I find myself in a situation where I’m finally feeling hopeful and optimistic for the first time in years, and I feel like I’m sitting on a ticking time bomb, with no way of seeing the clock. It could be two months or twelve hours or ten seconds from exploding all around me.

Again this morning someone approached me at the office to ask about my latest tattoo, what does it mean, it’s beautiful. I started joking about it being the first quarter this weekend, so if work is crazy to blame it on the moon. I suppose to an extent when anything gets crazy, my instinct lately is to check the moon, and map out a plan for when the issue could be resolved; but not this one. Maybe in theory I know in time, this will all work out, but for now? Nah. It feels like enough to know the challenge is there and start planning how to move past it. I’ve got the ink on my arm to remind me that I’ll have to deal with it eventually. But for now, nah. I’m going to enjoy the little bubble of denial and keep a close eye on the explosives under me, waiting to fight back when that clock finally ticks all the way down.

Reassess//Adjust

The other day, I was sitting at my desk at work, furiously blowing on my forearm and tapping certain areas in a desperate bid to make the itching stop. This is the part of the tattoo process that I hate the most. I don’t mind getting tattoos themselves, I don’t mind the aftermath where people stare and ask to touch your tattoo like it might smudge if they try hard enough. But there’s a point in the healing process where the whole thing scabs and starts to fall off, so your skin is basically peeling off in colors, but you can’t pick at any of the peeling or scabby parts lest you want to ruin all that hard work of the artist. Basically this part sucks, and I’ve hated it for every single tattoo I have. I have to admit, though; this one is a little different.

I’ve spoken to a few friends about this, but feel like I need to say it here too: I’m having a really hard time connecting to my new tattoo. I don’t know what it is exactly: the design is exactly what I wanted, down to the sacred geometry and the extremely minimal use of color. The placement is exactly what I wanted, fitting perfectly with the rest of my tattoos, which are strategically placed so that if I’m standing in front of you, arms down in a bikini, you wouldn’t be able to see a single one. My artist told me when we were texting a bit after the fact that it’s one of his favorites he’s done in a long time, and every person who sees it stares in awe and tells me how much they love it. So why is it that every time I look down at this beautiful design on my forearm, I don’t really feel anything?

In the past week, as I’ve struggled to connect and love the new tattoo the way I did near immediately with all the others, I’ve been journaling a lot to try and work through what might be happening in my head to make connecting with this so difficult. Last night I sat curled up on my couch, pen in hand and journal on my lap, and started writing in a furious stream of thought. “What is wrong with me,” it started, “why can’t I appreciate something when it’s exactly what I wanted?” I suppose that speaks volume about my life in general – but on the forearm front, I started thinking about the tattoo itself and what’s evolved in my thought process in the past week.

Something I’ve learned in the past few years is that tattoos are powerful, whether you mean them to be or not. They invoke strong opinions from the people around you, strangers or not, and depending on the visibility, people will ask you intrusive questions about them. Frequently the questions are innocent, “what does it mean?,” “what made you decide to get that?,” etc., but sometimes they’re harsher, “why would you do that to yourself?,” “what were you thinking?” One of the reasons I chose my forearm for this tattoo is because I wanted it to be visible; I wanted to make a statement that yes, I have quite a few tattoos and no, they don’t make me a bad person. I wanted people to ask me about the moon phases so I can give them my elevator speech about how they’re connected to yoga and how yoga has transformed my life. Maybe I wasn’t prepared for the one-two punch of power in this tattoo – the near-constant visibility and the power of the meaning behind those globes in a line down my arm.

Much of this contemplation centers around six months ago, as I had this idea in my head, and how I started tracking the moon and trying to understand the power of the tides in life. Part of me wonders if there was a higher power of sorts, Gaia or God or gods or grilled cheesus, that’s been watching over this process and wanted to give me a bit of a wake-up call to the statement I’m really making with this tattoo. It’s not just a fluff piece about yoga, and it’s not just a way to rebel a little bit, finally having a super-visible tattoo like I’ve always wanted. Looking at the events surrounding the most recent full moon – weddings and loss and tattoos and more – it all feels like a reminder that there is a lot of power in the statement I’m making, and I need to respect and understand that. And honestly? I know it sounds like hippie mumbo-jumbo, but with everything that’s happened, the idea of this powerful energy around my right forearm is pretty fucking scary.

Anyway. I was hoping that in the past few days of drafting this post, I would have a happy conclusion, like “And then I woke up and looked at my arm and everything felt right.” Unfortunately, not the case here. It’s still difficult sometimes looking down and trying to reconcile that this is an image on me forever. It’s perfect, it’s exactly what I wanted, and I do love it – it’s just a lot more to absorb than I’d anticipated. Maybe that’s the final lesson in all of this, especially with the direction of my life in the next 12 months: you can plan and prepare and truly love something, but don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you’d expect to adjust.

ten.27

I have a confession to make. Six months ago, when I agreed on this past Tuesday as the date to be my next forever, I remember the entire process except for one crucial thing: I can’t remember how I came up with the idea in the first place. I remember every step of the process after making the first decision, the consultation, setting the date, imagining left and right what my forearm would look like in just a few months’ time, but I can’t remember for the life of me where I had the idea in the first place. All I know is six months ago I made this decision that this past week would be one of permanent and major changes – little did I know exactly how right I’d be.

Anyway, once I had it in my head that this past Tuesday was happening, three days after the wedding in the midst of a much-needed staycation, I started doing something to make sure I was making the right decision, which has probably become apparent in some of the crazier things I’ve said on the blog lately: I’ve finally turned full yoga hippie because every month now I’m tracking the moon cycles. I know, I know. It’s almost too clichéd to be a cliche. But in tracking these cycles I’ve learned a few things that have become invaluable knowledge, in this week of permanent alterations to the status quo: first, there’s a beauty in the chaos of the cycle of life, knowing that things must always balance out but never knowing how it’s going to happen; and second, I know now that deep down, even in the darkest of times, the tides will always shift and everything is going to be okay.

I found it interesting that Tuesday was a full moon, and allegedly a powerful one, on the year that I had the exact activity for that Tuesday planned. I already knew it was going to be a weekend of major changes that I hadn’t even begun to comprehend, the permanent altering of life in so many ways, T changes her last name and I change my right forearm. But oddly enough, while I was in the car driving up to Massachusetts for the big wedding weekend for Twinster, I had this feeling that something was about to happen and it was not going to be good. I can’t explain it; I was thinking about all the upcoming changes around this powerful energy, and I just had this horrible feeling that something was going to happen, and truly the word that wouldn’t get out of my head was “death.” It was an terrible yet interesting sort of premonition, because despite this ominous, scary feeling, I also knew one thing for sure: whatever I was feeling was not going to interfere with the wedding.

The wedding. T’s wedding. Where I watched my other half become someone else’s other half (as mentioned in my maid-of-honor speech, which KILLED by the way). The weekend couldn’t have been more perfect, the freezing weather as a perfect backdrop to peak fall colors as we rode the chairlift up the mountain and back during cocktail hour; the way they smiled and laughed every time they looked at each other, and how much fun it was to meet people who, for the first time, had a hard time telling T&me apart. The food was delicious, the band was phenomenal, and the end of the night was the bridal party plus guests in a hotel suite in sweatpants, drinking the final few beers leftover from the limos and eating the Chex mix from the hotel gift bags. It was, in the only word that comes close to describing the weekend, perfect.

I left the weekend with this amazing new-found happiness, appreciation, and understanding of family. It was such a brilliant crowd of people, and it made me so excited for everything next year. I had Tuesday to look forward to, now that it was a real thing, and I had three days of vacation ahead in that as well. It sucks when your family, after this perfect and wonderful weekend, gets a call that something happened that is absolutely no one’s fault and was completely unavoidable. But it sucks when the family that has just spent 48 hours smiling until our faces hurt and then a little more finds out the fourth sibling, the one that kept our parents sane after we all moved out, the crazy sibling who barked at anything that moved and loved to hoard stuffed animals and sticks of butter, left us forever, just as one of us said forever and I looked forward to a Tuesday of my own forever as well.

Tattoo by the ENORMOUSLY talented Mikhail Andersson (www.tattookarma.com; Instagram: @mikhailandersson)

I felt a bit numb when Tuesday finally came around, which even translated into a physical symptom as my arm lay in an uncomfortable position for just around 90 minutes, hanging out in a private studio with someone who is practically an old friend at this point. But I never let that sink in, the numb energy, and I reminded myself why it meant so much to have this image permanently etched to my skin. And so as all these new beginnings were happening, life without the fourth sibling, life as the only B daughter, l watched as my big new beginning, the one I can’t remember how it came to be, marked so much more than I could have imagined in a beautiful line down my forearm. It marked this new life I’m following and finding myself in ways I’ve chased for years. As I stare down at my arm now I’m reminded of so much more than I could have imagined, some wonderful and some very challenging, but all wrapped into why I wanted to immortalize something on myself in the first place: to remember that life moves in cycles, and there will always be balance if you have patience. And most importantly, that even as things feel impossible now, everything is going to be okay.

Hurry Up and Wait

“I’M PACKING!! Well sort of, I have a pile of things that may or may not fit in my suitcase on my floor. What should I bring?? Like non-negotiables.”
“Clothes.”

As a twin, my first 17 birthdays were not about me. I mean they weren’t about T either – when you’re a twin, your birthdays are about “the twins.” You share parties, even if you don’t share friends. You share a cake, even if one of you is desperate for all chocolate while the other swears she’ll cry if it isn’t yellow cake. And you basically share presents, because when you’re a twin, people assume you’re the same person, which for T and I meant 17 birthdays of people buying us the exact same thing (*occasionally in different colors). I don’t mean to be ungrateful that we were so lucky growing up to have people buy us gifts at all, or bake us whatever cake we could agree on, but let’s just say when T and I separated for college three weeks before our 18th birthday, the only thing I could think about was that for first time in my life, what had always been our birthday would suddenly become mine.

Birthdays are such a funny thing. When you’re little, the only thing on your mind is how much you can’t wait to be older. I remember feeling despondent around my birthday for years, like it was so exciting to grow a year older but I still couldn’t do any of the cool things, like drive or… well okay mostly drive. Once I had my license it was a desperate race to turn 21 so I could buy my own alcohol instead of asking someone else to do it for me not drinking at all because that would have been illegal (right Mama B?). Then it was a desperate race to be in my mid-twenties, wanting the credibility that comes from being over 25, instead of the constant eye rolls when I’d say I was 22, 23, 24, “you’re still a baby, you have all the time in the world.” And yet, the second you’re past 25, it’s a desperate want for more time in every year, the horrid slope till you’re 30, 40, 50, beyond.

For so many years all we want is for time to move faster. School days are eternity, waiting for the weekend is miserable until you’re heading home on a Friday, the thought of four whole years of high school, college; I don’t even know what we’re racing towards in those years spent wanting time to move faster but all I know is I spent so many years wanting exactly that. And now, as I’m staring down the barrel of 27, all I want is for time to slow down. I want it to stop feeling like every time I blink it’s another month, another season, another year. I want more time with the Nickname Posse on rooftops and more walks in Central Park that last for hours. I want to savor every moment in this city, the way the sky looks over the George Washington Bridge just before the sun sets, how it smells like hot asphalt after a summer rainstorm, the quiet buzz of the Heights in the early mornings before the kids are up for school. I spent so many years wanting time to go faster and now that my wish is coming true, I’m practically on my knees begging for it to slow down.

A few weeks back I was looking at this upcoming weekend, my birthday weekend, and started feeling super depressed. I wanted to try and plan something but everyone is out of town at weddings or honeymoons, or not drinking in September. Frankly, I didn’t even have the time to attempt and plan myself a party, which in itself sounds depressing, and I had this moment on the subway as all of that hit me where I had to suppress a few tears, because the feeling that I’m actually, really alone here hit me like a dodgeball to the gut. I started breathing deeply to hold back the tears till I was off the train like a good New Yorker, when all of a sudden I remembered I’m not alone. I’ve never been alone – there are two of me. Or maybe there are two Ts. Either way, just before I started to cry about my birthday, I realized the best solution was to stop celebrating my birthday, and start celebrating ours.

Instead of bursting into tears when I walked off the train, I immediately called my sister and within 48 hours I had a ticket up to Boston for the long weekend. Oddly enough, switching back from calling it my birthday to our birthday brought me back to childhood. I couldn’t wait for time to move faster. All I wanted was for it to be my 27th birthday so I could celebrate with my twinster for the first time in 10 years. And once I had that mindset, it started applying to everything: I can’t wait to be 27. I can’t wait for my anchor G and my soul sister E to get here at the end of the month for our annual girls trip. I can’t wait for M’s bridal shower and bachelorette and wedding, I can’t wait to get my next tattoo, I can’t wait for Christmas and New Year’s and most importantly of all, I can’t wait for T’s wedding in the middle of all of that. Who’s to say if time will start dragging the way it did in grade school when six weeks, six days, even six hours seemed like an eternity, or if it’ll keep racing through my 20s like I’d wanted it to for years. It’s fine with me either way, really. Because all I’m focused on right now is this weekend. As for everything else? At least with all these years behind me, I know one thing for sure: everything else will come with time.

Friendly Conversations: Cuatro

I’m dedicating this to my parents, because the below is solid proof that I was raised without any form of a filter. Now please enjoy another snapshot of your average, everyday friendly conversations.

On conditional love
Mama B: Babe I’ll support you no matter what you do.
Me: I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that, I was so nervous to tell you about…
Mama B: EXCEPT IF YOU GET MORE TATTOOS.

On crowning achievements
Friend: So…. until recently,  you were a white girl that did not like rose?
Me: Yep.
Friend: Lifetime should do a biopic about you.

On accessorizing
Me: I’m so glad we got the belt for my maid-of-honor dress, it needed a little sparkle.
Mama B: I think my dress needs something too, but not a belt. Maybe like a pin or something?
Papa B: You should wear the Star Wars federation badge.
Mama B: OMG! Perfect. Will you buy it for me??

On conditional love (Pt. 2)
Mama B: But seriously no more tattoos.
Me: There’s more coming, it’s fine, you’ll get used to it.
Mama B: Please don’t get another visible one.
Me: What’s the point of spending all that money if no one can see them?
Mama B: FLOWERS BELONG IN A VASE NOT ON YOUR RIBS.

On wedding events
Twinster: I want all my shower presents pre-opened so we can get through that shit quickly. Like, paper ripped, ribbons cut..
Mama B: Don’t break the ribbons!!! There’s an old Irish saying that you’ll have a child for every one that breaks.
Me: If the ribbon breaks?
Twinster: Mmmm sorry Mom, I think you’re referring to condoms.

On weekends at home
Family friend: Alright girl, your mom and I are on a mission to set you up. Really quick name three physical qualities you like in a guy GO!
Me: Uhhhh beard, tattoos and a man bun.
Mama B: Like his butt?!
Me: Omg Mom like the hairstyle.
Mama B: You have weird taste in men maybe that’s why you’re single.

On conditional love (Pt. 3)
Mama B: What are they going to look like when you’re older?!?!?
Me: MAHM. We’re done talking about my tattoos, present and future.
Mama B: You weren’t serious about getting more though, right?
Me: This conversation is over.
Mama B: I HATE THEM SO MUCH.

Six.

While shopping for my maid-of-honor dress this spring for Twinster’s wedding in October, I very quickly narrowed it down to two choices, but took a long time to make a decision. T and I talked about it a lot, because unfortunately, the reason we loved one dress more than the other was the exact reason we knew I couldn’t get it. See, I think I have just about the coolest mother in the world. She taught me how to be kind, and tough, and has supported me through absolutely everything. But she just can’t stand my tattoos. She loves to admonish me for them whenever they’re visible (*which truly, isn’t that often), tell me how much I’m going to regret them when I’m older, your typical parent things. The dress T and I loved was backless with a sheer cape, and while it was probably the perfect dress for me, it would have put the rib tattoo on display. Now, T wouldn’t have cared less if I showed up sporting a Mike Tyson (“Have you seen my dress? It’s not like anyone will be looking at you”), but Mama B would never forgive me if I wore something that displayed that much of my ink. So I went with my second choice, a dress that’s equally beautiful and has a closed back, and though it doesn’t showcase one of my favorite features, I can’t wait to wear it all the same.

I don’t mind that my mother hates my tattoos. Well, let me rephrase that. At this point in my life, and sporting the pieces that I do, I no longer mind that my mother hates my tattoos. I think because the first two were such carefully planned impulse decisions, I didn’t have the chance to prepare for her reaction. In some vague way, I knew she was going to be PISSED (*and she was), but at the same time, I knew that it didn’t really matter how angry she was with me for them, because I’m the one that has to look at them and live with them, and I love them a little more every day. I finally gave her a heads up before getting the third, and planned a careful speech to have with her so that she would understand both my decision to get one, as well as how well-researched and serious I was. She cut me off after a few sentences when I finally worked up the nerve to talk to her, but I didn’t push it. I know she’ll never understand or like them, and so I’ve just continued to get them, warning her along the way if I can, preparing for the renewed anger that I’m getting used to.

It’s hard to respond to people when they say things like “I couldn’t get a tattoo, I change my mind too often!!” because I think it misses the point of tattoos. Yes, they’re permanent – but that doesn’t mean it absolutely has to have some sort of higher meaning that will never change, a design you’ll feel exactly the same about from the day you get it till your last breath. I mean, the tiny heart on my ankle was the epitome of an impulse decision. Exactly seven years ago today, I was 19, living in a foreign country, and though I tried telling myself that it was too cliche to come home from six months abroad with a tattoo, I still walked into a shop that cool August morning by myself, an indecisive teenager ready to make a permanent decision. The final product isn’t the design I wanted, it’s not even the design the artist wanted, and I’ve had to have it redone once already. But here I am, seven years later, and despite everything being wrong from what I’d initially wanted, every time I look at my very first tattoo, it reminds me of a time in my life where I was bold. It calls a memory of that wild child in Buenos Aires, who did so many stupid things and a learned a lot of lessons to boot. The tiny heart on my ankle is like my little souvenir from who I was, and what I learned, exactly seven years ago today.

The designs have improved with time, and for the last two pieces I’ve stayed with the same artist, because he’s really the one person I trust to put ink to my skin now, but that feeling of a souvenir from a previous LB is true with every one of them. Of the remaining four, one of them makes me feel daring; one makes me feel obvious and loud in the best way; another reminds me that you can choose your family too; and another tells me every day to be grateful. That’s not the order in which I got them, because how each of those memories connects with which tattoo is too personal, even to mention here. But those are pieces of a previous me that I want to remember, and parts of my spirit that I never want to lose. Truly, it’s not for everyone, a permanent reminder of who you were seven, five years, even just one year ago. But whether tattoos “are” for anyone else is irrelevant to my decision to have them, because they absolutely are for me.

At the wedding this fall, I’ll wear my beautiful dress with a full back, and stand behind my sister, making sure her beautiful dress looks picture-perfect while she says yes to the rest of her life. And only my arm will be showing, but luckily it’s just the one line, so for Mama B’s fear about the photos, there’s always Photoshop. We’ll have our bridal lunch, and wedding, and then of course the Jets v. Pats game on Sunday, where husband and wife will enjoy a fierce rivalry as such for the first of many times. And then when I return to the city, I’m going to rest for one day before traveling to the Lower East Side for tattoo number six, one that will be very visible and very planned, and I absolutely can’t wait. It’s going to remind me of this time in my life, where I’m surrounded by love and the one-bedroom apartment that no longer feels so empty, and one day I think it will remind me that life is meant to enjoy.

Panic Cord

There’s this thing that happens to me sometimes that I’ve long since learned I can’t control. It’s something I can ignore usually, or at least after a few years of recognizing it I’ve learned to ignore it, but when things in different areas of my life start imploding all at the same time, I find myself wrestling with this burning desire to do something destructive. The definition of “destructive” has changed over the years, but I can recognize that feeling coming from a mile away. It’s like an old addiction to self-destruction that yoga and clean eating and new attitudes and a new life can’t hide forever; the moment I can feel things start to slip, slip from my control, there’s a sort of cloud that covers my vision in this hazy need to do something impulsive, and big, and maybe a little dangerous to boot.

One of the earliest memories I have of the first time this happened is standing in the bathroom outside my bedroom at around 15 years old. I was angry with my mother yet again because she “couldn’t understand” why I so badly wanted the top of my ear pierced. We’d had the arguments many times, and she never gave me a reason more than “because I said so” as to why she wouldn’t allow me to have that put in my ear. Hormonal and filled with angst, I had this overwhelming impulse to do something, everything, anything. I went into one of the bathroom drawers and grabbed an earring, the one that had been used to pierce my ears a few years back, marked a spot on my left ear with a pen, took a deep breath and stuck it through. As I exhaled, I thought three things in quick succession: That didn’t hurt as much as I thought it might! Mama B is gonna be so fucking pissed off at me. Huh, I actually feel way better.

This draw to impulsive sorts of self-destruction has led to a lot of interesting decisions over the years, from bad third dates to at least one of my tattoos. I’ve had piercings all up and down my ears and face and abdomen, and many years ago this impulse may have led to an interesting afternoon in the office following a sangria-fueled lunch on a weekday with my lovely friend M. When things in my life start to feel like they’re slipping, not quite out of my control yet but on the way, I use that helpless feeling as an excuse to do something impulsive or crazy without thinking, as though I feel like things are already bad so let’s just keep rolling with it and see where we land. It’s not always a bad thing – following that impulse has led to some awesome nights (/mornings…) out and of course, at least one of my tattoos – but as I’ve gotten older, catering to such an impulse is starting to get exhausting.

That particular feeling started to bubble up yesterday while I sat in the office and watched the clock move slowly, knowing it was the first of yet another series of very late nights. It’s like all of the lucky, wonderful, something-big-is-happening feelings I’ve had in the past month finally came crashing back down, with so many things out of my control and so many things about to happen. And by early evening, I found myself contemplating a few things: Where else could I get a piercing at almost-27 years old that isn’t weird? Maybe I’ll go get that tiny script tattoo that popped into my head yesterday when I leave the office tomorrow. I wonder if anyone is around for a Sunday Funday this weekend?  I had to halt at that last one (Sunday Funday is dangerous and may or may not lead to lost wallets), take a step back, and figure out what was really going on, because I knew if I didn’t, one of those things would happen and really none of those things are good ideas.

I sighed deeply from the conference room where I’d camped out for the day, and calmly rationalized that I already have one facial piercing and I’m waiting till after T’s wedding for my next tattoo. And while I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen this weekend (aside: N.Posse – I would be super down for a Sunday Funday #justsaying), I decided instead to forget a budget for a minute and ordered a yoga prop I’ve been eyeing for months. Maybe saying “fuck it” to budgeting and spending money on a workout toy isn’t the craziest thing I’ve done to find a little more control in the wild things in my life these days. I’m okay with that, though. It’s worth it to have these little self-teaching moments that make it very apparent when you’ve grown up, if only a little bit.