I’ve been doing my own fingernails since I was twelve years old (maybe younger) but lately I’ve decided that the salons do a much better job. I spent tons of money on polish, gemstones, decorator kits, stickers and whatnot, all to try and copy what they can do. Most of the time I got lots of compliments and people would remark that I did a great job, saying they could never hand paint tiny designs like that. As I’ve grown older, I don’t want to mess with it as much, plus, I would rather have gel nails most of the time and the salons just do it better and faster than I can. Oh, I have the equipment and all, my results just don’t look as professional.
Lately, I’ve been sorta sad about my increase of gray hair and I’ve been curious about whether I should keep coloring, just let it go or do it at home myself. It’s kind of like the nail thing, I know the salon does a better job, but it’s so expensive! Now, I know a lot of you ladies would say, just fugetaboutit…everyone goes gray sooner than later. It’s like fighting wrinkles, a never ending battle, but I’m just not ready! Remember, I’m a fifty-six- year old rocker that still likes going to concerts and parties, I don’t want my grandkids to call me grandma, and I like my nails to have color on them at all times! Gray hair is just not part of the deal in my book…not yet anyway.
My salon professional said I barely had any gray that she could see, but I say she was just being nice. I have a tiny fountain of it coming out of the top of my head and my sideburns look like salt and pepper. Not as distinguished on a woman as a man, let me tell you. I was at the local Walgreen’s the other day, and I spotted this cool kit that lets you not only dye but adds highlights as well. It was under $20 and I just thought, “I have to get that!” but I still haven’t done it yet. I used to dye my own hair a long time ago, when I was young and brave, I wonder can I do it again without turning my ears red or brown, or blinding myself in the process.
I don’t know about you guys, but I refuse to go down without a fight. I want to appear young for as long as I can pull it off, I just want to do it at a discounted price. 😉
Back in 1980, I was stationed at Ft Carson, Colorado and had just gone through a devastating experience. My body must have been in a weakened state following that and I somehow came down with mono. Now, back in my day, they called this condition/disease/affliction the kissing disease. Well, I certainly had not been kissing anybody and by the time my friend found and rescued me, I was pretty near death.
All I knew was I was sick, sicker than I had ever been in my life. I had checked with my doctor, who told me I had strep throat, isolated me to my room at the barracks, and it was there that I continued to deteriorate. Everyone knew where I was but no one came to visit, I assume for fear they would catch the horrible thing that I had. I must have had a mini-fridge or a cooler in my room, I remember getting some ice cream because my throat hurt so bad, but it melted and I was left with some milky foam…not appetizing at all.
I must have been in isolation close to a month when my friend finally called me to check on me, when I answered her in a strangled, high pitch squeal she couldn’t even understand she said, “I’m coming and I’m taking you to the hospital!” All I could think was it was about time someone finally cared about whether I lived or died. I had wasted away up there, I lost 14 pounds due to the fact that my tonsils had swelled to the point of touching, I could not get any food down at all. I was managing water and broth and the doctor had given me medication to numb my throat, yet the antibiotics he gave me were not working at all.
Once my friend arrived and carted me to the hospital, I discovered the reason nothing was working was because they had been treating me for the wrong thing. I had mono, not strep-I remember the doctor saying, “I’ve got good news and bad,” and I asked him, “Am I gonna die?” He laughed and said no, but I would be going home for awhile, I was that sick! He said I needed a mother’s love and would need about another month to get well. I had to get my top’s (sergeant) permission to leave, walking out on the parade field to get my paperwork signed, he saw me and his mouth fell open at my appearance. He did not even recognize me! (Note: Mono is a virus like Ebstein-Barr and that’s why antibiotics weren’t working)
My parents were so concerned about me, they babied and cared for me for three weeks and nursed me back to health. I must have been super sick to get a medical leave, they thought and they were right. I was so sick I even developed hemorrhoids from all the diarrhea and strain on my body. My mother said it was unheard of for a 19-year-old to have those, and gave me the medicine to fix it. I guess my weight looked ok to them, what they didn’t know was that I had gained about 15 pounds from drinking and so when I lost that weight, I was actually back to my normal size. When I learned to drink, it was white and/or black Russians and sloe gin fizzes that were my choice at the time. One night I drank 15 black Russians…it’s amazing that didn’t kill me itself! I had been dancing, so I thought I was burning it off. I was so stupid, moving actually makes you absorb it more!
Soon enough, I was better and had to go back to Colorado. My Dad put me on a bus (really?) and two days later I was there, and again I was put on light duty. My body took another two months to fully recover, and then I was back to my wild child self again. I pretty much maintained my weight after that, I decided the pudgy look was not a good one on me. I kept the weight off by dancing like a maniac and stopped drinking the sugar laden, milky beverages I had grown accustomed to. I didn’t stop drinking, however, I just switched to a less caloric choice. Rum and coke I think it was. Anyway, that’s my story and I’m lucky to have survived. Thank God I had at least one friend willing to break the rules that day (I was in isolation, remember) or I’d have surely been a goner!
Most of us have done it, at some point in our lives. Difference is, no one really wants to talk about it. It is a very private thing. Especially if the experience was…less than enjoyable. I don’t mean the fumblings of young lust in the back of a car, less enjoyable- I had something a bit darker in mind. The day I arrived at Ft Carson, Colorado for my first permanent party station in the Army, I was a mark…I just didn’t know it at the time.
What I remember about that arrival was the pure wonder of a young girl seeing the magic of the mountains for the first time, after just enjoying her first ever commercial flight on a huge Delta airplane, gliding into Colorado Springs and thinking the mountains looked soclose! I immediately fell in love with the place and could not wait to get this new chapter in my life started, even though I was a bit nervous as well. This wasn’t basic training, or AIT anymore, this was the big time. My permanent duty station, it could mean anything from a nine to five type job in a medical facility to going off to war. More than likely it meant getting stuck working in the tool cage and learning how to fix army vehicles, but I’d find that out much later.
Here is where I would be tested, on everything from how I managed the cold weather to using what I had learned in basic and AIT (for me that was kind of a basic medical school) and applying it in the field. Unfortunately, upon arrival and after checking in to my new duty station, I discovered my new company was about to ship out to California for some kind of desert training. On top of that, I was injured and got to start my first month on light duty due to the fact I was stuck in a cast from my shin to my thigh. My knees had a nasty habit of dislocating at the slightest turn and I was recovering from the latest in a long line of those occurrences. Still, my top sergeant was kind and felt sorry for me and assigned me a cush job when we got to Ft Irwin.
While in California, in fact, the whole time in the military so far, it was as though virgin was written on my forehead or something, men seemed to look at me as some sort of challenge they needed to conquer. I had so far maintained my status as a card-carrying virgin, although it had not been easy. I had experienced many close calls, always hearing my Dad’s voice in the back of my head that I should not give myself away until I was married, not to mention my own voice saying “Don’t do it, you’ll be seen as a slut.” Yet I was young and wild and free and the feeling of freedom was as intoxicating as heroin and I was addicted. Still, nothing had changed my status until we got back to base in Ft Carson.
I had previously been wined and dined and had gone out on many dates, treated like a lady and had been made to feel special in several different scenerios…what ended up happening was nothing like that. The asshole that finally slew the dragon was evidently known around the base as a player that somehow knew you were a virgin and made it his mission to change that. I never saw it coming, never had a chance. How he lured me in must have been that he appealed to me on some kind of bad boy level, I really don’t remember. Somehow, he coerced me into his barracks, into his room and then ultimately into his bed. He was such a dick, I didn’t even like him but there was just something, almost as if he was shaming me into it, making me feel like a coward if I didn’t. I don’t know how else to describe it, and then quickly, painfully and with no real softness or feeling…it was over. He had got what he came for and I was dismissed. I felt dirty and humiliated. An afterthought…never to be seen by him again.
Oh wait, before that, I made him take me to my friend’s place in Fountain. He dropped me off and then he was gone. I remember to this day the song that was playing on the radio…”goodbye stranger, it’s been nice. Hope you find your, paradise. ” A song by Supertramp, and I remember thinking that my life was changed forever. Little did I know how true that was, a few weeks later I discovered I was pregnant, just my luck. First rattle out of the box and I have to be a fertile Myrtle. I won’t go into details about what happened after that, suffice it t say, it was the worst experience of my life-something I regret doing to this day. I got through it with the help and support of my friends and life went on.
I wish I had had a better first-time story, but that is the way of life. Not everyone gets the sunshine and roses, blissful, “it was so wonderful” first-time experience I guess, I like to think it taught me a valuable lesson. Not all people are good. I had to stop viewing the world through rose-colored glasses and get tough. For a while after that, I saw no one for fear it would happen again, and just because I saw myself as damaged somehow. It didn’t last long though, I liked the boys way too much. That time in my life was my short period of freedom, away from my parents, free to make my own choices, good and bad, and eventually, I got back in the saddle. Colorado was too beautiful to waste my time crying over some arrogant ass, I was off to find my next adventure and explore everything with new and curious eyes, even if those eyes were now wide open.
I have had many pets growing up and this trend has continued into my married life, cats, dogs, a bird at one time (poor thing) fish, and even a hamster (or was it a guinea pig?), the point is, I have loved them all. Each one probably has a special story attached to it but I can only relate what I can remember.
The earliest pet I can truly remember was my cat Mac. He was black as the night and he slept with me most nights in my bed. He had quite the rough life and I used to say, he really did have nine lives, I think he earned most all of them. Until the day I was away in the military, his hearing had gone, he didn’t hear the car as Mom was backing up. When I came home to visit and heard the news, I was devastated. I had had Mac for some 14 years. So that makes him my longest pet relationship to date.
The next memorable pet in the roundup was our dog Flip, he was a three legged mixed breed and that dog had the best spirit and personality of any dog we had while I was growing up. He was also black, with a few brown markings, kind of like a rottweiler- he was a mix of one of those and whatever our dog Puddin was, I can’t remember. He never seemed disabled, he ran the fences in that back yard like any other dog, the heartbreaker was when he broke one of the three, the doctor splinted one leg and Flip just kept on going! I remember when my brother and I decided we were going to run away, Flip and the other two dogs we had at the time, followed us out the back gate as we escaped on our bicycles. We made it to Grapevine Highway before the cops stopped us because the dogs were impeding the traffic. It’s funny now…certainly was not funny back then.
After my husband and I had been married a while, he surprised me with a parakeet. I loved that little bird, but we lived in an apartment, space was limited and his singing irritated my husband. Plus he was kind of messy as birds are known to be. I don’t even remember if I gave him a name, but I took care of him, kept his cage clean and bought him a mirror to preen into, and one of those seed cone things for hime to snack on. He was a blue parakeet, so pretty, and his chirping never bothered me. He had a heart attack one day, I assume it was from my husband shooting his cage with rubber bands in an effort to quiet his singing. Poor thing had probably become so nervous anticipating the next one coming…or it was too cold in the apartment, I didn’t know much about bird care back then.
After my first son was born we got a chow dog named Milo, he was also black, sweetest dog ever and yet, a fierce protector. You wanted to be very loving to each other or whomever he deemed the instigator, he would nip. I remember once when the boys were teens, they used to fight with each other constantly. One day the were fighting in the hallway and Josh went to kick Christopher and Milo nipped him in the groin! That stopped that particular fight, but there were more…trust me. What is strange is, when Josh was a baby, Milo was so gentle with him, he let him ride him like a horse! I guess he just knew the situation called for action that day, before someone got hurt. Poor Milo was given orders to be killed after he accidentally killed a neighborhood dog that charged him. To stay his execution, we found him a job as a guard dog at a local business. I don’t know how long he lived after that but I know he cheated death that day.
I’m pretty sure it was after Milo was gone that Joshua brought home the ugliest gray kitty. Poor thing was full of fleas I must have given him three baths, his ears were huge on his head, his eyes look like he was scared to death all the time. We decided to go ahead and keep him and he blossomed into the most beautiful cat you ever saw. His gray fur turned a silky silver and he would not be petted unless he wanted to be. I named him Harley because my husband had just got a motorcycle so I decided I got to name the cat. Harley also went through most of his nine lives but that only happened once he started getting out and fighting with neighborhood cats. One day there was a fight he didn’t win, he was in such bad shape we had to take into the vet, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done having to put him down. It made me feel like a murderer, yet I knew he would never be the same had he had the surgery. Not to mention we were young, and could not afford the thousands of dollars that was going to cost to try to save him. Even my best friend who hates cats loved Harley. He was a very special cat. I don’t know why house cats decide at some point in their lives they want to start going outside, in my experience with cats that’s when they’re about to die. It’s, it’s as if they want to experience the wild one more time before they go. I’ve had it happen like three times in my life.
I can’t truly say whether I’m more of a cat person or a dog person, I think I’ve loved them equally.
My husband, having been a Marine, always wanted a bull dog. So the year that Dale Earnhardt died is when we got Butch. I remember because when we went to the airport to pick him up we came home to watch the race, and as I lay there holding baby Butch on my lap we saw the race that killed Dale. You talk about special dog, although he was David’s, he was my shadow, my protector and I loved him just as much as David did. He used to lay there and let me file and paint his nails, he was great with the kids, he partied with us on the patio (that dog loved his beer) he and Sarah, Christopher’s dog, once got so plowed they passed out under the table while we partied till four in the morning. He was a tough dog, I think he could eat bricks and hardly ever experienced any stomach issues. Not that he didn’t have issues, he was an expensive dog to keep up-skin problems, ear problems, but everybody loved him, especially our friend Jack. Every time Jack would come over Butch would get so excited he would tackle him before he could ever get to a chair to sit down, then he would smother him in kisses and snuffle and drool all over him. Jack didn’t care, he loved him to the moon and back. I don’t think he ever forgave us for moving to the coast and taking Butch away. He never came to visit, I think that’s pretty telling. We loved Butch so much that when he passed away, Dave had him cremated. I was not there because I was with my Mom at the time, caring for her before she passed away. when I went home, they were both gone.
That was a hard year. After a few months, David took me to go get a new pet, that being our sweet shorky Whiskey. She is attached to me at the hip, David loves her so much, he treats her like a granddaughter, yet she wants to lay by me constantly. When we had her about six months, he decided she needed a playmate, and we went in search of another Shorky. That’s when we got Brandy, and they fill our lives with so much joy. We spoil them, dress them up, make them homemade treats, feed them off our plates, and everything we know we’re not supposed to do. I won’t let them get fat, but we do spoil them like grandkids. Whiskey is not a good traveler but Brandy loves to go, go, go. Whether it’s for a walk or ride, you just pick up the leash and she knows. They have their own unique personalities, yet most of their actions they look like twins. They’re not even related. We love them and we expect to be with them for the next 13 years, if taken care of properly, they are supposed to live that long. My hope is that they’re still with us when we decide to make our last move, whenever that may be.
Once upon a time, in a state called Mississippi, there lived a little girl with long, beautiful hair. Her grandad loved her hair, but since he did not have to brush it and take care of it, the girl’s mother decided it would be better if she cut it short. In a pixie. She looked like a little boy then, and the grandfather was very sad. Mother didn’t care though, it was so much easier for her to care for.
Thus began the up and down history of my hair, I would grow it out, it would thin and become limp, I would perm it and/or color it in an attempt to get thick, lustrous hair again, with some body…only to tire of having to curl and fix it every day, so I would cut it short. As the years went by, and I had children and experimented with drugs and alcohol, my hair suffered the consequences. It got thinner and had less and less body. Then again, my mother and grandmother both began with long thick hair and died with thin or barely existent hair. so, maybe it’s inherited-I’m not sure. I’ve tried thickening shampoos, medicated shampoos, essential oils and vitamins. Right now I’m on added Biotin, it seems to be helping somewhat.
I do have to admit, while I like the look of long hair, having it short is sooooo much easier to take care of. There are days when I feel like washing it, adding some mousse and running out the door, but I just can’t do it. I feel naked if it isn’t fixed somewhat, like putting on a little make-up…I like to be at least presentable when leaving the house. 🙂 I have even considered wigs, scarves and hats, maybe it will come to that one day, but by then, hopefully I will be living by the beach and everyone knows you don’t care what your hair does there!
When you are four foot nine and have the body of a child, it makes it difficult to find clothes that fit without needing to alter them in some way. That was my story until the day I discovered New York & Company, the only place I could buy jeans off the rack and not need to hem them up.
I remember being stationed in Korea and thinking I was in Heaven because I had a tailor, someone who could make clothes to fit me specifically for a very cheap price. It became harder when I got pregnant, and I wish I would have kept the clothes they had made for me, just for the sake of having them to show my kids or something. No, my mother thought it best to get rid of them, she didn’t think I needed a reminder of the tents I was having to wear, nor did she think I would ever need them again. I remember the girls there used to follow me around like the Pied Piper asking me all kinds of questions about who my daddy was, why was my name Kim, oh I was so pretty and little, they were going to make beautiful clothes for me…I had been waiting to have a special crocheted bikini, that I designed, made for me when my tailor found out I was pregnant. She was not the only one who was crushed by the revelation.
As time went by, I gained and lost weight many times, and then I got really small-right before I met and married my husband I was at my lowest weight and could wear little boys clothes from Kmart. I weighed eighty seven pounds. I’m not too far over that right now, but the shape of my body is different. Anyway, he used to take me to the mall, trying to find clothes that didn’t fall off of me, usually without success. I remembered that my mom used to take me to Lerner’s when I was a kid for my school clothes, now it is called New York & Company. I was alone the day I went there and tried on a pair of jeans right off the shelf. Oh happy day! They fit like a glove and with my boots on, they needed no hemming. I went straight to the counter and got a store credit card, I had found my mecca.
Through the years of having babies, yo-yo dieting and everything else, I have gained and lost weight so many times, I have the range of sizes of jeans from zero to eight in my closet. I refused to get any bigger than an eight and now I am back down to a zero to two (according to their size chart anyway) and actually have many pairs sitting in a closet, just in case. I tried to sell them once because they cost a lot of money, but I didn’t try the right venue. I need to put them on the newest app called five miles, that one really gets results. Finding that clothing store was a godsend, regardless, and I still buy from there to this day. Strange thing is, the only thing that fits me that well from the store are the jeans, I try on a dress and it hangs off of me. Blouses fit ok, as long as I get extra small, and even then they are too big sometimes, depending on the style. The only reason David let me have a credit card there was because then he wouldn’t have to listen to me whining about not being able to find clothes that fit me.
Still, I don’t use it all that much, credit being what it is, but because I am a gold card holder, I get all the perks and coupons and money off specials, so I continue to be a loyal customer. Soon, I will be too small to wear their clothes because they changed the sizes and what used to be a zero is more like a two etc. I know this because when I shop for a two or a zero at other stores, they do not fit me the same way. It is alright though, I continue to find clothes that fit and besides, they have increased their inventory to include jewelry, scarves, shoes and belts, so besides regular clothing items, there is always something I can find there. I save this store for special occasions and buy my everyday clothes at thrift stores (because I am frugal and proud of it), I bring them home and wash them and wear them and it doesn’t bother me at all. That’s what happens when you have champagne taste on a beer budget after all. New York is getting all fancy now with their Eva Mendez collection, the prices have gotten so high, the only time I would ever go shopping is when there is a sale. Still, I love to walk through the store from time to time, fingering the fabrics and marveling at all the beautiful colors, they really have stunning clothes, especially for ladies that dress up for work.
I remember when I was a kid, my mom would send me to Lerner’s with a hundred dollars to purchase my school clothes, and I was so frugal, I would come back with a complete wardrobe. You can’t do that anymore!
What seems like a hundred years ago, even though it’s more like twenty, I used to work as a phlebotomist in a satellite lab. It was there, while I was supposed to be doing my job, that I stumbled on how to make my own jewelry from a catalogue of work-at-home projects I’d purchased in the mail.
Actually, I started practicing my new craft at home with the directions provided by the company, it was just that I had so much down time while working the satellite by myself, I used to literally lay out all the supplies, tools and directions, toiling away for hours at a time, teaching myself how to weave string and beads into beautiful, fringe style earrings and other pieces of jewelry. Back then my eyes were sharp and my fingers nimble, not to mention I had a lot more patience than I do these days. These were seed beads I was working with at the time, tiny little things, some of them no bigger than the head of a pin.
I would lay everything out on the empty counter and work, and when a patient came in to have their blood drawn, I’d get up and go do it. That’s how slow business was back in the day and I took advantage since I got all my work done, processed and sent out in a timely manner. My supervisor didn’t mind, as long as I got my work done efficiently. I wish I could remember the name of the company that I made those first pieces for, unfortunately, it was a scam but at least, I learned a new craft and began to make and try to sell them myself. This lead to more how-to manuals and magazines and I had the bug. I couldn’t pass Michael’s or Hobby Lobby or any craft show that sold beads for that matter, without buying more. I have enough beads, buttons and tools to open my own small store, yet now I rarely have the time for making jewelry anymore.
I took the knowledge that the experience of that first company gave me and honed my craft, perfecting it over twenty years but never really getting the marketing of it down pat. Oh, I tried to sell a few pieces here and there, I placed it in craft shows and antique stores where you rent a little booth, yet no one else wanted to pay what they were worth to me. By then, there was way too much competition from the many discount jewelry stores, and honestly, my work was better than some artists but not as polished as many. I made earrings, and bracelets, rings and necklaces-I still have many of my finished pieces today. None were as special as those first ones I taught myself how to make, when I discovered I actually had a knack for stringing and weaving beads into something beautiful.
Had I really believed in myself, I might have been better at marketing, but I told myself it would take the fun out of it if I had to mass produce my stock. I gave most of my jewelry away as gifts and kept some for myself, I can still make it when I want to give someone a heartfelt gift. It turns out I was doing it more for the love of the craft than something to make a profit on. Maybe I learned something more valuable than how to make jewelry that year. I learned how precious it is to be able to make something beautiful with your own two hands, how you share that gift is up to you.
Since I served in military, one would think I would’ve gotten a tattoo back then. Although I accompanied my friend Teresa when she got her tattoo, I chickened out. No, I had to go and wait until I was in my 40s, my sidekicks being a couple of burly firefighters who’s combined work took eight hours to do, leaving me a measley hour to get mine done! By then, the tattoo artist affectionately known as a Boog, was tired, cranky, and in a hurry to get me finished.
When we lived in North Richland Hills the first time, we live next-door to a couple who became our best friends, Dave and Michelle. Dave was a firefighter for Irving, and he already sported several tattoos. One night while over there playing games, David I got into a conversation about my desire to get a tattoo. He then told me about a upcoming convention in Dallas where he and his buddy wanted to get new tattoos. After glancing sideways at my husband for his reaction, I then told Dave I’d love to go with them as this might be my only chance to get one. My husband thought I was crazy, having been all over the world and never getting one himself, even though he was a marine in the service, but he didn’t deny me the opportunity. “It’s your choice'” he said, so Dave and I started making plans.
Now this convention was open to the public, so you can imagine the sights I saw there! A couple of weeks before going though, Dave had a artist friend of his draw up my tattoo, which was my zodiac sign– Pisces–but with an artistic flair. I had him draw actual fish one above the other, swimming in opposite directions, and the artist put water underneath which was a nice touch. In our drawing, the tattoo had many colors. Due to the fact that Boog was so tired however, he elected to only use blue-and-white. In the photo you can see one of the dolphins peeking out from my bathing suit. This is because the tattoo is too large for one thing, and not as low as I wanted it, number two.
When the day finally came for us to go get our tattoos, I was excited, nervous, and thought I completely lost my mind. Maybe my husband was right, why did I wait so late in life to do this? No, I wasn’t going to chicken out this time. I had tattoo fever! So, with drawing in hand, Dave, myself and his friend Miles, piled in the truck and headed to Dallas. We arrived an hour later to a sea of people of all ages, parading up and down the aisles, watching people getting tattoos and receiving them. My anxiety grew as I looked into the faces of people sporting piercings in every spot you can think of. I saw people so full of tattoos there was barely any blank skin left. What am I doing here?! This is crazy! The guys tried to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. I’d worn a bathing suit under my clothes, knowing where I wanted my tattoo placement. These people weren’t shy however, I saw more skin that day than a beach in Bali. (not that I’ve ever been)
After waiting a grueling four hours apiece four Dave and Miles to get their tattoos, it was finally my turn. Boog studied my drawing, made some adjustments–like taking photocopies and shrinking it down a couple of sizes, and after seeing he wasn’t in the mood to mess with it much more, I reluctantly agreed, I was ready. He laid me down onto two chairs facing each other, I lowered my britches, and with that parade of people walking by, staring down at me as I was about to receive the worst pain of my life, he began the outline. Oh my god! As the first needles pierced my skin, the sensation was like hot pokers being pressed into my flesh. As I gritted my teeth and took it, David peered down at me and asked, “You okay Kimmy?” I answered back through gritted teeth that yes I was let’s just get this over with. After a few minutes I got used to the pain and then it was time to color it in. I just thought the outline had been painful! I guess there’s more needles involved with the coloring in process, and when he approached my hip bone, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. But I wasn’t going to stop now!
I kind of felt short changed when 30 minutes later I was done. I was also disappointed that he’d only used two colors, but I was so happy with my new artwork, I let it go. After getting a bandage, and instructions on how to care for my new tattoo, I pulled up my pants and we were off. The guys were tired as well, and I was excited to show my husband Boog’s handiwork. I was now a tattooed lady! I worried about what my parents and brother would think, yet this was my body and I thought it was tasteful, since it was in a place no one would see, unless I was in my bathing suit. I didn’t tell my dad for quite a while, instead he saw it one day when I was at the pool. He never said a negative word about it. When I arrived at home after receiving my tattoo however, I was bummed out at my husbands reaction. After removing the bandage he viewed it and said, “Wow baby that’s big!” I replied, “I know, Boog was tired and had already shrunk the design down several times-I finally agreed on the size because we were all just ready for me to get done.”
Over the years we’ve both gotten used to it, but in the beginning every time I took a bath or shower, I’d gaze down at it, not believing it was there forever, yet loving it just the same. Unfortunately, the fact that Boog was in a hurry, the outline bled dye into my skin, making the edges look blurry. My son has a friend who could touch it up, but I keep putting it off, every time I remember that pain. They say when you get one tattoo, you want to keep going–not me, although I’ve fantasized about a couple more, I’ve never really thought of anything important enough or meaningful enough to go through that torture again. On second thought, after recently reviewing the design, I realized the design is flawed. Should I care this late in life that one of the dolphins is swimming upside down? Good grief! Evidently, no one else noticed including myself that I’ve been sporting an incorrect depiction of my zodiac sign! Maybe they didn’t want to hurt my feelings, maybe they thought that’s how I wanted it to be. I feel like such a fool, I might have designed it wrong myself…I don’t have the actual drawing anymore, yet now I’m inspired to go get it corrected– maybe even removed and redone completely! I just don’t know, as I consider the big picture, is it really that important that an out of shape, middle-aged grandma really need to have a perfect depiction of her zodiac sign for the rest of her life? Now there’s some food for thought!
Then again, it doesn’t look too bad considering I’m an about to be 56 year old grandma who still sports two piece bathing suits. I can always tell anyone who cared to question the design that I meant for it to be whimsical… That should buy me a few more years. 😉
Before I start my essay, let me tell you about my luck; I made a list of essay topics at the beginning of the year, before starting my editorial calendar, how lucky was I that today’s essay just so happened to be this one?! Ok, so I had to switch one place in the list to make it happen-I won’t tell if you don’t 😉
Thirty one years and a few months ago, I gazed across the room where my friend Lisa and I were settling in for a night of drinking and dancing at a local night club called Manhattan’s. My eyes landed on a fellow that made my heart nearly leap out of my chest. Now in all fairness, and because I know he will probably read this later, I have to admit that the initial reason for my reaction was because I thought he was someone else. Someone from my past that I definitely did not want to see, but as his eyes locked on mine, I knew this wasn’t the case. Still, my curiosity was peaked and I longed to know more. He was tall, blond and handsome, with crystal blue eyes that were riveted to mine, sexy in a cowboy kind of way and I just knew I wanted to know him.
I had Lisa glance in his direction and she thought he was handsome indeed and let me know in a hurry that I should get his attention so he’d ask me to dance. He was with his friend, also a David, and after a few moments of us staring holes in each other, the gents finally made their way to our table. I can honestly admit that I have no idea what happened to Lisa and her David after that, my complete attention was focused on the man standing in front of me, who at that moment was asking me to join him on the dance floor.
It’s so funny that we met at this particular place, or was it fate? Neither of us had ever been there, nor would we have gone on a regular basis, both of us had only gone with our friends because they begged us to. David didn’t frequent that establishment because they did not have foosball tables, something he was very into at the time. My preference for nightclubs usually featured hard rock music and an ambiance that this place did not, I normally would never have known it even existed. In fact, it was known for being a “meat market” which was unbeknownst to me at the time. Not that I would have understood that term anyway, I was still naive, not innocent mind you, but naive about things like that and still thought I was an invincable young lady.
As we began to move on the dance floor, I noticed he wasn’t a great dancer, but that was not the attraction for me anyway. Besides, he was used to country and western and we happened to be dancing to Hall and Oates or something on that first dance. Later I remember dancing to the Righteous Brothers- You’ve Lost That Lovin Feeling, which became “our” song, regardless of the meaning. That must have been when the love took hold. We were deep in conversation, learning some facts about each other, when he asked if I wanted to have his number which was on his business card located in his truck. I followed him outside to the parking lot and it was there that our fate was sealed. No, get your minds out of the gutter, I just wanted him to see my car, I was so proud of it. It was my favorite colors at the time, black and red, sporty of course, (but no Camaro) and it was there leaning against it that he asked me the question that would change my life forever, after first picking me up and holding me tight. I’m really short and small, guys just had a habit of picking me up, so I was used to it. And yes, I was a flirt, so I didn’t mind at all.
“Are you done messing around” he asked me,and at first I wasn’t sure what he meant, yet as I looked into his eyes, it became clear what he meant to convey, and I answered “yes” and from that night on, we were never apart. He saved me that night, saved me from a life like I’d had, always picking the wrong type of guy, men who used me for one thing or another. I used to get so mad at my mother because she could spot em a mile away. Those kind of guys. It would take me months for the truth to sink in, by that time I’d have been hurt again. David was different. He’d been through his own battles and had the scars to prove it. I wanted that to end for him as well, so we made a pact that night to be done messing around and playing games, this was serious. I could just feel that he wanted to love and protect me and I wanted to know everything about him, he made me feel safe and comfortable and we had an instant connection. He asked me to marry him some three months later, a whirlwind romance some might say, but we knew even then, it would be for life.
That bond has carried us through and for all of these years we have been the best of friends, lovers, parents, caregivers to one another and we know we will grow old together, my footprints will be next to his in the sand of whatever beach our journey leads us to and we will love each other til the end of our days.
This day and age, it is not unheard of for someone to have a baby out of wedlock, for me however, 34 years ago it still had the stigma attached. When I had Sean, my firstborn, I was still in the Army, unmarried, alone, scared and unsure of how my parents would react. The letter I wrote to my mother was tear-stained and heartfelt, the hardest thing I had ever written in my life-due to the time it took for letters to go back and forth, I had to wait an agonizing amount of time before I got her answer back. That answer surprised and relieved me, for she agreed to help me and from then on, my only fight was with the military as I had to convince them Korea was not the place I was willing to have my child.
When I left to join the military, my Dad and I had talked abouut what it was like to be a woman in the service, I felt I let him down by going a bit wild and was ashamed of the fact that not only did I not have a partner to help me raise my son, I simply did not know who the father was. It was a crazy and confusing time when I was in Korea, there was way too much partying and alcohol kills the brain cells you know. Anyway, I can’t blame anyone but myself, sleeping around was not seen as cool or hip, and I was afraid my parents would only see me as a promiscuous whore and want nothing to do with me. My mother, being a mother, convinced me, however, that everything would be alright and she was going to help me. She did not lecture or judge me, and told me not to do anything rash, just talk to my Top and get home.
That was easier said than done, but after going through many channels, talking to my “boss” who was my Top Sergeant (also a pediatrician!) who tried to convince me to have an abortion, all the way to the Army legal personnel, or JAG as they were known-who said “Woman, doesn’t he know you’re about to have a baby?” They were the people finally responsible for getting me on a plane out of there, just in the nick of time. I had to wait until a C31 was ready, he did not want me flying on the less-than-safe C4 plane. That meant a short layover on Osan, where I frantically waited to transfer to the safe flight home. I was over the limit considered safe to fly, which was 7 months by that time, by 10 days. When I arrived at the airport in Dallas, I was still so small, my Mom said, “I thought you were pregnant!” I was not even showing yet.
In Korea, black marketing items was rampant, so there was not a lot for me to eat. What I did eat, I usually found off base somewhere, and I was trying to eat healthy for the baby. When I got home, however, my parents set out to make sure I got lots of comfort food, and by the time Sean came, I had gained around 20 pounds. That still did not make me look very big, the doctor had a hard time finding him on the sonograms prior to me giving birth and when the time came, I spent 22 hours in labor before they declared it an emergency for me to undergo a c-section. Turns out my pelvic bones never spread and they said it would kill me or the baby to try to have them naturally, therefore all my babies would have to be delivered that way.
Just to be clear on one point, before I left Korea, I did talk to two of my closest guy friends, potential baby daddies you might say these days, and tearfully told them of my dilemma. Both of them were stand up guys and offered to help, even to marry me, but I just could not bring myself to ruin someone’s life, not knowing for certain if either man was the father. One of the guys actually stayed in touch with me for a few years after I got out, even after knowing there was no way he was the father, I was always thankful he was my true friend. Eventually the letters and visits stopped coming, that happens when you get married and start raising a family. The other guy I talked to was someone I had a mainly sexual relationship with, I saw him three or four times and did not know him very well at all. I could never remember his last name once I got back home, so Sean nor I have any way of locating him, and he may not be the father anyway. What a mess I made with our lives.
Unfortunately, my mother compounded that mess, insisting I carry on with the rest of my tour, saying she would keep him until I got out. Her way of “helping” me. What I could never know at the time, was that Sean filled some void in her life, she needed someone to love and take care of, and had no intention of giving him back to me to raise. Sometime later, unbeknownst to me, she adopted him and I did not know it had been done-she even got me to sign the paperwork, telling a naive me that it was something for insurance purposes and took me to get it made legal. After that, there were other excuses every time I asked if it was time for me to take him, you need to finish school, etc. until finally, when Dave and I got married, she threatened me that if we tried to take him, she would not attend the wedding. That did it for me, and I decided that he was better off with her, having been with her four four years by that time, and we would not disrupt everything he knew, or ruin our relationship, such as it was, only now, I wonder if we should have.
He is 34 now about to turn 35, still confused and having a difficult time in life but has a job and lives with my dad, a good arrangement for the both of them. I have told him the honest truth, many times, yet I have no idea what my mother told him in his developing years that may have influenced his thinking and view of me. When he was a toddler, he used to call me Mama Kid and my mother was Mama to him. To him, I looked like a kid that was playing his mama, that’s how he saw me. Due to my short stature and easy going personality, I can see why he would think of me that way. At least we lived close by and once Dave and I started our family, the boys could play together from time to time, although it was always stressful. My mother was very lenient with him and we were pretty strict with our boys, Dave and I spent a lot of the time biting our tongues. He knows now that he was a spoiled child and that is the reason he has a hard time understanding why everything can’t go his way in real life. Some day he will grow up and learn to live on his own, that is my hope anyway. I have tried to get him to seek counseling, talk to a professional about why he seems unequipped to deal with life like everyone else does, yet he is stubborn and wants to figure it out for himself.
He has a lot of issues, and for that I blame not only my mother but myself. Back in the day I was a wild child and who knows what his father might have also been doing at the time. We have no way of knowing what the contributing factors may have been, developmentally. He seemed normal as a baby, passed all of the tests they give them in the hospital, and I breathed a sigh of relief about that. The other thing I have somehow failed to mention is that he may be part black. We never really addressed that issue or had him tested in any way, we went on about our business like he was a white child and raised him as such. He has ethnic hair and a darker skin tone, more olive really than anything, he is a gifted musician and highly intelligent thinker. He and his brothers actually make jokes about the things that make him different, yet he never pushed the issue or looked into learning about African American culture, he just is what he is and deals with it. Other than buying certain products for his hair care, he acts no different than his brothers and they treat him as such. (other than teasing him about being a spoiled only child) since that was how he was raised. I figure if he really cared, he would have found a way to be tested, maybe some day he will, but at this point, does it really matter? He has enough other issues to deal with, demons to conquer and lessons to learn, I really don’t think the color of his skin should become an issue at this point in his life. What he really needs to address is why he feels the need to self medicate and what is at the root of that.
He may walk to the beat of his own drum, but he is my son and I love him, even if our relationship is still a work in progress. We sign off every conversation with our trademark “Love you, bye” something he started years ago when he lived in Austin. I hope that someday we can mend the broken parts of our relationship and grow a stronger bond. Now that he is a grown man, trying to find his own way in this world, I don’t know how long that will take, but we’re working on it.