Friday, March 30, 2012

State of the Union #3: The Dress & The Body

Thanks to Morgan over at the818.com, I now have a motherload binder full of information, etiquette advice, and fill-in-the blank spreadsheets for our wedding. She gave me The Ultimate Wedding Planner and Organizer with the precept, "I know this is kinda dorky, but it really helped me out."  And so far, it has been hugely informative. Now, I know it really is each unto their own, but it helps to have a template when as my Dad puts it, "This is your first rodeo." It has a countdown and under the heading Nine Months or Earlier, the item Select and order your bridal gown and headpiece has a nice fat empty unchecked box. Mind you I am seven months away, but I have a friend that is two months away and she still doesn't have one, so I guess it is all about perspective. So, I have been perusing the usual suspects: J Crew Bridal, Ann Taylor Bridal, Nordstrom, Anthropologie's bridal line BHLDN, and my favorite designer Nicole Miller. I have only been to two places so far, (J Crew and Nicole Miller) but I am running into a problem - myself.

Now, I'm pretty sure the dress that is "the one" is the second one I tried on at Nicole Miller (although the 6th one is tearing me in two, especially if I paired it with this pearl birdcage veil from J Crew), but the fact is I'm slightly unhappy in every dress I try on because I have put on the East Coast Winter Ten. Every year this happens. I get into shape and do great during the summer and even the fall where I go for runs in Prospect Park and admire the fall foliage...but when that first chill in the air comes, you can be damn sure my California ass will not be running outside for the next couple months. Not gonna do it, no ma'am, I got nothing to prove! I try to keep up a routine by switching to the gym and then the inevitable happens, I get sick. No, MTA commuter can avoid it. You ride the New York City subway (which is already stuck in the Medieval Ages) during flu season, and you will get caught. I get sick, I fall out of my routine, the time changes back and suddenly I go weeks with rushing from the subway to my apartment and my apartment to the subway as fast as I can without ever suffering the seven extra minutes to make it to the gym. There are no morning runs or idyllic "after-work" runs. There is only me fleeing the miserable cold that I cannot get used to. Before I know it, I lose all shape and earnestly put on the kind of weight that only really reveals itself when someone else shows me a picture of myself or when that nasty bitch, Spring, rears her head. Wait...what? You're asking me to shed my sweater and heavy coat and stretch jeans and boots and now I'm supposed to wear WHAT?!   Shopping for a wedding dress now is sheer torture.  I do not like the bridal attendant to have difficulty zipping me up in the sample size. I want her to use those clamps damnit! I want to have to be pinned into that fucker, but instead, I'm barely making the cut.

And before you judge me too harshly, yes, I'm aware that ten pounds is really not that much. I was recently put into check by a co-worker who quoted Mo'Nique when referring to me as "skinny white bitches." But it's all about how you carry weight, and for me, it lands in all the wrong places: belly, chin, and ass. And while ten pounds doesn't necessarily show when you're wearing a hoodie for three months, it most definitely shows when you try to tie yourself into that clever bathing suit you bought last summer when you thought, Let's go with the tie strings so I won't have a muffin top on the beach. Those ten pounds begin to spill out just a touch over your jeans which are now beyond broken into, having stretched that waistline an inch or two wider but you still keep the label that reads 29. Or like today, when I realized my boobs, which are also now a bit fuller, pick my shirt up just enough so that my belly can peek through that space between a shirt that is now too short/small for me and a low-rider jean sag that is no longer flattering. (I may be 30 but I cannot pack away my low-rider stretch jeans, even if I am always pulling them up to hide my ass crack and my decade old tramp stamp. I know my Aunt Rose wants to wag her finger at me. Don't worry, Rose. I can feel it from here! One day, I will pack them up!) But the other point is, I am a long time subscriber to body dysmorphic disorder ,which I was "diagnosed" with when I was eleven. Back then, I was really skinny so it made sense to call it crazy! It was before puberty. But then puberty came and so did the wide hips and the ass and the boobs. I became a curvy woman. In essence, I did become what I thought I always was, but wasn't, but then became. You follow? I don't know how much is "dysmorphic" and how much is just the damn truth at this point. And sometimes I try to embrace my curves and I've always been happy to have a chest. But sometimes when I look in the mirror I look past the womanly curves and only see what I am missing- a flat stomach, a smaller ass, shapelier arms. And seeing myself in these wedding dresses seems to accentuate all of these curves and "bumps." My hips have never looked wider than they do with four layers of chiffon draped over them or six layers of tulle! And I keep trying to go for more A-line, sheath like dresses, only to become obsessed with my very high and almost non-existent waist accentuated by the well-earned tire around my tummy. Even I would ask me if I was pregnant. 

My ideas about my body, and the image I have of myself and "the ideal me" are turning wedding dress shopping into something that makes my stomach drop, not my jaw. I don't feel magical. I feel chubby. I don't feel like a princess. I feel silly. And I don't feel "romantic" or "like a bride." I feel regret for having that cheeseburger and fries two weeks ago. But don't worry, family! I am not depressed. I am happy not-dieting and I earned these pounds, believe you me. I know I will get back in shape, (even though I have zero motivation right now), but part of me is just disappointed that I am letting myself and my crazy obsession with body image ruin this experience for me. I wish I could get out of my own head for one day and take this body around shopping for the prettiest wedding dress she deserves. If I could do that, maybe then I might be able to see what is really in the mirror...but I guess a blog post is a start, right?  


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tramp Stamp Thursdays: The Whimsical I'm -Over-Faeries-But-Still-Believe-in-Fairytales Tattoo

Morgan, San Fernando Valley, CA
Tramp Stamp
A seahorse/flower/weed/ squiggly thingamajig....alright, how about a whimsical illustration stolen from her favorite childhood book, The Ordinary Princess. That's solid, right? The story is about a princess who is cursed with being ordinary, unlike her six beautiful sisters. The ordinary princess is brunette and freckled. (Editor's note: Morgan is fair skinned and a natural blond) When she finds out her parents' plan to have her rescued from a dragon by a prince she will then have to marry, she runs away into the woods where she prefers adventures, anyway. She then gets a job as a maid and falls in love with another house servant who reveals he is also an "ordinary" prince.The two marry and live happily ever after. (Editor's note, Morgan's husband is also fair skinned and blond. They are the most beautiful couple I've ever known.)


Time of Tramp Stamp 
I'm going to go with, 21, right after we graduated college and yes...this was right about the time people were already getting shit for "lower back tattoos."

Place of Tramp Stamp
None else that her beloved Valley! Home of the pornography industry, with more sun tanning salons and pools per square foot than perhaps anywhere else on the planet, where you can always get a good taco or at least a good TV star sighting, not to mention home to some of the finest people I have ever known, it's my home and Morgan's home - the 818, baby!

Tattoo Meaning
Beauty comes from within!...(Even though I kind of look like Tippi Hedren from Hitchcock's The Birds. I totally am down with "ordinary." ) 

Bio
Morgan is now married to her first and only love and the proud mama of a beautiful girl. (See! Fairy tales can come true! Thanks, Tramp Stamp!) She blogs over at the818.com is a curator for Cargoh, is the entertainment editor for BlogHer AND she is a screenwriter knee deep in the Hollywood trenches.  She is pretty amazing at damn near everything she tries. She is also the owner of a flirty ankle tattoo that doubles as a boyfriend tattoo (Her and her man got matching star tattoos when they were oh so little.) And a reverse tramp stamp -one that goes across the belly- that I went with her to get before we considered things like pregnancy and stretch marks. She also got this same reverse tramp stamp retouched by a tattoo artist that took creative license in adding his own gothic embellishments. She vows to never show me this tattoo again.

Tattoo Goal
Here to stay! After awhile, aren't they all just illustrations of one story or another, anyway?

Moe, thanks for being this week's edition of Tramp Stamp Thursdays and for taking my light jabs at your not-so-ordinary, but totally extraordinary self! It's been a pleasure knowing you pre-tats, post-tats, and even during tats! Here's to more stretch marks for both of us in the future! Love you, girl!

If you are interested in having your tramp stamp profiled, leave a comment or tweet me @rewindrevise

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Turning a Corner

I knew I was fighting something. Saturday night, I even said to Mike, I think I'm getting sick. You know when you get that kind of chill that no amount of sweater, heater, or blanket will warm? I got that at a wedding I went to after my awesome engagement party. We even left before cake because I was "tired," which should have clued me in: I never pass on dessert. But we went back to my brother's, stayed up late trying to pack and figure out how to bring home a couple gifts only to realize we were too deliriously tired to make any smart decisions. So we went to sleep around midnight but were woken up a couple hours later when my brother got home from work. Then you know those nights/mornings when you are absolutely positive you will sleep through your alarm so your body doesn't let you go back to sleep? Yeah, so, I basically went to sleep at midnight and woke up at 2:45a.m. and that was the start of my day. A rough plane ride did not help but again I powered through and even went to meet my tutoring student. I woke up Monday with a little sore throat, but I refused to give in! Not to mention I had stupidly checked my work email the night before and learned I was expected to train a temp first thing Monday morning. I even went to the dentist Monday morning after training the temp and then back to work! I came home and took a twenty minute nap before another commitment. When I woke up, my throat was on fire. I knew this wasn't good but continued on, ending my day about 8:45p.m. No surprise that Tuesday morning I could not lift my head off the pillow. Around 8:00 a.m. I left messages for work, but then I slept until 1:15p.m.! And truth be told I could have slept longer but I forced myself to take a hot shower. The rest of the day was filled with naps and what I'm pretty sure now was a fever breaking while I talked with my upstairs neighbor.  I was determined to go back to work this morning, but when the alarm went off, I slept through it (Ha! Retribution for my 2:45 a.m. wake up call) and eventually did wake up and knew that although I felt a little better, a 30 minute subway ride would render me useless by the time I got to work. So I did something I never do - I called in sick for the second day in a row. I don't know why it is so hard for me to just listen to myself and take better care, but I think part of it is because I think I am invincible and the other part of it is that I'm concerned with what people at work may think. Like they are all secretly sitting around saying, "Yeah right. She just wanted to squeeze out two more vacation days." Which is crazy talk because I'm pretty tight with my work friends and my boss has never put any pressure like this on me. It all comes from inside me. In my world, I am judge, jury, executioner and the accused. As much as I think I don't care what people think, I am also consumed with wanting to please and do right and hold up all of my commitments and responsibilities all the time. I have a bit of the perfectionism bug. But these last couple of days have really kicked my ass and humbled me greatly. They have also let me rest and be alone which is also something I haven't done in quite awhile. They have forced me to take care of myself. To stop and listen and notice the cherry blossoms and tulips and daffodils and paper whites blooming on the street outside of my window.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Family That Plays Together


I have a cousin who I have always been in awe of. She is a few years older than me but growing up she was always at that age that was "cool." When I was six, she was twelve. When I was twelve, she was eighteen. And so on and so forth. But she never treated me like an annoying little cousin. When I was twelve, she took me horse back riding with some of her sorority sisters. When I moved away to New York (the first time) she organized a party for the other Virgos in the family but hung a banner that said, "Happy Birthday, Lindsey!" She had every member of the family pose beneath it and then she made me a scrapbook and sent it to me. She has always been thoughtful like this, creative like this, and on Saturday she did it again along with her two little girls, and her mom, my Aunt Jennifer. Together they threw Mike and I an amazingly beautiful engagement party complete with party favors tied with ribbons with our wedding date printed on them. They had platters of dolma, a food I love and just wrote about how special it is to me since it reminds me of the little piece of Armenian heritage we still have. There was a princess cake with my favorite sweet flavors- mint and chocolate. There were red velvet cupcakes and bubbles and champagne glasses for a toast. The party had all of the details I would never think of and yet was so moved by. I don't know how to thank my cousin for the thought and time and love put into this. I don't know how to thank my Aunt Jennifer who put just as much time and thought and love and money (!) into this and who greeted my mom with an enormous hug after not seeing her for almost 20 years. Or her husband, my uncle Don, who emailed me to see if I liked the invitation. I also don't know how to thank my Dad for bringing everyone together in honor of me and Mike, or his girlfriend who poured everyone a glass of champagne and added her cheerfulness and light to the party. How do I thank my Mom for having the courage to walk into a house full of family she had not seen in so long and then to give a toast? Sometimes her strength truly inspires me. And then the round of toasts by my other mothers, my Dad's sisters and the most "straight to the heart of marriage toast" given by Aunt Mama Gail whose smile I miss more and more every time I see it. Her hugs are the kind that last a long time. And my cousins with their humor and banter and true Irish gift of gab. Or my brother who gave the sweetest toast to his new brother-in-law. Or the friends who came from Rialto? Family who drove from Palos Verdes? We are talking two hour drives, people. Friends who came after a tiring day of work even for just a few minutes? How do I thank the two five year-olds who carefully placed little plastic blue diamonds on the table and made sure I always had bubbles in my hands? Or the godson who throws his arms around me and tells me not to go when I tell him I have to leave? Or the cousin-in-law who plans to "bejewel" me for my wedding when there is nothing more valuable than her laughter and support. She makes me feel like I kind of know what it's like to have a sister. Or the cousins who made sure to give Mike a welcome and a warning? And my Aunt who welcomed him to "the outlaws." Or my grandma who told me I was lucky. My fiance is sweet AND cute.  I was overwhelmed by how incredible my family was, is. For hours, my cousins' kids, ages 2- 9, (the great grand kids) threw oranges in the jacuzzi and then would erupt into laughter when they would float to the top. The kids eventually stripped down to their underwear laughing and screaming and splashing and the adults just enjoyed to see them all so happy together. Maybe it also reminded us all of how we once got to play like that with each other, too.  When someone said, what if someone falls in, Gail said, "We got a net." I know that this past weekend will go down as one of those memories I relive over and over, a perfect example of the love and laughter and triumphs we share in this crazy family of mine, this family of mine that I miss so, so much and I'm forever grateful and proud to belong to.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Before There Were Tramp Stamps...

Lindsey, Los Angeles, CA

There was the Flirty Ankle Tattoo. I'm on vacation so I'm blogging on the go! But for all you loyal tramp stamp subscribers here's a little something to hold you over.

Flirty ankle tattoo: A hand drawn Celtic trinity tattoo

Flirty ankle tattoo Meaning: Don't fuck with the Irish!.... That means me. Yeah...

Time of ankle tat: 20 years old on my last day living in Dublin studying abroad. The tattoo artist was so hungover his hands were shaking... Yeah...I still thought this was a good idea.

Bio: You are looking at it. I'm the owner of this fine quality tattoo that most often gets confused with hockey sticks. "No, I never played field hockey."

Tattoo goal: not a damn thing. I still kind of love this one.

See you next week with another tramp stamp!

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Moment of Gratitude

There are certain things that make us better. Certain people, special places, activities, even a certain kind of music can shake out that better version of you, the one that's free and open and unafraid. The one that is in this moment and this moment only. For me, there are two "things" I can say unflinchingly that bring out the best of me- being around children and being at the beach. I don't often babysit anymore but when I do, what I appreciate is that kids take me out of myself. With kids, you can't be thinking about all of the things you have to get done or the job you wish you made more money at or the paper towels you need to remember to write down on your grocery list. With kids, what matters is that moment and choosing a crayon to color the cartoon parrot can be the most important thing in the world and I love being around kids for that.  They bring me into the present moment. And while I'm sure this will change when I have children and I have to run a household and actually be responsible for another human being, but for now, being around kids reminds me to be present and be grateful. Likewise, the beach has a similar effect. I don't know if it is the meditative sounds of the waves, or the repetitive motion of watching the earth give and take away, give and take away, but when I'm at the beach, my head seems to clear. I'm not sad or happy or angry because I'm not really thinking about if I am any of those things. What I am is just there and I'm breathing and I'm there.

I get perspective at the beach. I get space which allows me to connect not only with myself but myself in relation to the world. I'm reminded that I'm just one woman, that my problems are not really problems at all, that I'm so lucky to be given this life and this time to enjoy what an amazing place this is. I don't feel afraid. I feel open. And after a two hour walk along the shore, I just feel grateful. I don't have much else to write today except that, but I think it's important to say thank you when you feel it. So to this crazy, beautiful world filled with beaches and children and friendships and sea shells and waves that give and take away, give and take away, thank you.

Friday, March 16, 2012

To the Irish





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All Those F@#$%ng Armenians!


One of the benefits from working at a progressive independent and wealthy school is that we have the luxury and feel the responsibility to have staff meetings where we discuss our diversity mission. This week we discussed Beverly Daniel Tatum's five stages of racial identity development for persons of color and the six stages for "whites" as it said on the sheet. I put "whites" in quotes because I think it's funny. I once was chastised for describing someone as "black" but I can't remember ever being referred to as Caucasian and I understand the point that I don't face oppression for the color of my "white" skin. I have only ever been seen as a white girl or even more specifically a white girl from the valley and sometimes nothing feels more "white" than to say "African American." I grew up in North Hollywood, California during the years of the LA Riots and the OJ trial and crippling earthquakes. My dad and my aunt worked in Inglewood running a JTPA program where he worked closely with the black communities of South Central, Inglewood, Compton and LA proper. My brother, my cousins and I spent many summer and winter vacations in that office helping file, staple, xerox, take lunch orders, hold epic rubber band wars in the conference rooms, sweat over math problems we were given by the tough, black remedial math tutor, Shel, who we all came to love like a second Grandpa, play soccer in the hallway with a ball of masking tape until we got caught, and generally annoy, laugh with and help the many different colored faces of my dad's very diverse office. No one ever said "African American" or "Caucasian."  There was no "Latino" or "Chicano." There was Black, White and Hispanic. Occasionally there was "Oriental" which is the only label I saw undergo a transformation into the broad umbrella term "Asian." And more recently, when visiting LA, I hear "Latino" and "Chicano." But the labels "Black" and "White" never changed in my world and I don't think they need to because there is "white America" and "black America" and I think it's important to not sugarcoat. I think it's important to not dress up the truth in "political correctness" when nothing is "correct" about race in America.

This Saved By The Bell: The College Years episode titled "Slater's War" where A.C. Slater begins to identify as Chicano, takes an audience member through Tatum's five stages of racial identity. Zac and Slater have a Tahoe ski trip planned for the weekend but Slater is drawn to come to a Chicano's studies meeting with the help of an attractive woman. At some point in the episode he no longer identifies with Zac and for the first time seems to see him as "the other," as "whiteness." The cheesiness is still there and Zac Morris's narcissism is in overdrive especially with lines like "Why did you have to pick this weekend to be a Chicano?" or an aside where he tells the audience, "I always thought he was Italian!" The episode is a far cry from riveting television but still pretty amazing that they tackled an issue not "widely discussed" in mainstream media. Afterward, we were supposed to talk with a partner about these stages and if we identified with any of them. (And yes, the exercise in itself was problematic in terms of boundaries and labels and stereotypes, but still led to fruitful discussion)

I have never been asked this before, but my partner asked me, "I have to ask...are you mixed race?" I stumbled over my words, not even really understanding what she meant. "No, yes, I don't know...I'm Armenian...and Irish, English..."  She said, "Huh, I wonder where that falls." I said I had no idea and that I'd never known but that anytime I told someone that I was Armenian, the responses were very similar: Huh, I see that. or Yeah, that makes sense or really, I didn't know that! And I always wanted to know what that meant. What does being an Armenian look like? Is it my eyes or my nose? Is it the olive skin some of my cousins have as soon as it hits June?  My partner knew I was from LA and she said, "Isn't there a large Armenian population out there?" I said, "Yup and the Armenian mafia is pretty big out there," but I also said it wasn't a population I ever identified with. "Really?" she said. And what came out of my mouth even surprised me. I admitted that the way the Armenian population was talked about in Los Angeles always seemed to be in a negative or gaudy light. They drove Beamers and Eclipses and played techno music really loud. They wore gold hoops before gold was back in and they hung out in big groups at the Glendale Galleria mall. They had lots of hair gel and overly manicured eyebrows and watches too big for them buried in a thick mass of arm hair.  They wore heavy gold crucifixes and baseball caps with the rims cupped so deeply you could barely see their already dark and "scheming" eyes. They were "shady," not to be trusted. These were the images, these were the "ideas."

I could remember when I switched schools in the middle of fifth grade there was a an Armenian kid, lets say, named Adam Kardashian, who was learning the hard way about when to start wearing deodorant. I remember a group of girls saying, "Adam smells...you know why? Because he's Armenian. Armenians are smelly." I remember thinking, I will go to my grave without telling a soul I am Armenian. Not to mention I had just suffered my own embarrassing where's that smell coming from experience. I went through junior high and high school only ever telling people I was Irish.  In high school, whenever going to the Glendale Galleria came up, there was always some joke, You mean Little Armenia? followed by a roll of the eyes. There wasn't a lot of comments, but enough to make me keep my lips sealed.

It wasn't until my freshman year of college when I began to appreciate the little bit of Armenian heritage that is left in my family. My aunt Rose asked me to help her prepare for Christmas dinner where she was hosting the families of her three brothers and her four sisters.  She taught me how to roll dolma and introduced me to the wonderful world of Lahmahjoons. She told me about some of the history of our Armenian side of the family and I started to feel not only an appreciation but also a regret that I had been ashamed of identifying with something that was undeniably part of what made me, me. My grandfather passed away when I was twelve but until this day his "Armenian temper" is that of a legends.

On a commercial shoot in LA, I once hit it off with a really charming caterer who was a proud Armenian. When I told him I was also Armenian, he gave me a big bear hug like I was part of some lost tribe. Maybe this was more because I was 22 and one of the few females on set, but he then proceeded to tell me a bunch of racist jokes towards Armenians that he took a certain rebellious pride in. The only punch line I can remember is, "Jews may screw you, but those Armenians will fuck you!" He played up the "shadiness" stereotype by poking at fun at it, never really letting on if he believed in it or not, and he used his charm and his business savvy to build himself a catering business that worked non-stop on big budget commercials. He was a self-made man, who worked all the time but valued his big family above anything, especially when they could also work for him...much like my Armenian grandfather.

My grandfather was devilishly handsome. He had big dark brown eyes, thick dark eyebrows, olive skin and jet black hair that eventually turned into an earthy salt and pepper shade. He understood people in the same way only immigrants and people who have to make a life from almost nothing understand people and life. He had a ferocious work ethic and a sense of humor that could win over any room. He worked in show business and people called him Tony (a shortened nickname of his already Americanized-no-longer-Armenian last name). They thought he was Italian and if you were called "Tony" and worked in show business, why wouldn't they? I still have an uncle who claims he is Italian, because well, why not? It makes more sense with our last name. And isn't it "cooler" to say you are Italian rather than Armenian? What is Armenian?

The older I get, the more I am reminded of my grandfather when I tell people that I'm Armenian. I have a certain pride in revealing this information about me, like an Ace I've been holding up my sleeve. And I have started to really embrace that being a little bit Armenian makes me feel a little bit special. Like I am part of a lost tribe that not many Americans know about. Two years ago, Mike and I sat at my brother's bar. He was bartending and serving up charm, chatter and a mean margarita. A couple sat down next to us, upset that they had driven from Orange County to see Toby Keith but had not arrived to the venue in time to buy tickets because of "all these fucking Armenians!" Mike smiled and put his drink down. He said, "That's interesting...my girlfriend is Armenian and the bartender who just served you your drink, that's her brother." They apologized through an awkward back tracking of what they really meant and slithered away. Last year, in a bar in New York, when an inebriated and friendly out-of-towner passing through New York learned I was from Los Angeles, he said something to the effect of, "You know what LA is full of? Armenian sluts!" He went on to talk about how hot they were but again came back to the slut factor. I let him make a fool out of himself for a little bit longer. (Mike knew I wanted to take this one) When there was a pause, I said, "That's interesting...'cause I'm Armenian...and I don't ever remember being a slut."

I still don't know what it means to be Armenian any more than I really know what it means to be white any more than I know what it means to be American other than asking these kinds of questions. I don't think racial identity development for people of color or "whites" is a linear journey nor do I think it is always progressive. All I know is that the more open I become, the more questions I ask, the more discussions I have abut the topic, the more I embrace my own heritage and am warmly reminded about a grandfather who was once larger than life.    

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tramp Stamp Thursday: The Junior High Notebook Doodle

Shannon, Flemington, NJ

Tramp Stamp
Aztec symbol meaning harmony. Duh.


Time of Tramp Stamp 
Barely legal 18, baby!

Place of Tramp Stamp
The dirty Jers, what, what?!

Tattoo Meaning:
This is the coolest doodle ever...when I grow up I'm getting in right above my ass!
In Shannon's own words: "When I was in 7th grade we made these Aztec Indian sun masks.  We were to use symbology from the Aztec tribe to decorate these clay masks.  I found a symbol that I absolutely loved and it stood for harmony.  After that, I would doodle this symbol everywhere.  Being an artist, I then took it to another level with this symbol.  Began using it in all my art.  Somewhere in the painting or drawing would be this symbol.  Some of the pieces it is subliminal, and some the entire design is formed around the symbol.  I began drawing it so much, I actually started signing my name to my art as the symbol instead of my actual name.  It became "my signature". Once I was 18, I knew what I had to do..." At first Shannon wanted the tattoo to go up her Achilles tendon. (Yeah, I know. She must be a bad ass. Even the tattoo artist said it would be too painful and he refused to do it.) The next best place was obviously above her ass. Or as Shannon delightfully put it, "So, I opted for the tramp stamp!"  Thatta girl! Ten years later and Shannon still  loves her Aztec tramp stamp.  She still uses the symbol in all of her work and in addition, she has her own company and the symbol has become part of her logo.

Bio
Shannon is a 28 year old artist  living in Flemington, NJ. For her 9-5, she is a very talented graphic artist, but she considers herself a fine artist in all other aspects of life.  She enjoys drawing, painting and sculpting when not slaving away illustrating on the computer.  She owns her own design business that is starting to flourish, but is not quite ready to quit her day job.You can check out her website at http://www.shannondribbon.blogspot.com/ or her facebook  page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Made-by-Meryl/161727447174067

Tattoo Goal:
In her own words, "I LOVE my tramp stamp and would never remove it.  I have zero regrets on getting it and I will have it forever :) ."

Shannon, I kind of love you. Tramp Stamp pride 4-eva! Keep up the good harmony! On a side note, if I tattooed any of the symbols I drew in the 7th grade I'd be covered in Green Day, Nirvana, Pearl Jam stick man and Anarchy symbols. You were way deep.

If you are interested in having your tramp stamp profiled, leave a comment or tweet me @rewindrevise

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's In A Color? That Which We Call Chatreuse By Any Other Name Would Still Look Like Split Pea Soup

 I have a confession. I'm stuck...stuck on colors. When we decided we wanted a Fall wedding, we thought we would most likely get a November date since October seemed to be booked everywhere. Everyone wants October in New York, because here, it's fall colors. Forget cherry blossoms and sunflowers! Bring on the rich golds, chocolate browns and merlot reds! What I didn't plan on was actually getting the last weekend in October at a funky venue in Soho. The venue is perfect for us. For me, it is really perfect. When I asked Mike, "do you think it will be weird having it so close to Halloween? I mean, there are going to be zombies on the subway with us and stuff." He sort of laughed the same way my Dad laughed when I told him. "That's all part of the experience" is the general consensus here. But as someone who hates Halloween, I want to be damn sure that nothing about my wedding suggests it is "Halloween themed" and yet, I feel I have to pick a color that is within the fall color earthy tone range. I know what you're thinking, this poor girl has a really big dilemma on her hands. Forget that whole Joseph Kony video everyone is talking about, this is real shit man! Thank you for understanding. But honestly, help me readers and lurkers and fellow bloggers? And I know some of my family is reading!! Because our venue is very "busy" I was going to go with a champagne palette. Even telling people, "I'm thinking of a champagne palette," made me feel really sophisticated and like I knew what I was doing. Like, I was above "color." But Mike wants to wear a light gray suit and I don't think you can really mix champagne and gray. I mean I guess you could, but it's kind of like that whole fashion flip-flop faux pas of wearing black and brown. Most of the time it really doesn't work, but sometimes it works because it doesn't work. Like mixing silver jewelry with gold jewelry. Sometimes you can pull it off, but I don't really buy it. (As we speak I am wearing a gold necklace and a platinum ring. We are all the sum of our walking contradictions. Don't kid yourself. Think champagne palette.) So, here's the thing, I actually love the color orange and I think a burnt orange could work with light gray, but I can already hear the references to pumpkins and zombies and I imagine table conversations about the Halloween parade down 6th Avenue that will happen just four days later:
Did you see the naked guy spray painted silver last year? What was he supposed to be? 
The Tin Man.
Huh...that explains the naked guy with the brown shag bathmat around his neck. 

Halloween in New York is two nipple pasties and a set of vampire teeth away from being the freakiest strip show on Earth. Even more reason, I don't want my NY wedding mistaken for a Halloween one. So, I was also thinking about navy blue and marigold to mix with the light gray. But that seemed too much like spring or sailors or my AYSO All-Star Jacket I wore religiously way beyond its "possibly cool" expiration date. I have come back around to the first color I actually ever whispered when we first booked the venue, "What about a Merlot?" (Apparently I like to associate my colors with wines because I think it makes them sound more fancy.) But what about burgundy? Burgundy and light gray...I think it can work...but I'm not completely sure. And I'm at a total loss for flowers then, but that would be left up to my awesome florist and friend. Friends, Romans, Countrymen, and especially any Fashionistas, lend me your Panatone minds?!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daylight Saving Me

It's annoying. Every year, I wake up on Daylight Savings Day and I feel lost, confused, thinking this is the one where I get the extra hour and then quickly dash out of bed when I realize, no, this is the one where I lose an hour and now I'm late for whatever it is I have to do. And yesterday was a marathon day. I was out of the house from 9:00 a.m. until almost 8:00 p.m. And the reason I stayed out so late was because it wasn't getting dark and so I kept thinking I was making great time the entire day when really I was just making really good use of that lost hour. But what I do appreciate every year is that as soon as it stays a little bit lighter out a little bit longer, people in New York City are out! Not to mention the fine weather and early spring we are having! The city was bustling yesterday and although I feel overwhelmed when the easiest way to get around to avoid the many tourists stopping mid-sidewalk to look at something is to hop on and off the curb into bike lanes with very serious, angry messengers ringing their bells and taxis violently maneuvering to inch around each other, New York City is at its best in the spring. People start shedding their coats and trading in their leather boots for espadrilles. Bars open their windows and people line up for a table outside. The skinny jeans get shorter and the shirts get lower. But most importantly, when light begins to fill the day, I feel it begin to fill me, too.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Bluegrass and Beers Mix

Because it's starting to get warm out there and the bars are opening their windows...


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Friday, March 9, 2012

The Kids Are Not Alright


Two days ago, a 16 year old student attending Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, the school where I graduated from more than a decade ago, was arrested for an alleged plot to kill two students whom he claimed bullied him and a teacher who had recently given him a bad grade.The kid was said to be upset about the recent death of his grandmother and there was mention of something to do with medication. In the end, no charges will be filed, no students or teachers were harmed and this young man, supposedly one of the brightest in the school has been expelled.

In 2009, I was sitting in an Admin meeting at the school where I work at, just after learning that a student at Dalton, one of if not the most prestigious high school in New York, jumped from an eleventh story window he pried open landing in front of a bunch of fourth graders about to play. He was known as a physics prodigy, a three-sport elite athlete, someone that held more than potential, but promise.

Last week, in Ohio, a seventeen year old student came into his high school and (supposedly at random) killed three students and injured two others. He then fled the scene and eventually gave himself up. He now stands in court, a trial that may decide to try him as an adult. Yesterday, the last of the three victims was laid to rest. 

I can remember sitting in my Economics class my senior year of high school the day two teens in Columbine, Colorado unleashed an arsenal of violence and rage on their high school resulting in the deaths of 12 students, 1 teacher and over 20 people injured, some critically. We all sat there frozen, stunned, wanting to talk about it and not wanting to talk about it. Then the details. They wore trench coats. They were bullied. They were on anti-depressants.  The handful of censored goth kids at out Catholic-uniformed school were suddenly suspect. Trench coats were no longer allowed. There were always kids bullied. There were the kids we knew were depressed, but back then no one was on medication other than accutane and birth control. Or if they were, they certainly weren't talking about it. And then there were the kids that just hid everything really well. I remember our economics teacher saying, "That could happen here. You think you're safe from something like that?" We had two months before graduating and suddenly, the idea of surviving high school took on an "otherness." We all knew this wasn't a one-time event. We knew this was something that could happen to us, could happen at any high school. We knew it would happen again, because the kids are not alright.

Every time I read one of these stories, I stop before I get to the end. I flip the channel. My stomach drops ever so slightly, the hair on my arms stands on end, my hands get cold. Everyday kids are bombarded with the pressure to become "something." Become popular, become pretty, become a champion, become an Ivy league student, become heterosexual, become successful, become happy, become thin, become a rebel, become funny, become perfect, become a gang member, become a graduate, become a soldier, become someone better than your parents. Become...because what you are is not good enough, because what you can be is so much better, because you're perfect and you deserve it, because if you don't become something, you will be nothing or at least end up with nothing. There is so much fear with every step down those locker-adorned corridors. Even the ones that look like they have it all, sometimes are the most scared. When you have it all, what happens when you lose it? The angst, the heartbreak, the emotions, they are all so real, perhaps even more real than the angst and heartbreaks we experience later in life, because these are our firsts and everyone remembers their first.

We have a country run by big business, corporations, health insurance industries, celebrities, money. You can get Zoloft for $8 covered by insurance but a therapist is most likely going to cost you. You can get a Facebook and Twitter account for free, but a newspaper will cost you, but who wants to read those old things anyway? You can get a scholarship to college if you work hard enough, but no matter how fast you run or how many questions you get right on the SATs, you will still arrive at college with you your experiences from home, your experiences from your childhood, your experiences from high school, your ancestral karma. You can graduate at the top of your ROTC class and still end up dead four years later. You can be the son of a U.S. Air Force pilot and end up a high school killer. You can be a physics prodigy and end up as a memorial piece on the cover of New York Magazine. You can be really distraught over your Grandmother's death and really confused about the difference between a cathartic release of anger and emotion and a threat. Or you can just be a stone cold killer without any explanation that would ever make sense to the family member of a murdered loved one. You can survive high school relatively unscathed and graduate college top of your class only to find yourself lost and aimless in your twenties, not understanding your own psychological paralysis until you face the effects of a childhood without a parent. What I'm trying to say is that we are failing our kids. It is fair to say that no one could have predicted Columbine. No one could have predicted Virginia Tech or the tragic most recent killings in Ohio.  But the world has changed. The world has become increasingly more violent and increasingly more accessible, increasingly more desperate, increasingly more fearful, increasingly more...just increasingly more. The world is bearing down on those lockers and "surviving high school" is no longer a melodramatic joke or an "otherness." It is a reality. You think you're safe from something like that?

I don't know what we need, but I know we need to do better. We need to have the conversation. Some of the questions I would ask, why isn't mental health taught alongside with sex ed and phys ed? Can there be more school psychologists in high schools AND middle schools? How do we talk about bullying in a way that won't immediately induce eye-rolling? Should we re-evaluate gun laws? How the hell would that ever work? How do we alleviate the fears and pressures kids today face? Can the arts help? How do we help without blaming? How do we help without alienating, judging, assuming? How do we help? Can we help? Is there anything more we can be doing? 

I fear that maybe there is nothing that can be done to stop a kid from stepping out on that ledge, picking up that gun. But don't we as a society, have some kind of duty to examine more closely what is happening in our schools? What is happening to our kids?


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tramp Stamp Thursdays: The Afraid to Commit Teeny-Tiny Tat

Tiffany, Indianapolis, IN

Tramp Stamp
A baby butterfly...I mean, C'mon Baby! Butterfly!...I mean...I was a baby and scared getting a tattoo might really hurt, so I got a teeny-tiny one... but whatever...I like small things...and butterflies...and the color purple...so...yeah.


Time of Tramp Stamp 
February 2001, just after her 19th birthday, baby!

Place of Tramp Stamp
Terre Haute, Indiana. Tiffany described Terre Haute as: "If you haven't been to Terre Haute you aren't missing much except for the sweet aromatic blend of dirty river water, truck exhaust and Burger King. But hey - it was a female tattoo artist, so good on ya, TH."

Tattoo Meaning:
Everybody's doing it!

Bio
Tiffany is a proud mother of one, a dynamite Burlesque dancer, works in medical billing and is planning on going to school in the fall to become a nutritionist, segueing into becoming a naturopathic physician. She loves live music, yoga and feeding people! 

Tattoo Goal:
In her own words, "I hope to cover it/work it into another piece one day. A piece that I help plan and design. Not one that I pick out of an old photo album. Le sigh."

Oh, Tiffany, I feel that "le sigh" all the way from my head down to my "chosen from the wall" daisies on my derriere. Keep it real, Terre Haute!

If you are interested in having your tramp stamp profiled, leave a comment or tweet me @rewindrevise

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Finding Peace in the Cover of a 5 year-old's Book

While walking through our staff room I saw this reading book some of our teachers use with the five year-old students here to help them decipher the difference between a need and a want. But I think that every year of our lives we should study this kind of a lesson. The needs and wants get trickier the older we get because with time we develop rationale, we develop self-manipulation, we develop  a sense of what we are owed in life, what we deserve. The very nature of becoming an adult is based on understanding the difference between these two ideas. I want to go to that music show that starts at midnight on a Wednesday, but I need to be a functioning adult the next morning for work. I want those pair of $250 pumps that would be perfect for that wedding I'm attending, but I need to make a credit card payment and get an oil change. I want a burger with an extra large fries and a coke, but I need to eat more root veggies and fruit if I'm going to make it though the day without crashing into a food coma at 3:00p.m. Choices, decisions, desires.

It sounds easy, right? But so often I get these two ideas mixed up. I need caffeine. I need to lose 10 pounds. I need to "figure it out." (Whatever the hell that means!) I need to go out! But if I were to make a list of what I actually needed right now, in my life, I have everything I need and everything I actually say that "I need" is pretty much "a want."

It's so easy to take what we have for granted. So easy to look over the needs we have met while chasing the wants we would like. I have an apartment, a job, and food in my refrigerator. I have shoes on my feet, and even if they aren't always the ones that I want, I have shoes on my feet. I am healthy and because of this I have the ability to be fit. I am fit. Not super fit, just fit.

I have two conversations going on in my head at all time. One that constantly says I'm not doing enough and one that is telling me to give myself a break. Unfortunately, the former voice is the more dominant voice, and yesterday I was at a loss with what to do with that voice. I was again at a loss with what to do with that dreaded "c-word"- career. I was even at a loss with what to write about. But then I found this picture I snapped a couple of weeks ago because I knew the cover of this little book would become significant in some way and sometime soon. I knew that it stood out to me for a reason, and I think now it's because the two voices in my head are also fueled by these two ideas. I want more money, more satisfaction, more freedom! But I need to be sane and healthy and peaceful if I am going to enjoy any of that. While I feel that I need a bigger, better job, I need to "grow" career-wise, maybe what this job affords me is actually what I need: to be able to write, to read, to listen, little stress, lots of time, which makes me think what I really need, I already have: love, health, expression.  Everything else is just spaghetti.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Some Ethereal Osmosis


In flipping through a couple of printed emails today, the tail end of someone's signature showed up at the top of a page all by itself. It read, "Leadership is creating the environment and setting the tone so that others can do their best work."  It has been added to the clutter beneath my computer screen full of reminders and and scraps of inspiration. If I keep these in my line of sight, might one day I absorb and embody them through some ethereal osmosis? 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wait Time: The Agony & The Ecstasy

Last night I was watching the news and there was a segment called "Impatient Nation." The newsman said that "we live our lives in fast forward" and that according to a study done by Google, the average American will wait no more than 250 milliseconds for an answer. They were comparing today's understanding of patience with the days of Jane Eyre where the protagonist waits months for a letter. I have not read the book since high school so I don't remember this part, but it's beside the point. Forget waiting for an answer, if I'm not entertained in a sufficient amount of time I change the channel or flip to one of the other handful of websites I like to check and being part of the blogging world makes that endless. I could spend an entire afternoon just catching up on blogs I like to read or sites I like to check out. I flip back and forth between reading odd stories and stories so devastating, I never get to the end. The immediate access of information, entertainment and distraction has not only shortened my attention span and depleted my sense of patience, but it has made the truly devastating intolerable. Why should I read the entire story about that high school shooting in Ohio? Why should I read the entire article about what's happening with the GOP primaries? There is something more entertaining, more uplifting, more mind-numbing two clicks away. Why watch the news when TMZ is telling me about Zac Efron dropping a condom on the red carpet?

Tonight I watched a snippet of the news, all these kids, so brokenhearted mourning three of their own, wondering why they were spared? Why their friends were dead? Why bad things happen? I flip to a sitcom. I get bored of the sitcom, think these jokes are not funny. I flip back and  see snippets of the tornado damage throughout the midwest. I hear a daughter cry about how her parents have "been together forever" while all that remains of their home is a cookie jar and one wall of a kitchen, the drapes still hanging, the sky as their ceiling. Another sitcom, another lame joke. Another shooting, three teens shot outside of a Burger King in Queens just a couple of hours ago. I flip. I change. I hop online.

I have an addictive personality. I bite my fingernails. I pick at my face. I used to smoke cigarettes in college, something I eternally am regretful of, but I was by myself in New York City and I wore big black boots and I thought I looked pretty bad ass, but I digress. For someone like me, who already has the tendency for odd addictions (I used to obsessively collect vintage postcards. Like, if I found a rack of old black and white prints in some novelty shop, I would HAVE to buy one of each. Somewhere in a shoebox I have hundreds of postcards, mainly of old movie stars and rock legends.) the pace of today's world greases by ADD wheels. My job is very sedentary, and there can be quite a bit of downtime, which I fill with checking my email, Facebook, blogging on my personal blog, reading blogs, reading the news and odd stories, blogging on my other blog, doing freelance work, all the while never sitting with one task too long.

I read scripts and books as a freelance job on the side which requires me to write a type of book report at the end. I have noticed that where I used to just sit down and write the report all the way through, (sometimes all 20 pages of it) now I can barely get through a paragraph before "checking something." And now that I have a smartphone, forget it. I think this is part of the reason I was having anxiety issues in November and December (that linked with too much caffeine, did I tell you I have an addictive personality?) Lately I've been feeling those rumblings again and Monday's commute home after a rare afternoon coffee, was no picnic.  I have already been trying to slow myself down. Cut out caffeine. Don't check my email every time I turn on my phone and I even stopped looking for new emails on my phone. I longed for the days when I had to be sitting down somewhere to read and respond to an email. Email is one of the most brilliant, most convenient inventions ever and we still thought of a way to make it faster!!! My addictive tendencies, which right now lean towards technology, coupled with my instincts to react to problems that are not mine, can and will make me crazy if I do not learn how to harness the beast (myself) inside this other beast (Impatient Nation).  I have come to understand multi-tasking as being "productive." Which, while it can be, also means I am never fully devoting my attention to any one thing. So while I may be "productive" what is the final "product" am I producing?

I have been trying to slow it down...with everything. I've been trying to strip away. If I get an email, does it warrant a response? How soon do I have to send that response? Why do I have to be on other people's time? Or the bigger question: what exactly is my time? I'm so used to "doing" instead of "pausing." So used to committing before thinking if it is possible. I'm used to reacting, responding quickly, rather than absorbing, sitting with something, figuring out how and what I really feel. To thine own self be true. This has been the first week in two years where I didn't make at least one plan after work and you know what I discovered? I LOVE coming home after work. Not only that, but when I come home after work, I can actually stay on top of keeping it clean. I can enjoy my apartment which we pay quite dearly for. But I have to be careful, because being home makes me think I can now "relax" and before I know it, I have the television on and the computer in my lap. I kept trying to start this blogpost and realized that if I turned the tv off, maybe something would come. Sure enough...

I'm starting a movement. A sssslllllllllooooooowwwwwww movement. One that makes me focus on one task at a time. One that makes me pause, write a note to myself to get back to something instead of making a quick decision I will later regret or default on. I am going to try to strip away the stimulants, cut down on my internet time, get back to writing my book, give myself an hour of nothing before going to bed. If we really are living in fast forward, if we rewind it just a little bit, might we find ourselves in the present?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tramp Stamp Thursdays: The Hippie Peace-Loving Tat

Julie,  Bend, OR
Tramp Stamp
Peace! One Love, Man!  I mean...Children are the future!...you know?... yo, let me a get hit off that...what were we talking about?

Julie in her Camp Counselor Element
Time of Tramp Stamp
21 Years Old

Place of Tramp Stamp
Burlington, Vermont, Baby! Granola crunching, incense burning, paisley dress boutique shops, Church Street, you know it! What, what!!


Tattoo Meaning
I'm a camp counselor in Vermont.

Bio
Julie, a Louisiana native, now works in a bakery in Bend, Oregon and lives with her bearded, charming partner. She is also a bad-ass skier, canoeist, canner, maker of fermented veggies and beer, hiker, kick-ass friend, dancer...oh and she was a dairy farmer for many years in Vermont...after she was a camp counselor with me.

[Editor's Note:] When I first met Julie at Summer Camp Orientation for staff, she was wearing a jean jacket and hoop earrings. Three months later, she had armpit hair and Chacos.

Julie and I back in the day, in a barn. Yes, I
am wearing a beaded necklace I made at camp
and I think Julie is wearing a hemp necklace.
One Love.
[Editor's Guilty Confession:] I was with Miss Julie when she got this tattoo, which I believe was a cover up of another tramp stamp. I believe it was a sun, the OG of all tramp stamps. I think I may have even been holding Julie's hand during this tattoo which was an idea she came in with. As Julie herself said,  "It all started with this damn iron on patch you get from Michael's, the craft store. It was of little people holding hands. I didn't quite get it ironed on the wallet I made myself, but boy oh boy did I get it ironed on..." It shows multi-colored stick-figure children holding hands around the globe. Julie said, "I handed the artist the children holding hands cut-out from my wallet I'd been carrying around for years, and said, "Please sir, would you cover that sun with this?" If I remember correctly, Julie's first reaction was that it was "big" but that she loved it. Julie, nothing is bigger than getting the earth and children tattooed over your ass. Well done. In hindsight, Julie said, "I honestly don't know how it began.....other than an urge to be bold...by tattooing children on my motherf'ing ass."

[Editor's Note:] She is one of my favorite people ever.

Tattoo Goal
Knowing Julie, she has no shame about bearing this tattoo or anything for that matter. She loves life, loves people, and loves getting naked. (And she sends friends homemade cards which make them all gushy inside.)

Julie, keep going "big." xo, Tonesters

If you are interested in having your tramp stamp profiled, leave a comment or tweet me @rewindrevise