Welcome To My Bed

Like a favorite sweater.

The sun is warmer here. Is that possible? As of Saturday, I've returned to the (main) city of my heart. The new apartment is coming together syrup slow, but that makes it all the more delicious. Tonight, we assemble our library. Just the thought of a wall of books makes my whole body smile.

I don't have much to say today. There is still so much sorting out to do--our study is all full of the un-emptied boxes, my room is one giant clothes pile--so sorting thoughts is the last thing I have time for. But I do have pictures of the past few adventures to share.

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Button and I got tattooed at Screamin Ink by the too-modest, truly amazing Jeremy Miller.

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The O'Neills, a la Gaga at her Newark tour stop. It was my brother's first concert.

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I have so much work left to do in order to make my room livable, but when I can see the floor, I will show you the new bed that makes me feel like a queen and sleep like a lion. I've been having such fantastic, strange dreams here.

Ink, other ink, and moving (shuffle-style).

+ Got tattoo #4 Thursday after work. Thrilled with the results.

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However, my artist is moving back to AZ come August, which bums me out. My first color piece, I love it, everything goes great, and then I remember he won't be here past the end of the summer. When I go on tour (I say this as if I have one planned or something), I'm going to have to go to the desert and find him. In the meantime, I'll be back under the needle again some time in July to get my ribs finished (FINALLY!). I thought this was an itch I'd eventually get out of my system, but I'm starting to think it does not work that way.

+ Half of my life is packed and stacked in my living room. My mom is coming up this afternoon to steal it while I'm at work. I most likely won't even see her. It has been strange, sorting through what I need for the next week and what can go into basement storage until I get a more permanent place. The apartment that's mine on June 1st is only mine through August, so I should probably be looking for a place to hang my hat come September. I hate moving more than anything. I just want to curl up in my car with one suitcase and my shark and have that be it. However, I have one suitcase that is entirely full of shoes and that's only the stiletto portion of my collection, meaning that I will never lead a simple life. Or rather, I won't be doing it anytime soon.

+ I am itching to dye my hair again, but I've been holding out in favor of giving it a little break. The orange has been washing out slowly, and now I look more off-kilter blonde than anything else. I think I might play towards that and work my way up to platinum by the end of the summer. Or else I'll get restless and make some drastic change. There's a box of blue-black dye sitting on the bathroom shelf in case of emergencies.

+ I have a show coming up (June 8th in Newmarket, NH) that I am trying to pull together a chapbook for/rehearse for/feel confident about. I'll be honest--I haven't had a show in a year. I hope I'm not too rusty. I should probably not put my full length mirror in the pile of things for my mom to take back to Jersey, because it's clear that a lot of practicing must go on. If only so I can get a feel for what my set needs to be. Time to tape a sheet of legal paper to the wall and start making lists.

Spots of random, on my mind.

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I miss ballet more and more every day. If I wasn't so broke all the time, I'd look for a studio in Western Mass and start taking classes again. Maybe I'll get a second job and do it anyway. I don't move enough.

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I have had various conversations about becoming a go-go dancer (mostly with SPC and Button) this week and am of the mind that a job where I get to live in a cage and listen to music the entire time might be ideal. Mostly, I relish the idea of legitimately sweating for my paycheck, as work should feel like work.

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This is Julie Becker, an artist and tattooed lady from LA, in a feature from Inked Magazine. I was leafing through the latest issue while at Button's yesterday and getting seriously jealous of nearly every person's skin. I am itching to get tattooed again. (That was a weird sentence.) I have a litany of ideas, the first of which is one I've been planning out of love for my dad for some time now, and since all of the health tumult, that piece is at the front of my mind. But there is still quite a list that follows it.

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Maybe it will be a button. My best friend and I call each other "button" as a term of endearment.

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Or a tiger. I really like tigers. But then again, I am thinking of designing a half sleeve with a circus theme, so maybe I should save that one.

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In my waking dreams, the superapartment of my near future has a SPACECAT, which is the best kind of cat, obviously. I am sure that Cass would agree with me here.

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Or an owl. Because they are so squat and adorable.

I dunno. At this point, I am just trying to keep busy, listening to Dum Dum Girls, wanting to write a poem about singing. There is nothing more to be done. My dad goes to the cath lab today, and I'll know better by tonight what needs to happen to fix his broken heart.

Wade in the water.

There has not been time for anything other than work all week. I'm feeling rather burnt out, but the summer is nearly over and I guess this is my last-ditch effort to make as much money as possible before heading back up to Amherst for my last year at Hampshire. By the time I leave for New Jersey next Sunday for my final regroup before school starts up again, I hope to have a grand to deposit in the bank. I'm already more than halfway there. But aside from focusing almost completely on my financial status in the world, I've been brainstorming for the work I want done on my anchor tattoo. Meaning I've had squids on the brain. And sharks. I'm thinking a squid-shark combo.

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Pretty sure I have a serious addiction to sea life. I have not spent nearly enough time in the ocean this summer. Speaking of which, that hurricane business everybody's been in a tizzy about over the past few days just seems like small potatoes at this point. Back in my day (I say this as I shake my cane), when someone told me there was going to be a hurricane, it wasn't just choppy water and intermittent overcast skies. Rhode Island, you may be my ocean rose, but you don't seem so sure of what that means...

Ticking off some check-boxes.

As my summer lover affair with Providence is winding down, I'm trying to get in all the little bits and pieces I've been dying to include since I arrived her back in May. Over the past few days, I've crossed a few things off my to-do list.

Wednesday night I let myself do a little exploring before Writers in the Round at Tazza. Walking around downtown aimlessly with no real destination was something I haven't let myself do nearly enough in my months here. And I got to see this -

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Now, Federal Hill is always incredibly striking, but the pink sky made me smile so much, like raspberry lemonade on a dusky porch or something equally as wonderful and worthy of swizzle sticks.

I've also been reading a ton more than I was even a few weeks ago, probably because I've gotten into the groove of things. Just before I have to leave of course, but I guess I'm glad it happened at all. Current reading list:

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Lit Riffs edited by Matthew Miele; The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love by bell hooks; Black Book Magazine's rebel issue (starring Evam Rachel Wood and Juliette Lewis); Infinity Blues by Ryan Adams; and Metro Pop Magazine. Not pictured (but almost always in my purse) are the latest issue of Nylon, Dave Eggers' How We Are Hungry, and Hampshire Slam Collective Fishes For Satellites. Black Book has one of the best fashion editorials I've seen in forever. It made me regret all of my high school prom dresses instantly and wish I had been just slightly more obsessed with Grease as an adolescent.

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Metro Pop also had a great greaser-inspired spread that made me proud to have short hair. It also made me want to go out and buy a motorcycle, but the feeling has since passed.

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But the one rebel impulse that I am powerless against is the compulsion to get tattooed. I've been itching for one all summer and kept making excuses, but today was completely free and Providence Tattoo on College Hill apparently takes walk-ins (and has the best collection of traditional-inspired flash I've seen yet). So I am now freshly inked and very happy.

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82 is my house number in New Jersey, and since moving away, I've learned it's possible for me to feel at home wherever I am. Providence is home now, but I've had glimpses of home at Hampshire and on my visits to Allston (I figure those can be attributed to the poets, but who knows). The tattoo is a symbol of that new level of comfort. And it was test drive for the parlor, because I'm in the market for an artist for when I move here next spring. Judging by the bedside manner and the impressive portfolios at Providence Tattoo, I'm fairly certain I've found the place I'll be getting my graduation present to myself come next May.

And now it's time to go pick up some tortilla chips for the leftover bean dip I brewed up as part of a culinary adventure I had yesterday afternoon.

Ink-soaked brain.

I had a brutal day at work yesterday. On my feet for over nine hours straight bookended by the forty minutes it takes me to drive to and from my job. And all the other girls on shift were complaining the entire time instead of actually doing what they were supposed to be doing. They all claimed to have prior waitressing experience, but with some of them I have cause to be incredibly skeptical. A definite plus side to the debacle was being literally on the water - the only thing between the restaurant and the ocean is a skinny strip of rocks. Ocean mist and breezes in my face all day and a gorgeous view when its clear out is not a condition to complain about, but working outdoors leaves you at the mercy of the weather. Every scheduled shift hangs tenuously in the balance. I came home and seriously decompressed.

As a reward for my hard work, I went to the mall around lunch time today and tried to go shopping for summer clothes, but the retail gods were in a bad mood or something because everything was overpriced, heinous-looking, or a healthy combination of both. I bought a bunch of basic t-shirts (for some reason I had previously owned nothing of the sort) and left, disgruntled. The real reward of today has been consistently day-dreaming about the tattoos I have planning for myself over the course of the next few years. It has me all antsy for new ink. I have been dreaming of my squid with great anticipation, and I have a serious suspicion that when I commit to such a large addition, it will only end up bigger that I am currently expecting it to be. Sidebar: that anchor that I drew as a composite of several traditional anchors for my most recently accomplished tattoo is almost identical to the logo of the restaurant where I now work. It's a little ridiculous. Anyway, that anchor ended up larger than I had originally envisioned, and part of me now wishes I had gotten it even bigger. Maybe that's why I am so gung-ho about the squid, which will be tangled around and behind the anchor, large and purple and wrapping onto the space below my left shoulder blade. Insert preliminary sketch:

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I have to tinker with it a bit, but I really like that style squid. Not too scary, but still a bit ominous. It can't happen until I get back to Amherst in the fall anyway.

During my long day of considering future ink, I dug the following drawing out of my file. I've been wanting this one for a long time, on the inside of my left arm. Momma Rabbit and her babies, Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and Peter, or in my mind, my family.

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Depending on how frequently I work and how much money said working makes me, I might just get that one in August before I leave Providence, a little memento of my time here with Kait. Not that I won't be back. More and more, I am falling hard for this place. I spend many of my days alone, but I don't feel lonely in the slightest.

Inked-up skin.

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And there you have it. "If we survive the teeth, we succumb to the waves." Virginia Woolf has finally made it under my skin, and apparently, I was a trooper about it. Hell yes. Everyone keeps verbally fiving me about it, which makes me feel really good, cos I did the final drawing this morning. I know, I know, procrastinating when it comes to makes permanent body-altering decisions is a poor choice, but I've had the thing in my head for months and just now got a paycheck that didn't need to go to groceries. And oh man, am I happy about that. Shout outs to Lucky's Tattoos and Piercings (the Amherst location). This is my second experience with them, and both were really wonderful.

A year later.

Two very special anniversaries today.

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The first, my only tattoo, a ribcage and spine that I doodled in Maggie's high school art room one Monday last fall while visiting her in Westwood. I have had ink under my skin for a full year now. And because of that accomplishment, I think I am finally ready to get another. There has been enough time spent ruminating.

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The second, and decidedly more important one, is my anniversary with James. I don't think of it as a simple accomplishment. I have made notoriously poor relationship choices in the past, and only once has a relationship made it past this year marker (only by one day; it's a complicated story). I was fifteen at the time. I have an inkling that this time it means a helluva lot more. But removing all romantic implications of this day, I am just happy/thankful/proud to have James around in whatever capacity. We are such close friends, have survived living with each other, living on opposite coasts, me liking Britney Spears, and countless other obstacles.

In honor of these two events, I'd like to toast to permanence and adaptation; may there always be a rock to steady yourself, but may you always be open to erosion, avalanche, volcanic eruption, and earthquake. No matter what, you will still have your rock, as long as you continued to fight to hold on to it.

Ink and writing.

A pair of new tattoos is in the works, one for the inside of either ankle. Two Latin words from the Tolstoy short story "The Death of Ivan Ilych". Have I ever mentioned that Tolstoy ruined reading for me? Some good things are just so good that you get depressed because very few things could dream of being any better.

At an rate, I have been having severe writer's block as of late. Nobody has helped yet. I just keep trying to make things happen, but my brain has flat-lined, or something else equally as horrifying has happened. I have been old everything, spanning a broad spectrum reaching from "read more" to "listen to Nowhere Man off of Rubber Soul". I keep coming back around to the conclusion that all I need is more stimulus that isn't something imagined out of nothing. Watching as many movies as I can get my hands on and reading as much as I can stand are only two small things I can do. I wrote the most when I had constant stimulus. I guess living with someone can have that effect on you. And now that most of my day is spent isolated, it is hard to tell if that is the chief cause of all of this strife. In short, I really need to get out more. Human contact really does wonders for my imagination. I'm sure someone has a theory somewhere about all of this, but I have yet to find it, let alone figure how I might be helped.

Packing up.

I leave for home tomorrow, stopping off in Redding on the way. Maggie and I are inking our skin once again, courtesy of her boyfriend, and since my last tattoo forgot altogether to itch, I'm hoping this one will be the same way.

Sushi last night, and lots of driving in the rain. This whole stay has been a countdown to when I can leave again. I miss feeling safe. I don't feel safe in this house. I have intense and bizarre nightmares and the air dries out my throat. I changed my sheets last night and the cold fabric on my shins felt like something familiar and beautiful, but I could have easily slept on the floor if I wanted cold.

I always manage to leave with more than I started with.

Homecoming.

New paint color, new carpet, new arguments that I am not included in. Coming home is more bizarre that I expected, which is strange, because it's not like I haven't been back since school started.

I smoked a cigarette in my driveway last night and felt awkward about all the things that I have to hide from my family. My tattoo is the most obvious detail about my life that they are protected from, but they also don't know or don't understand a lot of what I do. Telling them about slam is like describing my paintings to my blind father used to be; something just doesn't translate. They act excited for me, because I sound excited, but they really aren't fully comprehending what it is that I love, which is frustrating.

I feel insane for saying this, but disco fries at the diner last night were more satisfying than turkey and mashed potatoes. I thought that maybe eating meat again would make Thanksgiving feel better for me, but it did nothing. Some of the magic is gone, like watching Disney movies when you're drunk; it's the same thing it's always been, but you laugh at different parts and are kind of withdrawn from the experience as a whole. My family is trying really hard to express how much they've missed me, but they don't really know me anymore. Change has been drastic lately, much more drastic for me than it was for Kaitlin when she was in college and I can see how much it terrifies all of them, I just don't know how to make it better or easier.

My room is clean for the first time in years and I feel out of place. I sleep more than I should just to avoid dealing with anyone. My heart isn't here anymore, as much as I have nostalgic feelings about everything I've been seeing. Numb, that's all that it is. And it would hurt me to think that, but in a way it's probably better like this. I just don't know how much everyone else is going to agree with me if I say anything about it.

I really hope that Christmas isn't this depressing, or it will make moving out for the summer even easier than I had expected it to be.