[clever title]

i have a question...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

#4

As of yesterday, I have four tattoos.

They are reminders, images, symbols of moments in time. Of eras. Of questions I am still seeking answers to. Of commands to myself to keep moving and learning.

Body modifications that make me feel sexy and rebellious and deep and self-aware.

They are stories yet to tell and stories told.

I have learned that getting a tattoo feels like getting a tattoo. It’s a hot scratchy pain that makes your skin flaky and scabby and crusty and itchy.

There is a ritual to the after care, keeping it clean and covered and moisturized. It makes me keenly aware of my skin, about these parts of my body that I have embellished.

I rescheduled getting my first tattoo because I was going on a trip to Chicago and didn’t want my foot to be wounded, walking in a new place.

I made the decision to get my second tattoo while drunk with a friend. We have matching ones now. And I don’t regret it.

The tattoo on my back made my skin itchy for so long that I thought I had nerve damage. It’s the one I get the most compliments about.

This new one is puffy and sensitive and scabby already, the delicate skin on my inner arm angry and hot.

I wasn’t sure I wanted it.

I didn’t know where to put it.

I’d only had the image in my mind for a few weeks, even though I had an appointment months ago.

Yesterday, after having my artist resize the image twice, and as the needle was poised, it crossed my mind:

“I can still say no.”

I said yes instead.

And then got home and promptly freaked out.

I couldn’t pinpoint why.

Tattoos are permanent. My arm will never look the same. That arrow will stare at me for the rest of my life.

Reminding me of my uncertainty. Of, what felt like, my 31 year old impulse.

It made me feel really uncomfortable.

It’s simple and gorgeous. But it’s forever.

And it commemorates this super tough year and how, despite sometimes feeling like I’m getting pulled back, I always need to be aiming forward.

I made the decision, in an instant and despite all my reservations, to get it anyway.

And there’s something that I like about that.

Because, really, what’s permanent?

There is only this moment and this decision and this body and this memory.

And they are mine.

Now.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CX

Welp.

It's almost Thanksgiving already.

So there's that.

Anybody know where 2014 went?

Nope?

OK then, me neither.

13-year-old boy: Uh oh! Annie's in the building. It's about to go down.

16-year-old boy: They're laughing cuz I got my eating face on.

10-year-old girl: I'm hairable.
13-year-old boy: Unbeweavable.

Colleague A: I'm so confused all the time!

7-year-old boy, squeezing my upper arms: You got the pow pow. The squishy squishy.

7-year-old boy: I got 25 girlfriends.
Me: Name them all.
Boy: I can't remember all their names.

14-year-old boy: Can I see that rubber cement?
Me: Why?
Boy: I heard it smells good.
Me: Then no.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CIX

This was a pretty busy week, full of meetings and workshops and interviews and special guests and visits.

And now it's suddenly Friday, and I'm kind of disoriented by it.

I literally sat at a desk today and asked one of my kids, "Wait. It IS Friday, right?" It was super confusing.

Me, entering the art room: Hello, all my friends!
Teen girl: You're not my friend...you're my sister.

Colleague A, during a staff meeting, as we discussed Halloween plans: We got a pumpkin connect?

Colleague B, trying to name Taylor Swift's new song, "Out of the Woods": What's it called? "Elbows Out"?

Me: You look like a 12 year old with your hood on.
Colleague B: I know. All you see is cheeks.

Me: You have leaves in your hair.
9 year old boy: It's chips.

Me: Rebel Wilson is her real name. And her siblings are like Liberty and Rocket or something.
13 year old girl: I'm gonna name my son...CARL!

Me: Why are you guys in here?
9 year old boy: We're MEN!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CVIII

Well.

All I can say is that I can't believe it is almost November.

13 year old girl, on getting her period: I was so excited but now I am ready for menopause.

16 year old boy, while I was discussing a young woman playing Tinkerbell in her school play: Can I be Peter Pan cuz I'm fly.

Me, while drawing a heart on my colleague's arm: Can you tell what I'm drawing?
Colleague: I hope it's not a dick.

13 year old girl, singing: Do what you want, what you want with my body...do what you want, what you want with my nostrils!

Me, to 7 year old boy: Can we be friends?
Boy: That depends.
Me: On what?
Boy: On a doughnut. And a pet dog.
Me: If I give you a doughnut and a pet dog, we'll be friends?
Boy: Very good friends!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Two Scenes

He wore brightly patterned socks and kept getting up for more food, explaining to me how eating after fasting all day is like salvation. How he reaches a haze during his fast and how he got lost driving earlier in the day but didn’t mind because he didn’t have anywhere important to be.

He asked what it felt like to break a fast after not fasting all day. I told him it was just dinner to me.

We had met earlier by the food but he had seemed kind of cold and grumpy.

Turns out he was just hungry.

Someone commented that we were talking so animatedly but from across the room, so eventually he moved to the chair next to me.

We talked about how Beyonce and Jay Z must easily keep the romance alive because they probably only spent 60 nights a year in the same place. He somehow convinced me to download the Kim Kardashian game.

I told him he had ruined my life.

Somehow we got into my life goals and work frustrations, big questions of what’s next and where I should live and what I should be doing. He told me to send him a postcard from wherever I ended up.

He was a journalist in New York who lived with his girlfriend, and only one of those things was a legitimate turn on.

I realized he reminded me of my childhood friend Alex whom I had had a debilitating crush on.

I genuinely laughed out loud for most the evening and didn’t think about it until later that it had been so long since I had instantly connected so well with a stranger that I had assumed I couldn’t do it anymore.

***
It’s raining as I transfer trains, and my boots and socks are soggy, but I am almost home so it doesn’t matter.

A crowd of young men approach me and one of them crouches down as if to take advantage of my umbrella.

I stop to commiserate good-naturedly, “It is pretty nasty out. I would give it to you if I didn’t have somewhere to go…”

One of them shouts after me, “You would GIVE IT TO ME, huh? You want a piece of ass?”

I stop, shocked, and turn around, “Oh, THAT’S NICE!”

He hollers back, “COME ON, BABY!” And his friends shuffle him away.

I keep walking, disappointed and shaken.

I tend to not mind getting cat-called on the street. I’m always surprised and amused, and I also always hope that whoever has called out in admiration will just keep moving and not bother me further.

It’s at once exhilarating and anxiety-inducing.

Which is what it sometimes feels like to be a woman to me.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Overheard at Work, vol. CVII

THIS WEEK SUCKED!!!!!!!!

I AM SO GLAD IT'S FINALLY OVER!

Colleague A, expressing his game plan for a random night out with a few of us: I'm not gonna go crazy if we get crazy.

Me, entering the tech lab: What's going on in here?!
7-year-old boy: PARTY!

13-year-old girl: You can get that swag money from being a doctor.

Teen boy: I'm 17, about to be 18. I'm gonna go to the strip club for the first time!

Me, to colleague B: I just want you to find a wonderful man.
Colleague B: Oh, Annie. Can I just get my Bachelor's degree?

13-year-old girl: I think trail mix is just a scavenger hunt for M&Ms.

And then, "Ooh, dark chocolate! Dark chocolate for a dark chocolate woman!"

Saturday, September 13, 2014

To My Cousin's Daughter, on the Eve of her 4th Birthday

Dear E.W.E.,

Wow! How quickly the year you were 3 went!

And tomorrow, you’ll be 4! A year closer to kindergarten, to driving, to taking over the world.

I love the girl you’re becoming: the kind of girl who wears TWO Halloween costumes, the kind of girl whose favorite movies are Muppets from Space and My Neighbor Totoro, the kind of girl who goes all in when it comes to licking the brownie batter bowl, the kind of girl who will take every chance she can get to swim, throw a ball, run, jump, and dance.

The kind of girl who sees me from down the street and barrels into my arms, screaming “PRETZEL!”

You are one cool chick: full of fire and wit and steel and drive.

This has been a particularly tough year for our family: losing our matriarch (your great-grandmother) in September last year and then our beloved David (your Kahuna) in May.

Suddenly, our invincibility was questioned; we felt a little more fragile, a little less protected.

But our strength as a family has never wavered.

You have so many people around you who love, cherish, and support you and each other.

How lucky we are.

Happy birthday!

I love you.

Love,

Pretzel