Another One Bites The Dust….

Spring 2011, you were a difficult semester.  And, unfortunately, you are only transitioning into the mad dash of summer thesis-writing.  Honestly, I don’t have any more to give.  Where I’m going to muster up the will to finish this program is beyond me.  If you love writing, never go to graduate school…I loved writing too, once;)  But at least, for now, my final paper and final reflections for Middle Eastern Lit are turned in and I can probably afford a day or two to regain my sanity..or at least, what’s left of it.

I’ve been thinking for the last week or so about a new tattoo.  Recall, if you will, Birthday Adventure #1:

And Birthday Adventure # 2:

2010 was uneventful in terms of body art.  I planned to get another tattoo, but time and money never lined up properly.  My 2008 tattoo was extremely significant; it had been exactly one year since my dad’s emergency bypass surgery and ensuing two-week hospital stay.  It also marked my taking control over my depression and anxiety and seeking treatment.  So, exactly one year from what was undeniably the darkest moment in my entire life, I did something I’d always wanted to do.  On my birthday in 2009, I did it again, forever commemorating my connection with my lineage, paying homage to my folks and indelibly marking myself with pride at who I am.

2010 and–thus far–2011 have proven to be years of challenge and struggle, and I think that, once I’m on the other side of the struggle, it will be time to commemorate in ink my survival again.  I’m thinking either the middle of my back or the inside of my wrist…what do you think?

The Story of My Tattoos…

Birthday Adventure Number Two

Yet another repeat picture…I have actually taken some (some that may be worth seeing, too!), but I’ll have to get home and go through them.  There may be another post tonight, but I’m not sure.  Joey and I are going to take an excursion to Wal-Mart to see what kind of squashes we can procure:).  I’m in a squash-y kind of mood, I guess!

Anyway, the pic above is from my birthday this year.  For new (and senile) readers, for the past two years, I’ve gotten tattoos on my birthday.  The first one, in 2008, was super-significant.  In July of 2007, what was supposed to be just a routine cardiac cath for my dad turned into bypass surgery, which turned into a two week hospital stay.  It happened right over my birthday, and even though Joey had bought us tickets to see The Lion King (the musical), I really wasn’t able to enjoy it because I was so busy worrying.  I was also at a point in my life where my anxiety had pretty much just taken over.  Between worrying about my dad, about my parents getting older, about Puss’s inevitable death, about money, about Joey finding a job, and the ever-present and constant irrational fear that I had terminal cancer and didn’t know, I really wasn’t able to do much other than the basic functions.  Apparently, I hid it pretty well, though, as no one seemed to know just how many problems I was having in my own mind.  Dad’s time in the hospital was pretty freaky…I’m not saying that Mom handled it poorly, far from it, but all of the sudden, I found myself almost “in charge,” having to make sure that things stayed together and serving as the intermediary between our family here in Charlotte and our extended family elsewhere.  Dad came through everything fine, went to cardiac rehab, and does what he’s supposed to do, so it all turned out for the best (thank God), but my anxiety was still really out of control.  I finally sought help for it about a year later, a month before my birthday.

I’d thought about getting a tattoo for years and years and years…thought about what I’d get, where I’d get it, but I’d always been too afraid because of the pain factor.  I’m not one of those who gets freaked out about the idea of having something permanent inked on your body; I believe in choosing the subject matter of a tattoo wisely, so whatever I have put on my body will be something I won’t mind living with forever. 

I don’t know if it was just glee from having gotten to spend 2008 without hospitals and doctors, or if it was the newfound calm I felt from the anxiety meds, but I decided that, if I can bite my fingernails until they are nubs and my fingers ache, then I could handle the pain of a tattoo.  I was pretty nervous telling my parents about it, but my mom decided that she wanted to do it too!  So, we set up the appointment with a tattoo artist who we trusted; we were going to take her entire day on my birthday and let her tattoo me, my mom, and Joey.  We started at 2 pm (when they opened) and left at midnight, after they’d finished Joey’s five hour tattoo.  You can read about my adventure here 🙂

It was awesome to be able to do something so adventurous and brave on the anniversary of what I can very safely say was the worst time of my entire life.  It was like an act of defiance against it, an “I beat you!!” moment.  And, I got a pretty freaking awesome tattoo to show for it.

They don’t lie when they tell you that, once you get one tattoo, you become addicted; it was only a few months later that I started thinking about what I’d get for TAT # 2.  I settled in on the above, my maiden name.  I’m an only child, see, so whenever/ifever Joey and I have kids, there won’t be any “Boyter” lineage to go on, and I was sad about that.  I also got married young; I was only 21, still in college, and some years later, I found myself feeling like I’d lost my identity…like the part of me that had always been “me” got lost somewhere.  I wanted to do something that would let me regain a little of that…I love my married name, and I love Joey, but there’s always a part of you that wants to remain uniquely you, not just a branch of someone else, not just “someone’s wife,” but YOU.

So, I kept talking about it and talking about it and talking about it, but never acted on it.  I decided that I wanted it on my back and that I was really okay if it was a little more conspicuous than my last one.  So, around “birthday-time,” I found myself with a little extra cash, and we headed back over to Top Notch to drop in on everyone and potentially look at some lettering styles to see what I might like.  The next thing you know, Sarah was telling me to sit down and shaving my back (NO, I do NOT have a hairy back, but they always shave you where they’re going to tattoo for accuracy’s sake).  I heard the familiar buzz of the needle and, after about fifteen minutes of nagging, sunburn-like pain, I was the proud owner of my own name;).

Do I plan on doing a third?  Absolutely.  I’ve already got it picked out.  This one, though, is going to be more expensive, so I’m going to have to save up for a while…I don’t know that you’ll be seeing a “Birthday Adventure #3” post…maybe as a reward when I finish my M.A…….but who knows, really?  😉

Birthday Adventure!

Well, it’s officially not my birthday anymore…has been that way for almost an hour. We just got home about 45 minutes ago. It was a relatively monotonous day, but was triumphant and awesome, probably one of the best birthdays I’ve had.

This time last year, Dad was in the hospital; it was the night that we went to see the Lion King, and for a split second at dinner, I felt like everything was going to be okay. I had Joey check on Dad during intermission, and he everything seemed fine. Little did I know that it was leading up to what would be the absolute worst day of my life. That night, in the early morning hours, Dad went into atrial fibrillation and had to be rushed to CCU. Mom called me at 3:40 in the morning and we left immediately for the hospital, and then spent much of the next several days in the CCU/ICU waiting room (not because dad was critical, but at first because he did need constant care and then because they didn’t have any rooms on the cardiac floor for him). Last year’s birthday was terrible. I was faced with the fear that I wouldn’t get to have my Dad around anymore, and the thought of celebrating was the absolute last thing on my mind. In fact, I felt guilty for thinking about anything other than what I could be doing to help hold the family together.

The funny thing about people in an ICU waiting room is that they tend to bond into a little band of friends; they are all dealing with uncomfortable, serious, and sometimes life-threatening situations, so something inside them draws them to one another to try to comfort and pray for each other and help however they can. We laughed with people, prayed with people, encouraged people, cried when there was a death. Sometimes I still remember to pray for the people I’ve come in contact with.
So, today, I wanted to do something totally different and a little wild, to do something that no one would ever really expect me to do in a million years. I had been thinking for quite some time about getting a tattoo, but I’d always been afraid of the prospect of any kind of phyiscal pain, so I’d shied away from it. A few months ago, I decided that, after years and years of gnawing my nails to the quick and being in so much pain I couldn’t even type, I should be able to handle a tattoo. We tentatively set the date for the first weekend in August because Joey would finish his Hebrew classes then, but when he was able to get out of the last one, we changed the date to my birthday.

Suffice it to say that we’re all inked up and thrilled. Here are a few pics from the day: