Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My First Tattoo

On December 29th 2014 my best friend and I got our first tattoos together. We were both extremely nervous but excited.  I got a beautifully stylized Deathly Hallows tattoo in cobalt blue (the Hallows symbol) and turquoise (the stylized swirls). 

I was nervous, the pain to a lesser extent, but primarily the tattoo itself. Would it be well done? Like to my high standards well done? Would I regret having a tattoo, regardless of the image? I know I love Harry Potter, always have, so I doubted the symbolism would ever be a mistake, but a tattoo is permanent. It is a huge commitment, probably the biggest (children don't stay with you forever even, and sometimes things happen even with your spouse, but a tattoo is in your skin forever). 

I mean, I had thought about it, and I did want it, but part of me thought about how I was partially getting it just to be a rebel, to have a talking point in my skin, and maybe that is the purpose of a tattoo. Maybe the meaning doesn't need to be weightier. And I wanted to commemorate my dear friendship with Rose. I haven't felt so happy with a friend or a friendship in years. I only have maybe 3 others who are on par with what she and I share, and even those 3 are very different friendships, of which only 1 still lives in my town! 

I've had past friends I was immensely close to as well, and also ones who I love dearly now but it isn't the same, you know? Soul mates kind of, versus someone you love but it isn't "easy". I hope that makes sense. Becky was a very close friend, I loved her like no other friend, but it wasn't easy, and we lost it. I really loved Emily too, but she and I apparently were not politically like minded enough for her, because it didn't bother me that we had differences of opinions. Kari was entirely my mistake, jealousy and hurt ruined it due to me feeling immensely close to her, and hurt that I wasn't invited to her wedding and a tiny but jealous she got her happy ending way before mine (she'd been dating him less than a year, and I'd been dating Mike 2-3 years and wasn't even engaged yet).

I honestly think of those three ladies often, but I don't think I'm brave enough to fix anything :'(

I have many many great friends, but to click with someone on the level I'm talking about is rare. To agree with so many of the same things, to look forward to seeing one another no matter how frequently you see each other and to be able to pick up where you left off after years is a rare and wondrous gift. 

So here we (Rose and I) are at Clovis Ink, at 5:00 on a Monday evening. We chatted about tattoos, how much we'd heard it hurt, and how cool tiny teacup tattoos on our pinkies would be (maybe later we'll get them together) so that as you are actually drinking out of a teacup and your pinkie is extended you show it off). 

We filled out our paperwork (liability releases), and got to talking about handwriting. I can't do cursive, whereas Rose likes her cursive best. 

I decided to go first, (which I guess was Rose's idea too. She is a self described "pull off the bandaid" type too) and I just hoped that I'd be brave! I tried to breathe (that was hard initially) and I kinda failed at first! I got dizzy and lightheaded like I do when I get my blood drawn and IVs put in. I think I lasted maybe 2-5 minutes until I needed a break. I put my head in my hands and asked for water. It didn't take too long to feel better once I drank some water, and I went for it again. At some point I ended up holding Rose's hand for moral support. I said colorful things like, "oh this is bothersome" and "this isn't the most pleasant thing ever", ha ha! I don't think I swore once somehow! 

I discovered my ability to distract myself and Rose by keeping the conversation flowing. I asked her about her siblings, her family, her first pet, her favorite book series, her first fandom (Anime, Yu-Gi-Oh and Naruto), etc. I also gave my answers as well, and it took up enough time to breeze through the remainder if my tattoo. It was annoying, but easily forgotten while we were talking. 

Once mine was finished we swapped seats and Rose got her crescent moon with swirling interior, and three tiny stars. 


Her placement was her left wrist on the interior side. It hurt quite a but judging by her reaction. I held her hand for support and she worried she was hurting me (she didn't at all). I tried to keep the conversation rolling. We talked to our tattooist Brian, asked him about how long he'd been tattooing (5 years), what got him into that profession, his art hanging on the walls, etc.

Anyway we also talked about Lost Girl, Lord of the Rings (plus how Mike and I had "remet"), movie marathons, actors, Guardians of the Galaxy, how we'd found fandoms, and all things geeky. It was a very fun conversation and it was enlightening, I think even with all the time we've spent talking (and talking and talking) in the past few months we still have barely scratched the surface of topics! We've spent at least a full 24+ hours talking about the world and we still haven't had a lull in conversation! 

After our tattoos were finished, we paid Brian and thanked him. Now we'll both have a permanent reminder of one another. This is one friendship that is destined to last. I think I chose the right friend to make such a permanent decision with <3

I feel so incredibly blessed to have found a great friend like Rose, and it is so bittersweet that she is leaving soon. I'm the "Good Luck Chuck" of my friends. If you want to move at some point, all you need to to get remotely close to me and within a year you'll be deployed, find a job offer you or your spouse can't refuse, or somehow you'll end up across the country (or in this case, across the world!). 

I intend to still keep in as much contact as possible with my busy schedule, and I know things work out how they are meant to. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Disposable Friendships

In our society if it isn't easy, pleasing, perfect, and what you imagined it would be like, we at "taught" to remove it as soon as possible. This ideology is prevalent throughout every facet I can think of. Your car runs fine but doesn't have GPS built in? Ditch it. Your boyfriend made you mad? He must be a horrible person so get rid of him! Did your friend dare to have a differing opinion? What a total *witch*! 

This is the mentality of most people I come across, and what is worse is I still never see it coming. 

I have to admit, I am absolutely not like this. I believe in making the best of what I have, working through trouble spots in my relationships and agreeing to disagree without holding it against someone. 

I find myself constantly wishing for a like-minded friend, someone who will be there for me if I need someone. I would be there for any one of my friends in a heartbeat if they needed to talk, or to just have a good cry. I have had very, very few friends who have ever been there fire me in any capacity and it seems that they leave me shortly after my needs are met. I have so much to offer as a friend, I am loyal, I'll stick around, I will listen and I feel I have the life experience to help many people if they are going through the difficulties I have been through. Quite honestly I want to help people, I want to be a friend, I want to bend over backward for your benefit. 

I keep making friends who throw me aside when we have differences of opinions, or a miscommunication. In a marriage those aren't reasons to bail (for a rational adult) so how do "friends" rationalize this act of betrayal? Why not tell me what I do that upsets you so I can have the opportunities to fix it? Why is it so hard to agree to disagree and continue to support each other?

Lastly, a single mother will try to protect her children from heartache by not introducing a man until things are relatively stable so that her children don't get attached then break their hearts when they leave. So how come a mother will make friends with another mother, let their children bond and become friends and then tear their children away from these friends when they no longer are willing to put effort in the relationship with the other mom? Am I the only mother who thinks of this? I care about my kids having friends, and I'd at least try very hard to work at a relationship with another mom who my kinds were involved with her children.

Where did the notion of "it takes a village to raise a child" go? Why is there a marked sense of "everyone for him/herself"? Why can't there be a real support system of women who take care of one another and help with what they can? I haven't found this anywhere, and it is a real shame since I would love to have this comrodery with friends. 

I have great difficulty in finding friend, not even taking into account compatibility. I feel that I can be compatible with nearly any type of person, you merely need to overlook differences and work at meeting one another's needs. That isn't to say innately toxic relationships should be endured, but think before you rashly cast someone aside. Think of you children (if you have any), theirs (if they have any), and the friend in question. And before cutting ties, grow up and confront the issues before throwing in the towel or cutting off someone without even attempting to fix the problem. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Minimum Wages are Poverty Wages

A family can't live on minimum wage at 40 hours a week. How do I know? Because I make more than minimum wage and we struggle. With only one adult working in the home it isn't possible to survive. And there are many single moms and dads out there. My family only makes $25,000, but someone making minimum wage makes $14,500 a year. We are currently on Food Stamps and WIC besides living in income-based public housing. If me making $12.37 isn't enough to make it working 40 hours per week, how is $7.55 going to do it?

Yes, if we had no car  (we pay less than $300 per month on a 2007 vehicle) or phones (we have data plans I am sure we *could* live without that cost $100 a month) we'd be able to afford food without government assistance. But still, we make more than those on minimum wage, and we still qualify for "assistance" which indicates we don't make enough money to support our family without help (by the way, they take into account your gross income before taxes to determine if you are eligible for government aid). 

We've never had to support ourselves and our children on $7.55 an hour, so I can't say for certain it is or isn't possible, but if we didn't have assistance we wouldn't have a car, a roof over our heads, food, or the money to buy toiletries. We don't have high speed internet, cable/Satelite (although we do have lowest-speed internet and Netflix), our girls have 90% free hand-me-downs, and we live In income-based public housing, etc. I think we live pretty simply but I can't fathom living on even a dollar less per hour and surviving, let alone thriving. We are incredibly blessed to have insurance through my job but that takes $500+ out of my monthly paycheck. 

I'm personally not complaining about how little we have, we definitely have just enough (but I'd like to not have to depend on Food Stamps and WIC), but I can't imagine how it is okay for a single parent to make so little and depend on government agencies. 

Poor people aren't necessarily poor because they are "lazy" or don't work hard enough. Wages need to be increased for the benefit of those who really need it. And you know what? Who cares if some people don't "deserve" it, it isn't my business to judge them and it isn't my problem how they choose to spend the wages they EARNED. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Breastfeeding Experience

Breastfeeding has been an incredible experience, both extraordinarily difficult and beautifully rewarding. To begin with, it was the hardest combination of things I have ever had to push through. I have had more difficult times with emotional struggles or physical strain but never both so much as breastfeeding was in the beginning. I cried so much, I fought for the “good latch” (even if her latch was perfect it still hurt a LOT in the beginning). Pain, emotions, tears and lack of sleep. 

Pretty much what you sign up for when you are a new parent, but this was overwhelming. It was why I quit breastfeeding Mairead early on. I couldn’t handle the pain, I didn’t know at the time why it hurt, and wasn’t patient enough to wait it out in hopes it would go away. I gave up pumping too with her because it took such a long time to get anything (I had a manual hand-pump that was for one side at a time). I couldn’t keep up with her needs with that dinky pump, and it took up literally all of my time.

With Eili I didn’t expect it to be easy, but I was determined. That was all it took. It was just as hard (but for some different reasons, as well as the pain and time-consumingness). Eili fed all the time (and my reaction to her was simply “if she cries, whip out a boob”. It worked. It hurt for a few weeks, and I persevered through it. Supply and demand is correct. You just have to really commit to it, actually basically sitting around for a few weeks (or months) feeding your baby non stop. At first I hated this. I hated having to never be able to set her down, to have to be truly constantly on call for her. I hated how no one else could feed her, how I was her basic resource for everything. Eventually I began to look at it like this: she will only be small for a little while, she will only need me like this temporarily, and every time she needs me gives me a break from life. Who doens’t need a break now of days? It is a blessing to breastfeed, even though you could also look at it as a burden. Now that we are almost 6 months into it, it is amazingly easier than bottle feeding ever was. I carry her food with me, I don’t have to make her a bottle in the middle of the night, and she is getting the very best nutrition. If you can breastfeed why wouldn’t you? I do not judge a woman who actually cannot breastfeed, but it honestly confuses me why you wouldn’t if you were able.

I judge myself very critically now that I look back at my giving up with Mairead. I was weak, but she was my first and I feel like you crumble much easier with the first child than subsequent children. My backbone is now iron compared to when I first had Mairead. Now you couldn’t hope to change my mind unless your research was bulletproof. It was damn hard to breastfeed Eili, but I am a dang Super Mom for doing it all. I work full-time, I am a mom all the time, I clean my house, I cook meals, and I breastfeed and/or pump while juggling all of this! If I can do it you sure as heck can!

The closeness and love I share with Eili is unlike anything I have ever had with anyone, and sadly that includes Mairead. I love them both, but the bond was instant with Eili and has grown exponentially deeper quicker than my love for Mairead grew. I am so disappointed in myself for ruining that potential with Mairead. It breaks my heart for mommas who choose to not breastfeed at all when they could. The bond is unexplainable and it is richer and more rewarding than anything I’ve found so far in life. It makes me personally a better mother and wife as well as citizen because my empathy has skyrocketed. 

I now don't know when I'll ever want to stop! I was so tempted to "get my body back" as in, not be needed constantly, at first. But now, I love it. I figure, if it is great for my baby then it would be selfish to stop (ever?) so.... when will I? I guess who knows, but eventually probably ;)