reflection

Birthday Gift for Myself

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself”

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

A few months ago, I decided what I wanted to give myself for my birthday. It was…a bit radical for me. Despite my liberal beliefs, I am a bit conservative in some areas.

But once the idea took hold in my head, I couldn’t get rid of it. I wanted…no, I needed to do this. I made a goal to have it by my birthday, but it wasn’t possible. However, one week later, I did it. I fulfilled my birthday gift to myself.

Behold:

I honestly never thought I would get a tattoo. I admired them, but I never thought I would get one. However, like I said, over the summer, the idea took hold in my head, and I wanted to do it.

I know a phoenix is a little cliche and possibly trite, but it spoke to me. What better symbol of rebirth could there be after one’s spouse dies and you are forced to figure out a new reality and existence? Plus Harry Potter.

And I love it. I do. I could not stop grinning for hours after I received it. It’s such a small thing, but it felt so transformative. So symbolic.

My tattooist was great – I think he is in his 80s based on what he said, but he has had a very colorful life (and I think he is libertarian based on his comments. That or slightly conservative?!). He had on classic rock in the background, and we had some good chats about the music. It also made me think of my father.

I’m not going to lie. It did hurt. About 75% of it was bearable and mainly resembled a lot of acupuncture needles being placed at the same time. The other 25% caused me to clench my jaw and grip the pillow. But it took only an hour.

I don’t know if it makes sense to be proud of myself for getting a tattoo. But I am. It felt like a radical act…for me.

I know we all likely know this line from Mary Oliver (and I’ve used it in this space before):

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I want to live. To find me. To be me. And this tattoo felt like the first step in that direction.

Happy Birthday to Me.

2014: Kilroy Was Here

In prior years, I felt very sentimental on New Year’s Eve and spent time plumbing the depths of the year to acknowledge the good and bad, come to terms with my feelings and (often tearily) say, “godspeed” to the year, recognizing this year would never occur again.  More recently, I can barely be bothered to shrug and raise a glass. Heaven knows I don’t see midnight very often any longer.  The shrug isn’t meant to denote antipathy; it is more of a “holy shit. The year is ending already?  How is that possible? It feels like it just started!” Life has become a blur, and I’m not sure I could sift through it comprehensively if I wanted to.

But our year deserves something on its way out, doesn’t it? A virtual “Kilroy was Here.”

I don’t think I’d describe 2014 as a great year, but it wasn’t bad.  It was stressful and full of worry and anxiety, especially about Daniel’s school situation.  Full of change. I went through another re-org at work, got yet another new boss (who is amazing by the way) and moved offices twice but packed three times. When I return to work on January 5, I will be in a(nother) new space in a new building.  We’re up-ending systems and technology, and there are so many new faces at work that I have trouble keeping them straight. Jimmy went through a lot of the same although he is now able to work from home, which brings its own highs and lows.

2014 brought lots of snow; snow is different as an adult with school-age children, especially living in an area which still shuts down at the threat of snow.  We had two months of sickness, and I wore glasses for 6 weeks thanks to episcleritis.  No, I don’t think I would classify the first half, definitely the first third, of the year as good.

Our second year of Listen to Your Mother was a success with two nearly sold-out shows, and I can add another dozen wonderful women to those I met in 2013 during our first production year.

Daniel is thriving at his school, and his kindergarten year is going well. He is reading and doing simple math. He is sassy, funny, bossy and sweet.

It sounds so positive, yet why do I feel so down? Part of it may be my own over-sentimentality when it comes to change and endings. Part of it may be due to the holidays.  They were stressful, as they tend to be when you the adult in charge of making magic.  It didn’t help that it rained on Christmas Eve, as well as several days before and several days after.  The back yard is soggy, and little boys need to expend energy they haven’t been able to.  I think we all have a touch of cabin fever, and I feel precious vacation time seeping away faster and faster, making me fret: “have we made memories? Have we done good stuff this year? Can we point to any accomplishments or successes? Are we happy???”

Two beach trips.  Lego Fest. A house over-run with Legos built by a little boy who has become an amazingly proficient Lego builder. Snow. Maybe too much snow. Good food. Lots of books. Lots of good shows watched on TV.  A $250,000 grant awarded at work. Rewatching The Office. Making friends. Defending loved ones and standing up to people when they need it. Laughter. Love.

Not too shabby.

I have stopped making resolutions, and I’ve realized that years are seldom good or bad but usually a mix, especially as we age. So I’ll say this:  goodbye, 2014.  Welcome, 2015. It’s a blank slate, and may it be kind to us all.