Wear Your Heart on Your Skin….

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“wear your heart on your skin in this life”
Sylvia Plath, Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams: Short Stories, Prose, and Diary Excerpts

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I quite literally took Sylvia’s advice and had Joey Singleton at Ethos Tattoos in Saline, Michigan etch hearts into my skin.

There is an intimacy to tattooing. I let Joey touch me in places that no one but lovers and doctors have ever been. I trust him completely. Our conversations during my appointment range from sarcastic jokes to secrets I wouldn’t share with anyone else. He holds my words in his heart, they travel down his arm into the needle and under my skin. They are trapped there forever. Sometimes I hear them whispering to me in the middle of the night.

The act of tattooing is therapeutic. A gentle buzzing that sets me on edge, but somehow brings peace. I like to see the redness of my raised skin and the stippling of blood. How it runs down my arm. Joey rinses it off and softly wipes it away. His needle bites my skin and more of the design emerges. Its beauty and pain, and I want more of both.

Frequently, I remember what it was like to sit in  Joey’s chair, I hear his voice and feel the adrenaline course through my bloodstream. My skin becomes covered in goosebumps and I wish I could see him one more time. Have him keep tattooing me till I feel normal. Whatever in the hell normal is. I’m done with tattoos for now though. My story continues, but in the written word. For the time being anyway.

The work I had done is an original. No one will ever have it. Andi Schoenbaum is the artist that graciously shared her work with me. Please check out her website. I’m honored to have her art tattooed on my skin. The print spoke to me in ways you can’t imagine. It’s a part of me now. Forever. Thank you Andi. Thank you too Joey. You both are fabulous artists and individuals. I’m proud to know you both.

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Picture It and Write It-Scars in Ink

Thank you Ermilia for the kick ass photo prompt this week.

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The tattoo is the mark of the soul.
It can act as a window through which we can see inside,
or it can be a shield to protect us from those that can not see past the surface.

They lie side by side in a king size bed. Their black lab, Mowgli, takes up the other half. He juts his paws out and appears to be running as he dreams. A soft whimper escapes from his open mouth.

“What do you think he’s dreaming of?, Damon inquires.

“Chasing rabbits in the woods,” Rhiannon replies.

“Why do you think he’s chasing rabbits?”

“Because he’s smiling.”

Damon shakes his head and chides, “Dogs don’t smile honey.”

“Mowgli does, but only when rabbits are involved,” Rhiannon giggles.

Damon turns on his side and faces Rhiannon. She is so beautiful. Green eyes, freckled nose, and red hair. Real red hair.

She continues to lie on her stomach but turns her head to stare into his blue eyes.  He begins to gently trace the lines of ink on her back. Wishing he could understand her need to have a needle full of color driven continuously into her skin. It becoming an amalgamation of many stories into one. Harmonious in its chaos.

She looks at him. “You want to know why, don’t you.”

“Yes.”

“Is it that important to you?”

Damon lies and tells her, “no.”

Eyeing Damon suspiciously she begins to speak. The tale that Rhiannon weaves is almost beyond comprehension. He had no idea the pain she’s endured during her life. He wonders how she ever made it. A beautiful, broken woman with ink permanently etched into her skin. They are her scars and badges of honor. Rhiannon wears them proudly to prove that she is a survivor. Oh God, how Damon loves her. Even with her scars.

“My step father raped me and then passed me around to his friends. I was a young girl and confused. It felt good to be needed. Felt good when he touched me. I thought he cared about me. As I grew older, he wanted less to do with me, and his attention turned to my little sister. I endured pain and humiliation, but I would be damned if he was going to touch her. One night while he and my mother slept, I shot him. I made sure that he would never touch another young girl again, especially my baby sister.”

Damon stares at her unblinking. He can’t believe his ears.

“You asked me why, and now I’ve told you. The images cut into my skin are reminders of a life left behind. I didn’t get charged with anything and Sis was safe. At 15, I became a grown up, but my innocence was gone long before that.”

“I have no idea what to say,” Damon admits.

“There’s nothing to say, and no balm invented to fix me,” Rhiannon explains. “Isn’t that all we ultimately are, scars that have been repaired?”

“I guess you’re right, but I’m sorry. That’s all I can think of to say.”

Looking into his eyes she says, “that’s all you need to say, and that you love me.”

“I love you Rhiannon, with everything I have.”

She rolls over and into Damon’s waiting arms. He kisses every inch of the tattoo on her back. Rhiannon gives a contented sigh, and watches as Mowgli continues to dream of rabbits and smile his doggy smile.

Mirrors and Tattoos

Infinity

Infinity tattooed on the left wrist. Roger Darling and I decided that life was better, together.

I’m looking right at the other half of me…..

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. Oh hell, it’s been a tumultuous few years. Who am I kidding? I’m fucking crazy, and life will always be tumultuous. However, it will most definitely never be boring. I have struggled with a lot of issues over the last 25 years. Roger has been with me every step of the way.

Last Saturday morning I awoke with a smile and Dashel, the Wonder Schnauzer barking in my face. He was standing on the side of the bed, staring into my eyes and pawing at my arm. Heidi Jo, his lovely daughter was laying the bulk of her fat body on me and licking my nose. Roger Darling walked in and laughed at me.

“Five more minutes Ma.”, I murmured as the dogs continued their happy assaults on me.

“Nope, get up we’re going to the gym.”, he replied.

After a cup of coffee and clothing change, we were on our way. I whined and bitched during the entire five minute car ride. Roger did not falter. He made sure we got a work out in. I looked at myself in the mirrored wall and cringed. It was time to run. We both did, without complaint.

Afterward RD went to lunch with friends and I showered and drank coffee. I caught up on Friday Fictioneers and tried to write a little. I wasn’t feeling very inspired though, so I kept reading.

Roger came home and sat next to me on the couch. We’ve been snuggling so much. Laughing. Touching. It’s been a time of rediscovery. We’re happy. He makes me want to be a better person. He makes me better by loving and understanding me when no one else does.

With the springlike weather we decided to head to Ann Arbor and wander around Main Street. There were no big plans made. No reservations. Just us, clad in jeans, and holding hands. We shopped at the M Den and Cherry Republic. Roger held the door for a nice couple.

“Thank you, you are such a gentleman.”, she told my husband.

I looked at her and replied, “I kinda like it when he isn’t.”

She and her husband laughed and she fired back, “I’m not going there.”

“Not to worry honey, I already did.”, I exclaimed.

All four of us continued laughing as we made our separate ways around the Michigan based store. We partook of free samples, our sweet tooth momentarily sated.

We meandered down a few blocks and had a dark brew at The Arbor Brewing Company. The beer was smooth and quickly went to our heads. I sent a picture of my beer to Adam Boy. Explained how he should be working at ABC. He’d fit right in with the other hipsters.

“There’s a tattoo parlor on this street!”, I blurted. “Let’s go get our couple’s tattoo.”

“Are you serious?”, Roger inquired.

“Yes, let’s do it!”

Turns out Name Brand Tattoo could get us in. In an hour. We partook of dinner at The Blue Nile. We munched on curried meats and vegetables. Licked the food from our fingers and ate traditional Ethiopian bread.

“Tell me about the emotional affair you had.”, he said.

“Honey, I don’t want to hurt you any more than I already have.”, I explained.

During the course of our meal, the story slipped out. Not all of it, but enough. The thing was, he never got mad at me. That’s my sweet husband. Don’t think he’s a pussy though. He’s not. He’ll defend me with his dying breath. Don’t test him, or me.

With dinner finished, we headed back to Name Brand Tattoo. Cole inked us up and then it was time to go back home. To our little town, dogs, and warm bed. As I drifted off to sleep, I looked at my tat and smiled. It was the same as RD’s. It was infinity. A bit of destiny too.

The Subject: Fragment

copyright-Victor Koos

Love is the extra effort we make in our dealings with those whom we do not like and once you understand that, you understand all. This idea that love overtakes you is nonsense. This is but a polite manifestation of sex. To love another you have to undertake some fragment of their destiny.Quentin Crisp

I saw her photo and had to write about her. Won’t tell you her name. That’s not part of the deal. I tell you her story. Or, what I think her story is anyway. She’s a beauty. Young and fierce. She’s her own woman. I love that about her. Yet I’ve never heard her voice or held her hand. This woman is a force to be reckoned with. I’m proud of her. I’m honored to write about her.

Fragment?

Never!

Ebony

Rose

Ripped stockings

Her story

Her scars

In ink

Sapphire eyed

Tousled raven hair

Lethal high heels

Inviting lips

Displays wicked grins

Perfect nose

Fuck you attitude

Knows her mind

Her soul

Her father’s daughter

Soft-heart

Straight Edge?

Maybe

Probably not

In her darkness

She sparkles

She glows

She shines

Completely unaware

Of her phenomenal brilliance

You Continue to be the Life of Me

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Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.-Susan Scarf Merrell

Enjoying the mid-morning bustle of the coffee shop, Tia and Ray take in the sweet smell of pastry in the air begrudgingly. Tia, with her head bowed stares into her coffee cup, hoping for some sort of salvation. She’s ashamed, and dreads the conversation she feels coming on between her brother and herself, the one where she’ll tell him yet again of another sad story of “love lost.” For his part, Ray simply waits, holding his coffee cup close to his lips. He blows on the steamy brew gently to cool it, but manages to burn his lip upon his first sip anyway.

After the usual expletive, Ray knowingly says, “Sis, again? Really, you have to stop running away from your shame.”

Giving him a wounded smile, Tia replies, “You know I can’t. Even after all these years and instances, wounds are fresh, painful to the touch. You know it’s how we were raised. We were always afraid of being inadequate. Not worthy.”

While she speaks, Ray takes Tia’s hand into his, and begins caressing it gently with his fingertips.

“Fuck this bullshit. Let’s finish this damn coffee and go get fresh ink!”, Tia blurts out defiantly.

“No Sis,” Ray replies, “We need to talk, to get this all out in the open. Out of your system.”

“Out of my system,” Tia almost cries, “What do you want me to say? That daddy always belittled me, so that’s why I chase unavailable men? Big fucking deal. I’m a wreck. It happens.”

“Come on now Tia,” Ray implores, “It was the same dad who told me that I was a sissy, just because I had trouble holding back my feelings. He told me I had to be tough. ‘Walk it off,’ he would say. And what did that do for me, except cause me to spend years questioning my sexuality.”

“But I’m not like you, Ray. I am tough,” Tia replies “I don’t need to love like you do, stability, a home. All I need is to fuck, drink, smoke, and swear. I don’t need anyone or anything to get in the way of that. I just… I just want to run till I die.”

Shaking his head, Ray bluntly states, “You’re so full of shit Sis. You do want love. You want someone to take your body, mind and soul. You want that person to tell you it’s okay to be fucked up. It is OK, you know.” Then softening, Ray says, “You want to be loved, I can see it in your eyes. They speak far louder than your actions.”

Tia’s angry eyes soften at her brother’s words. “Brother, you’re a good one. And you’re right, I do want to be loved-I deserve to be loved. But who will have me? I’ve wrecked my life. I’ve got nothing to offer but my sex. Who will love me for that alone?”

Exasperated, Ray blurts out, “Sis, listen to you. Don’t be so goddamned pitiful! See that you have much more to offer than ‘just your sex,’ and you’ll start to be able to love yourself. Love yourself first. Then others will follow suit.”

“Gawd Ray, that is such bullshit! I’ve loved myself so much already, that my clit is broken.”

Looking at her, Ray begins to laugh so hard that he chokes, chortling, “Woman, you are a nut!”

“Yes dear, I know,” responds Tia, “But I sure am fun! You know, you’re right – I do want love. I want to put my heart out there. I want to wake up in the morning next to a man I know could tear my heart out, but won’t. The kind that will let me fall apart and hold me, that will let me scream, throw dishes and act like a child. And then when I’m done going crazy, soothe me with kind words and gentle hands. But I also want a man who’ll kick my ass when I need it, too. I want to be loved fully!”

“Then you’ve got to wait for Mr. Right, instead of Mr. Right Now, right?” questioned Ray.

“Right. I tell ya what Broseph, if I promise to swear off booze and sketchy men, will you promise to swear off the self-loathing you’re so good at?” responds Tia hopefully.

“It’s a deal Sis,” Smiles Ray, “And about that fresh ink?”

Giving Ray a lopsided grin, Tia responds with, “Oh honey, that’s going to happen. I’ve already texted my artist and made an appointment. Drink up, we have to be there in a half hour!”

“You’re going to be the death of me, you know that, right?” laughs Ray.

“Ah yes,” Tia now beams, “But you continue to be the life of me, I mean, until Mr. Right comes along. Now let’s blow this pop stand, and get tattooed!”

Sundays in the Grooming Salon-Revisited

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face. -Ben Williams

Today I’m quite emotional, but when am I not? I have to say goodbye to my second home. To a job I love. And to people that I think of as my children.  They are my confidants, and my friends too. But they are ultimately my “other” children. They complete me. I know this post is lengthy, but it has to be to explain how I feel for each one of salon bitches.

Lucy: She was the first one I fell in love with. She was cranky, snarky and dramatic. Such a brat, but so damn funny. I found the more I got to know her the more I loved her. She is a lovely Goth girl. Her hair color changes with the phases of the moon. Her dark eyebrows made darker with kohl pencil. Her lips red and full. A Medusa piercing above her lip and one in her nose. Her ears are gauged, but I don’t really notice the holes anymore, because all I see when I look at her are her eyes. Her eyes are the color of midnight. Her laugh is a symphony and her dirty whorish mouth, music to my ears. We have often said to each other we wish we could find a time machine. One that would take me back to her age, or bring her forward to mine. She is me and I am her. We’re twins even though we look nothing alike and we have a 20 year age difference. If I was her age, I would be exactly like her. I AM her but older and blonder.

Marlena: She is my Goth goddess. Her painted on eyebrows and curvy body are to die for. She has a wicked laugh and an arch to her eyebrow that would make you melt. She is provocative and wickedly funny. She and I have issues with ourselves. With our fears, passions and emotions. For some reason we get each other, even when no one else understands us. The first time I met her, her hair was the color of a Beta Fish, vibrant blue, and a shocking magenta. I commented on it immediately. We barely knew each other then but I liked her instantly. We have become close like sisters. She told me recently I am like a mother to her. I replied, Honey, here, I am your mother. She smiled and said, Yes, yes you are. I love her and I know that she will find her way in this life. Though I may not be right beside her every step of the way, she will make sure to keep in contact to share her joys and sadness with me.

Betty: She is like a young child when you see her. You think she is all of 17. She is tiny but full of life. A beauty. Slender, with gorgeous blue eyes. A smile that lights up a room. I love to watch her groom a dog. The loving care she gives to each one of her dogs amazes me. She told me she loved me as she was finishing her shift last Thursday and I burst into tears. She is the one that I’ve most recently gotten to know. I still want to know more about her. Talk to her about her writing. She’s a poet, and she has carried life inside of her too. She is a good momma. Her baby boy goes with her everywhere. Says her life wasn’t complete until he was born. I will miss her smiling eyes and wicked grin. The way she loves animals and focuses solely on them when she’s in the “zone”.  I will miss her so.

Clara: She’s the happiest, earthiest little hippie Goth I know. She’s a little bit of German dynamite. I’ve told her on more than one occasion to come live with me. I’d be happy to take care of her. Her eyes are like that of a cat. Their color I can’t even describe. They are more yellow than hazel. Her hair is the color of wheat ready for harvest. She talks a mile a minute but you understand every word. She is tatted and gorgeous. She wears her art with pride. She is an artist in her own right. She is designing a spine piece for me. I can’t wait to see it! She and I sang the Making Christmas song from that movie during the holidays. La, la, la, la. She is an earth girl and loves to camp. I look at her like she’s crazy. I ask her, why the hell do you want to sleep outside. She said, there is no better peace than lying on the ground, looking up and seeing the stars. Plus her boyfriend is probably in the sleeping bag with her so that makes it even better. I’m sure we’ll go see Joey our tattoo artist sometime. Hang out and flirt with him. Or go to Factory Night at Necto.

Rock: What to say about Rock. He’s a tall blonde god, with blue eyes I could swim in. His hugs are beyond compare. He’s funny and makes me laugh so hard I become weak and I ache all over. He was one of the first employees I took a shine to. He let me in and we became fast friends. I screamed when he showed me an old picture of me on his phone recently. It was from before I started my weight loss program. He says he looked at it and was shocked. Said he never thought of me as overweight. He just saw my beautiful face. I love him like he’s my own. He is, essentially. He really is one of mine. I love that he gets me, even though I’m old enough to be his mother. He never lets me get away with doing all the work. Oh and he calls me a whore all the damn time. Some would say that’s disrespectful, but for me I find it fucking hilarious! I make sure to say something filthy to prove to him that I kinda am. I miss him already.

Renaissance Girl: When my husband first saw her, he said she was a cutie. He wasn’t lying. She is a gor-geous! After some of our conversations, I tell her she is just like me when I was young. I told her, see you don’t have to change as you get older. You can still be a potty mouth. You can still be loud, gregarious, outgoing, smiley and funny. She and I have shared some wild stories. We’ve motivated each other to take of our bodies. To get healthy and nurture ourselves positively. She is young, exuberant and kinda jaded. I will miss her smile, and the fact that she makes me feel young.

Holly: How do I describe Holly? She’s a firecracker. Smart, loud, funny. We are so much alike. We are the same age. Born days apart. Adopted. We love the same music. Have a propensity to be a bit mouthy and say the word, fuck. We have past loves that still devastate us when we recall and share the memories. We love our lives but strive for more. More life, more time, more love. She is tough. I believe she could kick my ass. I don’t ever want to chance finding out if she can. I love her and I will miss her. She was the one that wanted me to work with her. She’s proud of the work I do. I’m proud to call her my friend.

Today as I leave, I will take with me the scent of dirty dog, their hair, their slobber on my chin from kisses and maybe even a bite or scratch. I will also take with me love, hugs, kisses, and terrific memories of those that I’ve worked with and come to love. Though I walk out that door, I know I will see them all again. They will still be a part of my life. I will miss my Sundays in the salon though. My Sundays will never be the same. I will miss them them with all my heart.

I Like the Pain, the Bite, the Sting

I think the definition of woman should be open wound. – Joey Singleton

I like the pain, the bite, the sting. The piercing of the flesh. The transfer of my dream to reality. My story being told on my canvas. My skin. The buzz of the machine. The feel of the needle. The transfer of color. The sound calms my chaotic mind. Soothes me.

The first time I spoke to Joey, I liked him instantly. His voice was like buttah. I told him my idea for a tattoo. He gave me his cell phone number (big shock). We exchanged a few texts, a few pictures, a few ideas. We made the appointment for the next Saturday. I was anxious, but excited too. I’d been waiting 12 years for my second tattoo.

The next Saturday, I sat in a comfortable chair in the shop. Tried to breathe deeply, calmly. I waited patiently while Joey prepped. He’s very methodical. I looked at the walls around me. They were covered with his artwork. He has a penchant for dead stuff. Zombies. I found that fascinating, really. As we talked, I found him to be fascinating too.  We talked about love, life, family. Religion too. He’s a Buddhist. I’m a Christian. We talked philosophy. All the while my leg twitched, the machined whirred, the needle bit my skin and my beautiful, dead alter ego came to life.

His step-mom asked me why I wanted Sally. I told her even though I was a sparkly, funny blonde girl, I had a sad, dark side. Plus, I love groovy dead chicks. I like her story too. Her song. She loves Jack. She almost doesn’t get him. But in the end he sees her beauty and falls madly in love with her. I’ve never been a typical beauty, so I felt I could identify with her.

We take a break. I look down at my leg. There’s blood everywhere. There’s pain too. I see beautiful scarlet hair. Large, sad eyes. Like mine. Tiny mouth. Scars. Everything I wanted.

We continue. My leg twitches. There’s pain. I know how to deal with it though. Joey calms me with his words. The sound of his voice. His extremely gentle touch. The red hair, that hurts the worst. There’s so much of it. I endure. Listen to Joey. Finally, I look down and we’re finished. He cleans my leg, takes pictures, and posts it on Facebook. The likes and comments start rolling in.

I pay my bill, and get my tattoo care sheet. As I get ready to leave, I hug Joey. Tell him thank you. I try extremely hard not to cry. Even with happy endorphins coursing through my bloodstream, I can cry so easily. I told him I’d call him again. He just smiles and says you’re welcome, my love.

Could it be possible to fall in love with someone that inflicts pain on you? Yes, I think so. No, really I don’t. But I certainly love what he does. His art. His beauty. His talent, is unparalleled. I DID go back to him for another tattoo. And I WILL go back to him again. And again. And again.

If you are interested in finding out more about Joey Singleton, please comment on the post. I will be happy to get you in touch with him. He’s the only artist I will go to. The only one I trust with my canvas. My story being told on it.