heart on my sleeve

I have more than a couple tattoos. All of them shell out a different meaning, a different significance to my life, but I don't think any of them have hit me the way this new one has. 

When I was younger, and even now to some extent, I was very reluctant to take any time to really think about my future. I don't mean thinking about school, what I want to do for my career, but really thinking about me and who I will personally become in the future. If I remember correctly, starting around age 13, I never thought too much ahead because I couldn't see myself living past age 18. I never planned on killing myself or anything of the sort, but where most of my friends can delve into this deep, elaborate construct of what they think they'll be like when they 'grow-up', I never got past legality. Two years later I'm starting to see that I have a good long life ahead of me, and I couldn't be more excited to get on living it.

So now that I've dropped the assumption that I'll drop dead any second, I've designed this tree on me, basically, the Tree of My Life, and not only do I get to live and experience my life as it progresses, but I get to watch the progression in the form of color, slowly working it's way up this tree. It's exciting to think that now, when I'm just barely getting into my adult life, the tree will be very black and white, and as I get older and gain experiences, more and more color will be added and therefore more and more life will be represented.

In my last blog I talked about the dates that I've picked so far. Think about your 'Life Tree': What dates would you include?

think about your ink.

I got a new tattoo today.

Four hours of the worst pain of my entire life.

Here it is in a nutshell: An Acacia-type tree with branches/trunks that wrap around each other and my leg in a DNA format. On each of the leafy plateaus are books, sort of growing out of the tree. There are twenty-something books altogether. As we go along on the covers of the books will be dates that are significant to my life. It's lowest point is the back of my heel, and it ascends up to about mid thigh. 

Normally [surprisingly] I am very good with tattoo and piercing pain. I won't lie about it hurting but I usually can get by without more than a wince or an expletive here and there...Not this time.

Todd (Studio City Tattoo) really put me through the ringer. This being the third time I've worked with him (he did my Shel Silverstein arm-piece as well as my feet) I trust him very much to meet me all the way with my ridiculous ideas and he definitely delivered. Although I was probably the most irritating client (several minutes were spent with me shaking due to all the trauma and random whines/moans/yelps of pain every now and again), he worked through everything and gave me the start of a gorgeous leg sleeve.

Right now it actually feels very nice. I'm usually a big fan of getting tattooed; I actually like the feeling a lot. Not in some masochistic "I-get-off-on-this" way, but the adrenaline rush is just what one needs after a while of monotony. Today wasn't necessarily an exception, but it did take a lot of stress just to get to this point.
I can't wait until we get to coloring it and adding the dates. I have five so far: The rest will come as I age.

1. 12-30-06 -- The day my grandfather passed away. I loved him and it being one of the first deaths I've ever dealt with hit me kind of hard. I miss him every day. There are a lot of things that happened on/around that day; a lot of things that affected not only me but the people around me I care about. It's going on the tree to signify moving on.

2. 6-27-05 -- The day I knew I wanted to pursue music forever. It may seem insignificant to you, but that night I got the opportunity to get on stage and sing a song with Danger Radio. It was the first time I had even been on the same stage as any kind of band, and even though I look back at videos of that night and shudder at how awfully my nerves affected my voice, I remember the elation I felt being able to be up there. It's going on the tree to remind me to keep working at it.

3. 12-15-06 -- I won't go into too much detail on this one; it's very much for myself. This was just a good day. Nothing significant or extravagant happened, but I've always remembered that day for it's peace. It's going on the tree to show me that even though --friendships, relationships, life-- don't always work out as you want them to, you still have memories.

4. 12-10-08 -- December seems to wield plenty of dates for me; who knew? This was the very first time I performed my own music on stage. We were doing Soapbox at Mission College and I arrived there completely by myself, so nervous that at one point during the drive I actually turned around to bail. It's going on the tree to signify following my instinct and going through with everything I desire, because I'll never know what happens if I don't try.

5. 2-2-10 -- Yep! You guessed it! Again, stupid to you means the world to me. This is the day Stick to Your Guns approached me about using my cover for their new album. I'm honored to be a part of this. Who knows what will come from this? Maybe nothing, maybe everything. But this is going on the tree to remind me of the day where I felt absolutely unstoppable.

So many memories yet to make. I can't wait to put them on the tree.

coming to terms and loving yourself.

I've been using the term "in retrospect" a lot lately. For a minute there, I thought I may have been backpedaling.

Thinking back to the person I had been over the last two, maybe three years, I can't help but laugh and be appalled all at the same time. Whenever I look back that far I see only someone with some very serious abandonment issues, and someone desperate to make a name for herself.

I don't miss it. It seems weird to me (and I'm sure to you) that all of my nonsense could be solved with six months of me-time. I was certain that I was just far too 'messed-up' to be fixable. Nowadays I'm very proud of who I am, and who I hope to become. I think I am slowly (and sometimes tentatively or hesitantly) taking the right steps to get myself where I'd like to be.

However, there are always those days where I worry I'm stuck in a personalized episode of the Twilight Zone and though I think I have reached some sort of 'plateau of normalcy' I really am just as crazy as when I started. That all of the soul-searching I tried to put so much stake into was really just an unfortunate roundabout.

...but you know what? At this point, I may just have to take crazy. Everyone's entitled a little bit of crazy. :)

what holds us down

Over the last week, though I've had both good and bad days, one emotion trumps the rest: nervousness.

I'm no stranger to anxiety. I often take things to the extremes within my own mind and used to have very frequent, sometimes relentless panic attacks. An inside joke with an old coworker/friend got me to get "just breathe" in Italian tattooed on my wrists, and as stupid as it may sound, it has definitely helped at the best [worst] of times.

However, even with all the support I have behind me and those calming words, I've been finding myself more and more anxious these past several days and it's thoroughly exhausting me. There's so much to worry about!

I'm trying immerse myself in my studies; I love learning about Deaf culture and learning American Sign Language and I know I would be very happy choosing interpreting, or possibly even teaching ASL as my career, but I worry. I worry that I'll never be good enough, or that I won't push myself hard enough to get involved in the community. I'm not normally a shy or reserved person, but in this particular community I am definitely a fish out of water.

Not only do my own self esteem issues worry me, I'm worried about my level of dedication. Trust me, I want it. I enjoy it, it makes me happy, and there's no reason why I wouldn't want to pursue it forever. Unfortunately this education/life choice is combating my original love; my first love in this lifetime: music.

It seems as if the very second I quit studying music in school and switched my major to Deaf Studies, my entire life as a musician got pushed over into the fast lane. I began very actively writing my own music and performing shows as regularly as possible. I got into a band of phenomenal musicians who I love and respect. I've gotten a taste of touring, and come June 1st I will have a taste of what it's like to be on a real, studio album release for a great band. Now I'm in the process of rewriting songs to hopefully jump into the studio with good friends and put down my first full-length album. Things are really coming together and I worry that I may drop everything I'm doing to go after this "dream". I know that school will always be there, but I've always had a plan!: Go to school, get my bachelors degree, get a job, get my masters. (I kind of depend on school to keep me busy, I'm pretty sure I'd go crazy without it.)

In addition to this hardly-quarter-life crisis, there are always little things to be nervous about. Tomorrow I'm going to the Stick to Your Guns show to see them and all of the killer lineup on the Atticus Tour. I'm stoked it's going to be a great night, but after this whole secret track business, I'm not sure what's appropriate? These guys are great musicians who I look up to in different ways, am I supposed to approach them? I want to thank them for the opportunity they've given me and the support...but I don't want to come off as obsessive, or worse, arrogant. Do I just hope that they recognize me and see what they say, if anything? I guess I'll have to find out tomorrow.

I'm very adamant about going back to my life over the last few years; one full of stress, anxiety, and obsession on many different fields for many stupid reasons. I don't want this to go to my head and put me back into a state of chaos, so I'll have to actively try and find ways to handle my stress for 2010. I know one way is just playing music. I consider a win and a good night sitting around, by myself or with friends, strumming away on this damn ukulele. But what else can be done?

How do you handle stress? How do you calm your anxiety?

"Some days I get crazed, I don't know why it's all relevant. I take deep breaths and keep control, go on." -Bayside

If only! So it goes...