Don't Panic. Help is Near.

I ran into a friend at the grocery store last week and we traded stories of a very trying year as we stood by the apples. We were aware that we were in the way of other people and were polite, as midwesterners are, but mildly indifferent to their inconvenience.

As we parted by the check-out line I said, "My new mantra is, 'Nothing bad is happening." Which doesn't always mean that something bad is not happening, but that it can always be managed.  Or out-waited.  I continued, "In fact, I just had that tattooed on the inside of my hip." He had no time to reply as I wheeled into 10 Items or Less and he was bound for bigger things.

I will neither confirm nor deny if I have, indeed, gotten a tattoo on the inside of my hip, but getting a tattoo is not really the point.  Getting a tattoo is something that I have said that I would never, ever do.  I don't mind tattoos.  Sometimes I think they are incredibly cool.  Remarkably sexy.  And there is always a story of inspiration or triumph or regret.  I do love people's stories.  But I'd never wanted a tattoo for myself.

Then, in a year when I've done a number of things I thought I would never, ever do, the idea of getting a tattoo began to have some appeal.  I had a couple of ideas of what it would be.  The next hurtle was determining where I would put it.

And in a manner which is completely consistent with my penchant for doing something brave and my reticence for anyone knowing anything about it, I began to evaluate where I could put a tattoo that would never show, except to someone with whom I was intimate.  As I still wear a bikini (and yes, some of you have let me know that you think this is wildly inappropriate at my age; I don't care) this didn't leave a lot of real estate for ink.

The areas covered by bikini, while not large, are largely tender and largely affected by gravity.  I did not think putting it on my back was a good idea.  A tattoo would be for me; I would want to see it.  The spot just in the hollow of my left hip bone, smooth and tender and never tanned, seemed just right. And whether or not I let a very hirsute man shoot ink under my skin with a needle is not the point.  The point is, that at an age when some people think I should retire my bikini, I can decide for myself to get a tattoo, or be a bother at the grocery store, or see myself in a way that may make people uncomfortable and know that all of it can be managed.  Nothing bad is happening.

This all started as a calming voice in the ever-stress-inducing days leading up to this often-hateful holiday marketed as joy and fa-la-la.  Yes, the point of shipping has passed, but shipping should not be your point.  These images are from Oracle, Fine Curiousities in Crossroads.  All of their inventory is a product of natural death.  (My middle did say, "What is it with you and dead things?") They articulate the skeletons in-house and they are remarkably beautiful.  Part of the shop's mission is to be a resource for artists who use these elements in their work.  Most of my gifts have come from local merchants; Stuff, The Nelson, Hammerpress, Dolphin Frames, The Dime Store, Local Pig, Rainy Day Books, The General Store and Urban Provisions.  Shop local, wherever you are.  Embrace the madness. Talk to people; they tell good stories.