Happy Thoughts for a Foggy Morning

I nearly forgot to write something for the blog this week – I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, which has scrambled my brain enough that I’m a little more scattered than usual. But here I am, on the bus, riding through the fog, so let’s talk about a few happy things from the past week. 

  1. I started taking a guitar fingerpicking class last week. It’s kicking my ass already, but in a way that’s motivating me to practice more. I’m excited to add some new skills to my rather slapdash guitar-playing repertoire. 
  2. It’s starting to feel like fall. Granted, the next few days are supposed to get hot again, but generally the weather has been getting cooler. We’ve had several lovely days that have allowed me to pull some hand knit sweaters out. The only downside of fall is that my allergies tend to flare up again, so I’ve spent most of the week not sure if I’m getting sick or am just allergic to all of the outdoors. Still, it’s pretty, and I like not feeling disgusting every time I go outside. 
  3. My tattoo is healing nicely. I am still super happy with how it turned out. It makes me smile every time I look at my arm. 

Silly Old Bear

A few weeks ago, I emailed the artist who did my leaf tattoo about an idea I had been kicking around for another piece.

I have wanted a bear tattoo for a while (particularly since transitioning has turned me into a bit of one myself). Recently, my partner and I re-read Winnie-the-Pooh, and I was reminded of a) how much I adore Winnie-the-Pooh and b) how much I adore the original E. H. Shepard illustrations of him. I’ve been periodically doing Google image searches for old illustrations over the past couple of months, and I’d come across one of Pooh singing, which was too good to pass up.

Last week I heard back from her that she’d be delighted to do this tattoo for me, and that she had an opening on Saturday. So I went for it, and I’m so, so happy I did, because it turned out SO GOOD:

Winnie-the-Pooh singing "Cottleston Pie"

Seriously, how cute is he?

I could not be more thrilled with how this tattoo came out, and I’m excited for it to be fully healed so I can show it off more (it’s at the flaky stage of healing right now, so it’s a good thing the weather cooled off in Chicago this week, because I’ll be wearing long sleeves for a bit)!

Post-script for the curious: the image comes from the story In Which Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents, and depicts Pooh singing Cottleston Pie, which my partner and I discovered was given a tune by the Muppets in this hilarious video:

I did not realize this until after I got the tattoo, but I love it all the more for this context. And I’ve had the little song running through my head all week.

Where Did the Week Go?

It’s been a busy week. Possibly not much busier than weeks usually are, but the fact that it’s been in the upper 80s and humid in Chicago the past couple of days has made everything feels pretty overwhelming. In any case, here are a few of the highlights from the past week, complete with photos:

  • I got a tattoo on Saturday! An apprentice tattooer I’ve been following on Instagram had posted some flash that I thought looked great, and now I have a happy little plant on my ankle:

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    It’s my first color tattoo, and the first one somewhere other than my forearms. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, and it’s healing nicely.

  • We got to see one of our favorite folk duos twice last week! Wednesday night, we went to a songwriting workshop put on by Mouths of Babes titled The Political is Personal. It was inspiring and got me halfway to finishing my assignment for my regular songwriting class. Then on Sunday, we got to see them play at SPACE in Evanston. It was (predictably) a fabulous show.

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  • I finished another nearly-two-year-old knitting project, though this one was much smaller than a sweater. A couple of summers ago, I bought a tiny owl kit from MochiMochiLand at our local yarn store. I knit the body of one owl at knit night the evening I bought it, and hadn’t picked it back up since. Over the weekend, I dug it out. I finished the first owl, and then started on another one:

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    I finished the second owl last night, and found a spot for them with my favorite old wooden owl (that used to belong to my grandparents) on the shelf we refer to as our owlery:

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    They were a lot of fun to knit, and I’m glad to finally have them done!

Reminders of Wholeness

According to Facebook, six years ago today was the day I got my first tattoo, on the inside of my right forearm:


I’d wanted a tattoo for as long as I could remember, and this symbol in particular since high school, and in a mid-semester fit of mania, decided to go for it my second-to-last semester of college. I went to someone a former roommate had recommended. It took about 45 minutes, and by the time I left I was shaking, slightly queasy, and not sure I’d ever be able to do it again. Twenty-four hours later, I couldn’t stop thinking about getting more.

I didn’t tell my parents ahead of time that I was getting a tattoo. I didn’t really have a plan for how that would go down. As it turned out, my mother called me as I was driving home from the appointment. She asked what I’d been up to that afternoon. I figured then was as good a time as any, so I told her. There was a long pause. “I don’t know how you expected me to respond to that,” she finally answered. “Neither do I,” was all I could come up with in response.

There are a lot of opinions on the internet regarding what the triquetra, or trinity knot, symbolizes. The idea that it could symbolize the Christian Holy Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit softened the blow a bit to disapproving family members. The meaning that stuck with me, though, was the idea of the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. I had finally been diagnosed as bipolar about a year before, and had spent a lot of time since then learning how to ride the waves of mania and depression, which often left me feeling pretty fractured. The knot on my arm served as a reminder that I was a complete person, even when my brain felt like it wanted to jump ship.

It was about a year after getting this tattoo that I started exploring the idea that I might not be a cisgender woman after all, and the idea of wholeness started becoming even more important as I started to consciously wrestle with dysphoria on top of the dysmorphia I’d struggled with most of my life.

I am not defined by any one part of my being, but by my interpretation of the interconnected whole. And regardless of what the darker parts of my brain or the crueller parts of the world might try to tell me, I am whole. Yes, there are times when parts of me need healing, but at my core, I am not a broken thing in need of rescue and resuscitation.

So today, amidst feeling a little frazzled and anxious about the weeks ahead, I’m going to take a minute or two to pause and appreciate the reminder that past-me had permanently written into my skin.