Lifting the Curse

As long as I can remember, I've wanted a tattoo, but kids with protective Jewish mothers typically don't get them. My mother told me specifically, "If you get a tattoo, it will kill me." I am grateful now, as I would have been covered in bad, homemade tattoos by the age of 15 had I not respected her wishes. But I still want one.

Recently, my mother made a friend at her knitting group who is adorned with many lovely tattoos. She talks about her friend's artwork with great admiration, so I asked her if it would still be traumatic to see her child's flesh marred with ink. She replied, "Go ahead and get one." And with those few words, the curse was lifted.

The trouble is, I am deeply ingrained with the notion that getting a tattoo will kill my mother. The only way I can get one now is if she draws it herself. That would be the ultimate blessing. So now I am waiting for her to actually complete the design I requested, or perhaps she will sneakily put it off until we are all dead, and then HA! She wins!

In the meantime, my talented mum has only recently begun to hit her stride as an artist. For example, this amazing tree she drew, which is now available for sale in my Etsy shop.

The tattoo I want will hopefully look something like this, if she in fact ever does it. To be fair, she will soon be too busy to do my artistic bidding, as she was recently asked to illustrate a book of Tibetan deities.

So, Mom, before you're neck deep in graphite dust, hurry up and draw me some trees. Quick, before I change my mind...


Inhuman Remains

I have always been a walker. I walk the dog, I walk to the store, I walk when I'm pissed off, and I walk when I'm cheerful. One day, many years ago, I noticed something that was consistently lying around in the suburban streets where I lived: doll parts.

G.I. Joe limbs, Barbie heads, tiny plastic shoes, arms and legs with bendable joints, small plastic fists that held nothing - all these things I have found while taking a neighborhood stroll.

I started keeping a collection of these wayward appendages in a glass jar. It was never a goal of mine to collect plastic body parts, but the proliferation of doll carnage made it a pretty easy hobby. (Not to mention the fact that early in my adolescence, I made it a habit to steal the hands off of mannequins at the mall, so this collection was only a natural progression.) Before long, finding a dismembered action hero or dirt-smudged Barbie arm became something of a huge score. My jar of parts overfloweth.

When you move a lot, as I do, you start to look at your stuff in terms of how easy it is to pack up and move, and how necessary it is to keep. During the last evaluation of my belongings and their importance, the jar of parts just didn't make the cut. It was time to pass it on.

Fortunately, I was able to find them a good home on a friend's shelf where they are quite happy. That was a few years ago, and I stopped finding doll parts after that. Until recently.

Several weeks ago, Cooper and I were out for a stroll when I saw this, lying innocently on the sidewalk:

Yup, that's a finger. And then, a few days later, down a different street, I stumbled upon this:

The fingers of mannequins were suddenly littering the streets where I live.

By force of habit I collected them and left myself a mental note to call The Keeper of the Jar. I was excited to have new items for the collection.

Then a week or so ago, Cooper and I were on one of our Saturday marathon walks, when we passed a sunny neighborhood alley many blocks from my house. Imagine my absolute shock and delight to see this:

The rightful owner of those fingers stared eerily at me as I stood there transfixed. But because of my rule regarding frivolous junk and the space required to store it, I walked away. This was unthinkable for me a few years ago, but alas, I guess that's what people mean when they say, "Grow up." It means you must resist the urge to take home creepy, mangled mannequins. Sigh.

But then! Later that week I remembered that I needed a nice, smooth neck upon which to model my new line of pendants. WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? I MUST GO BACK AND GET HER RIGHT NOW!

In a panic, I hopped in my car and sped to the alley where I'd seen her propped up against that fence. But sadly, she was gone. Someone got to her first. Damn my slow thinking.

But the story doesn't end there. Two days ago, Cooper and I perused the streets again, looking for a place to poop. No, not for me, silly. We turned down the alley behind my apartment, and Coop wandered into some weeds that run along the side of an empty building. There I saw a new wonder. Bones.

A big pile of them, bare and filthy and covered in dirt. Unbelievable! Is that a femur? An arm? Are those cow bones? Dog bones? PEOPLE BONES?!?! Then I saw a piece of skull and got ready to call the police. But I had to make sure what I was seeing was real, and bent down to pick up the piece of skull that for all I knew was once one of my neighbors.

Drat. It was light as a feather. Bones are heavy. Further inspection revealed the truth - the damn things were made of styrofoam. Who leaves a pile of styrofoam bones in an alley? I won't lie to you - I was terribly disappointed. I really wanted to be the walker that found the remains of a missing person. And no small jar would hold a collection of parts this big. I heaved a sigh and continued with my walk, wondering what on earth I might find next.


In My Uttermost Bones

"There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here."

Clarissa Pinkola Estes
American Author, Poet and Psychologist

Who do you serve?