Sunday, July 07, 2013

Modcloth Madness

I adore vintage style clothing, and Modcloth is pretty much just that. I have been snatching and grabbing up as much as I can from this site for years. My favorite thing about the site is that buyers can leave detailed reviews, including pictures, of the clothes they buy. So if you are nervous about buying something because you have a wonky high waist, like me, you can see how it looks on someone with a similar build. You also get a good idea of how well the material will hold up with repeated wearing and washing. It’s the bee’s knees. It is, hands down, my favorite online shop, so I wanted to show off a few of my favorite purchases.
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This dress is so amazingly awesome. It is a sturdy cotton with pleats all around and a bow in the back. I wore this to Cigars and Stripes with my girl, Kate, to see a kickass rockabilly band called The Butterfields. She and I were dressed so adorably rockabilly that the band hung out with us for awhile after their set and actually told us they were afraid they wouldn’t be rockabilly enough for us. It was hilarious. Those guys were so fun, and it was nice to chat up some other rockabilly fans about music.
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It’s hard to tell from the picture, but Kate is also rocking a Modcloth dress. It’s a dark purple cotton dress that is supremely adorable on her.
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Summer 2013 050 lovely little number I have worn twice this week. I wore it early in the week to the Museum of Science and Industry with the boy, and the dude who worked the Tesla Coil told me that he had an overwhelming urge to ask me to dance. Then he did a little jig for me.  I giggled. Yes, giggled. What else is a girl supposed to do with such a comment? This dress is a satiny polyester, which makes it a tad on the warmer side, so wearing it to the Hot Air Balloon Festival yesterday when it was about 85 degrees and swampy humid was not the most practical move, but I felt fabulous.  Seriously, what else do you wear to a hot air balloon festival but a vintage style dress and a flower in your hair?
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The latest outfit I acquired from Modcloth is a hunter green romper that I haven’t actually worn for a full day yet. I intended to wear it yesterday to the festival, but I had a last minute change of heart and wore the dress.
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It’s honestly a tad bit big, and the elastic waistband sags a little bit in the back, but it is very comfortable, and I think I’ll actually wear this more in the fall with tights and a cardigan.
Modcloth also has a free return policy where, if you don’t dig what you bought, you stick it back in the box, slap the return label on it, and pop it in the mail. Easy peasy. I have actually returned a few things simply because they didn’t look quite right on my disproportioned body. 
So that’s my favorite place to shop. They should give me free clothes from this little endorsement, don’ t you think?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why I’m a Humanist


I truly believe that we live in a beautiful, magical world where there are far more good people than bad.

Because more people have held the door open for me than have shut it in my face.

Because my mother taught me that if I treat people with kindness and compassion, they will return it. And this is absolutely true.

Because when I had a screaming toddler in the throes of a massive meltdown, a seasoned mom took the time to share a moment of solidarity and prevented me from bursting into tears.

Because there have been countless therapists, teachers, and doctors who worked tirelessly to help my child function better in this world that doesn’t always know where to fit him in.

Because there’s a guy who makes youtube videos of himself dancing with large groups of people in every country he goes to, and it proves that there is a universal bond that we share. And that is joy.


Because when two people bombed the Boston marathon, total strangers put themselves in harm’s way to save people’s lives.

Because every time there is a natural disaster, thousands of people will donate money, blood, and time to make it better for those who suffered through it.

Because every time I hear about a person who has done something terrible, my first thought is not that this is another symbol of the degradation of society. I see it as one person who has done something terrible and wonder what must have gone wrong in this person’s life that led them to the choice to harm.

Because amazing people created the Special Olympics, Operation Smile, the Make A Wish Foundation, St. Jude’s, and hundreds of other organizations where the primary purpose is to bring joy to others.

Because of everyday heroes like firefighters, nurses, doctors, teachers – people who sacrifice little pieces of themselves simply to help and make a difference.

Because we are not broken, and we do not live in a sinful world. We are incredible, fragile beings who sometimes struggle but inevitably do more harm than good in our short lives. 

Because those who oppose equality are now on the fringes of society, and their voices are being silenced by a new generation of people who recognize that everyone deserves to be with the person they love.

Because for every Westboro Baptist protest, there are dozens of volunteers to block out their hate.

Because when I am at my darkest, it is the love of my friends and family that lift me up and save me again and again.

Because of them.

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Because I am of this world. Beautiful and terrible. Ethereal and visceral.  And every moment matters, even if it isn’t perfect, because I know that I only have so many moments to cherish and then it’s over. And that makes it precious. That makes us precious.

Friday, May 24, 2013

This Be a Fashiony Post

I realize that I have been feverishly buying new adorable clothes that I sort of squeal over when I put them on, but I haven’t actually posted many pictures.  I have been experimenting with hairstyles and makeup as well, so I’ll throw them out there too.

So if you don’t dig my weird poses, avert your eyes. I have never been comfortable in front of a camera, but I am feeling more confident with my smile and my body than I ever have, so I am working on this.

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I am ridiculously in love with this cardigan I got from SourpussClothing, and I wore the absolute hell out of this winter. I still relish a crisp spring day where I can throw this bad boy on. It’s soft and warm, and I wear it with everything.

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This was my first slightly successful victory roll. Still had red hair, and I had just gotten my vintage glasses, which I love more than anything I have ever owned. Notice the sweater Winking smile

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All mustard yellowed up for my son’s 9th birthday party. Got this baby from Plasticland on mega sale. My sister, Jen, hates this cardigan with a fiery passion, but I adore it. It’s lightweight, so I still wear it (I’m wearing the damn thing right now).

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Skinny jeans from Delias. The sweater is one I knitted with my own two hands a few years ago. I wore this to a ladies dinner with my friend, Jane and felt pretty goddamn fabulous.


Wearing my heart on my chest. Got my victory rolls, my favorite red cardigan purchased from Goodwill. Got this super cute, custom-ordered necklace with my darling hubsters’ name on it from DollyCool’s awesome etsy shop.

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Gingham adorableness! Got this twee button-up at Target on the cheaps.

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This is not a great picture, but my shirt has little blue anchors on it (Delia’s) and this is the softest, most amazing cardigan ever. Got it at Target, and it’s like being wrapped in baby flesh.

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This is one of my favorite outfits. Tank I got at Target, that’s my Goodwill cardi with some cute sparrow iron-ons I got on amazon, and my Delia skinny jeans. I wear it with these sweet Chucks that my girl, Jane, gave me.  This is what I wore to the IAMX concert, and the hilarious thing was there was a girl around my age wearing almost the exact same outfit. I wanted so desperately to point at her and shout “Twinsies!” but just gave her that “You’re rad” smile instead.

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I also learned how to curl my hair with a flat iron, so I curl it up quite a bit now. It’s quick and easy peasy lemon squeezy. Especially now that my pixie cut has grown out to sort of a weirdly layered shag of a do.

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Springtime curls and flowers!

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Me and my best little man.

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Just me and The King.

That’s a whole lotta my face acting like it owns the place. Let me tell you, 35 is proving to be the bee’s knees.  I have never felt more in control of my life or more confident with who I am. If I had known that being in my 30s was going to rock so much harder than my 20s, I probably would have taken much better care of myself and not had that “who cares what I look like when I’m old” mentality.

Stay tuned for cherry dress eleganza and true rockabilly shenanigans.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tattoos Part 4

I decided to add a little something to the dharma wheel on my arm a few months ago, and after A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF RESEARCH – chose the most amazing artist at The Constable Tattoo in Plainfield, Eris Qesari, to do the deed.

First off, a little good PR for the shop. This place gave me the best first impression of any tattoo shop I’ve ever set foot in simply because Eris responded to my email inquiry within hours of me sending it. Then when I walked in the next day to speak with him, I immediately noticed how clean it looked and smelled. I was given attention right away and offered a drink. That has never happened before. I waited around 15 minutes while Eris finished up a piece he was working on, and then we talked about my idea. He took my picture, and we booked the appointment. I was well impressed.

The whole experience was intense and exciting. The first session was around 4 hours and didn’t hurt a lick, probably because my homegirl, Kate, rode along for the journey and talking always distracts me from the fact that I’m being needled for hours on end. Eris  is the coolest cat to spend time with, and I enjoyed hearing his stories about living in Greece.

First Session

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Then I had to wait a grueling 3 weeks to complete the sleeve. I was dying of anticipation the entire time.

Second Session

After almost 5 more hours of work, and if I’m being honest, it started to hurt like a sumbitch that last hour around the armpit region – to the point where I was getting a little teary and squirmy, I left with this beauty.

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Eris and I discussed what type of background to go with, and after debating a blue, cloudlike idea, he suggested a warm, watercolor effect to compliment the cool blues and purples. And since I trusted him completely to create an artistic piece that I would love, I just told him to do what he wanted. He was spot on!

It’s bright and cheerful and exactly what I was looking for. I’ve had so many people approach me in public and tell me how much they love it. It’s actually helping me be a little bit more outgoing because people want to talk about it, and they ask tons of questions.  For a social weirdo like me, it’s been good practice at coming out of my shell a bit.

I cannot recommend Eris enough, and I highly recommend just letting go and handing yourself completely over to the artist. If you’ve done your research and develop a good working relationship with him/her, you will be very pleased with the outcome. I came in with an idea and a picture, and he turned it into something uniquely me.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013



On May 2, 2013, I may  have had an out of body experience resulting from my participation in what can only be described as a musical orgy.  I was quite honestly sort of worried I might weep when the enchanting, otherworldly Chris Corner stepped onstage, but I actually surprised myself by not embarrassing my husband with my overemotional shenanigans.

Lincoln Hall is a very small, intimate venue, and we arrived early enough to be ridiculously close to the stage, and if we pretend that a group of shrilly, drunken idiot girls didn’t shriek  like crazy ebola monkeys in my ear for the first three songs, the entire experience was mind blowingly, soul shatteringly amazing.

I had never seen the band perform live before, so I wasn’t very familiar with anyone else in the band other than my man, Chris.  By the second song, I had become completely entranced by the wickedly badass Janine Gezang and couldn’t take my eyes off of her for the rest of the show.



Chris, of course, was devastating as always. When I hear his voice, there are hidden places inside my very being that catch fire, and I can hardly breathe. He writes lyrics that have the power to just completely dismantle me in just a few words.  I could write a thesis on the toe-tingling words of “Mercy” alone. 



Here is the complete set list  with a few videos I found on the tube of you.

Animal Impulses


Kiss and Swallow

Kingdom of Welcome Addiction

Spit It Out

Tear Garden (Video below is not from our show, but they did this kickass drum  duet at our show as well, and it was incredible)

My Secret Friend

The Unified Field (This is a snippet of the song)

Cold Red Light (If you watch nothing else, listen to this fiercely rad orgasm inducing song)

Walk with the Noise

Music People

The Alternative

I Come With Knives



ORRRR you can watch pretty much the whole damn show here.


The beginning is wonky, and it skips the beginning of “My Secret Friend.” It also cuts off at “President,” but basically this is the whole shebang.

I left the show feeling giddy, wrapped in the warm afterglow of watching one’s favorite artist perform. I wish I could bottle the delirium-induced joy and let it slush around in my belly.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As You Were

As some of my peeps know, I’m writing a book about my Army days. I started writing this 15 years ago, just a year after my discharge, but so many different circumstances prevented me from finishing it. This year I decided to pick it back up and finish the damn thing. I’m very close to a very rough first draft, and I’m confident I’ll actually have a completed manuscript by the end of this year. What happens to it after that matters to me far less than the knowledge that such a huge part of my life will have been documented all in one place.

I kept a diary for that year, and I have letters that I had written home throughout my enlistment. This initial process has been just typing it all out chronologically and outlining specific things that were important to me at the time.

When I began this story, I was 20 years old and had been discharged less than a year prior to sitting down to write it all down. The tone back then was very much one of disgust and bitterness towards an institution that I felt had ruined my life. Back then, I was still raging against a machine that I held responsible for what I thought would be a lifetime of unending physical and emotional pain. I spent a great deal of time writing about boyfriend drama and the inconveniences of being forced to salute officers I didn’t like. I thought this story was to be an expose of what really goes on behind the scenes of the military and to discourage young women from joining.

Only now, at 35, am I able to look through the eyes of my 18 year old self and truly see that that wasn’t the real story. As maturity and life circumstances have changed my perception of the world, I’ve come to realize that I was an entitled, self-obsessed child playing at being a soldier. I’ve joked to other former soldiers that they were in the “real Army,” and I was in the “pretend Army,” and that is absolutely true. I fashioned a reality for myself then that didn’t fit with what the Army line was. I shined my boots and ironed my uniform, but the whole time I thought all of it was beneath me. I used to brag that I had never saluted an officer and gladly took the pushups thinking that I was rebelling against conformity. Which would have been a radical statement had I not volunteered for the whole damn thing.

I put myself in unsafe situations, treated those I loved quite brutally, and spent a great deal of time feeling sorry for myself because of things that had happened to me. Things that I took zero responsibility for, placing all blame on others so that I could continue to wallow in the precious self-loathing that made me feel special. It’s only now that I can see just how truly emotionally explosive and damaged I was at that time.

In Basic Training, I was assigned to watch over a girl who had tried to kill herself in front of us, and I wrote in my diary about how pathetic she was and how nervous she made me. Months later, when I was so overwhelmed and depressed that I tried to do the same thing,  it was too late to be the compassionate person she had needed in those moments.  There is an actual moment, while watching some of the hospital patients in the psych ward on base playing basketball, that I realized they were no different than I was, and that moment paralyzed me with fear that I would be found out. I learned to contain my crazy and step outside of myself long enough to survive.

And that ended up being the real story. Not a story about how horrible the military is for women. Not a story about all the injustices that were done to me by the powers that be who wanted to destroy all of my individuality.  Through time and distance, I have discovered that the true story behind all of this is in what happens when an immature, depressed, and fragile child is given a rifle and taught how to kill another human being. Who is told it is her responsibility to keep her country safe from “the enemy” but has such little knowledge of the world outside her small town that being dropped in a foreign country to carry out that action would have been laughable.

Finally being honest about the person that I was and how that shaped my perception of the experiences I went through has really helped me reconcile many of the traumas that I associated with that time. This story may end up being one of healing and growth.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Living the hell out of this life

This year has been all about changes for me. Changing not only my look but my universal outlook as well. The last few years have been stressful and sometimes overwhelming, and I am aware that I tend to let that stress fester inside of me until I look on the outside how I feel on the inside. A mess. That first year of homeschooling was a buffet for the inner critic, and she often feasted on my insecurities and fear. And then I decided to quit feeding her. It really was that simple. I may inadvertently throw her a crumb here and there, but that bitch is starving.

So, while I am starving the hell out of the voice that spent a lifetime trying to convince me I was ugly, stupid, awkward, chubby, I have begun feeding the voice that tells her to shut the hell up. And what I’ve noticed is that the quieter the inner bitch gets, the more confident I feel. I am probably too damn old to wear some of the clothes that I wear now. I know that people stare at me when I go out in my old lady glasses and victory rolls, but I feel fucking fabulous, so I don’t care. I’m having the time of my life, and my friends don’t seem too embarrassed to be seen in public with me, so I’m going to continue to devour as much fun and freedom as I can until I decide to stop.

I used to sit at home on the couch every night watching TV until I was too tired to move, and then I would drag my frumpy ass to bed wishing I had enough energy to go out. Now, even if I’m exhausted from teaching my kiddo, doing the housework, shopping, blah, blah, I will force my old, tired ass into a cute outfit and paint the town with a friend. And I have never once regretted that choice. Because I have the best friends around, who not only support and encourage me, but are always down for a good time. Last month, my buddy Kate and I went to see a very cool band in Chicago called Honeyhoney. Kate is my go-to gal for concert shenanigans. She loves music as much as I do, and she never gets embarrassed if I dance like a jackass. She is the cat’s pajamas.


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We were crazy close to the stage – it’s a very small venue – and the band is still so unknown that they genuinely seemed surprised every time we applauded. In a later post, I will discuss how the banjo is the perfect instrument, so you can understand how much I geeked out watching this band.

A few weeks later, I invited my good friend Jane out to dinner, and we hit up a Cajun joint in Plainfield called MoeJoe’s. Lucky for us, we got what the hostess referred to as “THE booth.” We sipped on hurricanes, and I binged a bit on sweet potato fries. They play excellent music before 10 pm – a little bit of Stevie Ray, Johnny Cash, and even some Pink Floyd. Then, they cleared out the front part of the restaurant, a DJ came in, and the place became Douchebro Central. We quickly got the hell out of there. Once Ke$ha remixes come out, I gotta bail or I get stabby.

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Now, I am certainly not a believer in “things happen for a reason,” but if I did, Jane would be one of those people that I was meant to be friends with. She was my son’s special ed teacher at a school he never should have gone to. I immediately connected with her, and while Perrin was attending that school, I would often tell John that it was a shame Jane was his teacher, because I would totally want to hang out with her. So, after I pulled Perrin out of school to homeschool him, I emailed her and asked her on a date. From that point on, she’s been a pea in my pod.

One day soon, I hope to get my homegirl, Debbie, to come out with us. And then I will force her into a picture.  Ren Faire is right around the corner, Debbie. You shan’t avoid my camera forever.

I spent way too long in a cage that I built, truly believing that there was no longer a point to trying to be pretty or expressing myself because I stopped mattering. I allowed my life to revolve around parenting or housekeeping or any number of obligations that gave me an excuse to stop living.

I am not dead yet. I choose to live.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Tattoos Part 3

And now, the remainder of my tattoos.

First up is my Perrin tattoo. I got this when my son was still a baby, and I knew that I wanted his name tattooed on me before he was even born. To me, it was just inevitable. He is part of me, and I wanted to honor him and commemorate the immense joy that being a mom had brought into my life.


It’s on my right arm just above the inside of my elbow.  I had originally wanted it in the location where I eventually got my dharma wheel, but I remember the artist telling me that that was considered “prime real estate” and that I should save that areas for a larger piece. I’m so glad I took her advice because my dharma wheel is one of my favorite pieces. I’m anxiously awaiting the day that I fill up the blank canvas that is my left arm. Soon…


This next tattoo was the most spontaneous tattoo I have. I went with my friend, Sara, to get a very large fairy tattooed on her rib cage. Yeah, she’s kind of a badass. It was a 7 1/2 hour session, and she was such a beast that she nearly fell asleep. I got kinda bored, and one of the other artists had an opening, so he asked if I wanted something done. So I perused the flash (I only have two flash pieces; the rest are designs I came in with), and I really liked the idea of having a hummingbird. Plus, I had this really shitty red lotus tattoo on the inside of my wrist that I had done by a dude in Austin who didn’t understand what I asked him for and botched it. So what I got was the outline of a lotus done in red with no coloring. It was only my second tattoo, and the shop was on the snooty side, so I didn’t want to make a fuss and sound like an idiot, so I didn’t say anything. I hated the damn thing, so I wanted it covered up.


It is not a great cover up, and I need to get it touched up. I eventually want to get the hummingbird done in a darker green, and the background needs some work so that you can’t see the petals from the original tattoo, but I get a lot of compliments on it, and most people don’t realize it’s a cover-up until I point it out.


My other flash/spur of the moment tattoo was done on a very fun road trip to Lubbock to see my high school bestie, Kelly. Our friend, Amanda, and I drove up there one weekend to party less than a year before we moved to Illinois, and she and I wanted to get tattoos done in celebration of being awesome.  And I got the first (and so far, only)tattoo that hurt. And when I say it hurt, I mean I wanted to cry and had to ask the girl doing it to stop twice because my foot was twitching so bad I could barely stand it. But it’s crazy adorable, and it will be a reminder of a wonderful weekend with friends where I dressed and acted like a pirate at a douchebro college bar, heard some great live music, and got to take a break from my hectic life as a mother to a toddler.


(Just look at the supreme cuteness of these shoes. Sigh. I miss them.)


Next up is a ridiculously awful tattoo that I regretted the second it was done. I don’t regret that it’s a knitting related tattoo; I regret that it’s a really bad tattoo and is taking up space that will eventually be filled with yet another cover-up. It was, however, an awesome experience. Right before I left Austin, my very tight-knit (see what I did there?) knitting circle all went to get tattooed together at a shop that was doing $35 tattoos. Even typing this, six years later, I can hear the red flags going up. Two of my friends got these lovely tattoos that our artist friend had drawn for them, and I got this.


Look at those shaky lines on the needles. Look at the yarn ball that doesn’t even really resemble an actual ball of yarn. Look at how it’s not remotely symmetrical. It’s just bad.  I don’t know what happened. We all had the same guy tattoo us, but perhaps by the time he got to me, he was tired of hearing our mommy stories and checked out.

And last up is the tattoo I got with my friend, Debbie. She got her first tattoo touched up, and I got this.

patience tat


This picture was taken right after it was done, so it looks all slimy and wonky. It means “dhairya,” which is the Sanskrit word for “patience” and, according to a friend of mine who speaks Hindi, it also  means “fortitude.” The message that I wanted it to convey was having mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, and this is my reminder to stay strong and persevere through any obstacles that come my way. I got it during a time of great struggle in my life, primarily in dealing with the public school. I wanted it in a place where I could just glance down, breathe deep, and heed the word. It has often been a comfort to me when the earth threatens to swallow me whole.


And that is all. My tattoos tell my story, or at least bits and pieces of it. What I love the most about them is that I shared the experiences with some of my best friends, my beautiful sisters, and my beloved husband. When you get a tattoo with me, you become part of my story. Part of my memories that I will carry with me always. And that story continues.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What does John think?


I get asked this question a lot every time I change my look. I understand why people are curious, because I recognize that we live in a culture where it is often seen as a woman’s responsibility to be attractive either to obtain or keep a man. And I could spend countless hours talking about the Pat Robertson’s of the world who actually blame women “letting themselves go” for the failure of a marriage and how that bullshit makes me stabby. But I’m getting off subject a little bit.

What does John think? Well, John is a feminist. He doesn’t like to use that word because of the negative connotation that people have attached to it, but he believes a woman’s body is her own to do with as she pleases. This includes what she wears or how she cuts her hair. I would not have married a man who tried to tell me how to dress or told me not to get more tattoos because he didn’t like them. John respects me as a person first and not a collection of aesthetics.

When I met John, I dressed horribly and hid any semblance of a figure I may have had. I didn’t know how to apply makeup at all and looked like a ghost. I was still clinging to an extra 15 pounds that made me insecure, so I never felt pretty. The dude still thought I was pretty, but above all, it was the person behind all that he was attracted to. I was smart and funny and sarcastic, and at the end of the day, I believe that’s what makes a person attractive to their partner.

Thing is, there have been many things I have done that he didn’t like. He has walked in to find me nearly bald twice because of botched bleaching attempts and has shared with me his desire that I not do that again. He hates very heavy bangs, and since they’re pretty damn high maintenance anyway, this is a request I can honor. Aside from those two things, it’s always open season on my head.  After 13 years of not knowing what he’s going to walk in on, he has come to accept that there’s always a chance I could flip a switch and decide that I suddenly need to look like the band members of KISS. And he will smile, tell me he loves me, and I will know that he hates it. He is not a fan of my new glasses, but they make me giddy, so he is cool with it. That’s just the way it is. If he decided he needed a mohawk or a god-awful tribal armband tattoo, I would deal with it if it made him feel like a sexy beast. I would LOVE if John wore glasses or had oodles of tattoos, but he doesn’t do it because that’s not his style, and I respect that. Mutual respect, folks. That’s how this works.

Truth is, I’m not entirely sure what John would prefer I look like. There are outfits that receive his compliments, and I try to wear those more often when I’m in need of a little attention. I think he prefers my hair red and longer, but what he loves most of all is having a wife who feels confident and beautiful in her own skin. He knows that if I dressed in a manner that would be pleasing to everyone else but me, I would be incredibly uncomfortable and insecure.  And as we all know, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Bottom line is that John loves me and accepts me for the crazy, unpredictable person that I am and not for how pleasing I am to look at.  I think he would get just as bored as I would be if I looked the same every day for years. Because he’s the bee’s knees, and this is why I keep him. Now, if we could only get a few more tattoos on that boy. Hubba Hubba.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tattoos Part 2

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This is probably my favorite tattoo and the one I get complimented on the most often. It is a Buddhist dharma wheel and was done in two sittings, mostly because I was being wishy washy about it. I had the wheel itself done a few years before the petals and coloring were added on. I got tired of people asking me if I was into either pirates or sailors, so it needed prettying up.

When I got out of the Army in 1997, I was an overemotional mess and questioning so many things about the world and my place in it. So, I was a  typical 19 year old girl. I had also come to the realization that I no longer felt secure in the faith that I had chosen in high school when that faith no longer brought me comfort during the most painful and trying times of the previous year in the military.

I moved from Texas to Wisconsin on a whim and took a sabbatical of sorts to clear the muddles and choose a new path. I lived in a farmhouse in the middle of a cornfield and began reading about Buddhism. For the first time in my life, the universe made sense. I had been ready to let go of a deity but not yet at a place in my journey to let go of a belief system, so Buddhism fit in the space where I still needed faith and ritual.

The dharma wheel is a beautiful symbol of Buddha’s teachings and it has been a daily reminder of how following the Eightfold Path guided me to sanity and peace in a way that nothing else did.


After I had Perrin, I wanted a way to commemorate how parenthood gave me this wonderful new label to add to all my other kooky labels. And it was oh so fashionable at the time to get Kanji symbols, so of course, I HAD to have one too. So I got the Kanji symbol for “Mom” tattooed on the back of my neck. I researched this one quite a bit and even asked a friend of Jennifer’s, who is Chinese, and he verified that it is, indeed, the symbol for “Mom.” However, just this  past summer a random old Chinese dude came up to me and told me it means “lady horse,” so I may very well be sporting a crazy, stupid American tattoo, which is extremely hilarious. I have had this tattoo for 8 years, and he’s the only person who told me it didn’t mean “Mom,” so I’m going to assume he was just trying to freak me out.



Underneath my possible “lady horse” tattoo I have “This too shall pass” in my  mother’s handwriting. It’s one of my most meaningful tattoos, and I regret getting it put on the back of my neck because this means I never get to see it. It was a surprise tribute to my mom, who helped me through a lot with these words. I have the best mom in the world and feel honored to carry her wisdom with me for the rest of my life.

Well, that’s all for today. There are frivolous, cutesy tattoos coming up.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Tattoos–Part 1

I am addicted to tattoos. I have been tattooed 14 times but only have 12 visible tattoos, as two of them are coverups.

I got my first tattoo on my 18th birthday. I had wanted one since I was in middle school, and I promised myself I’d get one as soon as I was legally able to. A few of my good friends and I drove to Abilene and stopped at a kind of shady shop where the dude who tattooed me looked like Biker Santa. I told him what I wanted, and he drew it up in five seconds, slapped it on, and away we went.  It cost me $30, and it faded in just a few weeks because I didn’t take proper care of it. I did all of the things the dude told me not to, including taking a damn bath and picking at it when it started to peel. It actually had color at one time.  The funny thing is, I wasn’t exactly “allowed” to get tattooed while still living with my parents. Mom didn’t care at all, but my dad was very against them, and told me frequently that women with tattoos were seen as trashy. So I hid this with tall socks for about a month before they saw it. Mom thought it was adorable, and Dad just sort of shrugged since it was a little late to do anything about it.   Here’s what it looked like this summer before I got it covered. I kept this damn thing for 16 years, and I’m happy it’s gone.

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This summer, my good friend Jane and I went together to get tattoos. She got her kiddo’s names, and I got this covered up with a gorgeous traditional style peony.

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I much prefer this. I am wildly in love with floral tattoos, and all of my favorite tattoos are floral themed.

When I was 21, I fell madly in love with this boy and moved to San Marcos in an impulsive expression of romance to be with him.  When we were dating, we would hang out at Sewell Park, and the river was swarmed by dragonflies the entire summer. Every time I saw one, I thought of this boy, so I got a tattoo on my back to remind me of him and how crazy I was about him.  To this day, John says this is his favorite of my tattoos.

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I married that boy, and on our 10th wedding anniversary, we got matching tattoos of a cute little symbol I used to draw with finger paints with our son when he was a toddler. It’s a representation of our quirky little family, and it’s the first (and likely only) tattoo I’ve been able to talk John into getting.  John, Perrin, and I have been through more than a lot of families have gone through in our lives together, and I am quite confident this is the forever kind of bond, so I don’t worry about any kind of curse of the couple’s tattoos. John is the only one for me, and I am the only one for him. And Perrin is that piece of the puzzle that completes our picture.

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And the last one I’ll write about today are my “bro tats” or more appropriately, “ho tats.” My sisters and I are ridiculously close, so while I was still living in Austin, Jen and I got these cute matching Celtic hearts. Stephanie is 11 years younger than me, so she had to wait a couple of years before she could get hers. Jen and I both had a weird reaction to the green ink, so ours were faded a little by the time Steph got hers, which is why hers is so much brighter. We took this pic right after Steph’s was completed. It was also done by a different artist who didn’t feel comfortable copying someone else’s work, so hers has different (and better) shading than ours.

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Much more to come!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hair Adventures or How I Spent My Summer


Going from black to blonde – all the trauma I put my hair through this summer.

I have a long history of risk-taking when it comes to my hair style and color. It has been hot pink, purple, black, and orange. I have bleached it 3 times and shaved it off twice – both following disastrous bleaching experiments. Then I discovered the beauty of the internet and realized that if I was going to try a drastic change, I was going to do my research. I also didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars at a salon that may or may not have wrecked my hair any worse than I could do myself.

My natural hair color is very close to my husband’s dark brown. The picture below is with fairly recently dyed blue/black hair I acquired with a box dye – it was most likely Garnier because it’s my favorite. I dig having black hair because I have wicked blue eyes, and they really pop the darker my hair is. However, I also get bored rather quickly and needed a change. So why the hell not go from black to blonde? I’m not overly attached to my hair, and I keep it pixie short, so if I mess it up, it’s no huge loss. However, I also have a wedding to go to in 2 months, so I figured it might be quite a catastrofuck if I shaved it off beforehand. To the internet!!


I did some quick searches on how to safely and cheaply strip hair dye, and then spent a couple of weeks washing with Head and Shoulders followed by a few treatments of baking soda mixed with shampoo to lighten up the black. Ended up being a reddish toned very dark brown. A bit dry, but conditioned the hell out of it for weeks. Then it was time for the hard core stuff.

Step one: August 28 - I used Color Oops and followed every step to the letter, including rinsing under warm water for the full 25 minutes and washing after every 5. Be sure if you do this not to let your kiddo in the shower before you, lest you run the risk of running out of hot water, which is what happened to my ass. The outcome was a medium, caramel color. A little brassy, but absolutely free of black dye. Used John Frieda’s shampoo and deep conditioner for blonde hair daily. Conditioned a couple of times for up to 15 minutes. Hair was soft, shiny, and healthy. Waited a week before bleaching. Cost $9


Step two – Sept 4. Used L’oreal’s Super Blonde kit to get to yellow roots and orange-yellow, brassy tone to the rest of hair. A little dry at the ends, but not damaged. Followed up with 20 minutes of conditioning with John Frieda’s blonde. As you can see, this is less than the ideal outcome, which I found out is exactly what is supposed to happen.  One does not simply bleach hair into a blonde. One has to tone the hell out of that noggin. Went to Sally Beauty Supply and stocked up on supplies to fix this mess. Cost $10


Step three Рsame day Рmixed whole bottle of Wella color charm T18 Lightest Ash Blonde with 2 parts Salon Care Volume Cr̬me Volume 20. Combed evenly through damp hair and left on for 30 minutes . After rinsing it out, put on a protein conditioner Ion Repair Solutions, put on shower cap, and conditioned for 20 minutes. Blow-dried using cold setting. Not much improvement after first application. Put more toner blend on the more orangey parts for 30 more minutes. Then another 20 minutes with the protein conditioner. Still kinda orangey, so I tossed on some Quick Blue bleach mixed with the Vol 20 developer. Let sit for about 45 minutes. Total cost of all supplies at Sally - $26.


Still a bit more orange than I would like. Read dozens of tutorials on getting platinum hair, and I found this fabulous one here.

She has the exact white shade I’ve been dying to have, so I ordered some Manic Panic Virgin Snow toner (Amazon $12). While waiting for it to arrive, I washed with John Frieda’s tone correcting purple shampoo ($6) and continued to use the Ion Repair conditioner daily.

September 17, 2012 – Got the manic panic and per loads of tutorials put it on freshly washed hair, put on a shower cap, and hung out for about an hour and a half. It left my hair remarkably soft and shiny, but it did not remove enough yellow for my liking. It looks like another trip to Sally for a 3rd freaking bleaching. The sales lady at Sally is becoming my guru. Should probably put her on speed dial.

September 18, 2012 – Covered entire head with Quick Blue packet and 2.5 oz of Vol 20 developer. Did the roots too, since they are starting to peek through a bit. Covered with shower cap and left on for 50 minutes. Rinsed and shampooed. Applied Manic Panic again, covered with shower cap and put under blow dryer for about 5 minutes, then taught a few reading lessons to the boy child, and rinsed in cold water per the tub’s instructions. Total time was probably an hour. STILL YELLOW!!!! Plus, I had missed a patch of roots behind my right ear, so I spot bleached the top portion in front and the root patch and left on for another 35 minutes. Put on more Manic Panic (this stuff is so gentle and conditioning!) and left on for about 25 more minutes. Rinsed out in cold water again and put on my Ion Repair conditioner.

At last, I have achieved a pale blonde that is sort of lemon yellow. I can live with it. I’ve bleached it 4 times overall in the last 3 weeks, conditioned the hell out of it, and there’s been no damage. I got a trim after the 2nd bleaching, and the stylist said it was still in great condition. I may purchase the Roux toner or a stronger toning shampoo designed for peeps with gray hair.


I kept it this shade for about 3 weeks before realizing I am NOT a blonde. It seriously washed me out, and made my skin look really weird. So, after several hours of walking around with some kind of product on my head, probably eating away at my brain in the process, I just hopped back on the Garnier wagon and covered that whole mess up with my usual shade of bright ass red.

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However, now that I have stripped my hair so ridiculously, the red bleeds during every wash, and I look like Janet Leigh every time I take a shower. I have been dyeing my hair every 4 weeks now and using a protein filler I got at Sally for 20 minutes beforehand, which is only now, 4 months later, keeping the color in longer. I am now using Manic Panic Pillarbox Red ever 3 weeks to maintain the bright, crazy girl tone.  I am also growing it out so I can do true rockabilly victory rolls, so it’s a shaggy mess at the moment.

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So, the moral of my hair experience is that you should never be afraid to try something dramatically different. It is entirely possible to go from black to blonde to red with very little damage to your hair if you do it slowly and gently. Will I ever do it again? Very likely not. Blonde may look great on my little sister, but it does not suit everyone. And I never did get that ice blonde, Gwen Stefani shade, but that’s okay. This girl is a redhead. Pure and simple.