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Daily Prompt: Snapshot Stories…Pork Fried Rice!

2 Jun

Prompt: Open the first photo album you can find — real or virtual, your call — and stop at the first picture of yourself you see there . Tell us the story of that photo.

I can’t even think about this story without laughing my ass off…because it could have been true! Tattoos. Ever had one? I’m a fan, but not a fanatic. I think you should really put some thought into a tattoo and have it be something meaningful to your life, because you’re going to have to live with it…forever.

Not like my dumbass son who, while in Mexico on his senior spring break trip, decided to have two nautical stars tattooed on his back…one on each shoulder blade. You know…because he’s so into sailing and just had to get that passion tattooed on his body. Are you fucking kidding me???? That kid had never even been on a boat in his entire life when he got those stupid, fucking tattoos! Oh, and here’s the kicker…his best friend at the time got one on his forearm, too! Yeah…he was really (NOT) into sailing as well! I still tease them to this day, ten years later, about their “friendship tattoos!”

So, I had been thinking for some time about what kind of tattoo I wanted, because I did want one. I ride a Harley Davidson and it kind of comes with the territory. 🙂 I thought about a lot of things, but nothing really “spoke” to me, until I took a trip to Laconia Bike Week in New Hampshire in 2000; the country’s oldest motorcycle rally. I went with my BFF, Amy, to research going there as a vendor with my business. Man, did we wish we had our bikes with us on that trip! We flew in just to do R&D there, and being biker chicks – since before there were many of us on our own bikes – we were so bummed not to be riding there, because the scenery was AWESOME!! Mountains, oceans, forest, and beaches…you had it all! Even in the cage it was a beautiful drive.

Amy, who already had several tattoos at that point, decided that she wanted to get another one to commemorate our trip there together. Seeing how we were BFFs, and this was a trip to remember, I decided to join her…I would boldly make that move! She had a biopsy scar on her right breast in the lower right cup area. Amy was really into turtles so she decided to have a turtle tattooed right over the scar with the scar being the shell of the turtle. It was fucking magnificent! The artist had the turtle kind of at an angle with his head turned looking up toward her nipple. Believe it or not, it was actually really cool and cute and not “dirty”. The cool part was the raised shell from the scar made it look really 3D.

Here’s the thing…Amy is a really, really tough girl. That’s why we get along so well…she’s no sissy. She had assured me that tattoos don’t hurt much at all and she had gotten them in places that traditionally are tough, like around the ankle where there isn’t much fat. So, much to my surprise, Amy really struggled with that tattoo. She was hurting! I took a picture of her and got the death stare…so I quit taking pictures! It was the scar. We hadn’t anticipated how that scar tissue would feel getting tattooed, and according to Amy, it hurt like a mother fucker. You’d think I would have been more nervous to get mine done after that, but I wasn’t. I was actually feeling pretty zen about the whole thing.

While Amy had been discussing her tattoo with the artist, I was looking through the volumes of art as inspiration for my own tattoo. I was feeling a little stressed and nervous, because like I said, I think that a tattoo really needs to be something meaningful to my life.  I thought about doing something for my son, but just couldn’t find anything that said, “Here I am!” I turned each page expectantly hoping to find “the one”. Flipping one page after another, book after book, still looking and searching when I came upon Chinese symbols. They were so beautiful. The symmetry of them so artistic and flowing. Suddenly my gaze stopped. There it was! I felt it! Courage. The Chinese symbol for the word Courage. PERFECT!

That word really resonated with me. I was widowed at 25 years old with a 22 month old son. I had a business to close and a house to try and save. I also had a full time, corporate job that I had to keep, and sanity that was very hard to hold intact. It was a little bit of Hell on earth…for a minute. I’m not one to live in a pity party. I took about two months to cry, feel sorry for the bad turn in my life, miss my husband and the father of my child…horribly…, and then I knew that I had to find the courage to get up and start to put my life back together and live…because my son needed me to do that. How was I ever to give him a chance at a “normal” life if I was perennially stuck in my own little pity party?

I summoned every single bit of my Norwegian ruthless courage, spirit, backbone, strength, and fortitude of mind to pick myself up, wipe myself off, realize that, that was only one chapter of my life, and now on to the next chapter! What else is there to do with one’s life at such a crossroads? Either you pick yourself up or you live in misery. I’m not a misery kind of chick. I prefer optimism and happiness. Even if you have to force yourself to think that way sometimes. I began to find my way back to living life again.

That one word explained the way I saved my life…through courage…and I knew that whenever I needed to find courage again in my life I need only to run my fingers across that tattoo at the nape of my neck to be reminded how courage had thus far served me well, and would continue to serve me as long as I choose to be courageous, because it is a choice, you know. Not only did the word mean something to me, but the artist in me found the symbol to be quite visually pleasing. That was it. I was going for it!

I have to be honest. It really didn’t hurt at all. I would describe it as uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Of course it wasn’t a huge piece either, but being a needle virgin, and actually a hater of needles in general, I didn’t find it bad at all and would do it again. The fact that I have a super high pain tolerance probably would have something to do with that, too, but that’s a story for another day! Here’s another cool fact…in the end, it ended up being a little raised, like Amy’s scar. Turns out I was allergic to the red in the purple ink, so the whole thing was really raised for some time. It almost looked branded, which I have to admit, I thought was choice and really tough looking! It isn’t as raised now, but it still isn’t smooth like other tattoos. I like it that way. Gives it more character!

PORK FRIED RICEFast forward a year and we’re in the Smoky Mountains celebrating Christmas with the family. We shared a cabin with my sis and her (ex)husband and we had the best time. When Tom, my brother-in-law, saw my tattoo he said, “That doesn’t say courage, that says pork fried rice, and all the Chinese people are laughing at all the dumb Americans getting those symbols on their bodies without knowing what they’re saying!” We all had a good laugh about that, but I was sure that it didn’t say pork fried rice…or did it?

That Christmas my uncle also celebrated with us in Tennessee, and he brought a friend along with him…Lee Chen…from China. Seriously. How could it not get more perfect?! After about an hour of visiting I pulled Lee aside and asked a favor. “Lee, would you mind taking a look at this and telling me what it says?” I asked. “Sure. I will try,” was his reply. So I showed him my tattoo and he said it meant hero. What? Hero? Are you sure? Yep. He was sure. That gave me something to think about, but after I did, I realized that I was o.k. with that. After all, I thought, I have always been my own hero. I don’t expect any hero to show up. I had always depended upon only myself for anything in life, so hero was still fitting.

That night, back at the cabin, we all had a good laugh about pork fried rice and how lucky I was that it wasn’t something drastically different. We also laughed about the very real possibility that out of the thousands of others with symbol tattoos, several were bound to be wrong, perhaps not pork fried rice wrong, but incorrect nonetheless! It is now one of our best family jokes whenever someone sees it and asked what it means!

Just to be safe, I did, years later, have the opportunity to have it read by another Chinese national..and yep…still hero! Whew!



Daily Prompt: Climate Control

31 May

Prompt: The idea that the weather and people’s moods are connected is quite old. Do you agree? If yes, how does the weather affect your mood?

Have you ever spent a really long winter in the upper-midwest? No. Seriously. I’m talking about a long ass winter…LONG…months without seeing the sun, your lawn, or feeling a temperature above fifteen degrees?

Can you imagine what it would be like to only have 3% sunny days, of the possible 100% sunny days you could have?

I have and can, and so has just about every person living in the upper half of the country for more than twenty years. It’s fucking brutal…and depressing. So depressing that we do all kinds of crazy shit to get out of the house and try to cheer up a bit, like ice bowling. Now that’s a good time for a drunk Saturday afternoon. And really, what else is there to do, but get drunk, or eat, on a Saturday in the middle of a mid-western winter?

I suffer from seasonality disorder. I often times find it very difficult to get out of bed in the morning during the winter. I have no drive. No ambition. On the weekends my biggest triumph is brushing my teeth. Seriously.

You wonder why mid-westerners are so ample? It’s from eating away our depression all winter with shit you can bake and stew, because it’s not 8,000 degrees of summer! Like cakes and pot roasts and potatoes!

The best part about being a Yankee? S P R I N G ! ! And all the promise of summer it brings with it. 🙂 We start to perk up, come out of hibernation, and engage with the world again. Neighbors! Hey Neighbor!! Long time no see! Cocktails?

Damn we love spring. Summer is short lived, and usually too hot, but spring, ah spring you devilish matron of freshness and renewal! You tempt us so handily with your balmy days and gentle breezes, only to grab back the warmth and send us retreating back into the tundra for one more pass…or two…

The world just gets happier up north in the spring. The weather brightens up and so do we! It’s true. You can never convince this mid-western girl that climate doesn’t affect moods. I’m living proof of it and so is my environment.

The good life. 🙂

Daily Prompt: Futures Past

31 May

Prompt:  As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?

Wow. That’s a good and powerful question. Funny, but I had actually been thinking about this for some time now and surprising myself with the answers. There have only been three things that I can ever remember wanting to be, well four if you count that short stint with wanting to be a child psychologist…doesn’t every little girl want to be a child psychologist at one time or another in their life? Three things…but I’ve only had ONE burning desire.

The only “job” I ever aspired to, once I actually figured out what a job or career was, was in advertising. In high school, all I would answer when someone said, “What are you going to do?” was always advertising. Of course I did absolutely nothing at all about researching majors or getting into a college. It was just…”going to happen.” Right.

I also always knew that I would own a business one day. I never had a real passion for any business in particular, but I did have a passion for business in general…the art of “making the deal happen.” I loved that and especially marketing. Coming from a long line of entrepreneurs, I just always knew, felt, assumed, that I would own my own business. I started young, too.

Back in my grade school days we didn’t eat lunch at school unless it was five degrees or below. On the days that I knew we would be eating at school I would load my lunchbox up with penny candy and gumpops and sell the shit out of them at lunch. I’d make a lot of money, for a kid, and would restock for the next shut-in. For the kids out there…penny candy is like getting two pieces of Jolly Rancher for a penny…it was crazy! You could go to the store with a nickel, which, believe me wasn’t easy to get off your dad and you usually had to do a fair amount of chores to get it, but when you did you could transform that nickel into ten pieces of candy. Fifteen pieces if you were as charming as me! 🙂

So that leaves the BURNING DESIRE. The one thing that I’ve known, felt I was born for…the only thing that I’ve ever wanted to do my whole life. The one thing that makes me the happiest girl on earth…the thing that lets me breath. Singing. I’ve always wanted to be a singer. I want to stand on a stage in front of thousands of people and belt out some really sweet shit that will make you cry and get goosebumps. That’s the thing I was meant to do…the one thing that brings me more joy than seeing the smile on my son’s face. Alright…now that I think of that statement I really can’t say more joy…but I will say the same amount of joy. Song. Music. The sweet rhythm and beat, sway and tap…of music. Just thinking about it makes my heart race! Since I was six years old, whenever I was asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My unwavering answer has always been, “A singer!” If not out loud, always in my head and heart. Once in high school the “singer” job really didn’t go over too well with the folks!

For the longest time I was about as far away from any of those things as you could imagine. It was sitting at the south pole starting my life. Working, married, and with a baby, and all of my hopes, dreams, and passions were hanging up there at the north pole smirking down at me. Polar opposites could not describe it better. I was not unhappy at all. Quite the contrary…I loved my life. I just found different things to occupy my mind-space.

Then something huge happened. Tragic. Life changing. My husband died. I became an instant widow with a 22 month old son. Shit just got real. WTF was I going to do?

I remember my therapist telling me, “Out of something bad comes something good.” I almost wanted to donkey punch her when she said that! I know now that I just wasn’t ready to hear it. It’s true…every cloud has a silver lining and you can find a blessing in every tragedy, if you’re open and willing to seek them out. Sometimes, like in my case, it can take years until you’re ready to see the something good, but when you’re ready, and with the right passage of time, it’s easy to find. Now, after surving being widowed at 25, and having that many more years of life experience, I actively seek the good, silver lining, and blessing in every bad situation. It just makes the damn thing more bearable. What other choice do we have, really? A never ending pity party? Not my style. 🙂

My life turned on a dime. After about a year I quit my corporate job to have more time with my son. I started bartending one night a week in a local tavern that had a really, really good juke box. That’s where I found my voice. I always had a pretty voice, but I never knew of, or realized, the powerful voice I had until I worked in that gin joint. I used to love to sing Crazy, by Patsy Cline. Loved it for two reasons…one, it is such a beautiful song and so well suited to my voice, and two, there are parts of that song that can get very “throaty” and deep…to pardon the pun!…and I would work those sections of the song and look some dude in the eye while I sang it with a smile and got to those very low places. I got some really good tips from singing like that!

One night a guy put $5.00 in the jukebox and played Mustang Sally about ten times. I sang the shit out of that song and had everyone in the bar going wild. Damn, I made some good money that night, too! Over the nineteen years that I bartended I was known as the singing bartender. My “infamy” even traveled to another state, where a good customer of mine was having some drinks in a bar and when the fella he was talking to found out what town he was from, he said that there was this really awesome singing bartender named Trudy that worked at the Clover, and the guy was like, “Hey! That’s my bartender!” I got a kick out of that. I really am a legend in my own mind! 🙂

I’ve gotten on stage with any band who would have me…and many have. English or Spanish…I can sing them all. One of my favorite memories is getting asked to sing with a mariachi band at a girl’s wedding. That was pretty cool. It also reminds me of the time my niece, Peggy, sent the annoying mariachi band at our favorite Mexican restaurant over to our table to “get us”. She was the one who was “got” when I asked the band, in Spanish, if they knew a particular song and if I could sing it with them. Imagine to look of shock and surprise on her face when I turned towards her table triumphantly, and with a smart-assed gleam in my eye, began to belt out one of the best songs about drinking and debauchery in a mariachi band’s repertoire! She will never forget that night!

It’s true that I’ve never sang before thousands, but I have sang before a thousand, and hundreds more. I’m older now and don’t sing publicly like I used to…but sometimes I still do, and people don’t expect this old gal to belt out a bluesy soulful tune like she still do…but she do! Singer…CHECK!

Through my son’s athletic activities I accidentally stumbled upon a business that I never expected. It grew and grew and I’ve now owned my own business(es) for 18 years…ten years, this year, with my brick and mortar store. I own Designs On You, a custom embroidery and screenprinting shop with a retail component that deals with school spiritwear and an online cheerleading store. It’s a very cute store! We sell promotional items too. You know, the stuff you get at trade shows or concerts or events with a company’s logo on them to advertise their company. Oops! Yep. I went there. Guess what? I’m kind of into advertising. We help companies promote their brand through advertising their logo on apparel and promotional giveaway items! I know…it’s cray, but true!

Advertising…Check! Own My Own Business…CHECK!

Here’s the something good from the something bad. You thought I was going to forget about that, didn’t you? Well I didn’t. I never would have found out how strong of a woman I am, if my husband hadn’t died. Believe me, I never wanted him dead for that to happen, but that’s my blessing. I never would have achieved all of the things I have in my life had he not died. I would have been a happy housewife and mother who sang only at bedtime and around the house, the only advertising I would have cared about was coupons for cleaning supplies, and the business part…well, my first husband and I did start a concrete business together. He worked in the field and I worked admin at night after getting home from my corporate job, so that part would have been realized.

In some messed up way it’s almost like the Universe said, “Hey man, we’re sorry to fuck you up like that. Here’s some good shit that’s gonna happen for you. Enjoy.” I’ll take it…what choice is there?




Daily Prompt…Trick Questions

30 May

Prompt: A Pulitzer-winning reporter is writing an in-depth piece – about you. What are the three questions you really hope she doesn’t ask you?

Kill, marry, shag. There. I said it. I swear, how do you come up with an answer to this question? It’s like having to pick the best of the worst! I’d love if they asked something like Matthew McConaughey, Channing Tatum, and Adam Levine. Easy. Levine, McConaughey, and Tatum, respectively. Sure, I could live with that.

What if the table is turned. What if the choices are Hitler, Satan, and John Wayne Gacy? Then what? How do you choose? I guess if you killed Satan, then that would render Hitler and Gacy inept at being evil, since evil will no longer exist. Well, shit! Maybe I should hope that they ask that question! I could solve the world’s problem right there! 😉

Or it could go all creepy like George, Aviva’s dad from RHONY…man that dude is nasty…that gross, old dude from the Clippers…Donald Sterling – EW!…and Woody Allen, you know, the guy who likes to sleep with and marry his step-daugther. Then WTF do you do? That just ain’t right! I couldn’t even imagine any of that, with any of those dudes!

Well there it is. All wrapped up and served on the proverbial platter. I really hope she doesn’t ask me anything about that third scenario…