I spent some of yesterday hanging art on our walls (finally!) including the framed tattoo concept drawings my father did for our wedding tattoos, and my sister-in-law Renee’s two landscapes — one painted in honor of her marriage to my brother (9/9) and one in honor of our marriage (9/14). We’ve hung them in a triptych on the bedroom wall (pictured above); they face this housewarming gift from my parents, who obviously know their daughter and daughter-in-law well: Continue reading
Reflections on local intentions in this eighth year of my Boston residency, and a long melancholy weekend at the end of summer, has pushed me to think about what my forward intentions actually are. Now that I’m done with grad school (*weeps with relief*), doing the whole “emerging professional” thing at a job a genuinely like, married with two cats, I’m like … so what’s next, life?
I never really had a plan, per se. I mean, I almost didn’t go to college? I was emotionally allergic to school and considered some sort of roguish apprenticeship instead. I wanted to run a writer’s colony in the U.P. (“upper peninsula” for you non-Michiganders), feed people and fix septic systems, maybe have a lot of time for hiking around with a compass in the back woods. Or maybe open a bookshop by the sea, with the writers tucked away upstairs in garret rooms overlooking the surf. Again: Tea, biscuits, quiet, thoughts, maybe a puppy and obviously cats.
As previously mentioned, Hanna and I had a date with our new tattoo artist — Thomas Gustainis — on the afternoon of the day the Supreme Court released its opinions in Windsor and Perry. Which means that one part of the multi-faceted meaning of these tattoos, at least for me, will be entwined with memories of the day DOMA fell.
The color on Hanna’s lotus is as vibrant as the most brilliant Michigan autumn.
And I couldn’t be happier with my juniper branch, even if the placement means I only really get to see it in photography like this!
The day after I had the work done, a volunteer at the Massachusetts Historical Society asked me, with slight alarm (though also no small measure of admiration) if I ever thought about what I would think of my ink when I was her age, in my 70s.
Yes, I said. Because I have.
But I wasn’t sure how to explain to her, from there, that to me the tattoos on my skin are like scars or freckles or laugh lines. Yes, they’re voluntary. Yet over time they become, literally, a part of my embodied self. They will grow old with me, and change meaning and character as they (we) do.
This is my body now, I say to myself, when I look in the mirror every day. My physical self is a running, changing record of my life in this world. And the ink is, indelibly now, a part of that record.
Maybe it’s my historian-self that has learned to embrace such traces in the skin.
|artwork by Thomas Gustanis|
Even in the midst of this Boston heatwave, I’m starting to get excited about the appointment Hanna and I have tomorrow for our new tattoos! They will be, respectively, her fourth and my third pieces — and our first projects with our new tattoo artist, Thomas Gustanis, the husband of one of Hanna’s colleagues at the Center for the History of Medicine.
We were excited to discover Thomas was building his tattoo portfolio, as our previous artist — Ellen Murphy — left the Boston area to work at Red Rocket in New York City.
But! Life (and tattoo art) move on, so we’re looking forward to building on the addiction that Ellen jump-started with Thomas’ developing style.
I had my first tattoo inked to mark the completion of my graduate degrees in January 2011.
Along with Hanna, I had my second tattoo inked in celebration of our marriage in August 2012.
When the opportunity to have a third tattoo completed arose I did not have an obvious design in mind, although I new I wanted something organic. After sitting with some possible designs and placements, I’ve settled on the lovely juniper branch Thomas sketched out (above), to be inked on the back of my right shoulder. The smell of juniper in the heat of summer sunshine is one of my strongest scent-memories from childhood: it grew as wild ground cover around the cottage in Leelanau, Michigan where my family vacationed every summer, and was also a pervasive scent in Bend, Oregon, where we regularly visited my maternal grandparents when I was young. Northern Michigan and Central Oregon are both deep parts of my geographically-rooted self, and I chose this tattoo to ground those spaces and memories within my bodily self.
It was only after I had selected the tattoo subject and finalized the design with Thomas that my grandmother, Marilyn, died in Bend. But I will be sitting for the tattoo tomorrow afternoon in her memory, and in thanks for the way she helped make Oregon a part of my Homeland.
|by Mark Cook|
Last week we suffered a minor crisis in wedding plans when we discovered that our tattoo artist, Ellen Murphy — who has worked at Chameleon, in Harvard Square, for the past eight years — would be relocating to New York City at the end of August to work at Red Rocket Tattoo. Suddenly, she was not going to be available on September 14th to ink our wedding tattoos!
Thankfully, my dad had just completed the calligraphy design for us a few days previously (see above), and so I phoned up Chameleon and booked us for this past Monday evening. Here are some photos we took of the process.
|Ellen works on Hanna’s ink|
|first the stencil gets applied|
|and then the ink, which on one’s wrist is pretty intense!|
|I had mine done vertically; here it is moments after completion|
Hanna told me afterwards that I turn some pretty exciting colors while I’m breathing through the pain; while I never felt nauseated or in true danger of passing out, I did feel a little lightheaded at times and Hanna reports my skin turned some exciting shades of white, yellow, and green. At moments like these, I’m grateful for all those adolescent menstrual cramps that hurt like a motherfucker and taught me how to breathe through the worst until it was all over. (Also kudos to Ellen for being in tune with how I was doing — we got the work done efficiently, without me ever having to ask her to break.)
|The finished pieces, well-greased with antibiotic salve.
(Anna on the left, Hanna on the right)
We figure this puts us well on the way to a long life of marital commitment.
Hanna and I spent the weekend in Maine at her parents’ house, which was a blessed break from the heat of an urban summer and also a two-day stretch of time away from the Internet. Since we were spending time with family, I didn’t get any writing done — so I don’t have the review of Love the Sin for you which I hoped to post today.
Instead, I’m going to give a signal boost to my brother Brian’s wacky month-long art project “Haunted Legs”:
|click here for more|
Each day will bring a new frame in the … story? web comic? we’ll see as it unfolds! Here is yesterday’s installment:
Ever since I saw the early sketches for this project, I’ve been thinking of the Dr. Seuss story about the pale green pants with nobody inside them; it was one of our favorite stories to read a Grandma’s house growing up — and I bet the resemblance is more than pure coincidence! Click here to check out the page and follow along. Happy reading!
After Friday, it rained almost continuously the whole weekend Diana and Collin were here. On Monday, before they left for the airport, we took refuge at the Boston Public Library (between Pavement Coffeehouse and Berkeley Perk Cafe).
|center courtyard in the rain, from the 3rd floor gallery|
|an installation featuring bees|
|one for the ghoulish sensibilities|
|I love the gender ambiguity of these figures|
|and these panels featuring labyrinths|
There were a lot of prints incorporating maps, architectural elements, and text. We also noticed a theme of arctic exploration. The photograph below is of an interactive piece featuring the upturned hull of a boat to which visitors are invited to tie slips of paper articulating wishes and dreams (our favorite: “I dream of Cthulhu” and also “I want a pig.” There were also a wonderfully wide variety of languages represented.
|ship of wishes and dreams|
|in the third floor gallery, there were lots of birds|
|including these haunting owls|
Cross-posted at …fly over me, evil angel….
Now that I’m finished with graduate school, I have my weekends back (hooray!) and Hanna and I have been trying to re-learn what it means to spend leisure time together … time not compressed by the anxieties and demands of trying to complete academic work on top of a 35-hour work week and, you know, the daily tasks of living.
|Walking home through Fenway Victory Gardens
Photograph by Hanna
I seriously don’t understand how couples who have full-time jobs manage to care for children. Is there time travel involved? Because caring for our family as just two adults is difficult enough.
Anyway. Back to basics. How do you enjoy a weekend that’s truly a weekend … as in: time off from one’s regular mode of employment?
I thought it might be fun to spend a few months playing quasi-tourist in our own city. Particularly since, as an employee of the Massachusetts Historical Society, I have free admission to lots of cultural sites in the region. (Free entertainment always being preferable when you’ve got student loans to pay off!) Over the past four years, I haven’t found a lot of time to make use of this benefit, but I’ve decided that this should change. Therefore: watch for more “from the neighborhood” posts in the coming months, as Hanna and I explore new parts of our own backyard.
Our first stop, this weekend, was the Museum of Fine Arts, just up the road from the MHS. The MFA is currently hosting an ehibit of work by glass artist Dale Chihuly. I’f you’ve never seen Chihuly’s work, I highly recommend checking out the photos and video clips on his website — the installations are breathtaking. I first saw his work at the Frederick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan about a decade ago and can’t think of anything that’s more soul-enriching than sitting in one of his galleries and soaking in the color. Here are some photographs we took at the exhibition here in Boston.
|So much of his work looks like ocean life of some kind|
|The camera washed out the color on this one, but I love the reflection.
See a better image at Chihuly’s homepage.
|See what I mean about the tide pool effect?|
|Hanna and I agree he should design
sets for Tim Burton…
|Shadow pictures especially for my mother, who is
currently working on a photography series like this.
|Chandelier (by Hanna)
Hard to tell here, but these are massive.
|I love seeing his work in organic settings;
sadly, the MFA space had few outdoor installations.
|Purple reeds (by Hanna)|
All in all, it was an amazing way to spend our Saturday morning. Not sure what we have planned for our next outing, but rest assured I’ll take the camera and report back!
A few months ago, a colleague of mine at the Massachusetts Historical Society — our Art Curator, Anne Bentley — shared a story about this online database curated by the Hand Drawn Map Association. Since my dad has been drawing maps, for pleasure and profit, as long as I can remember, I forwarded the story on to him and he submitted a series of maps. It’s been a while now, but the group has finally gotten around to posting some of his submissions! You can view the first one online here.
The map describes a bicycle ride he took during a visit this past fall to Stratford, Ontario.
Be sure to check out the other maps in the database, as each one of them has its own unique style and story. And I’ll be sure to add links to Dad’s other contributions as they go live. Long-live hand-crafted cartography!
As this post goes live, I will be executing my final presentation for my final class in fulfillment of the requirements for the Master’s in Library Science degree offered by Simmons Graduate School of Information and Library Science (GSLIS). It’s been an … interesting ride.
You can check out all the stuff I’ve written about Simmons over the years on this blog by checking out all the posts tagged simmons (imaginative, I know). Don’t think I have a lot more to say at the moment.
Over the next few weeks, look for updates concerning my history thesis, my new job, and (most important!) my celebratory tattoo, chosen as a way to commemorate my entrance into the community of professional librarians (whom I hear are all about tattoos these days; I look on it as a professional investment).
Meanwhile, Hanna and I plan to meet up with fellow class member Gabrielle tomorrow night at M. J. O’Connor’s for some delicious boxty wedges, fish & chips, and a couple of drinks to toast what, I hope, will be the end-for-a-long-while of my tenure as a formal student.*
*I realise my thesis revision technically counts as part of my academic requirements, but frankly it’s on a whole different plane from coursework. The busywork is over and that’s what matter.