“wear your heart on your skin in this life”

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For a long time, I vacillated on whether I should actually do it. My commitment issues are legendary, no one shies away from forever more than I. Fuck, I can’t deal with the concept of god because heaven is too intimidating (Who really wants to hang around with all the nice people in your life for eternity anyway?)  It had been months thinking about it, excitedly anticipating it a one-day way, the same way you think about growing up when you’re eleven, or college your first year of high school.  Undefined and impossibly far in the future.

I finally made the appointment after freaking out at my roommate via text for approximately forty minutes, which she dealt with kindly and patiently because she’s a sweetheart. On some level, I went through with it because I hate going back on my word. I had told so many people my idea about it that backing out now would make me feel like a coward.

Of course, pride is not a reason to do anything, but this wasn’t pride it was honor (or something. Whatever.) It was also that I knew myself. I’ve only ever regretted things I haven’t done (90 percent of the time. The other ten percent I deny ever happened.) If I push my boundaries, good things happen.

So I called. I went to Chameleon down in Harvard Square, where a couple of friends had gotten tattoos before. They’re a little pricey and have a reputation as “the place where all the freshman girls get their noses pierced,” but I’d had my cartilage done there and I’ve seen the premises and that place is spotless. The artists are also extremely skilled, and their customer care is excellent. They take care of you at Chameleon.

Mo accompanied me. We ate Bertucci’s and I was almost late because I suck and refuse to take the T for anything less than three stops (sorry Mo. That was a lot of walking). Thankfully, my pizza eating skills approach the speed of light so we ended up okay on time. I called when I thought I might be late.

On the way toward the Garage, a homeless man asked about the box containing half a pizza so we gave it to him. We arrived at the parlor.

My artist was a visiting artist. She lived in San Fransisco and is back in the Bay Area again, unfortunately. Unfortunately, because she is brilliant. I came in wanting a white ink tattoo. It seemed tame enough that my commitment issues could be quelled while still doing what I wanted. She told me that white ink would fade in just a couple months and look like a scar. White was a no-go.

So fuck it, full color.  Swallows are usually black and red but that’s not my style. She drew them up extremely quickly, we decided on a blue and green. I picked the green of a tattoo on her forearm.

I must have changed the position of the stencil six million times. She was patient. “It’ll be on your body forever, it better be perfect,” she said. “Is this your first tattoo?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s a big one. That’s cool. Go big or go home.”

She described what she was doing, the steps in order. Line work, then shading then color. We would switch sides so it wouldn’t get too much. If I needed a break, just say so. “There are some pretty long lines in the wings. People say that the line work is the worst, but everyone is different.”

The line work is the worst.

A tiny blade stabs you an infinite number of times, pounding up and down and up and down, and moves horizontally  as well. It feels like a tiny fire under your skin. After fifteen minutes, you attain almost a savasana-esque state. Shallow breathing, unfocussed relaxation. An endorphin-confused pain shooting up into your ribs from your navel. My toes were freaking out of their own accord.

Mo held my hand. Occasionally I looked over at her. Most of the time I focused on the art pinned to the walls. A virgin of Guadalupe, portraits of waifish girls, gnarled cartoons.

I didn’t watch the needle, though I glanced down at it a few times. It was too difficult a position and if I kept my eyes open and focused on regulating my breathing, I could achieve an almost out-of-body state so why would I pass that up.

She told me a few times how well I was doing, especially since it was my first tattoo and it was on my stomach. It was oddly comforting. She paused to mix the color inks and I got up to check out the unfinished fowl. The shading alone was beautiful. For half a second I was tempted to leave it as it was.

We decided to completely finish one side before starting the other. I’m a trooper like that. The color and shading, after the line work, are almost anticlimactic.

We were done in about an hour. I stood up and looked in the mirror again. Two bright, swooping swallows flanked my navel. They were shiny and new and they were perfect. Both the artist and I took photos of them and then she applied the large diaper like bandages. Mo bought me a pack of Dunhills.

“I bless this one for you,” she turned it tobacco-up in the pack, “that your tattoo will heal brilliantly and easily.

“And I bless this one for me. Smoke these two after all the others are gone. They have to be last.”

I thought about how much I love her and we took two, unblessed cigarettes. A man came up behind us. He was one of the homeless youths that sit on the sidewalks of Harvard Square. The city is disparate, that was Mo’s word. The ivory towers and the beggars and not a lot in between.

“Can I bum a smoke?”

I looked at Mo and shrugged and gave him one. He held it with both hands and looked at it, “Man, what kind of cigarette is this?” He had never seen a Dunhill before.

We walked until Central and then took the T because it looked like rain. I had dragged her around Cambridge enough today anyway.  On the way home we talked about how nervous I had been. Mo, always wise, shrugged and answered, “Our bodies are disposable. We should decorate them any way we want.”

Immediately after she said it, I knew it was true and that was why I did it in the first place. It isn’t forever. It’s for far less than forever. So why not, you know. I adore them. And I will have them with me for the rest of my life.

What a terribly awkward picture of my stomach.

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Immediately after being finished.

(images via moi, for once. title from Sylvia Plath in Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams.)

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Things I have learned during my first year at college

This is my extremely pretentious lesson to the graduating high school class of 2012. After being in college for an entire year, I can confidently say two things: I have learned a multitude, and I am an ignorant human. These things are important and not academically related. Much of college is outside of class, knowing how to navigate –and balance– the two is the key to happiness. The following list is largely useless, but fuck you. 

Do not capitalize the words in a headline

The first thing I did upon arriving at the university was join the paper. Little did I know how infinitely important it would become to me. In a single year, I went from rookie reporter, never having worked for a publication, never having seen her name in print, to the news editor. This was a result of desperation for personnel on the part of my dearest, darling editor-in-chief, and my unabated, rather creepy enthusiasm. Being part of the paper gave my friends, a social world, and a sense of importance. Yesterday, I was discussing why the paper was great to get into early with my EIC: Instantly, you’re connected to the university. You have a reason, and authority, to go places, talk to people, learn things.

Maybe you’re not a newsie, but get involved in something the first week, before your schedule smacks you in the face and you realize you have no time to do anything. College is full of people as enthusiastic and committed as you, no one will ever belittle your effort, or say something rude about intellect.

You are going to wear your hair like this a lot 

No really. And it is going to be unwashed and you should probably just give up wearing those contacts now because there is no way on the planet you are getting them on without stabbing yourself in the eyeball with the amount of sleep you have had. Invest in eye drops for so many reason.

Billie Holiday had no regrets and neither should you

Sometimes, my friends and I did really stupid things. Really, really stupid. Things that lead to rather quotable quips, such as:

“I just realized, in the past twenty-four hours, I haven’t drunk anything but coffee and vodka. Remind me to drink water before we go to the gym.” 

“And then he told me ‘You’re the farthest I’ve gone with a girl who kept her socks on.’” 

“Can I use the word ‘kinky’ in an essay?”*

But you know what? I regret none of it. Absolutely nothing. What I do regret are the things and people I passed up, only to realize later how brilliant they were.

I do have regrets for things I did, but not because they adversely affected me, but rather because they hurt other people. The only bad decisions are those that hurt the people around you, even if the people are strangers, or you do not particularly care about them.

Do not play with the affections of others for the sake of your own vanity.

Untangle your web

People like to play games, lie about shit, and stroke their own egos. That is pretty dumb.

Be honest with others, be honest with yourself, and your life gets about six thousand times better. It’s trite, but true. When you let yourself feel your feelings and think your thoughts, and you stop playing games with the people around you, all of a sudden life becomes very simple. There is no need to remember who you told what, what you did not do, and who you are.

Be honest with your brain

Lying to yourself about what you can and cannot do, lying about your level of intellect or understanding, in either direction, makes you insecure. Professors do not believe you know everything, the good ones know that they do not either. Your friends are not your friends because they think you’re a genius.

On the flip side: You can do it. Saying you can’t is laziness or fear. If you work hard enough, you can pass the class, even if you flunked the first midterm. Trust me. I did.

Happiness is not actually a warm gun, or a lot of zeros after a number

Study until you can honestly say that you are comfortable with your level of knowledge, but do not think that you have to know everything. Do not spend your life in the library. Do what honestly makes you happy. If you hate biochem, don’t do it. If you find biochem infinitely difficult, which is hateful in process but satisfying, that is a reason to persist. So many kids work for majors they have no interest in because they think it is lucrative. Money, for all my love of it, is not everything, turns out.

It is nice to be secure. Insecurity breeds worry and worry breeds unhappiness so you should probably apply for some on-campus jobs and stop hitting up your parents all the time.

Maybe most importantly, it is okay to be happy. Just because you are smart doesn’t mean you need to be cynical. Intellect does not need to be jaded. If you want to be happy, even in the worst situation, you can.

Unhappiness is a choice.

Accept the sweats

Personally, I like the pajama shorts and stolen oversized sweater look. Yoga pants are kind of unacceptable in the real world, but you’re not in the real world. You’re in college. We’re all just lucky you’re awake. Rock those sunglasses, sweats and flip flops.

People leave

This is one you don’t understand until it happens. College is an insular society. Relationships develop at an accelerated rate, because you’re all so close to each other and you see people so many times a day. And at the end of every year, a fourth of your friends, or lovers, or enemies, disappear. On one hand, this is rad. All those poor decisions and embarrassing moments are whisked away and you never have to look at them in the face again.

And, on the other hand, you’re never going to speak to some of this people again. And that’s a little bit sad. There’s nothing you can do about it, really, except accept. Eventually, you’re going to graduate as well and leave behind people upon whom you don’t understand the impact you had.

Try to tell people how much you value them, or they will never know.

Still, make friends with seniors.

They can teach you things and show you things that you would never otherwise know. The way to the roof of the library, the secret cemetery behind the tennis courts, the bonfire pits throughout the woods, the best novel you’ve ever read, the concept that it is okay to be pretentious and drunk and happy. Then, after they’ve left, it’s your job to find someone to pass it on to.

Study 

Trust me, you have to. Study early, study often, study in a place you actually get shit done. Nothing is worse than waiting until the last minute and realizing you don’t physically have enough time to learn everything. Listen in lectures. Don’t bring your computer, it will only distract you. If you listen in the lecture, everything is easier. Go to the library from the first week, getting into the habit will only be harder the longer you wait. Take classes that you want, even if it fulfills no requirement. Put your soul into your papers. Get excited about them. Talk to your professors, they are only human beings but extremely helpful.

Clean your world

Keep your dorm clean. It is the size of a postage stamp and can get messy in about half a second. And you never know when a horde of people, or maybe just one, will appear, and you don’t want to be embarrassed. Dorms are like that, people walk up and down the halls and you have unexpected company a lot.

A clean dorm will make you more efficient, and a better roommate. Clean your dishes, get rid of clothes you don’t wear, etc etc. Moving away from home for the first time is an excellent opportunity to make your world a better place.

Also, accept that your dorm room sucks. Because it will. It’s going to always smell weird and it’s going to be loud and maybe sometimes your roommates will annoy you. But whatever, it is your home.

Watch out

I am pretty confident that the more intellectually concentrated an area, the more issues people have on average.

Or, in simpler terms: College is full of crazies.

And sometimes they are not cute crazy. Sometimes they are creepy crazy. Sometimes the crazy is hidden and only reveals itself after you’ve been friends for a while and there is no escape. I’m not sure what to do about this, but it happens, so watch the fuck out. Because they are really, really crazy. Run.

Get ready for frisbee and a capella 

I don’t really know why they’re so popular, but your school will likely have an ultimate frisbee team, which is cool, and numerous a capella groups, which is also cool. They might even be good. I seriously cannot figure out why college, and not the rest of the world, is so into both. Maybe it has something to do with the water.

Or maybe it is that we are all giant nerds.

Other things:

  • You don’t have to eat the ramen. There are other options, like toast! Toast is good. I have not eaten ramen all year. The ramen is a lifestyle choice.
  • Say no. But not often. Only when your editor is trying to get you to write 600+ words this week and you have a fucking midterm. Thanks, EIC. (But that’s really the only time to ever say no, I mean, uh, what?)
  • Love thy roommate. I do.
  • Facebook is a wonderful tool, used solely for chatting people up and figuring out if they share your sexual orientation and are not in a committed relationship.
  • Wear flats to parties. Collect a couple of sweatshirts you don’t mind losing.
  • Practice not cursing, because when you return home/meet parents/talk to authority figures you’ll be glad you can still switch it off.
  • Never believe the health center. It ain’t mono. But use your university insurance and have prescriptions delivered! You can do that. It’s pretty great. Your monthlies will never cost only ten dollars again, so get on that shit.
  • Find someone to be a pretentious asshole with. Find someone who you can talk about yourself with, all your insecurities, who will still love you. Find someone who will tell you when you suck. Find someone to help. Friends are great.
  • Do things that scare you. Do things you have never done before and think you would never do. The human body is capable of carrying out any action. You can jump through that window and climb to the top of the tower. You can take five classes. You can dance for six hours and then get up the next day and go to work at six a.m.
  • Your choices are your own. Do what you want and don’t give a shit about what people say. They are all as insecure and stupid as you are.

(images via fuck yeah movie posterscape cod collegiate)

*That paper got an A. There are more quotes on a tumblr which I was compelled to password-protect for the sake of our futures. We make really, really good decisions.

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Today, I have eaten:

7 a.m. Yogurt, a banana.

12 p.m. Yogurt, an apple, peanut butter, coffee.

5:30 p.m. A bagel, half a salad, coffee.

6 p.m. Candy corn.

11 p.m.  Half a bagel, peanut butter, coffee.

 

(I usually eat better than this. Wednesdays are just really busy.)

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No one likes us, we don’t care.

For a very, very long time, I was terrified of what people thought. Then, partly as a result of growing up, and partly because I received some very good advice from a dead author, I realized: so was everyone else.

When you walk down the street, or the hall, or into your job, and are terrified of what people will think of your outfit, or the magnificent zit on your chin, or your actions last night, no one else is going to notice. If they do, more than likely they don’t care. They’re so wrapped up in worrying about themselves, your zit isn’t going to count for much. They’re thinking about themselves.

It’s freeing, realizing that your own narcissism is universal. I only bring this up because I tried to explain this to a friend recently. She refuses to go to anywhere by herself, changes four times every morning, and constantly talks about how devastated she was that something minor happened and how “weird” it was. I saw myself in here, the self-conscious, nervous girl of years past, who was terrified of the judgment of others. I tried to tell her that no one else cares, that they’re busy with their own lives, but couldn’t quite get through to her, not yet. I understand, and I understand how hard it is to accept it as truth, maybe because it makes ones own part in the world as so tiny and insignificant.

It’s so comforting, though, to be able to slum around without being afraid of what others think, and it doesn’t mean you can’t dress up or take care of yourself. It’s a balance of self-worth and self-esteem. Enough self-esteem not to hang on the opinion of others, enough self-worth to do it for yourself, at least in terms of beauty routine, which is a large portion of young women’s self-esteem.

Which is good, because I have broken out like a fourteen year old pot head and am bloated and feel like a beached whale. But who the fuck cares?

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One draft story.

I had a whole half-hour free. I wrote something while I drank coffee.

 

          Oh fuck, he thought, and stamped out his cigarette in the tepid shallow coffee in front of him. He tried to look aimlessly off into the distance, but she had seen him and it was already too late. She was scuttling toward him, overconfident, bubbling. Not even the chill of the balcony seat he had chosen, for the precise reason of being left alone, could deter her. She was exhaustless.

“Hello, George,” she called, too loudly, once she had arrived, and he looked up. Her voice resonated and jarred the soul like the first note of an alarm clock at a quarter to six on a Monday.

“Hello, Sybil.”

He sat back and wished that he still had his cigarette, so he could nonchalantly tap off the ash. Instead, he chose to sulk.

“Eating alone?” she asked and sat down heavily, thrusting her breasts forward and smiling, what he supposed she thought was sultrily.

“Not really.”

She looked confused. He threw a sardonic grin, “You see, I’m not eating.”

“You should really stop smoking, George. It isn’t good for you.” She was already unfolding a sandwich.

“I know, that’s why I do it.”

She pursed her lips and shook her head and disapproved.

 

George looked past her shoulder, through the plate glass and into the building where they both worked. Six weeks ago, the woman he knew he loved had met him in a grey knit hat and pair of red rubber rain boots, though the downpour had stopped that morning, and smiled and waved and called him down from the second story. It was five o’clock, stop working, come home.

And then, a week after that she had been cooking eggs and he sat at the kitchen table, reading the paper, his hair in his eyes, and she had turned around and told him that she did not want to be his anymore. She then turned to get the toast.

And he could not understand it. She had been so happy, and she still was happy. The happiness sloughed in waves off her skin, out her cuticles, the cracks in her lips. It wasn’t that she didn’t love him, she adored him, but she just didn’t want to be his. Couldn’t they be friends?

 

He shifted uncomfortably in his chair and Sybil stared expectantly at him. “Well?”

Reality returned with a brisk snap and he turned toward his colleague a little wild-eyed.  She repeated her question:

“Are you going to McCuller’s wedding on Saturday? You are, aren’t you? He expects you to, and I was thinking that maybe we could drive together, into the city—”

He stood abruptly and she retreated from the table to avoid the cups knocking into her lap. “I have to go,” George said, pulling his coat tighter around him and marching around the corner, groping at his pockets for another cigarette. He found one left in the box, slightly bent, and jammed it between his lips, lighting it against the wall. His body curled around the flame to keep it from extinguishing.

 

Nine weeks ago, she had sat across from him at a table in the park, dumping packets of sugar into her tea and laughing. She had been happy, she adored him, and she didn’t want to be his. He did not understand why.

 

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7 Oct 2011

I didn’t update last week. It’s okay though, because nobody ever looks at this anyways.

Last week, I wrote two articles. One of them didn’t show up on the website and I keep forgetting to tell the girl who runs the website. It’s okay, it was Brandeis-centric and not very good anyways.

One of the articles I wrote last week concerning the Affordable Care Act and its effect on college students.

And this week:

Another Aramark article, wrapping up the contract negotiations (phew).

A piece in sports! Obit. for former director of athletics.

Immigrant worker exploitation at Upper Crust pizza.

And one about hunger and food instability in America, for which I interviewed a professor involved in the project.

We finished a whole hour early last night– which is still an hour after what press time is supposed to be, and got a whole seven hours of sleep before I got up at nine for distribution. This paper is getting in the way of my life. I keep turning down “social” situations because I have to write articles or go to production night. Obviously I am insane.

 

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2 Oct, 2011

To those who tell me I am a reckless thing, too rash for her own good, I have proven you wrong. Sometimes, I make lovely life decisions.

Tonight I have a single. So, I watched an episode of The West Wing, did my homework, cleaned the room, went to the gym, and finally am going to settle down with an account of Allen Ginsberg and the Beat Generation.

Foolhardy hardly. Pah.

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29 Sept, 2011

For the past week, I have been getting calls from an unavailable number. When I pick up, there’s only silence or the line cuts. Upon trying to call back, I receive an “Invalid Number” message.

It’s really bizarre.

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The world’s most dedicated rookie.

Three news articles in The Hoot this week!

Even after crisis, departments feeling the strain

All about Aramark: from prisons to (Disney) castles

I am a little afraid that after this second article, Aramark will remember who I am and ice me. If I disappear and am later found in the Charles, you know where to look.

And an issue not solely applicable only to Brandeis:

Brandeis students protest Davis execution

The Davis article I wrote in the space of two hours on production night, because there was empty space in the section and they needed another piece. I had noticed there hadn’t been any coverage of the Davis trial, mentioned it, and was given the job.

Which is how I ended up frantically calling V and everyone else I knew, begging for quotes about the Troy Davis case and smashing my face against the keyboard.

So that’s why that one is so shoddy. The others I have no excuse for.

I got home (which is what we call our dorm) at half past three, then woke up a whole six hours later to do distribution. It was twenty percent more sleep than I usually get! Awesome!

(image via vivian maier)

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Hoot.

I have been very quiet lately not because I’ve nothing to say, but rather too much to do.* Sleep has become optional. Last night, I stumbled into my dorm at half past four in the morning and collapsed onto my bunk on top of a copy of Hemingway’s collected short stories and a pile of dirty-ish clothes. I’d been at the paper all night! Not that I was productive or anything; as a newsie neophyte, I mostly toddle after my editor and get in the way and ask stupid questions.

But, I haven’t been this excited about something in a really long time. For almost a year I’d resembled the hero in one of Camus’ lesser works and now I don’t and I’m glad for it. I won’t major in journalism, because I don’t want to be poor, but I might pick it up as a minor, along with legal studies, just for fun.

I also wrote an article! It is here: Dining  services union negotiate with Aramark over contract

It’s very dry and specific to the university, but it’s my first by-line on anything ever, and it was on the front page (below the fold). My fantastic roommate also got on the front of her section, with an article about a one-woman play about Rachel Carson, which sounds really artsy fartsy and was actually quite good! I know, she made me go with her.

More in character, I broke my phone yesterday at the gym because I was having a conversation with V while running on a treadmill and damaged the buttons with my sweat. So elegant.

* Also, I think some Brandeisians found this blog and it made me uncomfortable. I thought about ending it altogether, but I don’t really want to. If you know me and you read this, tell me so I don’t say horrid things about you. Capiche?

(image via pinterest)

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