Perhaps I should've subtitled this blog from another Beatles song, "Well they took some honey from a tree, dressed it up and they called it me. Everybody's trying to be my baby."
Thank Heavens for me living my life like a fucking nun who doesn't have the balancing skills to surf or skateboard, because according to the above sign, I'd be banished to Hades for 6 of the above categories.
But I digress.
I was waiting in the alley for Craig to pick me up, having a smoke, promptly at 7pm, when he said he would pick me up. I got a text from him saying he was "10 minutes out" so I went back in the house, aggravated, because as usual, he was running late.
I'd talked to Tatus beforehand, who asked if I was taking Craig out to dinner (NO!), or at least out for ice cream afterwards (NO!) and that I should encourage him to come in the studio by advertising that they had a TV with sports on it inside, though Craig said the only sport he ever watches (college basketball) was over for the season, so he didn't care. I admitted to Tatus that I'd driven the car the other day (whoops, post-surgical no-no!) and that I was looking forward to getting out of the house for an hour or two, even if it was with Craig.
I was feeling a little heated when Craig finally arrived, as I'd been chastising Tatus for STILL not having finished reading my email and the other thingy I gave him, which Kate just happened to ask me about yesterday afternoon on the phone, and that I was feeling decidedly neglected as of late, for which he was sorry. He thanked me for being so understanding and patient given his schedule, though under my breath, I was ready to explode, so we switched topics to music and The Beatles and me (never, it's too mainstream) writing for Rolling Stone magazine, and the mix I made him during my recovery of my favorite Beatles tunes that is now 109 songs long. He asked me if I'm going to write out why I chose each song and what it means to me, and I told him not to tempt me, because I actually would. Like I have nothing else to do. Wait, I don't. Suffice it to say, and I'll eventually give him the flash drive containing the songs, that they were all chosen because they don't just speak to me; they shout at me. Out of the entire Beatles and solo discographies, I could cite what was behind each song, when it came out, the nuances of each's recording processes and my lyrical interpretations. And people keep telling me I should write a book. Silly people.
Craig wanted directions to the Tattoo Factory, and admittedly, I'd forgotten the route Tatus and I took, because we'd gone out to dinner beforehand, so our route was indirect. I told Craig to take the Kennedy to Irving, Irving to Sheridan, Sheridan to Broadway and BAM! We'd be there. Craig is a very nervous driver, and was none too pleased that the traffic was moving slowly. He was busy looking at the odometer.
Would you believe he was so hell bent on me giving him gas money that somehow he'd figured out what to charge me for mileage? He whipped out a post-it note that said "medical $0.23/mile," and said he considered this a "medical" run, as if he were a taxi company or an ambulance run and not doing a favor for the mother of his child. I asked him if I could give him a flat $20 and call it a day. He said, "It might come out to be less than $20!" Lucky me!
I thanked Craig for taking me on this adventure, and he mumbled a "You're welcome" as he uncomfortably changed lanes. "You're doing this because you love me." "No, I'm not." "Yes, you are," I said. "No." "Yes." Just like Craig never admits that he's sick when he's sick, he never admits that he still loves me, even though if he didn't, he wouldn't let his girlfriend loosen the noose long enough for us to go into Uptown. If there's one thing my ex-husband hates, it's being accused of still having affection for his ex-wife. But puhleeze.
On the ride into the city, we talked about administrative matters regarding Luke, and how utterly cocky and misbehaving he's been acting towards Craig, of which I was not aware, to the point where Craig wrote out a contract demanding Luke do as he's told or else he'd suffer the loss of privileges like his iPod, computer and XBox. I guess I have it very, very good at my house, because my son doesn't misbehave typically and does what he's told when he's told to do it. I told Craig this, and neither of us could come up with an explanation. I said, "Look, it's not like he hates you and I'm the favorite parent," to which Craig agreed, but I said, "He's a mama's boy, what can I tell you?" Craig wants rules reinforced at both houses and for us to be on the same page, and I agree. I just have a much easier time of things when Luke's with me, whereas he makes Craig's life miserable. (There's got to be a twinge of poetic justice in there somewhere.)
We also talked about music. He said he wanted to get home to write his review of the new Swervedriver album for Pop'Stache, and asked me if I remembered seeing them when we were young, which I didn't. I asked Craig, "Did I pass out at that show?" because of my anxiety disorder...I would routinely pass out at small club shows where I had to stand and it was smoky and crowded and I'd just lose consciousness. "No, remember, we interviewed Medicine before the show?" he said, which I *did* remember. I told him I just uploaded Medicine's "Shot Forth Self Living" to my iTunes, and he asked me if I'd burn him a copy. Geez, given his obsession with payback, should I charge him $9.99 for the download, CD, plus labor? I'll charge extra for cover art! Fucker! Wait! It's an out-of-print album! I'll charge triple! Ka-ching!
I told Craig that Luke was getting flack from his friends at school because his friends think his mom is a Hindu. I've tried explaining my religious beliefs to my son numerous times, and half the time he calls me a Buddhist, and I say, "No, I'm a Christian Hindu with Buddhist tendencies!" and Craig just shook his head, as usual. I told Craig about the rosary my mom gave me that has red beads on it and medallions of Pope John Paul II on it, and a pretty silver crucifix. I don't get it. Are you supposed to say prayers to the dead Pope while you're saying your Hail Marys? (I wish my Dad hadn't died for several reasons, one being so he would be around to explain to me all that Catholic stuff, though he converted to Lutheranism when he married my mom.) In any event, I hung the rosary in my room around my other cross and my little sign that says "Jesus" on it in wood, and the palm from Palm Sunday that's starting to dry out.
I was telling Craig about the nice couple from church who brought dinner over last night, as part of the Care and Something-or-Other Committee at church. They were nice enough to bring over a complete dinner since I'm recovering and Ma's tired of cooking. Craig didn't know who they were. He said, "I try to avoid people at church as much as possible." I asked him why he goes to church in the first place. "To worship God," he said flatly. I go, yes, to worship God, but it's also part of my social makeup. I have lots of friends there, I'm involved in the band, and it's been like my 2nd home since the day I was born, and I have no plans to renounce my faith and convert to EITHER Hinduism or Buddhism, and as I said in a previous blog, I already discussed with my Pastor in the hospital how and why I dabble in other religions. I'm intellectually curious. I'm a seeker. I'm enlightened. (All traits, incidentally, that are frowned upon in the Lutheran church.) Craig didn't get the opportunity last night to see me without my coat on, so he totally missed my awesome "OM" jersey t-shirt.
FYI, displaying the OM above the waist, whether as a tattoo or on a shirt, is acceptable in Hinduism, as it's their most sacred symbol. Displaying it below the waist, where you're technically unclean, is not acceptable. I told Luke over dinner that cows are sacred in India. "Jesus, are you gonna stop eating THEM too?" he asked me, as I surgically and laboriously picked bacon parts out of my dinner, which was fine and I really appreciated the gesture, but my mom did sort of mention to the church lady that I don't eat pork products, and I *had* just posted an article to Facebook yesterday about the increase in the price of ham, beside a really cute picture of a little piggy, and urged my friends to JUST SAY NO to ham this Easter.
The offer Craig and his girlfriend put in on their condo was accepted, so apparently they're going to be cohabitating somewhere in downtown Des Plaines, one of the Areas I Hate Driving Into The Most on Earth. I told him, "No one asked me how I felt about you shacking up with your girlfriend in front of my son." Craig said, "No one should ask you. We're all adults here." I was thinking, "Well, Luke's NOT," but I told Craig, "I guess you've been doing it long enough at your mom's house where Luke doesn't care anymore." I'm in no position to get on a moral high horse of right vs. wrong, especially with Craig, but something about the whole situation does unnerve me. Well, best of luck to them and maybe I'll be invited to the wedding, should there ever BE one. In MY church!
I said, "Please don't wait in the car. Please come in with me." He begrudgingly agreed to at least be in the vicinity of the studio, if not coming directly inside. We arrived at the Factory and parking was a bitch, so Craig dropped me off. I asked for Hank, who had "stepped out" for a moment (read: 20 minutes). The studio was busy with people getting tattoos and the buzz of the needles was gently humming behind the choice of music they put on, which I thought was a good omen, The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" album. The TV was off. Craig finally DID come in, and I said we'd have to wait for Hank. He grabbed this week's issue of the Chicago Reader and put his feet up as we talked about our son running around the house singing "Smoke pot. Smoke pot. Everybody smoke pot." because he likes the Flaming Lips' version of "I Am the Walrus," with that enigmatic, urban-legend ending that no one can definitively decipher, which I believe is utter and complete gibberish and we'll never know the truism since Lennon and Harrison are dead and McCartney and Starr ain't giving it up. (Incidentally, I told my son that he should never, ever try pot, and that if he's anything like his mother, it'll only serve to make him vomit uncontrollably and get really paranoid, but to ask Daddy about his acid trip on Flunk Day at Knox in '92. Luke went so far as to ask me *how* one *takes* acid. I told him they used to put it in sugar cubes and it'd dissolve in tea or whatnot, but that more modernly, it was dissolved on the tongue on tiny pieces of paper. I told him trips on acid last up to 12 hours, and that his uncle Steven had a bad trip once, I believe, and almost threw himself out of the window of his band's house in college. Oh, and that he should also never, ever try LSD. "That shit'll really fuck you up, Luke," I said, with all the love in my motherly heart.)
Now, before ya'll go crazy horse on me about the way I teach my child about the dangers of drugs, understand this: I'm no bullshit. I try to de-glamorize taking drugs and keep it as real as possible. Having seen his mother almost die from booze, he's terrified of drinking (he doesn't even like communion wine). I'm not going to lie to him and tell him that Mom and Dad never dabbled in drugs, because we did. And it's something to be avoided at all costs if one can help it. Luke knows that even the drugs that doctors give you can sometimes fuck you up, and he knows that his mom got addicted to drugs that were prescribed to me in the past, and whenever I get really tired (out of natural tiredness), Luke just shouts out "NYQUIL!" at me, not over that whole ugly scene a couple of months ago. Natural curiosity is normal at his age regarding drugs, and will only increase as he grows into a teenager. If he wants to know about heroin, I'll show him the Flaming Lips documentary scene where Steven (my friend, not my brother) shoots up on camera, with teeth missing, a blood-stained shirt, telling the story about how heroin, at the time, cost him all his money, his instruments, his car, his girlfriend (now his wife) and almost his life.
But I digress.
Growing impatient, Craig decided to leave and check out what looked to be a bookstore down the street. Hank finally arrived, recognized and remembered me, and had me come back to get my piercings re-done. He asked me where and how my husband was. "I don't have a husband," I said. "My ex-husband dropped me off here tonight and refused to come in," I said. "Ex-husband?," Hank laughed and said, "Oh! I thought the doctor you were with was your husband." I laughed, replying, "No, we're just friends, though he is my cardiologist too." "You're friends with your cardiologist? Well, you looked like you were together," he said. "Yeah, you're not the first person who's said that...it's complicated," I said, thinking back to the blues club and how the singer/guitarist, when he was going around the crowd asking the ladies who was the boss of their house, asked me and I said, "My mother," at which the crowd collectively chuckled. "You mean he ain't your boss?" the singer said. "He's not mine!" I replied. With a low, near-growl, he said, "Well, he sure LOOK like he yours" as he moved on to the next pair of suckers, both Tatus and I feeling a little uncomfortable and awkward and not looking at one another, but I gotta admit, when complete strangers call a spade, it's a spade. Can I get a "Hare Krishna" in the house? Had Tatus looked the other way, I was ready to take a big slug out of his beer.
At some point during the blues sets, a giant gaggle of what looked to be out-of-town businessmen came in for a piece of the action. "You could go down there and dance with one of those guys, I wouldn't mind," Tatus said. Yeah right. Like I was going to randomly walk into a crowd of men I didn't know and offer myself up, he implying I could take my pick of the litter. Tatus prodded. I kept saying, "No, that's ok, really." Not only was the gaggle not my type (Ack! They all had suits and ties on, in a blues club! They looked more out-of-place than I did!), but I was exactly where I wanted to be, though at that point in the evening, I was wishing there was gin in my tonic and lime and the blues music faded in my ears as The Police's "Don't Stand So Close To Me" started looping through my brain.
"It's no use. He sees her. He starts to shake and cough just like to old man in that book by Nabokov." If you're not up on your Russian literature and don't get the reference and/or you don't know your Sting, too fucking bad, illiterates! (No, really, Tatus. I don't mind that, should you finish the email.)
"Ok, cutie pie," Hank said (no one's called me "cutie pie" in a very, very long time) as he cleaned my jewelry, and he was able to jam through the relatively thin layers of scar tissue on my ear to get the 2 cartilage piercings back in without needles, and the 13-year old eyebrow ring went back in with no effort at all. He had to take a short needle, I can't remember what he called it, but it wasn't the clamp and the big needle, to re-pierce the 2nd eyebrow ring, which didn't bleed this time, thankfully, all amid me saying "Yeowch!" a lot and grasping the arms of the chair. I told him Kate's mantra: "Beauty HURTS." In about 5 minutes, we were done.
I asked Hank what I owed him, and UNLIKE Craig, Hank said I owed him nothing and that he was happy to do it and thought my surgeon was a total asshole for taking them out in the first place. He asked me if I wanted my specimen cup back, and I told him he could keep it for posterity, and I slipped him a $20 for his effort, which he kept refusing to take, but I said, "I'll buy you dinner," and he warmly took it eventually and said thank you. (Oh shit. That specimen cup has my full, real name on it! And my age! And my birthday! And my gender! And inside, my DNA! What if Hank clones me?)
He had me look in the mirror and told me how nice he thought the composition of my face looked with the 2 piercings in the one eyebrow and the 2 rings in the one ear. (Such a charmer, this guy is, it's ridiculous. I mean, I already gave him the $$.) I said I felt weird without them for a week and that they had JUST healed to where I didn't have to clean them anymore, etc. Now I have to clean them again for 4 weeks, twice a day. Fuck you and your cauterizing instrument, Evil Gynecologist! You can take my uterus but you can't take my punk!
I told Hank I'd be back around my 40th birthday for another tattoo. He asked me when my birthday was, and I told him May 9th. "Oh, mine's May 5th!" I said, "Oh! That's my doctor friend's birthday too!" as "Magical Mystery Tour" segued into the "Sgt. Pepper" album overhead. "Good music choice tonight, Hank," I said. "You don't look 40!" he exclaimed. "Thanks." (Really. Hank. You can stop flirting with me now. You're charming and nice and intelligent and know your shit, but a little rough around the edges for even my taste.) Tatus will have to come with me for the next tattoo and I'll bring cupcakes for all 3 of us May babies! (Uh, no, not really. The cupcakes part.)
I've enlisted my Jewish friends in figuring out how to spell out "saved" or "redeemed" in Hebrew for my next tattoo. Craig told me to put it where nobody can see it. "What's the point of THAT?" I asked. God, how did my ex become SO! Fucking! Square!?!?!
Admittedly, the re-pierced eyebrow hurt and gave me a really bad headache on the left side of my head, so I was pounding the Advil last night. I was glad to get out of the house, feel "hole" again and not so naked and plain, even if Craig made me wait on Broadway for like 10 minutes while he came out of whatever bookstore he reportedly visited and found the car. I needed the smoke anyway. And I *was* very grateful for the ride to the Tattoo Factory, even if it was littered with anguish and bologna and cost me $20 (for Craig, I don't count Hank's, which was professional gratitude money).
Ok, so why don't you check out the Flaming Lips' cover of "I Am the Walrus," filmed recently in OKC. Like a few of my friends, I'm a big fan of a fuzzed out bass and the distorted vocals. This just fucking rocks, and Craig knows I typically hate Beatles covers.....I like how Steven looks like a package of Jiffy Pop on the stove about to explode.