Image-ination; I Get Read

It’s been a hectic week and I didn’t think I had much to write about, but then I remembered that I hadn’t told you about my new tattoo. You may remember that over a year ago, I promised that I would get all my books tattooed on me, and I’d made a good start but then I got sidetracked. Until finally, three weeks ago, I finally got an appointment with my favourite tattoo guy, Nathan S. of New Rise Studio. He did what he always does—I arrive, he says “What were you thinking?” then I say, “A steampunk pocket watch with the words ‘Time’s a-ticking under it”, and he says “Okay”, then he draws something fantastic on the spot. Here’s the end result:

I’m super-happy with it, because the image commemorates Feasting Upon The Bones, my first short story collection (Potters Grove Press), featuring the character Mr. Death and his catchphrase “Time’s a-ticking.” I’ve expanded that character and he also now appears in a couple of other places, which you’ll hear more about down the road. But for now, Feasting is immortalized on the back of my calf.

I was scrolling through the pictures on my phone, looking for something interesting to go with a story that was going to be published on DarkWinter Lit (I only use original images, taken by either me or Ken, except in rare circumstances, because I like to customize a unique image to the individual story or poem), and I came across this image, which you might recognize:

Yes, it’s from WordPress and it’s the image you see when a post has no comments. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, but I only looked at it closely the other day and then I was really confused. Seriously, what the hell is it? Here are two options:

a) A girl carrying a giant tennis racket, accompanied by a boy awkwardly holding a small oar. Are they attending the world’s weirdest summer camp? I went to summer camp once, and all I remember is shooting arrows at targets and crying because I got stung by a bee in my ladyparts. Needless to say, I hate camping to this day, especially if it involves playing tennis in high heels or rowing a boat with one hand. Or bees.

b)  She’s a detective with a magnifying glass the size of a hula hoop and he’s her trusty sidekick, ready to gather evidence in his crossbody bag. Someone at the summer camp died, and now they’re looking for clues. Maybe there’s one behind that mostly invisible plant. Actually, THAT would be a summer camp I’d go to—a murder mystery adventure camp where the counsellors are all robots, and it would be called MurderCampWorld, kind of like WestWorld but without the sex, violence, misogyny, and racism. Okay, there’d be a little violence but it’s just the one murder.

Regardless of what the image actually is, I have no idea why it’s the one chosen to encourage people to post comments, and if I were customizing an image for this page, I’d encourage discussion with this cute little guy that I found on Facebook Marketplace. I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be, but I’m certain he would make people really want to open up:

In other news, I had a tarot card reading the other day on Zoom, done by my good friend and fellow blogger Willow Croft, Bringer of Nightmares and Storms at willowcroft.blog. It was fantastic and fun, and her insights have really helped me center my energy around the things that matter the most to me. I highly recommend her—she charges a small fee, but it’s completely worth it, and she can do it over Zoom, telephone or even email. If you’re interested in supporting a fellow blogger, you can contact her at croftwillow@yahoo.com for a full reading, or if you’d like to try it out, use the code mydangblog in the email subject line for a $5 USD three-card reading.

Eye of the Needle

Last week, I got a new tattoo. I love tattoos—I already have five of them, and now that I have Prime TV, I’ve been bingewatching Ink Master, which is a great show with a surprising amount of drama. So I was super-excited to book an appointment with Nathan at New Rise Studio, who’s the son of one of Ken’s former colleagues, and I’ve been following Nathan’s work through her Facebook page for ages. I finally made the appointment with him at the beginning of December for a January date, and just before the glorious day came, we went into lockdown again, postponing everything indefinitely. I finally was able to get the new tattoo done last week and it turned out exactly the way I hoped. And Nathan was very cool and not at all freaky like the last guy I went to, who not only gave me a tattoo but also regaled me about the time he was a Chippendales’ dancer, and told me about his stepson’s sex life.

It might seem weird that I got my own book cover tattooed on my arm, like very narcissistic and whatnot, but I don’t care. I’d originally envisioned something much smaller and less ostentatious but when Nathan showed me what he’d designed, I thought, Why the hell not?

And now my plan is to get ALL my book covers tattooed on me at some point, so I’m literally covered in covers. But that isn’t why I’m telling you this story. No, I’m telling you this as the context for a very misogynistic conversation I had recently, and I couldn’t do anything about it.

This week, I got a call out of the blue to come the next day to a hospital where a surgeon would perform a procedure on my shoulder called ‘barbotage’, which is supposed to break up the calcium deposits in my shoulder and relieve the intense pain I’ve been in for months. You might remember that I had undergone shock wave therapy for the same thing, and I had to explain to several people that it wasn’t electroshock, like they were envisioning me with electrodes attached to my skull a la Frankenstein. The shock wave therapy, despite its hefty price tag (not all of it was covered by our provincial health program) didn’t work, obviously, since the calcium was still there like a rabid little ferret, chewing away on my tendons. I’m assuming that’s what a rabid ferret would do at any rate, as I have no actual experience with either rabies or ferrets. So I went to the hospital and was greeted by the ultrasound technician, who explained that she would use the ultrasound machine to guide the surgeon as he stuck a variety of needles into a variety of places in my shoulder, particularly this long tubular needle that he would use to break up the calcium. “Just to let you know,” she said ominously, “there’s a chance the tendon could tear, or you could get an infection. Also, it will bleed a bit. I’m obligated to tell you that.” It sounded TERRIFYING. But I thought “What would Dave Navarro do?” and I signed the release she gave me.

She left to go get the surgeon and I sat there waiting, almost sick with fear. They came back and after some chit chat (he had a deceptively charming English accent), I didn’t feel any more comforted:

 

Me: So I heard this procedure has a 90% success rate.
Surgeon: Meh. There haven’t been many clinical studies. It’s probably more like 60%. Fingers crossed.
Me:

Then he draped me and began the procedure:

Surgeon: I’m going to inject you with lidocaine. It will feel like a bee sting.
Me: Let me know when.
Surgeon: It’s already done. You’re okay?
Me: Yep.
Surgeon: Okay, now I’m going to inject your bursa with a local anaesthetic. Are you still good?
Me: I got a tattoo last week. This doesn’t hurt as much as that did, and the tattoo didn’t really hurt.
Surgeon: I’m going to insert the barbotage needle now…So you have a tattoo? My wife wants one, but I told her she wasn’t allowed to get one. And I told my kids that if either of THEM got one, they could find a new place to live.
Me:
Surgeon: How are you feeling? Just a few more minutes.
Me:

Like, what do you even say in response to that? I mean, I had a ton of things I could have said in response to that, but the dude had a giant needle stuck deep inside my shoulder, so I didn’t feel it was an appropriate moment to explain to him that we were living in the 21st century. I mean, could you imagine that kind of conversation at MY house?

Me: I’m going to get a tattoo.
Ken: You’re not allowed.
Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! See ya when it’s done, nerd.

The procedure was quickly finished up—it was nowhere near as bad as I’d thought—and he gave me some aftercare tips then vanished. Right before he left…I still didn’t say anything because what if I have to go back for another treatment? But if I do, I’m going to make sure I see Nathan FIRST.

Thanks For Sharing

Well, it’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and I’m grateful for many things, not the least of which is no longer having a strange man taking up residence in my kitchen. “A strange man?” I hear you say. “How intriguing!” Let me assure you that it was not. Here’s the story:

A few weeks ago, I got sick of looking at how worn my kitchen cabinets looked. They’re painted white but chipping everywhere because the original owners of the house didn’t get them properly primed. The cost of replacing all the cabinets was astronomical, so we hired a company to paint them. Enter Mike, he of the numerous tattoos, faux-hawk, effusive personality, and, despite him being the same age as Ken and me, numerous children under the age of 5 who kept him “running around like crazy”. Mike assured us when we signed the contract that in 3 days, with his spray technology and oil-based lacquer, we would have “a brand new kitchen.” But on the night before he was due to start painting, he called to tell me that he had come down with shingles and was running behind schedule. Bear in mind that we had to take every single thing out of the kitchen to prepare for the spraying and the house now looked like a disaster zone:

Me: I’m so sorry to hear that.
Mike: Ya, it’s super painful. Worst pain I’ve ever experienced and I’ve broken every bone in my body,
Me: Wow.
Mike: Ya. And if I can be honest with you, I MANSCAPE, and let me tell you, it hurts like hell.
Me:

And I don’t know what it is about me that compels people to tell me very private things, things that I really don’t want to know, but it happens all the time

Like the tattoo artist that Kate and I went to (my fifth tattoo—the Tree of Life, and her first, a cool graphic she designed herself). It was a reputable parlour, but the artist himself was a little off kilter. My appointment was before hers, and the tattooist, a very short man with a slight build, regaled me with stories about his “Chippendales dancing days”, where he claimed that he “didn’t have a great body like the rest of the guys”, but he “had the best moves”. I was like “Uh huh” and silently begging him not to demonstrate. Then when he was tattooing Kate, he launched into this gem:

Tattoo Guy: My sixteen-year-old stepson just got his first girlfriend.
Me: Oh, that’s nice.
Tattoo Guy: Yeah, I found a condom wrapper on the floor of his room.
Me: Gosh.
Tattoo Guy: So I said, “Where did you get a condom from, anyway?” And he said, “I found it on the path.” So I told him, “NEVER use a condom that you found on the path.”
Me: Words to live by, that’s for sure.
Tattoo Guy: I know, right?

Then there was the last time I went to the dentist. I’ve been going to the same dentist for years, but I didn’t realize that they have a completely different staff on Saturdays. The receptionist WASN’T Nina, for starters, although the Saturday receptionist seemed quite nice. But when the hygienist, Cindy, came out, I became more suspicious. “Where’s Serenity?” I asked. Let me just tell you that Serenity has been my hygienist for many years. She’s a lovely woman, and completely suits her name. We like all the same TV shows, and she has a wonderful knack of carrying on a two-sided conversation about Sons of Anarchy or Better Call Saul with me, even with her hands in my mouth, kind of like this:

“Did you see the latest episode of _____?”

“Eh—i wa o ood”

“I know, right? Could you believe it when____?”

“I ow. I uz azy.”

The new, unfamiliar hygienist said, in a very bubbly voice, “Oh, she’s on her honeymoon. But she doesn’t work Saturdays anyway.”

Well, all right. Cindy seemed very professional and competent, so I decided to give it a go. I got comfortably seated, and then the deluge began. By the time we were done, I literally knew EVERYTHING about Cindy’s life: where she went to high school, how she met her husband, his career ups and downs, their respective families and where they all lived…she was very entertaining, and the appointment just flew by. I don’t think she actually took a breath for 25 minutes. But the best part was this:

“So my husband lost over 80 pounds in the last year. I’d known him for so long that the weight just crept up on us, then one day, he decided to lose 30 pounds, but I think he got addicted to weight loss because now he’s really thin and worries about his skin flaps but I just keep telling him to tone up and not worry about the weight. He ran his first marathon last year. The only thing is that I REALLY like to snack and I NEVER gain weight, but if there’s snack food in the house, he’ll binge-eat it all so I have to hide it. I had this really great hiding place in the baking cupboard, but somehow he found it and ate everything and I know he MUST have been looking for it because why would he be in the baking cupboard since he never bakes, right? So then I was hiding all my snack food in the car, but now it’s getting too warm and I’m worried things will melt or go bad. So the other day, I found the perfect spot, and if he finds it, I’ll KNOW he’s been deliberately looking, because I put everything in a TAMPAX BOX IN THE GUESTROOM BATHROOM. If those chocolate bars disappear, I’ll know he was searching the house for food, because why would he want a tampon, right? My only worry is that I might have a girlfriend staying over and she might need a tampon, and then she’d be like, “Is this what you’ve been using? How does THAT work?”

I didn’t know who to feel more sorry for—her, her poor snackless husband, or the unsuspecting house guest. At any rate, I was laughing so hard that I barely felt my gums being ripped open by the assortment of picks in her arsenal. And I had no cavities. Yay me.

As for the kitchen, despite Mike’s promises, he didn’t finish until end of day Friday. The cabinets look great, all fresh and white. Some areas of the walls are also white, as is the perimeter of the ceiling and a lot of the window panes because the one thing Mike DIDN’T tell me was that he was an indiscriminate sprayer. Which, I suppose, I should be grateful for.

And please don’t feel sorry for that sad-looking puppy. He just ate, and thinks if he pushes his empty food bowl into the middle of the floor, someone will feed him again. He’s such a little trickster:-)