Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ramblings of People Watching and 915 Tattoos

One of my favorite hobbies is people watching. I love to see how people gesture with their hands, the stride of their walks, arms swinging out, flicks of hair. There are so many messages being conveyed at once it's hard to ignore (either that or I'm creepy). Many times I use these people in my work when I write. I take interesting nervous ticks and shuffles, word choice and diction, and make them my character's.

For example, today while walking around campus I saw a guy  with slunched shoulders, as if the backpack he was carrying itched. Without seeing his face I knew he was uncomfortable. It was as obvious as a girl who's had on cheap stilettos four hours past their comfort time.

There was something interesting in the guy with the itchy backpack, and it wasn't until he turned that I realized why he was uncomfortable. Almost ever inch of his body was covered in tattoos. There was no order or reason to them, they weren't delicate pieces of labored artwork, they were the kind a friend does in his garage when he's just trying to learn how hard to apply the needle to virgin skin. "915" was etched under his eye and other small little words etched near his forehead, temple, and jaw line. He held his face up because he had to, but the weight of the guy he had been, who'd gotten the tattoos, lay heavy on his shoulders. I turned away quickly because I didn't want to stare. I'm sure he was used to the stares, but the look in his eyes made me regretful for him; sorry.

I have two small tattoos in very visible spots, a small " on my ring finger and a small ouroboros behind my left ear. I speak with my hands and sometimes while I'm teaching I see my students eyes flutter and stare at my left hand as I talk. I've learned to overlook it but still I notice. I don't notice my snake, mostly because I can't see it, but I still run my finger along its imagined raised edges. Sometimes someone will ask, "What is that?" and I reply, "An ouroboros." They look at me confused and I have to explain a snake eating its own tail and then they nod "Oh", unclear of its meaning. I don't regret my tattoos. I love them. They're a part of me and each has its own  significance, but I imagine the guy with 915's and tear drops signify something different.

I couldn't help but think, "What if all our mistakes were as visible as his?" Each one etched into our skin, sloppily, with uneven lines, words and images that no longer reflect who we are, on the spaces of our skin  the whole world can see? For the world to judge? Would we be able to hold our heads high?

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Little Things

Today is Friday. It's felt like a Friday from the moment I pressed snooze on my alarm. I dozed for 10 more minutes with a large dog barking in the background. He, I assume a he because of the deep baritone, barked on and off all night. Internitingly in my sleep I kept wondering how his owner couldn't hear him and if it would be really bad if I could kick him. The owner, not the dog, because only a man could ignore such incessiant barking though out the night.

I went to school and taught my class. Today we played a game called English 1301 Feud. I created a Power Point with common mistakes and definitions and each group competed against each other. They had fun. I had fun, and more imporatantly they learned the difference between passive and active voice. (She was killed by zombies. The zombies killed her.)

The rest of my day has consisted of conversations. Conversations about writing and publishing, students and teaching, all over coffee. Conversations about Sami the dog and our days all while strolling around the block to a choir of hello's and goodbye's sung by neighboring dogs.(I kept an ear out for the bark from last night, but I think he was finally sleeping.)

Now, I have this conversation, with myself, and the people who read this, and I think, if only all Friday's were like this. Calm, the pace dictated by the conversations and not the clock tick tocking, tick tocking.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Roles We Play

This is me you say, at least I say. "This is me, what you see is what you get," but there are so many sides to me, to each of us. Today I woke thinking about roles. The roles we play in our own lives as in others. I began thinking of one of those multi-faced dolls, the same face, but each is something different in a way depending on the angle. Somehow as we get older those roles begin to multiply further. More and more of our profiles appear like a flick of the finger against an endless line of dominoes with our features etched on the side in a continuous cascade.

                  flaky friend
                       best friend
            crazy friend
       like a sibling friend