Saturday, October 9, 2010

I wear my soul on my sleeve

I turned 39 this year.  I'm having trouble with forty coming up.  I had big issues with twenty-five as well.  I've started to get this panicky feeling that I've just started on the journey to who I really am, who I really want to be, but I'm so late!  How long will I have to enjoy this?  Holy shit!  I'm gonna die!  My kids are really going to grow up and leave.  Can't think about it. Can't think about it. Can't think about it.  

So, I took a deep breath and got a new tattoo.  I got a new tattoo on my left arm.  A tattoo on your back or thigh is one thing, it can be covered up, brought out to be shown to people that have been selected to see the artwork.  But an arm tattoo is something different.  Unless I wear elbow length sleeves for the rest of my life my ink is going to be shown to the world.  And it's too damn hot in Texas to wear anything, let alone long sleeves.  

I really want to embrace the woman I want to be and squeeze her hard enough to make her a little out of breath. A mom who takes her job seriously but has tattoos, is unconventional and isn't all that interested in what everyone else thinks of her.  Some women call themselves 'tattooed moms'.  Other's don't label themselves as anything at all, but are comfortable doing their own thing.  

I'm very inspired by the generations of women who came before me.  Women who helped settle the country in one room cabins.  Women who figured out how to feed everyone during the depression.  Women who won their gender the vote, were brave enough to step out of the kitchen, who turned and said the ass pinching had to stop.  They made it so that I had a choice to stay home with my children or not.  The choice was the important thing.  

The symbolic woman for me, is Rosie the Riveter.  The young woman in her red bandana flexing her biceps.  And she's a real woman. Her name is Geraldine Doyle.  She was seventeen at the time the photograph was taken.  She was working in a Michigan factory, pressing metal, one of the early replacement workers for men.   Geraldine's image, re-imagined and painted by the artists at Westinghouse, was hung in factories all over, encouraging the women workers "We Can Do It!".  But, of course, they already knew that.   Interestingly, the posters created by the Westinghouse company only hung in the factories for two weeks before being replaced by the next in the series.  Geraldine forgot about it and didn't realize it was her photo that inspired that image until 1984.  She's still alive and living in Michigan.  

And that's what I wanted on my arm.  Rosie the Riveter, showing she could do it.  

I found a woman tattoo artist.  It was essential to me it be a woman. She and I communicated via email and I was thrilled when she said she'd love to do it.  And she did a brilliant job.  

I'm a can-do girl who comes from a long line of can-do girls.  My great-grandma B came to California from east Texas with her husband and two children during the depression.  She was all of seventeen years old.  She and Grandpa B (we called them Grandma and Grandpa B because their last name was Billingsley, too hard for a little kid to say) both found work braiding telephone cable by hand.  They bought land and built a house.  Grandma B could shoot a rattlesnake with a single shot, bolt-action pistol or beat one to death with a plastic sided broom. 

Great-grandma Nellie, came from Iowa, also during the depression,  after their farm had been taken back by the bank.  Everything including their mules and equipment were repossessed.  Her husband found work overseeing convict work crews.  Nellie was a seamstress for a movie studio.  She could create a pattern from a sketch.  I have no idea which movies she sewed costumes for, but I would bet my Fire & Ice by Revlon that I've seen her handiwork.  

Great-grandma Elsie was divorced in the 1920's and took her two children back to her mother's farm.  None of us know why Herman was handed his hat.  Elsie never remarried.  But she did watch wrestling and went to the roller derby.  She drove like a crazy person and liked to have a beer once in a while.  And I understand she had quite the right hook.  

It makes perfect sense for me to mark myself with yet another can-do girl.   She reminds me I can do it. 

Amanda's beauty tip of the day:  Get enough sleep, it makes a difference.   

1 comment:

Delmo said...

Love the tattoo! In case you hadn't heard, the woman who was the unintentional model for that art, Geraldine Doyle, passed away Sunday at 86.