Thursday, July 29, 2010

Human Behavior

I have some tattoos. I don't think about them most of the time, but in the summer, it's hard not to. That's because in the summer, everyone can see them. And although I might not be thinking about them, most people who can see them, are. Here is a list of typical reactions, from best to worst:

No reaction: exhibited by people my own age, often with their own visible tattoos, but also with none. I look normal to them, so they react to me like they would anyone else.
Kind curiosity: most often displayed by motherly types over 50. They start off by saying how beautiful my tattoos are, then follow up with either "How much did that hurt?" or "How long did that take?" Sometimes they will take my wrist to get a better look, but I don't mind when it's a round little woman under 5'4". These women are completely nonjudgmental. I may be imagining too much, but it seems to me that they are wistful, knowing that in the time they grew up, women had much less freedom to express themselves than they do now.
Sidelong glances: expressed by any age or social group. They want to look, but they don't want me to know they want to look. Lately if I catch people staring, I will make eye contact with them and smile, but if I'm not in a good mood, they get an "I know what you're looking at" glare. Frankly, I'm guilty of this myself. I stare at people all the time: other people with tattoos, attractive people, people wearing daishikis or the hijab. So, I try not to get too mad--unless it's in the gym: No staring when I'm not wearing pants, jerks!
Phony, backslapping camaraderie: universally displayed by men with at least one prison or kitchen tattoo (or similar quality) who have decided that since we both have tattoos, we should be buddies! This still happens when B. is around, but not as often. Typical opening lines include:
    • "I like your work!"
    • "Hey, nice ink!"
    • "Whoa, cool tats."
Use of the words "ink" or "tats" will immediately qualify an interaction for this category.
Skeevy curiosity: only displayed by men when B. is not around. Can devolve from the previous category. Asking if I have any other tattoos will be rewarded with a withering glance and an end to the conversation. If you can't see them, they're none of your business!
    Here are some pictures of my tattoos. It's OK to look this time.

    Sunday, July 25, 2010


    Some of you might be surprised to learn that I have a subscription to Glamour. I don't take everything in it seriously, but I miss it when I let my subscription lapse. This month there was an article (sadly not available online) titled "The Cavewoman’s Guide to Good Health". I found that the article mirrored a lot of the observations I have made about the way I achieve happiness (and the Wonder Woman fan in me enjoys imagining herself as a cavewoman). Recently my happiness score has gone up due to changes I've made.

    When I was a little kid, I was not physically active at all, but thanks to the magic of genetics, I was skinny as a twig. I didn't have very many friends either. I would spend all weekend inside reading, with an occasional Saltine break. See that kid, reading during a trip to Walt Disney World? That was me. Fast-forward twenty years, and I have developed a serious gym habit. The changes on the outside have been subtle, but the changes to my mind are more interesting. I used to get angry or sad very easily, but over the last few months, I've become less volatile. There's also a new mental strength that I don't remember having before--a willingness to try something difficult. I think I've gotten tougher.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Weekend At Nerdy's

    My husband and I just moved from Salem, Massachusetts, to Medford. We moved to Salem in 2005, because we had just gotten married and wanted to buy a condo. The market in Boston was so overheated that we couldn't have afforded a studio in the town we worked in, so like many people, we adjusted to a long commute. After five years of two hours or more in the car, we decided that our quality of life was more important than owning our own home. We are now closer to work and our friends.We've been in the new apartment just over a week, and I'm very happy with it so far. Because we previously declined so many invitations due to the long trip to get anywhere, I've now been saying "Yes" to everything. This weekend was packed with spontaneous adventures.

    On Friday, I took the T into Boston, where I got a pedicure with some girlfriends. Afterwards, we wandered around in the rain before ending up at Bar Lola, a tapas bar on Commonwealth Avenue. The tapas, sangria, and company were excellent, and hinted at the weekend to come.

    B. and I got up early on Saturday and headed out to Winchester, one town over. He had to withdraw money for a motorcycle purchase, and I wanted to visit Mamadou's Artisan Bakery for some fresh bread. We noticed a farmers' market in on the Winchester town common and stopped in to take a look. Mamadou's had a tent, so I was able to grab some fresh Sesame Semolina before anyone else (and grab it I did). I also acquired a potted basil for my new kitchen window. I'm determined to visit as many farmers' markets as possible this summer, and gorge myself on fresh produce, local honey, and tea. This schedule of markets makes it possible to find one in the area for every day of the week! I explored Il Sogno in Medford for some Provolone and Italian ham to make grilled sandwiches on my amazing Mamadou's bread before heading out to Clinton to get tattooed (more on that later).

    I spent the morning on Sunday making bacon and using the last of the bread for cinnamon French toast. I thought it would be a lazy sort of day around the house, but my friend Stacia called and invited me to the Friendly Toast in Cambridge for brunch. Now, I had already eaten breakfast, but I have a hobbit's love of meals and readily accepted. We lounged there for several hours, sampling cocktails and dining on eggs, beans, and salsa. Finally I headed home to do the grocery shopping and some chores, but I was home just a short while before B. texted me: he was back from picking up his new motorcycle. We met for dinner, then came home and watched A Serious Man. It was one of those difficult movies that probably deserves its own blog entry.

    Phew! I'm tired just remembering all the stuff I did this weekend, but I'm so grateful I again live in a place where I can have a robust social life. Real life > video games, any day.

    Friday, July 16, 2010

    An Introduction

    I've decided to start a blog. I really miss the longer format of LiveJournal entries, but no one reads that any more, and Facebook's Notes application is not what I'm looking for.

    There are a bunch of things I like to do and write about: take pictures, cook, think about science, make lists. This blog will therefore be a little bit of everything.

    To start with, today I finished re-reading The Neverending Story. I had read it as a teen after being obsessed with the movies in the 80's. I had forgotten that in the book, Fantasia was called Fantastica - a change that completely upsets the soundtrack of movie dialogue playing in my head. The movie also presents Bastian as a fairly average little boy, but in the book, he is chubby, pale, and generally despised. However, Bastian's status in the real world matters less in the movie than in the book, where he undergoes a transformation into a brave hero and benefactor. The movie essentially cuts out the entire second half of the book, although the movie sequel (which is far inferior to the original) takes some ideas from it.

    Sometimes the book seems a bit clumsy, although that might be a result of it being translated from German, and some of the scenes don't feel entirely necessary. Regardless, I found my eyes welling up (on the stationary bike at the gym!) while reading of Bastian's reunion with his father. I'm glad I read it again, although now I want to watch the movie. Instead, I'll try to whittle down the enormous list of unread books at my house. During a nostalgic Amazon binge, I also bought The Last Unicorn and The Princess Bride. Besides those, I have Stephen King's latest, Under the Dome; a ghost-written continuation of the Wheel of Time series; Buddhism for Dummies; and over a dozen others.