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resolutions & remembering

These were my New Year’s resolutions last year:

more kindness
less guilt about rest and relaxation
more words
quality family time
good work
grow more plants

I haven’t given too much thought to what I will try to resolve in the coming year but I imagine a few of those items will repeat themselves.

Sean and I are headed to Toronto tonight to celebrate the New Year with his brother and sister-in-law. I’m looking forward to the Second City show we’re going to see, my first time at anything like that. We’ve also got reservations at an Italian restaurant near the theater and I am so, so looking forward to good food. I love eating.

Last night some friends and I were talking New Years past and I told them about my adventures in Seoul, South Korea on NYE 2006. I was with four of my friends and we were drunk on Korean beer & wine. We bought Roman candles for the equivalent of $1 each and shot them off into the crowd. Some ash fell on me and burned a hole in my stocking; I still have a small scar from the burn. 

It was probably my favorite New Years ever and I have vowed to spend another in Seoul before I die. Oh Korea and your public-safety-disasters–you stole my heart.

Many blessings and much love. See you in the New Year!

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some much needed energy

It’s been so grey and dreary around here the past few days that I needed a burst of color in a bad way. I went looking around my Flickr favorites and found some much needed energy. I’m posting some of them here for you to enjoy in the midst of this winter melt.

“Snow Cones” originally uploaded by catastrophy.

“tea and sasha” originally uploaded by superhero.

“Bonito…um projeto” originally uploaded by Lidia Luz.

untitled originally uploaded by krisatomic.

untitled originally uploaded by krisatomic.

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Really deep thoughts on internet fan communities

I’m working on an essay for this Seal Press anthology and have decided to write an open letter to a woman whose Livejournal I read around 2001. One day she just up and disappeared, and I never heard from her again. Through this letter to her I’m exploring my other online relationships with women (including you, my sparkle ho’s) and thinking a lot about the various online communities in which I’ve been a part.

Before Livejournal, I was on a handful of ListServs. The two biggest ones, in terms of my involvement, were Everyday Angels, a Jewel fan list hosted by smoe.org, and Witchbaby, a listserv for fans of Young Adult author Francesca Lia Block*. I was also an “Ears with Feet” t-shirt-wearing, bootleg-tape-trading Tori Amos fan. Within all of these communities I had friends, inside jokes, and shared obsessive knowledge of our subject (seriously, the shit I know about Tori Amos’ childhood).

As anyone who has been in recent contact with me knows, I read all four books in the Twilight series during the first two weeks of September and have seen the movie twice (the first time at the midnight showing wearing glitter). My intense love/hate for Twilight–and really I’m too old not to have a good dose of hate for the story–has even triggered the strengthening of some of my years-old online friendships. Anyway, I give all this background because lately I’ve been having a great time witnessing (and participating in) the online Twilight fan community. It reminds me so much of my experiences.

Visiting Everglow, the absurdly professional and extensive Twilight fansite, makes me think of the good old days of “The Dent,” short for A Dent in the Tori Amos Net Universe. The Dent wasn’t always where you went to communicate with other Toriphiles–that happened on message boards, list servs, and through personal websites–but it was the source for any announcements or updates, including recent television, radio, or magazine mentions. Even obscure things, like a 1-inch photograph of Tori in a Danish music quarterly went up on the site’s front page. So when I see scans of Australian teen magazines with Robert Pattison on the cover, I think of all the time (and money) I spent on foreign magazines that had a mere mention of Tori.

At a certain point, Tori Amos’ people began communicating directly with Mikewhy, the Dent’s owner and webmaster, because they learned that it was a better way to reach Tori fans than through her own official website. It’s been widely reported that Stephenie Meyer, the author of Twilight, reached out to her online fans early on in the series’ popularity and has continued to maneuver that world masterfully. The moderators of the Jewel list serv, Everyday Angels, were in contact with Jewel’s management on a regular basis and before she hit it real big, the singer even held a concert for EDAs called “JewelStock” (too far for this then pre-teen to travel).

I should say that while I enjoy the Twilight craze, I remain purely a lurker on these Twi-fan sites. I don’t have the time to engage at the intensity level I once did because hey, the time I had to shamelessly make scores of photo montages and Livejournal icons is now spent earning a living. And also, I think I’m past my sleeping-outside-a-mall phase.

One of my favorite Twi-sites to lurk on is the Lion & Lamb Livejournal community (“the #1 Edward&Bella Livejournal Source”). The Livejournal user icons alone transport me back to the days of photoshopping Tori lyrics over up-close, self-portraits of my face. A lot of the Lion & Lamb icons are just pictures of Kristen Stewart or Robert Pattison (or both) but even more include lines from interviews or book passages laid over images of the cast. The user icons can be pure fangirl territory (Robert Pattison with the words “never think” typed across his cheek) or inside joke territory (lines from the hilarious Growing Up Cullen). Only fans who’ve consistently read/watched the fan-fic, interviews, articles, and videos of the Twilight cast and read the books multiple times will get it.

As a former rabid tween/teen fan of another young adult series with problematic gender dynamics (c’mon, ALL of Francesca Lia Block’s female characters had eating disorders) I’m genuinely thrilled to see Twilighters coming together on the internet. If they haven’t already found out, their Twilight friendships are likely to extend beyond “omg RPattz is on Leno” and into the hard stuff. When I was 16 and struggling with my own eating disorder, the Witchbaby listserv ironically served as my safe space. I could talk about what I was experiencing and received advice, *hugs*, and support in return. Because of this and other great examples of how my online community was actually a community, I freely admit that I LOVE the Twihards. And I also can’t help but notice that some of my online friends and I–the aptly titled ~*sparkle-ho’s*~–are meta-bonding over our obsession with the obsessive Twilighters. Or meta-meta-bonding. Or something.

Whatever. What’s so amazing about really deep thoughts?

*I wrote about Witchbaby on a previous blog, check it out. Also, can you spot the inside joke in this entry?

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my “after school special” tattoo lesson

Gayla Trail, of You Grow Girl fame, got some ink and it’s making me feel nostalgic. And perhaps a little regretful.

I got my first of two tattoos during my senior year of college, after a summer at the Hawthorne Valley Farm. It’s a pitchfork that I drew and it represents the kind of learning that I did over those few months: hands on.

When we cleaned the cow barn we used two different pitchforks: a three-prong fork to lift hay into the mangers and a four-prong fork to scoop the manure.

Remembering the difference–and not mixing it up once–was key to keeping the cows and the farm happy and healthy. After all, what sentient being wants to eat its own shit? Not I, not the cows.

Sounds pretty simple but I learned a lot of things that summer and it was easy to forget all the small, necessary details. There were the new plants to keep straight in the kid’s garden, the names of trees in the woods, the right amount of food to give to the chickens and the pigs and the calves when I was feeding them at 5 a.m. with four 8-year-olds in tow. What I liked so much about this hands-on learning was that it worked for me–it worked for me really well. I absorbed information in a much different way than when I read some cool facts in a book. I don’t have the type of brain that remembers dates of historical significance or even details in a plot of a novel unless I really, really study them. It was a different kind of learning and it took me until I was 21 to realize its impact.

So I got a pitchfork to make note of its importance–four-prong, of course. And also because I kind of wanted a tattoo.

Here’s where the regret part comes in. The parlor was in Geneseo, New York, where I went to school, and the owner had “done work” for a few of my friends. I liked their tattoos, I thought they looked good, and so I decided to let this man permanently scar my body. His name was Jason.

I brought Jason the drawing of the pitchfork, and he photo copied it and transferred it to that special carbon-like paper. He wet the copy and transferred the image of the pitchfork onto my wrist, and asked if the position and size was what I wanted. I was nervous about the pain and still at a time in my life where I wanted to look cool and “not young” at all costs. I thought making him change the size or position would be inconvenient and annoying–not part of his job. I thought it would make me look like some nervous, first-time, tattoo-getter and psch! I was so not that.

So I said, “Yeah, yeah it looks great,” and repeated the same sentence when he asked me if I was sure.

And it did look great. I was happy with the tattoo and it has served its purpose well in reminding me of my time on the farm. (It has also served my parents well whenever they want to tell their friends/co-workers something shocking: “Ask Whitney about her pitchfork! Ask her what they used it for! Poop!”) Over time though, my pitchfork has faded and lost a lot of its sharpness. The prongs are beginning to fade together and, well, I sometimes wish I had taken more time on the design and with its position. I think this is about 90% my fault for not speaking up and 10% Jason’s fault for being a little lazy.

The reason why I think Jason was lazy is because Kara, the artist who did my second tattoo, was amazing. Kara wanted to make two appointments with me: the first to talk about the tattoo and play around with the design, and the second to finalize the design and do the tattoo. She gave me the brutal truth about the size of my proposed tattoo (a postmark from Buffalo) and its position on my body (right side of my chest). She refused to do the tattoo unless it was a certain minimum size because she didn’t think I’d like what I saw in the mirror in five years. She positioned and repositioned the tattoo five times before she turned on the needle.

Kara made sure that I knew what I was getting into, and that I was going to be pleased for having gotten into it. That’s what makes a great tattoo artist and a great tattoo experience. I learned from Kara what I should’ve asked of Jason and also what he should’ve asked of me.

Three years later, my postmark honestly looks as good as the first day, and my pitchfork–it looks like a shovel.

PS: Last time I checked, Kara still works at Lark Street Tattoo in Albany, New York. Go there and tell her the Postmark girl sent you.

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December 3, 2008 - 11:20 PM

TG - I very nearly got a tattoo when I graduated from high school. All my friends and I were going to go and get them as a sort of rite of passage and as a bond for our friendship. I picked out the parlor after some careful scoping, and drove everyone there. I had picked out a design (which was going to be the outline of a flying bird, probably on my hip), and had my money in hand ready to go. Then I pretty much chickened out when I watched the artist inking my friend Amy. All my friends got them, though.

I have always liked both of your tattoos–they are distinctive and interesting. Great story about how and why you got the pitchfork!

December 4, 2008 - 12:19 PM

lisa - Thanks for sharing your story about your pitchfork tattoo. I remember the summer you had your postmark one done.

How I miss Hawthorne Valley. You too?

December 4, 2008 - 11:59 PM

courtney - I love this entry. I have always wanted to get a tattoo and I’ve never been able to gather the courage. Reading stuff like this makes me almost feel like I could get there. One day. Maybe. Regardless. Love this entry!

December 5, 2008 - 4:24 PM

Jackie O - Is there a more detailed story about the postmark? I was curious about the background but never got around to asking (hmm, yeah it was kind of a busy weekend when I saw you in PR). I got my tattoo when I was 19 and am still very happy with it – mostly because I can’t see it without a mirror so I don’t get sick of it ;) It’s a circular design with 12 points on it, symbolizing the passing of time, with waves going around the middle…a hippie message of rolling with the challenges that come!

December 7, 2008 - 6:31 PM

magda o! - I am kind of in love with the pitchfork & the reasons behind it.

I’m not into tattoos (love piercings), but I love them on other people.

I want to see the other one.. bare it all. ;oP

January 25, 2009 - 9:25 PM

storytime » Blog Archive » Stop sign, go sign - [...] a farm in the Hudson Valley, my whole approach to interacting with the world was split wide open. I’ve written about it before, and will probably continue to write about it [...]

February 2, 2009 - 8:51 PM

storytime » Blog Archive » postmarked - [...] you asked for it: my postmark tattoo story. But first, the scandalous [...]

March 17, 2009 - 9:31 AM

storytime » Blog Archive » missing - [...] missing the farm a lot these days. In particular the time I had to wander around outside and watch the seasons [...]

oh and also, the tree.

Sean and I got a tree yesterday and everyone (my family) keeps congratulating us. It’s the first tree of either of our adult lives, meaning not at our parent’s house. My Aunt bought us snowman ornaments that coordinate with our birth months and my mother told me to take pictures. I think this means they think we’re ~serious~.

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December 1, 2008 - 9:42 PM

Natalie - Snowman ornaments!?!? Christmas trees?!? Whit, it doesn’t get any more serious than that. You’re a woman today. Congratulations.

December 3, 2008 - 1:22 AM

courtney - ~*eeee*~

December 3, 2008 - 12:25 PM

whitney - Thanks, bbs. I share your eeeeeeee’s.