Cliche Queen

I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since my last update here! Well, I lie. Yes I can. Since my last post my life is a completely different creature. I’ve relocated from my lifelong home in NYC to Los Angeles, California and I guess I have an itchy mouthful of late night things to say as I bask in the stillness of *that* monumental achievement.

When you go through huge, sweeping life changes – all kinds of cliches come flying at you. Some are from your friends and acquaintances, some are from the Internet, some are from TV and the movies, some are ingrained into your own brain from childhood. Then you realize that some of these cliches exist because they are rooted in some amount of truth. I’ll admit it, I’ve  even been guilty of throwing a cliche or two at my own dear friends during their times of woe. But unlike all of the stupid memes out there that try to artfully slap a fortune cookie phrase on top of some Willie Wonka photo – I am here to tell you that they aren’t some kind of be-all-end-all finite wit and wisdom. They’re part of a subjective universal narrative. They aren’t distilled directly from Yoda’s ass  and they certainly are NOT a solution to all of life’s complex and individual problems. They try to package a truth into a punchy sentence and make it a done deal with a cherry on top. It could make a cute tattoo perhaps (and yes I have tattooed some of them). But as far as life advice goes,  I call shenanigans.

What goes around comes around.
This too shall pass.
It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.
That’s how the cookie crumbles.
Love does not a relationship make.
If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.
Only time will tell.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
All that glitters is not gold.
Tis better to have loved and lost then never loved at all.
Time heals all wounds.
When you have lemons make lemonade.

If I had a freakin’ nickel for every time I’ve been served some of this bumper sticker wisdom, I’d be spinning ALL of the Johnny Cash songs on ALL of the jukeboxes and crying into my gallons of spiked lemonade. More pop culture reference might lead me to a country song lyric I mighta heard on a major network TV show that went something like “sometimes good intentions don’t come across so well”. You know when your life is entering country song lyric status things are getting interesting. Or at least interesting enough  to warrant a free shot of Jim Beam and another nickel for the jukebox. Wait, what My Tunes deprived decade do I think it is anyway?

In the end, if you’re any real friend of mine you’d tell me to snap out of it or go fuck myself and afterwards we’d have drinks and a laugh and look forward to having a hungover breakfast together because (insert yet another dang cliche) “tomorrow is another day”.

I can accept and appreciate when these trite idioms come to me from those I hold dear because they’re the ones that can back it up with the real deal in your face stuff no one else gives a crap enough to tell you.  Also known as (another cliche coming…) – when the cats out of the bag, are you hiding under the table after stepping on that land mine  (aka ME) — or are you just smiling behind a little Aesops mechanism because you’re trying to be a TRUE FRIEND who wants to make that awkward moment a bit silly so we can both lighten the fuck up about serving a little truth to each other? That’s the kind of friendship I’m talking about. It’s not for everyone but that’s OK. I’ve come to learn this kind of moment is always a blessing because it weeds out the riff raff. I’m now very comfortable with this involuntary auto-selection process.

Bring it. And another round while you’re at it.

I’ll take Aesop and his fables and all the cats jumping out of their bags and (to insert more cliche love) ALLLL of the rainbow colored shit hitting the fan so I can see all of those glorious true colors flying about! When life ceases to be a party and things get REAL, you see who your true friends are. The people who can’t be bothered with standing by your side when life gets painful and uncomfortable are the proverbial DEAD WEIGHT that nature is helping you shed. It all happens by design you see, because nature wastes nuthin’. Not rain, not wind, not time, not energy, not NUTHIN! By sending in a shit storm or two, everything gets shaken up. Only those who have solid and true roots to your strongest foundation will be left standing. Opportunists, narcissists, fluffy party people and fakes will fall by the way side. Your playing field will be different, lighter, healthier and clearer. You might want to scream and cry and feel betrayed at first, but thank your lucky freakin’ stars because you were just sent a big ass favor from Mama Universe. Thank you MAMA! Tip: I find if you thank her regularly for these blessings she’ll keep up with giving them to you too.

Not for the faint of heart, but alas – will you be a warrior in this life and fight for wanting better for yourself? Or will you passively allow life to happen to you and blame everyone else instead of taking responsibility to shape the life you want to live?

NEXT (and almost final) CLICHE – life is too short. This is truth. This is simple. This is a MANTRA of mine. It reduces everything to its purest terms.

What is it in your life that no longer serves you or keeps you from achieving your greatest good? The largest hailstone in all of humanity might fall from the sky and strike you dead tomorrow – can you live with that? Are you doing everything you can to live life to its fullest? Are you honoring those (good) voices in your head or are you suppressing and denying them because it’s easier to not stir the pot of Cliche Con Carne? Will you chose to not go forward with regrets, whether regret of doing OR not doing something? Will you chose to not go forward with negativity in your heart…? Will you learn forgiveness and compassion? All of these things might sound overly idealistic and trite – but this is the stuff we only seem to be able to apply in the context of others and the world outside of us. Which makes sense because that’s so much easier to digest. Not to get all Buddhist on your ass but realize that in trying to achieve these things towards others, we approach those challenges within ourselves. And that’s the true root of all evil, isn’t it kittens? (Insert the biggest cliche of all…) WE ARE OUR OWN WORST ENEMIES.

Perhaps this is coming out because I’m a little fed up with ALLLL the overwhelming life lessons constantly being thrown at me. Since childhood really, it’s been non-stop. I suppose it keeps me on my toes. But geez… Being human these days is friggin’ exhausting. Can we go live in straw huts with hammocks in Fiji yet? I know I’d be an excellent spear-fisher.

At the end of the day, perhaps it’s mostly coming out because I’m a potty mouthed NYC girl who recently moved to LA after going through some heavy shit and just finished binge-watching  Season 5 of Mob Wives on Hulu.

Big Ang forever!

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The Death of Mother’s Day

It’s been a hundred years since I’ve posted here. Since I decided my “new way to post” I’ve whipped up a pretty amazing website which is the way to see all of my tattoo work and find all that kind of information. I’ve even created a tattoo page on Facebook which is the best way to keep up with all of my tattooing activities on the day to day. This blog has collected some cobwebs yet again but it resurfaces as I try to find the best platform for the stuff I need to say at the moment, so dear bloggers – it’s gonna get personal again.

Every year I dread Mother’s Day. Because I’m never sure what it’s going to bring for me. I’ve always been fair to myself and given myself the license to do what I need to do when it comes to grieving for my parents. If you’ve ever lost a parent you know you never truly “get over it”. The process simply evolves over time. It’s an organic, living, breathing thing just as we are. Milestones come and go. Moments of need arise and subside. Moments of heartache and yearning for what could have been bubble up then simmer down.

My life is truly shaped by that one monumental event. I was ten years old and it was the summer of 1986. She died from pancreatic cancer and it happened quickly. I was sheltered from much of the truth because I’m sure my father didn’t think I could comprehend what was happening. I just knew she was very, very sick. And one day she didn’t come home. I recall the moment my father told me she was gone. I don’t recall crying though. I just understood. I don’t think I even cried at her funeral.

Surely over the years I’ve made up for that and it’s because I’ve come to understand that about myself. I don’t cry on cue. I cry when it’s genuine and when I need to. Some people perceive it as “holding it in”. I felt the eyes on me at her funeral, the “she’s not upset? why isn’t she in pieces??” I was a little girl who grew up really fast in those moments. Because I remember looking at everyone and thinking to myself “I don’t care what people think. She was MY mother. I don’t have to explain myself.” Grief is not a performance for the public. It’s deep and personal and private. Maybe I got that attitude from her, but the heartbreak in that sentiment is that I’ll never really know.

My father raised me after that with a lot of help from my Aunts. Some were in our family by marriage (she was an only child like myself). But most of these ladies were her close friends and through that was the greatest lesson for me. I was shown that your true family is the family you chose. And that you leave your legacy behind through those relationships because more often than not – only your true friends know the REAL you. I was blessed to be around these women growing up, all strong independent fiery ladies who I believe were a reflection of her as well. You are who you hang with after all. I grew up listening to stories and anecdotes….. things she did, things she said, antics she pulled, the ways she was. I soaked it all in as much as I could. Eventually as I matured, they even told me I sometimes sounded like her, something about the inflection in my voice that was unique like hers. More moments of tiny heartbreak. I wish I could even remember what she sounded like.

So many of my life choices have been shaped by losing her and by learning about who she was. She marched to her own beat. She lived a very unconventional lifestyle. She and my father were married but separated not too long after. They had various periods of getting back together, splitting up again, etc. And somewhere in that back and forth they conceived me. She was always told she couldn’t get pregnant and when she did she wanted to keep it. A pretty courageous decision for a single woman in her early 40’s in the 1970’s. However, their unique lifestyle choices did not prevent them from being good parents. I lived with my mom in Queens and spent weekends with my father in the city. He was consistent in his visits and time with me and believed my day to day place was with her. They came together for me and I was never exposed to whatever squabbles they might have had. They didn’t even get legally divorced until I was 6 years old. It seemed so normal to me I thought every kid lived this way.

The legacy of their choices absolutely impressed upon me that I should always chose what I feel is best for me. I was never told to care what the rest of the world thought and that no one else could make the correct decisions for ME but myself. And so when Mother’s Day comes around I let it be what it needs to be that particular year. Some years I feel like being social and being around my Aunts or other people’s mothers. Some years I can’t bear to walk around and see everyone at brunch with their moms because I miss her so much.

Other years I just need to just be unapologetically alone and listen to Bessie Smith records while I look at her pictures and remember her. While I wish her memory hasn’t been reduced to motionless two dimensional photos, I was recently gifted with a digitized video from 1979 that my Uncle filmed of a family dinner. My mind was completely blown because I got to see her move, hear her speak… and most heartbreakingly… she speaks of me and how proud she is of me. I’m so grateful to have this treasure. I thought I’d never hear or see her again.

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New Year, New Approach

I like sharing things that make me… well, ME. Alas, not everyone cares about the same stuff as I do. Not everyone is so interested in my inner-workings. So my new blog approach for the New Year is that not every entry has to be so poignant and “Dear Diary…”

My point is that I’d like to post more frequently and I constantly promise to be better at it. Clearly, I’m setting myself up for failure. It always seems like such a monumental task and I’ve figured out why. Looking back I find myself thinking “dang, that’s a lot of reading to chew on.”

I’ll absolutely throw you meatier posts from time to time. But more often than not I think I’ll just give you pretty pictures to enjoy. Here’s some fun pieces that I haven’t featured here yet.

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(Above: Erin’s Garden sleeve! I started this linework 3+ years ago and we finally finished filling it all in! The most recent additions are the pink rose, leaf bug and grasshopper to the lower left. We plan to continue to her lower arm and connecting it all with background color eventually.)

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(Above: Erika’s Psychedlic Goddess forearm tattoo. This piece is inspired by all things psychedelic, gemstones, astrology, sacred geometry and Goddess-like. This was a super fun original idea on a super cool original chick. Erika does all kindsa funky custom dreadlock extensions and you can find out more about her HERE. )

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(Above: Nanci’s Brigid’s Cross faerie. Nanci wanted this otherworldly creature to be the harbinger of the symbol for her patron Goddess, Brigid. It was her first tattoo as well! This piece spoke to me on many levels. I have mentioned Brigid in a previous post, click HERE to learn more.)

To see more of my work, click on that little “More Photos” link below my Current Tattoo Work folder on the right —–>

I am currently taking appointments at my private studio in Brooklyn. Please email me with any questions regarding tattoo ideas, pricing, consultations and appointments. I’d love to work with you!

Also note, for the month of January I am running a 10% off special for new tattoos! It’s my way of saying thanks to my old clients for being so loyal and a way of making a warm  first experience to new folks as well.

Shoot me a line – scarlettattoos@gmail.com

Happy New Year, folks!

Season of the Witch

It has been a truly beautiful and eventful autumn here in NYC! We just passed Samhain and Day of the Dead festivities. Since my last entry – a couple of my dearest friends gave birth to a beautiful baby girl (which means I’m an AUNTIE for the first time ever!), I got to see some amazin’ blazin’ spooky pumpkins on The Hudson, saw one of my favorite burlesque couples get married at the Freak Show in Coney Island and last but not least, I got to shake it on stage once again at the Wasabassco 9th Anniversary Show.

The latter is becoming a yearly tradition for me and something I can safely say I’ll most likely keep doing every year. I still feel I need to remain focused mainly on my tattooing (aka I’m not planning a full-on burlesque “come back”) but I recognize that I am an artist that will never just do one thing. I’m a multi-faceted girl and need all of my interests satiated at all times. My deep appreciation for participating in this show every year stems from how Wasabassco and the entire NYC burlesque community has not only shaped me into who I am today… but they are some of the biggest supporters of my tattooing. As most of you know, I truly believe I would not have been able to fulfill my dream of going to France to study drawing with Brian Froud if it was not for their generous fundraising efforts. It truly is all about love in that community.

At the same time, it’s been business as usual. My studio mate Dorothy and myself continue to build our nest. It’s been close quarters but we are currently looking at a larger space in the same building which we hope to move into by December 1st. For those of you who have experienced our current lil gypsy den, you will appreciate that we’re looking to have a window and a bit more elbow room; artists need light and air! We might even be able to let ya’ll *gasp* bring guests with you soon! Stay tuned for more on that…

We have decided to call our new home Cyganka Tattoo Collective. Cyganka is the Polish word for “gypsy” and we thought it appropriate as we both have Polish roots and are very much modern-day gypsies. It’s also a way for us to have a collective online presence and help eachother cross-promote our goings-on and our work. We still remain individually operating artists, we just wanted our “house” to have a name. It is by-appointment-only and private and is not a walk-in shop. So please do contact either of us directly for more information, tattoo questions, consultation appointments, etc. Check out our website to learn more!

I leave you now with a few new pieces that I have added to my portfolio!

allisonDOTD

keytattoo

octopusCR

(Octopus tattoo by me, koi was pre-existing without color.)

Tinkering around…

Hey folks.

Scarlet here. Caught in a tiny bubble of trying to figure this custom blog thing out. In the meantime I’ll try to at least post some pretty pictures for you to look at while I bore myself with the minutiae of color palettes, font sizes and background images.

Alfonse Mucha

Until I make the official announcement, please pardon the appearance of my new official webspace! It’ll be pretty soon I promise.

xoxo