Friday, November 22, 2013

A Story of Commitment in a Tattoo Parlor

Sassy picture taken by Nick.

I am a cautious person. This may surprise some people as I think my outwardly self can be outspoken, direct and focused. But I am also cautious. I see danger where there is actually danger and sometimes where there isn't. There is a driving force inside me letting me know, reminding me often, that this is all fleeting. That I have only so much time to do things, see things and love. Not to be melodramatic but this sense that time (everyone's time) is limited sometimes pushes me to take calculated risks and other times keeps me from wanting to leave the safety of my comfy bed.  I always remember being this way, even as a small child. I think two qualities that I have and love about myself are awareness and empathy, but they can be a double edged sword at times. 

Given my cautious side I have feared commitment, in any form. How could I commit to something, doesn't that mean I would miss out on  another precious opportunity or experience? This fear of commitment kept me from really delving into relationships, jobs and places. My ideal life would have been one where I could take everything I own, put it in a car and escape if needed. Never mind I never really wanted to escape. But I wanted the freedom to do so. One day a few years ago it dawned on me that my partner was the exact opposite of what I had always feared. He would always help me have the experiences I crave and not hold me back. That was true then and it's true now. Nick's unconditional support and love has allowed me to experience things that scare the crap out of me such as buying a condo and getting married. (There are days when the condo still makes me cringe-but it's also the coziest place I've ever lived.) Freedom is what I've always craved. Feeling trapped, dominated and powerless are my fears. Nick and my other close loved ones have given me that freedom to be myself.  

We know this post is about a tattoo, right? Well how does a cautious, commitment phobe finally bite the bullet and get a tattoo? With a lot of research. I spent days researching tattoo parlors and artists in the Chicago area. I knew I wanted a woman to do the tattoo. So I found a woman that had amazing art work, wonderful reviews and worked out of a place that also had amazing reviews ( We met and she was lovely. My tattoo is of the very simple variety, not exactly what the average custom tattoo artist would spend their time doing. But she indulged me.  The experience was both painful and freeing. After 15 years of wanting a tattoo, I finally felt grounded enough to take the risk. It would be okay if I ultimately did not like the result. And for the first time I knew that to be true. 

But I love the result. And I want to thank my friend Kristen (read about how much she rocks here) who distracted me during the most painful moments by telling stories about her funny son.  And Nick for encouraging me to go for it when I started to have second (third, fourth and fifth) thoughts. My lesson is that commitment can also mean freedom. If done correctly. 

Kisses from my bub, Asa. 


Sunday, November 17, 2013

New York, I Love You

I can't believe it's November already. It's getting cold here in Chicago, which has me dreaming of summer. Thinking back to this summer a few of my favorite memories were made when my lovely friend Lesley and I visited New York City. Our trip mostly consisted of walking, eating, randomly riding bikes illegally through Central Park, resting, walking and eating more. This was the third time I've visited NYC and I love it more each time. Here are a few pictures of some of the awesomeness that NYC has to offer.

The Little Owl ( As I sat there many, many people took my picture. I thought I was finally discovered. Turns out this building was used as the cafe front in the "Friends" television show. 

View of NYC atop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET).

Lesley and I just hanging out on top of the MET. No big deal. Just kidding, this was awesome!

Anselm Keifer, "Bohemian Lies by the Sea". (close up)

Lesley checking out Anselm Keifer's "Bohemian Lies by the Sea". (panned view)

Chuck Close, "Lucas I". (close up)

Chuck Close, "Lucas I". (panned view)

Andy Warhol, I think it's named "Shaped", but I am not sure.

Delicious lunch on the go. 

Lesley on the High Line (
The High Line is an old freight rail line converted in to a beautiful walkway in Chelsea.

Pretty flowers on the High Line.

Yummy beverage at The Spotted Pig.

Lunch at The Spotted Pig. (

 Lesley at Roberta's in Brooklyn.

Lesley and me. Our smiles mask sadness that our meal is over.

Zen Butter ice cream (Peanut butter ice cream with toasted sesame seeds) 
at China Town Ice Cream Factory-Totally worth the hike. 

Random metal art. 

Pretty blue door plus me. 

Coffee and almond croissant at Zibetto Espresso Bar.

Lesley at  Sake Bar Decibel (

Me also at Sake Bar Decibel.

Oh, I love you New York City. Until next time.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

How to Test a Friendship

Coaster Mustache 

This past week my good friend Kristen visited to support me in something that I have not previously had the courage to do(reveal in next post). During our visit she and I reflected on the type of people we are attracted to, re: friends, mates etc. Kristen shared her realization that she has surrounded herself with people that are outspoken and stand up for themselves. Qualities that she admires and values. While she was sharing I thought about the type of person she is as well as the other people that I am close with. My closest friends and partner are non-judgmental, patient, optimistic (at least more often than I) and consistent. I know I can count on them to be a positive force in my life and be there for me when I need them. Like Kristen, I am attracted to people that have qualities I admire. 

Coaster Mustache Fail

Thinking back I realized my move to Chicago was an excellent example of Kristen's patience and loyalty. 

Seven years and four months ago Kristen took on the challenge of moving me. We had been close friends, sisters, since high school and the move was a scary thing for both of us. It can be hard for me to ask for help and Kristen has made asking easy by pretty much always saying yes. Our plan was that I was going to drive my car, she would follow in the moving truck and after the move we'd drop the truck off in Chicago. 
When we showed up at the "moving company" there was a problem. The truck size we reserved was out. Instead they gave us a truck that resembled a semi. But for the same price, what a deal! I laughed a lot. Kristen, who better understood the difficulty of the situation in front of us,  looked terrified.

We filled the truck with my belongings, which took up no more than a 1/3 of the space. Our next stop was to fill up the gas tank before we headed out of town. Unfortunately, we were not able to restart the truck once it was turned off.  After two hours on hold with the "moving company" and several requests by station attendants to move, I called my old roommate and she asked her dad for advice. I actually don't remember why I called her, but I do remember that her dad knew exactly what to do. So the truck started again. The next six hours of driving (the trip is normally four) were a nightmare. Kristen could not drive above 50 mph or the truck would violently shake. She had no experience driving a big rig and therefore was terrified that she was going to cause an accident. And of course it rained the whole way. Upon arriving in Chicago our bodies and minds were exhausted.  Kristen parked the truck (not without incident) and we went to sleep on the floor of my new apartment with only blankets.  
The next morning Kristen fell down the steps and ripped the seat of her pants and the same bird pooped on me twice. Kristen strongly felt like these were all signs that I should not move.  
Dropping off the truck to the "moving company" was just as unpleasant as the rest. Driving a semi around the narrow streets of Chicago is not fun. When we arrived at the "moving company" a staff person told us we could not leave the truck, there was no more room. The same staff person was pushy and loud when I was trying to explain why we couldn't leave the truck to an exhausted and angry Kristen. I put my hand up to stop him from talking. He screamed about me giving him "the hand" until we left.  An hour later we had the truck dropped off at another site and then quietly drove the four hours home.

No matter how awful the trip was or how angry Kristen felt, I never feared for our friendship. We didn't argue or turn on each other. And after that I was not as worried about the affect of my move on our friendship. Now when we are together I cannot tell we've ever been apart.  As for the move, well it took a few years, but we can laugh now. 

I think being deliberate about who you allow into your life is very important. All people have value, but not all people are healthy for us. I have surrounded myself with people I respect and respect me. Sometimes I am in awe at the love I feel from those around me. But I am grateful. Always.  

Circa 2000



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oyster Happy Hour

Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventure beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people, are simply put, curious. -Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener

Last week I saw an advertisement that a local restaurant Nick and I both enjoy added an oyster bar. Neither of us had ever had oysters before. And to be honest,  neither of us were very sad about that. But I am in the pursuit of self discovery, and the consumption of oysters seem outside my comfort zone.  So we went, asked our waiters' advice and tried two he suggested. Dramatically, I learned that I do not like oysters. While also discovering that I am not refined enough to hide that I do not like oysters from the very hip, restaurant patrons that surrounded us. It was hilarious, disgusting, embarrassing and so much fun. It's hard to describe the feeling that comes up when you can be totally your uncool, unrefined, nerdy self and have your partner be right there with you. 

I am naturally a curious person and have been all of my life.  But I'm learning being curious alone is not enough.  Big or small, I need to take risks where I could possibly fail, be rejected or even briefly embarrassed.  This is not to say I haven't taken any risks.  I have.  But I also have had the privilege of knowing that my family and friends would catch me if I fell.  Until this past year many of the risks I've taken have been fairly calculated.  This year I both married my partner and started a business.  These have been really scary, good changes. Changes that even two years ago I did not believe I could/would ever do.  And the truth is that I have not been comfortable for quite a while, but my happiness is growing exponentially. 

When I saw that advertisement I knew I could eat some oysters.  And so we did.  Now I'm thinking about daily things I could do outside my comfort zone. I want to grow as a person, but I also want to grow with Nick. Luckily, he's a really good sport. I can't wait to see what we do next. 

What sort of challenges would be on your list? Do you find only doing the things you already know that you enjoy is keeping you from growing? Are there things on your list you could do with your partner?

XO,  M