Monday, June 11, 2012

Identifying Marks

I love tattoos.  Especially on men, I should say.  Not especially on women, unless the tattoos are really pretty. (Dani, you’re beautiful, and I especially love your ink.  I’m not talking about you.)  I guess I find tattoos to be masculine, and that’s part of why I like them on a man.

Sawan had two tattoos. 

His first one came about during the age when it was popular to have cartoon tattoos.  It seems like everyone in that era had a Tasmanian Devil on their ankle or some such nonsense.  He had lost a bet, and had to get a tattoo.  So, he chose Tigger (the one with the cape and the mask).  He had chosen it out of his then four-year-old sister’s coloring book.  It was on his right hip.  I didn’t find that one particularly masculine.  I never told him, but I sort of hated that tattoo.  I think he maybe did, too.  When asked on a questionnaire once if he had any major scars or identifying marks he replied, “Yes, a tattoo.”  They needed to know where (at that point he only had the one).  “My right hip.”  What is it?  “A tiger.

His second one was awesome, though.  It was a huge trout, reaching up for a fly on a fly line.  The guy who did it had experience doing lots of koi fish (something Sawan loved having grown up in Hawaii) so he did the river water in that style.  It was in super bright colors.  It took up the major part of his left shoulder.  It was beautiful.  I loved it.

He told me that when he was looking for someone to do it, he talked to lots of different artists, but most of them didn’t know much about what he was talking about when he would talk about trout.  The one he chose, though, had asked him, “So, you want like a rainbow trout or a brown trout?”  Then he asked him, “What kind of fly are you looking for, like a copper john?”  Sawan was like, “This is the guy.”

A year before he died, we were out running errands and we stopped by Phantom Tattoos, the shop where he had had it done.  Sawan showed me the photo of his own tattoo in the guy’s photo book, and we looked in to when he could get an appointment to get the color retouched a bit and maybe add on to it, but he never actually made the appointment.

Masculine or not, pretty or not, I want the fly line and fly tattooed on the inside of my left wrist.  I don't want to put his name on my body, but I want to have a mark.  Maybe this is my scar that I've felt I've needed.  He profoundly impacted my life, and I want it marked on there forever.   For some reason, it’s important to me to have the same artist, that the guy ask me what kind of fly I want.  I've felt that just anyone wouldn't do:  if he wasn't good enough for Sawan then it didn't feel good enough for me.

So, last year around the end of July, I started thinking about what I was going to do on Sawan’s birthday, and I called the place.  It turned out that I couldn’t get an appointment until the end of September, so I quit thinking about it.

This year, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.  I called last week, and they said I had to make an appointment in person.  I went down to talk to them and they knew what tattoo I was talking about (it was that cool), and they were pretty sure that a guy named Nick did it, but he wasn’t with them anymore, I had to go to a different shop.  They gave me the information and told me that if I needed any more help they’d be glad to.  They were so sweet and awesome.

So I called the other place.  They confirmed that Nick worked there, I told them my story, that I’m a widow, I want part of my husband’s tattoo on my wrist, and there are certain dates that I wanted to do it.  I was able to get an appointment for August 24 (his birthday wasn’t available, the guy is booked).  The girl on the phone said, “I just want to say that I think that this is a great way to honor your husband’s memory, I love this idea.  And I want to tell you that I’m so sorry for your loss.”  Wow.

I had to go down the next day to put down a deposit, and while I was there I met Nick.  He came out to talk to me and I told him the story, too.  He immediately remembered the tattoo.  I had only mentioned that it was a trout.  He said, “It was a brown trout, wasn’t it?”  I knew I had found the right guy.  He asked me if I could remind him of my husband’s name, he knew it was something unusual.  I told him and he was like, “Oh, yeah, how could I forget a name like that.  I’m so sorry that this happened to you.”  Then, he asked me if I remembered what kind of fly it was.  I told him that it was a copper john, and that’s how Sawan had picked him in the first place.  He liked that a lot.  Phew.  I think I’m in good hands.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm Kind of A Big Deal

A few weeks ago, my oldest sister and I were having a hilarious dialogue about dating, full of all of the sister snarkiness and lexicon that is our rapport.  I was wondering why I haven't been asked out, and I reminded her that I used to date a lot, in fact, when I met Sawan I was seeing a couple of other guys that I had to end things with.  I told her, “I mean, I’m kind of a big deal.”  She said, while wagging a finger, “That right there?  That’s your problem.”  I may or may not have snottily used the F-word with her.

A few nights later, the owner of the salon took her other booth-renter and I out to dinner, something we had been meaning to do since Christmas but hadn’t gotten around to yet.  This was one of her favorite restaurants from last year’s 5280 restaurant week previews (for you non-Denverites, that’s where all the fine dining restaurants in town do a prix fix tasting menu so that people will try their restaurant, and it only costs $52.80/couple).  It was an Asian fusion place.  I never go out to dinner anymore, unless you count Chipotle, and as I was sitting there I realized how out of the fine dining loop I've been since Sawan died (I had heard nothing about this place).  At any rate, I was completely unimpressed with the food and service (the bartender could barely open the bottle of wine, a busser was in such a rush that she spilled food off of plates down my back and didn't even notice, and I would probably only order one of the dishes again, but I will say that  that one dish was amazing) and would have completely written off the whole experience except for one thing:  the chef came by to say "hi."

I’ve been at restaurants where chefs did table visits, but usually they then make the rounds, and this chef only came to our table.  He mostly addressed the owner of my shop, but they had a nice conversation and he kept glancing over at me, and at one point stopped mid-sentence, turned to me and said, “By the way, you have amazing hair.”  He found me completely distracting, which is always fun.  As soon as he left, the other girls started conspiring to get him my number, which I just wasn’t super-stoked about.  As we vacated our table, one of our party went outside to smoke, while the owner and I went to use the ladies room.  As she and I headed for the door, he held it for us, and before I knew it, right in front of me, she’s working on a set-up.  AWK-WARD.  I wanted to dissapear.  But, whatever, all press is good press, I figured.  I was trying not to hear.  She passed him a phone number, and then we left (I gave him a shy little wave).  As the three of us walked to the car, I pointed out that it was 11:30 p.m. on a Thursday and he was still at work.  I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be with a restaurant guy again (no matter how attractive I had found him).  They work every holiday.  They work late.  They never see their significant other.  It’s a rough life for everyone.

I didn’t think much of it for a few days, and then I decided that I’d check him out on the internet.  You know, just to see.  I started out with the restaurant’s website, because I couldn’t remember what he’d told us his name was.  Then, I googled him.  Then, I began to laugh.  He is only 34.  He was the executive chef at a famous New York restaurant (that I had heard of) before he moved here (pretty amazing for a 34 year old).  He was ranked in some NYC magazine as one of their top 5 singles.  Then I thought I’d check to see if the 5280 Magazine food critic, a good acquaintance of mine, had reviewed his restaurant.  She had.  She said that him opening a restaurant in Denver meant that the food scene in Denver had arrived.  Then I went to his Facebook fanpage and found him pictured with several of my favorite Top Chef winners, and found out that he was competing for this year’s James Beard Award (kind of like the Oscars for chefs).  The further I got, the harder I laughed.  I thought to myself, "OMG, this guy dates supermodels, I’m sure.  He’s never gonna call me!"  (And, while we’re at it, I felt like a total idiot:  I clearly have a very unrefined palette if I didn’t like his food.)

So, I got to work the next day and told my girlfriend, the owner, all of this, and she quietly listened to me (not something she regularly does) tell the whole story, and then she sweetly said, “I gave him my number, not yours, telling him that I'd like to set the two of you up, and he did call twice this weekend.”  He left no message, but a google search of the phone number had shown where the calls came from. 

Now, I never did hear from the guy again, but I truly was being honest, that I don’t want to be with a restaurant guy.  So I’ve had as much fun with this whole deal as I wanted to.  The bottom line is, after feeling so invisible for so long, it’s nice to know that, well, I’m kind of a big deal.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Yard Projects: Beginning the Back Yard

The back yard was such a mess!  There was a whole bag of sand that had been dumped on the concrete section of the patio that I had just never gotten around to cleaning up.  There were still little branches that were all over from the lilac project. 
Before.  Gross.
Over Memorial day weekend my friend Sara came over to help for the day.  Remember this story?  She asked if bikini tops were necessary to work in my yard.  I told her this was the Nail household.  Bikini tops were optional.

She is the gardener extraordinaire.  She actually worked on real farms in Washington.  She started a community garden non-profit project where people could come and work and earn their community service, and they employed people that had formerly been in prison.  She’s pretty awesome.

She and I cleaned the patio, moved planters from the front to the back, moved some cement planters from their weirdo spots under the lilacs to more appropriate places around the patio, changed out the soil in them, and planted colorful flowers.  Then, she taught me how to plant vegetables (tomatoes, basil, mint and squash).  It looks so much more clean and cheerful!  We also moved a wisteria vine that had “volunteered” from the back to the front where it can grow along the picket fence.  It was a great time to catch up and visit with my longtime girlfriend, but I also learned so much.  It was just so good for my soul.


One of the cement planters, filled with begonias and herbs.
I still have a lot to do in the back, but I keep changing my mind about what the plan will be.  Initially I had wanted to do all of it this year, but now I’ve decided that I need to know exactly what I want before I start investing in it.  So for the rest of the summer my plan is to extend my brick patio to the garage so that there’s a walkway that will make it easier to get my trash cans out to the alley (Anything to ease the alley pain…I’m secretly scared of the alley, and I say that it “closes” after dark).  I also have a little retaining wall that goes around only five of the lilacs, and on four of them they have bricks stacked two high, and on the fifth they’re only one high.  So I want to extend that all the way around all of the lilacs and make it all match at two-high.  The space of dirt that it will leave will become a bed of some sort.  That’s all that I plan to do for the rest of the year.  No big deal, right?
I only use cute gardening gloves.

It only being May, I’m still totally enjoying yard work (we’ll see how I feel in July).  I love being outside.  I love that I’m a little tan.  I love that it makes muscles hurt that I didn’t know that I had.  I love that even though I’m a prissy girl I enjoy getting dirty.  I love burning calories in a real way that shows results!  I’m having a great time, most of the time.  Sometimes it's lonely and makes me feel widowed.  That's why I love having people come "help" even if they want to just visit and watch me work, that's helping.  I’m also having a bit of a hard time finding balance.  I’m not sure how to have an awesome yard, a clean house, work, write and have any sort of social life.  So the writing has suffered.  But, the yard looks awesome!