Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Tattoo Post

I LOVE my tattoo...I just want to get that out there. I am going to post some pics here of the experience.

First off, I found this piece of work I did several years ago and thought it would be fun to post it here.
I have been thinking of getting a tattoo for at least a year and maybe even longer. I didn't know what I wanted but I sort of knew that I wanted it on the back of my neck. I had been to my brother-in-law's tattoo parties in the past and never thought I'd even consider it. I can't remember now why I was opposed to them, but I guess I least on my body.

There is a Dolan family history of tattoos...John and his brothers all have a shamrock on their buttocks, with Patrick's being the largest for some reason. (Side note: now that John is getting older and a know...bigger...we joke that his tattoo is now the largest of his brothers' tattoos.) each of the children of these brothers turn 18, they, in turn, get their own shamrocks. In addition to his shamrock, my son, Johnny, also got a huge kairos cross on his upper right shoulder. I thought it was totally cool and realized that tattoos weren't as taboo as I had previously thought.

I love my "married-into-family". I really do, but I didn't want to copy them. I wanted my own Whalen identity to always be a part of my soul. I needed a remnant of my own self, aside from my husband and children. That's why it wasn't a shamrock on my butt that I wanted. I wanted something special.

My sisters and I get together for a "retreat" each year, as some of you already know, not just because you know me, but because I talk about this special time for weeks and weeks and weeks before and after one takes place. Every other year, we invite husbands and children and we call it "Cousin Camp" intead of "Sister's Retreat". The year 2011 was a "Sister Retreat" year. We met in Nashville, TN. I was the first to arrive this year and as my sister Jeanette lives nearby, she picked me up at the airport and we went to lunch.
This is my sister, Jeanette. Here, at this very table, the tattoo thing started to become a reality. I said, "Hey, let's get tattoos this trip."
"YEAH!", she said.
We immediately called up the other three, who were in various airports across the country...
"Hey, you guys want to get a tattoo this trip?" (Around our little lunch table, Jeanette and I made bets on who would want to and who wouldn't.) Much to our surprise, the idea was well-received.

As these retreats go by, our spontaneity tends to take us in directions we hadn't planned, so it was toward the end of our trip when the tattoo idea sort of fizzled a little. There were more important things to do...we are a "play it by ear" sort of group at times. On Friday afternoon, we headed to downtown Nashville to eat and try and grab some crumbled stone from the famous theater (can't really remember the name now, but it starts with an "R" - the Top Ramen Theater?) for Margie's husband, as well as some photos from some famous place for that same husband. We stopped to eat at a Jimmy Buffet restaurant (we almost had a repeat of the previous day's lunch, but I nipped THAT in the bud real quick.)

As we were walking back to the car - it was H-O-T and we thought we'd go back to Jeanette's for a swim - IT just appeared, IT being the coolest tattoo parlor in town. We looked at each other. Let's do it! Mom was really tired and if we had all been good daughters we would have taken her home so that she could rest, but that tattoo parlor was calling to us.
"I'll just take a nap in the car," says Mom. "I don't mind that it's 110 degrees outside and that the car that I'll be sleeping in is black and in the sun. You girls go on ahead and get your tattoos."

I had to ask, "Mom, are you sure you don't want to get one with us?"
"No...I'm too old and the tattoo would sag."

So we left mom in the car, making sure that the windows were open and entered the most awesome tattoo parlor ever. It's "hook", if you will was that it was a Christian tattoo parlor, run by good Christian people. It even had one of Jeanette's husband's gold records hanging on the wall...although the word "gold" here is deceiving. It looked more silvery to me.

We spent a goodly amount of time looking through the pictures of tattoos we could get. As I said before, it needed to be special. We looked at flowers, butterflies, crosses, all kinds of things, but there wasn't any one, special thing that we all agreed on.
"How about a word?" someone suggested.

Great idea! We had the tattoo parlor people look up the word "sisterhood" in Hebrew. There were about five symbols for the Hebrew version of "sisterhood". We wanted to keep it small and simple, so we kept looking. Someone looked up "sisterhood" in Kanji (an eastern Asian language). It had two symbols - one for "sister" and one for "tree." Together it meant "sisterhood".

After signing our lives away and making multiple copies of our Drivers Licenses and insurance cards and birth certificates, we were ready to begin. They assigned us to our tattoo artists, placed mock-ups of the actual tattoos on our bodies, let us take a look at them and then went to work.

Here is a photo of me getting mine on the back of my neck:
Here is the finished tattoo:
Here is a photo of all of us with our tattoo artists - a great bunch of guys:
I LOVE my tattoo. I LOVE my sisters and I LOVE our adventures together.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Before the Tattoo Post

I know you all want to hear about the tattoo. I am surely getting to that, but I need some photos from the actual event and I have requested those from the designated sister historian, Nancy. So until I can get those, I'll postpone the tattoo post.

It was hot in TN. These photos are from our thrift store day. When thrifting, you have to understand that you may not find yourself in the best areas of a given town. From about 1pm to 4pm, we were in different stages of hunger, with the need to eat in the forefront of all of our minds. I say 1pm to 4pm because that is how long it takes five women to decide where the best place to eat is. So we're driving for about 3 hours looking for a place to eat in Nashville...yes...a big city where you'd think you could find a satisfying "restaurant" on every street corner.

Sister #1: How about Cracker Barrel...
Sister #2: Let's save Cracker Barrel for another day...
Sister #3: How about Denny's...
Sisters #4 and #5: It's too late for breakfast...
Sister #2: I know there is a great place right around this corner...I think...
Sister #1: Let's just go to Taco Bell...
Sister #5: Taco Bell would be fine with me, I'm so hungry...
Sister #3: Naw, we can get Taco Bell any ole time...let's go for something unique...and so on and so on and so on for three hours.

Finally, one of us, let's call her Sister # Smart says:
"We have not eaten all day! I am starving! Pull over the damn car and let's eat!

It was quiet for about a minute as we all processed what to do with this outburst. Most of us get really uncomfortable with tension, so there were some attempts made at laughter at the outburst, some staring out the window at the run down gas stations, and some just explaining why we needed to find the "right" place to eat.

Sister #2: Hey, there's a Fat Mo's. Do you want to go there?
Sisters #1, #3, and #5: YES!!
Sister #5: I had a cab driver who knew the owner of Fat Mo's! (We LOVE serendipity)

So we pull into Fat Mo's, hop out of the car into the sweltering heat and welcome the air conditioned space called "Fat Mo's".

We are the ONLY people in the joint...well us and the Indian cashier.

Sister #5: Are you the owner?
Indian Guy: No.
Sister #4: Are you Fat Mo?
Indian Guy: Nope
Sister #5: Do you know a guy that drives a cab?
Indian Guy: (Just stares like he doesn't understand the question)

So we order. We order gyros, burgers and spicey curly fries. Two of us are very health conscious and try to clean off the table as we sit.

As our food is ready, we eat and think it would be fun to mark this moment with photos of each of here we are.






And there you have the Fat Mo story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More Sister Retreat 2011

Let's talk about the horse races, shall we? On Saturday of our Sister Retreat, my step-father bought us tickets to the races. We all LOVE the races, so we were excited to go. It was on Friday, the day before race day, as we lounged in the pool to get away from the million degree heat, that we all realized the races were about a 2 1/2 hour drive away in Kentucky.
At that point, some of us gave each other looks...(okay, Kelley and I gave each other a look that said, "What? Two and a half hours each way? In the car?") Being the matriarch and all, I felt it was my duty to tread the waters of perhaps NOT going to the races the next day. Upon some tentative questioning, it turns out that someone went to a lot of trouble to get us the tickets and wanted very badly to do something very nice for us during our retreat.
So, after seeing the disappointed look on Mona's face, we were all gung ho again about the races.
Cut to the next morning...The first car/van was leaving at 7:30 am in order to beat the heat, as they did not have air conditioning in the van. The sisters were going to leave much later...we HAD air conditioning. The races were going to start at 1:00.
Here's the funny thing. Without even realizing it, my mom and step-dad came out to the car wearing EXACTLY the same thing...white pants and a lavender top. We sisters laughed about it, took pictures and thought it was cute. Once the van left, though, an idea hit two of us at the same time. What if we stopped at the Goodwill on our way to the races and each purchased an outfit of white bottoms and lavender tops. Hilarious! Great idea. We headed for Goodwill as soon as it opened. As Matriarch, I allotted 15 minutes to make our purchases.
Here is where sister Margarita (said with a Spanish accent) came out of the dressing room in a floor length lavender ball gown. It was a bit big for her, but she was sort of determined to wear it. She was going to wear a white sash or belt with it. Fortunately for us, it was $20 and she just didn't want to spend that kind of money. She found an appropriate outfit, like the rest of us.
Once we got to the races, our fun idea paid off as Mona (that's my mom) laughed hysterically as five lavender and white dressed sisters met her at the entrance. Sometimes other people stare at us in public...we just get used to it.

Anyhow, here is a photo of us with my mom and step-dad in our lavender glory.
Once we were making our way through the race park, all of the other people wearing purple that day wanted to have their picture taken with us. Below is a photo of two random men who wanted a purple photo. Their wives took the picture.

So that's the story of our day at the races. Kelley won her first bet EVER! I was so excited, telling her that I think she won like $100 or something, but it has been awhile since I've been to the races and my figures were a little bit off. When she took her ticket up to the Mutuels booth, they gave her her $30 in winnings. :) Sorry Kelley...although she DID get a free drink out of the deal.

More later.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sisters Retreat 2011

I guess a bit of background before we begin. I have several sisters of one kind or of them share the same father and of them share the same of them is the daughter of my step-father and one is married to my brother, Bob. Together, we make up a fabulous team of wisdom, laughter, creativity and...well, if I were to be honest...a bit of psychosis.

The woman we all have in common is pictured above. She is Mona (her real name is Nancy, but her name got changed and it's a long story, so I'll save it for another post).

Each year, come summer time, we all take a retreat together. We alternate years with Sister's Retreat and Cousin Camp. One year we are sisters alone and the next year, we invite husbands and children.

This year, 2011, was Sister's Retreat year and we met in Nashville, TN from July 13th through the 17th. Now, we don't just "get together"...oh no...we DO IT UP in one way or another. This year, our theme/challenge/task was to only pack underwear for our trip. We wore our traveling clothes, but other than the clothes we had on our back, we brought nothing but underwear, a swimming suit, and our toiletries. On the first day of our retreat, we visited the Goodwill and other thrift stores in the native area. That is where we developed our wardrobe for our entire vacation.

This is a photo of Sister Margaret (we call her Margie, Margo, Gracie, Margarita - with a Spanish accent of course, etc) before the thrift store adventure. Margie lives in Northern, Northern, Northern California. She has two boys. Out of the 5 sisters, she is the 2nd youngest. Later on in my story of this particular retreat, Margie is the one who, when we all had a challenge to wear purple and white to the horse races, picked the most beautiful lavender, full length prom gown. We had to talk her out of it, only because it was $20 not because it was so over the top...well...okay, part of our reasoning was because it was so over the top.

I'm going to stop at this point, so that I can save some. I'll post again tomorrow and introduce you to some of the other characters in this story.