My First Trip to the Tattoo Parlor

Beginning this week, I am going to write a series of fictional stories.  I am taking a writing class with Dr. Carolyn Wedin and each week we bring a piece of writing to share with the class.  I thought it would break up some of the monotony on this site to switch from non-fiction to fiction for awhile and publish some of the things I write each week for the class.  It gives me a chance to try my hand at a new style of writing.  I hope you enjoy my stories, remember they are “only make believe.”

tattoo girl

This story is about a young girl who gets her first tattoo.  

I cannot believe the time has passed so quickly.  It seems like just yesterday.  However, it was six years ago.  I was nine years old.  All my friends had already got one but my mother was very strict and said I had to wait until I was at least nine years old.  I thought it would take forever but finally the day arrived.  I turned nine and on my birthday, I told my Mom “It is time.  Next week I am going to get a great big tattoo just like my friend Emily has.”  My mother said “Well, OK, but just remember, once you get a tattoo, they will not wash off.”

I should back up a minute in my story.  My name is Sophie and I am 15 years old now.  I live in New York City in the Bronx.  I am home schooled and I have a sister Isabella who is four years older than I am.  My older sister is a sophomore at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan.  She is a theater major and wants to be an actress.  She has already had small parts in two off-Broadway productions.  One production was called Venus.  This is a story about a woman who left her home in South Africa in the 19th Century in search of a better life and found herself working in a freak show.  The other production is a musical romance titled:  The Boy Who Danced on Air.  This is a modern day love story set in rural Afghanistan.  It tells the tale of two young male dancers who meet and fall in love with each other.

tattoo girl 2All of my family and relatives attended both of these productions.  We are a very close knit family and we wanted to show support for my sister.  Six years ago, some of my family had wanted to go to the tattoo parlor with me when I had my first tat.  I decided to go by myself.  It was something that I felt that I had to do alone.  The problem or conundrum I faced was what kind of a tattoo should I get and what part of my anatomy should I get it on?  I remember that I had lots of advice on the matter.  My father, mother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and friends all had tons of ideas and suggestions related to both questions.

In the week following my ninth birthday, I received even more advice on what kind of a tattoo I should get.  I heard suggestions that I should get a unicorn, a butterfly, my mom’s name, my dad’s name, my sister’s name, a heart, a rose, a Chinese character for happiness, an Aztec symbol, my favorite school subject, a lion, a prayer, a pixie and many other conceptions.  I was really reluctant to tell anyone that I had not a clue what I was going to get.  As a matter of pride I wanted a tattoo but it had to be my decision.  It also had to be something truly unique.

tattoo girl 3I received numerous suggestions on the best place to have a tattoo.  Some suggested it be placed where I could easily cover it up when I did not want it be seen.  Others suggested that it be someplace more visible.  Some said to get it on my shoulder or thigh where I could show it off during the warmer summer months while wearing shorts or a tank top.  Places like my lower arms would be visible more often but also more difficult to conceal.  Another dilemma, where to get my tattoo placed?

My mom called the tattoo parlor where my sister Isabella had got her tats.  She called to schedule an appointment for me and to insure them that I had her permission.   They wanted to know what kind of a tattoo I would like.  This knowledge would help them to schedule the time needed.  A tattoo can take anywhere from one hour to several days to ink.  My mom told them I had not decided yet.  They replied that they would schedule me for four hours and if it took longer, they could simply schedule me for more time the following week.

girl with tattoo 4With the looming appointment for my tattoo, I had even more pressure now to decide “What was I going to get?  What would my first tattoo be?  How do I find something truly unique?”  I thought about it all week.  Every TV show I watched, everything I read, more advice and suggestions from well-meaning advisors but nothing really excited me.  I went on the Internet.  I went to the library.  I looked at tattoo magazines with numerous women and men who had tats.  I must have looked at a thousand pictures of different tattoos but still nothing resonated.  I did not want any of the tats that I had seen.

Of course, I finally decided on both what kind of a tattoo I would get and where I would have it placed.  You would be very surprised to know how I came up with solutions to both of these mysteries.  My family and friends were all shocked.  My decision even surprised me.  I would love to share it with you and even show you my tattoo but there is no time for that now.  I must be off to see my friend Emily.  She wants to show me her newest tattoo.  She now has fifteen.

I will tell you this much though.  I have no regrets over my choices.  If I had to do it all over again, I would still get the same tattoo and in the same place.  I think you would approve.

Time for Questions:

What kind of a tattoo do you think Sophie got?  Where do you think she had it placed?  Do you have a tattoo?  Why or why not?  What kind of a tattoo do you have or would you get if you were to get one?  Why do people like tattoos?  Can you have too many tattoos?

Life is just beginning.

“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye.  As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.”  — V. Vale

2016 New Year Predictions

Every New Year we are inundated with predictions, forecasts and prognostications for the coming year.  This year, I decided that I could do as well as many of the other pundits out there.  In fact, I think I can do better.  I am logical, rational, educated and not sentimental or emotional. 🙂 Any list that I create will be based on pure logic and scientific deduction. 🙂 You can take my list to the odds makers and I am sure you will make a fortune betting on them.  This is the least I can do to help my followers and readers capitalize on their loyalty to reading my blogs.  Remember, the vast majority of humankind will be ignorant of the predictions that I am about to give you.

Here are my top 10 predictions for the New Year.  I will include a brief justification and logic for each of these predictions below.  If you find some of them appalling, remember this, we can change things if we want them to be different.  No one ever said life would be easy.

  1. Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States of America.

This is a no brainer. The majority of the American people are too smart to select any of the dregs running that are now in the Republican queue.  I have said it in my blogs and I will say it again, the majority of US Citizens are decent, compassionate, rational human beings.  They will not elect a bigot, racist or demagogue for President.

  1. Weather patterns will continue to be unpredictable and chaotic.

As long as a large portion of the people in the world continue to believe that no change in lifestyles is needed or that these patterns are “normal”, I see little progress being made in addressing the underlying factors of pollution and waste disposal that are fundamental to our weather changes.  Some call it Global Warming but the problems we are creating go beyond even this potential disaster.  We are draining our ground water.  Polluting our oceans.  Contaminating our soils and forests.  Our mother earth has become one large garbage dump for every conceivable bit of trash we need to dispose of.  I am sorry but I do not see us making enough progress in this area.

  1. Water Shortages will create major agricultural problems throughout the world.

Water shortages will continue to exacerbate agricultural development in many parts of the USA and world.  Water prices will rise as ground water and aquifers are increasingly depleted or contaminated.  Sink holes will become more pronounced in areas where water is depleted.  More and more communities will be forced to provide stringent controls on water usage.   In the short term, water problems will eclipse Global Warming as a key problem in the world.

  1. The ISIS Caliphate will be demolished.

With the increase in forces arrayed against ISIS, the group will be defeated in battle after battle forcing it to give up territory that it has conquered.  Nevertheless, the destruction of ISIS will not destroy the fundamental forces that have underpinned the rise of this radical group.  From Al Qaeda, to Boko Haram, to ISIS, the fundamental forces that have given rise to these groups seem to be either ignored or misunderstood by the Western Powers.  The destruction of the ISIS caliphate will not destroy the dreams and hopes that those who have pledged allegiance to these extremist beliefs hold.  Instead, we will see a disintegration of ISIS into many smaller more covert and decentralized radical groups that will still be capable of and will continue to spread violence and terrorism on a global scale.  Until the fundamental forces are addressed, terrorism will continue to be omnipresent on a global scale.

  1. Schools throughout the world will continue to decline in their ability to properly educate young people for the real world.

Rich kids and children of the elites will find a way to obtain a quality education.  However, the vast majority of children will not be well served in this goal by the current education model that delivers mass education in most countries of the world.  The present model of educating young people was developed over a hundred years ago and is based on an industrial model of educating people that in no longer valid for today’s world.  We need to completely overhaul our educational systems but this will mean large scale displacement of many educators and administrators who benefit from an obsolete model of education.

  1. Standards of living will continue to rise throughout the world but many poor will not be better off.

Almost paradoxically one might think, is my prediction that the increase in average standards of living will continue throughout the world despite some of the dire predictions I have made above.  How is this possible?  The answer lies in the concept of “average” versus the concept of a “normal distribution.”  An average can increase if the upper extremes increases.  We have seen a large growth in the USA for the upper 1 percent income bracket; this creates an “average” increase.  Thus, the rich are going to get richer throughout the world, but many poor will still stay poor. Comparatively it will be true to say that “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”  This income inequality will continue to be a source of violence and terrorism throughout the world as police forces and the military become more violent to protect the haves from the have nots.

  1. Fear of terrorism will create more restrictions on immigration throughout the world.  

As more and more isolated events of “lone wolf” terrorism take place, the world will react with increased levels of xenophobia and paranoia.  Immigrants will become the target for displaced feelings of fear and anger.  Politicians will pander to these fears by blaming outsiders for the problem and enacting legislation to create barriers that have the supposed effect of making people feel safer.

  1. Gun violence will continue to increase in the USA.

The NRA and gun manufacturers will continue to flood America with more and more guns and assault style weapons.  More people will purchase concealed carry permits.  The general level of easy availability to a deadly weapon will raise the level of violence thus creating a vicious cycle of guns, violence, fear and guns.  The only solution will be to break this cycle of violence but the money involved in the manufacture and sale of guns in the USA creates an effective barrier to accomplishing this goal.

  1. Technology will not save the world, but it will make the world easier to live in.

Many people have believed that new inventions from fish farming to finger print gun activation to pace makers would defray many of the problems in the world and save us from our own selves.  Ironically, technology has not saved us from ourselves but in many cases it has made life easier to live.  For instance, my income level has not significantly increased because of the Internet.  However, I now work from home much of the time which has made my life much easier and happier.  Another example is agriculture, where irrigation has helped us plant crops in places like Arizona where it would have been impossible years ago.  On the other hand, technology always seem to come with hidden costs and unforeseen complications.  For instance, aquifer depletion is now causing sink holes and ground collapse in many parts of the USA due to over irrigation.

  1. I will continue to write my blog for at least another year.

Two of my best friends, William Cox and Brian Rogers died in 2015.  William was 87 and Brian was 68.  The passing away of my friends and many other acquaintances are constant reminders of my own mortality.  My father died when he was 60 years old and my mother was 67.  I have now outlived them both.  My wife passed 70 in 2014 and is now reaching for 72.  Ages that once seemed “ancient” no longer seem so old.  At the same time, the obituaries constantly remind us that we are “old.”  Everywhere I go, we now qualify for senior discounts or elderly benefits.  I am told that I have the body and stamina of a 45 year old, but that seldom if ever impresses me as I see other men in my condition suddenly succumb to the passage of time and I write out yet another card of condolences or sympathy.

Thus, I make a commitment to write this blog for another year, which I am not sure or confident I can keep.  I hope to write as long as I am able to and I hope that will be for at least another year.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Time for Questions:

What are your New Year Predictions?  Which of mine do you agree or disagree with?  Why?  What predictions did I miss?

Life is just beginning.

Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”  —- Goran Persson

 “May we love each other not only at Christmas but all year.” — ― Lailah Gifty Akita



Do you know when to hold them or when to fold them?

The time had come. “These four words are the essence of any great decision”(Profiles in Audacity, Alan Axelrod, 2006, Sterling Publishing Co.). This book describes many great decisions that had to be made throughout history and of the difficulties that faced the decision maker. Harry Truman is famous for the saying “The buck stops here.” However, when does it stop? Timing is the critical component of any great decision. Too early or too late and no decision is correct. When we act too soon, we “rush to judge” and act without facts or commitment. When we act too late, the window of opportunity is closed and there is great loss.

Decision makers assume great responsibility and many assume that it is better to do something than nothing. Perhaps this is not true. With more patience, could we have had less wars and death? I do not need to point out the Holocaust and Cambodia massacres of the twentieth centuries as examples of when we should have acted sooner. We hesitated to condemn these atrocities and millions died.

In business, windows of opportunity are represented by new products, new value propositions and new business models. The first in are not always the ones to benefit from the “new” but seldom do the “last” reap many major rewards. Thus, the trick as always is to be able to tell the difference between haste and sloth. When to wait and when not to? Or as Kenny Rogers sang “knowing when to hold them and when to fold them.”

How can we improve our decision making and the timeliness of our decisions? The answer to this question probably depends on whether you are too often hasty or whether you procrastinate too much. Do you rush to judge without facts and data or do you hem and haw in fear of making a mistake until it is too late? How many of the major decisions in your life have turned out well and how many do you regret? Your answer to this question will suggest whether you need to be bolder or less bold in your timing and decision making.

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