I’m Cheating and It Happens Every Day

Okay, so the title isn’t entirely a statement of fact, and it is definitely a play on words, but it helps accomplish two goals for today.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-a-Day prompt for today is “Happens Everyday”.  As I tried to think of something to photograph that fits this description I realized that, while I could think of dozens of things that happen everyday, brushing teeth, taking a shower, using the toilet, preparing and eating meals, getting out of bed, getting into bed, playing on Facebook, reading, writing, ‘rithmetic– Oh…  not that one, not if I can help it…  I realized, that there wasn’t anything particularly exciting, and more importantly, not maybe just a little inappropriate to share on this forum, to photograph and share with the world.  Then it hit me.  There is something that I do everyday, something that I could share with the world, but more importantly something that leads into a story I’m supposed to tell and have not yet done.  Every day I put lotion on my tattoos, particularly the newest one, to moisturize the skin where they have been implanted and to bring out the color that is otherwise masked by the paleness of dried out skin.  While in the strictest of terms, I’m not sharing any photographs that were taken today, what I am sharing is all original photography, either taken by me, or taken of me, and with my camera.  That will make sense in a minute, but suffice it to say that it would’ve been really difficult for me to have taken all of the pictures that will be shared here.  With that said, here is the not so long-awaited story, as promised, of my fourth tattoo; the one with the sentimentality to surpass all others (on my body at least).

In October of 2012, I went one Sunday afternoon to pick up Lil’B from his house for our regular outing.  Lil’B and I had been matched for a little over three years at that point.  We had grown close.  The days of yesteryear, with the long silences and the uncertainty of our connection were past and I was confident, indeed certain of our closeness.  On this particular Sunday afternoon in early October, Lil’B presented me with a drawing that he had done for me.  Lil’B has always been a good artist and it’s something he enjoys.  In fact, our very first get together, I came over and we hung out in his bedroom as he showed me his toys and games and got to know what hanging out with me would be like in the relative comfort and safety of his own home, with his mother in the next room.  After showing me his toys and games and playing with them for a little while, he pulled out his art supplies and we began to draw pictures.  His pictures were much better than mine.  As I said, he’s always been a good artist.  Me?  Not so much.  I still have the drawings he did for me that day hanging on my refrigerator.  Unfortunately, in the present state of financial lack the state of California has been experiencing, arts classes of all kinds have been the first to go in the curriculum, in the interest of saving money.  It’s a tragedy in my mind that the powers that be, don’t see the value in exercising that part of a child’s mind and in fact the detriment that such deprivation inflicts on a child’s education.  Nonetheless, art classes are a thing of the past in Lil’B’s schools and the fact that he drew this picture for me was particularly special and moving for me, because he was not prompted by anyone to do it.  It was entirely of his own volition and on his own time that he drew this picture that so clearly, at least to me, depicts the meaning our relationship holds for him, but just as importantly illustrates that he is paying attention when we interact and he knows me and what I like (at least as much as is reasonable for a then 10-year-old to know.)

Lil’B drew this picture for me, purely because he was thinking of me, and he wanted to do it.

Drawing from Lil'B, Depicting Some Super Things
Drawing from Lil’B, Depicting Some Super Things

For the sake of his privacy I have covered up our names on the drawing, but you can see in the top right corner, he drew himself and me.  He also drew a picture of Superman and a Superman logo.  Then, though his spelling is wrong, he drew a “Supermisha logo” and a picture of Supermischa, a grey cat in Superman costume.  I thought it was adorable, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Sleeping Beauty.  Mischa Asleep on my lap... Just where he believed he belonged.
Sleeping Beauty. Mischa Asleep on my lap… Just where he believed he belonged.

Purely by chance, Lil’B gave me this drawing approximately two weeks before my little buddy, Mischa fell too seriously ill to go on and I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.  Mischa wandered into my life when he was just about ten weeks old and with the exception of a few months here and there when I lived in places he couldn’t, he was with me for his entire life, which in the end, was a few months longer than 20 years.  He had a long and good life, being well protected and taken care of and when his time came, he went peacefully, in my arms, and knowing that he was loved to the very end.  It was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life.  I still miss him terribly.

Anyway, with Mischa gone, Lil’B’s picture became that much more special to me.  As these things go, I began to formulate an idea.  As with tattoo number 5, the idea morphed and grew and began to take shape.  In June of 2013, after several months of contemplation and communication with my tattoo artist, I finally had a plan and an appointment.

While the idea for the tattoo was, in no small part directly inspired by Lil’B’s drawing, it was still a ten-year-old’s art work.  As special as Lil’B is, and as important as he is to me, I did not want the artwork of a ten-year-old permanently affixed to my body.  I made it clear to Lil’B that he had inspired the design and that it was special to me for that reason.  I don’t think he really got it until he saw the finished product, but he seemed to really like it once he saw it and he understood the significance of the components.

There are three components that make up the significance of this tattoo, the obvious component is the part that memorializes Mischa’s life and his place in my heart.  This component is inspired by Lil’B’s drawing, though it is significantly cleaned up and made into something I would be happy to have as a permanent part of my body.

Supermischa, without the yellow filled in on the belt and logo.
Supermischa, without the yellow filled in on the belt and logo.

The next component Is actually the Superman logo as used in the 1993 television series, Lois and Clark:  The New Adventures of Superman. While I had seen and enjoyed the Christopher Reeve Superman movies when I was a kid, it really wasn’t until Lois and Clark came along that I became a big fan of Superman.  It may or may not have had something to do with my attraction to Asian men and the fact that Dean Cain is half Japanese.  Regardless, I became a fan of the character and what he stands for while enjoying that series.

Superman Logo as it appeared in the 1993-1997 series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Superman Logo as it appeared in the 1993-1997 series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

The third component of the tattoo is the logo from the 2006 movie Superman Returns.  Lil’B was born in 2001 but the last movie before Superman Returns came out in 1987.  The image here is distorted due to location and the angle of the original, unedited photograph.

Distorted view of Superman logo as seen in 2006 movie, Superman Returns.
Distorted view of Superman logo as seen in 2006 movie, Superman Returns.

Admittedly, this is a tiny bit of a stretch in terms of matching up dates, but the idea is that component number one represents Mischa, component number two represents me, component number three represents Lil’B.  When put together to form the completed tattoo, it both memorializes Mischa and commemorates my relationship with Lil’B, both by representing him with the newer logo and by incorporating the artwork he inspired into the piece.  He thinks it’s pretty cool.

It’s a subtle detail, but the components are arranged in the finished tattoo, in birth order with my logo at the top, Mischa in the middle, and Lil’B’s logo at the bottom.

Here we see a selection of “in progress” photos taken by my good friend and tattoo guru, K (with my camera), to show the progress of the tattoo from beginning to end.

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By the way, you might have noticed the “6/13” at the bottom of Lil’B’s logo.  This was my fourth tattoo.  On countless occasions, I have had people ask, of the first three, “How long have you had that?” and I never knew the answer.  As I was preparing to have this tattoo done, I looked back through various records (*cough* paper journals *cough*) and found out the month and year that I had each of the previous three tattoos done and as part of the process for tattoo number four, I had dates added to each of my tattoos so that when people asked me how long I’ve had them, I could refer to the date on the artwork and answer the question.  If you refer back to the pictures of tattoo number five, you’ll see that there is a date added to that tattoo as well.  This will be something I will keep up with going forward as I continue to get more tattoos…  And I will be getting more tattoos.

So there you have it.  Two birds, one stone.  It happens everyday that I put lotion on my tattoos including tattoo number four, the previously untold tattoo…  heh!

By the way, tomorrow’s photo-a-day prompt is “upside down”.  I’m not the least bit sure how I’m going to manage a picture for that, that is not just using editing tools to turn a right side up picture, upside down.  The recommendation on Fat Mum Slim’s list is, if nothing else, “turn your phone upside down” to take a picture.  Apparently Chantelle doesn’t have an iPhone, or she’d know that turning the phone upside down does no good.  The accelerometer in the phone just turns the picture right side up for you…  I suppose that’s not any less cheating than using editing tools to turn something upside down.  We’ll have to see what I can come up with.


It was another week of stress for me.

After a three-day week-end, I was actually ahead of my reading for about five minutes.  I started reading the first of the three chapters for this week, last Tuesday, even though we hadn’t actually tested on, or had class about the last three chapters.  I finished reading that first chapter on Wednesday at work and gave myself a break on Wednesday night after class.  Thursday, I didn’t have any time to read at work which was fine because I had Thursday night and a good portion of Friday, Saturday and Sunday to finish.

Shortly before I was going to leave on Thursday evening my boss came into my office and in a hurried tone asked me if I had a radio.  He had been on the phone with one of the other Facility Managers in town whose office faces west and she told him, “I think I just saw an explosion… Kinda looks like it might’ve been at the airport.”  We went to the opposite side of the building, here on the 23rd floor and looked out and sure enough there was a very visible fire raging across the bay.  I tried to find out what had happened by way of my usual sources (i.e. Twitter) but there was nothing to be found.  The local TV stations websites didn’t have any news yet either.  I had to go to the store before going home and by the time I got home (and sat down to eat the Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits I did not need but didn’t resist) and turned on the television to find out what happened every station was teaming with coverage of this:

The San Bruno Fire” raged for hours as a 30″ natural gas pipeline, fifteen feet underground ruptured and exploded, blowing an enormous hole in the ground and sending a massive fire-ball more than 100 feet into the air.  The flames incinerated a few homes immediately around the rupture and the fire spread out over a ten-acre area burning 38 homes to the ground and damaging 120 more.  The number of deaths varies depending on the source of information but I have heard at least 6 people dead either at the scene or in the hospital due to injuries.

I was glued to the television and even as I was telling myself,”They’re not giving out any new information.  You’ve got reading to do.  You need to turn this off and get busy.”  I sat and stared at the television for four hours watching in morbid fascination and with rapt curiosity for any new information that might come.  Finally a little after midnight, I gave up, turned off the TV and went to bed having made no additional progress on my reading.

The additional two chapters I needed to read were about Respiratory and Cardiac Emergencies.  I did my usual routine of reading the chapters, working through the pages of the workbooks and listening to the Audiobook repeatedly, just hoping to some how osmosize the information contained within and I went into class last night, knowing we would take tests on all three chapters and feeling exceedingly uncertain about my level of knowledge and ability to pass the tests.

With his usual flair of disorganized inadequacy, the instructor arrived at class with not enough copies of the tests for each of us, so he split the room down the middle and told us “everyone on this side” his left “take the chapter 10 test.  And everyone on this side” his right, where I was “take the chapter 11 test.”  I took the test and pretty well whizzed through it.  I left a couple of questions blank because I wasn’t sure of the answers, and wasn’t sure how much time I had to take the tests and didn’t want to spend too much time mulling those over thereby not allowing enough time to answer all the ones I knew for sure.  Then I went back and completed the ones I left blank.  I didn’t feel like I was absolutely certain of the rightness of my answers, but for the most part I didn’t have to sit and rack my brain for them either.  When I finished, I turned in that test and picked up the Chapter 10 test.  I went through that one just as quickly and with the same strategy.  I finished that test, turned it in and sat down, marveling at the fact that despite my lack of certainty, I seemed to be one of the first people finished and now I could relax.

I pulled out my phone and started looking at Twitter, passing the time, waiting for everyone else to finish and the start of whatever came next.  Then I heard the instructor asking one of the other students if she was done or just taking a little break.  I realized from their conversation that we did have a test for Chapter 12.  I had expected a test for Chapter 12.  I thought it was odd that we weren’t taking a test for Chapter 12.  I was even a little annoyed that I had bent over backwards to get Chapter 12 studying completed when we weren’t even taking the test this week.  BUT no one had said anything about a test for Chapter 12.

I often wonder how these things happen.  I am such an auditory person that I actually struggle with tests when people are in the room talking (as frequently happens in this class) so there is no chance that I just missed them talking about it.  No one said anything about Chapter 12, yet many of the students had turned in their first two tests and picked up Chapter 12.  How does that happen?

Anyway, I picked up Chapter 12 and realized there were 76 questions on this test.  The other two had been 25 and 40 questions.  So not only did I waste ten minutes of prime test taking time, but I wasted them for the longest test we were taking.

Eventually students began finishing with and turning in the last test and things were getting a little more disorganized.  The instructor told us when we finished with all three tests to go take a break so he could tell who was still testing.

My strategy unchanged, I finished the test fairly quickly and with only a modicum of confidence; confident I had passed every test, less confident that I did “well” on them.  After a time, all the students were in the hall and the instructor came out of the classroom.  He called us all together and told us that for the tests that had already been graded by his TA’s (Chapters 10 and 11) our scores had pretty much sucked.  That’s a quote.  “You guys pretty much sucked.  The scores sucked.  They were bad.”  He said he was forced to conclude that either the instruction was bad (Ya Think!?!) or the students were bad.  But to his credit he claimed to assume that it was the instruction.  He also said that it seemed clear that many students weren’t reading their books.

He said we were going to go back in the room and go through the Chapters 10 and 11 tests and we’d go over the chapter 12 test on Wednesday if there was time.  I was glad for this because we haven’t gotten any feed-back or scores from him to date and I wanted to know how I did.  Plus if I “sucked” I wanted to know how badly and on which questions or points.

So we sat down and he re-distributed chapter 10 so we could go through it in class.  Because of his disorganized inadequacy we only got through one of the tests and it took more than an hour (making us 30 minutes late getting out of class, again!)  I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down “Chapter 10” so that I could make note of what I missed since I knew we weren’t going to get our answer sheets back.  When we were finally finished going through the test I wadded that piece of paper up and threw it away.  Why?  Because the only thing I had written on it was “Chapter 10”.

I was so stressed all week studying for this class.  I was anxious all day and during class about the tests and hoping that I could remember the right information when it mattered because I couldn’t think straight about any of it…

And I aced the test. 100%.

OK, that’s technically not true.  There was one question in the “Critical Thinking” section that I officially got wrong.  I got it wrong because answers B, C and D were all correct so I wrote all three down.  I knew that he was probably looking for answer B, but in my “critical thinking” answers C and D came before answer B and I would have completed the steps in that order in the real world.  I wanted to show that I understood the whole process and that I would have done them in that order.  And, in my stressed state, I wasn’t 100% sure I wasn’t over-analyzing what he wanted and that in fact C or D were the correct answer.  I fully expected to have that question marked wrong because I gave three answers.  And I know it was marked wrong because the TA questioned me about it.

But!  The instructor says he likes it when his students challenge him because “it means you’re trying to learn”.  I told him, I was only challenging this because it’s the only one that was marked wrong, therefore if he gives me credit than I’ll get 100% (which will probably never happen again) and since it is the “Critical Thinking” section it’s somewhat subjective.  He told me to come see him “during office hours” on Wednesday, the hour before class starts, and we can talk about it.

So, yes, officially I missed one question out of 76, so I got a –what?– 97%?  98%, but in my thinking that answer was correct and I aced the test.

Of course how did on the other two I have no  idea, but if the first one is any indication, I did better than I thought.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get home, and get started on Chapter 13.  I’ve only got six days to learn three new chapters of information and time’s awastin!