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carlaarrr
There are two things that come to my mind,
when I think about the first time I met Greta Meyers.
You were Greta, then--Like Garbo.
Who is this girl? She's kind of mousy, but Not really.
There's a fire there.
A Strength.

"Wow, I love your boots..." was one of the first things
I said--that and we had virtually the same dress, but
yours was in burgandy, and myne in b/w.
That calico kind of dress--that i think had a Tie in the
back.

I remember wondering how you knew the Mormons,...
Is she some kind of vagabond, like me, I wonder...

Madre liked you, immediately. I could tell...her
demeanor was different. She Did Not like Shawneen,
however---we were all sitting in my mom's car, waiting
for the Greens to show up, to take us to the Church
dance.

It was very breezy and the Madre didn't want us standing
out in the wind--especially since we were all
dressed So Nice. Why ruin the effect of spending more
than 2 hrs getting ready, ehh?

I am not sure how much we hung out, when we got to the
dance. I was greatly distracted, shall we say?
There were many conversations about life and school,
and boys...and friends.

It would be a few months before I had the chance again, to hang out with Greta.
School had started, and she was a way different girl, than
I had met at that Mormon Dance.
She had Bitch bangs, dyed black, and a Marilyn Manson shirt on.
I almost didn't recognize her...I was greatly surprised.
She'd had a sort of revalation, in L.A.; she was seeing
a girl named Heather.

Who is this girl, I mean, Really? I thought to myself.
I was incredibly drawn, a little afraid, even.
But...I knew that I was meant to know her.

...
Little did I realize how hard I had already Fallen.
Head over heels, onto my ass...
...
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Edit:

There are two things that come to my mind,
when I think about the first time I met Greta Meyers.
You were Greta, then--Like Garbo. A second T to be added later as you sought
to forge a new identity.
Who is this girl? She's kind of mousy, but Not really.
There's a fire there.
A Strength...but a fragility as well.

"Wow, I love your boots..." was one of the first things
I said--that and we had virtually the same dress, but
yours was in burgundy, and mine in black and white.
That calico kind of dress--that i think had a Tie in the
back.

Your hair was just below your chin straight & strawberry blonde, with the top bits pulled back.

I remember wondering how you knew the Mormons,...
Is she some kind of vagabond like me, I wonder...

Mi Madre liked you, immediately. I could tell...her
demeanor was different. She Did Not like Shawneen,
however---which was odd because it's not like anything had happened to cause a dislike.
Thankfully I was the only one who seemed to notice the terse tone in my mother's voice.

We were all sitting in my mom's car, waiting
for the Greens to show up, to take us to the Church dance.

It was very breezy and the Madre didn't want us standing
out in the wind--especially since we were all
dressed So Nice. Why ruin the effect of spending more
than 2 hrs getting ready, ehh?

I am not sure how much we hung out, when we got to the
dance. I was greatly distracted, shall we say?
There were many conversations about life and school,
and boys...and friends.

It would be a few months before I had the chance again to hang out with you, Greta.
School had started, and you were a way different girl than
I had met at that Mormon Dance.

Suddenly you had Bitch bangs, dyed black, and a Marilyn Manson shirt on.
I almost didn't recognize her...I was greatly surprised.
You'd had a sort of revelation, in L.A.; You were seeing
a girl named Heather.

Who is this girl, I mean, Really? I thought to myself.
I was incredibly drawn, a little afraid, even.
But...I knew that I was meant to know you.

...
Little did I realize how hard I had already Fallen.
Head over heels, onto my ass...
...

Writer's Block: Best book ever!

carlaarrr
Is there any book you can read over and over again without ever getting sick of it? Do you discover something new every time you read it?


I'm like this with The Mortal Instrument books, by Cassandra Clare...at least I am right now. lol. I think I've fully reread them like 4-6 times, but I will just pick them back up and read random sections quite often. Totally Love them.

Revision Time is Here Again...

carlaarrr
2nd revision, to be retitled, "Veterans..." ~~Moderate Artistic Liberties taken~~

"To the Girls who run with Foxes,..."

There were six of us, officially. Candice, Carla, Amber, Sheli, Tiah, and Gretta are our birth names. The names we gave each other go as follows: Legs, Maddie, Rita, Violet, Red, and Goldie. We were closer than close, and at times it still feels like we are, though the miles and years have spread out between us. There was a secret language shared amongst only our clique. We were the girls of Foxfyre Circle, not entirely outsiders & obviously not the traditional conformist kids, we straddled the fence between being good and bad. The name was never official, it tells you a little bit more about who we were then, and alot about who we have become.


Candice's eyes shone with mischevious excitement, the firelight flickering reflected in her baby blue eyes. We let the Water sign take charge of the firepit, thinking that maybe they would balance each other out, failing to realize that Candice was in fact drawn to that which was her opposite element, astrologically speaking. My dad's beat up old black charcoal grill was serving us well that crisp June night. We giggled madly, Candice holding the bottle of lighter fluid in one hand, frequently spritzing the coals to our impish delight. The farmhouse table we'd dragged onto the lawn to flank our sacred fire, out from under the pepper trees, held upwards of 15 candles, in various states of meltdown, the whitewash paint mixing with the colored wax. Summer Solstice, we had told ourselves, was a night of blood and fire, of drinking and carousing, just after high school graduation for half of us, before we would have to go into the adult world. We sat within a ring of white rock quartz stones a few feet away from our firelight, drinking wine coolers, communing with the Spirits, and playing Truth or Dare, the dark of night our only cloak.

"So what now? Are we going to stay up until dawn?" I looked around the group, Gretta's soft shoulder pressing my boney one through her gray thermal top, as we leaned into each other, whilst sitting side by side on the damp grass. Her bleached blond bangs were slipping into her eyes, while she chewed on the sides of her fingers, tropical berry wine cooler bottle pressed between her knees. Candice, dressed in a white dress shirt & denim jeans, crouched to my right, lighter fluid and alcohol flanking her, with the makeshift bonfire crackling behind her. Her smirk was just visible in the dimness.

"Let's get naked!" Her voice rang out, half a whisper, half a scream. "Come on, it's not even that cold!"

"I've a better idea...let's tell ghost stories!" Sheli, leaning back onto her palms across from Gretta & I within the circle, piped up. Hugging her exboyfriend's blue and red plaid flannel to her, she tossed her mane and batted her long lashes, beseeching me to go first.

"You've got the best ones, anyway, baby! Besides if we aren't going to get naked, we might as well tell ghost stories...plus, if we get too scared, we can always go inside. Your brother's home, right, Carla?" Sheli arched a delicate eyebrow in my general direction, smiling like a cat who's caught a mouse.

"Okay, Eww...let's not put 'naked' and my brother in the same sentence, K? That's just wrong." Grunting, I pulled myself up from the ground, reaching for my eucalyptus staff to lean on, while I told a story. It was over 6 feet tall, curved perfectly just below the midway point, the perfect place to plant your elbow. My green/gold gypsy skirt swirled about in the slight breeze, my orange tank top catching slightly on the staff. Clearing my throat, the story of an abandoned elementary school & how teenaged boys can become dreadfully silly when left to their own devices began to unfold. Gretta scooted towards Candice, Tiah towards Sheli and Amber, her glasses glinting from the fire, forming a semicircle in front of me. So completely engrossed in my storytelling, I didn't notice Amber's eyes going wide, but her sitting up straight caught my attention midsentence. Cautiously I turned my head to look over my right shoulder, both hands now slightly shaking as my knuckles went white gripping the staff. A ghostly figure had appeared on the pathway from around the side of my parents' house. A collective yelp escaped us, Candice scrambled to her feet, and I jumped straight into the air.

"OH! Y'all scared me half to death! I thought the lawn was on fire!" My stepgrandmother's southern drawl came out of the dark, stunning me where I stood. Her white nightgown & bathrobe reflected the light from our candles back at us, giving her tiny personage the appearance of floating. Regaining my breath and senses, I swiveled to face her fully.

"It's just me, Gramma, you can go back to bed now. I'm just camping out here with my girlfriends." My voice was thready, as my heart hammered in my chest, the sudden jolt of adrenelin washing over me. A chorus of "HI GRAMMA!" came up from behind me--the girls had come back to themselves, as well. After another quick "Yes Ma'am, we will not be setting the house a'fire," our ethereal visitor made her way back to bed. Giggles immediately overcame us, once she was out of sight. I slid to the ground, one hand on my staff to hold it up, one hand over my mouth, attempting to quell the loudness of my laughter. Through tears I glanced at my friends, who were in various states of collapsing onto the lawn, from Gretta laying face first into the grass, to Amber on her back, recouping from believing she actually saw a ghost & the sillyness of us scaring my family.

"That was classic. Just Classic!" Gretta exclaimed, redfaced, sitting up and wiping her eyes. "She already thinks it's weird how I cut my hair, and that when I sleep over it's in your room. NOW what's she going to tell Mom & Dad?" Her smile was broad, and I rolled my eyes. Winking at me, Gretta began her own ghost story.


These girls walked between the worlds with me, through thick and thin. We were defined by our looks (four curvy girls, two stick figures) & what we wore, by our grades, and our families. The image we projected as a united front, came from those classmates who couldn't quite leave us alone--we ruffled their feathers too much. Candice was asked by a concerned aquaintence if she had "joined a Goth gang." She just smiled wolfishly, never giving a direct answer to the question. We commanded attention, tried to redirect it when it was negative, and discovered a wealth of support that we never knew could exist for friends.

"You spelled Dyke wrong! It's D-Y-K-E, asshole!" Gretta's voice could be heard from outside of the F-Wing building, on King City High School campus. The square one level set of classrooms housed the very limited number of lockers (2-3 students would share one locker) for our school. Our locker had been broken into, before our lunch period, one day. A note had been taped to the open door, calling us "dikes" and saying we'd better watch out. Later that same day we discovered that threat was a prank pulled on us by a casual hanger on of our group of miscreants. With friends like that, it is a wonder than our so-called enemies even bothered.


When I think back to that time, I can hear the various sounds of our collective tortured youth, such as Candlebox's "You," which Candice would blare loudly when she was upset, slamming her car door, chain-smoking as she raced down the highway. During lunch, we sat next to the portable class room for the special needs students, by the back parking lot, the 15 ft. spreading oak tree providing cover from rain and sun. We would sing musicals loudly & shamelessly, being a bunch of Drama Club rejects; our version Jesus Christ Superstar(my Judas, to Sheli's Magdalene) was especially unnerving to the Straight Edge (mostly) Christian kids hurriedly passing us by to get to their cars. There is Gretta's laugh, almost silent when we really had her going, gasping for air, her head thrown back, short and spiky hair falling every direction, in every colour of the rainbow. Sheli's alto paired with my mezzosoprano in Choir, holding our folders under our noses, making goofy faces at Amber with the rest of the sopranos on the otherside of the room. "Mrarr?" from Tiah's lips could have meant "How are you?" to "What the hell are they doing?" Our cat-like communique circumnavigated the rules of proper speech.

Final Draft, to turn in on Weds, the 17th

carlaarrr
Assignment 2 – Analytical Meditation

SILENT HOUSE

“These walls have eyes, rows of photographs, and faces like mine.”
The Dixie Chicks& Neil Finn, “Silent House”.
My whole life has been filled with music. My mother would sing in our small kitchen while she cooked. The slam of the oven door, pots and pans clanging together, as she shuffled about making our meals, all to the tune of whatever she happened to be humming along with. My brothers and sisters, repeatedly playing their records/8-tracks/tapes, and finally CDs, very loudly in their respective rooms and cars influenced me greatly, in my own personal taste and love of music. I myself worked at a record store for less than six months, but I still recall it as being one of my most favorite jobs of all time.
Between Tom Jones lyrics (“What’s new, Pussycat?”) belted out in the middle of the afternoon, whilst obsessively playing Joan Baez & traditional bagpipe reels, my mother trained us to appreciate music. Like the lead character from the movie, “High Fidelity,” I can give you my top 5 songs of all time, of my childhood, as well as those that remind me of my past relationships. There seemed to have been cues, at various points in time, signaling either the end of a particular pattern, or the beginning of the next phase in my life experience. It is these connections have spun me in a myriad of directions, painted rainbows in places where life could be cold and gray. The diversity of music that my mother raised me with gave me an ear that sought out these varied notes, to see places that I may not have been able to see had I not known to look for them.
My love of music comes from my family and how we view the world, perhaps from our Irish roots, even. But, I would say that my mother and her influence by having the radio on all the time, telling stories about the country bars she went to in the early 1960’s, dancing with Merle Haggard, these are things that really showed me how music affects people. We use it to tell our stories, to evoke in our fellows emotions that will draw us together, instead of pushing us apart. She encouraged us to sing, to play instruments, to dance and not to care if we did any of it badly.
“It’s true I’m missin’ you, as I stand alone, in your room.”
Sharon Alice Bailey, my mother, was a country woman at heart. Her Bakersfield accent would come through most often when playing old Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton LPs on our beat up record player, the sound of the Dust Bowl carried from one generation to the next. She spoke with a soft alto timbre that had once carried higher notes, before 40 years of smoking weathered it. Her petite frame masked an oft loud & boisterous personality. Her voice would ring out, especially on holidays, booming through the walls, in her passive aggressive effort to get us up and out of bed to hang out with her, and do chores. We called her The Old Bat, a nickname that came through the observation of how at night she always seemed to know what we were doing, no matter how quiet we were. She could fly in from another part of our house, on silent wings, catching us in the act of whatever kind of childhood deviance we were partaking in.
She loved Abba. She sang along with Barbara Streisand and David Bowie. One of my cherished memories of her is going to a Highland Games (a Celtic music and sports festival), where one of the musical groups we followed as family would be playing. We would drink and have lunch, singing and dancing to the bands we liked, shopping in between. The one and only time she met any of my partner’s family was at such an event. I will always associate my Irish pride with my mother’s love of attending these concerts and making costumes.
Her hope was that we would always do what made us happy, no matter what that was. She impressed this upon not only her own children, but all of our friends, who were pulled into the fold like ducklings under their mother’s wing. There was no escape once you had made our acquaintance; my mother would always see to it that any child she knew was taken care of if she had anything to say about it. She had a certain ferocity, a toughness gained from years of blue collar labor that belied the softness of her smile.
“And I’ll remember the years, when your mind was clear.”
My mother died almost four years ago. As with other trying times in my life, I sought solace in my CDs to make sense of her rapidly spreading cancer & death by (essentially) starvation, due to her choice of hospice care. I was relishing a renewed interest in country music, at the time. The Dixie Chicks had released “Taking the Long Way” sometime that year. There is a track on that album that is about the loss of a mother & an adult child’s reflection on the “Silent House” (the title of the track) that is left behind. I did not have an immediate “This is my life” reaction, upon hearing it the first time. It took time for the words to sink in, as well as my mother’s health to slip away, before I significantly felt the meaning behind the song. My denial of the inevitable was making that kind of a leap unpalatable, at the time.
Sitting on the edge of my twin bed one day in early September 2006, I was getting ready to make the drive with my partner and my best friend in tow. It is literally exactly 100 miles from my old San Jose apartment building on Winchester to my parents’ driveway. I had “Silent House” on repeat while I gathered up my bag and my will to go. By the second go round of the song, it was very clear to me that I was going to be saying goodbye, very soon, and I needed to face that. “And I will try to connect all the pieces you left…how the laughter and light filled up this silent house.” Natalie Maine’s nasal twang filled my ears as the song played on. My tears fell in time with the fiddle solo.
The gray haze of the morning seeped in through the dingy white venetian blinds. My fluffy tortoise shell cat, purred dreamily next to me on the bed, occasionally letting me know that she was displeased by the lack of petting she was receiving, with a quick, sharp meow. I had never thought that I could hear what I felt verbatim in a song, or read it in a poem or a book. I could find similarities, relate to pieces, but nothing had ever been so exact in detail or description. That moment contained a powerful amount of emptiness, filling me up and welling over the edges of my mind.
I was relieved when the song was finished; I did not want to feel so destroyed again. I stopped the CD player, just as my partner knocked on my door, asking me if I was ready to go. I was not, but I knew if I stayed in that spot, I would miss my chance to say goodbye in those final hours. I did not play that particular track again, until the day of my mother’s wake, about a month later. Upon reflection and further listening, the track is about feeling the loss of a loved one, noting the silence that their absence creates, which can be so loud sometimes it is like they are still in the room screaming out for your attention. It is an intriguing dynamic, to me, that the silence created by my mother’s death still resounds with music. In the long run, it has helped me put my grief into perspective—I am a part of something much bigger now, I am a Motherless Daughter, but I am still me. My memories are still intact as are the feelings that we shared for such a small amount of time.
“Everything that you made by hand, everything that you know by heart.”
A wake is a traditional Irish funeral—it’s one big party, the last send off for the loved one who has passed on. There is a lot of food, stories, drinking, and of course, music. The point is to celebrate life, honoring the dead, without letting grief take you down a dark road. My mother’s was no different—from the amount we drank, the request to not wear black, and the loudness of our voices long into the night. Her Church lady friends handled the majority of the food, while we handled the location and the invitations. In all, somewhere around 50 people showed up to my parents’ tiny mobile home, in Greenfield, CA, starting around 11am, most not leaving before it was full dark out.
We talked of many things—of what Sharon meant to us as a mother, whom she was to others, like her church friends and co-workers. We also spoke of what it means to let someone choose when they are ready to leave this place, and how that makes us on the outside feel, for better or worse. My brother Colby, one of the many friends who were “adopted” into our family, gave one of the last toasts of the night, raising his glass high to the woman helped him grow into adulthood. Singing our praises, we tossed back our drinks, noting that it was rapidly approaching a good time to disperse, and mull things over separately.
By dusk, I found myself sprawled on the cool front lawn, ruminating upon how the day played itself out, looking up at the blue-gray tinted sky, surrounded by the remnants of the herb garden that had been started by my mother 12 years before. “In the garden, off the living room, a chill fills the air, and the lilies bloom,” the line stuck out at me, as I lay on the grass, feeling the breeze as it swept through the pepper trees, giggling drunkenly at my family & friends running in and out of our house, as they cleaned up paper plates and cups. This is what this song now evokes for me. The heartbreak is still there, but the love comes through, along with the simplicity of looking up at the heavens, wondering what is really out there. Saying goodbye to someone that I didn’t always understand, but knowing that she still tried helped me to continue to do the same.

2nd draft--Meditation piece

carlaarrr
Music has substance—it contains life. We are often surrounded by it, and don’t even notice it. The way the wind breathes through the trees, the sound of a lover’s voice. Even an argument has a melody. The harshness harkens to the sorrow contained in the darker deeper notes of the scale.
Music carries us through our days, from the high points to the low points. It is surprising what a song can do to someone, when they hear it for the first time. I know that my favorites have stuck with me from early childhood. There are also songs from recent years that move my soul more so than I ever thought possible. The poetry that is created and put to chords & notes can touch you deep and true. There is an honesty in “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die,” by Johnny Cash. Just as much can be said for any Classical work—such as, “Flight of the Bumblebee” by Chopin; we need not words to tell the story, to evoke feelings that are primal within human nature.
My whole life has been filled with music. My mother would sing in our small kitchen while she cooked. My brothers and sisters, repeatedly playing their records/8-tracks/tapes, and finally CDs, very loudly in their respective rooms and cars influenced me greatly, in my own personal taste and love of music. I myself worked at a record store for less than six months, but I still recall it as being one of my most favorite jobs of all time.
Hearing my mother sing Tom Jones, whilst obsessively playing Joan Baez & traditional bagpipe reels are the main sounds of my childhood. Like the lead character from the movie, “High Fidelity,” I can give you my top 5 songs of all time, of my childhood, as well as those that remind me of my past relationships. There seemed to have been cues, at various points in time, signaling either the end of a particular pattern, or the beginning of the next phase in my life experience. Being that I have always found myself making these musical connections, I have spent a good deal of time making mixed tapes and CDs, scouring my personal archives for just the right track to describe the feeling I was trying to present, or the person that I was giving the collection to. I wanted to show them a piece of myself, in the way I would arrange the songs, in the particular songs that I chose. It is never an easy task to sit down, and throw an anthology together. It takes hours, perhaps days, for such a project to come to fruition.
Sharon Alice Bailey, my mother, was a country woman at heart. Her Bakersfield accent would come through most often when playing old Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton LPs on our beat up record player. She spoke with a soft alto timbre that had once carried higher notes, before 40 years of smoking weathered it. Her petite frame masked an oft loud & boisterous personality. Her voice would ring out from the kitchen, especially on holidays, booming through the walls, in her passive aggressive effort to get us up and out of bed to hang out with her, and do chores.
My mother died almost four years ago. As with other trying times in my life, I sought solace in my CDs to make sense of her rapidly spreading cancer & death by essentially starvation, due to her choice of hospice care. The Dixies Chicks have a song on their album “Taking the Long Way” that is about the loss of a mother & an adult child’s reflection on the “Silent House” (the title of the track) that is left behind. It was instantly recognizable a sad song, no matter what my personal circumstances were at the time. I did not react with an immediate “This is my life” reaction, upon hearing it the first time. It took time for the words to sink in, as well as my mother’s health to slip away, before I significantly felt the meaning behind the song.
Sitting on the edge of my twin bed one day, I was getting ready to make the drive (it is 100 miles from my apartment to my mother’s house) with my boyfriend and my best friend in tow. I had “Silent House” on repeat while I gathered up my bag and my will to go. By the second go round, it was very clear to me that I was going to be saying goodbye, very soon, and I needed to face that. “And I will try to connect all the pieces you left,…how the laughter and light filled up this silent house.” Natalie Maine’s nasal twang filled my ears as the song played on. My tears fell in time with the fiddle’s solo.
I was relieved when the song was over; I did not want to feel so destroyed again. I did not play that particular track again, until the day of my mother’s wake, about a month later. Upon reflection and further listening, the track is about feeling the loss of a loved one, noting the silence that their absence creates, which can be so loud sometimes it is like they are still in the room screaming out for your attention. It is an intriguing dynamic, to me, that the silence created by my mother’s death still resounds with music.
The ability to make us, the listener, feel what the artist is trying to convey is wholly the point of Art. That art can be writing, making music, or painting. Even sewing an article of clothing creates a way to show the world something that it wouldn’t have seen before. Within music, we hear with the entirety of our being. Our souls can sing with both heartache and joy. For me, I find great joy & great sorrow within music. I enjoy both of these feelings, for even sadness has a beauty all its own. It enlightens my mind, unburdens my heart. It inspires me to compose my own bits of poetry, expanding upon ideas put forth by my favorite artists. It gives me hope that I, too, can tap my creativity, showing the world another facet of the Human Condition. This is the power that is harnessed within song.

Writer's Block: Love songs

carlaarrr
What are the best and worst love songs of all time? Are there any that have special meaning to you (whether positive or negative)? Why?

Some people want to fill the world with Silly Love Songs...

Here's the thing...I love a lot of music. I like a lot of love songs, be they depressing, sexxy, or not the kind you would normally think of as love songs.

Here's my High Fidelity Top 5 Loving Love Songs:
1)American Dreaming by Dead Can Dance
2)Earth Angel by The Penguins
3)Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, preferably the version from "Swing Kids"
4)Enjoy the Silence by Depeche Mode
5)Let's Stay Together by Otis Redding

Top 5 F*ck Me Now Songs:
1)Blood and Fire, Type O Negative
2)Let's Get It On, Marvin Gaye
3)I Want You Now, Depeche Mode
4)The Chauffeur, Duran Duran
5)Mystify, INXS

Worst Love Song of All Time? When Whitney sings Dolly's "I will always love you." It is waaaay better when left as a bitter sweet/break up song.

One of the Best that isn't an obvious love song? "Wish You Were Here" Pink Floyd...hands down.
tah!

Revision #1, turning in TODAY!!!

carlaarrr
VETERANS OF A SORT
By: Carla Bailey

Out there in the atmosphere, there are those who remember. Those who have walked between the worlds, seen the end of time, and made it back by dinner from saving the skins of those they hold dear (along with those that they don't). A feeling so raw overcomes me as memories of my teen years wash over me. Everything was immediate, of dire importance, once upon a time. Made especially so by those girls with whom I shared myself with. All of my secrets, for better or worse, were laid bare in such a short time, creating bonds that will last the whole of my life.
There were six of us, officially. Candice, Carla, Amber, Sheli, Tiah, and Gretta are our birth names. The names we gave each other go as follows: Legs, Maddie, Rita, Violet, Red, and Goldie. We were closer than close and at times it still feels like we are. There was a secret language shared amongst only our clique. We were the girls of the Foxfyre Circle, and though that name was never official, it tells you a little bit more about whom we were. It tells you further about who we are still, to this day.
We fought for each other, standing up against the bullies who defaced our lockers time and again. We helped each other push through the classes that just never seemed like they were going to end. Most of our classmates were greatly unsettled by us; one went so far as to ask Candice if she had “joined a Goth gang.” She just smiled wolfishly, never giving a direct answer. For you see, we had learned that we had power as a Unit. We commanded attention, redirected it when it was negative (most of the time), and discovered a wealth of support that we never knew could exist for friends.
When I think back to us and all that we were, I can hear various songs of our collective youth, such as Candlebox's "You," which Candice would blare loudly when she was upset, slamming her car door, chain-smoking as she raced down the road. I can hear Gretta's laugh, her head through back, short and spiky hair falling every which direction, in every color imaginable. Sheli singing in choir with me, passing notes in the guise of characters from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. When picturing Amber, I can see her lying on my front lawn (her long brown hair like a halo), all of us in a circle around her, telling us of her deceased mother, the bonfire we built in my dad’s old charcoal grill blazing long into the night. We shared wild stories and teasing younger siblings, especially Tiah's brother, were the highlights of many nights. Tiah, my Aquarius Sister, who is the daughter of a Virgo Mother, who feels both my pain and my pleasure within that kind of a relationship dynamic. If such friendships can be boiled down to a series of images, sounds, & smells, these are only the tip of the iceberg.
Once upon a time, we would have sleepovers, drink wine coolers, smoke pot, and occasionally carve designs into each other's flesh. We would laugh and speak of the future, thinking that it would never come, that after Graduation the world would fade to black. We dreamed about solidifying our friendship in a permanent way, but only half heartedly. Graduations came and went; me, Candice, and Sheli were first, with Gretta, Amber (at a different school), and Tiah the following June. Tiah even called us out in her Valedictorian speech, quoting both Robert Frost and Joyce Carol Oates, thanking "the girls who run with foxes." Amid looks of confusion all around, we screamed ourselves hoarse from the bleachers. We began to go our separate ways, with school and life drawing us in different directions.
"You are my Heart, Mads," Candice and Gretta would both say, lifting a line from Legs, the ringleader of the gang from Foxfire. I am the one who keeps track of who lives where, with how many children, what kind of job, etc. I am the record keeper. I am Maddie, representing Maddy Wirtz, who became a journalist later in her life. I made a vow to never forget those times, for they made me who I am today. I have written love letters, made mixed tapes and t-shirts, to give to these girls. Ten years later, Foxfyre Circle is alive and kicking, in journals and poetry that I revisit often.
Besides these representations of faith, I have several tattoos, and a couple of scars on my body, that mark my allegiance. The most obvious of these is the aforementioned one involving our initials. The letters, in an Old School font, arch over a rainbow colored ball of flame, with a banner across the bottom, bearing the nickname that we chose for each other. The tattoo was designed by Candice, inspired by Joyce Carol Oates' aforementioned novel (which was made into a film in the latter part of the 1990's, starring Angelina Jolie, Hedy Buress, and Jenny Shimizu), "Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang." Likewise, the nicknames we earned were derived from those characters.
The plot of both the book and the film follows a group of girls who are outcasts, thrown together due to the chaos that is young adulthood. While the book shows us the girls growing from junior high to high school and beyond, with Maddy's fierce determination to keep the secrets until the time is right to share them with the world, the film gives only a momentary glimpse of the secret lives of girls. Both were as familiar to us as our own lives. We were these young women, conflicted by our situations in life, and where we wanted to eventually be.
Gretta was practically living with me at my parents' house in Greenfield, Candice came to visit, just after high school. She had a design, and planned to get it later in the year, even if we were all too scared to do it with her. I remember sitting in the back of Gretta's light blue 1983 Honda Accord, which we had dubbed the Blue Angel, looking at the piece of tracing paper clutched in Candice's hands.
"Well, are you in, or what? I am so totally getting it done on my boob!" Her toothy smile light up the car, as we made our way out for the day.
"It's a bit big, don't you think, for your chest? Maybe just the flames?" I said.
"Baby, maybe for yours, but then again, if we all share a cup of mine, then we'll all be the same size, right? I like the multiple colors, Legs." Gretta chimed in response. She is quite the curvaceous girl; we'd often joked that if she had surgery, to downsize her chest, the rest of us would go with her to upgrade ours.
So the plan was made and formulated--in November 1999, come Hell or High Water, we would go to Gold Coast Tattoo in Marina, and finally get our permanent marks together. The months rolled by, and unfortunately Tiah and Amber were not going to be able to meet up with us. Sheli had planned on meeting myself and Gretta in Salinas, but backed out at the last minute. We discussed this at great length; like can happen with girls, there was some sort of internal conflict, regarding a boy or two, trust being broken, and other such highly charged issues.
We decided that Thanksgiving weekend would work, as Candice was flying in from Arizona to see her father, in Watsonville, and Gold Coast was accepting walk ins. Gretta and I chose the mall down the street to meet Candice. The Mall...on the day after Thanksgiving. In the hopes to run into our best friend, whom we'd not seen in a few months, on the busiest shopping day of the year.
At least we'd chosen the Carousel, a handy landmark in a sea of people. A feeling of anxiety washed over me, as I grasped Gretta's hand and we entered the building. How dumb we felt, thinking that it would be easy to meet up on such a day! Facing in opposite directions, we scanned the crowd, in hopes of meeting a pair of sky blue eyes under a swathe of brown hair. This was a time when cell phones were not in every purse or pocket, our only recourse to contacting our compatriot therefore being sheer force of will.
And the Red Sea seemed to part, and there she was, in four inch heeled black boots, crimson short sleeved turtle neck, and hip length leather jacket, black sunglasses on top of her head, holding back her neck length hair. In a near tackle, Gretta and I hugged Candice in unison, a wave of relief washing over us. This was it, now we were going to do it.
After a quick jaunt across the roadway, to purchase cigarettes, we made our way to Santa Cruz for the day, gearing up for the tattoo. In a way, we were trying to talk ourselves out of it, as we were the only three there to get it done, wouldn't it be better if all six of us were there? Can we really include someone whom we feel we can't trust anymore? This plagued our conversation, in between drags, all the way to the seashore.
Candice, ever our leader, ever the diplomat, was able to assuage our fears, as she insisted that she was going to get the piece, that day, no matter what. And if she could do it, why couldn't we? The plan reaffirmed, we relaxed, heading back down Highway 1, to Marina, and a dingy little shopping center where our tattoo shop was located.
Gold Coast Tattoo is one of the best shops in Northern Central California; at the time, they had two locations, the latter being in downtown Monterey, in a building with a Pagoda facade. The Marina shop was very familiar to us, as both Gretta and I had already gotten work done there, previously. There was a time when I could find it blindfolded—skipping through the parking lot, dodging pot holes, following the distant sound of buzzing needles. There was a small Japanese restaurant next door, with a nail salon on the other side, away from Gold Coast, which created an interesting scent of steamed rice and polish, blending with the slight ozone smell from the shop.
We longed to work with Creepy Gary, an artist of note, who had a grumpy demeanor (mostly towards men) and drove a mean classic car. He had a chest length black goatee, Buddy Holly glasses, and was soft spoken. His business card stated that he gave discounts to strippers and military personnel—Candice, ever the shocker, made a point to show him her stripping license, a la the state of Arizona. Gary had been a Marine Drill Sergeant, and his wife was still in the Service. We all thought he was quite dreamy.
When we arrived, Gary was just setting up his station. He had one appointment coming in just after we got there, but had nothing else scheduled. He would do all three of our pieces that evening. It was decided, while Gary mulled over Candice's sketch, that the one with the least amount of work would be the one to go first. That meant Candice, a tattoo virgin, would have that honor.
Her tough facade in full effect, she strolled around the counter, while Gary made some suggestions and completed the final touches to our tattoo. As he set to work, needle to skin, Gary broke through Candice's bravado by asking, "You wanted a black panther, right?" We fell all to giggles, at the sight of her eyes going wide. The man set about his business, commenting on our idle chatter and regaling us with stories of tattooing an entire cheerleading team, etching the last few girls from memory of the previous works, by the end of the night.
Settling in, we watched him work, his eyes narrowing at times, focusing on the movements of the needle, as it slide across Candice's shoulder. In no time, Gary was halfway through, having a smoke break with us, and then finishing up. I went next, my hands icy from nerves. Candice and Gretta sat on the stools, with their elbows up on the counter, watching and waiting. I focused through the pain, which was the worst I'd felt in my life at that point, listening to random bits of conversation in the background.
Gretta made her way to the chair, for her turn and the final tattoo of the night. By now it was after 8pm, and we were the only people in the shop. Candice had gotten her piece on her left shoulder, mine was placed on my right; Gretta chose to place hers in the middle, to balance out the evening. It seemed like we’d been there for days by the end of Gretta’s piece, but we were none the worse for wear from it. Gary kindly taped Gretta’s back, repeating the words of wisdom as to how to care for our new ink. We nodded, taking it all in, myself noting that we were hoping to get the last girls into the shop soon, and would Gary be willing to do this again? He wryly smiled and nodded, ringing up our bill.
Tumbling out the door, watching him lock up, singing our thanks in the dark, the glow of our cigarettes trailing behind us. After watching Gary slip into his classic Chevy four door, sleek and black, we sailed away into the night in the Blue Angel. It would be over six months until we were able to come back, with Tiah, for her piece. Gary remembered and readily cleared a space for us. It was July 10th, Candice’s 20th birthday; she spent a few spare moments with us on the phone, howling with joy that this was the best birthday present we could give her.
And here we are, ten years later, all of us fast approaching the big 3-0, with Amber and Sheli the last without the ink, but still very much a part of the story. I was introduced at Tiah’s wedding, by her mother to other family members as “Tiah’s friend, you know, one with the tattoo.” I’ve heard of other girls who felt the same as us, who got tattoos because of “Foxfire,” but I think it’s more than that. We fell into the perfect place and time—we were the missing pieces of the puzzles of our lives, perhaps only then, perhaps forever. Our battles were never long, but they did change us—for better or worse. We became Sisters, through thick and thin, and as such, we will see stormy days but through the strength we hold collectively, we will weather them. “Veterans of a sort,” Oates bequeathed her gang of miscreants; I know what she means and am not afraid of the war.
carlaarrr
Christmas starts early at this house. There is a bustling; a feeling of anticipation coupled with the smell of pine and rising bread. An older woman is humming, opening the oven door; she lets it slam shut, as she turns about , heading for the coffeemaker.

The house is waking up, slowly. Bedroom doors are opening, bare feet sliding over the crush of carpet. Two young women are walking into the kitchen from a bedroom near the back of the one level mobile home. Their sleepy eyes blinking in the early light of morning, they make their way to the kitchen.

"Wakey wakey, girls! Hail, hail, the gang's all here!" Their mother's voice rings out from the sink. They groan, together reaching for clean mugs. Pouring the coffee, the older of the two brushes her dark hair from her face.

"Mom, do you need help making breakfast," she asks. The younger redheaded sister clutches her mug to chest as she sits on a bar stool.

Drafty Goodness...Final before Peer Review.

carlaarrr
VETERANS OF A SORT

Out there in the atmosphere, there are those who remember. Those who have walked between the worlds, seen the end of time, and made it back by dinner from saving the skins of those they hold dear (along with those that they don't). A feeling so raw overcomes me as memories of my teen years wash over me. Everything was immediate, of dire importance, once upon a time. Made especially so by those girls with whom I shared myself with. All of my secrets, for better or worse, were laid bare in such a short time, creating bonds that will last the whole of my life.
There were six of us, officially. If you read the initials in the tattoo that four of the six of us have, it goes like so: Candice, Carla, Amber, Sheli, Tiah, and Gretta. We were the girls of the Foxfyre Circle, and though that name was never official, it tells you a little bit more about whom we were. It tells you further still about who we are still, to this day.
I have been told that we all make friends for life, that girls just do that--we are fervent in our need to belong and to feel loved. I cannot say that this is a universal truth. It was not the case for myself, when entering high school or now, 10 plus years after Graduation.
I have several tattoos, and a couple of scars on my body, that mark my allegiance. The most obvious of these is the aforementioned one involving our initials. The letters, in an Old School font, arch over a rainbow colored ball of flame, with a banner across the bottom, bearing the nickname that we chose for each other. The tattoo was designed by Candice, inspired by Joyce Carol Oates' novel (which was made into a film in the latter part of the 1990's, starring Angelina Jolie, Hedy Buress, and Jenny Shimizu), "Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang." Likewise, the nicknames are derived from characters.
The plot of both the book and the film follows a group of girls who are outcasts, thrown together due to the chaos that is young adulthood. While the book shows us the girls growing from junior high to high school and beyond, with Maddy's fierce determination to keep the secrets until the time is right to share them with the world, the film gives only a momentary glimpse of the secret lives of girls. Both were as familiar to us as our own lives. We were these young women, conflicted by our situations in life, and where we wanted to eventually be.
When I think back to us and all that we were, I can hear various songs of our collective youth, such as Candlebox's "You," which Candice would blare loudly when she was upset, slamming her car door, chain-smoking as she raced down the road. I can hear Gretta's laugh, and Sheli singing in choir. Sharing wild stories and teasing younger siblings, especially Tiah's brother, were the highlights of many nights. If such friendships can be boiled down to a series of images, sounds, & smells, these are only the tip of the iceberg.
"You are my Heart, Mads," Candice and Gretta would both say, lifting a line from Legs, the ringleader of the gang from "Foxfire." I am the one who keeps track of who lives where, with how many children, what kind of job, etc. I am the record keeper, just like Maddy Wirtz ended up being when she grew up. Here it is, over 10 years later, and I can still tell you where we all are, despite distance and time.
Once upon a time, we would have sleep overs, drink wine coolers, smoke pot, and occasionally carve designs into each other's flesh. We would laugh and speak of the future, thinking that it would never come, that after Graduation the world would fade to black. We talked about getting the same tattoo in high school, but only half heartedly. Graduations came and went; me, Candice, and Sheli were first, with Gretta, Amber (at a different school), and Tiah the following June. Tiah even called us out in her Valedictorian speech, quoting both Robert Frost and Joyce Carol Oates, thanking "the girls who run with foxes." Amid looks of confusion all around, we screamed ourselves hoarse from the bleachers. We began to go our separate ways, with school and life drawing us in different directions.
Then, when Gretta was practically living with me at my parents' house, in Greenfield, Candice came to visit. She had a design, and planned to get it later in the year, even if we were all too scared to do it with her. I remember sitting in the back of Gretta's light blue 1983 Honda Accord, which we had dubbed the Blue Angel, looking at the piece of tracing paper clutched in Candice's hands.
"Well, are you in, or what? I am so totally getting it done on my boob!" Her toothy smile light up the car, as we made our way out for the day.
"It's a bit big, don't you think, for your chest? Maybe just the flames?" I said.
"Baby, maybe for yours, but then again, if we all share a cup of mine, then we'll all be the same size, right? I like the multiple colors, Legs." Gretta chimed in response. She is quite the curvaceous girl; we'd often joked that if she had surgery, to downsize her chest, the rest of us would go with her to upgrade ours.
So the plan was made and formulated--in November 1999, come Hell or High Water, we would go to Gold Coast Tattoo in Marina, and finally get our permanent marks together. The months rolled by, and unfortunately Tiah and Amber were not going to be able to meet up with us. Sheli had planned on meeting myself and Gretta in Salinas, but backed out at the last minute. We discussed this at great length; like can happen with girls, there was some sort of internal conflict, regarding a boy or two, trust being broken, and other such highly charged issues.
We decided that Thanksgiving weekend would work, as Candice was flying in from Arizona to see her father, in Watsonville, and Gold Coast was accepting walk ins. Gretta and I chose the mall down the street to meet Candice. The Mall...on the day after Thanksgiving. In the hopes to run into our best friend, whom we'd not seen in a few months, on the busiest shopping day of the year.
At least we'd chosen the Carousel, a handy landmark in a sea of people. A feeling of anxiety washed over me, as I grasped Gretta's hand and we entered the building. How dumb we felt, thinking that it would be easy to meet up on such a day! Facing in opposite directions, we scanned the crowd, in hopes of meeting a pair of sky blue eyes under a swathe of brown hair. This was a time when cell phones were not in every purse or pocket, our only recourse to contacting our compatriot therefore being sheer force of will.
And the Red Sea seemed to part, and there she was, in four inch heeled black boots, crimson short sleeved turtle neck, and hip length leather jacket, black sunglasses on top of her head, holding back her neck length hair. In a near tackle, Gretta and I hugged Candice in unison, a wave of relief washing over us. This was it, now we were going to do it.
After a quick jaunt across the roadway, to purchase cigarettes, we made our way to Santa Cruz for the day, gearing up for the tattoo. In a way, we were trying to talk ourselves out of it, as we were the only three there to get it done, wouldn't it be better if all six of us were there? Can we really include someone whom we feel we can't trust anymore? This plagued our conversation, in between drags, all the way to the seashore.
Candice, ever our leader, ever the diplomat, was able to assuage our fears, as she insisted that she was going to get the piece, that day, no matter what. And if she could do it, why couldn't we? The plan reaffirmed, we relaxed, heading back down Highway 1, to Marina, and a dingy little shopping center where our tattoo shop was located.
Gold Coast Tattoo is one of the best shops in Northern Central California; at the time, they had two locations, the latter being in downtown Monterey, in a building with a Pagoda facade. The Marina shop was very familiar to us, as both Gretta and I had already gotten work done there, previously. We longed to work with Creepy Gary, an artist of note, who had a grumpy demeanor (mostly towards men) and drove a mean classic car. He had a chest length black goatee, Buddy Holly glasses, and was soft spoken. His business card stated that he gave discounts to strippers and military personnel—Candice, ever the shocker, made a point to show him her stripping license, a la the state of Arizona. Gary had been a Marine Drill Sergeant, and his wife was still in the Service. We all thought he was quite dreamy.
When we arrived, Gary was just setting up his station. He had one appointment coming in just after we got there, but had nothing else scheduled. He would do all three of our pieces that evening. It was decided, while Gary mulled over Candice's sketch, that the one with the least amount of work would be the one to go first. That meant Candice, a tattoo virgin, would have that honor.
Her tough facade in full effect, she strolled around the counter, while Gary made some suggestions and completed the final touches to our tattoo. As he set to work, needle to skin, Gary broke through Candice's bravado by asking, "You wanted a black panther, right?" We fell all to giggles, at the sight of her eyes going wide. The man set about his business, commenting on our idle chatter and regaling us with stories of tattooing an entire cheerleading team, etching the last few girls from memory of the previous works, by the end of the night.
Settling in, we watched him work, his eyes narrowing at times, focusing on the movements of the needle, as it slide across Candice's shoulder. In no time, Gary was halfway through, having a smoke break with us, and then finishing up. I went next, my hands icy from nerves. Candice and Gretta sat on the stools, with their elbows up on the counter, watching and waiting. I focused through the pain, which was the worst I'd felt in my life at that point, listening to random bits of conversation in the background.
Through an endorphin haze, we were laughing at the thought of Candice dancing on the counter-top. Gretta made her way to the chair, for her turn and the final tattoo of the night. By now it was after 8pm, and we were the only people in the shop. Candice had gotten her piece on her left shoulder, mine was placed on my right; Gretta chose to place hers in the middle, to balance out the evening.
It seemed like we’d been there for days by the end of Gretta’s piece, but we were none the worse for wear from it. Gary kindly taped Gretta’s back, repeating the words of wisdom as to how to care for our new ink. We nodded, taking it all in, myself noting that we were hoping to get the last girls into the shop soon, and would Gary be willing to do this again? He wryly smiled and nodded, ringing up our bill.
Tumbling out the door, watching him lock up, singing our thanks in the dark, the glow of our cigarettes trailing our way to our respective cars, we sailed into the night. It would be over six months until we were able to come back, with Tiah, for her piece. Gary remembered and readily cleared a space for us. It was July 10th, Candice’s 20th birthday; she spent a few spare moments with us on the phone, howling with joy that this was the best birthday present we could give her.
And here we are, ten years later, with Amber and Sheli the last without the ink, but still very much a part of the story. I was introduced at Tiah’s wedding, by her mother to other family members as “Tiah’s friend, you know, one with the tattoo.” I’ve heard of other girls who felt the same as us, who got tattoos because of “Foxfire,” but I think it’s more than that. We fell into the perfect place and time—we were the missing pieces of the puzzles of our lives, perhaps only then, perhaps forever. We fought fiercely together, for each other, as well as against each other. We became Sisters, through thick and thin, and as such, we will see stormy days but through the strength we hold collectively, we will weather them. “Veterans of a sort,” Oates bequeathed her gang of miscreants; I know what she means and am not afraid of the war.
carlaarrr
Out there in the atmosphere, there are those who remember. Those who have walked between the worlds, seen the end of time, and made it back by dinner from saving the skins of those they hold dear (along with those that they don't). A feeling so raw overcomes me as memories of my teen years wash over me. Everything was immediate, of dire importance,...of life and death, once upon a time. Made especially so by those girls with whom I shared myself with. All of my secrets, for better or worse, were laid bare in such a short time, creating bonds that will last the whole of my life.

There were six of us, officially. If you read the initials in the tattoo that four of the six of us have, it goes like so: Candice, Carla, Amber, Sheli, Tiah, and Gretta. We were the girls of the Foxfyre Circle, and though that name was never official, it tells you a little bit more about who we were. It tells you further still about who we are still, to this day.

I have been told that we all make friends for life, that girls just do that--we are fervent in our need to belong and to feel loved. I cannot say that this is a universal truth. It was not the case for myself, when entering high school or now, 10 plus years after Graduation. Something magickal happened to us there and then. Something that maybe happens once in a lifetime, if you are lucky. It could be said that it was like being in Love. In fact, it was a lot like being in love, especially for myself.

I have several tattoos, and a couple of scars on my body, that mark my allegiance. The most obvious of these is the aforementioned one involving our initials. The letters, in an Old School font, arch over a rainbow coloured ball of flame, with a banner across the bottom, bearing the nickname that we chose for each other. The tattoo was designed by Candice, inspired by Joyce Carol Oates' novel (which was made into a film in the latter part of the 1990's, starring Angelina Jolie, Hedy Buress, and Jenny Shimizu), "Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang." Likewise, the nicknames are derived from characters.

The plot of both the book and the film follows a group of girls who are outcasts, thrown together due to the chaos that is young adulthood. While the book shows us the girls growing from junior high to high school and beyond, with Maddy's fierce determination to keep the secrets until the time is right to share them with the world, the film gives only a momentary glimpse of the secret lives of girls. Both were as familiar to us as our own lives. We were these young women, conflicted by our situations in life, and where we wanted to eventually be.

When I think back to us and all that we were, I can hear various songs of our collective youth, such as Candlebox's "You," which Candice would blare loudly when she was upset, slamming her car door, chainsmoking as she raced down the road. I can hear Gretta's laugh, and Sheli singing in choir. Sharing wild stories and teasing younger siblings, especially Tiah's brother. If such friendships can be boiled down to a series of images, sounds, smells, these are only the tip of the iceberg.

"You are my Heart, Mads," Candice and Gretta would both say, lifting a line from Legs, the ringleader of the gang from "Foxfire." I am the one who keeps track of who lives where, with how many children, what kind of job, etc. I am the record keeper, just like Maddy Wirtz ended up being when she grew up. Here is is, over 10 years later, and I can still tell you where we all are, despite distance and time.

Once upon a time, we would have sleep overs, drink wine coolers, smoke pot, and occassionally carve designs into each other's flesh. We would laugh and speak of the future, thinking that it would never come, that after Graduation the world would fade to black. I was naive and shy, thinking that I would live like that forever, my girls within shouting distance, Gretta most of all.

We talked about getting the same tattoo in high school, but only half heartedly. Graduations came and went; me, Candice, and Sheli were first, with Gretta, Amber (at a different school), and Tiah the following June. Tiah even called us out in her Valedictorian speech, quoting both Robert Frost and Joyce Carol Oates, thanking "the girls who run with foxes." Amid looks of confusion all around, we screamed ourselves hoarse from the bleachers. We began to go our separate ways, with school and life drawing us in different directions.

Then, when Gretta was practically living with me at my parents' house, in Greenfield, Candice came to visit. She had a design, and planned to get it later in the year, even if we were all too scared to do it with her. I remember sitting in the back of Gretta's light blue 1983 Honda Accord, that we had dubbed the Blue Angel, looking at the piece of tracing paper clutched in Candice's hands.

"Well, are you in, or what? I am so totallh getting it done on my boob!" Her toothy smile light up the car, as we made our way to Gretta's apt.

"It's a bit big, don't you think, for your chest? Maybe just the flames?" I said.

"Baby, maybe for yours, but then again, if we all share a cup of mine, then we'll all be the same size, right? I like the multiple colors, Legs." Gretta chimed in response. She is quite the curvaceous girl; we'd often joked that if she had surgery, to downsize her chest, the rest of us would go with her to upgrade ours.

So the plan was made and formulated--in November 1999, come Hell or High Water, we would go to Gold Coast Tattoo in Marina, and finally get our permanent marks together. The months rolled by, and unfortunately Tiah and Amber were not going to be able to meet up with us. Sheli had planned on meeting myself and Gretta in Salinas, but backed out at the last minute. We discussed this at great length, between Gretta and myself, whether we still wanted to get a tattoo with her initial in it. Like can happen with girls, there was some sort of internal conflict, regarding a boy or two, trust being broken, and other such highly charged issues.

We decided that Thanksgiving weekend would work, as Candice was flying in from Arizona to see her father, in Watsonville, and Gold Coast accepting walk ins. Gretta and I chose the mall down the street. The Mall...on the day after Thanksgiving. In the hopes to run into our best friend, whom we'd not seen in a few months, on the busiest shopping day of the year.

At least we'd chosen the Carousel, a handy landmark in a sea of people. A feeling of anxiety washed over me, as I grasped Gretta's hand and we entered the building. How dumb we felt, thinking that it would be easy to meet up on such a day! Facing in opposite directions, we scanned the crowd, in hopes of meeting a pair of sky blue hairs under a swathe of brown hair. This was a time when cell phones were not in every purse or pocket, our only recourse to contacting our compatriot therefore being sheer force of will.

And the Red Sea seemed to part, and there she was, in four inch heeled black boots, crimson short sleeved turtle neck, and hip length leather jacket, black sunglasses on top of her head, holding back her neck length hair. In a near tackle, Gretta and I hugged Candice in unison, a wave of relief washing over us. This was it, now we were going to do it.

After a quick jaunt across the roadway, to purchase cigarettes, we made our way to Santa Cruz for the day, gearing up for the tattoo. In a way, we were trying to talk ourselves out of it, as we were the only three there to get it done, wouldn't it be better if all six of us were there? Can we really include someone whom we feel we can't trust anymore? This plagued our conversation, in between drags, all the way to the seashore.

Candice, ever our leader, ever the diplomat, was able to assuage our fears, as she insisted that she was going to get the piece, that day, no matter what. And if she could do it, why couldn't we? The plan reaffirmed, we relaxed, hitting our usual shops in downtown Santa Cruz, such as 13 and Camoflage, before heading back down Highway 1, to Marina, and a dingy little shopping center where our tattoo shop was located.

Gold Coast Tattoo is one of the best shops in Northern Central California; at the time, they had two locations, the latter being in downtown Monterey, in a building with a Pagoda facade. The Marina shop was very familiar to us, as both Gretta and I had already gotten work done there, previously. We longed to work with Creepy Gary, an artist of note, who had a grumpy demeanor (mostly towards men) and drove a mean classic car. He had a chest length black goatee, Buddy Holly glasses, and was soft spoken. His business card stated that he gave discounts to strippers and military personel (Gary had been a Marine Drill Sargeant, and his wife was still in the Service). We all thought we was quite dreamy.

When we arrived, Gary was just setting up his station. He had one appointment coming in just after we got there, but had nothing else scheduled. He would do all three of our piecesd that evening. We waited around, spinning on the stools in front of the counter that enclosed the artists' stations, looking at flash and commenting on what was going to be a fairly long evening. It was decided, while Gary mulled over Candice's sketch, that the one with the least amount of work would be the one to go first. That meant Candice, a tattoo virgin, would have that honor.

Her tough facade in full effect, she strolled around the counter, while Gary made some suggestions and completed the final touches to our tattoo. As he set to work, needle to skin, Gary broke through Candice's bravado by asking, "You wanted a black panther, right?" We fell all to giggles, at the sight of her eyes going wide. The man set about his business, commenting on our idle chatter and regaling us with stories of tattooing an entire cheerleading team, etching the last few girls from memory of the previous works, by the end of the night.

Settling in, we watched him work, his eyes narrowing at times, focusing on the movements of the needle, as it slide across Candice's left shoulder. In no time, Gary was halfway through, having a smoke break with us, and then finishing up. I went next, my hands icy from nerves. Candice and Gretta sat on the stools, with their elbows up on the counter, watching and waiting. I focussed through the pain, which was the worst I'd felt in my life at that point, listening to random questions that Candice would throw out to Gary.

"Hey, so you're going to give us a discount, right?" She had finally read his business card, and gary looked up as he was taping up my back.

"I am?"

"Yeah, because I'm a stripper...look I even have my license!" She whipped out a card from her wallet. Candice had joked about this with us earlier in the day, but I didn't take her all that seriously. But low and behold, she had a stripper's license, an ID card, essentially with her picture on it, certified by the state of Arizona. Leaning over the counter, she handed the card to Gary, who mused that he'd have to see a demonstration, perhaps, to prove that it was real.

Through an endorphine haze, we were laughing at the thought of Candice dancing on the counter-top. Gretta made her way to the chair, for her turn and the final tattoo of the night. By now it was after 8pm, and we were the only people in the shop. Candice had gotten her piece on her left shoulder, mine was placed on my right; Gretta chose to place hers in the middle, to balance out the evening.

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