I have 16 tattoos. Well, I guess technically I have 8. In addition to a pin-up girl on each arm, I have a mermaid on each calf, a "Star" tramp stamp, a portrait of Jeremy and I on my ribs, and a little star on each toe. I suppose a real tattoo guru would count each foot as a "piece," making my twinkle toes count as 2, not 10. Whatever. I have a bunch of tattoos. I knew exactly what I wanted when I colorfully scarred my body for the first time. The decision wasn't particularly difficult at all. I was thrilled with the result. I was so cool. Such a bad ass. Then...came the inevitable moment where my mother would see my "art" for the first time...
Exhale. Stomach churns. Butt-hole opens up a little. Full upper lip sweat. She was picking me up from the train station in Trenton, NJ. I was coming home from NYC for, I assume, a holiday or something. Can't recall exactly what. Irrelevant. In any event, my younger sister, Jill was in the car, too. I remember that VERY clearly. I slid into the passenger seat. I was wearing a short sleeve shirt that [almost] completely covered the pin-up angel on my left arm. Yeah...almost. My mother, now known as Mimi, is a bloodhound. But like a bionic bloodhound. All five senses freakishly heightened, then add on intuition. She can smell, today, if you smoked a cigarette behind Mandy McFarland's shed in 1994. She can hear, from two flights up, the faintest turn of a doorknob as you arrive 10 minutes past curfew. And, she can see THROUGH anything. The tiniest tips of my angels stilettos were peeking from beneath my jersey sleeve in that Jersey parking lot that day and she FROZE. She didn't need to say anything. And neither did Jill. I caught a glimpse of her in the back seat through the rear view mirror, and her raised eyebrows spoke volumes. "I'll never be in trouble again," they screamed. Mimi eventually DID go on to say something to the effect of: no matter what the weather, I was to be forever covered up. And if the mid-July heat proves too much for a sweatshirt by the pool, I could wrap myself in gauze like a burn victim. Yeah, something exactly like that. What was the big deal? Get over it! It was an ANGEL. It wasn't like I inked myself with profanity or a racist image or...The Devil. (That would come a few months later) Beside the point. Everyone thought it was super hip and beautifully done. Why was my mother making SUCH a big whoop about it. I never REALLY got it.
And then, a few months ago... I saw Nora's hair for the first time. I mean, of course, I've seen it everyday for the past two years. I watched as the little fuzz wore away, leaving a smooth little patch on the back of her little head from the way she slept. I watched as she got that oh-so-attractive pre-toddler baby mullet crossed with some sort of male pattern baldness. I watched as she SCREAMED as Jeremy attempted her first pig tails. But the other day...I SAW it. Now to you it may look like a kinda straight, kinda curly light brown toddler mop. NO. Nora's hair is the color of everything I want to eat for the rest of my life. A honey that looks like it were produced by the King's royal bees. If we had a King. And he had royal bees. Every curl, every wisp, artfully in place. I want to wrap it around myself and sleep cuddled up in it's silky perfection. To ever cut this majesty of hair would be a sin. To color it? Oh my God, PURPLE??? (Did it.) Gasp. Eternal Damnation. And my darling Nora's perfect hair is just the beginning! Her stunning skin...what if she deliberately put HOLES THROUGH HER BODY?! NO! (I've done that 14 times.) What did I put my mother through? Yikes. Yeah. I get it now. Sorry, Mom.
|After I didn't end up walking the streets, or in prison, or married to a drug dealer, she started loving me again. Even sleeveless.|
Now I'M the mom. And a completely new kind of love has entered my life. Of course, I love Jeremy. And, obvi, I love my sister, my parents, my in-laws, my closest friends. But everyday, I wake up and make the choice to love my husband. Yes, I made a vow. For better or for worse, till death do us part, blah, blah, blah. But I still make the choice. We're not beasts. We may not be able to choose who we're attracted to, but we choose to be IN love. I feel I'm like most humans in the way that we go through the majority of our lives seeking approval. We want to make sure the people we're in relationships with (friends, lovers, co-workers, superiors) like us as much as we like them, right? I mean, that's natural. But the feelings I had instantly for my child... totally different. I don't have the same choice. It's with my children where that primal, animal love kicks in. From the moment her bony heel kicked my uterine wall from the inside for the first time, I knew my relationship with Nora would be unlike any other I'd ever had before. I knew from that moment...that I loved her more than she could EVER love me and nothing she would ever do in her whole life could ever change that. Ever. And I'm perfectly fine with that. It was shortly after her 2nd birthday when I realized that my perfect little fetal angel was all of a sudden a little girl with free will. And if she wanted to do something, eat something, watch something, FEEL something that I didn't agree with...well...eventually, she was gonna do it. And nothing I could ever do in my whole life could ever change that. Obviously, as her mother, I set the rules and give the tools. Give guidelines, set boundaries. Teach her right from wrong... But there will come a point when I won't see her everyday (*tear*) and she will start exercising her free will. For real. Sigh.
I will always encourage both my girls to express themselves,artistically or otherwise, however they choose. To love honestly and freely, whomever they choose. And to dream big. And I'll support those dreams. No matter how grand. Unless they end up standing 5-feet-tall like moi and their dream is to be a Radio City Rockette. I will squash that dream immediately. Woulda made my life a whole hell of a lot easier. Nobody needs to face that kind of heartbreak. Nobody.
|Nora: "Expressing herself."|
So...my girls are perfect and so is this meal! So easy. Awesome to entertain with. I first made this for an Easter Feast I hosted in Toronto. I was pregnant and ham and poultry were grossing me out at the time, so I wanted to try something different. I've since made it for numerous friends, my in-laws, my parents...a hit every time! And the salad is a PERFECT side dish to take to picnics and parties. There's no mayo in it, so it can sit out for a bit without worry.
Ground Lamb is really the star of this dish. If you can't find ground lamb where you live, or you just don't like lamb, you could substitute ground chicken and substitute the mint for oregano. It would still be super yummy. But try the lamb if you can. I usually do this dish as little meatballs, but last week I split up the meat into jumbo muffin tins and everyone got their little individual portion. Cute. Ok...
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
4oz crumbled feta cheese
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine ingredients in large bowl. I squish with my hands. Make sure everything's incorporated but don't over mix. Using a small ice-cream or cookie scoop make your lamb balls! Roll the balls in your palms (sorry, im so immature I cant stop giggling as I type this. I really need to get out more) so they're round and even. Place on a cooling rack a top a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.
1/2 box (1/2 lb) Orzo pasta, orzo puffs up so much when you cook it. If you use a whole pound, you'll be eating it for weeks!
1 grape tomatoes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 large cucumber
1 yellow pepper, sliced into chunks
1/2 c kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
4-8 oz feta cheese
2 lemons, zest and juice
|The version I made for my in-laws, baked in a jumbo muffin tin.|
Bring water to boil for pasta. Zest and juice your lemons and set aside in a small bowl. Add lemon rinds,salt, garlic powder and oregano to water. Cook according to package directions. Flavoring the cooking water adds so much to this dish and makes your kitchen smell immediately awesome! While pasta is cooking, prep your veggies. Drain pasta. Empty into large bowl. Add a little olive oil and the lemon zest and juice right away so it's soaked up, then dump in the tomatoes and cover bowl with foil. The heat of the pasta with soften the tomatoes a bit and they get even sweeter. So good. Add the rest of your veggies. Toss with a little more olive oil. Probably 1/3 c tops. Keep it light. Add crumbled feta and olives. Taste, then add the salt and pepper. The cheese and olives are pretty salty so you don't want to over do it. And there ya go. Pop open a bottle of red or white, either would work great. I swear this meal is so good it'll make your friends walk away wanting to get "LAMB BALLS FOREVER" tattooed across their chests.