Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fresh Ink

I took the plunge Sunday and got a tattoo, fresh ink. I was nervous about it, I'll admit. I couldn't tell The Hubs about it until after I had come home. I don't know why. I didn't want to talk about it before I had it.

It reminds me of more than 10 years ago when I was a manager of programmers in San Francisco. I had a great team of programmers, most of whom had come to the USA from the former Soviet Union. They had tested me in the first few weeks, passed me then told me that they wanted to find out if their new boss was fair. I was honored to have passed. I wanted to be a fair boss, not one of those dreadful nightmare managers who get some workplace equivalent of a Darwin Award for Boss Awfulness. I've had those bosses and knew I didn't want to be one. I couldn't make up for all those dreadful bosses, but I could try to be a good one.

One of my programmers was a tall young man who spoke very little, very precisely and was known to be an excellent technician. There was some speculation that he was arrogant, but I thought he was a combination of self-confident, truly talented and introverted, making him something of a cipher to the chatty managers and administrative staff. I learned quickly that he was reliable and quick, things a manager grows to like in computer programmers. I trusted him and perhaps more importantly I learned to let him be an introvert and not to try to bombard him with my extroverted chit-chat that other extroverts know means, "I LOVE talking to you and being your friend!!" but introverts tolerate, barely, with polite scorn.

One day The Strong Silent Type came into my office and said he wanted to talk. Very uncharacteristic, I marveled, and cleared my desk and mind to prepare for his message.

He told me that he was going to need to take a couple of weeks of vacation very soon but he did not know the exact dates. I checked the schedules for the team and while I was checking, he went on to say that he must have this time off.

I looked at him a moment and said, "Well, yes, of course." And I waited.

He shifted uncomfortably in his chair and made the rare eye contact.

"My wife," he started and stopped. "My...we are having a baby." He smiled a rare smile.

"Oh, wow! This is fantastic! This is fabulous!" I bubbled. "It's our first team baby! Can we have a baby shower for you? What do you need? Do you know if it's a boy or a girl? Do you have names? This is so exciting."

He drew back, horrified, blanched and set his jaw.


"No?" I stopped short and resumed being a "safe" extrovert.

"No. My wife...," he studied the top of my desk for inspiration in the wood grain. "We do not talk about the baby before it is born."

"No?" I repeated, sure I was in too deep culturally or something.

"No," he sighed. "It is...what? Bad luck to talk about baby before it is born."

"Oh." Well, of course. I mean it was their first baby, my first team baby, a tense situation and all. My Aunt Manager visions of fashionable baby clothes and adorable stuffed toys started to fade in the distance.

"Well, then," Marcia Manager resumed her dignity, "you'll tell me when you need to go?"

"Yes. Thank you."

The baby was born and we had a shower after the happy event when everyone was comfortable talking about the Little Darling, safe arrival assured. I checked with my female team members to find out if this were a common thing, not talking about the baby before it's born.

"Oh, no!" They laughed out loud, their teammate safely on Daddy leave. "His wife is just nervous."

I thought of that time when I was about to get my tattoo and realized I was nervous like my programmer's wife. I didn't want to talk about the tattoo until it was "born." The tattoo represents a lot of things, the way we cling to life and fight with it at the same time, the nature of love-hate relationships with just about anything or anyone, my DNA recently confirmed by a well-known genealogy website, and even the 2 of Wands. The 2 of Wands is the comparison between what we have and what may be. It is the process of learning and the need to embrace new things in addition to what we already have. It's a forward-looking card that expects that the future has possibilities, the past has lessons and the present is a tender moment that may tilt the universe one way or another depending on our choices.

I want to thank my tattoo artist Shotsie Gorman, who is a famous tattoo artist (and I admit I am ignorant of such things). I want to thank my dear friend Kristine Gorman, his wife and excellent Tarot reader for talking to me while I was mid-tat. Together, they have the T.A.T. Gallery in Sonoma, California, with beautiful works of art to sell besides Fresh Ink. Check it out, seriously.

And there are just two--two--places left available for you to make a last-minute decision to attend this year's SF BATS, the San Francisco Bay Area Tarot Symposium, where the 2 of Wands will be very busy. Kristine will be teaching a class on Tarot and I will be teaching a class on Lenormand. Click on the link and expand your world!

Best wishes!


  1. Tattoo looks ace Marcia. I sit outside the Long Room in Trinity College (where the Book of Kells is held) everyday for my lunch...that's where the image is from, right?


    1. It is! I'm craving another trip to Ireland. The image is Book of Kells, 243v, Luke 13:6. I fell in love with the image and realized the story has special meaning for me too.