One To Nothin'

My First Tattoo


It started almost four years ago. My sister Britni always toyed with the idea of getting inked, but I was never down. I couldn't decide on something so permanent -- commitment has never really been my thing. Tattoos were an abstract idea; those things that looked cool on other people but I'd never be able to pull off. When she mentioned all four our siblings getting matching tattoos before I moved west, however, the decision was made for me. It was never a question of whether or not I'd do it. If they were in, I was in. I even made the appointment all those years ago. The thought was to pay tribute to our mother, a beekeeper and the common thread between all of us kids (two of them have a different dad). We would all get honey bees tattooed on various parts of our bodies and have a beautiful reminder of the bond we shared.

I was still scared though. I thought I'd get a life-size honey bee, simple and tiny, at my bra line so no one would ever see it if I didn't want them to. It was safe, wimpy and safe, but it was only way I could ensure I wouldn't try to rub it off every time it got caught in my peripheral vision. My brother couldn't get off work on that fateful day and as soon as we walked into the tattoo parlor, everything seemed off. I didn't know how it all worked, but I showed the stocky, bearded man a photo of the bee I liked and his response was, "This is a wasp." I'm not an entomologist by any means, but I know a damn bee when I see one and I was thrown by his snarky response and shitty attitude. "No, it's definitely a bee.. And I want it to be as small as possible, please," I said trying to keep my composure. After similarly off-putting conversations with my two sisters, he disappeared in the back to draw my "wasp" and came back with what looked, in my mind, like a bee drawing the size of my head. I asked if it could be smaller, he brusquely said no and we all walked out knowing that if we were going get drawn on in permanent ink, it wasn't going to be by this asshole.

I moved across the country without my bee. Britni and I continued to talk about our theoretical bee tattoos throughout the following years, dedicating Pinterest boards to them and texting each other every bee design we ever came across. Fast-forward to about four weeks ago when I decided enough was enough. "Let's get our bees when I'm in town after the wedding!" I exclaimed manically over the phone. I figured we could make a night of it and hopefully our two other siblings (who I knew wouldn't be able to make it that late on a school night) would follow suit. She was down, and after a raving recommendation for artist Katie Ryan in Gainesville (my college town), I made an appointment.

When the day finally came, the car hummed with our energy as the radio crackled through the 30-mile drive. Brit said she was going first and I agreed, knowing I'd have plenty of time to freak out. This go 'round I wasn't as timid nor was I afraid to go bigger than I originally wanted. I'd scrolled through Katie's Instagram feed dozens of times, I loved her style and I realized I was taking screen shots of every tat that featured geometric shapes. I wanted whatever it was to be high quality without the chance of bleeding into a buzzing blur, and I wanted honeycomb in the background. She showed us her original drawing of a rad bee with its wings outspread, and I timidly showed her the bee's profile and comb I liked. She was open, flexible, friendly. She loved the idea and was perfectly happy to take the time to put us at ease and, once realizing the design was far more complicated than she'd originally thought, let us know it would be a long night. She was still down if we were. Yes.

We decided on slightly different designs/placement and I could barely sit still as my stomach cramped while my sister remained calm under the buzzing needle for the next two hours. I inhaled takeout sushi from a nearby spot we frequented in college and prayed to the gods that I wouldn't pass out when it was my turn. Finally it was my go. After three tries we got the placement of the stencil right, and she started doing her thang. Britni kept me calm by telling stories and taking photos (especially as I winced through the, ahem, more sensitive areas) while I stared into the many tattoo drawings on the wall and tried to stay as still as I could while still breathing. Eventually all of the blood drained out of my left arm draped over my head and my legs, thick with lactic acid from a 16-mile training run earlier, felt like they might fall off. But finally, it was done. Still a little lightheaded, we bandaged our new ink up and drove home exhausted, cathartic and nervous as hell to tell our dad.

He took it surprisingly well, and I freakin love it, you guys. I'm so grateful that I walked out of that first tattoo parlor filled with negative energy and let the idea marinate, evolve and become a bigger, sweeter, more intricate version of itself. The bold and abstract geometric comb contrasting a fuzzy yet fierce and realistic honey bee is exactly the kind of balance I strive for, and of course I'll think of my incredible mother every time I see it.

"She reminded me that the world was really one bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places. Don't be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don't be an idiot; wear long sleeves and pants. Don't swat. Don't even think about swatting. If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates while whistling melts a bee's temper. Act like you know what you're doing, even if you don't. Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved.” 
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
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Better Together



One of my best friends married another one of my favorite people in Boca Raton, FL over labor day weekend, and it was just as beautiful and elegant as I knew it would be. I spent three days primping, pampering, crying tears of joy, loving on and bonding with all my gorgeous college friends. Five years after graduation and several years since I'd seen many of the guests and it felt like I flew right back in time to 2011. I love love, especially when I watched it blossom from the very beginning. I saw this couple fall in love, from butterflies to silly fights to vowing to love each other for the rest of their lives. I played board games with them in an empty apartment. I cuddled with them on the tiny couch. They tolerated my new puppy destroying our carpet and pooping in her room. I got hammered and wore costumes and went to strip clubs and skinny dipped and ate so very much pizza with them in the early morning hours. I watched him go out of his way every single day to make her feel special and to make her friends his own. I watched her come to the realization that he really was The One and I squealed when I saw the photo of him down on one knee. I celebrated her last few months of being a single woman and smiled ear to ear as they danced their first dance to Jack Johnson's "Better Together." I hugged her for the millionth time in the past few months and bawled. I hope to someday have a love like Liz and Jared's. And if my wedding is even half as fun or beautiful as theirs, I can die happy.

Thanks for letting me be a part of your incredible day, guys. I love you both so much.
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Yosemite + Thoughts On Growing Up

Do you realize how much you can change in a few years? I talk about my cross-country move on here all the damn time; I know it’s redundant, but it’s INSANE. My entire perspective, attitude and sense of possibility has shifted and expanded in just three years.
Three impossible, lightning fast years.
It’s liberating, exciting and effing awesome because there’s no way I could’ve realized my Chumbawamba-level resilience and full-on lust for traveling, being outdoors and meeting new people (something that used to bring me more anxiety than happiness).
The thought of being rejected, going on an interview, hanging out with people I’d never met before, getting on a plane or even using public transportation by myself used to freak me out. No joke. I had no idea what I was capable of and now, knowing these little things used to be scary, I realize other things that seem big, intimidating and impossible will just become things as soon as I do them.
In other ways it’s frustrating. I used to have an idea of how I thought my adult life would go. It was simple, lateral, gratifying and lovely. I know I talk shit about Florida, but I had a great time there. Had I been granted the life I once thought I wanted, I’d probably be perfectly content (perhaps more boring) but perfectly happy. Because I moved, because I challenged (and frightened) myself, I now know I’ll never get back to that blissfully unaware kind of happy.
I’m grateful though. Like when I’m driving five hours back from Yosemite after a weekend of camping, taking in the incredible shades of brown, green, grey and blue, trying to catch my breath at 10,000 feet and tingling from the inside out knowing I didn’t settle down, go back, procreate or say no way back when. I would have missed all of this.
I used to think driving five hours in itself was an impossible feat. What could I possibly do to distract myself for all that time? What if I wreck? What if I get too tired or blow a tire? Now I just go. I’ll figure it out. It will be okay. 
I know that now.
I still have plenty of life stuff to figure out and maybe someday I’ll be on a semi-traditional path, but 99% of me will always be grateful I spent my 20s (and probably a good portion of my 30s too, let’s be real) challenging myself in strange, wonderful ways.
But then again, there’s always that 1% that says, "get married, have babies and get over yourself." 

Top six photos caught on film by @Kyle_Jern, see more of his work here.
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Marathoning

Today marks week six of marathon training. Even though I've been constantly sore and nervy about each run that's longer than its predecessors, this training cycle is flying by. It feels like I just looked at the program dreading an 8-mile run, yet here I am basking in the lactic acidic glory of a 14-miler Sunday Funday. Yesterday's was the farthest training run I've ever completed. I have six medals signifying completion of 13.1, but never before had I gone that extra 0.9, and it felt damn good, you guys. I couldn't believe it. Normally after a half marathon I'm covered in blisters and lying in the grass wishing I didn't have to make the short walk to my car - granted once I was home, I parked my ass on the couch and watched "You're the Worst" for the rest of the night, but still. I'm sore today, but not out of commission and that feels like progress. I recently switched from Nike+ to Strava, which encourages you to post photos for each activity completed, so above you see some of the rad routes and cute furry animals I've run into so far. Feel free to add me there if you use it too because I've been missing all my Nike+ amigos. I think you can just type in "MacKensie Gibson" to find me.

Are you training for anything? Any of your marathoners have advice for surviving the next 10 weeks?
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What I Wore

Sometimes, when you work out after work and you're trying to beat sunset, you wash your face, throw on a hat to hide your hair and post up in front of the wall next to your front door. Then, if you're me, you edit and upload the photos just to let them sit in Blogger purgatory for months before realizing oh-my-god-it's-almost-fall, so you decide it's now or never.
That about sums up blogging for me lately. Sometimes the love is there and sometimes I'm forcing it or throwing a hat over its greasy hair because I know I didn't blog for five years straight just to one day decide, "meh."
I love clothes, I love photos and even if it sounds weird, I love being in front of the camera. So even if I'm not finding the time to give this space the passionate love making it deserves, I'm going to get these #ootds going again.
I hope y'all are down for that.. but let's be real, it's never really been about you anyway. 
 Jacket: Levi's / Tee: Old Navy / Hat: UO / Sandals: Seychelles / Shorts: Local Boutique (similar)

Happy Friday, friends!

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