Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This year...

At this time last year, I was lying in my sleeping bag on the floor of my bedroom in my old apartment. Me, a lamp, my cellphone, and a pillow. That was it.

The year was about to start for me, not the year beginning on January 1st, but my life, starting to become unchained from Darkeyes, the rope that bound me unweaving.

My ribs were on fire. It felt like I had been unevenly grilled down one side, and I restlessly would shift from my stomach to my left side over and over, looking for something resembling a level of comfort... no success.

A few weeks prior, I suddenly knew I had to get eight black blocks down my side. It wasn't a grand experience, but an immediate sort of self-knowledge, of realizing the shape of pieces missing. I knew there needed to be a word in those blocks, I knew it had to be in Latin. I searched, combing Latin dictionaries, trying to find that right word that meant everything to me, that would be a constant for the rest of my life, that would somehow sum everything that I believed in.

I stumbled over it because I had just started this blog. Typed "flesh" into a translator, having exhausted what I felt were all other logical options.

The flesh, the guts, the entrails; the innermost parts or heart of anything...

I saw that combination of words, and I knew. I knew this word was mine.

On the evening of February 22nd, I met up with two friends of mine, both artists. We measured it out on my body, the female half of the couple sketching the blocks onto my skin to make sure it sat right, looking over my shoulder in their bathroom mirror. Four centimeters by eight centimeters, each a centimeter apart. Thirty-eight centimeters in length.


The graphic designer of the two quickly drew it up on Photoshop, inserted the font I had chosen ("Beyond Wonderland", which is amusing if you know more about me), adjusted pixels here and there.

11AM on February 23rd, I popped into a Kinko's and printed it out in its entirety.

12PM, I was opening the door of the shop I had chosen.

Walked up to the man at the counter, asked if he had walk-in availability. He did. Asked me what I wanted to get, if I already knew the design, and I took my print out of the bag, laid it on the counter.

He quietly whistled between his teeth, then... "Now that's a tattoo."

I spent eight hours under the needle that day, not including the short break to eat some sushi that I ordered when the intern went on his food run for the artists. Fifteen minutes before closing, I was pale, shaking, mild shock, oozing plasma. One of the guys grabbed me a chocolate milkshake and I sat, bullshitting with another patron while he had a cover-up done, waiting for the full-body tremors to subside so I could drive home.

Touch-ups happened later, two sessions, about three and a half hours. More is needed, I know.

It's not perfect. I went in without carefully selecting my artist. I went in, thinking it would be simple, and they did botch it some. The blocks aren't even, the inside line of the "e" is almost filled in. The edges are not straight and defined, like I had hoped. I wanted it perfect, but I rushed it. Mounting pressures, life-related deadlines, made it too hasty.

I do regret that, as much as I wish I did not.

But I never would have been able to get it done otherwise.

Maybe, one day, I'll get sick of how the "e" is nearly always mistaken for a "c". Maybe, one day, I'll get sick of the word itself, angry at the jokes life seems to make on my behalf, and fill the letters in.

It had the potential to be glorious, I think. The potential to be more than just another tattoo. Maybe it will be, one day.

But it was a marker. A marker of the drastic changes that were about to take place. A marker of values and ideals, a reminder of the things we survive, not physically, but mentally.

She said to me, this time, next year, we'll be happy. This time, next year, things will be great.


  1. There's plenty of room for me to write poetry all over your body with a feather quill.... Very nice body at that!

  2. Yaaawn. Not half as cool as my badassAlpha Male tat, thanks.

  3. I find it wildly sexy myself.

    If you can't do it right, do it anyway.

  4. Wow immortalizing a turning point in your life in such a manner certainly acts as a potent reminder, doesn't it? I hate to see what you do to remind yourself to pick up milk on the way home.

    Awesome story. Many of us do need personal markers for self-reference lest we wander from the path we've laid out. I have several "compasses" in my life which I find myself referring to more often than I'd like.

  5. Savage,

    Aw, thanks. I suppose I'll have to pick up some India ink now.


    Heh, I was all "goddamnit, can't that man say ANYTHING positive EVER?!" and then I clicked that link... and wished that I was the type of person who was more casual about their tattoos so I could get that done as a tramp stamp.


    You know, that second half of your comment really stuck with me. Totally feeling better.


    I do temporary tattoos for my shopping list. Lick and stick.

    I don't think of it as a compass to life, but as a reminder of myself. I forget who I am, sometimes. I'd love to see a post on your "compasses", by the by.

  6. Visceris?
    Well, you do have guts...

    I like it.

    The 'e' works in a subtle way.
    Congrads, you possibly have the most unique tattoo I have ever seen. Other than one barista I know who decided to get the Arabic word for "hell" across her back.

    Of course the artist botched it, it ended up as giberish. She didn't realize it.

    She was not pleased when I pointed out the orthographic mistake..

  7. Kamal,

    I was hoping you'd like it. I find that most people who do not normally care for tattoos find mine enjoyable.

    But why did the barista get "hell" tattooed across her back?

  8. Your tattoo is unique as well as aesthetically pleasing, not only in it's form but in it's placement.
    I like that.
    It complements your body, and both become an artistic whole.
    Not like something just tacked on any old where, as an after thought, but something harmonious.

    I can't really articulate more why I like it, beyond a pleasant originality to it,
    the way it melds with and complements your form,
    and the fact it's not a generic bumper sticker.

    Oh, yeah, it's rather gutsy too (ok, pun intended)

    The barista? Well, she was...

    ..trying to be edgy.

    That and "ethnic" tattoos are in (from what I hear). The fact that her tattoo was written in a language and script that the artist
    had no knowledge of led to its botching, and does provide a bit of a cautionary note regarding the value of doing things "because they are edgy"

  9. I've felt for a while that tattoo placement is crucial, that you're not just putting art on your body, but making your body art.

    It does feel like so many people just apply tattoos like they would stickers.

    I've been debating about getting a third, but GV8 tells me that it would take away from the one on my ribs, make it just part of a collection.

    I don't get ethnic tattoos, unless one belongs to that ethnicity.