Tattoos: The Cultivation of My Obsession

A few weekends ago, my family came down to Los Angeles to visit me  and every time they come to visit they take the liberty of embarrassing me with stories from my childhood.  Some of them I’ve heard probably almost a hundred times – so even if I don’t remember what happened as a child I have a full fledged recollection through their eyes.

Sometimes it’s little words or phrases that they say jokingly to each other; but then there are these distinct memories they just won’t let go. Like when we were on a family trip coming back from Oregon and needed to make dinner plans, I leaned over to my dad and asked  ‘So, what’s the plan baldy‘ (FYI: I was 4; I’m now 27 and still find it hilarious) or the time I went camping and accidentally sprayed mosquito repellent in my eyes (this I’m stoked I don’t have a full memory of).

Well, one conversation that I distinctly remember with my family was about body modification.  I had my ear cartilage pierced a few times in High School (once at 16, the other at 18), and I found myself getting a bellybutton piercing right before I left for college.  I’d intended to hide it from my parents until I left for college, but then the inevitable happened.  One night I had a stomach ache and asked my mom for some medicine; why her initial reaction was to raise my tank top and observe my stomach are beyond me but there it was in all its glory.  To quote the woman, “There’s a special place for people like you – and it’s called hell.” With feelings so strong about a hypothetically  temporary modification, just imagine the words being thrown around about something permanent like a tattoo?

Well, in defense of my 27 year old self – I can proudly say:

“In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.”
– Nietzsche 

To be honest, getting a tattoo didn’t cross my mind until I was already in college.  My roommates and I had gone up to Solvang for a day trip and stumbled into a hole in the wall store called The Mystic Merchant and they had a whole section of their store devoted to runes: posters, books, necklaces and stones.  We took turns running our fingers over the necklaces with these foreign symbols, each trying to find an idea that resonated.  One friend was a fabulous writer and slam poet and chose the rune ‘Kenaz’ – the rune of creativity. I took some time, and ended up with ‘Gebu‘ – the rune of balance.  I wore the necklace for a few weeks after I’d gotten it, and each time I took it off I felt almost physically ill.  I went through two faux-rope necklaces because I refused to remove it, and then I had a genius idea: what if I just got a  tattoos? So, I did… and ever since, I’ve developed what some would call a slight obsession with them.

There’s something so intrinsically beautiful  in finding an image or idea that is so real, so true, to me as an individual that I want it to permanently become part of who I am in the process of becoming.  There are a few tattoos that I’ve been developing over time; one I’ve been drawing them over and over so frequently that I could do it in my sleep.  A few of my more artistic friends have even taken the liberty of sketching out their versions of it. I’ve had these ideas for 4 and 6 years, respectively, but I figure I can take my time since it’s something that’s forever*.

Well, things took for the interesting this past weekend. I was introduced to a new friend, a fast friend if you will. We made it official and did the whole Facebook thing and I noticed their kickass cover photo (above).  As I looked closer, I saw a tattoo on the neck of the model.   At first, my head said “That’s a badass model, getting a tattoo on her neck…” immediately followed by “…what the hell is so amazing that you would need to get it on your neck?!”  Well, take a look for yourself because it’s something that resonated immediately with me. The next day I went with my friend to an amazing tattoo parlor out in Venice called the Black Diamond Tattoo.  My friend and I had walk-in back to back appointments with the incredibly skilled Big Boy; I was in and out in 15 minutes with minimal discomfort.  Sure, there were a few times that I whimpered a little but all in all, I could still have a conversation and I didn’t cry (yay me!). I’m still in shock I went through with it; but each time I look at it or see a picture of it I become so elated.  The next part was breaking it to my family that their daughter had some new ink, but to my surprise both my parents were supportive. My dad actually told me it was “cute” and then my mom  had something to say that caught me by surprise: You didn’t use color? That’s boring.  Well, guess I can’t win ’em all.

“In music the passions enjoy themselves”

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