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So for like the twentieth time since starting this Romantic literature class, I've had to bite my lip to keep from blurting something out about Wallace in class (it just seems like a dick move to be chronically bringing up something apart from our communal syllabus). If you had asked me a few years back what Infinite Jest had to do with Romantic literature I might not have had an expansive answer, but the answer is "actually quite a lot." The cult of genius, the rise of metafictionality, and a very specific flavor of the whole "individual v. community" question...I feel like there's an awful lot of intertextuality.

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When I was very small, I used to love to look at my father's tattoos. They were the grubby blue of a bic pen, a record of time spent in a California jailhouse for crimes never specified. Dad himself had been drunk, and the very large man who insisted upon tattooing him had also been very drunk, and so a number of the tattoos were illegible hieroglyphs. There was a recognizable heart, though, and something that even very young I recognized as either an ankh or a blurred cross. Something about having a visible reminder that my father pre-existed me, that he'd lived through something and it was marked on his flesh, was fascinating for me. It was like one of his elaborate (questionably true) stories of childhood or adolescence, only illustrated.

A few years later, when I entered school, I realized none of my friends' fathers had tattoos of any kind. None of my uncles did either. No other men in my life had ink on their skin. Briefly I wondered what that meant about my family, our place in the world (already precarious enough--by seven I had a hair-trigger understanding of class and felt my own alienation pretty starkly). For a very brief time, I was ashamed of the blurry ink that showed something about us that no one would talk about.

At ten, I encountered a book called Amy's Eyes, and in the first few pages of the story, a struggling tailor deposits his infant daughter at an orphanage so that he might go to sea to earn some money. With her he leaves a doll, the Captain, a sharp-dressed naval captain stitched from bits of cloth. Before Amy's father leaves her, he realizes some part of the Captain seems unfinished:

"One night he had come home after an evening at a public house, singing, drinking, and talking with friends, and it had all of a sudden come upon him that the Captain, then unfinished and with no clothing yet, could use a tattoo. It is an old urge among sailors to want a tattoo, and there is probably more to it than the vanity of being decorated. A tattoo is a token of memory and identity, and it is some small comfort after four months at sea, perhaps, to glance at the name of a loved on bordered around with flowers, or in time of trial to remember the tattooed motto 'Death Before Dishonor,' or when the ship is sinking to think on a graceful script that spells out 'Mother,' or to contemplate, in bitter moments, the picture of a heart thrust through with a dagger. So Amy's father gave the Captain a tattoo on his right forearm...It pictured a needle and thread, and touched in red and blue ink gave indelible notice that this was not a mere sailor before the mast, but a doll to take command high upon the poop deck, a doll of some significance."

The next day I announced to my relatively unsurprised parents that I was going to get lots of tattoos when I grew up. My father tried to tell me little girls didn't get tattoos and I informed him that I wouldn't be a little girl with tattoos, I was going to be a woman with tattoos. And also, I informed him, "Mr. Prison Tatts shouldn't cast any stones."

The tramp stamp on my back was a thing I got after my first round of depressions left me with a bipolar diagnosis. Part of my just liked the celestial motif, and it was simple as that. The symbolism I imparted to it, though, was that the sun contained all the other heavenly creatures within. That all the different phases of the sky were there, encompassed in one symbol. All the different moods. It was a way for me to accept all these shifting selves and sensations.

These days of course I'm a bit more stable. But the tattoo is a reminder of all mutability and all consistency as well: day becomes night, the phases of the moon change, summer edges on into winter, it's always moving but through the same motions. And of course I can't just look down and see it (it's on my back), but I like knowing it's back there, and I like catching glimpses of it when I change or when I get out of the shower. It's enough.

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1. Move is slowly coming together. Cats need health certificates, and I'm slowly trying to acclimate Jack to the car (he's terrified of it and yowls frantically every time it starts moving. Meanwhile, Bodhi's just like "Hey this is cool, but can I have a phone book to sit on? I can't see out the windows.")  [profile] hplovescats and I need to plan our route and start making motel reservations that are pet friendly. Oh, that's the other update: Hodge is moving down with me now instead of next year. I feel kind of guilty uprooting him. That said, he's from Austin and his family is there, and I don't think this is the worst move we could be making. Also, we're hoping the Austin post-production industry will be fruitful for him.

2. I totally love my sister-out-law, who we'll from here on out call Sis in a privacy-protecting gesture. She is adorable. She's four years younger than we are and she's an artist and designer, but also a big old geek who watches buttloads of Fruits Basket and Inu-Yasha. Also she is helping us find a house. She's been driving around Austin peeking into windows of rentals and reporting back to us. Tomorrow she's going to actually go inside and if she feels good about the house we'll probably sign a contract (since she has awesome taste and knows what we want). I'm really excited to live near her, because she's fun and I've always wanted a sister and I'm totally too shy to tell her I think of her sort of like my sister but I do.

3. Our 4th was fun. We have patio furniture now! After three years of us whining every summer, "Hey, we should really get some patio furniture," [profile] drawgirl finally invested in some and it is totally awesome. We have places to rest our asses, and also shade! So we sat outside and grilled and drank. Then we blew stuff up in the streets.

4. Left a message at infinity tattoo. No one has called me back yet. I am going armed with about 20 Rischa sketches from [profile] drawgirl and a few ideas. I'm hoping we have time to finish a partial sleeve before I take off. That's right, I'm gonna do it. I used to have this fear I was suddenly going to become vanilla in my old age. Considering my aging process has consistently taken me away from soccer mom-dom, I'm not going to worry about it anymore. Also: if I'm going to end up a soccer mom, I will be the soccer mom with the best fucking tattoo and the most pimping hybrid minivan. And the other soccer moms will have secret crushes on me. Rock.

5. I was super domestic this last week. I resized a gigantic old t-shirt (my Reed O-Week shirt with the Trojan horse waiting outside Eliot Hall, which is maybe the dorkiest thing I own? No, that's a lie.) so now it looks super hot on me. And I made my first pie. It was a vegan pie and I'm not so sure the crust turned out but the banana-chocolate filling was tasty. I should have taken a picture of me in the shirt with the pie so you'd see how Doris Day I was.

6. Still sad about the move. Still having wild mood swings. But hanging in there. It's all good.
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Via the intarnets I found a tattoo artist with whom I'd like to design some work. She has the Tenniel Cheshire Cat on her arm, which was the first tattoo I ever wanted (never did it, always regretted it a little) back when I was a teenager. I'm considering that a sign of our sympathetic aesthetic.

From her gallery, here are a few that have really caught my eye (her gallery is so worth browsing beyond these, too):


I don't have anything quite so detailed yet. I may have her tweak my tramp stamp to make it more detailed, so it won't look incongruous with something more intricate (I'm afraid of looking overly patchwork).

I really want something that's reminiscent of looking up at leaf patterns from beneath a canopy in the woods, but that might not come off well on flesh. So in liu of that I'm thinking shoulderblade, a tree branch. It'll look hawt with a tank top. Part of me wants a partial sleeve, though--I love sleevework but I'm by no means hardcore enough to pull that shit off.

scrimshaw

Apr. 27th, 2007 09:11 pm
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So of course now that I've decided to move my ass across the country, the logical next step is to design a tattoo to get before I go. I've been thinking about a tattoo for a while now--the two I have I got in college, and it seems time to commemorate the next period of my life with some emblem. For a while I thought about something hardcore, something to indicate the battles I've fought out here in the workaday world. The distance I've come, the ways I've grown and matured and had to force myself to change.

But I think I want something more generally emblematic of my time in Portland, the way I understand my life here. And to that end I want leaves. Some kind of art deco vine pattern maybe, or a tree branch, something simple. [profile] drawgirl, as ever, will likely be my graphic designer. But if any of you have suggestions I'd love to hear them.

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December 2009

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