Number 12  

Wednesday, October 31 : 1:34 AM : 0 comments :

[ Oct 13, 2007 ] - Left Ring Finger
So I got another tattoo recently. It's unhideable so I'm committing myself to a lifetime of non-corporate jobs. It's going to be a real shame when I'm on the verge of becoming a CEO at some Fortune 500 company and they reject me due to a finger tattoo. Guess I'll just choose the path of the poor and downtrodden right now to save future me some grief.

I was a bit concerned that my fingers were too thin to get the symbol I wanted but it worked out and it's beautiful. As usual, it's got some religious significance and other such mish mash.
"Other scripture and religious literature in which the lily symbolizes purity and chastity also helped establish the flower as an iconographic attribute of the Virgin. In medieval England, from the mid-12th century, a noblewoman's seal often showed the lady with a fleur-de-lis, drawing on the Marian connotations of 'female virtue and spirituality.' The three petals of the heraldic design reflect a widespread association with the Holy Trinity, a tradition going back to 14th century France, added onto the earlier belief that they also represented faith, wisdom and chivalry."
Another reason I'm attracted to the symbol is that on many maps, the fleur-de-lis is used to to indicate north on the compass rose. The Boy Scouts adopted the symbol because it "points in the right direction (and upwards) turning neither to the right nor left, since these lead backward again."

There's also a reference to the fleur-de-lis in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers as an old custom of branding criminals with the sign. Rebecca De Mornay's character sports it in my favorite version of the film.

For the most part, this tattoo, attached to a finger that holds extreme (if overblown) significance, is there to remind me what I should be looking for, what I am looking for, and what an asshole I am. All on one little finger.


Number 2  

Sunday, September 9 : 1:20 AM : 0 comments :

[ Nov 1, 2003 ] - Right Calf
Sometimes, you get attracted to a symbol or an image and then find out that, for whatever reason, that symbol is a good representation for you. I guess that's how people pick their totems -- their favorite colors, animals, cars, constellations, everything. You're mysteriously attracted to something and then bend your preferences around it. For me, one of those symbols has always been Kokopelli -- a Native American deity commonly seen in the Southwestern United States. The quick description for him is that he's the god of fertility and trickery. Like Loki with an endless supply of Viagra.

Kokopelli is typically depicted as a hunchback playing the flute. The hump is there for him to carry unborn children, which are then distributed to women. This would logically imply that Kokopelli is some sort of Casanova, or at least, a Travis Henry, but as we all know, that's the direct opposite of me. Hell, my greatest single fear in life is probably having children. If I woke up one day and was suddenly responsible for the care and upbringing of a child, I'd freak out big time. Thus, having a god of fertility on my leg highly amuses me.

Since I was highly attracted to Kokopelli before I even knew what he was all about -- a god of fertility that doubles as the god of trickery -- hopefully that's the universe's way of telling me that I'm sterile. Hopefully.
"Known to some as a magician, he is known to others as a storyteller, teacher, healer, trickster, or god of the harvest and is often credited as being the 'original' journalist.

Believed to bring fertility and good fortune to whomever he met wherever he chose to roam, Kokopelli, with his hunchback and flute, was always welcome.

Kokopelli possessed a playful, carefree nature that seemed to be able to bring the good out in everyone. Cousin to the mythical gods of the ancient world, Kokopelli is believed to represent the fertility and the untamed spirit or nature. Because of this and his sexy, joyous, uninhibited ways, his wisdom, magic, and simple nature have often times been overlooked. This masculine casanova is famous for his prankster ways and one is often warned to beware for he is likely to trick you. It is all in good fun, though, for especially in today's world, his humor is refreshing and delightful.

The stories may differ depending on the storyteller and tales shall be told for many, many years to come. Yet through it all, Kokopelli shall remain an inspiring figure with a passion for life."


Number 3 & 4  

Tuesday, May 22 : 1:18 AM : 0 comments :

[ December 29, 2003 ] - Right Wrist

If there are two tattoos I sort of regret getting, it's numbers three and four. I don't regret the actual tattoos, just the impatience involved in not waiting for the regular shop I go to to do them. I had convinced George that we needed to get a twins tattoo and she was all-in but the winter holiday had messed with Avalon Tattoo's hours. Plus, we had Greg, Caroline, and Louis with us and it would've been a real shame to drag them down to Pacfic Beach with no action.

That's how we ended up across the street, getting a good deal on three tattoos but then realizing afterwards that you pay for what you get. The tattoos aren't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but they're not as clean as I'd like either. Actually, George's tattoo has streak marks near the bottom of it, which would bug me to no end but she's okay with it.

The lesson to be learned here? Don't be impatient, pay for someone good, even if it costs a few extra dollars. The difference between a sixty dollar tattoo and an eighty dollar one can be huge. Go with the high, just like an auction -- unless you know and trust the guy already. Plus, some people aren't good at certain things, find a tattooer's specialty and just have them stick with that. No need to get fancy here.

Out of all my tattoos, the one most people ask about or recognize is the Virgo sign I share with George. If part of getting tattoos is to use them as a conversation starter, then that's the one I talk about the most (possibly since it's the most visable?). Questions about the Virgo tattoo lead directly into my "I have a twin sister, her name is George" speech -- it's less inspiring than MLK's "I have a dream," but it's almost as famous. This revelation of twin-ship leads neatly into the small talk I prefer most.

See, from "Oh, you have a twin sister!" I can easily segueway into "Do you have siblings?" if I want to get them talking, or they can follow-up with "Where does she live? Are you guys close?" etc they want me to keep talking. I'm armed with a whole battalion of George-related small talk. Very safe and comfortable territory for me. Ten minutes of small talk, instantly taken care of.

So while the excecution on the Virgo tattoo may not have been the best, it's been the best bang for the buck -- taken from a socializing perspective. Plus, Virgos recognize me as a fellow Virgo immediately. How else do you think I meet fellow anal and weirdly organized people?
"Through meditation I program my heart
to beat breakbeats and hum basslines on excellation
I burn seven day candles that melt
into twelve inch circles on my mantle
and spin funk like myrrh
and I can fade worlds in and out with my mixing patterns
letting the Earth spin as I blend in Saturn"
-Saul Williams, Ohm [audio] -

- Right Elbow
The other tattoo I got at the same time is the Sanskrit for "Ohm," or as I always define it, "the sound of god" or maybe "the sound believed to be spoken to create the universe and life." Which is sort of accurate but not really. That's the easy explanation. Research the long one(s) if you want to. Ohm or Aum is basically a meditation word/symbol used in Buddhism, Hinduism, and a few other Eastern religions. Plus yoga. People often recognize the Ohm symbol but don't associate it with anything outside of yoga. I've never done yoga.

It's the hardest tattoo to explain to people. Part of it is that I don't fully understand it -- nor do I particularly want to. I just know it's right for me. The other thing is that I don't really want to get into the whole bit of it (religion, etc) unless I feel like it'll be worth my time. I don't even have a good one-line answer to what this tattoo means, or why I got it (like I do with all my other tattoos). So, on the same night, I got the best and worst tattoos for small talking. All for a cheap price and with George, who has only that one tattoo but with luck and some convincing from me, she'll soon have another.
  • My problem with the tattoos are that the lines aren't sharp. Especially on the Ohm one, there's not good spacing between the top part of the tattoo and the bottom. Kills me. This was, surprisingly, the tattoo that hurt the most, as he carved near the elbow.

  • Now that I've decided to live with less then perfect tattoos, it seems like all the ones that are a little bit off and bother me are on the right side of my body. Which leads me to believe that it's just fate. The right side of me is irregular anyway so maybe that's what the tattoos are signifying.

  • When I got the Virgo, the tattoer thought it was odd that I wanted the symbol facing towards me, facing in, on my wrist. He said that most people want it the right side up when their arms are down and facing the world. Not me, in a sign that I'm obviously stuck on myself, I wanted my tattoo facing in so that it would be right side up when I looked at it.

  • If there's any cosmic significance to which way my yin-yang faces (in or out), as two friends once wondered, I guess the answer is that the black side it away from me and the white's toward me.
  • Labels:

    The Sign in the Stone  

    Friday, April 27 : 6:59 PM : 0 comments :

    How happy am I that tattoos have gone from symbols of rebellion to mere decorations? I am no rebel and once tattoos went mainstream (and way over that hump) I wanted one badly. Of course, the question facing all potential tattooees is "What do I get?" I didn't figure it out until way later and even when I was 99% ready to be tattooed, it took a cosmic congruence of events to settle on a design. I'm the type of guy that has to research the hell out of something before I do it; unless I've decided that there's just too much to know and that I should just jump. With tattoos, I just jumped. And got lucky.
    v.t. mark the skin in patterns, etc., by pricking and filling the skin with coloring matter. -n.
    mark so made. [Polynesian]
    It's certainly an addiction. After my first one, I had dreams that it would rub off during the night. I'd wake up thinking it had melted off. After getting used to the idea of having permanent on my body -- and hiding it from my mom for a year or so -- I needed more. Thank goodness I'm perpetually broke; otherwise I would probably have any number of god awful tattoos on my body. My mind is always like "Oh, this is cool/memorable, maybe this should be a tattoo." We need a Brady Law for tattoos.

    It turns out, after a few tattoos that have gone all sorts of wrong on me (pussing, itchy, infected) that I'm allergic to Neosporin. Guess what is recommended to put on fresh tattoos to protect them? Neosporin. Whoops. I put a temporary hold on tattoo getting since three of my last four gave me disgusting post-tattoo issues. With my latest set, I was fortunate enough to figure out that Neosporin was the problem. Now I think the best way for me to heal is just to let my body do it. No lotion, no anti-bacterial crap. Just air, water, and moisturizer. The body heals itself; even when you decorate it.

    Watching (and loving) Miami Ink, you start to realize how trite the reasons people get tattoos are. But then again, who cares? Of course a permanent thing like a tattoo would have spiritual, memory, or personal resonance. What else is there? Nobody gets a tattoo on a stupid whim. Well actually, lots of people do; but they end up with horrific tattoos. The thing is, once you have a tattoo, you love it and you'll look for any reason in the world to justify having it.

    The only thing I caution against is going to a bad tattoist. Not knowing about tattoos can make the selection process intimidating but price really isn't an object. The difference between a top tier tattooist and a bad one is huge. You can save $20 now but have a shitty looking tattoo for life. Don't do it. Get a good designer, someone who can make clean lines and will leave your tattoo with room to degrade and close up a little. I can't stress this enough. I've been lucky with my tattoos (even my "bad" ones aren't bad) but I've seen some horrible work. Pay for quality, it's worth it.

    Or better yet, befriend a tattooist and let them work on you for free. That's what I need, a tattoo friend. I can do little favors for them and they can tattoo me. Perfect.
    "We live in a disposable society and tattoos are decidedly permanent. That's what makes them scary, and that's what makes them powerful. Making an irrevocable choice is good for the soul."


    Number 8 - 11  

    Thursday, April 26 : 2:53 PM : 0 comments :

    Four Elements
    [ April 19 & 20, 2007 ] - Back

    It seems like every year or so, around the New Year, I itch to get a new tattoo. My last one was in February 2006 and since then I've been plotting to get sleeves. Of course, if you're going to get (half-)sleeves, you better be able to pay for it, you better have a good design, and you better make sure your future jobs won't require you to hide anything. Well, due to the events and realizations of last week, all those barriers are gone. I'm ready to get tatted up; stylishly, of course.

    I had seven tattoos, now I have eleven (sort of). Pretty much, all my tattoos are tiny and maybe combined they make one "real" tattoo. But I like it that way. I mean, I'm pretty skinny, I only have so much real estate. Right?

    It's an addiction, tattooing. I wish I could actually tattoo but until then, I've decided that I need to just keep returning to tried and true artists. Marty from Avalon Tattoo did my first two tattoos and those were done so cleanly that I wanted him, and only him, to do these latest four. I've had a bad experience with two tattoos once (three if you count George's) and I decided that you get what you pay for. Even then, you should overpay just to make sure that you're getting exactly what you want. Most of my designs are super generic and simple; so it's about clean lines and perfect execution.

    Anyway, enough of that. This time around, I jumped down to San Diego and was ready to get tattooed right away. My mind was moving super fast and I decided on what I wanted within mere moments of seeing it. It just fit. The design? Ambigrams of "Air, Earth, Fire, Water" from Dan Brown's Angels & Demons. Reading Da Vinci Code partly inspired me to get my first tattoo (the explanations of the power of symbols, not the actual book) and I thought this would be fitting. Jmz was working on turning those four words into customized ambigrams -- and his designs looked pretty awesome -- but in the end, I always go with the most generic iteration of symbol so I figured why mess with success?

    What do these four elements represent? A whole bunch of things. The playing card suits we're all so familiar with are based on the Tarot's Minor Arcana. Swords(Spades) and Cups(Hearts) are associated with the Air and Water elements respectively. Wands(Clubs) and Pentacles(Diamonds) are Fire and Earth. I love Tarot, I've studied it and played around with it as a fun little diversion. The art and story behind the cards are fantastic. I just bought a (Chinese themed) Tarot deck; let's divine.

    The four elements could represent The Fantastic Four, the First Family of superheroes. Mr Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and The Thing have their powers based around the four elements. Water, Air, Fire, Earth. You see?

    It could mean I like Earth, Wind & Fire's "September," which I do. Or it could be states of matter: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.

    Traditionally in Chinese ideology, there are five elements. Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. I thought about putting those somewhere, but I already have the pentagram on my back, and nothing says "5" like a star. Plus I don't want Chinese characters on my body, just Chinese art and landscapes if I can afford it.

    In Western philosophy, the four elements arrayed on my back also have a fifth, aether or quintessence, of which the cosmos itself is made. In Brown's book, the four ambigrams Vultron together to form the Illuminati Diamond, which is the object of everyone's fear and lust. Throw your diamonds in the sky if you feel the vibe.

    Sidenote: Dan Brown's ambigram designer, John Langdon has a book and website, it's amazing. I guess he's also the designer of my tattoos too.

    Another answer? The Four Elements of Hip Hop: Graffiti, DJ-ing, MC-ing, and B-Boying. I have no idea if they correlate to the actual element words, but who cares? We see the correlation of numbers every day. If you wanted to look for instances of "213" you would see them everywhere. The brain is designed to collect, associate, and process patterns. And numbers like 2, 3, 5, 7, have powerful meanings in any culture, field of study, or three-dimensional world.

    Those are all things I associate with the new tattoos I got. But here's the thing, the elements for me, are a cross. A Christian cross. Almost all of my tattoos are some sort of religious symbol and I swore that I would never put Christ's cross on my body until I was ready to be at peace with Abrahamic religions -- Christianity especially. I won't delve into my reasoning behind that but suffice to say, I have a hate/love relationship with the Holy Christ. But last week, I squashed that. I'm not a Christian, nor do I wish to be one; but I no longer fight it. Thus, I was ready to put the cross on my back. Because nobody can bear it alone, much less me.
    "One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

    In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

    This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

    'You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?'

    The Lord replied, 'The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.'"

    "Everybody's free, everybody's free, everybody's free
    Everybody's free, everybody's free, to feel good, to feel good

    Brother and sister together will make it through
    Someday a spirit will take you and guide you there
    I know you've been hurting ,but I've been waiting to be there for you
    And I'll be there, just helping you out whenever I can"
    -Everybody's Free-


    [click for archives]