December 27, 2012
Gauge, ME Newsletter, Vol. 6, Issue 1
I am a rational tattooer. I came to this conclusion while waiting in the customer service line at Meijer. Lost in my own thoughts, I was surprised when a voice behind me blurted out, “Was that tattoo in your ear really painful?”
I turned to face the ninja questioner, smiled wryly, and gave the youngster my pat answer. “Not any more than any of the other ones did,” I said. “But be careful,” I admonished him, “when I got that one, I didn’t know that your nose and ears never stop growing. It used to be a petite flower… now’s it’s just a blob open to anyone’s interpretation.”
He smiled back at me and proceeded to inform me about all of his, the locations and varying pain levels. The top of his foot wasn’t bad. Under his arms was so painful he did the zone-out thing where your body just wants to shut down. He said he hadn’t gotten around to doing his full sleeves, yet. I told him that each one of mine was placed very carefully, so that for the most part, they’re not visible on daily basis. Summer time reveals a few more, naturally.
He seemed confused, as if discretion in tattooing was unfathomable. But, at that moment, it was my turn to return the not well researched items I had purchased less than an hour earlier. I had thought about researching what was needed before I left the house, but decided I’d just read the packages at the store and figure out what I needed there. I spent probably 15 – 20 minutes blocking the home goods thermometer isle, reading the backs of multiple packages, gauging their usefulness. Useful information was sparse. Without much to go on, I weighed features. I liked the ones with pot-hanger-clips, so I guessed and grabbed. Just to ease my mind when I returned home, I fired up the computer and searched “cheese thermometers”. I was truly expecting confirmation. However, my guess purchases were firmly negated. I would need gauging beneath the 100F available in the candy thermometers I had purchased.
So, that’s how I got to standing in the return line the Saturday morning before Christmas. And that’s how I figured out, I am a rational tattooer. There’s another one coming up soon. I haven’t decided on the design because I haven’t decided on the placement. I want something spiritual and peaceful and affirming, and although there is a religious symbol I associate with all of those, I am reluctant to tattoo it. It’s not like I’m going to change my mind. I just worry. I grew up in a “don’t take any religious shit from anybody” environment. It was all about persecution and securing your beliefs, being careful not to flaunt them. It was strange to be expected to devote your life to religion and then to be told to keep it to yourself just to make life easier.
The ingrained watch your back fear, should have made the worshipping community a little tighter, but it never turned out that way for me. Worship brought me closer to GOD on designated days, and was left behind once I left the building. My life has changed since then. Remarkably, in previously unimagined ways. I’m not ashamed of my religion, but still remain cautious. In the current world riddled with hate events organized by supposed biblical religious observers, I accessorize with simple jewelry. I am reluctant to brand an overt symbol, which has me questioning the true strength of my faith. I do believe, and I do believe in leading by example. Is that enough? All of my tats are markers – of time, of feelings, of successes, of acclimation and renovation. They’re bold statements for my eyes only; hidden declarations. Is a silent declaration merely a nod to ashamedness? A cop-out? If only we could measure faith with rain-gauge, we could easily see our droughts and our nourishments.
Perhaps my next artistic alteration shouldn’t be as much about the what and the where of my next declaration, and should be much more about the why.
I figure I’ve got about six months to figure that out.
Posted by jaselin at December 27, 2012 03:22 PM