Question of the day….

At first, I was just going to ask if you have any tattoos, and if so, what’s the story behind them. But why limit it to tattoos? Do you have any body modifications that are considered edgy by your family, loved ones or mainstream society?

I’ve got two tattoos–Calvin on a surfboard, designed by my ex-girlfriend and I on my left upper arm; and a dark green (almost black) Celtic abstract design that snakes from my right mid-thigh up to my belly-button.

The latter is a cover tattoo, and there’s a story behind it.

Anyone out there familiar with Jewish law will know that tattoos and body modification are forbidden—even pierced ears are frowned u[on by some religious Jews. Which is another reason Holocaust concentration camp tattoos were so dehumanizing and offensive to Jews.

Knowing this fact full well, I decided to get my tattoo on a Saturday afternoon in 1980 or 81 just around sunset as Shabbat was coming to an end. I raided the kitchen cookie jar household fund, and without telling my ex husband where I was going, left our 2-year-old daughter in his care and drove across town to Geary Street in San Francisco.

I entered a somewhat sleazy tattoo parlor—is there any other kind?—and scanned the pictures of tattoos lining the walls. I decided rather quickly that I wanted a small, red rose, to be located in the crook of my right thigh. What I would have called back then, “my bikini line.”

I entered the back room accompanied by a world-weary older tattoo artist, climbed up on the table and—I think I was wearing a skirt—hiked it up and bared the skin to be shaved. I kept my undies on, just pulling the elastic to one side. Nonetheless, I felt very brazen and the whole experience felt…risqué. Naughty. Out of character for the frum Jewish housewife persona I’d been living the previous 3 years.

Which was, I think, the whole point. That persona and life were fraying. I’d converted to Orthodox Judaism after contemplating the decision and studying for a number of years and living on a kibbutz in Israel for 9 months. There was—and is—much about Judaism that I admire and which attracts me. The emphasis on family, learning, tradition, and law. Most of all, I liked that it wasn’t dogmatic. I even told the rabbis I didn’t think I believed in God, and that was ok. What mattered was that I agreed to keep ha’lacha—live by Jewish law.

Which was what I liked. In my opinion, at its best Judaism is about infusing meaning into every daily decision, making life thereby a thoughtful and holy sort of meditation. It’s not about doing (or not doing) something now to attain an eternal paradise, but rather doing something now to make your life meaningful.

Aw, if that was the extent of it! Unfortunately, Judaism is also a pretty sexist religion. And that was what undid it for me in the end.

For I would bust my ass before every Shabbat and holiday—the latter were often celebrated for two days!—to make sure that my ex and I didn’t have to lift a finger during the actual days, because work was forbidden on Shabbat and holidays. No driving, lighting or extinguishing fires—which means, turning lights, the radio or TV, hot water, or the stove on or off, Meals for the entire time had to be prepared ahead of time, and either timers set to heat stuff or a crock pot arranged for, or eat it cold. No housework during, which meant mega housework before and after.

And it all falls on the shoulders of the women. The guys just have to show up and daven. Not a bad deal for them! What really finished it off for me was that one of the prayers the men say everyday is, “Thank you, God, I wasn’t born a woman.” I kid you not.

A measure of my growing feminism was how much this unfair arrangement began to eat away at me. From my perspective, it seemed like the women did all the shit work and the guys got all the glory. I honestly didn’t realize how pissed off I was until I found myself in that tattoo parlor—almost breaking Jewish law by driving to it!—and then back at home with my new rose tattoo.

My ex was furious when he saw it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the beginning of the end for us. And my first, baby steps on a path that would eventually lead me to where I am now: a feminist, queer radical leftist FtM expat American living in Dublin.

Oh, as the tattoo needle was whining and buzzing and the tattoo artist was drawing the rose, San Francisco was hit by a pretty strong earthquake. Mid-tattoo. Strong enough that artist had to stop what he was doing—everyone in the shop stopped and froze, in fact. Nothing fell off the walls or shattered or anything, and after several seconds, the rocking and swaying stopped. We all laughed heartily. And then he finished my tattoo.

A message from the Creator of the Universe? If so, was she approving?


Filed under 08_brynn

63 responses to “Question of the day….

  1. pidomon

    Sadly no body modifications for me other than four veneers on my front teeth. Guess that means I’m now old AND MORE boring! 🙂

  2. Two tattoos–the constellation of the Southern Cross on the inside of my left ankle (a leftover from my fraternity days–yeah, I’m reformed) and a celtic whatchadoodle on my right shoulder that has withstood the test of time pretty well–10 years . I also have two earrings in my left ear, and the scar tissue from the two I had in my right. They got caught on a pillow while I slept, and now all I have is a keloid.

    I’d like to get one more tattoo–a stylized monkey on my left shoulder. It’s my daughter’s nickname.

  3. Angelos

    I’ve got two brands, but they’re pretty faded. One on each inner bicep.

  4. Wave

    My father is from Poland, and my mother’s family is Irish, so after I finished my BA and was briefly running an academic program in Poland, I had a Celtic four tattooed on my lower back to symbolize the ending of one phase of my life, the beginning of another, and all of the loved ones I was leaving behind physically, but bringing with me in my heart.

    The only other tattoo I plan to get will be right above one of my hip bones: a Polish folk tattoo for when I finish my PhD (in two more years, I hope!) and visit Ireland.

    I like things to go full circle :).

  5. The only reason I have no tattoos is because I could never decide what I’d want. Hell, I can’t even decide what to buy with my $500 Home Depot gift card which I’ve now had for 3 months.

  6. I am pure and untainted by the needles of man.

    I do have body modifications because of kitty claws. Bloody gashes are a way of life.

  7. No tattoos.

    When I was in college — way back in the late ’70s — I got both ears pierced. That was very uncommon in those days. Strangers actually called me a freak to my face.

    One of the piercings has since closed.

    I also had some cosmetic surgery when I was 19. I think that qualifies as body modification. My grandparents were Southern Baptists who didn’t approve of “changing the way God made you.” They had a fit when they found out that I “mutilated” myself and practically disowned me. But, I still think it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in life.

  8. On the topic of tattoos, I once worked with a Japanese web designer who collected photos of Kanji characters that Westerners tattoo on bodies. Quite a few of them aren’t what the recipient asked for.

    Apparently, subtle differences in the characters can greatly change the meaning. So, a man may be walking around with “Pink Feather” tattooed on his calf thinking it reads “Powerful Eagle.”

    HA HA!

  9. Brynn, your story sounds like one of the better reasons to get a tattoo. Meaning.
    I have three. The first is a rose on my shoulder that I got at age fifteen – my mom lied about my age so I could get one. It was a family thing. The next was a crescent moon on my ankle at seventeen. Then I settled for piercing bits – cartilege, navel, nothing crazy.
    The tattoo I love the most is in the middle of my back, a rather large tree with a snake entwined in the branches and a snail curled up in the roots. It’s a variation on a couple of veve images: Dambala (the snake) slides up into the tree of life to reflect at some remove from the earth; Obatala (the snail) embodies wisdom, which is often unlooked for and difficult to find. When I lived in New Orleans, I researched and gave historical tours on voodoo, so the image is the product of my research, a mark of my departure from that city, and a reminder of ideals I intend to keep.

  10. Angelos

    One of the piercings has since closed.

    I had an earring in college, but haven’t worn one in 15 years probably.

    Except for the occasional Halloween, where can still I put in my old skeleton earring.

    I’m the only person I know whose unused piercing is still open for business. Are there others out there?

  11. I don’t think I’ll ever get a tattoo. I like them on men (unless they’re lame…oh man, and I saw some lame ones on the San Diego beaches yesterday), but the idea of permanently inking my body is, for lack of a better word, icky. I like my skin the way it is.

    Then again, I’m afraid to even dye my hair, so I’m sort of a natural freak.

  12. Fritz- A good one a Chinese-speaker pointed out to me on the subway:
    Most likely intended phrase: “I fear no man”
    Actual translation: “I am not afraid of men”

    Subtle, but funny.

  13. I’m the only person I know whose unused piercing is still open for business. Are there others out there?

    My left ear closed. I can still insert a post in my right ear. I don’t know why one closed and the other did not — perhaps the fact that it was the right ear that stayed pierced is significant. 😉

  14. Angelos

    Yeah, that’s the gay ear!

  15. pidomon

    I never researched voodoo in New Orleans but one of my favaorite bars was (hopefully still is) Mareie Laveaus (I know I’m spelling that wrong) on Decatur. Loved he picture of Marie in there

  16. nightshift66

    I helped a friend design a tat that fit his personality once in the Navy. It was Hagar the Horrible with a shit-eating grin, hefting a HUGE beer stein. But I never had the desire to get one for myself.

  17. Body modification my parents approved: stretch marks. Body modification my parents didn’t approve: any body mass above 110 lbs. And yeah, I have both. No tattoos, though.

  18. Fran

    Back when I was fresh out of the army, I got my navel pierced, before it became cliche. Anyway, I had it for three years, got pregnant, and in my seventh month of pregnancy, took it out for various reasons. The hole never closed up on the outside and my daughter said I had 2 belly buttons. Fast forward six years, I was 5 months pregnant with #3, and figured out that it hadn’t closed up after all. Thankfully I kept my barbell and have been gladly wearing it ever since.

    And Brynn I have numerous piercings, but no tattoos, mainly because of the whole jewish taboo, but also because I’m chicken 1)of it hurting and 2)because I’ll get something I’ll regret getting later. But I’m always jealous of other people and their tattoos. Maybe one of these days I’ll get the nerve and just do it, yentas be damned!

  19. I entered a somewhat sleazy tattoo parlor—is there any other kind?

    Short answer: Yes. Tattoo studios can be as lovely as art galleries, and seriously, people shouldn’t enter one that feels sleazy. They should be hygienic and welcoming. You should feel comfortable with someone who will be touching your body, and respected by someone who will be changing you permanently. Tattoo artists who take their art seriously will provide that experience.

    My most recent, eleventh, tattoo is still healing. The last two were done by an artist who works exclusively with ritual and spiritual tattoos. I’ve blogged about the tenth one here and here.

    Fritz, there’s a website somewhere devoted entirely to bad Kanjii tattoos, but I don’t recall the url.

  20. I have no tattoos, although I have thought about it at times. But really what I wanted to say is Brynn, your story is possibly one of the best stories I have read about why you got a tattoo. I also understand your take on Judaism and agree wholeheartedly with you, but I also know that outside of the Orthodoxy, Shabbat may not be as strict and so you could cook, clean and do other work. But still very patriarchal, there are some efforts within Reform and some Conservative Judaism to attempt to balance the patriarchal elements with some more egalitarian elements, but still at its heart it is a religion of the men (as a man I see and know this is the case).

  21. Bethynyc

    I have double piercings in both earlobes (why yes, I was a teen in the 80s) and a ring in the upper right ear cartilage.

    Two tattoos: A leaping fox from Miranda Gray’s Beasts of Albion deck on my left thigh and a faery on my right calf. Both are larger than my hand and I’m very happy with them.

    I’d like to get a full moon added to the fox tattoo, so the fox is jumping over the moon, and I would love to get the Celtic Horse triskele on my shoulder. But that will wait.

    I got my first tattoo when I was 30, and my second when I was 35, so no, these are not youthful regrets. I love them and I’m very happy with them!

  22. RayCeeYa

    My left elbow, a labyrinth I designed to represent the ancient city of Babylon and it’s tower. I feel that the roots of all civilization lies in Babylon. It was the home of the first writing, commerce, and the rule of codified laws. Of course it’s also home of the first army, the first empire, the first bureaucratic government. Then theres the story of the tower. A warning of man’s hubris. I feel the modern English language is the new Tower of Babel. The largest, most complex and above all universal spoken language ever. It’s more than twice the size of any other language.

    On my left shoulder I have a stylized Coyote as a sort of spirit animal. I always liked the Native American view of the coyote. He’s a clever trickster always fooling the other animals. Also consider the fact that as European settlers spread across the face of North America most medium and large animals lost their territory, the coyote on the other hand actually inhabits a wider range and is more populous than it was before the settlers. The coyote is always keen on new opportunities.

    Just below the coyote I have an armband with a pentagon inscribed in a star. I designed this one to vaguely imply a pentagram but not be a pentagram. I also have a fascination with Soviet era kitsch, and the shape and color of the tattoo are reminiscent of the style. Think pagan-socialism, or socio-paganism and you’re on the right track.

    The whole arm is done in black and red because I like those colors.

    Finally, on my back I have a spoked wheel inscribed with Germanic runes. I decided to do this after seeing all these dumbass frat boys getting these Japanese symbols that meant things like “courage” and “strength” done. It really pissed me off to see these lame white boys co-opting someone else’s culture. Its insulting. So I figured half my family is German, why not do something from that heritage.

    I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t this white boy say he had a coyote tattoo?.” Well I’m also an American and I feel that this would be a lot better country if children were made to learn and respect Native American culture. I suppose the slogan I’m slinging is “Native American Culture IS American Culture.”

    Plans for the future,

    A tattoo of a white rose wrapped in barb wire on my left fore arm. I found the symbol researching a World War Two German resistance movement called The White Rose. They worked hard to get the truth out about what the leaders of their country were doing, and when they were caught they were executed. When this country begins down that slippery slope to fascism I intend to be loud, vocal, and probably one of the first against the wall.

    A tattoo of the Babylonian Demon God Marduck. See previous for why I’m fascinated with Babylonian history and culture. Also I want something to point to to say “Hey why is my god any sillier than your god.” I’ll be breaking out of the red white and black theme I have on the other arm by going with red, yellow, and orange. I already designed it and it makes the demon look like hes made of fire.

    Further along I also have a chest piece of a winged skull planned. The trick here is to design around the nipples. A symbol of my devotion to absolute mortality and determinism.

    A back piece of a raven in flight. Another trickster spirit.

    Some tattoo to symbolize the Norse god Loki. See the theme going here with mythological tricksters. I haven’t worked this one out yet but it will probably run up my ribs.

    That’s about it so far. As you can see I have a lot of work planned for the future. The ultimate goal at this point is to work toward a full shirt with a nice solid common style and theme. That’s why I design them all myself.

    Sorry for the long post but you asked for it 😉

  23. I don’t even have pierced ears.

  24. NameChanged

    I have a heart with a footprint in it on my right hip. I got it when I was 18, and I often forget that I have it.

  25. Hippodameia

    I have a very small purple and yellow plumeria flower from a recent trip to Hawaii. I went with a friend, and she already had a small wreath on one ankle, so I screwed up my courage and agreed to get something. The artist was really nice and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would. I thought it would be just excruciating. It wasn’t that bad. Paper cuts are much more painful, even if they heal quickly.

    Next week I’m going to have a red VW microbus done on my upper left calf in honor of Arlo Guthrie. It won’t be big, and it’ll be up far enough on my leg that it won’t show unless I’m wearing shorts or a short skirt. (And I live in Seattle, so I rarely wear shorts.)

    I don’t know if I’ll get any more done after the microbus. Two seems like enough for now. Maybe when I hit a really significant birthday I’ll get a third tattoo.

  26. Wil

    When I was in my 20’s, I often thought about getting inked, but the permanence of it always stopped me. In ten years, would I truly still believe that, “Zepplin Rules”?

    Well, of course I still do, but I don’t want it written on my skin.

  27. No tatoos — couldn’t ever decide what statement I wanted to commit to permanently.

    And, OK — I’m going to completely fuck up my mysterioso element here, but . . . what the hell — I was pierced twice in each ear by the time I was 28 (two pro and two home-modifications) and once in my right outer labia when I was 39. (Pussy Warning: Read no further if you are a pussy pussy.)

    The most comical reaction I got after I pierced my labia was from my new doctor (my old doctor knew I was a freak, and wasn’t surprised to see my new ring) — my new doctor was about five years younger than me. I was getting a pap smear. She lifted up the sheet, her assistant and she peered in, stopped cold, and both of them peeked up over the top with glazed eyes.

    Doc said: “Um, can I ask you a question?”

    Me: “Sure”

    Doc: “Did that hurt?”

    Me: “No. Actually, it just felt kind of warm for about an hour. It wasn’t unpleasant at all.”

    Doc: “Oh.”

    The other comical moment in my most radical body-modification was when my piercer pulled my “lips” out and declared that she was thinking that she ought to pierce both sides a number of times and “lace me up like a turkey”.

    Okay. Are we at a “too much information” point yet? Well, you asked.

    And to think I’ve never gotten a tatoo because I can’t commit to a message.

  28. “On my left shoulder I have a stylized Coyote as a sort of spirit animal. I always liked the Native American view of the coyote. He’s a clever trickster always fooling the other animals.”

    In Cherokee culture, it’s Ji-stu (the Rabbit) who is the trickster.
    I always suspected that most Kanji really translated to something along the lines of “naive white boy.”
    No modifications; I am as God made me. My theory is, I was born with a certain number of holes and I intend to leave the same way. Tattoo? Maybe; I do have a mid-life crisis coming up. If I do, though, it will definately NOT be anything from the Generic Tribe.

  29. mamajane

    Thanks for the warning on the Kanji! Hubby-poo had a beautiful set of soapstone stamps made for me for our tenth anniversary. He was deployed in Misawa, Japan, at the time, and found the artist who made them while he was out doing shore (i.e., looking out for drunken sailors)patrol. Each stamp has one of our names (at least i hope they’re our names) in Kanji, and when you put them together, they make the symbol for double happiness. We both plan on getting that image tattooed on our shoulders for our fifteenth anniversary. We’ll definitely have the Kanji verified first, though. 🙂

    No tattoos, but I did get my nose pierced a few years ago. When we went back to visit our families in Florida, it actually made my mother cry. When I was hospitalized last year with pneumonia, my nose ring was taken out while I was unconscious, and the hole healed up.

    If scars count for body mods, I have numerous ones from surgery, childbirth, chicken pox, kitties, and way too many stupid accidents.

  30. Betsy

    Only body modifications: one demure set of pierced earlobes, and some serious scars from my breast reduction.

  31. Desired body mods: one hole, each ear. Even my mom has two in each ear, but I never felt the need for more than one.

    Undesired body mods: Scars.

    One vertical, mid-torso, right side, where I fell out of a mimosa tree onto a hurricane fence as a child and Mom didn’t take me to get it stitched.

    One between my middle and fourth toes on my right foot. Morton’s neuroma, aka Morton’s Toe. The nerve between those two toes knots up and pops between the toe bones, and it feels like you’re walking on a knife every time you step. I had it removed, rather than walk on the side of my foot for the rest of my life.

    Two horizontal at the base of the neck: medullary thyroid carcinoma, along w/ several other benign tumors which are the reason the malignant ones were found. When I say I’d occasionally forget my head if it wasn’t stapled on, I’m referring to the surgical staple used on the interior in the first surgery, one so obnoxious it screwed up the CT scan they took before the second surgery. (grin) I have known people who have necklaces adjusted to cover such scars and never leave home w/o ’em, but I figure my scar says “cancer survivor” and I’m all for proclaiming that loudly.

    Kona baby, if you’ll send that gift card north I’ll make it disappear.

  32. Like you Brynn I have a tat which was also a sort of act of defiance. But not being Jewish for a different reason. When I was a kid there was a radio program called “The FBI in Peace and War” which, as I realize now, was nothing but PR for the FBI which needed it after Harding, Coolidge Hoover et. al. thus this radio prgram. And at the end of the program they always had a section on “The most Wanted man In the USA” with a discription and the whole ball of wax which, in the beginning at least, was always read by the old Queen himself J. Edgar. And almost always the criminal being described as having numerous tats among other things. And every Sunday as the program ended my grandmther always said: “See, don’t you ever get a Tattoo because they’ll catch you!” Which always pissed me off seeing as how I had no intentions of becoming a criminal when I grew up. So, years later when I was on my second enlistment I was down in Mexico doing some serious drinking when I came across this tattoo place and Bang! Now was the time. Checked the price, which was reasonable, 5 bucks as I recall, told the cat to wait while I whipped next door to a bar and got a couple of beers to go and then we did the deed. A black panther on my upper left shoulder, this long before the “Black Panthers” were ever heard of, I just like big cats is all. Odd thing, the man who did it was a Filipino who was about three feet tall. Honest! I was sitting with my arm on one side of a small table while he was on the other side doing the work and I thought he was sitting also because I could only see his head and shulders across the table but no, when I was opening the second beer I caught a look and he was standing!

    Still got it and it still looks good although the red and green touches have long since faded but it’s already had it’s 50th birthday.

  33. What a total twat! It’s on my right shoulder. So excuse, it’s 6.44 in the AM here.

  34. tharine

    i love this question, ps.

    i’ve got an industrial pierce in my right ear, two holes in the lobe there and three in the left lobe. the lobe piercings didn’t mean much to me, just sort of something to do. i guess the first ones were a slightly bigger deal, rite of passage: “i’m finally thirteen and mum/pops says it’s okay!” but i hardly ever change what goes in them. the industrial was something i liked the look of, i wanted something a bit “different”, and i didn’t feel like i could pull of a nose or lip pierce. so, yea.

    as for tattoos, i’ve got two. one is a small black outline of a star on the top of my left foot- my sister has a matching one in the same place. her idea, and i love that we match. the other is the word “create” on the inside of my left wrist. it’s in a font reminiscent of a typewriter. i got it as a reminder, a mantra- an order, even. i think it needs a period at the end though.

    i’d like to get something else eventually, but i go back and forth on what. i’m much more verbal than visual, so i like the idea of words on me, but then i’ve already got the one, so. maybe a skull on the back of my neck, like a call back to kali and her necklace of severed heads. i was really into kali for a while. if one can be, you know, *into* a god. or some colour on my back, but i don’t know what. or something on the inside of my right wrist. but NOT “destroy”. no no. maybe just the outline of a box, the empty space for creating, fecundity. anyways. i haven’t decided.

  35. SAP

    Other than the rearranged brain cells that I got from a rogue baseball bat when I was 12, nope, no ink or metal on me.

  36. I have an artificial hip. Does that count?

  37. I’m firmly in the “tattoos and piercings are creepy” camp, but hey, it’s your body and you can do what you want with it. (And I strongly suspect God will still let you in to heaven..)

    I do have a couple small brand marks on my hands from times when I got careless near stove elements.

  38. sundry

    no tats for me. I’m way too needle phobic to seriously consider it. If I should ever take leave of my mind and have one, it’ll be a zipper over the scar on my knee. It’s a big nasty scar from when I had to get my knee cap rebuilt. It looks very athletic – which I’m not, never have been. So, I’d like to change it into a zipper. Something unexpected and mildly comical. More like me. But I’m too chicken.

    My ears are pierced, but I can’t take credit. It’s something my mom had done to my sisters and I when we were kids. I nearly never wear jewelry, so the holes are mostly closed up. mostly.

  39. Deborah,

    “Sleazy” may have been a poor choice of words in that I was thinking more in terms of “subversive”, or as GOM says, “defiant”. A reclaimed word, if you will, in the way many LGBT folks in San Francisco and likeminded places have reclaimed words like “perv”, “freak”, “tranny” and even “queer”, which believe it or not is still controversial (in my experience) throughout much of LGB society outside the radical urban areas.

    They should be hygienic and welcoming. You should feel comfortable with someone who will be touching your body, and respected by someone who will be changing you permanently. Tattoo artists who take their art seriously will provide that experience. Absolutely!! I heartily agree! The tattoo parlor I was describing was all of those things, but it was also decidedly outside the mainstream. I crossed a line that evening when I crossed the threshold of that shop, leaving behind one world and entering another. Although at the time, I wasn’t fully aware of it.

  40. RayCeeYa

    He’s a clever trickster always fooling the other animals. Also consider the fact that as European settlers spread across the face of North America most medium and large animals lost their territory, the coyote on the other hand actually inhabits a wider range and is more populous than it was before the settlers. The coyote is always keen on new opportunities.

    Well stated! I love the symbolism of the trickster—it’s a big part of the reason that since transition, I celebrate my birthday on April Fools Day (the actual date falls between Xmas and New Years). Coyotes are incredible creatures and have adapted quite well throughout San Diego and its environs—including near downtown. They roam the steep, human-inaccessible canyons there, entering the neighborhoods to forage. The boulder-strewn hills around my dad’s house in Escondido are also home to packs who come down onto the golf course at night for water. Very bad news for any cats or dogs left out at night. I never thought about the Raven also being a trickster symbol, but you’re right! In legend and in reality ravens, too, are amazing creatures!

    I love your approach to your tattoos and your long-term plan.

  41. PortlyDyke,

    The other comical moment in my most radical body-modification was when my piercer pulled my “lips” out and declared that she was thinking that she ought to pierce both sides a number of times and “lace me up like a turkey”.

    Thanks for sharing! I didn’t have the cajones to go into detail regarding that particular aspect of my body mods! Suffice it to say, your story has several similar elements to mine!

  42. mamajane,

    my nose ring was taken out while I was unconscious, and the hole healed up.

    You might be surprised: I had no ring in my septum for between 4 and 5 years and when I went into a piercing studio to have it checked, the hole was still there!

  43. tharine,

    Wow, I never heard the phrase “industrial piercing” before, looked it up, and lo and behold, I used to have several—in the sense of “two pierced holes connected with a single straight piece of jewelry”. Not in my ear, though!

  44. Ears pierced, two on the left and one on the right, “Because one is for wimps and two is for girls” (actually, I had just one in each ear for years).

    Planning eventually to get a stylized winged circle tatooed on my right deltoid to represent the energy and focus I need in my life, and Cheech Wizard slacking on my left to represent the side of myself I have to struggle against.

    I’m a massage therapist, and for awhile was trading with a piercer. I had a limited appetite for piercings, but I got several for my kids.

    PortlyDyke, I love that rude image of turkey-lacing. One of my kids had his eyebrows multiply pierced, and claimed he was going to hang a curtain from them.

  45. Back when it was a big deal, 1984, I got my right ear pierced, and as a married guy, took a lot of carp for having it ‘in the wrong ear’…Although it was one of the first acknowledgments that I wasn’t a straight guy.
    In 1987, my late wife ran out of gas in the driveway, on a slope, and when I was drizzling gas into the carburetor she decided to crank it.
    It backfired, and the can exploded. Fortunately, it was a cold day, and I had gloves and a leather jacket on. But it splashed burning gas onto my face, (the right side), burning off my beard and the then fashionable mullet, as well as melting my glasses. I dropped and rolled, and then had to stomp the grass out, and then she rushed me to the hospital..I had some second and third degree burns on my face and ear, and had to lose the earring. (It healed up nicely, and you can only see a scar behind my ear, and my beard is a bit patchy. The pneumonia I got from breathing fire was another matter…)
    And my daughter (5 tattoos, 2 body piercings, 1 lip, a bunch in ears) is trying to get me to get an “Ars Longa, Vita Brevis” tattoo with her for my 51st birthday, on the 14th…

  46. No, no that’s ‘crap’ not ‘carp…
    otherwise, carry on…

  47. Nothing intentional like piercings or tattoos.

    I do have a scar on my right shoulder from a burn — bacon grease when I was three — and two surgical scars on my left ankle when I had to have three screws put in to repair a broken ankle that happened in 1989.

  48. Melissa McEwan

    No tattoos. Pierced ears, though I can’t even tell you the last time I wore earrings…

    Plenty of scars, the most notable being a scar running up my lower spine from when I had back surgery.

  49. No tattoos. It’s not that I don’t like ’em, I’ve just never had anything that I’d want on my body when I’m 90.

    But I do have 8 piercings; 5 in my ears (one’s a rook with my daughter’s birthstone), both nipples and one in my outer labia.

    Do the two solder burns on my right wrist count? Probably not.

  50. When it comes to scars, I have a 1 inch scar above my right eye (like Spike, it’s part of my eyebrow, except on the other side) I acquired when I tripped over a vacuum cleaner and impaled my face on the edge of a table.

    I also have a Frankenstein-esque 6″ long scar on my left hip from when I had osteotomy surgery at about age 1.

    And I am covered in freckles.

  51. Oh man, I used to be pierced—-labrea, Nose, eyebrow bellybutton. They all came out when I got preggy 12 years ago.

    Tattoos, however—I have five. Two Japanese characters on my right forearm, three on my back. One of which is the Smiling Bear of Radiohead fame.

    If anyone hasn’t already figured out, I feel about Radiohead like Melissa feels about Morissey/The Smiths. (whom I MISSED PLAYING AT RAMS HEAD IN BALTIMORE! ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  52. I crossed a line that evening when I crossed the threshold of that shop, leaving behind one world and entering another. Although at the time, I wasn’t fully aware of it.

    Perfectly stated!

    I got my first tattoo in 1983. It was a fairy on my hip, about 3 inches tall, but for a woman, particularly a “nice Jewish girl,” it was radical. Small by current standards, it was a HUGE tattoo for a woman back in the pre-Modern Primitives day.

    Each of my tattoos has marked a transition or transformation.

    My big step out was when I got my sleeve. This was my first publicly visible tattoo. Prior to that I had gotten tattoos on my leg, hip, and lower back. But the sleeve was the first time I placed myself in the position of being unable to crawl back into the closet. When I’m out in public, unless I choose to wear long sleeves, I am The Alternative Person. I am The Tattooed Mom at back to school night. I am The Tattooed Lady in the grocery store. And a big part of getting such a big piece was forcing myself Out Out Out.

  53. Oh, I should say the sleeve was in 1997. It’s floral. Since then, I got an ankle piece, a prayer on my chest, a 9/11 memorial, another fairy, a heart, and the eyes of Kali on the back of my neck.

  54. Arkades

    I have two, one on each upper arm, just below the shoulder. Both dreamed up by me, artistically realized by my husband, and applied to me by a nice young man at a very clean tattoo parlor here in town. The second of which wound up being a collaborative birthday present from several friends, whom my husband persuaded to chip in toward getting my a gift certificate at the parlor. (I wasn’t aware, before receiving one, that one could even *get* a gift certificate for a tattoo parlor… it was a very nice birthday surprise!)

    I love both my tats; I think they look (and consequently, help me feel) sexy. Moreover, since my husband had a hand in drawing them for me, they’re deeply meaningful as well. I sometimes wear tanks and sleeveless tees during the summer to show ’em off, especially in bear-friendly venues where I think they’ll be appreciated.

  55. I am The Tattooed Mom at back to school night. I am The Tattooed Lady in the grocery store. And a big part of getting such a big piece was forcing myself Out Out Out.

    One of the moms at Maeve’s summer daycamp is the tattooed mom. She drives a minivan, even. I have trouble letting my freak flag fly outwardly, only my friends know the truth.

  56. No tats here, but I was thinking about a celtic knot like Brynn describes if I ever do get one. I love looking at those for some reason.

  57. JoAsakura

    Fritz: I was once in the bank, and the teller was wearing a huge, iced out kanji pendant “安” Now, “yasu” has several meanings. Depending on how it’s used, it can be “safety” or “peaceful”.. but the meaning my mind IMMEDIATELY flashed to was “cheap”. :snorfl:

    On the topic of body mods: I used to have pierced ears. For years. the moment i stopped wearing earrings for a while, bastards closed up. I’m like goddamn Wolverine.

    There are two tattoos I would dearly love to get. One is a stylised phoenix from a pin my mother gave me when I was in school of a japanese sword guard. the other would be an isis/hathor symbol on my arm.

    (I recently designed a chinese style phoenix tat for a girlfriend)

    However, the Spouse is crazy-against the idea. After her heart surgery, his mother got a small tattoo near where her pacemaker is, and he freaked out. We’ve argued about it, which makes me feel really stupid and childlike. ^^;;;

  58. Jersey

    My partner is tatooed out the wazoo. Mostly comic book heroes and beautiful women. Now at 41 I think I feel mature enough to get something. I really really really want a tree of life on my back. I grow orchids and have many pets that I want incorporated throughout the tree but I’d have to find an artist who could do a real good job of having a binturong laying on a branch with two coatis playing and a few snakes, lizards and a genet in there somewhere. Someday I will get it done.

  59. the lurking librarian

    I’ve got dog paws on my leg – did those when I was 32 or so. The girlfriend of an ex-girlfriend of mine did the work for me. Now one of the paws has an unintentional modification: a chain ring scar from my mountain bike during a night lap in an endurance race. I’m working on another design so I can get inked again. It will be a turtle, an animal which has a lot of both symbolic and literal meaning for me. Oh, and I have three ear piercings. Needless to say, the students at my U. find me to be a different sort of librarian. In a good way, usually!

  60. Jewel

    No tattoos or piercings for me – I’m far too needle-phobic for either! My honey wanted me to get an ear piercing with him so we could share a pair of earrings, but I couldn’t muster up the guts to do it. (I know, I know, ear piercings aren’t supposed to hurt. But phobias aren’t rational, and I’m seriously needle-phobic!) He did it with his daugher instead, so now they always wear the same earring in their left ear. I think it’s sweet, and sooner her than me!! 😀 😀

  61. I have three tattoos.

    The first is a tribal looking Pisces glyph on my left calf (I only get tattoos on the left side of my body as I am left handed).

    On my left forearm on the top I have a snake, solid black, it runs from my wrist to nearly my elbow.

    On the underside of the forearm I have the “Litany Against Fear” from Dune, tattooed.

    Litany Against Fear

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will allow it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

    My tattoos remind me that I only have this skin for a short amount of time and to be present in each moment as much as possible.

  62. JW

    Five holes (three in left ear, two in right) and one tattoo, over my spine at waist level, of the female symbol: o (but right side up). It’s small, about 1 1/2 inches high and 1 inch wide. I got it on Spring Break in New Orleans in 1997, and had been planning on getting it for about three years, but I had to work up the courage and find a place–there wasn’t any place in my tiny college town. I really came into my feminist activism in college, and as I got closer to graduation, and because I was also at the end of a long relationship, it seemed like the right time and place. Sometimes I want to add the fist in the middle of the circle, but I like its simplicity. It really didn’t hurt at all.

  63. Pingback: "Can a location of a tattoo on the body say ..." on Yedda - People. Sharing. Knowledge.

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