Friday, September 28, 2007

The Scarlet Field of Can Ka No Rey

Hello, folks! Long time, no blog. Sorry I’ve been away, but I can explain… really…

Last week I took a bit of a vacation and headed up to Pokagon State Park for a few days by myself. No work, no friends, no husband, no neurotic cat. Just me, my laptop, my journal, and a duffel bag full of books. Bliss. I got a lot of journaling done, as well as a lot of work done on my book. What, you didn’t know I was writing a book? Well, I am, and I think it’s nearly finished. I got 7 chapters edited to the point where I am happy with them, and I’ve got 7 to go. I’m hoping I’ll be finished with this sometime in the next 6 months and then we’ll start trying to sort out how things end up published.

Anyhow, I also got a little body modification done on my vacation. My dear friend Cuthbert and I headed out for the tattoo parlor and got a bit of ink on my back AND we both got our tongues pierced. Whoo hoo!

I do have something to say about tongue piercing. To all of you who told me that biting your tongue hurts more than piercing it…to all of you who told me that getting your eyebrow pierced is far worse than getting your tongue pierced... every last one of you are liars. I’m hoping this tongue piercing works out for me because there’s no way in hell I’m ever getting it done again. If it grows shut, I’ll just have to think of something else to pierce. Aside from still not being able to properly make the ‘th’ sound a week later, I think I lost 5 pounds in 5 days simply from not being able to maneuver food around my swollen tongue and intruding metal ball.

At least no one lied about the tattoo.

Tattooing is one of those things that you really have to make your mind up about before you get into that chair. Once they start, you’re in it for the long haul, unless, of course, you don’t mind a half finished design gracing your body. So even though you don’t know what it’s going to feel like, you have to be willing to put up with that feeling for however long it takes to do that tattoo.

I have always prided myself on having a high threshold for pain. I am a girl, and I have had some of what I think are the worst cramps on the planet (ever had the cramps that hurt so much you throw up? Or pass out? Been there, done that) so I figured I could handle just about anything. The tattoo did hurt. And ten minutes into it I did get nauseas and had to lay down on the floor while the shop guy brought me a Pepsi. But I did get the entire tattoo. As I was being worked on, I told Cuthbert and Ken, the tattoo artist, that there was a good chance I was never having another tattoo done again. Cuthbert and Ken told me that tattooing is like childbirth – that it hurts, but it’s sooo worth it that you somehow forget how much it hurt and end up doing it again. By the time Cuthbert and I got to the mall to get body jewelry, I said there was a good chance I was never having a tattoo done that close to my spine again. You can see how a little word modification goes a long way. I’m currently working on my next design.

Here’s another interesting little tidbit about the ways body art seems to wreak havoc on one’s brain. Remember the metal bar and two metal balls in my tongue right now? It should be noted that I refuse to get metal fillings in my teeth because I don’t feel comfortable with having that much metal in my mouth. Oh, the irony. Oh, and you know how someone was poking a needle into my back fairly close to my spine? It should also be noted that I’m petrified of epidurals because I’m convinced a needle in my spine would paralyze me. Does it frighten anyone that I trust the tattoo artist with my spine more than I trust the anesthesiologist at the hospital? It frightens me a bit.

So you want to see my ink? Here’s the design I chose:

If I am smart enough I will take an actual picture of it on my body and paste it up here later. If I am not smart enough you’ll just have to live with knowing this is on my lower back.

I call this tattoo The Scarlet Field of Can Ka No Rey. Here’s the story behind it:

Imagery for this piece is taken from the literary series The Dark Tower. Can Ka No Rey is the road leading up to the Dark Tower. “The Scarlet Field” refers to the acres and acres of red roses that surround the Tower. In this story, Roland is the last remaining gunslinger (a kind of knight) and he has been seeking the Dark Tower for thousands of years. His guns are legacies, handed down from generation to generation from the gunslingers who have gone before him. The handles of the guns are reputed to have been carved from Arthur’s great sword, Excalibur. The mirror images of this piece are mirrors of the sigul on the handle of Roland’s guns. This sigul is a sign that denotes his lineage and confirms his ancestry. Without it, he cannot enter the Dark Tower. It simply will not open. And so, he approaches the Dark Tower and presents his sigul, and the Dark Tower opens to him, Roland of Gilead.

This symbol is significant to me because it reminds me that no matter how long my journey is, no matter how much I suffer or how much joy I experience, no matter what good works I do and what places I fail, what matters is my lineage – the ancestry of the blood that fills my veins and the fire in my eyes. It is a reminder that I am part of the lineage of a beautiful God, and that this makes me what I am.

To me, this symbol says ‘my victories and struggles are not what make me. They are part of my story, but they are not what I am. I am what I am because it is what God made me. I am standing where I fit’.

A few months back my good friend Cuthbert did a painting for me that tells one of my takeaway stories. This symbol is incorporated into the painting, and there is a poem that goes with it as well. I feel like the poem says what my tattoo symbolizes better than any story I could tell, so I’m going to share it here.

Field of Roses

All the pain and all the struggle,
All the fire that’s passed through me,
All the miles and all the years,
The ugliness I’ve seen and the ugliness I’ve been,
Is a part of my story.
My story, and I own it,
But it is not what makes me.
It is not who I am.

My name and place is set.
Nothing within or without can shake that.
When I hold the promise close
All is silent grace
And fluid movement.
The song writes itself and spills
From my lips of its own will.
Sometimes when I need to know
You tell me.

I lay down my sigul at the feet of your essence
And know that I am okay.
I am standing where I fit.
I scream my name with eagerness and tears,
Joy and pain.
My name is a long line of ancestors,
My name is my inheritance,
My name is my story,
My name is carved in my spirit,
My name is whispered in your heart.

There is struggle behind and its Resumption ahead.
But as I stand before you in this Field of Roses
All is calm as you let me in
And dance around me in a pillar of Silk and Perfume.
This is the destruction of my fear and hatred
And the rebirth of my childehood.

I surrender my guns
And you call me by my lineage,
The name that is mine despite all,
As ten thousand faces in the Roses sing my song.
And I am at rest.

Friday, September 14, 2007

You put What?! Where?!

Tales From the Vault: The Men I Have Known

Here we are again, with another tale from the vault… You may have heard this story before, as I wasn’t nearly as shy about sharing it as I was the butter story. But then, I didn’t date this particular guy for a year and a half, so it doesn’t seem to reflect on my character as much. You can decide what you think for yourself. Enjoy!

Tale # 2: You put
What?! Where?!

Here goes…

When I was in college I lived in a little studio apartment downtown, worked full time, and went to school at night. Certainly not the easiest or most carefree existence, but it was getting me a college degree and I was living outside of my parents’ house where all sorts of craziness was known to take place. I figured my little apartment had to keep me safer from the craziness than I had been up to that point in my life, and so I lived there with happiness and (clearly false) confidence in my ability to fend off the crazies.

One of my friends from high school had a boyfriend who lived in the same apartment building as me. We’ll call her Bev and we’ll call her boyfriend Ben. I personally didn’t care for Ben all that much, for reasons I’d rather not delve into here. Let it suffice to say that I thought he was, in the words of a dear, dear friend of mine, a real douche bag. One of the first things about Ben that struck me as a huge red flag was that neither Bev or I met any of his friends until she had been dating him for nearly a year. Did he not have friends? Were his friends so freaky he was afraid to introduce us? Was he keeping his relationship with Bev a secret from them? I didn’t know what it was, but something about this seemed off to me. There were plenty of other red flags – like the way he refused to tell his parents when Bev moved in with him, the fact that he didn’t want her to come over to my place and hang out with me, that he’d commit to doing things and then never do them, etc., etc., etc. But one of the first red flags was the apparent total lack of friends.

Fast forward a bit. Ben finally decided to introduce us to one of his friends, a guy we will call Stan. I have no idea where he knew Stan from, but their friendship seemed to go back aways. It seemed odd to me that it took so long for us to meet him. Time went on. We hung out with Stan a bit more. He was a little odd – he was a librarian who didn’t own a television and was uber religious in kind of a weird way – but he seemed like a nice guy. I even went on a date with him. It was, admittedly, a strange date. He took me to church, and then took me to meet his parents. On our first date. After our date he complained to Ben that I’d been dressed too provocatively (which no one else seemed to notice when I wore that same outfit to work) and decided he wanted nothing to do with me. Okay, fine. If you’re going to be weird about my shirt, you’re probably going to be weird about the gay bars and Rocky Horror Picture Show parties and everything else about my life, so it’s probably better if you go now anyhow. My feelings were not hurt.

Ben, Bev, and I continued to hang out with Stan on a periodic basis. He continued to seem strange. One of my clearest memories of Stan is in Ben’s apartment. We are getting ready to watch the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. Stan is sitting on the sofa and suddenly has this reaction:

Stan: Ooooh! The Nightmare Before Christmas?!


Stan: That is my favorite!! (slaps knees with both hands),

Favorite!! (slaps knees again),

Favorite!! (stop with the knee slapping already!)

(claps hands together like a teenage girl watching N’Sync and does the gayest shoulder shrug I have ever seen)

Me, Ben, Bev: (look on in amazed silence)

Anyhow, let me get to the point of this story.

One day Stan tells Ben and Bev that he had to go to the Dr. for an appointment. It’s just said in passing, something like, ‘Oh, and after I went to the Dr.’s office, I had to stop at the store to get stamps,’ or something like that. No one thinks anything of it. Then, a few weeks later, Stan mentions that he was at the Dr.’s office again. Again, it’s just said in passing, and no one thinks anything of it. A few weeks later, it comes up again. Most of us don’t go to the Dr. three times within a span of a few months, so it is starting to seem strange and a little bit alarming. But Stan doesn’t seem to be overly worried about it, so no one questions him.

Again, a few weeks later, Stan mentions that he’s been to the Dr.’s office. By this time Bev is getting annoyed. She is not the kind of person to wait for you to say whatever you need to say. If she suspects there is a story, she wants it, and she wants it now! So Bev decides that dammit! if Stan is going to keep bringing up these random Dr. visits without any explanation, she’s just going to ask him why he’s going and get it over with. A few more weeks go by. Again, Ben and Bev make plans to hang out with Stan and again, Stan mentions that he’s been to the Dr.’s office. Bev can’t stand it anymore. She asks him why in the hell he keeps coming over and saying he’s been to the Dr.’s office without telling anybody what’s wrong with him. Stan then reveals his great affliction.

Stan tells Bev that he was worried that his ass smelled bad. At first thought, one might think, duh! of course your ass smells bad. You sit on it and sweat on it all day long, it’s confined in your boxers or tighty-whities 24 hours a day, you fart in there, and God knows what else. At first glance, one would not think this is an affliction worthy of medical intervention. Then you hear the rest of the story.

Apparently Stan thought he had an excellent home remedy for the case of the stinky ass. He decided deodorant would do the trick. Yes, you read that right. Deodorant. On his ass. According to Stan, this did alleviate the problem of the smell. I guess that’s not surprising, if you think about it. But Stan was not anticipating the adverse affects of putting deodorant on one’s ass (sorry to interrupt, but what is it with the men I know slathering weird substances on their bodies? Is it just me? Am I a magnet for this crap?). And who would? Deodorant works fine for my armpits, which are also very smelly and confined on a normal day, and it doesn’t cause any weird side effects there. Why would it behave differently in an ass environment? I simply don’t know. What I do know is that when Stan started to regularly apply deodorant to his anal-regions, he grew himself a nice crop of ass fungus. This new and interesting fungus was the reason for Stan’s repeated visits to his physician. Ass Fungus. Didn’t even know you could put those two words together, did you?

Now that you know the story, I’ve simply got to make a few points:

First of all, who smells their own ass? Are any of you out there even that flexible? I’m not. And who is worried about it enough to even try? Let me just say this: there is no way in hell that any straight man on this planet is that worried about the condition of his ass. No way. Perhaps there was another reason Stan was upset about my supposedly ‘revealing’ shirt. Perhaps he doesn’t like boobs. Come on, Stan, just admit it. I’ll love you all the more for it.

Secondly, if you have a medical condition that makes you want to die of embarrassment, like, say, a self-induced, homegrown fungus on your ass, you might not want to announce your every Dr.’s appointment to the world. Really, Stan, if you didn’t want us to know, you shouldn’t have made it so completely obvious something was wrong.

Thirdly, I’d really like to know whether the offending product was a deodorant or an anti-perspirant, just for the record. And maybe the brand name too.

One can never be too careful.