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.

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