Book Review: The Stories Behind Tattoos

Shocking Tattoos

I was standing in the driveway, casually discussing the possibility of renting part of a house. The prospect of entering into a situation with roommates wasn’t particularly appealing, simply because I’d had my own space for many years and I prefer to live with that level of control, specifically: I make the decisions, period.

As the conversation progressed, my potential roommate/landlord brought it around to the other, long-standing roommate. The one not present. The one with…and she paused while making the pained expression people have when they fear a particularly bad response to what they are about to say…dreadlocks and tattoos.

I paused a moment, wondering when, exactly, I had physically transformed into the middle-aged, suburban, ignorant-about-everything woman people kept (incorrectly) assuming I was.

“I have tattoos,” was my only response.

She clearly did not expect that.

My Tattoos

I got my first tattoo right before the beginning of my divorce when I knew something was going to have to change or I was going to have to leave. As it turned out, lots of things needed to change and we both needed to go our separate ways (the details are another story for another day).

It’s the lion from the strength card in a tarot deck I owned at the time. I chose that image because I liked both the symbolism and the artwork. It translated into a beautiful tattoo. The symbolism behind the card and the lion (outside of the tarot deck’s interpretation), combined with the circumstances surrounding the act of being tattooed, couldn’t have been more perfect.

My second tattoo occurred during the height of the legal process of that same divorce. It’s a stylized hawk in similar colors and artistic design to the lion. It was designed by a friend with Native American lineage (and a grandmother actively involved with that community), so it includes a balance symbol from her own traditions. At the time, I suspected that particular element was included because the artist thought I needed to find balance in my life; which was true enough, so I went with the design. However, for me, the hawk has always symbolized freedom from entrapment (another long story for another time). Yet, freedom and balance can easily intersect with one another – particularly when necessary changes happen to include the end of a relationship.

The third tattoo was acquired at the very end of my divorce, during the absolute worst period of social and relationship drama. It’s a snake around my ankle. It’s the most visible tattoo I have. It’s a stylized blue tattoo, whereas the other two are red. It’s not scary and the symbolism behind it is not what you think – which is kinda the point. (And, yes, that is also a long story for another time.)

I like my tattoos. They are both symbolic and earned. I wish more people understood both of those concepts.

Chick Ink

This story is not in the book Chic Ink, but a complete version of all details (including those not provided here) could be pulled from this book.

Chic Ink is a collection of experiences, explanations, deep thoughts and memories. Reading it is like sitting down for coffee with a random collection of women and listening to every one of them answer this question: “What’s your tattoo and why did you get it?”

If you’re looking for a good read this holiday vacation, consider picking up Chick ink. The stories behind the tattoos are positively fascinating.

Chick Ink: 40 Stories of Tattoos–And the Women Who Wear Them by Karen L. Hudson

Quotes from the book can be found HERE.

Old Eyes

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Seen in profile, his face was ageless. But his eyes had spent more than forty years looking at drunks, at knife fighters, at victims, at what happened when pickup trucks hit culverts at eighty. They were old eyes.

People of Darkness (Navajo Mysteries Book 4) by Tony Hillerman

What to Fear

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Sometimes I feel like there is so much to be afraid of, and sometimes I feel like there is nothing left to fear.

Allegiant (Divergent Trilogy, Book 3) by Veronica Roth

Bravery and Perspective

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Half of bravery is perspective. The first time I did this, it was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Now, preparing to jump off a moving train is nothing, because I have done more difficult things in the past few weeks than most people will in a lifetime. And yet none of it compares to what I am about to do in the Dauntless compound. If I survive, I will undoubtedly go on to do far more difficult things than even that, like live without a faction, something I never imagined possible.”

Divergent (Divergent Series) by Veronica Roth

Treasures Earned

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I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home.”

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by Bill Bryson

School For Adults

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A woman of her age and experience could hardly expect to be re-schooled by anyone except herself. But if she had a true community such schooling would be the service her people provided.”

Fire Logic (Elemental Logic) by Laurie J. Marks

 

Discipline of Hope

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Perhaps desire will never be fulfilled. But to live is only worth the effort if you live in hope. And living in hope is a discipline, a practice that can be learned.”

Fire Logic (Elemental Logic) by Laurie J. Marks

 

Don’t Be Stupid

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“We tend to learn more completely and better through acting in ignorance. Nature is not a cruel teacher, exactly, but has little patience for careless stupidity.”

Browsing Nature’s Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Wendy Brown and Eric Brown

Learning by Doing

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This is a story about a little robot who plugs into a machine everyday in order to learn loads and loads of facts. Then, one day, he decides to unplug and see the world for himself. From that point froward he confirms the facts and adds on to what he already knew.

It’s fun and perfect for any child who must be dragged away from a computer or a stack of books – or the exact opposite.

“Doug found the subway! He already knew that subway trains ran underneath the entire city. And that kids rode for free. And now he found out that subway trains s-c-r-e-e-e-c-h-e-d their way around corners!”

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino