19 April 2010
The Myth Of Sisyphus
I finally decided to move forward with the tattoo I have been planning for the last six months. So many people told me getting a quote by a French existentialist/absurdist - in French, no less - tattooed on me was pretentious. Yeah, yeah, yeah. At least I can read French (I used to be fluent, but it's that whole use it or lose it deal), and Albert Camus has always been my favorite philosopher. All that said, the funniest aspects of getting this tattoo all revolve around my mother.
Let this be said, my parents bought me my first tattoo for my 20th birthday. At the time, my mother insisted that it be discreet, easily covered, and tasteful. What did I end up with? A tramp stamp. (Though I maintain this is a misnomer, as I am neither a hobo nor a postal carrier.) My rather socially conservative mother accompanied me to the tattoo parlor at the time, The Green Man, and seemed to have a blast. To be fair, my first tattoo was not a full-on tramp stamp, it's a very symmetrical, Tibetan lotus -- stylized, which I pilfered from a singing bowl used in meditation practices that we have in our living room. At any rate, my mother was all for the first one.
I went back to the Green Man for this one. I had a great experience the first time, and wanted to reprise my inking there. That, and I have a serious affection for the Celtic mythology around the Green Man itself, so it's fun to give custom to a place that I have an additional connection to. Okay, so I tend to babble, as I am now. Let's rejoin my story...
Anyway, on Saturday, I decided now was the time to do it. I had chosen the quote months ago, after my bipolar diagnosis, and out of my love for Albert Camus. Now, my mom almost shit herself when I said I wanted to get a quote from Camus tattooed on my person. The conversation went something like this (though I don't remember exactly, as it took place six months ago):
"I've finally decided on what I'm going to get for my new tattoo," I said one evening.
"Oh yeah?" Ellen responded, eyebrows raised.
"Yeah, it's a quote form Albert Camus, you know... l'Étranger."
"WHAT?! I don't like that AT ALL," she raised her voice. "Those existentialists are SO DEPRESSING. You don't want something depressing on your body permanently. That's awful."
"I haven't even told you the quote yet," I yelped. "It's not depressing at all! And I don't think existentialists are in any way depressing. But whatever."
I believe I stormed off. (Not unheard of in my household.)
Either way, I had made my choice, and it only took several months for me to go forth with my plan. The whole tattoo took maybe ten minutes. I can't remember my other tattoo hurting as much as this one, which was odd since the first was bigger, with thicker lines, etc. Location, location, location, right? Pat at The Green Man did a really good job, and he was funny as hell, poked fun at me the whole time, much to Adam's amusement. I will be returning to him.
So, for those of you who aren't fluent in pretention, the tattoo says, "Au milieu de l'hiver, j'ai découvert en moi un invincible été." Which in English is, "In the middle of winter, I found in me an invincible summer." Kind of great, isn't it? Not depressing at all, if you ask me.
The kicker was when I arrived home this morning, having spent the entire weekend with Adam, I showed my mother the tattoo. What does she say?
"The font is very pretty, but you know it is permanent."
The point, mom -- I think you missed it.
I love my mother, but she does have an insistence on restating what I already know (at least once, if not more), especially when she thinks I've made a poor decision.
Looking at my tattoo now, I think I might have placed it higher, except it would be harder to cover when I want it to go unseen. I do think I have opened the door for ever-more tattoos, which I will not mention to my mother. Now I just need to invest in halter tops and sun dresses. So much for covering it...