Friday, August 07, 2015


I don't have any tattoos.

Do you? And if so, what, and what prompted you to get it?

It's not that I'm opposed to them. In fact, some are truly beautiful. And some have intense meaning. And some are both pretty and meaningful. 

I'm in favor of beauty in whatever form you experience it. And I quite like the idea of marking one's body as commemoration.

In my early 20s I went with a friend to get a tattoo. She got a dolphin. And then a couple weeks later, a starfish. And then she got a third, and I can't remember what it was, but some kind of marine life.

I started joking that soon she would cast a net across her stomach and then have a tiny snail peeking out of her belly button.

We lost touch a year or so after that, so I have no idea where her tattoo adventures took her.

They weren't my preference, but she enjoyed them.

For me it's that so far there hasn't been anything in life that I've looked at and thought, "I want to put that on my body for the rest of my time on this earth."

I mean, OK, maybe I thought that about a guy or two when I was younger but that was fleeting and anyway now I'm happily married ever after so I don't even know why I'd mention it.

So really, nothing. As such, I haven't.


Yesterday my dear friend Kristin, who you may remember as someone who spends too much time on her hair, turned 46. She was my high school partner in ridiculous shenanigans, my confidante, my fellow eating disordered thigh-size-comparison commiserater.

I have known her since we were very young. We've been friends through a lot of drama trauma.

And as happens with the way that time as I understand it seems to work, every year she turns our new age exactly one week before I do.

This year, to celebrate, to mark a milestone, she got her first tattoo.
She said, "If you can't read it clearly it says CLARITY PURPOSE. Two of my favorite words that have been a cornerstone of how I try to live and also how I try to guide whoever I work with in therapy."

I like it. It's pretty and small and simple, with very personal meaning.

Last night I fell asleep thinking about it. And wondering if I'd like to get a tattoo.

Because this past year, while nothing outwardly milestoney like death or birth happened to me, something big did actually happen.

I figured out that I couldn't save my dad. I forgave myself. I started letting him go.

This means that I no longer think about suicide every single day. Because I used to think about it, about what I could've done differently, about what he might've been thinking, about why and how he left us, every fucking day.

And now I don't.

I wasn't at fault. I didn't fail. I couldn't actually have saved him.

This is one of the biggest things to happen to me in a very long time. And I made it happen.

So I feel like this could be a thing to celebrate, to commemorate. I've grown. I've still got lots of scars, but I've healed a great deal.

And then this morning I got a message from Kristin asking my thoughts on getting a tattoo on my upcoming birthday.

I said that actually, she'd really made me think, and I like the idea of words in a simple design. I just don't know what.

And she said, "Pick two words. Just not 'hairy penis'."

Right. Thanks.


  1. I've been thinking about getting a semicolon.

    1. I do like the meaning behind them. I would like something a little more decorative, I think. Is that shallow? I don't know.

  2. Cant wait to see what you pick. Forgive Not Forget.(just thinking out loud as I read this post) You of many great words will inspire me with this adventure. I used to say I wont get a tattoo because they will look so bad when I enter the nursing home. And then it dawned on me that everything will look bad! Go for it!

    1. I am a big chicken about getting something forever on my body. So who knows if this will happen by next Thursday. And Kris got it on her ankle, which seems like a good place, one that doesn't really sag. That's definitely something I'm taking under consideration! :)

  3. I've been thinking about getting a tattoo of my kids' names written in Hebrew, but in Hebrew handwriting script rather than the formal block lettering, which is very heavy.

    1. That would be pretty and very personal. I like that idea.

  4. Oh Lisa, my eyes welled with tears reading this. Something big, indeed, has happened to you and no one is more deserving of this breakthrough and place of forgiveness than you. I'm very happy for you.

    "I'm in favor of beauty in whatever form you experience it."
    I've never been able to articulate how I feel about tattoos until I read this line. I know you'd pick out an amazing tattoo.

    I like that a tattoo can express or symbolize something personal and deeply meaningful. I think the reason I've never gotten one (besides being a wimp and the expense) is the thought human beings are all unique and I've never feel comfortable altering myself physically to express who I am or a piece of my journey or a dream I pursue. There are things worth celebration and marking (literally) the occasion but a tattoo never felt like the right medium for me - perhaps it's the dark ink and the process (needle). I wish I felt differently on this.

    1. Thank you so much, Heather. You've held my virtual hand through so much of this. Even before we met in person. I adore you and I appreciate you.

      I have actually liked not having one--not altering, as you said--all these years. And I don't know if I really will get one or not. It has to be feel exactly right, and even urgent. Which it doesn't yet.

  5. I'm getting a series of tattoos! I have always wanted them all my life, but never did to avoid rejection. I will have two little mexican roses on my ear lobes and one big design on my back going along my arms. Besos y abrazos. Tu fan y amiga.

    1. I understand what you mean. People can be judgey.

      You are so beautiful, I mean really, SO beautiful, and whatever you do will only make you more so. I know that Mexico is such a part of your soul, and I think the idea of Mexican roses sounds charming. I'm dying to see what you decide on for big tattoos.

  6. I'm getting a series of tattoos! I have always wanted them all my life, but never did to avoid rejection. I will have two little mexican roses on my ear lobes and one big design on my back going along my arms. Besos y abrazos. Tu fan y amiga.

  7. Ive never found anything that I wanted to put on my body forever, but I'd definitely do it if I could.

    Some words for you: Forgiveness, remembrance, freedom, love, peace, Or what about something that you love about people that you love -- laughter, calm, strength

    1. I haven't either, Cheryl, and I still haven't. I am thinking about words along those lines. And "breathe" as well. But none of them feel like I HAVE to have them on my body. So maybe the fact is, I don't?

  8. Dear Old Friend,

    Every time we visit my mom, she talks about the route she takes to get from the lobby of her apartment to her room: There's an elevator, you see, and when she gets off the elevator her room has moved; it's like magic. Every time.

    I have realized that she talks about this because she knows that her mind is slipping away, and she's afraid that she will forget how to get home.

    How terrible it is to forget.

    But thinking about how to get home takes brain power that could be better used for other things.

    So in thinking about how to help Mom, I've considered giving her something — a map, say — that she can keep with her always

    Because if she has something that will always be with her to remind her, maybe she won't have to worry that she might forget, and she can think about other things. Things that make her happy.

    Anyway, I'm sure this has nothing at all to do with your situation.

    Much love,

    1. Mark, this was so beautiful. You made me cry for so many reasons. For you and your family and your mom. How scared she must be. For the beauty of your writing. For all the love that is wrapped up in these words. So much love to you, dear friend.

  9. I'm so very glad you've found peace. This is a big deal!

    Funny a good friend of mine has also just blogged about tattoos!

  10. I used to think on pretty much the same lines when it came to tattoos. I didn't understand how inking something permanently on your skin would add to the importance it already had for you. But all this was before I realised how old our dog had become and how close we have come to losing him. You have definitely faced bigger horrors and emerged a stronger person, but the thought of losing my first and probably last pet is something which prompts me to get a tattoo. A tiny set of paw prints a foot above the heel beside the calf sounds just about right to me. I'm so proud of you for having exorcised your devils!

    1. Thank you so much. And thank you for sharing this sweet story with me. The daughter of a friend of mine got a tattoo of their dog's paw print after she died. She was such a part of their family for so long. I totally get it.

  11. First of all congrats on letting go of the guilt/responsibility. That's huge.

    Secondly, I find meaningful ink to be beautiful. I have two so far and plans for 3+ more. They are all memorials.

    The first one was for a friend who passed away. It is on my shoulder to match my brother's small pox vaccine scar. (He got that scar the same week my friend passed away) That one is numbers surrounding my friends initials. Few people understand it, but few people understood us either. It's fitting.

    The second is an owl that is modeled after a large owl pendant my grandmother used to wear. She had seven of these owl necklaces and 7 grandchildren so I've been turning them into Christmas ornaments as my cousins get married and settle down. There was one I have vivid memories of her wearing when I was a child so I tattooed it on the back of my wrist like a bracelet.

    When my dad sells my childhood home I'm having the Long/Lat coordinates tattooed around the rest of my wrist to finish the bracelet.

    Currently, I also have plans for "Love, Nanny" on the top of my foot right above my flip flop strap (In my Nanny's handwriting), a caffeine molecule on my other wrist's pulse point for my grandfather and very small doves flying away for pregnancies that didn't work out.

    1. Thank you. It really was huge and I feel so much lighter.

      Your stories and images are beautiful. Thank you for sharing them. I love that you've paid homage to such important people in your life by marking them on your body. I am also impressed that you've been able to succinct images. I really like the idea of meaning that isn't obvious. You don't know unless you know. (Incidentally, I have a subtle smallpox vaccine scar and I really like it.)

  12. I work in a team of ten girls and I realised the other day that only me and one other girl (I think she doesn't have one anyway) are the only ones on the team without at least one tattoo. It's just not something I've ever had a particular hankering to get done. But I'm all for other people going for it... although some people do go too far.

  13. I have a beautiful tramp stamp of a multi-coloured sun. I love it and don't regret it for a minute. I've had it for 20 years and am always pleasantly surprised when I see it. I am thinking of getting a semi-colon on my wrist and I love what it symbolizes. Being bi-polar, I love the message that my story isn't over yet even though I've been hospitalized for suicide several time. To me it means hope. If you decide to get a tatoo, you won't regret it. Just get it somewhere where you're skin won't sag. Lol.


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