Let’s talk about tattoos.
I got my first one as soon as I turned 18, and I’ve become slightly addicted to them since then. Some family member (cough *dad*) aren’t crazy about my ink, and for a while, I let that stick with me. When I got my second tattoo I told myself, “Okay, I’ll stop at five.” Then I hit five and said, “Okay, I’ll stop at 10.” Finally around the sixth one I realized something: I love my tattoos, and I want more. So I’ll stop when I want. I consider it my one act of rebellion. I don’t have any crazy piercings, I didn’t try a cigarette until college, and I never hitchhiked to California with a guy named Hawk.
Now let’s get down to business: my ink–from my first one to the last one (for now).
I got into Led Zeppelin in high school after my dad told me he met them once when he was stationed in England. I didn’t know anything about them, so I dug through my parents’ CD collection, and after listening to Led Zeppelin IV, I was hooked. I think it took me a bit longer and a few more records to understand their mystical themes, brilliant musicianship and penchant for 25-minute songs, but after that first listen, I definitely wanted to hear more. Zeppelin were my gateway band to other classic-rock acts: The Beatles, Janis Joplin, the Who, the Rolling Stones, Cream and Jimi Hendrix. Each symbol represents a member of the band. A year or so later, I added the lyrics “I live for my dream” from my favorite Zeppelin song, “Over The Hills And Far Away.”
2. Celtic lucky knot
This was my most spur-of-the-moment tattoo. Some kids I hung out with my freshman year of college were going to get tattoos, and they asked if I wanted to tag along. My mom had bought me a necklace with a Celtic lucky knot on it. I loved the design, and quickly decided it would make a great second tattoo. After surviving my first tattoo with flying colors, I thought this one would be a cakewalk. I was wrong. It hurt like hell, much more than my Zeppelin one. I don’t recommend making such last-minute decisions–especially in regards to tattoos–but it worked out for me.
3. John Lennon
If Zeppelin were my gateway band, John Lennon was my old-school musical idol. He was so different from the other Beatles–so creative, introspective, political and a bit off. Sure, he had his flaws–I’ve read enough books about him to know that–but he’s my favorite Beatle. This is my small tribute to him.
4. Say Anything
Say Anything are my favorite band, even more so than Zeppelin and John Lennon, although I consider the three on different levels. Max Bemis is a brilliant and extremely underrated songwriter. I decided to pay homage to Max with a simple line from “Chia-Like I Shall Grow.” Now the question was where to get it. That was solved after listening to an interview Max did. He was talking about his favorite band, Saves The Day, and he said something along the lines of, “For me, Chris Conley is my John Lennon.” I knew what he meant as soon as he said it, because for me, Max is my John. So I decided to get the lyrics around my John Lennon tattoo. The combination of words throws some people off when they look at it, but I don’t care. Something tells me Max and John would approve.
3. Buddy tattoo
My best friend Chelsea and I share a love of tattoos, good music and French. We took French together in high school, and we both went on to study it in college. When we wrote notes and cards to each other in school, we’d sign them “your best friend” in French. So we decided to get “best friends forever” in French tattooed on the inside of our left arms. They turned out well except… we spelled a word wrong. Eight plus years of French between us and we spell a word wrong. Even worse my brother, who also studied French, pointed it out to us. (Insert smug sibling.) Fortunately the mistake wasn’t too bad; we forgot the “s” on the end of “toujours.” We could go back and have it fixed quite easily, seeing as it’s the last letter in the last word, but we’ve decided not to bother. After all, everyone should be reminded of their flaws.
4. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
I’ve mentioned this tattoo before, but here’s the backstory: I stole this idea from an NPR listener. I was listening to a discussion of the book A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and they were reading some listener responses to the book. One woman who had emailed in said she loved the novel so much that she got a tattoo of one of the lines from the book: “They were made out of thin invisible steel.” I thought that was pretty cool, and filed it away. Not longer after, I read the book myself and absolutely loved it. I also now understood the line she had gotten tattooed and decided I wanted it as well. At first I felt a bit weird getting a tattoo I knew someone else had. But it wasn’t some silly Chinese symbol for soup. It was a beautiful, powerful, yet simple line about the Rommely women. They were tiny women, but they were mighty. They were made out of thin invisible steel. It’s one of my favorite lines from literature. I’m just glad I was listening to NPR that day.
5. Frank Turner
Ta-da! Another music tattoo. You’ve got to be pretty special for me to get a tattoo for you, and Frank Turner is definitely one of the good ones. The bird is from the cover of his third album, Poetry Of The Deed, and the line is from “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous.”
6. F. Scott Fitzgerald
Like every other person who attended high school, I read The Great Gatsby while I was there. But I actually wasn’t that crazy about it. I liked it, but for all the talk it gets, I felt a bit let down. (One of these days I’ll give it another read.) Fortunately, I gave Fitzgerald another chance and read This Side Of Paradise. After finishing it I suddenly realized why everyone was so enamored with him–they were just reading the wrong book. Since then I’ve read all of his major novels, short stories, essays and a biography. All I’ve got left is a book of letters and his last unfinished novel, Love Of The Last Tycoon. This dancing flapper and her beau are from an out-of-print edition of Tales Of The Jazz Age.