Gills like Fluttering Pages

I mentioned about halfway down Thursday’s post that I was planning to get my second tattoo the next day.   My mother appears to be the only person who’s interested in whether or not I did or what it looks like—which is just slightly disconcerting, let me tell you—but the rest of you are stuck because I need a post, so here we go.

My first tattoo was a response to a lot of things going on at the time.  While the text had long been planned and the font finally chosen, the decision to get it done right then and there was completely spontaneous.  And I have no regrets.

But this one . . . this one was meticulously, ridiculously planned to the point that any mention of it was starting to seriously irritate both my husband and Watson.*  Mostly I think because this tattoo I’ve been obsessing over is only one single word.

It is, however, a single word that I’ll be confusing people with at the asylum retirement home for years to come, which I think should’ve earned me a little slack—even if it turned out to be a very good thing that the artist** had to move the original appointment back a couple of weeks because I was changing my mind about the look and placement of the thing up until last Monday.

My decision held steady, though, so Watson—whom, as I’ve said, I highly recommend as a tattooing buddy—and I went with me Friday morning, armed with my laptop and a flash drive with the image of what I wanted.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t access the building’s WiFi, my flash wouldn’t work, and my laptop refused to acknowledge their printer.

But I did know which font I’d used in which proportions—yes, obsession has an upside—so the artist downloaded it from FontSpace, recreated what I wanted, and then we all checked the spelling several (dozen) times, because the tattoo might be one word, but that word is . . . different.

After all that, the tattooing itself was a bit anti-climactic.  But, when finished,  perfect:

For those of you blinking in confusion and thinking, O-kaaaay, this is where it started (click to read, unless your eyes are much better than mine):

See, I originally thought I was Beth in this scenario—Lord knows  my husband does—but then I realized that it went a little deeper than that:

Reading is as unconscious a reflex to me as breathing.  I once lost a $50 bet when I couldn’t go an hour without reading—I’d automatically snagged a book on the way to the bathroom and I was honestly confused when I was called on it.

Writing is as much a part of me as reading.  About fifteen years ago, I decided to quit cold turkey—fiction, non-fiction, all of it—because I wasn’t a writer, I was never going to be a writer, I was nothing but a sad wannabe, and I should stick to other people’s words.  I managed one month, maybe, before my husband brought me a legal pad and a pen and told me to “Write something.  Anything.  Please.”***  So I did.  And whatever happens, or doesn’t, I won’t ever quit again.

I’ve been comfortable in all kinds of libraries all my life, and now I spend most of my awake time in one, like a frog in a swamp, so I can take a quick dip when things get too dry.

And to be honest, I’m probably more functional while swimming underneath a wave of written words—mine or someone else’s—and I sincerely doubt that’s ever going to change.

Words—chained, woven, knitted, glued, hammered, scattered, sung—have always provided nourishment, excitement, direction, and purpose.  And escape, too, until it’s safe to come out again.

But I never had a word for what I was, before.

And now I do.


*Though Watson is better at hiding it.  You would think my husband would have built up more tolerance for my unlimited ability to overthink everything, but it’s possible my immediate reaction to his marriage proposal fooled him.

**Whom I chose because I liked what I’d seen of her lettering, plus the place where she works has won several awards and has an excellent reputation.  They also have a couple wiseasses on staff, so I felt right at home.

***Yeah, he might be an enabler, but if I smoked, I’m absolutely certain he wouldn’t have bought me a pack of Camels and told me to light up—and if we asked him, he’d probably say it was more like bringing a Happy Meal to a stubborn toddler on a hunger strike.


Wondermark is the brainchild of the brilliant, handsome, and essentially non-litigious David Malki ! who deserves that exclamation point after his name.