Story of my Skin – August 23, 5-9?
This was an event I was invited to read at at Pearl St. Consignment in Red Bank, NJ. Below is a working draft of my latest writing and the beginning of a much larger work I plan on developing as collection of flash memoir. Special thanks to Laura McCullough and Pearl St. Consignment for their hearts and vulnerability during this event.
Since I write this in 12pt Garamond, there is a conceivably conceded connotation towards my level of education; how I prefer the starving comfort of student loan debt to economic stability. But I tell people it’s all about the Garamond because of the personal impact a scar-headed boy, a survivor, had on me, and not the gothic weight something that has survived past the 16th century brings. There’s something inherently witchy about it, something how the “g” is a beautiful and reflective and curved top/bottom heavy figure, sitting crossed legged on a dining chair in silent incantation. I am not so sure where, however, my words come from but at least using this typeface helps me populate the origins. When I’d like to give up on writing and all the esoteric natures of my attempts to say the unoriginal originally, Garamond is there to remind me of my keyed forearm, to remind me to survive despite the scars. My forearm, in turn and inside, also bears a colored scar of rose and spool. Now, some years later since this permanent injury, I can trace the stinking stretched glow of black turned gray, the refraction of lines from first needle’s impact to unstable weighted fray.
My inspiration came like most; on the toilet. Going back to conceded connotations; I was staring at my arm in a bathroom mirror that was costing me $70,000 of the government’s money to simply look at my reflection. I decided to get my Masters degree in writing because I couldn’t decide, and the decision brought many more decisions that I still cannot decide on. I usually do not regret those rare decisions I do make, I don’t usually wonder what if? or man I made a bad choice, and my decision to get this tattoo, for example, has consequently, thankfully, and decidedly not run that gambit.
So anyways, there I was, Lake Tahoe winter for my MFA residency in a fancy bathroom of porcelain and granite, feeling real depressed in a leper’s clothes with the fiction writers and their literal talks about Paris and how to literally deal with fame so I used a rare decision card, equally as literal, to have a better time staring at, in particular, the scar on my wrist.
This appeared years ago, back when I was an indecisive retail slave to the almighty Whole Foods Market. I slit my left wrist with a box cutter while opening a wine case. The cut opened birth canal deep as blood crept from the freshly flapped skin. It was my first day as the store’s shift manager and the boy training me switched glances like a film editor considering shot transitions between the gash and gaze of amazed wonder on my face. It may have been the first and only time I felt anything while working there. Sometimes I catch people staring at it with a worried looks on their faces and joke that I missed the mark.
I counted the little circles, the tickle of my fingertip against those puffy marks, inverted in the bathroom mirror’s reflection. There were eight in total, each discolored speck a signature of the EMO doctor weaving the needle and thread under and over, right to left, left to right. It made me think of marks we leave on others; the tiny synapse sheets we tuck ourselves into and the bubbled dreams that linger long after we wake. I snapped a picture with my phone of the blank space inside my arm, between my elbow and wrist, twisting my limb with palm down against the lip of the sink. I knew that this was where I wanted my next tattoo before I knew what it was even going to be of.
I emailed the shot of my arm to myself. When I arrived back in New Jersey from that winter’s residency, I got in contact with my artist and forwarded him the image. **REDACTED is one of those individuals that left an impression in my mind. We already had the pleasure of collaborating a few times in the past. I met him at Otakon as he sold some traditional flash piece posters with inspirations ranging from Gundam to Neon Genesis Evangelion to Akira. He was a frail, tight jeaned, black clothed boy with a rose swirled on the back of his palm, a nervous tension under his bottom eyelid revealed in the smallest twitch. He shook my hand with the softest strength.
My ultimate decision, and trust me, I was still indecisive with something so final, was to go with this typewriter not only because of my love of written word. It was more of my love of words written; a symbol for both my passion and for the acceptance of scars from other pasts and other people. In much the same way Garamond was a concrete art for the story of a boy with the scar who survived, I came to accept this typewriter as an equal representation of past and portal.
I suppose, in thought, just like a font, scars, whether temporary or permanent, accidental or tattooed, can be likened to the heavy press of a typewriter’s key as it imprints, inks uneven characters in a visual horizon. So when I am asked why there is nothing typed, no notes on the blank piece of paper that rests at the top of the tattoo, I often respond that I have yet to decide on the title to that story, that it is easier to name these things once there is an ending.