It is a truth universally acknowledged that by getting tattoos a person is essentially asking the world to openly gape at them. Or so it would seem, from my experience so far. I recently got a rather large, rather visible tattoo, and since having it I've been stared at a lot on the street. It is a weird feeling to walk along and suddenly notice that many pairs of eyes are trained on your leg, let me tell you. Besides being stared at I've also been told that I will undoubtedly regret being tattooed, been asked what I'm going to do or how I'm going to cover my tattoos on my wedding day if I get married (sometimes the "if" gets a little extra emphasis), been told that "oh, I just find tattoos so ugly", and so on.

   Normally these kinds of things don't bother me. I'm not a baby, and I'm entirely aware that tattoos aren't for everyone. I like my tattoos, and I don't mind if others don't share my high opinion of them. For some people tattoos are associated with a lot of negative things, and it takes effort to get past that. For others, it's purely aesthetic and they just don't like them. That's fine! People are allowed to think differently about things. That being said, I'd like to give you a few simple pointers in dealing with your tattooed friends and acquaintances, and these have more to do with plain old politeness than anything else.
  1. Please don't stare. Tattoos are interesting and somewhat unusual and the eye is drawn to them, but staring is different from looking. When I say "staring" I meant the look that judges as opposed to the look that just says "oh hey! a tattoo!"
  2. Do not touch them. I've had strangers poke and prod my tattoos and let me tell you, it is not an enjoyable experience. Unless you are absolutely certain that it is okay for you to touch a person, just don't do it.
  3. If you know the person quite well, it is probably okay to ask what their tattoos mean. Keep in mind, however, that they might not mean anything or the meaning might be intensely personal. If they say "it's personal" or something else that essentially translates to "I am not comfortable telling you" then don't press the issue.
  4. We all know what assuming does, and I recommend that you don't make hasty assumptions about people with tattoos. Don't assume that they are are bad parents, or that they don't have a good relationship with their family, or that they've fallen off of any variety of wagon and into the gutter (all things I have heard people say, sometimes right to me after seeing that I am tattooed). All sorts of people are tattooed and making hasty generalizations about them only makes you look silly at best and harshly judgmental/prejudiced at worst. 
  5. Speaking of assuming, please don't assume that people will eventually regret their tattoos. They might, but they probably won't. When you say this, you are essentially saying "I don't think you are capable of making a lasting decision that will have repercussions throughout your life." That is a weird thing to say to people, especially if you know them well enough to have ever asked if they will get married or have children. Those are also decisions that will last a long time. 
  6. If you tell me that I will look terrible when I am old I will probably say either "so will you, what's your point?" or, "actually, I'll look amazingly cool." Everyone is going to look old when they are old.
  7. If someone has a tattoo and you think it is great, you can tell them so! It's like someone saying you have a great shirt, or that your hair is looking especially fly today.


The Spire / William Golding

   Here is where I admit that I have never read The Lord of the Flies and while I always have good intentions to read it, they never come to fruition and I always opt for something else. However, now that I have experienced William Golding's work, I might have to put some actual oomph into my reading plans and finally pick it up. The man is an excellent storyteller.

   As I said in my last post, I finished reading No Country For Old Men while I was out camping. The only other book I brought was a Dostoyevsky, and I was not feeling up to it. Apparently I'm learning to bring two books, but not to bring a second book that I'm going to want to read at that moment. Since we were driving into Banff anyways, I wheedled a library visit and pored over their for-sale shelves. As any frequent library book buyer will tell you, library sale shelves can be remarkably hit and miss. Maybe they will hold one thousand gems of literature, maybe you will have to force yourself to read obscure sci-fi (which might turn out to be good, you never know). This time the pickings were slim, but we came across this little number and even though it had no synopsis on the back and I didn't flip it open and read a couple pages, I bought it. It was a dollar. The name "William Golding" was enough of a book-value guarantee to go on.

   The Spire is about the building of a 400 ft tower/spire on top of a cathedral with no foundations to speak of that was originally built on very marshy ground. Dean Jocelin has been dreaming of this building project for years and years, and now it is finally coming to fruition. However, the book is also about religious hubris and, to a lesser extent, corruption in the medieval church (and I thought Dostoyevsky was going to be too heavy. HA). Jocelin continues to force the project even as his own health, relationships, congregation, and sanity crumble. Reading this feels like going crazy right along with Dean Jocelin. AND, as it turns out, its written about Salisbury Cathedral and the cathedral does indeed lack any significant foundations and the pillars inside do indeed bend. WHO KNEW?? (All the Salisbury parishioners, people who have visited, and those with more cathedral knowledge than I). The spire still stands today, but is only able to because of some extensive renovations and suppourt. Also, for some reason I thought that Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth was about the original building of the Salisbury Cathedral, but it's not. It's about a fictional cathedral. 

   I know that the second you read "religious hubris" you flipped out and ordered The Spire on the interwebz and are now eagerly awaiting its arrival, but I will still end this post with a recommendation. Well done, Mr Golding. Well done. 

No Country For Old Men / Cormac McCarthy

   By page nine of No Country For Old Men, the body count has already begun to grow, and a few pages later I decided not to keep count. It climbs quickly and steadily, so if that's not your thing, then perhaps don't bother with this book (or many books by Cormac McCarthy, for that matter). That being said: oh wow do I ever love Cormac McCarthy.

   Not one to be held back by things like punctuation, McCarthy tells his tale with almost tedious descriptions of physical action and an amazing ear for Southern dialect and accent. By "almost tedious descriptions of physical action" I mean that instead of saying "he drove through a gate" McCarthy says
"The white marks at the side of the road when he found them looked like surveyor's marks but there were no numbers, just the chevrons. He marked the mileage on the odometer and drove another mile and slowed and turned off the highway. He shut off the lights and left the motor running and got out and walked down and opened the gate and came back. He drove across the bars of the cattleguard and got out and closed the gate again and stood there listening. Then he got in the car and drove down the rutted track."
    There are several times when various characters drive through that self-same gate, and it is the same every time. Stop the car, get out of the car, open the gate, get into the car, drive over the bars, stop the car, get out of the car, close the gate, get into the car, drive on. Basically all of the action is described in this way, and while it can take some effort to read, I still love it. I don't know if I understand you, Cormac McCarthy, but keep on keeping on. The Road is written in a similar style. (Have you read The Road yet? WHY NOT???)

   I finished reading this while I was camping for a weekend, and for the rest of my time in Banff I had a running commentary in my head "she got out of the tent and zipped the flap shut and went to the camp chair and sat down and looked at the empty fire pit and, and, and, and, and..." I don't know if other people do this, so welcome to a window into my psyche. It involves a weird amount of self-narration, especially after reading books like this one.

   The ending of the book is strange and somewhat difficult to deal with, but it is exactly what needed to happen.

   Fun fact: Nicholas Sparks once claimed to be a waaaay better author than Cormac McCarthy in and interview where he also compared himself to Shakespeare, Hemingway, and the Greek playwrights and stated that A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks was his favorite coming of age story, topping books like The Catcher in the Rye. OH BOY.