Ever since I was a rebellious teenager, I have wanted to get a tattoo. 

Luckily for me, I did not get tattooed at any point along the way.  It’s likely that I would now be cringing at what I would have picked then.  I was a “goth” as a teen and it probably would been something skeletal or death-related or something weirdly related to Aleister Crowley, whom I was obsessed with between the ages of 17-19. 

Then I went through a rather protracted hippie phase, and am very glad there are no dancing bears or rainbow-related things tattooed on me.  Nothing against The Dead, for of course they rock and always will.  Just don’t think I would want their imagery on my body.

So now, at the ripe age of 33, I finally know what I want.  For my first tat, I’m going extreme and balls-out.  I’m getting a half sleeve of Kwan Yin from Susan Behney-Doyle at Jinx Proof Tattoos in Georgetown.  That’s right, a half sleeve, that’s half of my damned left arm, shoulder to elbow.  I recently plunked down a huge nonrefundable deposit so it is happening, people. 

So what will it be, you might ask?  I have chosen a scene of Kwan Yin holding a child.  She will be supported by a lotus flower base, and there will be clouds above and ocean below.  Susan’s suggestion was to add in 3 strategically-placed Asian-style peonies here and there.  The whole thing is estimated to take about 8-10 hours and I am going to be doing it in 2 hour blocks, since that just about sums up the free time I have to spare.  My first appointment is Friday night, March 6.  There is something that feels more than a little spiritual about it as that date would have been my mother’s 59th birthday.  She would have definitely approved of me getting ink.

This is kind of the basic concept, although we are going to warm up the colors to go with my olive skin tone and simplify/stylize a bit — as well as add a baby, of course.  I trust Susan implicitly to come up with a design that will incorporate all these things.  As for the pain: I’m not worried about it.  It’s sort of the attitude I had with childbirth.  I chose to have a natural childbirth, even though I knew it would hurt like hell (that being a vast understatement) and now I really do know the extent of the pain of birth.  I’ve chosen friends to come with me, to hold my hand, to give me Reiki, and I intend to spend as much of the time as possible in an alternate or meditative state.

Kwan Yin has meant a great deal to me, ever since I began to practice meditation 5 years ago.  She means even more to me since I have become a mother, and since my own mother is no longer of this world.  She is the Divine Mother figure in Buddhism; she is a ruthless activist, vowing never to stop until all beings are liberated; she is a nurturer, a compassionate witness — in fact, the literal translation of her name means “she who hears the cries of the world.”  These are all values that I can never imagine outgrowing or tiring of.  Perhaps one day I will want to appear conservative - so I will wear a 3/4 sleeve shirt.  Mostly, I am ready for this new initiation, literally to embody the ideals I have vowed to live in this life.