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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, February 17, 2012


“Did it hurt?” I watch eyes trace the ins and outs of the ink my skin now celebrates. A month has gone by since the work was done. Without fail, this is the first question that comes out of slack-jawed mouths as I reveal the dyed skin below my collarbones, the maze of shapes and colors glowing with intricacy. Hands rub naked chests soothing sympathy pains as furrowed brows digest the scene. This question is genuine, but not really a question begging an answer.
Of course it hurt.
At first I did not understand this universal response to the art on my skin. For the five hours it took to construct the piece and few weeks it took to heal it, the rest of my life seemed plenty of time to make the pain worth it. But people have a way of acting when something uncomfortable has just brushed their senses. How else can you react when a girl has just revealed 9 interwoven triangles on one of the most sensitive parts of her body? They look to identify, relate to this choice I made in the first week of what is supposed to be the last year of our lives. Most people, it seems, relate only to the pain of the operation.
The placement is purposeful, personal, vulnerable. It is a commitment to myself; a reminder to stay humble. The night the idea came to me was cold, even for January in Chicago. I was sitting cross-legged against a wall of a building with nothing but a t-shirt, but inside I had felt overheated; I invited the awakeness that came with the wind. Vibrations moved through the brick wall from the blaring music of the party. I had just come from a basement hot and wet and packed with people whose faces looked lost and whose hands were quick exchanging substances and touches with strangers they felt close to. The gathering overwhelmed me for some reason. I found peace meditating outside, facing a garage and looking up. The sky looked crystallized as though the stars themselves were frozen in place, augmented by telephone wires streaming across. More aware than ever of my creator, I thanked the power that tipped us into existence. You realize sometimes that these moments could have never happened. Existence is perfection. I felt indebted to this connection, to this relationship between creator and created.
Two weeks later, I called a friend who tattoos and email him the designs. The ‘wings’ of the piece are inspired by a Brasilian graffiti artist named Zezao who uses bright layered colors as his palette for his art. The middle is a Sri Yantra, a Hindu symbol of nine triangles. It is the embodiment of abundance and beauty. The intersections of the nine triangles represent the nine stages of growth of the human child in the womb. It is the yantra of sacred knowledge. It unifies the masculine divine and the feminine divine. Once drawn, I called the piece, “Creation.” All creation is (or should be) an ode to the ultimate creator.
Unintentionally, it has become a Rorschach test for eyes that search for meaning among the abstract twists of nonsense shapes. People try to make sense of the strokes of strong color. My mom’s side is on my right. The fiery red burns for her intense soul. The calm, blue hues of reason, collection, agency are for my dad.
“I see pieces of life,” a friend points to the dark blue squiggles. “It’s beautiful… like watercolors.”
“I see fireworks” says another friend.
“You’re never going to get a job,” my mom said as she shook her head, searching her bag in a panic for the pack of Virginia Slims holding her next dose of calm.
This is partly true. My career at IBM was forced to a halt before it even started. Then again… I never want to work for companies that discriminate anyway, so I guess that isn’t much of a problem. Still, my mom takes little comfort in this. I promise not to show her again.
Sitting in my living room, I look into the eyes of someone beautiful. Heart pounding, I fear what she will think of it, this new piece of me. Will it will make or break the way she looks at me now? Like revealing a deep secret, I unbutton my shirt to expose this part of me to her. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.” Her eyes stay fixed on it, as mine do on her, reading her face, digging for her thoughts. Her touch is cool against it; the lotion on it makes her fingers cling to the damp skin.
In researching the Sri Yantra, something I now do often, I always find beautiful new ways of describing it. This was in a blog about worship through the Yantra; I love it.
One should approach the Divine Mother without any reservations. One need not express one’s want, difficulties, complaints, problems to her for she knows your needs better and will give you what you need and at the same time she will also protect you.
To imagine this, I let go of all temporary flesh and know that these bodies are beautiful but hopelessly finite. Most art, I find, lasts longer than us anyway.

Your weekend warrior,


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