Let’s Talk Tattoos: Kelly Preps for More Literary Ink

Library Tattoo Born to ReadMy library has been moving to a new building for the past 2.5 weeks, and let me share one thing I’ve learned: BOOKS ARE HEAVY. And rearranging 2 closets, a circulation desk, and an entire freaking library is not relaxing. It has also reconfirmed something I’ve known for ages: people don’t think rules apply to them. We have a GIANT sign on the door stating we are closed to the public. I stopped counting the number of people who come in and say “I know you’re closed, but…” and then they want a book or a movie or to use the computers. I have to fight the urge to chase them out with a stick while shrieking obscenities.

Seriously, closed means CLOSED to everyone, including you, lady who is going on vacation and didn’t get books while we were open even though I personally told you 3 times and now expects to be let into the building and freaks out when you say no –

Where was I? Oh yes, well quite frankly… I don’t want to look at a book when I come home. I want to watch mindless television and sleep and drink heavily. The library has finally killed my desire to read (temporarily, of course).

But it has not doused my desire to cover my porcelain skin with literary-inspired ink!

I love tattoos – there is just something so deliciously irreverent about covering your skin with images and words. It’s a literal mark of the things that matter to you. Or a projection of who you are on the very first layer of defense we have – our skin. Which is rather paradoxical and can be really annoying. Walking across a campus, in a mall, or even Quick Chek, people will ask you what your tattoo means. It’s pretty much an open invite for anyone to talk to you, even if that’s not what your intention was when getting inked. (Though if a cute boy wants to talk tattoos, that’s just a plus!)

Explaining what a tattoo means is kind of difficult. For example, my tattoo inspired by James Joyce’s interpretation of the Adam and Eve story in Ulysses. And since the image itself is hard to explain, here it is:

So… it’s an apple with a bite taken out of it, with the words “Happy Fault” in a banner. As I wear skirts and dresses as often as the weather allows, I frequently get asked about it. The questions I get range from “What does that say?” to “Is that an apple…?” to “Did it hurt?” and many more. My usual response is “it’s from a book.”

I feel if I say it’s from Ulysses, people will view it as elitism/arrogance on my part. But that’s working on my own assumptions about people who are knowledgeable about the book. Or that they will think I am a damned hipster and am just name-dropping a book – well I freaking love Ulysses. The whole thing is just maddening and stunning and beautiful, and so I wanted to get this tattoo to commemorate my love of the text. But am I going to say all that to the random stranger who most likely doesn’t care about it? No way. And that’s not even going into the actual meaning of the tattoo, just the context of it.

Meaning – the crux of the issue (and isn’t it always? Ok, ending existentialist mutterings now). To me, it speaks of humanity. The scope of human existence being a series of happy faults, all the mistakes and the problems and the wrongs in the world, that each human has known in order to be truly alive. Because knowledge comes from our experiences, and knowledge is always a good thing even if the price was painful. I also view it as feminist, saying fuck yeah mythological and symbolic Eve.

And there are more layers to what I think of my tattoo, but well that is more details than I want to divulge to the internet. That is the beauty of a tattoo – it can be a really personal and meaningful thing. Or it can just be a piece of toast dancing on your clavicle. It can be whatever you want it to be, dear reader. It’s your skin after all.

When I map out future tattoos on my body, they all come back to literature. Not surprising as I’m writing on a book blog, I know. I imagine artfully placed lines from my favorite E.E. Cummings poem. Fawkes the Phoenix in memoriam of my cousin, to represent the ways that love brings people to life after they’re gone. A line from King Lear under my crown tattoo. A mockingjay somewhere, an antiwar symbol. It’s also a reminder of the toll it takes on those who’ve been turned into symbols. In short, to remember that we all have a story.

Now I promised in the title this was about me prepping for more ink. Cassie-la and I are getting Harry Potter tattoos next week! And semi-colons. English majors 4-eva!

I am a little undecided about my HP tattoo though. I have one basic idea that can go two ways:






The left is the Dewey Decimal number for Harry Potter, which speaks to my librarian nature. But another girl has this tattoo in the same writing (well it is Harry P font, so it’s kind of obvious…) and her picture is all over the interwebz. But I didn’t even know about her until after I thought of it and googled the exact call number.

The second image – I love ‘always’, and what it means in the story. And it doubles as I will always love HP. But I feel like I am not the biggest Snape fan, soooo should I really get his words to represent Harry Potter to me?

DILEMMAS, dear reader. So! If you have an opinion – let me know. I have to drop off my picture at the tattoo shop later today. Actually, in approximately 14 hours. You can then claim you picked out a tattoo for a total stranger. (Or if you know me, how influential I find you).

To conclude this post – tattoos are awesome. Libraries are great once completed, but a bitch to put together. Hopefully I will have picked up a book by next Wednesday with the intent to read it, and not to chase a patron out of the building.


7 thoughts on “Let’s Talk Tattoos: Kelly Preps for More Literary Ink

  1. I like both of those tattoos actually. I actually have a rather plain lightning bolt on my leg which among several other meanings there’s a bit of love of Harry Potter. I don’t think you can go wrong with either of the designs you’ve picked.

    • It takes me forever to decide on tattoos, because I go back and forth on what I want – I was going to use a lightening bolt in the design but then decided on the stars from the book page instead 🙂

      I went with the call number, especially since I am going to grad school in the fall for library science.

  2. I can’t figure out how to log in on my iPhone but it’s me lol.

    I definitely am a huge fan of getting “always.” mostly because I really wanted it myself for a while and could still someday. From your post it seems though like you are more into the call number which I think is cool because it does double as a Harry potter and librarian tattoo.

    I don’t think that other girl having it should’ve a deterrent. you both came up with the idea and it’s not like theres anything original about the actual content – Harry potter font or a call number. A bunch of people have the same Harry potter tattoo thAt I have but that’s ok – it’s a great one. I sure like it so it’s unsurprising other people do.

    I don’t really get the obsession in the tattoo world with not getting the sAme thing as someone else. It’s personal and going to be on YOU so if YOU want it you should get it. It’s not like you know that girl personally and stole her idea lol

    Anyway soooo excited you guys are going. Can’t wait to see!!!!!!!

    • It’s true – the tattoo thing is rather silly because it’s on you, it’s yours. But some part of me has already been infected by the silliness of the “original idea” thang, so it’s hard to get over. So that’s why I need you guys to tell me to stop being silly! ❤

      So after all my angsting about it, I chose the call number because I wanted it, damnit. And I love that we are all going to have HP tattoos in time for LeakyCon. 52 more days!

  3. I feel like if you say it’s from “Ulysses” 80% of people will not know what that is. XP But that’s probably just my hatred of humanity/pessimism showing.

    Also, YAY tattoos!!! I think if you get “always” and then the decimal symbol that could be seen as one sentence. As in you will always love “Harry Potter”. But I know for a fact that you’ve gone already so this is all pointless now.

    Where are you putting your semi-colon?


    • You’re probably right about the 80% not knowing what it is. Which made me sad and depressed, and the futility of describing meaning even more clear. *Le mope* Sorry – the existentialism is pulling at me again.

      For now, I’m going for just the call number. But once we’re in the shop that day it would be easy enough to add a small always beneath the number. We shall see!!

      As for the semi-colon, I think I am getting it on the side of my left middle finger. I like the idea of it connecting two similar things; namely, my fingers. It’s like a silly english major joke in tattoo form.

      Only one week until we go!!! I am so excited ^^

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