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Daily Reminders

I'm neither an Army brat nor the child of wandering biker parents. Neither my mother or father went to Woodstock though they both protested the Vietnam War. I come from a fairly conservative, predominantly all white, childhood where picnics and halftime oranges at soccer games were the norm. So how in the hell did I end up putting tattoo art all over my body? Simple, my tattoos are beautiful daily reminders and expressions of what has made me human in my 30 years and more importantly has given me strength in my most vulnerable of hours. Here’s my story of each tattoo… Tattoo #1 (Lion head; left upper arm) I was 21 when I decided to get my first tattoo. It was a very methodical process for me. I researched four or five tattoo parlors here in DC before I settled on Jinx Proof in Georgetown. I chose them on a very simple basis. A main street store must have meant they used clean needles while also making first timers like myself feel at ease. What I got was a very different feel. While all professional, I felt as if I were in a check-out line being booked and processed rather than massaged and courted. Neither myself nor the artist spent a lot of time discussing anything of relevance. It was a simple act of consumerism. I was the buyer he was the vendor, we did a transaction and off I was an hour later with my Vitamin D ointment in hand and a nice little directions packet of how to take care of my new tattoo. Now the art was fine. I chose a abstract picture of a lion head that I had pulled off a Bob Marley poster from college. So right off the bat I failed miserably in creative expressionism. I failed to come up with something new, but was proud of the work. I was always called “Brian the Lion” by both my parents for a variety of reasons growing up. I had a main of curly blond locks and more importantly the heart and inner strength of a lion. You see, I was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when I was 3 months old for ‘failure to thrive.’ In less medical terms I was simply failing to gain weight and was having trouble breathing on my own. The average life of someone with CF when I was born in 1977 was a little over four years old. I simply could not just be normal anymore, my parents had to make sure I was a survivor. Out of the gate I held my own, repeatedly fighting nose to nose with my disease and my struggle to be a normal little child who was only into sports. Soccer for the most part kept me out of the hospital growing up. Tattoo #2 (Psalms 18; back right shoulder blade) My first true test into manhood came at the expense of my health when I was 20. I had increasingly become more and more sick due to my lungs filling up with mucus and therefore infections. I was having to go into the hospital every year between the ages of 17 and 21 often for a weeks at a time. The hospital was lonely and scary even for a 21 year old. I can’t pin it down to anything other than you are at your weakest point when you are cooped up in a hospital bed. I was beginning to have the onset of panic disorder. I was having panic attacks regularly, without provocation. I slept less and I worried more. I asked for help from one of the pastors from my parents church and I asked for forgiveness from the lord. I had done nothing wrong nor felt resentment for why these panic attacks were the cause of a spiral downward. I just wanted clarity and a new beginning. I wanted to take care of myself as if I were an adult. For too long during college I had accepted my fate and figured I would live each day out as if it were my last. That catches up to you though. Psalms 18 represents me being pulled out of my clumsiness, my being drowned by evil forces. The section that appeals to me most simply reads…. 16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong will be me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my to disaster, but the LORD was my support. 19 He brought me out into spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. 20 The LORD has dealt with me according you my righteousness; according you the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. Tattoo #3 (Depiction of Angel Gabriel with family lions at her feet; right bicep and upper arm) Shortly after Psalms 18 I decided I needed some guardian angels. Not only to watch over me in times of despair but also in times of joy. This particular tattoo is still my favorite. It is the first of many that I got once I moved up to NYC and was 2 blocks from my house. The artist and proprietor of the shop was named Eric and he had an art degree from NYU and named his shop Ink Stop Tattoo which was on the corner of 13th and Avenue A in Alphabet City, NY. We bonded immediately and talked of politics and music, his love for his job which I dearly enjoyed listening too and most importantly we talked of family. I believe he had recently been married and had a baby girl. Over several other sessions I felt at home with Eric and even would stop in from time to time to say hello, feeling an instant bond with the one person whom had put my beautiful angel on. Gabriel, one of the archangels and seen in many faiths as the same as the holy spirit serves as my main guardian. I speak to him often, in time of doubt and in time of great faith. I see him akin to God in that way. I am not a religious man but I am a man of faith and I truly believe there are consequences, good and bad for one’s behavior. I see to it often that I am on the good side of this angel. Tattoo #4 (Depiction of Egyptian Angel; left arm) My sister sketched this out for me and Eric put this on. My sister has a wonderful hand at art. She designs clothes, does oil on canvas and now I guess she can claim body art in her resume. Nonetheless, the main point was to have commonality on my arms. I love angels and always have and wanted at least a guardian angel on both arms. The Egyptian face on the angel came from when I spent a few weeks in the valley of the kings and queens on the Nile River my junior year of college. I was blown away at the art in the tombs and wanted to depict the Egyptian influence in the face of the angel. The angel, of whom I never named, also is holding an Irish cross to give a little love to my native blood line.

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