Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Time I Got a Divorce

Reader(s), I'd like to think that by the time I can throw a party without someone's gold fish dying, I'll be able to successfully raise children without losing or inadvertently handicapping one. (That gold fish story is one for the ages & one that is forth coming in the near future, but alas, one for another day.)
& fortunately, my kids will have a plethora of knowledge available to them based on all the stupid things I've done. That is right, future fruits of my womb, I've fucked up plenty of times so you don't have to.

That being said, one time I did something incredibly stupid & got a tattoo in a language I can neither write or speak.
& I think it's also worth mentioning that at the time I got this tattoo, I didn't know a single person who spoke/wrote/read the language.

Why did I choose Arabic?
I'm still not 100%. Probably because it's pretty to look at; officially because I was trying to be deep & "remind myself to do what I want because not every one can, especially not women in other countries."

Whatever. I choke back vomit every time I think about how profound I tried to be up until about a year ago when I realized I'm just a puddle.

But anyway. The word was freedom.
Doesn't my tattoo look so cool next to my ultra-ethnic earrings from Earthbound Trading Co.? #sarcasm

Anyway reader(s), you're all smart people, I'm sure. Or at least smart-ish.
You can guess where this is going.

I'll tell you anyway.

For about a week and a half after getting this tattoo, I kept having nightmares and day time anxiety about one day going to an Arab-speaking nation & finding that my tattoo actually said liver or heart disease or fish-monger.
Or was written backwards.
& I was stressed about it. So I went on to google translate & found out two things:
1. My tattoo is not written correctly; &
2. It did not say (and possibly still does not) say freedom.

Worth noting are several sets of facts that led to my infamous tattoo faux pas. First, when I decided on Arabic, I was at my house using my computer which was still relatively new, so it processed the Arabic languange a lot better than oh say, I don't know, a computer built in '98<--which is approximately how old the computer I printed my tattoo off of was.
See, before I got this tattoo, I went to my friend, Flor-Carl's, apartment and proceeded to use google translate on her computer. To compare the different ways of expressing freedom in Arabic, we copy & pasted the words off of google onto her Microsoft Office Word 1997 program.
So instead of the letters being connected like an actual word, what I have behind my right ear are individual letters.
Why didn't I just print off the tattoo at my house where it would have been correct? Don't know. Most likely it's because my printer was out of ink...
The second set of facts relevant to this scenario is that at the time Flor-Carl & I were looking at Arabic words on her computer, I was desperately trying to teach Flor-Carl about Jimi Hendrix & why his music transcends genres & is not just "stoner music" ( I know, at 21 I was just too profound for my own good). I proceeded in doing so by getting her drunk off of $16 tequila & a bottle of Godiva Chocolat Liquer I'd been storing for the winter, admittedly, I got myself drunk in the process.

So there we were, sitting in her dimly-lit room, blaring Jimi Hendrix (while I slurred through the lyrics of  Castles Made of Sand and The Wind Cries Mary) and also spilling cheap tequila and not so cheap liquer all over her carpet, using her very old computer to learn new languages that I would very soon be stamping into the skin behind my ear forever.

Good choices. So many good choices.

The last notable fact pattern is that for some reason, comparing words all at once on the same Word document was not good enough. There was a lot of deleting some words and repasting others. With neither of us speaking Arabic, no one noticed when a character got deleted off of the end of the word I ultimately chose.
That one letter difference changed "freedom" to "divorce."
And so for about three weeks, I walked around with "divorce" behind my ear.

Luckily for me, it was the character at the end of the word & there *just enough* room behind my ear to add it on when the artist who did my tattoo came back into town. He called it a "touch up" & didn't make me pay for it, but I still tipped him out $20.
To this day, every time someone asks to see the tattoo behind my ear, I still have to lift up the bottom of my lobe to show it in its entirety--that's how close I came to having a completely arbitrary word right by my face forever.
& that's my story.

About a month later, I took this "Women in History" course at  A&M just trying to get through some electives so I could graduate on time. As it were, the T.A. in that course was dissertating about the rights of women in the U.A.E. & asked me why I chose to get freedom behind my ear & why Arabic.
So I feel better.

But the T.A. was also Latino so there's still a very great potential risk that my tattoo is just a bunch of pretty Arabic scribble scrabble.
Either way, the way I look at it, that tattoo is just classic me. It's wholly indicative of my spontaneous spirit and propensity for making errors.
In fact, it would probably be more representative of me if it were  just scribble scrabble.

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