“I’m 50 years old. Once, when I was about 25, a friend was going to get a tattoo. I kinda sorta thought about getting one too, but didn’t get very far past kinda sorta. I couldn’t figure out what tattoo I would get. What could I possibly want tattooed on my body for the rest of my life? So I didn’t get anything. Other than that very small moment when I kinda sorta considered it, I have never had any interest in getting a tattoo. I could never understand why anyone would want to mark up their precious, sacred, holy body with a permanent tattoo. I mean tattoos are permanent. Getting a tattoo is a bigger commitment than marriage. You can get a divorce, but a tattoo you’re stuck with for life. So getting a tattoo was never configured into the design of my life.
Then, a month before my 50th birthday, I saw the invitation to participate in the Boulder Tattoo Project and, suddenly, with no warning, completely out of the blue, as if I was possessed by some alien being that wasn’t me, I responded without hesitation with an immediate and resounding YES. SIGN ME UP! I was about to turn 50 and I figured: It’s just a body. It’s on its way out. It’s a downhill slide from here. I’ve likely lived longer than I have yet to live. Why not get something tattooed on my body for the rest of my life? It’ll be dust in not too many years, so I might as well make the dust slightly more interesting. I was making a list of 50 things I wanted to do in my 50th year and, at the risk of living a mid-life cliche, getting a tattoo seemed like a perfect thing to add to the list.
And besides, I’m an artist. And I often find myself in the camp of ‘Anything for art!’ And community! And collaboration! So many good reasons to get a tattoo!
I was late to get on board, so I had limited options to choose from. After sitting with a few possibilities, I went with ‘of topological wrench.’ I like those words. I had to look up topological. A mobius strip is topological. On my 40th birthday ten years ago, I got a mobius strip in the mail from an anonymous giver. It reads ‘If these visions of Johanna are now all that remains to be seen if these visions…’ I still to this day have no idea who sent it to me. So topological seemed like a fitting word for my 50th birthday.
‘of topological wrench’ is in the line of the poem where Anne Waldman writes about the flatirons, so I put it on my hip, just below my iliac crest, which kind of reminds me of one of the flatirons. After getting the tattoo, I realized I had to tug the corner of my pants down for anyone who wanted to see the tattoo and show them my hip. I confess my skinny quirky hips have never been the part of my body that I love the most. In fact, my hips have, at times, been a little bit hard to love. So, quite by accident, I get to show people my beloved and imperfectly perfect hip over and over again.
Wrench is a good word, too. He wrenched my heart out. I was in wrenching pain. We broke into gut-wrenching laughter. Wrench. Wrench. Wrench. I like the way that word feels in my mouth. Wrench. Of topological wrench. Before this tattoo, I had never once in my life said that combination of words together. Ever. Of topological wrench. Now I say them together a lot. Of topological wrench.
And I’ve got ‘of topological wrench’ permanently tattooed on my sacred, holy hip for the entire rest of my one wild and precious life.”