Tag Archives: tattoos

Daily Prompt: Snapshot Stories…Pork Fried Rice!

2 Jun

Prompt: Open the first photo album you can find — real or virtual, your call — and stop at the first picture of yourself you see there . Tell us the story of that photo.

I can’t even think about this story without laughing my ass off…because it could have been true! Tattoos. Ever had one? I’m a fan, but not a fanatic. I think you should really put some thought into a tattoo and have it be something meaningful to your life, because you’re going to have to live with it…forever.

Not like my dumbass son who, while in Mexico on his senior spring break trip, decided to have two nautical stars tattooed on his back…one on each shoulder blade. You know…because he’s so into sailing and just had to get that passion tattooed on his body. Are you fucking kidding me???? That kid had never even been on a boat in his entire life when he got those stupid, fucking tattoos! Oh, and here’s the kicker…his best friend at the time got one on his forearm, too! Yeah…he was really (NOT) into sailing as well! I still tease them to this day, ten years later, about their “friendship tattoos!”

So, I had been thinking for some time about what kind of tattoo I wanted, because I did want one. I ride a Harley Davidson and it kind of comes with the territory. 🙂 I thought about a lot of things, but nothing really “spoke” to me, until I took a trip to Laconia Bike Week in New Hampshire in 2000; the country’s oldest motorcycle rally. I went with my BFF, Amy, to research going there as a vendor with my business. Man, did we wish we had our bikes with us on that trip! We flew in just to do R&D there, and being biker chicks – since before there were many of us on our own bikes – we were so bummed not to be riding there, because the scenery was AWESOME!! Mountains, oceans, forest, and beaches…you had it all! Even in the cage it was a beautiful drive.

Amy, who already had several tattoos at that point, decided that she wanted to get another one to commemorate our trip there together. Seeing how we were BFFs, and this was a trip to remember, I decided to join her…I would boldly make that move! She had a biopsy scar on her right breast in the lower right cup area. Amy was really into turtles so she decided to have a turtle tattooed right over the scar with the scar being the shell of the turtle. It was fucking magnificent! The artist had the turtle kind of at an angle with his head turned looking up toward her nipple. Believe it or not, it was actually really cool and cute and not “dirty”. The cool part was the raised shell from the scar made it look really 3D.

Here’s the thing…Amy is a really, really tough girl. That’s why we get along so well…she’s no sissy. She had assured me that tattoos don’t hurt much at all and she had gotten them in places that traditionally are tough, like around the ankle where there isn’t much fat. So, much to my surprise, Amy really struggled with that tattoo. She was hurting! I took a picture of her and got the death stare…so I quit taking pictures! It was the scar. We hadn’t anticipated how that scar tissue would feel getting tattooed, and according to Amy, it hurt like a mother fucker. You’d think I would have been more nervous to get mine done after that, but I wasn’t. I was actually feeling pretty zen about the whole thing.

While Amy had been discussing her tattoo with the artist, I was looking through the volumes of art as inspiration for my own tattoo. I was feeling a little stressed and nervous, because like I said, I think that a tattoo really needs to be something meaningful to my life.  I thought about doing something for my son, but just couldn’t find anything that said, “Here I am!” I turned each page expectantly hoping to find “the one”. Flipping one page after another, book after book, still looking and searching when I came upon Chinese symbols. They were so beautiful. The symmetry of them so artistic and flowing. Suddenly my gaze stopped. There it was! I felt it! Courage. The Chinese symbol for the word Courage. PERFECT!

That word really resonated with me. I was widowed at 25 years old with a 22 month old son. I had a business to close and a house to try and save. I also had a full time, corporate job that I had to keep, and sanity that was very hard to hold intact. It was a little bit of Hell on earth…for a minute. I’m not one to live in a pity party. I took about two months to cry, feel sorry for the bad turn in my life, miss my husband and the father of my child…horribly…, and then I knew that I had to find the courage to get up and start to put my life back together and live…because my son needed me to do that. How was I ever to give him a chance at a “normal” life if I was perennially stuck in my own little pity party?

I summoned every single bit of my Norwegian ruthless courage, spirit, backbone, strength, and fortitude of mind to pick myself up, wipe myself off, realize that, that was only one chapter of my life, and now on to the next chapter! What else is there to do with one’s life at such a crossroads? Either you pick yourself up or you live in misery. I’m not a misery kind of chick. I prefer optimism and happiness. Even if you have to force yourself to think that way sometimes. I began to find my way back to living life again.

That one word explained the way I saved my life…through courage…and I knew that whenever I needed to find courage again in my life I need only to run my fingers across that tattoo at the nape of my neck to be reminded how courage had thus far served me well, and would continue to serve me as long as I choose to be courageous, because it is a choice, you know. Not only did the word mean something to me, but the artist in me found the symbol to be quite visually pleasing. That was it. I was going for it!

I have to be honest. It really didn’t hurt at all. I would describe it as uncomfortable, but not unbearable. Of course it wasn’t a huge piece either, but being a needle virgin, and actually a hater of needles in general, I didn’t find it bad at all and would do it again. The fact that I have a super high pain tolerance probably would have something to do with that, too, but that’s a story for another day! Here’s another cool fact…in the end, it ended up being a little raised, like Amy’s scar. Turns out I was allergic to the red in the purple ink, so the whole thing was really raised for some time. It almost looked branded, which I have to admit, I thought was choice and really tough looking! It isn’t as raised now, but it still isn’t smooth like other tattoos. I like it that way. Gives it more character!

PORK FRIED RICEFast forward a year and we’re in the Smoky Mountains celebrating Christmas with the family. We shared a cabin with my sis and her (ex)husband and we had the best time. When Tom, my brother-in-law, saw my tattoo he said, “That doesn’t say courage, that says pork fried rice, and all the Chinese people are laughing at all the dumb Americans getting those symbols on their bodies without knowing what they’re saying!” We all had a good laugh about that, but I was sure that it didn’t say pork fried rice…or did it?

That Christmas my uncle also celebrated with us in Tennessee, and he brought a friend along with him…Lee Chen…from China. Seriously. How could it not get more perfect?! After about an hour of visiting I pulled Lee aside and asked a favor. “Lee, would you mind taking a look at this and telling me what it says?” I asked. “Sure. I will try,” was his reply. So I showed him my tattoo and he said it meant hero. What? Hero? Are you sure? Yep. He was sure. That gave me something to think about, but after I did, I realized that I was o.k. with that. After all, I thought, I have always been my own hero. I don’t expect any hero to show up. I had always depended upon only myself for anything in life, so hero was still fitting.

That night, back at the cabin, we all had a good laugh about pork fried rice and how lucky I was that it wasn’t something drastically different. We also laughed about the very real possibility that out of the thousands of others with symbol tattoos, several were bound to be wrong, perhaps not pork fried rice wrong, but incorrect nonetheless! It is now one of our best family jokes whenever someone sees it and asked what it means!

Just to be safe, I did, years later, have the opportunity to have it read by another Chinese national..and yep…still hero! Whew!