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Where I use my tattoo as a reminder

by John on October 14th, 2011

I lie in bed, reveling in the fact that it’s “just me” there, for once. After a mad scramble, I find the remote, and, wouldn’t you know, there’s no shortage of cheesy horror movies on.

A smile crosses my face as I close my eyes and think of beer & pizza and of chips & salsa – a whole day of just me – no work issues to bother me, no kids to play with and read to and take care of (and because of that, no Caillou on my TV). No, today is a zone-out day – maybe with a nap thrown in for good measure.

I catch a glimpse outside – with the sun shining, just a hint of a breeze. It’d be a great day to be outside, if it weren’t better to be inside.

But my leg is sticking out from the covers, and I see it. Suddenly, I need to sweat. I need to breathe hard. I need to push up against that breeze, turning into a gale, pressing back against me. I need salt crusting at the corners of my eyes. I need to ache from my toes to my shoulders. I need a defining pain.

Beer and pizza and chips and wine and horror movies and a nap will wait.

I need to be me.

I ride.

This week we asked you to write a piece – fiction or creative non-fiction – in which a tattoo figures prominently.

We wanted you to explore the many facets of tattoos: why someone would get them, what the meaning was, what the tattoo says about them.

Word limit was 300.

  1. “a whole day of just me… and no Caillou on my TV.”

    Love that!

    I dream of a day like that. Nice to me you via our tats. πŸ˜‰

    • Caillou really bring about an irrational hatred in me.

      This was actually a work of fiction – such a day hasn’t happened, just yet – but that’s what the tattoo is for . . . a reminder that, if I can get out to ride, to go out and ride.

  2. How does one get a day like that? I need one.

    Alright… I can’t see very well in the pictures… what is your tattoo?

    • I need one of those days, too – some day, I know it will happen. Has to, right?

      My tattoo is a bicycle chain, breaking out of my skin and wrapping around my leg. I got it the year that I cycled 5000 miles.

  3. A day alone?
    You’re making that up.
    It’s like a leprachaun or a unicorn.
    Simply doesn’t exist. πŸ˜‰

    • Nichole – a day alone is what happens when a unicorn & a pegasus have a baby!

  4. Beer tastes better after a run anyways! or, in this case, a ride πŸ˜‰

    Is you tattoo a broken bone? Something put back together that reminds you how lucky we are to have function parts to run/ride with?

    Very nicely done – I love the idea of the tattoo working as a reminder! Better than any mantra πŸ˜‰

    • You’re very right – beer tastes so much better after exerting yourself. The only weird thing, though, if it’s truly hot, and you’ve truly pushed yourself? Well, that’s the one time that I actually like Budweiser.

      My tattoo is a bicycle chain breaking out of and wrapping around my leg. It cuts into and out of the skin a few different places.

      • Ha! It IS true… i think your tastes do change a little post-run! I crave the high life myself!


        LOVE the tattoo! Totally get it now.

  5. “I need to sweat. I need to breathe hard. I need to push up against that breeze, turning into a gale, pressing back against me. I need salt crusting at the corners of my eyes. I need to ache from my toes to my shoulders.”

    These words were amazing. Stopping by from Write on Edge.

    • Thank you . . . it wasn’t too long ago that I would cringe at the thought of exerting myself like that.

  6. Great tattoo. And nice post. I dream about that elusive day where I have no children around and I can do whatever I want (I would sit in bed and read-all day long). Oh, and Caillou is awful. I can’t stand how he whines about everything and I banned him from my TV for slightly more palatable children’s programming.

    • Caillou is a special breed of awful.

      And thank you – I like the tattoo, myself πŸ™‚

  7. I like the ink. of course I have a few:

    Very nice post, John. Good work.

  8. I like this post. because it’s different somehow than the others I have read. You are not bragging about your tattoo or trying to be a badass about it or trying to imagine what getting a tattoo would be like…you have one and it’s there for a reason.

    I like it.

    • Thanks – I kind of like it, too πŸ™‚

      And, yeah, the tattoo is meant to look cool and everything – but it’s all a reminder to me. I’ll have future tattoos – and they’ll have stories behind them, but they’ll be more to tell a story than to serve as a permanent reminder to keep myself active.

  9. A day without Caillou is heavenly.

    Although when you’re a parent, if you spend the entire day in bed and write about it and/or tweet about it – people wonder what the hell is wrong with you. It’s a gift every parent should get at least once a month because holy fuck parenting is tough.

    loved this piece – have had days where i planned to stay inside but been driven to go do something outside. Not by a tattoo but because DOING something is better than just staying still.

    thanks for sharing.

    • I don’t know if there’s a truer statement than “holy fuck parenting is tough.”

      And I’m a firm believer that it’s always better to be moving than to be still.

  10. I love your tattoo. It’s great to see so many that actually MEAN something. Nothing irritates me more than seeing stupid tattoos on people, just because.

    And that day of just “me”…never happens… πŸ™‚ But it should

    • Yeah, that day of “just me” never actually happens here . . . but it makes for a lovely daydream. As do nachos.

      When I got my tattoo, the owner of the studio actually kicked out a mother & daughter . . . she was 16, so she needed her mother’s permission, and she wanted a little tinkerbell on her shoulder because “all of her friends were getting one.”

      That’s why I’ll get all of my tattoos there.

  11. A day to myself would be heavenly! We are at the Mickey Mouse stage in this house. Great tattoo by the way!

    • Thank you! And, yeah, a day to myself would, truly, be heavenly. Though, I’ll admit that I’d miss the little brats after much more than that.

      I can still handle Mickey Mouse at my old age . . . at least, as long as the Mickey Mouse cartoons haven’t been re-done.

  12. That is awesome. Do it. The rest can wait.

    • Thanks, Jess – yeah, that was the goal of the tattoo . . . if I can be moving and doing, do – anything else will still be there at the end.

  13. I. hate. Calliou.

    Total whiny brat.

    I can’t see my tattoo. I tend to forget I have it.

    • What tattoo do you have? I’d love a full-back piece, I really would, but I’d fear completely forgetting about it from time to time. My next plan is a left-arm sleeve, and that would be very visible.

      And, I’m trying to figure out how to block Caillou without affecting other kid programming.

  14. I love tattoos for that exact reason, they remind us of that feelings we love, we struggle with, they remind us of freedom. That’s some nice ink. Kinda tough to see, chain? I’m guessing it must be a bike chain running through your leg, part of your leg. Awesome:)
    Love the story too. Alone time is delicious.

    • Yeah, it’s a bike chain wrapping around and cutting into my leg — a “the bike is a part of me” symbol.

      It was a big hit on a 20k bicycle ride across Iowa.

  15. okay, i had no idea guys dreamed of eating junk food when they were alone!

    What is the tattoo? It’s tough to see from the pictures.

    And, yes, the salt crusting on your eyes. I know that feeling all too well.

    • This guy daydreams about junk food way more than he should. Somehow, lately, I’ve avoided eating too much – but I have no idea how.

      The pictures should be expandable if you click on them – it’s a bicycle chain wrapping around & cutting into my right calf.

  16. Very cool tattoo.

  17. Jenn permalink

    This is an awesome tattoo – what a strong statement, and an awesome reminder!

    • Thanks – it’s worked on several occasions (usually a Sunday afternoon, as football is at its height . . . I can catch the recaps, but I can’t catch up on a workout)

  18. First? 5000 miles? Wow.

    Cool tattoo. I love how you tied it into “I need to be me.”

    I also dream of a day alone, and one of the things I would do would be run, run, run and know I could come home to shower and rest without having anyone immediately needing a snack.

    And? My kids have never watch Callilou. Not because I have anything against TV, but because I have something against C’s voice.

    • The year I biked 5000 miles was the first year that I got serious about my biking. It was well before children, and I biked to work most every day. Considering I had a 20 mile commute each day . . . . well, it wasn’t uncommon for me to log 600 miles in a month, going to & from work. When you add in weekend rides and the occasional century for charity . . . well, those miles add up.

  19. Love that this is so relatable, to so many – man or woman. A day alone is nearly unheard of, but worth reaching for. And I’m not a fan of Calliou either. Actually, it’s banned in my house. My kids mimic, so that one got banned very early on. Listening to Calliou whine is bad enough, kidlets who mimic it?! No way!

    • My kids aren’t yet old enough to mimic, but, if they do, Caillou is getting the ban. It’s very rare that I actually wish harm on anyone, especially a fictional character . . . but I break that for Caillou.

  20. Somehow I feel like a previous tattoo post was one of the first ones I read here.

    Is it weird that I’m all nostalgic, like, “Aw, that tattoo!”

    • I’ve certainly written about my tattoo before – so that’s entirely possible . . . although you’re one of those people who seems like you’ve always been on my blog (I know that’s not the case, but I have a real issue of re-programming memories to include current friends)

  21. 1st, I need to check my spam folder because I just checked over here on a whim because I haven’t had an email notification from you in forever and just figured you were down to the wire training. So, sorry to be a shitty blog friend.

    I think I need a tattoo since I have seemingly lost my intrinsic motivation. I think I’d rather watch Calliou some days.

    • When I moved from to, it looks like my emailed recipients didn’t come across – I’m still trying to figure out how to go about fixing that . . . because I don’t want to force everyone to sign-up again.

      Do you not have any tattoos?

  22. Seriously John, perfectly told!

    You gave us a glimpse of who you are, a slice of what’s important.

    I’m not going to lie though- a day of salsa and (I can’t even say it without chocking up) alone time? Sounds heavenly.

    • Thanks, Galit — the tattoo is, certainly, a very real part of me. I can’t wait for my next ink.

      As far as a day of salsa & alone time . . . well, doesn’t it make for a lovely dream?

  23. Now I want to get a tattoo. Only I’m pretty lazy, so not sure it’d work as physical motivation!

    • You may be the first person who I could see getting a mustache-finger tattoo and have it “fit.”

      I want to question this lazy diagnosis, though . . . as best as I can tell from your blog, you’re never, ever inside. Ever. You’re always out & about. That’s far from lazy πŸ™‚

      • Eh… outside is different from active. You move your body quickly from one place to another all the time. That’s active. I like fresh air. That’s laziness in a pretty setting.

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