Back Pain & Why Tattoos :

Hi Hi Y’all,

I know more and more I talk about chronic illness. It’s not meant to just be a purge, a kvetch or a notice for recognition. Lately, my flare up have just been getting worse and longer. All the advice doctors gave and the awkward hard to explain moments just seem worse. More then ever, I am just tired. So very tired…

A friend of mine is coming up to visit me in April and I am so excited to have someone see where I go to University and be an understanding friend. I had been debating when ( and more importantly) where to get a back tattoo I have always wanted.

When I was a kid I was obsessed with Yakuza movies, samurai movies and ronin movies. I loved the traditional colorful tattoos on them and the values that seemed to come with them. As I got older, learned more about what it meant and how it was perceived I didn’t want such a large piece anymore. For awhile, I thought about abandoning the idea completely.

Then I got my diagnosis and I started to reconsider. What eventually solidified the desire to get the tattoo was this increasing problems. My drugs are increasing and surgeries that seemed far off seem sooner and sooner. More and more I feel like I am missing out and that I’ll miss out on things even more in the future. Weighed down by everything around me and having it all be unseen is taking a bigger toll on me. I can do less then I used to at the moment and no one really sees it or understands it. More and more I have to come to terms with being seen by the average person as a ‘disappointment’.

It’s these things that make me stop caring about some of the things I used to. If I feel like life is short and changing so much for me I have to at least do the things I enjoy? A giant back tattoo or some crazy visual representation of all my problems probably won’t do much for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stick to aesthetic and feel as if I did something to show it.

My back has two curves and a tiny hump on my neck. At the top of my spine there are signs of bones thinning and possibly going to fade away. As you got to the bottom of my spine fusing has started, my hips are out of place and my legs are now two different lengths. None of this can be seen or understood unless I give up and say I want to walk around like Quasimodo so people notice me. That is always going to be the reality of my back. Anything from now on won’t be seen.

I like small minuscule and thin lined tattoos. Normally, I don’t want color and just want simple black. I’ve known since I was small I would want tattoos that represented ideas that meant a lot to me in life. Knowing this it isn’t hard for me to know what sort of tattoo I’d get on my back.

At the top of my neck, I would want in thin black lines Vegvisir. Vegvisir is one of the most popular Nordic charms. It wishes for the person to never lose their way in storm and bad weather even if the path is unknown. I don’t think there is anything more symbolic of everything going on then that. However, there is one more reason. My great grandma’s mother was a Swedish Orphan. She had come to the U.K. and met a Spanish Jew. They married and moved to the U.S. Apparently, unlike her husband and the efforts she put into now being Jewish and raising Jewish kids she never gave up her belief system. She was very very very Christian. I’m talking crosses and bloody Jesus pictures everywhere sort of Christian. Yet, there was one thing that my great grandma remembered seeing even when she didn’t know the name of it until I told her: Vegvisir. In a legacy where only food and some old myths managed to be passed down, my great grandma could vaguely in her dying times remember seeing Vegvisir as a child. Now how could I argue with that? Jewish or not, my great grandma read me Nordic myths as I was growing up, joked how if it was true Odin was 100% cooler than Zeus, and how we were meant to be tough because it was just in our blood. I’m traveling rough waters right now and maybe that means it isn’t just about being Jewish, but remembering all beliefs that helped create me.

Underneath Vegvisir is the real highlight though. Running in small thin lines will be the I Ching and its 64 changes. For a person of my aesthetic and weirdness (and love for Asian culture) what is better then 64 line patterns each symbolizing a different part of early understanding and divination? Nothing. Seriously, nothing at all. My life is certainly one of change and phases, of fortunes and dis-fortunes, and of joy and sadness. These line patterns will follow the crooked path my spine takes all the way to my tailbone. Maybe it will seem funny to some, but to me it’s a little part of the truth. And when these inevitable surgeries come, the scars appear on my back and the fight through new types of pain begins, I have marks of it all. Little lines that exist as part of scars and as part of the journey.

Going through all of this has taught me that living behind a mask is no longer something I’ll really be good at again. My body demands of me the truth. It demands that I grow past the angry cynical jaded girl I was when I was young and try to find the joy of life. It tells me that it will not tolerate lies and will only tolerate truth.

Don’t I have to do it then?

I.L. Knight

P.S. Odin really is way better. Norse > Greek everyday <3

Vegvisir

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I Ching

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Pagan Folk Music – Vegvisir

The No-Pants Day Phenomenon

Today’s my first ever No-Pants Day. I know this, because both sound and light are apostles of the Anti-Christ and my head feels like an animated movie scene where the Looney Tune is going up and down on the concrete, because of an uncontrollable jack hammer. Unlike my No-Pants Day phenomenon it has been awhile since I’ve had one of these… Still, I’m not writing to dwell on the desire to bash my head through the wall. Oh no. You see for the strangest of reasons I find this No-Pants Day phenomenon somewhat exhilarating. So much so, for the first time in ages I want to write again. 
My first thought is back before all of this. Before the self discovery. The existential crises. Before the physical pain and before the utter recognition that I have descended into the realm of madness completely. I used to be a runner. Not a good one, but I was still one. I used to love to fight as well. One strike. One moment of clarity returned to my scattered mind. That was taken away from me. “Momentarily” of course. Still, I was in shape and I hadn’t even known I was.
I thought I was chubby. My biggest insecurity: legs. All I wanted was the Heroin-Chic/Mod/P Pastel Goth type of body frame. But no matter the actions I took I couldn’t change the fact I had muscular athletic legs. Mother Nature’s choice of body frame was set. My insecurity was worsened by the fact of my over conscious recognition of being un-balanced. Asymmetrical. Short, curvy frame, minuscule features, legs and arms that are “occasionally” different lengths, because of joint issues and detrimental Pride issues. How could I love my legs? I wanted legs with not just a thigh gap, but nothing on them. I wanted tight jeans and over sized tops. All I wanted at the time was to look somewhere between drug addict and tough. Silly I guess. But people are silly. In the end, I still don’t really like my legs.
On this No-Pants Day I feel the occasional rub of the legs touching and I want to be shot in the head. It’s awful. The feeling of skin rubbing against skin…is a crime. Like someone is poking me with a hot rod. But still. I haven’t put on pants. I once went twelve days without pooping and had to be hospitalize. During that time I still fought for the right to wear pants. So hard in fact that I had won against both the doctors and my own discomfort. 
Honestly, I am writing partly due to the shock of it all. Why not wearing pants is a phenomenon that after months of pain makes me feel something again. I wanted to laugh… but that’s still gone. It seems like I really don’t have that option, so I tried crying. But that didn’t work either for me. And what seems to be working is on my bed with a fuzzy blue blanket, a blue gel pen, a yellow paper lined notepad and an old TV one season show playing teen drama in the back ground (The Tomorrow People). Sound… Egh.
A year ago I wanted to write a book. A sequel of sorts to a book I’ve yet to finish. The first was to be called Eating Matzot Under the Bodhi Tree. It was a collection of things resembling essays when all my new problems began. I was on the taster course and wanted to find inspiration again. Turned out I had the chance to leave the continent for the first time and go to one of the places I’ve dreamed of: Taiwan. It was pretty fantastic. Although, when I returned I soon developed a bitter regret of sorts as an after taste. I immediately wanted that feeling to be a sequel collection. An after to returning to the real world or real problems down the mountain.  The name… Finding Valhalla. Totally different sounding right? I’m sort of awful like that. But it had the feeling. I could feel the bitter regret. 
Right now, I’m wondering if something like a strange exhilaration of wearing no pants is something that would be a part of that sequel collection. It’s not like in the two years since I had the idea I’ve really written anything for it. The problem with bitter emotions is it stops achievement and emotional inspiration. Hard to write with that dilemma. Yet, now I am? Isn’t something like this perfect then? I should have a moment of recognition for the phenomenon of No-Pants Day?
Finding Valhalla was sort of a different kind of Ode for me. Being in Asia with a group of foreigners made me think a lot about my ancestors. How I’ve always perceived myself as Jewish and part of a bubble like community of South Florida. But that wasn’t all I was. A part of me grew up with passed down Swedish traditions. Very little at this point. Most of it centering around food and random stories…Yet, just as lingonberries are apart of my breakfast no matter their mark up price, so was the idea of Sweden. 
Then I thought about school. When we learned about the Greek Gods for a year and everyone had opinions. I didn’t really have that attachment. I wanted Odin. Why is it only the Greeks and Romans? There exists so many others. And they all seem to teach different things! When I was very tiny and wasn’t watching old Yakuza flicks I read mostly Norse and Russian myths. What I discovered was an unhealthy enjoyment of Baba Yaga and a weird morality lesson from Valhalla. Within those pages I got a sense of understanding of my place.  What I’m supposed to feel in my final moments. That’s how the name and idea of bitter regrets connected for me. Not only was I no longer doing anything more then existing I seemed to lose sight of my personal path towards Valhalla. Especially, since warfare (even if I probably couldn’t exist within that society at this point) wasn’t how the world operated anymore.
This No-Pants Day phenomenon makes me double back to that. That feeling of striking out. Like I’ve swung a hammer against my own personal foe and have landed a scratch it will remember. Bitter regrets? Yea, I have plenty? Insecurities about my legs? You better believe it. Unending battle against finding my place in a world that is increasingly difficult for highly intelligent but conditioned to be a nervous dog within society? Yep, still in full swing. But somehow…Even if I haven’t really done anything and am I pain I feel as if I’ve swung my sword for the first time in ages. Like I get better end then Biorn did by almost getting to the point where I have the choice of running away from Judaic-Christian Fatality. 

 

This moment aside, I will certainly not make this habit. I intend to still be a pants sort of person…
I.L. Knight
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