Friday, July 11, 2014

Secret Subject Swap: July

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week, 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.
My “Secret Subject” is: If I were and animal, I'd be a _____ and this is why____. It was submitted by:

Sometimes I want a t-shirt that says "These are tattoos. It is not a form of leprosy. They're not contagious. Stop staring, don't touch them, and yes, they hurt."

Every tattoo on my body has a story. It can be said that I blog my memories and my self-perceptions upon my skin like a living journal. I’m very introverted and usually throw up a lot of walls to avoid intimacy, but if you ask the right questions or listen to my stories, you can usually get to know me pretty well, and that’s very true of my tattoos. That same sentiment exists in conjunction with the three animal tattoos on my chest. Jules, the owl; Jerome, the elephant; and, Jimi, the peacock.These three tattoos are part of a series I have been working on for my chest that are all about self-perception. They’re an essence of who I am, part of the whole, a few factors in the product that is my own self-image. Eventually, there will be a 4th to add to the group to complete it all, but I'll save that story for another day.

Jerome, the elephant, is a symbol of wisdom. But elephants are also a symbol of emotion. Despite their tough
hides, they’re one of the most emotional creatures on the planet and are capable of a variety of intense emotions with joy, grief, altruism, rage, stress, compassion, and love being some of those that have been observed. Elephants symbolize strength as well. In total, Jerome represents my strength to face anything that comes my way, my vulnerable, emotional underbelly hidden beneath the carefully constructed walls that I have built, and the wisdom to understand that underbelly exists; I am not my walls. He was one of my earliest tattoos, my second, because I understood that about myself even at the tender age of 19. I had already been through so much and seen so much in my lifetime… Before I became a mother, that exterior was even tougher, a bit thicker, and the emotion was far more buried under the constructions I made to protect myself, but even then, I wanted to express that I wasn't entirely the unemotional robot I often made myself out to be.

Jules, the owl, also represents wisdom. Owls, in general, do. They also represent an embracing of the
when he was fresh
darkside given their nocturnal nature. I suppose that could be interpreted in a lot of ways. To some it’s a discussion on mystical subjects, for instance. To me, for me personally, Jules represents the wisdom I have to know that I am flawed and my dialectical acceptance that I am both flawed and a work in progress. Jules is like the character from Pulp Fiction. At the end of that movie in the diner, Jules says to Ringo (the male part of the diner-robbing duo), “Ezekiel 25:17.'The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you.' I been saying that shit for years. And if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold-blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this
morning made me think twice. See, now I'm thinking, maybe it means you're the evil man, and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9 millimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or it could mean you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. I'd like that. But that shit ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak, and I am the tyranny of evil men. But I'm trying, Ringo. I'm trying real hard to be the shepherd." It’s not so much that I relate to this because I think I’m the tyranny of evil men or some fucked up shit like that. I don’t. What I find so poignant is Jules’ desire to change—his acceptance right here that he is evil epitomized in human form yet he still wants so badly to be the shepherd. I relate to that scene every time I watch this film. I think a lot of people do (which is often what’s so great about Tarantino films…the good ones anyway—we find bits of ourselves in his characters, we relate). Part of changing is understanding what needs to be changed but perhaps just as vital is the fact that we can’t wallow in the negativity of where we’ve been or we just get mired down in the muck. Acceptance. Which leads me to number 3…

Peacocks represent peace with oneself and that’s what Jimi, my peacock, symbolizes. He has records in his
tail feathers to also show the role that music has played in that peace. As otherwise noted on this blog (for regular readers) my childhood wasn’t exactly easy. My father was a drug-using (and selling), violent, and emotionally abusive man. Between the constant put-downs—the fact that my name became Fatass or Crisco more often than not or Fat Dummy—and the physical violence, I developed quite a complex about myself and about him. Understandably. When he died in 2006 from cancer, I thought I would have some closure. That part of my life was over, right? Wrong. It really didn’t prove to be so easy. Ultimately, it took seeing the good things my dad gave me—my love of music and my need to share music with others especially—for me to find the closure I needed…for me to realize, thinking back, that he may not have known how to be a good father, but he did love me. He did hand down some important life lessons; it just took me awhile to figure out what exactly they were. Inheriting a box of his old, dusty LPs set me on the right course, and my love for vinyl endures to this day, so there’s the reason for Jimi’s record feathers. And while I’m still working on the self-image acceptance issues that come from years spent being mocked during the period in which a child’s identity is first starting to form by the people who were supposed to build me up instead of tearing me down, peace is where I am for the most part or at the very least it’s certainly where I’m headed.

So, what would I be if I were an animal? I guess this is an unfair answer to the prompt to say a chimera of these three animals like some sort of acid-trip Wuzzle character, an owlpeaphant, but that’s the only answer I have. Because I relate...

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there: Baking In A Tornado The Momisodes Spatulas on Parade Stacy Sews and Schools Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Confessions of a part-time working mom Dates 2 Diapers 2 Crumpets and Bullocks Climaxed Dinosaur Superhero Mommy Someone Else’s Genius The Bergham’s Life Chronicles


  1. An owlpeaphant sounds awesome for the record.

    I may kind of be in love with all your tattoos, especially Jimi. There is just an amazing ability that music has to let our soul scream with the fire that is plaguing it as well as the calming closure it can bring when we thought we would never heal.

    Music transcends everything and can connect us to everything else in life, I think in part because it is life. Music can reflect every facet of life we have to deal with-- for every expierence we will encounter, there will be a music to match it...or counteract it--calm or shaken, loud or quiet, comforting or alarming, serious or silly.

    Beautiful post Jenniy.

    1. I have a quote about that on my leg. It's something Woody Guthrie said (I'm a huge, huge admirer of his). The quote says: There's a feeling in music that carries you back down the road you already traveled and makes you travel it again. Sometimes when I hear music, I think back over my days and a feeling that is 50/50 joy and pain swells like clouds taking all kinds of shapes in my mind.

      I have music that connects me to everything that happens to me or every mood and that shows in the strong bonds music has on my memories... It IS life.

    2. Stop making me like you more.

      Got some Woody Guthrie love right here friend. Although to be fair, I was completely ignorant of him until my hubby introduced me to his music as well as a myriad of other genres I 'thought' I hated until I sat down and gave them a listen.

      No point in being close minded with music, it will open you up whether you want it to or not.

  2. I thin an owlpeaphant is just perfect. You're unique, we all are, so it's fitting that a unique animal best describes you. I'm looking forward to hearing what the 4th will be and why.

  3. I love this prompt. You completely nailed it. I love how you said you blog your memories on your body through your tattoos. I feel like I do the same. I only have 5 tattoos, but they all have meaning.

    1. I have 16 and counting... I'm kind of addicted. ha. But, every single one has a story. I could never get something just for the sake of getting something.

  4. I love your answer! And I love that your prompt had such a deep meaning for you. Perfect combination.

  5. Go for the chimera. It's not about what's acceptable, it's about what's right. Be the Owlpeaphant.

  6. That was one of the deepest most thought-out blog posts I've read in a while. I'm glad your tattoos represent part of your self because I always look at people's tattoos and draw assumptions and sometimes imaginary aspects of their personality and past. Like "What compelled that man to put that dragon on his shoulder?" But I know, for many people, like my brother, sometimes a tattoo is just something they woke up with, in Germany, with a severe hangover and no recollection of last night's events. If I hadn't read your blog post about what they mean, and I saw your tattoos, I'd think the following things about you, not to stereotype you, but just for fun I figure I'd say this... Pretend we are standing in a long line at the gas station, you are in front of me, and the guy 3 guys in front of you is buying lottery tickets... This is what I would think to amuse myself... 1. Either you love random animals and you work at a zoo or you believe these animals symbolize you somehow which is a sign of a healthy spirit. 2. Elephants to me, I think of true friendship just because elephants seem to really care about each other more so than most animals. The owl, wisdom, and I think of a little chaos and scatterbrain from Winnie the Pooh's owl. And the Peacock, beauty. So I'd assume, from your tattoos, you are a person who bonds with people on a deeper level than most, who embraces wisdom for all her glory, who finds beauty in all living beings. Judging from your post, I don't think I'm far off. 3. I'd also think you probably have the most insightful cleavage and chest of any person I've ever seen.