Most of the people who know me in person know that I have a tattoo on my left forearm.
It started out as a deal between me and some other fans to get the Dark Mark from Harry Potter. It was that or the Hallows symbol but we decided the Dark Mark was more fitting since we were fans of the Death Eaters*.
There are only two of us who went through with it, though. It was permanent and that scared some of us. It probably should have scared me, too.
Sometimes, like in the 100+ degree summers of Texas when I’m wearing a long sleeve shirt to cover it, I’m not so thrilled I have it. But I love it most of the time. It reminds me of that time with those people and I wouldn’t have changed that for the world.
The second part of this tattoo came while I was spending time with a group of bibliophiles. Most of them were book snobs. I had read James Joyce’s Ulysses and loved it. I consider it my favorite of his works. It had layers of meaning and, since I’d read The Odyssey beforehand, it had familiar scenes done in an imaginative new way. And I wanted to get a quote from it. I could have chosen lots of quotes and done lots of things with this tattoo. But I chose to get the last line of it. Molly agreeing to marry Leopold. In a font based off James Joyce’s handwriting.
Then there was the placement to consider. I could put it on my shoulder or I could put it on my ankle or the back of my neck. But I already had one book tattoo. And at the time, I thought it was making it so I wouldn’t be taken seriously by my new peers. I was considering getting it covered by a black book like a moleskine notebook. But I had enjoyed Harry Potter and I’d loved the time I spent in that fandom. I still secretly read some romancey stories about my favorite pairings. Who cared if it wasn’t amazingly written and if it wasn’t the high point of literature? Are you ashamed of eating a Jelly Sandwich because it’s not Filet Mignon? I’m not. So I resolved to keep it.
And I put my James Joyce right beneath it.
Everyone seems to think I put a Harry Potter quote beneath it. Might have made more sense that way. They ask me what it says. When I tell them, they always seem disappointed. But the Harry Potter was the Jelly Sandwich of my youth. And James Joyce is my Champagne.
So I may add things to my tattoo, but I’m happy with it. It’s a contrast. It says that I don’t have to be either a reader high fiction or a reader of popular fiction. I can be both. I can read bad fanfiction on the internet and still enjoy Anna Karenina**.
*The Death Eaters, especially in second war, were some of the best characters. They were people who had made mistakes as kids and now that they’ve grown out of it, their past is forcing them to fight a war and putting their present and future at risk. And they have people who never grew out of it but people who really want to move on and people who are working to repent for what they’d done. It’s a completely human experience and so much more complex than the seekers of the Hallows.
**Not the movie. That was garbage.