When I was living, and teaching, back in Ohio I was often called “Murphy’s Pal.” It was a reference to my seemingly tight alliance with the laws of Murphy. I’ll give you a few examples in a moment. But, now that I live on the island of Cozumel, it would seem that all my problems would be left behind. And many of them were, which is merely a snarky nod to my ex-husband. Of course, in all fairness, he’s probably just as happy I’m down here as well. But, as I’ve said many times, how bad can it be when you have beaches to walk on with turquoise waters on one side, and flowing palm trees on the other. The point? Well, we have some rituals down here that might just help lift my curse, or at least help me to identify what the heck it is that I’m doing. And, to top it off, we have some great, and incredibly patient, folks down here that are willing to try to help out when and where they can. One of the perks of being an expat here is the warm, and loving, support system.
Now, about that curse. Let me start with my last two years. To keep it simple, I’ll just make a list: dengue, sun poisoning, shingles, wiring transfer issues, one attempted theft, and a misspelled tattoo. There might be a bit more, but I’ll spare you the details. And, since I’ve written about most of these issues already, let me just tell you about the tattoo.
Yes, I’m one of those people who likes to get tattoos. I have no idea where that came from, I certainly was not raised to ever think that tattoos were a good idea. And, while teaching at a university, I had to hide the lovely flowers I have inked on both my wrists, they didn’t think it was a good idea either. Now, the ones on my wrists are of morning glories, flowers that can flourish just about anywhere and are difficult to kill, so they are symbolic, to me. The university, at least for the first ten years, or so, didn’t appreciate the symbolism so I had to wear long sleeves, no matter the temperature. However, I didn’t stop there. Since I’d acquired those I went on to get a couple of small literary tattoos. A horn from the book “The Crying of Lot 49,” which I highly recommend if you are into post modern literature, and the word “Birches,” the title of my favorite poem by Robert Frost. There is a small bird on one shoulder (remember the “Free Bird” stage?) and a small yin yang symbol on the other. I’m sort of a walking hippy canvas.
Now, about my newest. Let me start by saying that, due to the above wiring transfer issues, my money is extremely tight. But, as a lover of words, and linguistics, getting significant phrases becomes important somehow. Especially when times are a bit tough. I had two in mind and both are by Friedrich Nietzsche. My favorite quote is: “You must have chaos within to give birth to a dancing star.” But, I couldn’t afford that many letters if I wanted to eat something other than beans and rice for a week. So, I settled on “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
Now, this is where the fun begins. I’d sat with the artist, wrote out the phrase, had him write out the phrase. Had him do it again. Had him do it two more times to decide upon the font. It was perfect. I’d worn a t-shirt so that he’d have easy access to my back, we settled on the price and away he went.
So, imagine my surprise when I get home and hold up a mirror to another mirror and see this: There are no facts, only interpotations. And, yes, you read that right. So, where did I go wrong? Well, there are a few issues here. Let me ramble for just a bit.
First of all, there was a time on campus when I taught a class called “Body as Art.” We’d explored the reasons that folks throughout the ages have felt a need to decorate themselves. We discussed brandings, tattoos, forms of “self-mutilation” such as bones, necklaces that heighten the neck and so on. We also discussed the class systems involved, the need for tribal identification, tattoos used to promote fear in our enemies, brandings to beautify ourselves, or show status, or property value, and I could go on, but, well, you get the idea. In modern times I have a strong belief that tattoos help us to become more individualized in an overcrowded, and often dismissive society. In other words, we are less invisible. Now, those are just my beliefs, but I’ve heard many other beliefs as well.
But, back to where I went wrong. First of all, although I spent very little, I’m sure a steak dinner might have been a better choice considering my current means. Secondly, who the heck decides to get wording tattooed by someone whose first language is not English?
So, what does the title of this little piece have to do with anything? Well, friends have come to my aid and one of them has a crystal that removes curses (think dengue, parasites etc.) and another is making arrangements for me to see a Mayan shaman for a cleansing ritual that also removes curses. Do I think I’m actually cursed? Well, I like to think of myself as open-minded, so, maybe. But, I also confess that I tend to just do things at the spur of the moment. And, although I am well-educated, no-one has ever accused me of having any common sense whatsoever. That just didn’t come with the package. But, I live here now and I think that participating in these rituals will be both enlightening and could well make me more aware of my surroundings and my personal habits. At this point, couldn’t hurt, yes? But, and this is meant in all respect, I love the new pope. But, if anyone happens to have his phone number, I’d be much obliged. Salud!
p.s. I will be writing about the rituals, and then, a week or so after that, I will be focusing on a home based new restaurant and another new local coffee shop that the island now offers. Meanwhile, I think I’ll leave the tattoo just like it is, it seems to make people smile, and that’s a good thing!