A long time ago, I worked at the Women’s Faculty Club at UC Berkeley. There I met a visiting playwright, Adrienne Kennedy. I was also taking one of her classes, I think. I cannot remember the name of the class but the name of her most renowned play at the time was “Funnyhouse of a Negro.” (Ms. Kennedy is African American.) I got to know her a bit as I served her coffee.
In 1985, I had just transferred colleges. I had signed up for Journalism – at the nth hour of my sophomore year at the University of Oregon – but when I transferred to Cal they did not have an undergraduate department in that field. So I got a B.A. in English Lit instead.
Anyhow, one day I asked Ms. Kennedy if I could write a spec interview of her for the Daily Californian. I said that if she did not like it I would not submit it for publication. So we had ourselves a little interview, I wrote it up, and she did not like it. She said, and here is a direct quote from twenty-five years ago, “It is too intimate.” Crushed, I slunk away and cried me a river. Wasn’t that was the point of an interview? Ms. Kennedy may even have offered to let me rewrite it but I was either too embarrassed or deflated to try. I secretly really liked it the way it was.
After a year of writing my blog, my crime novel having hit a standstill , I used to ponder why I never sent any articles out for publication. Why, why, was I so afraid of rejection? And then a light bulb that had been turned off for twenty years switched on. Even though it did not change anything, at least I knew the source. A few years after that, digging through stuff as I was moving from China, I found that interview with Ms. Kennedy. I still thought it was pretty good but I resealed the box and sent it to storage where it will remain in perpetuity.
What does this have to do with my friend, the makeup artist, Viking Queen? Well, Viking Queen has a storied past, a tale of heartbreak and today, overwhelming personal triumph. She has permitted me to interview her about her plethora of tattoos. This interview will be intimate because Viking Queen is intimate. She is a no holds barred kind of gal. There is nothing private about her and she says it like it is.
Today in the world there have never been more tattoos. It really is a global trend. I want to know WHY. I do not want one for myself but I am fascinated by them and extremely curious. I have a theory or two I’d like to explore. And not in a Miami/LA Ink kind of way. (I prefer to get my reality TV at the makeup counter while Viking Queen is applying eyeliner.)
Christine, a dear friend from Madrid, says getting a tattoo is like advertising your bad judgment. It is like flaunting your immaturity or a strange form of deluded self-confidence: you are so sure of yourself at 18 of what you like and would like to wear forever on your body. She has a point. When Christine speaks on the subject she is very eloquent and I generally agree with her.
Viking Queen, however, ends up turning all my preconceived notions upside down. She might do that for you too, if you are middle-aged. In any event, this is what I am going to write about in my next post: preconceived notions, tattoos and body piercings, and our judgmental ways.
If memory serves me, I ended up getting an A in Ms. Kennedy’s class (if I ever took it). At least that is how I remember it: a scary learning experience from a kind and gentle woman who did not like to be interviewed. The lesson from that experience today as an adult is not to be afraid to face rejection. Why could my 21 year old self not pick up on that? Today I don’t send any articles out or blog enough because being a wife and a mother is using up all my free energy, not that I am afraid. I am fine with that. My self-esteem will really not be enhanced if my travel article gets bought by the magazine Budget Travel. Really.
What is scaring you today, besides the stock market, that you need to move forward with?