A Word On Tattoo’s & Clarity

Growing up listening to punk rock bands I started to develop and interest in tattoo’s. Honestly, I’m sort of really not into needles at all, so for a long time I wasn’t sure I’d ever get one. A friend of mine who has several told me the best advice I’ve ever heard about getting them,

“think long and hard about what you want and why you want it; wait 5 years after deciding”.

J.M

5 years is a long time to a kid in highschool, but I adhere to that advice now.

I knew I wanted my first tattoo to be inspired by music, but I hated the idea of things like treble or bass clefs; things that are too “obvious”.

My favourite album of all time is “Clarity” by Jimmy Eat World. Normally, I’d look to album art or band related promotional material to work with that idea, but if you’ve seen the Clarity album cover, you’d know that’s a hard one to copy outright on your body.

The reason this is my favourite album is because sonically it is one of the most beautiful collection of songs I have ever heard to this day. I absolutely love the production on it and lyrically it’s amazing.

When I was younger and trying to deal with all the usual teenage-angst emotions, trying to find my place in the world and not quite fitting into it, Clarity was the one album that slowed my heart rate in a way that I needed. It helped me find peace in an otherwise very turbulent place; the home I grew up in, and the cottage I spent my summers at. It was like guided meditation to me before I ever heard of the concept.

I liked the idea of having something handwritten (I think it’s rad AF when people get bands to write a lyric or a word on paper for them to bring to a tattoo artist to copy) and I thought the album title itself summed up what I was really searching for;

Clarity.

There were many times growing up where I felt like I lived in this horrible tunnel of fear and anxiety. And that became the inspiration for this tattoo:

Clarity – the calm within the storm, pictured on CF’s left forearm – her fretting hand.

One of my favourite movies growing up was Twister. I’ve seen it more times than I can remember, and used to quote lines from it on, especially,

“Loser! Move on!”.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman
The clip.

The idea behind the tattoo is exactly what that record did for me. When the world is crashing down around me, or blowing such harsh winds that it lifts you off the ground and throws you into a farm field, there is always Clarity somewhere within it. The eye of the storm. The calm before shit really hits the fan.

Nobody in my family has tattoo’s, we are not “those people.” After waiting nearly 5 literal years on this idea, I finally decided I was just going to do it. It had been a few years by then, and if I didn’t hate it now, surely I wouldn’t hate it years from now. I was certain it was the right choice for me.

Another friend of mine also wanted to get a tattoo. The one that gave us that sage advice back then took us to a shop she frequented, so we trusted the artists. We went on the same day, and I hopped into the chair first. He was nervous, so nervous he nearly passed out when they began his outline (he was okay, and his tattoo looks much cooler than mine; it’s in colour).

I told my parents about 2 days before that I had booked the appointment. It was a few days before Thanksgiving and I knew I’d unveil it to the family then. I knew they wouldn’t approve, but it was important to me.

When I met Jim Adkins I was so excited and nervous to show him the tattoo. I almost wasn’t going to say anything at all; It’s on the inside of my forearm so that it’s easy to hide for pictures; this was important to me too. It also faces me because when I’m struggling, I can simply look down and have it remind me and only me what it means.

My friend who was with us and took our photo that night was the one who said, “Show him your tattoo, Jaim”. And I started to fumble my way through explaining what it meant, but I was nervous it sounded too “poetic” and “geeky” and sort of brushed it off. When I heard him re-mention Clarity in the Surviving record I almost shit a brick, but that’s a story for another blog post.

I still love the tattoo. And I still love that record more than any other.

And I am still looking for Clarity.

[Editor’s note: As I’ve been writing these blogs I am trying to be mindful of the fact that not everyone might want their name posted publicly in this way. If you believe you are mentioned in any of these stories and do not want to be, please reach out. If you would prefer I use your real name, or a pseudonym or something, tell me. The issue I struggle with most is that this project is a true portrayal of my life as I know it, so it’s hard for me NOT to mention some of you, but I do try to respect your privacy. The second issue is by lying about who is involved in these stories to me feels like denying my personal experience, and I don’t believe anyone in this world should feel like they have to do that. Your voice matters, mine does, too. Hope this makes some sense.]

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