I never considered myself a tattoo guy.

Until now.

It started innocently enough. I wanted to commemorate what I considered no small achievement: reading all 12 volumes of the History of Middle-earth in one year. I made the pledge and started the trek in January of 2011, and managed to turn the last page in mid-December of that year. (I wrote about the experience here and here)

So what could I do to mark this considerable milestone?

I’d had every opportunity in my younger days to become one of the Inked. Lived with several bands, traveled around with all sorts of characters in a circus-like caravan for years before pretending to settle down and got a “real job”.

But never once did I feel the urge to get a tattoo. Big, small, cool or silly, it never crossed my mind as anything I would ever want to do. “How permanent!” “Do I really want everyone to see and judge me?” “Wouldn’t it affect my job or the impression customers and co-workers would get?” All of that crossed my mind, but not in any sort of huge, conflicting way. I just never wanted one.

So why, when searching for an appropriately Big Sign statement to mark the conclusion of my most recent Tolkienian Journey, was that one of the first things that came to mind?

Mayhap, as some have speculated (myself included), it’s a sort of midlife crisis, only instead of a Porsche I got some ink. (By the way – if this truly is the midpoint of my life, 50% gone and 50% still to come, I’ll take it, say thankee-sai.)

Others have said, simply, “I think he’s lost his mind…”

Possibly so.

Continue reading “Under My Skin: Externalizing Tolkien”