taking shape

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Happy weekend! I’m thrilled to say that I’ve successfully completed my first week as a graduate student! Huzzah! Things are starting to fall into place for me, and I’m beginning to settle in and come into my own in my new home.

There are a few things I’ve been totally loving lately…

This post. Maybe it’s that tiny Darth Vader or seeing a blogger I’ve followed for several years so overjoyed with her own life, I’m not sure. But something about it just warmed my dark little heart.

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Coffee. So much coffee. I go through an entire french press every morning, half consumed at my apartment the other half dumped into a travel mug and guzzled down on my drive to campus and during my first hour or so there. I get up early these days, quite the shift from my languid day sleeping over the summer.

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It’s hot as blazes here, and the humidity is liking walking through a rainforest. Like breathing vegetation. Spanish moss drips from tree limbs, power lines, vines. There are crystal clear sink holes to swim in. For me, these are unfathomably deep–places where the earth’s crust opened up and aquifers flow forth. It’s no wonder the fabled fountain of youth was supposed to be in this part of the world.

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The gato has settled into his new home almost seamlessly. I’ve never seen him so happy. An entire apartment all to himself, an endless supply of food from his new automatic feeder, and his toys strewn about like some sort of feline hurricane hit.

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I’m trying to make it a regular practice of mine to go to my complex’s pool regularly. I’ll take a book (one that’s not for school) and I’ll read for a bit. Even if it’s just half an hour once a week, it helps me keep my sanity.

IMG_2492I’ve gotten back to cooking more, and hopefully I’ll have a few recipe posts up soon. Food has always been my release from the stress of life. It’s place in my day to day has become even more radiant and gratifying since my move here. Thrilled to take you along on the ride for this next culinary chapter. While I’m still not back to regular blogging yet, I’m hoping I can come up with a bit of a more regular schedule over the next couple of weeks. I’ve got some exciting ideas and hopefully a couple of reviews in the works. I know I keep saying it, but stay tuned!

 

thoughts on the tattooed vegan body

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Recently, I got tattooed again. There are few photographs of my body here on the blog but if you follow my Instagram feed, I’m pretty open about any time I’m back in the chair and under the needle. I love tattoos and tattooing–I’ve wanted to be heavily tattooed for my entire life. My love of body ink recently culminated with the completion of my Alice in Wonderland half sleeve–a project that my tattooer and I have been working on for nearly 3 years. Suddenly, I realized the other day that I’ve become the person (at least visually) that I’ve always hoped I would be. I guess I am finally at the point in which I can say with confidence that I am heavily tattooed. (Finally!)

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I often find myself thinking about tattoos. Mine, my friends’, the tattoos I see via social media, the ones my tattooer is making for his other clients, you get the picture. I’ve always been fascinated by the way in which people physically and visually engage my tattoos and by default my tattooed body. At my last place of work, I was always asked about my tattoos, while my male counterparts were not. I’m nearly always approached in public by strangers who ask about my tattoos, regardless of who I am with, and I’ve never seen any of my tattooed male friends approached by people we don’t know for inquiries about their ink.

Coming from a gender studies background, I’ve put my sociological goggles on and watched with interest the changes in how people engage me as I’ve become more and more heavily tattooed. Then, back in December, a friend of mine posted this article to Facebook. If you haven’t read it yet, you should.

(As in stop reading this, and read the Guardian piece. Right. Now.)

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Suddenly, everything I’d been thinking and feeling as a tattooed lady began to fall into place.

Because I’m becoming more and more engrossed in and have always been enamored with tattoo culture, I’m becoming more and more aware of heavily tattooed ladies in the public eye: we have starlets like Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga who are visibly tattooed, one of my all time favorite fictional characters Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and then models like my major celeb crush Ellegy Ellem who have made their careers from being badass tattooed curvy ladies. That all being said, the world of tattooing is still largely male dominated. There are several female tattooers (Heather Bailey and Marina Inoue are two of my favorites that my tattooer introduced me to.) who are gaining popularity, and celebrity tattooing brought along by TV shows like Miami and LA Ink and Ink Master have also begun to normalize women’s place as both the tattooers and the tattooed.

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“Did it hurt?!” (Of course it did. Some more than others, no I don’t mind the pain.)

“How many do you have?!” (11, and I count my half sleeve as one now.)

“Aren’t you worried about getting a ‘real job’ with those?” (Absolutely not.)

And, the cherry on top: sitting at, oh my favorite watering hole for example, and having some random person walk up and grab my sleeved arm, and start touching my tattoos.

Now, here’s where intersectionality comes into play.

I’ve thought a lot lately about the potential overlaps between vegans, veganism, and tattooing. A lot of vegans that I know personally and that I see on the interwebs happen to be tattooed. Several of my veg-lebrity crushes: Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Jasmin Singer, and Melisser Elliott are all heavily tattooed ladies. (Also aside–ever find it interesting that the blogosphere in general not to mention the vegan blogosphere is dominated primarily by women?! That’s a whole other cup of tea, but couldn’t write this post without a mention.)

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So: we have the tattooed body. We have the vegan body. The female body. Now, how about the tattooed vegan female body? As a vegan, as a woman, and as a curvy tattooed lady, there’s a lot of scrutiny placed upon my body by friends, family members, strangers. As soon as someone knows I’m vegan, they see me differently. They see my body differently. The begin to read my physicality by the preprogrammed stereotype of vegans that so many outside of the vegan world are presented with. (Specifically I’m thinking of the: toothpick/malnourished/deprived trinity of prejudgement.) I’m not a toothpick by any means. I’m proud to say, hell yeah, I’ve got some curves. I hope that I successfully break those stereotypes and welcome people to the idea that vegans come in all shapes and sizes.

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The same goes for my tattoos–as soon as someone sees that I’m heavily tattooed the way that they engage my body visually, from physical contact to staring at my larger or more noticeable ink, changes. I hope that I can break those stereotypes too. That tattooed women are “cheap,” and don’t care about their bodies, that tattooed women’s bodies are for male consumption and because they lack tangible “feminine” value should be placed within male control. In fact I feel the opposite. Just like the food choices I make, each and every one of my tattoos has been a deliberate, conscious decision that brings me joy and makes me feel at once feminine, powerful, and sexy. By taking control of what my own skin looks like, every waking moment only shows that this body and skin are MINE and that they hold real value to me as truly personal sources of both beauty and pride.

To paraphrase my favorite section of that brilliant Guardian article (and adding my own food/vegan philosophy to the mix): by choosing what I put on and in my body I’m saying that MY standards as a queer, vegan, tatted lady are more important than those society might try and place on me. My very skin is an act of defiance.

first few moments

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While I still consider myself to be on blogging sabbatical, these are just a few photos I wanted to share with all of you in a brief post. Couldn’t help but checking in and posting a few shots of my new home. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to post pictures of my newly decorated flat.

After a nearly 10 hour drive, I arrived in my new home of Tallahassee, Florida on Friday afternoon. After letting the cat out and getting him acclimated, and a few errands later I began to settle in. These photos depict my first few moments and meals in my new city. So far I love it here. It’s like some sort of strange, unkempt jungle that I’ve yet to discover.

IN TRANSIT: ANNUAL SABBATICAL

IMG_2190August always seems to be a time of transition for me. Last year, my first major relationship ended and things really changed here on the blog. This year, they’re changing again.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been accepted into a Master’s program at Florida State University for Art History. On Friday, I’ll pack up my little fanged demon and will make the drive to my new home. It’s for this reason that the blog will be quiet for the next few weeks. Like last year, I’m taking a brief sabbatical to adjust to my new life. I can’t wait to share what that looks like with all of you–but in the meantime there’s quite a bit of landing on my own two feet that I’ll need to do. These past few weeks of preparation and of slowly saying goodbye to North Carolina and to Carrboro have been so meaningful in so many ways. Thanks to all who have been a part of my time here.

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As always when I’m on sabbatical, I’ll still be around the internets–on Instagram and Twitter mostly, but I’ll do my best to share a few articles on my Facebook fan page too. So, see you around the internets and stay tuned for a mega update once I return to the blogosphere!

XOXO,

Rachel