The words which define me

For someone so awfully preoccupied with words, I have a hard time choosing the right ones to describe myself. I recently had to reconsider my “bio”, a short paragraph or two meant to act as a sort of introduction to new readers, or so they say. I’d already written one for when I made my guest blog post for Cynthia Robertson. It was a fine bio, certainly. It said what it needed to. But I’ve never been able to square with the notion of cramming “me” into a tiny string of letters, so it’s hard for me to remain comfortable with those sorts of things for long.

I know that’s really over-simplifying matters, far further than anyone ever should. A bio is only a tidbit. A taste. A minor selection of details that should, in theory, appeal to the sensibilities of the readers of that piece and give them just a little insight into the person behind the text. But what does it express? What does a bio convey to the public, the greater readers who don’t actually get to know you?

Am I the sum of my creations? No, the physical things I make are such a small part of me. Am I defined by the things which surround me? To an extent, that can be true. I got to thinking about this even harder after reading Angie McDonald’s post from her blog, All Adither. 15-word fiction offers a selection of super-tiny stories, giving an insight into something bigger with those bare fifteen words. They are much like micro-bios of a potential whole story. I even took a stab at writing my own.

She wore a guise of ink; staining her fingertips and injecting her body with art.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to come up with that. I had written and discarded several others which didn’t strike me as expressive or poignant, though I was probably just being too critical. This one fleeting line, though… I’m kind of in love. With the idea, with the women it’s about, a woman I am more than a little interested in crafting into a full character and finding her a home in a book. Regular readers and friends of mine will know I love meaningful tattoos, and artworks of all kinds, whether visual or written. She, clothed in ink, is a part of me and entirely separate.

If I spent a very long time, and gave myself a whole lot of poetic freedom, I might come up with a bio which accurately depicts me. At least in a way that I could feel more confident in. Perhaps. In the meantime, I did update the bio on the Who is Ashlee? page, and for the time being, I’m pleased with it.



I have the picture, but not the location

I’m planning to get a second tattoo in the semi-near future. It took me a while to settle on a design. I’ve wanted more ink since I got my first piece years ago, and it’s been an ongoing dance of choices and passing fancies. I don’t get tattoos without a very long decision period. I was drawing my first tattoo on myself for months before I got the permanent copy. I still love my tattoo.

There are two images that I am very fond of as tattoos. One is a picture of an owl, which I would get on the inside of my right forearm, at the widest point near my elbow. It would be a brown-dominant tattoo rather than black, as they usually are. But it’s not my immediate choice, because I’ve drawn myself another picture.

It’s a compass. As in, directional. In the centre is a tree, shaped like an aged bonsai, with leaves trailing away, changing from a vibrant, flourishing green into the beautiful yellow, orange, red of autumn. At the cardinal and intermediate directions spread the symbols of the Vegvísir, the traditional Icelandic runic compass.

I took inspiration from other images and drew the complete design by hand. It contains images of things that I have great respect for, or just resonate with me. Every time I look at the picture, I still love it. Love, love, love it. But I have a problem… I don’t know where I want it.

I don’t often have trouble deciding things like the ideal location of a tattoo if I think something would be awesome. The two notions tend to go hand in hand: “If I wanted this as a tat, I’d get it on this part of my body”. Not so with my compass. It’s definitely a larger image, so I’ve considered my thigh, or my stomach. I don’t like the idea of ink on my back, because I wouldn’t be able to see my own tattoo! It wouldn’t fit nicely on my arms, or lower on my legs. I don’t think I’m a chest, collarbone or neck tattoo kind of person unless I went straight for the manubrium, and that would still leave me with the trouble of not seeing it well. I would be in front of a mirror an awful lot!

I guess you understand my trouble.

My only reasonable solution to this problem is to buy some of that print-you-own temporary tattoo paper and trial the locations I’m interested in. My husband is doing his illustrator thing and creating a finalised design for me where everything’s meticulously measured out and uniform (rather than my rough hand drawn version). Then, we will just have to see.


Sitting with Boobook

I was graced with the beautiful presence of the boobook owl who lives at my workplace. He sat on the balcony’s handrail, peering left and right, fluffed up against the wintery night chill. He would turn his head to inspect new sounds, but he was content with me sitting and watching him from just a couple of metres away. Of course the sun had set and the few external lights are dim, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have been sitting there, so I couldn’t get any photos of his gorgeous form. In the darkness, I could still see his large shining eyes, and the typical “frowny” look of his kind.

I feel such contentment and affinity with owls, but after seeing the boobook, and hearing him call so frequently, I love them even more. They are a special and sacred creature (though I really do love all animals!), and while I sat with him, I just wanted to snuggle his feathers. My husband insisted that the owl would bite my fingers right off if I pet it, to which I fondly agreed. Of course he would bite them off. He’s that kind of owl.

I’ve been thinking of getting a second tattoo, one featuring an owl. Tattoos are really important things, and I would take a very long time in deciding what I want (just like I did with my first ink, my little bat). This might be done to mark my first publication, and of course, because I just want to.

In other news, I’ve updated my sidebar links/Favourite Reads to include a few more of the blogs I read frequently! I kept forgetting I needed to do that, what with my head being filled with too many stories. But now there are new additions, and there will undoubtedly be others again in the future when I find more awesome people and places around the internet.