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Avril Brown Presents:

Another year is winding to a close.

The holidays are in full swing, gifts are being given, food is being eaten in copious amounts, and money is flying out of wallets faster than it flies in.

Yet these occurrences are obvious to anyone with at least two out of five senses in working order. Even with the damaged economy limping along like Tiny Tim without his crutch, people are still scurrying about, snatching up every deal that waggles its reduced price tag. Families are feasting and annoyingly adorable couples are smooching underneath the mistletoe.

What is not obvious is the fact I am going to do something I swore on a stack of Qur’ans I would never do: I’m (sort of) making a New Year’s resolution.

This isn’t really a New Year’s resolution; it just happens to be a resolution which has occurred around the New Year. I don’t have anything personal against New Year’s resolutions; it’s not like one picked up a butcher knife and tried to murder me in my bed. I just feel they are semi-pointless. Why that day? What makes January first so damn special you feel your vow to give up cupcakes or to finish your novel has more weight, more potency, than on any other day, increasing the likelihood you will stick to it?

In a nutshell, New Year’s represents a significant change. The Jewish people have their own opinion on what year this is, and when specifically the new year occurs, but for the rest of the modern world the month of January means a whole year has come and gone, and a new one is just beginning. It’s like attending a major league sporting event: even if you don’t give two shits about the competing teams, or even the sport, it’s hard not to get caught up in the often palatable air of excitement. You find yourself screaming for a touchdown, a homerun, a goal or points of some sort, and threatening complete strangers who cannot hear you with violent bodily harm should they choose to stand in the way of said points.

Now the time has come for me to fully realize that I wish to make changes in my life. In fact, I’ve already begun. Meet the newest member of my artistic family: T.L. (True Love)

Three and a half hours, a talented artist and more dollars than I care to admit have combined to create my latest and largest body art. It’s not quite finished; there is still some touching up to do, but for the most part Rogue and Gambit have found a permanent home, together forever, on my upper back.

It is huge, colorful, and not quite what I had in mind, but I absolutely adore it. Of course, not everyone is on board with this latest alteration of my flesh, nor did I expect them to be. My mother groaned “Oh god” when she first laid eyes on it, and I believe she actually shuddered. My dad took one look and said, “Well, maybe laser surgery can take care of that.” Some people have said, “It’s so BIG,” or “It’s so BLUE,” both of which are pretty accurate. On the majority, most people have been pretty blown away at its artistic awesomeness. One of my co-workers, after asking me how long it took to have this piece etched into my skin (namely three and half hours of ouch), smiled his crooked smile (which almost helps me understand how his wife has put up with him for so long) and said to me, “You know, you’re pretty hardcore.”

I couldn’t help it; I grinned.

I am a hardcore, die-hard, eternally committed and otherwise obsessed comic book nerd/hopeless romantic. And now I have proof I can carry around with me for as long as I live. This tattoo represents many things, and not just the obvious ones. Yes, I adore Rogue and Gambit, my two favorite comic book characters, who will now be together forever, regardless of what occurs in the comic world. This is also me declaring in a loud and brightly colored voice, “I am a comic book fan! I believe true love can conquer all obstacles! I think tattoos are friggin’ SWEET!”

This is passion, pain, disappointment and hope, in its purest and most un-diluted form. This is me believing in something that has not happened yet. I’ve never been in love; the one time I thought I might be, he ended up dumping me a couple hours after my supposed realization and in a few months started dating my best friend at the time. But T.L. is also supposed to represent my hopes for my future self. I love comic books. I love to write. And I believe I may want to entwine those loves into my career path.

The changes which are significant, the ones that will stand out in someone’s memory, are the ones that are nigh impossible to erase or undo. Here comics and tattoos have something in common. Of course, body art is a tad more difficult to remove than say, an obtrusive character or dangling plot line, but there is a correlation.

‘House of M’ was a recent Marvel cross-over event (that’s a plot line that covers all the major books for a particular publisher/fantasy world, for all you non-nerds) that changed the world of mutants in a very noticeable and not easily fixable way. To summarize, Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch, went completely bat-shit crazy, lost control of her powers, and with the coaxing of a near and dear family member decided to change the world in favor of mutant superiority. When pressured to change it back, she instead uttered three words: ‘No More Mutants.’ Thus millions of mutants were stripped of their powers, forced to live their lives (if they still had them) without the abilities which had made them so extraordinary. Things have moved on since then, but so far no writer has yet found the audacity to completely reverse the effect of this event.

In many comic books, when a character “dies,” they may remain deceased for an indeterminate amount of time before being resurrected for one obscure reason or another. Some characters are given certain lee-way time, such as Colossus, who died spreading a cure to the disease that took the life of his beloved sister Illyana; he was allowed to ‘rest in peace’ for several years before being brought back in an unconventional and poignant way. Odds are, however, if a character is a fan favorite, they’ll be back. In both the show and the comic ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ you better be a bonafide Slayer or a too-sexy-for-words vampire if you want to return from the dead. Jenny Calendar, Joyce Summers, Tara McClay, and ALL of Xander’s girlfriends have died tragic deaths and stayed dead. What comes out of these heart-breaking alterations, however, is more than noteworthy. Nearing the end of Season Six, Willow and her girlfriend Tara were reunited after months of being on the outs. After more than a day and night of make-up sex, they finally get out of bed…and Tara is swiftly shot in the back by a stray bullet from a trigger-happy dick who was trying to kill Buffy. Cradling her dead girlfriend in her arms, Willow summons the darkest magicks in an effort to bring her love back to life. When refused, the grieving witch sucks the very essence of magic into her soul, altering her life, and the future, in ways she never thought possible.

Such dramatic effects are beyond my means, but a large and in charge tattoo is a good first step. I want to make more changes and choices that will alter my life, and now is the time to do them. That means an intense effort on my part, at the very least. We’re talking an uncertain future in uncertain times. Sleepless nights, many disappointments and a level of commitment I’ve only read about in books are only the beginning. Yet something is stirring in my soul, whispering in my ear there is more to life than what I’ve settled into. Something is screaming to be acknowledged and released onto the unsuspecting world. Something within me wants to be heard.

But hey man, I’m hardcore. You can’t expect me to stay silent forever. 

Avril Brown



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