Monthly Archives: March 2010

CDotD: Married Women Are More Psychologically and Physically Fit??

It’s been quite some time since I’ve done a “CDotD” entry (“Crazy Discovery of the Day” for those of you who have long forgotten), and then I learn this during a student presentation in my news class: China’s space program requires its female candidates to be married!  Why, do you ask? Apparently married women are more “physically and psychologically mature.”  Huh?

I’d actually think that married women might have more to lose, considering that they have loved ones far away, and may not be as psychologically equipped to venture off in such a dangerous field – or perhaps the Chinese are onto something, and someone with more to lose would be more careful? Either way, the logic is entirely baseless, and worse, there is no similar prerequisite for China’s male candidates!

And based on the single men I know, they are definitely way less “psychologically mature” than their married counterparts.

I was pretty shocked by the blatant gender discrimination, but get this — this is apparently a fairly common phenomenon in Asia.  According to my teacher, married women, particularly those who already are mothers, have always been preferred for employment in China, since, being that Chinese families can only have one child, mothers clearly wouldn’t need to take maternity leave anytime soon as compared to single or childless counterparts.  Further, a Japanese classmate confirmed that there is a preference for married women in her country as well (although an overwhelming number of Japanese women typically stop working after marriage).  What? Why?

I’m really not sure, but what really shocked me was how blase everyone appeared to be about the matter in class (remember, my class is primarily populated by Asian students).  I got pretty worked up in trying to explain in Mandarin how marital status should not be considered in employment and that it was a form of gender discrimination.  Eventually the teacher suggested I just give my comments a rest, because I was merely pointing out a cultural difference that I did not understand.  Huh?? I really don’t think equality is necessarily colored by culture.

Or is it? My Dutch classmate said I was just getting worked up in my typical American lawyer way, and that my shock was akin to someone suggesting that a burka was a form of female oppression (I’d say, it is and it isn’t, but that’s another entry in itself), and that I was just not being culturally sensitive here.  Huh??

Sorry for all these “huhs”, but I just think it’s obvious that employment criteria for men and women ought to be equal, and if marriage makes one more “fit” for whatever reason, both men and women ought to be similarly evaluated.  Am I really a self-centered imposing American here??

Upon a very brief google search on the topic, I did not find further support for this phenomenon, but I’m not sure which is more crazy — that China has this completely disparate qualification for women over men, or that no one in class seemed to sympathize with my shock over the whole matter.  Can someone enlighten me? And does this mean I’ll never be an astronaut in China?

A New Year’s Resolve Completed (Part 2 of 2)

And now to continue with my amazing tattoo experience:

So there I was at the corner of Wellington and Aberdeen, where I met Oliver and Doug. Doug went off touring in Stanley and then Oli and I went up to the studio.

The actual tattoo area was now revealed (there was a curtain covering up the space all the other times I’d been up to Sze’s) and I began to feel quite anxious. There a medical bed was ready, covered in the usual hygienic disposable paper tissue you will find in your doctor’s office, but this one had a pillow strategically placed in the middle for me to lie on. I saw the needles and a little cart ready with the necessary inks laid out. It was do or die time! It was one thing to put down and just forgo my deposit, quite another to actually have my dermus pierced with permanent ink!

I had worn a free flowing white dress — good for being so flowy, but bad idea for being white (so here’s a tattoo tip – where something black or something you don’t care about getting dyed, although Sze did not stain anything I wore), raised it up to expose the area I was going to ink and just laid out with apprehension.

When the needle first touched my skin, it felt very uncomfortable. I tried to keep my muscles relaxed, but I definitely felt my brain tensed – if that makes any sense. I begged Oliver to just talk to me, but nothing that might make me laugh, in order to keep my mind off the pain. Oli, who almost always makes me laugh, struggled with the request and felt under immediate pressure. He began to babble about the Sun Yat Sen museum he and Doug had visited in the morning, but then paused as he nearly said something funny again.

The pain varied as she used different sized needles and covered different parts of my body. Sometimes it felt like a searing burning, sometimes it felt like the tip of a compass scraping across my skin. Sometimes I could really ignore the feeling, and it was just some kind of buzzing on the surface, sometimes it was near unbearable  — particularly towards the end of the FOUR AND A HALF HOURS it took me (that must give you some idea of the size).  On the other hand, I think Sze did an outstanding job – because in spite of it being such a large and detailed piece, she had a quick and LIGHT hand.

I think that was another key — that Sze’s hand is so slight that you can really tell she is extra-skillful.  I had read on other tattoo forums that folks had permanent raised scars.  She guaranteed no such thing because of her good work, and I would say she can do that!  She suggested that those with such scarring went to tattoo shops that are more like factories, where the artists are rushed to get your work done. My skin actually responded quite nicely too — most pics of recently done tattoos show a lot more redness and raised skin, but mine was barely pink in only some areas.

Once we were done, I couldn’t believe it!  It turned out GORGEOUS.  I was often afraid what would happen and how much it would or would not meet my expectations, but it blew me away!  Sze’s artistry and understanding of skin/the human body was phenomenal.  I love looking at it constantly!!! It definitely makes me feel joy, and hella sexy to boot.  I love that I have this badass piece of artwork on my body that means so much to me, and nobody needs to know but me!

A friend of mine advised to take at least a year considering a tattoo before getting it, so that you are sure that you want it.  I think that was good advice, and since I’d been considering it (varying in vagueness) since 2006, I think I met that requirement. He also warned me that the experience can be quite emotional, especially where a tattoo symbolizes something really deep, because as you go through this painful experience on that behalf, it is in a way “seared” into your memory in a new way.  For me, I was too busy focusing on not feeling pain, and the end result just makes me feel a real joy.  So, I bypassed that.

Right after we were done we headed straight for Lotus for some heady cocktails.  I needed it.  The tattoo site felt sore as if I just fell off a bike and suffered a broad grazing scrape across my skin.  I felt raw and unable to jostle the muscles underneath the site too much.  I walked gingerly and really needed a stiff drink right away.  Woohoo to happy hour!

After three cocktails at Lotus, Oli, Doug and I hit up the races, but didn’t stay long.  I had to get some work done and needed to rest.  My tattoo was covered with a light jelly-like cream and plastic wrap.  I was told I could shower that evening or next morning, and to take off the covering.  Apparently the humidity in HK makes it an easy environment to heal, and I could even apply no cream if I wanted (on other websites, most clients are recommended some kind of cream) – just let it air dry and breathe.  I was also warned that there might still be some ink leakage that night and not to wear anything I would not want stained.

That night I definitely could not apply any pressure on the one side where the artwork was located.  I could sleep on my back and the other side, but being unable to sleep on both sides (and being a side-sleeper), I found I could not sleep long if I didn’t have access to both sides.  For the next 4-5 days I really couldn’t get proper sleep (last night was the first time I slept on my right side normally!), and there was some kind of pain – akin to the aforementioned pain.  It got less with each day of course, and now I have a light scab on it that is flaking off on its own.  On occasion I feel it itch, but I’ll just put some lotion on it.

The colors will apparently get lighter, and I’m hoping they don’t change too much, as I love how it looks now.  So let’s see.  I’ve flashed it to a few friends, but otherwise, I feel it is a very personal piece, and when I started returning to the gym on Monday, felt a bit awkward about revealing it in the locker room.

Overall, I am really happy I did this. I really miss my Mom, but this gorgeous depiction of who she was and what she has accomplished in life always reminds me of really happy moments, and makes me a bit less sad actually.

A New Year’s Resolve Completed (Part 1 of 2)

I’ve been going on about my New Year’s Resolutions for a few posts now, and unfortunately I’ve been absolutely awful about keeping up with them (incuding the one on blogging once a week!).  One of the New Year’s Resolves was to finally get this tattoo I had been thinking about for a long time.  I’m not sure when the concept first popped into my head, but not long after Mom had died, I had wondered about getting a tattoo to commemorate her. 

I’m not too terribly thrilled about needles (although, I can’t say I know anyone who is a fan of them at all), and I don’t even have my ears pierced, but I thought a tattoo representing Mom made sense, as she has always been so important to me all my life.  I think about her all the time, and the impact of her sickness, death, and the after-death has been huge in my life. 

Mom has a beautiful Chinese name, but while the calligraphy would have been pretty, I felt something more abstract would be needed.  Her name is a homophone with the word “vase,” so I began considering a tattoo of a Chinese styled vase some time last May.  I remembered that, because when I suggested that I get a tattoo, friends, bewildered, told me to slow down on the big changes, as I had just decided then to also move to HK.

So I went ahead and moved here, and then the concept of the tattoo had come up again.  I had gotten close to someone I met my first weekend here who had a few tattoos.  When I first saw them I wondered what they were about and why he had gotten them.  At first, he was none too willing to reveal anything about any of them, but then one day he let me choose one, and he’d tell me the story.

There was this tattoo of a rabbit smoking a pipe, which stood out to me.  It was not necessary cute per se, but definitely seemed out of character from the rest of the artwork.  He began to tell me the story behind it.  He got the tattoo to commemorate his late grandfather, but the story revealed so much more than that. 

He had to start from the beginning, as most stories start, and explained who his granddad was.  His granddad was an amazing man, who in spite of physical disability, and therefore much social adversity, managed to accomplish more than anyone could expect.  He really was one of those people whom movies are made about.

Then came to the part of the grandson – and my friend explained how his granddad had to take care of him from an early age, because his parents effectively abandoned him.  I could feel such an intense depth as he told the story — all emanating from this very simple piece of art, now permanently imprinted on his arm.

Once he finished, I felt such a beauty and calm.  And that’s when I knew this tattoo would be right for me.

In what I believe was either October or November, Vineet and I, looking for something free and fun to do, read about an art opening in HK Magazine, an excellent resource for what to do, both free and not free.  We figured, no matter the art or crowd, at least the wine would be free. 

The artist is actually a local HK-born tattoo artist with her own independent studio somewhere where Soho and Sheung Wan meet.  The art work was interesting (a series of water-inspired oils depicting a scale pattern), and we met a bunch of cool people (including a doctor who may have gone to school with Vineet’s grandmother!), but more interesting to me was learning about this artist’s tattoo work.

She gave me her card and suggested I look at her website to see if I liked her art or not.  Her work is incredible!  I appreciated her artistry and capability, and more, that she understood Asian artwork – which would be important for my case.

I also began to think more about the tattoo concept, and began adding other elements (I won’t actually delve too specifically on it, as it is just as personal to me as the pipe-smoking rabbit is to my friend), and then I contacted Sze about a consultation.  In December we met up to discuss my ideas and how she worked.  She would be the one to render the art (she is a true artist and rarely does any copied work), and that I essentially had to trust her – although my input would, of course, be valued.

Considering all the design elements I wanted, the piece would end up quite large — anywhere from 9-12 inches in height! I was not really ready for that, plus, the location I’d initially imagined would not be terribly suitable either.  So given this information, Sze suggested I just take some time to think it over and get back to her whenever I felt ready.

She knew I would be travelling soon after this meeting, and that’s exactly when I proposed to think it over.  In New York I did much more research on images that would match my concept, and also looked at sites and forums about tattoos.  Before I left for India, I used a dark blue sharpie to draw a vague shape representing the tattoo over one of the secondary proposed areas on my body.  It seemed weird.  I’d have this permanent image on my body, and I had to really want it!

In any case, I noticed that every time I looked at this amorphous figure (which was not too frequent, since we’d chosen a fairly discreet place), I’d feel happy, knowing that one day there would be this image that would always remind me of Mom.

And so, I figured it was time to move on.

In late January, once I got over the second transition into HK life, I contacted Sze for a second consultation.  There we actually got down to making a rough design that would really help me to visualize the tattoo on my body.  We also worked out a better location to place it, and I left feeling satisfied.  I put down a 20% deposit (tattoos are NOT cheap, and in this case I was paying her an hourly rate for her work, but not charged any design fee).

I learned at that meeting how serious Sze was about her art.  Under no circumstances would she ever coerce anyone into a tattoo, nor would she go forward if the client was not herself 100% committed to keeping it.  This was serious business!  But after talking to her this second time, I really felt she understood what I wanted and my concerns well, and was able to work around it.

We settled on a date – March 3rd.  I was really doing it! Fortuntely, Oliver, one of my best friends from college, would be in town and could be there with me.  To be honest, I was kinda scared of what kind of pains would be associated with the tattooing process, and there was just no way I could really guess how it would feel from any website I read.

But there I was.  I met Oliver at the corner of Wellington and Aberdeen, and I would shortly have my body completely changed forever.  And here I end part 1 of this two-part post, so that I can devote a whole entry to the tattoo process in part 2.