Tattoo You

        We cross the border for breakfast in Tijuana. The food's tasty but the prices touristy, and we soon realize that there's little to do but spend too much money here.
        A bit of excitement on our way back to the border is fireworks for sale too cheap to turn down. I cross the border with an assortment of smaller fireworks and 2.5 sticks of dynamite worth of M-80s in my pocket, a fact I try not to think about in the hot sun. I breeze through customs with no search and a smile on my face. With a bag of my fireworks, Mud makes it back similarly unscathed, yet another endeavor totally unnecessary and risky but interesting anyways.
        Today's real excitement occurs back at Venice Beach. Finally, I stop thinking about it and decide to get my tattoo. I'm back at Tattoo Asylum, the place I'd originally talked to about getting one, and I've hit double digits on what a tattoo of Pangea, one of the supercontinents, could mean. From scribblings on the back of my New Zealand car rental receipt is a partial sample:
        1. The world's becoming smaller / flatter (thanks Tom Friedman; read "The World Is Flat")
        2. In a flat world, individuals are superempowered
        3. I will impact the flattening of the world
        4. Individual action is necessary to shape this flattening for the better
        5. Diversity will require positive action on our parts to be preserved
        6. The flattening of the world will yield drastic change
        7. There's value in great diversity
        8. New, superior cultural hybrids can be produced
        9. The flattening of the world will change me
        10. Each of us is a world into and of ourselves
        11. Travel unlocks the world and brings it into you
        12. We can change what we are given
        13. The world is your domain
        14. We can shape the world
        And I could keep redundantly going, throwing in some stuff about karma and et cetera...
        But not one of these reasons keeps the tattoo from hurting a lot more than I imagined it would. It feels like somebody's repeatedly stabbing me in the back with a knife, which is fairly close to what's actually happening. The wacky dude doing my tattoo, who claims to have designed the Logo for Lost clothing, helps with wacky West coast banter: "I don't make that much, so I just date rich girls... I don't know how much my girlfriend makes, but she bought herself a great pair of breasts." We've met an abundance of people who are simply characters here. Anyways, I'm such a tattoo novice that I begin to sweat profusely and need to take a food/air break partway through. I tell myself it's too late to turn back and close my eyes, trying not to think about the pain. Soon he's on to the fillers, which are applied with a less-painful, multi-headed needle. It's not pleasant, but it doesn't hurt as much as earlier. Some sweat, $110 ($100 bill and a $10 tip), and ~5 colors of ink injected into my upper back later, I've got an orange Pangea surrounded by blue water with the outlines of future continents in black permanently etched into a ~3-4 inch diameter of my upper back. I'm quite happy with it, not like I have much choice now:) Worst-case scenario, there's always sandpaper.
        We drive north to Santa Maria, Rolling Rocks and a broken toilet at our Motel 6. I see the cigarette burn in our sheets and tomorrow night's camping is sounding downright luxurious.

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