The cliché Om tramp stamp

Published on May 18, 2011 by      Print
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By Amelia Catone

I have an “om” tramp stamp. I got it in Montreal, where all good slightly dirty things go down on vacation.

If it makes you feel any better I was a chaperone for something when I got it. Would you trust me with your 19-year old? Yeah, me neither.

The last time I was in Montreal I was about 13 weeks pregnant and just barely coming off of the really hardcore “throwing up on the street like a junkie” phase. Didn’t help that there were blasts of raw sewage smell shooting up from all sorts of odd places on our rambles around the city. And I was there with my parents and sister. My dad told me about the time he had come to Montreal in college and he and his friend had gone to a strip club. When approached by a 6-foot tall African stripper they could only say “We have no money; we’re just here for a drink.” Must have sucked for you, dad. Could have had 30% more lap dance with your 1960s American dollars.

So yeah. Om. Right above my crack.

But I really meant it. I loved yoga at that time. Lurved it. Loaved it. Luffed it. I also loved dirty vodka martinis and Baltimore booty house. So?

I still love yoga. But we’ve broken up and gotten back together a few times. So if yoga was my boyfriend, I probably would have had his name lasered off my ass in 2006. But he’s not, so I didn’t.

I have more Sanskrit on my body. Plus two lotuses. Yeah… two. Because as you know… no shit, no lotus. And we all go through so much shit, right? Yeah. So much.

The other Sanskrit pieces were more recent and were legitimately committed to my body in an effort to heal.

I placed them at the points where I hold my stress, the areas on the front and back of my right shoulder that tighten up like fists in the face of outright nonsense. They are not aesthetic. One is “ma” and the other is “am.” I am pretty sure I know what both mean. Just in case, I consulted this guy. If you’re going to have a Sanskrit tattoo, you’ll definitely have to cut and paste from his blog. Just make sure it all faces the right way.

I have one lotus on my forearm, the design of which I lifted from a box of tissues from Target. How could I make this up? I straight up brought the damn box to the tattoo shop, the artist photocopied it, and I had myself a really lovely and original piece of body art.

The other lotus on my shoulder just happens to be the background for Elephant Journal’s web and magazine design. What? I didn’t even know what Elephant was at the time. I took it from a flyer of this Kadampa Buddhist sangha in Brooklyn that I was going to for a little while. And got that tattoo done at New York Hardcore by this badass chick I think was named Rebecca. I went back to have it retouched and they said she had left. Fled? Left. I don’t recall the exact formation of the syllables, but she wasn’t there.

We are going to be a generation of tatted up old folks.

You with your Tazmanian Devil on your calf; you with your dolphin on your shoulder; you with the Smurf playing soccer on your left butt cheek (hi Uncle Joe); you with what used to be Bugs Bunny on a surfboard on your shoulder but is now an indeterminate blob (what the eff were you thinking, Bradford?) and you with that really fly black-and-white portrait of your baby on your arm that has now sagged into something out of Pan’s Labyrinth. I own my “om” tramp stamp. It’s still intact, it reminds me of that trip to Montreal and my relative youth, and it rarely makes an appearance in public (though somehow it did make it onto the one of the fliers of the yoga studio where I teach, but not because I had anything to do with those photos of me in yoga mudra… thanks). I look at it with the eyes of a much older, sophisticated woman, like I’m watching a cute, jaunty teenager and say, “Oh, you.”

About Amelia Catone

Amelia Catone and yoga have been together for about a decade; around 2006 their Facebook status would have been “it’s complicated,” but they worked out their differences and have decided to settle down together in Boston. Like Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, they have the tattoos and scars to commemorate their love for one another.  Amelia and yoga have created one child, who is now a wonderful two-year old named Selah Vera (whose name, Selah V., has also made it permanently onto her mother’s body).

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10 Comments !

  1. chrissy says:


    I think that I tinkled laughing just a little….I seriously have to come to one of your classes!
    My sister has a tramp stamp of a lizard on her crack , so seeing this post warms the heart…she is coming home from California for a few days and I will do what I always do…lift her shirt up and yell (probably at Whole Foods), “Carla, let me see your tramp stamp”! AM I too old for this behavior at 37? Should I be more mature? You bet…nothing can break the bonds of sisterhood and tramp stamps, thanks for a funny read!

  2. Joslyn Hamilton says:


    Deep spiritual symbolism tattooed on our bodies is the Scarlet Letter of the Recovering Yogi. (Just re-read that book. Perfect analogy, I think!)

    • Chrissy says:


      Perfect analogy is right!!!
      For me, my sister’s lizard is just a great reminder of the sight of my Dad’s face when he saw it…even though we were 26 (we are twins). The poor guy spent our formative years asking with each new haircut or wild 90″s lipstick when we were going to come home with a bone through our noses….that day, he absolutely thought that the bone was a coming…it was priceless, so this post was PERFECT for a rainy, New England Day!

  3. Amelia Catone says:


    Chrissy. You and me girl. If I could be making that gesture with my two fingers where I point to my eyes and point to your eyes back and forth and back and forth… you know what I’m doing… my dad… my dad said “i thought only ignorant people and aborigines had tattoos” when he saw my first one. A teeny weeny dime-sized star on my foot. When I pointed out to him that my Uncle Benny also had tattoos (the man was revered, I was named after his wife, Aunt Amelia), my father pointed out to me the blurry state of the anchor and then-mottled mermaid that occupied his forearm. What to do. God bless your sister’s crack lizard. Own the lizard, Chrissy’s twin! Own it! So, you’re the “good twin,” then, Chrissy? You need to write a piece please outlining your bad twinness.

    • Chrissy says:


      I too, am inked…just in more of a jcrew type of way…hahaha (kids names in a circle on the outside of my hip), which after 9 years needs some touch up!

  4. Liska says:


    I’ve considered tattoos a bajillion times, but could never settle on exactly what to get exactly where. The closest I came was right after a vicious breakup, when I was DEAD CERTAIN I’d get an infinity symbol on my back – like a graphic “I Will Survive” for badass math geeks. I’d finally drawn this perfect one – a little bit stylized like a never-ending ribbon. The day before the appointment, I went to Target to pick up some lady-items and realized to my horror that I was about to get the logo for Always maxipads on my back.

    I have since given up on getting a tattoo.

    (BTW, you’re onto something with that lotus thing…)

  5. Amelia Catone says:


    ohhhhh liska. you make me LAUGH. aLOT.

  6. Joslyn Hamilton says:


    Speaking of which, check it out in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/05/29/nyregion/20110529_stretch.html#11

  7. Your face sucks. (And other things you shouldn't say on the Internet.) | elephant journal says:


    [...] 3rd grade, but turns out there’re millions and billions of dogs out there who don’t even bite people with Om tattoos.  Pausing to know the difference makes for more rational [...]


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