This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

My New Tattoo: Session 1

Friday was the first day of the initiation to my new tattoo. This means: it is permanently sketched onto my body.

I have met with my artist on two other occasion. Once to meet with her and discuss the work. The second to view the work and "fit" it on me.

My artist is Kathryn, who epitomizes - on the surface - everything that is NOT a tattoo artist. She has no visible tattoos or piercings, she has long, curly hair, and has this wholesome "I shop at Whole Foods" demeanor and appearance. But she is incredible and her work is her passion. It is a privilege, thus far, to work with her.

I had spent the summer trying to figure out what I really wanted, for real. I mean, I have been thinking about my next tattoo for years and have design ideas but nothing ever looked or felt right. I even attempted several times to just "do it" -- going into parlors, describing what I want, and hoping to get it put on -- only to be shot down by snotty tattoo artists. They are - stereotype #1 - pretty snotty. I went to two places in Raleigh and two in Austin, TX and they are all pretty cocky with this attitude that you, the customer, are not worthy of them, the tattoo shop. Whatever. I just go to the next place. These places are a dime a dozen. And if I'm getting permanent ink on my body, by golly-gee-whiz, I am going to have someone that doesn't treat me that way.

My friend that came with me to Austin, TX told me about Dogstar in Durham. Well, she didn't know what it was called and knows very little about tattoos. After all, our trip in Austin was her first time she had been into a tattoo parlor. So it was something like 'there's a tattoo place in Durham on 9th street". I looked them up when I got back to Raleigh and I loved what Kathryn had to say, regarding her philosophy. And the fact that she's female, which is so, so rare in the tattoo community (that I know of).

So back at Dogstar, Kathryn shows me a finished portion of the tattoo. It is awesome. This is the part we will start with today (Friday). We spend a good amount of time fitting it on me properly. This part sits partly on the front of my ribcage and then wraps to the side, around my hip. Which means, I have to take a few things off and roll things down.

Although I'm not typically shy about stripping down to nothing -- after all, I've had two kids and breastfed them both in many public places -- I am still pretty meek about showing my things off. I am pretty lackadaisical at the doctor's office, or getting a massage/acupuncture, but those are private offices. Kathryn's room has a flimsy curtain to shade it, so not really private.

But I know people get tattoos in undiscovered places many times, and she's female, so I should feel comfortable. She even says, 'it's not anything we haven't already seen'...but I think, sure, but you haven't seen ME! Still unnerving, I throw out my modesty.

So Kathryn wanted the tattoo positioned perfectly. She had put the stencil on, then removed it, put it on again moving a few inches, removing it, etc. Once she felt comfortable, she asked if Nathan could see it. Nathan? That sounds like a guy's name. He's going to see me half-nekkid. Out loud it came out as "Sure!"

So Nathan looks in and he is extremely professional and appears to only be looking at her work.

Let me say this: I am not thinking someone will be gawking at me and tantalizing over me. I don't have that much egotism. But it is still odd to be standing in front of strangers...a bit vulnerable...but that's the price I pay for getting this tattoo.

So finally, the tattoo is on where Kathryn feels comfortable. I am too because I see the stencil and it is AWESOME. I set myself on the chair, sideways and I hear her last words "Are you ready?" and I'm like YES!

Once the needle penetrates my skin I think, Um, on second thought, I'm not ready. But I lie still. Kathryn asks if I'm okay and I give her a big YUP answer. But oh god how it hurts.

And the sick part of me (as if you haven't seen this already) likes the pain of getting a tattoo. I have two others on me -- one is being covered by this one -- and have enjoyed the tattoo sessions. Enjoy is probably too strong a verb, but the pain was tolerable and yes, pleasant to feel.

On this day, I was trying to figure out why that wasn't happening. There was no pleasure, just excrutiating pain. Well, there would be a moment of pleasure and I'd think "yes, this is what I was waiting for" and then the next second my brain was screaming "Owie! Owie! Owie!" I endured 1 1/2 hours of non-stop needlework, which then gave me pleasure...that I managed to sit still and not go bonkers over the pain. Mind control? Or just plain insanity?

Regardless, the finished work-of-this-day is amazing. She is truly gifted and I am extremely happy to have gotten started.

But there's more work ahead. This is a doozy of a tattoo. I return in two weeks -- actually, every two weeks until early November -- for this tattoo.

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