Thursday, March 22, 2012

Anchors aweigh

The fake tattoo I drew on my wrist

I've been meaning to make this post for a while now, but I wanted to wait until my tattoo was all healed up. And it has healed beautifully! Yay. These pictures run in chronological order, but my post doesn't. Oops. Warning: slightly squeamish (like swollen skin, no needles!) images posted. Proceed with caution.

The original image from Bowsprite

I've wanted a tattoo for a very, very long time. Most people go through that phase in college of wanting a tattoo, and some actually go through with it. One of my hallmates freshman year got a tattoo, and I believe she doesn't regret it at all, which is fantastic. I also have a friend who got a tattoo when she was around that age and she doesn't exactly love it now. I had a plan, knew exactly what I wanted--a Baskerville typeset ampersand on my left ankle, which for me was a representation of my major and something I really loved (Latin; ampersands developed from a chronic shortening of the Latin word for "and", which is "et"). And honestly, I'm still thinking about getting that tattoo. But throughout college, the timing and/or the money was never right, and I did worry about one day regretting it. I'm glad I waited, though, because now, if I have a child and they try to get a tattoo and fight me on it, saying I have one, I can fight back and say that I waited until 25 so that's how long they can wait too!

My line trace over the original painting

Anyway. I continued to think about tattoos, and the idea of having one rolled around in my head on and off for the rest of my college career and into my current setting. The stigma surrounding tattoos now is far different (and less) than it was 50 and even 10 years ago, and I found little resistance on most fronts regarding getting one. I told my mom first, and she basically said "well, you know how I feel about them, but I'm not going to stop you". My dad just grunted and asked what was on tv, and my coworkers and friends all offered various tips, tidbits and prayers for my soul pre-ink.

The finished product, 45 minutes after tattooing

I did a lot of research before getting my tattoo, from making a Pinterest board for ideas to reading LA Ink's tips for safe tattooing and aftercare. Though I don't necessarily agree with her choice in men, Kat Von D runs an impeccably clean shop and does beautiful work, so I have no problem listening to her when it comes to tattoo care. I also drew on a version of my tattoo (see first picture) and left it there for a week, redrawing as necessary, to see how I'd like it. I knew I wanted it when I finally washed it off and I missed it.

Two hours after tattooing

When the time came for me to actually get my tattoo, my friend S. and I road tripped up to Asheville, specifically looking for Empire Tattoo. She received her first tattoo there, and I also received a great recommendation from my coworker about Empire. I also checked their website and all the online reviews I could find. There's no two ways about this: they were all right. I felt safe and comfortable in Empire, which is a small, professional, well decorated, clean shop right on Patton Ave., which is Asheville's version of main street. Right as I was sitting down for my tattoo (S. went first), the artist dropped a needle on the floor. I thought to myself "OH GOD! THIS IS A TEST!!!" and he passed--he picked up the needle, put it in the hazardous waste bin, and started over. Success! He was also very nice and professional, and we ended up talking about Murder She Wrote and Dragnet while he did my tattoo. Did it hurt? Yeah, somewhat. I was expecting it to hurt much more, though, and where I had it done--on a relatively meaty part of my body, rather than a bony area or on tough skin--was a significant factor of the pain level. The artist who did my tattoo said the wrinkly part of the wrist, right above the hand, is almost like tattooing through leather. That's how tough the skin is. And the tougher it is, the deeper the needle has to go. So there's that.

A closer view, two hours after tattooing

My tattoo healed fairly quickly, though my skin has always healed rather rapidly and usually without scarring after an injury. There was some scabbing (which I was instructed not to pick at, of course!) and it itched like crazy for a little while, but otherwise, no issues.

My view for the rest of my life, about 4 hours post-tattooing

So why the boat? Well, my family has a long history of sailing. I don't know how to sail myself (I'd like to learn someday), but I grew up around sailboats and I distinctly remember one Thanksgiving, during a blowout football game, my uncle changed the channel to the America's Cup and we watched that for the rest of the night. No joke. Sailboats remind me of my childhood, spending time with my family and by the ocean--all things that I love so very much, and nothing can change that. Some people asked why a boat when I could do a curling stone, or a horse shoe, or something involving things I love and do now? I considered that, but I don't like the idea of having something that I may or may not love forever. If I get a curling stone, what if I bust my knee and can never play again? that stone is just a reminder for me that I can't play anymore. To me, if I'm going to have a tattoo, I want it to be a reminder of something I love, or at least can never escape. And as my mother put it, "once you're one of us, there's no getting out". No backsies!

10 days post-tattooing (look closely and you'll see some scabbing)

I also absolutely adore the original painting by Bowsprite, and when her Etsy shop is back up and running (she's on vacation! tear) I plan to buy something from her. I can't wait, because her artwork is gorgeous. I spent a long time looking for the right boat, and the Lettie was perfect. Christina is very talented and I highly recommend her blog if you have any interest in sailing, the New York harbor, or just pretty watercolours. I'm considering adding waves at some point, but that's a way off yet.

So that's my story!

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