My First Tattoo

I love tattoos. I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. Every one is complex. Even if the design itself isn’t detailed or complicated and the person getting the tattoo has no deeper attachment to the design than that they think it’s pretty, there’s something incredibly personal and meaningful about the process of getting it. You’re choosing to actively seek out someone and have them permanently, and usually at least somewhat painfully, etch something into your flesh. It’s one of the more absurd things humans do, but it’s also beautiful.

 

I always wanted to get a tattoo, but for a long time I didn’t think it was possible. I couldn’t come up with a good design. Then I thought of a design, but I assumed I couldn’t afford to get it done. Not that I had any idea how much tattoos actually cost. Once or twice I thought I might have enough disposable income to try getting my tattoo, but I didn’t really know anyone who could recommend an artist. The idea of doing some research and finding an artist on my own was daunting. I would search around online and find shops in my area, but then become terrified I would settle on someone and get the tattoo and it would be completely wrong. So I kept putting it off.

Then on a trip down the The Keeper’s hometown I found out that one of The Keeper’s close family friends who he grew up with was going through the process to get certifications or licenses or whatever it is you need to be able to do tattooing professionally. We talked a bit and this guy’s passion for what he was doing was obvious. He seemed a little distracted and wobbly when it came to other topics, but anything having to do with tattoos or piercings made him immediately perk up and speak with incredible passion and intelligence. I had found my artist. I started thinking about designs again, hoping I might be able to save up.

Fast forward to holiday season 2013. The Keeper and I were in his hometown again doing the Christmas thing and we learn that My Artist was planning on opening his own tattoo shop! We hung out with him for a little bit and listened to him gush about this new venture. He already had a huge client base from the time he’d spent working in other shops and he was excited about the other artists he was going to bring in to work with him. He was bouncing off the walls and telling us that if we ever wanted a tattoo we would have priority, just walk in and he’d bump his other customers back to do our ink.

Now I was getting excited. I’d just got a new, better paying job. I had a savings account again for the first time in nearly over a decade. I could do this! I still hadn’t asked anyone at any point how much my tattoo would cost, but I figured it would definitely be a few hundred dollars. Tattoos are expensive right? So I went home with a plan to save up, email the shop once it was up and running, and set everything up then come back down totally prepared!

Well, despite being super passionate, My Artist isn’t the most orderly, organized business owner I’ve ever known. I was expecting to exchange emails and get the design hammered out, schedule an appointment and then drive down one weekend and get it done. That’s not how My Artist operates. I’m sure there are shops that do things that way, but not my shop. My Artist is more of a hands on, on the fly kind of guy. And he’s far more interested in the designing and poking-you-with-a-needle parts than with checking emails.

I had no idea what I should be expecting or how all of this was supposed to play out, so when my expectations didn’t line up with reality when it came to the communication and the whole process I got super anxious. I probably could have communicated that better to My Artist. I’m sure he would have made an effort to explain things better if he knew exactly how I was feeling and how little I understood everything. Despite all of that though, I did eventually find myself sitting in The Tattoo Chair at My Artist’s shop at 11pm on a Saturday night.

My tattoo is a bracelet of celtic knotwork. There are three open spaces in the knotwork where I had My Artist draw in “charms”. The charms are a Super Nintendo controller, a ball of yarn with knitting needles stuck in it, and a 20 sided die. The first thing I learned while I was sitting in The Tattoo Chair was that it is surprisingly difficult to get a clean transfer of the outline of the design when you’re trying to put it in a band around a place like the wrist. You can’t just wrap the piece of paper around your wrist because the width changes the closer to the hand you get, and any little movement of the skin will mean that the two ends of the design won’t meet up in the right spot. My Artist tried to transfer the design 3 times before he gave up and called his wife (who is also a tattoo artist) over to help. And she tried twice before she gave up on getting a completely clean transfer and just drew in by hand the parts that didn’t transfer cleanly.

That is the point at which I made my first rookie mistake. I noticed much, much later that there are a couple of places where the complicated knotwork isn’t quite right. If I hadn’t been so jazzed up on “holy fuck, I’m finally doing this thing” excitement, and if I had prior experience with this sort of thing, I might have taken a long hard look and made sure the transfer was perfect before the actual tattooing began.

Once the transfer was on the only thing left was to start stabbing me with an inky needle. Over the years I had heard and read so many different things about how getting a tattoo feels that I kind of went into it thinking that it was going to be kind of like sex. Everyone is different and experiences sensations a little differently. Some people find it incredibly painful to get a tattoo. Some people find it pleasant. Everyone seems to have a different opinion on what places hurt the most to get tattooed. I tolerate pain fairly well, so I figured I’d be ok even though I was getting my tattoo done on one the places a lot of people agree is one of the most painful.

I was mostly right about how it was going to feel for me. Initially it was less painful than I was expecting. Just kind of a vibrate-y mild burning sensation. Then My Artist got to that little sort of bony protrusion on the pinky side of the wrist. THAT hurt like hell. And something that I don’t think I’d seen or heard anyone point out before- you can’t really get used to the sensation because it keeps starting and stopping. Tattoo guns don’t have, like, a spot for the ink bottle to just be plugged in. It’s like writing with a quill or painting, you have to stop every few seconds and dip the needle in the ink. Which makes the painful parts even more painful, because you can’t just grit your teeth and suffer through and then it’s done. It’s suffer, pause, suffer, pause, suffer, pause… It makes total sense and I’m amazed that I didn’t realize that’s how it would work beforehand.

Roughly two hours later, the knotwork was done. At around 1 in the morning. Now, this is where I made my second mistake… kind of. Once the knotwork was done My Artist did the research and drew up the charms I wanted. He showed me the drawings and got my approval and then we did the transfers and the stabbing again for each one. My mistake can be viewed from a couple different angles. Either I shouldn’t have gone in so late to get the tattoo in the first place, or I should have been extra diligent in checking to make sure the charm drawings were right since it was so late and I was very, very tired. Turns out, tattoo artists don’t just inherently know the difference between a knitting needle and a sewing needle. I know, weird right? So I have a little ball of string with sewing needles poked in it on my wrist now. Not hard to fix, there are knitting needles with embellishment so I’m just going to get some color added later and it will be fine. But still, that’s something I should have caught and I didn’t because endorphins and sleepy.

By about 2am it was all done. At that point I hadn’t noticed the mistakes so I was sleepy and ecstatic all at once. It was incredible. I had a hard couple of weeks afterward when I noticed the problem with the knotwork, but now that I’m on the other side of that I can honestly say that I love my tattoo and I loved the experience of getting it. I’m constantly trying to decide what/where my next one will be. Because I definitely want more. I’m one of those people. Can’t wait to get more.

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Tiny Houses & My Unhealthy Addiction To HGTV

Don’t ask me why, because there really is no good reason for it at the moment, but The Keeper and I (more I) have become completely addicted to HGTV. It started with the House Hunters series. Especially House Hunters: International. It was just so cool to see living spaces in other countries. And so cool to see living spaces that we could probably never afford. And so much fun to yell at people being stupid or ridiculous in their expectations or overly picky about things that really should not matter. But it didn’t stop there.

We started watching My First Place, Property Virgins, Holmes Inspection, Room Crashers, Holmes on Homes, Yard Crashers, Curb Appeal, and now All American Handyman. We’ve also watched a couple episodes of Design Stars, though neither of us is really all that interested in it. That one has mostly just been background noise once it gets too late for us to want to switch the channel and get invested in something. However, the most recent episode of Design Star introduced me to something that I think is super fun: Tiny Houses.

 

Apparently, these itty-bitty homes are a new trend among individuals and couples who want to live more of a green, small carbon footprint lifestyle. And they can be SUPER CUTE!

On the aforementioned episode of Design Star, the three remaining contestants each had to design the interior of one of these types of homes. The idea was to see who could use the minuscule space best while also making it aesthetically pleasing. 

They all did a pretty good job, but I realized something tonight when this episode was re-run and I had it on in the background. Every single one of them used the space just above the rafters as a sleeping space. They each had a carpenter assigned to them who could make anything they wanted to put into the space, but all of them chose to put the bed in the rafters. How did this show get down to the final three with such uncreative people?

The rafter space could have been some truly awesome storage. I’m sure they could have figured out some kind of drop down drawer configuration that would have been totally unique. And all of them missed the PERFECT opportunity for using Murphy Beds. They could have made a single person Murphy Bed that had a fold out table on the bottom so when the bed is up, a table could come out. Or, they could have made a two person Murphy Bed in two sections. One section could serve as a couch when the other section is folded up against the wall, and that other section could have the table underneath.

And that is exactly what I’m going to do if The Keeper and I ever decide we want a vacation home.

Sporcle

I read a blog post recently about making sure you learn something new every day. It was one of those “keep your mind active”, “exercise your mind” type posts. And it put me in a mood to do one of those timed “name all the _______” quizzes, which is something I do from time to time anyway when I’m bored.

So I did a quick google search and I was soon on Sporcle. I’m not really sure what the name is supposed to mean, but the “games” section is fantastic. Especially with regard to the type of quizzes I was looking for. I started out with the simple “U.S. States” quiz where you have to name all the states in something like 5 minutes. Usually when I haven’t done this in a while I’ll miss one or two of the states I never have cause to think about in my daily life. Like Nebraska. Who thinks about Nebraska? Ya know, unless they live there. Anyhow, I don’t like to do these over and over because when you run out of time the ones you missed are displayed, and I feel it’s kind of cheating to look over the answers and then immediately go and retake the quiz. So I had to find another one to divert my focus before going back to try again.

I chose Countries of Europe.

Europe 

Then, after switching back and forth between the US and Europe, I added South America.

South America 
Since there are only 12 countries in South America, it didn’t take me long to get them memorized. So I added Africa.

Africa

Once I had all 47 countries of Europe, all 12 countries of South America and the majority of Africa memorized, I decided to take on naming all the countries of the world.

World

I quickly realized that this was going to be more difficult than each of the little regional quizzes, because the world map is so much smaller that once you start naming things the names start to cover up the map and I had been remembering some countries based on their location on the map. I’m not doing too badly though. I can name about 150 of the 196 countries on the World quiz.

How many countries can you name?

Pink Eye+New Job= FAIL

After my temp position debacle, I lost all motivation and inspiration. I would sit down to write, but nothing appeared on the screen. Or nothing appeared that I was happy with. I was not quite fully depressed, but definitely in a depression-like slump. The fact that my unemployment benefits came into question because of the shitty temp job did not help.

Then I was contacted by a couple people for interviews and I thought things were looking up. I went to two interviews one week, which was more than I’d had in the previous 4 months or so. But they were both a bust and I continued to wallow in “meh”-ness.

Saint Patrick’s Day came, and with it a phone call. The author of one of the random ads I’d responded to on Craig’s List, despite the lack of simple information like a company name or who to address the emailed resume to, had liked my resume and was interested in speaking with me. But first, for whatever reason, he wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding pay. He had budgeted $13-14/hour for the position, but since the job was located in the city I was pretty sure that I’d need a minimum of $15/hour to cover the added transportation costs. We signed off of our phone conversation with the understanding that I would do some calculations and let him know if I could make $14 work. The answer was no, but I emailed him to let him know that if he was willing to consider paying the $15/hour for the right candidate then I would still love to come in and interview.

That Saturday, during my monthly Pathfinder game, another man called me from the same business. I explained what I had spoken about and emailed to the first guy and he said they would talk it over and get back to me. A little while later he called back to say that they were still interested in talking to me, so we set up an interview for Monday.

Monday came and the interview went splendidly. I left feeling excited and optimistic. The job would be a pretty basic Administrative Assistant position, but instead of being in a typical office setting I would be working in the back office of a restaurant. A beautiful restaurant with exotic food that smelled delicious. It was perfect. And there would even be room for growth, because this wasn’t just any restaurant. This was a foreign restaurant chain which was trying to expand into the US, and the location where I would be working was the first US location. Now all I had to do was wait while they finished up their other interviews and chose who to hire.

On Friday I spoke on the phone again with one of the two guys I’d interviewed with and was informed that I had gotten the job! They wanted me to start on the following Monday! I was elated! This was the first “real” job I had gotten all on my own, and it felt fantastic.

Then, on Sunday morning, The Keeper started complaining about his eyes. They were irritated and gooey and in pain. By Sunday evening he was having trouble seeing because of gunk forming on his eyeballs and he was fairly sure he had pink eye. In both eyes. My eyes were just fine though, so I decided to go in for my first day of work as planned. I would just tell my new employers as soon as I got there what was going on, so that they would be aware and have warning in the event that I caught this affliction.

On Monday morning I got up, I got ready and I took the bus and the Metro into DC. I arrived at my new job on time and when my new boss began to extend his hand to shake mine I greeted him with the following:

“Hi! Listen, before we get started and before I shake your hand there’s something I should probably make you aware of… this weekend my boyfriend seems to have come down with a double case of pink eye. I haven’t had any problems, my eyes are just fine, but I thought I should let you know before I touch you or anything else here.”

We talked about the situation a little bit and he decided we should probably push back my start date, just to be safe. Since it’s a restaurant and all. I apologized profusely and felt terrible about the whole thing, but I think he was grateful that I brought it up instead of just jumping right in and then saying something when/if my eyes actually started to be a problem.

Burial Practices

I remember in high school, probably during a lecture that had something to do with decomposition and the organisms that take care of it, my Biology teacher explained that “traditional” burial practices are completely against the natural order and that when he died his preference would basically be for his body to be mulched and spread through a field somewhere with a little lime to keep the smell under control. He lamented the fact that this was probably completely illegal and would never, ever happen. I never was particularly interested in being mulched myself, but the idea of staying part of the natural cycle after my death did resonate with me. So I filed that thought away as something to start looking into when my death seemed a little more imminent.

Well, I don’t feel as though my death is all that much more imminent now than it was when I was in that high school Biology class, but I did come upon an article yesterday that made me think about it all again. Apparently it is becoming more and more common for people to choose “natural”, “green” burials. The idea here is that when someone dies they are encased in something biodegradable, such as plain wooden casket, a shroud or just some blankets the person loved while alive. Then their body is placed into the ground and covered over. No concrete vaults, no huge, elaborate, plush casket, and no chemicals. Just a body being allowed to decompose naturally and return its nutrients to the earth.

It’s not quite mulching, but I think it’ll do.

Johnny Depp Is Seriously Awesome

I have always been a HUGE fan of Johnny Depp, and now I have yet another reason to love him. In addition to being a spectacular actor and hot as hell, he also does random cool shit like visiting children who have written him letters at school in full pirate garb.

And the girl who wrote him the letter is pretty awesome herself. She addressed it to his Pirates of the Caribbean character and requested aide in staging a mutiny at her school. If she’s the type of person who thinks to do something like that at 9 years old, how ridiculously kick ass of a person is she going to be when she gets older?

Everything about this story just makes me happy.