Meandering thoughts about tattooing

This "Meandering Thoughts" tag means I have a topic in mind, but no clear post-worthy write up. The past couple weeks I've been pretty busy, and so my brains haven't had time to write me up anything good. I'll probably meander through a couple of entries this week, at least today and tomorrow. I've got some thinking to do.

So, if you're OK with it, come along for the ride in my head. It's not too terribly cluttered in here, in my head, I mean. I tend to tidy it up regularly, and I do try to keep the dogma out-- you know how dogma are, they're like mice, you just can't keep all of them out all of the time. Mind the pile of mis-conceptions about myself by that chair there, you can use it to hold your teacup, I just don't want you to get them on you-- I don't know if mis-conceptions are catching! Oh, here's a blanket of love and acceptance for you to snuggle-down with; I keep them piled up all over, because you never know when  you need that hug-like snuggle feeling. Ready? Perfect, let's meander.

I suppose I should have titled it "meandering thoughts about body modification" or conversely, "tattoos and body piercings do not make me a convict", or even "my tattoos and why I got them". It's early, and I'm still fighting with that sinus headache, so I'll let the thoughts dance and not worry too much about where they go.

I have four tattoos, and eleven holes in my body that weren't there when I was born. I used to have my tongue pierced, but it never healed properly-- so out it came. A few years ago, I got my nose pierced, but again, it just didn't want to heal, so I took it out. That would have been a 13. Of course,  nine of the holes are in my ears, including two cartilage piercings on each ear. You can see here, the photo of my right ear, I have three lobe piercings, the rook (that's the one on top, isn't it cute?) and the cartilage piercing on the conch, (that's the one on the edge of my ear). This photo was taken just about two weeks ago, right after the cartilage piercing was done. I had both sides done at the same time, and that's made for some ticklish sleeping.

Of course by ticklish, I mean it hurts like hell!

My left rook has a cbr in it; that's a captured bead ring, or the cute little hoops with a ball on them. Same thing that's in my navel. When my right rook is completely healed, I'll get a cbr in it, too.

Thing about cartilage piercings, is that they take forever to heal, sometimes up to a year depending on the thickness and of course, you. And lucky for me, my left side heals faster than the right, so my right ear is still more tender than the left. I wouldn't change it for anything, though. I love the piercings, and think they're lovely.

I have pretty much run out of things to pierce. I have everything done that I want done. I thought about a helix, or industrial for a long while, but decided against them. My ears are small enough that I think they'd look weird with an industrial, even though that particular piercing is beautiful to me. I won't completely rule out a helix in the future, because they're little bitty things, but we'll have to see, I do, after all have three cartilage piercings that need to heal.

I got my first tattoo when I was 18. I'd had it picked out for years, and when I talked to the artist, he helped me tweak it just so, to make it exactly what I want. It's a butterfly with bat wings on my ankle. I got it on the inside of my left ankle because I got it just for me, and don't really care if no one else sees it. Of course plenty of people assume that I did that in order to be able to hide it better, but they're wrong.

I chose a butterfly for my second tattoo, as well: a winding, vine-like, nearly tribal on my upper right arm. The butterfly itself is deep purple, but the vines are black. The vines trail off the butterfly, like extensions of his wings, as they wrap around my arm. I suppose I'll have to post some photos of them, if I can find them.

Butterflies represent change, metamorphosis, growing into yourself, and evolution. I chose that symbol not for the beauty alone, but because I am trying to be mindful, to evolve and grow as a person every day. It sounds pretentious that at 18 and 19 I wanted something to remind me to grow, but I'd spent years by that time being beaten down, physically and mentally and needed that boost that I, too, could metamorphosize into something delicate and beautiful.

Later on, during my disastrous relationship with my ex, the butterfly symbol helped remind me that regardless of what he said, I was smart, and pretty and wonderful. I didn't always believe myself, but when the time came I was able to throw off the cocoon of his anger and abuse and let my wings unfurl as I flew to the sun.

Many people get tattoos to mark an occasion, or remember something precious. I got them for both reasons, and because I love them. I got my third tattoo the day I turned 31. My Beloved drove out from Detroit to spend the day with me, and after dinner and cake with my Dad and my kids, he and I went down to a place in Kalamazoo called Body Armor. I had gone there before, even took my mother there to get her tragus done, so I knew they did good work.

One artist pierced my rook, the left one. He was quick, and although I won't lie, it hurt, it wasn't too bad. My poor Dear, he turned pretty pasty watching that. He's got a thing about needles, and piercing punches are like needles on steroids!

The tattooing process, though, my Love was able to watch without any trouble. There's something almost magical about the way the ink blossoms on the skin. Yes, there's blood, but as the blood's wiped away, the ink is there, almost like one of those transfers that you rub on, to get them off onto something else.

The artist used my right hip as a clipboard, so the needle-work caused much vibration though my torso, as he drew the raven on my hip. My partner watched, snapping a couple photos for a woman we know, who thought tattooing was easy, and she "could just put some numbing cream on before hand". I wanted her to know the stages, the blood, and yes, the pain. If she got a tattoo, I wanted her to be able to make the most informed decision she could.

The raven, to explain most simply, is one of my Spirit Animals. I know, I know, every one's a Raven-Something or This Colour-Raven or That Colour-Raven, or "Cute Sounding Sparkly Name"-Raven. I'm not like that, I look to the raven in stories and myths as inspiration. How to be tricky without being cruel, how to be clever without being evil, how to let out my mischievous-self without causing hurt. I placed it on my hip because the hips and torso meet, and ground the body. Think about it, everything we need, besides our brains, to keep us going, is in our torso, right? I also happen to think that my hip-curve is pretty, and wanted something to accent it. I can be a girl now and again, and want pretty... at least, I hope I can! *grins*

My fourth tattoo is on the inside of my right arm. It's three moons, entwined, reminiscent of an Irish trefoil. [Sorry the link goes to a store. I couldn't find the exact one I was looking for, and that was the best "second choice" I could find.] I am a Pagan, and do pay attention to the moon, how She moves through the sky, her phases and how they impact me. This tattoo isn't so much a screaming rendition of "I am a Witch, Hear Me Roar!" Instead it's more an abstract crescent moon knot on my arm, that tells me to be mindful of Now, but doesn't really say anything to anyone else.

Have you noticed the pattern of my modification? I did them for me, to tell me something. I couldn't care less what anyone else thought, as they aren't wearing these mods. I am.

Some people choose to tattoo their faces, or get their tongues split, or stretch their lobes, or whatever. Far as I'm concerned it's not for me, but that doesn't mean it doesn't help that person some how, and therefore it's not up to me to judge. I don't. I might ask who their artist is, and complement the colours, or what have you, but I don't think less of them for doing it.

I will admit, the one tattooing thing that creeps me the fuck out, is the idea/implementation of tattooing the eyeball. The link shows the process and explains what I mean. But at it's most basic, it means injecting tattoo ink into the sclera, or the white part of your eyeball. It sits there, around your iris, colouring your "white". The artists turn your "white" something else.

That scares the hell out of me! I won't lie. I have a thing, everyone has a thing, right? I have this thing about my eyeballs. Do Not Go Any Where Near My Eye Balls! No contacts, no drops, nothing! If I have to put drops into my eye, I have to hold my lids open, and place the drop over in the outer corner. That eyeball air-puffer at the eye doctor? Yeah, I hold my eyeball open for those too, else I get the puff on my lid. Not a fan of eyeball touching. Shit, I couldn't even watch my husband put his contacts in with out getting the creepy-crawlies. So, of course, the idea of a needle going anywhere near my eyeball conjures up horror movies, and books, and popped eyeballs, and ugh! No thank you.

Now, would I judge someone who got it done? No, but I would be fascinated in that "little kid, OMG I've never seen that before, would you lookit that!" kind of way. I've only seen it on National Geographic's Taboo, and online. To see it in person would bring on the big eyed me, the curious, Oh Wow, me. I can't help it, I still have a five year old inside who is endlessly fascinated with the world.

I don't understand people getting horns, I'll be honest. But I always shrug and think, "Whatever, it's their body." That's the thing most of your general populace doesn't seem to get, I think, that entire "it's not my body so why do I really care?" thing.

I'm not a criminal. I don't break the law; I am careful to treat everyone with respect, even the people I'd like to set on fire. I don't pick fights, I'm working to end the war in Afghanistan. I think that the death penalty is immoral. Generally I'm a pretty nice person. But I have tattoos, and you can see two of them if I have a tee-shirt on. That doesn't make me less nice. It makes me different.

I've taken my what is it, 400 feet of skin [yes, I know, it's not nearly that much, go with me here] and painted it permanently with little decorations. Not a lot, but a little here, and there, like accent paint in a room. I have two more planned, and they will also add to, not detract. I plan my tattoos for years in advance, really pondering them before I even decide that "yes, I want that."  They are permanent. They hurt. They're expensive. Why would I go through that if I wasn't completely sure I wanted them. So, no, I never "impulse bought" a tattoo. And I won't.

If you are getting work done, as around. Find out the shops to go to, the ones to avoid. Pop in and talk to the artists, see how long they've done it, how many times. This is especially important for piercings of the more personal kind [genitals, nipples] or surface piercings. Surface work is difficult if not impossible to heal properly, so you want someone who knows what they're doing before you get that stuff started.

If you can, see about watching them work. A lot of places have open area where you can spectate the tattoos, or some piercings (depending on the comfort of the person getting worked on). Watch the gloves, the sharp-disposal, the clean up. Watch how they dispose of the bloody cloths, the gauze. It's your body, and you want to be safe.

Finally, think long and hard about the tattoo or piercing. And then think about it some more. Piercings do come out, yes. But they hurt something fierce going in. Don't put yourself through the pain, and cost, if you don't know you really want it. Know how to take care of it before you even go in, and then listen to your piercing artist!! I can't stress that enough. She/He has been doing this awhile, they're professional. Listen to them if they tell you "Listerine every time you eat, drink anything other than water, smoke or even kiss someone", or "don't go swimming until it's healed, the chlorine could damage the sensitive tissue as it's trying to heal up." I've had many things done, and never got sick, no infections, because I did listen to my artists. I cleaned, salt-watered, A&D ointment-ed, whatever. And I'm thrilled with the work I have done.

I took some photos today, on my phone, so here are my tattoos. Enjoy!




 Took it in the loo mirror, you can see my bright blue hoodie pulled up! Sorry it's a little blurry, I couldn't get a better shot.
 Woohoo, belly ring and everything! I had to pull my pants down a bit, so please excuse the skin wrinkles. I've never shown my belly to the world before, except at the beach--where I've gone like three times in my adult life (yes, I own a bikini!)
 Same here, I had to roll down my sock, so there are sock marks.
The artist who did this one was amazing. I didn't want it to be all black, so he shaded it making it more grey. I was absolutely thrilled with it.

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