Tattoo Experience #4 Part 3

When I was planning my tattoos, I was only going to get the two quotes; the foot and the chest.  About a week before I went home, I decided that I was going to get one more tattoo; one that wasn’t completely planned out and obsessed over, but was so perfect for me.

If you know me, you’ll know that I have this obsession with feathers; rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces all catch my eye.  (Not the hair feathers though; those are tacky and ridiculous.  I prefer the pretty metal variety any day.)

I felt so badass when I e-mailed AJ and told him that I wanted not two, but THREE tattoos in one sitting.  My hair stood on end when I described the tattoo in the e-mail; I was planning on getting this feather, and it would be so much bigger and more detailed than anything else I’d ever gotten before.

I was nervous, of course I was, because I decided that this would be my first rib tattoo.  I knew several people who got tattoos on the ribs and said that they were so so painful.  I was expecting the pain, but wasn’t looking forward to it.

I was getting it up on my right side, a few inches under my underarm.  I had to remove my bra in order to tattoo, and for some reason, I was more wary about taking my bra off (and possibly flashing this man) than I was about the actual tattooing process.  But AJ was as sweet as always with reassurances.  He told me that he had seen this stuff before, and that I wasn’t the first, but said in such a gentle tone, it wasn’t mocking at all.  I was finally comfortably uncovered (with nothing major hanging out), and sat patiently.

He quickly sketched out the general shape of the tattoo, and showed it to me.  I loved it, so he put it on me.  AJ had me lie in the most uncomfortable position in order to tattoo me.

After getting everything switched out and ready to go, he asked me if I was ready.  At this point, I was close to crying.  I had no one with me, and I was scared shitless.  I nodded my head jerkily, and he put a hand on my upper side to hold me in place while he started.

When he touched me with the needle, I sucked my breath in, and tried not to jerk away.  I knew that I should just keep breathing, but I found myself holding my breath while the needle was pressed against me.  When he stopped to pick up more ink, I was panting for breath, filling my lungs so I could continue holding it while he tattooed more.

He was incredibly gentle as he wiped the ink and blood away, and he asked very often how I was doing.  The studio was empty, so the vibrations were incredibly loud.  Every time he wiped, I cringed from the pain of the rough paper towel.

At times, as he outlined, I felt mirth bubble up inside me, and I had to beg him to stop because I needed to let that mirth out.  As soon as he stopped, I was giggling.  It tickled in certain areas.

But in others, I was holding myself so still, and holding my breath, in order to avoid that pain.

As he switched from the basic outline needle to the shading one (which was five or six needles across), he told me that it wouldn’t hurt as much.  I was looking forward to a lessening of the pain.

But it wasn’t less painful.

As he drug the needles across my ribs, I saw spots.  He held me down with one hand when I was weaving a bit because of the pain.  His hand was just above my right breast (on the fatty area), and it felt weird having it so close.

The needle over my ribs filled every bone in my body with an all-consuming, painful vibration.  I got to the point where I had to breathe, and I panted; tiny little gasps that gave me just enough air without moving my body.

It felt like I had lain there for hours on end, but it was around 45 minutes to an hour long.  My skin was stuck to the bench I was lying on when he finally told me I could get up and look at it.  I’d been sneaking peeks at it, but when I looked at it in the end, I was shocked.  I’m not going to lie when I say that I got a bit misty eyed.  It was gorgeous and very realistic.

Now that the needle was not pressed against me, it wasn’t as painful; but it was a bit tender as I expected.

I kept my bra off because I couldn’t bear to cover it up with something so tight.  I was wearing a camisole with a shelf bra, so I figured that was enough coverage with my shirt on over top.  I snapped a few pictures, and after paying, I headed out.

The first night with it was miserable.  It was tender, and every time I tried to move my arm, it would pull and leave me gasping in pain.  Trying to sleep was just that; the whole night was spent trying to stay asleep, but the pain kept me awake.

I went to bed that night wearing pajama pants and my sports bra, and applied a layer of Tattoo Goo over all the new ones before I tried to sleep.  The sports bra was a mistake.

When I got up the next morning, I immediately wanted to look at all my new ink, and the feather was high up in that regard.  My sports bra was stuck to my feather.  I spent several minutes slowly tugging the fabric away, with tears in my eyes.  After I got it off, I stood topless, with tears running down my cheeks.

The next few days didn’t get better.  I didn’t do anything strenuous, but my feather still pained me.  Playing with the kids made me both miserable and joyously happy.

Showering was another thing I loathed to do.  Even when I used my arm to direct the amount of water that got to the feather, it was still painful.

I made sure to keep it lubricated, and I learned to wear a loose shirt with nothing pressed against the feather.  Everyday, I checked on it, and everyday, it caused me more and more pain to take care of it.  It hurt to move my arm, and it hurt to breathe.  The pain was so intense, rubbing Tattoo Goo on it made me cry.  I had a fever and chills the first days with it, and that led me to believe I had an infection.  I emailed AJ, and was reassured with his response.

Finally, I found the feather healing; that is, it started to scab over.  One night, playing with Braden left me on the floor with tears leaking from my eyes.  We were playing a chase game, and when I reached out to grab him, I heard and felt my skin split.  As I checked my side, I saw where the skin had split, and it was weeping a bit of blood and a bit of ink; a grisly mixture.  From that incident, I had a large, black, raised scab that stayed around longer than the rest.

I started to keep a bandage covered with Tattoo Goo over it.  I remember when I put that bandage on the first time.  I whimpered as April gently pressed it to me to make sure it was secure.  I had her check the feather for signs of infection, but there was nothing.  I took at least four Advil a day, but found they took only the edge off the pain.

Traveling to Nebraska for a wedding was awful.  I found a comfortable position for the eight hour trip, but any deviation from that position, and I had tears in my eyes.

I don’t remember when, but the pain started lessening.  One Advil a day kept the pain from my mind, and I was able to wear a bra (at the loosest hook) again.  I stopped wearing a bandage, and after awhile, forgot to cover it with Tattoo Goo.  When the kids wanted to look at the feather, I showed them, and allowed them to run their fingers across it without wincing and jerking away.

Today, there’s only pain if I press against it hard; a deep pain that time will remove.  It doesn’t hurt to brush against, and I can wear a bra (at the tightest hook) without it bothering me.  Sometimes, I find myself absentmindedly rubbing it when I’m reading.  I can’t feel anything anymore; it’s healed flat against my skin.

It’s my most beautiful tattoo, as well as the largest, and most painful tattoo.  If anyone asks to see it, I lift my shirt up willingly to show it off.


It took around 45 minutes to complete (maybe more), and the tattooing itself was not extremely high on the pain scale (maybe a six/seven out of ten).  The healing process was the most painful, but as AJ told me: “tats ….especially that big…do hurt for a few days… and remember, it is an open wound, you did get stabbed several hundred thousand times…so just remember that… ;)”.  With my other two tattoos, the total cost was $75 (because, as AJ said, “You’re a frequent offender”).

So this concludes the Tattoo Experience series, until I get a new tattoo, at least.  Be looking out for my Piercing Experience when I get my new piercings.  I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend, and I look forward to seeing you all here on Monday!  Thank you so much to everyone who liked, commented, and shared these posts; they’ve been the most popular posts on my blog!

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Tattoo Experience #4 Part 2

Like I said last time, I was a bit shaky after arriving at the shop, but I had finally calmed down (internally) after my foot was done.  He had me reposition on the chair, and he put the next quote on my chest where I indicated.  After checking it out, I okayed it, and he started up again.

The quote that I got was Ghandi’s “Where there is love, there is life.” quote, which I had been loving for such a long time.  I got it in the font “Van den Velde Script“, and it took me literally weeks to decide on this font.  The W’s had to be perfect, as did the T’s; I wanted a girly, yet very classic, sophisticated font that I would be proud to show off, and I had five fonts that I was trying to choose between (each had their own pros and cons).  I asked people’s opinions and then totally ignored them.  The night before I flew home, I finally decided on the font, and was completely happy with the decision.

Like the hyena, it was more of a nuisance than it was painful, except when he neared the collarbone, where it hurt a bit.  I held a conversation with him the entire time he was tattooing, and I never once wished in my head that it PLEASE be DONE already.

I don’t have a lot to say about this tattoo; it was quick (maybe 20 minutes), it was low on the pain scale, and it was the first to heal completely without much flaking.  It shows whenever I wear a scoop/v-neck shirt, and it’s beautiful fully healed.

When he finished this quote, he moved over and touched up the hyena without me even asking.  Again, this wasn’t painful at all.  I’m starting to think that this area is the least painful spot to get tattooed.

Come back tomorrow to finish this tattoo experience series, with the final (and the largest, most painful) tattoo; the feather.

Tattoo Experience #4 Part 1

After a false start the night before, I was at the shop, a bit shaky and nervous, but there nonetheless.  It was cold outside, and I had just driven April’s big SUV to the appointment.  I was alone, and very nervous, but AJ was incredibly sweet.  We started with my foot.

My feet are always dry, so I was a bit nervous about showing them off.  Turns out the lotion I had used the night before was still soaked in, and my foot looked halfway normal.  AJ showed me a print out of the tattoo, and positioned it on my left foot.  After checking the size and the spelling, he put it on the carbon paper and put it against my foot.  As he peeled it off, I saw how it would look.

The quote I chose was “Not all those who wander are lost” from the poem “All that is gold does not glitter” by J. R. R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  The font I chose (which was chosen very carefully, make no mistake) is RM Typewriter.

The poem goes like this:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

If you’re a fan of the books, then you know exactly what the poem is talking about.  And as another side note, I’m going to get “Deep roots are not reached by the frost” on my other foot, in the same font and same position.  I love the idea of having tattoos on both sides of my body; both feet, both sides of the chest, etc.  (But not behind both ears.)

I wasn’t worried about the foot.  I thought I had no reason to be, but he told me to brace myself when he started.  He worked backwards from the word “lost” to the word “not”.

Holy shit it hurt.  I was gasping for breath (trying to be as subtle as possible so I didn’t look like an idiot) by the end, and I was so glad it was over.

It took about 20 minutes, because the font was tiny and he was going slow to make it look good, to finish.

Healing time, however, has just finished (about 3-4 weeks later).  Remember how I was talking about my dry feet?  Add to that thin skin on your feet, thick socks and wearing tight boots, and you get an environment that isn’t highly conducive to tattoo healing.  My feet were already dry, and forgetting to add Tattoo Goo was not helping.  About three days ago, I made myself apply at least twice a day, and it finally healed.  There’s no longer any texture to it, but I’m sad to say that it looks awful.  (The photo was taken hours after it was finished, so it still looked fantastic.)

Because it took so long for it to heal, it was in a very long flaking stage.  While in this stage, a lot of the ink was lost.  Some of the words aren’t are readable as they were, and they’re incredibly faded, as well.

But I’ll suck it up and get it touched up when I get my next tattoos, because it’s adorable, and now I know how to fully take care of it so it heals properly.

Next up tomorrow; the quote on my chest.

Tattoo Experience #3

When I lived in Wyoming, I was always only 45 minutes away from my artist (AJ), but when I moved to go to college, I left my artist behind.  Because of my nature, I won’t let anyone take a tattoo needle to me except for AJ; meaning that I get the tattoos I want when I have a chance to go home.  (Which, as you might have guessed, is not very often.)  The first year here, I was miserable because I had a few tattoos that I really wanted, but I had to wait until May (my brother’s graduation) to go home and get them.

I had planned to get two tattoos; a hyena on my chest, and a tiny heart behind my ear.  I was more nervous for the hyena, because it would be my largest tattoo to date.  The ear wasn’t a big deal to me, because it was so little.

I actually have some footage of the hyena tattoo getting done, which can be seen here.

It was uncomfortable, but very bearable.  Most of the time, I didn’t even realize that he was tattooing me.  When he neared my collarbone, that’s where I flinched and felt the most pain.

The hyena took around 20 minutes, and the pain level was pretty low.

The heart took maybe two minutes, and it hurt more than all three of my tattoos put together.  The entire time he was tattooing me, I wanted to escape.  I was immobilized with pain, and the vibrations behind my ear were very unpleasant.  I would not get another behind the ear tattoo.

Together, the hyena and the heart were $70.  They took around 25 minutes to complete, and I was out of the shop pretty quickly.

Days after I had the hyena done, I was at my little brother’s high school graduation.  I was holding my nephew, and he was obsessed with the tattoo because of the texture, I think.  He was grabbing at it and scratching at it whenever I wasn’t paying attention.  It hurt like crazy, and it had a constant patina of red surrounding it.  Because it had been flaking at the time, a lot of the ink had been pulled out, and it was left with a very patchy appearance.  I had it touched up when I went for my most recent tattoos (the photos were all taken after touch-ups).

Stay tuned for the next (and last) three posts about my most recent tattoos!

Tattoo Experience #2

As I was driving home from getting my first tattoo, I wanted to turn the car around and go back.  I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I wanted something else.

It took me a until July to figure out what I wanted (I got the star in November).  I decided on “beautiful wound” in Marathi on my left wrist.  I decided on Marathi because I think the script is beautiful, and this tattoo was meant purely for me; meaning I couldn’t care less if the casual observer could read it.

I made the appointment at least a week before I left on vacation for Florida because I didn’t want it to flake while I was playing in the sea, because it would look awful after all the sun and salt.

I wasn’t quite as nervous for this one, because I already knew what the wrist pain level is, but I still got a queasy belly as I walked in the shop.  AJ was waiting for me, and after confirming the print, he put it on my wrist and got his tattoo gun out.  The sound always freaks me out.

For some reason, this one hurt more than the star.  I was almost begging him to stop by the end.  When he finally finished, he asked me if I wanted my star touched up (when it was flaking, I itched, therefore it looked horrible), and I said yes.

PAIN on PAIN that experience was.  Getting it touched up hurt more than getting it done the first time, plus the second tattoo.  I was squirming in my seat, trying not to move, clutching my right arm hard.  I had little finger shaped bruises where I was holding afterwards.

With the touch-up and the new tattoo, the total came to about $40, and it took maybe 15 minutes for both.

Tattoo Experience #1

My dad was always one of those parents that gave me free reign because he trusted me and my decisions, but he never would let me pierce anything but my ears, and absolutely NO tattoos until I turned 18 and could get them by myself.  The moment I turned 16, I knew what I wanted; a nautical star on my right wrist, a tad bit off center.  I had several ideas about other things that I wanted, but I changed my mind after waiting for months.  But the star was always there in the back of my head.

In Spanish one day, I was drawing a nautical star, and I ended up making it a bit more girly, with tips that curved around instead of going straight up.  That was my star.  I stuck it in a picture frame, and it hung on my wall above my head while I slept.

Fast forward a few years, and it was November 2.  I had done my research, found my artist, and after school, I gathered my friends and we went to the shop.  I was shaking almost the entire time.  I hate shots, and I hate needles.  Just the thought of getting stabbed hundreds of times made me feel sick to my stomach.  I was excited, but I was also endlessly terrified.  When we pulled up in front of the shop, the lights were off.  The hours were listed on the door.  They were closed on Mondays.  I was crying almost instantly.  I wanted my tattoo that night; I had told everyone at school that I was getting a tattoo, and I would look like an idiot if I went to school the next day without one.  I called shops all over the place, but all were closed.  I had to go back home.  I literally cried myself to sleep, and wanted to skip school the next day.

I ended up going to school, and no one even said anything about the tattoo, or the lack thereof.  The friends that had gone with me the night before weren’t able to go this time, so I took my brother and another friend.  The shop was open.

I was terrified and almost didn’t go in.

We walked in, and A.J., my artist, bid me to sit down.  I almost started crying, and I stood back up and about left.  I kept saying, “I was wrong, I don’t want a tattoo.”  Finally, my friend stood behind me and told me to sit down, shut up and get the damn tattoo (in much more colorful words).

He got his tattooing machine out, and when he turned it on, I almost jumped out of my skin.

I was expecting this horrible pain, horrible enough to sob and pull my arm away, but it wasn’t nearly that bad.  It hurt, but it was bearable.  With all of my research, I knew that wrist tattoos hurt, but mine wasn’t that bad.  I’d read stories of people passing out from the pain, but if I had passed out, it would have been from the nerves leading up to the incident.

The whole thing took maybe 10-12 minutes (at the end of which I vowed to never get another tattoo), and with the $10 Tattoo Goo (which was a great investment), my total cost came to about $65.

As soon as I left the building and was driving away, I wanted another.

This is the tattoo that itched the most.  It drove me crazy with the itching.  When it flaked (as tattoos heal, they push ink out, and that turns into either a scab or flaky bits), I had to bite my other hand to keep from scratching at it.  But, even after that, I ended up scratching it, and when it was finally all healed (which took maybe a week, a week and a half), there were bits that were messy looking because I had scratched and pulled ink out.

After getting it touched up (will talk about this in the next post), it looked beautiful, and I knew better than to mess with it.  It’s as beautiful now as the day I got it (it’s the one that always draws people’s attention), and I will always be a little more attached to this one than the others because it was my first.

An Update From Wyoming

It’s been weeks and weeks since I last posted, and every time I think of my lonely blog, sitting with no posts, I feel bad.  It’s not that I have nothing to post about, its just that I have no desire to sit and write anything.

I’m in Wyoming now; I’ll be here another week.  It’s snowing outside, and it makes me feel all sorts of cozy feelings.  The house is quiet, and I just want to sit by the window, read, drink some hot tea, and watch the snow fall.

Let me outline a few things that have happened since I last made an effort to keep up a blog.

1. I cut my hair.  It’s hideous.  I meant to cut an inch or so off, and then I went and messed it up so badly that 6 inches or so came off.  It’s just up to my shoulders, but I hate it.  The only time I wear it down is when I’m about to get in the shower, and directly after, when I haven’t put it back up.  I’m just waiting for it to get long again.

2. I traveled home.  Obviously, since I’m in Wyoming now.  It’s beautiful here; it’s taken me years away to realize just how pretty it actually is.  I’ve had a good trip so far; I’ve seen almost everyone I wanted to see, and I haven’t run into anyone I didn’t want to see.  My one regret was not stopping by the school before they went on break to visit with my old teachers.  But I got to spend a good chunk of time with Shelby and Brayden, and with my nephews (time that I hope to expand on).

3. I went to my very first wedding, and I didn’t even know the couple.  I went with Ryan and April (a couple I babysat for when I lived at home) to help with the kids, and ended up enjoying myself.  The 8 hour trip both ways with screaming/fighting/crying children?  Not so much.

The best part of the wedding?  The adorable hot chocolate ornaments!

4. I got three new tattoos.  I won’t show them in this post (if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you saw them the day I had them done), because I want to write a separate post about all of my tattoos; where I went, how long they took, the prices, how I took care of them, the pain factor, etc, because I’ve been getting a lot of questions about my experience with tattooing.  Because it is such an important thing to me (I do have 7 tattoos now; I fancy myself sort of a tattoo guru), I want to devote some time to it to make it a good post.

5. I’ve fallen in love with the peace of Wyoming.  It makes me not want to go back to the classes and work and stresses of Naperville.  Surprise, surprise; I don’t want to go back to school still.  I won’t run this into the ground, because if you’ve read my blog before, you know how I feel about school; if not, then I’ll leave it at: I hate school.  I hate everything about it; staying in one place for 4 years, going to classes (some that I hate), worrying about money, needing to have a full-time job even with being a full-time student, and most of all, not having the freedom to do what I want when I want to do it.

So that’s pretty much all that’s been happening with me (along with other little tiny things that would take weeks to fill you in on), and I’m off to write a few posts so I actually have them done, just in case I’m not able to post the rest of my trip.  I hope everyone is doing okay and enjoying the week leading up to Christmas.

I’ll leave you with this gratuitous picture of the winter landscape of Wyoming that I’m finding so beautiful right now.