Monday, August 11, 2008

Ye Olde Tattoo Shoppe

So it happened. I was asked to blog about my tattoos. I wasn't sure, at first, how best to do that. Show a few pictures, say what they mean, leave it at that? Or include why I got the tattoo, what it means to me? I wasn't sure I wanted to do the latter because describing why I got my tattoos, all of them, is not something I've done before. It also meant that you'd be taken on a small biographical Wulfa journey. In the end, though, I decided to do it all. Show a few pictures, tell you why, when, and how, and then answer a few most-commonly-asked questions. Hold on to your hats :)

My first tattoo was probably the one I shouldn't have gotten. The conditions weren't right. I was 20, and had just gained and lost my first boyfriend. He had decided he really liked the dudes better. It was not an amicable parting-I think that's the first and only time I've screamed all of the cuss words and insulting phrases in my vocabulary at someone. Anyway, I wanted a change. I was angry, a bit lost (who wouldn't be? a guy chooses another guy over you-does something to your self-esteem). I decided to get a tattoo. I knew what I wanted-the letter C, representing Christ, my only foundation and the only rock that didn't ever move on me, on my ring finger. The tattoo shop we (best buds and I) went to didn't tattoo on the hands and neck, however, because they couldn't guarantee the work. So I got it in the middle of my chest. It didn't hurt as much as I thought, and in case you were wondering, my parents were not amused.

Next tattoo I got on my 21st birthday. I wanted one and I had money. I chose a unicorn because they had been one of my favorite images for years-representing strength, nobleness, purity. It was originally done in black and white, and I later had it colored in.

Since the unicorn turned out so well I decided to get another animal tattoo. I picked the eagle because it represented America and for everything she stands for. The fact that I'm a history nut also helped sway the odds in favor of the American Eagle. Later I had the words "Semper Fidelis" added to emphasize my loyalty to the USA-which is, in my opinion, the best country in the world despite her many faults. I have no Marines in my family that I know of.

At this point my memory of what came next gets fuzzy so I can't guarantee the accuracy of the rest of the post :) My absolute favorites are the ones on my forearms.

Fire (chinese characters) and joy (arabic).

Wind, free, and a pretty flower :)

Fire and Wind I chose because to me they represented passion, fierceness, wisdom, and those are just cool. Joy and Free I chose for more personal reasons. As a teen I battled anorexia, bulimia (you can have both, though it is not as common), and the compulsion to over-exercise (not remembering the clinical name for that right now). During this time period my mental state could only be described as depressed. My physical state was constantly on the edge of breaking-I had plantar fascitis, fallen arches, I tore both my calf muscles, I suffered numerous knee injuries. I eventually recovered, and swore never to return to that mindset/lifestyle. So I had joy tattooed on me to remind me never to forget that I should be joyful and not depressed. I chose free to symbolize my freedom, and that I never had to go back, that I was not doomed. And the flower is just pretty, it doesn't mean anything, although it does show my favorite color, purple :)

My next tattoos were the stomach ones. In case you were wondering, they were excruciatingly painful. And just so you know, I wasn't going to have kids. I didn't like them and avoided them whenever possible. So I never considered the possibility of my beautiful tattoos stretching out. The first one was a panther, positioned so that he seemed to be climbing down my stomach. The second part was a half-circle of roses below the panther. Conclude what you will.

The next tattoo gave me pause. I knew what I wanted-a Celtic Knot (my favorite author, Stephen Lawhead, has written quite a bit about the Celts in fantasy form and I, like most other people, though they were cool) . It was blue/black, very pretty. I knew where I wanted it. I wanted it in the trash-stamp area. But because that's where every girl gets her tattoo I wasn't sure I wanted it there. In the end, however, I decided that I had flaunted convention enough and that it didn't matter where I put it. So I have a trash stamp :)

Next up: the only tattoo that didn't hurt. I had to ask the artist if he was putting the needle against my skin-I really couldn't feel it. It's a fleur-de-lis on the back of my neck, chosen to represent the friendship between two of the best friends I've ever had and myself. It was small and cheap, we could all afford it, and it was pretty :)

The latest addition is a small K, to represent Damm (his real name begins with K). My friends bought it for me during my bachelorette party. It's on the inside of my right ankle-I didn't want it appearing in any of my wedding photos, and I didn't want to upset my mom on the eve of her only daughter's wedding.

All told I have 13. I think. I have to recount often to make sure :)

Some of the questions people ask me:

#1. Would you do it again? Yeah, I would. It's possible I would've chosen different things to symbolize what I meant to form a more cohesive picture-as it is my tattoos don't really go together.
#2. What did your parents say? They don't like my tattoos. They love me. We don't talk about them.
#3. Did it hurt? Umm yeah. With one exception.
#4. Would you let the Orclette get a tattoo? Not until she was 20-that's when I got mine. I would ask her first to search the Bible for herself and to ask her Creator if it was ok. I did that at the behest of my dad (after I had already gotten a couple ...). I would also counsel her to get it in a location that would be easy to hide-wearing long sleeves in the middle of summer isn't fun. I would tag along to make sure she chose a good artist who practiced safe habits. I would probably pay for the first one and get one myself :)
#5. What's your next tattoo going to be? Something to represent my Orclette. Something with fire, as that's what her given name means. No idea yet on what, though, and really no money to pay for it at the moment.
#6. What's your favorite tattoo? A co-worked had the word "Worth" tattooed on her forearm to remind herself that she's worth it. It's my favorite hands down.

So, there you have it.


Softi said...

Wow, what a list! I haven't ever had a tattoo - I'm just too fussy to pick one thing and have it for the rest of my life. ;)

Anonymous said...

Cool! I think all tatts need to have a story..
I has 2.. Ankle and High back and I am having serious thoughts about a 3rd maybe on other ankle or inner wrist
I knew that I would be living with them for the rest of my life.... so no regrets...

TheBigBearButt said...

You have some very cool, very awesome tattoos!

I enjoyed your stories about why you decided to get them, and what they symbolize to you.

And I can only admire the strength of character it took to do what you wanted in your heart, when you knew your parents would disapprove... and still remain on great terms with them.