Wednesday, May 30, 2012

About Those Tattoos...

I've been getting a lot of varied reactions to my newest tattoo.

-- It's so big. Why didn't you get it in a smaller size?
-- What exactly is the symbolism behind the robot?
-- You don't seem like the type of person who likes robots.
-- Now you have to wear long-sleeved shirts all the time to remain employable. 
-- Well, at least it's very well drawn.  

And my personal favorite,

-- The Bible says you shouldn't mark your body.

Of course, there have been many positive reactions as well (like it's a work of art! It is!). The most important part is that I love it. I love both of my tattoos.

Here's a picture of the first one, done just a few months ago. I'd always wanted a tattoo, but needles terrify me (I can't sleep the night before a blood test). So I did my research, asked around for personal recommendations, went down to the tattoo shop and met the artist, all before deciding to make an appointment. I don't know how people stumble into random tattoo parlors on vacation and pick designs from a wall chart. The thought is alien to me. What if you end up getting a craptastic tattoo, or find out you're not comfortable with the person tattooing you (i.e. touching your skin and poking you repeatedly with sharp instruments)?

Anyway, my first tattoo is deeply personal. It's a quote from the amazing Enda Walsh's one-act play, "The Small Things." The play's about being silenced, regimented, and broken, and the heartbreaking journey to a place of just being and existing. Walsh has been deeply influential in my creative life, and I carried his book of plays with me everywhere pre-tattoo. 

Getting that first tattoo was cathartic. I can't describe it any other way. As soon as I left, I knew I wanted another. 

The tattoo artist's specialty is mechanical-inspired work, particularly robots. (A quick side note here: I'm debating about whether to give you the name of his shop and a handy-dandy link, all that good stuff. It's just that this blog is so personal. That said, he's an amazing artist and everyone in Pittsburgh and a 300-mile radius should go to him for their tattoos. So maybe in the future I'll come back and edit this post with all the info. I may even provide detailed hand-drawn maps from wherever you live to his shop, if you ask nicely). I happen to harbor a secret love for robots. Well, perhaps not so secret: I do have robot earrings, robot socks, a robot messenger bag, etc. etc. So I knew immediately: my next tattoo had to be a robot.

That said, I don't have a deep, symbolic reason for having a whoopingly gorgeous robot on my left arm. I described it to J this way: "My right shoulder represents the serious part of me. The left, the geeky/fun part." 

I love my tattoos. I know I mentioned that before, but I want to reiterate it. For me, going to the tattoo shop is better than going to any beauty parlor (and less nerve-wracking too!). I actually felt giddy, finding out that shirts in my closet matched the magenta of my robot's swirling outer space vapors. I love that my robot tattoo is so large it peeks out from short-sleeved shirts. It's hard to hide, and I can't describe how delighted I am by that fact. 

My arms were always the least favorite part about my body. Even when I lived in Hawaii, I hardly wore sleeveless tops. My tattoos eradicated that. Now I can't wait for my tattoo to heal, just so I can wear tank tops and sundresses all summer long. It makes me proud of my arms and shoulders. I've never felt that way before.

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