Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stress and Piercings

For some reason, when I get totally overwhelmed with stress, it triggers my piercing itch. I haven't quite figured out why, but it probably has something to do with the brain chemicals that get released when one is pierced. I really don't have that many places left to pierce. I'd like to get my nose repierced at some point. I also want my left tragus fixed. The only other piercing I really like are inner conchs. I don't really have much desire to get my tongue repierced. I thought about it for a while, but it really doesn't tickle my fancy. It was kind of a pain when I had it and I think where I want it placed would require clipping my tongue web. Ew.

The blogging will be slim to none over the next week. I'm going to be visiting both sides of my family and I won't have much access to internet.

Happy holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Comic Gold and Other Ink Antics

Some humorous exchanges from today:

Mark: Are you into motorcycles?
Me: I'm a girl.
Mark: But you have tattoos.
Me: And I also wear J.Crew.
Mark: Hmmm, good point.

Me: Fresh tattoos are like a magnet for stuff happening.
Mark: Like your cat decides to jump on you and ejaculate...even if it's a girl.
Andrew: My wife always makes me go into the attic.
Mark: To ejaculate?
Andrew: Yeah...wait what are we talking about?

Mark: So I have to redo this girl's tattoo in a "private" area. It's a cat face.
Me: *busts out laughing*
Mark: What?
Me: Oh God...she got a pussy near her pussy.

Today was my touch up for Mae. It went well. He spent a lot of time on her face. There's one spot I'm not sure about, but I'm going to wait until it heals before I pass judgment. He smoothed out a lot of the lines and they look really nice now. Apparently I twitch a lot right around my waist which accounted for some of the problems with the linework. A good thing to know for the other side. Of course, I've still got some spots from my little accident around Thanksgiving. I don't know if it's going to scar or not, or if they're even currently scars. This could pose a problem for Lola. If they haven't gotten any better by a week before or so, I may have Mark take a look and we'll come up with a new plan. I'm hoping it's just because my skin is so fair and shows every imperfection rather than scar tissue.

I also got my Christmas present to myself. A beautiful green hummingbird on my right forearm right below my elbow named Butch. He's all swollen and bloody in this shot, but just to get the general idea of the little guy. For the first time, Mark actually commented on my habit. I'm surprised it's taken him this long.

They also said they really liked the guys who did the "Tribute to Tradition" for the past 2 years. Andrew even went last year and showed me the piece he got. He also said he heard they were doing something along those lines every Sunday in March. The website hasn't been updated, but I'm definitely going to check it out. It was good to hear their positive opinion of the place.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Introducing Britney & Christina


The lighting sucked in David's Bridal, but it was the only opportunity I had for someone else to take a picture. Britney is on my left (viewer's right). They're still peeling a bit, but I think they look pretty good. There were some people who felt the linework on Mae was "shoddy". I think this linework is pretty much perfect. Maybe I'm just too happy with them to properly judge, but whatevs. People can be really nitpicky and then call it "critiquing art". Anyway...

Mae's touch up is tomorrow. They'll all shut their mouths then. ;)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More Skin Issues

Four days until the big touch up. I'm definitely started to get excited. I got my check for jury duty today, so I think I'll cash it on Friday and use it toward Mark's tip. I had set aside some money, but an emergency popped up and I had to use it. This check will recoup most of what I'd set aside.

Britney & Christina have a rash, just like Mae did. I'm not surprised. I've cut back to putting lotion on them once a day and I need to really scrub when I get in the shower. I forgot to do it this morning, so it'll have to get done tonight. At least all the scabbing is gone and they're onto the peeling stage. They should be looking pretty good by Sunday.

One of the brothers in my ex's fraternity apparently got a half sleeve done. He paid $1600 for it, which sounds like a huge rip off to me. Maybe I'm spoiled, but that sounds like way too high. Even for something full color, I don't think I'd be willing to pay that much. I know Mark cuts me a break on pricing, but even when he's in a bad mood, I don't think he'd charge someone that much for a half sleeve. Apparently this guy did a lot of research and was willing to pay it, so who am I to judge? I'd be interested to know who did it. The tattoo community around here isn't that large.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's All In A Name

I'm thinking of getting my first initial of my surname tattooed on my left ring finger. It'll be a long time before I get married and I kind of like the idea of having something that's uniquely me that will be under something that is both me and my husband. Of course, if I opt for the first letter of my last name, I better hope my husband's name doesn't start with the same letter. Then everyone would think I got his initial tattooed instead of my maiden name. Of course, that could lend itself to some humorous conversations. I probably won't let a concern like that stop me. Statistically, he's just as likely to have the same last name as I have and I won't even change it.

Britney & Christina are doing well. When I showered yesterday morning, the bulk of the scabbing came off. I'm sure the same will be true tomorrow morning, I just have to make sure they're totally dry before applying any lotion. I don't want another round of scabbing. Ew. Pictures should be forthcoming. I'll probably con Mark into taking pictures on Sunday after we've touched up Mae and worked on Butch. I just need to remember to bring my camera. That seems to be the sticking point. So next Sunday may be a big picture post. At least I hope so.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

All right, all right, you're in a mood

I went to the shop yesterday so Mark could see my scabbing in person. He said it looked like a classic case of not letting them dry fully before I put lotion on them. Guilty on all counts. The good news is, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to lose a lot of color. As long as I don't pick at them and just let them fall off on their own, I should be fine. If they need a touch up, so be it. It's free (sort of) and they'll probably end up looking better than the original.

Shane was in a mood. He was working on something and I commented it looked like a dandelion. I didn't mean it offensively at all. I actually rather like dandelions. He snapped at me and then apologized about 5 minutes later. Fortunately, it didn't really upset me. I'm sure it's tough running a business. Also, during these "tough economic times", things like tattoos tend to get put aside in favor of paying a bill. So I'm sure their business is suffering just like everyone else's, though they seemed to be doing a decent business. What do I know though? I just get in the way. :P

Mark and I came up with a bit of a game plan for my foot. He agreed it wasn't that original, but the good news was, it should be easy to work with. Unlike doing something free form, if you trace it from a font, it has a much more uniform look and can be easy to work around. So we're going to try to rework the lettering and add to it. I found some flash that I liked as a jumping off point. Incidentally, it was on the same page where we got Butch (the hummingbird) from. It was a chain of flowers that had a really nice flow to it, similar to the natural curve on the top of my foot. Underneath the lettering we may just stick with flowers or perhaps add a bird. A ladybug might even be cute. That's probably up after Lola, so sometime in early March. By then it's starting to warm up and it would be slightly easier to heal. I'm not wearing boots and socks every day and risking pulling off a scab or something.

Now time for me to work out and go Christmas shopping. 'Tis the season.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Hazards of Chest Tattoos

So apparently all this scabbing and pain is "normal" for an upper chest tat. I finally caved and called the shop this evening. Shane, being as patient as ever with me, explained it was not uncommon for tattoos in that area to scab more aggressively and be more painful during healing. He said when he had his done, it hurt for about 5 days and you just have to suck it up. Great. He recommended cocoa butter to soften up the scabs and hopefully reduce some of the cracking that causes the pain. I have no idea when I'm going to have time to get it, but I guess I really have no choice. My only concern is it'll burn. As I recall, I used cocoa butter on my first tattoo and it burned like nobody's business. The Aveeno I'm currently using doesn't burn at all.

I'm glad to know that it's normal and I didn't do something to fuck it up. I was really concerned this was somehow my doing. It would've been nice if somebody had warned me. I guess when you get to be as modded as I am, those who are doing the modding tend to forget you don't know as much as they do. Oh well, maybe in the future I'll know to pick Mark's brain if I'm getting tattooed in a new place.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Underage Modding and Other Random Thoughts

Britney & Christina are already scabbing. I have to say I'm a bit surprised. I think I know why though. I had a hard time getting them fully dry this morning after my shower. They may have still been a little wet when I moisturized them and got dressed. I know moisture increases scabbing, so I hope this will just progress normally and it won't fall out. That would suck. It might not be a bad idea to take baths for the next week or so to avoid any further issues with scabbing.

Now for the title of the post, underage modding. It's something that I often find myself preaching against. One message board I frequent has a board devoted entirely to modding. Occasionally, a member will post a picture of a tattoo or piercing and then it comes out they're underage. Sometimes as young as 15. I know laws vary from state to state and country to country, but for the most part, most governing bodies seem to agree it's okay if Mommy and Daddy say so at 16 and then you're on your own over 18. In my state, everything is 18+.

I wanted my navel pierced off and on since I was 16. It was the cool thing to do. A lot of girls in my high school went to sketchy piercing studios that didn't seem to much care how old you were as long as you paid up. I waited until I was 18, could sign for myself, and do my research. I picked a place that was known for being clean and reliable. While the other girls were getting infections, migration, and scarring, I got a healthy, happy piercing that I still have 5 years later. I don't think any of them still have theirs.

I suppose I fail to see the urgency of getting modded. Since I was 18, I've been pierced 15 times with 11 to show for it and tattooed 15 times with 10 to show for it. You've got plenty of time, kids. If a place plays fast and loose with age requirements, what else are they ignoring? Infection control practices? Proper jewelry? Training? The odds of something else going wrong seem to go up when dealing with a place that's already willing to break the law. Fortunately, most of these places don't seem to stay in business very long.

So that's my soapbox speech for the day. Now off to work out and then soak in a nice, warm bath.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Britney, Christina, and NKOTB, Oh My!

Today's session went quite well. Pat wasn't there, which was a huge relief. I was about 10 minutes late, but that ended up not being a big deal. They'd had time to do the opening odds and ends so when I got there, we could just get started. Of course, with Mark, nothing is ever done quickly.

He showed me the sketch (posted at the end of the entry) and I loved it. She even had eyelashes! It's details like that which really make a piece, in my opinion. It took a while to fiddle with the size and placement, then figure out a way to make sure they were even. Mark put together a method that I think worked quite well. He taped the stencils to a strip of paper, then lined it up on my chest. The first time I didn't think they were even, but the second time worked out just fine. There's also a chance that I'm uneven. Also what slowed us down was this group of girls coming in. One of them had called ahead, but Mark wasn't too thrilled with the idea of tattooing her because she wouldn't say what she wanted. Once she showed us what she wanted, it made total sense. It was a stick person with a square head, holding a shamrock and a sign that read "NKOTB 4-Eva". Oh. My. Lord. We all looked at each other and started cracking up. Then another one of her friends wanted a heart with "NKOTB" in it and a third wanted your generic, boring butterfly. He told them he still had to work on me and they'd have to wait. He was definitely hoping they wouldn't come back. Sadly, they did and I'll have to find out what actually became of that situation.

As for me, we didn't start the actual tattooing until 1:30. My appointment was for noon. He decided to completely finish one and then start on the other one. The first one (Christina) only took about an hour. It hurt, but nothing totally unbearable. Of course, I'm comparing it to my last experience which was probably the most pain I'll experience being tattooed until I get my other side done. There were some parts that were more painful than others. Closer to my armpits and near my collarbone were tougher than closer to my sternum and near my boobs. As usual, color was worse than the outline. We took a break after he finished the first one and then moved on to Britney. Britney took about 20 minutes longer because he wanted to make sure the shading and whatnot was all the same. The only current difference between the two is the blue background. He did Christina's last and did Britney's somewhere in the middle. He'll probably darken up Christina's at some point.

I wanted to hang out for a bit, but I had to run off to work. Somewhere along the way, I manged to leave my debit card there. *facepalm* Now I have to go back tomorrow. Mark also gave me the original sketch so that no one would ask for them. He said they're for me and me alone and he won't do them on anyone else. I was flattered. It's also helpful because it saves me taking pictures of two bloody and swollen birdies.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's Official

I stopped by the shop this evening. They were surprisingly busy. Mark was about to start a tattoo and Shane was getting source material for one. Obviously the big, long discussion I had planned wasn't going to fly. Mark had me show him the bumps. He confirmed it was probably acne from having to use so much thick lotion during the healing process. Shane's advice: "loofah that shit". Only Shane, I swear. In short, she's fine and I shouldn't sweat it too much.

I gave Mark the cliff notes version of my dilemma with the swallows. I don't think it made much sense, but I tried. I didn't want to keep the girl waiting to get tattooed any longer than necessary. I know how much it bugs me to have to wait. End result, I'm going to go ahead and get them done on Sunday. Sundays are usually quiet so I can spend more time discussing my exact motivation rather than just babbling about tattoos and bridesmaids dresses. He had another girl coming in at 2 that day, but she seemed a bit weird so he wasn't too concerned if we took longer than 2 hours.

Pat was still there, which surprised me a bit. I heard him say he would be leaving on Monday. I hope he's not there on Sunday. Something about him just really doesn't sit right with me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ah ha Moments!

So I called the shop this evening and confirmed both of them will be there tomorrow evening. I want them to look at the spots to see what they may be. I've been treating them like acne, but it seems like the minute I get one to settle down, two more pop up. Since this has been going on over a week, I feel like it needs to be looked at. I'm really at a loss for what else to do to get them to stop. The one on the strap of her dress is really perturbing.

I also had a bit of an "ah ha!" moment today. My biggest concern in getting tattooed so quickly was my health. I thought I might be stressing my immune system to much. Then I realized, I've been in a constant state of healing since February. I got my nipples pierced and they're still not fully healed. Then in April, I got both my traguses pierced. Other than a cold in June, I haven't been sick at all. I would think if I were putting a strain on my immune system, I would've gotten sick by now. I've been around plenty of sick people lately and the seasons are changing. Normally I get some kind of nasty cold right around when the weather changes. Nothing so far. So, by that logic, I guess I'm not really putting undue stress on my immune system. It seems to be working just fine. So maybe I was concerned over nothing? I'm no biologist or doctor, but if I haven't gotten sick, then maybe there's no extra stress to open up for that possibility.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Addiction Continues...

Potential new ink this weekend. I'm going to the shop on Thursday evening to get Mae checked on. I'm still having some issues with breakouts, but nothing serious. There's nothing actually on her, just the surrounding skin. That's the good news. The bad news is, it obviously means my skin is not happy with the situation. So I figure if they're still there on Thursday, maybe they can figure out something I haven't thought of yet. I've tried spot treating, washing once a day with a gentle face wash, and an unscented skin protectant/lotion.

Now on to the potential for new ink. I'm going to be in two weddings next year and attending a third (so far). I've been thinking about the sparrows on my collarbones for a while now. What makes me want to hurry up and get them is the fact that we're going dress shopping in a little over 3 weeks. I'd like to know exactly what I'm dealing with when I'm trying on dresses. Obviously a strapless dress is a no go. However, there are plenty of other options that would probably completely cover them. Both brides are open to different necklines. A boatneck seems like the most obvious to cover them, but I might be able to place them so a halter top would also cover them. If I don't actually get them done this weekend, I can at least try to get a solid idea of where they'll be. All of this will be discussed with Mark of course and I think I know what he'll say. He'll probably sketch them out and get placement set on Thursday and we'll actually do it on Sunday. Though he could surprise me and tell me to hold off on the actual tattooing process. I guess we'll see.

I'm of two minds on the subject. On the one hand, there's the thrill of a new tattoo. It feels like I've been getting new tattoos every time and I suppose in a sense I am. However, Mae is ultimately just one tattoo. I'd also like to go ahead and get them, let them heal, and be able to confidently try on bridesmaids dresses. I've also thought through the design and placement for well over a month, so I'm confident I want them. It's not a spur of the moment decision like some of my others were.

On the con side, I have been getting tattooed a lot. I've gotten 3 new tattoos in as many months. My body is pretty much constantly in a state of healing. Also, my parents would murder me the minute they saw them, especially my dad. I can only hide them for so long. They wouldn't be a big deal at all to conceal for work, but that doesn't matter to them. It's the fact that I got a tattoo *there* where God and everyone can *see* and I will *forever* shame them and myself. Of course, I've never let fear of their reaction stop me, just slow me down a bit. I could also probably put the money toward something "better". Of course, that could be said about a lot of things I spend a lot of money on like waxing, massages, and clothes.

Ultimately, Mark will probably make the decision for me and render the list moot, but I guess it's nice to write out the pros and cons where I can see them in black and white.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


As with putting anything about yourself out there, you're bond to run across the occasional person who feels the need to insult you. I'm not really out there with my tattoos and piercings. If I know someone wants to see it, I'll show them. I by no means wave it in their face and go "OMG look at my awesome tattoo *teehee*!". Three such incidents spring to mind and I guess I feel the need to record their ignorance and rudeness for posterity. Pictures are at the bottom for reference.

The first tattoo that got insulted was the one on my ring finger. My goal was not to make it a perfect Hallmark heart. I wanted it to be a little off beat and different. Mark actually used Tim Burton as inspiration so it became my Tim Burton heart. I posted a picture in my personal blog and one girl replied with "Not to be rude or anything, but is it supposed to look like that?". Whenever someone starts a sentence with "Not to be rude" you know something offensive is going to pop out of their stupid little mouths (or fingers as the case may be). I chose not to respond and one of my friends jumped to my aid. She asked why she would say something so rude when I was obviously very proud of the work. The original insulter said "Oh well then I would've told you where to go to get it fixed". WTF? She has no tattoos. Zero. Nada. How would she know a reputable shop and a talented artist to "fix" my tattoo?

The second one was the rose on my left arm. We had a floorset at work, which meant we didn't have to come in uniform. I was wearing short sleeves, so rose was clearly visible. One of my co-workers sees it and goes through the usual ration of stupid questions ("Is that real?" "Why did you get it?") and then goes "Ugh, that's hideous!". I was rendered completely speechless. I'm never rendered completely speechless. Once I got over being stunned, I just walked away. This lady is seriously rude to begin with, so I guess I shouldn't have been that surprised. She has a really poorly done butterfly on one of her ankles, but hey, at least I didn't point out just how poorly done and ugly it was.

The third one was my beloved pin up girl Mae. I had posted a series of photos online. The general response was positive. Then a few people questioned the quality of Mark's work, which really hurt me. Again, someone else jumped to my defense (I have great friends!) and told them that he was an excellent artist and to stuff it. I told her that I was sorry she felt that way but I've never been dissatisfied with his work and would probably never change artists. The one time I did that, it wasn't really successful. I wouldn't say I'm not happy with those two tattoos, but I think they could've been a little more special than they turned out.

So that's the wall of shame for today. Remember kiddies, talking about people behind their backs isn't always a bad thing ;).



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Off the wish list, in the queue

I'm starting to get really excited about my upcoming tattoos. I'm going in next Sunday to get Mae a check up and I'm going to give him the source material for Lola (a shirt). I'm also thinking of asking him to go ahead and do the "tough bitch" tattoo. It wouldn't take very long and I've wanted it for a while. I've pretty much given up feeling like I'm doing too much. For a while, I thought I might be overloading my system with healing, but it might have also just been a general funk. I felt like Mark might be getting tired of seeing me and doing these huge involved pieces. Then after a little thought and a day or two, I realized I was just being paranoid. He's never given me any indication that I'm a nuisance and even encouraged me to hang around. Once I stuck around well after I was done just watching him tattoo the guy after me and then I left. Anyway, not the point of the entry.


I'd like to give him plenty of time to work on the sketch. She's going to be started on my birthday, which is 6 weeks from tomorrow. Before that, I'm getting the hummingbird on my right forearm right before Christmas. I gave Mark my whole list and he liked all of them. He was actually the one who suggested I get something "short" done when I came in to get Mae touched up. So we decided on the hummingbird. I think that one's going to be really pretty. Of course, my parents will probably flip out. Another highly visible tattoo that's going to ruin my reputation, chance of employment, and might also give me herpes. I have to wear long sleeves anyway because of rose, so I don't see why getting something higher up on my arm is a problem. However, they just don't get it half the time. But, what can I do? At least they won't see "tough bitch" and I'm not sure they know about pretty bird.

I'd blog more, but my computer is being stupid slow and I'm sick of waiting 10 seconds for my letters to come up.

Wish List

Since the holidays are right around the corner (and my birthday) I thought I'd post my wish list for mods.

Right nostril (repierce)
Left tragus (repierce)
Right and left conch
Bottom part of navel

Pin up girl on my right side
Two swallows on my collarbones
Flowers for the birth month of each of my family members on the inside of my left ankle
A hummingbird on my right forearm just under where my elbow bends
A pin up girl on my right thigh
"Tough bitch" on my lower back to the right side

The last tattoo is actually for when I reach my goal weight. I've been losing weight since August and I'm only 10 lbs away from my goal now. I'd like to have reached it by my birthday in 6 weeks. I guess we'll see.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Judgmental Parents

And I have two of them. God knows I love my parents and they love me, but we don't see eye to eye at all on the subject of mods. They both grew up in pretty conservative households and they were teens and 20-somethings in the '70's. Tattoos and piercings were for weird people, not perfectly normal, pretty girls. My first few tattoos went over fine because they weren't visible with regular clothes on. They didn't take the foot very well, but ultimately got over it. What really did them in was the now covered fleur de lis on my left wrist. It wasn't a big tattoo, maybe 3 inches by 2 inches, but the way they reacted it was like I'd gotten an entire forearm piece done.

It came to a head when my dad cornered me and questioned my decision making. Since I felt ambushed, I didn't really have a good response. Once I calmed down and could think rationally, I explained that I'm well aware of the consequences of my actions. I'm not trying to be a rebel. I'm not trying to make a statement. This is just me. Maybe they're confused how they managed to raise a child perfectly willing to stick needles into her skin, but I think they should be proud. They raised a kid who was confident enough in herself and her own judgment to make such choices in the first place. They're still not happy with it, though my mom has warmed up to them slightly. She actually said she thought rose was pretty. Dad's still holding out on me. Yesterday he said he's waiting for the day where I've "realized I have enough".

That mentality bugs me a lot, especially from people who don't have tattoos. They automatically assume that I want to cover every inch of skin I have. Umm...why? I certainly have no desire to tattoo certain areas. Not only that, because of our history of skin cancer, my dermatologist put her foot down and said no tattoos over moles. Some parts of me are very moley, so they're an automatic no. Some places, I just don't think they look good and they certainly wouldn't look good on me. Does anyone listen to me when I try to explain this? Of course not. They clearly know more about it than I do even though it's my body.

I'm not holding my breath for them to change their minds, but it would certainly make my life easier if they'd just accept it and move on.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How Not to Piss off A Tattoo Artist

If you've never been tattooed, you're bound to have questions. There are certain things that you should avoid saying when you go into a tattoo shop.

1. "How much will it hurt?"
I don't know about you, but I'm not psychic. I don't know what kind of pain tolerance you might have. Neither will the artist. Yes, it will hurt. Needles are going into your skin. My favorite analogy is the actual process feels a lot like having hot sandpaper dragged over your skin. Generally speaking, fatty places (upper arm, hips, thighs, calves) will hurt less than bony places (ribs, lower back, wrists, and ankles). Also generally speaking, the outline will hurt more than the color. In my case, I think the color hurts twice as much as the outline. However, almost everyone I know says the outline hurt more.

2. "Is it really going to cost that much?"
Do you haggle at the grocery store over the price of cereal? No. Don't argue with a tattoo artist over the price. It's how they make their living. It's akin to saying "Your work isn't worth that much". Rude, no? If you can't pay for it, don't ask for it. Most artists will be perfectly happy to give you a consultation and a quote. I've never known one to go back on what s/he quoted me.

3. "Will you tattoo my face/hands/feet?"
This one needs a little more detail. Most artists I know (including mine) will tattoo the tops of the feet. However, it's with the caveat that it's more likely to fall out and touch ups aren't free. You do so at your own risk of having a not so great tattoo. I have one on my left foot that I took really good care of and it looks as good as the day it was done. As for the hands and face, those are a bit more hard and fast. Just because Rihanna got a tattoo on her finger doesn't mean every artist does it. Hands and fingers are constantly moving, being washed, and exposed to all kinds of irritants. Plus, it's a pretty darn painful place to get a tattoo, especially on the sides. If you can find an artist willing to do it, it will probably be with the caveat that it will more than likely fall out and if it doesn't, a touch up won't be free. The face should be pretty obvious. What employer is ever going to hire someone with a tattoo on their face? 'Nuff said.

It's a good idea to do a little research before you even walk in the door. The whole process will go a lot more smoothly if you know what you're talking about. You don't have to be an expert or even very knowledgeable, but a little bit of know how goes a long way. Even if you're still unsure, just be polite and listen to what they have to say. I always defer to their judgment because they do this all day, every day. I wouldn't presume to know more than a firefighter or a lawyer, so why assume the same with a tattooist?

Yup, I'm a Jumper

I've been thinking about getting a VCH for about a year. Of course, I always thought about something I wanted more, so the VCH always took a back seat. When I started working in a pretty conservative office at the beginning of the year, the VCH started to look more appealing. It would be concealed at all times and still keep the piercing bug in me happy. I decided I was going to go through with it. As if the anticipation wasn't bad enough, I ended up having to reschedule twice. I finally got an appointment set and was ready to take the plunge. I went to see Christina, who'd done my nipples back in February. I knew she was good and was much more comfortable with the fact she was female. I figure it's a good idea to have the parts if you're going to pierce them.

I arrived a bit early and Christina was busy with another client. I chatted with Ben who was working the counter and decided on what jewelry I wanted. I decided I could go really crazy with the color since no one is ever going to see it. I decided on a really pretty teal. I was surprised to find that the barbell would be straight. Apparently curved barbells are suited for people with a different anatomy than mine. After I filled out paperwork, picked my color, and everything was sterilized, we went back to the piercing room.

I was really glad I wore a skirt so I could just hike it up and take my panties off rather than having to totally strip down. It was a bit awkward laying there spread eagle and having a fairly normal conversation. Somewhat like being at the gynecologist without the stirrups and paper gown. Part of what I love about Christina, and for that matter the rest of the staff at PE, is they have an excellent bedside manner. You feel totally at ease even when they're about to poke a needle in you. She had me laughing pretty much the whole time. I was having my right anti helix done at the same time, so she did that one first. Then it was time for the big one. She placed the jewelry under my hood and determined which spot hurt the least. I flinched the first time and the third time, but the second one didn't seem to bother me as much. So I decided on that one. She had me do the breathing exercises. I ended up taking more like 5 deep breaths before she tried to pierce me.

When the needle finally went through, I jumped about 3 inches back. I started profusely apologizing and she assured me she knew I was going to react like that. She actually just poked me enough to get the reaction and then actually fully pierced me. I was impressed and amused by the whole thing. I was convinced I'd screwed it up, but she's good at what she does. It was probably my second most painful piercing after my nipples. My hip actually cramped and I had to hobble and limp my way out. At least I didn't waddle, which is largely a psychological reaction to getting pierced in that area. Christina said I looked like a person who's hip cramped rather than someone with a new VCH. Since I've been pierced a total of 15 times with 11 to actually show for it, she just refreshed my memory on aftercare rather than going through the whole process.

The drive home was tough. It was almost impossible to find a comfortable position. I was seriously regretting going by myself and not getting someone to drive me. However, I made it and promptly laid spread eagle on the couch. It's been about 7 hours and I can't really feel it at all. I did bleed a good bit, but I think that's stopped as well. It was probably due in part to the fact I'd taken Tylenol earlier in the day and my blood might have been a bit thinner. There's a reason they recommend against taking any kind of pain medication before getting pierced. My anti helix is actually bothering me more than the VCH at this point.

If you're thinking about this piercing, go for it. Never be afraid of the pain. Get it because you want it. Even though I said it was painful, don't let that stop you. It is a needle going through your skin. I can’t speak to its potential sexually as I’m currently single, but perhaps I’ll discover those alleged benefits sometime in the future. The upside is this is a very fast healing piercing in a self cleaning area, so aftercare is pretty much a non issue. Keep it clean, don't touch it, and your body will do the rest.

Only The Pretty Survive

As another story of a cover up, I have to tell one story in order to tell the actual story. For my 22nd birthday, I got a shooting star in blue and yellow on my left side. Mark decided to get a little creative and didn’t outline it. It also healed very, very poorly. When all was said and done, there was almost no color in the star itself and the trails behind it were virtually invisible. I kept meaning to get it touched up and just never got around to it. Then I lost track of Mark and when I found him again, we decided it might be better just to cover it altogether. I wasn’t that wedded to it and he felt bad that it turned out so poorly. We decided that a pin up girl would be something really nice to cover it with. It was something that got us both excited, so it had to be the right choice. Fortunately, he had a book full of pin up girls that I could go through and pick from. I decided on one of a girl sitting in a chair in a pink nightgown. The nightgown would be changed to blue to cover up the star underneath along with a few minor changes to make her more personal. It would also have to be done in two sittings. This would be the first time in ten times of sitting for tattoos that it would take two sessions.

The first session was the first Sunday in November. I was the first appointment of the day and got there right when they opened. It took a few tries to place the stencil because it had to be aligned just right with the star to cover it. As a result, her head was almost in my arm pit and the whole thing extended the entirety of my left side. I was momentarily intimidated by the size, but I knew it was the right choice. Finally, it was time to put needle to skin. Mark gave me the usual “stop me anytime” speech, which I never listen to. I’m extremely stubborn when it comes to sitting. I want to get as much of it done as possible and take as few breaks as possible. Of course, with something this size, breaks are necessary. The line work wasn’t so bad, though it did hurt a good bit near my waist. I was surprised that it hurt more there than on thinner skin over my ribs. We took one break after the line work and then it was time for her hair and face. Her face would probably take the same amount of time as the whole rest of her body or so I was warned. Mark explained to their apprentice, he liked to work the skin lightly for the face to which I replied “Couldn’t tell it by me!”. In actuality, the face was probably the least painful part of the process because he was working the skin so lightly. Her hair was the toughest part. By this point we were going on three hours and I was starting to hit the wall. Did I listen to my body? Of course not. I toughed it out for another twenty or thirty minutes. By the time Mark called it quits, the line work, her face, hair, arm, neck, and shoulders were completely colored. It was more than originally planned, but I’m grateful for that. It meant less would have to be done in the second session.

The second session was two weeks later. I actually had to change the appointment to work around covering for a co-worker. He had someone coming in at 8, so I booked the slot before at 5. He seemed skeptical that it could be done in three hours. I was undeterred. On the day of the appointment, I arrived right at 5. We didn’t get started until almost 6 for various reasons, but by that point I was more than ready to get going. The first hour wasn’t so bad. The second hour started to get to me. I was starting to feel dizzy, having trouble focusing on a fixed point, and just generally hurting really badly. I fought against it for about half an hour. Bucking my own stubbornness, I finally asked for a break. Of course, he was almost done with what he was going to do. I was annoyed with myself for needing a break with so little left. I took a breather and he finished off the color in one of her shoes. After we called it quits for the day, it wasn’t complete. Her body was done, but the chair she was sitting in still needed to be done. That meant another session to drag out the whole experience. I also started to get a migraine. Fortunately, they had some ibuprofen and I’d brought a Coke Zero with me. I took the pills, sipped my soda, and started to feel better after about half an hour. Because I’m extremely impatient, I opted to come in after a week rather than waiting two weeks for her to heal. The bulk of the healing would be done after a week, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

The third session, as promised, was a week after the second. I still had some scabbing, but Mark was just going to work around it. I doubt I’d even notice if he accidentally knocked one off. I’d decided gold would be a good choice for the chair and it harkened back to the colors of the original tattoo. In the source material, the chair was gold and black, but I thought that might end up being too dark. Once that was all said and done, it was time to finally start. I didn’t get the usual speech this time about asking for breaks. It hurt, but not as bad as the last one. It hurt the most near my waist and where there was still a little bit of scabbing. I made a few faces, but generally took it pretty well. Before I knew it, he said we were done. I couldn’t believe it. It had taken less than an hour. I hopped up and took a look. Everyone else who was around also oohed and ahhed over her. She will need some touching up, which is scheduled to happen in 4 weeks. That shouldn’t be nearly as traumatic.

She’s totally gorgeous I’m glad I decided to take a risk and go big. It did take a while and it was a lot of pain, but I’ll be so proud to show her off for as long as it’s appropriate for me to lift my shirt up for people.

Body Mods for the Smart Professional

After reading several very depressing articles on BMEzine ( regarding body mods and the need to “grow up”, I felt I needed to say something. Both articles had the common thread of heavily modded people needing to retire piercings and/or have tattoos removed to survive in the workplace. These were obviously people who did not give a lot of thought to how their choices would affect their futures. Just like impulse buying, impulse modding is not a good idea.

I’m 23 years old, just starting out in my career, and I’m modded. I have 8 holes in my ears and no one even bats an eye. In fact, I often have to point out my piercings for people to even notice them. I have two lobes, a rook, and a tragus done on each ear. So how, you ask, can people not notice? First of all, most of my jewelry is pink. It blends almost seamlessly with the color of my ears. Even with my hair pulled back, people don’t even take a second look. That was the first smart choice. Not all piercing studios will have pink or light colored jewelry on hand, but it can often be ordered online and autoclaved when you arrive. Just be sure you have the proper gauge and the jewelry is up to ASTM standards. Secondly, my holes are the same size they were when I got them pierced. Stretching a piercing is asking for trouble from a hiring standpoint. Big, gaping holes just aren’t attractive and extremely distracting. A little bit of stretching can work, if you do it right. If you can fit a pencil through the hole, it’s probably too big. In the two articles I read, having abnormally large holes were problematic for both people. While a lot of people like the non permanent aspect of piercings, once you stretch them, your committing yourself to that size. Most stretching can’t be reversed without surgery. Moral of the story, think before you stretch.

As for nose piercings, which are wildly popular among the 18-22 female set, there are ways to be smart about those as well. I have fair skin and freckles, so it was no big deal to find a stud that mimicked a freckle. If you’re not so fortunate as to have freckles, there are two other options. You can try to match your skin tone, which may or may not be successful. A better option would be to get the piercing with enough time to heal it fully and invest in some high quality retainers. This would mean getting the piercing 3-5 months before you would be seriously seeking employment to ensure proper healing. Then you can switch it out with something more showy as necessary.

That’s pretty much where “acceptable” piercings end. Other facial piercings like lips and eyebrows will probably cause problems. If you’re facing the prospect of working in an office, you’ll probably have to retire it or find a retainer. It’s a sad commentary, but the world hasn’t evolved far enough to look beyond a piece of jewelry in someone’s face. However, there’s still plenty of piercings that you can have and not have to worry about in the office.

Tattoos, on the other hand, can be a bit more problematic. I have 8 tattoos, one of which is a large piece on my left forearm. The easiest solution is to wear long sleeves. Since my office, and most offices for that matter, are cold no matter what time of year, it’s not hard for most people to wear long sleeves every day. Make up is an option for smaller pieces, but you run the risk of it rubbing off on your clothes and being difficult to get out. When you’re picking out placement for a tattoo, think about how easily it can be covered. Be flexible on the placement because it will make your life easier in the long run.

The best piece of advice I ever heard regarding tattoos was bring a work shirt with you. For most of us, it’s a long sleeved button down shirt. The shirt can act as a guide for where to place your tattoo. I’m planning on getting two sparrows on my chest / collarbone area and I’ll be bringing a button down shirt with me as a guide for placement. Then you can set your mind at ease that your art won’t be peeking out at the wrong moment. There are also plenty of places that can be covered with no effort like thighs, sides, and the back.

Feet and ankles can be a little tricky if you’re not sure where to start. The easiest solution I’ve found is simply wearing pants. If the pants fit properly, they cover my feet up to the tops of my shoes. Most womens’ dress pants are already tailored to be longer to accommodate wearing high heels. If you aren’t a pants person or just looking for a little more variety, tights are another option. I love wearing tights in the winter. I can still wear skirts and not worry about my kneecaps freezing off. A black or brown pair of tights will camouflage pretty much anything. I have a text tattoo on the top of my left foot and a small one on the inside of my right ankle. Both are rendered invisible by the tights. A third option, but mostly for fall and winter, are tall boots. Either flat or with a heel, they’re a great stylish option that also covers anything on your feet and calves. I love my tall boots and they make it absolutely no effort to conceal my ink.

You don’t have to give up piercings and laser off tattoos to make it in the workplace. You just have to be smart about it. These two original authors obviously gave no thought to how their decisions would affect them. If you give it some thought and come up with a plan to keep everybody happy, there’s no need to worry that you’ll have to sacrifice something in order to move ahead. Ideally, attitudes will begin to change and modded people won’t be seen as “alternative”, “immature” or just plain “weird”. Though, there are worse things out there than being “weird”.

As always, this is just general advice that I've found works really well in practice. As always, it's up to you to find out what works best for your situation.

A Rose By Any Other Name

This is actually the story of a cover up, so to fully understand the experience, a little history is needed.

Back in December of '07, I got a black and gray fleur de lis tattooed on my left wrist. There were a myriad of bad decisions associated with this tattoo. I was trying really hard to win back my ex-boyfriend, I was drunk, and I didn't really think through the design. I wanted a wrist tattoo, so I just picked the first kitschy piece of flash off the wall. I was in New Orleans at the time, so a fleur de lis seemed like the thing to do. It wasn't.

After I finally cut off all contact with said ex long about September of '08, the tattoo was nothing but a reminder of all the bad choices I'd made. It made me nauseous every time I had to look at it. I decided it was time to cover it up. I went to see Mark and get his opinion on it. It was going to be a tough one because it was black and gray, but he was confident he could make something work. We decided on an antique style rose. I scheduled the appointment for the following Saturday.

That Saturday rolled around and I was so nervous. This was going to be a big tattoo (about halfway up my forearm) and impossible to hide from my extremely judgmental parents. However, it was either this or live with a tattoo I hated. After a few deep breaths, I was ready to go for it. Once the design was ready, it was time for the process. I was prepared for the pain. I didn't remember what happened the last time because I'd been drunk. We ultimately decided on a pink rose for several reasons. Firstly, a red rose is a symbol of love and passion and I just didn't feel that was the right message to go with this tattoo. Also, I didn't want to go super cliche like I'd done with the one being covered up. Even though my skin takes red beautifully, it just wasn't right this time.

We began with the tattooing and, true to expectations, it hurt. It hurt more closer to my hand than farther up on my arm. It makes sense as I have very tiny wrists and pretty much nothing to cushion the needle. Two other girls in the shop were amazed at how well I was taking it. I guess I'm just good at grinning and bearing it. I was highly amused when they acted like someone was sawing their arms off during their 10 minute tats. I guess I'm just tough.

This time, I think the shading at the base of the fleur hurt the worst. Normally, I don't deal with color well, but it probably had something to do with the thin skin. I ended up taking two breaks, just for us to get up and move around. I'd like to think I didn't really need them and could've just powered through it. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of breaks because I have to get used to the pain again. I wouldn't say it's endorphins, but just the simple fact that I'm used to the constant pain I'm feeling in whatever part of my body is being worked on.

After about 2.5 hours and 90 minutes of actual tattooing time, we were done. I was amazed with the end result. The underlying fleur de lis was completely invisible. The rose itself was gorgeous. Yet again, Mark proved himself the genius I know him to be. We photographed it and he wrapped it up for me. I couldn't wait to show it off.

It's been about a month since I had it done and it's healed beautifully. I haven't had any problems with color loss or blurring. I think there are a few patches of mild scabbing left, but nothing too serious. It looks just as good as it did right after it was finished. While I'm extremely happy with the results, I wish I'd never had to have anything covered in the first place.

Take home lessons from my mistakes are:

1. Never get tattooed drunk. Aside from being illegal in most, if not all, states, it's just a bad idea.

2. Don't get a tattoo because you want something there. You'll end up paying twice as much to get it covered up. I literally paid twice what I paid for the original and that's with what I like to call the "addict discount".

3. Never shy away from the pain. Get a tattoo where you want it. Pain is only temporary.

Welcome to My Humble Blog

As I do with every journal, paper or otherwise, I like to set out the general purpose. This blog is a place for me to ramble, rant, rave, and just generally chat about tattoos and , on occasion, piercings. I drive all my poor friends crazy with my obsessions, so I thought a place solely dedicated to it would be appropriate. I'm going to archive several recent experiences along with pictures. Everybody loves pictures, right?

A quick overview of the cast of characters that will pop up regularly in here.

Mark-My tattoo artist. He's done both my cover ups and 4 of my other pieces.

Shane-The owner of the shop. He's never done any work on me, but he's almost always around.

Christina-My piercer. I go to a different place to get pierced than tattooed for those who care.

Now on the real stuff...