The only person I trust to tattoo me is Kimmy Jane. Not because I don't trust other artists, the artistry isn't the issue. She asks me all the right questions, we bond as it happens, and I trust her that everything is clean and new, and my tat is as important to her as it is to me. She is in Lackawanna New York and that's how far I go to see my sister and get permanent stuff on me, 4 hours. No pain, no gain people.
I have only one picture tattoo on me really. Well, I guess 3 technically. When I was 20 I got Thumper on my hip. I loved it. She (my Thumper was a she) was on her back, holding her belly in a big belly laugh. I love to belly laugh and when I used to sit at the coffee table on the floor and eat I would always tap my foot, aka "Thumper".
When I got together with my now husband he and my father conspired one night over how "Thumper" was "thump her". I was insulted, pissed off, and a little remiss about the volume of men who may have thought the same so I decided to cover Thumper up. I never should have. On went a 4 Leaf Clover that had to be huge to cover each end of Thumper and my new last name went in the middle. Bye bye "thump her". The new one is blasé to say the least. It's common place. It's not art, it has no meaning but a joke. But that's what I asked for, and that's what I got. I remember Kimmy not wanting to cover Thumper and I should have listened. Thumper was a part of history, a part of my life and she should have stayed that way, a part of me.
Every other tattoo I have are words, parts of my story. And I suppose then so is Thumper and the Four Leaf Clover cover up. I just don't happen to care for the cover up. She did a perfect job on it, don't get me wrong. But if you make a solid decision to get something and there's a reason for it in your heart, don't change that. Ever. For anyone. My Kimmy has drawn the most beautiful array of fall coloured flowers now. We will eventually start the process of covering the 4x4 inch clover with a big Gerber daisy in deep orangey red, then sun flowers, and more Gerbers and greens. It will go from the front of my hip, the hip bone, over to my hip and up my ribs. I can't wait.
I understand I am 43. I get it, I do. I know someday, it better be a long long time, I will be a grandmother. I will either hide them, remove them, or have forgotten they exist like I do now. I am no Helen Mirren, nor do I plan on being, so a one piece bathing suit it shall be thereby making my hip tattoo a non issue. It's the others I will have to explain and explain I shall. It's not as hard as you may think even though there are over 10 now if you count them as done individually.
First one "AT" ("after Thumper");
To piss off my father I got the kanji symbol for "Father" on the inside of one heel. So when he saw it and got angry I could say "it's says daddy, daddy" *insert guilt here*.
To piss off my husband (are you sensing a pattern here) I got the kanji symbol for "Dan" on the inside of the other heel. So when he saw it, well he just called me an idiot. Wasn't as fun as I thought. I added my name on my next trip next to his, our romance is now outlined in kanji on my foot. Or as my husband says, "chicken balls and rice is what it probably says!". That's okay too cause that's f*cking hysterical I think.
On that same trip I had a native wolf tattooed over the symbol for "Father" because the old Cherokee Legend reads;
This is something my father would say. That a person creates their own demise or success so it seemed fitting.
During the same visit I also got "Be True to Yourself" below the low of my back, just below the tramp stamp spot. I have always felt that I wasn't true to who I really was. I just never admitted it, never could touch it, couldn't place it. I was working on it. I knew I was somehow not being true so there it went, onto me, to remind me to find truth.
On my next visit I was in the throws of struggling through life. Really struggling with where I came from, who I was, who I was meant to be. I was a bit lost to say the least. I always felt like I was damaged goods but strong enough to fight my way through it. One of my favorite singers of all time, Sarah McLachlan. One of my favorite old bands, The Beatles. A song in common and a favorite. Blackbird. The phrase, "Take these broken wings and learn to fly", screamed at me. It's what I was learning to do. I was broken and I needed to learn how to fly again. At one point in my life I was blind to all the hardships. I lived with them on my shoulders but was blind to their weight. Around the phrase, 3 tiny black birds in various degrees of flight. It was very tiny. Kim wasn't even sure she could write that small, but she did. I often got comments about how tiny it was. How much people loved it. It was considered "darling".
And life continued. The struggles continued.
The struggles turned into leaps and bounds. Life changed. It didn't become easier, but it sure was starting to make more sense.
As I looked down on "take these broken wings and learn to fly" I realized I wasn't broken. I was who I was because of where I came from, where I had been, where I would go. I was me. I decided the next phrase needed to be on my wrist. "All your life, you've been only waiting for this moment to arrive". I had been waiting to understand I wasn't broken for so long. It was such an amazing feeling. Sitting in a course I suddenly realized I wasn't held prisoner by my past. I wasn't broken by it, I just was. So that 2nd phrase had to be a part of me. When I did that, I added another bird in FULL flight and two more in various degrees, tiny ones, behind my right ear. All the rest was on my left wrist, I wanted things on both sides. I wanted some balance.
While there I also decided to get two sentences put on the top of my foot and those two lines are:
To hurt is to learn.
To teach is to heal.
I wasn't done yet. I also got two more lines added above "Be True to Yourself". "Be Authentic" and "Be Honest". The only way to be true to yourself, the only way to heal and learn, is by being your authentic self, who you were meant to be. The only way to be who you were meant to be in how you live life is to be honest with yourself and all those around you no matter the price.
I tend to choose the fonts when I go to Kimmy and my bad, I chose different for both the 2nd phrase of the song AND the lines on my back. She told me they were off a bit, I didn't care. I liked that they stood out. They were the next steps in my journey. So she tattooed them that way. Everything happens for a reason doesn't it?
And here we are at my last visit. We couldn't get the flowers even underway, the 4 Leaf Clover cover up. It's a big piece. It's going to be outlined one day and coloured over time. We were only in town, the USA, for about 30 hours. I went down with my best friend in the world, Brenda. And we missed each other to say the least Brenda and I. Silly girls we are, we both got upper ear tiny little cartilage piercings when we were at the shop, they do all the good stuff there. And I then went and got another little wee one on the inside little part of the opposite ear. They are so tiny they are barely noticeable but one ties me to my bestie and the other is for me. Just to say, "why not, I am not as old as I think I am sometimes".
On this most recent visit Brenda didn't get anything else done but designed in her head her next steps down tattooing lane. For me, Kimmy re-did the "hurt heal" just darkening and evening up the font. I don't always avoid the "itching" part of the healing process. LOL. Sometimes some letters therefore don't heal and "stay" the same. She fixes that while scolding me gently. She wants to touch up my heels each time I am there too because they are the worst to heal properly with the dead skin we sloth off on our feet but I don't allow it. Well not each and every time anyways. Kimmy tells me each time where not to tattoo and how to. I am not too good with the "listening".
As I said before, the fonts around me are not the same. The top of my foot is very simple printing. My wrist phrases, two different simple fonts. What I wanted to make this look better, to amp it up, was to draw around each phrase separately as if they were torn pieces of paper that were taped on my wrist. Just as the tattooist does when they stencil on you, draw the tattoos, and in Kimmy's case, store them on the walls of her office. Now it's a piece of paper with the 2nd phrase and the 1st phrase appears to be taped over it. Like paper has fallen and landed on my wrist. It's cute, I like it.
On my back we finished that work as well with "Be Real" "Be True" side by side. We used yet a third font and added space in between them all allowing for my back to read;
Be True Be Real
Be True to Yourself
It's hard to make this look straight in a picture as the middle of my spine goes down the middle of the shot. My spine has curves and bumps, you know, from vertebrae. I really like that they are pieces added over time. And yes the "y" in "yourself" appears backwards but does on the lettering we chose that day too. The last thing I will be doing is a period after "be". I missed asking for it. It is the end of the phrase after all. It's all about punctuation.
Basically this reminds me and anyone else behind me to be real, and true. To do so you must be authentic and honest with yourself and others. And this means you are being true to yourself. And sometimes, you just gotta "be".
Ya' know what else I learned lately. I am not good to myself, not at all. In fact, I am mean. I don't do or say nice things about myself in my head or out loud more often than not. I have people remind me all the time, "you are being too hard on yourself" etc. It's become the mantra of people I admire and in course work, meditation courses, they always say, "be kind to yourself". If you are stressed. Take a minute to breathe. If you are lonely. Call a friend, don't hide in your loneliness. If you have pain. Do what you can, not what the person next to you can. "Be kind to yourself". I decided not long ago to do that once a day. One thing each and every day that is nothing but kind to me, myself and I. As a reminder I figured I should slap that onto my arm as well, in pretty writing with pretty swirls and my favorite, a happy face over the "i" in "kind". *giggle* Makes me happy every time I look at it. I did a little dance when it was finished. "I love it, I love it, I love it" I danced and sang.
And that my friends is all about my ink and my complicated relationship with it. My husband's relationship is worse. He hates each and every one of them. But me, I love them. I just do. I am not about "the art". I don't want big scenes and flourish, I want words. I live for words. I love to talk, write and read. I love words. I am a walking word. The "art" will come with the cover up of the clover. It will be great, full of colour and splendor, but for now. Just words. And words aren't easy to do, not cleanly, small, and straight, yet they are. And as importantly for me, they are done by my sister and most of the time during trips with my other sister.
Some might say this is impulsive, even part of the bi polar, and it wouldn't be a lie really. Getting another one is impulsive, it's addictive. But there is no impulsiveness to the fact I sit and think about things that are important to me, that have meaning and I apply them to myself knowing full well I am stuck with them at 80 years of age drooping right off me. So be it.
Sisters united by life......and a little ink here and there.
Got any tats? Tell me about them. I love a good story.