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To tattoo or not to tattoo

Nine years ago I got a tattoo.

Most people say that getting a tattoo is not really painful. They use words like “aggravation” and “annoyance.” Don’t believe it. It’s more like a cross between a root canal and a D&C. My fingernail imprints are still in the book I tried to read as a diversion. After 30 minutes of white knuckling it, I figured that the best defense was simply to immerse myself in the experience.

My first tattoo

“Would you mind if I got my camera and took some pictures?” I asked Li’l Dave, the tattoo artist.

“Go ahead.”

“Oh yeah. I’m a writer. Maybe I could bring in my notebook and ask you a bunch of questions?”

“Sure.”

The process

Do you know that the tool a tattoo artist uses resembles a dentist’s drill? But instead of a drill, it has a bunch of needles. Depending on the desired effect, tattoo artists can use three to seven needles at a time. These needles jab your skin between 2000 and 3000 times a minute, poking the dyes in.

I wanted a tree swallow and brought an illustration from a bird book which Li’l Dave reproduced. Eventually that bird took on character, form and voila! One handsome 7 cm x 5 ½ cm tree swallow—as if it just swooped in from our old farm. I was ecstatic.

The reactions of friends and family were mixed.

“Whatever possessed you?”

“You wild woman you!”

“Tell me you’ll be able to wash that off.”

Heaven knows what they’ll say this time. You see, I’ve decided to get another tattoo. A thistle on the top of my hand, trailing over my wrist. I’m starting to think the pain couldn’t have been that bad. I’m hoping it will only be an aggravation this time. Yeah.

Got any tattoo stories?

6 Comments

  1. Darlene Surette Darlene Surette
    November 17, 2010    

    I’ve been thinking for a couple of years now I want 2 humming birds with the Lillie in the middle and them feeding on the stemina.Haven’t got up the nerve quite yet.But this helps a little to know more about the process.Lol!!XOX

  2. November 17, 2010    

    I remember when you got the first tattoo Sandra – I’m impressed that you are getting another one! I’m sure you will have a great story to tell about it also.

  3. December 11, 2010    

    Love your blog! Maybe the pain form a tattoo is much like labor pains… with time the memory lessens as we relish in the joy of the experience. I have thought for a couple years now that I would like to have a small dragonfly but am tooooooooooo chicken!
    Can’t wait to hear fo this new experience!

  4. December 11, 2010    

    Thanks for the kind words about the blog Ruthie! And you must proceed and get a dragon fly! I ran out of time this year to get the thistle but will get it done in the new year for sure.

  5. Merilee Merilee
    July 31, 2011    

    So did you or did you not tattoo? Enquiring minds want to know…
    I have a tattoo story. Almost 40 years ago I brought one home. Mom said, “If your sister did it, I’ll kill her,” then she cried. She said I’d never get a job. My father didn’t say anything, at first. In fact, he didn’t speak to me for two weeks. After that, every time he saw me in short sleeves he’d ask, “What’s that on your arm?” This went on for some time. He stopped when I finally answered, “Same as what’s on your arm.”
    Enjoyed your blog, Sandra. I’ll be back.

  6. July 31, 2011    

    Merilee, your story made me laugh. Too funny. Now … about your question. No, I haven’t had my second tattoo yet. Mainly because I had two hip operations and have been read the riot act about not getting infections. But it’s been a year now and I think I’m safe. Ask me again in a couple of months. haha. Glad you dropped into my blog. I’m 8 weeks behind in my postings but will be getting back on track on Monday. Life sure is full.

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Welcome! This is where I occasionally pluck and post a recent story or give a behind-the-scenes commentary (when fit to publish). You'll also find notices about upcoming workshops, such as memoir or travel writing. For the month of July, join me for the July Project. Enjoy your visit and come back often. Better yet, subscribe!

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