Sunday, January 23, 2011

Bl(ow)g Tattoo (21)

When I was like, 19 or 20, I went and got my second tattoo.  I was taking Japanese in college AND painting, so I figured I should just paint my own kanji character and get that tattooed on my lower back.  So I did, and it was unbelievably painful.  I actually fainted.  Straight up passed up.  I remember my friend Drew trying to tell me something (turns out it was "keep still"), and then the world went gray.  
I can count how many times I've ever even felt faint on one hand:
1) when my step-brother Josh's ulcer put him in agony for the entire drive back from Denver to Laramie
2) when my friend Eric had to change the gauze in his mouth after having his wisdom teeth removed
3) changing my own bandages after a particular surgery
4) after standing up too quickly in my Dad's kitchen (also actually passed out that time)
And then getting this second tattoo.
Anyway, I had always wanted to add to it, and fix the little extra dot that occurred while I was apparently twitching before I lost consciousness, but was always too scared to go back.
But after the trials I went through in 2010, I figured I could handle expanding on the tattoo.  I even knew what I wanted to get.
I wanted a Cheshire cat grin moon, stars, and I wanted my kanji to look better.  So I sketched something, sent it off to an artist at Sol Tribe in Denver, and she sent something back so beautiful.


...Sol Tribe artist's

Brief explanation: the kanji means "trust", like the kind of trust you have in a friend.  Or the kind of trust you have that everything happens for a reason, something meaningful, and worthwhile.  The needle for my spinal tap and blood patch went RIGHT through this symbol.
The Cheshire cat has always had a special place in my heart.  I *love* Alice in Wonderland.  And have always particularly liked the John Tenniel illustrations, especially of the cat in the tree, greeting Alice.
The moon also is symbolic to me.  It's like a visual, tangible reminder how small our planet is in the Universe.  Something to feel connected to (by the pull of Earth's gravity), our own special space object always orbiting us.  OK, so that one is a bit hard to explain.  But I always enjoy seeing it up in the sky.  Especially after a new moon when you haven't seen it for awhile.  That waxing little crescent, grinning at you, "I'm back"!
So my drawing combined all these elements - sharper looking "trust" kanji, waxing crescent moon/Cheshire cat grin, with stars and leaves to help combine the astral plane the moon is in with the physical plane where the cat is sitting in the tree.  Waxing moon, coming back from the dark side, growing into it's full potential, kind of like the transition I feel my life is taking.
And so BOOM I go in to Sol Tribe totally pumped and ready.  The artist stencils the drawing onto my back, gets me settled in a chair, and starts.
Seriously, not two minutes into it, I get faint.  Full on pale, weak, shaky, can't barely say "I think I need to lay down".  Nauseated, semi-conscious, I flop onto the table, and remain in the fetal position for the entire rest of the hour and fifteen minutes it takes her to finish.
Mindful breathing.  Feel my breath in, feel my breath out.  Not quite enough distraction.  Mindful tapping on my arm.  I squeeze my fingers on my arm, pinky finger, pointer finger.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  It is occurring to me that this reaction I am having is fairly powerful.  I mention to the artist, "I think you must be working on some kind of acupressure point, or you've found the spot I've been holding onto all my emotions I've held in this year because this is intense".  She totally agrees, "let's exorcise those demons" she says.
Then it's all over, and we can't decide on what colors to add.  She tells me to come back later, and we'll figure it out then.  My back is a swollen, red, ravaged mess, and my blood pressure is at like, 50/0. 
Tottering out of the store, I get in my husband's car, and bawl for the next several hours.  These demons are exorcising the hell out, that's for damn sure.
So for as un-rock star a performance that was for me, I am strongly believing that it was completely cathartic, and not at all pathetic.

1 comment:

  1. it pained me to read this post, for many reasons.
    i have a tattoo, and oh yeah, it hurt. i'm amazed you went back. your reaction, no, not at all pathetic.
    were the demons exorcised?