Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Free Laser Tattoo Removal

Are you kidding me? I signed up with Google Ad's and was promised only advertisements that were applicable to my blog. Then I log on today to find this: Free Laser Tattoo Removal crap. I am so vehemently against laser tattoo removal and am not too sure I fit with their methods of deciding what ad to place on what site. This is what I was worried about...

I have 7 tattoos and am nowhere near done. I started at age 17 with a blooming sunflower stretching across the right side of my lower back and top of my ass. Not quite a tramp-stamp, it actually saved me from that now-dreaded lower-back tattoo nearly every girl my generation is left not-so-proudly sporting. My senior year of high school I guinea-pigged it with my best friend's tattoo-artist boyfriend and let him create permanent art on the back of my body. The second I felt the intensity of those multiple needles piercing and poking into my flesh, depositing eternal ink strokes deep within my skin, I was hooked. It hurt so good! I suffered through the sitting, only blacking out for one brief moment, more a pill-and-pot induced reaction to pain than anything else. The involuntary flinching of my skin crawling and the spearing into each pore of flesh produced a desirable pain. What imprinted on my mind as it drifted past the haziness of whatever Valium induced trip I was on were the smells and sounds. The buzzing tattoo gun and billowing cigarette smoke, the blaring punk rock music and distinctive scent of disinfectant and ink. I found myself in quite a bit of a quandary a few days later when I arrived at my mother's house and settled in for one of her powerful and amazing full-body massages. She finished with my upper back and moved to the lower, pulling down the towel to reveal a freshly inked flower of bright yellows, purples and greens, nearly half-a-foot in diameter. "What the hell is that?" she hissed, simultaneously smacking my raw and scabbing scar with something not-as-bad but in-the-same-vein as my childhood spankings.

My next tattoo came a year later in the form of a flower-encrusted inner left ankle. My father lectured me about regretting these tattoos when I was older and I told him, confident and sure my 18-year-old self had it all figured out,
"I never would regret a single tattoo,
because to do so would be to regret who I was in my youth,
and I was never going to be that person."
Oh the poor guy! The bouquet of purple irises, future theme for my not-yet-envisioned wedding, was secured deeply within the layers of my dermis my sophomore year in Northern California. Nestled between my shoulder blades, the graceful stems stood proud and tall against the creamy fleshiness of my skin. The next one was either the small Leo symbol above the sunflower on my back that the black ink fell out of immediately, leaving just an outline, or the design of my own creation, triangled turquoise and brown marbled scar-tissue resting on the inner top part of my left arm.

College graduation comes and money went dry. I sat stagnant with the 5 I have until we were living in San Francisco a few years later and strolling through Haight-Ashbury one lazy-sunny-Sunday afternoon. That leaves me better off with a beautiful yellow and orange calendula with drooping, lush petals encased in a teal border enshrined on the top of my right arm, just under the shoulder. I had now entered the realm of the visibly tattooed. Never again would I be able to hide behind my blonde tresses and pearly white smile. I had proclaimed an eternal edge to my persona. It gave me a certain notoriety and served to stereotype me in a completely different way than ever before, and I kinda liked it. It felt good to put the inside me on the outside of me.

In 2006 my husband and I were anticipating our 5th anniversary and wanted to do something to commemorate our union. I was about a year into CFS, still working and yet to develop full-blown Fibromyalgia. The Sacred Heart called out to us as a tribute to the blessing of our marriage, and we each created a representation of this beautiful image suitable for our person and gender. His was strong and masculine, stemming down from the base of his skull, the large cross at the top merely an outline against the licking, burning flames. His heart was dark and troubled, and his thorns long and sharp. Mine was a more classical depiction, a soft red heart dripping nectar from the wound, flames securely enveloping the small wooden cross above it. My green, fresh thorns tangled into a matching blend of our initials, mimicking his barren, dead shards. They are both beautiful and we wear them proudly, but it was damn near the most painful self-inflicted thing I had ever done to myself. Tattoos may hurt so good, but a tattoo with Fibromyalgia on the inside fleshy part of my upper arm was hell in a hand-basket. I had to dig my nails into my stomach to counter balance the pain. I had to practice what I imagined to be Lamaze breathing methods to create distraction. I had to force myself to lie still and not move, all the while crying out inside from the searing, burning pain. About 1/3rd of the way through I realized this was a very bad idea. Wrong place, wrong artist, wrong time? But I looked down and he was nearly done with the outline. What the hell was I going to do with just an outline? When would I ever want to come back and finish it? So I guided my husband to continually squeeze the shit out of my hand and settled into blinding misery. Near the end, as the artist was coloring in the contours and shadows, my body was involuntarily writhing but I was not able to take any more Percocet without fear of vomiting. The tattoo had become so red and inflamed, an oozy gush of a mushy bacteria-filled petri-dish. Red hot infection was radiating around the brilliant glow of my newly crowned Sacred Heart. I actually had to treat that tattoo with antibiotic cream and lots of moisture with very little friction. It is my most beautiful and prized today.

Each tattoo has been a permanent mark on my body that perfectly captures the person I was at that time. An image that does not grow with me, into the person I will become, but stays true to who she was then, unable to mould and grow with the future. Each tattoo, style, location, a stamp in time. I capture my tattoos in a quick glance in the mirror now and then and think about the experience of each one, and it is a hauntingly real encounter to remember what it was like to be that girl.

Thanks for joining,


  1. Just a short note to thank you - I enjoyed your article.

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