Oh hey, hi. I got a new tattoo.

It’s been a minute since I’ve checked in. Such is life. It’s probably about time for a life update.

So last I left you I had visited the fam up north where I was tortured, branded and sent home crying. That sounds about right, yes.

Fast forward, there was a cool new job with more money and a bigger desk, (woo hoo) then the holidays where I got a little fatter and then it snowed alot and and blah, blah, blah.

Let’s talk about what happened when I decided to get brave and finish my big dramatic divorce cover up tattoo.

Yes. Divorce tattoo.

No. I’m still married. I meant the big D from 2013. Yeah. That one. The last remnant of a marriage I wanted to blur from memory.

I started it a couple years back. Taking what was probably 6 inches wide by 4 inches deep and covering that sucker with a 1/2 back and down the crack dragon. Yeah buddy. It was an epic plan. It was going to be glorious. I got the outline done. I got a wing done. I got the face started.

Then I quit like a loser.

Do you have any idea how much that hurts? I’m having flash backs thinking about it.

So I went on, unfinished tattoo like an abandoned coloring book page.

Season after season.

Swimsuits be damned, I didn’t finish it. Until now.

Yeah. It’s done. It’s all finished in all it’s dragon glory. I am proud of it too. Hours of sitting, some smudged mascara and many dollars later, it is done. No sign of the original tattoo.

The first “back to it” sitting was 3 hours long. I was terrified. I dont know if the artist could tell but I wanted to have an outer body experience right then and there. First touch of the needle and I almost went over the seat.

I nearly fainted. Nearly. I was only stopped by the real fear that if I did indeed lose conciousness that I would also likely lose my bladder. Nobody wants to pee themselves after passing out from pain inflicted by someone you requested to hurt you in exchange for money.

The second sitting was another 3 hours. The last of it would be finished. I chanted in my head that I was brave and strong. I was like the dragon. Also that I was going to look awfully stupid going another few years with a half finished tattoo. Mostly that.

Vanity is basically bravery.

I straddled the chair and gripped the back. Eyes closed, teeth clenched. I heard the machine come on and there it went. It being my bravery. Each scratch feeling more and more like demons trying to claw their way to my front belly via my spine.

Ever had a single tiny cat scratch? It effing hurts, right? This felt like a cat on crack brought it’s entire family tree to lay into my skin.

As we neared the “end” the artist had to throw on some finishing touches, little wispy swirls that look awesome but felt like a near death experience.

I’ve never been so happy as when those last 3 hours came to an end. I stood carefully, not knowing if my shaking legs would hold me. I slipped off the chair and took a deep breath. I stretched my arms and fingers to let the blood back into my limbs.

Relief washed over me.

Then I looked down at the chair.

I had sweated pure desperate fear and anquish all over the seat. 3 long hours of torture in a pool shaped like butt cheeks. There was a literal ass print of perspiration.

To be honest it really was a good representation of the original tattoo and memory I had intended to cover. But still. Ass shaped pool of my sweat.

I apologized, smeared it around with my hand and went quickly for my wallet. It was time to pay, tip handsomely and never, ever look back.

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The Family Tree of Life … wait, what?

The Family Tree or The Tree of Life … whatever you call it the symbol is deeply embedded in religious and spiritual beliefs. You will find it popular for genealogy and history buffs, elementary school home projects and with artists of all kinds.

The definition is as wildly varied as is each tree. Rarely depicted in exact form or feature. A basic Google search brought me the following definition:

“In this way, the tree of life is a symbol of a fresh start on life, positive energy, good health and a bright future. As a symbol of immortality. A tree grows old, yet it bears seeds that contain its very essence and in this way, the tree becomes immortal. As a symbol of growth and strength.” unknown

I’m sure you have heard the joke about the family tree being full of nuts. It’s generally the absolute truth and is especially for my own. A few weeks before my epic trip up north my mom sent me photo which would make a permanent mark on us all, literally.

My phone was blinking with a message waiting as it often does, only this time it was my mother. Some people might roll their eyes or sigh seeing another text from mom but not me. I love them. I guess after years of not speaking little blinking lights seem to have the positive power to keep all the old darkness away.

This time she sent a photo.

She had found a piece of jewelry online, or I think that was what it was. I have since lost the texts, little did I know such a simple thing would turn into a worthy story. I don’t remember the words but I complimented the piece. I had just purchased something similar while on vacation. I had hung it in my kitchen window days before our conversation. An interesting coincidence. The symbol she shared was a Triple Tree of Life design.

Whether it was she or I who decided it would look amazing as a tattoo I do not recall. I will give her credit as she is the visionary among us.

She decided we should all get this tattoo of 3 trees and set about to sketch it. She proclaimed her tree to be the middle and my sister and I would be to the left and to the right. Her image came to live in a circle and she began to add leaves separating each mature trunk and expansive branches. She asked what leaf shape I preferred and I chose the hearts. My sister would be assigned the scroll shape leaves.

And so it was shared and agreed, we would get these trees symbolically tattooed to our individual bodies to represent the true roots and togetherness despite growing into separate entities.

That would be that except for the fact that now we needed an artist willing to do the same design on separate occasions and for a reasonable price. Oh, and a tiny detail, I happen to live in another state, they each in separate cities. I was going to be in town for a short window so my appointment had to be scheduled in advance.

Like a true champ mom had her appointment first. I wish I could have been there but alas the miles add up and I wouldn’t be there for weeks.

Second my sister got hers, a little larger than ours, much as she does everything. She laughs louder, is a little taller, and has bigger chickens. (It’s not a competition, sis.)

When it was finally my turn I hobbled in, limping on a broken foot with the fam. Mom, Dad and my sweetheart in tow. For the record I didn’t know the foot was broken at the time, not that it would have slowed me down any more than it did. I didn’t need the entire clan for support either but I won’t lie … I did enjoy the entourage.

Mom introduced me to the artist as the daughter from out-of-state and reminded him she promised to bring me in. Now here I was. She was so excited, proud even to be presenting her family to the man with the needle gun.

It’s a special gift she has, to walk into an establishment and become the official honorary host. She takes charge in the mom-est way ever and she does it so well. She shows us off and takes ownership even though we are moms ourselves and tower over her in height.

It might also be a red-head thing. It’s sort of endearing.

I was invited into the artists chair and I happily plopped down, arm up on the rest and head back taking it all in. There was a glass case to the left against the wall with piercing jewelry in it. On top of the case was an entire brown bear skin with yellowed teeth and claws. The bear skin seemed shockingly out-of-place yet so at home there perched menacingly about 8 feet in the air. I didn’t ask about the bear but may next time.

My eyes shifted to a back room which I suspect was the piercing room. I suggested mom get her nose pierced. She didn’t miss a beat and declined. It was hard to rattle her.

We continued to chit-chat with the artist about my current ink, where I got it and that it was unique. My mom, from her seat in the corner, pipes up with a question. Asks what the oldest person the artist had ever tattooed.

Good question.

Guy covered in ink and wearing purple gloves continues to gently press into the skin on my arm and pauses before he shares his reply.

He begins the story with how he had to help an elderly lady into the tattoo chair. A frail, tiny old woman. He might have said she had an oxygen tank or a walker or something, painted the picture of tiny sweet grey hair granny type. He got her into the chair and she advised she wanted a touch up tattoo. Not kidding. She wanted to touch up the roses on her earlobe. He described being scared to break her, being so gentle as to not hurt her.

She was a champ.

I can only hope to be that bad-ass someday.

Mom was intrigued. She asks if it is harder to tattoo old people skin (yep, said that) and she mentions something about being worried she might be too old for tattoos. It is possible I guess she was fishing for a compliment. I don’t know. Forgive me, Ma, if the words are wrong there but this story is as I recall it. Also it happened.

She got good news however you look at it, she wasn’t the oldest he had ever tattooed (he laughed at her for that) and she was in the fairly young range of people who come in for ink. I think she blushed but it was hard to tell from the reflection in the glass case. I was still concentrating on the insanely large teeth on that bear skin.

He went on to say with plenty of moisture skin will be good for tattooing for a long time to come. She is probably sitting somewhere with some Skin So Soft right now. I know I have upped my moisture game. Old lady skin be damned.

It was over quickly and I marveled at how beautiful my new tattoo was. We paid and tipped well and made our way back for the party that afternoon.

We ate and drank and took pictures and ate some more. We showed off our new ink in singles and in triple to anyone willing to smile and nod.

Our tattoos are a symbol of who we are. Joined at the root but each branched to our own. My mother with her leaves, which symbolize for me life and change. My sisters scrolls symbolizing what I see in her as great wisdom, boundless intelligence and strength. Lastly my hearts, which for me represent love unconditional with a notation on some limbs a barren place for broken hearts for which I am grateful to never forget.

*Thank you to my mother for designing such a beautiful tribute to family, forgiveness and bond. Also for feeding us constantly when we visit. Those baked beans though … yum.

*Thank you to my dad who has kept us safe since we were wee girls. That’s what dads do. They also make safety videos so you don’t hurt yourself playing in the yard.

*Thank you to my sister for being ever-present in my life even when we don’t speak. Also for the moonshine that tasted like paint thinner. You’re the best sister I’ve ever had.

Corporate ink stains – a tattood journey

Professionally speaking I must consider every action, my words are carefully calculated and my decisions are timed in general accordance with boosting the bottom line.

Personally however I live life on the edge. I make most of my decisions on the fly. I tornado into situations I probably shouldn’t, trapeze over pending doom without a blink and stumble into society with enough sarcasm sprinkled swear words to start a whole new language. That may be a slight exaggeration but you get the point.

While I look like a successfully employed woman, under my corporate skin is a delicately flawed masterpiece.

I love tattoos, I love the statement and sentiment and the art. I love how personal each is, how much goes into each and the emotion behind each story.

I love everything about them. Except the stigma in today’s professional environment.

This is an art form, in most cases well considered and powerfully meaningful.

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Historically people from all walks of life have been adorned with permanent ink. Royalty, warriors, sportsmen and poets. Ancestors of all nationalities, ages, and trades.

I am working on some new large pieces right now which speak to my soul. I also have several smaller works on my body, all of which I can easily cover. I am ready to cover for any situation which it is socially expected for me to do so. However, the temptation is great to get “just a little one” where it is easily visible in daily life. More visible than the ones already outside of the confines of my basic wardrobe. Just a little larger than the tiny open heart behind my ear, a little more obvious than the roman numerals of my wedding date across my foot.

Something a little more daring, a little more bold.

A bit more of a middle finger to the corporate world. A little declaration of my independence, a tiny flag flying in the face of conformity.

The love of my life for instance made a choice, much earlier than the choice to love me, to get a tattoo in a highly visible area. An ink stain handicap if you will – which is all society cares to see. It sits there defiantly on her hand just waiting to tell her truth, her unique story.

She is kind and smart and strong. She is a hard worker and a team player. She is articulate and personable.

Regardless of all of these things – in a corporate world she is simply a highly visible tattoo.

A closed door.

A rejection notice.

A “no” for any career with appearance requirements.

My desire to be unique, to express myself as an individual is stifled. Should I chose to follow my urge to expand my tattoo canvas I am a rebel. Not in such a way to be recognized as an individual but lumped together with real hardened societal taboos. The kind of harmful, dark and immoral sort of rejects you are kepttumblr_mg5rxmDtZW1rbraxfo1_500 safe from in your daily life.

Regardless of my offerings, talents and contributions, to be permanently inked in visible space is to reduce my chances of professional growth. Reduced chances by immeasurable calculations over the lifetime of my career. Considering I am foreverĀ  from retirement and have a half life yet to live I must tread a little more carefully.

I have to be very mindful not to make one of my impromptu life decisions which can not be easily reversed. My brain barely wraps around this rationalization and I must continually remind myself I would like to someday afford to retire to a beach. Painted toes in the sand and faded tattoos telling tales of my youth, the arrogance that comes with it and the love that compelled me to get them in the first place.

Until then I will wrap my art, continue on with my 9-5 and dream of the day when I can be free. I will display my inked skin without fear or rejection.

I will still be a rebel when I’m finished here, just on slightly different adventure with a few more tattoos and a way better tan.