Posted in Body Politics, Commentary, Growing up/old

Illustrated Woman

I keep waiting to get to the point where I no longer have to be carded because my gray hair will speak for me, but apparently I am not there yet. My driver’s license is pretty gnarly because my dog (Rocky, Destroyer of Worlds, Civilizations, and Anything He Can Fit in His Cute Little Mouth) ate it. People suggest to me that I could easily get another one online. However, I seldom use it anymore, since I don’t write checks when I shop, and I’m not about to give The Man another eight bucks for the convenience of my doctor’s office’s little ID scanner. It’s a valid license, the tooth marks notwithstanding; its condition is their problem.

I had to produce that bit of plastic last Saturday, though, because Emily could not tattoo me until she’d examined it and made a copy of it on my intake sheet for good measure. (That’s Emily at Old Towne Tattoo on Speedway, and she’s excellent, so if you’re local and want ink, see her.)

Periodically over the last decade I have entertained thoughts of getting a tattoo, and have always wussed out in the end for various reasons, the top two being fear of pain and cost, in all probability, and no specific idea of what design I wanted. It’s probably a good thing I waited, though, because I was also entertaining getting one on my lower back before I’d ever heard the term “tramp stamp.” Cosmetic tragedy averted by ambivalence right there, I tell ya.

I can’t remember what fanned the tattoo-wanting flame this time from the nearly cold ember it’d been for some years, but it happened a couple of months ago. It might have been the positive reinforcement of my cool tattoo-having friends, at least in part. But for whatever reason, I started to look into it.

Being the geek I am, I did a lot of research on the subject. In the course of researching for a craft project, I ran across a design that stood up, grabbed my eyeballs with such force that I could feel its tiny virtual fingers leaving bruises on my corneas, and spoke right to my soul: “THIS IS IT! THIS IS WHAT YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR, AND DIDN’T EVEN KNOW IT!”

And it was. So I printed it, saved the website, and set it aside to think about it some more. In the meantime, I contacted a multi-tattooed friend to get a recommendation of someone I could trust to permanently mark my body. I mean, I permanently mark my body up all the time, but scars from one of my many stupid accidents don’t really count. She gave me Emily’s name.

I sat on it all for another month, trying to make up my mind, polling Scott hourly to determine whether or not he could continue to live with a tattooed wife, and he was helpfully agnostic on the whole endeavor. I bought temporary tattoo paper to make my own and try them out. (Don’t buy that stuff–it’s useless, by the way.) And I laughed at myself for my dithering. Was it really that hard to make a decision? I was 6 years old when I decided I wanted my ears pierced. That, too, was permanent, but involved zero dithering. I asked my mom and when she said “yes,” my only remaining question was “How soon can we go?” I think perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad thing, next time I have a decision to make, to ask myself what my 6-year-old self would do. (I’m ordering my “WWMSYOSD” bracelets immediately; they’ll be a huge hit.) It will save me endless overthinking. I think.

Anyway, I finally decided to go ahead and made the appointment for last Saturday. Once that was done, I slowly settled into a peace about the whole process. When the day came, I was only a teensy bit nervous, and that was only in anticipation of the pain. The number one question anyone has about tattooing is “How much does it hurt?” It hurt less than I feared, but it wasn’t painless. I wouldn’t want to do it every day; however, it was tolerable for the 40 minutes or so she worked on me. Scott and Beth accompanied me for moral support, and the 4 of us chatted easily throughout; I only winced twice.

When she was done, I had this:

Hummingbirds are sacred in many traditions. The Aztecs had a hummingbird god, Huitzilopochtli, who was a wizard and the god of the sun and war, and the bird itself is a ferocious defender of its territory. To the Tsimshian, the hummingbird was a messenger and mysterious traveler, and its appearance during times of sorrow and pain heralded healing. Other traditions note the hummingbird’s wing movement pattern, which forms the infinity symbol, and allows the bird to fly in any direction, or come to a complete stop while hovering and considering what to do next, suggesting that we, too, can transcend time, which is a merely a construct of this relative world, and go forward, backward, or step aside completely.  Hummingbirds, who drink nectar, remind us to drink deeply of life’s sweetness. And they are also known to be spirit messengers. All of these symbolic meanings have spoken to me at crucial moments in my life, giving me much needed reminders of bigger truths. Not to mention that they are neat little birds in their own right, amazing flyers and so powerful for their size. I keep two feeders in the yard to feed my little friends; we have four that frequent our yard, and I never tire of watching them.

So that’s the story of my new personal decor. It’s still healing, but nonetheless, I dig it. I feel like a total badass rock star with it, which, if I’m honest, is probably the reason I wanted it all along.




I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

6 thoughts on “Illustrated Woman

  1. It’s beautiful, Kristie! I am so impressed you did this and can hardly wait to see it in person. And, no, I’m not going to get one because needles terrify me. Instead, I shall live vicariously through viewing your meaningful hummingbird. And you totally are a rock star with or without your new body embellishment.

  2. I love it. Absolutely love it. It’s beautiful (and you’re right… Emily is an excellent artist; that work is superb). I’m glad you decided to take the plunge and become one of the inked nation.

  3. You are right! That tattoo is 100% you. Perfect!

    As soon as I realized this was a tattoo post I immediately scrolled through it to find a picture. But you were sly and hid it behind a cut tag… sneaky I tell you! But your strategy did persuade me to read the post as written and not skip ahead.

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