My post from earlier this month, Midlife Rebellion (or Why I Decided to Get a Tattoo) got a little “Freshly Pressed” love and now I’m here to say it’s done, here’s a picture and here’s how it went down. Let me just get the obvious issue out of the way: ouch, ouch and #$%@ ouch! Yes, it hurt. This is an expected consequence for getting needles poked into your skin. It was manageable pain in the sense that I did not pass out, vomit or wail. Childbirth has a way of putting these things into perspective.
After filling out the requisite paperwork, showing my ID and approving a quick sketch, I waited in the studio’s reception area to be retrieved by the tattoo artist (tattooist? tattooer?). I had been referred to Shane Wallin, the owner of Twilight Tattoo in the Powderhorn neighborhood of south Minneapolis. His place is very, very mellow – from the anomaly of a small garden bed in front of the building to the warm earth-toned environment inside. Nice artwork, a clean setting, laid back staff – just a nice setup altogether. It gave me confidence that my tatted friends had not led me astray.
I sent Shane my idea for a tattoo in advance. I wanted something simple – a vine or tree representing my love of gardening and of my own personal growth, with my family’s initials worked into it. I wanted it on my inside forearm so I could see it. Thoughts of picking someplace hidden occurred to me briefly, but I did a trial run with some henna tattoos over the summer and decided that I liked it in plain view. He laid out the design for me and I asked that it be pulled back from the wrist a little for the option of a long sleeve cover up. I was thinking of funerals, which gives you my frame of mind for this appointment.
When I get nervous or anxious, I am unnaturally calm and quiet. I’d like to think I’d quickly develop rapport with someone preparing to poke me with needles, but my anxiety was pounding in every vein in my body and I could barely make eye contact, much less conversation. Shane was quiet and polite and got down to business quickly. When he said “Ready?”, I could barely answer as my eyes had been hypnotized by the big ass needles he had just ripped out of sealed packages. My mother and a nurse had to hold me down when I was 9 just to prick my finger for blood. Let’s see how me and the big ass needles play out.
During my research on tattoos, I read that the wrist and near the inside elbow crease would be painful due to all the nerve endings. This turned out to be fact for me and when he started at my wrist, I thought that I would have to wrap up the show early and leave with a solo leaf. The pain decreased as he worked his way up the arm – not sure if that was my adrenalin kicking in or a location issue. I didn’t watch him work for most of the time, but focused on breathing. Then he did that top leaf outline near the elbow and I was yelping in my head like one of those people trapped in their bodies who are only able to blink to indicate that they were still alive. Okay….breathe….I’m sure he’ll be done any minute.
The “problem” with going to someone good at their craft is that they take the time to do a good job. He kept psyching me out by carefully looking over his work and deciding something needed to be better. He’d set one needle down and I’d look up like an eager Labrador. We’re done, we’re done, right, we’re done? Then Shane would pick up the other needle gun thingy (yeah, my research didn’t involve much terminology) and do some more work. Finally it was done, he gave me the care instructions, I paid and headed for home.
I have to say I really, really like it. Which is probably a good thing. Since it’s a tattoo and all.