Tattoo Accomplished: The Follow Up

This is the day after, a little pink as my body kicks its inflammatory healing campaign into action and a little shiny from an application of Vitamin A & D ointment.

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.

49 thoughts on “Tattoo Accomplished: The Follow Up

  1. Nice tat, and I gotta say, you got bigger stones than I do! (On the other hand, I’ve jumped out of a bunch of airplanes, so I don’t feel too bad.) If I ever could decide what I wanted, and did make the leap, it would have to be somewhere I feel the least pain (Craig Ferguson has mentioned how much the inner wrist hurts when he got his “Don’t Tread On Me” tattoo… the thought makes me cringe).

    Lots of pain-killing alcohol would probably be required as well…


    1. I wanted to jump out of a plane in my 20s, but I was too chicken (and on my international booze tour). I wanted to run a marathon in my 30s, but was working too much to commit. In my 40s, the tattoo thing seemed more manageable, less time consuming and just freaky enough to make me feel like I was daring.


  2. Beautiful tattoo!! I’ve thought of getting one, but could never decide on a design, so I don’t have one. Or maybe I just decided I really didn’t want one that badly! But yours is fantastic!!!


    1. Thank you – it took me several months to come up with an idea that I thought I could live with. Shane did such a wonderful job on it – it came out better than anything I could imagine.


  3. Congrats on the Tattoo! It’s a really lovely design. In about a week it will be over the hump and healing up – sometime after that you will start thinking about your next one:)


      1. (sorry I spammed you a bit with all the comments on your posts. I was just getting caught up, and of course I couldn’t resist commenting on the FP and tattoo story!) Glad that tattoo hasn’t washed off yet. 😉


        1. No worries – I’ve got to sit here anyway or else I am going to be incredibly behind (which is remarkably different from having an incredible behind). The English language is a lot of fun.


  4. Hi I just found you after creating my new blog today. I love the tattoo I got on my wrist at age 54 a few years ago! It makes me smile every time I see it! Yay for us brave women!


  5. Oh my god, I love it! Good for you!

    The design I’m planning on is very simple, but I’m still terrified — and I’m NOT afraid of needles! I’ll have to channel some of your strength when I go. 🙂

    PS – I used to live in Minneapolis! Midwest high-five!


  6. I read this after reading your ‘Midlife Rebellion’ post. I can so relate to your reasons to have a tattoo – life with a little rebellion is so much more fun 🙂
    I am still trying to figure out what I’m going to do myself this decade 😉


  7. Whether we do crazy or challenging or just new things, they are what keeps life interesting.
    You are a great writer – I look forward to continue reading your posts and wish you all the best with your novel.


  8. Hey there, I’m a tattooist from Australia and just read this after your midlife rebellion post. It’s really cool to see things from the other perspective -why you decided to do it and all – since it’s my job tattoos seem so normal to me now and it’s easy to forget how big a deal they are for people .I came from a poor and Christian upbringing too ,I ended up tattooing to make money to raise my kids- I’m only just learning this whole blog business though, I’m so bad at technology! So i guess everyone is out of their depth somewhere eh ;D … you write well, so thanks, it was a pleasure to read. And the artist who did your tattoo did a really nice job 🙂


    1. Welcome to blogging and thanks for sharing your experience. I have to believe that in being a tattooist, you must have an astounding level of self-confidence – sticking needles in jumpy, nervous people (maybe that was just me).

      I think it’s always good to be a little out of one’s depth – keeps life interesting. I really like the work that Shane did as well. A year later, it still looks vibrant and lovely. Thanks for your kind words about the writing and I wish you well on your blogging journey!


  9. I like your tattoo. I got my first (and only) one a few years ago. I love text and words, so I have my son’s birthplace written along the outside of my foot. I still get shocked comments when I’m wearing flip flops or low-cut shoes and people notice it for the first time because I’m quite straight laced and, dare I say it, boring. If I could do it again, I’d get something on my wrist, instead.


    1. Thanks! It’s been over a year for me and sometimes at school events, I’ll wear long sleeves. It’s my own prejudice, though, because I’ve never gotten anything but compliments and everyone else keeps their thoughts to themselves. I’m a relatively conservative person in terms of dress and conduct, so this was a big deal to me, but if I do something, I tend to go big! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


  10. I’m not sure why WordPress chose to send me to these old posts, but I hadn’t seen your latest Freshly Pressed or your tattoo! I love it! I was thinking of one of those nice little roses on your upper arm or something. This is, well, it’s THERE. Awesome! Hope yo are doing well.


    1. Thanks, Melanie. I’m finally returning after a summer hiatus. I just needed to re-set and decide what my intentions were for blogging and you know, life. Usually if I decide to do something that scares me a bit, I go big! Hope all is well with you, too – I know it’s been a tough year for you.


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