My Tattoo

About My First Tattoo

Well, I got a tattoo the other day (Friday, July 11, 2008).  As I’m sure anyone will tell you, it is a personal experience and so I thought I’d share mine, for those people that just have to know why, at 36, I did it.

tattooforearm

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Where Was It Done?

I had my tattoo done at Fleshworks in Victoria.  http://www.fleshworks.ca.  I chose them because of their insistence on a clean and safe operation (and it was apparent as soon as I arrived, shoes off, they were wiping everything I touched :).  As well, we ‘tattoo virgins’ didn’t feel judged when we entered, the folks were very friendly (I know, an oxy moron comment I’m sure, from their opinion, but it did matter to us … by the way, Wendy got her nose pierced with a pretty/elegant and small nose stud, because she got tired waiting for me – though she has wanted one for a long time).

Who Did It?

The dude at the parlour.  I would have sworn he said his name was Justin, but I see via their website (no pictures of either) that it must have been either Jessy or James (yes, I realize that is funny) – either way, I had a good chat with him, wish I could remember his name.

What Was the Experience Like?

Well, we walked in and had a good chat with them.  Walk-ins aren’t that common as you typically work with the artist but I was able to provide my own artwork (it was a star for crying out loud, PowerPoint was all I needed ;).  They had the time to proceed, so I took off my shoes, paused for a second to make sure I wanted to do it still and then, I sat in the chair.  Prep took a little while and we worked for a minute on placement.  Then it was time to start.  Certainly, the most painful part was the outline, as it is a single needle and felt kind of like your skin was fbeing sliced with a surgical knife. The difference was, it didn’t hurt after – it was just for the actual time it touched the skin. It wasn’t too bad at all.  It took a little over an hour but I think it was partly because we were chatting away with each other, sharing several stories and opinions.  Pretty much like getting a haircut except this dude’s haircut is permanent. 🙂  The ‘filling’ in took the longest, but as it was something like 6 needles together, it was more of a scratching like sensation, only getting sensitive the closer it got to the inside of my elbow (skin was softer there I guess).  It really wasn’t a big deal.

When it was done, a black bandage was put on it, much like that that a steak sits in, at the supermarket – I guess my arm was pretty much a steak for the first few hours :). We then went to see a movie (Wanted, with Angelina Jolie – it was good).  Got home, took the bandage off, showed the mother in law, washed it and went to bed.  I’m writing this now two days later and it just feels like they said, like a sunburn.  At this point, its starting to dry and peel a bit and so I’m putting a very liberal amount of lotion on it and its supposed to be all done/healed in another 8 days or so.

Why Did I Do It?

Hmm, long question, lots of answers so I’ll bullet them.

  • I felt like it
  • I’ve been considering it for 13 years (first thoughts were when Wendy and I were married in Vegas, we actually went looking for tattoo parlours to get a ‘tiny elvis’ done on my ankle, so he’d stick out of my sock – gotta say, I’m glad I never got that one done though I have ZERO regrets about this one, and finally having it).
  • I’ve had a rough go lately personally with the death of a very dear friend, the breakup of a band that stopped being fun (and music was a big reason why I came back to Canada) and a whole bunch of other stuff – for the most part though, this was also a reminder to have fun and not to take life so seriously.  I did it for me and for a personal reminder to myself of what I feel is important – see what it means to me, below.

What Does It Mean To Me (a Star)?

Another good question, so I’ll bullet it as well.

  • I will say, being a somewhat careful sort, I did do some research to make sure I wasn’t all of a sudden going to piss someone off due to it having some deep, dark meaning or something. For most, its considered a ‘Nautical Star’ though it isn’t exactly the typical type (see: Nautical Star Shape – http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b4/Nautical_star.svg/500px-Nautical_star.svg.png).  The Nautical Star represents ‘finding home, about home, getting home’, etc. to sailors (from what I understand) and in the end, that was pretty important to me, though as you’ll see with the list below, not the sole reason – My Mom (who hasn’t yet seen it and I’m not even sure she knows – funny, I’m 36 and still stressed about what Mom and Dad think, guess that means I care about what they think still – love you guys, it’s permanent, so get over it) and my Gran have always been the family’s “family gatherer’s”, ensuring we get together as often as possible, and I appreciate that – I like being home and seeing my family, even if sometimes they make me mental – so Mom (and Gran), this is also for you 🙂
  • I’m a Rock Star – or at least I like to think so.  I started in Music and have been successful at it, when I’ve applied myself. I learned a long time ago I’d starve doing music in Victoria and got a *real job* (www.itgroove.net), and moved to Bermuda (and thus now, I can afford to really enjoy music and I’m also reminding myself with this thing, to keep enjoying it and remove the elements that work against that).  So now, I’m a geek by day, and only a Rock Star at night.  Every Rock Star needs to act like one … if only a bit. I’ve never smoked, done drugs, rode motorcycles (does the Bermuda scooter count?) or nailed hotel room furniture to the ceiling.  It took me 36 years (or roughly 25 as a musician) to get this, and I like it
  • Speaking of Rock Stars – I’ve used a term/compliment in the office (since I hired employees) that do good work, which it so happens is “Rock Star” or “You’re a Rock Star”.  So there you have it, this is also to remind me to be a Rock Star, whether it be in music or just doing something really well
  • To be honest, besides the “Rock Star” thing, I think a big part of the meaning for me relates to Converse Shoes (ya, really) – www.converse.com.  I always liked them and have pretty much always had a pair or more active in my closet.  I like them due to their ‘casual’ and ‘fun’ nature and that they, themselves, are kind of rock and roll shoes too – their logo is basically a simple star, just like mine
  • I liked the simple nature of the star – I didn’t want anything complicated – I like things simple, black and white, 1 or 0 (usually) – I don’t think I ever considered anything like a lion, hawk or something – that just wouldn’t be me
  • Finally, I’ve heard others say that the star for them symbolizes something, for each point on the star.  This being a five point star, I’ve decided (at least for now, I reserve the right to change what each means, depending on the event or how many pints I’ve had), that the 5 points for me are:
    1. Family/Love
    2. Music
    3. Success
    4. Honesty/Integrity
    5. Friendship

Where Did The Idea Originate From?

Well, again, it’s been floating around in my head for a long time (13 years, maybe longer).  In the end, it started with wanting one.  Then about 8 years ago, a friend at the time got a tattoo on his left forearm and I always liked where it was positioned – it looked kind of like a sun (though not exactly like this, I suppose this is close enough for reference – http://www.pinoytattoos.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/philippine-sun-tattoo02.jpg). Then last year, while at West Edmonton Mall, a guy there had pretty much exactly what I have (a large star, left forearm).  He was operating the trampoline/harness ride there (how’s THAT for detail). I instantly felt that was what I wanted.  But, besides peaking my head in a few tattoo parlours while in Edmonton, that was the end of that and it took a whole year to finally get around to it (or get motivated, as I said, by recent events).

More recently, Wendy and I decided we were going to get tattoo’s (or I was and she *might*).  We discussed doing it as a 13th wedding anniversary thing but waited until it had passed as that was also my Mom’s birthday (see again Mom, I’m looking out for you – could you IMAGINE if I presented it to you on your birthday?  I’d NEVER hear the end of that – christ, she still calls me in the middle of the night on MY birthday to remind me that X years ago she remembers the pain of birth ;).

So, Wedding Anniversary passed (and Mom’s birthday, whew, made it!) and we had a date night – dinner and a movie and during the day, a personal decision about proceeding. I made a few phone calls, checked out parlours online, fired up PowerPoint (by the way, the blue outline was a zero hour decision, just before leaving to go to Fleshworks…), printed it and jumped in the car.

And that’s it.

Comments/Reactions So Far:

On telling a few friends I had gotten one, but it was still covered (the unveil hadn’t occurred):

  • Is it the itgroove logo? (never crossed my mind, though it would be good branding 🙂
  • Every drummer should have one (see? 🙂
  • What took you so long? (see? 🙂
  • You’re finally a rock star (see? 🙂

Those who have seen it:

  • Kids – I drew the star on my arm a week ago to see if I still liked it and could live with it and kept it on for a day or two – as soon as Evan saw it he said “Cool Dad!” – frankly, that was the closer for me…
  • My Grandmother (Nanny) – she didn’t even notice it for the first 20 minutes we saw her today – but besides some inquisitive questions about it hurting, etc. and what it meant, I thought her reaction was pretty cool – she was cool
  • My sisters – some emails are flying around right now and it seems neither thought I would do such a thing – little did they know this has been a long plan fulfilled 🙂
  • My parents – at this writing, they don’t know… funny, I’ve actually told them in an email, though I was cheeky about it 🙂 – I sent an email saying that Wendy had gotten her nose pierced (in extra large typefont) and that I thought it was pretty, etc.  Then, in teeny tiny typeface (and a lighter shade of grey) I put “oh ya, and I also got a tattoo” – Ain’t I a stinker? 🙂
    • Update: My dad has now seen this page.  I got simply “No Comment”.  Good enough for me I guess… 🙂
    • Update: My mom has now seen it. She said “Yeech” – I had to look it up in the urban dictionary – I hope she didn’t mean #3 (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=YEECH)

Finally, One Final Note…

So, I thought this was funny.

  • I said to the Tattoo artist “This is my one and only tattoo. I’m a simple guy and I want a simple tattoo”.
  • He replied “Ya, that’s what they all say”.  Later he mentioned he was one of only a few “licensed drug dealers in Victoria” – by which he meant, people get addicted to tattoo’s. I laughed it off, never giving it another thought.
  • Then a while later I asked him what his first tattoo was.  He pointed to his left elbow.  It was a big, plain star.  Uh-Oh!!

PS…

This wasn’t my mid-life crisis.  I’m not wasting a perfectly good mid-life crisis on just a tattoo.  That’s when I’m going to get a kick ass SUV or something. Maybe a Hybrid Land/Range Rover…

Sean Wallbridge

Sean Wallbridge-square-150x150

Beer Me!

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