INKED IN NYC: Part 2

In case you missed it, I wrote all about my thoughts on tattoos and the background of my first two in this post. For your own sanity and to avoid boring my readers (and by readers I mean my mom, my boyfriend, and my grandma), I decided to break up the post into two sections. I know you’ve all been waiting on pins and needles to find out about my other two tattoos, so here you go:

3) When I was little, whenever I had to do something I was nervous about, my grandma, Mimi, and my grandpa, Papa, would tell me they were each on my shoulders helping me. Imagining them there encouraging me when I was feeling uneasy about something always helped me to feel a bit more courageous and confident. Papa passed away in 2007. In his final days, my mom sat with him in his hospital room and asked him tons of questions about life and his philosophy on it. Thinking he might have some kind of profound statement about religion as he neared the end of his life, she asked him to tell her his beliefs. He said, “heaven is at 21215 Eaton Road and anyone who wants to can join us there”. 21215 Eaton Road is the address of the house my mother grew up in and where my grandparents lived for over 60 years.

Two years after my grandpa died, I wanted to create some type of image or symbol that would represent him and my childhood with my grandparents. I came up with a multitude of crazy ideas including pencil drawings of quartered egg sandwiches which reminded me of Mimi, and garbage bags full of shucked corn on the cob which reminded me of Papa. I decided that I wanted to include their address in my drawing and started writing it over and over (as I did with tattoo # 1) in different scripts. My good friend, Pauline, suggested that I get a drawing of their house with the address underneath. She drew me an example of what she was envisioning and there it was, my third tattoo! I got it on the upper right side of my back so my grandparents would forever be where they always promised they’d be, on my shoulder.

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A week after getting the tattoo, I traveled to Ohio to visit my family for Christmas. I took a close up picture of it, framed it and left it for my grandma under the Christmas tree. When she opened it, she looked at me quizzically, wondering why I’d given her a framed drawing of a house. I started to strip for her, as you do on Christmas day with your family, to reveal the tattoo on my shoulder. Mimi started crying and laughing and said, “I never thought I’d like a tattoo on my grandchild so much”.

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In the interest of full disclosure, contrary to the picture, my grandparents’ house does not have a red front door. In fact, it looks nothing like that drawing. It’s the thought that counts though, right?

4) The Worry Tree- When I was little, my mom often told me bedtime stories. She created many fictional tales which contained thinly veiled moral lessons, this one was about a magical garden. Prior to entering the garden, you were required to pin all of your worries to the “worry tree” because worries were not allowed inside the garden. There was a mouse named “Mousy” who lived in the garden. He lived in a tree and he only ate orange foods such as oranges, orange marshmallow peanuts, carrots, etc. I’m not sure what the motive was behind Mousy’s involvement in the story besides being a cute rodent with very specific dietary needs.

Two years ago I decided I wanted a tattoo which represented my relationship with my mom and a memory we shared. We went to a coffee shop around the corner from our apartment and starting drawing images from the stories she used to tell. She combined the worry tree with the tree Mousy lived in and it was a perfect representation of one of my favorite bedtime stories.

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About a week later, on my way to a guitar lesson in an area of Brooklyn that I don’t remember the name of, I walked by a new tattoo parlor. Since I was quite late for my lesson I kept on walking, but on my way back to the subway I noticed boxes and boxes of pizza inside the tattoo parlor. Naturally I went in. I presented them with my tree drawing (which was at that point serving as a bookmark), and they connected me with one of their tattoo artists. While he drew up a version of the tattoo, I ate free pizza and pondered the idea of a full tattoo sleeve ’cause go big or go home, right?

Jon Boy hard at work.
Jon Boy hard at work.

Eventually, we decided on a size and location for the worry tree and the tattoo artist started scratching it on. We got to talking and it turned out we went to the same church in Manhattan. In the hour that it took to draw the tree and the mouse on my leg, “Jon Boy” and I talked about Christianity, Jesus, interpretations of the bible and our personal experiences of Faith. He said he felt he was meant to be a tattoo artist to spread a message of love in an industry that was often lacking it. Since tattooing me, Jon Boy’s career has blown up and he is now tattooing celebs like Hayley Baldwin and Kendall Jenner. You’re welcome, Jon Boy. (Jk, this obviously has nothing to do with me and everything to do with how talented and wonderful Jon Boy is.)

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So there you go. Now you know why you might see a tiny mouse peeking out from the hem of my shorts or a little house on my right shoulder. What about you? What do you have? What do you want? What do you seriously regret? Let me know!

 

INKED IN NYC: Part 1

When I was in high school it was really cool to go down to St Marks and get your belly button pierced, your cartilage pierced, or a small, questionable-in-taste tattoo, without your parents permission. Somehow I got through these formative years un-inked. This is good because at the time I wanted either a fish or a sea-horse tattooed somewhere on my body…most likely my lower back, as you do when you’re 17. I did however leave high school with 6 piercings and have since obtained four tattoos.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they could never get a tattoo because they fear they would regret whatever it was they permanently inked on their body. I get this perspective, however it hasn’t been my experience. One of my tattoos doesn’t feel relevant to my life anymore, but it reminds me of a special experience and group of people so it still holds a lot of meaning.

I love hearing what people’s tattoos mean to them and I always have people asking what the significance of mine are. Here’s a little bit about each one in order of their acquisition:

1) “Jump” When I was in high school I was one of 7 seniors to lead the annual junior retreat known as “Kairos”. As a Kairos leader, I had to give a speech to the Junior class about a meaningful experience that changed my life. The retreat itself was full of tears and sentimentality, so you really had to be ready wear your heart on your sleeve. While I prepared to leave for the weekend retreat, I was a bit nervous about sharing something that was so personal with fifty 16-year-old girls. My step-dad, Larry came into my room and said “Imagine you are on the dock in Maine” (oops back track, I used to spend my summers on a tiny island in Maine…ok back to present-past time). He said “Whenever you are getting ready to jump, you are always nervous about the fall and how cold the ocean water will be. But after you come out, the sun warms you and you feel so refreshed. Imagine this experience is like that. You will be nervous at first but once you’ve done it, you’ll be glad you did”.

Mom mid "jump".
Mom mid “jump”.

After Larry said this, I immediately wrote “jump” in sharpy on my wrist and looked at it throughout the weekend. A year later, while on winter vacation from College, my mom, Larry, grandma, aunt, uncle and I were eating at a breakfast spot in Greenwich Village.  While we ate I scribbled the word jump over and over on the paper table-cloth. I decided on a version that I liked and Larry and I walked around the corner to a tattoo parlor on Bleecker (which no longer exists). The tattoo artist looked at me funny when I handed him my scribble because 1) he wondered why I didn’t want to choose a typed font since my hand writing isn’t so gorge and 2) he wondered if I was perhaps suicidal or just crazy? But I stuck with my paper table-cloth version. Ten minutes and $70 later I had my first tattoo!

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2) Here is the one that doesn’t feel so relevant any more. I’ll give you some background. In my junior year of college I took the advice of tattoo #1 and got up the cajones to audition for the university’s annual musical. This year’s  production was “Hair” and I was dying to play Chrissy. I was cast in said role and had one of the best experiences of my life spending two months with an amazing group of people. Being that “Hair” was set in the ’60s and was meant to embody love, peace, and heavy use of hallucinogens, we were encouraged to work hard at bonding with one another and developing a “tribe”. We did develop that tribe and really felt close to one another, spending every day together rehearsing, meditating and eventually getting completely nude on stage.

"Let the sunshine..."
“Let the sunshine…”

When the show closed, a group of us took a road trip to NYC for the weekend. Three of us out of that group felt strongly that we wanted to remember our time doing “Hair” and what it embodied for us so we went down to the village to get matching tats. We each got an “om” sign tattooed over our rib cage. This is my favorite part of the story: after getting our matching tattoos we went to one of our friend’s older brother’s apartments in Bushwick. There were 7 people living in the dirtiest loft you’ve ever seen with graffiti on the walls, ladders leading up to bedrooms you didn’t even know were bedrooms and makeshift wooden doors separating each “room”. When we got there, the girlfriend of the brother of the friend looked at our tattoos and said “wow…that’s sooooo cliché”. I was initially pretty offended but then I thought “lady, you live in a hipster loft in Bushwick Brooklyn. You couldn’t be more cliché if you were drinking kombucha out of a mason jar”, and I quickly got over it.

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To be continued…