Black. Or colored. **Thick lines**. Or thin. Meaningful. Or void of meaning. Most people have a firm opinion of them - whether or not it's a //good// opinion is up for debate. Everyone knows someone who has one. Despite their popularity, they can still cause the owner ridicule, having passersby assume an apparent lack of safety and professionality. People with these are sometimes perceived as unkind. People make harsh, quick judgements about them. Yes, they're scars on your body that you're paying someone to put on you. [[But, life is short, right?]]In her book //Big Magic//, Elizabeth Gilbert recounts an interaction with a friend, wherein they discuss tattoos and their (im)permanence. Her friend explained that bodies are just temporary, and we're only here for a short time, so why not live life "as playfully and beautifully" as possible. This sentiment has stuck with me since I first read it in September [[2017->star]]
The concept has taken me through many explanations detailing why I chose to adorn my body with beautiful, deliberate scars.[[<img src="https://elenamacdonald.neocities.org/startat.png" width="50" height="50">->star]]
(align: "=><==")[[<img src="https://elenamacdonald.neocities.org/smileytat.png" width="50" height="50">->upside down]]
[[<img src="https://elenamacdonald.neocities.org/exclamationtat.png" width="50" height="50"->exclamation]]
(set: _alertText to (text-colour:"darkorange")) _alertText[Marigolds.] Another piece of ink I want carved on my body. In honor of my grandmother, [[Josephine.]] I don't know [[how she felt about tattoos->destroying]], but that's okay with me. I want her marigolds drawn on me. I want the bright yellow marigolds. I want the (set: _alertText to (text-colour:"darkorange")) _alertText[warm orange marigolds.] The ones that she grew in her garden.[[Upside-down smiley]]. January 2019.
One of my best friends and I went to get tattoos together. Honestly, the tattoos were overpriced (don't worry, I recognize "the craft" and all, but we gave the artist small designs that they executed in under 10 minutes //total// for //both// of us . . . if they were original designs, I'd understand a larger price point, but these were not original designs), but I was there with my best friend and had the money, so how mad could I really be?
She held my hand as the artist drew an upside-down smiley face on my arm, and I held her hand as she got her grandmother's handwriting etched onto her rib. [[It was lovely to have that experience with her.]]But I know I'm getting some questionable thoughts. Elena, a //smiley face// on your body //permanently?// Yes, I agree that it's a [[little silly->intent]]. But it has a lot of meaning to me. It represents my love for my favorite band. A band who also got me through my hardest times. They specifically got me through the hardest couple months of my life last year, when I often felt completely alone. Their music made me feel a little less alone.Tattoos have been around for a long time. From markings on Egyptian mummies to dots and crosses on Icemen. The Smithsonian claims that tattoos sometimes were given to provide protection using important symbols, as a means of differentiating between different groups of people, or, as many today occur, as a self-expression.
It's fascinating that in the past tattoos were given not solely to express and represent the self. As time has passed, it seems that tattoos have become more inclined towards an individualistic nature, rather than collective. Now, more than ever, tattoos are an art form, for both those who create and those who collect. The fact that tattoos are still around today, despite the changes of [[intent]], makes the art form [[even more special->marigolds]].
//But you're my perfect baby! Tattoos will ruin you! You'll never get a job! Everyone will think you're a deviant, and [[I know you're not a deviant.]] But maybe you are! Maybe I don't know my sweet baby girl anymore. How could you do this to me? Since you're half my DNA, you're basically [[destroying]] my body too! How does that make you feel because it sure does make me feel betrayed. And betrayed by my daughter . . . what worse a feat can a mother endure.//Light music in the background. I stare at the profane bumper stickers scattering the mirrors of Great Southern Tattoo Company. Stickers with vulgar language and naked women. I look at Drew, my artist. I am scared shitless. Void of emotion. Waiting for pain. Unclear of what to expect. Other than pain. I knew there would be [[pain]]. Grasping [[Sarah's->It was lovely to have that experience with her.]] hand for dear life. I look at the needle, and nausea runs through me. Do I want this? Yes - doubts aside, [[I want it]]. I need it.
<audio src="http://www.elenamacdonald.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Tattoo-Gun-SoundBible.com-1534918514.mp3" autoplay>//Woah, did they [[hurt?]]// Well, I'd kind of hope so, as it's many needles permanently scarring my body. . . That sounds morbid, but seriously? Why //wouldn't// it hurt? All of my tattoos hurt, but overall, the pain was [[mildly tolerable]]. Pain that I've kind of [[gotten used to->perceived as unkind]] as I have gotten more tattoos.She was immediately angry. She looked at me with such sorrowful rage. I didn't realize how much a change to //my// body would hurt //her//. I know she'd never do this. But we are different, independent people; she can't dictate my choices.
She looked at me as if she didn't even know me anymore. She looked at me with [[grief->regret]], as if she had truly lost me.
She walked away, and it [[hurt->But, life is short, right?]].[[Exclamation mark]]. I got it on [[Halloween]] 2018. I waited, I think, six hours at Figure 8 Ink, just so I could get $31 off the total cost.
Worth it.I was dressed up as Mia Wallace. My artist was dressed up as Bob Ross. For this tattoo, I was able to hold a conversation with my artist as she wrecked (mouseover-replace:"wrecked")[adorned] my skin with black ink. This one didn't hurt as badly.
The tattoo addiction was [[fueled->upside down]] here.
Convincing my mother took [[over six months]]. Russian woman approving of daughter's tattoos. . . it's funny if you think about it. But I pleaded and explained how much these [[drawings in ink->But, life is short, right?]] meant to me.
I told her how all of my tattoo plans had such significant meaning to my life. Like my concept associated with //Harry Potter//, which symbolized the lessons about goodness and bravery that the series taught me (I also explained how //she// was the one who started reading the books to me . . . so the tattoo would also show our shared connection with reading). I also explained that it would be my money, and [[it is my body.->But, life is short, right?]]Before I got my first tattoo, I thought all tattoos should have some [[beautiful, inspirational meaning->regret]]. Which is why my first tattoo has at least two meanings. Same followed suit for tattoos two and three.
But now, approaching future tattoo endeavors, I've reached a point, wherein I don't think tattoos necessarily need meaning (though I will consistently try to find meaning in all of mine). I think the [[aesthetic appeal->scars]] alone is enough reason to permanently adorn one's skin.December 23, 2017. [[My eighteenth birthday.]] I got three stars on my right arm on the inside of my wrist. To me, they represent my love for the world of //Harry Potter// and all of the beautiful lessons and inspirations I've learned from it, such as teaching me that love is more powerful than evil and all of that beautiful bullshit.
As I've grown older, I've pushed my love for the series aside, making way for new favorite novels. Despite that, I still love my tattoo and the series (though not the author). My tattoo is a reminder of how much the series impacted me in my younger years, so I am grateful for my tattoo.
But the stars don't //just// represent my love of a fictional world. They also represent light. My name means bright, shining light in Greek. When I think stars, I think of light. So to me, my stars //also// represent this reminder of self love. I came up with this second meaning days before I actually got the tattoo on my body and have kept the concept with me ever since.Needle makes contact. I look away because I know if I look I'll pass out. Sarah talks to Drew about Black Sabbath as he viciously (mouseover-replace: "viciously")[delicately] stabs (mouseover-replace: "stabs")[presses] my skin with an ink-filled weapon (mouseover-replace: "an ink-filled weapon")[a tattoo needle]. This is painful, I think to myself. Well, no shit, it's basically on bone.
But next thing I know, it's done. I look down. (set: _alertText to (text-colour:"red")) _alertText[Blood.] I see (set: _alertText to (text-colour:"red")) _alertText[blood.] Deep breath. That is //normal//. . . generally. I look past the drops of (set: _alertText to (text-colour:"red")) _alertText[blood] and see fresh ink on raw skin.
[[I smile brightly.->everyone]]
<audio src="http://www.elenamacdonald.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Tattoo-Gun-SoundBible.com-1534918514.mp3" autoplay>The exclamation mark represents my love for one of my [[favorite bands->upside down]], whose music has been with me since I was 12. I'd say a eight year long passion for a band is worth some permanent ink. They have been with me through the best and worst times of my life.
Been with me through the [[deaths of family members->marigolds]]. But also by my side during my attempts to get out of those dark places. There with me when I needed to blast music in my car and sing-scream loudly after a hard day. There with me during blissful car rides with my best friends.
The exclamation mark also is a reminder for me to stay excited about life. Whether or not it actually reminds me to be excited is debatable, but that was part of the intention, and I love it.I argued with her for months and consistently answered her questions (fears).
She was concerned about tattoos preventing me from getting a job in the [[future,]] so I explained how my [[first one->star]] would be in somewhere that's fairly hidden and easy to conceal, and I explained how my future career path doesn't really give a shit about ink on your body.
She was concerned with the idea of infections, so I researched the prospective tattoo shops beforehand and told her they were all trustworthy, showing her the numerous Yelp reviews. I even shared how one of my friends had gotten a tattoo at the main shop I was looking at, and she and her tattoo were totally fine.
She sent me a video about [[regret and tattoos.->intent]] She made me watch it. So I watched it, like three times. It did not stop my infatuation with tattoos. [[Because I knew I wouldn't regret this one.]] She was worried about the [[pain]], so I explained how the first one I wanted would be small, so it wouldn't hurt as bad.
My continuous nagging eventually paid off. She caved. She explained how she realized that getting a tattoo is not an act of rebellion or defiance. She finally understood my perspective about the art form.
She understood that this was a rational choice I was making: a serious, permanent, rational choice. She finally understood that I knew the risks involved and was still interested.
Now, she's planning on paying for a future tattoo for me that is in Russian, in her handwriting, of a quote from one of her favorite Russian novels. I can't wait to have that on my body forever, to show how much she means to me.//Is it really worth the pain?//
I think so. Granted, all of my tattoos have been like five minute increments of pain.
But the longer the piece, the longer the pain. And the longer the pain, the bigger the piece. And if you're willing to spend that much time, money, and skin on a [[piece of art->Meaningful]], I bet it will be worth it. People are shocked to hear that I have tattoos. I currently have three. All not //clearly// visible unless I hold out my arms in a specific position. I like that, [[for now->marigolds]], they're partially concealed. I like hearing the shock in people's voices when they first approach me about them. Some of my friends and teachers even told me they thought my first tattoo was a drawing and assumed maintaining its appearance was part of my daily routine.When I was younger, we'd drive to her house and immediately see her hard at work. She'd wave at us with her dirt covered gloves, grinning hard at us. I'd sit on her porch and [[watch her work.->My eighteenth birthday.]] I'd sometimes contribute, but how could I when she had already mastered the art of making a beautiful, scenic view.
I miss her and her compassion and her kind heart and her gardening dearly.//You'll regret those eventually.// For starters, [[I know some people who do,]] but I am not one who does or ever will, I think. Each of my tattoos has multiple meanings, which is my way of eliminating any possibility for regret. I made sure each of my tattoos has enough meaning, so I can never get angry with myself for my choices.//Don't you know that those will look weird when you're [[old->Josephine.]] and wrinkly?// No. Well, they might. But my thought is that I'll hopefully remember that they were things that I loved and things I wanted on my body forever when I got them, so there must be some meaning behind them, right?But the pain depends on the design and [[placement->contemplated designs,]]. Larger pieces will generally be more painful, due to the amount of contact of needle on skin. When thinking about pain and tattoos, the places on your body with more fat will //generally// be the less painful spots. All of mine are small and took, at most, five minutes to execute. Some of my tattoos were also on places further away from [[bone->But, life is short, right?]], which helped with the pain.
And also pain is a relative concept, so tattoos will feel different for [[everyone]].I understand that not everyone has this [[love affair->But, life is short, right?]] with tattoos. And I get it. Well not really, but I empathize.
I get that it's not everyone's "thing." I know that some people get one and are done forever. I get that some people want one but would never for a long list of many reasons (excuses).
[[But they're my thing.->my own]]I knew I needed to get a symbol for them on my body. Their //After Laughter// record means the world to me. It was a change in music for them, so I knew I wanted something related to that record. When I saw them perform live in June 2018, the lead singer explained how this change was super important to all of the members, as they all had gone through a lot of shit in their lives, and this album was the result of getting through those hard times.
When I [[contemplated designs,]] their song "Fake Happy" came to mind. It has the symbol of an upside-down smiley face on the single and throughout the music video, which I thought was interesting.There is a specific way you're supposed to place tattoos; they're supposed to be completed with the viewer in mind, so if you have a symbol that faces you, it's //technically// upside down (I learned this lesson as my previous tattoo artist gave me an upside down exclamation point that also happens to look like the [[Incredibles "I"->But, life is short, right?]]).
This got me thinking. I took this concept as an opportunity to use the placement to my advantage. So I got an upside-down smiley on my arm. It's a sad face to everyone but me. I wanted it to remind me that I have to put myself first sometimes. I wanted it to remind me that the only opinion that should matter to me is [[my own]].
It also holds the meaning of the song it was inspired by. The song relays how everyone is "fake happy" and how people cover up their feelings. I got it as a reminder to try and stay in tune with my emotions. And as a reminder that I am not alone in my feelings. That I'm not the only one who feels shitty sometimes. I love this tattoo dearly despite it's silly design.