Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Little Later Than I Really Intended, Part I...

But I said I'd do it.  So here it is.

I got it done in 2010.  I thought about it for months before I got it done.  Which I highly recommend doing if you intend to have ink done.  It is not a decision to be entered into lightly.  It is PERMANENT and it HURTS.  Also, YOU WILL BLEED.  And not in a "oh, look at this little papercut on my pinkie" kind of way or a "I'm going to need stitches" kind of way.

It's exactly the kind of bleeding that makes sense in this situation, actually.  It's sort of an "hours of needles drilling into the layers of my flesh, but not actually piercing of cutting me" kind of bleeding.

Go figure.

Also, tattoos feel like exactly what you'd think they would feel like.  You know, if you sat and thought about it logically.  Which I only did after.

It kind of feels like someone is taking a vibrating needle and dragging it around on your bare skin.  Again, go figure.  Because that's pretty much exactly what it is.

And if you get color you get multiple needles.  It also feels like the artist is pressing harder.

There's also shading.  Imagine someone is scrubbing the same bit of your skin over and over again with a couple big needles.  Because that's pretty much what it feels like.

I'm not saying this to deter anyone from getting a tattoo.  I would never do that because I think they are beautiful.  But I also think they should be done for the right reasons.  And "I kinda like butterflies and swirly shit" is in no way, shape, or form a good reason to get a tramp stamp.

Unless you're over 40.  Then I figure you can pretty much do whatever you want.

In all reality, though, I am a firm believer in the symbolism of tattoos.  So here are both of mine.

Tattoo number one.


When I was in my early teens my mom told me elephants are good luck.  I locked that information away in my brain vault for a while and nearly forgot about it.  In 2008 (while I was living with Bambi) I was having trouble choosing a birthday present for her...  Until I saw a crystal figurine of an elephant.  It was perfect.  It even had a box with a shaped foam pillow.

When I gave it to her, she put the box on display in the dining room, but didn't take the elephant out of it.

During this time period I started having terrible stomach pains pretty much all the time.  I would wake up sick to my stomach every morning and I couldn't even think about food until mid-afternoon, so most days I wouldn't eat until after I got home from work.  My doctor had no idea what was wrong with me.  So she scheduled an ultrasound on my gut.

The ultrasound was first thing in the morning, which was terrible because my stomach was so sensitive that the slight pressure from the ultrasound was like someone grinding the end of a baseball bat into a bruise.  Bambi sat in the waiting room because the ultrasound room was small, but my mom came in.  I was lying on the table in my paper gown with my hands clasped protectively over my stomach when she reached into her purse and pulled out the box with the elephant in it.  Just in case we needed it.

After I moved out of my apartment we started collecting elephant paraphernalia.  Usually figurines and things.  But it became more than just luck.  It's more like a symbol for our bond now.  One that not even the worst relationship I could have ever imagined having could sever or damage.

When I started really thinking about getting a tattoo I pretty much automatically knew it was going to be an elephant.  I wanted it to be triumphant-looking with its trunk upraised.  Then I started thinking about what I wanted to incorporate because I initially assumed this would be my only tattoo as they aren't a great idea for opera singers to have.

I really like the idea of magical realism.  If you don't know what that is you're missing out on a very cool Latin American writing style and you should read some Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I knew I wanted to add something magical in there, not only because of this but also because I am so lucky and blessed to have overcome a lot of my past.  I didn't want it to be purely magic or cartoon-ish, however.  Then I stumbled across an image someone had drawn of an elephant with some stars on it.  There were several things I didn't like about it, but overall I thought the image was perfect.  And my artist is a rock star, so she just changed it and made it exactly what I wanted.  She added a moon and made some of the stars be "white on black" instead of "black on white".

The last part is the music.  Obviously I had to get some music.  And since I'm a soprano I definitely wanted a treble clef.  I also knew for sure I wanted it to come out of the elephant's trunk like water, which she did perfectly as well.  The notes are the very beginning of an aria from the opera Madame Butterfly called Un bel di.  I performed it in 2009 very shortly after I started singing again and I still feel a pretty deep connection with it.  The aria is the lead female character saying that one day her husband will return to her, then explaining what she will do when he arrives.

When I got my tattoo done I was in a very hard place with Bambi.  I had been dating someone else.  I tried to date this particular man twice but, wonderful as he was to me, he just couldn't compare.  I found myself getting angry with him frequently over little things and when I thought about it, the only reason I could find that I was really upset with him was that he wasn't Bambi.  So that didn't last very long.

From a time long before I moved out of my apartment I would wish every day that the person I had fallen in love with in 2007 would come back, but he just kept slipping further and further away from me.  At the time it seemed fitting that the music on my tattoo would be a song saying "one day he will return to me".  Though it may seem as if I would by now wish I had chosen another song that had different meaning, that is never a choice I've regretted.

To a point, I still feel that way.  I will always love him.  I will always want him to be the person I fell in love with, the person who loved me with all of his heart.  But he will always choose alcohol (among other things, now, I'm sure) above me.  I really don't think he will never be the person I would need him to be in order to spend my life with him.  So maybe he will return to me in another life.


  1. I can only say that I like post. Very, very much. My tree tattoo was a gift from my first serious ex-boyfriend. He had wanted to get me one for my birthday, yet even after we broke up two weeks before my birthday, he still wanted me to get it done. He didn't ask me to change it, and even out of all his vindictive acts and thoughts towards me afterwards, he never lourded it over me, never told me that I owed him for that tattoo. That tattoo was a symbol of my spiritual transformation, both of eating from the tree of wisdom and never going back, and also of the eternal symbol of the tree of Yggdrassil, that which connects all worlds. Sometimes I feel it was the hard proof that he could be a sincere person, and that doesn't spoil the tattoo for me, even though it would for some.

  2. That's good because you're tattoo is pretty awesome.