Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tattoos in Progress, Contests, and Interviews

Before we get into ink stories, I want to let you know that the first of a slew of interviews and contests and such has posted.

You can win a signed copy of I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE on Book Chic's blog. He's been doing tons of amazing book giveaways all month long and he wanted to include my book, which is a big a honor. So yeah, go check out his blog and enter to win!

The fabulous, up-and-coming YA author Tara Kelly (her book HARMONIC FEEDBACK comes out in Spring 2010 and I totally can’t wait for it) has interviewed me about my road trip to publication and some other fun facts on her blog. It was a really fun interview and I blathered quite a bit, so check it out! Though now I am about to blather quite a bit here….

So as I mentioned, I got some ink this weekend. It was the first sitting so the piece is not complete and will not be until the weekend after I get back from tour/vacation because I need to let this part heal and then I can’t do anything more right before tour/vacation because I’m going to a hot, sunny place and it’s not good to expose fresh ink to the sun. Before I show off what I just got, I need to explain the history of the ever evolving art on my right arm.

I got my first tattoo on my seventeenth birthday, July 13, 1996. You had to be 21 in the Chicago area at the time, but I told my parents it was the only thing I wanted and that I needed parental consent. My parents are both nurses, so they agreed to this only after a consultation with my doctor (who said it’s fine as long as the place was sanitary) and an inspection of the place where I was going to get it done. My dad went to the parlor, asked all the appropriate public health questions and signed the parental consent form. He also drove me to my tattoo appointment on my birthday. I can’t remember if he stayed or not. I just have this vague recollection of him in business clothes looking utterly out of place with the heavy metal types at the tattoo parlor.

I wanted an arm band of female signs going around my right arm. Very simple. Here's the best one I have of it. Me and my friend Eryn in 2002 or so....

I think it cost me about forty bucks and took about half an hour. The store owner, a guy named Spider, told me not to go all the way around the arm because it was my first tattoo and he’d “seen marines cry” getting tattooed on the underside of their arm. I took his advice, though I don’t remember it hurting too badly, but I had a high pain tolerance then. I just remember it sort of sucked having to go straight to work bagging groceries afterward and since then I have always tried to get my birthday off of work. But my co-workers, mostly girls in their late teens and early twenties from the West Side of Chicago, thought I was so hardcore. Some apprentice of Spider’s did the work. The symbols are kind of uneven and Spider would later have to attempt to fix them. My second tattoo by that apprentice about six months later was even worse and I’ve been trying to figure out how to cover it up or fix it for awhile. But at the same time it’s a part of me, it expresses my messed-up teenage self a little bit, so maybe I’ll leave it alone.

I’ve always known that I would never cover the armband, only add to it to try to distract from its imperfections and also because I don’t like such simplistic designs anymore. In 2004 (or 2005 maybe?) I decided to add a logo that the band Hole used on the liner notes to my favorite album of theirs, Live Through This. It’s a little witch inside a heart. I put that above the armband and then the words Live Through This in Polish below it. Why Polish? Because that’s my matrilineal heritage and this is my feminist tattoo. So this is how it looked up until Sunday:

Sunday I added the beginning of something new to it, the music to the song I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. My friend Jenny Hassler transcribed it for me and my tattoo artist came up with something pretty cool when I told him vaguely that I wanted the music to sort of swirl in a wavy way around my arm. I didn’t really think he’d be able to incorporate the older parts of the tattoo, but he has. Right now it is just lines of the music staff which he freehanded. Sitting number two, he will add all the notes, add some shading, color in the heart from the Hole logo, and add the five guitar picks from the cover of my book in various places around this:

My boyfriend points out that I will still have a lot of space on the back of my arm. One day I may be ballsy enough to fill that. It didn’t make me cry (though I expected it to be the worst pain of my life thanks to Spider’s build up), but it was pretty damn uncomfortable and fortunately Scott struck up a conversation with my tattoo artist so I had something to focus on. But the next plan, which will have to be put into action when I officially decide not to be a part of the normal work world anymore, is to get my muse tattooed on my lower arm. She’s a fairy reading a book that my friend Kevin drew for me, but I’ll probably let the tattooist take further. I know now that I want her to be wearing headphones for example.

So yeah, that’s my tattoo. On the most surface level, it’s my tribute to all the female musicians who have influenced me. I salute them with the female signs, I reference my favorite band hole, and I incorporate a symbol of my book which was my ultimate tribute to them. But there is a much deeper meaning to the tattoo. Put simply it shows my progression from teenage feminist to twenty-something survivor to published author. Writing, music, and feminism, the three things that got me through.

I wrote more about that, really intensely personal stuff because my tattoos usually have a basic story and then a really personal one. I need to sleep on whether I will share this one, but I probably will. I just wanted people to have a chance to comment on happy tattoo stuff before I tell deep personal tales, so yeah. Lemme know what you think.


Annika said...

Wow! I haven't seen it since it was just an armband, and the progression is incredible to see all at once! I love the way it's turning out, imperfections and all.

keri mikulski :) said...

Love it. And I love hearing about the significance. You're inspiring me to add something to the little daisy on my toe. :)