tattoo follies

i haven’t really been spreading the word about this, but…i’m going in for a new tattoo tomorrow. it will be my first tattoo in over three years. it’s going to be a half-sleeve portrait of charlotte: my memorial tattoo for her.

i made an appointment to discuss art with the same guy who did my awesome pterodactyl shoulder tattoos just a couple of days after charlotte died. it’s going to be extra-complicated by virtue of the fact that it will be a cover-up as well. i’m finally losing the totally dumb tattoo i got on my arm when i was 17. honestly, this is why minors aren’t generally allowed to get tattoos. they put the dumbest pieces in the best real estate because they just don’t know any better.

anyway, i left ramona with jared so i could talk art with the guy, thinking it would take like twenty minutes. i told jared, “i should be back by 3:30pm.” but 3:30pm came & went & the guy still hadn’t come out to meet me. the receptionist was like, “he’s finishing up a piece for someone else, it’ll be just ten more minutes…just five more minutes…he’s almost done…he’s just wrapping it up now.” finally i was like, “look, i was supposed to be home by now & i have a month-old baby waiting on me. this needs to happen in the next five minutes or i’m leaving.” so he finally came out to meet with me.

he told me to drop off a selection of photos for him to work from & he’d get art to me in a week or so. to drop off photos, i had to buy a USB card, because i am a time traveler from 1983 & i didn’t already own one. i loaded it with photos of charlotte & tried to drop it off…but they were closed because it was sunday. (& tattoo artists are really big on observing the sabbath?) then it was closed for martin luther king jr. day. then it was closed for weather or something. finally i dropped it off & waited.

& waited.

& waited some more. after about six weeks, i called & was like, “um, could i get an ETA on that artwork?” the receptionist supposedly consulted with the tattoo guy & was like, “yeah, he says he’s working on it & if you give us your e-mail, he’ll send you some attachments this week so you guys can figure out what you like & how to proceed.” so i gave her my e-mail address & then i waited.

& waited. & waited some more! finally i called again & was like, “look, it’s obvious that this just isn’t going to happen so if you could return my deposit, i’ll be on my way to a different shop.” i mean, it was too bad because this guy had done fantastic art for me before & he specializes in portraits & in cover-ups. it would be hard to find someone more well-suited to the project. i didn’t even mind waiting a few months if he was really booked up or whatever. i just wanted a little communication about what was going on.

the receptionist was all, “oh, all the artists are so busy right now! they’re all booked out weeks & weeks in advance, & in some cases, they don’t even have time to get to the art until the night before they do the tattoo.”

was that supposed to make me feel better? that they were slapping art together & tattooing it on people less than 24 hours later because they were so overworked? if she was trying to elicit sympathy, she was really just undermining my confidence in the whole endeavor even more.

supposedly she conferenced with tattoo dude yet again & she reported back, “he says he totally has your art done & has for a while. he just forgot to send it to you. plus it’s a portrait, so it will just look like a weird line drawing paint-by-numbers thing to you because that’s what tattoo drawings look like before they’re tattoos, so you probably wouldn’t understand it. but he’s ready to do the tattoo & he has the following days open…” & then she listed like ten days coming up in the next two weeks.

what the fuck? this is hardly my first tattoo. why not show me the art before assuming i “wouldn’t understand” it? & i don’t understand how someone puts all the time & effort into drawing up an original design for someone, especially something kind of complex, like an animal portrait that is also a cover-up, & then just forgets to show it to the customer that commissioned it. i also don’t understand how “all the artists are booked weeks in advance,” but she had tons of days to offer me for making an appointment. i even clarified & asked, “what exactly is this appointment for?” thinking that maybe it was another 30-minute art consult or something. but she said, “to get the tattoo.”

“he said it would take all day, it’s kind of a big piece,” i said.

“yeah, just choose your day & you’ll be the only one booked that day,” she said.


anyway, i chose my day & that day is tomorrow. if i didn’t love my pterodactyls so much, i would definitely have insisted on the return of my deposit & i would be going somewhere else because this whole thing sounds like a big pack of lies. i blame the receptionist more than the artist. considering that she’s the only one i’ve talked to. i think she’s just saying stuff & not paying too much attention to how it sounds to a customer or how little it really makes sense.

jared is taking the day off school to take care of ramona & i’m spending all day in a windowless tattoo room, probably being forced to listen to marilyn manson. ugh. but hopefully i will get a nice memorial tattoo out of it. i realized that a huge part of my anxiety stems from the fact that this will be the longest i’ve spent away from ramona since she was released from the NICU. i’m going to miss her so much!


even though sometimes she gives me nothing but attitude.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

2 thoughts on “tattoo follies

  1. I got my first tattoo when I was 18. It was technically illegal, because MA hadn’t legalized tattoos yet. The guy was a licensed artist from NC, but he’d come up to Boston a couple times a year and set up shop in his dad’s attic. Looking back on it, that was probably a really dumb thing to do. But it turned out well, and I never ended up with hepatitis, so I guess all’s well that ends well?

    My other tattoo is a lower back piece, and a lot of people have called it a tramp stamp. I had no idea that there was such a thing as a tramp stamp when I got it. I want to expand it out, so then it will just be a back piece and all the “tramp stamp” haters can all STFU. I want to add two poppies to it, because the poppy is August’s birth flower and both my husband and my daughter were born in August. I just need to find the right artist and have it done.

    1. i too have a lower back tattoo. it’s the first tattoo i ever got, when i was 16. as far as i know, that was long before the term “tramp stamp” was part of the common vernacular. i never heard that term until like 2010, & i find it super-offensive.

      i got a few tattoos in boston after it was legalized. they are just awful. all these weirdos, tattooing people without a license in random basements & attics for years with no oversight…one guy “chromed up” my speculum tattoo after i specifically asked him not to, & then was like, “oh shit, i forgot you said not to.” another guy colored my pippi longstocking tattoo’s hair orange, even though i asked for red. the best tattoo i ever got before i moved to kansas was by some random dude who was traveling & paying for his travels by tattooing people. he did it in my kitchen, while he was crashing at my house. it’s a drawing by cindy ovenrack, slightly changed by me, & he did it exactly like i wanted it, which is to say, he didn’t try to make it better. sometimes people see it & they’re like, “oh man, wow, that’s a bad tattoo,” & i’m like, “it’s EXACTLY what i wanted, i love it!” he truly did a great job & only charged me $27 (because i had it done on my 27th birthday).

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