Once upon a time, an author sat in a tattoo parlor on the isle of Maui. She wasn’t there for herself, but for her sister, who had taken it into her head to get some fresh ink during their vacation with an uncle, and between the pair of them, the author was the only one old enough to drive the rental car.
So while the sister got her work done in the back, the author passed the time by scribbling semi-illegibly in her journal, the words wandering into a conversation with one of her closest characters about what sort of tattoo she would go for, if ever she did. She was pretty sure she never would, out of fear that she’d decide a month or a year or a decade too late that she was tired of seeing any one design etched permanently onto her person. But if she did…
“A kraken,” the character said, without hesitation. “I could totally see you with a tentacle tattoo. […] Same for something with the moon.”
Because that author – *solemn nods* – was me.
And that character – surely to no one’s surprise – was Will Scarlet. Perhaps more surprising, that very day was the one Danielle envisioned the matching tattoos worn by Will and Allyn in “The Legend of Allyn-a-Dale”.
And most surprising of all, Will Scarlet was 100% on point. Because three years later – coincidentally just weeks after the release of “Deathsong of the Deep” (aka #KrakenBook) – I do most proudly introduce to you… #KrakenTat.
The Design: Circling the right arm just below the elbow, a musical stave with a treble clef, in which some of the stave’s lines form the irregular peaks and valleys of a soundwave. Rising therefrom, a trio of tentacles, one of which curves possessively around a crescent moon at my wrist.
The Brainstorm Behind It: If I was going to get a tattoo – which I unexpectedly found myself more and more eager to do – it had to be deeply and undeniably me. Hence the tentacles (my soul is a sea monster) and the moon (my soul mate in the sky). I thought at first to have the encircling band in my design look like actual water (my element, naturally), but my searches online for inspiration / a guide for my future tattoo artist yielded nothing that hit me quite right.
What did hit me: Music. (My language beyond words.) And finding an image of a soundwave stave pleased me doubly because, again, “Legend of Allyn-a-Dale” matching tats. (Anything to feel closer to my brothers in Sherwood!)
I wasn’t originally thinking to include the treble clef, but when my artist – (Antonio of Mod&Art Studio) – kept it as part of his rough-draft sketch for my approval, I decided it wasn’t broke and needed no fixing. Also originally, I’d imagined having one or more the tentacles curling all the way around my forearm. But again, the rough-draft sketch didn’t do that, and I liked the way it looked as-was, so I didn’t push the circling tentacles, just the circling stave.
The (3-to-4-Hour) Moment of Truth: The number-one question I’ve received since showing off my new tattoo = “[How much] did it hurt?”
My answer = “It varied.”
Antonio warned me the wrist would likely be the most painful area, and he spoke the truth. On much of my forearm, the pain wasn’t generally much worse than the sensation of a prolonged scratch. On the wrist, though, it felt more like someone was trying to murder me and make it look like a suicide.
I’d hoped Tirzah might be there to distract me and/or keep my spirits up, since she happened to have the day off of work. But alas, the reason she took off work in the first place was because she had a cold, and Antonio requested that she not bring her sniffle-and-cough germs into the workspace. Fair enough. I was on my own.
Fortunately, there was some diversion in the form of a mounted TV bingeing “Good Girls” on Netflix. Over the course of my appointment, I – and a couple of ladies who showed up later to get inked by the other artist in da house – kept us all entertained by offering commentary on the fictional women getting in over their heads in a money laundering racket. And when even that wasn’t enough to take my mind off my arm’s suffering, I internally tapped out and had one of my Camelot knights sit through it for me. (#ChivalryLives)
Even with the foresight to eat a big breakfast before what I’d been warned would be a 3-to-4-hour job, by the end, my body was very much ready for food and the cessation of toughing out pain. (Just ha-a-ad to insist on inking a full-circle musical stave bracelet, did I? Ow.) I’d planned to remind Antonio I’d mentioned wanting some white ink added to the moon, but the thought of more work on the wrist did not appeal to me at that point, so I let it go. Antonio gave some brief after-care instructions, I paid up, and Tirzah – back just in time to catch the end of my ordeal – treated me to Ethiopian dinner.
Then came the fun part! Aka, anxiety re: what if I somehow manage to screw up my tattoo skin care and EVERYTHING IS TRAGEDY?!
In order to calm myself down, I spent part of the next morning looking around online for second, third, and fourth opinions for the “so, you just got a tattoo” crowd.
A few generally agreed upon do-s and don’t-s:
DO – Keep the skin clean with antibacterial soap (unscented preferred)
– Avoid prolonged exposure to water (especially chemical pool water) and sun
– Use some manner of protection against germs and drying out (Antonio prescribed thin layers of diaper rash cream A+D, applied as needed over the first four days, and Jergens ultra-healing lotion starting on day five)
DON’T – Let the world’s unwashed hands touch your new tat ‘til it’s healed (takes 2 to 3 weeks)
– Over-protect by keeping bandaged in plastic wrap or mega-thick layers of goop, because now the skin can’t breathe
– Pick at the skin when it starts peeling like a sunburn; it’s a normal part of the process and scratching more skin away will just up your chances for infection
– Panic if the area weeps a little clear plasma; this is also fine and normal (vs. colorful and/or smelly discharges, which will want medical attention)
As I type this, we are a week in and at “peeling like a sunburn” phase. The pain was down to virtually zero within 24 hours, sensitivity has been steadily dropping, and with every day that passes without incident, my fear decreases as well.
Only another week to go, past this blog’s posting, and my tattoo will be just another part of me – albeit one of my cooler outer parts, revealing to the world a few core pieces of coolness that have been inside me all along.
That’s my first tattoo story! Got one of your own to share? See me in the comments!