Monday, 13 September 2010

Under my skin

I've wanted a tattoo for about the last 12 years, I guess - at least since I was going out with Hell's Angel and he had his done (although I was never keen on his, as right from the start I knew it was stupid to get tattooed when drunk, and I don't particularly like images that seem sort of plakked onto the arm. They should either go all the way around or be part of a sleeve. But that's just me).

It took me a while to decide what I wanted, and I eventually settled on a wolf - although, being me, none of the normal wolf tats ever appealed. I'm not one for the snarling wolf that seems so prevalent, nor could I be bothered with the howling wolf image. Me, I wanted a running wolf, and let me tell you, it's no easy task finding such an image (let alone back in days of yore, when the Internet wasn't quite so widely accessible and images didn't rain down like manna). I've been cobbling together images from scans and photos, manipulating them in Photoshop, and finally settled on a couple (see below), but never felt tugged towards them. And that's why I was never too stressed that I hadn't had it done yet.

tattoo1.jpg tattoo2.jpg tattoo5.jpg

Then Stargate happened, and suddenly I had a new interest that could potentially become part of my self image. "Normal" has never appealed, and "geek" is a badge I'm proud to wear. I just hadn't found the right artwork, although I found and worked on several possibilities.

gate_mirko.jpg AtlantisGate.jpgstargate1_edit.jpg
 
The text in the third pic is "Never give up - Never surrender" in Asgard font. Yes, I know it's from Galaxy Quest, but since it's basically my motto, it becomes part of my ink.

At the beginning of September, MadCat and I headed off to Umdhloti, to rest in my journo buddy's seaside apartment and celebrate my birthday. On the day of my birthday, we went to Gateway mall to watch a movie and, while waiting for it to start, we wandered the mall and happened upon the first Iron Fist outlet in South Africa. Naturally I had to go inside and browse! Just as naturally, it's run by some seriously funky, out-there people, one of whom had the most beautiful, realistic-looking, juicy cherries tattooed on her forearm - with skulls embedded inside them. I was fascinated, and when I asked where she'd had them done, she told me about Mully at Electric Eye, which is based in Umhlanga. Then she showed me the most perfect Colt revolver he'd tattooed on her inner bicep - without a tracing to follow. The detail was exquisite, and I was hooked.

A bit later, I had a conversation with Between The Pages about what was and wasn't a Discworld novel, and in the course of my research to ensure that I was correct (which I was) I found this little guy:

The_Grim_Squeaker_by_OniYon.jpg
Well. Suddenly, the heavens opened and a light shone down upon me. I had found my very first tattoo. I was born in the Year of the Rat, I love Terry Pratchett's Death, but I have always been enthralled with the Grim Squeaker. I just couldn't see myself wearing him and the eyes on a permanent basis:

rateye.jpg
You see why, right? It's hilarious, but ... no. My first tattoo had to have a deeper meaning for me, and this wasn't it. Besides, the star in the little blue guy's eye reminded me of my long-lost star sapphire ring. That clinched it for me.

We headed off to Gateway again and found Electric Eye's other branch, where we walked in and chatted to a beautiful woman who looked like a member of The Corrs (and had the most beautiful lilt to match). It seemed entirely appropriate that her creamy skin was covered with beautiful tattoos peeking out from under her sleeves. She advised me on where to place my tattoo (not on my back, which is where the Stargate tattoo will go one day); not under my collarbone, as it's too in-your-face; not on my arm, as I don't like tats there; therefore, on my ankle.

Then she mentioned the price, and our world crumbled just a bit. We decided that we'd have to wait until the end of the month. Off we went to visit Ferret, and gambolled about on "her" beach. When we went in to supper, she surprised us both by pulling a wad of cash from her wallet and handing it to me - as a way of thanks for letting her stay at our house, rent-free, for 18 months. To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. You can bet your bottom dollar I called Electric Eye first thing in the morning to book an appointment!

My tattooist was the lovely Abigail, who had a mild Cockney accent of her own, gorgeous green eyes, and a host of tattoos running down her arms. I appreciated that she took the time to talk to me about my tat, its significance, and its placement - it was originally meant to be on my right ankle, but that would make it face backwards - and, as she explained, living creatures should always face forward so they're not looking into the past. She traced his outline and placed it on my left ankle so I could get used to it and change it, if necessary.

Then it came time for the needle - and suddenly, my heart was in my throat. Like receiving an injection, a finger-prick, or anything else unpleasant, I couldn't breathe and I gripped MadCat's hand so hard I almost broke his thumb. The sheer agony cannot be understated. Oh, my FSM. I wriggled my butt and nearly tore my t-shirt from my chest through twisting and pulling, but somehow I managed to keep my ankle still. Beading sweat, faintness, painkillers, food - they all came into play. As someone with low blood pressure and low blood sugar, it was particularly difficult for me; but I persevered (well, I had to, couldn't walk around with a half-completed tat on my ankle!).

Two hours of overwhelming agony later, I had my Squeaker!

5 September 2010.jpg
Okay, so his eye is actually blue and white, not red - that's blood. And he's half-finished - I have to fly down to Umhlanga between now and December to have the rest of the colours put in, because mall management wouldn't let Abby work past 18:30. Still - he's pretty much perfect to me, at this stage.

It's been an oddish week so far; I'm very pleased with how he's been healing, I've used Fissan paste (as per Abby's suggestion), my beeswax and tea-tree oil (as per the ingredients for Tattoo Goo) and Zambuk (as per MyBroadband's forums) and so far, so good. He's finally started scabbing, which is great (and not at all painful). And I've been careful about keeping him covered and hidden from the sun.

And I can safely say that the tattoo bug has bitten with a vengeance! I've decide that I want to commission Mirko Stoedter to create my Stargate tattoo; Abby asked me about why I want it and I explained that, apart from being a huge fan of the series, I also believe it's my only possible way of getting in touch with outer space. I'm too old, untrained, and in completely the wrong field to ever get involved with space exploration, much as I might wish to do so. I can only watch, read, and dream. So having a Stargate (or three) tattooed onto my skin is my only access to such worlds. I can't wait.

Still dreading the ouch-up session, though. Let the bleeding and screaming begin!

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