Earlier this year, sometime in February I think it was, I was having a conversation with Matt about something or other and somehow we came upon the topic of tattoos. I have always asserted that I have a severe dislike of pain and have a low tolerance for it (not to mention my dislike of needles). I appreciated a good tattoo, but was of the opinion that I could/would never get one. Matt expressed his mild surprise that I hadn’t already gotten a tattoo. His comment was based on the artistic and creative turn my life has taken in the last several years. My response was simple – You could picture me with a tattoo?

I thought about it and thought about it. I even created a Pintrest board with ideas for tattoos should I get one. The first images I collected were of owls, cats and a bit of steampunk. There were a few Disney based images – Alice in Wonderland and Tinkerbell come to mind. I added images of Toothless (How to Train your Dragon) at some point. It was a fun exercise to learn what I liked and didn’t like.

Then in early April I decided to do some research on the parlors that are in my area. There are three of them in walking distance from me. I scoured reviews, websites, artist portfolios. I asked Matt if he would mind visiting one of them with me. Just to see what the atmosphere was like. One of the many things I had read while doing research – if you don’t feel comfortable when you walk in…don’t get work done there.

Stepping into a tattoo parlor is a unique experience. At least, it was for me. I will admit that I am a bit in awe of just about anyone that can sit through getting a tattoo. Plus, it’s a little intimidating walking into that artistic world. AE Tattoo was fairly busy when Matt and I walked in.  I stood there for a few minutes just soaking in everything. Which was great because it took that long before someone asked if we’d been talked to yet.

The man was big. He called himself Big Mixx. When I told him that I came to check the parlor out because I was thinking of getting a tattoo his eyes lit up. He asked about ideas. I showed him a few images and he told me what some of them would cost. I learned that it wasn’t necessarily the size that made a tattoo expensive – it was the amount of detail and intricacies. I asked about the equipment and how it was used. (Single use needles, gloves, etc.) Naturally, Big Mixx was ready to give me a tattoo right then if I wanted it. As a matter of fact he honed in on one of the cat pictures I had saved and told me that it would take roughly 15 minutes. You know that moment when you are at THE EDGE? That one where it feels like now or never? Yeah, that was me.  I’m pretty sure Big Mixx could see that – and you know, I’m ok with that.

I dove right in. Matt sat with me. Held my hand the entire time. Big Mixx talked to me through the entire process as he put a permanent picture of a cat on my left shoulder blade. I didn’t move a muscle the entire time I sat there. I took note of the vibration of the ink gun, the mild pressure from the needle. (It felt more like a tug than a stab.) During the entire 15 minute process  (maybe 20 minutes) I scrunched my face in true pain once. This was simply due to the change in the nerves in the skin.

According to my phone I walked out of AE Tattoo with my first tattoo on April 21, 2014.

On June 18, 2014 – just under two months later, I walked back into the parlor to get my second tattoo. Big Mixx had said that I would be back and he was right.

Just like my kitty tattoo, the second tattoo was a unique experience. After getting the kitty, I completely understood why people get more than one. The endorphin rush is an amazing high. (Mine may have been exacerbated by other factors like my amazement that I went through with it.) When I started to look at what I might possibly get inked next I went through a lot ideas.  A lot. I decided to get an owl. The images I picked were absolutely adorable. But I couldn’t figure out where I wanted to put them. (Yes, there were two.) I gave some serious thought to them and talked about it quite often. Which possibly annoyed those around me that were in listening range. I finally came to the conclusion that it was not time for me to get these particular owl inked because I was having such a hard time deciding where to place them. So I went back through my Pintrest folder.  And found this:

owl sketch - artist Lauren Reeser of American Duchess

I knew immediately that this was going to be the next tattoo. I took a copy of it with me for a consultation on Tuesday. Wednesday I was sitting in the chair getting it put on my shoulder/arm.

Big Mixx took the sketch and created something absolutely amazing and unique.

I was in the chair for three hours. Three hours of listening to the hum of the ink gun. My friend Roxane had asked if she could come along, she had never been to or seen a tattoo being done. I didn’t mind the company. We talked about all manner of topics, listened to the banter of all the artists, and smiled every time Big Mixx said “Damn, this is looking good.” or “This is going to be slick.” It was clear that he was having fun. And that made all the difference in the world.

I walked out of AE Tattoo smiling like a fool. I can tell you that the endorphin rush was no where near as intense as the first one. As a matter of fact, I would have to say it’s barely there. But that’s ok. The owl is so much more than I imagined it could be.

Owl Tattoo by Big Mixx, AE Tattoo

Yes, I have at least one more tattoo planned out to get. And there is a possibility of still getting the owls I mentioned before. Also, a friend is designing a tribal tattoo for me that I will certainly have done. (I suppose that means I actually have two planned.)


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