Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sitting 5 - All Ribs, No BBQ Sauce

Date: January 10, 2012
Tattooing Time: 2.5 hours
Total Tattooing Time: 17 hours

"You never heal well around your armpits," Rube said. "It's all that jumpin around you do."

(Ed. Note: I don't jump around. At all. Ever. I attribute it to the toxic waste that my body secrets from my armpits)

Today was my first day getting tattooed at the Bowery location of Kings Ave, which was great for a plethora of reasons: 1) It's an utterly gorgeous shop. 2) I've been staring at the artwork in Rube's "booth" in Massapequa for close to five years now, so the change of scenery was nice. 3) It's only two subway stops away from my house (and local bar) rather than a hour on the Long Island Railroad. 4) The always hilarious - and very talented - Grez holds it down on Bowery and I had missed his consistently ridiculous banter in the shop. 5) Did I mention that I didn't have to travel out to Massapequa?

It was a packed house at the shop for this sitting, despite Rube and Grez being the only tattooists working that day. A photographer had come in to shoot Rube while he worked (and hence, take a lot of photos of me lying in what I call my "Boticelli Pose"). My lovely lady, Marisa, had come by to keep me company and I even got a visit from my friends Ian and Jess (the latter whom you might know as the shop manager on NY Ink). All in all, a lot of chatter going on in the open-layout shop combined with the whir of the machines grinding away.

We started with filling in the clouds just underneath the dragons jaw in that lovely blue-black that Rube has conjured up. It's already making the dragon "pop" beautifully. If I haven't mentioned it before, I utterly hate it when the machine runs over my spine. I feel it in my whole body. I feel like an insect that's being tacked to a board as part of some entomological display. The pain radiates from asshole to eyelids and out to my fingernails. I suppose that's to be expected when you're banging tiny needles into the home base of your central nervous system...

We then moved on to fill in the wind bars on the right side, running from armpit down to my pelvic bone. Admittedly, I was mildly terrified about this enterprise (I've been told time and time again that the ribs are one of the most painful places to be tattooed). Well, not for nothing, but it was pretty smooth sailing. Outside of when he started drilling into my pelvic bone (which happened shortly after Marisa said, "notice how I haven't asked how you're doing?") the pain was entirely localized and manageable.

We managed to log another 30 minutes on the left side, too, filling in the wind bars over my left lat, which turned the sterile sheet on the table into a crime scene photograph worthy of a Manson Family slaying.

It may not be noticeable in these photos, but I've bruised up a little bit. I attribute this to the thinness of my skin (I'm fairly lean) rather than make any comment on Rube's touch. That said, I want that black to last and stay black, so I say, "Grind it in there, man!"

We haven't scheduled the next block of sittings just yet, so this blog may lie dormant for a little bit, outside of the occasional random musing. Considering that Marisa and I are trying to get away to the Caribbean in February, this might be for the best (wait at least three weeks before putting your fresh ink in a pool or the sun, kids!).

I'd also like to thank all of you for reading the blog and commenting. Looking at the traffic, I'm kind of amazed at how many of your are following along with the transformation of my body. Admittedly, I started this blog more as a time capsule for myself but, now that I have an audience, I'll be sure to chronicle the experience as diligently as I can.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sitting 4

Date: January 2, 2012
Prep/Hand-Drawing/Stencil-Application: 0 hours
Breaks: 0
Tattooing: 2 hours
Total Tattooing Time To Date: 14.5 hours

Well, there's no real way to beat around the bush here... I arrived at Kings Ave with a hangover that must have escaped from an old Irish novel.

Originally, this sitting was supposed to be on Tuesday - giving me an extra day to recover from New Years Eve and the subsequent "brunch gauntlet" that I valiantly ran on Sunday.  Funerals happen, however, and we had to move my appointment back to Monday.

Fortunately, it was a short session today and - after stumbling into the shop and announcing my sorry state of affairs - we were able to get right to work on shading because we completed the outline at the previous sitting.  Wind-bars, clouds and waves are now complete on my upper back and we connected the right breast-plate over the shoulder and into the design of the back.

At the very least, the pain of tattooing helped me momentarily forget that my brain was swimming around in a bucket of poison and - while the nausea never really subsided - Rube and I were both amazed that I wasn't bleeding like a stuck pig.

If there's one lesson I can impart to you here, gentle readers it is this: DON'T SHOW UP HUNGOVER.


A friend and reader, Patrick Sullivan, asked me to discuss the healing process which I'd now like to touch upon...

Obviously, all of my previous work has been easy to care for; my chest and arms are easily accessible so cleaning off the lymph and applying Aquaphor was always a one-man operation.  A large portion of my back, however, is simply un-reachable which makes me very happy to have a wonderful, loving girlfriend who knows a thing or twelve about tattoo aftercare.  Quite honestly, I'm not sure how people care for their backpieces without a significant other or a very compassionate roommate (though, I suppose a rubber bowl scraper could be employed with a fair amount of success and some jockeying with a hand-mirror).

After the first sitting (and a few celebratory martinis afterwards), our bathroom became a scene from Oz. There I was: standing in the shower, whimpering with my hands against the wall as she stood behind me whispering "just relax, I'm almost done." As I watched the blood and lymph spiral down the drain, I made a (half-hearted) pledge that this would be my last tattoo and a (full-blown) promise to myself that I would never wind up in prison.

As could be expected, sleeping is really the hardest part of the healing process.  I'm an admittedly restless sleeper so rolling over in the middle of the night can/will jolt me out of a deep slumber numerous times over the course of the evening (I also despise sleeping on my stomach).  Not being able to sleep on my back, however, is a blessing as far as my girlfriend is concerned - my snoring has drastically decreased since we started the piece.


My next sitting will be at the Bowery location of Kings Ave: a gorgeous, open-layout shop that I've visited but have never been tattooed in.  Should be interesting to have my bare-ass hanging out for everyone in the shop to see...