Me: Did Jessie get her tattoos here or did she get them all in Australia?
Becca: She got them in Australia. Why?
Me: I want to get new ones, so I’m on the hunt for a good artist. I didn’t like the one who did my last tattoo.
Becca: What! Why do you want new ones now?
Me: Because I have 7, and my dad says to round them up to 8 because 7 is a bad number for Chinese. And I can’t decide between two new designs so I figured I’d get both and finish off with 9 tattoos. Do you know if 9 is a good number for Chinese?
Becca: I think 9 symbolizes completeness.
Me: Oh really? You see — maybe my luck will change once I stop carrying around 7 with me!
It had been a while, longer than I realized, since I last felt it — that urge to get a new tattoo. Looking at my tattoos about 2 weeks ago, I realized I missed the adrenaline rush, the unforgiving screech of the needle, and the excruciating, yet intoxicating pain. And then I realized that I missed all that because I had relapsed into my pain-for-pain pattern, a pattern I haven’t gone through in more than two and a half years, since I got my last tattoo.
So I made an appointment with Julian Oh of Blackcat Tattoo Studio, who had been recommended to me some time ago, to have two new designs stabbed into me this past weekend. I’m not sure if it was because the foot is a much more sensitive part of the body or because I had forgotten how much the process hours, but the pain was blinding. Most of the time I was either sore from sitting with my leg up and foot twisted, or fighting the urge to twitch and kick, so much so that the next tattoo barely hurt in comparison.
I must admit that not since Kate Hellenbrand did my very first tattoo back in 2005 have I met an artist whose work I actually really liked — until now. Julian was extremely patient and allowed me to shift positions and stretch my leg when it was stiff and cramping, and he was nice enough not to tell me I was twitching and close to kicking him in the face. And so, besides being extremely effective in distracting me from all the things I’ve been ceaselessly worrying about over the past couple of weeks, these are the results of my 4-hour session with him:
It may be safe to say my tattoo-acquiring days are really at an end, because I’m of a certain age now and trying to embark on a career that involves people too young to be exposed to things such as tattoos and piercings. And even though I got most of my tattoos for a less-than-conventional reason, each experience was no less unique than the other, and if I could do it all over again, I would.
And here is the final tally of my tattoos, in chronological order: