Indelible Ink

Whenever I find myself in a transitioning phase, I feel the urge to change something about my physical appearance. Three years ago, I was transitioning back to life in Stockton and cutting ties with people who I once thought were good friends, and also let go of a boy that I had pined over for  waaaay too long because I finally realized that it was just never going to happen. I looked at my long dark locks and said, “Fuck it. It’s ALL going!” And so I had it cut in a bob-like fashion above my shoulders. It was so short that I couldn’t even put my hair in a ponytail which completely freaked me out. Last month I seriously considered getting my hurr did with a deep purple ombre, because why the hell not? I would look like Rarity from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic! But the thing with hair is that you can change it back to the way it was via hair dye and the patience of waiting for it to grow back (which mine does quite quickly). 

I thought of something else I had been wanting to do, a change that is more permanent: get a tattoo. I’ve thought long and hard about this for the past three years, maybe even more, and stumbled upon an artist in San Francisco named Jen Lee by way of one of my Creative Writing classmates, Haley. She has three tattoos done by her, and I’ve looked into Jen Lee’s work and it is extremely beautiful and well done… and sooo ‘spensive (if you look at her work, it’s obvious why she’s expensive). But I feel like she’s the artist who can truly execute what I want done, which is a portrait of Jingles, the lead carrousel horse at Disneyland. 

I set up a consultation with her last Thursday and scheduled April 15 to be the day I get it done. I could’ve had it done as early as February 22, but my parents want me to go somewhere with them that day, and every other available appointment would cut into my tutoring job, and I couldn’t really justify missing work to get a tattoo — even though I want it badly and now. Oh, and I totally went into this without saying a word about it to my mom or dad who aren’t crazy about body art. *nervous laughter* 

I confessed to my mom over a cup of hot chocolate the following day though. I couldn’t keep something like that from her for too long, y’know? To my surprise, she took it very well. She just doesn’t like the idea of it being so big (it’s going to take up a bit of my left forearm) — “Cant’ you get something smaller, like a locket?” she asked. And she’s even going to come with me when I get it done! 😀

With every tattoo (at least some, anyway), there’s significance behind it. So why a carousel horse for me? I’ve always had an affinity for carousels, particularly ones that are strictly equine because I’ve always loved horses too. And of course the one I want on me permanently is from Disneyland. Disneyland’s always been my happy place, it’s the place where I can truly just put every worry behind me and be a child, and no one will judge me for it. It’s important to celebrate your inner-child because life is too short to be so serious; this is something I try to do outside of Disneyland as well. So the carousel horse is to remind me, even in times like the one I’m going through right now, is to never let go of my inner child, and to also be a reminder that I must keep moving forward. 

The first piece of writing I ever had published was a non-fiction essay called “Hop on the Horse.” You can read it here if you’d like. In it, I compare life to a carousel ride. We go through all these ups and downs; the ride just keeps going despite whatever state you find yourself in. 

I suppose the tattoo represents a combination of many things.

Do you any of you have tattoos? What are they of and how did you come to the conclusion that you wanted it on yourself permanently? Or if you’re thinking of getting one, what are you planning on? I’d love to hear some of your tattoo stories 🙂


8 thoughts on “Indelible Ink

  1. Loved this post.It is always so rad to hear about why people get specific tattoos. I have a lot of tattoos and each one represents really important moments in my life. My Disney sleeve is my strive for perfection and the representation of finding your prince and dreams coming true. I also have a pin up that signifies my begging of my Veterinary nurse career.


  2. I have 8 tattoos now, with at least 3 more planned. My first tattoo is a maple leaf, which seemed like a good idea for a tattoo since I wanted a symbol that would always be relevant and I knew that I would always be proud to be Canadian. I got my second tattoo while visiting New York by myself when I turned 21. It’s cheesy flash, the Japanese for “love”, but I liked that I had something to represent my Japanese side and I felt like it was a companion piece to my maple leaf. Then a nautical star on my neck in L.A. during my honeymoon with my first husband, which turned out to be ironically symbolic. My biggest piece, a couple of Hanafuda on my right arm was a post-divorce reaction, something I needed for myself. Then a tattoo shared with my college housemates, again done in NY. The chickadee on my left forearm was my first Montreal tattoo and I wanted something that made me think of winter in Canada, which chickadees do. Most recent tats are the chemical structure for serotonin behind my right ear (I’m on SSRIs so I need all the serotonin I can get) and the letter “thorn” on my ribs (linguistic pun). Next up is my first video game tattoo with my sister, and maybe a portrait of my cat, Gatsby.


  3. I have something like 14 tattoos now, I think. I can’t actually say many of mine have particularly deep meanings, some have more meaning than others, some have no meaning other than being my favourite flower, I love unicorns/Harry Potter or that the picture made me laugh. My most recent tattoo is a jack-o-lantern candy bucket that I got in LA as I am obsessed with Halloween and I wanted a little something to permanently commemorate my trip to the USA.
    I think people can get too hung up on the meanings behind tattoos, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting something just because you wanted something pretty or that makes you smile.


  4. love the idea! 🙂 her tattoo work looks really amazing!
    I’m intrigued by the idea of a tattoo, but I can’t think of anything I’d like on my body for my whole life 🙂


  5. I don’t have any tattoos, and I don’t think I will ever get one. I love the way they look, but I’m fairly fickle and I don’t think I could trust myself to choose something that I’d want on my body for the rest of my life. I know that I’d get sick of it in a month or so, so I’ve just never gone down that route.

    Good on you for taking the steps towards making that dream come true. I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished. It’s so awesome that your mum is going to come with you when you get inked. That will be a really special experience for you both.


  6. I have 5 tattoos with none of them having no meaning behind them except that I love what I’ve picked. I have the time key/crystal from Sailor Moon on my foot, Bullet Bill on the inside of my right arm, a butterfly on the top of my wrist, music notes behind my right ear, and one going down my spine. I want to get Grimlock tattooed on me somewhere. Again, no real meaning behind him except that he’s my favorite Dinobot!

    Good luck on your session and I can’t wait to see progress shots of your tattoo. It sounds amazing!


  7. Oh. I LOVE that! What a fabulous idea for a tattoo and Jen Lee’s work is outstanding! That is pretty wonderful – enjoy the heck out of it. 🙂 I can’t wait to read about the experience, and see the finished product when you get it.

    I have three tattoos and about six dozen more planned (…I need two bodies for all of this ink). They absolutely all have meaning and stories. That just adds to The Awesome, I think. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to just pick a piece of flash art (unless it’s a Flash Day at my shop. They do fundraisers every now and then. $50 for a wee tiny tattoo with proceeds going to charity. I could rock flash for that).


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