This post has been sitting 95% complete in my drafts for ages, but now I’m excited to share it!
I have a total of five tattoos and
three two piercings. My first tattoo are song lyrics from the We Came as Romans song “Beliefs.” It says “We are not meaningless” on my left ribcage in the lyricist’s handwriting. I got it done at State of Art Tattoo in Tucson, Arizona in summer of 2013 when I was eighteen. I don’t remember much more than that since I was done so long ago, but I remember the pain wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Typical tattoo aftercare includes washing with unscented soap and applying moisturizer a few times a day for about a month.
When I got back from my study abroad program, I got a second tattoo of a paper airplane on the back of my neck to symbolize my past and future travels. I got it done at Fast Lane Tattoo in Tucson, Arizona in summer of 2016. I found a clipart that I liked and simply had the artist transfer it to my skin. I recently got it touched up and, man, did it hurt. But since it’s so small, the pain only lasted for a couple of minutes.
I’ve wanted a nose piercing for quite some time now, but my parents thought it might jeopardize my chances of getting a job. My government job at the Arizona Game and Fish Department hired me without ever seeing me (my interview was conducted over the phone), so I finally proved their faulty logic wrong. With that, I got my right nostril pierced a few days after graduation in summer of 2017 at Living Canvas in Tempe, Arizona. The pain was tolerable and the piercing was quick, but my eyes watered like no other. For aftercare, I needed to wash the piercing out with soap twice a day and with saline spray about five times a day for several weeks. Since nose piercings take a long time to heal, I didn’t risk it by taking out my stud for more than a few minutes at a time. However, three months later I traded out my stud for a nose ring. The nose ring hurt a bit at first (it was too tight), but I traded it out for a larger ring and loved it! With my scuba classes, trading it back for the stud was easier to equalize. I hope to get the other nostril pierced or a septum piercing within the next few months.
Shortly after my nose piercing, I also got a smiley piercing, also at Living Canvas, a few weeks later. I’ve wanted this piercing for quite some time, too, at least since my freshman year of university. The piercing is through the small flap of skin between your gums and upper lip. The pain was similar to that of the nose piercing, but lasted a bit longer as my piercer took a little longer getting the jewelry in place. Oral piercings can be tricky as the saliva makes the needle and jewelry slip out of place. For aftercare, I just had to wash my mouth out with non-alcoholic mouthwash every time I ate something or drank something at wasn’t water. When I got my jewelry changed, in the car on the way home right after my appointment, one of the tiny screw balls that hold the jewelry in place fell out. I promptly turned around and the piercer fixed it for me. Not a day later when I was on my New York and Washington, D.C. holiday, it fell out and the screw ball was lost. With my jewelry out, it closed up within a day. I got it repierced on holiday in Brooklyn a few months ago and was happy for a few more months. Then, when I was learning how to scuba dive, it was quite uncomfortable to have the piercing in the way of the regulator and snorkel. I wanted to trade my smiley piercing in for a small, subtle jewelry again, I realized it would be damn near impossible to do it without a piercer. I decided it wasn’t worth the fuss of going in to a piercer pretty much every time I want to change my jewelry and took it out completely to let it close up. It was fun while it lasted.
My biggest tattoo piece is a traditional style dagger through a rose that says “Follow your bliss,” which is a simple but uplifting lyric that recurs in songs by my favorite band, Senses Fail. I went to David at Fast Lane Tattoo in Tucson, Arizona for this piece with a very rough idea of what I wanted. I gave him a few pictures and told him what aspects from each I’d like for my own piece and he did a wonderful job of not only drawing my tattoo, but picking the colors as well. It took a lot of faith to put this whole thing in his hands, but it turned out beautifully. This tattoo took abut an hour and a half, but the pain was manageable as the tattooing was in bursts of about 30 seconds with a few second’s break. Plus, I had my music to distract me. Possibly worse than the tattooing was the healing process. With my two prior pieces significantly smaller than this one, this was my first experience with peeling. First, the tattoo was sore for about a week; it even hurt to lie down! Then, it became really itchy and although you’re not meant to itch it, I did and it caused some bleeding and slight discoloration once the tattoo healed. It took about three weeks for my tattoo to heal completely, but it was worth it. About a month after it totally healed, I went back to David for some slight touch-ups and he actually commented on how beautifully it healed despite my picking. Since the touch-ups were so small, they did not itch like the original and healed up quickly.
Before I moved to England, my lifelong friend Sydney and I got matching “x” tattoos. We were inspired by this picture, but neither one of us wanted the “o,” so we both got “x” on our wrists. Our artist Nick at Fast Lane Tattoo was very patient with helping us pick out our design and place the tattoo and was also very fun. We’re both so happy with our tattoos!
Most recently, I got both nipples pierced at Punktured in Brighton by Sham about four months ago. I was nervous, but the piercing was really quick and I haven’t experienced any soreness! It didn’t hurt at much as I thought it would, either. It only hurts if I rub it or catch it on something. I’m very happy with the outcome but for obvious reasons, I won’t post a picture.
I think the most painful of my tattoos and piercings was my paper airplane tattoo. Although my “Follow your bliss” tattoo took a long time, I got used to the pain after a few minutes, but the paper airplane tattoo was in a really sensitive spot.
Believe it or not, my nose and nipple piercings were similar in pain (or lack thereof), but I would say the nose was less painful simply for the fact that I only got one nostril done compared to both nipples.
Funds pending, I hope to get another tattoo or piercing after my birthday next month!
Photo by Annie Spratt.