Tattoo etiquette

I have a lot of tattoos.  I think it's sixteen, but honestly I've lost count.  I've had tattoos since I was 15 years old.  That means for seventeen years I've had to deal with the same shit regarding tattoos.  So let me give some friendly advice about tattooed people.

Yes.  They hurt.  Tattoos hurt.  Someone is forcing ink into your body with a gazillion needles, obviously that is going to hurt.  Asking me if my tattoo hurt is the most obnoxious question ever.  Do some hurt less then others, yes.  But they all hurt.  For me it's tolerable.  I know what I'm walking into so I shut up and deal.  I have gone in to get a tattoo and listened to girls crying, and screaming and squawking.  I've seen grown men pass out.  Tattoos hurt.  Stop asking that question.  It just makes you look ridiculous.

Yes.  I like the SF Giants.  I have an entire SF Giants tattoo on my left arm. It is very visible.  Which is why I cannot fathom why at least once a week someone looks at the tattoo and says, "So you are a fan of the Giants huh?" I never know how to respond to this.  I want to be rude and say, "no I just tattooed it on my body for funsies," or "No, I'm a fucking Dodger fan." If you want to start a conversation with me about my tattoos, starting off with that as your opener usually means I'm done with the conversation before it starts.

If I have a tattoo wrapped with plastic wrap and taped up it's a new tattoo.  Walking up to me, pointing at the wrap and saying, "is that a new tattoo?" is annoying as fuck.  Obviously it's a new tattoo. What is the point of asking me this?

Please, do not come up and tell me my tattoo looks nice just so you can then show me your tattoo.  If I wanted to see your chest, arm, back, etc I would ask.  Walking up to me in the store to comment on how nice my tattoo is, and then lifting up your shirt to show me your chest piece is annoying. 

Please don't ask for advice you clearly aren't going to take.  Here is my advice on tattoos.  Pick a good place.  Research it. I've used the same shop for seventeen years.  The same people are there that were there seventeen years ago. That tells me they are good.  Bad shops, and bad artists don't stick around.  Find an artist that can draw your vision.  I'm all for googling to get an idea of what you want, but after that find a tattoo artist, or simply an artist that can redraw your images into something different.  Tattoos should be one of a kind.  They shouldn't be something that millions of other people can have.  They should be unique to you.  With the exception of a few pieces when I was young all of my tattoos have been hand drawn by my husbands best friend or my tattoo artist.  This means that if I ever see my tattoo on someone else (this has happened) I know they are copying me.  This is fine.  I would rather be copied, then to be the person who is copying someone else thoughts.  You have to live with this your whole life make it original.  Give the artist some freedom with it.  Four of my tattoos started as nothing more then a few words.  I told Jared my artist a couple words, "my grandpa passed away," "Waylons guitar," "Remember that song Happy Trails," and from there he created the most incredible pieces.  None of which I had previewed until moments before I actually got the tattoo.  I trust him just enough to know that he is going to take my idea, run with it, and produce something incredible.  It might cost money to have it drawn, if you stick with someone long enough the drawing fee goes away, but that money is well spent.

I am a good person.  I am covered in tattoos.  However, I went to school, I hold down a job, I'm on the board of Little League, I've catered some of the most affluent houses in my town, I'm an incredible mom, I've never been to jail, or arrested, and I don't do drugs.  For every person out there who sees my ink and assumes I'm something I'm not, FUCK YOU.  There is a 90% chance that you have probably done worse things then me, been arrested, and the fact that you are judging my ink tells me your integrity and character are far less then mine.

Yes I know I will have these for life.  No one gets a tattoo and expects that it will disappear when they turn sixty.   Please don't ask me if I realized they are permanent. 

No, I will not tell you how much I paid for it.  That is not your business.  Almost every single artist charges different prices per person, per piece, per situation.  What I paid for my tribute tattoo for my grandpa vs. what I paid for my Waylon tattoo are very different prices.  There is a reason behind that.  I do not need to explain this to you.

I have no problem telling you where I got tattooed.  Jared at Aces tattoo in Reno NV has done my work for seventeen years.  Please, please do not ask me this and then tell me about another better shop, or about your friend who does tattoos who is going to do yours.  First, I don't care about other shops.  My work speaks for itself.  If you want to have your friend do your tattoo in his garage, or in their new shop that they just finished apprenticing at…go for it.  You're an idiot, but go for it.  I have one tattoo on me done by someone who was a "friend" and it was a massive mistake.  If I show you that tattoo as an explanation about why you should pick a reputable shop, heed my advice.  I know what I'm talking about.

Be nice to tattoo artists.  They can choose how good your line work is, how good your color is, etc.  Being bossy, high maintenance or downright rude gets you nowhere. 

I do not know how many tattoos I have.  Stop asking me that. Why does it matter?  I lost count at thirteen.  Standing in line at the grocery store and asking me how many I have is so annoying.  Why?  Why does it matter?  Is there a magic number that makes me more cool?  If I have ten I'm cool, but if I only have nine am I not cool enough?  Or is this question and so many others just bad attempts at pick up lines?  Compliment my tattoos all you want, I will ALWAYS give the credit to my artist and his shop.  I have nothing to do with having nice tattoos, besides having skin that takes color well.  Please, do not ask me ridiculous questions though.  I will almost always be annoyed right away because you obviously have a hidden agenda for asking me these questions. 

Finally, just respect me.  I'm a person, a mom, a human.  There is meaning behind all of my tattoos.  Before you pass any judgment on me next time, the one question I will never get annoyed with is, "what does that tattoo mean?"  I will always stop and explain my tattoos.  If explaining the meaning behind them helps more people understand why some of us choose to hang our art on our body instead of our walls, then I will always always take the time to explain it.

Brain distortion

I've learned so many things while I've been on this weight loss journey. Three of those thigns are interesting so we will talk about them today.

The first thing is that when all of this started over a year ago I weighed 190 pounds.  The strange thing about that, is that while I saw the number on the scale, visually in the mirror I was unaware that my body looked 190 pounds.  When I lost the first bit of weight and got down to about 180 pounds a friend invited me to the pool with her.  I had just lost ten pounds and in my head I looked glorious.  I went out and purchased a new bathing suit, well three, and I promptly wore them to my friends pool strutting around like I was the hottest thing that ever existed.  Following that I attended a wedding with my husband. It was a family wedding.  Obviously I had lost a few pounds and I had deemed myself the sexiest thing ever.  I had big boobs and a small waist and a nice ass.  So I wore a skin tight low cut black dress.  I felt beautiful. 

Yesterday while going through photos in my phone I came across the photo of me in those bathing suits and the photo of me in that dress.


I was appalled.  How could I have ever have left the house thinking I looked okay?  It did not look okay.  I understand beauty is on the inside, but there is a point where, a person should not dress a certain way for their body type.  Case in point.

The lighting on the before picture isn't very good so my portruding belly is slightly masked but it reminds me of that Steel Magnolias quote, "she looks like she stuffed two piglets inside her dress and they are fighting." (or something like that).  How did I not know?  How did I not see what I looked like?  How could I have ever thought it was okay to step out of the house in a dress like that?

Then I saw this.  Here is the thing.  (This is two of the three interesting things) I would not wear that bathing suit in public now.  I don't understand how it is I can put this bathing suit on at 152 pounds and think, "Shannon, this is not okay for the public, you need to cover up," but at 180ish pounds I thought, "HELL YEAH PUT THIS MOTHER FUCKER ON AND STRUT AROUND THE POOL LIKE THE SEXIEST BEAST EVER."

What in the actual fuck! Even the way I posed in the pink bathing suit.  I legit thought I was skinny.  I really really believed that looked good.  I realy believed I was some magnificant beauty.  I had no idea how far gone I was.

Here is where shit gets even more fucked up.  I'm 40 pounds lighter then I was in all of those before pictures, yet NOW I look in the mirror and I see fat, and cellulite, and just general ickiness.  How does that work? How is it that I am smaller now, but the person I see in the mirror is bigger then the person I saw before?  I have one theory, that looking at all of these before pictures where I thought I was so cute and realizing what I really looked like has made me aware that in a few months I could be looking at photos of myself now wondering why I thought I looked so hot in my new outfit, or new bra.  If I thought I was thin then, but wasn't, what if I think I'm thin now but I'm not? 

Which brings me to the third fact. When this entire thing started I had a goal.  The goal was to go from 190 pounds to 152 pounds.  152 was my lowest weight since 2007 when I lost a lot of weight after Codi was born.  I looked and felt good at that time.  I have said again and again that if I could just get to 152 I would be happy.  I realized this morning when I got on the scale and it read 151 that I have some evaluating to do.  The first thought when I saw that number wasn't, "great job you've hit your goal," it was, "okay well now you have to get below 150."  I stopped short and realized that I have gotten so caught up in losing weight that I didn't even accurately celebrate hitting a huge goal.  I was stuck at 170 pounds for so long and then stuck at 160 pounds that when I hit 152 I focused on nothing but not being stuck at 150 (which omfg I cannot seem to get below 151). 

I think I've reached that part of my journey where not only is this a physical thing, but I need to realize how emotional all of this is.  My trainer told me he had a client who went from 250 pounds to 120 pounds and when he asked her how it felt she said, "I still feel like the same fat girl."  I 100% understand that.  I'm in the best shape of my life, the scale is dropping, I look pretty good but mentally I still see a fat girl in the mirror. Which is strange because when I was a "fat girl" I didn't see her.

So much happened in my life when this journey started.  I know that the months before I joined the gym were the lowest months I've ever had.  I've never experienced the level of self destruction I did during those months.  Because my family reads this blog I will not go into detail about the methods of self destruction I resorted to but it's safe to say, the day my friend took me to the gym the first time was a life saving moment.  I know the reason why I saw a thin girl in the mirror when I was anything but thin, again I cannot share that on here, but I know it and that matters. What I don't understand is how I've made such great progress now and I'm unable to recognize it.  People compliment me and I kind of go blank. I don't know how to respond.  I don't see what they see.  I see issues with my ass.  I see a soft stomach that isn't fit and tight. I see arms that still wave when I lift them.  I don't see this person they claim to see.  It makes most of my interactions a little awkward now.

I have had some major successes.  Yesterday while being fitted for a bra I learned I had gone from a 40DD to a 34D.  I cannot remember the last time I was a 34.  My panties have gone from an XL to a Medium.  All of the new panties I bought at Victorias Secret are slowly starting to be too big. My pants size has gone from an 18 to a 10.  My dress size has gone from a 16 to an 8.  My shirt size has gone from an XL to a medium.  I haven't been a medium in so many years.  I understand all of these changes, I can process them, yet in the mirror I cannot reconcile them.  When I go to the store my instinct is to grab a large shirt, but then to also grab an XL just in case I haven't actually lost that much weight.

I've lost forty pounds.  That isn't a small amount of weight.  But my head has only caught up to maybe ten pounds of that loss.  I can reconcile that perhaps I'm now a large instead of an XL.  I cannot reconcile the thought that I could be a medium.

I've had a lot of people in my life accuse me of being a gym rat lately.  They tell me I spend all of my time either at little league or the gym and that I need to relax and cut back some.  I'm torn between thinking, "absofuckinglutly not, I cannot just stop now, this is a lifestyle change it's a forever type of thing," and "when will enough be enough, when you weigh 140 will it be enough? What about 130? Are they right, have I become obsessed?" I don't know these answers.  I know that joining the gym and focusing on that saved my life.  I never understood people who could be anorexic and not eat when they said it gave them control over their lives.  I like food to much for that to make sense.  Then I stopped and looked at the situation and wondered, "was goin to the gym and being so disciplined about this the only way I could see myself taking control of my life?" I think that could be the answer. I think that I had spiraled so far out of control and made so many bad choices that the gym became my refuge. It became something I could control. I could control how hard I worked out, I could control how often I went, I could control how many calories I burned.  The gym makes sense. It's easy to understand. You put out the effort you see results.  Nothing else in my life has been that clear.  Everything for a long time was such a muddled mess.  I was attempting to destroy not only myself but my marriage also.  It's strange how joining the gym and making this progress has changed my outlook on my marriage. Suddenly I feel worth it.  I feel like I deserve my husband.  I no longer feel like he is better then me, or could do better then me.  This is also the first time in about 10 years I've weighed less then him and it's frustrating to me that I put a value on my worth based on my weight.

I understand now why shows like the Biggest Loser like to stop and focus on the WHY of how people gained weight.  I need to focus on that.  Why did I feel so worthless I let myself get that big? Why did I feel so ugly that I tried to purposely destroy a marriage so my husband would leave me and find someone worthy of standing next to him? How did I get there?  How do I avoid ever getting there again?

I have no intention of cutting back my workouts.  I want this to be a lifestyle.  I want to be athletic. I want my kids to grow up with two healthy parents who will outlive them.  I need to work on my head though.  I need to learn to look in the mirror and see myself accurately.  I need to work on celebrating my loss.  I need to realize that there will be a stopping point with the weight loss.  I cannot keep going "just ten more pounds, just ten more pounds."  There has to be a stopping point right? 

One step at a time.  Baby steps. I'm working on this.  I can get it together.  I just want it to be sooner rather then later.  Weight loss is a bitch.