I grew up in rural Connecticut, a rather boring and
stifled part of the world. I knew from the time I was about eight years old, that I didn't "fit in" and I never really cared about it. By the time I was in Junior High, I was labeled a freak by my classmates and decided to feed in to their ridicule.
I went to Junior High in a town where everyone went to
church on Sunday, including my classmates. I was a budding goth at the time, and loved to shock other students and teachers. I started by wearing safety pins in my ears and doing play-piercings on my ears during class. Needless to say, a teacher called my mother and said that something should be done about my "self-mutilation" fascination.
At the time, a piercing shop was something that simply
didn't exist within a 100-mile radius of my hometown. Piercing was just starting to be seen on TV and in movies, and I decided that I wanted an eyebrow piercing when I saw the Faith No More video for their remake of "Easy". A cheesy way to become interested, but effective. For about a year and a half, I wore countless slip-on nose or lip rings, and I play-pierced my lip at one time.
When I was 16, I decided to go to Tucson, AZ to visit my
mother over Christmas break. I was living with my strict and disapproving father at the time, and my mother was all for a plan to piss him off a little bit. She mentioned the idea of sending me home with a piercing or tattoo. At the time, Arizona didn't have any age limits for piercing or tattoo (I don't know if they do now) so it wouldn't be a big deal to go get something done. I decided to go through with getting my eyebrow done.
Being 16 and from a small town, I didn't know much about
piercing. My mother and I decided to take a walk down Tucson's 4th
avenue, a street lined with thrift shops, hair salons, and
restaurants. We saw a hair salon with a piercing shop in it, so
we decided to go in. We were told that the piercer was out
getting more needles, and that he'd be right back. While we were
waiting, I picked a 16ga SSS captive bead ring for my jewelry.
When the piercer walked in, I was shocked and embarrassed to learn that my mother knew him personally. She'd worked with his mother and even had Thanksgiving with him and his mom a few times. He assured her that I was in good hands and led us to a curtained-off corner of the salon.
He explained the procedure to me, showing me clamps,
autoclave, and needles, and told me that needles there were used only once and then thrown away. I was not too nervous and had no problems with seeing the size of the needle. I laid down on the table, and grabbed my mom's hand. The clamp felt so cold, and it really was the worst part of the whole thing. I closed my eyes, and held my breath, and was amazed at how painless it really was. For me, it was no worse than a booster shot. I sat right up as soon as it was done because I was so anxious to see. I was bleeding a little bit but I didn't care. I just had my first piercing, I was a minor, and in a few days I'd be going home to Connecticut to shock my family and peers.
During the first few days, I used Bactine to clean it.
From doing this, I learned that Bactine should only be used for sunburn and bug bites. My eyebrow swelled up and made me look like I'd been in a fight. My mother had me put a poultice on it overnight and the swelling went away. I started washing it with antibacterial soap after that and it began to heal up nicely.
When vacation was over, I went back to school, and walked
through the doors with a snide grin on my face. I went to a vocational school, where we'd take shop for 3 weeks, academics for 3 weeks, and then another 3 weeks of shop, and so on. My shop of choice was electronics and my teacher was sexist and intolerant of people that weren't exactly like him. For the first few days back, he was mostly shocked and kept asking why I did it. On about the fourth day, he decided that it was a safety hazard. In shop, jewelry was not allowed (unless earrings were covered with bandaids or masking tape), and safety glasses were to be worn at all times. My safety glasses completely covered my eyebrow and ring, and I pointed this out to the instructor. I thought that this would end my problem with him.
The next day was Friday, and when I came to school, my
teacher told me to go see the principal. The principal told me that I would need to remove the ring or be suspended indefinitely. I was shocked and upset, of course, and immediately used his phone to place a long distance call to my mom. She said that she would get in contact with the piercer and the ACLU right away.
On Monday, I came to school and was called to the
principal again. The piercer had sent a fax to the school, stating that removing the piercing during the healing process would cause infection, and the holes would close up, trapping the infection. The infection could potentially cause serious health problems. There was also a voice mail to my principal from someone at the ACLU, saying they'd fight for me all the way. This scared the pants off of administration, and they agreed to let me wear my ring, as long as it was covered by bandaid while I was in shop.
Of course, covering a healing piercing is not a great
idea but I had to do it. I made it a point to wear obnoxious bandaids with cartoons on them. I managed to heal completely during summer vacation, but it was during this time that I contracted Lyme Disease. I believe the heavy antibiotics were what caused the healed, healthy ring to grow out after 10 days of taking them. One morning I woke up and found my ring on my pillow. I was dismayed, but was moving to Arizona soon.
Until I was 18, I lived with my mother and then with
an abusive and oppressive boyfriend. He wanted to turn me in to someone that I was not, and during this time I didn't have anything pierced. Finally, I got my act together and kicked him out. I was allowed to be myself again, and after a few months I decided to get a tattoo.
My older sister had gotten her own tattoo about a
year before I got mine. She lives outside of Cincinnati and was absolutely thrilled with her tat. I am a fan of Japanese animation and my ex used to tease me about this, calling me childish or immature. He also thought tattoos were disgusting, and so I decided to get a big, colorful tattoo of Sailor Moon.
The tattoo shop, Roy's Art Studio, was located in
Mason, Ohio. My sister works at a bank and her customers had told her about it. They had a reputation for cleanliness, and wonderful artwork, and Roy and his wife Randie owned it. I was going to be in Ohio for a week and we had to get in touch with them. My sister called the shop and never got an answer. We found out they were on vacation, and I started to feel dismayed, until we learned that they'd be back the day before I was to leave. That day, I brought in a few pictures of Sailor Moon so that they could do a drawing for me and give me an estimate. They would be able to do my tattoo the day I was to leave.
I went in to the shop the next day and Randie showed
me the drawing. It was perfect and I knew I was going to be satisfied. She traced the drawing on to my shoulder using carbon paper. It tickled a little bit which helped ease my nerves. She let me see it through a mirror, and then I was ready. She showed me the inks she'd be using, assuring me they'd be run at full strength. I was then shown the needles, in the autoclave package with the color-changing stripe to indicate that it had been sterilized. The way my tattoo was to be done was explained to me, up to sixteen needles used for colored areas, down to one needle for tiniest details. I took a deep breath and prepared myself. The first touch of the needle told me that it was not going to hurt as much as I thought, but it was still going to burn and sting. The only thing I can compare the feeling to, is picking at a scab that is not ready to come off.
Three hours later, I was done. I was surprised that I
felt so tired. About an hour in to it, my shoulder went numb, so I was not hurting too badly. Randie dabbed off all of the extra ink and blood, and I was shown my completed tattoo through the mirror again. I was thrilled, it was beautiful! The colors were a little loud but I knew they would fade as I healed. She bandaged me up and sent me on my way. I had to get on an airplane in an hour and I knew it wouldn't be fun. I couldn't sit back or let my shirt stick to it once I took off the bandage. Four hours later, it was time to take off the bandage. I am not the smallest person in the world, so it was not going to be easy to do in an airplane bathroom. It took me about 15 minutes to take it off, tape and all. I almost kept it because there was a perfect blood outline of Sailor Moon. It was gooey from the lotion she'd put on it and it felt like my shoulder had been dragged through broken glass.
I was very meticulous about caring for it. I used the
same method that my sister had used to apply lotion to it- wrap a few paper towels around a hairbrush, secure them on to it with a rubber band, and put the lotion on the paper towel, then dab the lotion over the tat, and go over it with a dry paper towel. I found that the best towels to use were the generic store brand. The others are too soft and have a lot of lint.
It itched like mad and peeled like an onion for about
4 weeks. When it was done healing, I was amazed to see that there were no spots that were in obvious need of touching up. It has been over a year since I got the tattoo, and it still looks perfect. I plan on going back to Ohio to see Roy and Randie again, because they kick ass!
Recently, I've married, and moved to California, I
work in Silicon Valley and live near San Francisco. It's a far cry from life Connecticut and most of the people here are very accepting, and a lot of them are pierced. When I got here, I knew that I'd want to get some more piercings, but I was determined to find the best possible piercer and not settle for less. A few of my co-workers are very in to body modification, and one of them recommended Anne Greenblat to me. I wanted to get a tongue bar, so I went to Anne's website and emailed her about getting an appointment. We set one up and I spent the week until my appointment reading about aftercare and looking at Anne's online portfolio.
During that week, I learned that Anne was an
extremely skilled body artist and I was excited about getting a piercing from someone like her. I spent a lot of time reading her FAQs and stories about other people's experiences on BME. The day finally came and I ended up arriving at Anne's a bit early. My roommate came with me, since she will be getting her own tongue bar soon and she wanted to see how it was done. Anne made me feel very relaxed. She put on some soothing music and told me to take deep breaths. She felt my tongue and measured to see how thick it was. My frenulum is a bit long and there was a big vein near it. The holes are crooked to allow for this but it is unnoticeable. I decided on a 3/4" 12ga, later to be stretched to a 5/8 " 10ga.
I went to the restroom to rinse with Tech 2000
mouthwash, and then my tongue and mouth were dried with gauze. Anne drew dots on my tongue with genital violet and I got to see where it would be. I took a big breath and the clamp went on. It only pinched a little bit so I didn't think that it would be too bad. She pushed the needle halfway through, twisted my tongue a bit so that she could push it the rest of the way through, and I was done. It took about 15 seconds and I didn't feel much. I could feel it starting to swell, but it still didn't hurt. I sucked on ice, and started to feel lightheaded. I wasn't feeling any pain yet, but I think that my brain was freaking out from having a piece of metal pushed through a muscle. I don't know how long I lay there sucking ice and drinking water, but it felt like a long time. I tried getting up once but only had to lie down again. My roommate said I looked pretty pale. Finally I sat up and felt normal. I was really swollen but still not hurting. I decided to have all of my ear piercings stretched and put captive beads in. I have seven of them, the bottoms on each ear are 14ga, the others on each ear are 16ga, and the cartilage got an 18ga. Anne noticed that my eyebrow looked irritated and that the ring was poor quality. She replaced that too and gave me some Provon soap for it, and it is doing a lot better.
We went home and I knew that the next week would be
rough. I bought a lot of pudding, yogurt and slim fast, as well as 12 bottles of Tech 2000 from Anne. The day after, I woke up with a dull pain, no worse than a mild headache. It soon went away with the help of my new friend Alleve. The next five days were the worst. I do tech support primarily on the phone so talking was difficult. I rinsed with sea salt and water, and Tech 2000 after every meal and had none of the problems with thrush or other atrocities that I'd read about. I had the bar shortened and the hole stretched to 10ga last week. Having the bar out for 30 seconds felt so weird!
Next week I am going to see Anne again, I am going to
get a tragus ring, labret, and both nipples done. Her work is excellent and her studio is immaculately clean, so I'd strongly recommend her to anyone interested. Visit her at http://www.best.com/~ardvark
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Feb. 1999