The Resplendent Quetzal, Part One

Even before I wanted my Bucky tattoo, I wanted one of the Resplendent Quetzal.

Resplendent_Quetzal_JCBThe quetzal, you see, is an amazing bird. It is the national bird of Guatemala, and it is both on their currency and the name of their currency. Because they have a tendency to die or kill themselves in captivity, they are considered a symbol of freedom and independence. They are also exceptionally beautiful birds. The males are vibrant green and red with tail feathers that are ridiculously long and beautiful. I had plans for a tattoo of one, then Bucky died and I put it on hold so I could memorialize my dear kitty.

Now, it’s time to Put A Bird On It.

Quetzal Tattoo 1Behold, the result of my first session. It took about 3 hours to do this outline and the more I look at it, the more I love it. Imagining what it’s going to look like when it’s finished is blowing my mind.

Gotta admit, I was a little nervous about the whole thing. You see, my usual artist is a fabulous guy who goes by the name Per. He’s the one who did three of my small tattoos and my big Bucky piece. I also knew that he had done a quetzal before so I was looking forward to having him work on me again.

And then he moved to Temple.

Bastard.

I asked my piercer to recommend an artist at the studio and he turned me over to Miles, who I remember from 14 years ago when I got my first piece at Dandyland. He’s been working there since Hector was a pup but it’s always a little nervous-making trusting someone new with your skin, especially when it’s a piece this size. However, I think it’s obvious that I picked the right man for the job. The detail work and delicate lines on the tail feathers are ah-mazing.

As an interesting aside, when I got my first big piece back in *ahem* 1998 it was at Dandyland by a guy named Chris Lyons. I spent a lot of time in his chair tucked away in the back of the shop. Imagine my surprise when Miles took me to the very same station and motioned for me to sit down. It was comforting. Tattoo studios are comforting to me anyway; the hum of the gun, the smell of disinfectant, and the vibe I get from the guys there. If you’re in Lamesville, I HIGHLY recommend Dandyland for both ink and piercings. They’ve won lots of awards, too!

I’ll post more pictures as I have more sessions. Next one is October 5th!

Someone Still Loves You, Charles Bukowski Jr.

Mondays are a day for happy, so I thought I’d save my sadness for Tuesday.

Four years ago yesterday, I said goodbye far too soon. My cat, Charles Bukowski Jr., died of Feline Infectious Peritonitis. It’s an autoimmune disease that is always fatal and has only palliative treatment. If you choose not to euthanize when it first happens, you have a long and difficult road ahead of you and you’ll watch your once-strong cat slowly fade away before your eyes. A lot of people choose to say goodbye right away, but some of them choose to keep them comfortable as long as possible. I’m sure you can guess which I chose.

Bucky, as we called him, didn’t start out a very friendly kitten.

He came to me by accident in Wisconsin after being dropped off at a pet shop choking on soaked dog food that was stuck in his esophagus. We treated him for that, then for the pneumonia that occurred, and finally I was able to take him home where he was loved, spoiled and given the best and most wonderful life possible in spite of developing asthma and living in a house with four other cats.

He was a very tolerant little cat. This wasn’t his favorite thing to wear but every time I squeezed it onto him he was calm and compliant, even when I dressed him in it so we could have his picture taken with Santa. Twice. In the same year. At one point I also put reindeer antlers on him and the effect was nothing short of adorable.

One day, while I lived in Chicago, he started vomiting and having diarrhea. He spent weeks at a time in the hospital and finally underwent surgery to biopsy his colon that ended up in the removal of the distal third of his colon. It also resulted in his being diagnosed with FIP. Biopsy is the only 100% reliable means of diagnosis; there is a blood test but all it tells you is that they’ve been exposed to the disease, not that they actually have it. I had people tell me “oh, he’ll be fine, my cat had FIP for years and was just fine.” No. No he did not.

I gave him handfuls of pills every day. I gave him injections. I gave him his steroids in pill form and inhaler form. I gave him subcutaneous fluids. In the end, none of the steroids, diuretics, anti-vomiting/nausea medication, or pills to remove the blood clots in his eyes were able to save him. All I could do was treat every new problem that popped up until one by one his systems started to fail.

I took this picture of him the last night we were together.

He was so weak that the sedative itself almost put him to sleep but I was grateful that he was able to drift off first so he wasn’t scared. After a little while, the doctor came in and gave him what my black sense of humor likes to refer to as “a ride on the Pink Line.” It was over in a few seconds.

I couldn’t let go. I held his little body, nothing but skin and bones, in my arms long past his last breath. I couldn’t let go of him while he was still warm. Only when a friend came into the room and told me that the only reason he was still warm was because I was still holding him did I let her take him away. Every moment is still crystal clear.

I’m crying as I write this, like I do every year he’s gone and every time I think about him. I’ve written about this twice already and I keep hoping that someday I’ll be able to remember him with a smile but it’s still not happening. There’s still a jagged hole in my heart where he should be and I wonder if it’ll ever close.

I have a permanent reminder of him now. Someone told me “always wait at least a year before you get a memorial tattoo” so that you make sure your feelings are still the same. It took me almost three years to save up the money to get my piece but it was worth it. I love my artist.

I had a cat for not even a year. His life lasted just over that. Yet I can’t get his life or his death out of my heart. I still love him as much as the first day I held him. Hug your cats tightly tonight, all. Love them. For me, for Bucky, and especially for yourself.

Inked

bright colors bold lines

my memories hurts and loves

engraved in my skin

I love my tattoos, all twelve of them. I started getting them in 1999 and I’ve gotten one in every city I ever lived except Denver. Each and every one of them has some meaning to me, or did in the past. I have several more planned, along with the places they’ll be. My father used to hate them. Now he just sighs with resignation.

There are some that are not done well and some that were poor choices but they were all my choices and I stand by them. For this reason, I may get them touched up but I’ll never have them covered up. Thankfully I’ve never made such a terrible choice that I’d be forced to cover it up.

Terrible choices include tattooing by people in their garage, basement or car (yes, this happens); poorly thought out cartoon characters; tattoos on abdomens when people expect to have 5 kids; not looking at a portfolio before getting a portrait tattoo.

Even though I get a lot of weird looks from people here in Lamesville, I am proud of my ink. You don’t have to love it, but please don’t ever tell me it was a mistake.

Little Miss S and Professionalism

“Professionalism” is one of those concepts that tends to make me want to punch someone when it is discussed.

Please, someone, tell me which comic this is from.

To me, professionalism means that you know your stuff. You’re able to behave in a professional manner; not use every swear in your vocabulary in front of clients, act polite, show a modicum of restraint and class, be honest and friendly. It does not mean that if you have bright red bangs, or a green fauxhawk, or visible tattoos and facial piercings you’re automatically an untrustworthy loser.

Full disclosure: I have 13 tattoos, six of which are visible if I’m wearing short sleeves. I also have a total of ten piercings, nine of which are visible (in my ears) and two of which are large stone plugs. I am also far, far more professional in my interaction with clients than some of the people I work with who are “normal” looking. I greet them, give compliments to the patients, make sincere small talk and listen to their often tedious stories, then wish them a pleasant day and encourage them to ask questions. With some of my coworkers, they’re lucky to get more than a grunt.

My pride and joy; my beloved Bucky.

Unfortunately, my very appearance makes me “unprofessional” in the eyes of many people. Never mind that my tattoos are all well-done and non-offensive, or that I’m friendly and compassionate, or that I show up for work on time and work hard. Nope, my hair, piercings and ink mean that I’m a degenerate and shouldn’t be allowed near normal society.

This is important because I have that all-important third interview on Thursday. While I am fairly certain that the organization for which I am interviewing doesn’t have any sort of stupid appearance policy, I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize it. This means that tonight I’m dyeing my hair back to a single, normal color and will be wearing a long-sleeved shirt to the interview. In eighty degree weather. I guess I could just wear a suit.

Maybe not that suit.

On an unrelated note, I did my 4th week of C25K today. The first five minute bit wasn’t too bad, everything else was the usual intervals, but the last five minute interval was a See-You-Next-Tuesday. As always, I felt great afterwards, and not just because Mister E and I went for French toast and pancakes. My new playlist is fab-tastic, too. If I can just stay on track, I’ll be running in that 5K like no one’s business.

Unrelated, Part Two: some random kid just came to our door. He muttered something that sounded like “mota,” then went away. Came back a few seconds later, saying he was showing off his Japanese skills, then asked for a glass of water. Mister E was perplexed but obliged. We have so got to buy our own place and hang a “SEX OFFENDER LIVES HERE” sign on the front.

Works for kids, proselytizers, salesmen.

Little Miss S Has a Clubhouse. Sorta.

On the way home from work today, I was decorated with dog hair and  had my hair pulled back all ratty-like. I told Mister E I didn’t want to go to the comic book store because I looked crappy, but I was still down for a trip to our tattoo/piercing studio.

“Right,” he said with a sigh. “Because we comic nerds are so well known for our attention to fashion and cleanliness.”

“I know that,” I replied. “I don’t want to walk in and have everyone start chanting ‘ONE OF US. ONE OF US.'” He gave me a look and I said “I’m an otaku but I do bathe sometimes, okay? When I go to a comic store I don’t want to feed the stereotype all Comic Book Men. But when I go to the Studio, it’s different. They’re my bros.” This earned me the worst look yet, and rightfully so.

You see, the guys at the studio are my friends. I’ve been going to the same studio for the last three years that I’ve been here for both piercing and tattoo needs, and have introduced Mister E and his mom to their wares and services. In fact, I got two pieces (a small half-coverup and a big ass thigh piece) done there 13 years ago and some of those guys are still there. Hell, the ginger still remembers me.

He is a dapper young fellow.

My piercer, Miro, is a whole different story. The Studio is about a mile away from my college, which was how I found it the first time. Miro and I actually went to school together. Granted, he only had a couple of earrings then, but we were in the same class and everything. He also makes sure the Studio has the best selection of awesome, high quality and one of a kind pieces of jewelry in town.

Miro and I are friends on the dreaded Book of Faces and when he saw my engagement ring, he said “Congrats! The ring is gorgeous!” Today, when we went to get new plugs he said “Hop up in the chair and let’s see the rock!” Miro is a big fan of jewelry. You might be able to tell from his picture.

He asked what our ultimate stretching goals are. Mine was a 2 gauge, but today I went up to a 0 gauge. Heh. Mister E is considering 1/2 inch. Miro said he would love to get us some matching custom plugs for our wedding and I seriously almost fainted with joy. That would be an awesome pic for the wedding album: close up of our matching plugs. Miro putting in mine as part of my bride-prep. I’m gonna cry, you guys.

Crazy lace agate. They're a bit sore.

Anyway, The Studio is a little like a clubhouse to me, I guess. Whenever I go for some new ink or jewelry I’m never self-conscious. It’s a great feeling. Granted, the guys make sure that no one is made to feel uncomfortable or looked down upon – one girl said she was so relieved she went there, because another studio treated her shittily – but everyone knows me there and we make jokes all the time. Like bros do. Just don’t tell Mister E I used that word again.

Today was also St. Patrick’s Day. Meh. I got tired of being teased about not wearing green, so I drew a shitty clover on my arm in green Sharpie. It kind of looks like a piece of broccoli, but there you have it.

Shitty clover.