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My tattoo stories.

Posted Nov 19 2012 4:08am

This post has nothing to do with fitness, yet in the sense of fitness being our bodies it almost does (right?). And in the sense of you (the royal. I realize many of you could not care less) ask me frequently about the stories behind my art this post kind of fits.  Sort of.  It (waitforit) misfits.


When people ask about my tattoos (why did you get them? do they mean anything? will you regret them?) I respond:

For me a tattoo is ‘right’ if it feels as though it has always been there—just ROSE TO THE SURFACE when the needle hit my skin.  

Im not sure this helps much if youre a person who doesnt care for tattoos, but in my mind it makes total sense.

All of my ink–from suess to skulls–feels as though it had been carried inside of me and finally ‘let out’ when the tattoo was completed.

I *always* share with kids who ask me about my art the fact I did not get a tattoo until I was old (wink).

I was 28 when I got the Star of David around my navel:



The star, for me, was a natural fit. Being Jewish–even though Im not ‘religious’–is an important part of who I am.  It’s my core.  The centering point of my life.

I was older still when I got my next one (32?).

Ren Man knows me well.  Ren Man knew I did not want a diamond engagement ring.  Ren Man purchased us matching engagement/wedding bands from the Signals catalog (we love him!!)

I loved the choice and sentiment so much ( song of solomon ) I had the Hebrew tattooed on (excuse the post-Airrosti photo .  you can sorta see the ink.).

My next stop at the tattoo shop was for the tiny image below.

We were newly home from Guatemala and I was feeling, as so many new parents do, wonky and out of control.

I now had a little person I loved more than life itself to protect and look after.  I was experiencing the ‘having a child is like walking around with my heart outside my body’ phenomena.  I decided I needed a little protection from the evil eye.

I got me a hamsa hand for happiness, luck and protection.

I frequently forget this tattoo is even there (some of the point of it for me) and yet clearly recall the morning the Tornado discovered it on my neck.

Oh Mama!! I found a new tattoo!

It took bit of explaining to her three-year-old self that NO, tattoos dont just pop up out of the blue and that YES I was aware this one existed…


More than any question I receive about my tattoos (more even than the “Why do you love Seuss so much?”) is “whats the deal with the skulls?”

(quite frankly with stuff like THIS and THIS it is simply the fact I love the look)

For me, with this tattoo, the sugar skull symbolizes rebirth .  I had this tattoo done fairly soon after I moved home from Guatemala as well.


And then there’s the Seuss sleeve.  Lottsa queries there.

  • Yes I am aware how highly political his writings are—-although that’s not why I inked the sleeve.

I started this sleeve right before I turned forty.  Id always loved Dr. Seuss and yet it was a more childish love.  It wasnt anchored into much of anything— I simply liked his rhymes , characters and colors.

And then we moved home from Guatemala.

All of the stories took on new more personal meanings (how lucky I felt, helping me explain the concept of adoption to the Tornato etc) & the notion of a leg sleeve (tattooed kneecap and all) was born.

Which brings me to a few weeks ago .

Another tattoo which was years in the making and yet feels, as it should, as if it has always been there.

This in-process piece of art:

Times have been rough around here.

Stressful, frazzled, and—to my chagrin—we’ve more turned ON each other in times of stress than TO.

But, after close to NINETEEN years together, we’ve also learned how to push past and work though.  That said, this has been the most challenging time we’ve faced.

All that said (translation: back to POOPING BUTTERFLIES as my friend Dr.Seuss would say) I think we’ve made it.

All that said this made for perhaps my most significant tattoo yet. A re-commitment of sorts to our family and to sticking together through the proverbial thick & thin.

And, of course, in skull-form .

For me tattoos are like I imagine having a gaggle of children would be:  you dont have a favorite one & you love them all for differing reasons.

Yet the family portrait—for its tremendous significance right now—is indeed my current fave.  And my artist, Annie Mess , is as well for her ability to grasp what this tattoo means to me & help the art rise to my skin surface.

(looks up from this LONG navel-gazing post to see if anyone is still reading)

The night after I started my portrait tattoo at Golden Age the Tornado —whom Im 99,9% certain has NEVER heard me share the explanation I did at the start of this post—prayed:

Thank you G-d for my mom’s tattoo showed up today.

That for me is 100% it.

Whether you love or loathe the art of tattoos aside—-for me they all feel as though they’ve always been there and have simply, finally risen to the surface.


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