To ink or not to ink…

You might recall I’ve been exploring various ways to commemorate the Joys of Summer; first with Botox, then with the Brazilian wax.

I’ll spare you the suspense now: I pursued neither of these activities having deemed them both expensive and temporary.

(Plus—in the case of Botox—potentially paralytic; and—in the case of the Brazilian—excruciatingly painful.)

They’re both also undeniably vain procedures, and I try to limit myself to deniable vanity.

Therefore, I’d decided to carry on through my joyful summer naturally. So to speak.

Until my mother—who reads my blog—said this to me during a recent visit:

“I see you didn’t get Botox.”

(At which point I realized I needed it even more than previously imagined.)

Then she whispered, “What about the other thing,” with a quick glance toward my lap.

(At which point I may have temporarily lost consciousness.)

So here’s what I learned:

When one publicly documents a Joys of Summer attitude, the pressure is on to actually engage in some kind of seasonal celebration.

(And also I have crows’ feet and perhaps an unruly bikini line.)

Never one to be easily daunted—if you know me in real life, stop laughing!—I’ve picked a third option which is also expensive and painful, but at least it’s permanent!

(Because whimsical experimentation should carry with it lifelong consequences, yes?)

So. Here it is: Bill and I are getting tattoos this August.

Maybe. Probably. I think.

If you’re against this type of body enhancement, please don’t judge. My teenaged rebellion consisted of telling my parents I was going to the movies when I was actually bowling. (Try not to be jealous of my wildness.) Sometimes, we’d stop at a deserted lot and drink a four-pack of Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers. (If you’re too young to know what those are, I don’t hate you. Probably.)

In other words, I’m overdue for a little crazy in my life.

When we got married in 1996, Bill and I decided not to take a honeymoon. Instead we pooled our money for a down-payment on a house which, given the current California housing market, was one of the best decisions we ever made. We envisioned a one-year anniversary trip to Hawaii, assuming we hadn’t rendered ourselves completely house poor.

Instead, we rendered me completely pregnant and celebrated our first anniversary with a screaming baby in lieu of umbrella drinks in Maui.

(This was a worthy trade <—she writes, in case her son reads this someday.)

So. Here we are fifteen years later, and we never did take that honeymoon.

Sure, we went to Italy in 1999, but I was pregnant with my daughter (we have excellent reproductive timing, yes?); also it wasn’t a strictly romantic vacation since he’d won the trip through his job, and we were in Rome with ninety of his closest co-workers and bosses.

Molto splendido, no?

Nowadays, most of our vacations involve skiing with the kids or visiting relatives which is awesome, but not romantic. (Much.)

In conclusion: We’ve given up on love in Hawaii and are celebrating fifteen years of ill-timed childbirth by getting inked. Expensive? Check. Painful? Check. Permanent?


So here’s where you come in.

…I need your stories of what you have tattooed and where (if I may be so bold).

…I need to hear that you don’t regret it—at all, ever—or if you do, why?

…I need your suggestions for my own permanent, expensive, painful ink <—What and where. Go ahead. Dazzle me!

…I need your recommendation of a nice bottle of wine to ease the pain. Or you could mail me any leftover Vicodin you have lying around…that’s legal, right?

If not, don’t tell my mother I asked.

She’s probably still upset about the Bartles & Jaymes.

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86 thoughts on “To ink or not to ink…

  1. Deb

    You SLAY me, Julie! Okay, you know I am inked on my top right (I think) back shoulder. A sweet tiny sunflower was the only image I could muster up for my big rebellion. I got it when I was 26, with a group of friends whom I lived with in Ecuador. (I was on hiatus in the US – yes, Virginia, Hollywood Blvd is a lot more sanitary than Ecuador. Well, a little anyway.)

    As for my genius timing, I did it a few WEEKS before my wedding, not realizing that tattoos bleed and scab for a MONTH. The oozing blood and pus looked adorable under the white see-through mesh that covered my shoulders. Damn.

    Do I regret it – well, I don’t regret much in life. But maybe this, a little. It gets old, faded, boring. So if you do it, maybe combine it with your prior blogs and put it in a private place that maybe needed a little botox or a brazilian.

  2. Julie

    Oh, Deb – I remember those wedding pictures (trust me, no one can tell that you’re oozing while you’re cutting the cake).

    In honor of our friendship, I could get a picture of Mr. Isenberg…or some kind of geometry proof (perhaps less painful?).

    Either way, I’ll be sure to make it private. Who wants to think about math that much, anyway?

    Excellent advice, my friend. As always.

  3. Your mom reminds me a lot of mine… Just sayin’…

    My young rebellion was a lot like yours, so I sadly have no advice to give you, unless it is based on hearsay.

    I have never tattooed anything anywhere. Despite a rather high pain tolerance, needles slightly terrify me. I had to fight to flee from the chair during all the blood drawing required for my pregnancies (thanks to my body providing natural birth control via naturally high prolactin levels). I still hate them, and almost punched the nurse who inserted my IV while I was in labor.

    If you must get a tattoo, I say something tiny, somewhere easy to hide with clothing.

    Again, no suggestions on where.

    And wine.. Well I’ve never been a wine person, only able to drink the Bartles & James coolers or Zima. I’m more of a liquor-mixed-fruity-drinks-so-you-can’t-taste-the-alcohol person, the rare times I drink.

    Cheddars (if they have them in California) has cheap ones, and there is this drink called Texas Sweet Tea that is delicious… with a fine print limit of two per person. If you’re a lightweight like me, half of one….

    Personally, I say you save the tattoo money and take a last minute summer weekend away (sans kids) for some romance.

    A lot less painful.

  4. Eek Julie! I’m EXCITED for you!

    I have one, small, surprising tattoo on my lower back. I love that no one knows about it unless I want them to. It’s *always* my “one thing about me that you’d never-ever guess!” It was a young and dumb move that I never ever regret.

    So anyhoo- a GF of mine and her husband just had wedding bands tattooed- you know on their ring fingers. Romantic, yes?

    Where are you thinking? What will it be?

    And importantly: Will there be pictures?!

  5. I’d never ever judge someone with tattoos. Even those face ones – I mean – it’s your body, your choice. I myself have 3! All on my feet. the first one I got when I was 28ish? I was away on a work trip [Wild Accountants!] and got it. A lady bug, my lower inside ankle. Mr. Kiss and I call each other bug (don’t judge). Now it looks like a strawberry, but whatever.

    Then when we had a 2.5 year old and a 4 month old, we needed to get away! Tossed the kids at the in-laws and went to key west. This is where Mr. Kiss got his first tattoo. A celtic symbol of balance, on is back shoulder. I told him it doesn’t hurt, so I got another one. On the top of my foot, a bee. Because I’m the queen bee of the house.

    THEN when I was away for a girls trip – 2ish years ago – we got a wild hair and went to the tat place. I got 2 tiny stars on the top of the other foot. One blue, one green [my boys’ “colors”]

    I don’t regret any of them! They’re small, so didn’t hurt that much.

    Seriously? My every 6 week brazillian hurts worse. And I was a grown woman when I got them, so when the boys say they want one, I say sure – when you’re 28, like Momma 😛

    Hello, I’m MommaKiss and wrote a novel in your comments. Oops.

  6. Julie

    Kelly –

    So you’re saying you don’t have any Vicodin?



    p.s. Good advice, lady. I don’t hate needles (I think I may have proposed to the anesthesiologist who administered my epidural) but I don’t love pain. At all. I have friends who say they have “high pain-thresholds” and I think “I don’t speak French.” So you may be right…

  7. Julie

    Galit – So now I’m picturing your lower back (in a sexy way, of course) and wondering what you’ve got there…Don’t think I didn’t notice that you didn’t say what the tattoo is, you Lady of Mystery. I will for sure post pictures. (depending on where…I suppose. don’t want to scare my mother THAT much.)

    MK – You can always write a novel in my comments. I love love love your reasons for all your tattoos and am now completely inspired. My parents got tattoos in their mid-fifties when they retired. So my son always says, “You need to wait until you’re REALLY old to get one.” I am sure I qualify in his eyes. (and perhaps Hollywood?) I’ll keep you posted, my friend.

  8. Oddly enough, I was pissed off at my epidural people. My first one took too long to get there, and I had it 10 minutes before I started pushing.

    My second one was faster, but she also gave it to me at 9.5 cm (what is it with that number for me and epidurals), during transition labor, and then I needed to PUSH when she was telling me “Lay down or the meds won’t work” while they frantically paged my doctor and I got pissed because my baby girl wanted OUT (I’d gone from 5 to her being born in less than an hour, after hours of barely moving).

    By the time the 2nd epidural kicked in, my doctor was there and my daughter was out.

    Then I had to deal with the after effects for days – feet swelling full of fluid because they pump you full of them before epi.

    Hindsight vision would be so handy during labor…

    And no.. My vicodin was used long ago…

  9. Ill-timed childbirth? Rendered completely pregnant? Tee-hees all around.

    Unfortunately, I have no advice to give you on the inked front. I have no ink and am terrified of it and all other needles (especially ones that go in my butt — which happened without warning during my pregnancy. Don’s ask or I’ll probably tell.) If I were to get a tattoo, though, it would probably be something tiny, like a flower or butterfly. probably on a shoulder area.

    My only advice is make sure if you have words, they are spelled correctly. I would hate to see you on or something.

  10. A big decision, I can understand wanting input 🙂

    I have one tattoo on my belly – not the best or smartest place, given that one’s belly changes with pregnancy. However, I was 21 and did not really give that a thought.

    I chose a Chinese character, which means ‘dawn’. No particular reason, I just liked the character (I was 21). And it’s blue. My favorite color.

    It hurt like HELL, I won’t lie. The longest 20 minutes of my life. But I have no regrets, I like it. It’s in a discreet enough place where I can hide it (which I do, pregnancy belly flop) and when I was younger and braver (21!), I wore cropped tops which showed it off.

    I have no idea what to suggest to you – I was going to get a 2nd one on the back of my neck that said, “I am O Positive” – yeah, my blood group. *ahem* I have yet to.

  11. Diane McEvoy

    Okay, so I’m not only old enough to remember Bartles and Jaymes, I’m old enough to remember life before them! I got my first tattoo, which I swore would be my only tattoo, after I completed my first 50 mile race. Since then, I have added five more and each one has a special meaning to me. The apple for the teacher, the peace sign as a reaction to Bush’s reelection, and of course the “m dot.” I don’t regret any of them and to me a “plain” bikini wax is far more painful! I do recommend valium and a good petit syrah! As for the design…go with something meaningful to both you and Bill.

  12. I’ve got 4 tattoos. 3 on my ankles and one on my lower back (aka the tramp stamp). One is of a grateful dead turtle that I got when I was 16, one is Chinese and my sister has a matching one, one is my oldest daughter’s name, and the last is my zodiac sign. I don’t regret any of them and I would like to get more.

  13. Julie

    Amanda – Okay. This is me asking. (unexpected needle in your butt? what?) Also thanks for the heads-up on tattoo parlor spellcheck. Yes, indeed. It would suck to have them do LOVE KILLS SLOWLEY…

    Alison – I’m 42 and have already HAD two kids. No stomach tattoos for me. But I do like the color blue and I love the Chinese characters ~ words AND art. Beautiful. I’m just worried about the cliche of them putting a symbol that means “shithead” or something worse when I asked for “peace” or “love”. I’m sure that never happens in real life, but…

    Di – I love that I know all your tattoos and their meanings already. Believe me, I’ll be begging you for valium before I go…and sharing a petit syrah after.

  14. Well, you KNOW I remember these wine coolers of which you speak. Aahhh takes me back…oh, what were we talking about?

    Tattoos. Sorry, I do not have any ink and probably never will. I am as indecisive as they come, and get tired of new things quickly.

    So I would tat and them laser it off a few years later.

    But you? Oh, go for it young one!!

  15. While getting inked is not quite as luxurious as lying on the beaches of Waikiki with a mai thai in your hand…it can be just as fabulous. And you can look at it everyday. But choose wisely, grasshopper. The only one I regret is the one that I chose hastily…because I had been putting off choosing a design and my husband’s deployment date was creeping ever closer. He usually just decides once he gets to the tattoo place…but I take a bit longer. My first tat was in 2001. It’s of an angel with a broken wing (if you listen to Martina McBride, you’ll get that) and it is a tramp stamp. It hurt like hell, but not, as I found out, as bad as it could. My second tat is of a man and woman interlaced with a yin yang (this is the hardest one to explain) and was what I chose when Neal deployed. He got a fish. Because he’s a pisces. Which is very romantic. That one is in the middle of my upper back and wasn’t so bad. My last one is of a blue butterfly to memorialize our son who was stillborn at 17 weeks. On the inside of my wrist. Which hurt like a mothertrucker. I cannot recommend that place. So my advice is:
    1. Even if you think you are going to go small, the artist will tell you that they can’t do it that small. So assume that unless it’s an apostrophe, it’s going to be at least dime size. Bigger if there’s any detail.
    2. The more detail, the more it will hurt.
    3. The more color, the more it will hurt.
    4. At some point your endorphins will kick in and it won’t hurt so bad…until they move to a different spot. And then pain, goosebumps, endorphins all over again.
    5. If you are under any influences, most places won’t tattoo you. If you’ve been drinking, it thins your blood, which is dangerous for them. Most places will not tattoo you if they smell alcohol on you.
    6. The tat I love the most is my first, which is the most colorful, the most detailed and hurt like hell. But I love it and it was so, so worth it.
    Hope that helps!!
    Gearing up for my 4th when my husband returns from Iraq!

  16. I have one that I got back when I was young and already in pain and trying to prove some sort of point. I tend to forget that I have it.

    I want a jar of jam on me somewhere. B/c my boys’ initials, in birth order, spell out JAM. Okay, that’s a joke. I do love to make that claim though and watch people’s expressions as they try not to tell me that is the stupidest tat ever.

    But, I do want another one for real. Three tiny little sets of footprints on my foot- 2 green and 1 blue(my boys’ birthstone colors). Or maybe 3 little hearts instead of footprints.

  17. Julie

    Jess – I hear it’s addicting…a high percentage of people I know who have them get more than one after the first. I’ve been tempted for years but suppose I’ve never had anything inspiring enough to make permanent. I was thinking something with my kids’ initials and have been waiting until I was sure I won’t have more children…

    Sherri – That’s MY fear. I have been tat-curious for a long time but always worried I’d change my mind about what I got. Like in high school, I would have gotten B & J for my favorite wine cooler. But then I would’ve realized in college that BJ is not good on a sorority girl… 😉

  18. Julie

    400 Wakeups – Thanks for the GREAT advice. I kind of knew about the not-under-the-influence rule, but I’m in denial. I am so excited for you to get your 4th tattoo. For obvious reasons. Hope it will be very soon and I have so much respect for your husband (and your family’s sacrifice). Do you know what you’ll get?

    Shell – I love the footprints idea…how sweet. Times three. Yes.

  19. Totally ink free, but only because I had a panic attack in the tattoo parlor. It’s just as well because I was going to get an orange California Poppy tramp stamp which is a bit redundant don’t you think?

    I can’t wait to see what you get.

  20. Julie

    Poppy –

    I remember your post about that aborted attempt…and I was already thinking about my own tattoo when I read it.

    I can’t wait to see what I get either.
    Because that means it will all be over.

    (not a fan of pain. but.)

    I have two kids. It can’t be that awful.


  21. I’m gonna have to go with “Today call me inked.” In Japanese. No— please don’t do the Japanese characters- do you know there’s a site where people submit their Japanese/Chinese/Arab/Thai/etc. tattoos and someone analyzes them and tells them what they really mean? NONE of them are what the people think they are. And most of them make no sense whatsoever.

    Maybe you could just go with “Today”. Although then you might seems like you have a love of Al Roker.

    I am no help. I am Jewish and the rumor is if you have a tattoo, you can’t be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

  22. I have three – two I will show you and one I will not unless you buy me a really expensive dinner and maybe fly me to Paris and buy a new Louis for me – you know the medium size travel tote.

    I do not regret any of them and I would LOVE to get another one. My husband HATES them though – HATES them – but he’s a conservative prude and I blame his parents for never having the sex-talk with him.

  23. Julie

    Ilana – But…what if I DO have a love of Al Roker? Maybe I should get “Al Roker” in Japanese. But then, I’ll send a picture of it out to be analyzed and find out it says something like “Eat More Bacon” and that won’t be good for anybody.

    Tracy – Let’s fly to Paris together, eat a big expensive dinner, and get tattoos of the medium-sized Louis travel tote. That’s killing a lot of birds with one…ummmm….tattoo.

  24. First, I love you because, like me, you were completely un-wild in your teenage years. And also because, like me, you’re old enough to remember Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers.

    Secondly, while I don’t have any tattoos (not my thing), my husband does and I think they’re pretty cool. His family comes from two lines of Scottish descent, so he had each of their crests inked on his upper arms/shoulders.

    As for what you should get, I’d go with something personal, with some meaning. Whatever that may be to you. As for where you should get it… someplace that doesn’t stretch or sag. You don’t want your tattoo of Tweety Bird to wind up looking like Big Bird, after all. So maybe your upper back, ankle, foot, or wrist?

    Thirdly, I recommend a Cabernet by Barefoot or Crane Lake – both make cheap but yummy wines to dull the pain. And why, yes, I do have some leftover Vicodin I could mail you. 😉

    P.S. My husband does not, unfortunately, speak with a Scottish accent.

  25. Abby


    We are so much alike, it scares me…

    I won’t get inked…ever….Jace did long ago. Being the die hard Sun Devil that he is, he got creative and put a Sparky on the back of his left shoulder. I shudder when I think about how classy that’s going to look when we’re 80!

    I prefer to ponder the possibility of getting my belly button pierced. I would argue it is the perfect compromise. Actually, it meets your criteria–it’s painful (minimally), it’s permanent(for as long as you want to have it and then…buh-bye) and it can be discreet(nobody has to know).

    I’m in if you’re in….this we can discuss in a sidebar via email! 🙂

  26. Julie

    Kristin – What do you mean “unwild”? Did you NOT read the part where I went to the movies instead of bowling? (or was it bowling instead of movies?) Plus, the WINE COOLERS?!?! Yeah. I know. And there’s only a 50% chance I’ll actually go through with this tattoo idea. (maybe 25%.) Shhhh.

    Abby – I’m pretty sure it was Ben Franklin who said, “Decisions you make in college will always be classy when you’re 80.” That’s a loose paraphrase, but still. The guy invented lightening or something like that. So I think Jace is safe. (we will definitely have to discuss this more via email.)

  27. KLZ

    I have a tulip on my shoulder blade – I’ve never regretted it for a day. It’s small enough to his whenever I need but is one of the few things I’ve ever done just for myself. I’ve loved tulips since I was a child and to me it was….a celebration of love.

    And I figured my shoulder tissue won’t sag too much. Plus, if it does, I won’t see it.

  28. I have no ink but my sister is a fan. My only advice? Keep it away from sag-prone zones (i.e. the ass) because I’m pretty sure that the bird of paradise on my sister’s left cheek is gonna look like it had a stroke by the time she’s 60. Also, Bartles & Jaymes? Marry me.

  29. Rendered me pregnant. Nice. I rendered the hell out of Kick Ass Wife.

    I would say something cheesy about blemishing an already beautiful canvas but there’s that whole hair thing so why not go for it. Just listen to Lori’s sag(e) advice.

  30. Sue L

    Hi Julie,

    Oh I can’t wait to see what you and Bill get. Back in the day I had my share of wine coolers. I also was a big fan of Boones farm strawberry wine.

    I have 3 tattoos and I still like them… though most of the time I forget they are there.

    I got my first tattoo 18 years ago, celebrating Eric and my 2 year anniversary. We both got the same tattoo, a Japanese koi, which symbolizes perseverance. It’s on my hip, and though it’s the biggest it was the least painful. When Max was born I had a smaller koi tattooed next to the big one, so he can persevere with us. I was on a tattoo high, and got two more shortly thereafter. On my ankle I have a bracelet of flowers and swallows. In tattoo lore swallows represent freedom and fertility. Lastly, I have have a butterfly tattoo. The one on my ankle hurt like crazy and took the longest to heal. The ones on my hip and back were not bad. You gave birth twice, you are a pro with pain. Color does not hurt any worse than black ink… it’s like real estate location, location, location.

    I’m thinking a petit syrah would go well with a tattoo, though one of Di’s vodka lemon drops might do the trick too.

  31. You really are my sister from another mister! I was as “rebellious” as you growing up! But I too have been thinking about a tatoo and I have none. I am witing for inspiration to fully hit me, but it will likley be four lines of words that reference my kids and it will be somewhere on my mid back so that you can only see it if we’re on bikini terms with each other (you are on that list). The words haven’t come together, yet, a little writers block perhaps, but when they hit, I will ink!

    Good luck!

  32. Julie

    KLZ – The tulip-on-the-shoulder tattoo sounds perfect. And no visible sagging is a bonus. I kind of like daisies, but that’s probably not significant enough to warrant permanent celebration on one of my body parts…DAMN I wish I’d been more obsessed with something besides Judy Blume and the Brady Bunch when I was a kid. Not good tattoo material.

    Lori – I’m assuming once a bird’s had a stroke, he’s no longer in paradise (?) Poor, sad birdie. No, I’ll avoid ass tattoos as a general rule. But as for your proposal? Of course my answer is yes. And we’ll have an open bar at the wedding. Bartles & Jaymes for everyone!

    Chase – Strong work with Kick Ass Wife, my friend. Strong work. And I’ll take Lori’s advice to heart. (although that’s an area of potential sag, so. treading carefully. always.)

    Sue – Oh, please please please come have lemon drops with Di and me afterward…and I’ll show you my new tattoo. No matter where I get it (sorry. I know that’s hardly an offer you can’t refuse. but maybe the lemon drops are???)

    Paige – Inspiration has been the one thing holding me back…so now I’m counting on terror to kick in and make a lifelong choice for me. I know. Brilliant plan, right? It’s how I like to operate. Oh yeah. Livin on the edge. As always.

  33. —Julie, I have Nada tattoos, but I would like a nose ring. My kids would go Craaazy. It would be worth it just to see their reaction.
    They think I’m nutz as it is….
    Let us know how you get Inked.

  34. Julie

    Kim –

    I had several students over the years (seniors in high school) who had tiny diamond studs in their noses.

    I usually thought they were beautiful – in an edgy, alternative way.

    If you’re talking about a GIANT HOOP though, I’d say give it a looooot of thought.

    And then take pictures of your kids’ faces for sure.

  35. I got inked last year at the ripe young age of 42. I got an awesome sun (with fiery rays) just inside and slightly above my left hip bone. It’s the size of a 50 cent piece. I LOVE IT and don’t regret it for ONE SINGLE MINUTE. Add to that, that I would love to get a second, and I told Hubs I’m taking him to get a tattoo for his 50th in November.

    You go girl!

    (I drank Barltes & Jaymes, too!)

  36. Bartles and Jaymes aren’t you fancy….we had good old Boone’s Farm.
    I got a tat ( that is the cool term) at the age of 39 on my ankle and it is a butterfly. SOOOO Lame. I now would get a cross, but prob nothing. I was not prepared and had to decide too fast. It hurt some. My tattoo artist wouldn’t tattoo on anyone who was drinking/ drunk… it causes excessive bleeding.I do have some Vicodin left over from a shoulder surgery but I will not share. I may need a bikini wax someday.

  37. i’ve got a tattoo, my friend.

    LOVE it. it’s on the back of my neck and it’s the Aries sign, but is also an Egyptian Hieroglyphic that means “woman”.

    I got it after my first miscarriage when I realized I really did want to be a mom.

    it didn’t hurt that bad. Ok, it did, but I am told most of that is because it’s on my spine.

    When it’s done it doesn’t hurt at all…just during.

    I think this is awesome.

    We had a debbie downer of a honeymoon and said we would make up for it…we haven’t yet. someday.

  38. Julie

    Ally – You have just completely inspired me! What a GREAT story and the fact that you were 42 makes me love it and you even more…Good luck getting your husband on board. Rocking 50 with a sexy new tattoo. Oh yeah.

    Janie – I’m dying right now at the image of you saving vicodin for a bikini wax. My lady, if you get one, let me know the real deal. I’ve heard about pain levels on both ends of the spectrum and don’t know whom to trust…But I think I can believe a Boone’s Farm girl. For sure.

    Oh Katie I love that your tattoo was a celebration of your desire to be a mom – drawing strength from that moment as a woman. You are amazing. (and I’m beyond excited for you right now by the way. have thought about you and smiled throughout the day.) Sorry about the downer honeymoon, but I know all good things will come to you. All.

  39. okay so here’s my thoughts on tattoos: (bear with me, I’m much to tired for grammar and punctuation).
    Anyway, I think tattoos can be beautiful but usually they are NOT. I think you should have a PROFESSIONAL do it. Confession: I went through a phase where I liked watching LA Ink. As a result, I have a critical eye when it comes to tattoo quality AND I can talk like Kat Von D. I actually call my friend (who tattoos) and pretend to be Kat Von D when I’m bored…which is often. What was I talking about?
    Oh, so I don’t like a LOT of tattoo artists work. It often looks BLURRY which is stupid since it’s going to be on your bod forEVAH. In fact, out of all the professionals at LA ink, I really only liked a few, and the only name of the few that I can remember is Nikko. He did mostly portrait work. Perfect for Al Roker.
    As a former art major, PLEASE do not get a tattoo of a symbol or a brand or a flower or a heart. Let’s think OUTSIDE the box. This prereq. of mine is why I do not have a tattoo.
    I know a person who was going to get Van Gough’s Starry Night tattooed on her wrist like a wrist cuff. Classy (OMG did I just spell his name wrong? Too tired to care).
    Here’s the deal: Go big or go home. Reproduce a masterpiece OR run in the opposite direction and go for the cheese factor, ALA Al Roker.
    The choice is yours.
    p.s. You render me amused.

  40. Julie

    JoAnn –

    Okay. So my idea for the Nike Swoosh on a rose inside a heart is a no?

    DANG it.

    I actually have never seen LA Ink but I superlove TLC (and you) so now I must watch at least a couple of episodes (not enough to talk like Kat Von D but perhaps enough to appreciate the difference between the Blurry Al Roker and the Masterpiece Al).

    I feel as if this distinction should be a canyon (grand, even) but I do not have an eye for detail (alas). So I promise to ask around for a REALLY good artist reference.

    Because if a Today show weatherman is going on my body forEVAH, he’d best be classy.

    Like me.

  41. Hello my friend. Did you think I would miss your post? Not a chance.

    Sooo…did you see my tattoos when we had our lunch or were the cadillac margaritas just a wee bit stronger than perhaps we’d thought?

    I got mine done in December. I wanted to wait until there was something I REALLY wanted, and something that was meaningful to me. And that’s why I chose turtles (because I love their meaning, especially in the Hawaiian culture – David was born in Hawaii and we got engaged there) and I have one for each child. Mine were custom drawn and the detail is just amazing. Which reminds me – if you need an amazing artist, I have one. He used to do fine arts for Disney.

    I love mine. I really do. I like the location of them, too. It’s important to pick the “right’ spot.

    Anyway. I’m SO glad you’re going to do this! I want David to get a single turtle on his shoulder but I doubt he’d ever do it. Sigh.

    DEFINITELY get a good recommendation. My guy is amazing but he’s, of course, down here.

  42. First, you’re awesome. I wish you blogged every day. I know that’s a lot to ask, but I am stuck up here in the tundra. It’s the least you could do.


    I have 2 tattoos. I suggest getting something really meaninful to both of you. I have one that is a daisy, with the stem withering to become a dead daisy on the other end. I got it when I was 19 in memory of my high school boyfriend who passed away. (Cancer sucks) The other is Lumiere and FiFi from Beauty and the Beast. Do not ever, ever get a Disney tattoo.

    I’m a big fan of the foot tattoo. That’t not where mine are, but that’s where you should get yours.

    Wine? Dude, you have to drink some Bartles & Jaymes to commemorate!

  43. We got married in 1999. I need a tattoo! I don’t have one, but I think it is great that you are getting one. You can totally rock it!

  44. i am… not a fan of pain.

    i did, however, get a tattoo on my 3rd wedding anniversary, about 5 years ago. it wasn’t so bad. 🙂 it’s a dragon that goes from my calf down to the top of my foot. here’s a link to the blog post i wrote about it, including a picture. 🙂

  45. Do it. Definitely. You will not regret it.

    Unless you get a really dumb-ass, meaningless image inked onto your body FORFUCKINGEVER, unless you wanna go through that hideous laser removal process that seems to suck and not really be quite perfected yet.

    I have 4 tattoos. And each one “came to me.” It had to mean something, represent something. Got my first in my earlyish 20s and have continued since.

    I did not get a flower, peace symbol, nor a chinese/japanese/asian character. Not to judge those who do, but they’ve become cliche. However, I’ve thought about getting a small asian character because I like the way they are so compact yet can contain an important meaning and also look beautiful. But really — it must mean something you want to think about FORFUCKINGEVER.

    My first one happened after a close friend of mine was brutally murdered one night near an ATM in D.C. For reasons I won’t get into, my friend had been going through a rough time in his life and had been struggling with lots of existential shit. We had been very close and I knew of the darkness he’d battled. We’d spent long hours on the phone talking about it. My tattoo was not merely to honor him, but to always remind me to cherish the important things, the things my friend lost sight of, the things that could have saved him from losing himself to the darkness, the things I know will always save me and pull me back before I go over the edge.

    Funny enough, even though it is fairly large and on my lower leg, I can shave my legs a million times and I barely notice this thing anymore. It’s ironic. I intentionally made it large and unusual (and ruined what my mother thought was one of my best features — my runners’ legs, which was entirely the point, because I wanted my life ambitions to be about more than vanity) so I could never forget it… and yet. Amazing what we grow accustomed (and blind) to. I really am most reminded of it when I see people staring at it. I can’t get into more detail of its design, because anyone who knows me personally and has seen it (it is very unique) would know who I am instantly upon reading this. But it involves a chain.

    I also have one on my lower back, which is an ornate anchor, the top of which manages to also look like the handle of an old, ornate sword. the anchor represents my husband, who helps keep me tethered, while still allowing me to float around in my craziness. and only the top part peeks out from the top of my pants, so it keeps it mysterious but looks a little like a sword plunging down into my pants, which is kinda weird and kinky and not my intent, but I like that you can’t really know what it is just from seeing the top. It’s for my husband, so it’s cool that really only he and my kids ever get to see the entire thing.

    I have one on my hip and one on my wrist. The wrist one represents my kids. It’s a chain with keys on it with my kids’ names on each key, because they have been, and continue to be, the keys to my heart and, more importantly, my salvation. Without them, I know I’d be lost.

    I don’t regret any of it. But again, they have to be intensely personal. I would not force this. I would wait until the right thing comes to you. Don’t pick a design out of a book at some tattoo parlor. Don’t pick something just because it’s pretty. It has to be a part of you, a symbol of something fundamental to who you are. A “message” that you want/need to carry with you through the rest of your life. To that end, no one can really suggest a design.

    I am considering getting one right around my belly button, which is now slightly misshapen because I got a hernia there with my pregnancies and after years of increasing (and misdiagnosed! ugh!) pain, recently had the hernia surgically repaired, which — (sigh ) — only made it even more misshapen. But I thought of tattooing my kids’ names around it almost like a heart, because every time I look at that damn funky belly button and it makes me mad, I want to be able to look at it and instead remind myself it looks like shit because I have two amazing kids and that it was totally worth it. It’s very ironic, because I am still thin and fit enough to actually get away with wearing a bikini without embarrassing myself or offending anyone’s sensibilities, yet I hate my belly button so much that it keeps me in one-pieces and those ridiculous tankini things. Ha. Life.

    As to choosing a place: go somewhere almost “touristy,” where they do a lot of business, or at least ask anyone you know where they got theirs. the most important thing is cleanliness. these people are professionals. the ones who work a lot know what they’re doing and take it very seriously. they really are artists. ask to see their book with samples of their work. you can also discuss your idea(s) with them. For all my tattoos, I either brought a drawing with me that served as an example/starting point for what I was looking for (because I can’t really draw) and then I had the tattoo artist do some sketches based on the original drawing(s) I brought in until we hit on exactly what I wanted.

    If they’re not willing to work with you or seem impatient about it, they can fuck off. Find the person who takes this as seriously as you do. In fact, most of these people are so sick of doing trite, unimaginative shit, that they love the challenge of creating something original and new and meaningful.

    Wine — Hmm. I’ve been to two different places to get mine done, and they didn’t allow you to be drunk or obviously intoxicated in any way. And that’s a good thing.

    Pain — yes. my first tatt took 3.5 hours. Pretty brutal. Done in one session. The next two were done in two separate sessions because there wasn’t enough time, but definitely totaled at least 3-4 hrs… The pain is part of the process. And it should be. You gotta earn this thing. And it varies depending on where you get it done. My lower back was a bitch and a half. Hitting that spine… Yikes. Also, my wrist was a killer, because the skin is so thin, and it covers part of my wrist bone ,and man that was really freakin’ hard.
    But — look at it this way — first of all, you’ve given birth. second of all, look at all the morons walking around with tattoos of daffy duck or a fucking lame flower or whatever. the world is FILLED with people with tattoos. dumbass, weak-willed people. If THEY can tolerate the pain, lady, then you most certainly can. And it’s temporary. It’s not like it throbs for days after it’s over. I don’t even remember mine hurting once they were through inking them.

    YOU CAN DO IT!!!

    It’s like a souvenir of your life.

    Though btw — I tried botox a couple times because a friend of mine was very close friends with a very renowned cosmetic dermatologist, so I was able to get the “best friend” discount — which was so steep as to be almost impossible to pass up. I will say — it made a big difference. But this guy was so good, I didn’t look freakish at all. You couldn’t even tell I’d had anything done, except I just looked less tired, even when I first woke up in the morning. It made me look younger and more energetic. Less rumpled and depressed. Haha. Vanity is a slippery slope. But ya know… all those people out there dying their hair and covering up the grays…? Is it really that different from botox? Yes, putting aside the whole “paralysis” thing… it’s now been used safely for YEARS. And even mammals groom themselves for their mates. It is normal to want to look one’s best. Makeup, hair dye… it’s whatever makes you feel good about yourself and doesn’t hurt anyone else or one’s self. It’s when it becomes your main priority that things get ugly. I love the 30 yr olds who still have no grays or wrinkles who judge older women for their vanity… JUST YOU WAIT, BITCHES! SEE HOW YA FEEL IN A DECADE OR TWO… that botox will be lookin’ pretty sweet by then… as will the juvederm and all that shit that almost EVERY ACTRESS ON TV AND FILM now uses, because it is EXPECTED. And thus the gap between the celebs and “regular women” widens and more problems with media images of women persist, etc etc…

    Anyway, I digress. But I can’t wait to hear what you decide!!

  46. CDG

    Oh, do it! I so want to. I even know what I want.

    The where is my stumbling block. (Also the money… sigh. Groceries for my son or a tattoo?)

    Here’re my thoughts: put it somewhere you can see it. What’s the point of putting beautiful permanent art on your body if you can’t admire it–even if you’re only admiring it in the bathtub.

  47. Dying: “Then she added, ‘What about the other thing,’ in a low voice with a quick glance toward my lap.

    (at which point I may have temporarily lost consciousness.)”

    Mark and I will hit the big 15 in January, but the odds of me getting him to agree to tattoos is on par with me convincing him that I believe Ryan Reynolds is only so-so looking.

    So I’ll live vicariously through you guys. My only advice: I do *not* recommend getting Jesse James’s face on or near your armpit.

  48. Julie

    Cheryl – YES I want your recommendation! What a perfect excuse to have to “go down there” – which doesn’t sound quite right (or perhaps it does? ;-))) and of course I noticed your three turtles. So perfect. I think you need to work on David. Then we can all go out and have margaritas and celebrate afterward. Yes.

    Bridget – First, thank you for the awesome compliment.And second, thank you for making me laugh hard about the Disney tattoo. I was just letting my brain say, “Really? Lumiere?” when you said it’s a don’t. Ha! But you totally own it which is awesome and makes me love you more.I appreciate the advice and I may eventually work up to two posts a week. When the kids go back to school. (is that tomorrow? please?)

    Kelley – I will keep you posted…the whole idea could be a huge, painful mistake. But at least it will be permanent. Hooray!

    Nobody – I will definitely read your post before I proceed. I hope hope hope it includes pictures. (yes?)

    Minka – You’re getting your own emailed response. I can’t do your comment justice here. But thank you. REALLY. What thoughtful advice. For sure.

    CDG – I know. I am sure when I find out the cost, I’m going to choke. And then think of all the wine and hotel rooms and laundry detergent (and college?) I could pay for instead…I’ll let you know. Maybe they offer deals on Groupon?

    Missy – So, no Jesse James in the armpit? Duly noted. Phew. Because I almost went there. I mean, if not Al Roker, then WHO? (and don’t say Ryan Reynolds because he’s only mildly attractive. right.)

  49. Diane

    I say rebel with your untattooed self! Be as nekkid as the day you were born.

    However, if you’re intent. The best tattoo I’ve ever seen is the caffeine molecule on my buddy’s shoulder. Given that you’re a writer with two children, you may want to consider this.

  50. Julie

    Diane –

    I just may remain un-tattooed ~ since I’ve definitely decided (after so much thoughtful feedback) not to get something for the sake of it…unless the perfect design comes to me. Which it may. Or not.

    I’m hopeful the right decision will make itself known.Either way, thanks for the advice and I’ll keep you posted.

  51. I love this. I have been in a “God-I-am-too-young-to-act-this-old” kinda stage and understand the need to shake things up.

    I’m kinda thinking of getting a little teeny-tiny ant by my thumb. Just so people can say, “Omigod, there’s an ant on your hand!”

    I’m sure that won’t get old.

    As for you…obviously the old men who once were featured in the B&J commercials. Perhaps, “We thank you for your support” in Old English lettering?

    I love this space. So sorry I’ve been a stranger.

  52. No tattoos here. I’m such a wussy. I have nothing to offer to you. Only I can’t wait to see the pictures….if there will be pictures…err…ummm…if there should be pictures.

  53. Eric C

    Hi Julie,

    I got all eight of my tattoos in fairly rapid succession in my early twenties. I regret all but three of them. What I don’t regret, my first “Que sera, sera” banded around my leg, my life motto, my 21st bday one, the daisy chain around my wrist, and the one on my butt that says “Cute doesn’t cut it” simply because I can’t see it and there is nobody back there reminding me its there.
    I vote for remaining ink free. I would do it if I could. It truly is becoming the abnormal rather than the norm.
    But if you do go, I have some recommendations on places that we can discuss later. Places to get the tattoo, not places to put it. Got it?
    I’ll look forward to hearing your decision.

  54. Hi, Julie! Good grief I need to stop by here more often – you crack me right up sister!

    Can’t wait to hear what you decide on – personally, not inked, but totally fascinated with tattoos and the artistic talent involved. One of the first questions my husband asked me when we first started dating (10 yrs. ago) was “so… do you have any tattoos?” I am fairly certain he would divorce me if I ever got one.

    I think whatever you get it should be absolutely, positively meaningful and not frivolous. I also vote for a private spot.

    In a perfect world you would go to the Shamrock Social Club in Hollywood and get inked by one of the BEST guys in the biz, Mark Mahoney. He is known for his single needle work, is a character and a half and even had a cameo in that space movie with Ben Affleck. He’s the COOLEST cat around :). People who know tattoos know a Mahoney.

    That’s my two cents. Look forward to hearing all about it. OH – the wine! Have the wine after, shouldn’t drink before ink – makes you bleed more.

    I say if you’re going to do it you should have the full experience.


  55. liz

    About 6 months ago I had a BIG urge to get a tattoo.

    And people came out of the woodwork telling me about theirs.

    Lots of people have them. And it seems the reigning consensus is to be sure on your image and not to let the temporary pain of having it done sway where you want it. Cuz it’s not going to feel good either way, so if you are going to endure it, you might as well be extremely happy with where you put it.

  56. Julie

    Nancy – I think you are absolutely right about the ant on your thumb. Some things just stay funny forever. Or not. But at least you’ll prove to yourself that you’re not old. And I’m not either. At least I’m pretty sure I’m not. Anyway, I love it when you stop by my place here. Anytime. Always.

    Stef – If I go through with at tattoo, there WILL be pictures. Whether or not I post them is another issue…it could end up in a spot that no one needs to see during Sunday brunch.

    Eric – Thanks for the thoughtful (and heartfelt) advice. You’ve given me something to really think about and I’ll be sure to keep you posted. p.s. I am loving Ella Minnow Pea. I had no idea what it would be about, but the satire is awesome. (kind of Jonathan Swiftish in its absurdity and loveliness…Fabulous!)

    Jen – So glad to see you here AND to crack you right up! That’s a successful Friday as far as I’m concerned…Thanks for the advice. All the non-inked people coming out of the woodwork are making me think twice…but I will definitely be looking into the artist recommendations I’ve gotten here. If I’m going to do it, must do it right. And then blog about it. Of course.

    Liz – See. This “six-months-ago” thing is what’s getting to me. It SOUNDS like a good idea right now, but I’m afraid the feeling will pass. I can always get a tattoo in the future; but once I’ve GOT one, it’s been gotten. (gosh I’m feeling articulate right now. I hope you know what I mean.) Anyway, pain is the least of my worries. Having a stranger possibly see any part of my butt crack is a much bigger issue…

  57. Oh shoot – tattoos are way more painful than Brazilians. Not that I have any (tattoos) but so I’m told. If I did get inked, I would probably do … oh gosh I have no idea. I never will get inked, who am I kidding? But I was a goody goody and I too drank wine coolers in my day.

  58. Julie

    Jennie –

    Oh no! You have totally fed into my ambivalence.

    Perhaps I’ll just purchase a pack of wine coolers with Bill and find an empty lot where we can play a little REO Speedwagon on the radio.

    That worked for me in the 80’s as a form of rebellion.

    And it wasn’t permanent. Except for this:

    “I can’t fight this feeling anymore…I’ve forgotten what I started fighting for. It’s time to bring this ship into the shore. And throw away the oar. Forever.”

    Those were some lasting lyrics. Permanent, even.


  59. Awesome on the getting inked! I’ve always said I was going to go get a tat and never have. Not yet anyways. By the time I get the courage, I may have too many wrinkles to get a nice flat image. As for wine, I can’t make a recommendation since I’ve never been through the experience. But may I say……….YEAH Wine!

  60. Julie

    Terri –

    To me, you may always say “YEAH, WINE!”


    And flat images are over-rated.

    So I hope to share both wrinkles and wine with you someday.

    (fingers crossed. but a tattoo on my finger would hurt, so…)

  61. OMGosh, we had the same wild teenage years, you and I! Also, I got married very young (and like you, am still married to the same guy) bought a house in California a few years after you and lost money on it when we moved back to Illinois (but learned a lesson…). And I loved your mom’s reaction to your ‘personal stuff’.

    I think if we ever had the chance to meet, that you and I would probably have that ‘chemistry’ and we would be good friends (you seem to have Midwest values, whatever that really means).

    As for tattoos, I would never get one, only because I have a great fear of needles. I guess the only advice I could can give you is research the part of the body where a getting a tattoo would hurt the least, and see if that’s acceptable. I enjoyed this post very much. Good luck!!

  62. YAYAYAYAYA for tattoos!

    I am no fan of either paralysis or the painful yanking of unwanted hairs, and seriously? The tattoo pain is not bad. At all.

    I mean, don’t get it on the top of your foot or on your face or your hand, because I’ve heard that those hurt. Get it somewhere fleshy.

    I got my tattoo after graduating from college with my BA. I was 21 and in Santa Fe and hanging out with friends [and drinking beer] at one of their friend’s places, which happened to be a tattoo parlor. These friends all had tattoos and the artist offered to tattoo me for $50. I drew up a cool design [it looks swirly and flow-y] and the tattoo artist did the design on my upper arm. It didn’t hurt much at all – just like a lot of poking and IT IS FUCKING AWESOME.

    I don’t regret it all.

    I feel like a complete badass all the time.

    And I’m constantly surprised at the number of seemingly normal, professional people who have tattoos.

    The husband has 3, and we both agree that they are cool and make you a better person.

    As to design, get something you LOVE, but don’t feel pressured to get one until you find that design.

  63. Julie

    France – My mother grew up in Illinois before moving to California and we still have a lot of family in Chicago…I’ve never been. But if I do, we will celebrate our mutual wildness and fear of needles. (and also our love of infomercial gadgets??? oh yeah.)

    Suniverse – So no face tattoo? Check. (yeah. I’m so not that badass.) But the upper arm? Still sounds painful. Not as bad as the face, though. Or a Brazilian. (that area is a no.)Above all else, I’ve decided to wait until the perfect design inspires me…(which doesn’t mean I’m a chicken. right?)

  64. Okay, I’m going to tell you the bad of the Phoenix Ink world. My daughter “Sheldon” got her first tattoo at 19, a giant color crown on her right hip. All I can ever think of is “have it your way”. Recently, she got a bible verse on her other side, WITH A TYPO! They were able to fix it by adding a giant leaf. You choose, me, no way, not ever. Why not pierce something instead.

  65. Julie

    Mrs. Tuna ~

    Oh no! I’ve heard of the typo danger, but thought I’d be safe (as an English teacher…) However I suppose if I’m quivering in pain and squeezing my eyes shut I may not notice a misspelled word. Or three.

    As for the (unintentional) Burger King tattoo? There are no words. You are hilarious and I love that you shared this (Sorry, Sheldon).

    I know my daughter will do things that make me scratch my head…I do that to HER all the time.

    Body piercing. Now THERE’S an idea.
    I sense another blog post coming…

  66. In my book, even considering a Brazilian earns you a super hero title! LOL. I am visiting for the first time, and just want to say how much I love what you’re doing with the “Today call me…” theme. So cool! 🙂

  67. I got a tattoo when I was 18 and thank goodness, even though it was a dumb idea to get one so young, I got something small, black and without anyone’s name on it. I got a small tribal sun on my ankle. I don’t mind it now but I don’t love it either.

    Can’t wait to see what you decide on!

  68. Shana – So glad you found me (probably through Liz and Jessica’s #SummerBlogSocial?) Thanks for visiting, reading and for the feedback on my blog’s theme. As for the Brazilian, yep. I stopped at the “considering” stage. Same with Botox. And the jury is still out on the ink. So. This week I’ve been learning so much about blogs (thanks to Liz and Jessica). And also that I’m averse to pain. Oh yeah.

    Jessica – I like the idea of something small on my ankle. But I hear that bony areas HURT. (Have I mentioned I hate pain?) So yes. It makes a LOT of sense that I’m considering a tattoo, right? Perhaps a symbol for insanity…do those exist?

  69. I have no tattoos, and I recently broke an agreement with my husband wherein I was to get a wax of the bikini area. I’m really adverse to pain. I’d buy a big pack of the temporary kind of tattoos if it was me!

  70. Joey –

    WOW – weird coincidence, but I was JUST thinking about you!

    I hadn’t seen you on Twitter in a while and was wondering how you are doing…

    So glad to see you. I missed your presence.

    AND I appreciate your aversion to pain.

    Now that tattoo time is approaching, I’m feel myself getting more and more (and more) chicken.

    And by “chicken” I mean “I DON’T LIKE PAIN!”


  71. I thought about getting a tattoo for a short while but nothing seemed worth putting on my skin permanently. I have a very high pain tolerance – 4 babies born drug free, and it DID hurt, but I made it – so the pain isn’t an issue. I was more worried about the effects of aging on the tat. My grandfather had one and when he was in his 60s and later it looked a little…well…sloppy.

    Can you believe I just celebrated my 18th wedding anniversary and I’m not even in my 40s yet!! 1993 seems like an eternity ago.

  72. Annie –

    Married 18 years. Four drug-free births. Not even forty?

    You’re my hero, lady.

    There’s gotta be a tattoo for that…

    p.s. My parents got tattoos in their 50’s when they retired. They’re now in their 60’s and still looking good. But I’ll get back to you when I’M in my 60’s and see how theirs have fared.

  73. Okay, *panting* I made it. Finally. I’m going to be brief. Seriously.

    I have one tattoo. I had it done right after I graduated from college in 1989. Nobody had tattoos back then. Certainly not “good girls” — but I wanted one. I needed to mark time.

    I did absolutely no research.

    I went into the one tattoo parlor in town and simply asked, “You change the needles, right?”

    The enormous tattooed guy behind the desk said, “Lady, I’m not in the business of giving people Hep C or AIDS.”

    That seemed encouraging. I mean, he seemed up on the Health Code and all.

    I sketched out what I wanted. Something that was extremely symbolic to me.

    The person to whom I was assigned was Jed.

    I will never forget Jed because I had to drop trow in front of Jed. My tattoo is located beneath my bikini line. In the front. No one ever knows that I have it unless I’m in a pretty intimate situation.

    Or if I’m trying on bathing suits in a public changing room.

    Jed was new.

    I wasn’t worried.

    I have a high tolerance for pain. Did natural childbirth. Never used novacaine for cavities. So it didn’t hurt, but it is also my understanding that that is an area where there are fewer nerve endings (maybe?) — anyway Jed got to doing his thing.

    I laid there looking up at the ceiling. Thinking about what the symbol would mean to me. How excited I was to have it. Forever. About how much longer until I would be 100% independent, for real, on my own. About who I was and who I was becoming.

    It took just under an hour to get my tattoo as it is quite small: half dollar sized. When I was finally allowed to look, I was shocked.

    It was lopsided.

    At first I was upset. But then it made perfect sense. Of course it was lopsided. That’s where I was in my life right then. I was moving to a new town. To start graduate school. To live with a man I loved. But I was leaving behind a place I’d loved. People I cared about. I felt a bit like a three-legged table, unbalanced. Definitely lopsided. And suddenly, I loved it. It was like a cosmic force knew how to create the right outcome for me.

    I have never regretted it.

    I look at it everyday and feel joy.

    For real.

    I love it.

    And it actually helps me remember that we are all, each of us, perfectly imperfect. And it’s okay.

    (Footnote: I did add onto it when I married my husband. And I would like to add onto again to symbolize my son, but tattoos are no longer $75, like I paid in 1989. I was shocked at how expensive tattoos have become! So I guess my only reason for mentioning that is that I could afford to make a $75 mistake in a place that would be essentially hidden. But if you are going to be spending a fair amount of money on something that is going to be much more visible, you need to research the artist much more carefully than I did. I would not want this tat on my arm.)

    Okay, so it was a little long. 😉

  74. Renee –

    Seriously? I can always count on you for the best stories. The best.

    And I love the interpretation of your tattoo; the fact that you still look at it and love it every day; that you can and did add to it.

    This means a lot to me. Thank you for sharing. (With me, not Jed. He probably doesn’t remember you. Probably.)

    But I will remember this comment.

    (And we all know how much comments mean to us, right? Oh yeah.)

    I am so grateful to have met you, my slightly-lopsided-at-one-time friend.

    And then some.

  75. I laughed through this whole post–especially Oedipus. Anyway, you guys are so fun! I have no tatoo stories (plenty of waxing ones though.) I assume there will be picture and a few blog posts!

  76. Like you, I was a goody two shoes and yes, I do know those wine coolers you speak of–so we are kindred spirits!

    I got my first tat when I was a junior in college—with a sorority sister. We were lame, got nothing meaningful—a small pink flower about the size of a nickel on our right hips. Innocent, easy to conceal, etc. I never regretted it, just wished I’d put more thought into it.

    Flash forward to December 2010. Girls’ trip to vegas. I’d been lamenting my lame flower tat for some time and had been daydreaming of a fleur de lis (very symbolic to me, as I’m from New Orleans). Found a tat place there courtesy of Le Twitter! and was able to incorporate my old lame flower into my new tattoo. I LOVE IT. ANd I might add that while not painless, the right hip provides a fleshier area and is nowhere near as bad as, say, the top of one’s foot.

    I posted a vlog and photos about it. I won’t lie—it hurt, but it wasn’t unbearable. SO WORTH IT. Makes up for all the rebel inside I always suppressed?!?!


  77. Hi Julie…first time commenting here and I adore your blog! You are amazing.

    I am one of the rare people that will never get a tattoo (I say rare because it seems a ton of people are getting them these days…my brother has 5 or is it 7? I honestly don’t know). Mostly because I’m a wuss and don’t think I could stand the pain…yet I gave birth to three children! Hmmmm.

    So I’m no help in the “tell me your experience” department. But may I just suggest that you hook up and IV and fill it with the alcohol of your choice to help manage the pain? Cosmo IV, wine IV, tequila IV, whatever you decide. Oh and of course you will have to show pics after the artwork is done!

  78. It’s August….post pix of the art, when the art happens. Now you are ink cornered unless you can conjure up a clever excuse as to why the inking didn’t happen.

    The extent of my goody-two-shoes repressed self-destructive behavior has been a nasal and naval (still have) piercing. I got my tongue pierced also but I didn’t make it past the 4 day mark before it was removed and sailing through the air (worst ever!)

    I have inked on my list. Waiting to read of your experience….

  79. I say if you want a tattoo, go for it! But don’t tell your mother I said that, I don’t want her to hate me.

    I did have a good laugh at your mother pointing out it was obvious you had skipped the botox.

    So, I’ve never wanted a tattoo but my sister always has dreamed of getting the perfect one. She’s 30, so why not? Well, my stepmother and dad have said that anyone that gets a tattoo will be written out of the will. Controlling over stupid things much? Anyway, because of this I have offered to buy my sister a tattoo. I will fund the whole thing and consider it a great investment on my part. That’s what sisters are for, right? My sister does not think my offer is as funny as I do.

    Is there a part of your heritage you want to document? Or perhaps your kids birthdays? Or a favorite saying? I’m out of ideas because I’m too much of a nerd for tattoos.

  80. Julie


    So my mother informed me that I wouldn’t be permitted to go in a chlorinated pool for two weeks after getting a tattoo.

    Needless to say, this took the edge off my desire for ink in August when we’re still in the water all the time.

    Maybe Christmas tattoos? Some well-placed mistletoe wouldn’t be bad.


  81. Heidi

    Funny, because it sounded do like myself. I too got married in 96 and already had my son by my 1st anniversary. Honey moon was a two night stay in Monterey, we were in San Francisco at the time. I was one of those “good” kids too. I finally got my tattoo this year, a gift for Mother’s day of all things. I am very pleased and if you pick something right for you I think you will be happy too. Just remember that you should be able to cover when needed or show it off when you want to. I think that those of us who waited so long to get them probably regret them less. It did not hurt too bad. Do your homework and find the right person. Meet them ahead of time and bring in your ideas. Get them to draw it out ahead of time and feel free to tell them you don’t like it. It is better to be firm than regret later. Have fun!

  82. I couldn’t resist commenting. Very well written!

  83. Julie- I was so excited to read this because it just hit me that I WANT A TAT!! So now when I am at a bar, bistro, pub, restaurant, I always ask the server about their tattoos and if it hurt. And they all say YES! So if I’m going to be in pain anyways, I might as well get a sleeve, right? I’m thinking scotch or bourbon. (for my pain killer, not my tattoo). I also want a motorcycle. Oh, and I love wine, I’ve been drinking it since the first wedding in Cana. Good luck!!

  84. june montuori

    I have 6. Love all of them and will get more…maybe. I am running out of areas that will not “sag”. It’s important where you put them. Painful? Absolutely. Liquor won’t work and is seriously frowned upon. “The pain is part of it” they say. Not. Numbing cream. You won’t feel a thing. Seriously. My last 3 tattoos were done with numbing cream. Painless. You can buy it online or if you have a Dr. friend you can get a prescription. Good Luck!!!

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