Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Tattoo Tale

People either like tattoos or they don't.

There doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

I'm a fan of well-done tattoos.

But I wasn't always.

This is one of those things - one of those "oh so many things" - about which my feelings changed.






WHEN will I learn?!


To be honest, I've had a fascination with tattoos for a very long time.  But.  It was just not anything I had any desire, whatsoever, to have on my own body.  Or so I thought.

Why did that change?

What exactly changed my mind?

When did I change my mind?

Well, the honest answer to all those questions is "I'm not sure."

So while I'm sitting here with my new dragonfly tattoo on the inside of my arm peeking out at me while I'm typing this, I'm going to try to figure it out.

If you're interested, I guess you and I will maybe learn the answers together.

Probably, they're going to be more interesting to me than to you, but . . .   who knows . . .  If you're considering getting a tattoo, this may help you make up your mind one way or the other.

Bear with me while we pull out the different strings to all this and then weave them together to get where we are right now.

It's going to seem random and unconnected, I know. 

but stick with me.

I have the best hairdresser on God's green earth.

She's the fabulous Ellie Miller at haircut101 in Boone.   Ellie is a beautiful young woman who happens to also have a beautiful tattoo covering a fair portion on one arm.

I have been fascinated by Ellie's tattoo for as long as I've known her.  Finding some delightful hidden gem in it each time I give it a close look.

Now, while not fully conscious of what was beginning to play out in my mind, I was aware that my interest had been piqued by this work of art - and believe, it is most assuredly a work of art.

Shortly after I had been in to see Ellie and eyeing that tattoo of hers, I spot a Facebook post from my pal Maryglenn who was checking in from a tattoo parlor.

That little minx!


Maryglenn too?!

As often happens, serendipity came out to play and some totally unrelated things happened.  things that had absolutely nothing to do with tattoos.

And to many it's all just going to sound like so much woo-woo.


It's my woo-woo.

After we lost my mom and I started going through her things, I was reminded of how much she loved dragonflies.

I have shared a lot of her jewelry with friends and family and in that jewelry collection were several dragonfly pins.

I kept most of them, and here's a sampling -

But you know. 

I'm a retired person.

Not working any longer sort of cuts into my reason to get dressed in anything other than jammies or work-out clothes these days, so occasions to accessorize is severely limited.  

So, I do exactly what my mom did.  I will sometimes just pin a dragonfly  -  or what the heck - maybe even two dragonflies,  to my jammies while I'm sitting on the bed having coffee and playing on Facebook.

One of the things I learned from my mom.  "You're allowed to wear your jewelry whenever and wherever the hell you want."

It makes me happy, just like it made her happy.  The woman loved her bling.

I must admit - I am my mother's daughter.

So through all this, I've become reacquainted with dragonflies.

I had forgotten, I guess, just how magical they are.

While we were at the beach in September we were a little surprised  by the number of dragonflies finding their way onto our deck.

They didn't hover for long, they seemed to be in a bit of a hurry.  But in a hurry in a leisurely dragonfly kinda way.

I finally had to ask one of the locals what was with all the dragonflies.

Seems we hit there in the beginning of the dragonfly migration season and we were smack dab in the middle of their flight path.


Who knew dragonflies migrated?!  Not me.  Did you?

I sat on that deck all week with my camera close by determined to catch a shot of one of the dragonflies as they hovered nearby.  But, they all seemed to be a bit camera shy and would manage to dart away just as the camera was about to capture them.

One did stop by for a visit with Donald one morning before I got up.  And stayed just long enough for a photo.

I was jealous that Don was the recipient of the dragonfly's visit, but tickled pink with his photo.

After we had returned from Topsail Island, Donald ran across a little piece and posted it on my Facebook page - - -

And it just all fell together.  The tattoo fascination.  The magic of dragonflies.  The loss of my mom.

All resulting in this

Which I love.

This isn't how it will always look - some of the ink will fade and it will have a lighter look.  And if you have a tattoo you know there's some healing time involved.

We've been having a fun and lengthy discussion about tattoos at Facebook which I've been enjoying.

Those who have not experienced a tattoo, many of whom have no interest, but many who do, all have the same questions I had.

1.  Did it hurt?

The answers have ranged from a strong YES to a strong NO to many "it depends."  So.  No clear answer, really.  Depends on whether it's close to a bone, depends on the amount of padding in the area of the tattoo, etc.  Or - for some, none of those things seemed to matter in the least.

2.  What did it feel like?

Again.  Many responses from "like a cat scratching" to "needles or pins being rapidly shoved into your skin."

My answer:  It did not hurt.  There was a sensation that's a little hard for me to describe.  While it was not what I could call pleasant, it wasn't exactly unpleasant either.  Just, odd.  And maybe, only at moments, a tad uncomfortable.  But never painful.   I did not feel scratching, really.  More like a glide across my skin that had a slight burning sensation.  Nothing close to pins or needles being inserted into my skin.

Another thing several people brought up was the addiction factor.

I've asked a few people about this.  Some have said there's bit of addiction to the pain they felt during the process.

I was curious enough about this to ask Greg Kinnamon, the tattoo artist who did my dragonfly.

But first I want to tell you about Greg, his wife Nicole, and their shop - Speakeasy Tattoo Co.

It was, of course, important to me that I find someone who not only does beautiful work, but is careful of his clients, etc - all the things you would want to know before you step into a tattoo parlor, right?

The first person I asked for a recommendation was my friend Ellie.  Her response?  "Speakeasy Tattoo Co., hands down.  Greg Kinnamon - the best.  But, he stays booked up so you may want to schedule an appointment with someone else at Speakeasy.  He has a great staff."

I asked some more people and continued hearing good things about Speakeasy and raves about Greg.

So I stopped in.  I met Nicole and immediately felt at ease.  I was impressed with the looks and the feel of the studio and the professionalism of the staff members I met.

And I met Greg.  He spent some time asking me all the right questions about what I wanted, and spent even more time explaining things to me.  What I was  expected to do before, and the after care.  Things I'd given no thought to whatsoever.

I walked away from there feeling excited about getting a tattoo, pleased with Speakeasy, and more than comfortable with Greg Kinnamon.  And with an appointment scheduled about a month away.

Greg and Nicole are the owners of Speakeasy Tattoo Company.​  They've worked hard to bring it to where it now is - a place they deserve to be quite proud of.

From the Speakeasy webpage:

"He opened Speakeasy November 13, 2008.  He saw a need for a custom tattoo shop here in the High Country and set his sights on doing just that. The business has been thriving for 6 years now and he has custom picked each artist that works here at Speakeasy. With the artists growing here at the shop it prompted him to branch out to a private studio aka King Street Tattoo. It's just a couple of blocks away but it allows Greg to work on the larger projects that he is used to; while letting the other artist have room to grow and pick up the walk-ins. He specializes in Japanese style and loves to do nature scenes as well. He has about a 4week wait, if you would like to book with him send us an email through the contact us page."

Greg's wife, Nicole, appears to be the quiet strength behind running a first class shop.  While I was there the phone rang continuously and people were in and out in a steady stream.  Her pleasant demeanor never wavered.  And, truth be told, her calm presence was pretty reassuring to this woman about to get her first tattoo.

Greg came out to talk with me about final details and then asked me to have a seat while he got ready for me and said he'd come get me.

In the meantime, I had a little surprise.

Donald Barley, along with his camera.

I swear.

You'd think the surprises might stop after this many years, right? 



He was there as, he said, for "immoral support."   The man is silly, what can I say.  And photos.  Photos, of course!  

Well, okay then.

Photos he got.

We asked Greg's permission, and I told him I'd be writing about it and he was absolutely okay with all that.

As I said, I already felt pretty comfortable with Greg.

Now I just needed to get comfortable with this whole needle thing I was about to experience.

He explained everything that was going to happen and from that point on, we talked.

We talked.

And we talked.

I had a million questions.

Not just about my tattoo - I figured I was in the hands of the pro, now I wanted to learn more about the pro.

He is kind, serious about his art, conscientious towards his clients and has a delightfully upbeat, but very honest and straight forward philosophy about life.

I felt a bit like Grasshopper as I asked questions and he kindly and patiently answered.

Greg and Nicole are people I hope to get to know a little better.

I was most anxious to get his take on the tattoo addiction thing I mentioned earlier.

I liked hearing what he had to say, and to me - it makes a great deal of sense.

I'll never be able to tell it as eloquently as he did, but basically, a tattoo is such a personal choice for the wearer.  Not simply the choice of design, but just the very fact of having it done.  It opens doors for some people.  It might be a person's first grasp at an independent spirit - or even a way of telling others they do not, or perhaps no longer, need their approval.  They're okay now to not only open a new door, but to close the door behind them.

I love that.

I LOVE that.

Opening that door, closing the one behind you. 

How very freeing.

This was just a tiny bit of his life philosophy we chatted about and shared.  I enjoyed every second.  And truth be told, I was entranced and if the tattoo process hurt, hell, I never noticed.

And Donald was there to record it.

He thinks some morning I might look down and see this dragonfly on my arm and say, "how the hell did that get there?!"

And, you know - it could happen.

So we now have a pretty good accounting of how it all happened.

So.  There you go.  That's the tale of my tattoo.

Oh.  In answer to your question, will I get another?


Many of you will have no problem figuring out what it might be.

And here's more about Greg, Nicole and Speakeasy Tattoo Company.  Check 'em out!

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