Based on a True Sweater

Sep. 30, 2007

Family Tattoos

Sibling Tattoos

First things first. To those of you who read my last entry, especially those who commented: Thank you!! Thank you for sticking around. It was really nice to know that my crappy blogging habits have not lost me *all* of my readers.

When my brother Dan and his friend Mike visited last year, Dan and I got matching tattoos. I can't believe it's taken me this long to post a photo, but that's them, above. Rachael took the photo for us when Dan visited again this summer. A year on, we're both still pretty nuts about these tattoos, though we both need touch-ups.

Posting this makes me think of all the tattoos I have that match those on other people. Of the 16 I currently have, 8 have a match that lives on someone else. Of the remaining 8, 3 were acquired as shared experiences with friends or family.

I'll post photos another time, but for now here's what I've got:

1 and 2: Zak and I have matching tattoos on one finger of each hand. The first, on the traditional fingers, are our wedding rings. We call the others (on the index fingers of our right hands) our engagement rings, though we got them over a year after we were married.

3 and 4: My mother, her 2 sisters and I all have a little vine tattooed on a toe. When we got them, I also got the Chinese charater for "family" done on my ankle. My great-aunt went for a tattoo with us, but got a butterfly on her ankle instead. At the beginning of that day, I was the only one in the group of us that had tattoos.

5: My sister and I have little matching blue stars on our stomachs. You will never, never see a photo of my blue star. We got them on the same day I got #6:

6: I have an abstracted cog wheel on my right shoulder, which was designed by my high school friend Chrys, who ended up doing 10 of my tattoos, including our wedding rings and the blue star. He has the same design circling his navel.

7: My aunt Sandy and I have matching maple leaves. Mine is on the inside of my left wrist, hers is on her ankle. My friend Jane went with us and got the same maple leaf, on her upper chest. My friend Sara also joined us, though she got a different tattoo. I've lost touch with both Sara and Jane.

8 and 9 are, of course, the lovely monkeys you see above. They're derived from a joke my brother and I have which falls 100% into the category of you-had-to-be-there. I've now got matching tattoos with everyone in my immediate family except my Dad, who hates tattoos, so I don't think that one will ever happen!

10 and 11: When I visited my friends Amber and Brigitte in Montreal in 2003, Amber and I got tattooed together. She got a fabulous abstracted fish design on her leg. I got a rocket ship on my inner right wrist, and a beautiful moth on my upper right arm. I get more compliments on that moth than on anything else, even from people who profess to dislike tattoos.

That leaves the ones I got alone:

12: A star behind my right ear. I got this in 2000, at the same time as the one that would become the "engagement ring".

13: A frog on my upper back, with the character for "love" by its foot, and with a speech balloon containing the character for "happiness". I got this for our wedding, and had the dress cut to show it.

14. I love the frog tattoo so much I got the exact same frog on my left foot... so I could see it! I had saved the stencil from the first frog.

15: If you have read The Little Prince, you will be familiar with an illustration of a tiny planet ovewhelmed by 3 huge baobab trees. I adapted this illustration for a tattoo on my inner right forearm.

16: I have a large octopus around my right knee. Its body sits on the outside of my leg, with tentacles trailing down my kneecap and the top of my shin, and up the back of my thigh. It hurt like fuck.

And that concludes our tour. I would like to close with some sort of reflection on what my tattoos mean to me, or their place in my life or SOMETHING, but unfortunately the only reason I'm awake at this godforsaken hour is that the empty house was making freaky noises in the rainstorm last night, and I psyched myself out and couldn't sleep. So I'm afraid the best I can do is a list, and a rambilng, run-on sentence or five.

I'd love to hear thoughts about tattoos from other folks. If you have them, how do you choose the tattoos you get? How do your feelings about them change over time? If you don't have them, do you want them? What do you think of them?

Now I'm going to go try to sleep, I am so very, very tired. Have a lovely Sunday!


At 9:32 a.m., Blogger Amy Boogie said...

I'm still here reading. Though Sporadically as life seems to keep me from having any fun on the internet lately. I'm glad I get to see you more and more through flickr though :)

Love the thoughts on your tattoos. My arms are my family. Kids, grandparents, parents, dogs, nieces nephews, brother, and so on. Once the full sleeves are done I'll post something about it.

I love that you've gotten so many with others. I have nothing that I've gotten with someone. Although I've thought about it. It's just never panned out.

At 9:54 a.m., Anonymous Rachael said...

The rain woke me early this morning because it was dripping on something outside my window and it sounded as if someone was hammering upstairs. It took me awhile to realize it was just the rain.

Thanks for the tattoo magical mystery tour. I now feel like either getting a new one or re-doing the one I have.

At 10:14 a.m., Blogger jodi said...

Thank you for the tour. I love that your tattoos are all tied up with memories of people you love, even of people who have slipped out of your life. My own tattoos are all more closely related with my artwork, although my brother and I have talked for years about getting matching tattoos. Now I'm all fired up to send him a barrage of images and try to get that design nailed down, and maybe talk our stepbrother into coming along with us.

Someday soon, perhaps next year, I'm going to make it out to Vancouver, and when I do I'd love it if you'd take me out to your tattoo guy and keep me company for some new ink.

At 10:22 a.m., Blogger Inky said...

I have oodles of ink, but I never thought of the matching ones, though I have two. My husband and I had matching kanji tattooed on our ring fingers for "forever." Or until we cut our fingers off, anyway. ah, romance!!

I also have a tribal style bat at the center of my chest, just below the boobs, which matches two other friends. we got them all on the same afternoon so long ago in the early 80's.

I am dying to get a matching tattoo with my 68 year old mom, but she's afraid dad would be pissed off, lol. must talk her into it someday.

At 10:50 a.m., Blogger Heather said...

I'm definitely still reading :)

I don't have any tattoos yet, though that's mainly due to my income rather than personal choice :( I'm also having a hard time finding a local tattoo artist that I really trust. I do have several pieces planned though!

First, I want something to represent my family. I'm thinking three flowers/plants that represent my heritage, with my family "motto" on an old school banner across the front (wheat for Ukraine, Clover flower for Ireland and Thistle for Scotland with "Sans Peur" across the front). Probably going on my back.

I also want some cherry blossom flowers in the front, lower belly to represent fertility and womanhood (amusingly, I do know that the tat will probably get killed if/when I ever have kids. Ah well. It's more symbolic than anything) and as visual interest when I bellydance.

I want a tat on my right upper arm, native beading with a feather hanging down.

There are alot of other things I've thought about, but we'll see. I love old school sparrows, and I'd like something crafts related.

At 12:24 p.m., Blogger Zak Greant said...

I still read, but I suppose that this is no surprise. :)

At 1:25 p.m., Anonymous Dan Moore said...

i like how the hair on my leg stops abruptly at my ankle...just in time for me socks

At 2:12 a.m., Blogger leigh said...

Ever since I've immigrated I've been toying with the idea of having something that reminds me of my family, although it's difficult to find a spot not already occupied by moles. (The moles are definitely a family thing!) As they gradually cut suspicious moles off, I worry that I'd end up with a tat with a scare in the middle - that's just the way life maps itself on you skin though.

At 11:29 a.m., Blogger Emily said...

My girl and I get tattoos in important places (I mean Edinburgh, rather than inner thigh!) She usually has a dragonish thing, and i'm more variable - one place just loved the deco-ish border of the tatoo pages in their books, so had that on my left foot. I think of our tattoos being together, as we discuss and plan themthat way, and have often got them done one after the other, too.

liked your thoughts and those of your commenters, thanks!

At 5:07 p.m., Blogger Elspeth said...

I loved your and the commenters description of their tattoos. I've never gotten any matching tattoos although I wanted to get a wedding band tattoo but my DH refuses to get any tattoos. My friends got matching tattoos and I'm so jealous!

I enjoy all 3 of my tattoos (and have got to find someone local for some new ones), although I suppose if I were going again I'd redo my first because they didn't do a great job of altering the picture for a tattoo.

Great photos, too!


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