Monday, 20 July 2015

Rise of the Phoenix

In the past few weeks as I prepare for the move to London I've found myself ticking things off my Sydney bucket list, despite living here for 17 years. It's good to have time to say goodbye to a country instead of hurriedly leaving with a few days notice and not be able to say goodbye, not even to school friends (leaving Papua New Guinea is a story for another time).

One of the things I wanted to do was finish a tattoo I had gotten some 8-10 years ago (so long ago I can't actually remember how long it's been). I'll be honest, it was not really thought out. I knew I wanted something to pay homage to the country where I had lived the first 12 years of my life. So I took the bird that's on their flag (google Papua New Guinea flag) and got that outlined on. Why? Don't know.


Thankfully my cousin married a supremely talented tattoo artist who saved me from a lifetime of embarrassment. I sent him a photo of what he had to work with. I was pretty difficult, not having much of an idea of what I wanted and giving him very little direction (stylised, I think. Maybe a bit phoenix-y with a bit of colour. Not sure what colours). A few days later I was sent a hand drawn draft. 'Rough' he called it. Beautiful is what I called it.


He was good enough to squeeze me in because he didn't really have any openings before I left for London. He lay his drawing on top of the existing tattoo and it literally fit perfectly - if that's not a sign, what is.

The tattooing of the outline wasn't too bad. I had a few "outline" tattoos so this wasn't much of a shock. Till he got to my spine. Oh sweet Lord the spine was painful. But shortly after the outline was done and it looked great.

He mentioned he would start colouring in next. I asked "the colouring in is less painful than the outline right?" He looked at me with this uncomfortable 'should I lie to her' look and I knew I was in for trouble.

He started to colour-in the dark edges of the wings. That was ok pain-wise. He did the red tips of the plumes. Still tracking ok. Then he brought out the light blue dye. Oh my gosh. It's like scratching into your skin in the same spot over and over again. My whole body seized up till I got pins and needles in my left arm. I had to take a break. I got up and walked around a bit to relax and prepare myself for more pain.


Back for more. I started to regret it. I wondered if I could stop right now and the tattoo miraculously wouldn't look like shit. Why am I doing this to myself. I started sweating and tensing up again. I needed another break.

As I wiped the tears from my eyes (I wasn't crying... My eyes were just moist...) I noticed my hands were shaking. Legit shaking. It took me 5 minutes to un-tense all the muscles in my body. In the background I think I heard him say "home stretch" and then "ten more minutes". Ok suck it up Kay. Ten more minutes, you can do this.

Surprisingly the last 10 minutes weren't actually that bad. He was just doing the yellow ink - beak, bit on the plumes and the 3 things coming out of the head. "Done" was the sweetest word I had heard all day. I had a look in the mirror. Wow. It was SO much better than I thought it could possibly be. I was absolutely thrilled with it and actually a little proud of myself that I did it (it's a bit sad, I know).


Got myself bandaged up (bepanthen and cling wrap became my best friends) and checked my watch. It was 3pm. I had arrived at 10am with little more than one slice of toast in my stomach.

It's been a few days and I'm being super diligent about the after care. Sleeping and showering are challenging and soon the itchiness is going to set in. But I'm absolutely thrilled with it and so glad I did it. The clever Court mentioned how apt it was that my bird of paradise transformed into a phoenix, just as I am about to embark on a new chapter in life.  Had not even thought about that myself but very fitting!

(Note to future Kay: you are re-reading this because you are contemplating another tatt.  Don't do it.  This is enough!)

16 comments:

  1. Yeeouch! That must have hurt like the bazzingoes! It really is a lovely phoenix, the colours are beautiful. Glad to see you back here...

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    1. Bazzingoes and bazzingoes and then some more bazzingoes

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  2. The tat looks aaaaaaawesome Kay!!!!

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  3. Wow! That's quite the change, very epic tattoo! It's lovely :)

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    1. HUGE change. My Mum couldn't even remember what it used to look like before the phoenix!

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  4. LOVE it you machine! Just in time for showing it off in the balmy English weather

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    1. Oh hello Brits, do you like my tattoo?

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  5. Your tattoo looks amazing Kay, although painful it was definitely worth it. I am glad it's off your Sydney Bucket List.

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    1. Yes busily ticking things off my Sydney bucket list. Woohoo

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  6. Looks awesome! And very big too! I'm curious if they have glitter ink?

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    1. No glitter ink :( pretty sure it's not good to have glitter under your skin :S

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  7. I absolutely love it!! You're a total boss for sitting through getting that done!

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    1. I think I needed a big painful one as my send-off from tattoo land. Definitely no more :)

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  8. wow, didn't realise you were back blogging here. looks amazing! I want another tatt

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    1. Yes you should get another one!!! Did you have anything in mind?

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