No Worse than a Paper Cut – RGAT

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Design to completion of my first tattoo.

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Final product. Copyright Renee Rhodes. July 7, 2013.

So I have ink permanently drawn on my skin. In the shape of a raven. Done with a bamboo stick. In Thailand.

Suffice to say, I’m feeling pretty cool.

Per the suggestion of my good friend, I designed the tattoo six months ago and deliberated for all that time. I placed it as the background on my phone so I could see it daily. After six months, I was still determined to get it. Preferably abroad.

After a while of researching, machine versus bamboo, I decided I wanted bamboo. I’d heard mixed reviews: “it hurts much worse than machine,” or “it hurts much less!” Frankly, I didn’t know. But if I were to get a tattoo in Thailand, may as well go full on traditional and get the bamboo, right?

So I did. And it was worth it for the experience alone. I didn’t think it hurt at all. Less than a paper cut. I mean, paper cuts are from the devil and this was easy in comparison. I have never had a machine tattoo and can’t say much about it. It probably depends a lot on where you get it on your body. (I’m also told I have a high pain tolerance, so I don’t know if my word is best.)

Anyway, it comes with my highest recommendations. I loved the artist (“The Master”) and I am so happy with how it turned out. Plus, it was cool to get a more natural tattoo. It makes it feel so artistic. It’s not perfect and that’s one of the reasons it’s beautiful.

Mainly, the tattoo is for me. No one else really needs to know why I got it. But since plenty of people will ask, I’m posting a brief summary here.

Birds symbolize a lot for me: freedom, imagination, creativity, the ability to soar beyond limits. A raven is even more symbolic. To me, as seen in my post “Being Raven”, it symbolizes doing the right thing in the face of adversity. And yes, my tattoo design is partially inspired by my favorite superhero because I’m a goofball. Don’t judge me.

This new design on my shoulder is a reminder of several things:

• I have the freedom to take my stories anywhere so long as I am willing to stretch my imagination.

• I never need to be held back by the expectations and desires of others.

• Even when it’s hard, I need to strive to do the right thing. That is what will ultimately be rewarding for myself and those around me.

• I need to be strong, even when the world crashes down around me and conspires against me.

• I can do great things if I only try.

Supposedly, the bamboo heals faster. I’ve certainly noticed less pain than my dad’s (who got a machine tattoo at the same time I got mine). Supposedly, there is less chance of infection. Which was good since I spent the next three days in villages in Mae Hong Son. Supposedly there is less pain (or more pain). Really, it was no worse than a paper cut. And, even if it had been, it would have been totally worth it for a permanent symbol that is meaningful and special to me.

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