Tattoos and football

So the day was spent at the sports book, watching the game.  And then I got saddled with chauffeur duty and drove a bunch of drunks (at least they were happy drunks) home.

And thankfully, no one puked in my car.

I was so ready to be home, too.  I was sore all day, and really anal about people keeping their distance.  I didn’t want any of those drunk fuckers anywhere near me.

Why, you ask?

Because I, in all my great cosmic wisdom, decided to get a 7-hour tattoo done the day before.

And it hurt like a bitch.

Actually, it was way less than 7 hours.  Apparently, my skin is just super amazing, and the tattoo went on way faster and way easier than the guy expected.  And again, I sat like a champ (although my blood sugar bottomed out, and I felt shaky and weak afterward.  That’s a relatively common risk with getting tattoos, but I’d never had that happen before).  So my appointment was at 5, and I was out of there by 9:30.

Can’t complain about that.

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Not bad, right?

There are some things I don’t like about it, but I used a new guy, and as it turns out, this guy has some pretty weird (as in horrible) ideas about appropriate aftercare and bandaging an open wound (it’s a pretty wound, but it’s still an open wound), so once it heals, I’ll go to my regular guy, who has done two big, amazing pieces on me so far, and have him fix the things I don’t like.

Thankfully I had the sense to ask a friend who is knowledgeable about the industry.  Once I told him everything the artist said and did, his advice was, “Just pay the man and run as fast as you can.  I’m emailing you actual aftercare instructions now.”

Don’t get me wrong.  This is my 8th tattoo, and my third “big” one.  I’m no stranger to aftercare.  But when he sprayed it with witch hazel (I’d never even heard of witch hazel, and omigawd, that shit is excruciating), put a bunch of paper towels and tape over it, rather than a real bandage (and of course the paper towels were cheap and scratchy, which made the two hours I had to keep it on fucking excruciating), and told me to hit it with really hot water as soon as I took the bandage off (he said it would suck, but to do it and then hit it with ice cold water immediately after, and it would “close the pores” and make it heal faster) I wanted to run that by my friend.

Yeah, thank gawd I ran it by him.  I thought it sounded weird, but what the hell do I know?  8 tattoos (most of which are small) does not make me an expert.

So I’m not crazy.  And following that advice could have actually made some of the color bleed out and fuck up my tattoo.  And apparently witch hazel is something that only older tattooists use, and is completely pointless, and does nothing but hurt like a bitch.

Yay…

But at least the shading and stuff is solid, and there isn’t a whole hell of a lot that needs to be fixed.  The shading in the wolf’s nose, the wolf’s left leg, and some of the outline is all I have problems with.  I also want it to look a bit more photo-realistic.  And maybe once it heals and the color fades a bit, it’ll look better.  I’ve never been a fan of the way fresh tattoos look, anyway.  I’m a black-and-gray type of girl, and it’s just so dark when it’s fresh, and the redness of the skin makes the whole thing look purple.

But my regular guy is really good, and I always get compliments on the two that he’s already done, and he’s great with black-and-gray, and photo-realism, so I know he’ll be able to give it the little tweaks that were apparently outside of this new guy’s ability.

So I like it, I’m happy with it.  It was my first leg tattoo.  All the others are on my upper body.  That made me nervous as hell.  Because of course I couldn’t get something small for my first leg tattoo.  I had to get something as long as my hand and wider than both my palms.

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Just to give you an idea of the size.  I’m Mexican, y’all.  I do not have tiny thighs.  And this takes up well over a third of the circumference of my thigh.

This was my 30th birthday present to myself (although it took more than a damn month to get the thing drawn up and done.  What is it with tattooists just not wanting to make money in this town?) and I like it.

But Jen, why are you posting pictures of your tattoo online???  People will see them, and they’ll be able to recognize you from them!!!

Calm the fuck down, y’all.

First of all, no one in my life, except for my boys, knows that I have this tattoo.  They have no idea it exists.

Secondly, this is on my thigh.  And so you know, I do not own a pair of shorts (well, I own some pajama shorts, but no one except for Kazander and the spawn see me in those).  I do not own a short skirt.  I own plenty of dresses, but they’re all knee-length or longer.

The only time anyone will ever see this is if I show it to them, or if they happen to see me once out of the maybe 5 times a year I wear a bathing suit.  And even then, the only people who see that are the family and friends we invite over to go swimming in our pool.

I’ve discovered that finding a vanilla explanation for the meaning of this tattoo is a little difficult, so I just decided not to tell anyone about it.  And no one will ever see it, unless I decide to show it to them.  Hell, if I feel like it, I’ll just wear a pair of Kazander’s gym shorts over my bathing suit, and no one will see it then, either.

Problem effectively solved.

So what’s the meaning of the tattoo?  Anyone who knows me well already knows the answer to that question.  Steel said, “That’s the most ‘you’ tattoo I’ve seen yet.”

And the meaning is easy.  I’m fiercely, mercilessly, ruthlessly protective of my boys.  And for the sake of saving time, we’ll bypass the whole they’re-strong-men-and-don’t-need-protecting bit.  You’ve all heard me say it before.  Whether they need it or not, I’m protective.  They’re mine, and I adore them.  I want to protect them.

I want to be their safe place.  I want to be the one they can turn to, the one they can celebrate with when they’re happy and cry with when they’re upset.

They’re mine.  And I will lead them, guide them, and guard them.

So why a wolf?

I’ve always felt a connection to wolves.  And I love what a wolf represents.  Profound strength, unflinching determination, uncompromising persistence, fierce cunning, brutal savagery, remorseless viciousness.  They’re beautiful, fearless, and powerful.

Living, breathing poetry.

But yes, I’ve always felt a connection to wolves.  My maiden name literally means “wolf,” and when I took Kazander’s name, I was stoked to find out that the coat of arms for his last name has a wolf on it, despite the fact that the meaning of his last name doesn’t have anything to do with wolves.

Growing up, we would spend a lot of time at my uncle and aunt’s house.  They had a half-wolf, half-dog who was more or less a domesticated stray.  He had full reign of the house when he wanted inside, but spent almost every night out in the desert with a pack of coyotes (I think, my memory of this is a little fuzzy.  I’m 95% sure it wasn’t a pack of wolves, mostly because this was Arizona and I remember reading somewhere that there were no wolves in Arizona at this time.  But when it got dark, you could hear howling, and he’d go running), and occasionally he’d be gone for a week or two.

But he was always there whenever we went to visit (usually once or twice a month, for a few days to a couple weeks), and he was my best friend.

And just so you know, wolves are not the same as dogs.  I don’t remember what kind of wolf he was mixed with, or where they got him.  He was mixed with some kind of shepherd (I think), but even only being half wolf, he was massive.  He also didn’t bark, at all, ever.  He also had really long legs and a very distinct, wolf-ish gait.  He didn’t move the way a dog moves.  And you always kind of got this feeling that he was mere seconds away from losing all the domestication that the dog side had given him, and becoming completely feral.

Being around him was intense.  And every time we pulled up to the house, and he’d sort of trot out to greet me, there was always this split-second where my heart would kind of jump (I was just a little kid, remember, and I’m not kidding, wolves are way fucking bigger than most dogs).

But he’d always come up and lick my face and nibble on my hand and want me to pet him behind his ears.

He didn’t act like a dog, either.  Having grown up with dogs, I always had to remind myself that he wasn’t a dog.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, he liked to come up and get attention, and once in awhile, he’d even crawl up and sit in my lap for a few minutes (that was comical, and I think my mom still has some pictures of an 8-year-old me disappearing underneath a big fucking wolf who decided to be a lapdog for awhile).  But he was independent, and never really stayed still for long.  He also had none of that desire to please that dogs have.  He really didn’t care whether you liked him or not, or whether you approved of him or not.  He was completely fine just doing his own thing, whether you wanted him to or not.  He had a very “fuck-off” type of attitude.  It’s hard to explain, and it’s been quite a while, so again, my memory is fuzzy.

I honestly don’t know why he decided to “adopt” me.  He somehow always knew when we were about to show up, and even if my cousins said he’d been gone for days, he was always waiting at the side of their house when we pulled up.

My aunt told me that he was social, but really a one- or two-person animal.  He’d tolerate others, and was protective of the family, but he really only was affectionate toward me and my oldest cousin, who had gone off to college.  Whatever his reasons were (he was way smarter than any dog I’ve ever known), he decided that I was his, and the bulk of my time there was spent with him underfoot.

I loved going for walks with him in the desert.  And, looking back, in the days before cell phones, with my aunt and uncle literally living in the middle of fucking nowhere, in a place I wasn’t familiar with, with all the hidden threats (like snakes and scorpions) that the desert holds, I’m shocked that my parents were so comfortable with me disappearing into the wild for an entire day.  My rules were to be back by sundown and don’t go near the highway (which was like 5 miles away).  That was it.

And I was a city girl.  I’ve always loved the desert, but knew nothing about being out in the wilderness.  I’m shocked that I didn’t end up hurt.

But Homey was a faithful babysitter.  He’d trot off ahead a few paces, then wait for me to catch up.  I realize now that he was guiding me, keeping me safe, keeping me away from danger.  The only time he really scared me was when I kept wanting to go over to this ravine thingy, and he kept trying to lead me away from it.

He learned how stubborn I can be, and I learned how terrifying he can be when he’s annoyed.  I still have a tiny, faint scar on the underside of my right arm from where he caught skin when he grabbed my sleeve and started literally dragging me away.  And when he had me beat by a good 50 pounds (at least), I really didn’t have much choice.  He won that argument.

And I freaked out at first.  You hear about wolves going crazy at the taste of blood, and after seeing him baring his teeth, his hackles raised, and then grabbing me and dragging me away, catching my skin and making me bleed, I was terrified he’d lose it and I’d end up dead.

But no, he didn’t react at all.  Once he’d dragged me a few paces away, he let go, and was right back to his normal self.

All the same, I decided not to argue with him anymore about which way to go.  He got to make that decision.  And he always made sure I was back at the house before the sun went down.

But that’s always been one of my favorite childhood memories.  Spending those hours with him, seeing the incredible strength, the remarkable intelligence, the indomitable spirit, was so amazing, and I’m lucky to have experienced it.

I’m part native Mexican (Yaqui Indian, specifically, although most of my family lived with the Pascua Yaquis in Arizona), and while Yaqui culture doesn’t really do “spirit animals,” I remember this old Yaqui woman telling me (well, my dad had to translate, she didn’t speak English) that God had given me the soul of a wolf (Yaqui mythology is a rather unique mix of ancient Yaqui beliefs and Catholicism), and that I was destined to either lead a pack of my own, and be the strength of many, or fall to darkness and sin, a wild, unfeeling creature who hurts all those who come near me.

And for the record, hearing that at like 10 years old was kind of disturbing.  Especially since I had the kind of dark fantasies and thoughts that I had, and didn’t know how to handle them.

But the point is that I’ve always kind of had a thing for wolves.  I’ve always felt a connection to them.  So the wolf was the obvious choice to represent me in the tattoo.

6 thoughts on “Tattoos and football

  1. dvjan21 says:

    Great story about the significance of the wolf.. Getting the tattoo from this particular “artist” seems like a consummation devoutly to be …avoided. Good post and very complete, as usual.

  2. I love your post! The tattoo is awesome!

  3. Polthus says:

    Love both tattoo and its origin story. Thank you for posting this.

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