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Is This What It’s Like?

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For the last few days, I’ve been stupid. Alarmingly so. I get menstrual migraines, and a big part of them, for me, is that I can’t think straight. I get forgetful, I can’t concentrate, and logic doesn’t exist. My brain pod hurts, sure, and I get some nausea and visual disturbance, but I can keep mostly functional with meds. Except for the stupid. The meds don’t touch that. And the stupid makes life incredibly difficult – particularly this cycle. It reminds me of when I got a concussion at age 11 and lost my memory. I’ll have a conversation, and 20 seconds later, forget what it was about. I’ll know we talked about something, but I can’t tell you what. It took me 15 minutes to pack my lunch bag this morning because I kept opening the fridge to get something and forgetting what I was looking for, or setting some ziploc baggies down and forgetting where I put them.

And then I panicked. Is this what the early stages of dementia feel like? Stepping back and examining what I must look like – shuffling back and forth to the fridge but not taking anything from it, hunting for the ziploc bags that are right in front of me – I realized that this is exactly what I’ve seen dementia patients do. It’s terrifying. Is this how my dad felt in the beginning? Did he realize it? Did it scare him? Is this what I’ll be like when I first get dementia? Will I recognize it? Is it already happening? How would I know if this was migraine effects or dementia, given that the kind of dementia my dad had can hit even when you’re still young? I mean, this is clearly migraine related, but my level of brain fog during my migraines seems to be getting worse. Is it a sign?

I doubt anyone who’s been a caregiver to someone with dementia – especially to a parent – hasn’t at least briefly worried that they’ll develop it, too. I’d bet every one of us has listed the reasons why it’s more or less likely that we’ll suffer the same fate. I mean, my dad had dementia. I’ve had 5 concussions. I get migraines. I’ve been on various meds that could have altered something in me, upping the odds that I’ll get it in some form. I feel like it’s inevitable. It’s just a matter of when it’ll hit. And who would take care of me? I don’t have kids or nieces and nephews.

Normally, this would be the point in my post where I’d give you some kind of silver lining or put it all in perspective to make us all feel a little better. But I’m not up to it right now. Right now I’m just scared and in pain and I needed to say this all “outloud.”

Let’s make a pact, okay? I’ll keep voicing these fears, and you’ll be honest with me. If you ever feel like you’re seeing signs in me, please speak up. And I’ll do the same for you. And we’ll do our best to take care of each other.

Dat Dere_compressed

Dat Dere – explanation here

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Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up #8

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I’ve done eyebrows, eyebrows, and more eyebrows this week. And for a break, I did eyeliner. But interestingly, I also got to essentially do microblading on a woman’s face lift scars. I tattooed hairs over the scar to fill in where there isn’t any hair. Not sure how it’ll hold up over time, so we’ll have to see, but it looked damn good when we were done. I also got to tattoo a group of guys as the end of their bachelor party weekend, but I didn’t take pics. As for other tattooing, these are the most interesting ones I did this week:

stanley cup - Jon Lensch_compressed

For a Washington Capitals fan who finally realized his dream of winning the Stanley Cup.

bicyclist - Brian Kirkpatrick_compressed

For an avid cyclist (actually the same guy that I did the Kilimanjaro tattoo for).

cat and moon_compressed

I don’t know why, but I find this one charming.

flower

Just a pretty little flower.

Kilimanjaro - Brian Kirkpatrick_compressed

For a guy that climbed Kilimanjaro and has travelled the world.

Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up #7

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Apparently, it was portrait week for me at the studio. Remember the guy who really likes saints and civil rights heroes? Well, in addition to the St. Joseph, Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc, and St. Cecilia that I’d already done for him, we added St. Francis, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela (with some animals), and Rosa Parks:

Harriet Tubman_compressedNelson Mandela_compressedRosa Parks_compressedSt. Francis_compressed

He has a really hard time sitting still (he likes to play the drums for all of his favorite classic rock songs), but he’s willing to let me experiment and practice portraiture in different styles, which is pretty cool. So far, my favorite is the Rosa Parks one.

Generation

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I have some friends who are actually amazing art patrons. They’ve bought a lot of my art and commissioned paintings over the last few years. They had a big open wall in their dining room that needed art, so they commissioned me to create another piece for them. They had seen this painting hanging in my tattoo studio and really liked it, so we used that as a jumping off point:

Very Fabric

The Very Fabric

The husband collects maps, so I decided to add that as a component of the painting I was creating for them. I was giddy getting to work on large canvases again! Here is the finished triptych I just hung in their home:

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Generation 36″ x 72″ oil and sharpie on canvas triptych

Woman

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I had a couple young guys in the tattoo studio the other day, shootin’ the shit with each other and making some really sexist, denigrating remarks about women. I kept my mouth shut and just let them be morons (and maybe drilled that tattoo needle in just a tiny bit deeper, lol). Finally, they turned to me and started asking questions about tattooing. Then one of them asked, “How much of what you charge for a tattoo do you have to give to the owner?”

To which I replied, “I am the owner.” Silence in response. And right at that moment, this song came on in the background:

Yasssssssss.

Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up #6

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This week started off really slowly. Like, really slowly. But it ended well. As usual, I didn’t take pics of every single tattoo I did this week, but here are some of the highlights:

Aaron Walker - dante the dog_compressed

A memorial tattoo for Dante, the mastiff/pitbull pup

clown shoes - Kathy Carson_compressed

For the professional clown who swears she can teach anyone to juggle

fox - Lindsey Easley_compressed

For a foxy lady

frog, dragonflies, butterflies - Nicole Slater_compressed

A dragonfly for each of this customer’s sons and a butterfly for each of her daughters

poppy with hummingbird - Wendy Caruolo_compressed

The customer had gotten the hummingbird with the word mom in the wings a few weeks ago. She added the poppy for her dad, who her kids called “Poppy.”

origami owl - Christine Rafter_compressed

An origami owl and first initial in honor of a little girl named Annabel whose alter ego is a superhero owl

Weekly Tattoo Wrap-up #5

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It’s been a couple weeks since my last “weekly” tattoo wrap-up. My apologies. I’ll make up for it with extra pics this week of the truly WIDE array of requests and styles I’ve encountered over the last few weeks:

St. Joseph - Gary Hartman_compressed

Okay, so you’re really not supposed to do tattoos like this, because there aren’t hard edges, so it won’t hold up over time, but the customer insisted, so…

mandala lotus_compressed

No real story behind this one, but ain’t she purty?

hummingbirds mother daughter_compressed

Mother-daughter tattoos! See the word “mom” in the wing on the bird on the left? That’s for the grandmother. So really, they’re grandmother-mother-daughter tattoos.

focus - Audrey_compressed

For my photographer friend: a camera aperture and an excellent reminder of what it helps her do.

celtic arm band - Steve Dubrois_compressed

This customer decided to get his and his wife’s astrological signs worked into an arm band.

lioness - Kaitlyn Mars_compressed

For a woman owning her inner lionness.

Joan of Arc - Gary Hartman healed_compressed

The same guy that got the St. Joseph’s tattoo (the first one on here) really like saints, so we added a Joan of Arc.

 

 

I forgot to take a pic before I started updating this ancient, faded tattoo, but I did stop after I added the dogwood and started re-outlining the sunflower to snap a photo. So you can kind of see a before and after.

Elizabeth Arnold_compressed

One of the coolest things about this job is that people I knew from middle school and high school have traveled to get tattoos from me!

anchor-leslie-robb_compressed.jpg

I love customers who tell me what subject matter they want but leave the style up to me!

skeleton key and flowers - Chessa Concari_compressed

My biggest piece yet. And she wants to add more. Squee! What’s extra awesome is that, if you’re going to spend long hours with someone, you hope it’s going to be a cool someone, and this girl is.

St. Cecilia - Gary_compressed

For the same customer who loves saints: Saint Cecilia. He’s a challenge to tattoo because he’s very animated and moves around a lot while you’re tattooing, so getting clean lines is TOUGH.

storm cloud - Becky Dawson_compressed

I just love this concept. She wants to add another storm cloud up and over the shoulder.

Mother Theresa_compressed

Yup, you guessed it. Mother Teresa for the saint-loving customer. Looking forward to getting a better pic once it’s healed.

Poison dart frog - Megan Coulson_compressed

A poison dart frog, but with the colors reversed because the customer likes blue.

MS ribbons - mark, lisa, erin, adam_compressed

And my favorite from the last couple weeks: the woman in the gray shirt has MS. She also has a couple other tattoos. The other 3 people do not have MS or any other tattoos. But when she said she wanted to get an orange MS ribbon, they all jumped on board and got one in her honor. Sometimes I really love people.

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

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June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and AlzAuthors is doing a raffle and book sale. As an AlzAuthors member, I’m offering my eBook, Fractured Memories: Because Demented People Need Love, Too, on sale on Amazon for only $2.99 and my paperback book on my website for 20%. To get the 20% off, please use coupon code AlzAuthors2018 through my website. I’m also giving away a free eBook as part of their raffle. Check the AlzAuthors group out on their website to get in on the raffle and giveaway!

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Awesomenesses

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Damn, y’all, it’s been a hot minute since I last posted. Sorry ’bout that. I missed TWO weekly tattoo wrap-ups, and I promise to do that soon, but first I realized that I never posted the article about me that was in the Raleigh News & Observer. I’m famous…on page C4 in the Arts section, which everyone totally reads:

The Article About My Awesomeness

In other news, for Mother’s Day, I surprised my mom with a photo shoot with my friend Audrey Priel from Rose Trail Images. My instructions to Audrey: capture my mom’s awesomeness. My mom has amazing eyes and a really lovely smile and is just all-around-too-stinkin’-cute-for-words, and the photos of her that I have from the last few years have failed to capture that. Enter, Audrey. Audrey, who you may remember from posts past, just oozes fabulosity and sillinesses and I just heart her so much. It is impossible not to fall in love with her, because when she’s with you, she’s busy falling in love with you. And damn her, she won’t just make you laugh during a photo shoot, she will make you cry, and you will come out of the experience closer than ever to whomever you’re doing the shoot with. While there are eleventy million and a half shots that I’m head over heels for, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few to share with you in slideshow:

 

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I realized that it’s rare that I see adult mother/daughter photo shoots. It’s always younger families. But these photos are awesome. Have I mentioned awesomeness in this post yet? Because if not, let me say it again: all the awesomenesses are contained in this day and the photos that captured it. I wish I had known Audrey before my dad got dementia, because I would have loved to do this with him, too. But this is one regret that I won’t have. Mom, I love you all the oodles.

Blowing Rock Bottles

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Every year, the hubs and I and some friends meet up in Blowing Rock, NC and rent a cabin. There’s a seriously cute little main street with boutiques and restaurants and such where we spend the afternoon strolling and shopping. One of the stores is painted with soft lavenders and creams and greys, and I used it as inspiration for the colors in my tattoo studio room. Outside of the store is a tiny little garden, and at one point, they had bottles and bits of chandelier glass hanging over it, and I fell in love with the scene it created. So I photographed it and now, several years later, finally sat down and finished painting it.

I have to admit that, even though I’m having fun learning tattooing, it’s not as satisfying a medium for me as painting. It’s hard to predict exactly how each piece of skin will react to different techniques, and you have to get it right the first time. There’s no changing your mind halfway through and starting over with a better idea. It’s harder to “tweak” to get it perfect. And the feel of the tattoo machine isn’t even close to the feel of a paintbrush and paint. Too much rattle to be soothing to me. So on my one day off a week, I’m trying hard to get into the painting studio and enjoy a little gushy fun.

Anyway, here is the painting:

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Blowing Rock Bottles 12″ x 12″ oil on board $400

The original is for sale here. For now, you can find prints and cuff links and keepsake boxes and other fun thingsies here, here, and here.