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A slow return

May 19, 2011

I’m not entirely sure what this post is about. (I also posted to the ol’ blog on LST.)

But a few months back, there was some sort of shift in my relationship with tattoos.  It sounds a little sentimental but I had never given much thought to my place in a tattoo timeline, or history –– or online community. I just knew I kept waking up with more tattoos, and had some kind of frantic addiction that most of my other friends never pretended to understand.

So fresh off a great experience of getting a new tattoo from a really nice and highly respected dude, I thought to myself, “Goddamn, that was perfect. We drove a couple hours in, got tattooed, then got drunk at a TGI Friday’s, crashed at the hotel, and drove home the next morning, stopping off at a diner for a late cheeseburger breakfast. I want this to happen always.”

And I kept thinking about it.

More than a few years ago, I started helping out with what has since become a pretty well known blog and continued to do so pretty much until I got laid off from my day job, which had allowed me to fart around and post or email pretty frequently. So I did a couple posts/interviews while unemployed until I burned out on it. Still a great blog! Luckily, I’d met a super good dude who was, at the time, editor for a magazine that’s since exploded… a “men’s lifestyle magazine” that is, arguably, more detrimental to the tattoo industry than it is supportive. But it allowed me to interview some awesome, awesome, awesome folks and gave me some income. And then a new editor came in and I burned out on that, too. Which was fine, since I was always pretty ambivalent about writing for such a publication. Next up, I got offered a pretty big article in a UK magazine, which was an incredible opportunity from a great editor and it let me see the kind of work I could be doing. But that was the last article I did.

Meanwhile, I’d convinced a publisher to let me write a book. And while, outwardly, I was busting, inwardly, something felt wrong. It felt like I was on this trajectory and I couldn’t step off. I wondered why, if I loved tattoos so much, did I feel more and more hesitant the farther along in my “tattoo writing career?” Last year, I approached a recent interviewee about the book and, while he agreed to be the first one in it, the last thing he said to me was, “…there are a lot of books.”

Very true. I called my editor and told him the book would most likely not be forthcoming…

Recently, things had started to feel not quite right, so, unfortunately, I felt like I had to decline doing two separate pieces for a couple blogs. (Still feel bad about this and if you dudes are reading, I’ve got a feeling I may turn right back around in a few months and do ‘em anyway.)

Three months ago I started a new job. One of the benefits, was that I got thrown into a lot of work right away and I didn’t have time to sit around, trolling websites or forums (ahem). In three months I haven’t written a word on tattoos, or opened a magazine, or spent more than ten minutes on anyone’s blog. It’s been fucking liberating.

And then Saturday, I got tattooed by the good Ron Wells. And while I may have freaked out a little bit because of my softball-sized hand post-tattoo (apologies for any panicky emails that may have sounded like this is my first tattoo!), I realized that I’d internalized a lot over the last couple months and discovered that the only relationship I want to have with tattoos –– at least for now –– is getting tattooed. A true revelation that’s so stupidly simple and I’d never even taken a pause to think about it.

Sure, today I opened up LST and poked around a bit and I can feel the bug coming back, but this time I’m going to mediate. It may seem like a weird thing, especially to most of you on here, but it’s kind of incredible discovery that I get to control my relationship.

Anyway. I’m taking it slow. I’ve tried to relax with all of the extraneous stuff. And keep in mind that the best part about tattoos, is the tattoos.

Grez said a great thing to me during an interview that he heard from one of his customers, that you’ve got two ears and one mouth, so you should listen more than you talk.

Two ears, one mouth. That’s stuck with me.

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