Wiping the slate clean

wiping the slate clean

I recently went to my first laser tattoo removal appointment – five years after I’d first darkened the clinic’s doors.

Let me be frank: It is much, much, much worse than getting tattooed in the first place. I suppose it’s my penance for the decisions I made all those decades ago.

Five years ago, the nurse told me so many horror stories about the procedure that I decided to never go back there again – plus my boyfriend at the time had lots of ink so I hated mine a little less.

I’ve written about my tattoos before, so I won’t go over old skin ground, but I recently came to the realisation that I am finally done with my skin art.

The decision was partly helped by my “oh so hip” ’90s arm-band now looking nothing like its original incarnation. In fact, it looks like a stripe of blobby blackish ink coupled with a last gasp attempt at green and yellow.

When I first got it, I always wore sleeveless shirts to show off my 20-something version of “politically aware” artwork that was a resplendent mass of peace signs and sunflowers. Today, I usually buy clothes that hide it.

I never see the tattoo on my shoulder – so original it was chosen off a tattooist’s wall when I was 18 or 19 – so until the nurse took photos of it, I’d forgotten what it even looked like at all.

I’m glad I waited five years to start treatments, though, because technology has advanced so much that the pain level has “improved” from excruciating to merely agonising.

Because I’m an idiot, I decided to get both of my tattoos removed at the same time, which means double the dose of fun every six weeks for more than a year. It really does seem like some kind of cosmic joke – especially since it costs 10 times more to get them taken off than it cost to get them put on.

The nurse thought my “once was an armband but now looks like I’ve drawn on myself with a magic marker when drunk and delusional” tattoo would hurt the most – yes, there is a pain scale – so we started with the tattoo that I reportedly still had on my shoulder.

Unfortunately, her estimation was wrong because the pain was so intense that we had to resort to seven second laser bursts, while I helpfully kicked the wall and therapeutically said “fuck” quite a lot.

As it turned out, the mess that is my arm tattoo hurt much less but maybe I was in shock by that stage.

The odd thing is, once the laser is done with blasting the ink into smithereens back into your blood stream, the pain miraculously disappeared and unlike tattoos there wasn’t a solitary drop of blood.

The whole procedure, probably took all of four minutes.

That was five days ago and I know that the last time I spent so much time looking at my tattoos was when I got them in the first place.

The tattoo on my shoulder is miraculously one-third disappeared after the very first session but its lines were always fine and really quite dainty considering an outlaw motorcyclist probably did it.

My arm-band ink coagulation, well, if I look very hard (which I do often) has possibly and hopefully faded ever so slightly. That one, they tell me, will take many, many sessions to fade away, which really is wonderful news.

The weird thing is, if I could go back tomorrow and do another session, I would – even though it was as painful as an abscessed tooth.

Alas, they won’t let me because it takes weeks for your skin and your immune system to recover from getting hammered repeatedly by a laser.

It’s annoying to me that the one tattoo I never saw is the one that’s going to go first but at least I know that it works, right?

I know I had 20-plus good years of having tattoos and I still don’t regret having them in my life – unlike a number of my past boyfriends.

It’s just that once I made the momentous decision to wipe my skin slate clean, then I have to be patient for that to become a reality.

Perhaps it’s the latest evolution or metamorphosis of me, which of course takes time.

So until that day comes, after many more sessions where I’m painfully reminded of my adolescent folly, I guess I’ll just have to keep swearing a lot and kicking walls until I eventually come out clean on the other side.

 

100 blogs about me

100 blogs about me

Frida Kahlo painted dozens of self-portraits as she keenly documented her internal and external life and each one was a masterpiece.

Today, I write my 100th blog about me, which does make me wonder about how self-absorbed I really am or perhaps I’m still trying to work out this weird old thing called life and my relatively benign role within it. I don’t think any of them could be classed as masterpieces.

My first-ever blog was in July 2012, but it was actually just a rehash of a newspaper column I used to write because I was scared of truly putting myself out there – methinks that has changed.

Back then I’d just finished writing a novel that went nowhere and completing a masters degree in creative writing that made me start to consider a life outside of the journalism sphere.

Four and a half years, and nearly 100,000 words, later, I know that I’m a tad closer to achieving a creative life that also pays the bills and I’m also a much better writer because of this blog.

OMV also gave me the vehicle to explore my grief as it was created at exactly the same time as mum was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s.

Little by little, I wrote down everything I was feeling – with an increasingly brutal honesty I now recognise – as I inched slowly towards some semblance of radical acceptance of her illness as well as to becoming a braver writer with something to say.

Over the course of 100 blogs, I’ve pondered a number of short-term flings that left me scratching my head, but thankfully not my pubes.

And I’ve written about one long-term relationship, which started out with so much promise but ended up being the worst one of my life. Bloody life lessons never stop do they? At least they give me plenty to write about.

Throughout each blog about men who’ve I’ve temporarily crossed paths, and other body parts with, I think I was forever trying to work out why it never worked out – not that it was always me who walked away.

Now, after thousands upon thousands of words trying to analyse relationships, I’m none the wiser about them but hopefully a little more insightful about me. My decision to name this blog Oh My Vagina now seems very prescient indeed.

And I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that my 99th blog was about me deciding to have a relationship with my vibrator from now on.

Maybe I’ve finally realised that I actually like my life just as it is – even though most people don’t understand how I can be so happy “alone”. The key, of course, is that I might be alone but I am far from lonely and I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. At 44, I’ve finally learned that my motivation has always been freedom and that I am enough.

I’ve written about drinking too much, not drinking at all, about people that I’ve meet on planes and the ones who we connect with on holidays. I’ve even written more than one blog about my teeth, my hair, my tattoos and my shoes. Hopefully that means that I find stories everywhere I look and not that I’m actually a little bit ridiculous (see photo above).

Soon OMV will be the biggest commitment I’ve ever made in my life as I continue to write down the (mostly odd) contents of my head as often as I can for no tangible reward other than sharing my experience of life through my words.

From the early days when I had a handful of readers, who were mostly my friends and family, to today where OMV has had more than 40,000 views and is chalking up 11,500 likes on Facebook. Perhaps, since I wrote my first poem when I was five, it’s one of those lifetime overnight success stories?

I’m still waiting on that message from a publisher keen to share my literary “genius” on a global stage, but every like, share or comment I get from my readers makes my heart sing just as much.

As I head into my second year as a self-employed journo, with a screenplay that has a producer interested, I know that the creative life I dreamed about 100 blogs ago is tantalisingly within my grasp.

I just have to keep dreaming big and sharing the journey – with its myriad lessons of light and shade – along the way. I hope you stick around for the ride.