Podcast: On Tattoos 5/6 – Aftercare.

The fifth part of On Tattoos has just gone live on Anchor, iTunes, and Google Play. In this episode, I go over all the ins and outs of tattoo healing: Do’s and Don’ts, what changes to expect as your skin heals, how to wash and dry your tattoo, what “dry” and “wet” healing are (though not which is best, that’s something you’ll find out for yourself), and give other bits and pieces of advice I’ve amassed over half a decade of getting tattooed (so far)!

Please do subscribe on your preferred platform to catch the final part as it is released, and future podcast mini-series!

As always, if any of you have any comments or questions about this episode, drop me a line and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

X.

Everything you thought?

Screen Shot 2016-12-18 at 01.28.43.png

 

I’m everything that you thought, ’cause I’m everything that you’re not.

 

Where did it come from? What does it mean?

The line is from the song “Stubborn Love” by Seaway, a Canadian band I’ve been listening to since discovering their music sometime during my first year of university, around four years ago. As for what it means, I obviously cannot speak on behalf of the band, but the beauty of music is that it invites everyone to interpret it in their own way. This is what it means to me.

First, a little context: I began this blog shortly after the end of a six year relationship, following which this song (already a favourite from their best album – in my opinion, anyway – Colour Blind) took on a new meaning. I have always liked how the song is energetic despite tackling complex emotional content, but it is how the lyrics capture the topsy-turvy roller coaster of emotion that I have been through following the break up that has given the song such significance during my healing process. One such example is the contrast between the chorus line “Cause tonight your hair falls around your ears / And it makes me want to stay”, later inverted upon its final repetition; “But tonight your hair falls around your ears / And it makes me want to leave“.

But it’s the line that I took inspiration for the blog’s name and tagline from that touched me most deeply; my ex and I always seemed to be opposites in most ways, and yet so compatible. It could have been easy to fall into a pattern of thinking in which I saw myself as no longer whole, or broken, but this line always reminds me to never forget the things I have to be proud of and love about myself – not only my strengths, but also the positive things that I brought to the relationship – instead of only focusing on what I’ve lost.

And so, that simple line became my personal mantra at my lowest moments; for I lost someone special and unique, but so did she.

X.

Battle scars: what skateboarding means to me.

f6f6b18d-3942-4b70-affa-7931074d2677

 

In life, everyone finds things they enjoy doing. I, like many others, enjoy doing a range of different things, with the extent to which I am likely to do any particular one of them on a given day generally subject to my energy levels, mood, the weather, and a host of other internal and external factors. Two activities stand out for me in that I never tire of doing either and am so fond of doing both that after day without either I always feel slightly unfulfilled. Those two things are music and skateboarding, and today I’m going to focus on the latter.

I can still remember the first board I ever owned, at six years old: an old-school shaped deck complete with tail bone and rails, large soft cruiser-style wheels, and plastic trucks. I rode that board until it was literally falling apart. I was hooked. My first proper ‘popsicle’ skateboard, with metal trucks this time, came shortly after, from a skate shop in Worthing on the south coast of England; a ¾ size as I was still too small to manage a full size deck. This time rather than just cruising around I took to skateparks for the first time, learning the ropes at a park exclusively composed of mini ramps not ten minutes from my house, inspired by VHS tapes of the X-Games that I would watch and re-watch until I knew my favourite lines by heart.

Since, I have ridden every board I possibly could: skateboards, cruisers, longboards, snowskates, snowboards, and surfboards. This love affair has been one of few constants in my life, spanning 16 years – a relationship eclipsed only by my best friend, who’s been by my side for over 19 years – and yet I simply never tire of it. In fact, this morning I bounced out of bed at 8am and hopped in the car to explore a new skatepark (which inexplicably has no lights, hence the early start to make the most of the trip; the sun currently sets around ten past four).

So why do I enjoy pushing myself around on a small plank of wood (well, technically several plies of wood) so much? Skateboarding frees me. Whether flying down a hill, dodging pedestrians on a busy street or cars on a road, carving a bowl, or doing tricks, I feel totally liberated. I couldn’t care less about any trends: I don’t ride a wide board despite my large feet (7.75s just work for me), my trucks are so loose I get wheel bite (even when riding park and vert), and my wheels softer than most. I’ll wear whatever I want, go wherever I want, and do whatever I want. I’m all about old school tricks, carving, powerslides, and goofing around, and I love it. When I feel good, skating makes me feel great, and if I am feeling sad or stressed, skating frees me. Not a bad thought even enters my mind. In fact, I hardly think at all: it’s the wind in my hair, it’s movement, it’s emotion. Every time I touch a skateboard I push my limits – faster, higher, further, smoother, cleaner, more aesthetic; there’s always something to work on – and when you’re pushing your limits you are forced to be totally focused. And in those moments, nothing else matters.

Sure, I am no pro. I can’t do the most technical tricks, or the biggest gaps. But that’s not why I do it, and it never will be.

X.

Tattoo aftercare and healing update.

wp_ss_20161112_0003 (2).png

 

Around a week ago I finally finished a tattoo on my calf that’s been a work in progress for the last two and a half years, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s not my only tattoo, but unique as my only colour tattoo to date. This final session consisted of adding a host of colours to the tattoo: blue, yellow, orange, red, brown, green, and white.

My only anxiety prior to this final session concerned the horror stories I’ve heard of bad reactions to red inks, which thankfully in my case do not apply. In fact, with the exception of blue – unfortunately the most abundant colour in the tattoo (other than black, of course) – all of the colours have settled as beautifully: slight flaking but no excessive scabbing or itching, good going for the first week of healing (generally the most bothersome period, in which a tattoo is at its most vulnerable)!

Since my first tattoo session, about three years ago, I have had great success employing a dry healing method as suggested by the first artist to decorate my skin, as far as I am aware the preferred method in her native Japan. Dry healing has not only been incident free and produced deep and consistent blacks (and will hopefully work as well for the colours), but is about as simple as aftercare comes:

  1. Remove the plastic wrap around 3 to 4 hours after leaving the shop.
  2. Gently wash off any plasma, ink, and blood with warm water and a little unscented antibacterial soap.
  3. Gently pat dry with kitchen roll (or any other disposable paper towel, though the softer the better).
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 two or three times a day.

And that’s it! Simple!

Some additional steps I like to take include:

  • Avoiding strenuous exercise involving the tattooed area for the first few days, and ensuring I give the area an extra wash should it get sweaty or dirty.
  • Letting the area breathe as much as possible, leaving it uncovered when at home and wearing loose, soft clothing when outside (which can help prevent the tattoo getting dirty or scratched, and will protect it from the sun).
  • Using clean bedsheets (some people like to use a spare set, as any leaked tattoo ink will never come out).

However, as previously alluded to, my experience with the blue on the other hand has been a little less straightforward. Areas of blue ink have dried out much more than any other tattoo I’ve healed, and today I noticed a couple of small areas had cracked and looked slightly bloodied. Whilst it occurred to me that the cold climate won’t help the dry skin issue, the other colours have settled beautifully and all dryness and damage appears to be limited to blue areas which leads me to believe it may have something to do with my body’s reaction to this specific colour of ink. Hopefully it’ll turn out to be nothing a bit of moisturiser won’t mend, but only time will tell. And if not, a little touch up should do the trick…

X.