Peace, Love & Needles

I was having dinner at my parents’ house last night when the topic of tattoos came up. I’m not sure why, but I guess we’d exhausted our other go-to conversational topics (the kids, the weather, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity). I announced that I was eager to get “tatted up” as they say in tattoo circles.

(OK, they probably don’t…but it sounds cool, anyway).

I’ve wanted a tattoo for a few years now, and have my choices narrowed down to two: either a heart on my ankle, or this:

My gravatar would make a really cool - if intricate - tattoo.

OK, kidding about the heart. And no “tramp stamps” either, while we’re at it! But I do think my gravatar – the iconic little peace symbol that has followed me around my blog for a long time now – would make for a pretty cool tattoo. It stands for much that I believe in: peace and the planet earth and the fact that the sun rises every morning. I’m sort of a hippie at heart, if not in practice (I enjoy bathing too much). I’m anti-war, pro-environment, occasionally wear tie-dye, own the Woodstock album on vinyl,Β and lust after a VW Bus. I’ve been burned by marriage, so free love is looking better and better. Plus, I enjoy the occasional granola bar. Peace symbols have always been my “thing.” Fun fact: did you know that the peace sign is derived from the semaphore (hand-held flag) signals for the letters N and D and stands for Nuclear Disarmament? The fact is, I think this image is perfect. The only problem is, it’s awfully darned intricate, which means A) it’ll probably cost a lot of money, and B) it’ll probably hurt like a bitch.

Maybe I can lose a few of the details. Like the ladybugs. And the leaves. The stars over the ocean. The leaping dolphins. And the souls ascending to heaven (if that’s even what they are…it’s always been my interpretation, anyway).

No, wait…scratch that. I like the ascending souls.

I guess the best thing to do is take it to a tattoo shop and see what suggestions they have.

The most surprising thing about the conversation last night was my dad’s reaction. He said he’d also be willing to get a tattoo, which somehow threw me for a loop. I had no idea he’d go for something like that. Sitting there, listening to him talk about getting inked with an Air Force emblem on his bicep, I had the disquieting notion that somebody else had fashioned a pretty realistic looking dad costume and was pulling a fast one on all of us. How interesting. Maybe I can find a 2-for-1 special.

In other news, I had an interview yesterday. Well, kinda. It was for a job that doesn’t exist. A former coworker has an aunt who works for a communications firm that has an employee roster chock full of writers, and she put in a good word for me, so they agreed to set up an “informational interview.” It was another cool office on the sixth floor of a downtown high rise and had a great view of the Columbia River from the floor-to-ceiling windows. I walked in, and there was a comfy lounge area with a kitchen, cozy chairs, and a Ms. PacMan stand-up arcade game. Awesome! Only I committed a cardinal sin by not having samples of my work with me, and my interviewer called me out on that. I have been including links to my online portfolio when applying for jobs, and that has worked out wonderfully so far, but she told me that not everybody has the time or inclination to click on a computer link. Point taken, and I agree – it was a valuable lesson to learn, and I’m kicking myself for not having hard copy samples of my work with me. It turned out to not be a huge deal (probably because there wasn’t an actual job at stake); she just asked me to describe my recent writing projects and asked me to e-mail her .pdf samples when I got home, which I did. I thought she was pretty friendly and easy to talk to, and while they don’t have any openings at the moment, they are doing quite a bit of work with freelancers lately and she indicated that those sometimes turn into full-time positions, so I’m hopeful that I can somehow end up doing some work for them in the near future, at least on a contract basis. Something is better than nothing, which is what I’ve got currently.

Peace out, kids.


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

21 thoughts on “Peace, Love & Needles

  1. Do it, Mark! I think you’ll be surprised how much of that they can do–how big will it be? Where will you put it?

    Find an artist that you can TALK to (sometimes they are just…lost to normal convo) and that you like…a shop that you like…and can stand to be in for likely more than one sitting.

    Look through tons of portfolios, check “The best of” rankings in your area, too…ask folks who have tatts you like where they got them…and know that intricate tattoos can take several sittings…

    pay the money up front to put your artist in draw mode, and don’t begin the tatt until you LOVE the drawing…

    it’s worth the money, trust me. A good artist is charging about $120-$150/hr. Don’t skimp.

    and, for the record, MY tramp stamp is the awesomesauce.

    (I love that your dad wants one, too…)



    1. I knew you’d be all for it, Jane! Not very big at all…on my left bicep. You know, the standard first-timer’s spot! I appreciate your tips…I’ll be sure to research thoroughly before going “under the needle,” as it were. πŸ™‚


    1. I had a coworker who was selling a VW Bus a couple of years ago. She was married to a mechanic and they’d kept it in perfect working condition and had it lovingly restored. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to buy it. Sigh…I still wish I’d somehow come up with the money!


  2. Love your gravatar, but I’ve never seen the appeal in tatoos. And tatting is — or at least used to be — a form of lace-making that uses a shuttle. That I know that shows the circles I travel in, though I’m not sure what else it says.


  3. “I’ve been burned by marriage, so free love is looking better and better.”- HAHAHAHA! (to your witty writing, not the whole divorce thing because that’s not funny so much) Anyways, I’m all for the tattoo… I’ve been trying to get The Dude on board with my getting a tattoo portrait of Alf across my back. He’s apparently not a fan 😦


  4. I’m pretty much a hippie myself–though one without a tatoo. (My partner Sara has one.) I love your gravatar, so I say go for it. Sounds like Jane gave you good advice. Good luck——


  5. LOVE your gavatar and I think it would make an AWESOME tat!

    I have one too. It’s a little devil on my upper arm, right shoulder. I got it there so I could show it when I wanted to, and then hide it if need be.

    Now, I gotta tell ya (and many other’s will tell you differently because their pain threshhold might be more than mine) but, yes, it hurt like a bitch. Those who enjoy tattooing say that it’s a pain/pleasure thing. However, not me – HA!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that I got it, but I would NEVER get another one.

    Good luck with the job! Who knows, if you do get some freelance work, it may very well turn into a full-time position!!


  6. You know I love the idea of getting a tat (I have 2, with plans for at least 2 more). And I love the idea of your gravatar as your design. Here are my thoughts/tips:

    Any good tattoo artist will tell you that if you want all the detail, you will probably have to go a bit bigger then you were planning – because otherwise it won’t look right. I also agree with Jane that you need to find an artist you trust to talk to/draw it out. Go for a consultation (or 2) at a shop. See if you click with the artist. That’s the most important thing – also that the shop is clean, sanitary, that they open the needle packs in front of you, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – if you’re feeling intimidated, its probably not the shop for you!

    Ask around to anyone you might know who has a tattoo – they’ll tell you where they went, especially if they were happy with their artist/tattoo shop (for the record, I went to 2 different ones for mine, and I’d probably be more likely to go back to the 2nd one over the first only because its more convenient then the first. But they did a great job). If you don’t know anyone with a tattoo, do your research. Go on Yelp. Check out the reviews. Call the shop if you have questions and if you walk in and get a bad vibe, don’t be afraid to walk right back out.

    Depending on where you get it, it will probably hurt (my hip didn’t hurt much and I’m the largest pain wuss ever) and my wrist hurt like a bitch. My wrist was all bone and there are nerve endings there – ergo, pain. Depends also what your tolerance is for it. It’ll probably be swollen for a day or 2, depending and follow the instructions the shop gives you so it doesn’t get infected (one of the greatest pieces of advice I got was “This is essentially an open wound. Just let your body heal it naturally”). its going to peel like a sunburn when its healed. (Gross, but true).

    I think that’s all I got for now. Its funny, I always said I never would get any because I HATE needles, but I have 2 tattoos, my belly button and my cartilage pierced. God, sorry that was like, a novel. :/


      1. I do indeed! Its pissing me off a lot though because my stomach’s not as flat as it could be but I love it anyway. So it keeps getting red when my jeans hit it and its a huge pain in the ass even though its completely healed. I may be taking it out.

        ANYWAY, thats probably more info then you needed to know. πŸ˜‰ But yes I do have it.

        No problem, glad to help. Also, Aveeno Unscented lotion? Awesome for healing your tattoo. Also get some tylenol if you don’t keep any in the house. After you get your tat done, you’ll more than likely be sore and you don’t want to take ibprofin – because it can thin your blood and you don’t want that right after you get ink done.


      1. LOL. We’ll see. πŸ˜‰

        And I do write more on my blog then things about David Cook. πŸ˜›

        Like, you REALLY should check out Plain Jane Automobile. Since you know you said you were going to when I did my album write up about them. πŸ˜‰


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