Art Heals

Well, folks—it’s official. I’m a terrible Jew. I went and got a huge tattoo on my back and now can never be buried in a Jewish cemetery. The good news is that I absolutely LOVE my new tattoo, and the even better news is that I don’t actually want to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, or be buried at all. Plus, I’d long since blown the whole thing by getting my nose pierced about 10 years ago.


My surrogate father, Barney, likes to taunt me with his clever jingle of “Joooooooz don’t get tattooooooooz,” but there was a great need to have this one done. As much as I’d like to be irritated with Barney for constantly saying this, I’ve let all the snarky comments slide because he told me, while looking at the above picture, that my waist looked tiny and that in general I looked very thin. All snark has since been absolved, as this was the best compliment I could have received after spending the whole weekend stuffing my face with pasta while sitting on the couch, letting my back heal.

This isn’t just any tattoo, however—this is a meaningful and long-anticipated cover-up project. Back when I thought I would be spending the rest of my life with a person who ultimately turned out not to be suitable company for said rest of life, the two of us got matching tattoos. I know, I know—it’s really a dumb thing to do no matter what the circumstances. But, we got them in a flurry of romance and spontaneity, and for a while it was cool. But I was never very fond of the way the tattoo looked (I always thought it looked a little bit like an alien barcode or something), and always fantasized about altering it in some way. And then when we split up, that little piece of alien barcode just haunted me in the mirror every time I got dressed or got out of the shower.

I came across the beautiful and talented Erika Jones at Slave to the Needle in Ballard, who specializes in cover-ups. Over a period of three months, she and I worked together to create a beautiful design of a whimsical Birch Tree, to cover and wash away the old tattoo, along with the memories that were attached to it. I had the first sitting a few weeks ago, and finished with a three-hour sitting on Saturday. I bled, I suffered, I clenched my teeth, but I stayed still and never asked to take a break, even when my whole body was shaking and sweating from the pain.

I am thrilled with the results—Erika is a genius. I plan to write her a weepy thank-you note to tell her how much I want her to be my new best friend. But more than loving the art that is now with me forever, I feel an immense emotional weight lifted from me knowing that the very last thread connecting me to my old, and less happy, life has been snipped. It truly is all behind me now, and I can move forward without any doubts that I am ready.

It’s amazing what a little, or in my case a shitload, of ink can do.


3 thoughts on “Art Heals

  1. Wow, she is AMAZING! Only seeing the final product at first, I had NO idea that this was a cover-up job. In fact, I thought you had to be totally nuts to chose such a big design for your first tattoo… well… I still think it’s pretty nuts, but also pretty…pretty. 🙂

  2. Very nice Tanj. Super lovely and yes, whimsical is probably the best adjective I can think of – it makes me think of Shel Silverstein. Here’s to fresh starts : )

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