In Violent Times…

…just get a sick new tat!!!

What do you think? Of course I’ll get a better pic when it’s healed and out of the Saniderm but there you go.

What do you think? Have you ever gotten a song lyric tattooed on you?

Edit to show an artist’s pic, before the Saniderm was applied. She was good – she even got a tiny bit of my fabulous meggings in the pic:

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My Pre-Ink Routine

So with my appointment coming up in about 5 hours, I’ve begun my pre-ink routine to get me into the tattoo mind frame. As much as it’s old hat to me by this point, there’s still some level of nerve involved for what’s about to come. Ink enthusiasts will tell you that never really goes away, no matter how many tattoos you get.

Of course, being on the autism spectrum and liking “order” as it were, I have my routine down pat to get me into that mind set and get me on my game to endure the pain and resulting adrenaline/endorphin rush of the tattoo process. It’s calming and reassuring, as is every set routine we autists have (whether we’re inked or not) as deviating from order and structure is unduly stressful to us.

So my pre-ink routine starts with the morning of the session, with some meditation to center my thoughts and usually over a cigar and coffee. This routine starts to prep me for what’s to come mentally, while I recite affirmations to myself. “You will overcome the pain and you will have a beautiful piece of art” or something similar.

Then a couple of hours before the session I’ll eat a fairly sizable meal from a favorite restaurant. This gives me the fuel I need to endure the session, but enough time to start digesting so I’m not feeling lethargic or weighed down by the time I get to the hot seat. Comfort food, for me usually in the form of a nice meal from my hometown’s top 100 Chinese restaurant (yet, whoever thought podunk Abilene, TX would be home to one of the top 100 chinese restaurants in the US?).

While I’m processing my meal I usually stop for another cigar, which I smoke while rocking out to my jams. Music motivates me, and especially music I emotionally connect to. Admittedly that usually means my TFF with some others mixed in. By this point I’m in a state of “alert relaxation” and am ready for the process to begin.

After the first couple of lines have been completed the nerves have worn off and I’m usually settled into my zone to carry me through the session. I’ve now entered that state of pure meditation where I feel most at peace. As odd as it sounds, when I’m in the hot seat is when I’m most at peace, at any given time during my life.

So that’s it. That’s my pre-ink routine. I’m not saying this works for everyone, but it really works for me. Maybe even neurotypicals have a similar routine? Maybe some autists also have something similar? Let me know!

New Ink Preview

Well after going back and forth for awhile we’ve got the design for my next tattoo nailed down and I think it’s a real winner:

If all goes well this should be going down next Saturday (2/2). Stay tuned to see it go from paper to skin; I’m sure you all will be anxious to see it.

Next Tattoo Concept Preview

It’s been awhile since I’ve added to my tattoo collection. I’ve been going through withdrawals for sure – I long to sit in the hot seat again, for when I’m being tattooed is the time I’m most at peace. The sweet sting of the tattoo needle helps to center me and remind me that I’m still alive and suffering.

OK, emo BS aside, it’s getting near time again. Completely out of inspiration and ideas, I was looking for something to spark the creative juices again and break the dry spell. That’s when I remembered a picture my artist drew up some time ago that I could have sworn was at the request of a client but after I didn’t see the tattoo come up in her feed for a few months, I decided to inquire. Lo and behold, it was just something she drew up and wasn’t for anyone in particular and said she’d love to tattoo it.

So here then is the concept drawing (artist credit: Jada Taylor):

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As someone who has begun embarking on a writing career a bit later in life, this design just spoke to me. It’s a cool design for sure. As far as the scroll? After bouncing some ideas, I have decided to put a song lyric in it – “In violent times you shouldn’t have to sell your soul.” If you don’t know what that’s a reference to, you’re hopeless (J/K – for those who might not know it’s a reference to “Shout” by Tears for Fears):

Anyway, stay tuned as this moves from conceptual phase to final product. As soon as we settle on the concept, we’ll move forward and you, my dear followers, will be among the first to see it after I get it tattooed.

I’ve Been to the Edge, and I’ve Been to the Edge. Yes, I’ve Been to the Edge…

In pondering what to title this post, I just couldn’t think of what to call it. Alas, I guess merely quoting the most repetitive song ever (“The Edge” by Eiffel 65) seems appropriate because well, that’s what this post is all about.

To me, one of the most chilling scenes in any movie is Neil’s suicide scene in the movie Dead Poets Society. Inspired by his English teacher Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) to pursue his passion for acting, Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) auditions for and lands for the role of Puck in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. His father (who insists his son become a doctor instead) is outraged, withdraws him from Welton and the play and enrolls him in a military academy. Seeing no path forward, and with no support from his mother, Neil uses his father’s revolver to commit suicide.

Here is that chilling scene, for those who have never seen the movie:

As much as it makes the hair on the back of my own head stand up, it makes it even more so knowing just how close I personally came to having almost the exact same fate. On this day, the three-year anniversary of me getting my first tattoo (a semicolon tattoo on my right wrist), I feel I am finally ready to open up about just how close I came to being another statistic and just how close I was to putting my own family through the pain of losing a loved one to suicide.

Having been rejected from my dream career (on account of my autism diagnosis and the FAA not accepting those with ASDs), forced into less-than-satisfying menial jobs and not being able to stick with one long-term, I saw no other option but to end my misery, and by god that’s what I was going to do come hell or high water. On a hot July 2015 night, drove my (then) piece of shit car to a remote location where nobody would be able to find me and brought along a semi-automatic pistol for the ride. Loaded with a single round of hollow-point (because who needs more than one shot?), I aimed to kill and pulled the trigger without hesitation.

A few seconds go by and I think to myself “I guess I’m dead?” In that split second I feared the worst – that there is in fact and afterlife and now I’m destined for hell. Alas, a few more seconds go by and I realize that I’m still alive. I check in the chamber only find out that the shot had not fired. Puzzled, I ejected the unspent round to examine it and much to my surprise there was the imprint of the firing pin on the primer. Of the 25 rounds in that box of ammo, I had picked the only one that was a dud. Hell, that might have been the only dud in that entire production run. What are the odds that the single dud would have wound up in that specific box AND it just so happens to be the one I randomly picked out of that box? Beating astronomically rare odds, I had cheated death, much to my dismay (at least in that instant).

As I sat there for a moment, angry, frustrated, I couldn’t help but think at how unlucky I was. Here I was, going to relieve myself from my own suffering because I finally had the chance, and that was foiled by some awful luck. Alas, it was in that moment I thought to myself “What the FUCK are you doing?!?!?” I drove home to sleep.

A few days later, I was changing the transmission fluid on my car when I got a call from a long-time friend of mine saying an opportunity had come open at my previous company (which he then also worked for). I interviewed the next day and within a couple of weeks I had a new career in the crane business.

A few months pass and I settle into my new career. Though less than satisfying, at least it meant I had a decent home life and wasn’t wondering where my next meal was going to come from. With the cloud looming over me that my reality shouldn’t be this, is when I started kicking around the unthinkable. Something I always sworn I would never do. I thought about getting a tattoo as an outward symbol of my internal battles.

I kicked the idea around for almost two months, until I decided I might as well just go for it. So, after finding a local artist, I walked into the shop on the cold, rainy evening on January 2nd, 2016 at 6:00 PM. I filled out the paperwork, trembling in fear as I did so.

As I sat down in the chair and the artist began preparing her equipment, she told me something I will never forget. “You know once you get this one you’re going to want more,” and she will tell you this is absolutely true – I looked her square in the eye and said “you’re so full of shit.” I was so scared but I had gotten this far, I figured I had to follow through at this point.

I did, and the sense of pride after I did was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I was high as a kite too. That was quite a rush, and I now had upon me a mark indicative of my battles. At this point I still swore I wouldn’t do that again, but we all know how long that lasted.

Three years and eight additional tattoos later plus adding some celtic knot to my first tattoo (to separate it from the very conservative Christian side of Project Semicolon), well, I guess I never saw myself here three years ago. It’s been a wild ride for sure.

So yes, I’ve been to the edge, and whatever god might exist, god does know if I’ve looked down (which I have). Do I still sometimes struggle with these thoughts? Absolutely. I think it will be a lifetime of struggle. I’m also not going to guarantee that life will never get bad enough for me to finally get pushed over that edge (Amy Bleuel herself later succumbed to suicide). Despite my own personal struggle, I maintain the political view that suicide is a right and the government has no right to try to stop someone from carrying it out. That said, it should not be undertaken without exhausting all other options and without consideration of the effects of those around them.

With that, I want to say thank you to all my friends and followers for reading. Thank you for allowing me to tell my story. Of course, that story is still in progress, because my story isn’t over yet. If you’re still here reading this, neither is yours. Thank you and good night.

Oh, and the referenced song, for those so curious:

New Ink: Race Day Double Header!!!

I have been dying for some new ink lately. It’s been entirely too long – almost 6 months. I longed to feel the sweet sting and the rush that goes with it.

Well, I got a little more than what I bargained for today – not only one, but TWO new tattoos in one sitting. It took some mental focus to get through it but at the end of the day I came out with a matched set of tattoos that show my love of racing – one NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series stock car and one Verizon IndyCar Series open wheel car – each dedicated to my favorite drivers in their respective series – Martin Truex Jr. and James Hinchcliffe.

This was the first time I’ve ever done two tattoos in one day. I must say Jade was a real trouper too, staying focused to the very end. I can’t imagine how hard it was on her too. Needless to say she got a very generous tip.

What will I get next? Who knows, but you know I’m already bouncing ideas in my head. It’s a never ending cycle.

The Boss Gets His First Tattoo…

My boss is actually a pretty cool guy. He’s definitely on the oldish-side (60+) but despite being a gruff crane operator turned branch manager, he’s actually laid back and funny, but I will say what dates him in this particular industry is his lack of body art – he’s an entirely blank canvas.

Well, he was until he came back from vacation. He spent last week in Minnesota with his daughters and I guess his daughters all have ink because they lured him into a tattoo parlor and I guess twisted his arm into getting a tattoo, because when he came back from vacation he had a small arrow tattoo on his forearm somewhat akin to this:

Needless to say I was rather shocked. He was talking about it and his experience in the parlor, and I could tell he had never before even gone into one before this all went down. “You can see the wires going into the machine” and apparently the artist had to explain to him that he was about to create an open wound. Oh boy, it’s always entertaining the older crowd trying to do the hip thing.

Anyway, I just found it interesting that after all this time he finally decided to take the plunge, but I also post this as a bit of encouragement to those older folks who might be considering a tattoo – you’re never too old to take the plunge. If it’s something you feel strongly about go for it. You’ll be glad you did, and it might just start your new obsession. 😉