Baby’s First Tattoo

Should I give advice about getting a tattoo? Probably not. But I got my first tattoo recently and I wanted to share my experience, tiny tidbits of advice, and what I learned from the process.

If you read about my brain tumor, you would know that the back of my head looks like this:

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Even though I don’t like to admit it to myself, a period of anxiety-induced mania convinced me I wanted a tattoo. Really, I’ve always thought they were beautiful, and as a lover of art and teenage rebellion, the idea of having a wearable piece of art was something to be desired. I also grew up religiously, and I was familiar with the proverb “your body is a temple,” so there was a bit of inner turmoil on that front, but I came to the decision that turning an ugly scar into a beautiful tattoo was a thing worth doing.

My philosophy is wait 24 hours before making a big decision, and in this case, I waited about six months. I mulled it over, explored lots of Pinterest designs, and eventually commissioned a friend of mine to create the design.

After that I did my research on tattoo care, what the process is like, other people’s experiences (basically I watched a lot of Inked videos on youtube), and eventually I visited a tattoo parlor in person to have a consultation about my tattoo.

I had been mulling it over for a while, so eventually I decided to make the leap before I moved out of the city. I got a friend to go with me, and together we walked into the parlor.

Once in the parlor, I met with my tattooer, who asked me about my tattoo and any ideas I had. Since I already had the design on my phone, I air dropped it to him, and then he printed out a sample size of what it would potentially look like. This took a bit of trial and error to find the right size, but we did find the right one.

Before the actual tattoo, I paid in advance and signed a waiver that said I’m willingly getting a tattoo. Then, we walked past the reception area and to an area with several adjustable chairs. Since I was getting a tattoo on my neck, I had to sit in a kind of neck-massage chair–sorry that’s how I’m describing it–where my neck was exposed and my face was put into a kind of massage-cradle thing. It was quite comfortable, and it was the right kind of position to let the tattooer do his job.

Then the actual tattoo began. First he shaved some of the stray hairs on my neck for a clean surface (but not the actual, long hair), used a nice-smelling sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to disinfect the area, and set to work.

Did I mention he gave me a Minion stress toy to hold? I was a bit nervous.

Frankly, the first 45 minutes were not bad at all. It was a bit uncomfortable, but not searingly painful like I thought. If you’re looking for a first tattoo, I would recommend to keep it under this time frame and in a less sensitive spot. After that, since my skin is particularly sensitive, the whole area of my neck started to get sore. I had to stop around the 1 hour mark for a short break, but then it was back to the chair. I transitioned from “ow” and “mmm” to a vocabulary that I won’t necessarily repeat here, and for the last 20 minutes, just repeated a few choice words over and over. But then it was done!

The whole tattoo lasted about 2 hours and cost $200, and for me, it was incredibly worth it. When I saw a picture of the finished product, I cried. Just a little of those tears were from relief, but mostly it was awe and happiness that I was able to turn years of trauma, surgeries, and pain into something beautiful that I could see for the rest of my life. Not all tattoos have to have meaning–it’s your choice–but I’m so happy that this one was my first.

Afterwords, the tattoo looked like this:

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Ignoring my sweaty hair, you can see the lines are really clean, my skin is pretty red (aside from the awkward sunburn marks), but it looks really great. I wanted the design to look really organic, which is why the top of the design (the brain part) seems to disappear into the hairline. Initially I wanted the scar tissue not to be covered, so it would be worked into the design, but it looks much better as a whole piece.

After the initial picture-taking, my tattooer put a layer of thin, sticky plastic over the tattoo to protect it over the next little while. Ideally it stays on for about three days. After those three days are up, I came back to get a replacement layer, and this one stays on for about 5 days. You are also given a set of instructions for how to take care of your tattoo, like don’t expose it to direct sunlight (you don’t want it to fade or for the ink to disperse under the skin), you can wash it using warm water and hand soap, don’t scratch or itch it, and keep it moisturized. You don’t want to get it infected. In a few days you might see a bit of ink leaking out where it shouldn’t (I did and promptly freaked out), but this is normal, because your body is trying to expel a foreign substance. If the tattooer does their job, there will be enough ink in the second layer of your skin to keep your tattoo looking the way it should. In all, your tattoo should heal in about 2 weeks.

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This was my tattoo three days after I had it done. It’s starting to scab a bit, which is why the lines appear a bit darker and thicker, but I completely love it.

 

So you wanna get a first tattoo? Here’s how you go about it:

1. Be sure about your idea (please don’t do things impulsively)

2. Put together some reference photos or ideas, or get a drawing of what you want the piece to look like. If you don’t have the complete visual but just some ideas, your tattoo artist can draw one up for you.

3. Get informed. You don’t have to know all the details of the process, but you should feel prepared and comfortable (though nerves are natural).

4. You don’t have to, but I’d recommend a consultation if you can. Talk to the person who you want to do your tattoo. You might have questions, or they could have suggestions.

5. It will hurt, but it won’t kill you. There are certain parts of the body that are more sensitive because they’re closer to bone or have more bundles of nerves.

6. Follow the after-care instructions! Listen to your tattooer, take care of your tattoo, and take care of yourself. It might be a bit sore the next day, but since you just got a literal tattoo it won’t be nearly the same. Plus, it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself!

 

(also if you have any ideas for my next tattoo, don’t be shy and share them below)

xoxo kat

My Current Favorite Things: Music, Photos, Decor and More

In my last post I decided that blogging was going to take a backseat for a while. I move to  my new apartment in two weeks, I’ve been freelancing and odd-jobbing my way through life, and somehow I’ve found myself surprisingly busy. But I don’t want to stop writing or blogging entirely, so here I am!

Think of this as a life update mixed with a showcase of cool stuff.

 

Things I’ve been up to:

  • Writing a book
  • Prepping for my first tattoo
  • Coming out as bisexual
  • Consigning/recycling/trying to be more environmentally friendly
  • Cooking (though not succeeding all the time)
  • Photography (more on this)

Music I’ve been listening to:

Hey look some photos:

I’ve been having so much fun working with new people, going to new places around the city, and capturing shots I’m really proud of. You can see a lot of these on my Instagram.

Home decor and DIY-ing it up:

If you follow me on Pinterest, I’m living my best life–at least in my mind. I’ve made mood boards of my inspiration, been watching lots of The Sorry Girls on Youtube, and I’ve been bargain-hunting to my heart’s content. Believe me, there is going to be an apartment tour when I’m all settled into my new space.

 

You can tell I’m living for the industrial, rustic, space-efficient, semi-environmentally friendly, student-budget look. With some faux plants that I can’t kill thrown in.

 

xoxo kat

 

An Elle Woods-Inspired Look (and taking a break from blogging)

Elle Woods is like my fairy godmother and role model.

This girl graduated from UCLA with a 4.0 in a business degree, was Chapter President of a national sorority, got a 179 on her LSATs (one point away from a perfect score and in the 99.94 percentile of test takers), got into Harvard Law (12.8% acceptance rate), interned at a prestigious law firm as a first-year law student, cross-examined a witness during her first trial (again as a first-year law student), won said trial by getting the witness to admit to murder (AS A FIRST YEAR LAW STUDENT), and graduated first in her class (FROM HARVARD LAW).

This girl…is goals.

As a future lawyer and incoming law student, sure I could idolize some real life practicing lawyers (I mean they literally have Ruth Bader Ginsburg action figures), but the girl that used to play with Barbie dolls hasn’t lost a love for pink.

I coerced my friend Kayla into modeling for me in this fabulous, Elle Woods-Barbie-glam shoot.

So before I show you some of my favorite pictures, I have an important announcement: Indierella is going to take a backseat for a while. Not only do I feel a bit creatively burnt out on the music and writing side, but I move in six weeks and start law school in ten weeks. Furthermore, I became obsessed with promoting, writing, sharing, and watching the numbers to a point where it was more of a chore than the hobby or even business that I wanted it to be. Of course I don’t want to completely stop blogging, but I want to take care of myself first.

Now, enjoy this last photo series for a little while:

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Thank you for liking, commenting, following, and enjoying this ride with me! See you in a bit. 😉

xoxo kat

 

When You Should Suck it Up in Life…and When You Shouldn’t Have To

Photo by Hutomo Abrianto
You have heard that phrase, right? From a parent, sibling, teacher, friend, whoever. It’s sort of a no-nonsense, tough-love kind of phrase right? When you tell someone, or someone tells you, to “suck it up,” either it refers to detailing with the consequences of something or remaining in a situation, no matter how hard or uncomfortable it may be.

To “suck it up” evokes feelings of toughness, bravery, and perseverance, which all sound very nice and admirable. But…doesn’t it seem like bad advice from the parents of Lizzie MacGuire or Malcom in the Middle?

Before I get on my soapbox, let me say this instead: in life, if you want to succeed and grow stronger and be better and work harder, you do not have to live with a “suck it up” attitude.

Oh there are certainly times when you definitely have to bite the bullet, face the music, or suck it up. But there are also times when you shouldn’t have to.

 

When you should suck it up: when you make a mistake.

Especially if it’s a big mistake. You might get a lecture or a punishment, but if your actions negatively affected someone else, suck it up and do whatever you can to fix the problem.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: pain.

You don’t have to tough it out through your period cramps! If you need them and are prescribed them, take your meds! Your body sometimes needs help to heal on its own. Have a concern? Call a doctor. No one gets brownie points for being able to deal with the most pain without help. If you let yourself complain without doing anything about it, you become bitter.

When you should suck it up: annoyance.

If you’re going to spend more energy being annoyed at something instead of directly dealing with it, let that annoyance go and suck it up. Yes, there will be people at work and in your life who get under your skin and just annoy you, but the endless tirade of complaints about said annoyance will suck the life out of you.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: unwanted attention or personal boundaries.

I originally typed “male” attention but honestly unwanted attention of any sort is, to me, a breach of personal boundaries. I have written off my instincts with men a stupidly large amount of times because I thought I was “just nervous around boys” or “had to be polite.” No! Don’t do that! In the words of goddesses Karen Killgariff and Georgia Hardstark of the podcast My Favorite Murder, when you’re a woman sometimes you gotta f— politeness in favor of your personal, physical, and emotional safety.

When you should suck it up: going to a very close friend’s party, baby shower, play, etc.

If it’s important to someone you care about, doesn’t cost oodles of money you don’t have, and doesn’t put you in a morally dubious position, heck yeah support them! You don’t have to go every shindig every time, but showing up means that you care, even if you don’t know anyone at the party, are going to smell like baby powder for a week, or if the play is bad.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: peer-pressure-induced “fun.”

Drink, smoke, party, eat shellfish, go to a parade, whatever. No one should be manipulated into having fun, and certainly not when the “fun” can make them anxious or uncomfortable. Once I was peer-pressured into watching Game of Thrones and although I’m pretty sure I got through several seasons, I didn’t like it. Maybe I’ll enjoy it one day, but being forced to watch a seemingly never-ending tirade of r*pe and gore turned me way off to the “fun” I was supposed to be having.

When you should suck it up: compliments.

Disclaimer here: cat-calls, veiled insults, and microaggressions are not compliments, even if the giver intended them to be nice! They’re not nice. When someone genuinely gives you a compliment, don’t brush it off. It can be a brave thing for someone to pay a compliment directly. Inspire kindness.

When you shouldn’t have to suck it up: when you deserve better.

If it feels like your doctor is writing you off, get another opinion! If someone is wearing you down with drama and pettiness, you don’t have to deal with it! If you feel like someone isn’t listening to your great ideas, get them to listen! Treat yourself with respect and surround yourself with love.

 

Yeah, sometimes we have to do things that we don’t particularly like, because that’s life. That doesn’t mean that we have to settle for the things that intrude on our safety, security, and happiness.

xoxo kat

 

Up Your Travel Efficiency with Knack Bags

The product in this post was gifted to me by Knack Bags, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

If you asked me what my career goals are, I would reply simply, “I want to get a good night’s sleep, go to concerts, and never worry about paying my bills.”

But, as I discovered during a trip to Utah recently, my secondary career goal is that I want to be able to fly business class just once. I want to show up to the airport in a fashionable suit, tote my small rolling suitcase, and fly business class.

Is that a weird and specific thing to want? Maybe. I enjoy both the little things and the finer things.

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So. Let’s talk about Knack Bags. They’re a young startup with a desire to fix a straightforward problem: sometimes you just have too many bags. I certainly feel this way when I’m traveling, but also on a day-to-day basis. Don’t worry, they’re not encouraging you to give up your purse collection, but to help you organize and decompress your packing, travel, everyday items, and whatever you might need short of a chainsaw into one chic and simple item.

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Here are all the kinds of bags I use, and that you probably use too: backpack, hiking/travel backpack, gym bag, reusable tote, fashion tote, laptop bag, and all the cute purses.

So what about combining all of them into one? The secret, my friends, is simply about how to utilize and organize the space that you have, and the Knack Pack makes it easy.

When I did an unboxing video on my Instagram stories, you could absolutely see my growing enthusiasm as I discovered more and more pockets in this nifty backpack. Keep scrolling to see a delightful array of pockets that allow you to perfectly pack everything from passports, electronics, clothes, shoes, pens, credit cards, and whatever else you might need!

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I’m also a big fan of the lining and mesh. The backpacks I used in public school would get so dirty with grime, dust, and pencil shavings, but the interior material of these Knack Packs are made to prevent all that buildup. They’re totally water resistant! Also, get a load of that hook so you’ll never lose keys in your bag!

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As you can see, the people at Knack Bags thought of a place for anything and everything you might need for a trip across the country or just a trip to the store. On top of it all, all of the pockets and straps can be hidden away if you don’t something at a specific moment. Even the straps!

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With the large Knack Bag, as shown here, you’ve got your classic, adjustable backpack straps. These are tucked into a secret pocket at the very back of the backpack so you can use them as needed. For extra support, you can also use the clasps on the shoulder straps as well as an extra strap around your waist. Again, everything can be brought out for usefulness and hidden away if you don’t need it anymore.

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My overall thoughts? These backs are perfect for the modern traveler who wants to look professional and be organized. The Knack Packs are excellently made and you can absolutely see the time and thought put into making them.

Currently, Knack Bags have a handful of products for sale, and some other ones in the making. Get ready to see them all over the travel blogging world, and if you want to beat the trend, get yours too!

Don’t forget to check out Knack Bags on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! Happy packing!

xoxo kat

Into the Wild – A Utah Photoseries

I haven’t been to Utah in about five years. My parents are both from there, my brother goes to college there, and I spent many-a-vacation growing up visiting my extending family. But I recently visited Northern Utah with my family, as a musical work by my father was being performed, and found myself inspired by the mountains.

The emblem of my alma mater in Virginia says “Levavi Oculus,” which means “lift thine eyes,” referring to the beautiful mountains just beyond our campus. From the Appalachian mountains to the Rockies, mountains make me feel like I’m home.

I was also really inspired by the song Into the Wild by LP, and I asked my new friend Abigail to model for me, as if she was the bridge between humanity and nature, the ground and the open sky, the known and the unknown.

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Lift thine eyes into the wild.
xoxo kat

I Have Forgotten How to Take a Break

This week I took a vacation–something I have not done in a very long time. Utah State College was performing an oratorio that my father had written the lyrics for, and my mom set up some business meetings during the stay. I, however did not have much business to attend to, so I have:

  • Gone running
  • Curled my hair
  • Done my makeup
  • Practiced driving (a lot)
  • Worked on my novel
  • Worked on my blog posts
  • Taken photos
  • Read a book
  • Watched Netflix and Hulu
  • Scrolled through Twitter
  • Responded to emails
  • Cooked food

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And what I realized is: I have forgotten how to take a break. My 9-5 keeps me busy throughout the day, blogging is a job within itself, and my weekends are filled with errands and outings, so I can’t say I’m often bored or that I have long stretches of time to myself.

For the past several months, I have put an immense amount of pressure on myself to constantly keep going. I have to take the LSATs I have to get into law school I have to get a job I have to push through my depression. So how do I just turn it off?

Well, I can’t.

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Maybe my inability to turn off is due to my extroverted nature or even bouts of mania that come from my anxiety (I talked about this recently with my therapist, and it was an incredibly eye-opening conversation. I often sanction my “down time” out of a fear that if I don’t control myself, I’ll fall into a depressive state where I cannot get up again.

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It was weird for me to be in a place where I am unfamiliar and unable to get around without a car. I had spent so much time trying to be independent and self-reliant, that it was hard to have to depend on people. If you have followed my writings for a while, you likely know that I had a rare brain tumor as a child, and a lot of my drive to be independent comes from that experience.

I think at heart, none of us wants other people to feel like they have to take care of us, but sometimes we forget that sometimes we want to be taken care of, if only for a little while.

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After I accidentally locked myself out of the house (long story) and showed my mom that I was as responsible a driver as a beginner could be (road rage aside) I think I was able to find that balance between taking time to relax and taking time to feel occupied, but in an unexpected way: by making time for other people.

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When you feel busy or stressed, a part of your body goes into survival mode, and it gets into that “me me me” mindset. But when you detach from that and begin to focus your energy on other people, that self-focus mindset goes away. I visited my grandmother, some cousins that I haven’t seen in years, made new friends, and watched a beautiful and original music performance. And I finally got my break.

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So my words of advice are these: taking time for yourself is fantastic, self-care is needed sometimes. But, the best and most unexpected way to take a break from your busy life is to give some of your time over to others.

 

xoxo kat