Category Archives: Tattoos

My Tattoo Experience (In Pictures)

So yesterday, I told you all about why I got my second tattoo. Today, I’m going to tell you all about the experience in the best way I know how…with bad illustrations.

As the clock ticked toward Sunday, I started to get REALLY nervous–for three reasons. 

Number one–the only other tattoo I have took less than 10 minutes to complete. So I was worried how my pain threshold would handle being in the chair for closer to an hour. (Read: I was terrified I was going to cry all over the big, burly man who was scheduled to brand my skin with a very sharp, pointy needle.)

Number two: I had never gotten a color tattoo, and though most everyone I know who has a color tattoo had told me that color and shading doesn’t hurt as bad as solid black, I was still scared it might hurt me a lot. (Read: Still terrified about the crying thing mentioned above.)

Number three: I’d decided to get the tattoo a few weeks ago, and had spent a ton of time trying to find the perfect design. I’d found one that I liked, but I never really fell in love with it. And because of that, as the appointment loomed, I actually found myself having second thoughts about getting the tattoo at all. 

Deciding to play the “I’m a woman so I can change my mind whenever I want” card, I turned again to the internet in hopes of finding the perfect design. After about an hour, I found a tattoo that I loved. And when I found it, my nerves settled. 

So, Sunday morning, I jump out of bed, totally psyched about my new ink. Brian and I head to House of Ink, and as soon as we walk in the front door, my nerves start to pick up again. I had never actually gotten the opportunity to talk to Steve (The Artist) after I’d changed my mind, and instead had relied on the internet and email to convey my desire to switch things up a bit. After a short 10 minute wait, Steve emerged from the depths of the studio with a tiny little sheet of paper—and on it was his concept of the design I’d sent. And it was just exactly right. Perfect size, perfect detail, perfect everything. Nerves settled again.

We head back to Steve’s room, and he instantly puts me at ease. He was funny, easy to talk to, and the art work that papered the walls of his office were ah-maz-ing. I knew I was in good hands with this guy. 

As Steve set up, I climbed up onto the chair, laid back, and prepared myself for the pain that comes with body art. And I’m not gonna lie. It hurt like hell. Even though the design I’d chosen was outlined in burgundy instead of black, and even though Steve had assured me that if I could survive a wrist tattoo, I could survive anything, I was literally gritting my teeth.

However, other than a few pleading glances at my husband, who was sitting across from me, the casual observer would have just seen a brave woman, relaxed, eyes closed, getting tatted up. (That’s right, I use the cool lingo.)

In my head, however, I kept thinking about the burning fires of Mordor.

Conversation bloomed around me. I know I participated somewhat, when the needles weren’t doing their work.  But when Steve put needle to skin, I retreated back into my brain, thinking of Frodo and the gang, and wondering when the pain would stop.

Truthfully, as the outlining stopped and the shading began, the pain began to lessen. And then, after about 45 minutes, it stopped all together. I waited, eyes closed, for the needle to touch my skin again. And when it didn’t, I peeked over at Steve, who sat back, arms crossed, a big grin on his face. 

“Well, what do you think?” he asked.

I craned my neck to look down at my shoulder, and could barely make out the bottom of the ribbon. Even with my fuzzy vision without my glasses, I could tell that it was beautiful. And I said so.

“Wanna see it in the mirror?” he asked.

And I did. Brian handed me my glasses and I walked over to the full length mirror on the opposite wall. I couldn’t contain my glee. It was EVERYTHING I’d hoped for, and more. The placement was perfect, the color was outstanding, and the scroll detail was even prettier than on the original concept I’d sent in.

In short, I was really, really, really, over-the-moon excited.

Two days later, it’s still a little tender.  It’s a little dry, and itchy, and I’ve been putting Aquaphor on it every couple of hours or so, just to keep the dryness to a minimum. And as easily as I bruise, it will probably be the end of the week before I stop wincing when I put on a shirt in the morning.

But every time I look at it, I’m filled with that same sense of glee that I felt when I first saw it in the mirror, Brian and Steve looking on. 

And I’m already coming up with ideas for tattoo #3.

Thanks, Steve. I’ll be back to see you soon.


Pink Ink

This is my breast cancer awareness pin:

I bought that pin back in 2003, at Walmart. It’s a simple little pin, trimmed in silver, about the size of a quarter. I don’t wear it nearly as often as I should, but every year since 2003–the year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer–I dig it out of my jewelry box. I pin it to my shirt, on my left shoulder, near to my heart, and I wear it every single day during the month of October.

To some, the pink ribbon has become obsolete. I’ve read articles and blogs about women who  refuse to wear the ribbon because they say it’s nothing but scare tactics, that the money spent on pink ribbon paraphernalia would be better spent elsewhere–like going to specific charities in the name of cancer research.

The truth is, I don’t disagree. I’d rather donate my money to a trusted charity than spend it at an online boutique selling nothing but breast cancer ribbons and bumper stickers and tee shirts. I don’t often know where that money is going. And so I keep it in my pocket instead.

But this little ribbon–pink and tiny and poignant–cost me less than $5. I didn’t buy it in order to make a political statement. I haven’t worn it every single October for the past 9 years in order to scare women into getting mammograms. I’ve worn it for a very simple reason.

Because it is a physical reminder to me that my mother is a survivor

And I’m so stinkin’ proud of her–her strength, her courage, her perseverance–that I want the whole world to know it.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, do you?

Yesterday, I took my little pin to an entirely different level. I wanted that physical reminder to also be a permanent reminder. And so, I got a tattoo, in exactly the same spot where I pin that little pink ribbon every year:

And I love it.

It may only be a symbol to you–one that represents a market, or a franchise, or even a foolhardy expense.

But to me, every time I look at my Pink Ink, I’ll be reminded of the battle Mom fought. I’ll think about how she put on a brave face for us when I know she was in pain. I’ll remember the hat she bought to wear to my college graduation, and how she gleefully ripped it off as soon as we got to the car, happy to be free from its presence. I’ll remember lying my head on my father’s shoulder as we sat, fidgeting, in the waiting room as Mom had her surgery. I’ll think about how hard Adam tried not to cry–a kid on the cusp of adulthood–and how brave he was despite the nervous adults surrounding him. I’ll remember calling Brian from the hospital with hourly updates, and how hearing his voice over the phone was like a balm to my fraying heart. I’ll remember the joy I felt each time we got good news–the surgery was a success, her treatments are working, she’s five years cancer free!!

And I’ll remember how it felt to see that little pin, gleaming on the counter surrounded by thirty more just like it, and knowing I had to have it. For Mom.

Thank you, Steve, for seeing my vision and giving me a very special gift. I’ll treasure it always. And thanks, Mom, for inspiring me, as always. I love you!

Readers–stay tuned for the more humorous side of this tale tomorrow. There may or may not be illustrations!!

An Historic Day (For Me and My Wrist)

If you had walked up to me 10 years ago and predicted that I would someday go for a tattoo with my baby brother, you would’ve gotten this response:


It all started about a month ago. I was minding my own business on Facebook (wait, is that an oxymoron?) when I got a private message from my brother.

“Hey Sissy,” it said. “I’m going to get another tattoo. You should get one, too.”

My initial gut reaction was: “Me? A tattoo? He must be crazy.”

But the suggestion kept popping into my head for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until I climbed into the car with my good friend, Sam, that I realized I was actually considering it.

By the time I went to bed that night, I started thinking about designs. I knew it would have to be something that held significant meaning. And I knew I wanted it to be simple, but profound.

The next morning, my husband found me at the computer researching tattoos.

“You’re really serious about this whole tattoo thing, huh?” he said.

And I was.

It came to me like a flash: I wanted to get something to serve as a daily reminder to never take life, or love, for granted. I wanted something permanent. Corporeal. Sentimental. Like Brian’s surgical scar.

My initial idea was to get something that represented our favorite love expression: I Love You To the Moon and Back. But I couldn’t find anything that spoke to me. Finally, I widened my search to include other phrases we use, like “To Infinity and Beyond.”

And that’s when I found my tattoo.

Now that I had the basic design in mind, it was off to the races to find a shop, an artist, and the time. Enter Dennis of The Ivory Tiger. Five minutes into a conversation with him and I was totally relaxed, calm, and ready for the process to begin.

And begin it did.

I went first. Because I’m a chicken. Also, because I was promised it would take less than 10 minutes. When Dennis did the first “warning” line (which I think of now as pen to paper) I was shocked. Surprised. Delighted.

“Is that it??” I said. “Really?”

Everyone laughed.

I’m not sure what I expected. I’d heard everything from “It hurts worse than giving birth,” to “Don’t worry, it just feels like a moderate sunburn.”

Honestly, to me, it felt like just what it was–sharp metal dragging across my skin.

BUT–it was totally bearable. I didn’t cry. And I was able to talk throughout the whole process.

Ok, maybe it did hurt. A little.

Halfway through the process, I asked Dennis if he was interested in knowing the story behind my tattoo. Considering the fact that I probably don’t look like most of his regular clientele, I could tell he was intrigued. When I got to the part where I told him about Brian being diagnosed with cancer at 30, his hand paused. He looked up at me and waited for me to finish the story. He kept looking behind me at my healthy husband (who was manning the camera.) And he was visibly moved.

When the residual ink and oil were wiped away, I was left with the tattoo I’d never known I’d always wanted.

Because true love is forever.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little emotional. Not from pain, or nerves, or fear. But from the true gravity of what this little bit of ink on the inside of my wrist truly meant to me. Now I know that everyday I can look down and see a physical, permanent representation of Brian surviving cancer.

My heart fills to bursting every time I see it.

Ok, enough sentimental stuff, now onto Baby Brother Adam’s tattoo experience. He is a true tough guy and got his done on his inner bicep.

Every guy in the shop, when told where it was going, visibly winced.

Probably my favorite shot of the day. Didn’t realize my reflection would be
so clear until I reviewed the pictures last night.
He’s not flexing. Much.

Adam chose the Gaelic phrase “mo mhuintir, mo chroi,” which translates to “my family, my heart.” And it turned out just beautifully.

To say he’s been entering rooms bicep-first would not be an over-exaggeration. He’s prouder than a rooster in a hen house.

By the time our tattooing was over, the guys in the shop were making fun of my endless picture taking. But I still demanded a photo with Dennis:

And, naturally, there had to be another picture taken at the “unveiling ceremony” afterwards, and my mom and dad’s house:

That’s right. I’m ghetto, yo.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to get this tattoo. It’s more than just artwork to me. There is more meaning in that small swipe of ink than you can imagine.

I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I will love it for the rest of my life. Just like I know that, for the rest of my life, I will always be grateful to have my husband with me–alive, well, healthy. And 100% cancer free.

Thoughts for Thursday

Today is one of those days where I have more than one thing to say, but none of them are quite so complex that they require an entire blog. So…here are a few random thoughts for Thursday.
♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥    ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥

Thought Number One:
Lo and behold, readers–my silly (whiny) video blog yesterday got us some linky love today! Thanks to our friend, Stephanie, at the Love Life Project, who included our blog in a list of “must reads” in her “Reader Grab Bag” post. Make sure you stop by and visit so you can check out the other awesome posts she listed!! But I was so touched by what she had to say I just had to quote her here:

“Abby’s blog is filled with funny, lighthearted stories about her life, her husband (who’s kind of a superhero and I think much of blogland is secretly in love with him) and her family. Yesterday’s vlog was both funny and touching…weight loss is HARD. I empathize with her and send her all of my support.”

How incredibly sweet is that?!? And I love that the hubs got shown some love, too. This will only inflate his ever growing ego some more because…

Thought Number Two:
…it is already getting to be the size of Texas! Why, you ask? Well, Brian got an email yesterday informing him that one of his professors recommended him for a coveted Student Coach position! If the interview goes well (and I’m sure it will because, let’s face it, my husband is a Rock Star) he’ll be spending some free time in the student center this semester, helping new nursing students make use of the many different resources the college has to offer!

My hubby—a TUTOR! I’m so proud I could scream! Speaking of screaming…

Thought Number Three:
…I’m thinking of getting a tattoo.

(Pause for reactions.)

Now, I’ve had some serious reactions to this particular thought, ranging from “That’s so awesome, go for it!” to “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

The funniest of the “don’t do it” comments was left by a friend of the family on my Facebook page:

“Don’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley!”


For those nay-sayers, let me assure you that I do not have plans to come home rockin’ a face tattoo.

When taking the photo, I had originally intended to create a “Mike Tyson-esque” look. However, once faced with Photoshop, I realized I could have a more “Jem-like” face tattoo. So I went with Rock Star over Thug. I think it suits me. What?

Here’s the thing. I’ve always secretly wanted a tattoo. Well, since college anyway. But I could never think of anything that would have significant meaning, and so I always talked myself out of it. I didn’t want to just get a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo, I wanted whatever artwork I chose to have a deeper meaning.

A few months after Brian came home from life-saving surgery, the desire to get a tattoo came back full force. I never said anything to anyone, just kept it to myself. I knew Brian would have a daily reminder for the rest of his life to never take life for granted in the form of his 10 inch long surgical scar. I wanted something like that for myself–something permanent. Corporeal. Sentimental.

And so the idea of getting a tattoo resurfaced. And the design began to take shape in my mind. Something referencing our favorite “Love Expression.”

“I Love You To The Moon & Back.”

This tattoo would be very small. Like, the size of a nickel. It would be something sweet and sentimental, like a crescent moon with a heart hanging from it. And it would be on the inside of my wrist. See?

It would be easily covered with a sleeve, watch or bracelet. It will most likely be solid black, no neon green or bright pink. Most importantly, it would be for ME. My own little reminder to stay present, grateful, thankful.

I’m hoping you’ll have some comments and opinions of your own to share today, Abby Gabbers. And in doing so you may notice….

Thought Number Four:
…that I’ve disabled Disqus for future comments on my blog.

*GASP!* “We thought you LOVED Disqus, Abby!”

You’re right. I did. But my husband made a very astute observation a few days ago.

B: It seems like ever since you added Disqus, your comments have dried up.
A: Grumble grumble something about wanting to be able to reply to individual comments gripe grumble.
B: Yea, I know you wanted to be able to reply, and that Blogger doesn’t have that feature…

(pause for moment to shoot daggers at Blogger via 
vicious, evil, she-devil looks)

B: (continued) …but it’s really complicated to comment via Disqus. I mean, you have to put in your name and your email and other personal info. Some people may not want to do that, you know? And so they just leave without saying anything about your posts.
A: *wheels turning…*
B: I mean, when it comes down to it, you added Disqus for YOU. Not for your READERS. Right?

He’s totally right. I did install Disqus to fulfill my needs. I never considered it might be less user-friendly than the original Blogger commenting system.

And so, with my husband’s wisdom, paired with several emails over the past month from readers who either couldn’t figure out Disqus in order to leave a comment, or had an issue with Disqus not working correctly, I’m back to the original comment form. I’ve still got Captcha diabled (Cuz that’s a pain for everyone, too.) So I’m hoping that comments will pick up, since it’s now less of a hassle for you to do so.

But don’t worry. I will never delete my Disqus account entirely, because it stores all the wonderful comments you have made on past blogs. I can go back and revisit them anytime I want. And if I figure out how to upload them here, I will!

Doesn’t that make you want to cheer? I’ll tell you what else makes me want to cheer…

Fifth & Final Thought (At least for the purposes of this blog)
Finally!!! Football is right around the corner. My Carolina Panthers are back as of Saturday’s pre-season game against the Giants! THAT makes me happy.


Happy Thursday everyone!