Finally Doing Shit or Why At 32 I Decided To Get My First Tattoo



So this past weekend I did something pretty major...for me that is.  I've always been a pretty straight laced kid (yes, I still consider myself a kid); I never really rebelled as a teen or had those crazy black-out-drunk-slutty-years in college.  Sure, I drank before I was 21 (sorry mom & dad), I went to the bar/frat parties in college & had boyfriends.  But at the heart of it all, I've always played it pretty safe because I like being a good kid.  (I swear though,  I'm still a good time)

In the last year, I've been really itching to step outside my comfort zone & do something unexpected for me, but I could never figure out exactly what it was that I wanted to do.   I decided to cut off about 8 inches of my hair which was a big change, but let's be real. Hair is hair. It's not THAT crazy & it has already been growing back at warped speed. It felt like a good start, but it didn't completely satisfy that itch.  It was hard to articulate what I was feeling & I certainly couldn't explain where this feeling was coming from, so I tried to ignore it best I could. But then my break thru "Aha!" moment happened.  I was watching a really sweet Buzzfeed video where siblings chose surprise tattoos for each other.  Each person didn't get to see what their sibling decided on until after the tattoo was complete.  Can you imagine getting something permanently inked on you without seeing it first?  After watching this video I realized it; I wanted to get a tattoo.

Ok hold up. Me, the girl who is so terrified of needles, I wouldn't get a 2nd ear piercing because I was scared of the pain.   This new craving was really throwing me because I'd never felt the desire or need to get a tattoo before. Tons of my friends have them; some were planned out, some on whim.  Seriously, shout out to anyone who has gotten a tattoo on a whim.  I'm such a planner & control freak, I could never get something permanently inked on my body without REALLY thinking it thru. So props to you folks.  Truthfully, I never thought it was something I'd ever be able to do even if I did really plan it out.

But, the more I tried to ignore my desire to get inked, the more I realized I really wanted to do this. I started asking myself why I thought I couldn't get a tattoo.  What was it that was holding me back?  I decided if I could make a list (see, planner) of all the things that were stopping me & I could tackle each issue, maybe this was something I could get the nerve to do.  So,  what were my reasons?

I knew from the moment I began scouring the internet for tattoo ideas that I wanted something very small & delicate.  I began questioning all my friends with tattoos about the level of pain they experienced & how long their intricate tattoos took. I had a friend take a fork & stick me in my wrist to try & replicate the pain. (Hey Katy? You poking me with the fork on my wrist did NOT do the needle justice!) If I got something really small & it couldn't possibly take that long to do...I could probably handle the pain for 10-15 mins.

Ok, this was a tough one.  Ever since I was a kid, I was taught tattoos were against the Jewish religion; Jews just didn't get tattoos. I was told Jews shouldn't desecrate their bodies (apparently ear piercings don't count),  & you can't be buried in a Jewish cemetery if you have a tattoo.  Now,  I was raised in the Reform movement, the more lax movement if you will.  I went to Sunday school, I was Bat Mitzvah'd, Confirmed & graduated from my temple high school...hell, I was the president of our class senior year.  However, because we were/are a Reform household, things like bacon, cheeseburgers & pepperoni pizza were common. Shrimp cocktail? ALWAYS.  Now that I'm older, out of the house,  & don't have children, I don't often prioritize Judaism in my every day life.  I've slacked on going to services, I still love me a good shrimp cocktail...but I didn't want to completely turn my back on something that is a part of who I am.  Torn & looking for answers, I went where everyone goes when they don't know what to do: google.

Guess what, LOTS OF JEWS GET TATTOOS. I don't know why I was so surprised, but I was  quite shocked & a bit relieved. This article in the NY Times from 2008, really helped me understand the issue of tattoos in Judaism. To summarize the article;  Leviticus 19:28 states "You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead nor incise any marks on yourself: I am the Lord." Ok so that's the law. However, the law was written because tattooing was largely a pagan practice, done to mark slaves or show devotion to a pharaoh.  Tattooing has clearly evolved since this time as has our society. So it's really important that the Jewish religion (& truthfully, all religions) continue to evolve to remain relevant with our current society. I mean, there is a law about not wearing linen. Come on.  This realistic reasoning I can absolutely get behind.   So many rules in all religions are so archaic & just not logical for the current times.

OK this thought briefly crossed my mind.  So I googled (again) "grandparents with tattoos"...seriously if you want to be entertained, do your own search. But for real, have you ever looked at 75 year old skin? Wrinkles, sun spots, looks, well, old. So what difference does it make if I have a tiny tattoo that also looks old? It's not like I'm vying to become a senior citizen model.  When I'm old, it will be a reminder that I didn't hold back & had the courage to do something I was terrified of doing.

Well, this is probably the biggest reason why I wouldn't get a tattoo.  Let me just be blunt; I hate pissing off my parents. Back in March, I decided to test the waters a bit & emailed my folks (I was too chicken to call) that I was thinking of getting a tattoo.  I wanted to give them some time to at least get used to the idea before I just showed up with my new ink.  I also wanted them to know I was being serious about this & not just running off on a whim (again, PROPS TO THOSE WHO CAN.)  My mom's first reaction was, "But you hate needles!" She knows me well.  My parents actually reacted better than I was expecting & I know I'm lucky for that.   I don't know if they'll ever actually accept my tattoos, but at least they're speaking to me. On the flip side,  I am an least I pretend to be. I can't live my life as a 32 year old married woman & not make my own decisions about what I do with my body.  I hope my folks read this post to help them understand why I wanted to do this & I hope it's somewhat comforting to know that I do value your opinion SO much, but this is just something I had to do for me. Love you guys!

So those were my big 4 reasons not to get a tattoo.  Would I still get a tattoo if any of these issues weren't able to solve themselves? I think so, but it certainly does help silence some of my concerns.

OK, but now what was I going to get? Well, this was actually the easiest part of the whole process.  I've had my dog Duke for almost nine years & he has been with me through some huge milestones. He came  into my life when I was single, living in Chicago & heartbroken.  Duke was just the bundle of unconditional love & puppy kisses that I needed to bring me out of my slump.   Duke was there through boyfriends, miserable jobs,  a move across the country, the purchase of our first home, an engagement & a marriage.  He is by far the most well behaved dog I've ever known & has the sweetest personality. He is so much of my heart & means so much to could he not be what I get?

I reached out to Melissa Martell at Earth Altar Studio after a friend recommended her.  I did my research on her & her style & it felt like did exactly what I wanted.  The studio itself is like no tattoo or piercing joint I've ever been to.   It is ridiculously adorable on the inside & looks more like a boutique than a tattoo parlor. The studio is owned & run by all women artists (except one) & that in itself had me hooked. I shared with Melissa some inspiration images ahead of time & when I arrived (after consuming a cocktail with my friend Katy) the stencil was already drawn & she NAILED IT.  It was exactly what I wanted.  Small, delicate & perfect. An hour later, I walked out with this AMAZING tattoo & a huge sense of accomplishment/relief.

Now that it's been a few days, every time I look at my wrist I can't help but smile. This was a big deal to me & am so proud of myself for taking the plunge & making this happen. Plus, now that Duke is getting a touch older, I will always have a piece of him with me.  I'm gonna go stare at my wrist some more...





"Intrigued, I follow Serebrin back inside the studio—which is full of green plantscrystals, and textiles from far-away places—where she’ll create a mock-up of my design. “This is the part that really gets channeled through me,” she says as she begins to draw on my wrist with a pen. “I’m just allowing it to happen intuitively, and as I’m doing it, I’m getting words or reminders of what we talked about.”

I’m almost afraid to look at the design when she’s done five minutes later. When I do, I’m a little bit shocked—it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and it’s so…me. I can’t help but feel like it’s always been a part of my body and that she’s somehow excavated it from beneath my skin, like an archaeologist uncovering fossils from the earth."



This Tattoo Studio Takes An Intuitive Approach To Body Modification


"My goal for the intuitive tattoos are to use abstract symbolism representative of meaningful intention to activate awakening, transformation and personal evolution. Sometimes one may know that they want a meaningful tattoo but don't know what design they want. That's the little sweet spot where my work fits in. I feel like each intuitive design I tattoo is essentially a gift, a very unique code that only they know the true meaning of.  I begin each session with a card reading; I created my own deck of cards that I use to help me tap into the subconscious of my client. It helps to open a deeper dialogue and get to the intention needed to be active for the tattoo. Then I hand draw the symbol on the desired are of their body and once approved I begin tattooing. I use a crystal or gem stone chosen by the client and tattoo them with the added benefit of the crystals healing properties, which they go home with as a totem from the experience. "



Want an "Intuitive Tattoo" Based on a Card Reading? Head to Eagle Rock

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LA Weekly

"Entering Earth Altar Studio in Eagle Rock, you’ll think you’re in a day spa long before you notice the tattooing equipment. You won’t hear the buzzing of tattoo machines or see flash on the wall, but you’ll be offered some imported raw water in the tearoom and have an opportunity to check out the assortment of crystals in the lobby."

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2016 AT 7:02 A.M.





The LA-based artist gives you an oracle card reading before the tattoo.



"Just when you thought you'd heard of every style of tattooing, a new shop with a very new take on the art form opens up.

Justine Serebrin has actually been tattooing for quite some time, but her "intuitive tattooing" is just starting to take off. Rather than picking artwork off of the internet or off the walls (or even having her pre-draw a custom piece), Serebrin sits down and gets to know each of her clients on a spiritual level before drawing an ornate design for the tattoo – often including a card reading to carefully determine the intent and meaning behind the ink and attaching a tattoo needle to a crystal for a portion of the tattoo.

Myspace sat down to ask Serebrin about intuitive tattooing and her brand new Earth Altar Studio." 



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Ink Fashion Magazine

ACME Real estate

"Our studio is a place for custom creative tattooing and cosmetic, microblading and other permanent makeup. We do everything from hairstroke eyebrows to watercolor tattoos to freckles to areola restoration to scar camouflaging. We are also very proud to announce our new med spa service: Laser Hair Removal practiced by Christine Serebrin, RN who has over 30 years experience. We have other creative tattoo artists here who create very original and custom pieces for our clients. I feel very honored and grateful to have the opportunity in this lifetime to create a safe place for these special services. Earth Altar Studio is so much more than just what we DO here, it is a sacred vortex of community and creativity and self expression and honoring the self. You’ll have to come feel it for yourself."