Week 40: Island Girl Ink

I’ve been in physical pain lately, so what’s a little more pain? I had previously scheduled an appointment with visiting tattoo artist Soane Tavataina Paninia, who is French Polynesian and now makes his home in Rapa Nui on Easter Island. It was his last week in San Diego inking at the Island TAT Tattoo Shop in Lemon Grove, so I was determined to keep my appointment and make sure my tattoo would be something special.




Getting a tattoo was on my 50 Weeks list, but with a question mark. I have always been hesitant to having something on my body so permanent. But this time, quite frankly, I was going to be a hypocrite. I always warned my kids not to get a tattoo because what you like now may not be something you want on your body 50 years from now. Well, now that I’m approaching 50, I’m a little more certain of what I want, just a little.


I wanted a dragon and scorpion tattoo. Why? Well, my astrological sign is Scorpio, and I was born in the Year of the Dragon. What a combo, right? So, I thought it would make a nice combo in a tattoo.


My friend Rosey suggested Island TAT, which hey I do come from a country with over 7,000 islands, and I’ve always liked the island/tribal look. And since Soane was visiting just at this time and had a couple openings, I felt it was meant to be. Because of the language barrier (Soane speaks French and Spanish), Island TAT resident artist Felix Santos was the one who I consulted with for my design and actually drew it for me. The dragon and scorpion intertwined, with an island tribal feel – perfect.


So one afternoon we go to Island TAT for my tattoo. Gigi went with me for support, especially since she has been my unofficial nurse during my pain filled days. Again, I was still in some pain that day, but what the heck, it’s now or never.


We go to the tattoo room, and we verify the location of my tattoo — a secret spot (see if you can figure it out – oh wait, the pictures give it away). I lay down, expose myself, and close my eyes. I grab Gigi’s hand, tight squeeze as if I’m in labor. He rubs alcohol on the spot, and I hear the tattoo machine turn on. This is why I haven’t been to the dentist in ages, I hate hearing the machines. Soane begins. Hmm, doesn’t really hurt, so I let go of Gigi’s hand. I think I will take a nap.


Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced the pain of childbirth, including getting induced with pitocin with no epidural for hours — I was trying to be supermom and give birth without drugs, stupid me. But the insertion of the tattoo needles wasn’t that painful at all. Depending on the area he was working on, the worst I felt was a sort of pinching. I think the more fat you have, the less pain you experience. Later when Soane was filling in certain areas, it actually seemed a little ticklish.


The inking procedure lasted a little more than an hour, and I was pretty relaxed the whole time laying there. My other pain seemed to have diminished too. It was almost like getting a massage, but not really.


When it was complete and I took a look, wow, I immediately thought it was beautiful. I admit it was larger than what it seemed on paper, but I suddenly felt so proud to have such an artistic piece on my body. Now, I sort of wished it was in a more visible part of my body. I want to show it off, but I will need to find some creative cut out clothing designs.


Although getting a tattoo was a question mark item on my 50 Weeks list, I’m glad I got inked. Would I get another one? Yes, but it has been commented to me that it’s great that I got it checked off my list, but please do not get another one. I guess I will comply.


What do my teenage sons think? They think I’m crazy. That I’m getting old and it will become a glob later. And it’s a good thing I didn’t get a tramp stamp.


As Nike says, just do it.


Island TAT Tattoo Shop, 7912 Lester Ave., Lemon Grove, CA 91945, 619.469.1583, www.islandtat2.com, Facebook: Island TAT Tattoo Shop. Tattoos are not cheap, my design total was $200, designed by Felix and inked by Saone. Elaborate tattoos can take hours, and over several days and will be priced accordingly. Soane returns to San Diego once a year and is also on Facebook: Soane Tavataina Paninia

tatartist  islandtatfelix

2 thoughts on “Week 40: Island Girl Ink

  1. I always think I’m not going to be surprised about what’s on your list… but time and again I’m proven wrong! Wow, Jemma – you’re BAD-ASS! ;D

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s