My post-punk post-pregnancy

by Rachel Garavito

My stepsistercouldn’t wait to turn 18 so she could finally vote. I couldn’t wait formy 18th birthday so I could finally get a tattoo. That pretty much sumsup what my late teens and early 20s were all about. If it was aboutbody art I was there. Being punk rock was a state of mind but I wantedto show angst on the outside as much as I felt on the inside. Theday I turned 18, I went with a friend of mine to a tattoo and piercingstudio in Houston in the part of town where people rocked mohawks andpink hair. Although I was sure I wanted a tattoo, I wasn’t sure whereto get it or what I wanted so I spent the next hour looking around thestudio walls adorned with posters and drawings of tattoo ideas, a sortof menu of body ink. At the time, Japanese characters and tribal armbands were really popular. I ended up choosing a tribal-looking, blackJapanese dragon with a twisted, crawling body and decided to get it onmy lower back. Off center. I asked for the final image to be about asbig as my index finger although the tattoo artist objected to it beingso small. Considering I had a dainty little body, I thought a smalldragon was proportionate to my frame. It initially hurt, but the painwas overpowered by the sheer excitement of my first absolutely perfect,although smallish, tattoo. Twelve years later, I have been asked countless times why I have a tattoo of a birthmark on my back. Aroundmy 20th birthday, the itch for ink creeped up again and I was on thelookout for the perfect addition to my upper arm. I was interested in aclassic tattoo, similar to ones sailors from the 1930s had. I chose adesign from a book I found that depicted a heart pieced with a swordand a couple of hands shaking in front of it. It looked a lot coolerthan it sounds. The idea of it also was a lot cooler than the finishedproduct. Let’s just say I rarely wear tank tops these days. Thelast tattoo I got was a copy of Ani DiFranco’s record label logo, theRighteous Babe herself, on my lower calf. This is my favorite tattoo,although I wish I got it in a different place. Unless you’re a fan ofAni DiFranco, you have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s ashort-haired woman wearing a babydoll dress, her hands in fists overher head. Its a symbol for strong, independent women, and it means alot to me since I’m a huge fan of Ani’s and the image makes me rememberhow important it is to stay strong. Most people think it’s a gladiator. I think my love affair with tattoos has fizzled out, but Iwould like to get one more, if only to cover up the colorful blob on myupper arm. My family doesn’t mind the tattoos. Neither does my husband.But my mother-in-law has mailed me information on laser tattoo removaland has mentioned several times how much she hates them. If havingrandom drawings on my body is the only thing she hates about me, I’mdoing pretty well. I found a website called perpetualkid.comthat has temporary tattoos for babies. There is one with a flamingstroller and a studded pacifier. I think I’m going to buy a few for mydaughter just to scare grandma this Christmas. I may not gettattoos to show my rebellious side anymore, but as long as I can use mychildren to scare their grandparents my job is done. Because, afterall, being punk really is a state of mind. To comment on this story, e-mail Rachel Brear at