Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Illustrated Woman

Fernando Prudencio was born in Bolivia, lived most of his life in Arlington, Virginia, but spent six years in San Francisco where he learned the art of tattooing. He loves baroque art, particularly the work of Bernini. He's a painter as well as a tattoo artist. He told us that his favorite color, by far, is Burnt Umber. What is not to love about that?

He also loves moths and cicadas, whose life cycles he has studied assiduously. He played the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack, also the music from the movie Amelie, while he worked on my friend, the luminous Mrs. Lipp, and me. Yeah. You can't make this stuff up.

Pretty much everything about the experience of receiving my tattoo was unexpected. Fernando has a very light touch, hence the process didn't really hurt, but nevertheless it was a really big deal. I thought it was going to be painful, that the pain would form the center around which the experience would unfold, but it wasn't like that at all.

When will I learn to let go of my uninformed expectations? Good lord.

We spent twice as much time with Fernando as we thought we would. I believe he got a kick out of us, and, well, who wouldn't love hearing that Mrs. Lipp lived illegally in Tuscany for eight years, that she drives a pink Vespa and worked at Congressional Cemetery? I believe he found me pretty amusing as well.

Afterwards I was in such an altered state. I thought I was fine, but I was definitely stoned. I suspect this is one reason people enjoy receiving tattoos. For me, it was quite unnerving. For instance, Fernando was unable to take my bank card so Mrs. Lipp drove me to the bank to get cash. She dropped me in front of the studio, told me she would drive around the block and pick me up. When I paid Fernando, he gave me a hug and said, "Now you're one of us." Pondering the meaning of that, I got into Mrs. Lipp's car - but it wasn't her car! I had jumped into a car driven by a middle aged black man who looked very surprised to see me in the passenger seat. When I realized my mistake, I apologized and jumped OUT of the car, just in time to hear him say, "Do you need a ride somewhere?" He was such a nice man, every bit as startled by the experience as I was. I'm sure he would have given me a ride if that's what I needed. Good lord.

I wasn't in my right mind at all and in fact did not feel normal for the rest of the evening. I'm better this morning, I'm glad to say.

It's a gorgeous day in Washington DC. Today is my journey through the Holocaust Museum. Of course I have ideas about how it will affect me. I was completely wrong about yesterday, though, hence I'm trying to be curious and open. I'm trying! One thing I know for certain is that it will be great to walk down to the museum and wonderful to see my great teacher Pandora.

What a week! What a life! Shalom.

Detail from a hand painted volkswagon bug. That car is so beautiful!


Rebecca Clayton said...

Wow! Don't forget to take a sweater, stay hydrated, and wear comfortable shoes....

Terri Maxfield Lipp said...

Wonderfully written, as always! I had to read it in two parts however, as when I reached the part about you getting in the car...I lost it and started laughing almost as much as yesterday! The whole day seemed to rub on the surface of surrealism, but when I watched you get into that man's car and then immediately get back out...oh, my friend, I think the surface was broken and for a moment the day was dipped in Dali'. :)

~ Mrs. Lipp :D

ellen abbott said...

Love that VW. sometimes I wish I was a painter.

I was going to get a tattoo for my 50th (I'm 62 now) but I couldn't decide what to get. I still want one though. How did you ever decide?

Reya Mellicker said...

Mrs. Lipp - hell yeah!

Thanks, Rebecca. I was warned that the museum is super cold. Hydrated: check. Comfotable shoes: check. Will eat afterwards. Thank you!

Ellen, it's the word Shalom in modern Hebrew (because I'm not a biblical kind of gal). It's a no brainer for me. Shalom!

lacochran's evil twin said...

What tattoo did you get? And is it in a place you can provide a photo of?

Jo said...


Washington Cube said...

Reya the Journeyer. Magical.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

what a great journey your tattoo experience was! marvelous story fernando sounds like the perfect tattoo artist....light of touch and a deep soul.

welcome to the tribe of the tattooed


Cheryl Cato said...

I darn well can't believe what ellen said! My friend & I each wanted to get a tattoo, but never worked up to it mainly because I couldn't decide what I wanted or where I wanted it. I still think of getting a little lizard tattooed on the outside of my left ankle; maybe ellen & I should go together to get one; maybe we'll drive up to DC & go to your guy. Sounds like a plan! I am so jealous of your great adventure!

Reya Mellicker said...

Cheryl what a great idea! You and Ellen here in DC? That would be marvelous!!

Fernando is at Britishink on H Street and has a long waiting list, but he just happened to have time yesterday morning. C'mon and visit! That would be so wonderful.

Cat or Dog said...

photo. Photo. PHoto. PHOTO. of that dabadabadoo tatoo.

use all available magic for our mutual friend right now. <3


ellen abbott said...

Oh Cheryl, that would be such a hoot!

Cat or Dog said...

i guess that should be yabadabadoo. I'll be Barney

Steve Reed said...

Ha! That is HILARIOUS about jumping into the wrong car. Getting a tattoo is a transformational experience -- I felt the same way when I got mine, even though it's much smaller than yours. I felt marked, permanently changed, which of course I was!

I love your tattoo, by the way. It's really beautiful and so perfect for you.