Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Getting tattooed at a convention

As a treat for myself, for all my hard work being me basically, I went to the Boston Tattoo Convention last Saturday. I had hoped to meet an online friend there, but it didn't work out so I was flying solo.

I knew ahead of time that I was going to get a tattoo from Elize. She's done two other pieces for me and I like knowing there's an artist I can always go back to for quality work. She's also very easy to talk to and I need that kind of comfort from such a big commitment! A week before the convention, she uploaded a few pictures of sketches she had drawn just for the convention. It was mostly flowers and a tulip in particular caught my eye. I decided that my initial attraction to the drawing was enough: I was going to get that tulip. In purple, of course (my favorite color).

When I arrived at the convention, I bought my ticket with cash and headed in. I was immediately overwhelmed by the noise and people. I suffer from sensory overload in busy environments, even just out shopping, so it was a bit difficult for me to think. I decided to just walk around. I felt so nervous and didn't like feeling so clueless. The convention was occupying several conjoined meeting rooms in the Boston Back Bay Sheraton hotel, lined with many booths of tattooists, piercers, and tattoo/piercing supply companies, not to mention clothing and jewelry as well. I found a stage and stopped to watch a side show performance. Someone was in a box, contorting themself around knives and swords being inserted into it. Stopping there gave me a moment to recuperate and realize that I had to "fake it till I made it," pretending like I knew what I was doing.

Of course, just down an aisle from the stage, I found Elize's tattoo shop booth. I spoke to Elize about the tattoo I wanted and she started prepping her equipment. I scanned her other available convention flash (tattoo "flash" is a pre-drawn piece of art that you pick out to have done with minimal modification, rather than a custom drawing) and the other artists' books while I was waiting. A nice person gave me their map, which I hadn't seen when I'd entered the convention after getting my ticket. Brilliance Tattoo had a box of Dum Dums (small lollipops) on the table so I grabbed one to suck on while I was getting tattooed. This ended up being a nice though short-lived distraction.

I laid out on a folding massage table while Elize tattooed the side of my calf. To pass the time, I ate the lollipop, played a Bubble Shooter game on my smartphone, listened to the sideshow/burlesque performances on the stage behind me, and watched people walk by. I got the sense that people-watching and ogling was totally acceptable and expected at the convention. There were a lot of scantily clad women there, perhaps just to show off their tattoos, but maybe also for some of the beauty/tattoo contests going on. The time passed pretty quickly like that. This was my second tattoo where I had the outline and color completed in one session (about one hour) and I definitely prefer that to outline and color separately. By the time she got around to doing the color, my skin was working hard to dull the pain so it hardly hurt anymore. She took a picture (though I'll visit her at the shop once it's healed so she can get a better one), wrapped it up in plastic wrap (for temporary protection, until I could get home and wash it), I paid, and that was it!

Terribly and not color-accurate smartphone picture. The tulip is a light purple, but my skin is still very red from the process!
Getting tattooed first thing really calmed my nerves. Having something fairly intense to focus on gave my brain a chance to process everything around me. I think some of that tendency to get overwhelmed comes from the Executive Functioning Disorder, or maybe Generalized Anxiety Disorder (or both). When I left Elize's booth, I used the map to navigate towards an artist's booth whose work I have been wanting to check out. I flipped through her book of finished tattoo pictures and grabbed a business card and sticker. I hope to get in touch with her by January about a piece I have in mind. Just across from Holly's booth was Precision Body Arts, who are based in Nashua. The piercing apprentice knows my sister and her fiancé, so I said hi and asked some questions about jewelry and piercings to the main piercer there, Ryan. They were both very nice and obviously well-educated in their work. I'm not a fan of the fancy Anatometal jewelry that seems very popular these days, with all the extra stones and gems, so I didn't get any new jewelry for my existing piercings. I will definitely visit that shop in person sometime though.

I had to wait a while at Precision's booth, so once I was done there, I felt ready to head out. My leg was pretty sore from the tattoo anyway and my phone was about to die from playing a game on it for so long. I bought a poster on my way out and headed home.

Overall, 10/10, would do again. I would love to get tattooed at next year's convention (or another convention). Next time, I might scan the booths more to see if there's a different artist I'd want to get something from, if something Elize has doesn't strike my fancy immediately. It was awesome having so much distracting me during the tattooing and I think I would recommend it for anyone who already has at least one tattoo. Dare I say it was even fun?

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Adventures at a car dealership

After some belated car maintenance, we came to the decision that it was time to get a new car. Hulky's 2009 Honda Civic (EX? not sure) coupe was still driving pretty well at just over 90k miles, but it was time for a change. was my search site. Our needs were pretty specific: 2011-2013, Honda, Civic, sedan, under 50k miles, with a manual transmission. I got 5 results in our area. Several were eliminated immediately due to price. We started to follow-up on some and managed to arrange an after-work appointment at Honda Village. We met with Dave there to see a black 2011 Honda Civic sedan, with around 30k miles, manual transmission, and a nice price. The first things we learned upon arrival: they valet park your car (we didn't know and parked in the Walgreens' parking lot next door) and they offer you coffee, water, hot cocoa, and/or popcorn when you get inside. I enjoyed the special treatment :).

First things first, we went to the parking lot out back to check out the car. Immediately, we noticed car-length scratch marks on both sides of the car. As we inspected further, we found From this, we deduced: the last owner must have been bad at parking and someone else had some bad anger management issues. Dave immediately texted the used car manager to make sure the scratches would be fixed. It turns out that the car was scheduled to go to the body shop the next day anyway, so nothing to worry about there. We inspected for anything else that we'd want touched up and I found a tiny rust spot by a door handle (best to fix those before they grow) and it looks like the last owner wasn't a good driver either, based on some scrapes on the corners of the bumper. After that, it was time for the test drive!

Anyone that drives with me learns quickly that I am nervous driving with people I don't know. Probably because I tell them immediately. I drove pretty well, though I did stall the car twice. On the second time, Dave said he could tell I was experienced because I didn't panic when I stalled, I just turned the car off and then started it again to continue going. I got to drive on some 35 mph roads and then we hopped on the Mass Pike quickly so I got up to about 65 mph. The car felt great and the road noise is so much less than in the '05 Civic. When we got off the Pike, Hulky drove us the rest of the way back to the dealership.

Back inside, we gave information on our car, which we were interested in trading in. The service folks checked it out fairly quickly and Dave came back to us with an estimated value and what they'd give us. We told them how much we hoped to get, plus our down-payment, indicating that if we got that, we'd buy the car. Dave brought the offer back to the manager, who wrote a counter-offer without even looking. Maybe we could've negotiated something more, but it was within our previously discussed range of a good offer for the old Civic, so we went for it. Queue more paperwork for finances!

There's a lot of waiting when you buy a car. I didn't realize we'd have to entertain ourselves for a while. Anytime there was paperwork, we'd fill it out, talk to the salesperson or finance guy, and then wait a bit. There were several new car models in the showroom so we climbed around in those whenever we had to wait. They have some really cool features! All of the new cars have push buttons to start, which is weirdly exciting. The automatics have an economy mode button, so the car will regulate things like heat and how the car shifts gears in order to improve gas consumption. It's basically a way to get the gas mileage you'd have if you drove smartly in a manual transmission car. No lie, if we could have gotten a car with that option, I think we'd get an automatic and use the economy mode a lot. Hulky and I made a pact that the next time we travel, if we get a rental car, we'd get a tricked out mini-van if it's not too expensive to upgrade. They have so many cool features! Not that we'd need all the folding seats and everything, but they're so comfy! Everyone working at the dealership got a kick out of our enthusiasm. Dave said a mini-van is like, "driving around in your living room."

We met with a finance person after that. He showed us some extra options we could use for the car (we passed on all of them), told us what he expected our loan rate would be (better than any pre-approvals I'd been getting online beforehand), and had me sign and initial in a million places. Since the car is certified pre-owned, that means we get comprehensive coverage for a year from purchase date (I think). That covers anything that's not disposable basically, so if something in the car malfunctions and it wasn't on us, they fix it on their dime. Yay! I am sure we won't have any issues.


  • Wednesday - saw the car, liked the car, signed paperwork and gave them the down-payment
  • Thursday - waited excitedly while car was in body shop, was told via phone that we need to bring in proof of income (copy of a recent pay stub) when we pick up the car, no news yet on when we get to pick it up, Hulky gets our insurance squared away with USAA (sets a date to start coverage on new car and end coverage on old car)
  • Friday - Do we get to pick it up yet????
  • Fast forward to the next Wednesday - car is finally clean, scratches buffed out, ready to go, but oh wait, a light is on where it shouldn't be. We don't get the inspection sticker yet, but the car comes home!
It's been a bit of a learning curve for me since the clutch pedal is so springy, but the car is fun to drive and I look forward to many years with it.