Saturday, April 29, 2006

Here's a pic of the work done on 4/26. One more session till completion?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Two new prints from Shigemasa added to the Woodblock Print Gallery. The prints are in poor shape, but I'm a sucker for the theme (The Seven Lucky Gods). They are also the first prints in my collection from the 18th century.

I have an appointment with Shinji tomorrow so expect more tattoo pics soon.

Monday, April 24, 2006

My horishi Horizakura recently made an appearance on TLC's "Miami Ink". Check out the links below for some clips. Thanks to Dan for hosting them!

Shinji Pt. 1

Shinji Pt. 2

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Another small streetart gallery up here. Mostly Faile stencils, also an old Swoon and new GoreB painting.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Small gallery of new street art pics is up here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Here's a shot of work done about two weeks ago. Not completely healed, but you get the idea. Finished a few areas in need of black or gray shading as well as the red and orange highlights on the top of the koi. Added the deep black eyes to both koi which Shinji says makes them "alive". Seems like only one or two sessions are left to finish my back.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

"I'm afraid things don't look so good, Michael. If only you had come to us earlier we could have helped you, but there's nothing we can do now. Your heart is like a ticking time-bomb, and any day now it will literally explode inside your chest."

"Mr. Rivera?"

The shrill voice shook me from my anxiety-ridden daydream.

I carefully stowed the two year old issue of Creative Knitting Magazine which I was pretending to read, placing it with the other germ-laden periodicals neatly stacked in a corner of the waiting room.

"Right this way Mr. Rivera".

The nurse led me around the corner to a small examination room. Family doctors usually have something colorful decorating the walls; perhaps a poster for children explaining the evils of germs or a diagram of the human digestive system or even an advertisement suggesting you ask your doctor about the latest and greatest lifestyle drug. But the only thing on these walls was a small chart explaining various levels of pain. At the top was printed "10 - Most Painful" next to a cartoon of a face crying, and at the bottom there was a cartoon of a face smiling next to the words "1 - No Pain". I tried to find my face on the chart somewhere and decided #4 best captured "extremely anxious and uncomfortable".

"Please sit down here." The nurse motioned to a table covered by what looked like large sheet of coarse toilet paper. I suppose these things are meant to make you feel like the office is sanitary, but in the end they always make me feel like I must be decidedly unsanitary if their furniture requires such protection from me. The stiff paper rustled loudly as I sat, and the questions began.

Why are you here? I had open-heart surgery as a teenager and I wanted to establish myself with a local cardiologist.
When was the last time you saw a doctor? 10 years ago. She flashed a surprised and vaguely disappointed glance in my direction.
Do you smoke? Do you do drugs? Do you drink alcohol? No, no, no. I guess I could have answered "occasionally" or "in the past" or "only on full moons" but those options were likely to lead to extended questioning or more disapproving looks, so I played it safe and told white lies.

"Oh, I'm sorry - I'm asking all these questions but I see you've filled out the new patient survey."

The New Patient Survey was a four page questionnaire meant to uncover any medical risk factors in me, my parents, my grandparents, and maybe even my neighbor's sister's best friend. After filling out these things you start to wonder if perhaps the receptionists are whispering behind your back, "Look, it's the guy with the crazy grandmother" or "I hear his neighbor's sister's best friend has got high cholesterol".

"Please take off your shirt"

The nurse began to take my pulse. She shoot me a worried look. "Your pulse is racing. Are you a heavy coffee drinker?" I told her I did have some coffee this morning. "How many cups? Just one? Are you nervous?" She jotted down some notes on her clipboard, and I'm pretty sure I saw the word "palpitations". "Maybe just a little nervous", I lied. I shot to a #6 on the pain chart. She took an EKG, circling some sections in red. These red circles no doubt indicated impending doom. I thought to myself perhaps I would be subject to the ultimate irony - dying of a heart attack right there in the cardiologist's office. This is only slightly less humiliating than how I normally imagine myself dying - masturbating alone in my bedroom. I fantasized about bored coroners discussing my tattoos, a poorly attended wake, my roommates having a laugh over my journals or my porn stash.

I snapped out of it when I heard the nurse's voice. "The doctor will be with you in a moment", she said as the door shut behind her. Then it was just me and the Many Faces of Pain. I tried to guide my mind away from further morbid flights of fancy by focusing on something else. There wasn't anything else to read so I started familiarizing myself with the ingredients of the hand sanitizer. Ethyl alcohol, yes yes, how terribly interesting. After an eternity the doctor arrived.

The doctor greeted me warmly in his thick Russian accent, and then it was time for more questions. We work our way down the list. Do you have access to your medical records? Do you exercise? Have you ever passed out? Do you experience shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pains? No, yes, no, no. He pulled out his stethoscope and listened intently. Something tells me that with all the high-tech equipment at his disposal this is more for my benefit than his. After all, I wouldn't feel like I got the full "doctor experience" unless he spent a few minutes studying me silently and sighing thoughtfully. He studied my EKG. "Hmm. I like that they give me the weird cases, much more interesting that the normal things." Weird? I breath deeply, trying not to let his comment set off some sort of panic attack as I inch towards #7.

He began sketching something out on the giant roll of toilet paper. "This is your heart", he said. Apparently my heart looks a lot like a Mr. Potato Head. He points to Mr. Potato Head's right nostril. "This is your AV node - from here electrical impulses travel to different parts of your heart." Then he drew a few lines which he called "bundles" extending from the AV node and connecting to various areas of the heart. "I can see from the EKG that your right bundle is blocked" he says, pointing to one of Mr. Potato Head's sinus cavities. "Without your medical records I can't be certain, but it may have been caused by your surgery. It is near the area where they repaired your heart, so maybe while they were stitching you up they accidentally cut something there." He assured me it's no big deal but I'm a little apprehensive about it. I can't help but wonder if at some point during my surgery, a bystander would have heard a loud "ooops!". Next he studied my echocardiogram. "I don't see any obstruction below the aorta where the repair was done, and the aorta valve seems to be working normally. The valve is little thicker than normal but it's not a problem. Probably from the time before your surgery when the obstruction was causing blood to flow against it in an unusual way." If my heart were a car the engine would be running hot, the electrical system would be half-fried, and the exaust would be misshaped. My thoughts went to a video I'd recently seen of a racing crash - tires wobbling, sparks flying, smoke everywhere but still moving at 100 miles an hour. I smirked at the realization that I'd moved out of the Midwest to NYC but NASCAR was still in my heart.

"All in all Mr. Rivera, I would say you are looking just fine. Try to fax us your old medical records as they would be useful. If you ever have any problems while exercising, let us know and we'll do a stress test. Otherwise, stop back by for a checkup next year."

And with that, he shook my hand and left. I scheduled an appointment while laughing with the receptionist about how I couldn't even plan my dinner for that evening yet here I was making an appointment for a year away. She didn't show any hint that she may have been laughing over my new patient survey minutes before. I walked out of the office relieved, but I made a mental note to destroy my journals and my porn when I got home that night.

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