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When In Rome

Updated: Jan 10


​was an unique establishment on McIntyre Street, North Bay ON in the mid to late 90s. I first set foot in Brazil Coffee House in the first few weeks of school in the autumn of 1996. My friend, Lawrence brought me there on afternoon; we skipped the school football game and I had no idea what type of place this could be. I was not the coffee drinking kinda girl, I was a herbal tea drinker.

I don't remember every detail about my first visit at Brazil but I do remember how much I was in love with the coffee house. The music went with the vibe of the environment. It was very bohemian and artistic. It felt like a place that I was welcome and eventually, I felt like it was a place where I could take my space. It was the first (social) place were I felt free to follow my ideas, hopes, and dreams. I could speak my mind and be heard. I had found a place that nurtured my thirst for culture & knowledge, and awareness to social issues.


Tattoo #9 - Nicknamed 555 (from the time I set foot in the coffee house, until its last day) I wished for this artwork since the summer of 1997. When my friend and I were helping the coffee house with posters, there was another group of artists that were creating Brazil Coffee House logo on white t-shirts. I was working a few summer jobs but I was saving my money for my sister's wedding that summer and supporting my social life. I wish I knew how much the sentimental value of these things really were back then, I thought I could do without and when there was no "next year" and my life was falling apart; I wished for those mementos I missed out on.

Last fall, when I first went to Patayin Tattoo Company and Jamie did my fawn tattoo, I knew which tattoo sessions were going to be booked for this year. I wanted her to bring my wish to life, that I get to wear my coffee house artwork.

option one of two

​I chose the date, colors, and location on my body very precisely. I sent Jamie the original logo on their business card. She asked me if I was keeping the original colors or looking for something custom, and I shared with her a color palette that I am using for most (if not all) my future tattoos. March 24th was the official close date of the coffee house. My color palette includes orange, brown, purple, and black. Dusty Rose is my color (my fall coat and even my camera is this color) and also it is the primary color for two tattoos (Suzie & Capricorn moon) I've planned this spring. When Jamie sent me the example, I teared up seeing my wish become more realistic. I chose this color combo because I saw that orange circle as a symbolic setting sun; the purple zigzag represents my storms and struggles during that time; and the brown arrow represents my brown skater pants and my fashion style. I chose the left leg above the ankle because Kirk has a tattoo in that spot, my way of matching him.

Tattoo #9 reminds me of Cloud Number Nine. Kirk said he loves the pop-art style, it very reminiscent of the temporary tattoos I wore in 1999.

Suzie by inkbyjamie


​Tattoo #10 - A few days before my 18th birthday, I went to Northgate Square to buy myself a new clothing article from my favorite fashion retail store, Suzy Shier. I ran into Owen near the store, I told him that I was looking for something for myself, and we browsed together. Owen pulled a tank top hung off the rack, held it out, up at my shoulders, and said this top was me. All I saw when he grabbed the hanger was the beige color top. It wasn't even the style of tank top I typically wore but what he was looking at when he held the tank top to me was a beautiful, dazzling dragon. He said it was me, so I took the shirt and went to the change room to try it on. I did not see the dragon until I was alone in the stall. I took the top off the hanger, held it up against me, and wrapped my hands and arms around myself. I loved this shirt so much. It was me. It would look so beautiful with my long, black, floral print skirt. It looked so great with my brown skater pants. I bought the top and we parted ways. It was another two months before I saw Owen again.

(L) My 18th birthday. (C) Artwork by Morgane Carlier. (R) August 22, 1998.

The dragon shirt means so much to me. It was a small moment of joy in a time where things were going from bad, to worse in the matter of days after this encounter. I missed that part of my life, I knew my friendship with Owen was unique. When he chose that top and said it was me, I felt like he got me. Owen was super important to me, but he really broke my heart when he disappeared from my life just as I started seeing my narcissist abuser. Owen was someone who encourage and celebrate me. Cody would hide me and put me down. I knew the differences but I couldn't find a way out, those times when I would get brave enough to speak up or stand up for myself, Cody could change it about him and guilt me to stay.


​When I approached Jamie about this artwork, she was excited to get this piece done for me. I loved that she was as enthusiastic as me at the consult appointment in January. I asked immediately that the dragon not be done as a black tattoo. I wanted my dragon done in rose gold, finding that color in the tattoo ink world was challenging so ultimately I chose dusty rose since its going to be used often in other tattoos. The more I thought about the dragon during the last few weeks before the session this week, I kept thinking that her feet were not dusty pink but brown. When we were discussing the color examples, I shared my idea with Jamie that the feet were different and since I saw the setting sun on the Brazil Coffee House logo, I thought that the dragon's fireball was an orange ball of fire with orange flames, then Jamie noticed that the dragon had purple smoke swirling near the dragon's feet. I was surprised but I totally see that the purple smoke was always there. It was a magical touch. I love when the artist see that added umph to the artwork I envision and/or share with them.

I realized several nights ago, I didn't pick out a new name for the dragon tattoo. My other tattoos have lovely lady names. There's Bea, Betty, and Juniper. Even Capricorn Moon has her lovely lady name chosen. I was stumped, nothing really felt right but I said Suzie like the store where the tank top was purchased. I thought I needed more time to find something else, but I heard Susie Save Your Love by Allie X featuring Mitski and knew it was right. I also adore Canadian musician, Suzie McNeil, she could slay a room with her rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody! My partner took me to two of her shows in the mid to late odds.

In 2018, my daughter had the opportunity to become an international student and studied in Italy. During her Italian tour, visiting different landmarks and different big cities, she brought two shirts for fun photo ops. First, she went to Pompeii and it was volcano day. Then when she was in Rome, she wore my beautiful dragon tank top.

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