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location:  Body Art  >  Tattoo  >  Missing Piece / Big O

My fifth tatto, in August 2008, is the cover image of Shel Silverstein's book The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. There are two things that fueled me to get this image as my next tattoo. The first is that it was one of my favorite books as a kid, and I have many fond memories of my grandmother reading all of Shel Silverstein's books to me. The second is that when Molly and I first started dating, she gave me that book with the inscription "Ethan, Since meeting you I no longer feel like a missing piece. Love, Molly."

Fall of 2008 fell just months after Molly's and my marriage and just over a year after my FTM transition bottom surgery, what I saw as my final step (besides the possibility of small revisions in the future) in my personal and physical transition from female to male. The book provides a wonderful message about how finding yourself is just as important as finding someone to spend your life with so this image seemed like the perfect fit to represent both committment and commemoration:

The placement of this tattoo was the biggest risk in tattoo placement I have taken so far. Up to this point, all of my tattoos could have been covered by short-sleeved professional attire (eg. short-sleeved polo shirt with khaki pants). I have always wanted one on my forearm - I looked for a long time for just the right tattoo for this location, and I immediately knew that this was the right one for the job. By getting this tattoo on my right forearm, I recognize that I may need to wear long sleeves when I otherwise would have been able to wear short sleeves. However, I'm not too worried about it since the "professional attire" of my career choice usually includes long-sleeves/long-pants coveralls when in the field or a long-sleeved white coat when in the hospital.