My Tattoo Diary

I’ve always been a bit private about my tattoos. But after reading Damsel in Dior’s post about hers, I got inspired to share mine, too. It actually ended up feeling like a wonderfully therapeutic trip down memory lane to photograph them and spend some time remembering why I got each of them over the years. Here they are, in no particular order.  

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These three swallows represent my children. I placed them over my heart. I chose swallows for their symbolism; they fly out to sea, but they always find their way back to shore. They never forget how to find their way back home. 

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This cowboy is about ten years old. I actually based the silhouette off a photo of Brad Paisley. It’s a cultural reappropriation, a feminist statement. A “me, too” of a different sort. Of all my tattoos, I’ve always been least willing to discuss this one. 

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This one’s pretty straightforward. My husband is my anchor. I love him. Have you met him? He’s a pretty great guy. I can’t remember when I got it. I think we were already married.  

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Grab your tissues for this next one. I had a work mentor of whom I was tremendously fond. He was a consultant, and I saw him about once a month, but in between visits, we talked all the time; almost daily. He and I were worlds apart culturally; he was born and raised in Texas, strongly Evangelical in faith, and significantly older than me. But he always put differences aside and no matter how much we disagreed, he’d end every visit with a big hug and tell me he wished me all the best. 

One Friday, after our big hug, he got on a plane to head back home, had a massive heart attack, and passed away. My own heart ached and ached for the loss of him. I decided to memorialize him with this tattoo to remind myself that I, like him, should always strive to lead with the heart.  

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Eve and the snake are my most recent tattoo. I think we all know what this one means. Think for yourselves, girls. Go ahead and bite that apple. 

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The story about getting this tattoo is arguably more entertaining than the story about it. The tattoo is “A Girl,” a poem by Ezra Pound. It’s my favorite poem.  I almost passed out getting this one done, and the tattoo artist brought a Mountain Dew to revive me. I don’t drink soda and I’d certainly never had a Mountain Dew before but I drank it for medicinal purposes. I could barely sit through the rest of the tattoo! I was pretty much tap dancing out of my seat. Definitely my first AND last Mountain Dew. What a repulsive beverage. 

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This tattoo wins the “most painful” prize. I actually had to do it in two sittings. On the ribs is no joke. My husband and I got engagement tattoos. They were both Mayan art. Mine is a Mayan king and queen doing a ritual intended to keep them humble. In my tattoo, the queen is piercing her tongue with a rope of obsidian shards to remind herself of what it means to feel pain. In my husband’s counterpart tattoo, the king is conjuring a vision serpent who gives him advice from his elders. We decided this was good to keep in mind for marriage. Also, Mayans are badass. 

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Here’s a tattoo I got almost twenty years ago, in college! I used to work at a bakery, and someone brought in the sweetest little napkin with this unicorn on it. She wanted to use the design on the birthday cake. I asked her if I could keep the napkin because I just loved the unicorn and all the magical potential it represents. 

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Last but not least, my first two tattoos. The line design is a riff off the tattoo Janis Joplin had on her wrist. I was thoroughly obsessed with Janis Joplin for all of my adolescence. Total tribute tattoo. 

The Cypress tree tattoo is an ode to my move from Connecticut to California. It’s based on the lone Cypress in Pebble Beach. I moved to California to pursue an education in environmental sustainability way back before it was a “thing.” I am a tree hugger through and through. 

Thanks for reading! For reference, all of my recent tattoos were done by Victor Trujillo at Simm’s Ink in Napa and Hayward.