I was convinced I’d get a new tattoo when I turned forty. What better way to celebrate? I have two other tattoos, an orchid on my upper thigh and two bees holding nectar on my upper arm, but I was ready to go slightly bolder—smaller but more readily visible.


My mother offered to buy me the ink for my birthday, so I began to do what people in 2019 did to find inspiration—I typed “minimalist tattoo” in a Google search box and hit Enter.


A week later, Mom and I visited a tattoo artist. I had a few images on my phone, and as the artist bemoaned the “unrealistic intricacy” of the tattoos I’d shown him, I started looking around at the walls. Much like the nineteen-year-old me trying to figure out what to major in, I was convinced I wanted to move forward, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to commit to. I took his business card.


Studying the world, as we writers do, I soon found quite a lot of tattoos I did not want.


1. Zodiac sign

Astrology is fascinating. Like most Leos, I am in love with my own sign. What stronger archetype is there than a lion? Diving deeper into astrology as I wrote a short story (story status: still in-progress/on hold), and I realized that I also have various planets in Leo, which means that I am full of fire. As I dove further yet, inquiring with those in-the-know, I got dizzy trying to understand what the nodes and Chiron’s place in a house meant, and I decided to put the idea on pause.


2. A digital tattoo

I am not a fan of wearables that track steps. A routine and goal-driven person as is, it just gives me one more thing to compulsively aim for. Though the technology has been out for a while, I was downright terrified when I found out that there were digital tattoos that track steps, and now, ironically, they also connect to cashless vending machines. Though I would never get this willingly, I did find it a little bit more tempting than step tracking.


3. A typewriter

I actually do want a typewriter tattoo, but I’m afraid of the cost and the “unrealistic intricacy” of the detail work.


4. Directions

This still intrigues me, but the destination is unclear.


5. Permanent makeup

I’ve always wanted eyebrows. I’m a redhead, and I generally go without or fill them in with a light brown pencil that doesn’t quite match. Half of the time, I end up smudging the eyebrows I’ve drawn in until they’re basically gone anyway because it just looks like too much. So here we are.


6. My spirit animal(s)

We all have many of these, right? I like to think that mine is the owl. Owls are terrifying and wise; they lead well and rotate their heads to gain different perspectives while still. When soaring from one perch to another, they glide, focus. They have odd but sustainable digestion habits, and they let you know when they’re nearby.


7. Betty White’s face

This was a tough call.


8. Richard Nixon’s face

This was not a tough call because I do not share a single value with Roger Stone, but I did find out about his “women love it” tattoo whilst researching my own possibilities.


9. An affirmation or quote

I love quotes. I refer to them often, notably quotes attributed to Anais Nin and Susan Sontag, but all quotes have their time and place; they are helpful on some days, not others. They ring true in early mornings but not on the commute home. Some are beautiful until they show up in doctored up lettering on the wall of the waiting room at the dentist’s office.


10. Anything yoga related

I teach yoga a few times week and find comfort in the mind-body connection that comes from regular practice. I believe that opening the body opens the mind. I believe that creative resiliency begins and ends with awareness, which yoga feeds. And yet. I found beautiful, minimal tattoos, but I couldn’t see my practice deepening because I reinforced a pose on my inner wrist or referenced a mantra. For me, the dedication is the practice itself.


All that said, I think the right tattoo will come. Answers will come. It is a new decade, after all. The possibilities are endless. 




We had the privilege of publishing Jen for the second time this year, with her story “Salt” (the first was “Lucky”). Even better, the two stories are connected. So now we’re connected. Like the lines of a Betty White tattoo that we’re really hoping Jen gets in 2020.


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Top TEN Tattoos 
I Didn’t Get in 2019

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