My Big Sur Tattoo

So I got this tattoo between June and August of last year…

and I haven’t really shown it off, because I was a little bit afraid of the response to the fact that I’d covered most of the right side of my rib cage in ink.

and because my previous body image sharknado - which is resolved - keeps me from wanting to to be a walking trigger warning.

but I freaking love tattoos, and I freaking love the conversations they start in line at the coffee shop, over cocktails or with the cashier at Target. There’s something deeply intimate about a stranger sharing the part of themselves they’ve chosen to externalize, and something vulnerable about asking something that intimate of a stranger. (I walk a weird line with Target cashiers.)

Before we get to the tree story, I love this one just as much. I've wanted this, smaller, tattoo on my forearm for an awfully long time. It is a deeply resonant prayer and cry for purpose, and I have it where I can always see it. 


May all beings be happy and free, and may my words, thoughts and actions contribute to that in some way.

So. The tree on my ribs.

The roots of the tree are 21-year-old Annie’s whim / declaration of independence in 2005. (It was a hilariously resounding battle cry of *fuckfuckfuckfuck* while staring at the ceiling and clutching my friend’s hand as the guy re-outlined the damn thing.) I have always loved that tattoo because it marked a lot of shifts for me as a human on this planet and because it was nondescript, leaving me room for growth.

And something did grow out of it. The tree is a lone cypress perched on the cliffs of Big Sur California, the place my heart goes to hide when I feel lost or sad or peaceful or happy or just like the ocean is a good idea.

  • It’s a symbol of mourning and growth and surviving with wild beauty in a place that seems  inhospitable.
  • It reminds me that people love me … like my tattoo artist and my friend (same friend from my first tattoo) who held my hand while we finished three sittings / 6+ hours on this thing. There’s something about people sitting with me while I cry that has a much deeper implication for my beautifully cracked psyche.
  • It's a little bit of a "fuck you" to the belief that there is a certain state of being that is required of me to be valued and acceptable in my own life.

If you hate tattoos and think this was a terrible idea…

leave a comment below and I’ll nod and say “thanks for the input!” (while I get ready for the half sleeve I’m starting at the end of the month.) 

If you love tattoos and want to share yours …

share in a comment on my Facebook page and I’ll nod and say “bad ass!” 

However you decorate your life : I salute you.


If you’re in the Madison area and want some gorgeous art work on your skin (or if you have scarring, breast reconstruction or vitilago! this girl’s multitalented!) definitely go see Alissa at Shade Medical and Creative Tattoo. She’s amazing.