Twinkling My Roar

I’ve been threatening for awhile to pierce my nose. I realize that sounds as if I’ve been standing in my condo with wild eyes and spittle on my chin, brandishing a safety pin, yelling, “Stand back! I’m gonna do it!”

I was supposed to get my nose pierced a couple of months ago (don’t worry: by a pro). But then in a serenely level-headed moment, I went to a hobby store instead and found glue-on face jewels for $6. I figured it was easier than committing to a hole in my face. I glued one on, took a picture, and sent it to my boyfriend, whose immediate response was: “Cool!” Better than “Hmm,” so that was encouraging.

I’ve already done my due diligence. I read some blogs by people who’d pierced their noses and then felt moved to warn others about all the things they didn’t expect, like how it hurts a lot…and keeping it clean until it heals feels like a full-time job, or torture (which is kind of the same thing)…and, disturbingly, how snot builds up if you get the L-shaped post. I didn’t think nose-piercing was any more traumatizing or maintenance-intensive than ear-piercing, but apparently I was wrong.

Still, I have a pretty high pain threshold. And keeping it clean isn’t so bad when you know there’s a good reason for doing it. Once the wound heals, you can taper off the frequency of the cleaning anyway. And while I admit the snot build-up sounds gross, it seems like I could go with a straight post shaped more like an earring, which would hopefully mitigate that problem.

I have real people in my life who’ve done it. My friend Andrea, for example, who pierced her nose twenty years ago; she eventually replaced the stud with a hoop she got in Turkey, which sounds like the kind of Bohemian Bad-Ass story I want to tell: “Oh, this little thing? I got it in a souk in Morocco when I was doing a camel trek through the Sahara.” My friend Rachael pierced her nose after college. And my sister pierced hers in college before anyone else was doing it.

In fact, the preferred body decoration back then was either a tattoo or a navel piercing. I decided against a tattoo when a girl in one of my classes walked in one day and proudly showed everyone the tiger tattooed across her stomach, and all I could think about was how that tiger would st-r-e-e-e-e-t-ch if she ever got pregnant, after which it would deflate into some kind of unidentifiable Rorschach blot, and was that the look she was going for in her moment of (possibly drunk) abandon. I was further validated in not getting a tattoo when a girl I later worked with spent lots of money trying to remove a tiger the length of her calf (tigers must have been the decoration du jour for drunken abandon in the late ’90s), after which her lasered skin would ooze for hours through her business-casual slacks. I guess the permanence—or near-permanence—of tattoos never appealed to me.

My college boyfriend and I thought it would be a good idea to get our belly buttons pierced as a kind of look-at-us-aren’t-we-so-cool bonding experience, but when it came down to it and the guy at the shop showed us the needle he used for such occasions, we hightailed it out of there—without shame, I might add. Some things you just don’t feel bad about not having the guts to do.

But lately I’ve been feeling my guts. I’ve been feeling there is still much to be experienced. I’ve also been thinking that with the world the way it is and the current of dystopian emotional sludge we can all feel and the pressing urge to make it all better while wondering if it will ever really be better again, I understand the singular, sweet relief that self-inflicted pain can bring.

What it comes down to is that I do want the hole in my face. Or, rather, what I want is the temporary pain that comes with a temporary decoration that temporarily alters my appearance in a way that makes me feel like I have free agency again. Free agency to rise up, collect myself, and find the seed of “good” in the world, to find my rightful place, my sphere of influence, to discover my contribution.

The same free agency I feel when I wear my Mother of Dragons t-shirt.

Because while I may be a woman-hear-me-roar on the inside (most of the time, not counting the days when I have no idea what the hell I’m doing), my fear is that I’ve reached a point where that roaring woman is no longer obvious on the outside, at least to the average person I may encounter. I spend 80% of my time wearing workout clothes and no make-up and giving myself errands to run so I can have an excuse to leave my home—which is also my workplace. I drive a Volvo and put stevia in my coffee. I go to bed at 9 pm, for Christ’s sake. There’s no roaring going on here.

I’m also unlikely to expose my inner true colors until we’ve had that rare, Avatar-esque, “I see you” interaction—which only seems to happen in the deep playa at Burning Man or at indie coffee shops with exceptionally chatty watercolor painters wandering by. So if you don’t happen to unearth my roar through layers of rock and fossil on the unending archaeological dig that is “getting to know me,” then it comes down to this: I need to show it. Make it obvious. Make it twinkle, gosh darn it.

While a nose piercing is nothing original at this point, it’s something I know I could do—stone-cold sober, at that. I could try it out. I could let my eyes water for fifteen minutes and get the token bottle of saline solution and listen to the keeping-it-clean spiel. I could even deal with the snot build-up (I think).

I could feel that twinge of nerve endings when I touch the stud. See the flash of crystal in my line of vision. I’d recall it as the time when I sought pain, on purpose, to remind myself of my own enduring alive-ness, and as the time when my inner guts needed to manifest outwardly. Maybe I’d say, “That was the time when, shortly after, I really did go on a camel trek through the Sahara, and then helped build a water-collection device in Peru, and then saved some oil-soaked wildlife, and then became an independent journalist for awhile and produced a documentary with Sebastian Junger. It was the time when I shook hands across the aisle and our protests made a difference and people started listening to each other and a vision began to be shared. Oh, and it was the time when I finally got my second novel published, and stopped wondering about being a freelance writer and whether or not I was living a pipe dream, and for once I found my contribution to the world and just settled into it and smiled.”

“It was the time,” I would say, “when things got better.”

And then I’d bump my nose in the middle of the night and wake up with a screech and remember I needed to buy more saline solution.

I don’t know. Some roar like that.

5 thoughts on “Twinkling My Roar

  1. As it happens, a tattoo on your stomach doesn’t stretch in pregnancy, since it’s scar tissue. Now you know! (Mine is not a tiger.). (I also never thought I’d have a baby.). (Life is strange.)

    Do it! I recently got a pixie cut for similar reasons. I feel much more rwawr. 🙂

  2. So did you do it? Did you get your nose pierced? I had a second piercing on my ear and it NEVER healed. I mean never. I finally gave up. My first hole even started to have issues but it finally got okay again. I love your sense of humor and understand your need to roar. Nice to meet you here on your blog!
    And Mae–is your stomach a scar tissue or the tattoo the scar tissue? I mean would you have a big pregnant belly and a little tiger tattoo in the middle of it because that tattoo didn’t stretch? I’m just trying to envision this because I, too, thought the tattoo on a belly would stretch with pregnancy. Heck, everything else does! It would be nice if something kept its’ shape.

  3. Love your book, Touch! I still think about my first love as the one who got away too. Found your blog and loved reading it. Came to your last entry and think its definitely your time to Roar getting your nose pierced. However, it made me think of my own experience making this decision. Looking back, I was overthinking it. My only regret was why did I wait so long to do it when I know all along it was something I’d secretly wanted for years, but didn’t realize it.

    When I went to college, my roommate had a nose ring and my parents again said “NO!” She was too cool for me so I forgot all about it moving onto interviews, jobs and marriage after college. I chose my life and I am so very privileged to have been able to do so. And yet I began to feel like a smaller, rather pastel version of myself. I thought that was just what happens.

    over the past 15+ years, whenever I’ve met someone who had a cute little nose stud or little hoop, a little voice inside me would say, “…So pretty!” And then I move on. Until recently, it hadn’t actually occurred to me that a nose ring was something I actually could get one for myself. Admittedly, I was worried what others might think, so I had inertia.

    My inspirational well was drying up. Not much seemed exciting any more. I wondered what to do next and I was turning 30 soon with twelve year old twin girls. My old dream was resurfacing. I kept noticing other women with cute, little nose studs. Some in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and beyond. I began having a strong urge to get my nose pierced. Somehow, I realized that I don’t have to settle for pastel. I could be my bold, brazen self. I was positively effervescent and emboldened like you “Twinkling My Roar.”

    One morning I woke up, putting my eyeliner on starring at my nose. I put some dots on each nostril trying to decide where a little nose stud would look best. That was it for me, I was ready and called my BFF who recommended Jill, her piercer. I called to make an appointment she said okay, but had a cancellation in an hour! Was I ready today? My turning point had been reached and I said, “Yes!” I got my nose pierced, but even better than that: I got my sparkle back. I think it is beautiful especially since that is where my obsession began. I love it! I have so many nice positive comments, and an occasional “..aren’t you too old to have your nose pierced?” Well, I got it for me and not them!

    If you look at my face (upon request), you’ll see I’m happy as I can be with it being a nose pierced thirty something, minivan driving, soccer mom. I don’t care other think. Now everybody tells me that it suits me nicely and looks like I’ve had it forever. Now my twin girls want it done, go figure! It sounds silly, but this tiny little gem in my nose, it has been a huge self confidence booster! Even when I’m not wearing a stitch of makeup and I take a look in the mirror, I smile because of that tiny bit of sparkle that remains on my face after all of the makeup is gone. It’ a tiny little change in appearance, but it brings a whole lot of happy to my face 🙂

    Amanda, I say live to the fullest as your sister and friend, Andrea have done with theirs. Promise it will accentuate your natural beauty!

    Love to hear your comments and enjoy you writing skill.

    Looking forward to reading your next book!

    Angie Beth

    • Thank you for this outstanding response, Angie Beth. I haven’t done it yet, but am still thinking about it. However, your story nudges me a littler nearer. All the best to you!

  4. Amanda, thanks for your nice words about my comment and encouragement for you do to go ahead and do it. “Don’t Overthink” it as I did for so many years when you can look super cute like Andrea and your sister! I can tell it’s on your mind and when you begin dreaming about it, and wake up missing your cute little diamond sparkle on your nose, you’ll know its time!

    Don’t hesitate to write if you have qu3srtions or concerns. However, promise it wasn’t any worse than having your blood drawn. A momentarily pinch for a lifetime of enjoyment hearing other women tell you how cute you look, and how natural it appears on your face like its been there forever. I had soO many women with “nose ring envy.” I just L-O-V-E-D it so much, it made me wonder why it took me so long to have it done.

    Angie Beth

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