Written by: Gillianne Ross
Art by: Grace Monahan
We all do weird-ass, crazy shit as teenagers, and I was no exception. Middle school in rural Vermont is like a blackhole of anxiety and hormones you cannot escape. City kids can lead a double life if so desired, but not in my hometown—you’re stuck. So, we have to find other ways to keep life interesting.
In eighth grade, I was a teacher’s pet, had maybe four friends, and was still known as the girl who was obsessed with the Titanic (The boat for clarification. I am that level of nerd.). Even though I wasn’t in the cool crowd, I still wanted to partake in those defining moments of hitting adolescence. One of those things is announcing your status as “being a teenager, and being cool.” For girls at my school, that was largely shown through piercings—nose piercings.
Enjoy a brief overview of the hole that was my small town high school: We had the cool kids, which were pretty much VSCO girls trying to be hippies, and then the guys were into SoundCloud and wanted to be DJs. They wore Thrasher Magazine shirts and Huff apparel, but none of them could skate for shit. Plus, we had all known each other since we were infants, so you needed to keep up your appearance; these people remembered all of the embarrassing things you’d done after all.
I may not have had a bunch of friends, and I may have been awkward as shit, but god damn it, I wanted a nose piercing! My lovely father hates facial piercings for some reason. I blame it on the suburban nuclear family vibes of the late 60s and early 70s he grew up in. Ironically, I got my first tattoo at sixteen and he had no objection to that, but that’s another story. My father’s interference was my main hurdle to getting my nose done, until I took it into my own hands.
It all came into fruition after one particularly loud dinner argument. My father had said I would be able to get my nose done, then three days later promptly changed his mind. It was at dinner that he informed me of that decision. I was not satisfied with this change in perspective, and made that known. In my fourteen-year-old mind, if I didn’t have that piercing, I was going to be the Titanic kid forever and I was not about to let that happen. Dinner ended, and I stalked upstairs to fume, but then I had a thought…
We all know those stories about people piercing their ears at camp. Lemon, icecube, needle; the usual grouping of necessary supplies. If someone can piercing their own ear, I can damn well do my own nose, I thought to myself. *cough* Stupid. *cough* Next thing I knew, I was locked in the bathroom squeezing a sliver of ice up my nose and thumbing through sewing needles.
If this is not obvious enough, a nostril is a fuckton thicker than an earlobe. Just keep that in mind. It also has more nerves. So, I numbed that sucker up and marked where I wanted my piercing. Here we go! Yeah, I quickly found out it’s not that easy.
It took me probably a half and hour to forty minutes to twist, let me repeat, twist, the needle through my nostril amidst minor amounts of blood. Adrenaline is my favorite chemical because of this experience. Dopamine is a sorry excuse for a rush compared to an adrenaline high. I didn’t feel that much pain pressing the sewing needle clear through my nose because of all the adrenaline, and couldn’t hear any particular sounds thanks to the pounding blood vessels thudding in my inner ear. However, I had to do a few trial earlobe piercings before I was able to really finish the nostril. An earlobe is like piercing water compared to a nostril. I was dedicated to the whole process.
Once I finally got the needle through and jammed a piece of jewelry in the hole, I was pleased with myself. It is also important to note that I was scared shitless for my father to find out. My mother was quite impressed with me however, and encouraged my single act of rebellion. She thought it suited me to pierce me own nose. It took my father three days to notice the piercing—which was a small hoop earring, since that’s all I could find at the time. He was… not happy, to simplify things.
After piercing my own nose, I definitely wasn’t the Titanic girl anymore, but thinking back on it, I certainly seemed more psychotic than cool to most of my classmates. Girls talked behind my back; They called me a freak. They made fun of everything that I did. They accused me of thinking I was better than I was. They thought I was crazy. None of this was said to my face of course; I learned of it through a few friends, most of them boys. One girl I’d grown up with, however, was actually impressed and told me so. Four years later, she would pierce her own septum after her parents forced her to remove the one she’d acquired abroad. But, she was a popular girl, so hers was fucking rad, while mine was fucking weird.
I kept my self-inflicted piercing for about nine months. My father finally relented to let me keep it after a month of arguing. Let me be very clear: this is not an endorsement to do this yourself. It is the opposite; go to a professional, duh! The reason that I finally was forced to abandon that nose piercing was due to horrendous nose bleeds I began getting. They were so bad I had to shove tampons up my nose to stop them. No joke—tampons all up in my nose.
My first semester at college, I got my nose pierced again, but professionally this time. Though, my original nose piercing is a fun story to tell now. I mean, middle school was a shit hole for most of us, but at least I have a cool party story up my sleeve. Plus, I’ve never met anyone else who did that at fourteen, so I’m still pretty impressed with my nerdy, awkward, Titanic loving middle school self.