Skip to content

shot through the ear

I recently turned 36. I’m a fatalist. Anything above 35 and I’m 40. If you’re older than 40, don’t be offended. I’m looking forward to (the jewels I will hopefully receive from Tom at) 40. But I feel like I’ve barely settled into my 30s, and now I’m being forced along, and I really don’t want to go.

The signs are there that change is happening. I was at the mall and picked up a cute pair of flats from a display only to realize they were Borns. Fucking BORNS. Either Born no longer makes old lady shoes, or I’m developing old lady taste. At the gym, I flipped through an issue of More magazine and found every article to be highly resonant and relevant to my life. In fact, the magazine could have been called “Yoona: The Magazine for You.”

Once I noticed these small indicators that I was aging, I was resolved. I wouldn’t go gently into that good night. I would fight like a wild and untamed she-cougar. But how?

Good thing I have a 20-something in the house. Cuz showed me articles on Vogue and Into the Gloss about piercings, and said she was getting some. YES. I could pierce myself! My new piercings would reaffirm that I was young. That I had LIFE.

When I told Tom I was going to get a double helix piercing, he grimaced and went off in search of his jug of Advil. When I mentioned it again the next day, he turned mean. “Were you serious? Because Kathryn thinks you’re having a mid-life crisis.” Damn right I was having a mid-life crisis. Tom was lucky I liked my skin too much to tattoo “T&Y4 EVER” on my knuckles. I’d text Linds about the piercing, only to get supportive responses like “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Cuz herself was no help. She wanted to wait to do it in NYC at NY Adorned, and kept putting me off when I tried to set a piercing date.

Well. Game on, losers. Like a 13-year old, nothing makes me want to do something more than a passel of doubters. There’s a piercing parlor a block from my office, and it looked spacious and clean. On Yelp, it had almost all 5-star ratings. Done. I dragged Cuz in on a Thursday night.

The thing about piercing parlors is that they are intimidating for naturally non-subversive people like me. At Straight to the Point, they had a bunch of art on the walls showing piercings so crazy that I started to rethink the whole thing. It was like walking into a hair salon and noticing that all the photos on the wall are of Carrot Top. That might scare you. You might think, this place is not for people like me.

The jewelry on display made things worse. It’s not that the pieces were so large, it was that they were so foreign. They had a whole case with items that looked like wooden salad plates. No idea what they were for. See? That would be intimidating, right?

The parlor didn’t have the right equipment that first night so we left. Even if they’d had the equipment I’m sure we would have left. We needed time to get comfortable with this world we were entering.


On Saturday outside the piercing place, I circled the block in vain, looking for a parking spot. After 15 minutes, I began to take the lack of parking as a sign that God didn’t want me to pierce myself. From there on out, I took everything as a sign of God’s disapproval. Once we got inside, a guy named Evan gave us our paperwork while I fought not to stare at the huge ring in his nose and the studs embedded into his skin near his eye. I asked him how piercings like those didn’t fall out.

“Oh, you just make a cut and then pop the stud in like the skin is a buttonhole,” Evan explained, cheerily. I gave a nonchalant laugh and promptly turned white as a ghost. I looked down and concentrated on my intake form. Had I had alcohol, it asked. Hell yes I’d had alcohol. Who went to a piercing place without having alcohol? “You’re ok if you had it with food,” Evan explained, when I looked up at him in hope. “Oh phew,” I chuckled, weakly. I filled out the rest of the form in a daze. I’m sure that Emily, my piercer, found it really helpful to learn that I’m allergic to cats.


There were people ahead of us, so we waited outside the piercing room and chatted with Evan. “People don’t cry, right?,” I asked. “Oh, all the time,” he answered. I tried again. “But not, like, SOBBING, right?,” I clarified. “Sometimes,” Evan said, amiably. I began to wonder if Evan and the wall art were the parlor’s way of weeding out people who weren’t fit to pierce. Emily called us in to the piercing room just as the last of the wine from dinner wore off.


Cuz got in the chair first. I watched her to assess how much pain she appeared to be experiencing. Her eyes got big for the first piercing, but no tears. She winced at the second piercing, but still no tears. I felt comforted. And her piercings looked amazing. After Emily sanitized the chair and pulled out new instruments, I sat in the chair and babbled incoherently about my grandpa and the time he accidentally ate my contact lenses while we were on vacation. Emily laughed, warmly. She marked in pen the spots in my ear where the holes would go, and then laid me back. As my chair reclined, I asked Cuz if it had hurt. “No,” she said. I relaxed. “Well, not the first. The second was really painful.” But by that point I was fully reclined and it was too late to run. “Take a deep breath,” Emily said. And then she stuck a needle into the outside of my ear. Twice.


Anyway, it’s done. It hurt, but not as badly as contractions. Plus, I once heard that when you’re old, you feel pain less keenly. So there you have it. I’m not old.


41 Comments Post a comment
  1. I had to Google “double helix” and I don’t even turn 30 until next year. WHAT IS LIFE.

    April 28, 2013
  2. …35 this year. I got a tattoo, a small one hidden from the world, my wife thinks its “cute,” I think it’s badass. But, you know, whatevs… (I think that means whatever?), I’m still cool.

    April 27, 2013
  3. J. #

    LOL! I know that a woman is having a mid-life crisis by the new piercing that shows up in the nose, or in the upper part of the ear. I cannot tell you *how many* middle aged women (as in 45 – 55) I know who have done this πŸ™‚ I think that it is the women’s version of buying a sports car.

    I’m the big 5 Oh this year, and haven’t really had the desire to do something to deny my age, though I must say, the person looking back at me in the mirror is rather a surprise at times! Gravity sucks.

    April 22, 2013
  4. Haha! I love a good mid life crises. Just turned 37 + love to announce to everyone I know that I’ve been considering dyeing my hair blue, much to their chagrin.

    April 19, 2013
  5. good for you Yoona, Im old now and have shed my piercings, mainly because my youngest kept pulling on them.

    April 17, 2013
  6. ‘Naturally non-subversive’. LOVE it. Will use it frequently. Thank you πŸ™‚

    April 16, 2013
  7. Post is great – made me laugh out loud – can relate – except I’m 48 shoving 50 – I already have three piercings in one ear and two in the other -I’ll have to find something else to do to feel young!

    April 15, 2013
  8. YoU ArE HiLaRiOuS!! Great story teller!!! I too can relate to feeling “OLD”!! I am in my 30’s, 33 to be exact and I am also, dramatizing myself to be nearly in my 40’s and no longer relevant and youthful….ahhhh!!!! it aches in my bones!!! I bought a guitar and am ready and looking for an opportunity to get inked….since, I don’t live in a city that I can effectively “yelp” my potential inkers, I will have to wait! Luckily, Vegas is only 126 miles south of me πŸ˜‰ Love the the new holes!!

    April 15, 2013
    • a guitar!! why didn’t I think of that. i never used yelp until cuz came to town. now I am in awe of its power

      April 16, 2013
  9. texasdeb #

    Your double piercing is attractive. Definitely a subtle indicator that the woman carrying that ear around is totally hip (and always will be).

    Me? I am officially old. Not quite On Golden Pond old, but effing close enough. I only want to feel good about myself – good about the way I look. For me at least, if I’m starting from a place that denies how much I weigh and how old I am? It feels like probably I’ve lost before I’ve begun. Not sure how many piercings it would take to overcome that attitude, but I’ll admit I no longer wear certain favorite large hoops because they are too heavy and make my earlobes sag. Ain’t nothin’ sadder than sagging lobes, lady.

    April 15, 2013
    • i am adding saggy earlobes to my ever growing list of stuff i never knew i had to stress about. can you wear large but very thin hoops?

      April 16, 2013
      • texasdeb #

        The hoops can be large so long as they aren’t heavy. No need to stress about the saggy lobe issue however. Not a damned thing you can do about it I am aware of, so simply know you will want to have a passalong younger earlobed one in mind if you’ve got any investment earrings that are particularly weighty.

        April 16, 2013
  10. Thanks for the write up. You are not old!!! – I speak from my 57 year old viewpoint. I love your piercings. I had a whole line up my ear in the late ’70s and was encouraged to let them grow shut if I ever wanted a “real” job. I am glad the world is different now. I could not bring myself to do anything more than my ears, but have lots of friends with sweet little nose ornaments and my kids all want some tats. Only one is old enough to do it on his own though. He has a tasteful design between his shoulder blades that he drew himself. My Mother is 79 and she about had a litter of those kitties you are allergic to when he showed it to her. It is a generational thing.
    Happy mid-thirties! The best is yet to come…really!

    April 15, 2013
    • you were a groundbreaker in the 70s! my piercer told a story about a 68-year old lady who came in

      April 16, 2013
  11. Veronica #

    Love love LOVE the piercings Yoona! They look like you’ve had them for years πŸ˜‰ totally suit you. I want to tattoo Audrey’s name on the inside of my wrist but I’m trying to convince myself that I’m not getting to old for that. Will I regret it in a few years?

    April 15, 2013
    • veronica i don’t think you’d ever be too old for that. you’re one of those people who will be young forever. finn and I need to visit you and that delicious baby of yours

      April 15, 2013
  12. You told that story in a really funny, engaging way. Piercings are wonderful. I have conch, helix and daith, and used to have scaffold baars in each ear and 3 helix piercings but unfortunately my ears tend to reject piercings and heal very well. My nose stud and 2 microdermals didn’t work either. Maybe for your next piercings you could get second and third holes on your lobes (much less painful than helix).

    April 15, 2013
    • i have three lobe piercings in my left ear. not enough. i had an upper helix piercing go badly in college. i’m now so worried about the healing that I’m probably going overboard tending to it

      April 15, 2013
  13. This is brilliant, so funny! And your piercings look great. I’ve been thinking of treating myself to a new ear piercing for my 30th in a few months (I think the one I’m after is called a rook…). You have pretty much firmed up my resolve to go for it πŸ™‚

    April 15, 2013
    • Yes yes!! Please report back. We must stand in solidarity

      April 15, 2013
  14. Love the piercing! Went through the piercing stage at the cusp of 30… Started with my eyebrow and worked south… nose has been done twice, tongue twice…other spots… once each… πŸ˜‰ Pushing 40 now… Oldest daughter has began the tradition of giving me a tattoo for my birthday…

    April 15, 2013
    • there is something addictive about it, as linds pointed out. i already want another

      April 15, 2013
  15. You are hilarious. Love the piercings! I can totally relate to being intimidated by the piercing parlour. I got a foot tattoo when I turned 30 and my husband and I felt extremely out of place. But so glad I went through with it. πŸ™‚

    April 15, 2013
    • I love foot tattoos and wrist tattoos. briefly considered doing one with my dad’s initials but then thought it would be bad to remember my dad that way. It would be like if my kid chose to remember me after I’m gone by engraving my initials on a pair of man sandals. I hate man sandals

      April 15, 2013
      • Bahaha yeah I can see how that might not be the best idea.
        I chose an ambigram with my kid’s names. As long as they don’t choose to return the sentiment with some sort of ankle butterfly tattoo or loony toons character it’s all good. πŸ˜‰

        April 15, 2013
      • Wait this is fascinating. Because as soon as I did it the thing I thought is that I’d never let my kids get one. That seems wrong

        April 15, 2013
      • Do as I say, not as I do kids!

        April 15, 2013
      • But maybe you are saying you just don’t want them to get BAD tattoos. Yes I think that’s what you’re saying. Sorry

        April 15, 2013
      • Haha yes. It took me 30 years to come up with one that I wanted forever. As long as they make a good choice, and they are old enough then I can’t be mad!

        April 15, 2013
  16. Guilyn Maros #

    You never cease to entertain. You are so hilarious– and such a great writer. LOVE your blog, you crack me up girl–I can so relate. My hubs and I have had the tats on the knuckle when we turn 36 talk, sort of πŸ™‚

    April 15, 2013
    • aw thanks. i wonder if knuckle tats would make my fingers look thinner

      April 15, 2013
  17. Well said! I am identical in age, however, I find I just forget about my age. Seriously, I have to ask my husband every time I fill out a form lol. I have many piercing’s though, and have had for decades….and tattoos. My giant half back tat was a mothers day prez.and its an elvish representation of my boys and fairies for my girl and I. Enjoy your new found youngness.

    April 15, 2013
    • it is strange how you as you age you start to forget how old you are. for some reason i always remember how old Tom is and just use his age to calculate my own (subtract six).

      April 15, 2013
  18. awww, i love it! i’ll be 35 in a few weeks and i continue to go against the grain with the way i look. being comfortable with yourself is what getting older is all about πŸ˜‰

    April 15, 2013
    • absolutely. by 100 i hope to be completely at peace with myself. happy early birthday!!

      April 15, 2013
  19. I luv the piercings. I can relate to your aging woes but you are young. I am an expert bc I am to be 50 this year and i am young so that makes you young! I look good though! Lol! I am at the age where I have to ask if clothes are too young for me! I hate that! I am struggling w turning 50. I wonder why that ugly number came upon me so fast ! Where did those years go? So to celebrate my mid-life crisis I got a jeep wrangler. One with big huge tires. It’s bright yellow and has a winch on the front. I don’t know how to use it but it looks cool and could save me in a front end collision. And when I drive w the top down cranking old classic Rock… Well I feel 20. So the extra monthy expense is well worth it! It’s ok to fight off that I’m getting old feeling! I think I am going to try those piercings! Lol. After my filler appt! Luv your writing!

    April 15, 2013
    • my friend drove me in his jeep wrangler recently and that is a really fun car. i should have said that to Tom. “at least I’m not buying a new car”

      April 15, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: