my end of the world earring situation is on point…

It’s funny what you think about when faced with extended boredom and possible annihilation of the human race. Over the last 10 months I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my jewelry choices.

Ummm.. Yeah. I know that sounds kind of odd. But we’ve been, essentially, under house arrest for almost a year. The less seriously my family and I see others taking things the more seriously we take this. Staying home. Having the smallest pod we’re able to. Wearing masks when going outdoors at all. Like taking out the trash? I’ll put a mask on for that in case I run into a neighbor in the courtyard. Bringing in the grocery delivery? Mask it. There was even a while that when deliveries that required ID were made we didn’t open the door at all until the delivery person was gone. Just tapped on the window near the front door and showed ID through the glass.

We don’t want to get sick. We can’t afford to get sick. Someone could die if one of us got sick. But even more than that, the thought that I could be responsible for even one death in any line of infection when I knew I could prevent it by just staying home and staying safe… well it made me feel like if I managed to get sick and infect someone else I would feel like a murderer. I know. It’s a bit dramatic.

That got serious. I just wanted to talk about my earrings. From the time I was 10 I wanted to be a person with a lot of holes in her ears. My Aunt Shelly had a ton of hoops in her ear and I thought it was the coolest thing. So I set out to do the same.

I remember like it was yesterday… it was a couple of months after I got my second ear piercing in each ear. I had just changed into tiny hoops, two in each ear. I was walking to the bus stop my sophomore year in high school. It was windy and there was a chill in the air. I wasn’t bundled up because I was a dumb-ass and wanted to look cool. Also where I lived if it was cold in the morning it would still be like 60 degrees by the afternoon and I didn’t want to lug a coat around.

The wind picked up and a chill went down my spine and then there was a haunting whistle next to my ear. I froze. I looked around me. I started to walk again just as another gust came up and the whistle happened again. It was the wind blowing through the two tiny silver hoops in my ear.

I was enchanted. I spent the rest of the day in a blissful haze thinking about how many hoops I could eventually get into my ears. No, I wasn’t on drugs. That’s just my brain in action.

It was only a few years later that I had 4 holes in each ear. All in the lobes stopping just before the cartilage. It was… crowded. We’ll call it crowded. And they weren’t particularly well done. But I had always been told by piercers and the pierced alike that ear cartilage was one of the hardest piercings to heal. Especially if you’re a side sleeper.

I’m a side sleeper.

So it wasn’t for years and years until I was the mother of a 4 year-old. We were visiting my parents in the midwest and my daughter wanted to get her ears pierced. I thought it was sweet. What a great souvenir of this trip to spend time with her grandparents. Her first piercing. She would remember it forever. We took her to the mall, you know the place, and got her all set up to get her piercings. Suddenly she froze.

You do it first!

Um… well mommy already has a bunch of holes in her ears. And she’s a tired dishelved mommy who is lucky if she remembers to put one pair of earrings in. And the other holes are probably closed up but not all the way. My mind kind of ran. I didn’t actually object to letting the jewelry store worker shoot through my ear with the little earring gun, but where would I put it? And so I said as much.

And then the young woman standing there with the piercing gun at the ready said she could pierce my cartilage. Now you see… on the west coast that’s not even legal. I’m not joking. You have to have piercing license and some very sterile equipment to pierce anything but the lobe. So I kind of raised an eyebrow at her and asked if she was even allowed to do that. She assured me she was and my kid was determined. And I had always wanted that cartilage piercing so I sat in the stool in the glittery, feathery, pink, shiny accessories shop and let that young woman gun a stud through my right cartilage as my daughter and mother looked on.

I should have known what would come next. Like mother like daughter. I sat for the piercing and didn’t so much as flinch at the bright sudden pain and then the anticipated feeling of heat spread throughout my upper ear. This wasn’t my first rodeo. I’d had and removed piercings in so many different locations throughout my body by this point that truly it was no big deal. I felt confident in my ability to make it look easy. And I did. But my daughter… well she wasn’t having it.

She just couldn’t go through with it. She was still scared. Had I performed too well?

Do it again, mama!

She wasn’t sure so… she wanted proof that it would be okay to do it two times. I explained to her how different it was to heal the hard part of your ear and how I like to sleep on my side. But she was certain if I could get through two piercings she could too. And I was apparently exceptionally gullible. The piercer, entertained, pointed out that I’d paid for two anyway and offered to do the other ear. No no no. I didn’t want to pierce the other ear. So I asked if she could just put the second one in the same ear and you know, that worked for her.

And then when that was done and my kid saw the flaming red color my ear turned she just could not bring herself to get pierced. Like I said before, I should have seen it coming. When I was little and my mom took me to get my ears pierced the very first time she also brought my older brother. His idea of fun at the time was to whisper to me about all the pain and blood and terror of the ear piercing process so instead of getting my ears pierced that day I cried and we went home.

My kid did eventually get her ears pierced. And a little later after that she and I went to see a piercer to get matching cartilage piercings. I still had one of mine but the second one never did heal right so I’d let it close up. While we were there chatting with the piercer, a real piercer because this is Portland and we’re not heathens, we were talking about ideal ear jewelry goals. He changed out the old stud in my ear for a hoop, gave me a fresh piercing with a barbell and peeked at my closed up piercings from my youth and said that we’re at the place of new piercings not reopening and I tucked that information away planning to go in at some point to have my barbell changed to a hoop and have new piercings put into the upper lobes of each ear so that I could finally have my perfect ear piercing situation.

Fast forward ac couple of years from that piercing salon. 15 years from that first piercing mishap with my kid. 30 years from the wind whistling through my hoops. To the pandemic.

I couldn’t in good conscience go to a piercing salon during a global pandemic when I didn’t even think it was safe enough to go to the grocery store or get my hair cut. But I had started re-watching all of these zombie apocalypse movies and shows as a means of coping and the one thing I noticed time and time again was that everyone in the apocalypse seemed to have their jewelry game on point. It’s as though they woke up that morning of the apocalypse knowing they would have to live in whatever jewelry they were wearing. That it would be a part of their personal brand. I respected the hell out of that. So I decided despite access to a piercer I would make my dreams come true. The hard piercings were already done. I had two healed helix piercings (that’s what those cartilage piercings are actually called) and my first piercings from when I was a little kid were still going strong. It was just the two upper lobe piercings in each ear that posed the problem. And so I did what I assume anyone would do in my case. I read a lot on the internet about piercing ears, I asked my friend who had pierced her kids ears herself if she had any tips, and I bought some disposable piercing needles, surgical gloves, disinfecting supplies, and a lot of saline spray.

Piercing your own ears is not as easy as one would think. I did it four times in the year 2020. I now have three lobe piercings in each ear and two helix piercings in one ear. There was blood. There was terror. There was my complete and utter inability to close the capture bead on the barbells I used for piercings so I had to rope my kid in.

But here we are almost a year into the pandemic and as of last week when I finally bothered to order some larger sleeper hoops for my first piercings, my ears are now dressed in style for the zombie apocalypse should it happen to come in the middle of the night.

The wind will whistle in my ears and if all else is lost, at least I can feel the joy of that.

Next up, I should probably have my favorite boots resoled.

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