Life comes at you fast. Sometimes, so do walls.
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My boxing coach started worrying aloud the other day about the first woman in the class to break her nose during sparring. We've all been bruised in one way or another, but he's worried a broken nose will really scare us off.

I've been out from actual sparring class recently, thanks to my injury. So I didn't join in the usual verbal sparring we all like to do with our boxing coach. Because the truth is, I've already broken my nose.
I think I'm supposed to say I was lucky, in that the break just mostly flattened the bone, rather than offsetting it. But I won't say that.

I wish I could say I broke it in a cool, devilish way. But really the story is this: a very tall boy I knew was walking through a narrow hallway, waving his arms, and singing "Be Prepared," the Scar song from The Lion King (because sometimes life is truly more metaphorical and full of foreshadowing than you are ever allowed to do in art). 

I thought I was prepared. I ducked under his arm as he flailed, expecting to be just clear of the path of his body. But I misjudged the length of his arms. And in an accident that can only be categorized as  another metaphor for every interaction I had with this boy (but that's a tale for another day) I got a swift elbow to my eye and my face went crashing directly into a wall. My head split open, my nose busted, and there was blood everywhere.

I left a dent in the wall, by the way.

Yes, that's right. Not only do I have a scar from this truly ridiculous accident, but so too does the theater hallway wall (or did, they've probably patched it over by now). 

Did I mention that I was calling all of the stagehand cues for a middle school show of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe? Lions are definitely a motif in this story.

Anyways, I laid on the lobby floor of the theater for a while, telling everyone I was totally fine, I was just a bit dizzy (pro tip: if you need to lay down on the floor to feel okay you are very likely not okay) until they convinced me to go to the nurse's office and get my forehead glued back together. She re-glued my forehead together about six times, worried that I would scar. That was honestly worse than the initial injury, because at least I had an adrenalin response to my face flying into a wall.

 Life comes at you fast and sometimes the metaphors are painful.

This gets me back to the noses in a roundabout way. This idea of a good nose, an unbroken nose, an unblemished face. I have two scars on my face. One where I busted my lip at fifteen, and the other scar above my eyebrow where I busted my head open in the aforementioned affair. I've also got a flattened bit of bone on my nose where a nice little ridge that used to hold my glasses up was. 

I've always liked these bits of my face. They're pieces of my life, strange stories that I've earned walking through this earth with a bit more carelessness and much more swagger than a girl is ever supposed to have. 

I gave this to my character Sana Khan, mostly, but I thought about it with both her and Rachel Recht. About girls with swagger. About giving them faces with character and distinction. About how to describe a nose that is not a button nose, that is also not racially charged. Hooked has been taken out of contention entirely. I went with sloping and occasionally elegant. Because I want to reclaim the idea of what is an acceptable face, an acceptable nose, and what isn't.

So much of our perception of acceptability are shaped by notions of WASPy looks. So much of our notions of acceptability as women hinge on beauty, on presenting as pretty, as contorting our bodies into a space that is distinctly singular in this notion of pretty.

Throughout Tell Me How You Really Feel, I tried to work through this. What does it mean to pay the tax of pretty in a female body? What does it mean to be a female filmmaker looking at other women with what is a potentially trained male gaze? What does it mean to carry the nose of your people on your face-- to have your lineage so distinctly written across your features? Why do we not see button noses as a kind of lineage, as also distinctly written across a face?

I don't know if I got to the bottom of those questions. Maybe it was important that I just started asking them. That I started making the problems in my head visible to other people in a fictional space.

Anyways, this is all to say-- if someone is singing "Be Prepared" nearby, you better be fucking prepared. And also, particularly as a glasses wearer, I really miss that bump on my nose. 
I've been thinking about my year. How to sum it up. How to make a list of what I've done, what I've accomplished. What I've read, what I've learned.

But I cannot.

Or maybe, I just don't want to. I do have something of a rebellious streak. In any case, 2018 has been a strange, wild, and surreal ride from start to finish. And I've never been someone who was able to process my reaction to anything quickly, particularly not a phase of my life so filled with learning and growing.

Maybe I'll have a better handle on my year at the end of 2019. I don't know. Instead, I will sign this off with a wish for a New Year that wipes clean what is necessary for you to let go of and holds fast to what you really need for your next orbit on this spaceship earth.

Stay away from boys who flail their elbows and never forget to celebrate Rex Manning Day. I'll catch y'all in the New Year 😘

Read, Watch, Play, Repeat 📚📽✨

I resisted this book for so long. I think I always resist books about white people coming to and appreciating my religion. I think the marketing is always done in a way that makes it seem like this is the only way to have a valid religion. It's an unfortunate side effect, I think, of selling a book, but particularly a book about self and faith and questions and God. Anyways, here I am, diving in. I'll let you know how it goes.
A weird, riotous delight of a film. A movie that takes female competition at its best, rather than at its most clichéd and sexist.

But then again, the female rivals are lovers, despite the marketing telling you otherwise. This is a love triangle with three women and a seat of crumbling power. The men exist to be pretty in the background, and the whole film has director Lanthimos's love of the absurd threaded through in the best and most uncomfortable of ways.
I told y'all that I loved Rosamund Pike narrating Pride and Prejudice and none of y'all told me that she also narrated SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. I'm not sure if we're on speaking terms anymore. 

Anyways, Rosamund Pike is equally delightful narrating a much more complicated work of Austen's. Can she recite them all now, please?
"Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self- doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear."
--Michelle Obama, Becoming
Zan Romanoff is the author of Grace and the Fever, A Song To Take The World Apart, and the upcoming Look. She also writes a pretty rad newsletter. She's the kind of person who doesn't simply invite you to a yoga class. She tells you the best teachers to go to, the way she likes to get there, and the street where you can easily find free parking.

For those of you that don't live in a city where people are constantly fighting for space-- in Los Angeles that's particularly a space to put your car--  there ought to be a word for this specific kind of generosity. A word that make you understand that someone is generous in a way that is both everyday but also luxurious. Parking, after all, is the kind of daily premium that you pay to live in LA and it adds up pretty quickly.

Anyways, Zan's books are a revelation. A slow, beautiful burn. Lyrical and everyday. About celebrity and gossip and conspiracy but also teenage suburban girls. Myths and obsession. Love stories that aren't quite love stories. That everyday and luxurious generosity Zan exhibits in her life comes through in her writing, in the way she sees and describes the city of Los Angeles. in the way she approaches teenage girls, particularly messy teenage girls (aka my favorite kind). I have a particular soft spot for Grace and the Fever, which you can pick up on Amazon or your local indie.

Aminah Mae

I mean 👀👀👀

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Copyright © 2018 Aminah Mae Safi, All rights reserved.

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