I hated painting my nails. While I zealously painted my toenails for decades, I hated painted fingernails. They always chipped, and I’d pick at the remaining polish and destroy my nails as layers peeled away like onion skins. I couldn’t stop myself from picking them apart.
Until my late 20s, I was too poor and cheap to get professional manicures. But even when I did (not often), I’d dread the walk over to the neat little racks showing off what brands and colors the salon offered to pick mine.
My nails have always grown quickly and are strong and thick. Every keyboard bares indents from my nails, water carving through stone to form a river over time. While they eventually break, my nails stand against the wear and tear I’ve put them through, like ranching, gardening, and washing dishes. I’ve never had gels or professionally applied length because I could have natural long ones. Mostly, I’d look down at my nails one day, and they’d be very long again. Or I’d break an index fingernail, and suddenly keyboarding was catawampus. Or a cis woman would notice my hands, exclaim at how very long my nails were, and share how disappointingly brittle hers are.
But polish? Every chip made me feel like a failure. Like a little bomb telling me I did something wrong. I just had them done; they should be flawless like a woman in an advertisement with her flowing hair, lush makeup, and buttery hands with flawless nails.
Intellectually, I know no one’s nails are flawless, even if fresh from a manicure.
(kick me under the table all you want, I won’t shut up)
Grief has kept me away from this space, away from engaging in the writing I love, and away from what seems like the barest minimum of human connections. A grief that shuts down, just as much as it can hone.
I didn’t write here, but I did write a lot about organic electro-optic materials in photonic computing, coming to a website near you. Even in grief, you must pay the bills.
My cat Hermione died. Her cancer came back, and there was nothing we could do. Hermione knew it was time, even if I still don’t want it to ever be time.
The first thing I ever cooked — or rather made — by myself in the kitchen was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was about 5-years-old at time, and my family, all four of us with one on the way, lived cramped in a 700 square foot studio apartment. Oh, and during the week, my Grandpa lived there with us too as he worked as contractor on the home my parents were building.
I am not what you would call an aficionado of pb&j. I certainly ate my fair share of it as a child, but probably haven’t eaten one in 10 years. I remember making this particular sandwich for my younger brother Jonathan. As I made it, he played supervisor. He tried to caution me against pressing too hard with the knife on the soft, overly-processed white bread. And I’m sure he also attempted to get me to cut the crusts off it, which, as a proto-feminist, I surely scoffed at.
When I finished and proudly handed it him, Jonathan frowned and pointed out that he wasn’t going to eat it as I’d broken through the bread. Yes, the first thing I ever made in a kitchen was rejected. Ironically, 20+ years later, my brother would wholeheartedly eat about any food put in front of him, including pb&js with knife holes in the bread. I also bake my own bread now.