Wednesday, February 17, 2010


I do not fuss much over my hands or fingernails.  For instance, I do not have the habit of or budget for getting regular professional manicures.  It's not that I'm against the idea of doing so, it's just that time and resources always seem better spent some other way, like in going out for a glass of wine with friends or buying a nice cut of meat to put on the barbeque.  Or saving up for a trip to Italy.  Stuff like that.

The only time I can recall ever having fake nails  put on was for my sister's wedding, and even then they only lasted about a half an hour because I forgot and caught a football.  So you might say I don't have the budget for fussing with my nails and I don't have the personality for it either.  In fact, I have always just kept my nails clipped short and if I polish them I apply clear or neutral polish.  

Beyond budget and personality, I don't really have, aesthetically speaking, the hands for fussing over.  I have sturdy (a friend's mother once used the word chubby) fingers, the kind that require medium-to-large sized rings in order not to look like sausage links with nail beds.  I could not have been more shocked, then (and a little irritated) that a boyfriend once said that the thing that first attracted him to me was my hands.  It's not hard to see why it didn't work out for us.

So the fact that I had a mini-crisis over my hands and nails this week is noteworthy.

Over the last several days I have been helping some new friends to ready their property for a Saturday wedding show. Since the property is a rock quarry that was landscaped with trucked in soil and sand, it must be drained regularly with the use of huge pumps (think Holland).  Add to this the fact that, as anyone knows who has followed the Vancouver Olympics, which are just north of here,  conditions in this part of the world of late have been mild and wet. Very wet.  Hence, my work on the property this week has been nothing but mud-mucking, glove-soaking and hand-numbing.

Last night I caught a glimpse of my hands. I was about to go out the door to the grocery store.  As I grabbed my keys, my fingernails, particularly, caught my eye. I didn't recognize them as my own. They looked ghoulishly under-the-nail-tip-tar-filled manicured.  They looked old and weathered.   They looked like they belonged to a man. A man who worked bare-handed in sewage.

I turned my hands over and inspected. The creases in my palms were dark and  I briefly thought of those artsy, brightly colored close-up photographs of a coffee grower's hands you see hanging in chic, eco-friendly coffee shops. Except these hands--my hands--didn't look artsy.  They looked filthy.

I turned my hands palms-down and inspected my knuckles. Red scratches ran across my dried skin that looked like tiny willow branches. Slightly scabby, red willow branches.  I then realized that my hands had begun healing before I even realized I had scraped them.

For someone who does not think about her hands often, I sure was thinking about them a lot now. And I wasn't too pleased. Something about taking my very dirty fingernail beds and red-scratched, black-creased hands out in public struck me as slightly obscene. I didn't want these hands handing money to the cashier, swiping the debit card, holding a glass of wine at the restaurant.

I looked at them again in the light and thought about the back-breaking work these hands had accomplished the previous days. I chose to respect them a little rather than feel shame or disdain. Working with one's hands was good, right? The Bible says that, doesn't it? So there's nothing wrong with dirty hands, yeah? Well, nothing unless one cares about what others think or assume when they see a pair of dirty, laborer's hands.

It hit me. The same impulse that caused me shame about my dirty hands was what had been prompted me all week as I worked to tell the owners that what I am "really" doing with my life is finishing my SECOND master's (sniff, sniff) and planning to move into my chosen field. My poor, tired, scratched hands weren't the problem. The problem was my pride and insecurity. All my hands did was betray that I'm not exactly where I want to be right now and that there is pride in my heart about that.

Again, I looked at my hands. Before I applied soap to them, I decided to give my hands a little deserved dignity.  I snapped a photo of them; you know like one of those cool, artsy close-ups you see in a chic coffee shop.

Monday, August 17, 2009

monday profundity...or something like that

the other day my nephew and nieces came for a summertime sleep over. they are used to "camping" in a trailer bigger than many manhattan apartments (the living room "pops out," if that gives you a visual on how big the camper is) so the entire concept was mind blowing for them. after liberally applying bug spray we put our sleeping bags on mattresses which we then laid out on the deck. once we snuggled in, this conversation ensued:

katie (5): auntie, do you have kids?

auntie: no, sweetie. don't you think that you'd know them if i did? they'd be your cousins.

katie (delighted at this revelation; she's figuring out how the babies come into the family, i think): ohhhh!

anela (5): auntie, are you married?

auntie: no, sweetie, i haven't found a husband yet.

kyle (8) (incredulously): are you a teenager?


you know you're in trouble when you volunteer to do something and the first thing they do is give you professional business cards (in this case, working with the American Cancer Society on one of their annual events).


the more i learn about our political process, the less i want to know, and yet the more i compulsively need to know. is there some sort of 28-day program for people in my situation?

i get why we call it sauerkraut (sour cabbage), but what's the deal with hot dog? bratwurst was too hard to directly translate from the german?


several hurricanes/tropical storms are closing in on the mainland southern u.s., but the real estate i saw a lot of on the news today was a field in upstate new york (woodstock).


today i took benadryl to control allergy symptoms and then got so sleepy i had to lie down on the couch for three hours. my sore throat was gone, but i don't remember any of it.

the neighbors go on vacation and leave their dog alone in a kennel in their yard. he is so lonely he cries for hours on end. do you call the dog catcher? go over there and visit him>turn up the music louder and repeat la-la-la-la to yourself?

i wonder if they would like to be left alone for two weeks at a time with only dry food and water to keep them company.

my town is so low-key that when i asked the local pub what time they close, the owner said: when everyone goes home, which is usually around 11 PM. so you can "close down" a bar here and make it home in time for the late news.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

when i was a kid...

no, i didn't have to walk to school in the snow, with or without shoes. today i was thinking of my personal "kid foods," foods i ate, and adored, as a kid. before i give the list i must give one caveat: my mom was mother nature before mother nature went mainstream. like, we had carob as a chocolate surrogate ("it tastes just as good as chocolate, girls!") for the record it does NOT taste just as good as chocolate. it's okay, it's just not chocolatey.

okay, so junk food was not served in abundance at my house. in fact, the one time i could count on any sort of junky food at all was the last day of school before summer break. for the morning of the last day of school, you see, found my sister and i eating our choice of sugary cereal. prior to that morning we had made our yearly pilgrimage to Lopez Village Market and had picked out any cereal we wanted. each of us got our own box. and that was it. when it was gone, it was gone for the year (are you starting to see my mom's genius? not only try to convince your kids that health foods are sugary foods, but only provide sugary foods once a year so that when the inevitable whines of "we NEVER have sugar cereal" came pouring out of our mouths she could say, "oh yes we do; for the "last day of school.").

somehow, we did manage to sneak in junk food. i don't really know how. maybe when we went to friends' homes and their cheese was velveeta. or when their lunch meat was like the "meat" you get in a oscar meyer weiner (ours, on the other hand, came from an animal). or when dad took us to the grocery store to "shop".

however i came by them, i did grow to love some junk foods. here is my top 10 list:

10. fruit loops cereal
9. swanson fried chicken t.v dinner (with the fruit pie dessert)
8. swanson chicken pot pie
7. kentucky fried chicken original recipe
6. hostess pies (especially chocolate)
5. cheetos--crunchy not puffy
4. butterfinger candy bars
3. pop rocks (any flavor)
2. twinkies
1. ding dongs

what's on your list?

Friday, July 3, 2009

freedom, near and far

last week when i heard that there was a coup in honduras, wherein the president was hauled away in the dark of night wearing his pajamas, i thought: that's not good at all. maybe it's the word "coup." it conjures frightening images of blindfolds and machine guns. maybe it's the timing. with iran in chaos and north korea aiming missiles at hawaii, the honduras coup seemed like one more state going rogue. or, maybe it's the american in me. the idea that political battles can or should be won by strong arm tactics (beltway boxing matches aside) runs against the grain of my american sensibilities.

i looked into the honduras situation and discovered a surprise: some evangelical christian hondurans approve of the coup because, for them, it is about democracy. it turns out presidente is trying to do something unconstitutional: change articles in the constitution that are supposed to be unalterable. this doesn't sit well with them. deposing him means fighting for freedom and against a tyrannical leader. all of a sudden the mob with machine guns is making sense. good sense. (note to self: things aren't always as straight forward as they seem in a 30-second sound-bite or newsgroup headline.)


i've never been an activist. it's just not natural for me to picket or protest or be political in general. sure, i read and listen and even argue politics with friends over a beer, but i don't DO things (don't be silly!). until recently. over the last months i've watched our leaders take measures to grow huge government entitlement programs and spend money faster than the housewives of orange county. every time i turn on the news there is some new czar whose job it is to oversee billions of dollars or watch over a government-bailed-out company. i keep thinking of how my parents started a business and built a home during the 1970s when inflation was through the roof and interest rates were in the 20s. and i also think of my nieces and nephews having to pay off the "loans" my generation is taking out. it sickens me. i believe it is immoral to strap them with such a burden. so i'm doing something about it. tomorrow before the bbq and fireworks i'll be hitting the streets, attending a fourth of july tea party. i normally wouldn't attend a protest rally on a holiday (or ever), but this is just THAT important to me.

let freedom ring, wherever we are...happy F O U R T H of J U L Y everyone!

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