Friday, September 20, 2013

No More Nails

At 40-something years old, I have never had a manicure.

I’ve had a pedicure, sure, but why that and not the other, I don’t know.

As a kid I had really bad, BAD nails. I would bite them to the quick, leaving them red and raw. I had no aspirations to have nice nails when I ‘grew up,’ so I didn’t care.

But then I married, and a pretty ring on my finger only qualified the need for nice nails, so I got to work. I worked at not biting them and worked at willing them to grow. But every time my nails were near-perfect, one would break. I often walked around with my hands in the air, as if a doctor preparing for surgery, afraid to touch anything. To touch something meant a sure break or chip. I had a few bottles of nail-strengthener-polish, and a few bottles of ultra bright pink and red polish always as the ready. I hoped the bright colours would make my hands look more glamorous and mature, especially with a ring on my finger. Usually the strengthening polish didn’t help, but I worked nightly to keep those nails, what there was of them, looking sleek. I never had, nor wanted, the long eye-gouging kind – and they never got there, either – but what I did have, I was happy with.

But then, of course, when I had babies, there was no time for any of that, and having long nails while handling delicate newborn skin proved catastrophic. There was no time for the maintenance of long nails, nor was there any place for them in my new baby-filled life. With the demands of my new life, naturally weak and thin nails didn’t stand a chance, anyways, especially with all the washing and cleaning I was doing.

But then the babies grew up, and those ‘babies’ didn’t need me to bathe them anymore. Yes, time was still a factor – I didn’t have the time for such pampering – but I was changing. I wanted to finally, again, have nice nails.

And for a while, I did.

With the old bottles of nail strengtheners and polishes long gone, I was on a mission to get every bottle or tube of new-and-improved nail strengthening/growing/enhancing/elongating/ non-chipping/smoothing chemical available. And some of them worked! I worked in an office, so typing was a challenge, but I managed. I had every kind of tail tool available – every kind of nail file invented. Nail clippers were NOT my friend – oh no. I pretended was a professional manicurist, everything at the ready. I was determined to have lovely long nails, and nail clippers were NOT in my toolkit – that would just be wrong.

So again, for a while, I had nails. Still not the long, eye-gouging kind, but long enough that I could tap a counter top in exasperation (but gently – didn’t want to chip any), and long enough that I waved my hand around, I looked somewhat glamorous.

But then....

My deep-seated aspirations to be a writer started to bloom. My kids were really young, I was working, I had sort-of long nails, but things weren’t just ‘working’ with my new-found hand glamour. Computers and the internet were just starting to bloom into our world, so for the most part, I would write in long hand then, if needed, I would type my stories on the computer and print them out (on a dot matrix printer!) to send to potential publishers. But then as my writing career bloomed, so did technology. Computer use at work became more common, and I was writing more, which meant more keyboard time on our computer and later, my own laptop, at home. My nails were getting in the way.

And just to add to it all, my babies were by then growing faster everyday, which meant they were busier every day, which meant my whole house was busier. Keeping up with work, busy family life which included meals, laundry, cleaning, and homework, as well as trying to keep up with my own writing, meant something had to give – something I just didn’t have time for.

My nails.

Not only were they getting in the way with typing, at home and at work, but I didn’t have the time to keep up with them. I would let them grow a little bit to at least look a bit ‘girly,’ but long gone where all the bottles and tubes of nail-enhancing goo, and those little nail kits? Never mind those.

Now my kids are in their teens, and slowly my life is sort of becoming my own – sort of. But I’m a busy girl as I still have a house to run and, added to that, I have many writing projects on the go. I have a laptop at home, a mini laptop I carry with me and I type at work all day. Having long nails of any length really get in the way; slipping and sliding off the keys. And besides, I have too many other things in my life that still take up my time, and frankly, other things I would rather be spending my time on. I’m a writer, and for me that means no nails. And that’s fine.

And I just don’t really care anymore – or at least right now.

I’m not sad at the sight of my ‘unglamorous’ hands – the nails I, for so many years, desperately tried to have. These are writers’ hands, and I’m proud of them. Many writers, I’m sure, have lovely long nails they can wave around at writing conferences and look all professional and glamorous, and that’s fine. But I don’t know how they can type.

Now, along with a thesaurus at my side when I write, I have a notepad, pens, and nail clippers, always at the ready. A gift of a manicure is not what I need.

I guess it’s like I traded-in my nail polish and manicure set for a pen and keyboard – and I, along with my nails, are just fine with that.

Thanks for reading!


  1. They look just like mine - maybe in better shape! I've had very soft/weak and thin bad nails for what seems like forever. Oh well. At 70, I have to say I couldn't care less any more. I shake hands fine, I sign things very well (royalties would be good, though), I hug children, adults and dogs, I write and type quite well. Good hands. Crap nails.

    1. Thank you, Celia - and the funniest thing about all this? The day I posted this blog, I broke a nail at a writing function - which I don't know how given they are so short. Ya - I'm like you - I just don't care about them any more. Maybe one day I will, but I have more important things to worry about - and yes, royalties would be good, indeed! Take care, and thanks for reading! Lisa