Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nail Crucifiction

When I was in my early twenties I decided that climbing the corporate ladder entailed looking 'finished'. Being female, this meant having my nails done.

My favourite finish was a painted French manicure because, while looking fairly natural, it hid an assortment of imperfections.

Unfortunately, these French manicures would last only a week, sometimes less. And so I began to have my nails wrapped in acrylic or silk. This made the polish last for about a month. Time-wise and convenience-wise, I loved it!

But at the bottom of the corporate ladder, I didn't have the time or money to have my nails done by a professional every week. And I definitely didn't have $100 a month for the nail wraps, which is what it cost way back then.

So, I began to buy my own acrylic, silk and paints. This resolved all my problems with the exception of not being very good at doing nails.

But like everything, time, practise and experience were the perfect remedies.

Eventually, I got good enough at it that people started asking me to do their nails.

Making hands look beautiful was something I actually found quite enjoyable. I was happy to oblige anyone who was so inclined as to sit at my theoretical nail bench... And of course I'm being quite literal when I talk about my "theoretical" nail bench. Even back then, I was waxing rhetoric. And doing someone's nails just meant that I had a captive audience. I was in my glory!

Over the years, especially with impending pregnancies, I was persuaded to let go of my 'finished hands' because of the chemical exposure all this 'stuff' entailed. And so I have had a fifteen year hiatus from my own personal, beloved connection with art (if you can call it that) and theory.

Now, with my baby-making years behind me, our worst family toxin identified as gluten (not nail polish) and an eleven-year-old daughter (that didn't come out the way I meant it); not to mention her bzillion girlfriends who all love pretty things; not to mention their mothers, who are now my bzillion girlfriends who all love pretty things; and another impending Christmas that begs for 'special things', I find myself yearning to paint nails once again.

Colour me surprised at this! I had convinced myself so well that I would never paint again, I had given away my brushes.

And so my daughter and I went out to an art store this weekend to pick up the brushes I would need to reinstate nail art back into our lives.

Well, honestly, $70 later, I'm thinking that there had better be a lot more Christmas Nail Joy to spread around to more than just two people! And so I began e-mailing everyone we know...

Lucky for me, there is no shortage of volunteers and at least three out of the five days before Christmas have been allocated just for Nail Painting Tea Parties.

My daughter and I (and our nails) spent the morning revelling in practising up on our painting techniques.

And though we've had, and will have, a wonderful time with nails this Christmas, I have issues.

Anyone surprised?!?


The first of my concerns, having a young daughter, entails sending a message that what she is, without fake toppings, is not good enough. I worry, immensely, about the slippery slope of false perfection. Am I opening the door to silicon breast implants?!!

Let's face it, plastic nails are only a hop, skip and $5000 from plastic breasts. And with the Bratz having taken over from where Barbie left off, I think we all need to be a little afraid. Let's face it, Barbie looks pretty tame in comparison to a Bratz doll and Milee Sirius!

And so one of the ways I hope to tame it all down, is to show people that two (or nine) inch nails are not required in order to do something special for Christmas (or whatever).

Another problem I have is that, over the years, I've become a bit of an Earth Nut. So, all these chemicals are getting me down a bit. I've reconciled this a couple of ways: I've purchased only crystal stones (not plastic) and am refusing to do acrylic or silk overlays, thereby reducing our contribution to plastic particles roaming around the planet.

And the beads I use are all glass. Again, I'm refusing to use plastic.

Alas, if only I could find an answer for chemical free nail polish!

Ah well, at least there is some improvement. But I remain unconvinced that we have done enough, considering the way we crucify our planet all year long with chemicals and plastics.

Can I convince myself that this chemical and plastics binge, succumbed to only at Christmas, is acceptable?

We'll see how I feel, after I finish waxing nostalgic about the plight of our planet to every nail bearing visitor, the week before Christmas.

I use the excuse that I am filling people's lives with Christmas joy and cheer; wonderful colours and sparkling visions.

But, I know what words are also coming to you, dear reader... "hypocrisy" and "illusion".

As usual, nothing is black and white, here in The Gray Zone.

Here are a few more of the end results of my first attempt after a 15 year sabbatical:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Beauty of New Mothers

After having my first beautiful baby... and viewing the after-birth photos where I sporting that after-birth-hit-by-a-truck-look, I decided that for my second, I wanted to look *nice* right after...

Not perfect, not model-like, not Renoir-painting-like... just *nice*.

So, at 11:00 p.m., after my water broke, I went and had a shower and put on a full face of makeup.

The whole time I was 'getting ready', my mother and husband were pacing the kitchen saying "We think you should get to the hospital... NOW dear!"

It was supposed to be a homebirth but the midwife was delivering her 3rd baby of the night at the hospital. So, we had to go to her. Honestly, I was probably delaying a little, in hopes that the baby would come before we left... so that I wouldn't have to go to the hospital at all.

Nevertheless, I could delay no longer and we eventually got to the hospital, an hour away (well, not the way my husband was driving that night).

After an entire night of labour (with no sleep to speak of), at about 6:30 a.m., it was deemed that the baby was in distress.

An immediate emergency c-section was scheduled. I was lucky that the o.b. was kind enough to let me keep my contact lenses in so my first vision of the baby wouldn't be all fuzzy and vague...Thank goodness for her!... But the makeup all had to come off.

Needless to say, no makeup, no colour, an entire night of labour... The hit-by-a-truck-look was once again mine to claim. :D

I claimed it with honour though!

Since the baby was in distress, we were quite worried about his welfare. Our worries were completely unfounded. He was long, skinny, robust with attitude! (The o.b.'s first words about him, before she could even pull him out were, "Hey, this kid's fighting me!" It turned out that the cord was making a figure-8-loop around his neck and under his arm).

I happily sported my hit-by-a-truck-look in exchange for his health and safety... but still looked, with amazement, at the post-birth photos of other women who do appear rather Renoir-like.

For the third baby, I had given up the idea of ever looking good after giving birth... And so I simply became completely self-righteous about the whole hit-by-a-truck-look that I was sporting! ;)

What brought this up now, at this late date? Yet another after-birth photo of an everyday woman... a photo that is beautiful enough that it took my breathe away... sigh...


Sunday, January 13, 2008

You Can Smile...

On the way home from Aikido, as he sipped from his juicebox straw, my seven-year-old Samuel said to me,

"You know Mom, when you lose a tooth... you can smile while you drink from your juicebox." :)


So, though he can't whistle, he can smile.

It always works out... in The Gray Zone...

This actually happened September 28, 2007. I had posted it on my Facebook Wall... but decided to delete The Wall today and didn't want to lose the note. :)