I don’t know if it’s because most middle and above class women get their nails professionally done nowadays, but I’ve been having trouble finding emery boards. It’s not that I don’t eventually find them—but they used to be everywhere. At checkout counters. Even in the nail care section.

Maybe I’m too poor and/or afraid of infection to get my nails done in a salon, but I have my standards, and I can’t stand it if I see my nails in a weird shape. If my thumb starts to look like a trapezoid and I reach into my pocketbook and don’t pull out an emery board, I’m not happy. Or if the emery board has lost its grit, I curse that checkout counter with its array of lip balms.

The best emery boards—the ones that kept their abrasive finish forever—were always the advertisement giveaway ones. I still have one from my North Carolina gynecologist’s office. See, there are physicians who treat the whole person.

Even if you weren’t a good enough citizen to follow the campaign, it always paid to go vote to get the candidate emery boards. They were the best. A good emery board could get a Democrat elected in a rural small town or Roe v Wade overturned in Manhattan.

When is the best time to use an emery board? I worked in a place that had weekly safety meetings, and this one lady used the half hour to manicure her nails. While not on the level of, to quote Elvis Costello, “filing her nails while they’re dragging the lake,” I thought that was pretty rude. But I did admire her efficient use of time. I try to leave an emery board within easy reach of a long red light, or do a nail or two when I have a few random minutes. This avoids looking down on my hands and feeling inferior to those middle and above class women happily choosing among the lip balm.

That’s all I’m going to say. As I type this, my right index finger is looking a little dodecagonal.


Every Christmas, the people who are spiritual but not religious have to figure out what this all means. Like me, for example.

Each kid responds differently to religious upbringing. As adults, neither my latex (late-ex-husband) nor I ended up as fans of organized religion. While the Catholic little girl had desperately tried to fit as many Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s in before falling asleep to help the poor souls in purgatory, the Lutheran boy had been bored with services but happy with the church strawberry festival.

Who knows what combination of Catholicism, environmental pressure to do everything correctly, and genetic predisposition toward perfectionism shaped me.

Our church was old and beautiful in an inorganic way. Its spiritual feeling felt other-worldly, like a lonely trip into space. I would go there for confession, when I would list the human things I did that were called sins. I would dwell in the sacred atmosphere, feeling elevated as I left in the state of grace.

You can cognitively reject doctrines, but it’s amazing how you can continue for years reacting to the normal imperfections that make up the fabric of Life and of you and of others as if they were sins.

Last night, my daughter and I hung the ornaments on our Christmas tree. Some represent times in North Carolina. Some are from when my latex and I were dating. Rural North Carolina was not a good fit for me. My husband divorced me. A lot of imperfection. But those same ornaments represent a lot of good things, too. And those bittersweet ornaments will proudly be on the tree with the sweet ones, because Life is like the tag on the pocketbook that knows that the imperfections in the leather are natural and in no way should be seen as flaws.

In my opinion, religions have a lot to offer if they aren’t taken literally, and the symbol of God in human form is no exception.

Maybe God is in our trying, not in our trying to not make mistakes.

Yes, because I’m counting this post about how I’m not posting.

I’m at the library right now, before our predicted inclement weather hits the roads, Internet access allowing me to type with ten fingers rather than with the two thumbs on my phone.

Some kind of wintry mix of excuses keeps me from blogging. First of all, it’s financially sound for me to avoid a cable bill right now. Then there is some kind of distrust of words and a gravitation toward direct experience that seems at odds with verbal expression.

I don’t know; I can’t explain it…

That’s the bad news. The good news is that this means I’ll live until 121.

I’ve stopped. The blur of the last five years is winding down.

I’m in a place ripe for planting a new life. But I’m like the North Carolina farmer who wants to continue planting tobacco even though nobody wants to smoke it.

I’m a homebody with a daughter who is balancing needing me, trying to find her own way, and rejecting me for all her problems. I am there for her, but it feels like I’m hugging a cactus. Besides, the ultimate goal is that she, like any kid, become an independent person. When you’re widowed, divorced, or both (as in my case), where does that leave you when you’re wired as homemaker? I enjoy making a home for myself, so I guess I’m not really a homebody for nobody, but I’m feeling an aching hole.

I’ve begun looking into volunteering. I think that would help me as well as others, but then you always hear how family is what really counts in life. So if you’re rejected by a spouse due to death or divorce, and your kids are supposed to be independent from you, is that really true that family is the most important thing? Aren’t we all destined to end up alone? Or am I “supposed to” remarry just to get a family? I don’t feel like it.

I know I’m “supposed to” get with people with similar interests. I am making attempts to connect over and above going to work every day. I get it. I’m doing it.

It’s just that my homemaker job turned out to be a temp position, and I’m pissed and upset with the layoff.

There is no security. Your security is in not expecting it.

I’m sure this blog post title will get me on some kind of government list, but if it gets my blog more hits, so be it.

Sunday I decided it might be my last chance to swim in the lake near my new home. The season is over, so it isn’t crowded. I had gone the weekend before to sit under the trees and read a book.

I’m not prissy about nature. I enthusiastically accept the excrement of wild animals as part of the environment.

When I sat in the wooded area the weekend before, I didn’t get grossed out about walking around the Canadian geese poop. Even though there was quite a bit of it, and even though it looked more carnivorous-mammalian than the green Canadian geese poop I sometimes dodged walking in North Carolina.

This visit, I headed to the sandy section. I don’t know why I expected it to be excrement-free. Does a bear sh*t in the woods? Would geese only sh*t in the woods?

No, and not only in the woods and in the sand. In the water, too. The whole bottom of the lake was like a big Canadian geese toilet.

This park charges during the summer season, albeit a small amount. One of my neighbors said this problem is controlled during the summer. But I’m wondering how it can be controlled IN the water?

I love the geese, but the turds were just everywhere. The turds were the main thing you saw. It was just too much. If these geese can produce that much sh*t since Labor Day, imagine what I’d be walking through by Christmas?

Well, I’m an ocean person anyway, so I guess I’ll try to get a swim in the Atlantic before the water gets too cold.

At least the ocean keeps flushing.

After you land, you think about the trip and gather what you have. Then you stand there waiting to walk through the portal.

Figuring out what happened to me will not happen talking with family and friends. It will not happen in a therapist’s office. They will all give me the hints and ideas and truths and non-truths from other perspectives. That’s it.

I was the one in the marriage. I could just walk through the portal. But I need to pause first.

This is what really happened. I know because I was there and because I want to be honest and face it.

Today I will face the tough part. Today I will face my role:

I was myself in the marriage, but not completely. This wasn’t honest. I was the part of myself that is endearing. The confrontational part was always finessed during confrontations because of my fear of being rejected. This was a well-founded fear, because when I finally did confront directly, I was rejected permanently.