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9:12 a.m. - 2010-04-15
Argle Bargle

I don't know how it is for you guys, but I've maxed out when it comes to bad news. Or perhaps The News. When it was Cronkite and the morning paper I did fine. There were issues and incidents I cared about and had the energy and empathy for and still had some to spare. Then came CNN and my world got both bigger and smaller. What I knew about what was going on expanded exponentially. I was grateful at first, I felt empowered and somehow joined with everybody. After a while the addition of more 24 hour news stations got cumbersome and in their bid for ratings the news got really noisy. The shocks shockier, the tragedies more tragic, the crises ever more shrill and panicky. I saw through most of the hype, the padding to make everything more sensational. But then along came the internet and it all got to be Too, Too, TOOO MUCH. Too much information. Too many problems. Too intimate a knowledge of every problem everywhere.

I just have so much attention to give, I have a finite amount of energy I can devote to things outside my own small life and I found that energy being depleted on a daily, sometimes even hourly basis. The demands of trying to be a caring human being, an informed voter, a smart consumer, a good mom who is forever searching out the best and most helpful things for her kids, an involved American and one who still recognizes she's part of the world community too, well, it just got to be overwhelming. Even simply sorting the wheat from the chaff is exhausting. Having to prioritize which news stories are actually something and which are just manufactured bullshit. Which mudslide, earthquake, coup d'etat, political folly, environmental disaster, baby stuck in a well, revolution, banned book, lost dog, epidemic, wildfire, assassination, civil war, bombing, drought, flood, proposed legislation, threatened species, train wreck, plane crash, oil spill, etc, etc, etc I need to pay attention to and muster the wherewithal to do something about be it a donation, a ready hand with sandbags, a letter, my attendance at a town hall, or simply just giving it the mind and heart space it deserves. To do that while wading through the tsunami of idiotic 'celebrity' crappola and endless shrieking hype, all the sound and fury signifying nothing…feh. I give up.

I can't see myself ever joining their ranks, but I can see why some folks get involved with 'Dancing With The Stars'. It's a manageable thing, that show. Amid the din of a world in constant turmoil it's a small comprehensible slice of life. There's rules, and people to root for and others to loathe. The costumes are sparkly and the music is lively. It's not too complicated or demanding. And because it's sort of like a grown-up version of Musical Chairs, there's an element of suspense and surprise. Who will be caught out when the music stops? Tune in tomorrow.

Yeah, I can see the appeal.

I think I've found the wherewithal to quit biting my nails. Again. This was my first major tumble off the wagon since I stopped gnawing them five years ago. Oh here and there I took a nibble, 'trimming' a chipped nail with my teeth and such, but I never went back to gnawing them below the quick as I did my whole life. I've been doing that whole hog again since November. Brutalizing my poor fingertips, leaving nothing but teeny ragged stumps of nail barely peeping out from equally ragged cuticles. When I first started gnawing again I figured I'd quit and grow them out nice in time for the May wedding, but since that's off I had no reason to have nice hands. (No reason to lose weight, have pretty hair, do up the gardens, hire a cleaning service, or practice making delicious party nibbles either, but I digress.)

I miss my nails. There's no wedding to get them all spiffy for and so I can hold out my nicely manicured paw with my sparkly new wedding band on it for all to admire. (Something I still haven't gotten around to wearing, btw. Why? I don't know. There's no reason not to wear it, saving it for a non-wedding makes zero sense, but I just can't be arsed to dig it out and put it on yet. Whatever.)

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, fingernails. Anyway I've got all my poor bitten down nails reasonably even and smooth edged, tidy enough so that it's easier to resist the temptation to gnaw. I even clear-coated them as a further reminder. I miss having those flashes of color on my fingertips. The dozens of bottles of polish here next to my desk mock me. Sure, I still do my toes, meh. Mostly I miss how I feel with pretty painted fingers. Having well groomed hands made me feel like I had my shit together. Sounds strange, I know. But these chewed up nails seem to be a silent scream, an outward symbol of the ripped up soul within. No matter how well I put myself together, all spiffied up with my cool sneakers and jaunty scarves and flawless make-up those gnawed fingertips ruin it. They give me away. My swashy, smiling, striding self, that persona of the well put together super-star who knows exactly who she is and what's she's worth, I can't pretend I'm her anymore. Not without the nails. My cover is blown. 10 bloodied, chewed chinks in my armor are there for everyone to see. I am tired of wearing my insecurities on my hands. Big difference between wearing your heart on your sleeve and wearing your neuroses on your fingers.

So. I've quit biting my nails. Maybe when my camouflage is total again, when my "Why, yes! Life is great and so am I!" suit is gleaming and flawless again, maybe I'll start to believe it myself. Maybe.

Hard As Nails? You know it. ~LA

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