I'm doing a little social media experiment. This is part of it. You're reading this, so you're now part of it, too. Thank you for your participation.
Life is not back to "normal," yet, but then again, my life was derailed from normal a long time ago. Years before my life (?) went into a very awkward pause thanks to the recession and unemployment, my life was not following a normal path.
I'm still digging out of unemployment, and will continue to dig for years. It will be years before I'm back on track financially, professionally and emotionally. But I have a job and a steady paycheck, and thanks to that, small traces of good old Trill are starting to surface. I never fully lost my sense of humor, and I tried very, very hard to not let my sarcastic synapses take over and turn into full blown cynicism. I am proud of myself for that, by the way. It was not easy. But even with all my efforts to maintain a sense of humor, my knee jerk "see the funny side of it" responses were not what they used to be.
But lately they've dared to peek out of the shadows now and then. Mainly in the safety and solitude of my home. My home. I have a home and I'm paying the mortgage. It's mine. If you haven't been through what I've been through you cannot comprehend the overwhelming emotions that well up in me just by typing those sentences.
Although I'm not the girliest girl on the block, I have a few talismans of girliness. I'm girly enough to have a favorite shade of nail polish. I'm not really into the whole nail fad that's taking Instagram by storm. My fingernails are typically well groomed, but most often they are not polished. When they are polished, like many women, I have my go-to shade. My go-to color has been OPI "A Rose at Dawn, Broke by Noon." Many moons ago a group of us gals went for manicures. The manicurist thought this color would look great on me. She was right. Not too pink, not too red, not too dark, not too light. It has a somewhat frosted finish, which I know is a bit dated, but, 11-12 years later when I have this polish on my nails it still elicits compliments from strangers. A couple of my friends have tried the color and it doesn't look very good against their skin tones. This is truly one of those colors that just works on me. Oh sure, I try other colors, but I always come back to A Rose at Dawn, Broke by Noon. It's an old, trustworthy friend. OPI is known for discontinuing colors without warning, so I hoarded a small cache of bottles of it. (It's a girl thing.)
During the awkward pause of unemployment there was no money for new nail polishes. However, I am very (very) fortunate to have a close friend who works in the cosmetic industry. He kept me stocked with make-up basics while I was unemployed. Every couple of months he handed over a shopping bag full of samples, discontinued products and demo products to me. It was one of the most thoughtful things anyone did for me when I was unemployed. Thanks to him I always had make-up to wear to interviews or meetings with freelance clients. There were usually a couple of small sample bottles of nail polish in those bags, and those sample bottles of nail polish provided a few moments of normalcy for me. For a few minutes I was just like other women trying a new shade of polish and doing my nails. It's something most women take for granted. But when you're unemployed things like new bottles of nail polish are frivolous and foolish expenses that are cut the day you're laid off.
My stash of A Rose at Dawn, Broke by Noon was running dangerously low, so last spring one of the first splurges I made with my new paychecks was a bottle of my trusty old rosy nail polish friend. When I ventured into Girl Land (my local cosmetics emporium) for the first time in years, I was dazzled by all the wares. I had not stepped foot in that kind of place in four years. I felt a little off balance, a little light headed, and very aware that I had a wide-eyed look of Dorothy stepping out of the black and white farmhouse into the Land of Oz. I made my way to the nail polish section and, there, waiting for me, was my trusty polish. However. Also on display was a kit of four new shades, a promo for the new Muppet movie.
Okay. Disclaimer: All things Muppet immediately pique my interest. I know they're a Disney franchise and blah blah blah. I don't care. I love the Muppets and will go to my grave a devoted fan of all things Muppet and especially all things Kermit. So yes, I am a bit of a sucker for Muppet merch.
But. Nail polish? Was I that much of a sucker for Muppet merch that on my first visit to Girl Land in four years, with the first extra $20 I'd had in four years, I would shell out for a kit of nail polish simply because it had Kermit and Miss Piggy on the box and had colors named Miss Piggy's Big Number and Kermit Me to Speak?
Yes. Yes I was that much of a sucker.
And I do not regret the purchase.
Because, after all these years, I stumbled upon a new go-to nail polish shade. And this one is not frosty so I look a little more current. A Rose at Dawn, Broke by Noon is still a trusty friend. But now my trusty nail polish friend has a wing man. Kermit Me to Speak has taken a place of honor next to A Rose at Dawn...
In that collection there were also a shade of blue and a glittery top coat. I hadn't experimented with them other than to try them on a nail and quickly remove them. Last weekend I was feeling in need of some mirth, so I painted on the blue (Miss Piggy's Big Number) on all my fingernails. I do not consider myself to be a blue nail polish kind of woman, at least not by day, at work, anyway. So a full set of blue (and I mean really blue, Muppet blue) nails was outside my usual nail box. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, either. Then I decided that since I'd gone that far, I might as well go all the way. I added the top coat of glitter. (Appropriately called "Let's Do Anything We Want.") And you know what? I kinda liked it. I kept it on through the weekend and into the work week. It didn't cause an uprising at the office, I'm pretty sure no one even noticed, or, if they did, they didn't care enough to say anything about it.
And on the fifth day I hated it. It started to get on my nerves mid-morning on Thursday. By Thursday night on the bus home I was agitated that traffic was miserable and delaying me from getting that polish off my nails.
This is a big reason why I don't have a tattoo. If I get this antsy over removing a nail polish color that I liked but quickly grew to loath, a non-removable tattoo would be insanity invoking torture for me.
I got home, threw off my coat, grabbed the polish remover and cotton balls and feverishly rubbed off all traces of the blue and glitter from my nails. I tossed the spent cotton balls into the toilet and went about my evening in a much better mood without the offending blue polish on my nails. By 8:30 I'd completely forgotten that my nails had been blue with a top coat of glitter.
And then it was time for bed. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth and was startled by what I saw the toilet.
It looked like Smurfette discarded a used tampon in my toilet and neglected to flush.
And the fact that that was my first thought the minute I saw it made me happy. "Trill, there's a synapse or two of the old you that are still firing. You are still lurking in there somewhere." It's a little thing, and I know the joke isn't all that funny. But. It's the first thing that popped in my head when I saw the bloated cotton balls smeared with blue nail polish floating in the toilet. And that says to me that my brain is feeling relieved enough to let its guard down and relax for a few seconds. I've lived every second of every day in a state of high alert and panic, focusing every bit of conscious thought into finding a job and making money to survive that there was no space, no brain matter to spare, for anything other than survival tactics.
That Smurfette joke, as banal and not-that-funny as it is, is proof to me that somewhere in there is the normal me, the me before the awkward pause of unemployment. Unemployment changed me in ways I still cannot fully articulate. And I doubt that I will ever be the same. The experience was that awful.
But. I am happy to know that there are remnants of me buried so deeply in my brain that even the horrendous nightmare that I endured for four years can't kill them.
Labels: Blue nail polish, Smurfette tampon