Saturday, July 28, 2012

"Your Nails are Painted? Who are You?"

I have never considered myself a girly-girl. Well, that may be less than accurate; as a little girl my room looked like the inside of a powder puff; pink walls and lacy ruffles to boot. Plus I wore dresses to school all the time.
But as I've grown older, I have never been one of those girls who always has immaculately done hair. I took Cosmetology in grade 10 and learned all the tricks, but despite this, I still remained a ponytail girl half the time. I have just never had the patience.

It should come as no surprise that my nails have never been that noteworthy. Again in Cosmo, I learned how to do really nice manicures and I have all the tools, but I never saw the point; they chip fast, they're distracting, my fingers weren't something I liked to draw attention to anyways. I didn't even like waering rings. When I started my job it seemed even more pointless. I type most of the day, what would be the point in doing my nails if they're going to get chipped everyday?

In May, my cousin Mik moved in. She is as much of a nail/hair person as me, except her mother never managed to convince her to take Cosmo. When she moved to Edmonton she started working at a jewellery manufacturer, which has started her on a few curious out-of-character habits:

1. She has a habit of taking people's rings off their fingers and scrutinizing them before lecturing on proper ring care. My dad bought me a gorgeous green saphire in Thailand a few years back which according to Mik I have done nothing but abuse since. When I told her I didn't take it off to wash my hair she actually cringed. My ring now sits safely on the counter every time I use shampoo.

2. Mik does her nails all the time.

I guess when you are holding rings under a magnifying glass to show people the glamour of a diamond, you want your nails to look equally fabulous, so Mik has taken to sitting down in the living room at least once a week to retouch her French tips, and becuase I live in the same house as her and hang out with her all the time, I took to joining her.

I got into it slowly; dipping my toes in so to speak by actually painting them. Then I ventured to my fingers. This past week, I went bold, and painted my fingers red. Midweek there was a few chips, so I repainted. The next day at work, I stopped by my friend Maddy's desk to borrow a hi-liter. As I reached to grab the marker, she stopped and exclaimed:

"Your nails are painted? What have you done? Who are you?"

Upon explanation, she just laughed.

I didn't realize how far I had come until I felt the need to do another touch up last night. I scanned my memory through all the times Mik have hung out at home: watch BBC miniseries and paint our nails, discuss writing and paint our nails, paint nails while lemon squares are baking, make my grocery list and paint my nails....

Have I become this person? I nicked my thumb nail while I was out today and corrected it as soon as I came home. Overwhelmingly, yes, I am that person.

Who would have thought.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

To Brother, The Best One, from Sister, The Other Best

My family is comprised of five daughters. We can re-enact the Famous Five, the Spice Girls, and the Bennett sisters with a full cast, although if I were to choose, I'd go with everyone's favourite British pop band; if we're Jane Austen's quintet, I have to be Lydia.

Of us five, I am the youngest. I was borne ten years after the oldest, and entering my toddler years, my parents were decided; five little girls was enough.

I, on the other hand, had different plans.

As part of my early childhood education, my mother was teaching me to pray; her basic instructions included; start with what you are thankful for, then ask for blessings you need. Every night, I would ask my Heavenly Father to bless my baby brother in Heaven.

It was cute at first, but sometime around when  I started pouring over baby catalogues and asking if I could have whichever baby I liked for my brother, my parents decided it was time to tell me that I was indeed the baby of the family. I wouldn't have it. I kept praying and shopping for mail order brothers. I don't know how long it took them, but eventually my parents realized I knew something they didn't and shortly thereafter, I got my wish, and my baby brother was born.

I like to remind him of this story whenever he is angry with me.

Nineteen years later, after years of loving each other when we bond over imaginary games and hating each other after being shot with pellet guns, I can truly say that Brother is one of my favourite people. We unite over our mutual lack of spouses, our belief that life would be better if people still carried around swords the way they carry cell phones, and our love of closet novel writing. He calls me Sister, and I call him Brother (because he is my favourite). Last year when I moved to Edmonton, Brother was the person I spent the most hours on the phone with back home in Calgary, we vented our dating stories together, I critiqued his university papers and reminded him to stop using so many commas already, and he told me to stop making excuses and start writing again. Brother is my number one fan  and I love him for that.

On June 6, Brother went down to Provo, Utah and entered the Missionary Training Centre. He is going to serve a mission for our church for two years in Denver, Colorado, teaching in Spanish. For the next two years our only contact will be through letters and his half Spanish e-mails. I miss his phone calls and his "Hello Sister" greeting when he sees me and reminds me how very short I am (he's 6'3").

This morning, I was reading the news about the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. As I lamented the loss of so many, I thought of my own brother, and had a completely irrational worry session. Feeling less like a sister and more like the overanxious mother Brother tells me I act like sometimes, I sent him a quick letter telling him not to do anything stupid and be safe. He'll probably roll his eyes when he reads it and tell his companions that he doesn't have five older sisters; he has five extra moms.

That is a fairly accurate description at times, especially since most of my other letters have been nagging him to send me pictures and eat more, but that is one more thing to love about Brother. He tolerates my bizarre worries and doesn't even point out that I never take my own advice (not much anyways).

The last time I saw him before he left, he was loading some things in the car for me before I drove home, and once he finished, he looked at me and said:

"So when I get back, you'll be married and have sent your book to a publisher."

It wasn't a question. It was a statement. The first part didn't surprise me; Brother has been joking for months that since I predicted his birth, he gets to predict when I marry, but the second part of his statement did. I thought about it the whole way home. Brother has always been my number one fan, to the point he's taken my manuscript to show his friends and (after he realized that was not a good plan) asked if he could show it to certain people. He is the biggest optimist I know. He doesn't just hope for the best, he states it like it's an inevitability.

So for what it's worth Brother, I'm really glad I said that prayer.