Monday, October 25, 2010

Nailed It

It's been a while since I've had the old toes and fingies done.  I noticed last night, as I was dressing for the Barber/Woolfolk wedding-party-ball, the desperate shape my toes were in.  It's really a disgrace.  Some of you are of the school of thought that this should immediately be remedied by a trip to my local salon and I whole-heartedly agree, but only about it being remedied.  I have a real problem getting my nails done in a salon and there are a few reasons why.  First there's the obvious deterrent - the great Paula Abdul nail fiasco of 2004 wherein she had to have a nail surgically removed due to fungus caused by unsanitary manicure utensils.  Gross.  I mean, it's not the end of the world, but it's pretty disgusting.
Straight up now tell me... did you sanitize that file?
Second, I am a mover.  I have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time (I'm doing squats as I write this), plus I'm super impatient.  Allowing a hair dresser to blow dry my hair is a big deal.  (Also kind of a control freak?  Just a leetle?)  Because of my impatience most of my pedicures end with me shoving my hairy toes (seriously, hobbit feet) into my shoes before they're dry thus negating the pedicure and wasting my hard-earned money.  Stoopit.  I know I should revel in the "me" time, but it just feels like time that could be spent eating cheese. (Now a cheese mani/pedi I can get on board with!)

But the greatest deterent of all might surprise you.  For you see... I, Glennis McMurray, am a licensed nail technician.  Or, I was.  I don't make a habit of telling people any more as the responses started to gross me out.  Listen, there ain't nothin' wrong with doing nails, peeps, and I should have told that to a few of your faces.  Ain't no shame in working hard for your money right, Donna Summer!?  (Preeeeetty sure she wrote that song about nail techs, but don't quote me on that.)  But I forgive, I just won't ever give you a free manicure and trust me - they good.

Let me start by saying that it all came to be because my mother was a hair dresser.  She cut hair (and painted, she's kind of an amazing artist) and I at one point had similar aspirations.  Art, though I could copy the shit out of an already drawn image, was not my thing, but I always thought hairdressing would be a great way to earn money when I moved to NY.  I'd waited tables in Durango and despised it (hated the waiting, loved the free food) so I planned on avoiding that line of work at all costs.  Since the only reputable hair school was too far for me to commute to and still live in Durango I decided to take classes at a nail school in Farmington, NM or, as we grew up calling it, FarmPit.

Farmington might just be the arm pit of New Mexico.  There's not a lot going on there and the whole town is stuck in an 80's bubble.
The carpet matches the drapes.
There was also an air of defeat that wafted through the town.  I mean, I'm sure there are ambitious, driven people that come out of Farmington and I went to school with some of the sweetest people I've ever met, but the town itself is sort of depreso.  Though I will say they have a pretty sweet mall (hence all the mall bangs) and, since Durango's mall was more of a hall, we frequented the Farmington Mall for all our back-to-school and Red Lobster needs.  (Mmmm cheesy buns.)  So, apart from the mall I can't say I was thrilled to be attending nail school in Farmington.  Not thrilled in the least as I watched my friends go off to college.  In fact you could say I was depressed as balls.

Now, I know what you're saying, "Nail School??  Can't you just, like, DO THEM?"  And my response would be no, dummy.  You can't.  You'd be surprised what you have to know!  Anatomy, sanitation and fungus-prevention, how to safely work on people with diabetes (so they don't, you know, lose a TOE) and of course the ushe - manis, pedies, tips and the like.  It's not rocket science, but it's no day at the beach either.  I'll admit that as an 18-year-old with dreams of living in the Big Apple, I was a bit over the school before I'd even started.  I'll also admit I thought I was too good.  I did.  I wanted to be on Broadway, not filing toenails, but followed through because it was a means to an end.  But the longer I was in school the more I realized I really liked doing nails.  The perfectionist side of me came out and a great day was a perfect set of tips.  And then with the discovery of nail art my life kind of changed.  I was obsessed.  It became a challenge to see what I could paint on the smallest of nails.  My classmates would bring in pictures of cartoon characters, landscapes, even famous people (pretty exclusively Elvis) and I, using the tiniest of brushes, would set to work creating my masterpiece.  If only I'd had the foresight to take pictures!  This was when I started to let go, make friends and every day my disdain for my situation lessened.  I also began to enjoy the drive to and from school.  45-minutes in a car by myself allowed me the luxury of a musical sing-a-long which any theatre nerd will tell you is a damn fine time.  And, if we're being completely honest here, and we are, my soundtrack of choice was usually RENT.  I guess you could say it really lit my candle.  (Gross)

But I digress...

The cast of characters at the school was varied.  Two Navajo girls who, by my standards, lived a pretty posh lifestyle off their government issued checks.  I was slightly jealous (of the money, not the reasons they received it), but also felt like it made them a tad passive.  They didn't even plan on doing nails, but the gov't money paid for education so I guess they thought why not?  They had plans to open a tanning salon so if they ended up wanting to do nails the two could go hand in tanned.  (Hey oooo)  I'm pretty sure they're still in Farmington driving around in their awesome vanilla-scented pink truck.  That truck was so cool.  Way better than my rusted Toyota Corolla hatchback that smelled of patchouli oil.  The director of the nail school, a sweet, round, jubilant woman, was the one most excited by my nail art.  I must have painted an Elvis a week for her.  But the thing I remember most about her was her fake toenails.  I'm can't be 100% sure it was because of her diabetes, but that's what I remember.  Fake toenails!  Now, because I'm slightly obsessed with seeing deformed feet (my Summers are spent staring at the ground), I've seen fake toenails quite a few times.  At the time, though, I thought it was nuts.  Now listen, this wasn't a "classy" group per se and I count myself among the group.  One woman pretty exclusively talked about how she was sure we could smell her period.  (sorry)  But the one thing I will say is that they were the most genuine, sweet group of ladies I've met and because they were all quite a few years older than me I learned something from each of them.

Following through on my plan to do nails when I moved to NY, I interviewed at a few high end salons on the upper west side which went well - one of them offered me a job doing nails on the Leeza Gibbons show... so... that's a thing.  (Still kind of regret turning that one down.)  But as I pounded the pavement I was struck by the sheer number of nail salons this city housed.  I slowly realized my plan had a fault and I'd need to make money some other way.  Well, farts.  (I ended up taking secretarial work which made me way more money even if it did kill my soul a little bit.)  I will say had I not done nails I never would have met the NY family I eventually nannied for.  I did the grandmother's nails when I lived in Boulder (they were on vacation) before moving to NY, and they offered me a job.  Wait, it just ocurred to me how stupid that was on their part.  Yeesh.  AnywaycoTexas... that family ended up being a nightmare (more on them another time), but through them I met another family who ended up becoming my surrogate family and to whom I owe much of my sanity my first few years here.  I'm not sure I would have made it without them and it can all be traced back to nails.

And with that, dear readers, I'm going to pamper myself with a mani and pedi, though I'll probably still stuff my troll feet into my shoes before the paint has dried.



PS - Check out my Radar shout out and don't forget to "Ask G"!

Photo: Anya Garrett


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