Wednesday, August 31, 2005

metacarpal meditations

I spent my entire work day tweaking a new website. Although I spend much of my typical work days on the computer, today seemed particularly computer-intensive. I had very few phone calls, didn't leave my office for any reason other than a trip to the cafeteria (to bring a salad and Fresca back to my desk), and conducted only one meeting -- which took place on my computer! Even my email volume was below normal levels, which was good because I needed to focus on the website.

For some reason, I found myself examining my hands as I worked. It might have been because my fingernails have grown unusually long -- something I attribute to not using the computer much for 3-4 days last week (don't worry, they're not really that long). I'm surprised they haven't all ripped, pulled, and torn by now: they're terribly thin and fragile. Although the nailtips have largely adapted by curling somewhat around the fingertips, they sometimes collide with the keys. It is that mild jolt that makes me look at a keyboard I otherwise never look at. And when I looked to the keyboard, I looked at my hands.

My fingers have always been a bit crooked. For as long as I can remember, the pinkies haven't line up neatly against their respective ring fingers. Gradually since then, nearly all the other fingers have otherwise metamorphosized.

For a solid ten years, I held writing instruments against my ring finger instead of the "standard" middle finger position. I also pressed extremely hard in an effort to have meticulous (neat and dark) penmanship. The combination caused an enormous callous on my ring finger, which over the years, affected the shape of the nail on that finger. Even though I did adopt the standard middle finger position sometime in high school, that fingernail remains noticeably out of whack to this day (the callous did eventually go down, although the inside of my top knuckle on that finger is still malformed). The callous and strange nail growth now appear on the top knuckle of my middle finger.

My left middle finger was slammed between two boulders while trying to move rocks to help build a stone wall when I was 13 years old. The nail popped off in about an hour and took what felt like a year to grow back. Once it did, it never again grew in normally. The left side is distinctly slanted, which causes the cross section of the nail to look a bit like a house roof when it gets long.

Years of bizarre finger exercises may also have contributed to some of the misshapenness (I love making up words). My favorite was to curl my pinky up over my ring finger, then curl them both up over the middle finger, then curl all three up over the index finger, then do the same thing to the other hand, and see how long I could hold it like that. I had a contest with my friend, Diane, in the 8th grade to see which of us could maintain that stance the longest -- all the while being productive in school. I don't remember who won (which probably means that she did), but I do remember that we both came close to making it through the entire day, something like six hours.

I played piano for many years, and have recently tried (although with meager enthusiasm) to resurrect the practice. The old times may have curved the joints in the first place, but now the deformities make for rusty renditions of Bach and Mussorgsky.

My mother has marvelous hands. I wish I had a picture of them. Her fingers are long and slender, her knuckles are strong, and her nails are natural French tips. The first three things I think of when I think of my mother's hands are how happily they hold babies, how fervently they prepare food, and the effortless twirling of her 49-year-old wedding rings. I always wanted to have hands like hers. For now, I'll have to suffice with my own crooked fingers.

Two asides for the evening.

[1] I must confess. Usually when I write my blog entries, it's well past midnight before I finish them. I have often posted the time at just nearly midnight, however, to reflect the true day on which the entry was created. I will continue to have 11:58pm or 11:59pm entries, but henceforth will include the actual time of posting at the end of the entry. Just a weird Kelly thing.

[2] I'm doing a fairly good job about blogging unimportant topics, aren't I? No real mention of life turmoil or an insanely busy schedule. That said, please, if you can, help those people whose lives have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. Any amount you can afford. I have a collection jar that I use each year to raise money for Rebuilding Together, and I set it next to the cash register in our corporate cafeteria. People basically use it as a penny cup, to discard the change they don't want to carry. All those little contributions regularly add about $300 to the final donation. So, don't worry that you can't give as much as you'd like to. Give what you can. Every cent counts.

Real post time 12:36am

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