Confessions of a Chronic Nail Biter


First the context, my mom is getting married in six days, and I am in the wedding. Earlier in the year, I told her that I would grow my nails out for the wedding. Now, it’s six days to the wedding, and half the nails are longer than they were. I am trying so hard, but never in my life have I put this much effort into not chewing them. I am failing, and I feel bad because I promised.

I don’t know why I chew on them, I like it. I don’t like the way my nails look long, I don’t like the way my nails feel long, I just don’t like them long. It’s six days till the wedding, I hope these bad boys grow faster than I can chew them. I’ve been keeping them covered with nail polish to discourage me from gnawing on them, but that only works so much when you have fingernails as tasty as mine.

I need some people to donate their fingernails to me to chew on, you know, replacements. Volunteers are most welcome, I only need them for six days… so, clean healthy fingers wanted!


But, my mom is getting married, that’s kind of unusual for me; I suppose I thought I would be the first one of us two married and out of the house. I am the maid of honor in the wedding, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out. I’ll write more about it later, or not.


I am not going back to Grove City in the fall. I am changing my major to nursing and I think that should be interesting. At some point in the future, I will be at Kent for their nursing program. Yeah.

Now that I'm adrift in this great big city knowing next to no one, I've got a lot of spare personal time plus a deficit of interpersonal contact, which is a perfect environment for some heavy daylogging.

So, since last time, I got a job. An internship, at least. It's in a small (two person) management/production company, in the Taft Building, on the corner of Hollywood & Vine. We apparently manage the acting careers of a bunch of Tiger Beat-type "musicians", plus a lot of other assorted folks. I'm working the phones, stapling headshots, handling mail. I was only in one day and it was hectic, even though two other people were working with me and they said it was a relatively slow day. I already have two scripts to read over the weekend. Apparently as soon as two weeks from now I'll be the senior employee in the office, so they're trying to get me up to speed quick. The principal in the office Friday was cool, but I'm told the one who comes back Monday is more into having things follow his precise system, and a great enthusiast of that traditional Hollywood pasttime, yelling at your assistant. I'll live. I know not to take it personally, and what's the worst that can happen? They'll fire me, and find someone else to not pay to do the job?

Went to the Sunset Junction Street Fair today. Tonight's headliner was Rilo Kiley, who are my favorite band ever, at least since I realized that while I respect Garbage's decision to reject the post-Beatles "artiste" musical ideology and maintain themselves as a pop group for sullen sixteen-year-olds, I am no longer sixteen. It was my first time seeing them live. It was okay - mostly tracks from their new album, which I'm the least fond of.

But... they played The Frug. Wow. For those of you not as severely into Rilo Kiley, this is like going to a Phish show and having it be Gamehenge. Rilo Kiley are known for never playing The Frug, even though it's a great, really really fun song. This was the first time they've done it in a long time, and I was there. I feel special. They still didn't do Glendora, though.

Next weekend Sonic Youth and Sleater-Kinney, plus a shitload of other people I've never heard of, play a festival in the park across the street from my front door. I'm starting to like this place more and more.

"By the way...I wasn't kidding.

"In all seriousness, not in the prototypical bar-type Gee, you're hot kind of seriousness - I'd date your brains out, rip off your logic and make passionate sense to you. In a heartbeat. Gots my sandals out for playing in the rain and stomping through puddles and everything. I've hidden the umbrellas, ripped up the raincoats and set the galoshes on fire in the sink because, well, there's no point in water pouring from the sky if one doesn't actually get, you know, wet. There's a rubber ducky sitting in a pothole in the street patiently waiting to be floating on its own wee little lake, and if the rain doesn't come there's a fire hydrant down the block just begging for a wrench - Sometimes rain just needs to be, you know, MADE.

"I can do all that, sure...or I can be one of your best friends in the world. I have a preference, 'course I do, but I won't push it. This isn't an ultimatum or anything so immature - I'll be sittin' at the bar on Saturdays one way or another. S'just something to think about.

"Regardless of any of this - fuck 'em. You're lovely. Remember that."



- - -



"I'll be at Odessa tomorrow, like I do. You'd be more than welcome.
Oh, and the puzzle? 'Fructose and others?' 'Ketones.'

"Fucking ketones."


--Jack

"When you attend a funeral,
It is sad to think that sooner or
Later those you love will do the same for you.
And you may have thought it tragic,
Not to mention other adjec–
–tives, to think of all the weeping they will do."—Tom Lehrer

This has been a strange week of changes. I had some major back patting on here, I sold some books and stuff on eBay (always nice), Suzi got a new job and I went to the funeral of a co-worker's grandmother yesterday. Today, Suzi's brother and his girlfriend are here, fleeing the potential fury of this hurricane thingy. Very strange week indeed.

I am self-employed (as a massage therapist), and business has not been good this month. Summer is usually quite bad, people are out of town, kids are going back to school and money is being spent elsewhere. This August has been particularly poor, since two of my best clients were injured, thus unable to come get massages.

I'm not panicking. My part-time job has been helping and I've made a few dollars elsewhere. I keep a box of items to sell (on eBay, the world's biggest garage sale) when I have time and I sold about 8 eBays this week. Not gonna make me rich, but $50 is at least a little money.

This has also been a rather nice couple of weeks for me as an amateur writer. I have had several people say some incredibly wonderful things about my writing. This is especially meaningful, as a few of them are people whose work on here I admire quite a bit. I have been writing on here over nine months now, and I'm still an addict. I feel like my confidence in my writing has improved exponentially, as has my ability to take critique in a gracious manner.

In other news, Suzi, my stalwart best friend and life partner has a new job. Some years back, she left the rat race of graphic arts to study floral design. She has since been working for a supermarket as the assistant florist—good experience, but not a great job. Recently, she answered a want ad placed by a small florist shop in a pretty nice part of town. The guy was thrilled by her skills and experience (Bachelor of Fine Art degree from a good school plus floral design school made him sit up and notice!). She will start in a week or so, and the pay is better, even though the drive is further. I suspect that the work will be a bit more interesting (and less grueling!) as well.

There is a world-class hurricane headed right for New Orleans, where Suzi's brother lives. He and his girlfriend packed it up and headed to Dallas yesterday. They are apparently here, staying in a hotel somewhere. We have not yet heard from them, but we might see them tonight. I hope all their belongings survive.

Yesterday was very slow at work. The salon owner's daughter got a half-hour table massage (that's about $20 for me) and ... well, that was all there was. Still, we had other things to think about. One of the hair stylists at the salon where I am employed lost her grandmother on Thursday. I never knew the lady, but I can tell from her daughter and granddaughter that she must have been a pretty cool person.

The funeral was at four pm at a small funeral home chapel near our shop. It was open casket (which, just between us, I think is seriously creepy). A kindly preacher read from the Bible and offered happy words of thanks for this neat woman's lifetime of love and joy. As such events go, it was a beautiful service. The family members who live here were all in attendance and there was a lot of crying ... A ton of crying ...

Last September my own dear mother went on that mysterious journey. This was the first funeral I've been to since hers, and that put a kind of weird spin on the event as well. Mother's death is still with me ... I mean, I guess you never get over it, never want to actually get over it, but most of the sorrow and sadness and stuff is over. Still, it is incredibly hard to watch the people you care about suffering.

Well, the Grim Reaper's an ugly customer, I'll grant you that, but you know who's worse? It's Mr. Mope ... Old Mr. Mope's got you all wrapped up in the wet blanket of his mopey!"—the Tick


Both quotes are copyrighted and are offered through E2's Fair Use Policy

The helicopter floated by gently and circled, looking for a place to alight right near turn one. I watched it from my folding chair, and squeezed my hands together. This one was bad.

Fifteen minutes ago I was holding a blue flag, looking for a fast Porsche closing in on a Chevy Cobalt, warning the small fry to check their mirrors for the big fish behind. Then our communicator yelled 'Black Flag All". I drop the blue and reach for the black. At every corner station someone is doing the same thing, waiving it furiously, warning the drivers that we have a serious problem and they need to clear the track.

Black flags are not that uncommon at professional racing events. During practice and qualifying sessions they are used to clear the track so a car can be extracted from a place where it is likely to be hit and the extraction cannot be safely done with cars out running. A road racing course like Mid-Ohio isn't a NASCAR oval. We do full course yellows, but most spins are cleared under a local yellow, with full speed ahead elsewhere. Few thought this black would be different from the last one, when a car needed to be winched out of a gravel trap.

Our communicator turned to us. A BMW spun at one and was t-boned in the driver's door.

The driver's door. All roll cages contain at least two horizontal bars between driver and door, in part to protect the driver. Years ago NASCAR drivers' started installing door bars, a separate set of tubes that arch out and into the space where the guts of street car's doors normally resides. The bars give strength and bit of crumple space where the driver needs it most. But One is the fastest corner at Mid Ohio. In my old ITB car it was a 90 MPH corner. I'd just give a quick tap of the brakes to upset the rear end then turn in. But I raced a bottom-feeder car in a bottom-feeder class. The Grand Am Cup is a professional racing series. The cars involved are far faster than mine.

A BMW Z-3 sedan entering turn one came it just a touch too fast. His rear tires broke loose and he began to rotate, his view an involuntary panorama. Normally nothing happens when you spin. But this time he had a Big Fish behind, a Grand Sport Porsche 911; bigger, heavier and way faster. The impact practically tore the front end off the Porsche.

And so we sit there listening to a spectator's scanner as Helga tells someone to 'Stand up 76". The spectator, who has been coming here for decades tells us that '76' is the medevac chopper. Our net announces that the driver has to be cut out of the car. That's bad.

A good racing seat isn't like the seat in your car. Most are built from aluminum, and they are sized to fit the driver. His hips are held tight for the simple reason that a race car regularly undergoes violent accelerations. It's hard to accurately control the car, much less feel what it is doing, if you are sliding around. In a race car, your bottom is your guide.

And today's race cars are very safe indeed. An SCCA legal roll cage must be able to endure 7.5 vertical gees, 2.5 lateral and 5 forward simultaneously without deflection. Anything that can bend a cage will first destroy the car around it. The proof came last weekend when an American Sedan lost his brakes on the back straight. The curbing at the inside of seven launched the Camaro into a one-hundred foot flight before he touched the gravel trap. He flew another ten yards before the second touch. The next touch was the tire wal. I saw that car. Everything had moved. The rear axle was jacked, the roof and B pillars folded around the bars of the cage, fenders crushed. But the cage didn't move. And the driver was out of the car within two minutes of impact. He felt 'sore'.

Time went on. No word on the driver. The helicopter shut off his engine. Just the sound of two cycle engines as the safety people cut at the car. There was talk of canceling the next race session. Our lunch period would be shortened. Big deal when you consider the person sitting in that car while men sliced steel around him. The life-flight crew was called in for an assessment.

Another life flight helicopter came in from the northeast, replacement for the one that sat on the track waiting for its passenger. The sound of the rotors beating gives us no comfort, nor does the sight of it spiraling in for a landing. Eventually we hear the sound of the helicopter on the track starting up. The driver had been extracted from his cage and was being carried to the chopper. They were taking him to Grant Hospital in Columbus, not to the closer Mansfield General. The car is towed by us, the cockpit wrapped in a tarp.

We didn't hear anything more until the end of the day. The news was good; a broken pelvis and femur. No apparent spinal injuries. They took extra care partly because a broken pelvis can cut off a critical artery if cit shifts the wrong way. They were doing their job, taking their time. It seem likely that the driver will make a full recovery.

Racing is dangerous. We who participate know that well. My friend Glenn Miller was killed in May by an out-of-control race car. I have seen many men drive who died in their race cars. Indy 500 winner Mark Donohue. Bruce McLaren, Swede Savage, Trans-Am champion Jerry Titus, F1 vets Peter Revson and Francois Cevert. Indianapolis used to kill a driver every year. In 1973 it took three people, including Savage who burned to death. F1 used to lose at least one driver ever year. the Carrera Panamerica and Mille Migglia were cancelled during danger. People used to die all the time. Eighty-three died in single accident at LeMans in 1954, mostly spectators.

Over the years proceedures have improved and so has the equipment. The tracks are also safer. Racers like Phil Walters and Jackie Stewart led the way. Fuel cells made fires rare, and roll cages protect drivers from all angles. Energy absorbing zones are built into race cars and street cars. All this effort has made racing safer but nothing will ever make it totally safe. It may be that the very real danger is part of the appeal.

I imagine that when he wakes up the driver will meet his wife. She'll be teary-eyed, hug him, tell him he'll love him. Then she'll raise herself up to her full height, glare at him and inform him that he's never, ever getting in that car again.

A real racer would reply. "Don't worry Honey, I'll never get in that car again."

He'll build a new one. That's the way we are.

UPDATE according to the Grand Am web site the driver's surgery went well, and he's going to make a full recovery although he may have trouble getting through airport security checks. Good news for sure!

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