Black and Yellow

Black and Yellow

One of the habits I’ve built for my new self is keeping my nails painted. “Gee Lauren, that’s so shocking and revolutionary… why on earth are you telling me this?” you are probably thinking.

The short answer is, I am stalling so I can tell you about more exciting things in the next few weeks. The longer answer is the following blog post, because I feel compelled to write about something.

For most of my life, I’ve made a horrible (insert long standing gender roles here) woman. I hated the color pink. I didn’t know how to wear makeup in that magical land between “what makeup?” and Mississippi hooker. I (still) can’t walk in heels to save my life, and felt more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt than anything else. Despite all of this, by god – I knew I how to paint my nails.

It has taken some time for me to realize that things like clothes, hair and makeup have nothing to do with being womenly or not and instead everything to do with taking care of yourself. I have spent the better part of the past two and a half years trying to make Tim happy, keep Simon sound and successful, my friends mentally stable and my dogs from biting each other’s faces. When it comes to doting on others, I give myself a A-. When it comes to self-care, I get a D+… on a good day.


That started to change when I took a “fake it till you make it” attitude on hair/clothes/makeup to help my suffering self image. Each time I applied some quick blush or stepped into a nice pair of shoes for work, the more my habits started to reinforce themselves. It turned into this happy little chain of events, tied together with strands of pearls and eyeliner. The more attractive I looked, the better I felt. The better I felt, the more time I took to keep up these habits. Even more recently I’ve begun walking a lot more and eating healthier… we’ll pretend this has everything to do with a change in psyche and nothing to do with weeks of day drinking and eating my feelings during the holidays.

But we were talking about painting my nails, weren’t we?


That was the first and easiest habit for me to pick up and maintain in this transformation of self care. Every four to six days, I settle down and tend to my paws before bed. The steps are the same every time. It feels methodical and easy.

I’ve realized the colors I pick are a bit of a mood ring. Whatever color I choose at the time sends a message out to those who pay attention.

  • Dark reds and burgundies say “I’m a powerful business woman. I do adult shit all the time, like buy my own mother fucking house. I am mature and stately, to be respected. These nails look excellent as I hold a drink from Starbucks.”
  • Bright colors like sky blue and tangerine orange mean, “I’m flirty and fun! So light hearted and care free… I have no one to answer to right now and that’s amazing! We should go to the beach or something. These nails look amazing when I hold a martini.”
  • Dark purples and black send a strong message. “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing with my life, but I’m mysterious as damnit. These nails look amazing when I hold a cigarette.” *

I paint my nails black a lot these days.

* Of course, in a purely literary sense. Of course.


When I was stuck in traffic yesterday, my hands gripping the steering wheel with black nails, I called my friend. She’s probably the person in life I’m most honest with, and has heard the true gamut of crazy from June until now. When she asked me how I was doing, I paused.

“I’m… I’m actually okay I think.”

The light turned green, and I started driving again. I am okay, black nails and all. I mean I have no rational idea what to do with my life and where I’m going in the long term, but that isn’t bothering me much these days. My brain can go from pink to black in a second, but it recovers. Sobbing on my couch isn’t something that undoes me anymore. I dry my eyes, blow my nose and see if there’s any new Jimmy Fallon clips on YouTube. Sorrow is here, but it’s fleeting and not overpowering.

My emotions are dark, deep and strong, but they change. I can change them… not entirely unlike doing my nails.

26 thoughts on “Black and Yellow

  1. Good for you!

    Alas, nail polish stays on my natural nails for about 4 hours before it starts chipping. I loved the way my hands looked when I had sculpts, but boy, I hated the process and when they had to pull them off and replace them — creeped me way out, and its bad for your nail bed anyway. So I don’t do that anymore.

    Still, whatever little things we can do to feel good, I think are worthwhile. Me, I buy too many earrings 🙂

    1. I’ve been a) removing previous polish w/remover, b) buffing nails, c) top coat and it stays on pretty well. I always thought my nails wouldn’t hold polish, but changing my technique up quite a bit really helped.

  2. i think there’s a lot of power in small (but important) routines, especially with self care and *especially* involving our hands. somehow, as humans, deep down we want to solve all our problems with our hands. and sometimes it works! (sorta…).

    kinda apropos nothing, but i read once that if you’re struggling to decide between multiple choices, taking a break to wash your hands can help bring clarity.

  3. I’m also in that stage of trying to be as good at self-care as I am at care of others. Makeup, is a small step. It means I got enough sleep and got up early enough to do something just for me. Little things matter.

    Unrelated, today my regular Coke had the same share with someone naughty message. I took a pic and sent it to TheFella and said “It’s like it was made for me.”

  4. Like you, I’m not much good at self-care. I quit wearing earrings (or really any jewelry) years ago, I’m happiest in jeans and a comfy shirt, and I suck at painting my nails. I wish I could be better at it, and sometimes I do make an effort, but usually it doesn’t take long to fall back into my usual ways. I’ve tried to get a nicer wardrobe so at least my choices are nicer in general, but still.

    I have no idea where I’m going with this, just that i get it. And I could use some advice on how to paint one’s nails!

  5. Taking care of yourself is very important and I am glad to hear that you are doing it. 🙂 However that it is expressed, meals, clothes, fingernail polish, riding lessons – care/pampering yourself is great! Go out, do it, no regrets.

  6. So, how do you keep your nails nice while doing barn things? I love painting my nails, but I get so frustrated when I go to the barn and they are ruined within a day. I have tried a bunch of different top coats and none of them seem to help.

    1. As long as I buff them before and buy high quality polish, they stay on mostly. The barn will chip them a little but I go for “mostly good” versus “perfect” over a several day duration.

  7. It’s amazing how much these small self-care things make a difference!

    I’m a big fan of nail polish, too, since it helps hide the dirt from the barn that persists under my nails. I usually go for super bright or metallic colors because I’m tacky as hell.

  8. Couldn’t agree more! While I’m happiest with no makeup, leggings/riding pants and a huge top, I spend a solid 20 min every morning getting ready for work, makeup, outfit, shoes etc. It makes me feel empowered and clean and bright at work and really perks my mood.

    I also have made it a habit to keep my nails freshly painted. I don’t know why, but I re-do them every few days. Its fun!

  9. Great post. I found myself nodding along with the jeans, t-shirt and no makeup part. I’m 100% a plain jane and I’m ok with that. So glad that you’re finding the things in life that make you happy.

  10. I’m with you on the t-shirt & jeans, hair in a ponytail look for everyday. Hell I even wear my barn muddy Muck Boots to work. HA! When I clean up though, I try to go all out. Hair maybe a little make-up, a dress (Yes I have some) hose/heels and if I can remember to I even change my earrings.

    Nail polish is hit or miss. Sometimes I will put it on the night before, otherwise I know I will forget. Pretty colors- bright pinks, copper, bronze, tans, and things to go with the skin tones. I rarely have to remove it, when it chips off, it chips off.

  11. You had me rolling at “MS hooker,” haha! As someone who generally resembles a homeless person at the farm (and doing field work), I was MAD impressed when you visited with pearls. I like classic, Audrey-Hepburn-esque (i.e. usually things I can’t afford) — so although I don’t often notice the same things as other people, when I met you, I totally noticed, damn, girl’s got good taste, I think I’m going to love. 😉 I’m not a makeup person, save for very rare eyeshadow/lipstick events, but nail polish is fun, although I was always a toenail painter, sometimes I’d do each toe a different colour. Hmm, maybe it’s time to start doing that again — you’re right, even if no one sees it, little things can really boost your day.

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