I touch door knobs. I touch toilet flushers. I touch keyboards. I touch dirt.
Then I touch my mouth. Constantly.
My worst habit is feasting on my fingernails.
I gnaw like an uptown fat rat in festering garbage. I chomp like an untrained mutt on dad’s all white new balances. With the preciseness of a five-foot-one Korean lady, I carefully shape the nail, ensuring no sores. I am, and always will be, resolute in my mission to be disgusting.
Call it a nervous reaction or a foul addiction, but I simply cannot and will not stop.
Now thankfully, I know my limits. I’m not one of these hysterics with their nails chewed past their fingertips, turning their fingers into throbbing fleshy tenders. I don’t have nubs. I simply maintain and trim to a normal length. You pay forty bucks for a manicure. I use my teeth.
I don’t have to be stressed to do it, but that’s when I do my best work. I bite my way in from the pinky, ending with the typically thicker thumb nail that usually puts up a bit of a fight. Sometimes I flick my nails into the galaxy. Other times I create a little pile of them before sweeping them in the trash. Or sometimes, I leave the pile there. I leave it there to be admired by the next passer-by like the great pyramid of Khufu in Giza, only I built mine with chewed hooves. High five.
Google told me that 30 per cent of people chew their nails. It also told me that the area under the nail, that 30 per cent of people put their mouth on, is known as one of the human body’s greatest bacteria breeding grounds. To think that every couple of days, I consume a thanksgiving dinner-sized spread of germs without even realizing I’m doing it is pretty alarming. But not alarming enough.
I’ve never tried quitting and I never will. I’m not spraying my nails with some kind of goop or foul-smelling spray. This is part of my identity. This who I am. Twenty-five, writer, hooligan, nail-chomper, Winnipegger. If my immune system can’t hack a regular dose of poison, how am I going to make it? Is it not the survival of the fittest?
The psycho with the longest nails in the Guinness book has a nail that’s six and a half feet long. He started growing them when he was 14. He’s now 82. He’s saved himself from a lifetime of germs, but I’d say it’s worth the gallons of microscopic filth I’ve ingested to one-day wake up at 82 years old without a pair of stilts hanging from my fingers. Sorry, Guinness.
But, until that day, I carry on. Keep your eyes peeled for a great pyramid of peelings of me, coming to a tabletop near you.
Mornings are for the chickadees and coffee makers. They are for wet kitten kisses right on the tip of your nose. They’re for cold hardwood on bare feet, and quiet bathroom conversations while you put on your cologne and I curl my hair.
I’ve loved mornings for as long as I can remember, but lately I’ve gotten into a bad habit of ruining them.
Paleo pancakes. I live out of my van. Early morning spin class. Juicing my celery. Exam season. Buy these leggings. Greece is gorgeous. Plastic is bad. Women are amazing. So hungover. So in love with him. It’s snowing. I’m pregnant. We’re engaged. Take me back to Summer. Mondays suck. The forests are on fire. Travel advisory. Self-care Sunday.
Instagram, Instagram, Instagram, I love you and hate you and have finally decided you are my worst habit.
Every morning, 472 people try to spark conversation, entertain, and raise awareness on my social feeds before I’ve even looked outside to make sure the sky is still blue. Why am I lying in bed considering my environmental impact or staring at some girl’s obliques when I could simply just be lying in bed? I am not alone in this – 80% of smartphone users check their devices within 15 minutes of waking up.
Don’t forget text messages, work emails, and the dreaded… voicemail. Just 20 minutes on my phone can mean hundreds of requests, opinions, and alerts, which I find leads to a tight chest and a queasy feeling. Rather than getting up and going for a walk or reading my book, I feel obliged to start work or reply to text messages.
I once read, “You wouldn’t let hundreds of people into your house, blasting their requests and opinions at you. So why would you let them into your mind through a device?”
Since high school I’ve had this machine glued to my back pocket, buzzing with good news and ringing with bad news. I’ve deleted all my apps and unfollowed hundreds of accounts in an attempt to feel happier, to feel more present. It works, but only for a while. Soon enough, it’s 7am and I’m posting a photo to my story and writing a witty caption to go with it like some sort of booze hound back on the bottle.
Smartphones are pretty much designed to be addictive and social media actually messes with the dopamine levels in the brain. I know it’s bad for me, yet it’s how I choose to start my day.
But not anymore. I’m going to take some tips from the internet and do my best to stay phone-free within one hour of waking up. They say to replace phone use with something that will set a better tone for the day like working out, journaling, cooking a healthy breakfast, or reading a novel. Putting your phone on airplane mode overnight can help too. I might even go as far as to delete my apps for a couple weeks, so I’m not tempted at all.
Whenever I go on one of these social media cleanses, I get worried I’ll be missing out on whatever is happening online, but it helps if you think of the best people on earth – senior citizens. My grandparents have gone their entire lives without an online presence and constant contact with the world. We’re talking about some of the purest, happiest, smartest people I know. They drink tea, knit scarves, talk on the phone, and play cards with their friends every night.
If you ask me, we’re the ones who are missing out. I’m taking my mornings back.