Hangnails & Papercuts

Well, dear readers, it’s been a long time. Let me explain.

Sometimes you’re all gung-ho about a blog and keep at it for a few months and then just…. well, you just peter out.

That’s not what happened with me and Corrective Shoes.

I decided last fall that the world didn’t need, and surely wasn’t likely to pay much attention to, my potty little meanderings in the midst of the election season, at a time when the COVID-19 calamity had ceased to have any soft edges or funny angles and simply seemed grim. We were rounding into winter, never my easiest time of year under even the best circumstances, and I simply decided I had nothing to add to the conversation. I knew I’d come back when the time was right. And the time feels right, right now.


I lead a charmed life. I have two amazing adult children and an amazing son-in-law; they’re all smart and funny and independent and gainfully employed doing meaningful work. And, just today, they confessed that my musical tastes — in particular, the White Stripes songs I subjected them to when they were growing up — turn out to be not that bad, after all. Score one in the minor triumphs column!

I have a home that I love and work that fulfills me; I’m surrounded by the best, kindest, most supportive and loving friends imaginable. I have a sweet old terrier and an amazing black kitten. I have big stacks of books and an Instant Pot and a sunny balcony. I can hear the train whistle as it passes through Hartford but not feel the rattle of the tracks. I have gin martinis and Schitt’s Creek and Outlander; I play my vinyl records and dance in the evenings. I have Amazon Prime and buy myself frequent gifts. I don’t make much money, I don’t have one single thing you’d call fancy, I can’t afford elaborate vacations, but I have everything a gal could want, and much more.

At the most basic level, though, I have a home. I have nourishing food and clean, plentiful water. I have a flush toilet and a sink and shower, soap, shampoo, and clean clothes that smell like my favorite detergent. I have heat; I have a refrigerator and a stove and an oven. I have health insurance and excellent health care. I have a paycheck.

During the past year, I, like, I’m guessing, you, have faced many moments of despair, worry, depression, sadness, uncertainty, and fear.

Imagine facing all of those things without the benefit — the luxury, really — of those things we so easily take for granted. Home. Heat. Food. Water. Clothing. Love.

I try to remind myself how very lucky I am, how kind the universe has been to me, whenever I start feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes, though, I lose track of that. More often than I’d like, I find myself indulging in self-pity, sometimes even anger and resentment.


It’s been documented that, during this time of sheltering and working from home, the incidence of foot injuries, particularly stubbed toes, has risen. It makes sense: people are wandering around their homes barefoot pretty much all the time, making their poor bare toes increasingly vulnerable to jarring encounters with table legs and bedposts.

I’ve stubbed a toe or two during the past year, for sure. For me, though, this has been a long season of papercuts and hangnails. I don’t know whether I’m just noticing them more because, in isolation, my brain has fewer distractions, or I’ve actually been suffering more of these minor injuries than usual. I have no documentation to support this, of course, but I am convinced paper is cutting me and my hangnails are hanging way more than they used to.

And I think there’s a reason for that.

I’ve come to believe that every time I slice the web of my thumb on the razor-sharp edge of a manila folder, every time a hangnail catches a strand of hair while I’m showering, it’s a message from the universe. As I cycle through all the ugly emotions that papercuts and hangnails inspire, I eventually come to, why did this have to happen? Why is this happening to me? Why does this KEEP happening to me?

The answer, I’m convinced, is that hangnails and papercuts are the universe’s way of reminding me how very good I have it, how very lucky I am. Go on, it challenges me. Go ahead and feel sorry for yourself because you cut your finger and it made you wince.

I’ll be here, the universe tells me, once you get over it. Once you finally get over yourself.


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