Vermont Barbie has dirt under her nails.

Princess Mug

I am not sure how long it has been there, nor when it happened.  And I swear I practice excellent personal hygiene, truly.  But lately I have been enough pressed for time that I am content to find a moment just to snip my nails with clippers, much less file them, or—God forbid—give myself a full manicure.  (If you are thinking, Just go to the dang salon, please note:  this is both time consuming and an overt violation of the frugality ethic I am diligently practicing these days.)  I hate having longish fingernails, though, because they can harbor unspeakable things like, say, germs.  And also dirt—a nice medium for germs—which brings me back to my own Vermont Barbie dirty nails.  I think possibly my wood pellet stove could be the source of the filth, as it is a relic from the 1970s and has been giving me fits lately, requiring a lot of maintenance.  You gotta push up your proverbial sleeves and get your hands dirty, literally, when messing with a temperamental pellet stove.  Handsome Chef Boyfriend—who supplied me the lovely princess mug seen above—has generously stepped in on several occasions to take care of this tedious chore.  But the rest of the time it’s on me.  Oh, and add to the sexy dirt under my nails, scaly winter skin.  Bet you’re jealous.

In the last chapter of my life I often posited, sometimes loudly, that I was pretty sure I’d been switched at birth, was never meant to do laundry, and in actuality was born a princess.  I recall a conversation several years ago with a dear friend—who completely “got” the whole princess thing—during which I predicted she would not likely want to do something or other she had been considering because she was too much of a princess.  Oh, you’re WAY more of a princess than I am, she insisted.

That is possible.  More recently, when the director of the ballet school where I teach spent countless hours driving me all over creation to find a place to live in my new home state, I think I surprised her some when I insisted that this new place must have a washer and dryer, or hookups at least.  She is a youngster (comparatively) and I could feel her rolling her eyes, a little.  Please.  I am getting *old* for chrissakes.  My going-to-the-laundromat days are over.  As a footnote to this housing prerequisite, I will add that the universe was listening and evidently has a sense of humor.  I did ultimately settle on a place with a washer and dryer, but to get to it I’ve got to go out the back door and around the side of the house, where I climb through what I can only describe as a hole into the crawl space, affectionately known as Zombieland.  You’ll know the zombies who live down there finally got me when I stop blogging (cue the staticky white noise…).

I’m not really a princess of course, even figuratively.  I actually enjoy doing laundry (except when there’s measurable snow on the ground and I’ve got a head cold, like now).  I also enjoy chores in general, which I find meditative in the same way I find morning ballet class meditative.  Order is restored from chaos—whether it is the chaos of living, or the chaos of a musculo-skeletal system that is disorganized after a sleep cycle.  At least, that is how I see it.

I think the whole “princess” concept was a survival tool I devised for my life over the last decade, during which time I found myself trying to keep my head above water in a fraternity house of sorts.  No amount of effort can restore order to that kind of chaos, at least not for long.  Still, I managed to carve out a little bit of sacred space for myself.  (And for anyone who might wonder for even an instant whether this characterization is an exaggeration of things, I’ve got a handful of close friends and family who can corroborate it.)

Now, though, I am once again the captain of my own ship.  I do not wear a tiara, but I do have dirt under my nails, and boy is it beautiful.

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