Most weeknight evenings see me on the couch with husband, dog and cats for at least a little while. As a writer with a day job, I’ve got to get the writing time in where I can, and that’s often after work and after dinner and after whatever else I’ve had on my plate for the day.
Also, I’m a night person. That thing where people get up early to do their writing (or go to the gym)? Is not a thing I can do on any sort of a consistent basis.
Sometimes, though, I find myself restless. I find that I can no longer simply SIT THERE. I have to get out and I have to run around -- and I have to do so in a way and place that isn’t going to devour the little bit of time I’ve got left before I have to go to bed.
I don’t know if this is a problem unique to America, but I feel like in most of our cities, we lack places to go at night that aren’t about retail. Parks close at dusk -- where am I supposed to walk around and look at neat stuff?
When I was in college (and gas was cheaper), I would take long drives in the middle of the night out to the 24-hour Wal-Mart stores in small surrounding towns. It was a safe place to walk around whether I bought anything or not. (This is how I wound up buying pink tied dyed skinny jeans in the late 90s -- fashion before its time which, alas, I long-ago got rid of in a fit of closet cleaning.)
But now that I have a 6:30 am weekday wake-up, my middle of the night excursions have been largely curtailed. Now it’s more like 8:30pm when I’m looking for a close-by spot that’s open and easy to get to. This is why I wind up wandering around at Walgreens – my local drugstore – on what is perhaps a shamefully frequent basis.
Walgreens has that As Seen On TV aisle -- it’s freaking fascinating. But it’s also got a regularly rotated stock of nail polish -- limited edition collections from companies like Essie and Wet & Wild.
Browsing the nail polish at Walgreens has become my out-of-house zen happy place. It’s safe and usually quiet and there are well-organized pretty colors everywhere.
You know the end of this pleasant little fairy tale is that I wind up impulse buying a lot of nail polish. Or nail polish accessories (like those nail studs). I’ve developed this stock of special nail art polishes as well. A couple of them are in pen/marker form -- those are especially good for French tips. But most of my nail art polishes are striper polishes.
Striper (as opposed to stripper -- and I don’t even know what that would look like as a nail polish but I bet I’d love it) polishes are the same basic formula as your regular nail polish. The only difference is the brush. Striper polishes come with very thin brushes, usually the same length as a regular brush, that make it easy to put stripes on your nails without a lot of taping or special nail brushes.
It’s a great idea, right? And every time I sit down to polish my nails, I pull these bottles of polish out and think about what I can do with them. Then I chuck them back in my nail polish box and move on to something else because I’m never quite sure what to do.
This time, though, instead of trading the striper polishes for something else, I went for some simple vertical stripes in hot pink and a super dark blue called Ink. I’d have used my black striper polish but it’s at the bottom of the box. Location is everything.
You can do this, it is worth noting, with a paint brush. I just hate cleaning paint brushes and trying to keep track of them -- and I kind of like the narrow little bottles most striper polishes come in. Yes, I’m aware that means product design is influencing my purchases in a ridiculous way. I can live with this, especially because striper polishes at Walgreens tend to run under three bucks a bottle. Not an expensive indulgence.
It isn’t like I have steady hands -- this manicure is easy because of the brushes. You just have to make sure the brush isn’t drippy with polish -- too much polish can puddle and then ruin all of your stripey dreams.
I chose to put a base color on one nail (China Glaze’s Recycle, my go-to grey) but then I left the others bare. Well, for certain values of bare that include using my two usual two base coats.
There’s something about half-naked nails -- it’s the most intriguing look to me right now. I like the contrast. I like the gloss that naked nails get when you use base coat and then top coat on them. I’ve been a little obsessed ever since the V-gap manicure won my heart.
This stripe combination made me super happy -- but it wasn’t quite as finished as I wanted it to be. I love outlines. I love the finishing details. So I used a silver glitter striper polish to edge the very tip of my nails. If your nails aren’t past the tips of your fingers, this might be tricky, but you can manage this by keeping the silver as close to the leading edge as possible and cleaning the excess off your skin with a q-tip dipped in polish remover.
This isn’t a lot of glitter -- in fact, it’s almost subtle. I do love it when glitter is subtle. But it’s just a little glint and I think it gives the stripes some sort of closure. That might be my years of therapy talking though.
The next time I feel restless, like I have to go somewhere and wander around, I’ll wind up at Walgreens again. And there’s going to be a display of nail polishes just sitting there and waiting for me. I can’t wait.