Creative at quarantine
FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2020 - 12:00am

What do I say to you today? Our lives have been so simple because of the quarantine or maybe our lives are very, very slowly going back to normal. I look at my fingernails: they are neatly cut, cleaned and polished with red gel polish. So are my toenails. After six months or so of growing them out, cutting them clumsily by myself, then another week of still being too lazy to go to the nail salon closest to my home to find out if they are open, I finally dropped in last Sunday and made an appointment for the next morning.

I like going there as the first customer of the day. I am usually the only customer there at 10 in the morning on a weekday. Because I had not been there for months I decided on the organic nail polish, the one that’s made out of seaweeds. It comes with a little shaded thing that I think looks and works like an oven. This nail polish is expensive but it certainly is sturdy. It doesn’t peel off when you’re working with the tools you need to make rosaries. And it stays on regardless of how long the quarantine is. Mine just grew out. It is almost impossible to remove. In our present situation where quarantine keeps getting extended on a monthly basis, organic nail polish is worth having if your husband likes you with bright red finger and toenails, as my husband does.

Funny, but having my nails done — or what people now call “mani-pedi,” short for manicure and pedicure — is something that I do only when I am married. When I think back to my long life I realize that I would have my nails done only when I had a husband. Then a manicurist would come to the house to do my nails. During the times when I was a single parent I cut my nails myself. I only went to the beauty parlor to have my hair cut. I was too busy to fuss with other things.

But get me married and I have to once again make sure that my hands and feet look neat and painted. That’s one of the reasons why a part of me loves the quarantine. No nail salons open nearby. Very little going out so no dressing up and no wearing makeup. That feels wonderful. But now with the mask for your nose and mouth then topped with the plastic face shield, I cannot breathe. I always rush for the car so I can take them off and breathe well once more until we get home when I have to put them on again to make it through the lobby or they won’t let me in. Who would have thought that mask wearing would be so darn difficult?!?

The new thing is Zoom. Several months ago we began to get acquainted with it as my husband’s children suggested that we pray the rosary together. That didn’t really work because we couldn’t quite get it. But since then they have had it for the whole family — those in Manila, others in Bohol, and there’s a group in Maryland in the USA. That worked better for a while but it’s multi-generational, so mostly it’s the young ones who talk.

I have my small Zoom group of three high school best friends. The one who handles the group and I were childhood best friends. She lives in Ventura, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The other girl joined us as best friends in high school. She lives in San Francisco. And I live in the Philippines. We did a Zoom thing once and it worked very well for us. Now we’re planning on doing it once a month. I will show them the rosaries I’ve made.

I have friends who think I should begin teaching writing again on Zoom. I have to learn how to do that. I know Jim Paredes does it. I’m sure I can do it and maybe teach students from all over the world, too. That should be fun, but right now I’m making rosaries. I have about 40 rosaries to make. I’ve finished almost half of the total order so you can imagine how busy I am.

Yes, that’s my life these days. I make two rosaries a day. I make them myself so I keep improvising on the design and the more rosaries I make the better I get. I keep thinking I should photograph them and put them on my Facebook page but I am afraid then I will be overwhelmed with orders and maybe start disappointing people. My most recent is a rosary with an antique look. I think it’s beautiful.

But that’s life. Quarantine is a dead period for most people but not for some. I am being creative so I enjoy myself. Maybe you should try to be creative, too.

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