Weekly Shocks' Blog



Bits of Fluff in Revision Period: Limbering Up The Old Appendages

Man, where has the time gone? It seems like only hours have passed since I handed in my dissertation, then staggered back to my bedroom to spend some quality time examining the inside of my eyelids. But it’s actually been two weeks and now I have to do the whole ‘maddened-with-primal-terror’ thing again in preparation for my final (yay!) exam on Monday. I’ve actually managed to trick my progressively stupider brain into doing some revision over the past couple of days before he wised up and shut down to go off drinking, so I may actually be in decent shape for this weekend’s last mad dash of cramming. But a big part of exam preparation also includes coaxing my hands back into the nineteenth century in anticipation of three solid hours of hand-writing. I can’t type worth a tin shit, but at least what comes out of my sorry technological efforts is legible, which is a helluva lot more than what I can say about my penmanship, especially after I hit the two hour panic mark in Oxford exams. Give me a laptop, and I can manage. Give me a pen, and I might as well be scrawling Arabic on a scrap of toilet paper using chicken shit as ink.  And furthermore, because I don’t hand-write very often anymore, it really, really hurts when I’m forced to do so in exams. My hands are weak and pathetic atrophied messes and I may as well saw them off and replace them with hooks.

I don’t, of course, because I’m not a caricature pirate or a total freaking lunatic, but also because I like my hands. I like one hand more than the other, sure, but that’s to be expected: it does more of the work and is more likely to sustain injury because I am a complete klutz and incapable of dressing myself in the morning without an ambulance and emergency room on standby should something go horribly wrong. And it often does. I’ve done some serious damage to my hands over the years. Both of my index fingers have either been broken or badly sprained. I honestly can’t tell you which, because I never really figured it out myself. All I know is that at some point I did something unbelievably stupid (don’t know what), and they were very upset with me, and so they have healed themselves into horrific, crooked zigzags and I’m now incapable of laying either of them flat on any surface. ‘Sokay: I deserved it. I broke the middle finger of my right hand (don’t know how) and the tip has an absurdly squashed and lumpy look, as if the bones in it have been replaced with mashed potatoes. The bones in the rest of my fingers have thus far escaped serious calamity (don’t know why). However, because my skin is translucent and pasty, the bizarre number of scars I have collected over the years (don’t know when) are patently visible and I look as if I once had a job serving baby lions finger foods. My circulation is terrible: as a result my hands are always cold and, inexplicably, clammy. I bite my nails. Occasionally one of my sisters will observe that my cuticles are a mess. I’m still not entirely sure what a cuticle is and if I can or should do something about this. So, to sum up: my hands are weak, crooked, pallid, scarred, frigid, sweaty, cracked, and occasionally bleeding.

My hands are heroin addicts.

And I love ’em. I mean, they are mine, after all, not anyone else’s. (I’m coming dangerously close to quoting Jewel here, Lord save me.) And it’s not as if I can pop down to the Hand Store and pick up a new set, although in my more disloyal moments, I sort of wish I could. I definitely wish I could on Monday. I’d pick out a sweet, supersonic pair of steel-gray POWER HANDS that could legibly keep up with the pathetic drivel my brain is trying to vomit out at a million miles a second. But because the scientific community is all obsessed with curing cancer and AIDS and ending world hunger and all that other rot, no one seems to have created POWER HANDS yet. Fools. This is why I’m in the SOCIAL sciences, where all the real work gets done. Real work, like revising for exams. And figuring out how my pathetic, sweaty, wimpy hands are going to last through three hours of pressure-cooker scrawling. Oh boy. This will be fun. Wish me luck.

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