Instalment XXIII – Wherein our little heroine sits in the dark and is silenced by a nun

Tales from the Tropics

Yesterday, I was sent to a convent for my bad attitude. The Carmelite nuns are a contemplative cloister situated by the sea. The grounds are lush and gated and there are six armed military soldiers playing cards and smoking in small gazebo by the front gate. The nun is nice. I don’t think you’re allowed to bad mouth someone married to the Lord. I wouldn’t want to any way. She seems genuine and kind and she’s rocking a really nice wrist piece like was that charity that someone dying handed you a roley or is that fake? If I confess to you, dear reader, is it as good as confessing to a priest? I lied to a nun. I told her my friend died and she told me I was in grief but really I was in disbelief that it could still be a thing and she asked me if I had done drugs and I said no and I lied to a nun to her face but I’m hoping that it’s fine because I don’t do a lot of drugs and it’s no where near not recreational. Fuck. I lied to a nun and now I’m going to have to confess it to a priest who I also have to tell I do drugs and have unmarried sex to. Not ideal. Lucky the Lord loves repentance for a sweet sinner like me.

The nun suggested mass, everyday (like maybe I should double down on that). Take the communion. And sit in the church for thirty minutes in silence. She went hard on the silence. That God knows how to guide us through our gifts. Don’t expect him to speak to you (duh, that’s actually a mental disorder when you can hear God unless you’re super pious then you’re miraculous) but if you are silent you will hear.

Sit and leave your thoughts alone. Like a scab. That’s what it feels like. Like I’m trying to not pick a scab. That’s disgusting. So mental health update- I am heeding the advice of a nun cause when in Rome, I may as well try religion to cure me. I don’t know if I can be silent. I shall report back (vocally).

After my religious epiphany I had a terrible manicure. What is life but maintenance? My aunt has a nail salon, she spent time living in the US but came back because turns out third world rich is not first world rich and not having a ‘helper’ is torture when you haven’t lifted a well manicured finger for the entirety of your life. It is the closest salon in town to western standards “Posh and Terrific”. I can tell by the décor. It does have the same expensive brown and pink muted tones that my lady doctor also chose to decorate his rooms in. Grown up feminine. Heinous. Chandelier. Heinous.

They are in no way Vietnamese. It took three hours to get my nails done- I’m pretty sure my Australian nail salon’s Vietnamese madam would beat your ass girls cause it’s a forty-five to an hour job m8. It all came together when I waltzed in and said ‘I just need this redone,’ Flashing my square- round edges, French-white nails at them ‘I’ll tell the car to come back in an hour yeah?’ Even the driver knew I was wishful thinking; two hours later and he’s still early.

There was one girl qualified to do shellac (which for our gentlemen readers is the kind of polish that doesn’t chip and uses UV light to set- the UV information is important, remember it), two other employees wearing uniforms and two ladies who swan around really well dressed on the newest iPhones, making sure the staff don’t steal and offering me bottled water every seven minutes.

The girl didn’t do a bad job; it was just mediocre and drawn out and in the dark. Yes, I had a manicure by the light of rechargeable lanterns and phone torch and candle. It’s been raining for days. Torrential, tropical, rain. Turns out that rain and electricity no bueno. The salon lost power a total of four times in the three hours it took to get the job done. Three hours. Just because you have the time doesn’t mean you want to use it. Torture. The black out intervals were brief between fifteen to thirty minutes, which is a blessing by God because sometimes they last for hours. One really extols the virtue of patience here.

Fun fact- you can’t set shellac without the UV light machine, the UV light that connects to the electricity in the wall. Without electricity you are watching paint dry. You can’t even watch the paint dry though because it is too dark. O-kay. Princess Diana would not complain about such an inconvenience and neither will I because I’m fucking regal and gracious. And aware that my manicure is the monthly wage of the girl paid to do it. Western price, local currency, questionable business model.

And on the seventh day God said ‘let there be light’. Hallelujah! Truer words have not been spoken and one deity above all was unanimously praised when returned the gift of light. Everyone in the room (but me) says ‘praise the Lord’, ‘thank the Lord’ some variant of gratitude towards the Lord. Sitting in silence in the dark… that nun really must have a direct line to God. Was this a sign? Manicures are generally when I am in my best contemplative state or obsessive chain smoking. Here I was in the dark silence listening to the gentle file of my nails- square round edges, thinking fuck what is my life.

xx SJ

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