Writers’ Bumps: An Endangered Condition?


Photo by Jak of the Mast Cells & Collagen Behaving Badly blog.

The picture above of the middle finger is not me flipping you off. It’s not even my finger. I found it on this blog. I am featuring it here because it shows a writer’s bump, which is something I, and many other writers have.

These bumps are formed from the pressure of a pen or pencil pushing against the middle finger when a person is writing. If you’re right-handed, it will form on your right hand. If you’re left-handed, it will form on your left.

I once asked a manicurist if she could ever tell what profession a person has from looking at their hands. She had never considered it. Then I told her about how to spot a writer from their bump. I’m sure she was edified forever by this information and it changed how she approached her job.

I realized the other day that my writer’s bump is much smaller than it used to be, presumably because I hardly ever use a pen anymore, opting instead for a computer keyboard. This caused me some dismay since I rather like my writer’s bump and the distinction it gives my profession.

Then, I realized in horror that most young people probably don’t have a writer’s bump. They might not even know what one is since they all use phone and computer keyboards.

Truly, writers’ bumps are endangered. We just can’t stand by and let them disappear. They have been with society for hundreds of years. Somebody should do something about this. We need a public information campaign to “Save the Writers’ Bumps!”

Where is the outrage? Why are we complacent with the disappearance of this badge of honor earned by hours of slaving over paper with a writing utensil?

Cast aside your computer keyboards and your phones my friends. Start a movement!

(Smirk. I think not. I actually love the convenience and speed of typing.)


Vegan Shoes, Who Knew?

Vegan shoes

Did you know there’s such a thing as vegan shoes? I didn’t either, until I bought these, and the veganism came as an unexpected side benefit. They feature “microbuck vegan leather uppers,” whatever those are.

Does this mean I can eat them if I get hungry?

Getting my Blue Mind on — Part 2 of 2: Stuck Inside a Psychedelic Washing Machine


The float pod in purple. Would you get in this thing?

At the suggestion of Wallace Nichols, I made an appointment for a sixty-minute session at my local flotation pod. The pod was in a room in the basement of a yoga studio, and it’s the only one in these here parts of northern Minnesota.

The pod technician led me to the room, which contained the pod and a shower. He gave me the choice of silence for my impending pod experience or four types of music. I chose piano music. He explained that he would have to program that into the computer, which was upstairs in the reception area.

The pod was about ten feet by eight feet. It featured a large hatch, which was open, and rotating, pulsating colored lights that illuminated the ninety-eight-degree water.

The technician explained that all the Epsom salt in the six inches of water is what makes a person float. A bottle of fresh water stood nearby to rinse the salt out of your eyes in case some happened to get in, plus a towel, and a small floaty tube if a person wanted it for head and neck support in the water. Earplugs were also available, to keep the excessively salty water out of one’s ear canals.


The float pod in its yellow phase.

I asked the technician how I would know when my session was over. He said that the music would stop and a voice would say, “It’s time to exit the pod.” (Somehow this struck me as funny, and I almost giggled.) Then the filtration system would come on, which he said was rather loud and was bound to wake me up if, by chance, I fell asleep in the pod.

He mentioned that after the session, since it was late in the evening, he probably wouldn’t be at the desk once I finished, so I could just get out and head out on my own. I asked him how I should pay for my session because I hadn’t done that yet.

This seemed to surprise him and I ended up giving him my credit card, which he was going to process while I was in the pod. He said he’d leave the receipt and card for me on the front desk and I could get it on my way out. (Damn, why did I say something? I could have had a free session!)

Details done, he left me to my experience.

I was expecting soft piano music during my pod float. I expected to emerge totally blissed out. That didn’t quite happen.

After showering and putting in the ear plugs, I entered the pod wearing only my birthday suit. I wondered when the music would start. It never started. I suspect the technician was so distracted by processing my payment that he forgot to turn on the music.

I laid there in the water (which is weirdly buoyant), and decided I didn’t need no stinkin’ music. I even got brave and turned out the psychedelic lights. As I lay there in the silent dark, suddenly a jet of water came on. My body started spinning slowly around in the pod.


The float pod in green.

The filtration system! Hey, I thought that wasn’t supposed to come on until my session was over. Surely, sixty minutes hadn’t passed yet? It only felt like ten minutes. Now what to do?

I could push the red button in the pod, which the technician said would cause an annoying sound to come from the computer in the reception area. But would that work since the music wasn’t working? Would anyone even be there to hear the annoying sound?

I didn’t feel like getting out of my warm pod and running upstairs in a towel to complain to the technician. Besides, that wouldn’t be very Zen.

So I stayed where I was, getting pushed in slow circles by the filtration jets. At some point, I turned the lights back on because it was just too weird having all this stuff happen to me in the dark.

Then I started giggling. This was like being stuck inside a giant psychedelic washing machine. Yes, I could always raise the hatch and get out if I wanted. But I didn’t want to. Besides, that wouldn’t make for a good story.

After about five minutes, the filtration system turned off. Although I wasn’t sure when it would strike again, I was finally able to relax and get into the floatation groove. It was very blissful. I could hear my heartbeat and my breathing.

Pods are supposed to inspire creativity and help with pain management. I didn’t have any pain. Mostly, what I thought about during my session was how to describe it in this blog post.

My bliss was shattered after about a half hour when the filtration system came on again. I floated around and around in more slow circles. As before, the system eventually shut off. I laid there until I thought my session was over and I emerged from the pod, checking my watch. I was only about ten minutes over my time.

I took another shower to rinse off the salt and got dressed. My credit card was waiting for me at the reception desk. Nobody was there. I debated again whether to find someone to complain about my expectations not being met.

Nah, that just didn’t seem very Zen. Besides, it was all kind of fun.

Would I try it again? Maybe, if I was really stressed out. But I don’t see it as something I would need regularly.

I picked up my card and walked into the night, peaceful.


Update: The owner heard about my experience and offered me a free float as compensation for my interrupted experience. I told him that I wasn’t dissatisfied at all by the experience and didn’t feel like I really needed another float. But I have a friend who is very stressed out lately. I asked him if my friend could have the float instead, and he said yes. How nice of him! Bliss all around.

Waking Up My Face: A Skincare Diary


A few hours post-procedure. Lots of redness!

March 20th

Today, I willingly let someone drag needles all over my entire face, and I paid good money for it, too ($300 with tip). The procedure is called micro-needling. It’s an optional skin care treatment designed to reduce signs of aging and improve scarring.

Perhaps you remember the painful fun I had a few years ago with the Lamprobe. Masochist that I am, I have had an additional Lamprobe treatment since then, plus a facial or two. But now, the hint of droopy jowls, enlarged pores, and lines around my lips and eyes caused me to look for a different type of therapy.

The woman who gave me my last facial recommended micro-needling. It involves the use of a micropen, which is a device that looks rather like a large magic marker. It has a dozen tiny needles on its tip, which, according to the brochure I got from my skin care clinic, creates “controlled micro-injuries to the skin in order to aid in the production of collagen and elastin.”

How is it done? “In a single motion, the pen will be gently pressed against the skin while simultaneously gliding in one direction until the entire treatment area has been covered.”

In other words, someone drags needles all over your face and you pay them for it.

After my previous painful beauty experiences, I was not looking forward to the procedure. BUT, unlike with the Lamprobe, a topical anesthetic was applied to my face beforehand. The technician waited 20 minutes for it to work (during which I got to listen to New Age Space Music) and then she broke out the pen.

While she worked, she explained that the tiny injuries “wake up” your skin and make it start producing the materials that keep it firm and youthful. Did it hurt? No. I did feel some pricks, but nothing too bad. Mostly, I felt the vibration of the pen as it glided across my skin. It felt like an electric razor. It even tickled, especially near my ears and nose.

From check-in to check-out the session took an hour. My face was still numb when I left the office. Your face will most likely turn bright red afterward, so it’s a good idea to hole up at home for the rest of the day, unless you are totally unselfconscious.

Even after the anesthetic wore off, my face felt tingly and “awake” but it didn’t really hurt. It did turn red, though – reminiscent of raw hamburger with a sunburn. A few pricks of blood were scattered across my nose and forehead.

Eventually, my face got hot and dry. The technician had sent me home with an after-care kit, which included a cleanser, a cucumber spritz, a balm, a growth factor serum (what does it grow, I wonder?), and a hyaluronic acid serum. I used the balm and spritz as the technician recommended, and that calmed down my skin.

So that’s where I am at this point. I will write more later to let you know how long the redness lasted and what I think of the results. But I can tell you it didn’t hurt as much as I was expecting.


March 21, the day after

When I awoke, my face was about half as red as it was yesterday. It has graduated from sunburnt raw hamburger to just looking like someone attacked me with sandpaper.

I didn’t have any trouble sleeping – no pain or irritation. My skin still looks too inflamed for makeup, so I’m going to wait on that until tomorrow. At least I can put on eye makeup and lipstick.


March 22, Day Two

The redness has decreased again by half. I almost look normal – just a little tan. It seemed safe to put on makeup, so I did that today. Some tiny pieces of skin are flaking off, but that subsided after I applied the various skin care products in my after-care kit.

I can’t tell a whole lot of improvement in my skin yet, but my jawline might be a bit tighter. I suppose it will be easier to tell once the skin calms down.

I keep thinking of something the technician said — that skin care should be like going to the dentist. Once or twice a year, we go and get a deep cleaning, and the rest of the time we do our own maintenance. She recommended one or two procedures like micro-needling per year in addition to “home maintenance.” She almost made me feel like I wasn’t being vain, just practicing good self-care. But part of me thinks I’m still being vain. 🙂

As the day wore on, more flaking started around my lips and on my nose.


March 23, Day Three

Lots more flaking going on today, mainly around my lips and nose. The skin on my cheeks surrounding my mouth looks firmer. I don’t think it’s just my wishful imagination. I’m beginning to think this procedure might be worth it.

The redness is gone.

I like the fact that this procedure is somewhat “natural.” It stimulates your skin’s own mechanisms to improve itself. You don’t have to be put to sleep like you would with a face lift, or have weird chemicals injected into your skin (like botox). And no, I am not getting paid to write this!


March 24, Day Four

My nose shed the rest of its skin this morning. There’s still some flaking on the rest of my face.

The post-procedure instructions say that you’re supposed to let the flakes fall off naturally and not pick at them. I am doing pretty well at this. Well, maybe I am picking at them just a little. Okay, maybe I am standing in front of the mirror for minutes on end, trying to get rid of all the flakes.

Stop it, stop it, Marie! The problem is that a friend and I are in a social situation for the next few days – we’re around a bunch of people who we are meeting for the first time, and I don’t want to have a big chunk of skin hanging off my nose while I try to hold a conversation.

I gave my friend permission to tell me if/when I have a flake that needs addressing. So far, though, I don’t think anyone has noticed but me.


March 25, Day Five

Just a little flaking. Things are looking good! I am doing better at restraining myself from picking at them.


March 26, Day Six

Still some more flaking. My skin looks smoother. I am happy with the results, and I would recommend the procedure to anyone in their “elder years” who wants to do some upkeep on their face. You can also do the procedure elsewhere on your body to get rid of scarring or stretch marks. People also do it on their décolleté to firm up the skin.

The Vortex Made Me Do It: Adventures in Northern Arizona, Part 4

Sedona 2017 016

Linda (left) and I on Airport Mesa, before we knew it was a vortex area.

You know how, when you go on trips, you sometimes end up with a running joke in your conversations? The joke can be related to an event, a person you met, or a hapless comment made along the way. Well, for Linda’s and my Sedona trip, our running joke was The Vortex.

Because Linda and I are from Minnesota, we were mainly familiar with Polar Vortexes. You know, that’s when all the cold air comes down from the arctic and tries to freeze everything in its path. Although we had heard of Sedona’s reputation as a vortex center before we began our trip, we didn’t know any specifics.

Personally, I just thought the whole place was the site of mysterious energies. Little did I know that there are specific locations and different types of energies to be had.

Let me back up and define the word vortex (plural = vortices or vortexes). Merriam Webster says that a vortex is something that resembles a whirlpool. I assume all of you, dear readers, have watched water swirl down a drain. That’s a whirlpool — except that in Sedona, the swirling involves invisible energy more than it does water or freezing arctic air.

Our Vortextual Education

Our resort offered various programs for its patrons. Among the classes, which had titles like “Crafting a Festive Wine Glass for Christmas,” was one about vortexes. We decided we had to attend to learn more about this phenomenon. The presentation was given by a local Reiki healer.

She described the concept of vortexes and said the energies involved come from the rocks because of their mineral composition. She passed out a sheet that listed eight locations that are thought to be vortices and it described their different kinds of energies.

Some of the energies come out of the rocks (upflow), some flow into the rock (inflow), some are combinations of upflow and inflow, and some are horizontal (lateral). The lateral flow places involve the energy from nearby rivers and streams.

The sheet she gave us was an excerpt from a book entitled, “Scientific Vortex Information,” which was written by an author who claims to have been educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

I don’t know. The title seemed like an oxymoron. “Science” and “Vortex” don’t really go together in my world, where I move among scientists every day. I suspected there wasn’t that much science behind the information — more like wishful, imaginative thinking.

Once I got back home, I looked inside the first few pages of the book on Amazon, hoping to see proof that scientific instruments were used to actually measure electromagnetic fields at these locations, but all I saw were explanations of inflow and outflow, with nary any hard proof in sight.

But that’s okay. We weren’t in Sedona for the science. We were there for the experience. We were there for . . . The Vortex!

Our Vortextual Experiences

Sedona 2017 026

Oak Creek Canyon.

While looking at the list of locations, Linda and I discovered we had already visited a vortex the previous day. The site was Airport Mesa, which is easy to access because it’s right in town.

While we were enjoying the view there, we had noticed a couple of people sitting on the rocks in a lotus position. We didn’t think much of it – maybe they were just doing it because the scenic view inspired meditation. But after reading the list, we knew better. Those lotus people were trying to feel The Vortex.

We decided we needed to try that. Our journey the next day involved a trip north to Flagstaff, so we made plans to stop at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook, which is on the way. The overlook scenic vista is located at the top of the switchbacked road at the end of the canyon about 15 miles from Sedona. A short walk on a paved path leads to an impressive overlook.

I sat on a bench near the overlook and Linda stood near the wall. Neither of us were hard core enough at this point to get into a lotus position (which is sort of hard on a bench, after all). So we just closed our eyes and tried to feel the feels.

I felt my own internal vortex more than any external one. My heartbeat rocked my body and made it sway a little. The Arizona sun felt good on my face and the breeze whispered its secrets.

After having our moments, we conferred. Linda said she didn’t really feel anything. We walked back to our car, but along the way, we stopped to look at some Navaho jewelry being sold at stand along the walkway. I was drawn like a magnet to one ring that featured a bright blue opal. I picked it up and it fit perfectly. I had to buy it.

We joked later that The Vortex made me do it. Who knows, maybe it did? It was like the ring was calling to me.


Cathedral Rock

A few days later, after a day of hiking, we visited Cathedral Rock, which is thought to be home to an upflow/inflow combination vortex. We hiked up to the flat rock plateau below the formation.

Someone had scratched two spirals into the rock about ten feet away from each other. Linda and I thought they looked like logical places to sit for people like us who were trying to find a vortex, so we sat with legs crossed and eyes closed.

The day had been breezy, but not particularly so. A few moments after we got into position, big gusts of wind started buffeting us. They were so powerful that Linda’s hat flew off.

We opened our eyes and quickly stood, spooked. The wind stopped.

We headed down the rock toward our car. We didn’t joke as much about vortexes after that.