I seriously think I have the most disgusting nervous habit of anyone ON EARTH. When I'm not doing something with my hands like knitting or typing or doodling in the margins of my music when I'm supposed to be practicing, I'm invariably scratching at the skin either on my scalp or heels, hoping to find some I can pick off. After I've found some and picked (or peeled, if it's a big piece from my heel), I examine (if it's from my scalp) and flick the pickage to the floor. Pick, flick. Pick, flick. I have eczema, so there's never a shortage of little patches of flakiness on my scalp or cracks on my heels to occupy a spare minute after editing a letter or during commercials while I'm waiting for Tivo to have enough recorded time to fast forward. I've spent many a day on which I've worn slip ons to work with one bare foot propped on the knee of the opposite leg peeling my heels where I could find a crack large enough to insert my thumbnail. It's like mountain climbing that way. I've even done this through nylons. I'm pretty determined.
My roommate in my freshman and sophomore years of college would get furious at me as she couldn't walk across the floor without bits of my heels sticking to the soles of her feet. There was actually another girl in my hall freshman year who had the same repellent pasttime, and her roommate would commiserate with mine about the crunchiness of our respective doom rooms' carpet. Thank God we didn't get assigned to each other as we would have been buried under piles of discarded heel cracks.
I love getting sunburned as it gives me hours of legitimate pickage. Right after I dye my hair, the flaky bits from my scalp are red and extra dry from the peroxide, which adds a whole other layer of complexity.
At all times, I have to be very careful when wearing black, as I don't even realize I'm picking and I end up looking like Bunter in "The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club" when he uses dessicated coconut as dandruff to seem a proper slovenly journalist. When I'm on the couch watching TV and am not knitting, I end up surrounded by a semicircle of slough. I vacuum the couch every week for this reason, and it's almost as satisfying as the pickage itself.
I am a dust mite smorgasbord. I've had to block my mind from thinking about dust mites, as I'm sure they invited their friends and relations to my bedroom after realizing that they found the wellspring from which all dead skin flows. I desperately need to get new pillows and a allergy-proof mattress cover to minimize the problems arising from the mite condo my bed certainly has become. Can't think about mites-teeny, tiny little arachnids....can't think about mites...
I read once that the reason dry skin itches is that skin is like tectonic plates on the crust of the earth. When the plates get too dry, they crack apart and the edge of one can "slice" into the more vulnerable flesh underneath another. I'm still completely unnerved by this description. It's the word "slice." It's just so...so...edge-of-a-kitchen-knife-sounding. I want to pick off the plates before they can slice. Glah.
I used to be similarly obsessed with split ends. I could sit for hours with tiny nail scissors and trim each split end as I found it, or I would peel it in two, the outer cuticle of the hair shucked away like corn silk. There is no area on my head free from abuse. I squeeze my pores, pluck my brows and chew on my lips. I'm a great, huge bundle of picky little habits.
I think on some level I'm convinced that, if I can just peel away the heel cracks or pick all of the patches off my scalp or sqeeze all the goo out of my pores that I'll find immaculate, perfect, baby-like, unblemished skin underneath. What I usually find, however, is a little oozier and redder than I'd hoped.
It's a completely vile habit. I really need to stop.