Hair products

Does anyone else have trouble picking out a shampoo and conditioner? It used to be simple. You were either “Normal,” “Oily” or “Dry.” Now you have to have an advanced degree in cosmetology to decide which one you need. Too much silicone and dimethicone and you’ll end up a slick mess. Too little and you’re hair will cling to your shoulders as if you are electrically charged. I just want clean hair which has been conditioned so I can drag a comb through it without pulling any strands out. Is this too much to ask?

When I was a kid, we used Prell. The green gel came in a clear tube, like toothpaste, and we squeezed a little dab out and washed our hair until it squeaked. Which can’t be good, can it? Squeaky hair? Then, when I was a little older, my mom sprung for pink Avon leave-in conditioner and then I no longer had to grit my teeth to get the tangles out of my wavy locks.

Remember your first blow-dryer? My dad brought one home . . . it looked use, which is odd. I think he might have been using it in his work with electronic equipment. (He had a “shop” in the garage, full to the ceiling with ham radio equipment.) I was in elementary school. Until that point, we washed our hair on Saturday nights (so we’d be ready for church) and that was pretty much it.

I sound like I am approximately 100 years old.

On Saturday nights, my mother would roll my hair on pink foam rollers. When I got older, I did the rolling myself . . . with disasterous results the time I used different types of rollers on each side of my head. I was rather unbalanced that Sunday morning.

Sleeping on rollers hurts. I can’t believe that I ever suffered that sort of pain in the interest of looking cute. (“Cute” being open to interpretation, of course.)

My daughter has naturally curly hair, little ringlets . . . which, if messed with, turn into a frizzy halo of hair. She likes to smooth her hair down, which makes her look a lot like an old woman who hasn’t been to the beauty shop for awhile. I predict she will hate her curly hair, even though I find it delightful.

Of course, I hate my curly hair and long for straight, thick hair, because we all want what we don’t have.

Which brings me back to hair products. What I want are hair products clearly labeled: “This is for naturally curly hair which is still thick even though the front area is thinning,” and “This will stop your hair from frizzing but not turn it into a greasy mess.” Or even “Normal,” “Dry,” or “Oily.”

Hair today

I want to say something profound. But my profundity is drowned out by my hair. I am having hair issues and all I can think about is my hair and how I hate it. The dirty little secret nobody tells you is that when you age, your hair may change. My impressive, thick locks have dared to thin in the front. And then, some of the strands had the audacity to break off. The nerve!

For all I know, my entire head of hair is a shadow of its former self. I only know for sure that my bangs–now grown out to disguise the horror of thinner hair–are not what they were. And my wavy hair has turned curly, unruly and disobedient. I never have a Good Hair Day.

My curly locks come to my shoulders . . . and now I think that longer hair would be perfect. I used to have longer hair and I had it whacked off in one fell swoop because the long hair was weighing me down. Growing out my hair is my main hobby in life. If I’m not growing the length, I’m growing out layers. And then I cut it again. I never learn.

And so, my preoccupation with my hair, my self-loathing when I see my hair, and my bewilderment about my hair–should I stop using a blow-dryer and curling iron entirely?–take up all the space in my brain where I used to develop thoughts.

My hair is ruining my life.  Why does my hair matter so much to me? (Don’t answer that. It’s because I am shallow and vain.)

Queen of the Damned psp

* * *

My hair takes approximately five minutes to “do.” Because it seems so fragile, I am reluctant to submit it to torturous hot appliances. I do have it foil-highlighted, but my colorist only does the roots, not the entire length of hair.

I took this photo just a few moments ago. Apparently, not only do I need a hair transplant . . . I also need Botox.



1) Will I ever settle on a hairstyle I like or will I continue to hack off my hair, regret it and grow it back into a long puffy mess before hacking it off again? What about bangs?

2) Will I find a lipstick I love or am I forever doomed to lips coated with unsatisfactory pink or muted mauve or unkind wine?

3) Do we really have the power to warm up the planet? If so, do we also have the power to cool it off? And do we want it any cooler? My toes are chilly as we speak.

4) Is “conversate” a word? Why do people insist on using it?

5) Why did I think I was fat when I was just a normal-sized child?

6) How can some people abandon friendships when they no longer live in the same town?

Do you have any questions without answers? Do you obsess over your hair? Do you have a lipstick that you love? Al Gore: love or hate? How much “work” do you think Nancy Pelosi had and why do I even care? Will I ever travel to Tahiti again or was that one trip when I was sixteen the only one I’ll take? And why, oh why, was Tahiti wasted on a sixteen year old when I am so much more able to appreciate it now that I’m 41? Will the Seahawks stumble their way into the Superbowl this year? Why do teenage boys insist on belting their pants below their bottoms, leaving their boxer shorts on display?

Go ahead. Unburden yourself. Ask a question. You know you want to.

I’m Pretty Boring in My Old Age

In real life, I prefer not to call attention to myself, so I am mystified by my recent post proclaiming my own birthday. What’s wrong with me? Perhaps it’s old age breaking down my inhibitions.

Yesterday morning, I took my daughter to the grocery store to buy essentials: milk, bread, cookies and $107 worth of groceries when it was all said and done. My little girl sat in the cart, so she was positioned perfectly to transfer everything to the conveyor belt. Which she did, by herself, no help from Mommy required. She wore a sundress, tights and hot-pink Converse Chuck Taylors . She looked ridiculous and charming, so much that every menopausal woman in the story smiled and tried to chat with her. (Her Royal Majesty of the Pink High-Tops wouldn’t answer a single question nor make eye contact.)

I spent my birthday afternoon getting my hair cut. My poor stylist. I said, “Okay, see? I don’t want to look like a cocker spaniel. You know what I mean? See this? Ears? No. Too much length. But no layers. I hate layers. Layers make me look like Little Orphan Annie. You know what I mean? And my bangs. I think I need more bangs. What do you think? They are thinning a little and can you fix that? I want a sort of a bob, but not too short. And not like a mushroom. The curl is natural, yes. See, how it’s weighed down and flat on my head, but like a cocker spaniel down here?” I went on for five incoherent minutes while she squinted at me and finally pulled out a book full of hairstyles. We settled on a style and at one point, they were straightening my hair, two of them at once, tugging and burning the curl out of my locks. I went home with super-straight, silky hair, in contrast to my normal Ronald McDonald bouffant.

I was home only an hour or two, long enough to cook dinner and tidy up a little. My mother came over half an hour late to watch the children. As we drove, I telephoned the restaurant–they won’t take reservations for parties of less than six people–and asked to be put on the waiting list. Good thing I used the telephone girl’s name (“Stephanie”), when we arrived because they had no trace of us on their list and the waiting time was up to an hour and a half. When I said, “Well, I talked to Stephanie,” she whirled around and said, “That’s me!”

We waited only fifteen minutes, then sat in a corner table where we could see the sky darken from gray to black before our dinners arrived. We gazed at the lit-up ferry as it slid up to the dock nearby and I said, “We need to take the kids on a ferry this summer.” Two tables were full of high school kids in formal gowns and tuxedos. I only wish we’d been right next to them so I could have eavesdropped successfully.

Dinner was excellent and my husband was in fine form, making me laugh. We really ought to go out more often.

Last night, I watched “The Beach” on DVD. I’d recently read the book and wanted to see the movie in its entirety. (I’ve seen bits of it on the Oxygen network.) I was most fascinated by the special features, specifically the director’s commentary about deleted scenes. Of course, the book was better than the movie. Books are always better than the movies.

This morning, my daughter insisted on wearing a Barbie ballerina costume to church, which I allowed. I simply dressed her in a black turtleneck and black pants and her pink Chuck Taylors. She looked endearing in a crazy sort of way. Sadly, I didn’t get a photograph. She reminded me of that guy who dressed like the tooth fairy on some television commerical. Only smaller and more adorable and with blond curls.

We napped together, she and I, for two glorious hours, during which time I had an insane dream involving Mexican guys keying my car and two baby alligators in my garage and my daughter wandering the street due to my carelessness and my husband scolding me for driving in a dangerous residential area in Houston.

When we woke, she informed me we’d be going around the block and I knew better than to argue. I pointed out that she’d have to get dressed and that it was cold and rainy. We made it only halfway around, she on her tricycle, me walking, when she decided to turn back. She parked her trike, then we started off again, splashing through puddles and veritable streams on the side of the road. It’s rained thirty-eight out of the last forty days and half our driveway is a pond large enough to cover the tops of yellow rubber boots.

Can you believe this recitation of my weekend? I feel like I should be writing it on notebook paper and turning it in for a grade to my creative writing teacher who would then ask me to please rewrite and use more interesting details and embellishments. Have you learned nothing from James Frey? she’d say.

I watched the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards tonight. My favorite moment just might be Jamie Lee Curtis stumbling and then regaining her balance while she came down the stairs. And I was pleased that “Crash” won for Best Film Ensemble. And Reese Witherspoon won, which is perfect.

Then I sobbed during the end of Grey’s Anatomy, which can mean only one thing.

I’m not menopausal yet, despite being fortysomething.

(Thank you, everyone, for the birthday greetings. I appreciate it.)

Whine, whine, whine

I dragged myself through this day, from my wake-up call at 6:00 a.m. (Babygirl, ready for a shower, Cheerios, and a video) through the delivery of three weeks’ worth of mail and an afternoon at the church, preparing a neglected room for twenty-five preschoolers next week. And it seems like I accomplished very little, yet I am so tired.

It’s that time of year, that time when I ask myself, “How did I get this job?” I am braiding together the three strands that comprise a church’s Vacation Bible School–the volunteers, the participating children and the materials. I have details swirling around in my brain–“must remember yarn for nametags”; “need to find that animal print fabric”; “call those two volunteers to see if they are in or out”; “finish banner for entryway”; et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I am juggling a billion slippery details.

Not a big deal, except my brain feels like a giant colander and the details like grains of rice, slipping right through the holes.

We already have more children signed up than we have slots. I’m going to have to stand up in front of the congregation and plead for more volunteers. I hate doing that. I hate making phone calls. I hate my hair.

Did I mention how tired I feel? Send methamphetamines.

My Hairy Dilemma

I am unpleasable. I used to have hair like this:

Here I am, before my hair cut.  Posted by Hello

And then I had it cut. Now I look like this:

Here I am, after my hair cut.  Posted by Hello

My husband has no sympathy. He says, “At least you have hair.”

Yeah, if that’s what you want to call this disobedient curly mop on my head.

Note to self: Admonish hair stylist not to cut shortish layers in naturally curly hair to prevent the Little Orphan Annie effect.

At least hair grows.

The Weekend

Is Monday night too late to write about the weekend? I hope not, because here I go.

My husband’s weekend was jam-packed with funerals and memorial services and a sermon and meetings. My weekend was full of kids and grit on my kitchen floor. No matter how much I “swiffer” the floor, I have grit. This is because I allow my children to go outdoors, dig in the mud and wear shoes, both indoors and outdoors. But. I digress.

On Saturday, I decided to rearrange the boys’ bedroom. This involved removing a lot of books and plastic bins from a huge shelving unit and using brute force to inch it to its new home. I moved beds, chairs. I vacuumed repeatedly. And, of course, I did all this while taking care of Babygirl and three big boys. After Babygirl napped, I took all the kids on a walk to 7-11 again for Slurpees. The weather was lovely, sunny and in the fifties.

Saturday afternoon, my husband calls and says, “Hey, when I get home later, you can go to a movie or something if you want.” Isn’t he thoughtful? I begin to look forward to escaping the four walls and gritty floors of my home. Half an hour later, he calls again to say, “Hey, let’s go to a movie together!” I say, “Oh. Okay.” Now, I have to finish my rearranging project, clean up the rest of the messy house which I’ve neglected while devoting time to my project, feed the kids, clean the kitchen, make myself presentable, bathe the children and put the baby to bed. All alone. By seven. Then when the babysitter arrives, I will go pick him up from his office and we’ll go from there.

I am an exhausted, sweaty mess with a bad attitude by the time I pick him up. And the house isn’t tidy. A girl can only do so much.

The other thing is this. I like movies that my husband would not like. I wanted to see “Against the Ropes” with Meg Ryan. I like literary movies, dark movies, psychological thrillers, critically acclaimed movies. We saw “Welcome to Mooseport.”

I must be very difficult to amuse because I did not find the movie funny. The audience was laughing, guffawing, chortling, giggling. I was shifting in my seat, trying to get comfortable. I thought the cast of character actors had been plucked straight from community theater. They were so overwrought, so unbelievable. And Ray Romano, bless his heart, was just Ray Romano. I don’t think he can act. He is just himself. Maura Tierney was exactly the same as she was in News Radio and on ER. Gene Hackman–yawn. I liked Marcia Gay Harden. The rest? Oh please. I wouldn’t even watch that on network television. It was so boring, so predictable. So not funny.

But as I said, I must be difficult to amuse, because my husband liked it. Everyone in the theater seemed to like it. Maybe I just have PMS.

Sunday was my day to be the volunteer nursery attendant. I don’t really mind since I usually end up in there anyway, sooner or later, with Babygirl. Two of the toddlers, though, had runny noses! I cannot understand why a parent would bring a runny-nosed kid to a church nursery. I am the nursery coordinator and I need to make a giant sign saying “This is a Mucus-Free Zone.” We had seven toddlers in attendance.

My husband worked all day–he had a memorial service and then meetings. We spent a lot of time outdoors in the afternoon. I trimmed a thorny bush by the gate and the kids dug another giant hole and then asked if they could fill it with water. They love to build lakes and streams. I allowed it, even though I was not in the mood for mud. At least they were getting muddy with a spirit of cooperation.

Some time over the weekend, I peered into mirror in the boys’ brightly lit bathroom and spied a strangely colored hair. I plucked it out and examined it. The pigment faded along the shaft of the hair and I couldn’t decide, but I think I may have found my first gray hair. I wanted to save it and immediately realized how neurotic and insane that idea was. So I just let it drift out of my hand. I’ve reverted to my natural color and now it is going to betray me? How is that right?

Speaking of hair, I came across a box of pictures and letters from and to my dad, which led me to another box of his family tree paperwork. And then I found the old envelope I’d searched for a few weekends back which contains a golden-red lock of hair. The outside of the envelope says in faded fountain-pen ink: “Gary’s hair.” Sure enough, I held this silky lock of her grandfather’s baby hair up to Babygirl’s head. Her hair is the exact shade. I snipped a curl off the back of her head to save before she up and leaves home for college. The days are long, but the years are short and soon enough she’ll be earning her Master’s degree and calling me once a week.

Last night, she woke up before 11 p.m., which is strange. I nursed her and put her back to bed and then dreamed all night that I heard her crying. Sure enough, she woke up stuffy this morning. She caught DaycareKid’s cold from last week. Sigh. DaycareKid still has his runny nose, too. I hate colds.

My husband has started taking Mondays off. So, he had today off. He took a load of stuff to the thrift store for me and then hung out. He read the newspaper, talked to me while I was trying to watch a show during naptime and took a nap. I’m glad he gets a true day off now–when he was taking Fridays off, he almost always ended up working.

I still haven’t painted my wall red. But I did iron my husband pants for the week, so he won’t have to go to work clad only in his underwear. I do have my priorities.