Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An Hair-Raising Experience

"Your hair!""Oh Jo, how could you? Your one beauty!"
     - Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

I wouldn't know my natural hair color if I passed it on the street. In many ways I am a crunchy-granola Mrs. Green-Jeans, but not with respect to my hair. I recycle, I compost, I am vegetarian. I use cloth bags at the store and borrow books from the library. I do not have acrylic nails, but I have a lengthy history of coloring my hair and I don't intend to stop any time soon.

Furthermore, I am a do-it-yourselfer. I wax my own lip, pluck my own brows and I color my own hair. I should get at least a little Hippie cred for that.  I am usually pleased with the results. My stylist seems impressed, too. My friends are surprised when they learn that I use a box. Hey, no offense to the hair folks out there, but it ain't rocket science!

I have used a variety of products, from the old stand-by, Sun-In , to Frost-N-Tip to Nice-N-Easy to Preference by L'Oreal (because I'm worth it) to Garnier. I have gone from full-on bleach to hi-lites to red to various shades of blonde.

I was born a blonde. I remained blonde without assistance, gradually darkening over the years, until high school.

Here I am at about 3 or 4, sledding with the neighborhood boys. Even at that age, blondes really do have more fun.

Here I am at 6, with my new wheels.

Dig that banana seat, baby! Am I rockin' those saddle shoes or what?!

I don't have photographic evidence handy to prove it, but by my freshman year in high school, I was dark blonde. That's when I began "using". During the summer before high school, I discovered Sun-In, my "gateway" dye. Never one for half-way measures, I used it every day until I was platinum. Coupled with my life-guard's tan, I thought I was hot-hot-hot, like a chunky Malibu Barbie. Then the tan began to fade and the hair began to grow. Things got ugly for a while until I discovered that Sun-In works with a blow-dryer! I was empowered. I gradually eased it back to medium blond, with highlights appearing during the summer.

My "touch-ups" were my little secret. Or so I thought. I kept it up for many years. When I was in my early twenties, a male friend teased me about coloring my hair and I insisted to him that I wasn't  coloring it;  I was simply removing the tarnish from my naturally blonde tresses. Truly, that's how I saw it: I was restoring what nature had given me.

Along about that time, in the wake of a bad break-up, a friend offered to add some highlights to my hair. I wasn't sure. I was nervous. I had never let anyone else color my hair. We had a few drinks and she proceeded to frost.When all was said and done, my hair looked like tortoise shell. Medium blonde with brassy splotches all over. She laughed, somewhat nervously. I cried. I spent money I did not have at a salon to have it fixed. That's when I discovered "foils". I felt distinctively high-maintenance having my hair colored. It meant I had "arrived". I endured quarterly visits to the shop for years.

It was pretty, wasn't it? I liked it. So did Hombre. But I couldn't leave well enough alone.

About six months after this picture was taken, I got a wild hair (!). I decided to go red. Secretly, I had always wanted red hair and had been too chicken to do it. "What would people say?" "What would they think?" "They would know that I color my hair." Egad. What could be worse? Thank goodness I got over myself. I LOVED being red.

After I settled into red, I started coloring it myself. It was easy, single process color. No reason to pay someone else to do what I could do myself. After some trial and error, I settled on Preference by L'Oreal "Light Auburn".  As much as I loved the red, my darling Hombre did not. After a few years, I transitioned back to blonde. At first it was a honey blonde (Nice N Easy #104), then a more neutral blonde (Garnier "Champagne") and finally a medium blonde with highlights (L'Oreal Couleur Experte Express "Toasted Coconut"). It was a nice color that didn't scream "dye job"!

A year ago, I decided to let my hair grow out a bit, which I had not done for more than 15 years.

The picture quality is terrible, but here I am on my birthday at the end of November. What's not to like, right? Once again, I couldn't leave well enough alone.

The January doldrums hit hard and I decided that due to my advancing years and crow's feet, maybe it was time to retreat a little from the blonde. So I deviated from the tried and true and used L'Oreal Sublime Mousse #70, "Pure Dark Blonde". I figured it would be a tad darker, but still vaguely blonde. Oh, I was so wrong! There is nothing,  and I mean nothing, blonde about this:

It's just, well, so BROWN. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I am a blonde. No matter what my roots may say, I am a blonde, dammit.

Where are my car keys? I'm headed to Target for some Toasted Coconut! As God is my witness, I'll never be [brown ] again!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chasing the cats and dogs

My to-do list, in no particular order.

  • Laundry
  • Return mis-fired Christmas gifts
  • Hang curtains in B's room
  • Finish painting B's room
  • Refill prescriptions
  • Shovel driveway and sidewalk
  • Laundry
  • Pick up dry cleaning
  • Take out trash
  • Recycling
  • Call mover for Mom & Dad
  • Draw up scale drawing of Mom & Dad's new apartment to determine furniture placement
  • Follow up on insurance claim for hail damage to roof
  • Laundry
  • Color hair to avoid being cast as the lead in upcoming sequel: "Roots II - She Let Herself Go"
  • Find literary agent
  • Sell Girl Scout Cookies
  • Bat Mitzvah gift for party on Saturday
  • Follow up on damage claim for Mom & Dad's move
  • Clip toenails
  • RSVP to Girl Scout Father/Daughter dance
  • Make 2011 2012 New Year's resolutions
  • Pay bills
  • Enter financial data into Quicken
  • Complete 28 page tax questionnaire for accountant
  • Schedule (and attend!) 24 hours of continuing legal education
  • Laundry
  • Shower
  • Dog and cats to vet
  • Service on minivan
  • Schedule follow up for B's asthma diagnosis
  • Annual check up for A
  • Meeting at school for 6th grade class trip
  • Clean up piles of dog sh!t in yard
  • Laundry
  • Cancel dental appointments with Dr. DeSade
  • Find new dentist in dental insurance plan
  • Schedule family appointments with new dentist
  • Clean litter boxes
  • Wash B's inhaler
  • Change sheets on the beds
  • Scrub toilets
  • Laundry
  • Pick up dry cleaning
  • Clean up arts & crafts room at church
  • Organize and pack up Christmas tableau costumes at church
  • Review HOA bylaws and procedures for board meeting
  • Work on book proposal
  • Meet movers at storage unit to load and at new apartment to unload Mom & Dad's stuff
  • Birthday cards for Jon, Jenny and Ann
  • Pick up stamps
  • Plan birthday for A
  • Eye doctor appointment for A
  • New glasses for me
  • Wash dishes
  • Walk dog
  • Pack lunches for Hombre, B and A
  • Laundry
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Load dishwasher
  • Fix broken drawer face in kitchen
  • Work on blog post
  • Wax upper lip lest I be mistaken for Tom Selleck
  • Mop kitchen floor
  • Vacuum tufts of animal hair from carpets throughout house
  • Buy more coffee!
  • Coerce A and B into finishing thank-you notes for Christmas gifts
  • Get county dog license for 2011 2012
  • Flu shot for A
  • Sort out file cabinet
  • Hang pegboard in work room
  • Paint air duct cover in A's room
  • Finish removing wall paper in kids' bathroom
  • Figure out why jeans keep shrinking
  • Clean carpet in rec room
  • Mending
  • Shoes for both kids
  • Meet with financial planner re: negligible growth in nest egg
  • Let down hems in B's pants
  • New bathroom scale (ours is obviously broken)
  • Finish sewing family Christmas nightshirts
  • Plan garden for 2011 2012
  • Plan itinerary for summer camping trip
  • Make national park reservations for summer camping trip
  • Follow up with orthodontist re: new dental insurance
  • Breast exam
  • Pluck Frida Kahlo eyebrows
  • Brush teeth
  • Did I put on deodorant this morning?
  • Unpack Mom & Dad at new apartment
  • Plan meals
  • Grocery shopping
  • Cook dinner
  • Listen to kids's stories about their days at school
  • Help A and B with homework
  • Kiss Hombre when he gets home
  • Give kids hugs
  • Tuck A and B into bed
  • Pour glass of fine boxed wine

Be thankful for a full, never-boring life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wring Me Out

I feel so privileged.

No, I really mean it; despite the exhaustion from endless driving and waiting at doctors' offices and hospitals and school parking lots; despite the endless worrying about this test or that test - science for one, blood for another. I am truly privileged.

I sometimes feel so out of sync, like I am watching both sunset and sunrise at the same time, on opposite horizons. I turn and the sun has crept up. I whip back around and on the other side of my world it's sinking too fast. I don't want to miss either one.

This is my life: to see the slow, yet beautiful completion of my mother's life while watching the expanding, brightening existence of my daughters'. I can see both ends of the rainbow at the same time.

I am privy to tender moments between my parents that I have never seen before and no one else is seeing. I am a part of a sacred happening, as my parents accept the reality that their lives together are coming to a close and that it must be allowed to happen, for it is natural and it is right and it is time.

I watch my girls reaching out for new experiences and new friends. They test themselves; they test me. They push forward, sometimes roughly, and then come running back for reassurance. There is magic happening as they become the people they will be, independent of me.

Waiting, sitting in the hospital with Mom and Dad, I hear the stories I have never heard before, the ones that embarrass them, the ones never told before; the ones that matter. I can see now how events in their lives have shaped them. Maybe I understand better why they did the things they did; why they reacted in certain ways. And then I can see how I must affect my girls, in the way my parents have affected me and theirs affected them. I can see backwards and forewords for generations, like multiple reflections in dual mirrors. It boggles my mind.

I am honest with my girls. I tell them Gram is back in the hospital this week. This time it is her kidneys. The medicine she takes for her heart dehydrated her so much her kidneys stopped working. But she will be okay. This time.

B, the worrier, cries and cries.

"Is Gram going to die?"

"Yes, honey, she is. Not today, probably not tomorrow, but she will. We don't know exactly when."

"Will you get cancer, too?"

"I might. I don't know for sure. I try to take care of myself and do things that we know help to prevent cancer. We know a lot more now about cancer than Gram and Papa did when they were my age. But no one really knows when they will die."

A, the philosopher, asks if Gram knows she is going to die.

"Yes; she knows. "

"I am going to miss her. A lot."

"Me too, honey. Me too."

My Mother, in the hospital with an IV in one arm and an oxygen tube in her nose, asks about the girls.

"How are they doing? Are they back in school? They are such sweet girls!"

I try to soak it all up, like a sponge. The sweet, the sad, the tender, the funny. I have soaked up so much, I am leaking tears.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I went back to Ohio
But my city was gone

     "Did you know my house is gone? It's been sold." 

There was no train station
There was no downtown

     "I don't think I'll ever get to go back there again."

South Howard had disappeared
All my favorite places

       "I never got to see it."

My city had been pulled down
Reduced to parking spaces

     "I don't know what's left."
     "I don't even know where my things are."
A, o, way to go Ohio

Well I went back to Ohio
But my family was gone

   "What is my bookcase doing here in your house?"

I stood on the back porch
There was nobody home
     "My Mother and Dad bought that. It used to be in my room at home."
     "That's where Grace got it. It wasn't hers to give away."

I was stunned and amazed
My childhood memories

    "Is that the table from Pippy?"
    "He always said, "That table goes to Laura when I'm gone.""

Slowly swirled past
Like the wind through the trees

    "Oh, this is my old bird book! I loved this book when was a kid!"
     "I didn't even know it was still around. I had one about trees, too."

A, o, oh way to go Ohio

I went back to Ohio
But my pretty countryside

     "I guess we are moving to an apartment."

Had been paved down the middle
By a government that had no pride

     "I haven't ever seen it."

The farms of Ohio
Had been replaced by shopping malls

     "I  don't even know where it is."

And Muzak filled the air
From Seneca to Cuyahoga Falls

     "I don't know what we will put in there."
     "I had some nice things, but I don't know what happened to them."

Said a, o, oh way to go Ohio*

     "Did you know my house is gone?"

Photo credit: Heather Hopkins

*copyright: The Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde
*Need to hear it live ?