Friday, October 10, 2014

Unintentional Tomboy: A Tale of Hair Woe


We didn’t have a lot of rules when I was growing up. My mom liked to let us make our own decisions, and this philosophy expanded to the realm of haircuts. My brother had a rattail until he was ten. My hair, if you can believe it, was even worse.
When I was around five, I decided that I was sick of my bobbed hair hiding my pretty earrings. Most girls my age didn’t have their ears pierced yet, and I liked to show off. Growing my hair long enough that I could tie it up in a ponytail would have been a good solution. An even simpler and more elegant fix would be to simply tuck my hair behind my ears. But, as a five-year-old with very little knowledge of the outside world, neither of these options occurred to me.
What did occur to me, and what I asked my mom for directly, was to cut the hair above my ears short, to show off my earrings, while allowing the hair at the back of my head to stay long. That’s right, at age five, I essentially invented the mullet.
Parallel evolution, the phenomenon by which species from disparate lines develop similar traits (such as the dorsal fin seen on both sharks and dolphins) has no stronger supporting case than the fact that, in the early ‘90s, Billy Ray Cyrus and a five-year-old girl in Toledo both independently decided to get the same haircut.
When I asked for a mullet–not by name, of course, but all the same–my mom didn’t hesitate. “The girl makes her own decisions!” she proclaimed to the hairdresser. I had a mullet for the next two years.
This boyish look was made all the more butch by the fact that a large portion of my wardrobe was comprised of hand-me-downs from my brother. Passing me on the street, strangers saw a child of indeterminate gender sporting a mullet, boy’s painters jeans, a buffalo plaid flannel shirt, and a dinosaur sweater. Upon closer inspection, they noticed the pearl studs shining iridescently from earlobes revealed by such a practical haircut. My gender confirmed, they no doubt smiled to themselves thinking, This new generation is so self-aware. That sweet little girl already knows she’s a lesbian. How wonderful. She’s going to grow up and wear Birkenstocks.
The mullet met its long-overdue end when, at the age of seven, I decided to grow out all my hair as long as it could grow. Influenced no doubt by my best friend Josephine, an eight-year-old natural blonde who wore belly shirts and had hair so long she could sit on it, I asked my mom for her advice.
She, unfortunately, was a true believer in the old wive’s tale that trimming your hair makes it grow faster. And so, with the best of intentions, she brought me along to my brother’s hair appointments, and I got a “trim” (which, let’s be honest, usually amounts to nearly a full inch off the ends) every 6-8 weeks.
While the hair above my ears was allowed room to grow out and blend into the rest of my do, these frequent trims left my hair chronically above the shoulders. “My hair just doesn’t grow fast,” I explained to people who questioned why I had short hair if I wanted long hair so badly.
Around that time, the highlight of each month (apart from the frequent salon trips, of course) was the arrival of American Girl magazine. After carefully cutting out the paper doll included in each issue, I would turn to my favorite feature, Heart to Heart, which consisted of short bits of commentary from several readers on a single topic.
One month, the topic was “being different,” and I decided to write my own commentary. Having missed the submission deadline, I settled for the idea of composing my commentary on my dad’s word processor (the machine, not the software), printing it out, and pasting it into my copy of the magazine, along with a current headshot, of course.
On the topic of “being different,” girls had written about everything from race, to disabilities, to being the new kid in school, but I, with the characteristic self-importance typical of seven year olds, knew my Hair Problem was just as serious as cultural insensitivity or paraplegia. My commentary went as follows.
I have short hair. When other girls see it, they sometimes ask, “Why do you have short hair?” I tell them, “My hair just doesn’t grown fast,” but they don’t understand. They think I want to have short hair. But I don’t. I hate it. My friend Kristen had long hair, but she wanted to have short hair, but her mom wouldn’t let her get it cut short. One day, Kristen accidentally got her mom’s round brush stuck in her hair. She just wrapped up all her hair in the round brush. She said she thought that was how you curled your hair. My mom thinks Kristen did it on purpose, and I guess she’s right because Kristen’s mom had to cut the brush out of Kristen’s hair, and now Kristen has short hair.

Here I inserted a hand-drawn illustration of Kristen making a painful face and tugging at the brush buried deep in a tangle of her hair. Staring at the headshot I’d pasted beside the illustration, I sighed and thought, I wish there was something I could do to make my hair grown long.
Little did I know, there was something I could do. Or rather, there was something I could stop doing. It’s pretty simple, if you want your hair to grow, for the love of God, stop cutting your hair. But, I was seven, and I still labored under false delusions that my parents had access to some hidden truth about the world, and that I should always heed their advice.
Eventually, I grew old enough to suspect there might be a connection between the incessant haircuts and the fact that my hair stayed short. I asked my mom to stop taking me for such frequent haircuts, and watched as my hair grew like I never knew it could. That was the first time I can remember thinking that my mom might not always know what’s best.

Monday, October 6, 2014

September Ins and Outs: What I Bought and Read Last Month

September Ins and Outs

So, I seem to have calmed down a bit in terms of how many books I read this month. I did, however, buy more than usual. I picked up Brooklyn at a Half-Price Books (because I loved his Testament of Mary so much) and I bought Land of Love and Drowning for book club, but the other five are the result of a small shopping spree I took just after hearing I'd landed a great new job. 

I've heard amazing things about The Empathy Exams, and it sounds like exactly the kind of nonfiction I like to read: scientific, but not too technical. Not that Kind of Girl and Tiny Beautiful Things are the other kind of nonfiction I tend to gravitate toward: personal, confessional, funny but insightful.

Not gonna lie, the cover of I am China is what drew me to it, but the story sounded really original and interesting. I've been hearing good things about Love Me Back, which also sports a great cover, and I've enjoyed what I've read so far.

The Color Purple and The Handmaid's Tale are both feminist classics, and I thought that they both lived up to everything I'd heard.

Bad Feminist was both enjoyable and challenging. Even when I didn't fully agree with Roxane Gay, I couldn't help but admire and respect her argument.

Orange is the New Black was an interesting read, and it didn't feel completely redundant to the show. In fact, it answered a lot of questions about the penal system that the show had raised for me without ever fully addressing.

Persuasion was, of course, lovely. While it's not my new Austen favorite, as some people claimed it might become, I found it to be very enjoyable in and of itself. I mean, it's Austen, so there's no going wrong.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Signs of Life: On Settling into Our New Home

Signs of Life
Signs of Life

Moving into our new home is proving to be a slow process. It definitely feels like home, but we don't feel completely settled yet, and I doubt we will for a while.

But, even though there are still shelves to be hung and boxes to be unpacked and furniture to be bought, there are also tiny tableaux creeping up here and there, making the place feel lived in. These signs of life excite me as I imagine how our home will look eventually when it's functional and full of life

Signs of Life
Signs of Life
Signs of Life
Signs of Life
Signs of Life
Signs of Life
Signs of Life

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Awkward Socks

Paper Moon outfit: high-waisted black Gap jeans, Free People lace-trimmed socks, Ecote Spotted Pony Hair Platform Mules from Urban Outfitters

Lately I've been enjoying wearing a lot of socks that probably make me look like a crazy person. I can't help it. I love cozy, lacy socks, and, the more I wear them, the more I love them. In fact, I think it's their essential awkwardness that makes me love them so much. 

I'm often drawn to things that are classic but a bit off: dresses with slightly over-the-top proportions, shoes that look at little like hooves, baby bangs. I think there's something in their intentional messiness that feels so fresh and punk and authentic. 

Ginger and Clover Outfit: Modcloth cream lace "Grace Yourself Dress", Free People lace "Daisy Lane Ankle Socks", Free People open leather Jeffrey Campbell "Cast and Crew Ankle Boots"
Wearing @madewell1937 jeans, @freepeople socks, and @urbanoutfitters shoes - #whereistand #style #fashion #shoes
Paper Moon outfit: high-waisted black Gap jeans, Free People lace-trimmed socks, Ecote Spotted Pony Hair Platform Mules from Urban Outfitters

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fall Wish List


Fall Wish List

01. Moorea Seal, 02. Madewell, 03. Madewell, 04. Urban Outfitters, 05. Amazon, 06. Moorea Seal, 07. Converse x Missoni for Nordstrom, 08. Target, 09. Moorea Seal, 10. Madewell, 11. Moorea Seal

As with home decor, I'm really excited right now about neutrals, good quality materials, and basics with a twist. I've been drawn to well-designed minimal pieces lately. Whether it be a delicate piece of gold jewelry, a great leather bag, or that perfect go-with-everything scarf, these are the pieces I continue to love and wear season after season, year after year.