Oh, Where…

The last couple days, I’d noticed Ruby’s hair looking a little unkempt.

At breakfast today, the back was all matted and tangled.

“Do you need some help with your hair?” I asked, trying to be diplomatic.

“Yes,”she said around a bite of Belgian waffle.

“I can wet it down for you and brush it through,” I said.

“I don’t have a brush,” she said.

What?

“Why didn’t you ask for one?” I asked.

“Because I couldn’t find it,” she said.

Okay.

Which means we hit Safeway at 7:10 a.m. for a new hairbrush. Because Ruby has hair.

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Hair Peace

hair-piece

Yesterday, we drove up to Seattle so I could take notes at the fall Microsoft PACs. My hair, always an independent entity, didn’t want to behave. I plotted a blowout. We found a place on the way at a mall, just inexpensive and quick. It was part of a chain.

We stepped to the counter and found we were at least a half hour early for my appointment. But they took us a few minutes later.

The stylist, a small Asian man by the name of Abraham, smiled at me.

“Do you mind if I cut your husband’s hair first?”

“Not at all,” I said.

I sat in a spare chair and watched the other customers and stylists. To the right of me, a mom got her hair highlighted while her little girl, a beauty with long dark curly hair, entertained herself. She sang songs and imagined and ate snacks. Her mom talked to her, and I could feel the love between them.

Abraham cut Jonathon’s hair, mowing it with a razor. He pointed out cowlicks to Jonathon, who nodded. His head is full of them and one of the major reasons he keeps his hair clipped so short. I watched as Abraham thinned out the sides and evened up the back. Jonathon looked sharp when he finished. I sat next to the pot of coffee, enjoying the peace.

My turn. I sat in the chair and got draped with cape and towel. Abraham washed my hair.

“Your hair is curly. Do you want to make it curlier, or…?”

I told him I wanted it straight.

He nodded and said, “It looks really good natural. People are starting to pay $80 for perms again.”

He round brushed my hair, pulling and drying.

“Your hair has so much body. You have a ton of hair.”

Yes. I do.

I wasn’t sure I liked what he was doing. He pointed out how he was putting movement into it, how my hair fell a certain way. I mentioned the flat iron and put down the dryer and reached for it.

“You know what, Abraham? You do what you want to. You’re the boss, applesauce.”

“Oh, thank you, Susan!” Abraham half-hugged me, grinning.

And that’s how I ended up with a swingy 70s sort of bob. I like it. Don’t know if I’ll ever be able to duplicate it, but it’s fun.

Somehow, Jonathon and I found a little island of peace in the midst of all the political melee. I want to point out that not once did anyone bring up the presidential election, or riots, or Trump, or anything. There are still great folks in the world, serving with excellence, if we get out and take a look.

Ten Years Younger

Does anyone remember this show?  It had a short life span as part of the reality TV phenomenon.

 

The general storyline goes:  Someone nominates you for your frumptastic ways, not so much because you only wear items covered with turtles, but because you dress and look OLDER than you truly are.  This, friends, should be illegal. The camera crew, complete with hip yet empathetic host, places you in an elevated telephone booth (remember those?) in the center of a shopping mall.  Passersby are asked to estimate, from a healthy distance, how old you look.

I have  couple of problems with this, despite watching the show from time to time during its heyday.  While I enjoy seeing people get blessed by a couple of hours of pampering, I cannot stand the condescension inherent in the premise of the show.

“What?  You’re only 26?!  But you look like you could be a grandma!”

Yeah.  That blows.

So I’d forgotten all about the show until I got my hair cut and colored last week.  I wanted something with more red, using the Black Widow as my inspiration.

Can't you see the resemblance?

Can’t you see the resemblance?

Uh, so anyway, Scarlett Johansson is a natural blonde.  I’m not.  In fact, I’m an ashy medium brown with a pinch of red and gold.  Okay, that’s *after* highlights.  My mop’s a medium brown, curly of course.

My hair’s natural color made the dye take on a rather dark blackish color with some red highlights in the light. I watched the color lighten a little as it dried.  Sure got shiny, but I didn’t know if I liked it.  It seemed too dark for my skin tone.

As the fabulous stylist straightened it, she said, “Wow. You look 10 years younger!”

It gave me pause.

See, I only saw the updated color.  Nothing else about me had changed. No facelift, no facial, Botox, zip.

Immediately, questions bubbled up.  First, how old did I look before?  Apparently, I had one foot in the grave.  Maybe even two, shuffling off this mortal coil, dragging my grays behind me.

Secondly, did covering my gray hairs really make that much of a difference?  I’d decided years ago to make peace with them.  They have a silver cast to them and I like that.  The reason I get highlights or color at all is that going completely gray or silver means a loss of color. It saddens me. I love color.  And hair is so disposable.  It’s dead, right?  It keeps growing forever. Does something utterly dispensable carry the ability to age me?

The stylist was sincere.  She meant it as a compliment.  And I love a sincere compliment as much as the next girl. Yet, is younger truly better?  I know our youth-obsessed culture thinks so.  Does my chronological age matter?

At least I’m not standing like a bibelot in a display case while all of humanity passes by.  Or am I?

I think as women, we all are.  We’re judged continually on how we look.  The dazzling, youthful and vibrant get different treatment.  And you know what?  Men aren’t doing the judging nearly as much as us women.  I’m as guilty as the next gal.  We learn to do it from an early age, preferring the pretty over the plain.  I’m not proud of it and I’m learning to look beyond the pimples or perfect hair to the inner person. Because this ol’ bod – and hair – won’t pass the test of eternity.

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. – 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

 

Drink Me

I reached the end today.  With my hair, that is. This dry weather and now high humidity has made it closely resemble a highlighted tumbleweed.  Not a good look, at least for me.

I’m a member of the curly-haired crew.  Curly hair tends to be dry. I can’t wash my hair every day. Curly hair doesn’t like changes in climate.  It adapts, sure, but it ain’t pretty sometimes. Curly hair is not managed. It is simply handled. Think of it like a temperamental actor. You need them to finish filming their scenes. Each day, you work with what they offer and massage it into a semblance of something recognizable.

Time to engage a professional. I ventured up to our local Sally’s Beauty Supply. I quickly stepped inside before I chickened out.

“Can I help you?”

A brunette Amazon with a pierced nose greeted me. Her azure eyes quickly took in my flammable mane.

“Um, I think I want to look around a bit,” I hedged.

Truly, I had no idea what I needed. Full disclosure: the space under my bathroom sink is where hair products go to die.  If they don’t work, they live in exile among the spiders.  They get pushed further towards the back, lonely and unloved, until I go on a cleaning bender and throw them out. In the past, I spent as much as $25 on a bottle of shampoo.  This was before we had 2 kids.  I can’t stomach it now.  I’m hesitant to try anything new in case it fails and ends up gathering dust. I’m a drugstore kind of gal and usually get along just fine with basic products.  But today, desperation reared its ugly head.

I wandered the aisles. No thank you to the hair pieces.  Or travel hair straighteners, which resembled brightly colored staplers. I wasn’t in the market for false eyelashes.  Surely I could live without the gallon-sized bottle of blue acetone. I knew I didn’t need Brazilian wax.

I found a small section of all natural products for curly hair.  I’ll be frank here and say I don’t much care if my hair products are organic or man-made.  I know to avoid certain chemicals that cause buildup. I read labels.  My limited experience with all natural products has left me underwhelmed.

I consulted the kind Amazon.  She led me back to the spot where I’d found the all natural products.

“These are what customers say they love.  Smell this!”

She twisted open and thrust a jar of goo under my nose. The substance resembled whipped mayonnaise and smelled like an ambrosia salad. The price tag read $25.

“I just wish I had curly hair so I could use it,” she said with a sigh.

No you don’t, sister, I thought as we laughed together about life’s funny quirks.

She also pointed out another jar of similar size for much less.  Aha!  I wouldn’t feel so ridiculous buying that.

The phone rang.  As she left to answer it, I considered my options. Would I, could I, in the rain?  Would it, could it, be a pain?

I made my decision and brought it up to the counter, figuring almost anything would be an improvement.

“Oh, so you found something,” she said, smiling at me.  “Did you open it and smell it?”

Uh, no. I was more concerned with efficacy.

She opened the jar.  I took a whiff.  Strangely coconutty, like a piña colada.  If nothing else, I’ll smell intoxicating.

Mustache Love

mustache

This morning, over breakfast, Ruby had something to say.

“I want to grow a mustache,” she said.

I started giggling.  I couldn’t help it.

“Really?”

She nodded.  It was definitive.

“Uh…” I struggled for words, my barely-caffeinated brain grasping for words.

She chewed another bite of her cinnamon-sugar English muffin.  She sipped her milk.  She swallowed.

“So…can I?”

Ah.  She seemed to think it a matter of permission.

“Well, we all have a little mustache-“

“Yeah!” Ruby interrupted excitedly, hope on her face.  “I have some light hairs on my legs”.  She pulled up her purple pajama pant leg to show me. She rubbed at the long blonde hairs that have been in evidence since she was a toddler.

“Ruby,” I began.  “You can’t grow a mustache.  I get some dark hairs sometimes, but I pull them out.”

Ruby mimed ripping hairs out of her face. Ouch!  Yes, indeed. Ruby has yet to face initiation into the shaving-1/3-of-your-body-regularly sisterhood. And she wants to add *more* hair?!  Oy.

“Oh!” she said.  “You could shave them.”

I laughed. 

“I could.  But I won’t. Most girls can’t grow full mustaches or beards.  It’s not how we’re made.  Sorry.”

Mustache = manly!

Mustache = manly!

She thought about this concept for a moment. 

“But my cousin Jenny (not her real name) really wants one,” she finished.

I couldn’t stop laughing then.  I remember having a crush on Tom Selleck during my junior high years. It was all about the mustache. It epitomized derring-do and excitement. Admit it:  mustaches do have a certain elan.

I wonder if God laughs, too. How many things in life do we whimsically wish for and we simply can’t attain?  I wanted to grow 2 more inches, but it ain’t gonna happen.  It’s a waste of time and energy to hope for the impossible.  I didn’t laugh because having a mustache is an unworthy goal.  It simply seemed…unnecessary. Both Jenny and Ruby have pretty long, brown hair and sparkling eyes.  With infectious laughs, boundless creativity, winning smiles and a daunting sense of style, they’re unstoppable.  What else do they need? Why gild the lily, so to speak?

See?! Photo courtesy of weddingbee.com

See?! Photo courtesy of weddingbee.com

Fresh Samson

I read about Samson today. A miracle baby (Judges 13), an angel visits his mother and tells her the good news.  Her barrenness will end and she will have a son!  He will be a Nazarite from birth, so no fruit of the vine like grapes or wine or  unclean stuff.  And his hair can never be cut.  He will begin to rescue the Israelites from the Philistines.

Samson arrives and seems to flout every one of God’s laws.  I don’t know if it’s because the weight of judging Israel weighed too heavy on him or he was just a rebel, but he didn’t keep any of them. He went after Philistine women in marriage (Judges 14), a huge no-no.  But the narrative says God was in that (v. 4).  Funny how God goes against His own rules sometimes?  Samson rips a lion apart.  Later, he finds the same carcass infested with bees.  He takes some honey from the lion husk and eats it.  Bad Samson!  Not supposed to touch dead things, but he does – twice.  The list goes on.  He fornicates with prostitues.  He has a raging temper (Judges 15).

And yet…

The final judgment comes in Judges 16 when he reveals his secret to Delilah and she shaves his head while he sleeps.  The Philistines capture him, put out his eyes and make him grind grain in the prison (16:21).  Ouch!  Samson becomes blind and a slave on the same day.

Here’s where I want to focus.  Verse 22 says:  But before long, his hair began to grow back.

What?!  Samson deserved NO more chances.  He was a pig-headed rageaholic with a fancy for foreign women.  How in the world could he be God’s anointed?  But God doesn’t go back on His word.

God granted Samson one last wish.  During a grand festival to the Philistine god Dagon, Samson emerges from the prison as a trophy to display Dagon’s prowess.  “Our god has delivered our enemy to us!  The one who killed so many of us now is in our power!” (v.24).

Samson prays one last prayer:  “Sovereign Lord, remember me again.  O God, please strengthen me just one more time.  With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes” (v.28).  Samson topples the temple by pushing down two supporting pillars.  He killed more people in his death than in his entire lifetime (v.30).

I ran outside this morning in the pre-dawn morning.  The hushed air, redolent of flowers, held the silence.  Not a breath stirred.  Expectancy filled the air.  I mused on how God’s mercies are new every morning for us.  The verses in Lamentations 3:23 accost me afresh:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I know in my own life sometimes I believe God no longer has sway.  I’ve been too foolish, made too many stupid mistakes.  He can’t possibly still have a great plan for my life.  But He does.  Samson is a testament to this.  His hair started to grow back.  You could argue that hair does that.  Fair enough.  But his hair was the one thing Samson obeyed God about.  He must’ve looked like a pre-Christ rock star.  God showed Himself faithful even back then to someone who certainly didn’t deserve it.  Who’s to say those same mercies don’t exist for me and you?  He is faithful and his mercies new every morning, for all of us.

Blue Skies

blue sky

I am imbibing  my second iced coffee of 2013.  Yay!   I opened both doors downstairs and  windows upstairs.  It’s *that* nice outside.  “Let the sun-shine in, let the sun-shine in…”.  From “Hair”.  Anyone recognize it?  No?  Eh.  Not the best musical and certainly one of the most offensive as far as song content goes.  Incidentally, my hair resembles driftwood today.  Highlighted driftwood, but still.  Sigh.

It is so very wonderful to have clear skies.  I feel a little crazy…

I am not a huge fan of REO Speedwagon.  In fact, their use of dipthongs and hard “r” sounds make me a little ill.  At least they can make fun of themselves.  Lord knows I do.  Incidentally, did the lead singer get a crick in his neck from having to stretch *up* to sing into the mic?  Just curious.

Maybe this song will be more to your liking.  This is one of my favorite movie scenes.

I never wanted to be a ballerina as a kid but this movie made me reconsider.

Why does sunshine make everything better?  Is it just the chemical boost of Vitamin D?  Is it that it’s golden, a coveted color, and it means we’ll see at least some blue sky, blue being a color most people find soothing and inviting?  How many songs have the words “blue skies” in them?  I can think of at least three right now.

Blue skies make us feel like everything is alright.  Sure, we have problems.  Yet give us a beautiful day and all those difficulties seem to fade into the background for a time.  We anticipate summer, and shorts and adventures and fun times ahead.  We start to dream a little.  It seems anything is possible while the sun smiles down on us.  We feel buoyant and optimistic.

I realize how fleeting this sunny weather is.  So, for today, despite a series of emotionally draining experiences, I am grateful. I am looking up, literally and figuratively.