Hair Today

It's the back of Shakira's head!

It’s the back of Shakira’s head!

Mom and I were at the mall earlier today so I could spend some Christmas money.  We stopped at Subway for lunch.

“Excuse me, is your hair naturally curly or is it a perm?”

I almost never get asked this since straight hair took over the world somewhere around 1990.  The only people who seem to like my hair on a regular basis are Jonathon and my mom.  And they *have* to, since one lives with me and the other is related to me.

“Uh,” I stumbled a bit, put off by the question. “It’s natural.”  In the back of my mind played the scene with my ex-boyfriend and I walking the campus at Bethany and him asking if I did something different with my hair that day.  No, I said.  It’s just different every day because naturally curly hair does whatever the heck it wants.  End of story.  At the time, I remember thinking, Why do you care?  I suppose I should’ve been flattered he even noticed.

“Oh, it’s beautiful! It looks really good,” the older lady with completely white hair said.  I thanked her.  You never know from day-to-day.  It’s a crapshoot, based on humidity, diet, mood, pixie dust, the planets aligning…

“My hair used to be curly, too”, she confided.  “All of a sudden, it’s straight.  I don’t know what to do with it!” she lamented.

I felt her pain.  I told her my hair did that, too, when I cut all the fat out of my diet back in my 20s.  It laid on my head like a dead thing. I went to one of those fast hair places to get something done to it.  Somehow, the English-challenged  hairstylist left me with with an asymmetrical shag.   The subsequent uber short hairdo was only after I went to a beauty college, in tears, asking them to “fix it!” The only hairstyle option left to me was the lackluster bowl, my hair had been so gnawed off.  Not my finest hour.

The lady and I chatted for a few more minutes while I purchased my lunch.  I was struck anew with just how darn friendly people are out here.  Everyone’s so…nice.  Even after 6 years, it still throws me.

The woman decided she wanted to get a perm.  She missed her waves and ringlets.

My mom and I talk about her hair pretty much every time she visits.  I talk about my hair a bit, too; it’s part of our unstated “subjects we must cover”, like a State of the Union address.  Women are so connected to their hair.  Maybe it sounds shallow, but it’s true.  If you’re having a good hair day, everything is is just a *teensy* bit easier to bear. Kids complaining, no parking places at the store, jeans a little too tight today?  No worries:  you’ve got Amazing Hair! It’s like a superpower. Can I explain it to my men friends?  Nooo.  Just take my word for it. The day I got laid off from Harmony Hill was a good hair day.  It made it that much easier to stomach the end of my job.

I know of people whose hair changed texture after childbirth or chemotherapy.  So far, mine has been stubbornly consistent. I don’t know what I would do if my hair suddenly became straight. I think I would miss the unpredictability of this capricious, permanently attached accessory. Your hair becomes a part of you, for better or worse.  There’s a certain beauty to wild things.  Wild hair can’t be broken.

Eve of Christmas

I am very, very tired.  And excited.  And busy.  I am drinking another cup of coffee as I type this.

It’s Christmas Eve.  Just about everyone has something to do today.  I did notice that my bank is closed.  Guess they don’t have much to do there.

Yesterday afternoon after church, we drove down to Oregon to visit my stepmom’s family.  We haven’t been together since Ruby was a baby, probably about a year old.  She’s 7 now and Zac is 13.  My step-uncle’s wife died back in September.  She was a feisty, funny lady, and short like me.  She will be missed.  It seemed a good time to get together again and circle the wagons, get caught up on each other’s lives.  There were a LOT of little girls, ranging in age from 2 to 11.  My brother’s boys, 1 and 3, joined in the merriment.  Zac was at the other end of the spectrum.  He filled the testosterone void of boys his age by playing on his iPhone.  We ate food and talked and laughed.  I feel a little sad that I only met everyone when I was 13, and Dad married Patty.  I wished I’d grown up knowing my uncles better.

Because I was so tired, I did manage to put my foot in my mouth most handily a couple of times .  Uncle Mike, who is only a handful of years older than I am, made sure I didn’t forget it.  At least it was a great laugh, even if it was at my expense.  Then, mercifully, we drove back home.

I managed to do food shopping today, if you can believe that.  I saw two friends at the store; we chatted briefly.  We are now stocked up.  Shelton has a winter storm warning on, starting early tomorrow morning.  Now, the warning I got on my phone last night said we were in for 5-10 inches.  What it failed to mention is that the snow level will lower to 500 feet.

Our house is at an elevation of 23 feet.  Yeah.  I wonder if we’ll get any snow.

I got up before everyone else this morning to sneak a short run in.  I want to honor my commitment to run a mile every day until New Year’s.  I peeked outside at the pre-dawn morning. It was dry.  Sure, the sidewalks and streets and ground was damp.  But no precipitation fell from the sky. Up here, a dry day is a good day.  Nobody will wear shorts (except Zac), mind you, but people will celebrate in small ways, like walking instead of driving around town. I left my music at home and packed only myself and my watch out into the neighborhood.

The air hovered just above freezing.  It was very quiet, like a holy hush froze the air.  Christmas lights illuminated several houses, glowing like jewels in the early morning.  No two were the same.  As the time clicked past 7 a.m., the sky started to lighten in the east.  Loose-fitting clouds revealed the morning.  Suddenly, I could see.  I wondered if the morning Jesus was born was like this:  so very dark, and then suddenly – light!  I’d been so caught up in the joyful busy-ness of the Christmas program at church and logistics, baking, cards, cleaning, and on and on that I lost sight of the miracle of morning and  a new day.

I find myself thinking about the year that’s almost gone and just being grateful. I truly love living here in this place.  I still have so, so much to do.  I know all my readers who are parents – also some non-parents – can relate to this.  Yet for this moment, the calm before the storm – possibly literally – there is peace.

Goodwill to Men

Goodwill

I started out the day with several friends weighing heavily on my mind.  So many prayer requests – for healing, jobs, finances, houses – sometimes all three.  It sat heavily on my shoulders.  I want everyone to be happy!  I want all the needs to be met.  As I ran today out under an overcast sky that resembled a rumpled gray bedspread, I brought these to mind and lifted them to the Father.  He has all those special people in the palm of His hand.

I went to Goodwill.  Not because it’ my spiritual hub, but I needed to do some Christmas shopping.  I also had an exchange card I needed to use.  See, the backstory is that Zac needed new pants. He’d grown again and was concerned about it.  I took him with me to Goodwill last month, hoping to find a couple of pairs that could tide him over for a while.  We found some that he liked.  As he is wont to do, he did not try the jeans on.  Did I mention they were full price, with ALL the tags still on?  Yeah.  So, not cheap, but slightly less than department store prices.  Lo and behold, we got home and he tried them on.  They did not fit, he said.  “Too baggy”.  Goodwill does not give cash refunds anymore, but exchange cards, like gift cards, only with money you already spent.  Surprise!  I should also mention at this juncture that I on Cyber Monday, I ordered the correct size and style online from the place we originally purchased said jeans. Got them in the mail last week.  This time, the texture was wrong, somewhere between a twill and a denim, a sort of striped effect.  Not cool.

“Don’t you want to keep at least one pair?” I queried hopefully. “I mean, to break up the monotony?”

“Well”, he stated matter-of-factly, “I won’t wear them.  Why keep them?”

Sigh.  Point taken.

At this point, he can 1) Go with me to the store, 2) Try on the very specific style of jean, and 3) wait until the first of the year.  But I digress.

As is usually the case, I did not find what I went in for.  But I did see a friend and she showed me her items.  Toys were 40% off.  Pink tag clothing items were 50% off.  Not that I picked any up, mind you, but if I were colorblind…Wait.  Would that work?

I found a pair of pants for Jonathon.  I found a shirt for Zac, like new.  I found a shirt for me and shoes.  Shoes!  I rarely acquire new shoes at thrift stores.  Too skeevy and I have small feet.  But I have been wanting something very specific, a shoe that when new runs around $90+.  My feet take a beating when I run and I wanted something with some support that didn’t resemble running shoes.  I wanted something with a little style.  There they were, in my size.  They’re not super flashy, but I like them.  They also make  me taller. I am reminded again that He cares about the little things.  Won’t he also much more take care of the big ones?

Friday Filibuster

I see our trusty mail truck tooling down our street.  I start to remember the postal service motto:  Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, penned on the James Farley post office in New York.  Our mail carrier is very dependalbe, if a bit crochety.  I’m sure I owuld be also, given the circumstances.  Perhaps to avoid hydroplaning, his truck has an outboard motor, too?

And boy, have we had rain.  Not just watering the earth through a gentle shower.  It’s been full on, downpour, Get the ark out, Myrtle rain. So far this month, we’ve gotten over 10 inches of rain.  We’re getting close to the 50 inch mark for 2012.  And we still have another month to go!

Ruby has more homework than Zac.  She receives a packet to take home every Tuesday, to be returned by the following Monday.  Inside the folder might be anywhere from 8-10 sheets of paper, from handwriting drills (the letter “v” over and over) to pages of single-digit addition.  She’s a bit overwhelmed.  Zac has homework every night, true, but it’s usually only a handful of algebra problems, not pages and pages of stuff.  Ruby’s lament of “I already know how to do this!  Why do I have to keep doing it?” sounds very familiar.

I am starting my run-at-least-one-mile-every-day-until-New-Year’s streak.  Today was day 2.  The longer I ran this morning, the harder it rained.  And being I ran outside predawn, I kept hitting invisible puddles.  Well, not so invisible once my feet found them.  Only 40-something more days to go.  Woo hoo!

Yes, I am actively avoiding Black Friday as well as drowning.  Ever shopped at the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving? “Where’s the canned pumpkin?”  That’s about as much group panic as I can stand.  People get testy with those wheeled metal cages.  You’re not going to see the best of humanity today.  Nuh-uh.  It’s going to be ugly.  Naked greed will drive a lot of folks.  I don’t need lotion/clothes/electronics/toys enough to elbow my neighbor in the groin to get them.  Besides, I’m still figuring out what to get people. I want to enjoy that process of thinking and dreaming and getting inspired.  I might even make some gifts (not knitting).  I don’t want to rush to the checkout line like a rabid middle-aged dog.

This year, I plan to dodge feeling like the holidays are filled with obligations.  As a parent, I feel the pressure to supply “good” gifts, not sweat socks.  I feel the impetus to provide meaningful spiritual experiences for my children.  And I want to enjoy as much time as possible together as a nuclear and extended family.  But as Christmas 2012 draws every closer, I’m reminded that I’m not in control – at all.  Instead, I find it a good time to savor the season, the rituals and traditions, as well as the unexpected, that inevitably arises. I can answer questions and provided explanations. I can point the way to the birth of the Savior.  God will have to supply the meaning.

School Supplies

This afternoon, I bought the kids their back-to-school supplies.  It was me and several other moms – plus one dad – cruising the aisles. We wandered up one and down another, checking, inspecting and selecting. Some of the things were quite picked over.  I found no protractors and the glue sticks had been mangled out of their packaging, orphaned in the bin.

It’s a lot easier to complete your shopping when the hordes do not accompany you.

I really like this time of year.  Not because I’m getting rid of the kids so they can continue their education, but a new school year always seems shiny and full of possibilities.  Okay, a little time apart might help our hearts grow fonder.

A bit of the shine got rubbed off when I looked at Ruby’s school supply list.  Clorox wipes?  Twelve glue sticks?! Is that one for every month of the year?  “Now featuring the February glue-stick-of-the-month, Elmer!” It occurred to me that the supplies for her first grade class were coming from me and every other parent. Despite being a haven for celebrating your uniqueness, the supply list left almost nothing to personalize.  Knowing Ruby, though, she will take on that all-important task with gusto. Glitter pens, anyone?

 Zac’s items were more straightforward. Thankfully, his grandma hooked him up with a cool binder which included a protractor. Score!Pencils, college-ruled paper (wide-ruled is for babies), pens, binder, and something new – highlighters.   By junior high, you are no longer part of the collective. You are an individual. Your sundries are for your use alone. However, you aren’t as special or wonderful as you were in kindergarten, in part because you’re taller and maybe your voice is changing or you’re…sprouting; your uniqueness is punished in the form of taunting and shunning, sometimes in equal measure. 

Zac has managed to dodge most of the adolescent angst so far.  He  is putting his notebook and supplies together as I write this. He wandered out a few minutes ago, stating he hopes to be in algebra this year, then he disappeared again. He’s jolly but restrained.  He’s getting excited about starting 8th grade at the junior high.  He’s got to turn in homework this year.  It’s part of his grade now.  In the last few weeks, he’s grown up a little, settled into his skin and hunkered down a bit. Last year, there was zero anticipation.  But he knew what to expect, which gave him confidence.  It’s a continual trade-off.

Ruby is happy to see her friends again and meet her new instructors for Spanish and English. She’s looking forward to new shoes more than new crayons.

And me?  I didn’t spend a ton of money but got all I need, plus some inspiration not stocked on any shelf.  Let the new school year begin!