White Girl Weave

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hair_weft_blondeAbout 10 years ago, I got myself a weave. Not extensions – a weave. The difference is subtle, I’ll admit. This was around the time that celebrities were finally coming out of the beauty closet and admitting that those luscious, flowing locks we all envied didn’t belong to them – at least not until they were bought and paid for. Hair extensions have come a long way in the last decade, but my weave was old school.

At the time, I hadn’t had long hair since high school. I tried to grow it out, but I kept getting impatient and chopping it off before it passed my shoulders. I was discussing my hair woes with a black, female coworker when she piped up with a solution. “The woman who does my hair has a white customer whose hair she does! Do you want her number? She’ll hook you up.” Aisha had a different hairstyle every month, and she always looked good. Her hairstylist had experience doing weaves on white girl hair. Sounded good to me.

I called the salon and spoke with Aisha’s stylist. I felt a little awkward. “Uh, I’m a friend of Aisha’s. I’m interested in getting a weave – sewn in but loose. She said you could do, uh, white girl hair?” If it sounds like I’m making a big fuss over the black/white issue, it’s not that I’m a flaming racist. No, really. The fact of the matter is, I have the finest, straightest, blonde hair imaginable. To a hairstylist who is used to working with thick, textured hair that braids easily and holds a style, my showing up unannounced with this hair would be like bringing my vagina to a circle jerk. I didn’t want her to have a “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?” moment.

The hairstylist, whose name I cannot remember, but may have been Cassandra, assured me that she was up to the task. She gave me my instructions for buying my hair at the nearby Bags O’ Hair shop and bringing it with me to my appointment. We were both very excited. Okay, maybe just me.

On the day of my appointment, I walked into the salon, and I’m pretty sure I heard the needle skip and scratch across the record as everybody’s head turned to look at Blondie entering the salon. (The movie Beauty Shop hadn’t come out yet, so I was breaking relatively new ground here.) After a pregnant pause, everybody resumed their business, and my (yet unattached) hair and I made our way to the chair.

Cassandra was friendly and we chatted a bit about how I wanted my hair to look. Then what would become a nearly three hour process began. For those of you not familiar with a sewn-in weave, I’ll explain. My loose hair was parted across in sections, with the first part being from ear to ear. Then Cassandra braided a tiny cornrow braid (snug to the scalp) along that part. This is where my hair first started being fussy.

(Actually, here is a video that shows exactly what I’m talking about, except that these weaves are MUCH better than what I got.)

My hair is so slippery that the braid kept falling out; it just wouldn’t hold. No problem – Cassandra improvised. She took some kinky black hair weave from some secret hair stash she had lying around, I’m hoping not from the last customer or the floor, and braided it into my hair to give it the necessary texture. Since this part wouldn’t show anyway, it didn’t matter that the color of my cornrow was now a mixture of blonde and black. (See, this is where experience comes into play.)

After all my undercover cornrows were in place, it was time for the hair to go in. (This is where things went awry, but I wouldn’t realize it until later.) I had purchased two bags of hair at Cassandra’s instruction. The hair comes in pieces called wefts; loose hair attached to a strip across the top to hold it together. The wefts are then sewn into the cornrows with a needle and thread. You heard me right. That’s why those braids need to be tight as hell so you don’t have a floppy weave that smacks people in the face when you’re headbanging at Slayer concerts or whatever we white girls are supposed to do with our newly minted long hair.

Our ebony and ivory weave party drew a little attention now and then. One of the barbers in the salon seemed to approve, I think. At first he was perplexed: “I didn’t know white girls could get weaves.” Then as the process progressed, he praised Cassandra: “You are hooking that white girl up!”

Here’s the thing: I think that Cassandra’s other sole white client was a stripper. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the ungodly amount of hair that sweet woman put into my head. I felt like I was wearing a football helmet. I later realized she had doubled up the wefts before she sewed them in, essentially putting double layers of hair at every part. I mean, I was all hair. I don’t know how I didn’t tip over.

When she was finally finished, my head ached, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the results. My head was the size of Rosie O’Donnell’s with long blonde hair hanging from it. After I styled it with a curling iron, it looked pretty, in a Pamela Anderson way. I had to try not to wash it too often because when I did, the hair (despite being high quality human hair, or so I was told) looked and shed like a wet Cocker Spaniel. Also, because I had approximately 17 pounds of it, the layers of hair underneath never, ever dried completely. During the short time I had “the hair” I missed a friend’s wedding because I couldn’t get my hair ready in the two hours I had allotted for myself. It was like having a kid, but I couldn’t get my hair a babysitter.

Less than two weeks after getting my new hair, I sat down in front of my husband (then boyfriend) Bryan while he was watching TV, handed him the scissors, and asked him to cut out my weave. In less than ten minutes, my $250 stripper hair was no more. Incidentally, I like to think that little experience of Bryan taking out my weave brought us closer, mostly since there was no longer an 18-inch-thick wall of anonymous Indian lady hair between us.

I learned something from this experience. There is only so much I will do for beauty. The things that are too painful are usually not worth it anyway. (Maybe someday I’ll write about my Brazilian bikini wax, but I don’t think my readers or I am ready for that yet.)

 

Dating in the Digital Age

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red-phone1I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am that I am not part of the current dating scene. This is not just because the idea of someone besides my husband seeing my 38 year old naked body immediately sends me into a cold sweat. (Or maybe I’m just pre-menopausal?) No, it’s because dating today involves modern “conveniences” guaranteed to turn what is already an impossible challenge to find everlasting love into a veritable minefield where you must tread carefully in order to avoid miscommunications, bruised egos, and blistered genitalia.

My husband, Bryan, and I met in 1999. That’s right – we started dating right before the turn of the century. We didn’t have cell phones; those were still pretty much reserved for corporate executives and drug dealers. Bryan did carry a pager, though. He’s an engineer, and in the beginning of our relationship he was often “on call” at the manufacturing plant where he worked. On one of our first dates, we were walking through the park when Bryan was paged. We had to stop what we were doing in order to find a pay phone. Suddenly, this guy I was with seemed very important, and I was quite impressed. (It really didn’t take much to impress a girl back in the 90’s. Or maybe it was just me.)

I don’t think young people today can grasp what it was like to not have a phone with you at all times. In my early 20’s, my girlfriends and I would go out to the bar and have a good time, but then what? At the end of the night, if I wanted to see a “special friend”, there was only one option: the pay phone in the bar lobby. Here’s the thing: in my day, if you wanted to make a booty call, it was going to cost you $0.35. You had better think long and hard about whom your first choice was, the chances of him being home, and count up how much spare change you had on you. This couldn’t be a capricious decision. If you reached an answering machine, you weren’t getting your money back. And let’s be honest here – a collect booty call isn’t sexy.

The best thing about not having to deal with cell phones while dating was that I didn’t have to deal with text messages. Text messages! Oh, the humanity! Text messages are destroying us all. “What does he mean by that?” “I texted him, ‘What’s up’ and it’s been 32 minutes and he hasn’t responded. What does that mean?” “OMG, IDK, LOL, CU L8R!” It all makes me head explode. Don’t even get me started on the naked pictures. Are you people fucking crazy? You know that shit is going to end up online, right? In my day, we had Polaroid cameras. To my knowledge, they were invented for the express purpose of taking naked pictures and this was all they were ever used for. You can Google it.

Once you’ve navigated the murky waters of dating via text messaging, don’t forget to update your Facebook status! “We’ve been dating for a month and his Facebook status still says, ‘single’. WTF?” “I see you’ve changed your Facebook status to ‘It’s complicated’ – is there something you want to tell me?” For fuck’s sake. How about if we don’t use a social platform invented by someone with no social skills to communicate our feelings to each other? Or you could follow in the footsteps of the broken-hearted and use Facebook as a means for contacting your old high school girlfriend, relive your nostalgic fantasies and be surprised when your marriage disintegrates. Yay, technology!

As I’ve said before, I’m not a technophobe. I have a smartphone. I haven’t had a landline since 2002. I’m just glad I didn’t have to try and navigate my fragile 20’s or God forbid, my teen years, using one. You know what I feel worst about kids missing out on as they grow up, as far as cell phones are concerned? I think one of the quintessential rites of adulthood is when you get your own apartment for the first time, and the phone book arrives, and you get to look yourself up and see yourself listed. That is one of the first things that made me feel like an adult. Maybe that’s why these little Millennials are having a hard time growing up; they don’t get to have these little experiences.

Well, one thing hasn’t changed since I was young and still dating: you still need to wear a rubber when you carry out that (now free) booty call. So get yourself to the pharmacy, kids. As far as I know, there is NOT an app for that. (Yet.)

What’s That Noise?

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records1I know I’m officially getting old because I don’t understand this fucking music that kids listen to today. I realize that every generation says this about the following generation’s music; it’s practically a rite of passage into adulthood to hate your children’s music. (I don’t have children, but I’ve seen kids around, or whatever. And I have a radio.)

Here’s the thing: I’m not disgusted with these kids’ musical idols because they’re too vulgar or too loud – quite the opposite. Saccharine pop stars like Justin Bieber and One Direction are so flaccid and cheerfully nonthreatening they make me want to…well, I’d like to say they make me want to scream, but I can’t work up the energy to care that much. I guess they make me want to take a nap. When I heard that “The Biebs” was caught smoking pot, I thought with a yawn, “Well, that’s a start, but call me when you find him passed out with a needle buried in his arm a la Nikki Sixx.” Maybe then he’ll make a decent record. Nikki used to chase the dragon in a backstage bathroom and then light his leather pants on fire. That’s a rock star. I don’t know what Justin Bieber and his hair are doing before a show. Reading the bible? Finger-banging Selena Gomez? Annoying the fuck out of me just by existing? I’ll tell you one thing though: His dad is kind of hot.

I started getting into music in sixth grade. My first few albums were: Licensed to Ill (Beastie Boys), BAD (LL Cool J), Slippery When Wet (Bon Jovi), and What the Cat Dragged In (Poison). That was back in the cassette days of course, but I still have the first two on CD and they’re in my car right now. I remember when Appetite for Destruction came out in seventh grade. It was exciting. Guns N’ Roses felt like something new and different and…dangerous. (Speaking of dangerous, if you want to see something truly frightening, look at a current picture of Axl Rose. Plastic surgery is hazardous to your rock cred, dude.)

My parents hated my music because it was rude, I played it too loud, and my dad thought that Poison, based on the album cover, were a bunch of “ugly women”. (Maybe Poison and Bieber have something in common after all.) The point is, bubblegum popstars don’t scare anyone. (Unless we’re talking about Britney Spears during her bald, umbrella-wielding period.) If you turn this Millennial dreck up too loud it just makes the autotune that much more obvious.

Come on, kids. Give me something worthy of my disapproval. Is that too much to ask?

The Writing’s on the Wall

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pencilI work for a company that provides “educational services”. (My boss says that is as specific as I can be without getting sued.) In my line of work, I come into contact with the written work of students of various grade levels and abilities.

If there is one thing that haunts me endlessly about my work, besides the state of public education in this country and the fact that the children are our future and we aren’t necessarily teaching them well so they can lead the way (RIP Whitney Houston), it’s the ridiculously bad handwriting I see on a continual basis.

Their fucking handwriting! Christ. Some of them look like they wrote with their feet. Seeing as how I spent my first three years of college as a psychology major, I feel pretty comfortable making broad, sweeping generalizations about children based solely on their handwriting. Here are a few types:

  • Teeny Tiny Printing: Some of these kids can fit 50 words on a single line. I swear they can hand-print in a size 6 font. I don’t know how often these children’s helicopter parents (Dr. and Mrs. Teeny Tiny Printing) are making them rewrite their homework, but these kids must only have one bowel movement per month, that’s how anal retentive they are. Don’t get me wrong – these kids generally write pretty well, but damn. I’m 38 years old and on the verge of needing bifocals. Give me a break, kid.
  • Fat Loopy Cursive with Hearts Over the I’s: These girls don’t generally knock it out of the park academically. I’m sure they are popular, have their own credit cards and drive a Volkswagen Beetle, but they aren’t going to change the world. They will do an excellent job decorating it.
  • Doctor Scrawl: I don’t know if these particular kids will ever actually make it to medical school, but their careless, “I can’t be bothered” handwriting has me convinced that these entitled average-achievers already possess one of the personality traits necessary to sustain a thriving private practice: they don’t mind inconveniencing others.
  • Serial Killer Handwriting: The stuff written in this hand is either terrible or fucking brilliant. The pages look like ransom notes: the letters vary in size and sometimes the pencil presses so hard against the paper it’s amazing it didn’t tear. You never know what kind of manifesto this crazy bastard is going to turn out when you start reading this mess. These are my favorite.

Although those are the main types, sometimes I get bored, like today, and I have to invent games to keep myself entertained. I came across something unusual that sparked my imagination, hence:

  • Secret Encoded Message Writing: This occurs when, due to the student’s hand or a computer glitch, random words appear several times darker than the surrounding text. It might look like this.

In my post-afternoon-break haze, I decided that the student was trying to send me a secret message. I tried reading just the darkened words, but they didn’t make any sense. Damn. I thought about rearranging the words and trying again. (Hey, what do I know? Maybe they didn’t want to make their secret code too obvious.) Instead, I just let it go. I was ready to move on, but that was a fun 30 second diversion. I can’t wait for the next one.

If you’ve recognized yourself in any of these psychological profiles, you’re welcome. This is the first step. I’m sure if you “Google” or check WebMD or something, they’ll have some answers for you that will get your life right back on track. Or maybe you can just type everything from now on.

Disclaimer: When it comes to talking about children, schools, and education, it can sometimes be an “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry” situation. I take my job seriously, and I’m awesome at it. I joke because I care.