Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hair, Part Two

See my previous blog entry to find out why I decided that if I ever had a daughter, I would never get between her and her hair.

The summer before her senior year in high school, my daughter dyed her hair hot pink and joined an all-girl rock band.

I figured if my kid wanted pink hair she could deal with the consequences. After all, she was the one who'd get all the stares and funny looks and stupid questions, not me. I tried to tell her that people pay a lot of money to have their hair dyed her natural shade of strawberry blonde but she wanted hot pink.

I remember trying to explain it to my mother...the one with all the Toni home perms and sponge rollers.... "You know, Mom...it's a good color for her!"

It was true. When I'd show up at the high school to pick my daughter up after school I saw other kids with wildly colored hair. Now and then I'd spot one and think "Oh, honey...that's the wrong shade of green for you!" But my daughter's pink hair looked really good with her skin tone.

I used to tell people, "She's always had a bright, shining personality. Now you just see it even more!"

My daughter liked all the stares and funny looks. She enjoys shaking things up, and I like that about her. I'm glad she doesn't settle for the ordinary, that she wants her life to be an expression of who she really is inside.

Besides, when a teenager is 5" 10" with hot pink hair, it makes her really easy to find in a crowded mall!

Oh, and about the all-girl band.... This was a group of her friends from school and she went to all their shows, knew all their songs (they're originals, with a couple of covers thrown in) and cheered them on as they won the local Battle of the High School Bands. She was also as disappointed as all their fans when their bass player quit the group. The remaining girls hoped they'd be able to find another friend to take her place and looked at Becky and said "It's a shame you don't play bass". She told them I'd taught her some bass runs on my guitar once. They said "You don't sing, do you?" She always sang in her church and school choirs in Texas before we moved to Maryland. So they gave her a tryout and she was in the band.

All she had to do was learn all the lyrics and vocals to all of their songs...oh, and learn to play the bass guitar parts, too. Good thing she had three whole months before their next show!

She did it.

Just like that.

Using a borrowed bass guitar.

Every evening she went to the home of one of her band-mates to their basement practice studio. We didn't see as much of her at home, but we always knew where she was and who she was with.

My assignment in all this was to serve as the band's official photographer and make publicity flyers for them. And to find her a hot pink bass to match her hair.

A little research told me that no hot-pink bass guitars were currently in production. (Daisy Rock Guitars has one now, though.) But I was sure that somebody back in the psychodelic '70's must have made one. So I took her to a guitar show, like a guitar flea market and sure enough...there it was. (I know in this picture, it looks more red than hot-pink, but trust me...it's the same color as her hair!)

My daughter's featured solo with the group was called "Datin' Satan".

Sounds appropriate for a good little Southern Baptist girl, huh?

For a couple of years, until the band fizzled and the girls went their separate ways, we had a wild ride! Pink Hair, rock bands and all!

I wouldn't trade it for anything!

Oh, and about the hair...it went back to her natural strawberry blond when she started managing a video game store while still in community college. The corporate world tends to frown on hot pink. So did the bank where she worked as a senior teller after that. You can spot her here, in the "Living Social Team" photo, still strawberry blonde...so far!

But here she is, my 17 year old pink-haired rockstar, singing "Datin' Satan"....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hair, Part One

When I was a little girl my mother was in charge of my hair. I couldn't care less what my hair looked like as long as it stayed out of my way when I was playing ball and climbing trees with my big brother and the other boys on the block.

I liked the pixie style best as it required only a little trim now and then, which was all I wanted to sit still for anyway. My hair was very thin back then and so blonde it was almost white. A friend of mine once said I had only 10 white hairs on my head and that wasn't much of an exaggeration. It was also very straight.

As I got a little older Mom let my hair grow. Apparently, all straight hair was supposed to be curly and a great deal of time and effort went toward that end. Pincurls gave way to brush rollers and a hair dryer that fit over my hair like a shower cap and inflated to at least three times the size of my head. That style of hair dryer afforded some freedom of movement as long as I didn't wander beyond the reach of the hose attached to the base unit. Later we got one with a fixed hood that you had to sit under like the hair dryers in salons.

My most vivid memories of hair styling in those days are of Toni home perms and hairspray. I learned that beauty must be accompanied by some degree of discomfort. The stench of the solutions that came with the Toni home perms are seared into my brain. I'm sure there must be some corellation between the use of hairsprays and the development of asthma and/or allergies later in life.

After standing still for what seemed like hours to an 8 year old, I would emerge from a cloud of hairspray... a vision of beauty... gulp in deep breaths of fresh air and go running outside with the echos of my mother's warning to not mess up my hair ringing in my ears.

When I was a teenager I let my hair grow out and it became thicker and began to turn darker blonde. My mom still did her best to keep it curled. But I often pulled it back in a pony tail to keep it out of my way, especially when playing softball for the girl's church league fast-pitch team. (Shortshop, if you were wondering....) I could satisfy my mother and the world of fashion by tying a ribbon around it or the thick, colorful yarn that was trendy at the time. Much better than a home perm or sleeping on sponge rollers. I would curl it now and then with hot rollers or a curling iron but my hair was so thick the weight of it would straighten out the curls pretty soon so why bother?

When I was in college I worked summers at a Baptist camp south of Dallas. I worked there five years in a row and looking back at the pictures taken then, you can see my hair getting a little shorter every year. It was just too hot and there were so many other things to do at camp than stand at a mirror with a blow dryer for as long as it took me to dry my thick hair. Shorter and layered was better. I started growing my hair out a couple of times after I got married, but always grew impatient with it and cut it again.

The problem was that during my second pregnancy my hair had developed some odd cowlicks and gotten a little wavy in places. I'd have it cut in a salon and it looked fine at first, but later I could see that it was cut unevenly because the stylist didn't know the way these odd cowlicks behaved. Once when my hair was in need of a trim I got really impatient and decided I could cut that long part myself, so I did. I discovered that it was much easier to keep it trimmed myself than to keep running back to the salon.

As I've gotten older I've simplified everything... hair, make-up, clothing. I find that the more time I spend looking at myself in a mirror in the morning, the more self-conscious I am about my appearance the rest of the day. I also don't want to end up like Aunt Gawdy, a little old lady with way too much make-up and hair dye. (That wasn't her real name, we just called her that because she was.)

So now I give you my two main philosophies of hair care:

1. Find out what your hair wants to do and get out of the way.

2. Never get between your daughter and her hair. (More about this next time!)

I know I won't be the most fashionable woman on the block. I just hope I grow old gracefully.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


"She's waking up, sir. We haven't told her anything yet."

These words have been rolling around in my head for the last day or so. It's the first thing I heard as I was waking up after the birth of my second daughter by emergency c-section.

I don't recall being alarmed by those words at the time. Obviously there was something I didn't know. Did I have a boy...or a girl...maybe a litter...? Somebody would have to fill me in.

Then I saw my husband's face and he said, "She's doing better. But she's a fighter."

He said "she". I had a daughter. I knew something wasn't quite right because he said "better"... not "fine". I didn't ask him for more details at the time. I knew if there was more he could have told me, he would have, and I drifted off in a drugged sleep again.

Later, I was to learn that something severed a vein during the delivery and she had lost about 80% of her blood. After 45 minutes of CPR, they finally got a pulse. The pediatrician who revived her took note of all the normal infant reflexes but said only time would tell if any lasting damage was done.

They brought her to my room briefly, just so I could get a look at her, before they took her to the NICU of a larger hospital across the highway. I didn't even ask if I could touch her because I was afraid they'd say no. I figured I could hold it together if I could just look at her, but felt like I'd fall apart if they said I couldn't touch her. So I just looked.

She was lying on her stomach and her face was turned toward me. Then she lifted her head up just a bit, with one eye closed...looked for all the world as though she was giving me a wink. Amazing moment.

We would visit her as she spent her first 11 days in the NICU. I would study her every movement and listen to her breathe. Her cry was like the sweetest music as she let the world know that she was here and demanded attention.

And in quiet moments alone, I silently wondered how long we would get to keep her. During the next few months as we fell into the new routine of her two hour feeding cycles and I learned to care for a newborn and a third-grader, I would watch for signs of something the doctors missed. Was she really okay? With every little sniffle or bellyache I'd wonder, "Is this that one thing the doctors forgot to check for...?"

That was almost eighteen years ago. She'll start her senior year of high school soon... a strong, smart, talented, beautiful young woman. And I am a very grateful mom.

I found myself reliving all the drama of her birth and her first few days with us this week when I found out that a family friend had a baby boy last Monday night. He appeared to be perfectly healthy, but a few days later, he stopped breathing and all attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. Please pray for these young parents and their extended family and friends as they try to cope with this devastating loss.

Life is precious.

Cherish it.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Simple Song

Driving home today I was flipping stations on the radio and stopped when I heard the Beatles, "Hey Jude". Beautiful song. Beautiful, simple melody, with lyrics that touch on universal themes. I can't help singing along. It never grows old.

That's what it takes to make a timeless song. A simple melody that carries you along and lyrics that touch your heart.

Take a sad song and make it better…

don’t be afraid…

let her into your heart…

begin to make it better.

A simple song about life.

The past couple of years I've seen soap operas resort to more and more stunts in order to grab the viewers attention and hope they'll stick around. Tornadoes, explosions, and train wrecks of the literal variety as opposed to the figurative kind where a show seems to be falling apart at the seams.

The latest trend seems to be to cast a well-known primetime or film actor for a limited story arc, which makes it difficult to truly invest in their character's story because the viewer knows they won't be sticking around for very long.

But all we want is a simple melody that touches the heart.

A simple story of






These are the elements of our everyday lives and we are pulled into the story as our favorite characters experience these things.

Consider the stories you remember as your favorites, the ones you're thinking of when you say "Why don't they write 'em like that anymore?".

A love lost ... forgiveness granted ...love regained. A family shattered by mistrust comes together in a time of crisis, forgives, and is restored. Despair slowly gives way to faith and hope and reaches out to grant it to another. Uncertainty and fear seek answers and explanations, discovering those who are always there to offer support whether those answers are ever found or not.

This is life. These things can be found at the root of every successful soap story and every memorable character. The rest is just window dressing.

I wish soaps would be more concerned with the stories and pay less attention to the drapes.