Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Malleable Mane

I was recently taken to task a couple posts back when I talked about all sorts of change in my life over the last 12 years. "Not once," he said, "did you mention all your different hairstyles." Believe you me, my friends, some of them were shocking indeed.

So, in light of this terribly overlooked issue, this post is dedicated to William. Thanks for pointing this out.

I had long hair until I was 15 years old. It was my mom's pride and joy.

Even at this young age, 5 minutes post-womb, I had long hair. (And no, I am not part Eskimo.)

Here's my mom, trying to braid my hair for the day. I think I'm 3 or 4 here and it's down to my waist. She also had 2 other kids at this time, under the age of 4. Why she didn't cut it, I don't know. Masochist.

Couple more cute kid, long hair pictures. Enjoy 'em while you can.

The long hair continued into my tween years, although I started experimenting a little bit here and there.

As a child of the late eighties and early nineties, I was so excited to get my first spiral perm. Unfortunately, I seem to have burned all my big "wave-bang" pictures from the same time period.

As high school started, I stayed innocent for the first year or so. Yes, freshmen really are fresh meat. Long hair still abounds. (God, how boring was I???)

Okay, now things get interesting.

Every kid goes through a period, usually high school, where they want to set themselves apart from the rest of their peers. In the early 80's, it was safety pins and punk rock, the 70's had their "who has the biggest bells on their bell bottoms", and now there are those rebellious teenaged guys who grow their hair out long and share skinny jeans with their girlfriends. For me, it was my hair.

Why hair? Because if it turned out bad, I could always grow it back out. To me, it was a temporary way to make a statement. (Although what statement is made with pink hair, I don't know.) Others were shocked as they pictured their own perfect coiffes in funky colors or sheared off. It just wasn't important to me to keep up that appearance.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I asked my mom to make the ultimate sacrifice - cut my hair. She wouldn't do it at first. This is the woman who took care of it when I was a little kid, dragging my pigtails through the mud and the muck of the Alaskan wilderness, curled it before every school dance, combed out the tangles after my bath, and sat for hours with the hair dryer and brush to straighten it. The hardest thing for her was remembering how in the 3rd grade, our whole class got headlice from one of our classmates and instead of cutting off my locks, she sat for hours and combed it all out with one of those teeny little fine-toothed combs. (Even today, she brings that one up.) But finally, I convinced her to do it.

The before shot, for posterity. The during shot to show my anxiety (look at how my fists are balled up. I ended up plugging my ears too.).

This Final picture is to show the big Texas hair.

It took me a while to get ahold of the short hair thing. But then I was off and running!

A little bit shorter now...

My folks called me Gina Lollobrigida.

GI Jane


And then there were all the colors: Burgundy, pink, red and...

Punky Colors: Blue (and you thought mullets were never hot) and my quest to be a platinum blonde.

So there you have it. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

And for those of you who are worried you won't be able to introduce me to dear ole mom, so far my hair is dark brown and wavy, just as Allah/God/Flying Spaghetti Monster/Mother Nature intended.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bits and bobs and summer rain

I drove to work this morning with the driver's side car window rolled all the way down. Somehow, even the exhaust from my stop and go rush hour traffic tango smelled better. Wet smog smells better than dry smog? Who knew? I didn't get very wet since the rain was more "spit" than shower, but that smell puts a smile on my face every time. (The rain part, not the smog part.)

Less than 3 weeks until I take leave of sultry San Diego and hightail it up to P-town. Can't wait. Of course it's only temporary, as I have to come back home after a week and a half. But still... my cousins and I are scheming every which way how to maximize the fun in this trip. I bought my camera last year in time for that Portland vacation - I can only wonder at what difference a year will have wrought in my photographs this time around.

I'm going car shopping today. Ugh. The new car part, that's okay. But the whole haggling with car salesmen. On top of that, the car-buying process for someone with sketchy credit is even worse than the usual rigamorole. I'll have butterflies (not the good kind) in my stomach all afternoon.

I've finally decided to stop procrastinating on my website upgrade while all the cool media jobs pass me by. I finally settled on a domain name and registered it this week. Then I went into my old site and in one fell swoop, deleted every single page. I've slowly started to build it back up again - put in a few links and the bare bones of my photography gallery. It'll probably take about a month or so, but seeing it develop is so exciting.

One final note - I joined a book group. Last night was the first meeting I was able to attend and I was nervous. I kept trying to picture myself back in Schaffer's class and how much I enjoyed discussing the texts we read, but that was 10 years ago and it's not like academia has been a huge aspect of my life in the past several years. But as the discussion started, I found myself being drawn in and soon I was posing questions and trying to understand the significance of the underlying themes with the best of them. It was so refreshing, being able to sit in a coffeeshop with a group of 20/30- something like-minded people. The conversation was intelligent and the wit was sharp. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and as I drove home, I was aware of a sense of posession. This was an activity that was mine and not something I wanted to share with my partner. There are so many things we do together, but this one... this one I want to claim for my own. Is that wrong? Anyway, if anyone has any book suggestions for the next read (Thom, I'm looking at you), please let me know, as we're supposed to vote on the next one by Friday. (To give you an example of the kinds of stuff we read, the last book was Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. And if you're interested in joining, I can send details.)

Enjoy the rain!!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Map of my life

Although I grew up in a fairly religious environment, none of it really seemed to stick. My brothers and parents are all firmly on the Mormon bandwagon while I do my own thing. At family gatherings, we steer clear of politics and religion lest I end up on the losing side of a "them vs. me" kind of battle. So you can imagine their reaction when, at 19 or 20, I told them I was interested in getting a tattoo someday. (I think at the time, my dad - mostly jokingly - tackled me and pinned me on the ground and threatened to take a pink pearl eraser to my skin if I got one.)

Over the years, I searched for that perfect design. I wanted it to reflect me, an experience of my life, a facet of my personality. For a long time, I wanted a sea turtle. And then a sketch from one of the Gryphon and Sabine books. For some reason, I kept putting it off - perfection is so elusive. And after years of hearing people - my peers even, say, "Can you live with that forever? Do you know what that will look like when you're 60?", I became a little intimidated. But when my life went through some serious upheaval, I really thought about the reasons I wanted one. And I decided I could answer yes. I didn't want one to keep up with a trend or because all of my friends had one. It was because I wanted to remember.

I've always had a mediocre memory. I can't remember what I did last weekend or what I had for breakfast that morning. I can't remember what type of deodorant I buy at the store, even though I've used the same brand for over 8 years. I love my camera phone because it makes it easy to bring along with me the exact picture of what I want, just so I won't second guess myself when I get there. I write and I photograph because I want to remember. So why wouldn't I want to remember those big, life-changing events in such an intimate way? I once heard someone describe their tattoos as a roadmap of their life - what they had been through and even sometimes, when they had done it. All these years later, that idealogy stuck with me.

A close friend told me about a tattoo artist she was dating and I stopped thinking/overanalyzing/being scared and I went in to check out his portfolio and see what he could do for me. I went in wanting a bird design and he worked with me and sketched out a few things before I picked out the one I liked. He reworked the sketch over the next week and when I came back in, it had gone from rough draft to final and was in full color. I loved it.

Nothing can really prepare you for an experience like this - you just have to do it. Sure there are things that hurt and can probably help you gauge what your tolerance for pain is: a piercing, a brazilian bikini wax, childbirth. But until you actually have someone put ink into your flesh with a needle, it's really hard to empathize with someone who's done it.

I went into the shop and my artist got me prepped. I was scrubbed down and shaved, like I was being taken into surgery. When I get nervous, I get quiet. I get cold and clammy and sweaty. I make sarcastic jokes, but don't smile. I was glad a friend was there - I definitely appreciated the moral support. Mike came about 1/2 of the way through. The outline was the worst. Egads. But when he started on the color, it was too light, not the vibrant, bright blue we had talked about. He switched to a better blue, but warned me it would probably need to be touched up in a few weeks. After that, there were no more problems.

Mando, My artist

The first cut - Yeow!

Halfway there!

About 3 hours after I first sat down in the chair and felt that sharp sting of the outline begin, I was done. I was pleased with the outcome. I was ready to be done. But I also realized, it was something I could do again.

I'm already working on my next design.