A Frivolous Post: My Haircut

This is a post about hair. This is a frivolous post.

Ok, with that out of the way… When I was a kid I had long, straight hair. It went down to about the middle of my back and stayed there for years. My hair is thick, and there were tangles, braids, and combing, combing, combing. When I was 14 years old we were living in England, and I went to get my hair cut by myself for the first time (I’m pretty sure it was the first time.) When I walked in the door my mother gasped. The shock was apparent in her rounded mouth, bugging eyes, and general horror-movie body language. (Ok, I might be exaggerating, a bit.)

I had bangs.

That was the last radical thing I did with my hair until I was a junior in high school, at which point I cut it off, down to about an inch and a half of length. That was another kind of shock. I discovered the feeling of rain running past my hair and down onto my face. I realized that I’d been using about a gallon of shampoo every time I washed my hair. I found that I didn’t really need a comb any more.

Then I grew it out again. My hair grows pretty quickly, and by the time I was a junior in college it was just about back to the length it had been. First I dyed it. The stylist wasn’t able to convince me not to dye it jet black. After all, that had been my mother’s color before the advent of gray. My eyebrows are black. Black would be fine! So it was really dark and really obvious. But I was a freshman in college, so no big deal.

Then I decided to cut it again. I was simultaneously amused and outraged by the outpouring of sentiment on the part of my male friends, who all vehemently insisted that I should do no such thing. So I came back from spring break with it super short again. People seeing me in the lounge or computer room would come over and touch it, after they’re figured out that they actually knew me.

Over the years it’s been all sorts of lengths. The one thing that never changed was the part straight down the middle of my head. Every time I tried, with the urging of stylist, my sister, or anyone else, to move it to the side, I just couldn’t stand the feel. It was like wearing a pair of jeans that zipped up the middle of one leg. It made me twitch.

Tonight I went and had a hair cut. I have been noodling with the idea of growing it out a bit again (it’s been quite short since the advent of my darling hair-pulling twins), but have felt that as long as Hazel’s hair is short I should keep mine that way too. I won’t be surprised, though, if once she’s in kindergarten she decides she wants to grow it out. And if she’s willing to take care of it, I’m fine with that. And I figured that if she did I would grow mine too, so we could have each other for moral support around the difficulties of transitioning from short hair to longer hair, like hair that sticks out at weird angles. Though really, Hazel could care less, and for that I am deeply, heart-feltedly, profoundly, everlastingly grateful. As long as she can escape the claws of the beauty standard, I will jump for joy.

Ahem, I got off track.

Anyway, I have to admit that I don’t enjoy the part of growing my hair out where it looks like I’ve applied the contents of my vacuum cleaner to my head with some glue and duct tape. So I had been thinking that preparatory to a contemplated intentional lengthening of my hair, I would not cut it so short this time.

And lo and behold! I realized, as my stylist was tweaking it, running her fingers through it, snipping here and there, and then doing a quick blow-dry, it was parted off to the left of my head. And it looked nice. And I didn’t mind it! Having gotten home and gotten the kids down to bed tonight, I find I have no desire to break out Ted’s shaver and remove the offending strands from my scalp.

Change is possible. Sometimes it’s sneaky and you don’t realized it’s occurred until well after the fact. But if I can deal with a side part, I figure I can do anything.

motivation, family

Well, I had huge resistance to practicing tonight. I still did it for almost two hours, so bully for me. Why did I not want to? I’m tired, sore, already had a long day, etc. Why did I do it? Partly because I had two separate conversations with students today about practicing and motivation, and I have to put my money where my mouth is. Let’s hear it for teaching as a way to keep us honest.

Ted has been picking up the cooking slack while I’m busting my butt on the cello, for which I am very grateful.

Hazel loves to buy me flowers, and there are roses in the living room and tulips in the kitchen. I am also really grateful and happy about that.

I am looking forward to tomorrow’s haircut, to having someone else wash my hair and cut it, to being taken care of for an hour and a half. Other weekend activities will include doing taxes, and a Mommy-Daddy-Hazel day. And, of course, practicing and more practicing.

I’m also looking forward to seeing the twins tomorrow morning. On Thursdays I teach quite late and don’t usually get home until almost 9:30 pm. That means I don’t see the kids from about 2 pm Thursday until Friday morning. I miss them. It will be lovely to snuggle with them in the big chair.

Hazel swimming and growing up, practicing, “Mama!”

Today in her swim lesson, Hazel’s teacher told me that she’s doing really well, that she’s changed, that she’s not a little kid randomly kicking her feet in the water any more. Now she floats like a champ, puts her face all the way in the water, blows bubbles, is starting to move her arms in a motion that’s closer to a crawl stroke, etc. And she still loves it, beams and laughs and really gets into it.

Kids are amazing in the way they stretch out and get longer and taller. I look at her legs and feet and how different they seem from just a year ago.

Today was another day I got some practicing in during nap. Dare I say it, this is turning into a pattern! And then I got in another hour tonight. My goal is a minimum of twice a day, since I can’t usually get in more than an hour at a time. I’d really like to up it to three hours a day, but will likely have to settle for two most days, and then get three if I’m lucky. Gone are the days when, if I have a lot on my plate, I can practice three or four hours in the evening.

Tonight when Ted and the kids came back from coop preschool, Emily heard me when I came upstairs and said from the other room, loudly and distinctly, “Mama, Mama!” That put a big wide grin on my face.

And now I’m going to try to stick to my plan and STOP with the internet. More tomorrow.

Joanna crawling, dinner with my uncle, sleep

It may be a giant coincidence, but yesterday Joanna crawled partway up our neighbor’s driveway when we were out for a walk. This was one day after her PT appointment. It was neat to see.

Also yesterday we got to have dinner with my uncle who is in town, after which we showed him our new basement spaces. He hadn’t met the twins yet, and hadn’t seen Hazel in quite a while. I love seeing the connections between my kids and their wider family. The twins weren’t sure about this new person, but they were willing to be picked up and held for moments, anyway.

And then I committed parental subterfuge, otherwise known as lying to my kids. Since it was Tuesday, I pretended I was going out to write, Ted took the kids upstairs, and my uncle and I went out for coffee and conversation. That was great. I don’t remember the last time I got to hang out with just him. My mom and her sister and brother are very close. I enjoy talking with someone who’s known my mom since she was a little kid.

And then, when I got home I skipped everything, including writing this post, because Ted and I are going to try to wrench our bedtime back to something early enough that we’re reasonably well-rested, more able to face whatever the day brings us. We managed 11:15 pm last night, aiming for 10:45. Each night there are any number of things that seem more important than sleep. Each morning nothing seems more important than sleep. It’s quite compelling. We’re going to try setting the oven timer tonight. It’s loud and obnoxious, so will at least force us to get up to turn it off. More subterfuge…

practicing cello, cranio-sacral pt for Joanna

Well, it’s true. If you keep working on those incredibly hard-to-get harmonics at the very bottom of the string, you do get better at making them speak, even when you’re also doing glissandi (quick slides) and trills (super quick up and down variation of the pitch). It is happening again. A piece I was thinking was impossible is turning out to be possible after all, not without a significant amount of effort, of course. When something starts making that transition, though, the work is more immediately satisfying, I must confess. I guess I really have to start believing that I can do it, whatever it is, if I work hard enough at it. That usually turns out to be the case. So the first part of tonight’s work was all about effects and rhythm.

I had a massage this afternoon, ahhhh. Then, in the second part of tonight’s practice session I dug into a bunch of fast loud stuff in the Britten. That appeared to undo the effects of the earlier bodywork. Nonetheless, my back is getting better. I don’t seize up in physical protest at the chiropractor’s any more. It’s the small things, right?

This morning I took Joanna to see a cranio-sacral physical therapist who works with kids. She worked on Joanna for a while, and we’ll go back in a few weeks to see if it stuck. She also recommended getting her to crawl later, when we can make a game of it. Her daughter did exactly the same thing: she refused to crawl, and scooted instead. She did have visual issues later that came up when she was learning to read at school (a known related consequence), and so her PT mom did some research and found out that one thing that can help is ping-pong, of all things. Apparently it helps retrain the brain and get the necessary coordination going. So she bought a cheap table off of Craigslist, and they started playing. Soon her teacher at school was thanking her for reading with her daughter at home. I think it’s awesome: ping-pong solved the problem at a fraction of the cost of continued therapy. So we feel better knowing that if there’s an issue with Joanna down the road, there are a lot of ways to address it. I liked the therapist. She is very low-key, good with kids, and helpful without being alarmist. I’ll be interested to see if Joanna moves any differently now.

breaking glass, rehearsing, poking holes in the walls

This morning I balanced a glass container with one remaining beet in it on top of the lid of another container. I’ve done that before and lived to tell the tale. But I wasn’t careful, thoughtful, or even very precise in my placement, and I swung the door shut with my usual enthusiasm (our fridge door doesn’t shut if it’s not persuaded with verve to do so.) CRASH!! It was entirely predictable. grrr. Thankfully, the kids were out with Ted and I had 20 minutes to clean the glass that was inside the fridge, between it and the wall, on the floor, under the table, etc. Funny, thinking back on my blog entries for the year, I have swept up broken glass three times in the last year or so. But I will protest that one of those times wasn’t my fault.

When my ensemble arrived, therefore, I was not warmed up, the chairs were not set up, and I was a bit twitchy. But we had two good rehearsals (one with oboe, one without). There is a figure in the Britten oboe quartet that requires focus to get really precise, and then, completely in sync with the other musicians in the group. It’s a dotted rhythm (dotted eight, sixteenth) followed by a triplet, into which it’s tied. For those of you who are not familiar, imagine the difference between a quarter of something as compared to a third of it. It’s very easy to just turn the sixteenth into a triplet or vice versa. So we spent some time on that after our oboist had gone.

We also went back to the first movement of the Beethoven, which we performed a few months ago and haven’t done much with since. What’s cool is that it had improved in the interim, because we’ve gotten better at playing together.

Hazel came down and listened for a while, but when I wouldn’t let her talk (that’s the rule if she wants to be present for a rehearsal), she went back upstairs. I think in a week or two I’ll let her come down and listen to the whole piece non-stop when we run it. That way we’ll have an audience, albeit one consisting of a single little person, and she’ll have a chance to see if she can sit through a whole piece without talking. That’s the yardstick. If she can do that, she can come to the gig.

This afternoon Ted and I did some more house-related stuff. There are now official locations for 99% of our electronics, wallets, keys, etc. Finally!!! I no longer have to hunt through the house for my stuff before I leave. And there are hooks up for scarves and hats, mounted with some difficulty in our old lath and plaster. It looks cool, because you can’t see the huge holes we made in putting the screws in. In a few years that wall is going to come down when we put in the stairs, so in the meantime we’re not too worried about how it looks behind the hooks. That is one downside of lath and plaster though; it’s hard to mount hardware on the wall.

There is also still an unholy mess in our house, but the areas of order are gradually growing, and will eventually outpace the chaos.

Cousins, bathtime, the pink solution

We had my niece with us this afternoon. Though Hazel and her cousin do their share of one-upmanship and bickering, they also giggle with each other and love to be together. Tonight in highs and lows Hazel said (and had said earlier in the evening too) that she was sad that her cousin had left, that she wanted to live at their house, that it was a nicer house, that our house was ugly, and she didn’t like its colors. What this translates to of course is, “I love my cousin, I miss her, and I want to see her more often.” We can respond to that. Of course, last week she also tried to convince me to go out to a restaurant for lunch by saying that she liked the food at restaurants better, and she doesn’t like what I cook. I whispered that story to Ted in the car tonight, sotto voce, and he laughed and said that she’d better get used to disappointment. It’s a rough life she leads.

After we got back from dropping my niece off, we did bath time. That’s not something we do every night. It’s a special treat and the girls all absolutely love it. Emily loves to lie on her tummy and kick her legs. Joanna kept standing up and sitting down, and giggling madly. (Sometime we have to get that laugh on tape, because it is priceless.) And then we had the pleasure of sweetly smelling clean little ones to read to and snuggle at bedtime.

Ted didn’t get his time off this afternoon, so he’s taking it now and I’ve retreated up to bed, extraordinarily early for me. I’m tired. I’ve been practicing late, and been up way too late the last several nights. I’m looking forward to some shut-eye. Tomorrow I have another couple of rehearsals.

We have arrived at what we think is a good compromise solution to the issue of pink in Hazel’s wardrobe. This is something we’ve really struggled with over the past year or so. It was easy when she was a baby: we just didn’t include it in her clothes. (The bottom line about the color is that we highly dislike the way it’s being used to push gender polarization. We don’t like the tendency for people to focus on Hazel’s appearance when she’s wearing it. And the commercialization of pink feeds into selling lots of people lots of things they don’t need, but have become convinced they do. It seems like a direct lead-in to the horrible “beauty” products industry line of attack in which they convince women that all sorts of things are wrong with our bodies which must be fixed with their products.) Nonetheless, our position has evolved as we’ve been trying to weave Hazel’s desires, our boundaries, and the realities of living in the world into our decision-making.

At first, we went from a total ban to allowing her some. But that always morphed into lots or every day. That wasn’t working for us, and it meant conflict over what she was wearing, which wasn’t fun or productive. So one day I asked Hazel how many days a week she wanted to wear pink. Of course, she said all of them. I said that I could understand that, but that was too much for Daddy and me, so we wanted to come up with a number we could all live with. She said ok, and we arrived at two. We talked about which days, and she picked Tuesdays and Saturdays. It has worked out so admirably well. Now, we have fun with it. I am so much more relaxed about it. I can laugh with her when she comes down wearing a shirt, dress, and pants all with pink in them. I can easily find things about her clothes to compliment. And because she has those days to look forward to, she has no problem wearing other things other days. The mood and energy have been lightened, and it’s not an issue any more. I am proud of us all. I’m glad that Ted and I are on the same page, and that we’re sticking to our values, but also that we can be flexible, and that we’re thoughtful about our parenting. And this is good practice for many things that will come down the road that will be points of contention. It’s all practice. It’s all the test. It’s all life.