April 20, Then & Now

Some things just don’t change.

2 years ago Today in 2008

I got together with some friends in the scrapbook industry who I met online. One was my girlfriend, Dedra, who lives near me but who introduced herself to me on the scrapbooking website, TwoPeasInABucket. The other was Lain Ehmann who worked for Simple Scrapbooks Magazine and was visiting my hometown to teach classes at the Creating Keepsakes Convention.

Today, April 20, 2010

I got together remotely with other friends in the scrapbook industry via skype to record an episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable. Two were Cathy Zielske and Ali Edwards, who for years I admired in Creating Keepsakes and Simple Scrapbooks Magazine, who are now a regular part of my audio show, but who I have yet to meet in person.

Another was Nancy Nally, who we all know from her news coverage of the scrapbook industry and who I got to meet in person at the Craft & Hobby Association trade show last summer when I met up with her and Lain and others to record a Paperclipping Newsbreak episode.
The fourth person was Izzy, who helped me build a business out of my scrapbooking hobby, who I know in “real” life, in the “online” world, and in the biblical sense. 🙂

* * *

2 years ago Today in 2008

I talked about scrapbooking with Lain and Dedra — about our different methods and about the people we admire and learn from in the industry, both in the magazines and online.

Today, April 20, 2010

I talked about scrapbooking with Ali, Cathy, Nancy, and Izzy — about methods for integrating our personal internet content with our scrapbooking content.

* * *

2 years ago Today in 2008

I pulled out my camera. Dedra and Lain pulled out their cameras.
We found innovative ways to frame ourselves in the shots.
And we took lots of pictures being silly and having fun and bonding through this intersection of our online worlds, our “real” worlds, and the hobby we love of documenting our lives.

Today, April 20, 2010

I pulled out my camera and set it on a tripod.
Cathy and Ali had their cameras out and ready. And we took pictures of ourselves in headsets and in front of microphones, being silly and having fun and bonding while talking about the intersection of our online worlds and our real worlds and how we choose to (and in some cases, choose not to) document the parts of our lives that we share on the internet.

* * *

Later This Week

We will share the audio show with others like us who love to scrapbook and love to talk about scrapbooking. And they’ll have some very cool thoughts which they’ll share back with us on the Paperclipping blog. And some day I’ll get to meet some of those people as well.

Like I said, some things never change, except to grow bigger. Or maybe this is just what happens when you find a way to make a life doing the things you love.

* * *
Hugs to another online scrapbooky friend I’ve yet to meet in person — Stephanie Howell — from whom I learned to compare and contrast my past with my present by looking at my photos.

First Concert: A Rite Of Passage

I took my oldest son to his first concert last weekend. I’m raising him to be cooler than me, since I was sixteen before I went to my first concert and he’s only twelve. So if he doesn’t end up beating my own level of coolness, then I’ll just have to throw up my hands. What more can I do?

So far he seems to be effectively rolling his way toward said coolness, as some of the teens next to us helped him and his best friend work their way up to the very front of the packed standing-only theater. He also got a shout-out in this Phoenix New Times article about how perfect Owl City’s music is for tweens since it’s so squeaky clean.

Lucky Boy

Blake has been a fan of the band, Owl City, for a while and when he saw they were coming to Tempe, he jumped on the pre-sale opportunity and bought his own ticket. The dude lucked out. Pre-sale tickets were only $15 but they quickly jumped up in price and then the concert sold out.

Not only was it the least expensive concert I’ve ever been to, it was the biggest one I’ve seen at the Tempe Marquee and gave me the impression that Owl City is already poised to upgrade to bigger venues. He had two opening bands. Not one. Two, equaling three hours of music. That was a first for me.

Lights + Male Audience = Numerous Massive Crushes

One of the opening bands was Lights. Have you seen the girl who, apparently, is Lights? She’ll make any boy believe he’s been to the best concert in the world, especially if they’re gamers like she is. She is an adorable girl (I can’t believe I’m old enough to be calling a musician a “girl”) and fun to watch. She got a number of marriage proposals shouted to and thrown at her (in the form of a t-shirt) from the audience.

Yep. Blake and his friend enjoyed Lights. A lot.

Blake’s $15 paid for more than just three bands in three hours. I can’t leave out Owl City’s choreographed light show, which was surprisingly flashy — not that I’m a big fan of that kind of thing but I suppose if you like synthpop then you might be. It was about ten times bigger than the other concerts I’ve attended at the Marquee.

Let me just say that Blake was thrilled with the experience. And while it’s not my personal favorite style of music, it was a lot of fun and continues to fuel some good conversation and bonding with my boy.


Ghost Aiden
Aiden makes me laugh all the time. But I’m his mom and he’s my baby. You might think he has extra powers when it comes to me.

Since he is Blake and Trinity’s little brother, he’s got major strikes against him when it comes to making them laugh. But I see all the time that Aiden amuses them, too.

Recently, after Aiden inspired a good laugh in Blake and Trinity, I said, “I love that you guys get such a kick out of Aiden.”

And Blake said to me, “I get at least one kick out of Aiden every single day.” (Blake has his own sense of humor, no?).

Sometimes Aiden entertains on purpose, like he is doing in this video here. . .

And sometimes he entertains by accident when he is just passing on important bits of wisdom, combined with his personal application of such wisdom. . .

A.D.D. Mom

There are some days when it’s best that I just stay out of the kitchen. Today was one of those. Cooking and baking are like hobbies to me that I get to do every day. Sometimes it’s a problem, though, that my family depends on edible results for their sustenance. When my brain is in malfunction mode, my inability to carry a single thought from the recipe book to the the mixing bowl can destroy my otherwise good cooking.

When we hear about A.D.D. we hear how it affects children in school, especially boys. What we rarely hear is how it affects mothers like me.

Even on days when my thoughts are clear and orderly I have to double or triple check the ingredients before I commit to the irreversible…

1) To see what the next ingredient is.

2) To see what the amount of the ingredient is, because I forgot to pay attention the first time I looked.

And sometimes…

3) To see if that amount was supposed to be in teaspoons or tablespoons. Or to make sure I didn’t jumble two ingredients at the second look, because I am good at mixing things up. And not just in a bowl.

Today’s Baking Catastrophe

Today I was baking ginger muffins. Unfortunately, I cooked the lemon zest into the sugar, instead of the ginger Izzy minced for me. No worries. I had another lemon and could grate more zest for when it was supposed to go in, so I trashed the unhappy concoction and started over with ginger and sugar. Too bad I forgot to perform Recipe Triple Check Steps #2 and #3 because I failed to actually measure out the portion of ginger I needed. Izzy had minced three different meal’s worth in the food processor and in my happy state I just put it all into the pan with the new, un-lemonized sugar. Ginger falls into the Less Is More category of life’s little luxuries.

My spirits were high, though. An area in which I excel is that I can always tell when I’ve done something wrong within minutes. My ineptitude rarely surprises at the moment of no-return when we actually sit down to eat my mistakes. So when I realized I had way too much ginger in my saucepan, I fished out what I actually needed from the melting sugar, threw the rest of the ginger away (oops, there goes two of the dinners on our menu for the week), and decided that the bit of sugar that was already mixed into my portion wouldn’t make a huge difference to the recipe. Through much experience, I’ve gotten good at figuring out when it’s okay to work with what I’ve got and when I should just start all over.

I continued with my baking, but by now I knew to send my two adorable helpers out of the kitchen. And they understood. They already know that seemingly insignificant distractions— like my handing a cup of flour to one of them — can really throw me off.

When My Usual Coping Strategies Fail Me

So here I was, alone in my kitchen with only my own wandering mind to distract me from my purpose, and I thought I was in the clear. But A.D.D. — at least my version of it — loves to twist the most basic information that I happen to be using at a given moment. It’s like April Fool’s Day every day of my life, but I’m the joker and the jokee.

Today the basic information that became my brain’s target was the amount of butter (or in my case, Earth Balance) in a stick. How long have I been baking with butter or butter substitutes? Let’s round to twenty years.

So, fast-forward to the moment of mixing where I’m looking at this crazy butter concoction, waiting for my beater to beat it into a recognizable form, and it just does not look normal. It was yellow puffs of clouds separated by narrow streams of brown sugar and ginger. One and a half hours after entering the kitchen to make muffins, I remembered (too late) that a stick of butter equals a half cup. Not a quarter cup.

I was out of ginger. I was out of lemon. I was out of the desire to do any more baking. Izzy took over the kitchen and we sipped smoothies instead of butter-muffins.

Some days are just worse than others. So why did I think my brain lapses would go away by dinner-time of the same day when I began the chili and cornbread for tonight’s dinner?

Two Nights In Tuscon

The kids might not think this was such a great spring break anymore if they knew that Izzy and I thought we would take them to Disneyland for about a day before we remembered the ticket prices and decided on Tuscon instead.
In Tuscon we can entertain the kids for free by having them walk long distances.
A retired salesman, Izzy decided to incorporate an advertising tactic when we told the kids our plans for spring break: give it a catchy name/slogan. . .

Two Nights In Tuscon

Our spring break announcement was a success. All week Aiden asked us, “When are we going to Two Nights In Tuscon?”
We bought each child a disposable camera for our hike up Sabino Canyon…
While they all three claimed the hike and the cameras were a favorite part of our vacation, it was Aiden that really got serious about the photography. We realized we might be raising a future brilliant photographer as we watched him frame shot after shot, remembering how he begged for a digital camera for Christmas a few years ago. And how he asked for another one this year since he left his first one in the backyard for many days.

Then we learned his true goal. He found a video on YouTube that shows how you can turn an empty disposable camera into a taser gun. You can even see him fantasizing the possibilities of that plastic black box with buttons in this picture here. . .
You can also see in the above picture one of the many reasons I will never move away from Arizona. My heart got stuck on the thorns of a saguaro cactus a number of years ago.

In that same picture you can also see why our oldest child, the one far off in the lower right corner, is in few of the pictures. You know it’s not because of camera shyness. It’s that he’s Mr. Independent now and doesn’t want to hang back with the slow folks bothering with cameras.

He can slow himself down, though, to spend a little time with his baby brother. . .
But he’s not afraid to climb all over people, even family, to get what he wants.
It’s during these precious moments when I wonder if Trinity is missing out. She doesn’t have a sister to climb all over. She seems to be okay, though. She has me to trade clothes with.

And she has her daddy.
And he’s a dad that shows her every day how a real man treats his girls. And his family.

I Gave My Son His Most Embarrassing Moment

My oldest is in 6th grade, ruling the school as only 6th graders in elementary school know how. They’ve had a section on the medieval time period (yes, I successfully spelled medieval without the spellcheck!) which culminated in a great Medieval Feast this week. Every year I’ve seen the 6th graders come to school for their feast in actual medieval costuming. I’m talking serious costuming, not the homemade or Walmart kind.

Self-Revelry Time

My mom raised me in homemade costumes, and most of my kids’ costumes have been homemade as well. I’d like to say I’m creative that way, but really I’m just kinda cheap. I didn’t want to take the homemade route for Blake’s medieval feast, though. I mean seriously, my oldest will be in junior high next year! This feast will be one of his best memories from elementary school. So I surprised him and rented a really beautiful knight’s costume (from a wonderful shop owner who gave me a good discount since it was a school event).
Blake was also supposed to bring in a non-paper and non-plastic plate and cup. I was so excited to provide him with a metal Armatale platter and a stainless steel adult beverage shaker goblet. I packed it in a brown cloth bag that I never use and sent him to the feast.

And I flirted with, but refrained from, giddiness all day, resisting unusual urges to pop in at the school and check things out.

Confession Time

When we picked Blake up from school, I was surprised at his less-than-enthusiastic response when I asked him how his day was. He handed me the bag of dinnerware as he said, “There was something weird in the bag, Mom.”

“What was it?” I asked.

“I don’t want to say,” he said.

Israel and I exchanged the typical parental glances you have all exchanged yourselves if you have children who know how to speak. I opened the bag up and saw the platter. I saw the goblet. It all looked fine so far. And then I moved them out of the way to dig deeper and found something rather strappy and made of fabric. I pulled it out, shook it a bit to untangle it, and then shoved it right back in again when I recognized the Victoria’s Secret logo etched into the thong waistband.

Israel and I started cracking up. I think it’s better for Blake’s recovery that way — you know, to laugh about it.

“I’m so sorry, Blake!” I told him. I swear I don’t remember ever using that bag before.

I encouraged Blake to talk about it. For therapy.

So here’s how it went down. He pulled his platter and goblet out of the bag, and out slipped the above-mentioned accompanying item.

“What’s this?” he said out loud and began to untangle said strappy item while his friends watched on, curious, until the nature of the formerly unrecognizable item became apparent. And then he shoved it back into the bag.

At least it wasn’t in any sort of showy pattern or color. And I think it’s better for him that there was less of it, rather than . . . more.

I think. . . ?

* * *

Note: Today’s blog post is a response to the Carpool Queen’s Confession post and her question: “Because I’m all about laughing ministering to the needs of others, what can you confess to and make everyone else feel better?”

Revisiting My Self

Uprooted from my childhood home in California in 1985 at twelve years old, I have been a visitor in every other town I’ve lived in until I found Arizona, California’s next door neighbor. Michigan, Kansas, Utah, and Missouri are places I experienced and observed while I lived there, but they were never my home.

Twenty-five years after I left L.A., Israel and I arrived a couple hours early to a business trade show in Anaheim last January. Looking at Google Maps on Israel’s phone as we located our hotel, I saw how close my old neighborhood sat, just to the north. In twenty-five years I never once found time to revisit, though I longed to.

“Let’s go over there!” I said to Israel. Since I’m currently writing a short story that combines many of the experiences I had living in that tough area, he was curious, so we drove the fifteen minutes to the congested city and the not-so-nice neighborhood that assisted my parents in raising me.

We entered Whittier and as we drove down Imperial Highway I scanned the cinder block wall to our left, knowing my tiny old house sat somewhere on the other side. Finally, when I recognized the Hand Car Wash and the Carriage Family Restaurant, still standing twenty-five years after I last saw them, we turned onto the street that led to my neighborhood. Memories dislodged themselves as we drove down the sloped road that many times propelled four friends, plus myself, piled on one bike with a banana seat.

I saw homes I had played in with friends I sometimes liked and sometimes fought with. I remembered areas we avoided on days when the bullies were spewing their threats. We drove by the place where I first experienced the wind getting knocked out of me —by a boy’s foot— plus the couple of victorious spots where I got to be the one to punch some threatening boys.

We turned left onto my surprisingly narrow street, Lucinda Drive, and it made a sharp immediate curve to the right. At first I thought someone altered the road. That sharp curve used to be wide and expansive and veered only gradually. At least, that’s how I remember it. And my own house number popped up on the road before it was supposed to. In fact, Israel is the one who identified my house and he had to show me the address on the curb before I accepted it as mine, not just because everything looked so much smaller and tighter from my adult perspective, but also because my house and yard, as well as the neighboring ones, looked totally different.
I guess that makes sense. They weren’t the most attractive houses when I lived there. In twenty-five years, someone is sure to change them, especially since it’s hard to upgrade in L.A. where the only option for many residents is to renovate instead of to abandon and buy something new.

My old white house with dark brown trim is now a soft yellowy cream with white accents (better, in my opinion). Most of the planter off the garage is now grass. My dad’s white gravel landscaping at the very front of the yard, with its little wooden bridge and trees, is gone, and now the lawn stretches all the way to the curb (that part, not better, in my opinion).
First and second base for our kickball games — two trees on the side of my yard — are gone, too. We used to tie two long ropes from one of those trees to the other for a game we made to determine social status. My siblings, our neighborhood friends and I would stand on the lower rope, a couple of feet off the ground. We would grab the higher rope in our hands, and then we shook both ropes back and forth as hard as we could to knock each other off. Right away I figured out that those of us who shook the ropes with wild aggression had the control, while those who clung for stability always fell off.
(In the photo above I’m the fourth one over from the left, wearing pink overalls)
The houses that belonged to my crew of friends are even less recognizable than mine. They look newer now than they did when they were twenty-five years younger. But scattered around the neighborhood I found frozen remnants that have hardly changed. One thing that looks exactly as I remember, as if twenty-five years never happened at all, is The Ditch.

The Ditch

The Ditch is a canal. I don’t know why we didn’t just call it a canal, but we didn’t. We called it The Ditch — which is actually a more fitting term for its ragged ugliness, anyway. This ditch separates my own neighborhood from one that housed my elementary school. Its bridge led to the tree covered school banks which the teachers regularly reminded us not to climb, since it was a common site for drug transactions. Everyday we crossed the ditch and walked alongside the banks to get to school and everyday we ran at the top of the banks (ignoring the teachers) until we reached the ditch again to go home.

The ditch sits at a lower elevation than everything else and all of the neighborhood gutters and sewers feed into it. It is the concrete valley of my neighborhood, an exciting bicycle adventure for us as kids. We would stand our bikes at the top of the blackish gravelly asphalt hill on one side and jump onto our pedals as the downhill momentum pushed us onto and across the bridge and up the rocky asphalt hill on the other side.

We ignored the sign on the locked fence that threatened $500 fines for entering the ditch. We loved to climb that fence and play in the shallow water, catching polywogs. We hid under the bridge when police helicopters flew over (it was a neighborhood that required their regular patrol). They would see us and yell through a megaphone, “Get out of the ditch!” Knowing it was a forbidden play-place, I sometimes visualized the possibility that water might actually burst through the big holes that opened at our favorite polywog gathering spot while we were there.

My wild and gritty childhood in that neighborhood ended just as I was turning thirteen years old and starting puberty. Nothing in my new world resembled the old. Not the cushy, wealthier area we moved to in Michigan. Not the inside nor the outside of my own self. I’ve almost felt like two different people; the open-eyed wanderer me post my thirteenth birthday and that young ignorant girl running around that crazy neighborhood. Standing on my old yard for the first time in twenty-five years last month, seeing the homes of lost friends and neighbors, then looking down on the totally unchanged ditch, I validated a lot of fuzzy memories. I rediscovered others that had burrowed into my unconscious. I got to see and feel that the place of so many of my stories is real.

That visit mended a fissure in my life that divided the first twelve years from the rest. I didn’t expect to finally feel that the child-version of myself wasn’t just a character in a story of which I have so many memories. I didn’t know I would make such an emotional connection with my past. Those stories really were mine — thankfully. They’re on the rough side, but I like them. That was me, and I finally feel like I have roots.

4-Year Old Skeptic

Aiden is proving to be our most skeptical child. And it’s not because he’s negative or doubtful. He’ll actually tap dance for strangers and ask if they would like to pay him for it. He’s skeptical because he likes to figure out how a thing came together. At two years old we constantly found him lying on the floor watching the wheels of a toy car as he glided it back and forth, trying to grasp, I think, how the wheels turned while the car didn’t.

At four years old he learned (and understood!) how to count musical notation.

These days he makes stuff out of paper or trash. We can hardly throw anything away because he sees it as a potential component to something he can build. Recently he designed a three-dimensional box out of paper and provided picture instructions on how to do it. Yesterday he took two light bulb boxes from the recycle bin, taped them together, and devised rules for a game, again, with illustrated instructions.

This desire to break everything down to components and answers has made the holidays an interesting experience. At four years old Aiden found a packaged toy in our bedroom closet and announced with a huge smile that Mom and Dad go shopping and pretend to be Santa Clause. There was no disappointment because the magic was in having potentially figured it out.

We didn’t give him an outright yes or no. I just asked him, “What makes you think that?” And when he gave me his evidence, I nodded my head and said, “Very interesting idea.” I’m learning he doesn’t want us to give him a definite yes or no. He prefers a little mystery so he can continue to find evidence to prove or disprove his theories.

Skepticism & The Tooth Fairy

On Christmas Eve, at six-and-a-half years old, Aiden finally lost his first tooth and we were expecting a meeting between two holiday mystery characters. Santa Clause and the tooth fairy in one night! Of course, the solution of one led to the solution of the other. “I know Mom is the tooth fairy,” he said.

We played our usual run-around game, ”Why do you assume it’s Mom? What if it’s Dad?”

He laughed, “Because the Tooth Fairy is a girl!”

“Are you sure about that?” I asked. “In that short film Dad made, Larry was the Tooth Fairy.”

“Oh, yeah…” Aiden stewed on that, looking back and forth from me to Israel.

Last week when he lost his second tooth he decided to take a risk and test his theory by addressing the tooth fairy, herself. Or, himself. After receiving payment for his tooth he put a note under his pillow. Israel and I responded to it on the same piece of paper, with a little clue to the true nature of the “tooth fairy.” The new information surprised him so he asked a follow-up question and we answered that, as well. It continued for a few nights. Here’s what the note said after the third night:

Aiden: I love you.

Tooth fairy: Thank you for the teeth. We love you too.

Aiden: Who are you!

Tooth fairy: We are the ones who buy your special teeth.
We are the tooth fairy.
Why do you want to know?

Aiden: Because I want to see what you look like.

Tooth fairy: I look a little bit like you. –#1
(in different handwriting): And so do I. –#2

Apparently, we threw him off with our last response. He came running into the kitchen where the rest of us were sitting at the table and he announced, “My toothfairies are clones of me!”

We exchanged looks. We questioned his theory. We asked him to read his note again and emphasized the words, “a little bit.” But he wasn’t thinking about the qualifier. He was chewing on the implications of this new bizarre idea. He looked around the dining table, shot his arm into to a point toward Blake and yelled, “And your tooth fairy must be two clones of you!” He then pointed to Dad and Trinity and myself, “And you have your own clones . . . and so do you!”

We were slightly concerned.

To Discover Or To Be Told

Later that night Aiden confided in me. “I’m embarrassed that I wrote, ‘I love you,’ to my clones. I meant for that to go to you because I thought you were the tooth fairy.”

I couldn’t keep his sweet vulnerability exposed like that. I told him, “You know, Aiden? A lot of people say that I look a little bit like you.”

“No, you don’t,” he answered.

Now I understood his switch to the Clone Theory. He had no idea we look similar. “Yeah, I really do. A little bit.”

Recognition pushed his eyes wide open and he emphasized the words, “A little bit?”

“Yeah,” I said. “And Daddy looks a little like you, too.”

He smiled and his embarrassment vanished. But within minutes disappointment replaced it and he complained to us, “Now I know for sure that Mom and Dad are the tooth fairy.” It turns out he really does prefer the questions, the theories, the evidence collecting, over hearing the answer from someone else.

“I didn’t say that, Aiden,” I immediately backtracked. “Blake and Trinity look like you, too. And Grandma Gertrude has the same exact nose as you.”

He laughed and let it go. Hopefully, I left it open just enough for him to have sunk back into his happy state of wonderful skeptical inquiry again. His third tooth is loose now and Easter is on its way, so I guess we’ll find out soon enough. If not, it might be time to nudge his questions in a newer, deeper direction, anyway.
missing tooth

The Battle For Hair Control

My mom loved to put me in pigtails when I was little. I hated them. I hated the part-line in the middle that divided my head down from the top of my bangs to the nape of my neck. I hated their curly ends that stuck out from above my ears and made me look like the little girl that I was. Pigtails were so Cindy Brady, and I just wanted to be Marsha.

On picture day in first grade, I got into a fight with Mom about it. She wanted to inflict her baby-pigtail-torture onto the sides of my six-year-old head, forever cementing them to the memories of my classmates. I refused. I told her I was done with pigtails. Grown out of them.

Mom got her way. She was just too big for me and I had no control over the situation. I went to school and got my picture taken with a tail sprouting from each side of me. That day, after school, as I was playing in my front yard with those silly-looking tails flapping around the sides of my head, my best friend’s mother, Vera, pulled up into her driveway in her station wagon. Vera lived next door. She got out of her car and called out, “I like your pig tails, Noell!”

I’m sure my mouth dropped and I doubt I thanked Vera for her compliment because what I felt at that moment was not gratitude. It was rage. I ran into my house and hunted my hair’s dictator, “Mom!”

“What?” she asked, all innocent. As. If.

“You told Vera to tell me she liked my pigtails,” I said.


“You told her to say that so I would keep wearing them!” I have a natural streak of skepticism that shines once in a while and I wasn’t the type to fall so easily for ploys like this.

My mom laughed. She tried not to. But she laughed.

“I did not. I didn’t tell her to say that.” She failed in her attempts to get serious, but the coincidence, along with my six-year-old insistence of taking charge of my own hair, was apparently entertaining to her.

She didn’t realize that this was more than just my hair we were talking about. The hair frames the face, and that means the hair shapes the face. The way a person looks…it all comes down to the hair.

Eventually, I was able to convince my mom to give me more hair control. She let me wear my hair down more often, usually with a barrette on the side. But what I really wanted was a roach clip. Roach clips with earthy strands that dangled with beads and feathers — just right for a gypsy personality like mine — were hot at that time where I lived in L.A. during the late seventies. But it might have been that they’re used to hold your marijuana that kept my parents from letting me wear one.
Later I moved on to the single pony tail that shoots from just one side of the head where you brush all your hair over to the side in a freaky pseudo-sexy early eighties kind of way. Mom didn’t really like that look for me either, so I didn’t get to wear it as often as I wished.
If I could have fulfilled my hair fantasies, though, I would have had full curly hair like Olivia Newton John’s at the end of Grease. Except as a brunette. Instead I just had plain and boring flat stringy hair.
I have fine hair, and fine hair likes to rule its own world and do its own thing. So in that case, my hair and I are the same. I endured a lot of bad hair throughout my life. It was off and on, really, but mostly off. It took me until I was twenty-five years old before I found a hair stylist that could give me hair that I like more often than not.

But my greatest hair triumph came when I was around thirty years old. I discovered a hair style that always looks good, no matter how demanding and stubborn my fine hair decides to be. If it’s not working out, no worries. I can guarantee myself a good hair day if I put it up in pigtails.

Yeah, I said it. Pigtails. Mom was right.

But only sort of right. It’s the technique that makes it work. I still hate the lined part-down-the-middle-of-the-head look. At least on me. I part the front of my hair to the side, then back-brush it at the top of the back to give it some fullness.. And I only center-part it at the very nape of my neck. It’s much more flattering to both my face and the back of my head to have just an inch of a center-parted hair line.
I don’t allow for those curly little piggy-looking tail ends, either. Instead, I wear my tails low, under and just behind my ears. And when they’re long enough I back-brush those tails to give them a ratty sort of splayed-out look that says “I don’t care.” Even though I really do. But like I said, earlier, it’s all about how the hair frames the face and it’s the long wisps that fall down in front of my ears toward my neck that are essential to top it off.

So I guess we both got our way. Mom got me wearing the hairstyle she always liked best on me. And I finally got control of my hair.

Pigtails rule.