On Having a Bad Hair Life

In which I look at the important things to complain about.

First world complaint here: I have never had a hairstyle I really like. Seriously. When I was itty-bitty, my hair was wispy and blonde. My uncle could never believe that my dark hair was natural because he remembered my light

Baby me, around two
Baby me, around two

locks from childhood.

To top off that lack of childhood coifability, my mother cut my hair, and when she didn’t, I still got that stick straight, chop off the ends look that a lot of children have. No long hair for me until I could brush it myself. So at the age of eight I started to grow it long. By the end of fifth grade (-ish), I had nice long ponytails.

And then came The Brady Bunch. You remember Carol Brady and her shag? Yup, I cut off all my hair in a desperate attempt to be hip and ended up looking, well, awful. Hard to go through sixth grade like that. By this time my hair was turning brown, dark brown. By ninth grade my hair was long again, but then came Dorothy Hamill. Once again, off came the length. Which presented me with a second problem—I had/have no talent for styling whatsoever.

Young me, about four/five
Young me, about four/five

In high school, my hair fully dark brown now, a new twist (pun-you’ll see why in a moment) appeared. I would wear my hair simply pinned back from my face because hair in my face bugged me (Still does. You should see how I do my hair for volleyball). That left me able to see, but also allowed the length to hang. And in class I would grab a lock and twirl it around my finger as I fidgeted. By the time I would walk out, I sported six inch long Shirley Temple curls because, unbeknownst to me, my hair now had lots of body.

College wasn’t any better. I still couldn’t style my own hair and I wasn’t patient enough to let my hair grow long enough to pull back into easy sophisticated ponytails. But I did meet my husband, and we did get married. I tried to get a perm for my wedding and it fell out in three days, so they repermed it two days before with strict instructions not to wash it until the wedding day. Yeah, that wasn’t so good either. I do not have pretty hair in my wedding pictures. But I did get married and the marriage seems to have stuck.

Pony tail me, the only time i had long hair, around ten
Pony tail me, the only time I had long hair, around ten

Through adulthood I really didn’t try to do much with my hair. It was wavy, unkempt, but clean and thick. Then about three years ago it went curly. I mean really curly. All I had to do was wash, put a little product in, scrunch, and let it dry. I had to curl a few pieces here and there to make it look really good, but I was in heaven. That lasted a year.

Now it is stick straight again. Don’t ask my why; I couldn’t answer. However, it holds curl really well. Unfortunately my skills with the curling iron and/or hairdryer and brush haven’t improved, so I look like a throwback to the eighties. See Beverly Goldberg to get an idea of what I mean, only my bangs are long and growing out.

I always pictured myself as an old woman with grey hair in a long braid down my back. Doubt that will happen. I can’t braid my own hair. I can barely braid my youngest’s hair. Also, I would have to grow it long to have that happen, and as I said above, I don’t have the patience.

Senior year Gabi, baby-sitting a faculty child at my boarding school.
Senior year Gabi, baby-sitting a faculty child at my boarding school.

So why this detour into hair? Because it’s apropos of life. Life hands you things that you must either fight or accept. It is wisdom that tells you which choice is best. My bad hair life hasn’t stopped me from being happy, or smart, or strive to better myself. I travel and let my hair go wild and learn things. I go to the pool, and I’m not afraid to dive under the water (Did your mothers also swim without dunking their heads, so they could save their dos?). Bad hair didn’t prevent me from raising three lovely women who add value to their communities. Bad hair doesn’t prevent me from being a badass on the volleyball courts (okay, so it’s the over 50 league, but I’m a badass). Yes, I would have loved to have had the good looks my sister had, but beauty is subjective anyway. Bad hair doesn’t prevent me from writing my stories and entertaining you. Fight for the things you can change, work on the things you can get better at. I suppose I could work on my hair skills, but I have more important things to accomplish.

 

At least I don’t have snakes on my head and turn people to stone.

–Gabi

 

Books I’m reading now:

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan

The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan

The Diabolical Miss Hyde by Viola Carr

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Part Two: Books that Changed My Life

I told you this would take more than one post. Here is part two.

So continuing with my list of books that changed my life, again in no particular order or preference:

  1. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett—I know The Secret Garden is on everyone else’s list, but mine was Princess. It was so wonderfully tragic and melodramatic. I read and re-read this book a hundred times when I was a kid. It sparked my Anglophilia despite my Hungarian background.
  1. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell—This book had so many fascinating facts and ideas that spoke to me as truths. The 10,000 hours idea, the way gifted children are tested, the way they play hockey in Canada and Czechoslovakia. I quickly went out an bought his others books, Tipping Point and Blink. Funny thing is that the book belongs to my daughter and when she moved out so did the book. Come to think of it, I need to go to the bookstore. Be right back.Mockingbird
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee—I didn’t read this book until I was an adult, and the first time I “read” it I was listening to it as an audiobook when I had to drive to Denver by myself. I only picked it up because it was one of those classics I had missed in my education. OH MY GOD. I was kicking myself by the time I arrived home. I loved the book. I went out the next day and bought myself a copy and read it (I didn’t feel right writing “re-read it”). I have since taught the book and grown to love it even more, so much so that when my dog chewed up a brand new copy that I was teaching from, I kept it alongside my old falling-part copy.
  1. The Lost Duke of Wyndham by Julia Quinn—This book along with Bewitching (see previous post) is the reason I believe Romance can be sublime. Again, it was the first book in a long time that made me laugh out loud and cry. A wonderful experience all around. I hope someday to put my readers through something like that in the books I write.
  1. The Wizard of Oz and the Oz series by L. Frank Baum—The movie just doesn’t do it justice. It doesn’t. And the next books were better. I lived in Oz in elementary school. I remember reading Glenda of Oz on a camping trip with my best friend. We read by flashlight in our tent. It was an adventure to read an adventure. And it helped wake my love of fantasy.
  1. And Then There Were None and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie—I have always read mysteries starting with Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew (Hmmm, they should make the list somewhere), but Dame Agatha is simply the queen. I have read many mysteries since reading her entire collection, but none have ever come close to the brilliance of Poirot, the hidden depths of Miss Marple, the spunk of Tommy and Tuppence, the other-worldiness of Harley Quin, and the ones that star no one in particular. A translation of one of her books was the first complete novel I read in Hungarian, and I have several German translations too. They got me through my year abroad and helped teach me the language at the same time. The Secret Adversary was the first book I downloaded on my Kindle too. Nobody does it better (whoops, wrong franchise).
  1. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling—Really? Do I need to say anything else? I’m working on reading it in my second language right now. I had as much fun with these as my twins who waited for their Hogwarts letters when they turned eleven.

Hmm, still not done with my list. How about some honorable mentions before one last big winner: Game of Thrones by George RR Martin (I should just write the Song of Fire and Ice series, but more people will recognize GoT); Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore; Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, the first book in a long time that had me completely engrossed; Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare—while technically a play, it meant so much to me as a teenager; I’m over it now, really, and my favorite Shakespeare is Taming of the Shrew, but R&J were the teenage thing; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows; No, David by David Shannon, the first book that my youngest could really enjoy.

I suppose I should stop. There may be a part three in the future, or at leas a list of honorable mentions, but time to move on. But one last book first . . .MatterOfConvenienceLatestSmall

13 (And yes, I like the number thirteen). A Matter of Convenience by Gabriella Anderson—The first book I sold. It started me on this crazy, rollercoaster of a heartbreaking career that I don’t know why I still pursue. That’s a lie. It’s the stories. It’s always about the stories.

–Gabi

Books I’m reading now:

Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Aszkaban by J K Rowling