My Weekend and The Matter of Good Hair

I have two whole rest days scheduled back to back this weekend, no beach trips.  So, because I had a bit of time this morning (and the humidity has been tolerably low), I decided to do something I haven’t done since around Christmas:

I blow-dried my hair straight.

It’s not just that I’m lazy, or that my exercise schedule makes copious hair-drying time impractical, or even that I am committed to shiny un-fried hair.  Those are some of the reasons why I don’t blow-dry daily.

It’s also that I feel awkward and strange and quite freaky with straight hair.  It takes me back to middle school battles and high-school memories that, frankly, I’d rather not remember.  And, despite the fact that no one really cares anymore, it’s an assertion of being myself and of not complying with certain Puerto Rican expectations about beauty and appearance–expectations that call for all girls to have straight, smooth, preferably very long, hair.

Want to see for yourselves?  This is what baby Laura had on her head:

And this is what three-year-old Laura had on her head:

Smooth much?  Of course–not just because my curls released a bit, but because they were meticulously dried straight by my mom.  And so it went for all of my childhood.  Now, I don’t accuse my Mamalicious of trying to hide my hair’s texture or any such thing–she was just making me prettier, as far as little girl hair went.  Pretty little Puerto Rican girls did not leave the house with frizz and flyaways, and in those days every little girl whose mama (and aunts and grandmas) loved her knew what it was like to sit still for the thrice-weekly attack with the hairdryer and brushes.

Frankly, I had NO idea that my hair was anything but what you see above until I got a short bob in seventh grade, at which point my mom told me I was old enough to dry my own.  One girl inexperienced with the fine arts of hair drying + one short blunt bob = frizzy, tear-inducing disaster.  I couldn’t understand why my hair was so freaky, and I was resentful (in a sullen twelve-year-old way) at my mom for not warning me before I chopped off the necessary length to keep the newly-discovered rat’s nest under control.

Eventually, I learned to dry it tolerably straight, and I was even recruited to dry the hair of subsequent sisters with the same “problem.”  Little A had smooth hair in the back and a kinky mess in the front (which was affectionately called “pasas,” or raisins, probably because it was crinkly like said food?), Minxy had hit the genetic jackpot with pin-straight black hair…. and Baby Bel had a mass of ultra-thick, tightly-curled  hair.  The mere suggestion of having to sit the child down for half an hour to de-kink her head was enough to induce tears on a bad day–for me if I was dragged into doing it, and for her if someone DIDN’T.

University days were straight hair times.  Grad school was a half-and-half proposition, as I was pressed for time and patience and some nice wavy hairstyles came into fashion (or whatever).  Slowly, I stopped drying my hair straight and felt incredibly liberated by not doing it.  It was ok to admit to frizz, and I didn’t want to be complicit in the kind of ideals for Puerto Rican girls that demanded hair halfway down the back, gently highlighted, and smooth.  I felt a frisson of naughtiness when I left the house with wet hair–and gained a half hour in the morning!

After that, I never looked back.  The misty English weather during my four years in Coventry kept me curly, and the heat and humidity of Trinidad have conspired to ensure that I’ve dried my hair straight exactly five times in the year and a half  that I’ve lived here–and that’s counting the time I dressed up as Sarah Palin for Halloween.

So that is why I keep myself curly/wavy/messy.  I like my hair to look as loopy as I feel.  And, once in a while, I’m pleasantly surprised at still being able to smooth things out:

Just not too often.

_________

When a girl has blow-dried hair in Trinidad, she avoids doing things that make her sweaty and bothered.  I mean, this hair is newsworthy.  So I kept all cooking low-key.  On Saturday, that meant potato, mushrooms, and egg scramble with toast:

Apple and peanut butter sandwich for lunch:

And taco salad (taco-seasoned lentils, lettuce, tomato, onion, peppers, tortilla chips) for dinner:

With such straight hair, you are also more prone to wardrobe changes, going from Old Navy shorts and sister hand-me-up T-shirt on Saturday:

To a Sunday combo of Little A hand-me-up blouse (I think it’s from Charlotte Russe, but I took the label out because it scratched so I can’t be sure) and Old Navy denim shorts:

Orange juggling in action

On a Sunday of good hair, especially when said hair is attached to a head that aches from two measly pints of beer the night before, things are kept low-key in the kitchen with apple and dried cranberry oatmeal, plus strong black coffee to power me through a trip to the farmer’s market and supermarket:

And, for lunch, easy scrambled egg and salsa wraps–because stirring requires little energy expenditure and minimal risk of frizz:

And, since we’re talking about minimal expenditure of effort, I made an easy provisions soup with cassava, taro root, and carrots in an herby onion, garlic and celery broth, plus cornbread (which I’ve made so many times I could do it with my eyes closed) and a red pepper that looked pretty scrumptious:

As for the activities of the weekend…  Sewing mania, folks, sewing mania:  much buying of fabric, mad bookmarking of styles to make, putting together of patterns, cutting of test items and general mess-making.  Had I not fallen victim to my ridiculously low drink tolerance, there would have been actual sewing results, or at the very least pictures of the fabric, mais non–all I can offer up for now is this, the mess and process of Saturday’s pattern-cutting:

After which came Sunday, spent on the couch with a book, some zzz’s, and Michael C. Hall/Dexter.

But I’ll come back soon with some fabric evidence for you to savor, tomorrow, when my head stops hurting and my hair returns to its natural wavy texture.

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2 Responses

  1. You have good hair!
    Mine is pretty straight but just kind of ugly if left on its own!

  2. The baby photos are so cute! My hair has suddenly become super curly after genius hair-cut in Macau! Although usually as soon as I go outside in this ridiculously humid climate it switches to its evil frizz alterego. How good is Dexter by the way? Sadly I’ve only seen Season 1 and a bit of 2. Did you know he’s married to his sister (in Dexter of course, otherwise that’d be gross…)

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