Friday, June 20, 2003

The Friday Five:

1. Is your hair naturally curly, wavy, or straight? Long or short?

My hair has a little wavy curl in it, but not as much as I’d like. The longer it gets, the curlier it gets on the ends, but the top stays straight. So I either have to put a lot of styling products in it to make it all curly, or straighten it with a blow dryer. I wear it short now, in a style that naturally flips up on the ends, so it’s pretty easy.

2. How has your hair changed over your lifetime?

I’ve had the shag haircut that most kids from the 70s had. I also had feathered hair that used a lot of hair spray. I’ve had the home perms that pretty much just dried out my hair and never had that pretty spiral look. I’ve had the 80s hair where it was high in the front and curled back to meet in the middle in the back. During the 80s, I also had it shaved a little on the sides right above my ears, and then curled back on the top, styled with colored mousse. I wore it long and curly and pulled back with a barrette in the early 90s, similar to Elaine on Seinfeld. Then I had the Rachel cut, although it never looked as good as it did on her. I had it cut to a chin-length blunt cut when I was almost 30. I’ve pretty much worn it short in various hairstyles ever since. Although I do think about growing it out every summer so I can get that windblown wavy beach look. Then I see another cute short hairstyle and I give in and get it cut again.

3. How do your normally wear your hair?

It flips up on the ends and is parted on the side. I wear bangs when I first get it cut, but then since I wait so long between haircuts, I start to pull the bangs to the side when they get long, to get that sexy “come-hither” look (yeah, right!)

4. If you could change your hair this minute, what would it look like?

I love the Halle Barry/Winona Rider pixie cuts, but I can’t pull it off with my big face and nose. If I didn’t have to work at it, I’d love Jennifer Aniston’s or Sheryl Crow’s hair when it’s long and wavy.

5. Ever had a hair disaster? What happened?

Oh, I’ve had a few. A friend of a friend was a hairdresser and said he’d perm my hair for free at home. I guess he used the wrong curlers and my hair was super tight and frizzy. That took a while to grow out. I’ve also dyed my hair a purple color (it was supposed to be that cool burgundy color) and a clown-red.

But the worst hair disaster happened when I went to New Orleans with an old boyfriend many, many years ago. We’d been out on Bourbon Street and were pretty sloshed. We stopped on a street corner so I could light a cigarette. My hair had fallen forward (that was at a time when I wore it long and curly so it had a lot of product in it). The flame of the lighter caught my hair on fire, and I watched in horror as the flames raced up my head to my scalp. I started patting my head to put out the fire (it never really burned my head). Since I was pretty drunk, I wasn’t thinking clearly and just started crying saying I was bald, even though I could feel my hair under my hands. I ended up burning about a two-inch strip of hair all the way up to the hairline. (There’s nothing worse than waking up with a hangover to the smell of burnt hair!) The worst part is when the hair started growing back. I had these little bangs, reminiscent of a buzz-cut, that stuck straight out. It took quite a while for them to grow out.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Am I a bad mom if I admit that I sometimes miss my former life? Is it wrong to schedule time at the gym, not so much for the health benefits, but because it gives me an hour to myself? Am I terrible if I sometimes watch the clock at night, counting down the minutes until my daughter goes to bed?

I miss being able to sleep in on the weekends if I've stayed up too late the night before. I miss eating a meal without little feet stepping on my toes, and little hands grasping at my plate, searching for another bite to eat. I miss just taking off to go shopping, the beach, a night out on the town without taking into consideration naptimes or babysitters. I miss being able to check my e-mail or write down my thoughts without constantly removing little fingers as they press down on the computer keys (no matter how often I say "no," or how stern my voice is, she just thinks it's funny and comes back for more). I miss having dinner at a normal time because it's easier to cook/eat after she goes to bed.

I enjoy the quiet times when my daughter is napping or when my husband takes her to visit grandma and grandpa (which is the case right now). And I feel guilty for thinking these things.

But then ...

I think about the times when I'm so anxious to get her to bed so I can have a minute alone, and how 15 minutes later, I want to wake her up because I miss her. I think about how it makes me want to cry to watch her little face as she sleeps. I think about how her smile lights up her face when I walk into a room, and how mine mirrors hers in return. I think about how she's growing up so fast, already climbing onto chairs and scribbling with her crayons. I think about how smart she is, making animal noises, and repeating words like "purple," "bubble," "turtle." I think about the feeling of her head on my shoulder when I get her out of the car after she's fallen asleep. I think about how she gives hugs and kisses so readily. I think about quick she is to forgive me when either she loses her temper or I lose mine. I think about how enthralled she gets with her books and how she asks "Ageh?" when she wants me to read them again. I think about how she loves to splash in the bath, and how she never cries when the water gets in her eyes. I think about how she always goes, "Aaahhh!" after drinking her milk or water. I think about how she leans forward to smell the flowers in the garden, and always picks up a small stone to bring in the house with her. I think about her sweaty hair that sticks straight out when she wakes up from a nap. I think about how she jumps on me if I'm laying on the floor, saying "Gottcha!" I think about how she loves her little comforter and drags it around the house with her, cuddling her face into it when it's on the floor. I think about how she's a little ham with strangers, always smiling and willing to do her little tricks like touching her hair, blinking her eyes, or blowing kisses. I think about the way she dances whenever she hears music, whether it's Bob Marley, Mozart, Linkin' Park or Dr. Dre. I think about the sound of her laughter when the "tickle monster" comes.

And I can't imagine my life without her.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

I've always wanted to be a singer in a band. I envision myself playing the keyboard, sometimes singing lead, sometimes backup, sometimes harmony with another member of the band. I can see myself in front of a crowd of people (some are old crushes who suddenly look at me with new eyes, some are old enemies who are suddenly very envious, some are my biggest fans).

The problem? While I can carry a pretty good tune, my voice isn't exactly American Idol material. It's not bad enough to be on the Best of the Worst of American Idol, but I don't think strangers hear me and say, "Damn, that girl can sing!" The other problem? While I taught myself to play piano and learn to read piano music, I'm far from a classical pianist. I don't even own a piano. I can play some basic cords and follow a simple melody, but I just fumble along if it's something more complex.

So in order to satisfy a dream that will never happen, I turn to karaoke. I don't do it as much as I did in my prior life (i.e., my time of drinking and partying 'til dawn), but every once in a while, I get a chance to get up an show my stuff.

While I sang in school/church choirs growing up, my first time singing a solo in front of a group of people was when I was about 22. I was at a restaurant/bar that had an acoustic guitar player singing James Taylor-esque songs. He started getting requests from people at the bar, and someone requested "The Rose" by Bette Middler. I was sitting at the table with my boyfriend, my cousin (as mentioned in my previous blog) and her boyfriend/my friend, and I started singing along quietly at our table (my mom and I used to sing that song while I played accompanied us on the piano). The singer didn't know all the words and asked whether anyone in the audience could help him out. Everyone at my table pushed me up there, and I just thought I'd sing really softly so he could hear the words and lead the way. But from the beginning, he just pushed the microphone toward me and I sang the song. Everyone clapped and he told me I did a great job, and I got my first thrill of applause.

I told my best friend, Brenda, about it, so the next week we were at one of our favorite bars that happened to have karaoke on Thursday nights. She said she wanted to hear me sing, so I signed up for the song. We had a group of about eight friends there who were playing pool or darts when I got up to sing. Slowly they all sat down at the table and watched me. Afterward, they said they'd never had a friend who could sing like me. I felt 10 feet tall (which is amazing considering my real height of 5' 2 1/2").

A few months later, Brenda and I went to Texas to see my parents (they lived in Dallas/Ft. Worth before moving to Nashville a few years later), and stopped in New Orleans on the way. We stopped in at the Cat's Meow and signed up to sing "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen. We had a blast, wearing stage props and getting the audience involved.

When we got back home, we'd sing together whenever we were at a bar that had karaoke, and sometimes I'd sing by myself. After a while, I became known as the "Karaoke Queen." One of my most memorable nights was at a pretty seedy bar where one of my friend's girlfriends worked as a bartender. I chose to sing "Dream On" by Aerosmith. As I got up to sing, this biker-looking guy looked at me like, "Yeah, right, this preppy girl's going to sing this song?" I felt I had something to prove. As I started singing, he started to straighten up from the slouched position he'd been in. By the time I was done, he was the one who clapped the loudest.

I don't really go to bars much now (it's a little hard with a child), in fact, I don't go out much at all. But every once in a while, we'll go bowling, which has karaoke in its little bar. It's not much, but it gives me my singing fix, and a little different locale than the driver's seat of my car. There's nothing like karaoke in a bowling alley to show your star potential!

When I was growing up, I had two cousins who were very close in age to me (he was 9 months older, she was 10 months younger), and who were practically like brother and sister to me. We were so close, even though we only saw each other once a year, when my parents made the long drive from New Mexico, or Arizona when we lived there, to Florida (how I hated Texas ... it took three days to get through!).

My cousins, sister and I always had such a good time, once we got through that initial half-hour where we said our shy "hi's" in the living room with our parents. After that, we went outside and just played. They lived in a pretty rural area outside of a small town, so their backyard was pretty much a small patch of woods. But trails ran all through those woods: up to their grandparents' Bird House (I mentioned in my tribute to Norb), to the chicken coops and rabbit cages, and wherever else we wanted to go.

We'd make forts at the base of trees out of materials we found: a sheet of metal (don't ask where we found that), old bedsheets, cardboard boxes. My older cousin decided to build a tree house one year all on his own. He brought me up there, and while he had to be given credit for his design (it was a multi-level creation with different "rooms"), it was definitely not sturdy. I quickly made my way down the tree, while listening to his pleas of "Come on, I made it myself. It's not going to fall!" (A few years later, we got a call from my aunt telling us that he'd fallen out of the tree house and broken both legs.) We'd ride their go-cart through those winding trails, until the time the steering got jammed and I ran straight on into a tree, ramming my mouth into the metal frame of the go-cart. I had a pretty fat, bloody lip from my teeth hitting my mouth, but luckily my strong horse teeth remained in place. We'd go skateboarding at the trailer park on the other side of the woods.

We all slept in the same room and stayed up all night, talking about friends and our favorite things and what we wanted to be when we grew up. I just remember our laughter as we'd describe how weird our faces looked in the dim light from the hall as it crept into the room. We talked about how we wished we could live near each other so we could be together all the time. But unfortunately, in what seemed like no time, my sister and I had to leave.

I finally moved to Florida when I was 19, right after my older cousin moved to Virginia to join the Navy. My younger cousin often came to Tampa on the weekends to stay with me and hang out with my friends. She started dating a really good friend of mine and I was so excited, hoping for a wonderful wedding. Unfortunately, they didn't make it, and she eventually married a man very much older than her, and had two beautiful kids. She recently wrote me an e-mail talking about old times, apologizing for hurting me (although she didn't ... just my friend). I think she was thinking about how things might have been different. I think we all go through that, and I assured her that she was a good person, and very strong.

She's stronger than I can imagine in certain ways. My cousins had a brother who was 5 years younger than us. I remember us not wanting to let him play with us when we were younger because he was too small. We never really had the connection with him that the four of us had with each other. He eventually grew up to be a very good looking guy, who I had even more in common with than his brother and sister. We had made plans for him to visit me in Tampa, so I could take him out to see the night life. A few months later, I got a call from my mom telling me that he was driving home from Miami with his friends, fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a tree, dying instantly, along with the passenger. He was just 20. It was such a shock. At his funeral, the church was packed. People were standing in the aisles, in the doorway, in the church lobby. Even the lunch ladies from the high school cafeteria attended. It was such a tribute to him that he touched so many people's lives. I remember watching my cousins, and how brave and strong they looked. Their family had never really been one that cried a lot (unlike me, who cries at the drop of a hat), but you could see the suffering underneath. I can't imagine that kind of loss.

I really miss my cousins. I miss our talks and the fun times we had. I want to make a trip to Florida soon so they can see my daughter, so that she can play with their children and hopefully have a great relationship like we had.

Monday, June 16, 2003

I just finished watching Surf Girls on MTV (like I've said before, I'm a reality TV junkie and I get sucked into a lot of these shows), and am still freaked out about the waves that they showed in Tahiti. I think I've mentioned before that I'm afraid of waves in the ocean. Not the little foamy ones that rush past my ankles as I brave the freezing water of the Pacific Ocean. It's the ones that rise above my head scare me to death (and considering I'm only 5-foot 2-1/2 inches, that's pretty much most waves).

I think my fear of waves started when I was about three or four years old. My family went to Spain for vacation (we were stationed in Germany at the time, and it was less than a day's drive). I don't remember much about the trip: we went to a bullfight where I rooted for the bull, my parents bought my sister and me some flamenco dancer dolls, and the ocean was very cold. I remember standing on the beach, willing myself to get into the cold water (maybe that's where my dislike of cold water came from, too). But what I remember most was that the waves scared me. I'm sure they weren't very big, but to a very short child, they seemed monstrous. After we returned home, I had a nightmare that a tidal wave was threatening to overtake me as I ran up the beach. I still remember that dream vividly to this day. In fact, when I saw Deep Impact, the scene where Tea Leoni and her father are standing on the beach watching the tidal wave is very similar to my dream.

Anyway, I've just never really cared for waves. Before moving to California, I lived in Tampa, Fla., and since it's on the Gulf of Mexico, I never really had to worry about waves. I visited the east side of the state a few times, at Cocoa Beach and Daytona, but never really swam too far out. I just hated the feeling of getting sucked under by the waves, or watching a wave tower over my head.

And since I've been in California, I've only been in the water once. Not so much because of the waves, but because the water's so damn cold!

My husband and I went to Maui for our honeymoon nearly three years ago. I'd never been there and was awestruck at how beautiful the water was. The resort where we stayed was on a beach where the waves were pretty mild, by the time they reached the beach, they were just a bubbly rush across our feet. The first day there, we decided to go to Makena Beach, a place that had some neat cliffs but also some very strong waves. There were warning signs on the beach about no lifeguards, but I wasn't really worried because we weren't surfing or boogie boarding.

My husband decided to go swimming, and I continued to read my magazine. I heard this thunderous pounding and looked up to see these pretty large waves pounding against the sand. These waves came in a set of three and then settled down to more manageable waves. My husband came out of the water and asked me if I'd seen them. We were amazed at the power of those waves.

A little while later, we were both pretty hot and he convinced me to get in the water. We rushed passed the shore breaking waves and swam a little further out in the water. I was past the point where the waves started to break, but every so often my husband would jump into one. I asked him how he did it without being dragged under by the wave. He told me that he just dived into the wave and popped out the other side. Every time I'd see a wave starting to rise, I'd swim out further to make sure I was past its breaking point.

So we were out there for a while and I was just starting to really relax. I was facing the beach and didn't realize that I had started to move in a little. My husband was facing me, and suddenly told me I'd better start swimming. I turned around and saw one of the larger waves coming. My stomach did a little turn when I realized the wave was already starting to crest. I knew I wouldn't be able to swim past it in time, so I decided to dive into it to pop out the other side. What I didn't realize was that when my husband dived into a wave, he dived up into the wave. I dived straight into the wave, which resulted in the wave scooping me up to the top (kind of like those bank containers when they get sucked up into the tube) and then slamming me down on the beach.

I felt the wind get knocked out of me, and tremendous pain. My first thought was that I had broken my back. I heard my husband telling me to get up because the next wave was coming. I just kept yelling that I couldn't get up, and rolled over so I wouldn't get knocked in the face by the next wave, which just pushed me deeper into the sand. By that time, my husband was there, helping me stand. Since I was able to stand, I figured that my back wasn't broken, just possibly sprained. But all I could focus on was how much pain I was in. I was also bummed because it was our first day in Hawaii, and we'd planned to do so many things.

For the rest of the trip, I toughed it out: I snorkeled; I took the road to Hana; I went up 10,000 feet, standing above the clouds to watch the sun rise and then biked back down to sea level (that was the most amazing thing I've ever done). I was in pain through all of it, but I wasn't going to let it spoil our time. The five-hour plane ride back home was excruciating, and finally a week after the accident I went to my doctor. The x-rays showed that I had a compression fracture in first lumbar vertebrate, and I had to wear a back brace for three months. I don't know if doing all of those things in Hawaii made it worse, but I wouldn't change anything about our trip (well, maybe the whole Makena beach thing).

So, now I'm even more afraid of waves. It makes me nauseous to watch those "monster wave" specials on the Discovery channel, or even to watch Surf Girls (that could also be because I'm watching these 19-21 year old girls with perfect bodies, while I sit with my 34-year-old body on the couch, but I digress). I worry that when my daughter gets old enough to go to the beach, I won't be brave enough to take her into the water. I know my husband will have a good time with her, but I don't want to be the fuddy-duddy mom that sits on the beach in her skirted one-piece flowered bathing suit.