A hairy topic

Hair styles

My second-grade teacher Mrs. Kelly had long, straight hair down to her butt which I thought was the coolest thing ever. I told my mom I wanted to grow my hair out too, but I never made it all the way to my butt. I have moderately curly hair, which is kind of high maintenance, so when you grow it long you’re taking on a lot of responsibility. It’s almost like adopting a pet. A pet that lives on your head. That you have to groom constantly.

My hair got halfway down my back in middle school, but that’s about as long as I’ve ever worn it before I got sick of managing it. It takes hours to dry when it’s that long, and it can generate quite the frizz halo if you don’t figure out what products to use. Actually, it can frizz even when you do use products. In addition to that, I shed a lot. Both of my college roommates commented on how much hair accumulated on our rarely-vacuumed carpet. There is always hair to be found in my bathroom sink and on the tile floor no matter how often I clean. So, I’ve generally kept my hair shoulder length which is long enough to keep my neck warm in the winter and simple enough to manage.

In the past year I’ve decided to grow my hair out again. I don’t really have a reason. I know my hair is one of my best features, so I’d like to mix things up see what I can do with it. I’m curious to see how long it can get before I decide it’s not worth the trouble, or until the drain gets so clogged that I can’t shower without filling up the tub. I’d also like to learn lots of different and fun ways to wear it, but I think I may be too incompetent to do this. I’ve braided it a few times and it always looks like I got a two-year-old to do it. I’m not attempting a complex Game of Thrones style either. I just need to braid it! I suppose this is the kind of thing other girls were learning when they read those silly girly magazines. Is there a book or a web page or a video tutorial anyone can recommend so I can figure this out? Also, do your arms get tired mid-braid or do I need to lift weights more often?

Ever since I’ve started growing out my hair I find myself hyper-observant of other women’s hairdos. I saw the movie Sleepwalk with Me recently and felt guilty that Lauren Ambrose’s hair distracted me throughout the film. I wanted to take the character aside and ask her how she learned to braid her hair in all those interesting ways. I complimented my barista on a braid she’d done that started at the top of her forehead and wrapped around the side; she told me she got ideas on Pinterest, but one search for the word “braid” reveals styles with Escher-like complexity and impossibility. I don’t think a lot of those styles can be accomplished by one person working on their own hair. I always feel self-conscious when I wear my hair differently anyway, concerned that bits have slipped out of place or that it looks like a squirrel is nesting in it.

Oh well, I’ll probably get sick of it soon enough and get half of it chopped off. Until then I’ll try to make my braids look like they were done at the very least by a six-year-old.

If you have something nice to say, say it

I support compliments

I’ve been complimenting people more often lately. I’m not sure how it started or why, but if I like the cashier’s braids or the barista’s necklace I have been saying so out loud instead of keeping these thoughts to myself. And my natural instinct is definitely to keep it to myself.

I do not go out of my way to engage people in real life, which is probably why it’s easier for me to make online friends than real-life friends. I know that I should be friendlier and talk to the people around me about the weather or the cute dog they are walking or whatever, but dude, it’s so not me. When I moved to my new apartment, I told myself I should be friendly and introduce myself to everyone I saw coming and going. Make new friends, Jennette! New friends! This lasted for about a week until I reverted back to the murmur-hello-and-avoid-lingering-eye-contact mode that I’m usually in. I wish I were one of those people who find it easy to talk to anyone and everyone, but I am not. I’m more like my cat, Java Bean, who runs to hide under the bed whenever someone who isn’t me stops by.

I seem to be ok giving people compliments though. I still have to deliberate for a few seconds about it, as if it requires great courage to speak to a stranger. Should I tell her that her tights are cute? Should I? Ok, I’ll do it! I figure everyone likes getting compliments, so it’s a low risk exercise. I vividly remember compliments I’ve gotten, like the lady at the coffee shop who liked my red sneakers and the checkout lady at the grocery store who liked my gray top with the zippers on the shoulders. Tell me I am pretty and you are so totally my new best friend. I’m so easy, it’s disgusting, really.

The key is to be sincere. Don’t say something unless you genuinely mean it. I also figure, why keep nice thoughts to yourself? There’s a lyric in an old Ben Folds Five song, The Last Polka that goes, “The cruelest lies are often told without a word/The kindest truths are often spoke and never heard.” I wouldn’t say it’s a cruel lie not to tell the barista you like her necklace, but there’s no real reason to keep it to yourself. So why not say a kind truth and let it be heard?

What I don’t know about WWII could fit in a U-boat

World War II Monument

I finally watched Band of Brothers this year, something I’ve been meaning to do for, oh, ten years. Band of Brothers is a TV mini-series about an American airborne infantry company that fought in Europe during World War II. I’d stumble across it occasionally during a Labor Day marathon on TBS, but I wanted to watch it from the beginning, so I never stopped to watch for long.

It’s a good series, and it’s fun to play “spot the future star” while watching. There’s James MacAvoy! Simon Pegg just delivered a telegram! Jamie Bamber fought Nazis before he fought cylons! Moriarty from Sherlock just arrived! That guy looks sort of like Michael Fassbender, probably because he *is* Michael Fassbender.

Spoiler alert: President Roosevelt dies before the end of the war. I preface this with the words “spoiler alert” because I am the nitwit who was shocked by this plot development. Yes, I graduated from high school. I even got all A’s. Oh, Kentucky public school system, how you have failed me. I should have been able to figure it out on my own because I knew Truman had to make the decision to nuke Japan. So, obviously Roosevelt was out of the picture by then. The problem with my history education is that the teachers always ran out of time before they got to modern history. So if you wanted to learn about the French and Indian war, you were good. If you wanted to learn anything about events that directly affected today’s foreign policy, good luck to you!

I have the decency to be embarrassed about this, so I’ve decided to educate myself about World War II. After some Googling, I decided The World at War TV mini-series was the best source. There are 26 episodes, each one 52 minutes long, so it lasts almost as long as the war itself. It was created in the 70’s, so there were able to interview lots of people who were actually involved in the war. It was evidently a landmark achievement in documentary filmmaking at the time for its thorough exploration of the topic. It was created by a British team, so they cover everything leading up to the war, whereas most American films about World War II act like it started on December 7, 1941.

I’ve only watched the first eight episodes, but I’ve already learned a lot that I should have already known. Stalin was on our side! There was fighting in Alaska! France had a huge line of underground forts that did absolutely no good! When invading Russia, check The Weather Channel first!

My only complaint so far is that the interviews are not subtitled, which makes them harder to understand. This was a world war after all, so even though most of the interviews are in English the interviewees accents are French, German, Russian, and Japanese, just to name a few. Even the American accents sometimes sound a bit odd, which further makes me believe accents change over the years. (I’d recently been surprised to learn that what we consider an American accent is what a British accent used to sound like.)

I’ve still got many, many hours to watch, but hopefully it will expand my knowledge of the war beyond what I’ve learned in movies and Emmy-award winning mini-series. No spoilers, please!

National Air and Space Museum: They provided the planes and I brought the baggage.

National Air and Space Museum

When I visited my dad last month I had a five-hour layover between the time my train pulled into Union Station in Washington, DC and the time my flight back to Raleigh departed. I decided to spend my layover at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

The thing that complicated my sightseeing was that I had to wheel my carry-on suitcase everywhere along with my backpack full of bricks (aka my laptop). I had to lug all this stuff with me on the Metro, up the escalator, and across the pebble-textured sidewalk that made my suitcase bounce like popcorn cooking in a pan. Overall, it gave me a greater appreciation for what wheelchair-bound individuals must deal with on a daily basis. Now, I won’t pretend that dragging a suitcase around all day gave me an understanding of what it’s like to be paralyzed, which is undoubtedly a complicated experience both physically and emotionally. However I did find myself thinking about things I normally don’t, like searching for the ramp to the front entrance instead of using the stairs. I also decided not to go into the life-size space station exhibit, even though I really, wanted to, because you had to go up and down a crowded, narrow stairway to see it. It just wasn’t worth the trouble. I also had to stop, sit and take lots of breaks because dragging all that crap around is tiring.

The Air and Space Museum has lots of exhibits, but the real attraction is all the airplanes and spacecrafts that they have on display, mostly hanging from the ceiling. It allows you to get a sense of how big these machines are, which you don’t quite grasp when you see them on TV. I was most excited to see SpaceShipOne (all one word, according to Wikipedia, so it must be true), the privately developed spacecraft that won the Ansari X Prize in 2004.

SpaceShipOne

Honestly, I don’t think it’s any bigger than a school bus, but it’s been in outer space! I also browsed through exhibits about the Wright Brothers, the early space programs, military aircrafts, and even a gallery of flight-related artwork.

Visable spectrum in stained glass

I also loved this stained glass window that represents the electromagnetic spectrum. I like me some art with my science. The ROYGBIV section is what is visible to the human eye, and everything else is ultraviolet, infrared, x-rays, gamma rays, and other stuff I should probably remember better from science class.

I think it’s possible to see everything in the museum in a day, but I got tired before that happened. Instead I decided to get some gelato at a place Yelp recommended before heading back to the airport. I headed north across the mall and was disappointed to see that it was anything but scenic at the moment.

Less than scenic mall

I also happened to pass the sculpture garden of one of the Smithsonian museums, so I sat down by the fountain to rest for awhile. (Dragging around luggage is seriously exhausting!)

Sculpture Garden

I finally arrived at Pitango Gelato, where the server had a sexy, foreign accent, as if a man serving me sugar and cream wasn’t sexy enough. They gave me a tiny little spoon, which was cute and also helped make the dessert last.

Pitango Gelato

After that I got on the Metro and waited at Reagan National airport for my flight. The wi-fi was free and seriously fast. I was able to watch part of a movie on Netflix streaming while I waited. Color me impressed. Then I flew home on a plane that wasn’t extraordinary enough to make it to a museum, but did the job of getting me home just fine.

Thanks for sticking around

Thank you

I’m almost halfway through my blog-a-day challenge and it looks like I might make it after all. I haven’t had to post any cat pictures at a minute to midnight yet either! This is at least partly due to the encouragement I have gotten from you guys in the comments section or on Twitter and Facebook. I honestly didn’t know if anyone was still checking in on me, but now I know there are at least a few dozen of you! I appreciate every single one of you, and your kind words mean a lot to me.

Looking over what I’ve written in the past few weeks, there are a least a few entries I think came out really well, and I would never have bothered to write them if I hadn’t made writing a non-negotiable daily task. Writing is like exercise, it’s easy to make an excuse about why you don’t have time for it, but you can usually squeeze it into your day if you decide it’s a priority. The two are also alike because most of the time I do not actually want to do them. I like having written something good and I like having done my exercise for my day, but the idea of actually doing the work is never as appealing as having done the work. Half the entries I’ve written this month have only come about because I looked at the clock and thought, “Damn, I have to write an entry for today!” Knowing that y’all are watching me has given me the extra bit of accountability necessary to meet my writing goals for this month. And like exercise, I’m always glad to have written even if the process of writing can be difficult. It is a workout for my brain, my most important muscle.

I’ve got a text file full of notes for possible blog entries. I’ve been keeping notes for months. It’s really just a matter of doing the work to make them real posts. 17 more days! Here I come!

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Want second helpings? Devour more entries in the archives.

 
 
Chocolate & Vicodin: My Quest for Relief from the Headache that Wouldn't Go Away Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, chronic headache sufferer, (former?) weight-loss inspiration, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She was formerly known as PastaQueen. You can contact her if you promise to be nice.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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