Thursday, July 28, 2005


The unpacking is almost done. Ditto the latest book. It'll probably take me another three weeks to catch up on e-mail, but I'm working on it (and my apologies to everyone who is waiting patiently for responses. I'm really flooded.)

As a result, I have not had time to do much of anything, especially self-maintenance. Which is why this morning when I looked in the mirror I thought my hair was falling out. It wasn't, but my roots had grown out to a solid inch of white. Beyond the white was a narrow margin of light brown-red/silvery hair where the non-permanent dye is fading. The rest is dark brown that glows dark red in the sunlight.

As I was pretty sure the Pepe Le Pue look is not going to come into fashion any time soon, and I don't have time now to mess with it, I took myself off to the nearest decent hair salon. I was smart this time: I waited for an hour for the most experienced stylist, dropped into her chair, pointed to my head and said, "Do something."

To her credit, she didn't quit her job on the spot, but pursed her lips and rummaged through my tresses. She questioned me like a Style Cop: "You used what here? And here? What were you trying to do?" Whenever I answered, she hmmmmed. Not the good kind of hmmm, either. The ominous, your-hair-is-toast hmmmm.

Finally she delivered the verdict: "We'll do a test, see if we can work in highlights to blend it."

I remembered the last time I bleached my hair. I walked down the street, cars skidded off the road. "What if it turns orange?"

"You'll have to cut it off or grow it out."

The stylist smeared the goop on a test strand, foiled me, and I began to pray to Kelly Clarkson. Twenty minutes later, the foil was gingerly removed and the highlighted hair examined. She said, "I think we can do it if we trim some of the really dark stuff."

We negotiated on the length -- I wasn't spending another 6 months looking like a damn Madame Alexander doll -- and then she went to work. Two hours, two containers of bleach and a pile of hair on the carpet later, she let me put my glasses on to see the final results.

In the mirror was Meg Ryan.

Well, a chubby, middle-aged, myopic, streaky brown/blonde version of Meg Ryan, anyway. The cut she'd given me is semi-short, chunky-layered from earlobes to just about my shoulders. My silver roots blend in nicely with the golden blonde highlights and the way she worked them in with the dark brown makes my hair resemble a polished tiger eye stone.

Before I floated out the door on a wave of hair bliss, my savior loaded me up with smoothing and nourishing hair products that cost more than I want to think about. I promised her I would never dye my hair myself again, and this time I wasn't lying. That Pepe Le Pue look was pretty scary.

Like any girl, I came home and spent ten minutes in front of the mirror, studying and debating it all. Was it too young a style? Too short? Too light? Then there were all the new hair politics involved: Can I still call myself a redhead? Does having highlights mean I have to be nice to blondes now? What if I washed out all the blow-dried waves and styling gel and ended up looking like Willard?

I just took a shower, washed out all the crap, combed and let it dry, as I always do, by itself. I may be hair-vain as hell, but I can't stand blow dryers. It all dried into a slightly rumpled but still acceptable Meg Ryanish mop.

I know my hair. It will take another two years for everything to grow out and me to go completely au naturale. I'm not sure pure white is going to be any better than me going blonde, in which case, I might start wearing my Cubs cap outside. But for once, after years of awful do's and purple dye jobs and never ever being happy with my head, I think I actually love this cut and color--

(known universe collapses)


  1. Oh, don't do this to me! I have put off dealing with the hair situation for way too long. Last official haircut? May of last year. I kid you not. I've done the bangs myself, and my daughter keeps the patches (yes, patches) of white colored for me. I wasn't crazy about my last cut. But I was insane for the color and the highlights. The woman was a master. So, last May, my hair was layered and shoulder length. Right now, it's a rat's nest and mid-back. I just roll it up in a rooster tail and pretend it's not there. But now I'm going to whine because I want what you have! I just hate having to replace the stylist I had when I worked because now she's too far away and too pricey for my author's pocketbook!

  2. Anonymous9:50 PM

    I'm thinkin' a photo is in order! I'd love to see how it turned
    out, being in a similar situation (44, dark hair, white roots,
    except mine tend to be mostly in the temple area which yields
    what I 'affectionately' call my Bride of Frankenstein look).

  3. Anonymous9:51 PM

    Cr*p, I didn't mean for that to be anonymous.

  4. Hello.. I am fairly content that I bumped into your blog.. that "Next Blog" button is an amazing tool .. I am fascinated by the fact that you are a writer - how childish, but there you go.

    But it's the way of my world, you lot tend to grab my attention.. literature is the dimension within which I am always in contact with some sort of magic, the type lost when growing up - but rediscovered, in my case, through my (short) lifetime fascination with the literary dimension.

    I am sorry to hear about your hair. Why is it that we are so unable to be fully content in our own skin. We always find bits to worry about. If it's not the hair it's the skin, or the clothes, or the teeth, or the feet, or our social status.
    I for instance never seem to have had a decent photo taken of me. Ring a bell anyone?

    I wish you luck and prosperity with your look, and your self-contentment.
    Will be looking out for your b o o k s .

  5. What's wrong with a purple dye job? I pay my stylist $60 whenever I have the money to turn it purple on purpose. :-)

    Of course that's one way I tell my grays to go f*** off. I'm only in my mid-20's and I'm not going to go dignified gray yet. It worked the first time, didn't see a gray for almost a year, and even now it takes a while after I visit my stylist to see them.

  6. When I was a sophomore in high school, the kids used to amuse themselves in Chemistry by counting my gray hairs. I gave up coloring for awhile, until someone mistook me for the monsters' grandma, while I was pregnant with the third, no less. So I keep my hair colored (although I've got the streak thing going right now). I've never had my hair professionally colored, but yours sounds super. I love Meg Ryan's hair! So maybe I'll scrape up the money.

  7. Anonymous11:06 PM

    Tam checks her inbox again... ;)

    And here I thought you were pissed at me!

    Glad to know you're just swamped and that you're a new Meg Ryan lookalike. She's hot, she's sexy, she used to sleep with Dennis Quaid. What's not to love?

    I've never colored my hair, other than one dose of Sun-In when I was fifteen that turned it kinda orangey. Meg hair sounds fabulous tho. Congrats. You're gonna make me jealous. New sexy house, new sexy hair, bestselling book...

    They do say blondes have more fun, so, when's the housewarming party and will there be strippers? Some of us really need to unwind. ;)

  8. Keeping up with dye jobs is a pain in the ass. I've never had anything done professionally--but if I royally screw a bleach job or such up, I'll either dye it black or deep burgundy.

    Sounds like a lovely style, though! Do we get pictures? ;)

  9. You can have my hair. Men lose their hair in their thirties. I hate them. Especially when they whine, "Why can't I keep my hair?" Mine is theoretically straight, but goes off in weird directions when it gets long. If it would do this consistently, we could call it "wavy." Instead, I could mouse it every morning, and it'd still look like I got up and skipped the shower.

    I hate my hair.

    Every day is a bad hair day for me.

    Fortunately, I generally don't care what I look like, since I don't have to look at me.

  10. (glances at the box of hairdye on her counter)

    After Saturday, I'm going to be a lovely purple-burgundy.

    I got complimented on my hair dye skills by my beautician last time I went in for a cut. She asked who had colored my hair. I said me, and she didn't believe me.

    Well, you do it often enough and eventually, you get it right....

  11. Anonymous4:25 AM

    I'm so glad to be a bloke!
    I keep my hair cut short so that fencing masks and knightly helmets fit. The only concern is not to come home looking like Mr Hedgehog.

  12. Hair is a nuisance. You can see from my pic that I'm not blessed with the obedient stuff. Too short and it looks like a melted shoe brush. Too long and it looks like a distressed mop. I can't use a comb - it's a hair brush or nothing, and even those have little noticeable effect.
    So, I sympathise, and at the same time I'm glad I don't have to bother with dyes, tips, colours and all the rest of it. Ten minutes in the chair once or twice a year is plenty for me ;-)

  13. Anonymous7:28 AM

    Oh yes, a photo is a definate must.

    I haven't dyed my hair in years. I keep making poorly veiled threats, but I'm too wimpy these days to carry them out - that and that fact that having my hair washed by a stylist makes me nauseous (its a long story).

    Of course, now that youngest spawn has noticed I'm getting grey hairs - and started commenting loudly in public places - perhaps its time I surrendered to the inquisition. No way I'll ever look like Meg Ryan though... Elvira perhaps.

  14. I'm a brunette, and for some impulsive reason I went blond a few years ago. Did it all myself, with my best friend (who's dyed her hair for years) holding my hand through the first couple of dyes. Had to use two boxes to get the chocolate color close enough to lemon to actually qualify as blond. Never quite got there -- it was always kind of a caramel color at best.

    When I got sick of the hassle, I went back to the drugstore and got two boxes of medium ash brown -- the shade Best Friend had helped me pick out before I colored so I could go back anytime.

    My hair turned green.

    Mostly black, but very definitely green. Washed it over and over, which didn't help at all. At the time I worked in a junior high, and every kid there thought they were the first to notice. Most thought it required at least a snigger.

    The stylist I begged for help later that week took one look at me and said, "You used a brown color with the word 'ash' in the name, right?" I was so stunned all I could do was nod. She told me, "Anytime you put something with 'ash' in the name over blond, it goes green. Always."

    She minimized the damage as best she could, sent me home with an armful of products and an earful of instructions. Back to brown now and I haven't dyed since -- though your success story is kinda making me think about giving it one more go, the right way... :-)

    Moral of the story: you can't always take the same road home that you took on the way out.

  15. Oh, boy, can I relate to this! I went from way overgrown and out of control to Cameron Diaz last spring. It's liberating!

  16. It will take another two years for everything to grow out and me to go completely au naturale. I'm not sure pure white is going to be any better than me going blonde, in which case, I might start wearing my Cubs cap outside.

    Kudos on the new do! I've toyed with the idea of letting my hair go au naturel, and my head says it's time, but my id keeps screaming, "not yet...not yet..." :-)

  17. I love it! You're just like me. I let mine go and just cut my own bangs, and color it myself. Then my hairstylist gets so pissed off.

    I'm with the others! I wanna see a photo! I love that chunky Meg Ryan look!

  18. Willard. That would be me. As for you, it sounds wonderful. And the universe seems to work just fine collapsed, so go ahead and keep it.

  19. Anonymous10:35 AM

    PK the Bookeemonster said:
    My husband wants me to have long hair. I feel more comfortable with chin length or a little more. My hair is fine but thick and hot and heavy. However, the last time I cut it he didn't say he liked it -- he didn't say anything to me at all the rest of the day. (sigh) So I'm growing my hair out again and in the hot summer weather I know every braid in the book. :)

  20. WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO So glad you like it. I wanna see too!

    I quit coloring my hair four years ago (happiest day of my life right behind my divorce), but I do not shirk my monthly trim *ggg*. Almost the entire top layer of my hair is silver...looks kinda cool mixed with the black.

  21. I'd love to see a pic, too. It sounds like you got a great stylist. I hope you keep her and she doesn't move to Colorado, like the last really superb stylist I had did. I haven't had a good cut for over ten years because I can't find anyone who can work with fine-textured, wavy hair. (sigh)

    And when you get to my paranoid email, chalk it up to PMS, if that's an appropriate reaction. You'll understand when you read the darn thing.



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