Nov 22, 2011

Taking Stock Of Our Locks


It's a bit funny that our mom is in curlers in this photo. She has always had very naturally curly hair. But for most of her teens she sported sixties-type bobs that I supposed required this sort of silly but now almost iconic beauty prep.


And it's probably why she rebelled in her twenties and wore her hair all Yoko style. Long and psuedo-straightened, like a frizzy blanket. But don't let her fool you like she did us when we were little kids, asking ourselves "why can't we have long straight hair like Mom?"

Me with my awkward mop of strangely layered bangs (thanks Mom for the home cuts too) and curls that I would brush out with a plastic bristly brush that was guaranteed to turn any curl into static poof. Kathleen with practically no hair until she was three, just cotton candy puffs of blonde, who would drape our mom's long dark tresses over her own head, and pretend it was hers. If Mom's hair wasn't handy she'd also be known to rubberband pieces of fabric like a headdress on her head to feel like she had long straight hair. Um, strangely fooling no one.


But as we got older, we realized that our Mom's hair was very curly. Especially once she put down the hair dryer in about her mid-thirties and never picked it up again til this day. And guess what? Our hair was curly, too. Especially once we moved out of the house and all stopped using that same bristly plastic brush.


Of course, even though Mom pretty much settled on her curly style and stuck with it, Kathleen and have gone through all sorts of hair evolutions, many disguising the curls. Like Kathleen's "bear buns" phase. Cute little pigtail-style buns on either side of her head that she wore in her late teens. I picked up the style in my twenties for a while, a messier-bun version with bangs. Very art director.

And even though I always influenced Kathleen's hair when she was a kid (sessions in the bathroom with a curling iron, a can of hairspray and a scrunchy and Kathleen comes out looking just like a sister on Full House) we've begun to reverse rolls. Kathleen picks up a style and I can't help but start to adapt it to my own hair.

I honestly think it's because I look at her all the time. But I always go for a less high-maintenance version (granted with less stunning results) but also more getting-kids-ready-in-the-morning friendly. Plus, I think I got some of my Mom's "eh" attitude about just not spending too much energy on it.

Mom always thinks Kathleen looks like Julia Roberts in this picture, by the way. Fitting, since she's a famous "curly-girl" herself who has also gone through phases of curl acceptance and curl denial.


Then we both went darker and more retro. Short bobs and flips. Not a curl in sight.


But over the past few years we've both just decided to go with it.

I actually read a book once called Curly Girl. It was written by a hairdresser who was sort of bucking the system and the snobbery in her industry about curly hair. So even thoug it was a little bit about cultivating your curls and how to cut and style them, etc... what always stuck with me was these little stories and testimonials from other curly girls, and the point the book makes about how society makes us feel about curly hair, and how we make ourselves feel about it. Basically, curly hair equals emotional, messy or out of control. Straight hair equals put together and sharp.

One of my favorite stories was from a straight-haired mom with a curly headed little girl. This mom was so stressed about this mess of hair she was responsible for, and just didn't know what to do, and once she figured it out thanks to Curly Girl (i.e. stop brushing her hair) it was this huge relief.
I don't think our mom ever really stressed about our hair, because she's a beauty is skin deep kind of a person, and a just "go with what you've got" kind of person on top of that. I think Kathleen and I are figuring that out, too. Of course Kathleen is always going to take it to the next level, whether posting an anatomy of an outfit on her blog, or posing as a hopelessly hip designer-turned-model for one day.

Sometimes I pose with her. Not in a model way, like in a personal branding sort of way. You know, now that we're respectable business-types (and yes, curly hair can be professional too.) As you can see the blonde made it's way over to older sister here, as well. What can I say? Kathleen's personal brand is catching.

So in the spirit of thankfulness, thanks for keeping me current, Kathleen. It's maybe not your typical "what-I'm-thankful-for" Thanksgiving dinnertable sentiment. But I think I owe thanks to someone else even more (since I gave her a hard time about the bangs and the brush). Even though it took us a while to figure out what to do with them, curls and frizz and out-of-control and all...

thanks for the locks, Mom.

Now, Donny's hair is a whole other story in itself. From long hair to no hair to the most memorable handlebar (talk about personal branding) mustache. You can read about it here.

Nov 17, 2011

Family Fridge




My family fridge is a constantly evolving documentation of our days. The summertime achievements have been taken down for the fall. But not everything changes. I mean the Bob's Appliance Repair calling card will probably stay up there at least another year at least after repairing our stove (we do live in a house from the 1930's and it's not like my husband or I are especially house-fixin' handy.)

So like good ol' Bob's card, there's the reminders and necessities like:
- cub scout calendars
- takeout phone numbers (Pizza House should be memorized, really, though)
- a free ticket to the movies I haven't redeemed

Typical stuff. But I try not to let it get to cluttered. Ha! What I mean is, I try not to let the functional overpower the, well... the cultural. The things on our fridge that capture our family's personality.

Like the art from the boys which I usually change out every week or so. Gallery-style. It's mostly daycare glue-and-fingerpaint projects from Sam, often involving a body part like a thumb or a foot (see butterfly above) or Charlie's drawings.

Charlie's drawings typically depict:
- what shows he's watching (Adventure Time With Jake & Finn above)
- what games he's playing (Castle Crashers below that)
- sometimes comic-book style stuff like a megalodon shark with a flamethrower

Sometimes he tries to visualize what he wants to happen in real life through art. For example, when his classmates were all asked to draw fall leaves, he drew a complex bridge-and-ladder, two tier treehouse scene, complete with Daddy, Charlie, Sam, Mommy, a fire pit, (oh, the actual pile of fall leaves) and even a root system underground where a little worm is checking out the action above. This is because he wants a treehouse. Hey, there's a strategy. But drawing it so complex is probably not winning the arguement with Chris, who would have to build it. Did I mention not exactly handy?

Then there's the actual magnets. Ones that look like:
- cartoon red u-shaped old-school magnets
- legos (my favorites)
- old milk top lids
- vintage typewriter keys
- and even ones that look like iPhone app icons

Sam loves to rearrange the app magnets, because he's iPhone/iPad obsessed. In fact it's becoming a problem. Not the app, game and online video obsession, really... just the fact that the megalodon flamethrower drawing keeps drooping down off the fridge where Sam has removed the You Tube icon magnet.

I don't have a lot of photos. But the ones I do, are tiny little gems.
- a photo booth strip of Kathleen and I from when she was just a teen
- a boat tour of Manhattan tourist pic with me, Dad and Donny (below)
- (it was freezing but also one of my favorite New York memories)
- and these hilarious fake-photos made by my husband, Chris

Chris actually made these for a big annual work event, where all the employees get a "character" card to match the theme of the event, and Chris photoshops together these clever, charming, silly vignettes for everyone. The Toy Story dinosaur one really makes Sam pause and look twice. The shark is a little disturbing. But did I say my husband wasn't fixin' things handy? I misspoke.



I love my fridge. And my family.

Nov 11, 2011

The Muppets On Being Misunderstood


So the new muppet movie is coming out. I have mixed emotions about it. It's not like I think The Muppet Movie (you know the old one) is the best movie in the world or anything, but it's still a lot to live up to when you love Jim Henson so hard. I'm actually guest blogging here about that "crazy one" today on the Jennifer James blog devoted to Generation X. Because Henson, like Steve Jobs – he did change us.

I know saying you love Jim Henson is like saying you love Dr. Seuss or you love Shel Silverstein, I mean, duh. Who doesn't? (Though I do remember my best friend's mom not letting her read The Giving Tree because it had a misogynistic message or something like that.) But when it comes to The Muppet Movie of my youth, the message I always felt was that being something special... also meant being misunderstood.

Um, especially if no one can understand a word you are saying.

I actually feel like my compulsive need to be completely and thoroughly understood in my communication with other people comes from one very specific scene in The Muppet Movie that almost ruins the entire thing for me.

It's where Kermit and Fozzie pull up in that "movin'-right-along, bada-dum, bada-dum," old Studebaker to this used car lot where this mammoth sized brown shaggy monster with the huge orange nose (you know the one) is like the used car dealers slave, practically. And after he is done slaving away, like physically picking up cars and stuff like that, Kermit asked if he wants to go to Hollywood with them. And he gets even bigger-eyed (if that's possible for a muppet) and runs off. And Kermit and the bear are like, "oh well" guess he didn't want to come along. And they drive off.

Uh. Kermit. Dude! He was getting his suitcase! He ran off because he was so excited and speechless (plus he can't talk) that you were about to release him from a life of back-breaking servitude!

This monster then heartbreakingly follows the trail of the "starring" muppets through the rest of the movie, just barely missing every adventure. But it's supposed to be just this humorous sidenote. To six-year-old me, it nearly ruined the whole movie. Like it made me so upset I could barely take it. I wanted to scream at the screen "it was just a misunderstanding!"


But when it comes to being misunderstood for who you actually are... no one does it like Gonzo. Nobody knows what he is, and neither does he. And there is something so bittersweet and beautiful about his campfire song near the end of the movie after he's joined the gang of similar misfits. I mean, they're furry googley-eyed puppets for crying out loud!

And you guys know I am a crybaby. So of course Gonzo's raspy-crackly-voiced I'm Going To Go Back There Someday always gets me (I think I've caught my own crazy misfit brother sniffling at this one, too).

This looks familiar, vaguely familiar.
Almost unreal yet, it's too soon to feel yet.
I've never been there, but I know the way.
I'm going to go back there someday...

Part heaven, part space,
or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay.
I'm going to go back there someday.

Song (as most muppet ones are) by Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams.

This song might be a little obscure for you, it is during kind of a slow part of the movie. But surely you remember the image of Gonzo floating away with that bunch of balloons? Classic.

So now there is all this renewed muppet hoopla. In fact, I just discovered there is a whole blog for "muppet fans who grew up" with a countdown clock for the new movie (granted I think it's been around for ten years... the blog... not the countdown clock). But I've sort of kept my blinders on. I don't want to be disappointed. I think those songs, from Rainbow Connection to It's Not Easy Being Green and those characters have just become so part of my own misunderstood (or at least misunderstanding-phobic) soul...

that I just don't know if I can go back there someday.