The long and short of it

I had really long hair once a long time ago..I cut it two days before sophomore year, I cried.. a lot. I have been cutting it ever since. I have been contemplating cutting it again. I decided to have a little fun and get a little help with my decision.

I did a brief poll on FB of course! I posted two photos of myself and asked long or short? Vote.  It wasn’t rocket science, but I wanted to see two things, preference and sex.  You see most of my life, I have been told “ Men like long hair” which instinctively made me ask “why?” And women don’t ?  Of course it directly influenced my hair decisions. As if it was an act of defiance. Or maybe I am just contrary. Or both.

I have had many lengths over the years, short, really short, longish, curly, straight , I covered all the bases.

I love long hair, other people’s long hair, so far not my own. There are times I glance in the mirror and think “yes, I will keep growing, it will start to look better” and then the next day “ nope, this scraggly stuff must go, I need style !” And again, I am on the fence.

I love shiny strong hair, and am often envious of others manes. I long for a messy bun ( a long way off..) or just thick free air – dried hair, waves and all.

But I LOVE short hair … the ease of it, the quick styling of it, the funkiness of it, no Muss attitude of short hair. Plus it makes you different, not everyone can wear short hair. I think short hair accentuates the face, allows you to show off new earrings or scarves in a cute tossed up style.. It’s fast and usually doesn’t need styling if you sleep late. At least not mine.

So while my heart and brain long to see me with long hair, to see if it changes my perception of me, I usually always retreat to my roots.. no pun intended.  And I return to short.

So the results of my survey ? 15 long/ 12 short. Of the 15 long 13 were women 2 were men. Of the 12  short 8 women 4 men. Now based on the aforementioned statement that  “Men love long hair” that would appear to not be completely true, More men  preferred short versus the long, 2 to 1 males preferred my hair short.

I found that interesting and it defied the myth that “ all men prefer long hair” and perhaps it dispelled another myth, women with short hair are less feminine.

Completely untrue,  I feel more feminine when I don’t have to hide behind hair as my crowning glory, I think it allows my other virtues ( brains for example) to take center stage, I am so much more.

Yes, I know it’s my perception and it’s my hair, unruly , uncooperative and still growing.. for now. But you never know when I will be overcome with a need to cut my hair.

I will sit in a beauticians chair and proclaim, lets cut it.  And we will.

When? Only the shadow knows.

Until next time,

LJ

 

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Jean

I have an hour commute each morning and listen to podcasts frequently. My interests are diverse and this week “ You must remember This”  has been my  choice. A delightful podcast that takes you into the lives of stars and starlets in the early days. This week I listened to Jean and Jane. This is a podcast in multiple parts focusing on the lives of two actresses and comparing the trajectory of their lives.  I became enthralled with both stories but Jean struck a chord in me.

She was from Marshalltown, IA and her name was Jean Seberg. I am from the Midwest and my middle name is Jean. As I listened to her story I felt as if I knew her, at least her Midwest upbringing, the rest is a tale that is joyous, sad, true complete with a tragic Hollywood ending.

In her short life she did it all, left Iowa, became a star in a most unexpected way, and forged her way through directors, lovers and films. She was an activist and woman who spoke her mind. She survived marriage, death , birth and loss all in the middle of the public eye.

As I listened to the story I became intrigued and wanted to see her films, experience what the public was treated to in each performance. I began googling, I was able to find clips of films, St. Joan, Breathless that made her a star, interviews, brief cuts from films and pictures so many pictures.  There she was with her pixie cut, life twinkling in her eyes and her voice. She looked a little like Audrey Hepburn with her hair cut,  there was something simply delightful about her laid back casual style.

I found a brief scene from “Lilith” and then another. This was the film I wanted to see in it’s entirety, this is the one exalted as her best performance. The one I was unable to find.  As I watched the clips, I soaked in every bit, her nuances, acting as if she wasn’t acting but just being Jean.

It is impossible to not be taken by this coquettish charmer. I kept searching and  I couldn’t turn away I was captivated by her. I am glad she shared herself with us, even for a short time. We remain grateful.

The beauty of film is that it has the ability to preserve life at it’s highest and it’s lowest, and to be captured on film is to remain immortal.

Jean struggled with life, and hers ended in a tragic manner, still open to speculation. The gift she left us is not in her death but in her life and the ability to revisit her through film.

Watch a film if you get a chance, she will leave you breathless.

Until Next Time,

LJ

 

 

Chicago Theater

I recently had the extreme pleasure of witnessing live theater at the fabulous Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. The beauty of live performance is something that cannot be understood without experiencing it. If you have not ever seen a live production you should…soon.

For me personally, it opens my heart, soul and mind. Each performance is a new adventure and leaves me excited and feeling creative in my own right.

We do not  live in the big city currently, but visit every chance we get. It’s a beautiful escape from the daily grind and the excitement builds the closer we get to the city.  On this day it was a clear beautiful winter day as we arrived in Chicago, and yes Lakeshore cold.  We arrived around 330 and checked into the hotel. I explored the hotel for a bit and then began to prepare for the theater. Mentally and physically.

Mentally I put on my open- minded hat, and prepare for the unknown. I have no preconceived ideas of what it will be like as every time is different. I just know I need to  open my brain to fully immerse myself in the experience.

We take a taxi to the theater and arrive a bit early, and decide to have a small bite to eat and order up the pear/sausage flatbread from the Front Bar. The Front Bar is attached to the theater and provides a hip pre-theater (or after) gathering spot. It has  a welcoming air about it, the square open bar with tall seats and stylish shelves holding a wide selection of liquors and glasses.  it has a long table as well as a few smaller ones and on the far side, there is a casual conversation area welcoming you and providing an area perfect for conversation.

It was brewing with activity as the complex houses more than one theater. We selected a standup table for our pre-event munching. The party next to us was chatting about the playwright and I was listening. They love his work and were excited to see the newest production. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the buzz, it’s all around you. The hum of excitement.

Our flatbread arrives perfectly on time and we quickly devour it, as its nearly showtime. We find our seats in the balcony (front row, my favorite). I prefer the balcony view as I can see the entire stage. Plus I feel as if the sound rises and being a hearing aid wearer, sound is crucial. We settle in and listen to the banter around us.

As I read the program and anxiously wait for the lights to dim and my escape to begin.  It begins with darkness and thunder. The stage is set. The players begin to enter and I am drawn in completely.

This play felt familiar, I recognized the characters, they live in my town, or yours. I enjoyed the idiosyncrasies of the characters and the very real quality of the performances. For me, to feel as if I know the characters is a requirement of a well done play. To get lost in the characters and absorbed by the story is essential.  This production pulled you in like a spider catching you in his web and keeping you dangling until the very end.

The audience laughed at the humor of the writing and the delivery of the lines was perfect.  This production took the audience through a roller coaster of emotions, laughter, humor, and finally sadness. It left me breathless, and definitely generated some deep discussion after the play. To engage with creative people and come to the same understanding of the message is stimulating and reinforces my belief that I do possess a certain bit  of creative expression myself.

It’s one of those life events so perfect, you don’t want it to end, you wish to remain suspended in the theater, until the next opportunity comes your way. But eventually it does, you hail another taxi and you make your way back to reality, but not before thanking the actors for sharing their gift and allowing an escape, for even just a few hours from a cold Midwestern December night.

Until Next Time,

LJ

 

Positive cold

-16 in the Midwest that is a normal thing about this time of year.  Doesn’t make it any less bitter, but we are hearty folks and we endure.  I guess you really know you are from the Midwest when you look forward to a positive temp as a heat wave.

Next week for example 30’s are predicted with more snow, but hey it’s above zero and we will embrace it, maybe even go outside!

I try to continue my walk each day to and from work. i have managed at least one way each day this week. Yes, they do have buses and yes, I occasionally take one in the morning. But as I check my  phone for temp before heading out the door, and everyday I am faced with the same decision as I approach the bus stop, stand and wait for 10 minutes for the bus or keep moving, usually it is keep moving. It seems to make more sense to me. About 1/2 mile in I am evaluating my decision, but once you comit to walk you are in, so I pick up the pace. Gratefully, I see my car ahead, a den of warmth waiting for me. A haven of heat.

As I sit in my car waiting for the heat to burst forth from my vents I am listening to the radio and they are talking about a young student who was found in the snow. My heart breaks a little and it takes me back to my own neighborhood and my feelings of helplessness and fear.

A few nights ago around 1030 in the evening I was upstairs in my cozy bed with a thick warm comforter and the steam heat going turbo, a movie is on and the door is shut. My guy is downstairs and all of sudden I hear a loud sound from downstairs and my dog starts to go nuts. not the regular barking but the fierce I am protecting you barking. I come out of the room and from the top of the stairs I realize there is someone at the door. I watch the scene unfold, the door opens, a brief discussion takes place and my guy is reaching in his pocket and handing money to the unseen stranger at the door.

Afterwards, we talk about it a little and decide to call the police, not because he came to the door but because it was dangerously cold and he was wandering in it. When the police were phoned, they knew about him already, seems my guy was not the first Good Samaritan of the night. I slept a little lighter than usual and the scene was playing out in my brain on rewind for a couple of days. Initially I asked my guy why he opened the door at all, his response was honest and heartfelt. “Should I have yelled through the door and told him to get off the porch or should I open it and extend human compassion for another?” He acted accordingly and without fear from the goodness of his heart.

As I thought about this individual and tried to understand what it must have taken for him to climb those stairs, knock on the door and ask for money. Where had life taken him that he ended up on our porch that night. He didn’t demand money, he introduced himself and asked.

I tossed around a million questions in my mind, why our house? Did it somehow look more welcoming than the others? Would he come again? What should we do if he does?  My guy has a big heart, he would help everyone if he could, I have watched him help strangers more than once, simply because it is the right thing to do. I am learning to have both open eyes and heart.

In the days that followed I watched for him each time I pulled out of my garage or drove the streets early in the morning, what was I watching for? I don’t know. He didn’t threaten us, he was oddly courteous as if somewhere along the way, someone taught him something. I was ashamed of myself for being uneasy and unexposed to the plight of those challenged by life.

Tonight I saw him again, I was turning out the porch light for the night, I watched him stumbling down the street, he turned down the alley and swayed a few more feet and stepped behind a garage. I watched from the upstairs window to be sure he got back up. I was worried he had passed out and with the frigid temps outside, he might get frostbite or worse. A few moments passed he reappeared and resumed his stumbling down the street, hopefully towards somewhere warm.

The fixer in me wants to help. To reach out with food, beverages, warmth. But  I don’t know his story and I don’t know if he wants to be fixed, maybe he just needed money to get home.

And if someone unexpected knocks on your door, answer…with your heart.

Until Next Time,

Lj

 

D and the Pope

When I talk about her you can count on one thing for certain, I will be smiling.

The Spring before she left us, she invited me to Colorado for a girls weekend, she insisted I come and well she never took no for an answer. I went.

It was the second time I had visited since we had reconnected. She met me at the airport  smiling and needing confirmation that she was still her. Two of us arrived at the same time, Monica and I . Denita directed me to ride with Monica, a friend I had just met. I did as I was told. As I rode with Monica we discovered a few things, we were both Marines and we shared the same birthday. Our friendship was sealed.

We arrived at her home and settled in. I got the tour quickly from D showing me around her lovely home, it was beautiful. Her freewheeling style was everywhere, the home was lived in. From the creative expression gracing her daughters walls to the half painted wall in the living room she never finished because she got sick again. It was filled with her.

There was a group of us invited us for a girls night dinner. We woke up that Saturday and sat at her table and feasted on her mom’s red gravy and eggs. A recipe I wish I knew how to make.  And then the preparations began in full force, a trip to the grocery store, some wine, some laughs. We were preparing the king crab legs and she directs me to a buffet to fetch a plate. I begin opening drawers and there inside the second drawer is a wrinkly photo. I pull it out and look at it, then I turn to Denita and say “Is that the Pope?” “Yes” and you? “Yes” What’s he doing the drawer? Why isn’t he in a frame on the wall?

And she begins to tell me the story of  she ended up in a photo with the Pope. She essentially auditioned and was selected to serve the Pope during his visit to Denver in the 80’s. I was dumbfounded. She went on to tell me details of the responsibility and how honored she was to serve him. And that was it, that simple, Denita and the Pope.

We continued to prepare the dinner. That night she told me that she didn’t want to be Denita the sick woman, tonight she just wanted to be Denita. And she was, she put on a wig, did her makeup perfectly, topped it with red lips. I thought she never looked more beautiful.

Her guests arrived and I soon realized that I was awash in a sea of beautiful Latino women and I was a minority. It mattered not one bit. We dined on Brie, seafood , great wine and it was glorious. I remember Miranda her 7 year old asking me if she could give me a “head massage” I said sure. My hair was very short and I didn’t mind a bit. She threw her butter drenched hands into my hair and massaged away. Some of the guests were aghast. But what I remember was Denita laughing.

She laughed that rich, wonderful laugh of hers, and I remember.

Until Next Time,

LJ

Words

Choose your words carefully they say. Words are powerful daggers and the wrong words can crush a person as easily as good words can build them up. So choose carefully.

I listen when I am in the world to the way other humans talk to each other. Is it with care or callous thoughtless words?

Often with careless, callous words. I believe adults can fend for themselves but children, that’s another story. When I see a parent berating their child with hurtful harmful words, I can’t help but wonder, if they do that in public, what goes on in private?

At first the child may cower at the harsh words and the tone of the voice, but as time goes on, one of two things seems to happen, the child either becomes desensitized to life and becomes as callous as the words, or as fragile as an egg shell afraid of their own shadow.

Both are a tragedy. A child with untapped gifts hidden under a protective shell and never tried out is depriving the world of their gifts. The child never reaches their potential , the stay wrapped in quiet despair and are swallowed by the world around them.  If they become damaged from word abuse, they may pass it on to their own children as it the norm and they know no other way of life.

Words can be as caustic as acid and as nurturing as fertilizer. Even words spoken in perceived adult honesty can be harmful to a child. Children are not small adults, they are children who are learning about the world from us. Every question asked by a child should be answered thoughtfully and with care.

As adults we become jaded and callous as our exposure to the “real world” provides us with information overload and a million personal choices to make in life good or bad. Children are innocents and they turn to us for answers because they perceive us to be wiser. Use your chance to respond in a way that allows the child to understand the tough subjects and the choices they may have to make as an adult.

Use the mastery of language to enhance, enrich and nurture that child, open their eyes and hearts to possibilities. Encourage them to take chances, explore and leap into the world, a fantastic place.

Until Next time,

LJ

Christmas Eve

In the early morning hours I sit cuddled up on my couch under a big black comforter that we found in a closet of a home we once rented. It is heavy and warm. Across the room a fire burns in the fireplace and some movie on tv keeps me company. A cup of coffee with peppermint mocha sits near by. The two human members of my house are still sleeping and my faithful companion Jessup is laying in the doorway keeping watch, even in his declining years he is our guardian, like it or not. The snow arrived on time, it blankets the ground outside and it is Christmas morning.

We had our family celebration last night, complete with homemade tamales, pozole and margaritas. This was one of the best, their happiness warms my heart. It’s not the gifts, its their pure joy. It’s watching a 2 year-old discover Elsa on her paper and knowing that all the Elsa wrapped gifts are hers. It’s watching her exclaim, before she even opens it “I love it!” It’s watching a 9 year-old exclaim excitedly at finally getting THE present he wanted or a 7 year- old telling me that “grandma you got us the wrong game, we don’t have a Wii” only to discover a few minutes later they do have a Wii, and seeing that 13 year-old smile, period. Even the big kids got a couple small surprises. And sharing that with all of them . Watching from the wings or in the center of the activity soaking up the pleasure it is perfect. Life is good.

At this time of year, I think of Christmas past, present and future. Christmas at my brothers house with enchiladas and tostadas. My Dad hurriedly shoving a Christmas envelope your way  followed with the words “ It’s a little something”. Waiting for a present from England, loving my Beezer book and Cadbury sweets. Christmas is a magical time, lose yourself in the simple magic. A snowy morning, a cup of cocoa with melting marshmallows, the sound of wrapping paper tearing, the beautiful quiet of a night with fresh snow. The melody of voices in your kitchen, a crazy dance with your babies, grab them all.

The moments of our life that we share with other humans are irreplaceable snippets of life. Live them all.  Intertwine yourself with as much of life as you can handle.  Observe the laughs, the amazement and the love around you.  It’s an intoxicating gift.

Make some new memories and cherish the past. Merriest of Christmas my friends!

Until Next time,

LJ

 

 

Christmas Past

There have been many Christmases in my life, many memorable for different reasons. This will be my 57th one. And i am grateful for every one.

I love Christmas, i love the lights twinkling, the carols being sung, the food, the drink the festivity and yes the magic of it all.

The quiet beauty of a winter snowfall doesn’t escape me, I soak in every bit.

My brother and I  were very close as children and as is evident by most of our pictures, I am more outwardly affectionate that my brother. Okay.. I pull him into photos.  But he does laugh so that is good right?

The particular Christmas that is rolling around in my mind today is the one when I was about 14 or so. I can only remember based on the length of my hair. My hair was very long until the summer of my freshman year. So this had to be the prior to the cutting. Anyway, at this point my brother and I were anxious for Christmas and of course trying to guess the contents of our packages. I have always had a gift for guessing my presents, much to the dismay of those around me.  And this year was no different, except for that one mystery package under the tree. It was a square and it was heavy. We could not guess.. we had no idea. My brother and I decided to unwrap it from one end because we couldn’t wait for the surprise. We had to know  and we had to know now. So we unwrapped it carefully so mom wouldn’t know and we could easily retape the end. as we gently peeled back the paper it revealed..nothing.. no name, nothing just this black hard surface. Now we weren’t bold enough to unwrap the entire present, so the surprise would have to wait.

Come Christmas morning we were excited. I unwrapped a silver bangle watch with a white face and a baby blue parka. I loved that parka, it had a silky feel to the material and a big hood with fur all around cradling a face on a cold winter morning. I absolutely loved that coat.

And then it was time for the mystery gift. As it turns out, it was for my brother. He tore that paper off and it was a black box with a handle and a latch. He unlatched it and the top was lifted off, it was a typewriter. So cool.

What I wouldn’t give to have that typewriter now. I remember typing on it, I loved that thing and used it every chance my brother gave me.

So many Christmas memories, this was one of my favorites. The excitement over presents, the curiosity, and the innocence of surprises and Christmas morning. All irreplaceable.

What will you unwrap this year?

Until Next time,

LJ

 

 

Shades of Gray

I heard today on the radio that blue eyes with red hair is the most rare combination in the ginger world. My Dad gave me those two things. He and I were rare together.

I began life as a ginger  and yes green was predominant in my early years. It’s an unspoken law that if you are a redhead you must wear green. But that is a blog for another day.

Over the years I have been many shades of Red. Some chosen, some accidental.. Like the time I put henna (Enhances natural highlights it said…not) on my hair and it was burgundy, not that stylish burgundy but purple mess. I called my stylist ( who is still my stylist and has been for 20 years) she said come in we will take a look. She removed my hat and said “oh” she explained why it turned that shade and then she put in blonde highlights, they were bright blonde and looked more than a little strange against the burgundy background. But it was the best option. She made me promise to not do it again. I promised and lied.

Over the years she has fixed more than one “Laurie” style. I have a bad habit of  “trimming” my bangs till they look like the first haircut you give yourself in 2nd grade.. my stylist trims bangs for free between cuts..but no..i knew better. Dying my hair, stripping the color out (oops does work, but results may vary), screaming at the result and rushing to Walgreens for yet another color to throw over the top of my latest attempt.  All due to impatience.. mine. And yet somehow my thick, unruly hair has survived.

Last summer, I saw a friend from high school and her hair was natural, long, gorgeous and grey. Totally enviable.

Then I was listening to a comic on a podcast and he was telling a story about his stylist whispering in his ear “its time” . Time for what? “ To stop dying your hair…I laughed but it resonated with me. It is time.

I am taking the leap and joining the experiment. I am no longer the girl with the red hair, I am the woman with the grey. I have earned it. Every strand is part of my story and makes me who I am and it kinda matches the rest of me. The time has come to embrace it. So I am, as I watch myself change into yet another version of me, I cant help but marvel at what color can do for your soul.

It can change you from a serious brunette to a vivacious redhead to a bombshell blonde, it can give you confidence to look the world in the eye. It can let you be someone else even temporarily, it can make you feel wild and free when you are at your most controlled and it can boost your spirits just when you need it.

Grey is just another color to try out, it may take me awhile to completely transform but so far I am enjoying it. It’s a little like watching a flower bloom, unsure of the final depth of color until all the petals have unfolded.

So lets see what I turn out to be..I am hoping for a grayish color with lovely shades of gold…anything is possible.  And a special thank you to Carol Darby who gave me the confidence to “go for it!”

I will keep you posted on the transformation, or you could join the revolution!

Until next time,

LJ

Accused

Everyday I wake up and turn on the TV to keep me company while  I get ready for work and everyday (at least it seems like everyday) there is a new accusation of some kind or another, improper touching, sexual harassment.. If you watch the TV you know the world is in turmoil.

While it leaves me queasy in the pit of my stomach, and raises my feminist anger threshold to new highs, it also makes me analyze ….what is the definition of sexual harassment? Is everything sexual harassment? Is it open to interpretation? Is my definition flawed? Does that make me less compassionate towards the victims or their claims untrue?Am I a victim And not recognize it? Is every claim valid or are they just jumping on the bandwagon for some publicity or something more sinister? This list is endless. It actually keeps me awake at night.

The definition in my workplace is if it makes you feel uncomfortable it is harassment. A glance, an action, a word, a look. Pretty broad and open to interpretation. So does that mean the innocent boy chasing a girl around the playground a million years ago was improper? Or was he just an innocent boy? The boy who moved too fast in high school? Rapist or a teenage boy with raging hormones? What are the parameters? is it black and white or filled with grey?

I am overwhelmed by the never-ending parade of accusations. Some of them lack any concrete evidence to fit my interpretation of harassment. Stupid, careless, impetuous yes…fits some of them. Criminal fits some as well. My personal challenge is where to draw the line between the variables. How do I sort through the garbage to ensure authenticity for accusation?

I feel as though I don’t know what is real anymore. Corruption and deceit is rampant. People once respected are now disowned. Careers are ruined, lives shredded, and wounds that never heal are ripped open and raw, over and over and on display for public judgement.

Females are the majority of accusers, but are there men who have not spoken up? Are they victims too? Is this simply the edge of the abyss?

I will not live my life looking at every man with doubting eyes and silent judgement of crimes they did not commit. There are good men in our world and I believe they outnumber the venom that is on the front page every day. Those men that stand up for women, those men who are appalled to be lumped in with these few powerful deviants, men that support, nurture and respect those they love. I will not allow this to color my opinion or sway me from belief in human goodness, despite the constant barrage of dark, dismal news.

Am I alone or do other over-thinkers join me in the quiet of confusion and the search for true justice? I hope I recognize it when it arrives.  In the mean time stay tuned.

Until next time,

LJ