Monday, September 15, 2008

Beyond Bad Hair

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I love to walk into a bookstore and then wait for a book to find me. And you know, 'it' always does. On this particular trip with hubby and daughter in tow, a book titled The Merry Recluse caught my attention. The book is a compilation of mostly reprints from a weekly Boston Phoenix column written by the late Carolyn Knapp. I first experienced Caroline's work when I read Appetites: Why Women Want.

Caroline, like Anne Lamont of Traveling Mercies shares openly the chapters of her life. I mean, she tells it all—good, bad and the ugly, and everything in-between. Caroline had so many demons, but the ones that plagued her the most were food and alcohol. Eventually, Caroline died of cancer in 2002. She was only 42 years old.

The other day, one essay grabbed my attention. Actually, she intended to make us laugh with this one. But as I read it, I wasn't laughing. The words were laced with pain. In “Beyond Bad Hair: Thin Lips, Square Breasts, and Other Horrors" Caroline shares things that plagues most women. She claims having a bad hair day is the least of our worries.

She shared plenty of other examples with us:

*Why-are-these-pants-pinching-me-around-the-waist Day. (Been there, done that.)
*My-lips-are-too-thin Day. (Can’t say that I own that one.)
*Since-when-have-my-pores-been-so-cavernous Day. (Oh, yes … definitely been there.)

Although I don't have all the same thoughts or moments, I do understand what she's saying. And I bet that most women reading her book or this article do too.

My recent beyond-bad-hair-day moments go something like this...

*My-face-is-swollen-and-my-eyes-are-puffy Day
*Where-did-those-new-wrinkles-come-from Day
*When-did-I-start-growing-gray-hair-on-my-arms Day (That happened yesterday.)

Probably the one that tickled me the most was Caroline’s mention of the: Oh-no-I-missed-a-patch-of-hair-on-my-knee Day. Okay, so I seem to have more of those than I care to mention.

And then it slaps me right in the face ... and Caroline has the perfect ending to it all. "God, it's hard to be a girl!" Amen, Caroline. Amen.

It is hard to be a girl. I'm ready to play another game now. So here's to trying especially hard to put this beyond-bad-hair thinking to rest. Really, I'm not listening anymore. Remember what I wrote last week?

Yep, it’s hard to be a girl, but today it just got a whole lot easier. And I’ll be the first to admit I’m SO not there yet, but baby, I’m getting closer with each passing day. Now, that’s something to celebrate.


Camellia said...

I love Carolyn Knapp. Maybe we should try a little gratitude day. Like today I'm having a glad you reminded me of Carolyn Knapp Day. So when you have a god it's hard being a girl day, you can turn it into a god thank you for the color purple day.

Allyn Evans said...

I Love it!:)

Karen_Elaine said...

I love your blogs, Allyn!! So very talented and enlightening!!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Allyn, I was a feminist from the first time I heard the word. So I raised both my son and daughter to be very independent. My daughter took the liberty to visit the East side of the Berlin wall on her own when she was only 15. My son was climbing rocks with pitons and all the other year at six. My message here, I guess, is that parents can do only so much. Culture all around us affects us and I admit, both my daughter and I are still way to aware of the "pretty" and "fat." I hope all you moms out there try hard to make a difference but I also hope you cut yourself some slack when your efforts are not rewarded as you'd hoped.

Just keep sticking the good literature out there for them to read. I love To Kill and Mockingbird, Anna Karenina and even my own novel, This Is the Place, which tells the story of young woman in a repressed time (the 50s) and place trying to find herself. Sad to say, times haven't changed enough since then.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Prill Boyle said...

My knees are sagging. My eyebrows are turning gray. And my neck--what's happening to my neck?

But here's the thing: I've got wonderful, supportive girlfriends; good health; and more freedom than I ever imagined possible. I LOVE being a woman!

I'll have to check out Knapp's work. Thanks for the tip, Allyn!

Terrie Jenevein said...

Loved your Blog today, Allyn. It had me laughing. My 'beyond bad hair' moment came when my daughter told me that my eyebrows were gray. Yikes! so not only do I have to color my gray hair, but also my gray eyebrows as well. Ha!

Jewel Sample said...

I ususally have one of those "My-hormones-stayed-in-bed-day" and use it as an excuse to go back to bed!

The other day my granddaughter asked me if it was true you could tell how old a person was by looking at their neck. It totally amazes me how many messages are floating around out there.

After living with 7 little sisters, I have come to the realization that Mothers can not be responsible for all the messages that their daughters are exposed to. We are all different and if someone put all of us in the same room they would not believe we had the same parents!

I am with Carolyn in the advice to cut yourself some slack because just like their Moms they will choose independently for themselves the values of womenhood.

Great blog entry today!
Thank you Allyn,


Allyn Evans said...

Thanks for all these great comments!