For when you don’t want to murder anyone on Mother’s Day.

So, this is happening.

Women's Running Nashville

13.1 Miles of Hell

That’s right—it’s time for me to garrote myself with my terrifying sports bra three times a week for the next three months in order to almost-adequately prepare for the Women’s Running Nashville half-marathon at the end of September. Later that day, I will reward myself for limping across the finish line by attending the All the Hits All Night Long Lionel Richie concert with my loving husband. I am a Lionel fan. I’m, perhaps, a bigger Lionel fan than any of you, considering that, when I was 10, I sent him a song I’d written so that he could record it and have yet another international hit. It was either about love or inevitability of nuclear war; I can’t remember. (It was the mid-80s.) Regardless, although, surprisingly, he opted NOT to record my song, he did send me a SIGNED (in blue ballpoint ink) letter in response, encouraging me to attend writer’s workshops for children. Even though he kept my only copy of my nuclear weapon song and is, thus, an intellectual property thief, I will attend his concert, and I will wear sequins in a dignified manner.

However, this won’t be my first half-marathon. Saturday, May 12, 2012, was an unusually big day for me, as that was the day I completed my first (and, thus far, only) half-marathon, which consisted of me walking/running 13.1 miles at our local park because I’d missed the real half-marathon I’d registered for a few weeks before. (Don’t feel sorry for me; I bought myself a finisher’s medal to award myself when I’d concluded the “race.” It wasn’t at all strange.)

Half-Marathon Medal

It turns out anyone can buy a half-marathon medal for $2. Who knew?

Missy, Pre-Half-Marathon

Before my “race.” I was happy because I’d just eaten two Grands cinnamon rolls. Ignore my nerps.

Based on my experience, I can offer you the following insights on completing a half-marathon:

1. Don’t obsess about runner’s diarrhea the entire time you’re walking/running. Diarrhea is a lot like Big Foot; you won’t find it unless it wants to be found, and, in the meantime, you’ve spent way too much time taking weird pictures in the woods at dusk.

2. You can be brought down by a teeny, tiny, almost invisible loose thread in the heel of your sock. That tiny thread will make you its bitch.

3. Cuties oranges are the best f*&king thing ever engineered by humans. They are all the proof I need that there is a God and that people are innately good. I might have lost perspective re: Cuties.

I did well for the first 2/3 of my half-marathon experience. I walked the first few miles by myself, and then my friend, Angie, joined me for almost five miles, a lovely five miles during which I forgot to concentrate on not pooping myself but somehow, miraculously, still didn’t poop myself. When she left, the sun was shining, and my spirits were high, like an ignorant Disney princess before she’s turned into a one-eyed donkey by the evil witch (or whatever). As soon as Angie’s car pulled out of the parking lot, a dark shadow fell over the land, and a cold, misty rain began to fall. My calves began to cramp up, and whatever was wrong with my heel (tiny demon thread!) got so, so much worse.

“Why hast thou forsaken me?!” I screamed as I shook my fist at the sky and broke down in sobs. “I can’t do it! I can’t!”

And then I remembered that I was on a fitness trail at a public park and that maybe all of the four-year-olds on the soccer fields could witness my tragic downfall, but then I thought, Why shouldn’t they? I was a 38-year-old woman who had a college degree, a job, and a house and who hadn’t pooped herself in public while walking a half-marathon she made up for herself. I had it all. And then a large bumblebee tried to become one with me.

Missy and Teddy, post-13.1 miles

I survived the light, misting rain and completed the 13.1 miles. My hat wasn’t big enough for my head. I have a huge head.

I somehow managed to suck it up and make it through the remaining miles and then went home and ate approximately 15 Golden Oreos before taking a warm whirlpool bath.

Now, as scientific and physician-approved as my half-marathon recovery plan might seem to you, it turns out that it wasn’t the most effective plan in the world. I woke up the next morning to significant unpleasantness. There was labored, slow walking and WAY too much pooping. Like a hiker in a forest finally stumbling upon Big Foot, casually watching a movie on his kindle fire (Harry and the Hendersons, obviously), I found the runner’s diarrhea. Apparently, drinking 100 oz. of fluids in a short period of time can have a detrimental effect on one’s colon. (I was trying to avoid dehydration!) They should really clarify that point on every beverage ever manufactured.

Did I mention that this was Mother’s Day? Many mothers enjoy breakfast in bed and chore-free days, filled with special times with their families or, at the very least, no laundry. My husband had to work all day and came out to my office to kiss me goodbye, only to find me curled up in the fetal position, moaning, “My intestines are trying to murder me.” So, he decided that that was the best time to give me my card and present. And then he left without doing any of the numerous morning child- and pet-related chores, leaving me to do them, even though I couldn’t walk. It took me two hours. The best part of the day, though, was the torrential rain that fell from dawn to dusk, which meant that I got to spend the entire day trapped in the house with four restless dogs and one four-year-old. It was delightful. (I spent much of the day wondering if spousal murder was still illegal in the state of Tennessee. However, as my revenge, I settled for not picking up a pile of cat vomit that I spied on the floor on his side of the bed, which I then stepped on later that night because karma is a bitch.)

So, how did I make it through that day? Since I was a wee lass (I’m 1/8 Irish, so I can say that authentically), I’ve used television as self-soothing tool. Barbie’s having a bad hair day? Turn on Three’s Company. Particularly unattractive tween middle school day? Turn on The Cosby Show! The boy you like didn’t talk to you today? Let’s watch Murphy Brown!

Benson, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Murphy Brown, Cheers, Friends, Frasier, Seinfeld, Gilmore Girls, 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, The Office, Community, New Girl, Ben and Kate—these are just a few of the shows with which I’ve been obsessed in the past. (Several of them in the not-so-distant past, like yesterday.) And, oh, what a glorious time to be a lover of good television in these days of Rokus and Hulu Plus and Netflix and mobile devices and on-demand viewing!

Weekends aren’t great days for television, you say? I say you’re an idiot! (You’re not really an idiot; I’m being dramatic to make a point. I think you’re wonderful.) I’ve spent most of the last two weekends re-watching episodes of The Office on Hulu Plus (on my television via my Roku device) because I can. I’m tired on weekends, so I don’t really feel like “reconnecting with my family” or “going outside.” I want to sit on the couch, turn on a never-ending stream of amusing Michael Scott escapades, and sip, alternately, Diet Coke and ice water while I complain about the neighbors across the street on Facebook. (This is my dream for the weekend; it doesn’t have to be yours.)

Regardless, there is a huge source of entertainment to be mined for those willing to pay small fees for it, and, some days, I’m willing to pay for it. I’m willing to pay big. Like on Mother’s Day 2012. I spent that day comforting myself with episode after episode of Parks & Rec on Hulu Plus, followed by a smattering of 30 Rock episodes and one SNL. I love Hulu Plus. I love it so much, I sometimes get teary-eyed thinking about what life would be like without it. The networks who don’t utilize Hulu Plus are incredibly stupid. (I’m talking to you, CBS.) I can’t tell you the number of shows I’ve started watching on Hulu Plus that I continued watching on their respective networks, which should be what the networks want. NBC gets it, although, now, they only offer the current seasons of current shows on Hulu Plus. I used to be able to watch every episode of every season of Parks & Rec, but no more. It’s incredibly irritating.

However, I will remain a loyal Hulu Plus customer because $7.99/month is a small price to pay for almost-commercial-free entertainment. If you’ve thought about subscribing but haven’t done it, yet, I strongly encourage you to do so. Even on a fairly tight budget, $7.99 is a price that most of us can afford, and, best of all, a person can download the Hulu Plus app for iPhones, iPads, and kindle fires (among other smart phones and devices—these just happen to be what we have at the moment). The app allows me to watch Hulu Plus on any one of these devices while I’m on the treadmill, drinking way too much water, or outside, pushing my son on the swing for two hours (which isn’t necessarily as fun as it sounds.) Hulu Plus is a boredom slayer! And, for that, I am most grateful.

For those of you wondering if I ever exacted appropriate revenge for my husband’s lack of assistance or warmth or concern for my physical well-being on Mother’s Day 2012, I can tell you that I complained about it in classic passive-aggressive fashion on Facebook a few times and made specific Father’s Day-related threats, like indicating I was going to buy him a Tennessee Vols t-shirt and/or jean shorts as his gift. As a result of my passive-aggressive behavior and his own guilt, he did very well on Mother’s Day 2013—I got fresh hair and a new purse and the cutest cards signed by our son.

It’s important, when being purposefully passive-aggressive, not to overdo it, as then the object of the passive-aggressive behavior begins wondering whether spousal murder is still illegal in one’s state, and that negates the usefulness of the passive-aggressive behavior. In marriage, as in life, it’s important to learn how to walk that fine line between murdering and not murdering.

It’s really what life and Mother’s Days are all about.

Cast of NBC's Parks & Rec

Gratuitous Picture of the Cast of NBC’s Parks & Rec

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For when you want to interrupt your husband’s powerfully unproductive link surfing.

Last night:

Text Exchange

We call the cats “bubbas,” just in case you were wondering. We don’t have a bedroom full of toothless rednecks that we let out at night.

 

Flustering Terry when I know he’s not watching porn by asking him indignantly if he’s watching porn is one of my favorite things to do for pre-sleep amusement (my own, not his).  I like how he suddenly turns into sputtering, wide-eyed Jimmy Stewart and says things like,  “Why, I never!” and “Pbssssbbbtt, WHAT?”

Weekends are the best.

(If you don’t know what shark porn is, you didn’t watch enough TV in the early 2000s.)

In honor of Father’s Day.

Terry wanted to honor himself and fathers everywhere on this special day, so he left ME a present in the bathroom. Thank you, dear. Happy Father’s Day to you. May your junk always be cradled by soft cotton underwear that you then set on top of my Chi hair straightening iron.

My dear husband's underwear, carefully placed on top of my Chi.

My dear husband’s underwear, carefully placed on top of my Chi.

For when you want to tell your best vagina joke in comfort.

One of the best things about my husband is his inability to be shocked by anything I say, which is both very amusing for me and is also a significant challenge.

Thus, on the first night of one of our most recent vacations, as we were trying to go to sleep, I turned to my husband and whispered gaily, “I’ve got a vagina full of anti-fungal cream, and all’s right with the world!”

Pregnant pause, followed by a sigh.

“There is something wrong with you.”

Hysterical, snorting laughter (mine).

And that was the most enjoyable part of that bed.

Whenever we go on vacation (if you consider taking all of one’s crap to a far-away place to do most of the same daily work much more inconveniently a vacation—and I do), I’m inevitably overjoyed by everything regarding our vacation accommodations, from the weird furniture to the gorgeous view to the cheap silverware to the bathroom in the basement/back of the house that’s perfect for pooping far away from everyone else (much like a dog) . . . until we go to bed on the first night.  I climb into bed and am immediately disappointed.

"That's what she said!"

(Steve Carell as Michael Scott on NBC’s The Office–so no one send me a stern warning letter, although it isn’t MY meme. So there.)

I’m disappointed because the sheets are ALWAYS scratchy, the pillows are always king-sized and flat, and, most horrifically, the mattress—oh, the MATTRESS—is somehow hard and squishy at the same time.  Now, I’m no Oprah.  I don’t buy 2000-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and $200 down pillows and $4000 mattresses.  But, I DO buy 600-thread count sateen cotton sheets and $30-50 feather/down pillows that are soft AND supportive and a wonderful, beautiful, fantastically comfortable 10” memory foam mattress.  The combination makes for a very pleasant sleeping experience.  So, when I go on VACATION and encounter 180-thread count sheets that I wouldn’t make my dogs sleep on (I admit it! I’ve turned into a sheet and towel snob!  So sue me!) and a mattress that causes me to wake up in the morning, hunched over like an arthritic gorilla (they don’t have great posture), I am very disappointed.  After all, I bought our current mattress so that I wouldn’t have to wake up a miserable crone every morning.  At least, no more than usual.

Morning Hair Crone

I don’t know how he resists me in the morning.

So, you may ask, what kind of mattress did I buy?  I’m so happy you asked because I just happen to be prepared to share that information with you.

I had shared on Facebook a few years ago how we desperately needed a new mattress but had no idea of what kind to buy.  A few days later, my cousin, whom I’ll call Shmadrienne, texted me to let me know that she was watching a segment on QVC’s Today’s Special Value, which was the PedicSolutions 10″ Queen Size Memory Foam Mattress.  It was basically their introduction of the QVC version of the memory foam mattress (all the rage at the time), so the deal included easy-pay payments (essentially, five interest-free monthly payments) and free shipping.  Free shipping!  On a mattress!  What??  I took maybe 30 seconds to deliberate and then pulled the trigger.  I often take way too long to decide to buy something, especially if it’s expensive, and then I completely miss out on whatever deal it was I was contemplating and end up spending more money on something I don’t want as much, which is exactly what The Man wants.  Not this time, ladies and gentlemen.  Not this time.

(I looked up “The Man” at urbandictionary.com—“The Man is the head of ‘the establishment,’ put in place to ‘bring us down.’ Though nobody has physically seen ‘the man,’ he is assumed to be a male Caucasian between the ages of 25-40 and is rumored to have a substantial amount of acquired wealth, presumably acquired by exploiting those whom his ‘establishment’ is ‘keeping down.’”  So, suck on that, Establishment. We know all about you now, thanks to the inspired contributors of Urban Dictionary, and you won’t be sticking it to us on our mattresses, anymore.)

"That's what she said!"

And here it is:

PedicSolutions 10" Queen Size Memory Foam Mattress

PedicSolutions 10″ Queen Size Memory Foam Mattress

As you might surmise from the picture below, it is very easy to get a crappy night’s sleep in our bed.

Pile of Cats

Our little rescued darlings.

Four years ago, stray cats started having litters of kittens in our backyard shed, and we started bringing them inside to tame them and find homes for them.  However, since we also had dogs, including a Basset Hound puppy, and a baby, we had to bring the kittens inside in such a way that they didn’t disrupt the rest of the household, which meant keeping them in our bedroom all of the time at first and then just at night (the cats we ended up keeping, that is).  If you’ve never shared your queen-sized bed with up to nine cats and a cursing husband, then you haven’t lived a life that I can understand.

:loud whisper yells: “God damn it, what are they doing NOW?”

:confused mumbling:  “Huh?  I was asleep.”

:loud whisper yell, escalated: “They are going f*&king crazy.  Turn on the light!”

:irritated mumbling: “No.  UMPHG.  OHMYGOD.  A cat just landed on my uterus.”

(I’m the mumbler.  Terry doesn’t have a uterus that we know of, although his lackluster response to my vagina joke might indicate otherwise.)

So, as you might imagine, a good night’s sleep sometimes eludes us, but the situation was considerably worse before we got our PedicSolutions mattress.  I’d wake up every morning and hunch around the house for an hour before I’d finally loosen up and stand up straight.

Our mattress arrived via UPS, rolled up in a box, and I was like, “I’ve been tricked by the black magic of hyper-consumerism,” and Terry was like, “Hey, cool!”  We unrolled our mattress, as per the instructions, and ignored the chemically smell, as per the instructions (which I had no problem with—I quite enjoy chemicals, especially if they aid in my slumber) and set it up on top of our existing box springs.

And then I laid down on it, and I was immediately transported to heaven.  On a memory foam mattress, one does not bounce onto the mattress or sink immediately down into fluffiness. No—the mattress very gradually envelops one’s body in a whisper-soft embrace, soothing one’s bruised, cat-scratched limbs and cradling one’s back ever-so-gently, almost like it understands how it feels to have a uterus landed upon from a great distance by a 13-lb. cat.

We’ve had our PedicSolutions mattress for three years now, and I still love it as much as I did the day it arrived.  However, it doesn’t resist body impressions very well, and judging by some of the reviews, that really pisses people off.  The newer versions available at QVC might, but ours is one of the originals.  So, our mattress has a perfect Missy-shaped hollow and a perfect Terry-shaped hollow.  You can turn them around but not over, which we tried to do, but doing so resulted in me tossing and turning all night because I was trying to sleep in the upside-down Terry hollow.  Honestly, though, if a person stays in her own hollow, it never (so far, anyway) becomes uncomfortable, so there’s no real need to turn or flip it.  I love my hollow. Nay, I cherish it.

So, the moral of the story is two-fold:  The PedicSolutions mattresses available from QVC rock, and you should always protect your vital organs in bed.

"That's what she said!"

For when you don’t want to drop your panties on the way back from a Statistics exam.

“Were we called upon, however, to designate that class of composition which, next to such a poem as we have suggested, should best fulfill the demands of high genius–should offer it the most advantageous field of exertion–we should unhesitatingly speak of the prose tale . . . ” –Edgar Allan Poe, a review of Hawthorne’s Twice-Told Tales

Let’s talk laundry.

Here’s the deal with laundry: I can wash and dry clothes ALL DAY LONG. I love it. I love how productive and self-righteous I feel when I get up in the morning and shove a load of laundry in the washing machine, pour some soap and fabric softener in the little compartments, and power it on. I’m all like, “I haven’t been up for even five minutes, and I’m already doing chores and TAKING CARE OF MY FAMILY. Suck it, slackers!”

I can do laundry endlessly and not get tired of it—gross clothes go in, warm and fragrant clothes come out. I especially enjoy washing big loads of white bath towels—they come out of the dryer so fluffy and soft and sparkling clean. It’s just delightful. Some people put clothes away the minute they come out of the dryer. I do something similar, except that I place them carefully on the laundry room floor for safekeeping. When the pile reaches approximately five feet in height, I put the clothes away because they’re finally at a height that’s easy for me to reach. I have no back problems, and I think this is one of the reasons why.

I currently use Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder for the washing of the fabric, along with Downy liquid fabric softener for the softening of the fabric, and Vaska Oxygen Brightener for the brightening of the fabric. Charlie’s is fairly awesome because it’s a multi-use product and because it takes such a tiny amount for any job—one tablespoon for a large load for laundry, for instance. It’s an excellent value and is good for washing machines and for the environment. I use it for a whole slew of purposes, including laundry doing, carpet and upholstery cleaning, and playing tricks on the drug dealer neighbors by putting in in baggies and pretending that it’s cocaine when we all need a good laugh. (And they frequently do because they do not appear to be the carefree type of drug dealers.) You can’t lose with Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder.

My love affair with laundry began when I was a freshman in college for a couple of different reasons. I started dating my first boyfriend whose laundry smelled SO good. It was AMAZING. He smelled like a young maiden who spent her time skipping through a fresh, springy field. I loved the smell of his laundry so much that one of the first questions I asked his mom when we met was about what she used for her laundry (because she might have done his laundry for him when he went home). I’m sure she was very impressed with my future laundry-doing potential, and, obviously, she was correct in expecting me to do great things, as I doubt she has developed a laundry system that could rival my finely-tuned floor pile process.

The second reason is best addressed via a short story because the short story is, according to Edgar Allan Poe, awesome. (See above.)

Missy’s arm shot out from underneath the pile of covers on her bed and slapped the top of her alarm clock. She lifted her head (not an easy task, what with her hair) and opened a heavy eyelid to check the time.

“Shit. Oh, shit, oh, shit, oh, shit,” she whispered to herself as flung back her covers and sat up in a panic, having slept far past the time she’d originally intended, as she’d wanted to get up early to finish studying for her Statistics and Calculus exams.

She quietly, so as to not wake her still-sleeping roommate, poured herself a bowl of Trix and ate it in quick bites as she put her hair up in a ponytail and pulled on a pair of jeans and a shirt from the pile of clean laundry on the floor. (That’s called a theme, ladies and gentlemen.) She then opened her Statistics textbook and closed it again a second later as she sighed a meaning-laden sigh.

“Sigh.”

She put on her shoes and jacket, hitched her backpack over one shoulder so as to maximize her potential for developing scoliosis, and exited her dorm room, clicking the door shut quietly behind her.

Missy’s first semester as a Math Education major had not gone well, as she’d discovered that she was good at math only when Mr. Robinson, her high school math teacher, taught her math. Because he had selfishly refused to attend college with her, she was, as they say, screwed and now was finishing up her first college semester by taking her worst two finals on the same day. Not even a fresh container of Cool Whip and a clean spoon could salvage this day.

She avoided eye contact with the other early exam-takers she encountered while walking to class but made her way resolutely through the quiet throngs of people to her classroom, where the Statistics exam thoroughly and happily screwed her, after which she hitched her backpack back over her shoulder again to make her way back to her dorm room.

Because she finished her exam fairly quickly (because why not?), Missy found herself walking alone, with nary another soul in sight. As she contemplated the cold, gray morning, she suddenly felt a strange sensation down by her ankle. She looked down, while still walking, and saw, to her horror, a piece of blue material peeking out from the bottom of her pants leg. It was her underwear. Her blue underwear. Her blue underwear that she’d had since the 7th grade. (Let’s not examine this point too closely.) She loved that underwear. And now it was falling out of her pants leg a little bit further with every step she took. What was to blame for this horrifying development? That most evil of clings . . . static cling.

She slowed her pace and turned her head slowly and oh-so-casually to the right and then to the left, checking for witnesses. It was important to her that she not lose her street cred via someone watching her abandon her underwear outside of the University Center, as she’d just started dating her very first college boyfriend who had awesome-smelling laundry. There was a lot riding on this underwear.

Missy saw no witnesses nearby, so she subtly shook her leg as she walked, causing the underwear to shimmy out of her pants leg and land with a whisper on the concrete walkway. She didn’t look down to say good-bye to the underwear that had served her so well all through middle and high school. She kept up her casual pace and, thus, distanced herself from the offending undies, abandoning them to their no doubt appalling fate.

As she left her underwear further and further behind, Missy felt a sharp twinge of regret, but she knew she had to bury that regret deep down inside, a place where she didn’t need underwear. She finally made it back to her dorm room and lay down on her bed, spent from the horrifying morning.

Unfortunately, her underwear remained in that spot outside of the University Center, which housed both the campus cafeteria and bookstore, for the next several days, so she saw them every time she went to eat or walk to another final exam. She studiously ignored her loyal panties every time she passed them, much as an unfeeling person might ignore a homeless person at a traffic light or a charming hermit with a product review blog might ignore drug dealers in the house across the street.

The last time Missy saw her underwear, she was walking with her suitemates, Lisa and Brandi, back to the dorm after supper, when Lisa spotted the panties and said, “Gross. There’s no telling how those panties ended up there.”

With a tear in her eye, Missy looked away and responded, “Yeah, so disgusting. Skank.” And little part of her died. And she had to go to Wal-Mart to buy new underwear.

THE END

As I think should be obvious to you now, I had to make some serious changes regarding the laundry products I used, so I simply started using what my boyfriend’s mom used. They remain my favorite laundry product combo to this day, so I shall share them with you. They are as follows:

Tide with Bleach Powder Detergent, original scent

Tide with Bleach

Tide with Bleach, Original Scent

Downy Liquid Fabric Softener, April Fresh scent

Downy Liquid Fabric Softener

Downy Liquid Fabric Softener, April Fresh scent

Downy Dryer Sheets, April Fresh scent

Downy Dryer Sheets

Downy Dryer Sheets, April Fresh scent

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “But she just said that she uses Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder for washing clothes, NOT Tide with Bleach!” And you are correct. We have lots of pets currently, as well as a five-year-old son, and, together, they generate a lot of laundry. Also, my husband changes clothes two or three times a day; it’s very odd. So, it’s just cheaper for me to use Charlie’s for laundry right now, and it’s simply a great a product for all of the reasons I mentioned previously. However, nothing can beat the scent of the original Tide with Bleach–it’s soooooooo good. The next time I want my husband to smell like a young maiden, I’ll buy more Tide.

Some people don’t want to use double the fabric softening products, liquid AND sheets, but I love it. I actually prefer bath towels that don’t feel like 30 grit sandpaper.

I don’t always remember to keep the dryer sheets in stock in our laundry room, but then I’ll remember the lost underwear of 1992, and I’ll buy more dryer sheets. I’ll buy more.

For when you don’t want to look like Jim Halpert or Gossamer (you know–the red monster in Looney Tunes cartoons).

It’s time. Let’s do this.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was blessed at birth with a luxuriously full head of Great Pyrenees-like hair.  Or, rather, I was born with a sprinkling of hair that  fell out promptly, leaving me completely bald for my first year of life.  If only I’d known then what I know now, I would have appreciated that bald head. I’d have appreciated the hell out of it.  However, then, once my hair grew back, I was blessed with a luxuriously full head of hair.

Below, you can see me at the tender age of five, kissing a steer on my grandparents’ farm.

Missy kisses a steer enthusiastically.

Missy and her hair kiss a steer enthusiastically.

If you can tear your eyes away from the handsome steer (I obviously couldn’t), you might notice my hair–thick but fine, sleek, swingy . . . and then a few years passed, and my poor young body and hair follicles were attacked by those two bitches, estrogen and progesterone.  And this happened:

Missy's Hair, 1990

BAM!

You can see the problem.

So, in college, I cut most of it off.

Missy and Beth

Missy with her friend, Beth, who had also cut off most of her hair at the same time, despite the naturally low height of her hair.

And then I cut more of it off.

Missy with hair that some small-minded people might consider too short for her prodigious head.

Missy with hair that some small-minded people might consider too short for her prodigious head.

I think you can tell by the Albert Einstein poster hanging on the wall behind me in the above picture that I was, perhaps, overly sure of myself and my place in the world, which is, perhaps, why I felt comfortable requesting a haircut that would turn out to be exactly like Jim’s haircut on The Office.

Jim Halpert

Jim with my hair

So, several more years passed (like, 10 years–I’m a late bloomer), and I finally discovered the joys of a professional-grade hair straightening iron.  I made this discovery when I ordered a $7 bottle of hair color corrector from a hair care supply company, and they sent me a $120 hair straightening iron, instead.  :andIkeptit:

Obviously, this was horrible and wrong (even though it felt so right), but I didn’t, at first, intend to keep it.  I DID intend to try it before sending it back, which was wrong, also, but the siren song of straight, silky tresses was too strong for me to resist.  Some people find it hard to resist the gummy, cracked glass of a germ-infested crack pipe; I found it hard to resist the opportunity to have straight, smooth hair.

Someone (i.e., my mother) probably has a picture of me from that glorious time, but I don’t.  And, really, a hair straightening iron is only as good as the person’s haircut allows it to be, and I had HORRIBLE haircuts–HORRIBLE–for most of my life, until right after Ted was born, and I found Carly.  I went from this hair (while pregnant):

Mostly straightened hair, bad haircut.  Excuse the preeclampsia.

Mostly straightened hair, bad haircut. (Excuse the preeclampsia.) (If you’re jealous of the Jell-O cake, you should be.)

To this hair, two months later:

Cheesy selfie, post-haircut

My first haircut, color, and styling via Carly.

You’ll have to excuse the cheesy nature of the above post-haircut selfie; I’d never had such straight and silky hair before, and I was still full of baby hormones that made me very emotional about things like haircuts. And bologna.

So, when I first started going to Carly, she used that most popular of hair straightening irons, the Chi hair straightening iron, pictured below:

Chi Hair Straightening Iron

The Chi hair straightening iron, the tool that changed my life. That and my cordless drill.

The hair straightening iron I had been “borrowing” for a few years at that point was NOT a Chi, but I decided to buy a Chi after visiting Carly a few times because it just did a better job.  Ceramic plates work better than stainless steel plates on straightening irons, in my opinion.  I could discuss how wonderful the Chi is, but I think it would be more effective if I illustrated my point with pictures, instead.

Pre-Chi

No, I’m not easily embarrassed. Why do you ask?

Post-Chi

Post-Chi

And these:

Pre-Chi

Hi there.

(If my hair in the picture above reminds you of Gossamer from the Looney Tunes cartoons, well, then, I consider that a compliment.)

Missy and Carly

Carly and I

To this:

Post-Chi

Not quite as exciting but also not quite as inspirational for young bullies at the grocery store, which I consider a plus.

Lots of people I know continue to buy the hair straightening irons they can find at places like Wal-Mart or Target for $20.  Let me emphasize this point as strongly as I can:  they  do. not. work.  They don’t work!  If you, like me, have enthusiastic hair, I encourage you to save your pennies until you can afford to purchase a Chi or one of the other professional-grade straightening irons.  You won’t be mistaken for a Bugs Bunny character, anymore, which is disappointing, but you WILL be able to go outside when the relative humidity is above 15 percent.  Life is about compromise, people.  And stealing hair straightening irons.

For when you want to read your 800th murder mystery like a civilized human being.

I feel like I can’t continue with this blog entry until I explain my long absence.  To do so, I’ll use that most feared of lists, the bulleted list:

  • I, like every single person reading this blog, came down with the flu at the end of January.  I’m pretty sure I almost died of moderate achiness and mucus.  Just mucus.  Weeks of mucus.
  • I, like a few people reading this blog, stubbed my second-to-last toe repeatedly (I realize this is a problem), separated the nail from the toe, and came down with a horrifyingly painful toe infection–at the same time I had the flu.
  • I, like one or two people reading this blog, unexpectedly took in an eight-week-old Great Pyrenees puppy (now named Mabel) and spent eight hours a day cleaning up dog urine—at the same time I had the flu and a horrifyingly painful toe infection.
Mabel Then

She looks so innocent here, like she never pees.

Mabel Now

Mabel a week or two ago, six months old, 60+ lbs. Housetraining is, as the Spanish say, NOT el completo.

These spirit-challenging adventures occupied most of February. March arrived, and my mother had knee replacement surgery, which turned out to be the least problematic event of the month. (Probably, for her, it was the most problematic event of the month. But this isn’t her blog.)

I dealt with the following events in the 10-day period in March:

  • Two of our dogs had a fight when we were gone one fated Sunday evening, which was totally my fault, so I drowned in self-imposed guilt for a week or two afterwards.
  • The three-legged dog developed a disgusting, post-fight abscess.
  • We spent $700 on a stray cat, Fred, who needed his front paw amputated.
  • I discovered a litter of five orphaned kittens in the backyard shed.
  • I brought all five (feral) kittens inside to live in son’s room after rescuing two of them from certain death (or, at the least, really loud barking) via the dogs.
  • We brought Mom home from the hospital.
  • We threw our son’s fifth birthday party at Mom’s house the day after bringing her home from the hospital. (We threw up the decorations and laid out the food 20 minutes before the four guests arrived, so, yeah . . . we pretty much crushed it.)
  • I arranged for the three-legged abscessed dog to go to the vet and for the three-legged cat to come home and live in son’s room two hours before son’s birthday party. (We DO have a lot of three-legged animals [three]—I don’t know why.)
  • I was bitten by one of the feral kittens and developed immediate infection in index finger of right hand, thereby necessitating another digit rescue via Levaquin, a disturbingly strong antibiotic that does weird things to your poop and disallows exercise and direct exposure to sunlight—fat vampires love it. (It’s very safe, as long as you drink a few gallons of water per day and do the sign of the cross every time you take one.)
Fred and Kittens

Fred, three-legged cat, and a few of the orphaned kittens. Stella, the finger-biter, is lounging on the pillow, like she has not a finger-related care in the world.

And that was March.

In April and May, I didn’t rise out of the ashes like a phoenix to conquer the universe.  I did, however, finally read the Hunger Games books.   (Enjoy that $19, Suzanne Collins.) We also spent a week in the mountains, which was a vacation for me only because I didn’t have to do any animal chores.  I’m very much looking forward to seeing our beloved dead pets in the heavenly beyond when I die, but only if they don’t poop.

Regardless of what’s happening with infected digits or mucus production or weird poop, I read a lot.  I spent enough money at Amazon last year to fund a small country of mildly sarcastic English majors (I have dreams, too, you know), and I use daily both a regular kindle and the kindle fire, version #1.

Amazon kindle

The best little device in the world–the Amazon kindle

Amazon kindle fire

The kindle fire . . . for when you want to watch True Blood when your kids are still awake

I am a HUGE fan of Amazon, in general, so, if you hate Amazon, you’ll likely want to stop reading now.  If Amazon becomes the next Scientology-like cult, I’m in like Flynn.  Why do I love Amazon so much?  Let me count the ways!

  1. The Web site is super easy to use, always has been.  Far superior to Barnes & Noble’s Web site, or maybe I just got used to Amazon’s site first.  Regardless, Amazon.com and I are *like this*.  We understand each other.  It gets me.  It’s just a matter of time before it puts a ring on it.
  2. Amazon Prime—ermahgerd.  I LOVE IT.  Before I had my kindle fire, we had two Rokus in the house, and a Roku device allows one to watch Hulu Plus shows and Amazon Instant Video videos on the TV instead of on a computer or mobile device.  So, I was already a fan of Amazon’s various video services, but Prime members get their Prime shows and movies for free.  A lot of them are older series or PBS series, but, still.  We enjoy some of those series. What I benefit most from as a Prime member is the shipping—free two-day shipping and $3.99 (per item) overnight shipping.  I use it CONSTANTLY because did I mention that I buy a lot of our food and dry goods from Amazon?  Oh, yes.  I do.  Did I forget to buy toilet paper and/or deodorant at the store again?   Yes?  Order it on Amazon and avoid becoming a social pariah!

I’m not a big fan of reading books on backlit devices, as I prefer the visual “feel” of a typical, grayscale book, which is where my regular, inexpensive kindle comes in to play.  It’s also really lightweight, which is better for my wrists that are almost as strong as a toddler’s wrists (carpel tunnel syndrome . . . when you want to get out of lifting heavy sh*t for the rest of your life).  It’s also easier to read/see in strong sunlight, so I use it when I’m outside with my son.  I’m REALLY hard on my kindle; I drop it, scratch it, stick it in my purse without a cover, which is akin to sticking a helpless, delicious baby in the middle of a pack of crazed hyenas.  It takes all of that abuse and asks for more.

Also, this is my third regular kindle (I can stop whenever I want!), and I got the one with ads because I figured I wouldn’t notice the screensaver, regardless of whether it had a lame drawing of an author or an ad for something awesome.  I was correct; I don’t notice it.  To be fair, there is also a small banner ad at the bottom of the home page; I don’t notice that, either.

I do hate not having a physical keyboard because my first two kindles had a physical keyboard. The on-screen keyboard wouldn’t be annoying if it were a touch screen (which is available in a different model), but I got the cheapest kindle, which isn’t a touch screen, which means that I have to click, click, click, click to get to a each letter or number I want to type if I’m searching for a book in the Amazon store or want to go to a specific location within my current book.  Annoying.  (That was a really long sentence.  Apologies.)

I actually bought the second version of the kindle many moons ago, when it was still very expensive, because, in developing the kindle, Amazon crawled into my head, figured out what I need to be able to read constantly and with no hassle, and created  the device of my dreams.  No waiting for my books at the library!  No going to the library or anywhere else to retrieve said books (because I’m a grumpy hermit)!  No heavy books to hold up constantly, thereby saving my toddler wrists significant strain!  IMMEDIATE DELIVERY, which meant no more ordering books via overnight delivery to keep myself occupied over a weekend!  (I will hear no criticism of that practice—would you rather that I buy drugs from my sketchy neighbors with my money?  I didn’t think so.)  One-hand page turning, making it even easier to read while eating Cheetos!

I know several people who eschew e-readers, in general, because they want to read “real books.”  I don’t know what the hell that means.  The book, for me, is the content, the story.  I don’t want to get all Platonic Form-y on you, but a book is a book, regardless of the physical form it takes.  Now, I have one friend, whose name rhymes with Shmangie, who likes to collect hardback versions of certain books in series because she thinks they’re attractive—and they are.  But she’s also a big fan of her own kindle and kindle fire.  So suck it, regular books!

So, to sum up, I love my kindle.  I do.  I love it so much that I asked for the kindle fire for Christmas after it first came out, and I am not sorry I did.  I can read on it in low-light situations, I can watch shows or movies on it, I can browse the web on it (and it has Flash—are you listening, Apple?), and I can shop at Amazon (so easily) on it.  Mobile toilet paper-buying?  YES!

The kindle fire is perfect for the treadmill.  I cannot emphasize this point enough.  The kindle fire is perfect for the treadmill.  Once or twice a year, I’ll train for a half-marathon, even if I don’t have a specific half-marathon race to train for.  It allows me to indulge my raging sweet tooth as regularly as I desire without gaining weight, and anything that makes cookie eating more responsible is okay by me.  Unless I’m walking a dog, I vastly prefer to do my training on the treadmill, but I have to have something to watch and/or read for the long sessions (because I mostly walk fast instead of run in order to spare my 90-year-old hips, so you can imagine how long it takes to complete 8-9 miles—a long freaking time).  So, on the kindle fire, I can utilize one of three services—the Amazon Instant Video store if I want to purchase a TV episode or a movie, the Hulu Plus app, or the HBO GO app, which allows me to watch any HBO series I want because we’re currently HBO subscribers.  OR, I can read my current murder-y book and adjust the brightness and the font size so that it’s easier to read while exercising.  It’s possible to adjust font size on a regular kindle for easier reading on a treadmill, too, but page turning on the fire is just a little easier while exercising and trying not to pass out.

Is the kindle fire as enjoyable a user experience as the iPad?  No.  The touch screen isn’t as smooth, and the iPad is more intuitive, in general.  Does the kindle fire make watching the Jack Reacher movie more enjoyable?  Unfortunately, no, as the sound is so clear that I can hear the horrifying soundtrack all too well.  However, the kindle fire is pretty freaking great and is MUCH more reasonably priced than even the iPad Mini.  So, I’ll continue to love my kindles like a two-dollar whore.

Because, if you’re going to poop yourself to death, you want to look good doing it.

As I’ve mentioned previously, as a result of very specific testing circumstances, I’ve chosen a few favorite makeup products that I will use until the end of time. The end of time. This statement might seem dramatic until you know the specific circumstances that this next product once survived—nay, the circumstances it conquered.

Testing circumstance #2:  Rotavirus of 2007

Product:  Clinique’s Advanced Concealer

Clinique's Advanced Concealer

The best damn concealer in the universe

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Heretofore, only a few people in the whole world have known this story.

It was a warm Tuesday in April, and Terry and I had just gotten home the day before from attending my bridal shower at my grandma’s house in northern Illinois.  I woke up in a cheerful mood, which should have been my first indication that something was terribly wrong.  Sometimes, my mood becomes more cheerful as a day progresses, if I avoid getting cat litter in my eyes, for instance (that might have just happened, which is why it’s on my mind) or if I have cake to eat for breakfast (and throughout the day because I could pretend that I’d stop eating cake after breakfast, but we all know that isn’t true).  But, generally, I do not wake up feeling cheerful.  I usually wake up feeling murder-y.

So, I got ready for the day, including my typical application of makeup, which involved (and still involves) Clinique’s Advanced Concealer for under-eye circles and anything else that could be construed as unattractive on my face.  Eventually, Terry and I decided to go to the local Chinese Buffet (that is the restaurant’s official name) for lunch.  (This was pre-Ted, so I have no memory of how I used to fill my days . . . probably with lots of candy and carefree belly dancing. But, regardless, I can’t be specific about what I did between breakfast and lunch because I have no idea.) And that’s where, as I tried to eat some noodles, I experienced a chill of foreshadowing.  Even though I was starving, I DIDN’T WANT TO EAT THEM.  If you’ve ever been verbally abused by me when I’m hungry, then you know that I ALWAYS eat as soon as possible so that I can go back to being the inspiring ray of sunshine that I usually am.  I’m nauseated so infrequently that I often fail to recognize it for what it is—a death knell. Because we all know that nausea is the death of all that is good and hopeful in the world.

All remained semi-well until 4:12 p.m.  That’s when it started.  I think that the events of that evening are best addressed via an open letter of apology to my husband. Because he witnessed me pooping my pants.

Rotavirus_Maturation

A rotavirus cell–this is the bastard that almost caused me
to poop myself to death.

Dearest Terrance (That isn’t his name, but, when I’m dealing with awkward subject matter like pooping my pants, I tend to make bad jokes to mask my awkwardness, although, frankly, I am a modern woman who CAN have it all, and part of having it all is finding a partner who doesn’t mind when you poop your pants in front of them.  I DESERVE IT.):

I’m sorry that, on a day that started out so promisingly, you had to find me half-naked and passed out on the bathroom floor. That was not my intent when I said, “Something is about to happen,” before walking to the bathroom. But, really, I should get credit for lying down before passing out so that you didn’t have to deal with a concussed fiancée who had passed out while experiencing a digestive system incident so horrific that she knew she was going to die an embarrassing, poop-related, Elvis-y death.  Also, to be fair, I didn’t yell at the dogs even once after I’d regained consciousness when they kept coming up and sniffing and licking my face while I was still lying on the floor, even though I’m quite sure they weren’t checking on me so much as they were checking to see if I was dead, yet, so that they could quarter me and bury my limbs in the yard, much like Mr. Cookie Pants, whose dismembered arm we found sticking up out of a pile of dead leaves and mulch one autumn day.

Also, I’m sorry for insisting that I try to eat something once I was conscious again and lying on top of our bed because, the last time I had passed out, I had felt awful for hours afterwards because I hadn’t eaten anything. Now, we both know that a person with a rotavirus shouldn’t eat anything, fainting or not, but, at the time, it didn’t seem obvious to me.

So, I’m sorry that I ate crackers and toast and drank juice while lying on our bed with a rotavirus, and I’m sorry that these actions resulted in what I can only refer to as The Quilt Incident of 2007.  A handsome young man should never have to hear his almost-wife sob, “Oh, no, I’m POOPING,” while she’s lying in their bed, upchucking at the same time.

In addition, I’m sorry that, when I was lying on the bathroom floor again and hallucinating while waiting for my mom to arrive with Gatorade, I dreamed of rushing waterfalls and Technicolor snowstorms instead of your delightful, smiling, calm face (which you seemed to have expected, which is weird, but I guess these are the things you think about before getting married . . . if you’re Ike Turner). But, really, if it weren’t for grape Gatorade, you would have had to explain to everyone how I died of pooping, so I believe that not dying made up for not hallucinating about you.

It was around this time that I became so dehydrated that my memories of the later hours of that evening are fuzzy.  But I do know that you somehow managed to clean up the bed, do several loads of laundry, clean me up, and call my mom for back-up, all the while checking on me constantly to make sure I hadn’t died of over-pooping and to make sure I kept my pants on while waiting for my mom to arrive with lots of Gatorade.  That’s heroism, my friend.

Finally, I’m sorry that I gave YOU the rotavirus of 2007 . . . but I think I took awesome care of you, especially considering that I had almost Elvis-ed the night before.

Your loving wife,

Missy

Now, you might be wondering what on earth this story has to do with a product review of a concealer, but what is MOST REMARKABLE about this story is that, after ALL of that, when I looked in the mirror the next morning, the concealer was still hiding my dark circles and blemishes.  So, suck on that, CoverGirl and Maybelline, because Clinique’s got it all over you in the concealer department.

In fact, the Advanced Concealer works SO well that you have to be careful not to apply too much at one time, as it can easily look cakey if you try to slop it on like you have to slop on all other types of concealers (because they don’t work).  Also, while it will easily cover any skin discoloration that you could possibly have, people will still be able to tell if you spent 15 minutes picking at a gigantic pimple, only to have it look like you’ve got a parasitic worm crater on your cheek.  So, don’t do that.  (I know you’ll still do it.)

So, if you must have pimples and under-eye circles and a rotavirus, you must purchase a tube of Clinique’s Advanced Concealer.  When they find your lifeless body on the bathroom floor with your pants around your knees and they comment on the flawlessness of your makeup instead, you’ll be glad you did.

For those days when you absolutely, positively must hear every word Ron Swanson says.

This is Jack.  Jack is a Basset Hound.  Jack is loud.

Jack Reacher, Basset Hound

Jack Reacher, Basset Hound.
Jack is loud.

This is a drawing of my four-year-old son, Ted. (Is this not how parents protect their children’s identities online?)  My Paint skills are, perhaps, not the best, but it captures his particular joie de vivre.  And the pictorial representation of him uses the toilet about as often as he does, so it’s appropriate.  So, this is Ted.  Like Jack, Ted is loud.

Ted is loud.

Ted is loud, although not necessarily in this picture.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I work from home, and I work a LOT from home.  You can find me most days sitting on my spot on my couch with my laptop on my lap and an ice-cold can of addictive, chemical-filled nectar of the gods (Diet Coke) beside me.  I often start work within 5-10 minutes of waking up.  I stumble from our bedroom to my little home office, grabbing a can of nectar chemicals and Nutrigrain bar on the way.  I open the curtains, letting sunlight flood the room.  Still in my pajamas, I turn on my computer and sit down on my soft, comfortable couch to start my day.

Sounds peaceful, yes?  What I left out of that description is the behavior of the hell’s minion I share my home with—Jack Reacher, Basset Hound.  (Yes, we did name our Basset Hound after the protagonist in the Lee Child novels.  If you’re also a Jack Reacher fan and are pissed that Tom Cruise was given the role in the Jack Reacher movie that is currently in theaters nationwide, you can probably blame us.  I’m pretty sure God looked down on us and was like, “A ridiculously short-legged dog named Jack Reacher?  A short Jack Reacher? Would it work?  HELL YES, it would!”

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let Tom Cruise be Jack Reacher, and Tom Cruise was Jack Reacher.
And God saw the Jack Reacher, that it was good: and God divided the fans from the non-fans.
And God called the fans nondiscriminating, and the non-fans he called unjust. And the fans and the non-fans attended the premier.
And God made the box office, and divided the studio heads who were up their own asses from the Lee Child readers who were correct: and it was so.)

I digress.  Jack Reacher the Basset Hound is, like Jack Reacher the book character, a powerhouse of righteousness, and he expresses his passion for all that is good in the world via his vocal chords . . . all day long, and ESPECIALLY in first 15 minutes after I get up.

If the weather is acceptable, we let the dogs out between 5-7 a.m. to work off some of their morning-fresh energy before the humans have to get up.  So, when I wake up, I walk out of our bedroom, grab my delicious can of chemicals and Nutrigrain bar, open the curtains . . . and let the dogs in the house, after which Jack barks and howls at me for 15 minutes to express his OUTRAGE that’s he’s been outside for 1-2 hours and also his HAPPINESS to see me.  He’s JUST SO HAPPY and also a little bit OUTRAGED, and HE IS GOING TO TELL ME ABOUT IT BECAUSE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.

Then, Ted wakes up.  Ted really likes trains.  Ted likes to play train-related games on the iPad while I work, and Ted also likes to make train sounds, loudly and with great enthusiasm.  All day long.  While he’s doing that, Jack is alternately sleeping and barking, sleeping and wrestling with the other two dogs, sleeping and eating, sleeping and barking . . . and a little more barking, which often encourages the other two dogs, normally quiet angels, to bark. What does any of this have to do with a product review, you ask?

I’ll tell you.

I like to watch shows I’ve recorded on my DVR while I work, and oddly enough, I like to be able to hear what the people on the shows are saying to each other.  Obviously, if dogs are barking incessantly and a child is “Woo- WOOOOOOOO”ing all day long RIGHT NEXT TO ME, I can’t hear my shows, right?  Incorrect.

Enter my beloved Seinhauser RS110 Wireless Stereo Headphones.

Seinhauser RS110 Wireless Stereo Headphones

Seinhauser RS110 Wireless Stereo Headphones

These things. Are. Awesome.  We actually have two sets of them that we’ve used constantly for two years now, and they still work perfectly, as long as we keep them in fresh batteries.  They take only two AAA batteries per headset, so we bought a set of rechargeable AAA batteries and two chargers—problem solved.  It’s a small investment to make for hours of distraction-free entertainment.  While the headphones don’t completely drown out the noise around me, they are a great buffer, which allows me to work while watching or listening to my shows—and I can hear everything everyone on the TV says.  In addition, I tend to use them whenever I’m watching a movie, whether I need to drown out child and dogs or not, as they allow me to hear the dialogue easily.  Finally, they’re a GREAT investment for households with young children and/or for people who like to watch TV while working out on a treadmill or bike.  Parents can watch loud movies or shows after kids have gone to bed without disturbing the little rug rats, and fitness buffs can distract themselves from the futility of  running for 45 minutes on the treadmill to burn a grand sum of 250 calories by watching an entertaining show.

I love these headphones.  I can’t think of any disadvantages to them, really, except for potential ear fatigue, which is a problem for all headphones after a person has used them for an hour or longer at a time.  One note:  If you buy two sets of the same model and two different people are using them on two different TVs at the same time, there will be some static.  So, don’t do that.

If, like me, you hate a loud TV but love hearing what you’re watching, the Seinhauser RS110 wireless headphones are for you.  You’re welcome (because you’ll thank me).

Ron Swanson

Gratuitous picture of Ron Swanson
NBC’s Parks and Rec

For when you want the hair of a female human.

So, after taking a few weeks off to attend to issues like “paying work” and what was either a flu-lite or a bastard of a cold, it’s now time for us to get down to business in 2013 regarding what really matters in life—hair. I have what some people (i.e., me) might refer to as “difficult” hair.  It is thick; it takes so long to dry with a hair dryer that my stylist takes phone calls, bakes cakes, and buys and sells stock while drying it. When I dry it, I take the opportunity to sit down on the toilet and get some reading done.  If you haven’t read a Lee Child novel while sitting on the toilet and drying your hair, you haven’t lived a life that I can relate to.

A few weeks ago, after looking at the back of my head in the mirror for the first time in many months (let’s not examine that too closely), I said to my husband, “I can finally tell that I’ve been growing my hair out; it’s longer than it’s been in a long time.”  And he said, “Yes, and your hair is so much softer than it used to be . . .  like a silky pony.”  (Like a what? Is he a closet My Little Pony fan?  When I clean out his piles of robot- and succubus-related books, am I going to find a Friendship Is Magic bumper sticker?)

Friendship is Magic!

Friendship is Magic!

His “compliment” immediately brought to mind a scene that played out in graduate school in the summer of 2000.  My English as a Second Language teacher friends (we’ll call them Whitney and Carol because those are their names) and I were in the break room, eating lunch, when the conversation turned to hair.  Carol said, “Your hair is so much softer than it looks.  Because, you know, it looks like coarse man hair.”

Some people might have been offended by this observation, but I am remarkably insensitive, as Carol knows.  I said, over the snorts of Whitney’s laughter, “It’s kind of like the coat of a Great Pyrenees—naturally poofy with a thick undercoat.”  (I’ve always liked Great Pyrenees.  See?)

Echo, our original Great Pyrenees, and I, 1979

Echo, our original Great Pyrenees, and I, 1979

Minnie, our current Great Pyrenees

Minnie, our current Great Pyrenees

It’s now been 12 years since that life-changing conversation, and I can say with a fair degree of confidence that I have discovered several of the product secrets that allow women to avoid sporting coarse man hair.  And now I share them with you, dear readers.

Although it may seem like an obvious point, I can’t overemphasize the importance of choosing the right shampoo and conditioner.  I say it “may” seem obvious because I have met people (cough, myhusband, cough) who think that it’s okay to, say, use bar soap to wash their hair while they’re in the shower.  If I lived on the prairie in the 1800s like a tall, awkward Laura Ingalls Wilder, I’d happily use soap to wash my hair.  However, since I’m not, I use, instead, Matrix Biolage Hydrathérapie Shampoo and Deep Conditioning Balm.

Matrix Biolage Hydrathérapie Shampoo

Matrix Biolage Hydrathérapie Shampoo

Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm

Matrix Biolage Conditioning Balm

I’ve tried lots of other shampoos that were just fine and probably worked great for loads of other people who don’t have Great Pyrenees/coarse man hair, but those shampoos just weren’t conditioning enough for me.  My hair is Saltines dry and seems to be getting drier with age.  In addition, leave-in conditioners, which I LOVE because they reduce shower time, weren’t getting the job done. (Seriously, what is the point of standing under water for 20 minutes?  Only eating cake can make standing around for 20 minutes enjoyable, and I know from unfortunate experience that decorator’s frosting does not hold up well in conditions of high humidity.)  So, I now use the conditioning balm and take the extra five minutes in the shower (cursing the entire time—I cannot overstate how much I hate long showers).

Now, after I exit (thanking the gods) from the shower, I must apply the workhorses of the hair world—the styling products.  First up is Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum.  A small bottle costs approximately $10,000 USD but lasts approximately 5 years. (That last number isn’t an exaggeration. The first number is an exaggeration only if you consider $17 to be less than $10,000.)

Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum

Paul Mitchell Skinny Serum, for when you want silky pony hair–and when wouldn’t you?

There are, perhaps, one million different “glossing” serums on the market today, and, because they all contain silicone, they all do pretty much the same thing—make hair sleeker and shinier, which is a godsend for coarse hair.  The silicones  are also awesome because they displace water in the hair shaft, which means that, instead of having enough time to write a book when I’m drying my hair, I only have enough time to read a book while drying my hair.  I apply the serum after conditioning, when my hair is still wet, because I hate drying my hair almost as much as I hate taking long showers.  My stylist applies it after straightening it while she’s styling it.  You could do both, really, as long as you use just a tiny, tiny bit for each application.  If you overdo it (which is easy to do), your hair will end up looking like it’s been plastered to your head by a hard rain.  That’s a good look only if you’re a flat-coated retriever.  (I like dogs.)

Next up is Paul Mitchell Straight Works, which, when I bought it, I thought was a styling gel.  It is not.  However, I liked its effect on my hair so much that I continued to use it.  I’m gonna be honest with you people.  I don’t know exactly what it does; I only know that I can tell if I’ve forgotten to use it.  According to the PM website, it “controls texture and creates a silky smooth finish” and contains “lightweight humectants and conditioners” that “leave hair soft and manageable.” So I guess it’s like a thicker, non-greasy version of the serum.  I don’t use much of it at one time, but it contributes to the reduction in drying time, which I enjoy, unless I’ve reached the point in a Lee Child book where Jack Reacher is killing someone with his bare hands. Then it’s just irritating.

Paul Mitchell Straight Works

Paul Mitchell Straight Works

Last but not least (not counting my hairspray, which, frankly, deserves its own blog) is an actual styling gel—Paul Mitchell Soft Sculpting Spray Gel.

Paul Mitchell Soft Sculpting Spray Gel

Paul Mitchell Soft Sculpting Spray Gel

This stuff is awesome—it smells great and lends shape and volume to my hair without being remotely sticky or challenging to apply. (Not that I need volume, but who am I to turn extra volume away? I’m not Christie Brinkley.  Or someone more timely.)  It also, supposedly, makes hair shinier and contains conditioners.  I believe it.

Not all hair types could handle this number of styling products, even when used sparingly, but they work well for me. I don’t know all of the science behind how hair products work. However, I do know that, after I use this particular combination of products, my hair feels like that of a human rather than a dog.  And that makes them worth every penny.

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