Category Archives: fashion

My Constantly Changing Hair

I have always envied those folks who have had the same haircut their whole lives.  They found something they liked, it worked for them, and they stuck with it.  Commitment!  Regardless of trends, or fashion, or even common sense, they stick with that style no matter what.  I tend to think those folks are fairly predictable in their clothing choices as well, but that’s another blog post.

That’s not really how my relationship with my hair works at all.  I have sported pretty much every hair style under the sun; I have had red hair, brown hair, blonde hair, long hair, short hair, straight hair, curly hair – I’ve had it all.

When I was a little kid, I had a shag haircut…for real.  In my kindergarten picture, the very first school picture a kid gets, a HUGE rite of passage, I am wearing a toothless smile, a pink, zip up pantsuit, and a blonde shag.  My mother, a normally puritan and conservative matriarch, gave me a haircut made popular by Jane Fonda’s performance in “Klute”  – you know, the movie where she plays a prostitute?  I had the hair of a whore at 5 years old.

My two older sisters were allowed to grow their hair out.  They had lovely, long tresses.  My eldest sister Mary had honey colored hair (always reminded me of Sleeping Beauty’s hair in the Disney classic) and my other sister Sarah had rich, chestnut colored hair.  While Mary usually wore her hair down (classic) Sarah would often wear braids, or carefully construct a bun that would flawlessly make it through the day.  As a young child, I envied my sisters’ long hair.  I used to wear towels and steal my mother’s wigs and pretend, for hours in front of the mirror, that I had long hair.  I begged her to let me grow it out, but it fell on deaf ears.

Apparently, according to my mother, I didn’t have the disposition it took to have long hair.  I made a fuss about most things in my youth, and combing, washing and taking care of hair would have been at the top of the list.  (Let me be clear, I can now say, as an adult and a mother, that I was a horrible child.  If I had to raise myself, I would be dead by now; certainly the child/Liz would drive the adult/Liz to some desperate act either against her adult-self or her child-self.  And yes, I understand how a therapist would get off reading that sentence, but hey, I’m a Gemini.)

The summer after the shag, my mother gave me a “pixie” made famous by Mia Farrow’s performance in “Rosemary’s Baby.”  (I am assuming that is not at all a subconscious reflection of my behavior as a child.)   That was also the summer I spent every day in the pool and never bothered with showering.  Why should I hop in the shower when I spent the whole day in water?  (Duh…)  Well, around July 28th, it became clear why perhaps rinsing chlorine out of my blonde hair might have been time well spent.  My hair started taking on a neon greenish hue, which was really fun for my older sisters and brother, because that was the color of my swimsuit that summer as well.  It was subtle at first, but around August 15th, it was pretty obvious.  I started blending in with the local flora.  People pointed at the grocery store and my sibling’s taunts increased.  Lesson learned.  Rinse off when you get out of the pool, Blondie!

Finally, when I was in high school, I had a modicum of control over my life and looks, and I grew my hair out.  I finally had long hair!  I wore it all different kinds of ways.  I would get up early to braid, or curl, or tease…it was fun.  It usually only lasted until 3rd period, but still, I looked great at 8:00!  As I got older, my hair got a little bit darker with each year.  I wasn’t a fan.  I preferred to be a sassy blonde, so in high school, I started adding highlights.  That was my first foray into color.  It was fun.  I also tried perming my hair.  That was not fun, but for some unknown and stupid reason, I continued to get them.  (This is when older, wiser Liz wishes she could have a heart to heart with younger, stupid Liz and tell her to avoid fashion trends.)

In college I had different hair styles.  Freshmen year I had a bob, because I joined a sorority, because, well, OK, it seemed like the thing to do.  Most of the gals in the sorority had a bob, so when in Rome.  (Clearly, I was more of a follower at this point in my life.)  I was surrounded by blondes with bobs.  (New band name, I call it!)  Sophomore year was another bad perm, and junior and senior, (heavy sigh) I sported a mullet.  Yup, like a bad Joan Jet wanabe.  Not only did I have a mullet my junior year, but my senior year, I permed that bad mullet.  That’s right, a permed mullet.  Looking back on it, I’m not sure what was worse, the hair or the Aqua-net hairspray addiction that went with it.  Gotta love the 80’s!

The rest of my adult life, my hair has been everything, although I do believe the last perm I ever got was in 1992. (Good riddance to bad rubbish.)   I also started recognizing a pattern with my hair.  Usually, after a tragedy, I made a drastic change to my appearance.  Some people get tattoos when there is a death of a loved one, I made an appointment at the salon.  There is something about cutting off many inches of hair, hair that took years to grow, that can be freeing when one is in pain.  Then, as one heals and mourns, there is something about growing it back again.  Seeing slow change over months, seeing and feeling familiar locks against the neck or shoulders can give comfort, knowing time has passed and we soldier on.

At the end of the day, what matters is how our hair makes us feel.  It’s OK to let go of new trends or styles or colors, and it’s OK to jump on board too.  You own it, you get to wear it how you want.  I know this sounds ridiculously simplistic and Pre-K, but honestly, it has taken me about 48 years to figure that shit out.  My hair is like me – constantly changing, growing, morphing, and as I go through life it’s kind of fun to look back at the different styles I rocked and some that I did not. I have recently decided that I am going to grow my hair out again, but who knows?  Maybe I’ll get bored along the way and do some damage before it reaches my shoulders.

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Purses

I carry a Coach purse and I love it. I’m ridiculously proud of it and I walk with it front and center, to the point where it looks as if I am hiding an unwanted pregnancy; I tend to show it off when I walk into upscale grocery stores, not that I ever really walk into upscale grocery stores, but if I did, I would proudly show off my Coach bag. I take it into the local IGA and the cashier doesn’t notice its glory, but I flaunt it just the same.  Eight years ago, I knew nothing about Coach handbags. That is, until my sister-in-law started working for Coach, then I started getting a bag every Christmas. Now I loves me some Coach.

Sure, I carried purses before my love affair started. Even now, I carry “normal” purses to “normal” places. They’re sad looking bags with no satin lining or tell-all leather signature tag. I rationalize this by thinking that I don’t want to get my good bags dirty. You don’t wear an evening gown to the post office, right?  Even Emily, my daughter, occasionally puts down the plush upscale “Webkinz” stuffed animals to play with the old, “carnie” stuffed turtle she got when the dart somehow managed to find the balloon. She feels bad for it if she ignores it for too long. “It gets jealous of all my other friends,” she whispers. I too feel bad for my discount pink faux-leather bag I got at Walgreens. I drag it out on occasion for pity’s sake.

There is an exception here, however. There is one bag I keep out of rotation. It is hidden WAY back in my closet. I never bring it out for fear Emily will see it. A few years ago, TV was inundated with commercials for a Buxton bag, no, not a bag – they called it an organizer. It was a thin, pleather thing with an over-the-shoulder strap so you could wear the bag on your hip.  There was a big, wide strap cutting across on an angle, like some military sash gone horribly, horribly wrong. The “amazing” part about this bag, which they stated over and over again in the commercial, was that it could actually get bigger as you needed, due to the hidden zippers.  At one point, it actually showed a woman (wearing a blindfold for some reason which escaped me) putting 6 bottles of water into that ugly, little bag.

Emily was 4 at the time and fairly impressionable, so that spring for Mother’s Day, I received the Buxton Organizer. I didn’t see it coming.  As I opened the present, it was all I could do not to exclaim to my husband, Kriner, “What the hell? Why did you let her do this?” but I kept it together and smiled and did my best to love it. Every time I left the house, Em would ask, “Why don’t you take your Buxton Organizer?” “Momma, you should really take your Buxton Organizer.”  I tried for a while telling her, “No, it’s too nice; I want to save it!” but she eventually saw through that. Then we went to Disney and she cornered me. “Momma, you have to take your Buxton Organizer to Disney. We may need water!”


The problem with purses for me is that with every passing year, the purse tends to get bigger. In my 20’s, I carried a little, cute clutch; now it seems, I have a bag five times the size of my head. I hate having a big purse, I do, but I can’t seem to stop myself. At this rate, I will be dragging around a plastic lawn bag when I hit my 60‘s.

Every year I try to “downsize” but it’s pointless; there’s always way too much stupid crap I think I need; that by shoving all my useless stuff into a smaller purse will somehow make it easier, but no. It just means I can’t close the zipper. In my home, I will ardently throw something out if I don’t use it within a calendar year; I’m GREAT at purging stuff in my house, but with the guts of my purse, I’m a hoarder. I have gum from 1976.

Normally, I have to take out 70% of the useless crap that is in my purse in order to find what I am looking for, which is always 1 of 3 things: my phone, my planner or my wallet. That’s really all I ever use in my purse, so why then do I need a bag the size of Rhode Island?

At this very moment, this is the content of my very large purse:

-1 wallet from Harrods full of singles (Note – I’ve never been to Harrod’s but my girlfriend Solveig has and she got me a wallet. I love it because sometimes people see it and I assume they assume I’ve been to Harrods. “Ha” on them.)

-2 packets of Trident whitening gum, preferably wintergreen, although it’s hard to find. I chew gum a lot, for many reasons. Mainly, because it occupies my mouth so I don’t drive myself crazy talking to myself in the car. “God, I’m so annoying!” I think to myself. “Yeah, I know, I wish I would just shut up!” “Come on me, I’m being too hard on me – I like some of the stories I tell.” “Who asked you?”  The other reason is that I am also paranoid my breath will be bad and my students will make fun of me while I’m not around, not that they don’t have many other things to use as fodder.  Back to the list…

-1 big pair of sunglasses. (Also, a gift from Solvieg.) As my purse gets bigger as I age, so do my sunglasses.  The big purse helps to hide the big hips, the big sunglasses helps to hide the big crow’s feet.

-A roll of duct tape

-A package of “Gushers” for emergencies

-Cell phone (yawn)

-Check book that is woefully out of date; I think it was balanced once in the 80‘s.

-3 bottles of hand sanitizer

-7 legos

-A day planner that is also woefully of out date

-1 bottle of “I’m Not a Waitress” IPA nail polish

-4 Sharpies

-1 small laminated Bill of Rights; you never know when you need to pull it out to make a point

-A roll of “My Little Pony” stickers (also for obvious reasons)

-Tic Tacs that have spilled out of the box, so they are rolling around with the loose change, and taking on a gray hue rather than their zippy green color

-Expired children’s medicine

-A smushed Cliff bar (What if I got stuck in a snow storm?)

-A Star Wars trading card of Admiral Ackbar (also for obvious reasons)

-A CD of the “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” soundtrack (Broadway version – FABULOUS)

-A bright pink scarf that was a gift (also from Solvieg, did I mention she’s an awesome friend?)

-A digital voice recorder (because I get inspired writing ideas while I’m driving)

-A pair of earrings

-23 travel sized lotion bottles from various hotels

-1 Vince Lombardi doll (for luck)

-Allergy medicine

-A smaller purse, in case I need to “downsize” at a moment’s notice

-Way too many keys

-1,524 lipsticks and/or glosses

-1 pack of “Airborne” that is over a year old and never opened. (Just in case I am on a plane next to someone who sneezes…)

-A flip recorder full of videos of my daughter’s made up commercials and “man on the street” interviews

-A princess furry pen that lights up (makes a statement in the bank)

-3 Littlest Pet Shop Toys (a cat, a fish and a beaver)

-1 quarter, 1 dime and 1,524 pennies

That’s it.  That is the contents of my very large purse.  I was digging for something (probably my phone, my planner or my keys) and swearing like a sailor, when Kriner stated, “It must be sad to be a little purse woman trapped in a big purse woman body” I told him it really was.

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Wigs

When I was a little girl the in late 60‘s early 70‘s, it seemed that everyone’s mother had a wig or two in her closet. Not that they would stay in the closet, because these women would actually wear their wigs in public. Of course, these women would also wear false eyelashes to dinner, but today that doesn’t seem as far-fetched, thanks to the Kardashians. My mother and her friends wore fake hair on their heads as if it were normal, because it was.

Not only did these women have wigs, they had these magical items called falls. They would clip them into a bland ponytail, and their heads would instantly transform from doughty housewife to Grace Kelly in mere seconds. My mother had two wigs and one fall and they were A-MA-ZING. She wore them often. She would wear a wig to the grocery store, she would wear a wig to church, and most certainly she would wear a wig to the supper club.

I remember one particular day, she was cleaning out the basement and frankly, she looked like hell. (My mother was a stunner, but 4 hours in our basement could do that to any woman.) Jackie O. would have looked like Bella Abzug, or perhaps more timely, Demi Moore would have looked like Lisa Lamponelli. It was then that she unfortunately realized it was her turn to be a “helper mom” for my Brownie troupe and she needed to be at Wilson Elementary in exactly eight minutes. She ran upstairs, threw on a wig, accompanied with a snappy little headscarf, red lipstick, an A-line skirt with a matching Bill Blass blouse, and she was ready to go. Her transformation was amazing. In five minutes she had gone from “the help” to Elizabeth Taylor. She also somehow managed to bake Toll House cookies in those few spare minutes.  She was, and is, remarkable. (Of course it didn’t hurt that she sped off in a Fiat convertible; it helps with the remarkable part, but that’s another story.)

I remember spending hours upon hours playing with my mother’s wigs. As a kid, I had very short, almost white-blonde hair. (Fun fact – the only time I didn’t have blonde hair was during the summer. We had a pool which, for all practical purposes, became my 2nd home; due to the chlorine that I never bothered to rinse out, my hair took on a greenish hue.)

As stated, my hair was short. Very short. My mother called it “pixie” and showed me pictures of Twiggy. I called it “boy” and thought I looked like Bobby Brady, only with yellowish green hair. My sister Sarah had my mother’s hair. It was long and dark and pretty. My oldest sister Mary also had long hair, but hers was a golden color. I was not allowed long hair. It might have had something to do with the honey incident, but that wasn’t necessarily my fault.

So, my mom had beautiful, long, chestnut hair. Her wigs matched that. I would often try on these wigs, sometimes backwards (to add bangs) and pretended I was Cleopatra. I would drape her necklaces over my head and prance around her bedroom, barking orders to Yankee, our bulldog. “Get me my Kool-aide, fool!” Inevitably, I would get caught by my older siblings who would humiliate and chastise me; I would gingerly put the wig back in its rightful place.

I’m not sure if you have figured this out yet, but I was a bit of an odd kid. (In that picture, I am holding my favorite Frosty the Snowman candle, that I would often sleep with.)  That’s OK, as I turned into a perfectly normal odd adult. I was the kid who saved up her allowance to purchase a rhinestone tiara from the costume jewelry store. I was the kid who wrote a fan letter to Barry Manilow’s dogs. My imaginary friend was Merv Griffin. I had green hair and didn’t care. Aside from all these quirky traits, I was also a tad obsessed with Dolly Parton. This was around the time of “Here You Come Again” and “9 to 5” and I thought she was the bee’s knees. One fateful New Year’s Eve while my parents were out, I decided I was going to make a Dolly Parton wig.

Logically, I cut off the foot of one of my mother’s pantyhose and pulled it over my head. (I had seen enough Carol Burnett sketches to know what goes under a wig.) My problem was those curls. What could I possibly use to create those amazing curls that Dolly sported? In a flash I was inspired. I snuck downstairs, avoiding the babysitter at all costs. (This is something very important when one is 8 years old and making her own wig.) I grabbed the Elmer’s glue and headed to the bathroom where I also grabbed a bag of cotton balls. Yup. That’s exactly what I did; I glued cotton balls to my head. All for beauty, right?

Looking back on it, it is fair to say that I looked a bit like a preschool art project that resembled a cloud suffering from mange. It was a goopy mess and after a few minutes, my arms were getting tired; it was slow going. At that pace, it was going to take all night. “OK, I’ll just slip this off and finish it tomorrow” I thought. Or maybe not. Turns out, this glue stuff really worked! (Did I mention my mother wouldn’t let me grow my hair out?)

So, after a few stalwart attempts of trying to get this thing off my head, I knew I had to eat the shit sandwich that came with finding the babysitter. Eat it, I did.

After about 15 minutes of belly laughs, she composed herself. Thank God she had the insight to shove my head under water.

“But wait! You’re gonna ruin my wig!”

“You want your mom to see you like this?”

“OK. But make sure the water isn’t too cold.”

I am a 45-year-old woman, and I am loath to tell you how many wigs I own. Sure, I can rationalize ‘till the drunks come home. “I’m in a play; I need it for this play I’m in” or “I’m writing a new sketch, and I play a woman in that sketch who needs to have amazing hair.” I have way too many wigs and way too many excuses to get more wigs. Some of my friends collect expensive shoes, or Hermes scarves, but I have wigs They quietly lurk in my closet. Wigs that few know about and fewer see. That’s how sad it is. I am a closet wig wearer.

There are two types of wigs out there. Shitty wigs, and nice wigs. Shitty wigs are what you or your children wear for Halloween. These are wigs that look pretty good for exactly 4 minutes, and then they immediately turn into a snarly, polyester nest.

 (This is not a nice wig.)

They’re usually at or under $20.00 and you get what you pay for. You never really look different, you just look like you, only in a shitty wig.

Nice wigs are very, very different. They look like real hair, no, amazing hair. They’re perfect. They’re waiting for you to try them on. They long for the days when ladies wore them to go grocery shopping, because maybe they hadn’t washed their hair that day and by washing hair, I mean go to the beauty parlor. These wigs are wonderful. They have a sense of style and etiquette. They don’t smoke and walk at the same time, and if they leave the bar to sit down for dinner, they let the waiter carry their drink. That’s how great these wigs are. Old school class. These wigs are your friends.

There is Jacqueline the brunette, Christy the blonde and Raquel the redhead. They love being on your head and they love making you feel pretty. These wigs are not under $20.00. These wigs start at $200.00. My friend Heather and I vowed a year ago to start wearing them (she has a wig fetish as well) and we swore up and down on our vodka that we would “totally wear our wigs, no matter what!” but I still have yet to see her sporting one in the dairy aisle.

 (This also is not a great wig.)

I currently own many shitty wigs, and two nice wigs. I had three, but I loaned one out, and it never came back. (Yes, these wigs are that powerful. They can ruin friendships.) I own a brunette curly wig, reminiscent of Adrian Barbeau in her Maude days. The other is a longer, brown wig with highlights. It is shoulder length with bangs. (I wrote a sketch where I played Michelle Bachman; I had to have it.) Do I ever wear these wigs out? No. Do I wish I did? Yes. Do I write sketches and plays just so I can buy more? Yes. Do I put them on from time to time around the house? Yes. Am I wearing one now?

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