Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why I shut my hair in the door (and other deep thoughts)

As I’ve eased into blogging and tweeting these last three weeks, I’ve made some truly interesting friends and had some highly stimulating discussions.

And by “interesting” and “stimulating” I mean “weird.”

Case in point, I’ve tweeted several times recently about getting my hair stuck in the mailbox and on various parts of the car (because obviously these are fascinating topics of conversation). Then I tweeted about losing a piece of candy and finding it an hour later stuck in my hair (yes, I ate it. It was delicious).

Clearly seeing a trend, one of my aforementioned new Twitter friends, @smoulderingsea (aka. Adrien-Luc Sanders) replied:

@tawnafenske What is -with- things in your hair? It's like some kind of creepy tentacle monster that grabs everything.

It was a strange question, particularly coming from someone I’ve never met. The answer is probably more strange:

I forget that I have long hair.

As a kid, I was a serious tomboy. Until I was about 13, my hair was literally buzz-cut short. I began growing it out when I stopped seeing it as a source of pride each time someone thought I was a boy.

My entire adult life, my hair has been well past the middle of my back. I’m 35 now, so I’ve lived with long hair for many years.

On top of that, Pythagoras endearingly describes my physique as “small body, big boobs.”

Even so, at least once a month I will emerge from the closet and ask Pythagoras, “does this outfit make me look like a boy?”

And he will stare at me like I’ve lost my mind before shaking his head and ignoring the question (as he’s learned to do with any question that begins “does this outfit make me look...”)

So what is my problem? Why is my subconscious still telling me I’m at risk of being mistaken for someone with a penis?

I’m no shrink, but I do know it can be tough to shake the early impressions you form about yourself. I’m lucky my parents instilled in me a tremendous self-esteem, which is probably why I’m able to handle writing rejections without serious damage to my psyche. That’s the upside of this strange tendency to cling to youthful impressions of oneself.

The downside? Well, aside from shutting my hair in the car door on a regular basis, I do sometimes have to remind myself that I’m not just writing to amuse myself and my fellow third graders. There’s a real possibility that someone besides friends, family, and my agent will eventually read my books. In some ways, this scares the crap out of me. Every time my agent forwards a comment from an editor, a tiny voice in the back of my head thinks, “wait, you mean this isn’t just for fun? You mean a REAL editor saw it?”

So how about you, dear readers? Are there any ideas you formed about yourself in childhood that you’ve never quite shaken? Do share!

I’ll be over here in the corner picking a gumdrop out of my hair.


Linda G. said...

Great post!

Mostly I like to pretend I sprang full-grown from Zeus's forehead, and forget that painfully awkward interlude known as childhood altogether.

If memories force themselves upon me, I edit freely, making myself way cooler than I actually was. If you ever hear a early-life story from me in which I am super-humanly smart or brave (or anything!), be very suspicious. And remember, I'm a writer of fiction. ;)

Tawna Fenske said...

Linda G, you were sired by Zeus as well, huh? We have even more in common than we realized.

I will be certain to believe everything you tell me about both your brilliant childhood and your brilliant future!


Jess Tudor said...

I had short hair until around 20 when I got married to a guy with long hair and it was insulting when waitresses thought I was the boy and he was the girl from behind in restaurants. He prefers me with long hair, and since he's got his own to back up the preference, I have long hair. But I HATE it and forget about it, too, and often want to chop it all off for the ridiculousness of it catching in things and being pulled accidentally when I'm hugging someone and - argh. I can relate.

Tawna Fenske said...

Jess, don't you hate rolling over on long hair in the middle of the night and yanking yourself awake? That's my least favorite part. My favorite part is that I can get away with only washing it twice a week and brushing it maybe every other day and no one knows the difference.


Jess Tudor said...

At least half the time I'm rolling onto HIS long hair *grin*