Thursday, May 31, 2007

Zee Black Russian: eez good drink, da?

OMG! Sunsail visited and commented too! I LOVE her sense of humor. She cracks me up!

She was intrigued by my screen name. I've had it as a nickname forever. It is a good drink. How can you go wrong with vodka and coffee liqueur? What's not to love? It's strong (with a little warmth). Bold (with a little bite). And rich (with a little sweetness). You can draw your own conclusions as to why I chose it as my internet alias.

Sunsail, I'm SO jealous that you're dating a Russian! My most exotic ex- was Mexican. All of the white guys I ever dated were just plain American. Whenever I meet Russian men, they always comment on my name. It's been a lifelong ambition to learn the language, so that when they ask me if I speak it, I can say, "Da!" And follow up with something really clever. Wouldn't it just blow their minds?

My last name is plain and English and Anglo. I've always thought it would be awesome to have a hearty 4 or 5 syllabled Russian surname to match my first. It would make for interesting experiences when following up on resumes and other situations where my name would precede me.

Imagine their surprise. The Russian name would probably conjure up pictures of a leggy, blonde model-type. And then I would walk in: five feet tall, chocolate brown and dreadlocked. I would never tire of the reactions I would get!

Natasha Dostoyevsky
Natasha Baryshnikov
Natasha Kournikova
Natasha ....mother of two, a boy and a girl: Sergei and Svetlana...Sorry, I got carried away.

Those of you who will choose to follow my blog will also learn that I am a COMPLETE goofball who rarely takes herself seriously. I find it saves me the trouble of being offended when other people don't.

I Am So Excited!

People are beginning to visit MY blog!! I have had all of three visitors in the last two days (thanks ladies for making a sister's week!). One thing you all will learn about me as you follow my blog is that I am easily amused/excited/entertained. (Also that my use of asterisks, hyphens, parentheses, slashes, and ellipses is off the chain...)

Blaqkofi stopped by yesterday. AND she left comments. AND she told me that me and my locks are beautiful. Woo-hoo! Hers was one of the first SL blogs I discovered and I've read it from beginning to end and I love it! It's one of the best out there! Great info, wonderful pics. And she graciously replies to people who comment and ask questions. I'm a newbie and I told her that I want to be a lock diva like her when I grow up...

If you're new to SL research and blogging and you haven't visited hers already - check it out the first chance you get!

She liked my blog! I feel like a little kid who wrote a fan letter to a celebrity and got a personal phone call with an invitation to lunch in reply. (As you follow my blog, you will also note my child-like enthusiasm for things...)

It's just that I started my blog almost 4 months ago, but I've been lurking all this time. I'm the person who contacted Maryee back in February about how to join the club because as I wrote in her post comments, I was just so impressed with her blog and those she has links to. I thought the DFW gatherings and other events were an amazing idea. I noticed that even those who were not in the same geographic area were still very close and supportive of one another and that really appealed to me. I wanted to get in on the action!

She had very good advice, but I refrained from commenting on other blogs precisely because I didn't want anyone to wonder who I was and take a look at mine. I just slapped together a few quick posts in the beginning. I had several drafts sitting in storage waiting to be finished and rounded out. I didn't post any pictures. All and all, it was not a very pretty site. (And I do mean 'site', not 'sight.' Although it was most definitely neither!)

When I published the post announcing my SL installation, Maryee extended an invitation for me to join the LHBE, but I declined at the time because I had no pictures and felt like my site was ugly and unfinished. It wasn't the first impression I wanted to make.

I also knew I wouldn't have time to update it very often. I have no posts at all for the month of April. At the time I had just lost my job and my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. And now Maryee is dealing with family illness and a few other pressing concerns. (I understand completely because I have the same kind of chaos in my personal life right now.) So I'm not sure when I'll get a spot on the Exchange. And that means the only way for me to get traffic in the meantime is to visit other blogs one by one and comment and hope people decide to take a look at mine. And so far everyone has...yep...all three!

I have to apply the same patience I want to have about growing my locks to this process of getting the word out about my blog and being 'discovered'. I've made a start.

I'm very happy about the new look of my blog. I think Maryee and Carmen were the only 2 people who ever saw my 'rough draft.' I can't know for sure because I didn't have a counter yet, but it certainly wasn't anything to write home about. I wouldn't have visited twice. But now I'm proud of it, like when you move out of your dinky little apartment into your first house. Even though it may not look like much to other people, to you it represents a huge milestone and a great accomplishment. You want to have a housewarming and invite all your friends.

Maryee was right...blogging is terribly addictive, even though I am not working the 9 t0 5 right now, I still have things I must do, so...

I must bid my burgeoning fan base adieu....(too much?)

You will also notice that I am very tongue-in-cheek.

Sometimes I am over-the-top with self-confidence and sometimes I am completely self-effacing. I like to think it balances out...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

On Not Braiding and Banding

I was just commenting on Carmen's Braiding and Banding technique when I decided to make a proper post about my own lack of b&b to explain that it isn't sheer laziness or rebellion or ignorance that led me to my decision. I figured I would take my chances because I learned to wash my hair while it was still twisted several years ago.

Truth be told back then I was just lazy (no, I'll say that I was busy. I was in school and working two part-time jobs.) I didn't have three hours to take them all down and three more to put them back in every three weeks, so one time I just washed it with them in. Nothing bad happened, so I kept doing it.

The twists didn't unravel and my hair got clean. I didn't experience extreme puffiness or frizzies. At the time I was more afraid that it would lock unintentionally, but I learned that if I combed out the tangles at the ends it wouldn't. Plus I retwisted in sections, so that they were not ever in for more than 2 months. So I figured if I my hair held up well with 2 strand twists, it should certainly be fine with my SL 4 pt pattern, and so far it has been.

This time around I have been concerned about the impact it might have on my attempts to lock, but like I said, I know how to wash it gently. I don't over-manipulate my locks. I do concentrate mostly on the scalp. I was feeling my locks today and they seem to be coming along fine. No buds yet, but a few balls. Some of them definitely feel tighter and denser in places. And I can tell that my shed hairs are beginning to tangle into the pattern; they are not coming out even when I wash. And you'll notice I said I only wash it once every three weeks.

I'm sure some people find that appalling, but I already had a rather organic approach to washing my hair. I remember reading several articles years ago that said we don't need to wash our hair several times a week, or even weekly, unless we sweat excessively or have a scalp condition. I had a stylist explain to me once that if you don't wash frequently then you allow your scalp to regulate itself when it comes to producing natural oils and staying healthy.

I've scarcely washed my hair more than once every two or three weeks for 10 years or more, and to no ill effects. (Unless I went swimming a lot or spent days sweating in the sun for some reason. Then I always washed on an as-needed basis) And I guess my scalp has self-regulated because I've never experienced itchiness or bad smells. Even when I was wearing it straightened, I washed at the same frequency. I never used gels or greasy products that built up, so washing it less often has never been an issue.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On Making the Decision to Lock (Part 1)

I was reading Cashana's blog and encountered a statement she made that I liked so much, I asked for her permission to repost it here.

She said, "What I am noticing is that if you are uncomfortable with your locks from the beginning you will feel like that for the entire process, unless you embrace the uniqueness and not compare your hair to someone else's. Locking one's hair is not a decision to be made on the fly. You need to do your research and do an inner search and know within yourself this is the path you are willing to follow. Whether others accept it or not, you have to be able to stand TALL regarding your decision to wear Sisterlocks.

"Even if you feel you have to wear a wig those first couple of weeks, when you can walk with that, 'I don't care what you think, I look good,' swagger you will be glad you can wear your Sisterlocks with pride and strength. What I have noticed from being on the group - I lurk, never respond -is that if the ladies don't do a lot of research and get the locks, they are not happy with them for a multitude of reasons.

"Reading their questions makes me wonder how much time did they put into researching and thinking about the entire process of locking. From the decision to lock, to your consultant, scheduling, maintenance, costs, styling and much more are reasons to really think about it before you lock. For example if I hadn't liked my consultant from the initial phone calls and the meetings, I would have not had Sisterlocks, because I would need to deal with whether I wanted to travel to maintain them. "

...Girl, I could not have said it better myself. It makes me sad to read about women who are not happy with their Sisterlocks, and I think you're right about why. I've thought the same thing. Deciding to lock your hair is up there with other life-altering events like deciding to move or to change careers or quit a job and purchasing a car or deciding to begin or end a long-term relationship....Not to be taken lightly at all. Things you wouldn't dream of doing without some degree of planning and introspection.

I think that is part of why the Sisterlocks motto is: It's not a hairstyle, it's a lifestyle." It's to make you stop and think. Starting and maintaining locks is not like getting braids or twists. It's not even like doing the big chop. If you don't like a hairstyle, you grow it out if it's a cut or color. If it's braids or weave, you take it out. If you're tired of your long hair or your relaxed hair, you cut it off and start over. All of which are options too, if you don't like your locks, but the process of growing and maintaining locks is not a quick fix. I think some people don't stop to think about it.

It is a journey that you embark on. It helps to have guidance and some idea of what you will encounter along the way. You do need to look inside yourself and determine if you have what it takes within to make it successfully and happily. And I'm all about inner strength and self-confidence too, but you need to have somebody in your life who is happy for you and supports your decision. You can get by without it, but it is so much more difficult.

Like I have said before and will say again: your level of satisfaction depends on your original expectations.

Cashana said, "Locking one's hair is not a decision to be made on the fly."

So true! I started this round of SL research at the tail end of January and two weeks later had made my decision to get them, so it would seem that I made up my mind quickly. But I had been considering locks on and off for about ten years. And I am so glad I didn't get them sooner. I know from my own 'inner search' that I was not ready before now.

On the importance of liking your consultant...

You must feel like you trust your consultant. You must be able to communicate with her and feel comfortable asking questions and discussing your concerns. This is more vital than mere words can convey.

My first introduction to SLs was exactly 2.5 years ago, in late November of 2004. I met a young woman with them while I was on a cruise. Hers were beautiful. She directed me to the official site, and I read up on them but I still just really wanted to talk to someone - an expert who could answer my questions. I needed more information than was provided on the site. I needed live feedback. That's what a consultant is for, right? Root word: consult. Definition: 1) to give professional or expert advice; 2) to seek guidance or information from.

The acquaintance from the cruise (who was the friend of a friend and lived about an hour away from me ) gave me the name of her stylist. The woman who was currently doing her retites was not the one who did her install. She'd had those done on the West Coast. In retrospect, I think the stylist was probably a trainee. The more I think about it now, I'm not certain she was even that. I know I got her number off the Internet, but it may not have come from the official site. My friend may have given me the name of the shop and the stylist's name and I figured out the rest for myself.

I know there are people out there who have picked up the technique from various places without having learned the customer service aspects that are taught at the seminars. If she had taken the class it seems like she would have tried to be more reliable and helpful. Her name and shop are not listed now, so either she didn't certify or re-certify, or she never was an approved consultant/trainee.

In any case I called and immediately got the impression that she was a flake. She was primarily a braider who worked out of a braiding salon. Ok, no issues there...but every time I called, no matter what time of day for two weeks, she wasn't there. Even when I was told she would be in at a certain hour and I'd call back, she wouldn't be there. Even though I left messages, she never returned them. I finally just caught her one day at random.

And then what? She didn't want to answer any of my questions over the phone. She just wanted me to make an appointment and bring $100 for my deposit. Now, I understand that a consultant can't answer certain questions without seeing your hair. However, questions like, "when is the best time to visit your shop?" and "how long have you been doing Sisterlocks?" do not fall into that category. She worked in a city 2 hours away. I didn't want to take the day off from work and drive that far only to decide we didn't click at all...or for her not to show up, so I was trying to feel her out a bit over the phone before I made an appointment and put down my non-refundable deposit.

Now, I never spoke to her again and maybe she was 'goin' thew sum thangs' at the time...I do not know, but the negativity of that experience was 50% of the reason I didn't get Sls at that time. There really wasn't anybody in my area to do them and help me maintain. I would have driven to her city because it was only 2 hours away and I had friends that I could visit. Retightening sessions would have been a good opportunity to day trip, meet for lunch, maybe have a girl's night out.

All the other consultants (all 3 or 4) that were remotely close were 3 and 4 hours away and in cities I didn't really care to visit every 6 weeks. Plus, the experience with the braider was just so negative and I still had a lot of unanswered questions. Those factors combined with my own doubts just discouraged me completely.

If I had liked her, or been able to find someone else nearby, I really think I would have started my locks then, but it's just as well. I don't feel like I lost anything, and I have no regrets because I was still enjoying my natural hair and it was healthy. (I did have one incident with a texturizer and another with a box of hair color in the meantime, but now those are neither here nor there.) I don't feel like I was limited or oppressed by my hairstyling options and routines. And I feel like I appreciate my locks more now than I would have then.

I have said before that I am not sure I will keep them for life (for some years, definitely, but I'm not yet 30 and I expect to live a long time so who knows?), but I feel like I am more likely to keep them for longer having started them now than if I had started them then. (Sorry about the weird grammar...I teach and tutor English and I am appalled at my own sentence structure as I blog sometimes. Egads!)

But I was saying that I was discouraged because I couldn't find a consultant nearby who could answer my questions and allay my fears. I brought some of those same doubts and questions with me this time. The difference was that between the research I was able to do online and the patience/guidance of my consultant, I was able to resolve most of my issues and feel very confident about my decision.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lock Size Addendum

I went back and reread some other posts about lock size and I feel like I need to clarify the things I previously said about my own. (For posterity.) I don’t want to be responsible for leading anyone astray. I’m only two months in, but I don’t want someone to see my locks somewhere down the line, like them, and insist on having a head full of large locks installed, only to wind up unhappy with the end result.

I said that my locks are larger than ‘traditional’ SLs. That is not an entirely accurate statement. I spoke of insisting on large locks and you can see from my pics how large they are in the top, so you would assume that they only grow larger towards the back. Or perhaps that they were pretty much the same size throughout. However, my consultant basically did a traditional installation on me as well.

Here is the main difference: My standard-sized locks begin at the crown of my head. Those locks are small and plentiful. They do grow larger towards the back as the training teaches consultants to do. What I asked for that is different is larger-than standard locks around my hairline and on the very top. (Instead of smaller.) As you can see in my picture, those parts are larger than the largest recommended size, but the locks themselves are not very big. That is because my hair on top is fine.

So instead of having medium-sized locks at the crown and back with small and super small locks at the edges and on top, I have the smallest locks at the crown. The size increases to medium as they reach the back, and the largest locks are at the top and sides. This does seem a little counterintuitive. It goes against the SL recommendations.

I belabored the point and was so obsessive about my lock size, that Phyllis pulled out the sizing card and showed it to me. She explained that the part size helps determine the size of the lock, although the actual lock size (both at installation and through to maturity) from a given sized part will vary according to a person’s hair texture.

I am very familiar with the variance of textures on my own head. The hair at the crown of my head is thicker and curlier than all of the rest. I knew that I could have small locks installed there and be certain that they would thicken to my satisfaction over time. However the hair at the nape of my neck and behind my ears is absolutely baby fine, so if those locks were made smaller than the rest, they would always be weak and vulnerable and fragile. I would likely end up having to combine them somewhere down the road. So I requested that those parts be made much larger than the others.

I also requested larger than standard locks in the top because that hair has a wavy silky texture when braided/twisted. It is finer and softer and thinner than the hair at the crown and back. That hair is going to be the last to swell and/or lock. I knew that I could get larger locks installed on top and it would not bunch.

I asked for something different and contrary to what consultant training teaches, which is why I have so often given praise to my consultant Phyllis. 1) Because she had infinite patience with me as I explained and re-explained (a.k.a. beating a dead horse) what I wanted. She was so zen abut it. She kept telling me, “Starting locks is a spiritual journey and you’ll get the locks you are supposed to have, whether I do them now or someone else does them later.” It was very reassuring. Because she had this attitude, I knew I didn’t want to go to anyone else or wait until later. I had full confidence that she would give me ‘the locks I was supposed to have.’

And 2) She was able to give me what I asked for. I take my own pictures, so it is a lot of trouble to find a camera angle that will clearly show my parts, but they are very neat and she did a phenomenal job of blending the variety of sizes and keeping the parts neat. Even though I do have an odd assortment of lock/part sizes and hair textures, she succeeded at giving me a uniform look overall.

I feel fortunate because another consultant might have refused to do it…or tried and failed to make it work (and look good).

You will notice that my locks do look very curly/crinkly/tight in some of my pictures, but it is not the result of bunching or other strange effects; it is basically just my natural curl. The straightest most obedient locks on my head are actually the ones on top that are largest. They lay wherever/however I want them to. The curliest/twistiest/unruliest ones are those that were done to the SL standard. It just is what it is…

Hope this helps a sister who is trying to decide what to do.

As I said, I am not recommending this course of action to anyone else, and I only had the confidence to insist on it because I was very in touch with my hair’s textures and characteristics. And I still feel like I will not have objective evidence on whether this was truly a wise decision for at least a year. I really don’t know how my locks will mature. I only know that I love them now in the short term and can’t imagine that I will become dissatisfied as they grow out.

I always say that your satisfaction level with anything depends heavily on your original expectations. I have admired the locks of many other women, but I don’t expect mine to look just like anyone else’s. I just want the most beautiful locks I can grow. As long as they continue to grow strong and healthy, I will be happy with them. I’m not sure what they will look like as time goes by and that is precisely what makes my journey such an amazing adventure.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Before and After

In the beginning when I started researching SLs, I couldn't get enough of before and after pics. I wanted to have some idea what mine would look like. I know that no two heads or hair textures are the same, so you can never be 100% sure what you'll get, and many people have said that lurking leads to lock envy and lock confusion, but I have to say it really helped me a lot. I did see several women whose hair looked like mine in before pics; and that helped serve as a pretty accurate predictor of what my locks would look like.
So, I thought it would be helpful to sisters who are on the fence for me to include a few before and after pictures.

I've mentioned before that my haircut was very layered. These pictures were taken about three months before I started my locks. When you compare these to the pics I posted on May 14, you get a good idea of how much length I lost.

These pics were taken the day my locks were finished.

I feel obligated to add that I have been wearing my hair natural and/or lightly texturized for 15 years, so I was pretty in touch with my hair's texture before I made the decision to lock. If you are starting from hair that has always been chemically processed there is no way to imagine or predict what it will do in its natural state - locked or otherwise. I was able to hazard a guess because I have worn my hair in so many different natural hairstyles. I have especially experimented with different sizes and methods of twisting and coiling it - styles which are inherently similar to methods used to lock. And I was still very uncertain about how my hair would look and behave in SLs. And I was still surprised by what I ended up with - albeit pleasantly.

Two Month Update

It has now been four months since I had my test locks put in and they are exactly the same size and texture. They haven't swelled. They haven't begun to lock. The ends are still stringy...and I am SO glad I opted for larger locks on the rest of my head!

I will say again that I think choosing a larger size is one of the biggest factors in my overall satisfaction...Everyone must ultimately make their own decisions about this, and I do advocate listening to the advice of your consultant - especially if they are very experienced and have worked on a lot of heads; but I have noticed that a lot of women say they wish they had gotten larger locks installed from the beginning. You will also notice that a number of women have chosen to combine some of their locks. I believe I won't ever have to do this...but, hey, it's still very early in my journey, so stay tuned....

I agree with an observation Brunsli made. I'll try to come back and add a link to her actual post because this is going to be a very loose paraphrase. She said that SLs were originally marketed to older women who wanted to be able to wear their hair flat-ironed and/or hot-curled. They wanted locks that would style more like relaxed hair. Now SLs have taken off among women who want a look more in line with traditional locks, and they have found that larger tool-assisted locks still offer a variety of styling options without some of the challenges associated with tinier locks.

I love my natural hair! I want locks that look and style like locks! I just happen to prefer the characteristics of tool-assisted locks for myself. I don't intend to ever use a flat-iron or curling iron on it. I never want to apply heat directly to my locks. I have no small amount if apprehension when I anticipate having to sit under a hooded dryer once winter comes and once it is longer. My hair takes hours to dry even now while it is short and the weather is warm.

I mentioned before that I didn't want a head full of 'curly thin wispies'. I looked at my test locks and I know that if I had a head full of locks that were still that thin, I would definitely be unhappy. (I don't think I would regret my decision to start Sisterlocks, but I would definitely be terribly impatient about how my locks are progressing. I wouldn't be enjoying them as much now, and I don't believe I would be getting as many compliments. ) About half of my ends are still open and loose, but because each lock has more hairs, they have grouped together to form adorable spirals. My tiny test locks are the only ones that look scraggly and limp or frizzy on the ends.

This weekend marks my two month anniversary and just yesterday I felt incredibly restless! I love my's time! It's time for me to do something different! I wrote in a previous post about how I rarely wear the same hairstyle for more than 2 months without switching it up somehow, and I'm feeling a little limited on options. I was playing in it two days ago and found myself having to fight the urge to unravel the ends that are beginning to tangle. I just wanted to take out the little knots on the ends and retwist them....I want my little curlicues, not tangles! Then I suddenly wanted to take them all out and wash my hair and blow dry it! I just did!

Am I the same woman who just said - mere paragraphs ago - that she never wants to apply heat directly to her hair again? Alas yes, such is my ambivalence. I won't apply heat to my locks, that's for certain. (For now...)

Then I started to long for loose curly hair. Summer is the time when I can wear my natural curls because the heat and the humidity actually work in my favor. I can walk out with damp hair and not worry about getting sick.

That same night, I actually dreamed that I flat ironed my hair and it was longer and straighter and flowing! I remembered the dream when I woke up and felt like my subconscious had betrayed me. But again, I knew from reading blogs of so many sisters who started their journeys before me, that everyone has days and sometimes weeks where they long for loose hair. I will say again that I am completely happy with my decision to lock. I stand by it, but...contradictory as this statement may seem, the other day I would have taken them out if not for the investment of time and money.

If the installation had cost $200 - $250 and I had sat in that chair for 5 - 6 hours, and could have taken them out in 6 - 8, I would have just done it. That's equivalent to two-strand twists with extensions. But we all know that so much more is involved, so, when I decided to lock my hair I knew that it was a commitment. Therefore, I promised myself that I would commit to at least 3 years.

My locks are still very new and they are relatively short, so my styling options are limited. I am sure I will feel differently once they mature and I get some length. Then I will be able to achieve styles I never would have been able to with straight hair or curly

At 2 months I have still not seen very significant changes. My spirals are tighter so the overall length seems a tad shorter, maybe an inch, but that's about all. Oh yeah, I don't have Coolio hair in the morning anymore. It looks pretty much the same when I wake up as when I went to bed. I don't have to use water for control, but I still spritz the ends sometimes to give the curls a little more definition.

A side note that is unrelated to most of what I've included in this post: I had not given much thought to whether I would learn to retighten my own hair any time soon because I like my consultant so much and I'm actually spending less money on maintenance than I ever have before, but after reading about how much time and money some others spend, I feel like I should learn now. What if Phyllis leaves me? What if I relocate and have to find a new consultant? I do like the idea of being able to do it myself if money happens to be tight.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Still in love

Friday past marked my 6 week anniversary and I am still as much in love with my locks as I was on Day One. They look as lovely as ever. I had my first retightening a week prior. I took pictures before, but not after because they really didn't look that different. Of course, my parts were neater, but my locks didn't appear to be longer or to fall any differently, so it didn't seem like there was anything to document. I do wonder if I will see any changes when I compare my 3 month photos to my Day 1 pics.

In my previous post I wrote about my obsession with lock size. I am still completely happy with my decision. The only thing I thought about was the eventual look I would have when they matured. I didn't even consider factors like retightening time, but the week before last, I read Two Island Girl's blog for the first time. I can't tell how similar our hair textures might be, but we definitely have hair that looks similar in terms of volume. I could have easily had 600 - 700 locks. I can't imagine sitting for 13 hours each retightening, or having to have two consultants work on my head at once. So, after that I was even more glad I'd chosen a larger size. Because my locks are larger, my entire installation took between 12 and 13 hours even though my hair was shoulder-length when straightened.

I've just got to give props to my consultant Phyllis. She is amazing! Really, she's a godsend! I was prepared to sit for 3 - 4 hours, but she retightened my entire head in an hour and a half! Yay! I went in with 261 locks, but now I have 262 because there was a tiny piece at the front that broke free from another lock the week before I went in for my "touch-up", but neither of us could tell which lock it went with. It seemed too far away from all of them, so she just made a new baby lock, since it was pretty determined to assert its independence.

So far I am thrilled with my decision to get SLs and my choice of size. I didn't experience any additional discomfort. My retightening felt the same as the original installation. I am very tender-headed anyway, so it hurts me a little bit when anyone else does anything at all to my head outside of a shampoo. (That is divine!)

Phyllis told me I could probably go 8 weeks between retightenings. My hair grows fast, but it doesn't get very frizzy or pouf-y at the roots. It's kind of silky so it will still lay. I was perfectly happy with the look of it. I didn't mind that you could no longer see my parts as clearly. I rather like the more filled in look. Because my hair does grow fast and is high-density, you can no longer see the parts after the first week (except on the very top, just to either side of my center part) anyhow! I just felt like I needed to get my hair "done." More from habit than anything else.

When I used to relax it, I faithfully got touch-ups every month and trims or haircuts every six weeks. When I got it professionally pressed or flat-ironed, I went to the salon every two or three weeks. When I did my own two strand twists, I would always re-twist at 2 or 3 weeks, and even when I got twists done by someone else with extensions, I would never keep them in past 6 weeks. Maybe my attitude will change as I get used to living with my locks.

At the moment they are pretty carefree. I just haven't felt like tying them up at night, so I don't. Which means that most mornings I wake up looking like Coolio. I really should take a picture. It's pretty funny. But, I just spritz it with a little water, fluff it and arrange it the way I want it to lay, and head out the door. If I don't have time to wet it and/or let it dry, or mornings when it was too cold to go out with damp hair, I simply put it up in a roll or bun. And (shh! Don't tell anyone)...I never braid and band when I wash it! So far I haven't experienced any slippage or extra frizzies. I do have loose ends, but it's the same amount I had on day one; they haven't unraveled any more, and since they are cute little spirals and not unruly scragglies, I don't mind at all.

It's funny to me how much I did obsess over my lock size, but that was the only thing. I don't think I will worry about anything else. I am so happy with the look and size of my SLs. They are a thickness I like right now. If they do thicken and swell a bit, I won't mind, but if they never do, I won't mind that either. I did lose quite a bit of length (because my curl is so very kinky) but that's okay too. I was actually pleasantly surprised because my SLs are longer than my hair would be if I had two-strand twists. Those always shrink up really tight. It's long enough to pull up into a ponytail or french roll, so I really can't complain.

My haircut was heavily layered. I didn't realize how much until I started to go through my locks and saw how many different lengths of hair I've got on my head. I've literally got some locks that are 9 and 10 inches long and some that are only 1 - 3 inches! Most are probably in the 4 - 6 inch range. My back grows significantly faster than the middle and top, so however I wore my hair (unless it was a short bob) I always ended up with a modified shag. Right now my hair looks good most of the time, but some days (I guess it depends on the humidity and other factors) the shortest portion at the crown shrinks a little more than the rest and it starts to look a little Mrs. Brady/afro-mullet. If I pass a reflective surface and see that, I just finger fluff it a bit and rearrange the layers and all is well again.

But then...the back has a tighter curl pattern and it seems to be locking (and shrinking faster/more) than the top (some days). So, ultimately I don't really know what to expect as time goes by. I really will just have to wait and see. It's an adventure of sorts...

I've been freestyling. Because of the length and the volume and the curl and the layers, it's pretty pointless to try anything else. I did a braidout once, but the difference between that and my natural wave/curl was barely discernable. It just wasn't worth the time it took. I think it is still too short and layered for SSCs too. Perhaps I will try them in six to nine months.

I am excited to see how fast my hair will grow, but I'm not feeling impatient about it. Like everyone says: it's gonna do what it's gonna do, so no amount of worrying and fussing over it will make a difference. That's also the way I feel about it locking. Some pieces look locked now, but I know my hair (and they're just frontin')...I could take a tool and undo anyone of my locks in 2 minutes flat. (Not that I would ever dream of doing so!) It will probably all look locked at six months, but I don't expect that it will actually be locked for more than a year. Like I said before though, it's not a problem because it looks neat and it won't slip or unravel, so I'm not bothered at all.