Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
One of these months I will look back and see change, but it IS like watching paint dry.
The weird thing is that I can feel that I have just over half an inch of new growth (more in some places) between retightenings and I can see that I have more than 2 inches since I started by looking at the distance of my highlights from my scalp, but when I look in the mirror and at my pictures, it doesn't look any longer.
Sigh...patience. I figured in the beginning that I would probably only be able to see length changes in 3 month increments. So I will see what it looks like at 6 months and 9.
I am very happy that I have not experienced bunching and my frizzies have increased significantly, but they are still not what I would consider "out of control," so as much as I want more length, I am still very happy.
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Okay, so I know I'm way overdue for posting pictures. I've had so much to say and do lately, I hadn't pulled out the camera in over a month, but here are some updates. I'm at 16 weeks and will be 4 months next Sunday 7/29, but I'll be traveling and probably not blogging, so I'm going to go ahead and label all of these 4 months.
Did I say how much I love my Sisterlocks, today?
A couple of different angles...
And this is one of my test locks, still super-skinny!
The first few locks on either side of my center part reach my lips, then three locks over I have this one that is barely long enough to reach my eyebrow.
And because that guy is short, I wake up some mornings and he's sticking straight out like my index finger here. He just wants to stand up and be counted. I hear a little voice in my head saying: I am! Somebody! (Then I find a bobby and pin him into submission. A few hours of that and he's usually less assertive.)
Next to my lock with the Napoleon complex I have this one. It's long enough, but if you look at it closely you can tell that the last 3 inches or so are really straight. I'm pretty certain that hair won't ever lock and as the hair closer to the root gets thicker, the difference in texture will become even more evident. It looks almost like a relaxed end. I could cut it now, but it's right next to the other one and I don't feel like dealing with two delinquents so close together. When I wear my hair forward, you can't tell it's straight like that, and when I pin it back the length comes in handy.
And, finally, I have all these little pockets of new growth; hair that has grown in since my locks were started. You can see that it is short and fine and straight, so it doesn't like to stay in the locks to which it has been assigned. It slips out. If I didn't have those guys, I could probably go another two weeks between retightenings, but they start to act up at week 5, grabbing on to other locks, trying to marry and obscure my parts.
So....there you have it, now you know my secrets.
My Sisterlocks experience has been such smooth sailing until now. I haven't had any issues with my locks that have caused me great concern and sometimes I wonder if it seems like I am painting too pretty a picture. I wonder if anyone reading thinks: "She's got to be having some problems; she's just not telling us!" I do feel like my locks are fairly close to perfect. There are so many problems other people had that I worried might happen to me, but so far, so good. However, as you can see, my locks are not without imperfections, and issues that need to be addressed, but it's all part of the process.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
(Nothin' but love for you, Renea; you know I wouldn't link you if I didn't respect what you had to say... ;-)
Monday, July 16, 2007
Three things are different.
1) I actually have Sisterlocks of my own, so many of my opinions are no longer theoretical/hypothetical. They are based on the facts of my own experience.
2) I've done done it now...So when I read comments and observations of ladies who say they wish they had or hadn't made certain choices and/or established certain habits, even though part of me goes, "Oops...um, I didn't think about that..." In most cases it doesn't matter. I've started this journey and there is no turning back.
3) I'm reading the comments more thoroughly. The first time through I concentrated mainly on the posts by the blog authors. I usually didn't read the comments unless the original poster posed a question or solicited advice or opinions.
...And I'm just amazed at the diversity of opinions (in a totally non-judgemental way).
For example, I went back and read Creyole's posts about her parts. Personally, I sort of liked the zig-zaggy parts. I thought they had character, but I completely understand all of her reasons for wanting to change them, not the least of which was wanting to get what she paid for when she decided on Sisterlocks.
One of the main differences between going to a certified consultant or trainee and going to a sistergirl around the corner with a Nappylocks tool or starting your locks with braids and other methods is the emphasis on precise parting. You aren't just paying for the pattern (because that part of the process is not so unique and really isn't a secret that cannot be very easily discovered.) You are paying for a standard that all consultants and trainees are supposed to adhere to and care about and be accountable for.
I also read this post by blackluvdmom . (This has been sitting in draft limbo for a while, but I decided to finish it and post it for real after seeing this post by dstdiva. She was a little unhappy about her parts.)
When I used to do my own two-strand twists, I never worried about precision parts all over. I did always have a straight center part and I made a few straight rows on either side of it, so it would "fall right" on top and I could neatly switch sides or twist it back. And I did continue the center part down to my nape, so that if I wanted to wear two pigtails or puffs, I could, but beyond that, I would just grab what felt like an appropriate amount of hair to make a twist and go. It already took me a minimum of three hours to do and I felt like just wasn't worth the extra time and the extra step of using clips to hold it back - especially when I was going to take it down and start over in two or three weeks.
Which I understand is one of the differences with SLs and why extremely exact parting is more important to some. You will not take them down in a few weeks. You may very well have them for the rest of your life and for a period of some years at the very least. Neatness does matter more. The parts are essential to being able to achieve certain styles. They are vital to the oft-mentioned versatility that sets SLs apart.
None of this is to say that I think that neatness and precision don't matter at all. I would be upset about my own hair if it seemed like my consultant had made no attempts at parting and gone at it like I did when I twisted my own - just grabbing pieces at random and working the pattern in. One reason you pay someone else is because they can see to do a better job than you can. You are paying for their experience and expertise! The Sisterlocks method you are paying for includes the parts and not just the pattern.
In looking at hundreds of pictures, I have seen some variance in the neatness of parts, but, sometimes the difference is a matter of slight degree. Like: good, better, best. I do admire parts like BLM has. Wow! They are amazing! But I certainly don't think that others that are less precise are so awful they must be taken down and redone! Mine are not that perfect (per my own request) and I love them all the same!
Thicker/denser hair is inherently harder to part and keep parted. I requested slightly irregular parts (in the middle towards the back where my hair grows thickest; those parts may never see the light of day).
1) Because I felt like Brunsli (she posted the first comment on Creyole's post about her parts). I prefer the organic quality of a little messiness to the cultivated quality of grids and rows. On my own head! I don't dislike it on the heads of others. And because of what I needed to do to get the overall look I wanted. Having less regular parts helped break up the layers a little so there seemed to be less severity to them. It kept my hair from looking really terraced. I wanted my layers to look a little less even.
I am very familiar with the different textures of hair on my head. If my consultant had gone through using a regular grid pattern making each part into rows that lined up vertically and horizontally, I would have ended up with a lot of super-skinny, terribly fine, scrawny-kinky twisties that would have tangled on the ends, but taken forever to bud and lock. I know this is true.
I would not have been happy with my locks for a long time.
So, in the places where I knew that would happen, I asked her to make those parts larger. That is why I had instantly full looking locks. Those same places on my head that would have looked sickly and weak look healthy and fat. (There is strength in numbers.) But, of course, my hair doesn't differ in texture in a square or gridded pattern. So, if you looked very closely at my head, you would notice that my parts are larger behind my ears and at my nape, but smaller at the crown and tapering down towards my nape. They are also larger on the top.
It doesn't look like she went in willy-nilly without a care. It's more like I have several sets of grids, some larger and some smaller. And since heads are round and not cubed and hairlines are irregular and not straight, it would have been a terrible headache to ask my consultant to line up all of the various groups of grids so that they matched and made perfect rows that were horizontally and vertically symmetrical. I knew this from my own knowledge of parting and braiding my hair and others.
It just wasn't worth the time and tedium IMO. So, I made the choice to sacrifice the exact parts for the overall look I wanted. My locks look more uniform due to the variance in size I requested than they would have if all the parts were sized and spaced to line up with each other.
And 2) Because my hair is like Jen describes hers to be in the very next comment on the same post by Creyole. For some strange reason it is resistant to parts.
Have you ever watched someone walk through a field of wheat or wildflowers? You notice how the vegetation parts just in the space that their body occupies and then closes immediately behind them as if they never passed that way? That's how my hair is. I guess it has to do with the density. And stylists always tell me that my scalp is springy and spongy. I've never had anyone do my hair and not comment on the phenomenon of how it won't stay parted unless you tie it down with millions of metal clips. (Okay, so that was an exaggeration - but it really does take dozens!)
I'm sure it's good advice for most, but if my consultant had parted my whole head before she started and had to keep moving clips and reparting, we would have been at it for hours longer (which I didn't want - to sit for or pay for - with my 7 - 10 inches of thick natural hair). Not that I didn't think it was worth it if I believed they would stay, but again, like Jen says, my hair grows in a way that obscures parts anyway.
I have all sorts of little tufts of new growth between the rows that are making my once very straight parts a little wavy. So, it was just like: why bother when they will only be exposed perhaps 7 scattered days out of 365?
That having been said: my parts on top are perfect. I stressed this point because I am short. I am only 5', so everyone sees the top of my head all day long - even other short people! It is no joke that the top of my head needs to look right!
I have a great center part and straight parts on either side of it. Even though the rest of my hair is resistant to parting, I think that hair is trained to obey from years of parting it the same way. Whether I was wearing my hair straightened or twisted, I usually had a center, left, or right part. And, like I did for myself when I was twisting, I made sure to get a straight part down the center from my forehead to my nape.
And all of those things make my situation different. I requested larger more irregular parts. I made choices. I knew how my hair would behave, and what I was sacrificing by not getting precise parts. (Sacrifice: giving up something of value for something of greater value.) I valued fatter, stronger locks over straighter parts that I might cornrow once every blue moon.
I communicated my desires to my consultant. To her credit, she was a little apprehensive about doing what I asked, because, truth be told, neither one of us really knew how it would turn out. Her name and reputation were on the line. She didn't want to spend hours on my head for me to end up unhappy and want them redone or, worse, end up bad-mouthing her all over town and on the Internet. That's why I always give her praise, because she took a chance by listening to me.
I promised that I wouldn't blame her if I didn't get the results I wanted and I would shut up and pay whatever she asked if they didn't turn out right and needed to be fixed. But she didn't know that this was true. I knew that I was asking for the unconventional, and what I thought I knew about my hair might not have been true as applied to Sisterlocks. So, it was a huge leap of faith for me too.
That is part of the reason I love my locks so much now! I am so happy they turned out as well as they did! The choices I made could have gone all kinds of wrong on all kinds of levels. For example if I'd run into a lazy consultant who didn't care about her work, who knows what I would have? Although my parts don't line up perfectly top to bottom and side to side, they do within each little mini-grid, and I'm glad for that.
They might not have turned out well if I had my SLs installed by someone who didn't see eye to eye with me as I was explaining my hair texture and why I wanted a non-traditional installation. Or, if she had been the type of person who merely 'heard me out' without listening and taking it in because she knew from the beginning she would do her own thing anyway. That is why I feel so thankful to have found the consultant that I did at the time that I did.
However, I know I would feel differently about everything if my irregular parts were the result of laziness or someone going at it quickly to make a quick buck or having then installed by someone who really didn't know what they were doing. Even if I went to a consultant who installed my Sisterlocks the way they are, without discussing it with me before hand and securing my consent, I would be upset. What I chose to do makes sense to me because I thought of it, but if it was given to me as an explanation after the fact when I came back asking: why are my parts not straighter?....I would be skeptical.
My installation is done. It doesn't matter to me what anyone says to me in the future about my locks or my parts because I got what I wanted. I got what I asked for, and I got what I paid for.
So, this is to clarify my comments on parts and perfect locks, etc.
I don't think anyone who is unhappy with their parts or their locks should settle: especially if the issues they are having are the result of a less than skillful installation. When all of us with SLs chose to go to a certified Sisterlocks consultant, there was an implied level of skill, experience, and expertise.
We should not have to ask for straight parts or proper lock sizes or feel like we have to worry about whether they will select the proper pattern. We should be able to trust that all of these things will be done to our satisfaction. However, if we have questions about these things and how they relate to the process and the end result, they should be able to answer them to our satisfaction without becoming either vague or defensive. That is part of what we are paying for.
I had a lot to say to my consultant because I wanted what I have termed non-traditional Sisterlocks. There were elements of the SL process that I wanted to incorporate into my locks, and others I didn't. I felt much more comfortable going to a Sisterlocks consultant and asking her to bend the rules for me than going to a traditional loctitian (without SL training) and asking her to try to imitate SLs. And that was just a matter of preference.
I have since seen many pictures of other types of locks and followed blogs of people who started with other methods that made me think I could have gone another route and been just as pleased. (Still lovin' my SLs though!) Just no disrepect to the sisters who started with braidlocks, nappylocs, and other methods. The last thing I want to do is come across sounding like a Sisterlocks snob!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
You see, I am inherently, unavoidably a perfectionist about most things in my life. You can read about how I obsessed about lock size (or see labels at right) prior to getting my SLs installed.
Y'all just don't understand how much I worried about it and thought about it and researched about it and pestered my consultant about it. I look back now and feel like it was completely ridiculous. (Although I did get exactly the results I wanted and otherwise might not have.)
But I decided then that it would be the last thing I fretted over. I would take every stage of the locking process as it came and enjoy it. I would not worry about my parts or how quickly my buds came and my ends sealed and my locks encased. I would not worry if they changed sizes or the frizzies came to stay. I would not work myself into a fit if I lost locks or some sections of my hair grew faster than others.
I did have to make a conscious decision about it because my natural inclination is to focus on the thing that is not as I would want it to be and try to 'fix it', but I do believe that is contrary to the concepts of locking.
I am not at all trying to imply that I am more enlightened than anyone who has worried over some stage of their locking process. I am only expressing that I had to let go or else I would have made myself crazy and distracted with discontent. I had to realize that to a large degree I had surrendered control and that my hair was/is going to do whatever it is going to do, and there's not much for me to do but watch.
However, I have always loved teaching people. I have always loved languages and words. (I have actually read a few dictionaries and several volumes of several encyclopedias. Just because I went through this phase when I was between 13 and 15 when I wanted to know everything! Dating myself, but it was before the Internet was like it is today.) I grew up in a home where there were always books and my parents encouraged me to study everything that interested me including the Bible.
I've always wanted to combine my love of teaching (and learning) with my wanderlust and gypsy ways and appetite for adventure. I have thought of going to a foreign country for an extended volunteer vacation of anywhere from 3 - 18 months. I have toyed with the idea of doing this since I was about 15. I've lost sight of the goal very many times in my adult life, but I feel like now is the perfect time to revisit it.
I would definitely need to rearrange my finances and tie up some other loose ends, so I am at least a year away from being able to make it happen, but it is certainly a goal worth working toward. And, although this is not my main reason for doing it, I believe what Renea said: That I will meet the man for me while living the life I want.
I always wondered what I would do with my hair if I did leave the country for more than a couple of weeks. Even when I was a teenager I thought about this. Depending on where I chose to go, I knew that trying to get a relaxer or find someone experienced in styling black hair would be difficult or nearly impossible. That was when I first started to look into alternatives to relaxers and thermal straightening. That was when I decided I would learn what my hair did naturally, while I still had access to knowledgeable stylists and various products.
Now that I have Sisterlocks and have read about the success that many women have had maintaining their own, I am completely confident that once I learn to retighten, I can go anywhere in the world and not worry about what to do with my hair!
Aya suggested that I learn how to install SLs so that I could take the trade with me wherever I go. Aya: Don't think it didn't already cross my mind! I am sure that as my SLs grow and mature they will inspire more compliments and curiosity. If I am in another part of the world and I am maintaining them myself and someone asks: Who does your hair? What are they? or Where can I get them done?, I would hate to have to tell them that I got them done in the states. I maintain them myself and there is no one in the area who can offer the service. I would love to tell them that I maintain my own and I do new Sisterlocks installations.
From all I have read, though it is possible to make your money back (from the cost of the class) you will never get rich doing it and may just squeak by and break even depending on where you're located, so...while it is something to think about, with all of my other long-standing and more immediate goals, that is definitely on the back burner. But I really might do it someday.
And I know you've got to be thinking: So....are you going to a third world country to help the poor, or are you going to an affluent European or Asian country to help yourself?
Umm...Can't I do both? I do, however, need to decide which to pursue first.
I'll keep you posted!
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Well, yesterday I saw the movie Sicko, by Michael Moore. I agree with Jazmine that people who need to see his movies are those least likely to. He is perpetually preaching to the choir. I knew a lot of what was said also, but it was an eye-opener nonetheless, and humorous, and scary, and sad. I laughed and I cried. Really.
Now I actually want to move to France. Permanently.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Dstdiva: I have so many other things in common with others in th SL community, I knew I couldn't be alone in this experience.
Carmen: If I do it, you're welcome.
WIP: Girl...I am the O-riginal long-winded commenter! So, if you have something to say about any one of my posts, say it all while you're here.
I did really love him, but I was amazed at how quickly I got over him. (We were together 3 years.) Not that it wasn't intense at first (the heartache and longing), but when I was ready to move on, I was totally ready. And I was surprised at how quickly I got to that point. Within three months. Now, the first two months, three weeks and five days were rough. There were lots of sleepless nights and tearful prayers, but one day I woke up and realized that I was so glad we had parted ways. I realized that it really wasn't meant to be.
One thing I am happy about is the fact that I am already a homeowner, but there are other goals (travel plans, business opportunities, career advancement and continuing education) that I simply neglected because I chose to put US (meaning: him) first. At the time it was okay. I would not mind now if we had stayed together. And we would have stayed together if there had been some reciprocity.
He really had never had anyone help him in the ways I was willing to help him reach his full potential. I didn't mind putting him first as long as I believed we would take turns.
You know how you assume there will be give and take, so you don't mind making sacrifices? But then one day it dawns on you that you're the only one giving? And you're just like: Hold up! Wait a minute!
That's how it went down.
I've always wanted to travel and live (not just visit) in other parts of the world. I actually had plans to teach english in Thailand when we started dating. And I canceled an extended trip to Europe with one of my girls because it conflicted with the ideal dates for our wedding and honeymoon.
I have always been restless. As much as I did love him, the thought of putting down roots here and building the type of life that would not allow us to pick up and move easily if we wanted did not ever appeal to me, and I think it is one of the reasons we eventually split. Nothing against the Carolinas either, but I am not fom here. It is not my home. He was born here. His family is here and he has never lived anywhere else, nor does he desire to.
We had been drifting apart for months and when we sat down and had an honest talk about where our lives were headed and what we really wanted, we saw how many things we didn't see eye to eye on. We want a lot of the same things, but not to the same degree and we have very divergent ideas about the best ways to 'get there'. Neither do we have the same priorities. I am just glad we recognized it on this side of "I do!"
It really is okay.
I really am okay.
I am actually at the point of being glad that we ended it. (This is not at all to say that it didn't hurt. A lot!) But I know it is the best thing and the thing that should have happened.
Here is how I always felt: If you are of a certain age and you have any sort of ambition, you will have individual goals that you are working toward. If you have any sort of standards, you will be attracted to people who also have goals. Chances are those individual goals are not exactly the same. But if you love him and he loves you, then you will support each other in reaching those goals. He will adopt some of yours and you will adopt some of his and the two of you will work toward them together. Granted, some of the individual goals will not fit into your new life, but some of them you would never have reached anyway (life is so short and full of unforeseen occurrences), so it is not a big deal to choose to abandon some of them to choose to do something else with and for the sake of someone you love.
But one day I realized that I was the only one of the two of us who was doing that. He hadn't given up anything. We were going to live the life he always planned for himself. I had made all the adjustments. He had made none. (I am usually suspicious of all or nothing statements like this, but he would tell you himself that this is true.) I thought it was an oversight. You know how you just get into a rut? Sometimes you fall into patterns of behavior and decision-making without realizing.
So, I brought it to his attention. He was unwilling or unable to change.
And so it ended.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I have got to leave the country. I don't even know why. (Well...yes I do, but that is a very long and very involved story.)
I met some truly amazing people while I was gone, one of whom was Stacey. Stacey is a Jamaican living in South Florida who taught English in Japan. WoW! How awesome is that?
I want to go to Japan.
No, really. It doesn't even have to be Japan, just not the U.S.!!!
Nothing against the U.S. I just need a change. A really big change. A bigger change than I am likely to find living here. It's just a stage of life/change of circumstance type thing. You see, I was engaged, and now I'm not. Need I say more?
So... I want to get away from all things familiar and start over with everything, completely reinventing myself from the inside out. I want to pursue every dream I deferred while WE were together, and attain every goal I could or would not have, had WE gotten married. To make up for the dreams that died (of making OUR home and having OUR babies) and the goals that never will be reached (like buying OUR first home and OUR plans to 'make good' so we could help those less fortunate).
I made myself stop loving him and I managed to stop wanting him, but now I can't stop myself from wanting to distance myself from everything that would have been OUR life!
The 1%: If I leave the country for real, then I have to learn to retighten my hair before I go. I doubt there are Sisterlock consultants in Japan or Latin America.
Monday, July 9, 2007
She sat down directly behind me. Now, I looked at her and assumed she'd had her locks for not less than 3 or 4 years and maybe as much as 5 because they were the wonderful fat silky kind (a lot like Dread Princess') and they were down past her waist, but not quite where she would sit on them.
I wish I had pictures. I have the nerve to approach people and ask them anything about their locks, but even when they are nice to me, I draw the line at asking for pictures. I don't want them to look at me like I'm crazy. What?? You just met me AND you want to take my picture AND you want to post it on your BLOG???
Anyway, all during the meeting I kept playing in my hair. (Because I always do, and really can't help it.) But then I would remember that she was behind me and I would think: Stop it! I'm sure she's had her locks for so long she thinks it's just silly that I keep touching mine.
Well, as soon as we all said, "Amen!" to the closing prayer, she said, "Are those Sisterlocks? They're beautiful!"
I was astounded! Her locks are so stately and mature and long, and mine are still so short and fluffy.
She went on to say that she had started hers only last year. She'd wanted to have small ones, but everyone she talked to said that they would break and she would lose locks. Hers are palm rolled. When she started hers she did not know about SLs. She told me that she had just checked out some of Dr. Cornwell's books from the library and started to research Sisterlocks. She asked me questions about maintenance and how I liked them, if they were expensive. It was a wonderful conversation. I will be sure to look her up when I am back in Ft. Lauderdale.
I found out that her locks were so long because she had lost some and cut some others. (What?!) She'd also combined a few. She told me that when she cut them, instead of throwing them away, she added them on to the ends like extensions. Who else did that? Was it Jen?
They looked so good, I never would have known...because it wasn't OPH! I looked hard and could not tell where the extensions began. She said she locked very quickly because she had been natural for five years prior.
We traded info and I will direct her to the LHBE and the Sisterlocks website. The fact that she was doing SL research just recently and that she had originally wanted smaller locks made me think that she might be considering a change.
It was so exciting to be recognized by another locked sister.
Sunday, July 8, 2007
I directed this question to the perpetually stunning Carmen and she answered me in a post titled, "Magic Hair." (Can you tell that we are charter members of the Mutual Appreciation Society?)
Right now I feel like I don't ever want mine to go away completely. Maybe as time goes on I'll feel differently, but I've had curly hair all my life and I've always loved it.
I frequently read about people wanting their hair to hurry up and seal and encase and cutting the curly ends because they are not uniform and do not match the rest and I always think: really?? I know not everyone feels that way. Some have commented that they enjoyed their curly ends or that they miss that stage of the process/journey.
Right now I feel like I will really miss them when they go. Like I will mourn their passing....*sigh*
I'll see when it happens.
Every time I see a sister with gorgeous curls, I miss my own. I think: I love loose hair. (I am still ambivalent about my decision to lock. I think that is mainly because they are not mature and they are shorter and very layered which limits my styling options at the moment.) But then I remember the maintenance and weather issues and how dependent I was on products and how much time was involved, and I am reminded why I started my Sisterlock journey.