Thursday, October 25, 2007

On Doing it Myself

True to my long-winded self, my comments kept coming, so I decided to create another post...

So, if you're just visiting, skip to my post, The Power of Peer Pressure, and read that post and comments first.

N: I always wanted to know HOW to maintain my own locks. I would never have gotten them if I thought I would forever be completely dependent on another person to do them for me. I just didn't have the strong feelings about it that some of the locked sisters had...meaning, I didn't chafe at the idea of having to pay another person to do my hair, indefinetely, even. It's what I've always chosen to do. Even though I could quite effectively style and maintain my hair both when it was relaxed and natural, I always went to a beautician, and never considered it a luxury or an obligation.

As for maintaining my sisterlocks, I never had any doubt that I could learn the method and be shown the pattern and be on my way. Whether or not I could maintain my SLs and the cost of having someone else do it never factored into my decision because my consultant quoted me such reasonable prices and she was not secretive about the pattern or how to do it.

This having been said, she did not teach me how to do my hair, but she let me watch her retighten someone else's...and I can honestly say that I still didn't know what she had done. She let me watch her work on a client's head, and she let me watch her retighten her own locks, and it still looked like some sort of magic to me...the way knitting does.

I have said before that Phyllis is super-fast, so it's just like she sticks the tool in the hair, flicks her wrist and is done. I remember saying to her the first time: but what did you do? She amazes me.

I knew from the official website and my initial consultation that there was a class and that when I was ready I could learn the art of self-maintenance, and that was the end of it. I had no anxiety about that aspect of getting Sisterlocks. I was more worried about size and texture, etc....

Perhaps I was a little naive, but I just figured I would take the class when I was ready. I would learn to do my own locks, and that would be all. I didn't worry about what-ifs at all in the beginning. (Not of that variety, anyhow.)I had never visited any of the discussion groups, I only knew about 4 or 5 bloggers, and none of the loctitians I knew used tools.

When I decided to get sisterlocks, I knew nothing about latching or nappylocs, so I never questioned what I would do. I didn't know I had options, so my choice was simple: I would take the class at my first opportunity. (When the desire and the money and my availability to go all came together at the same time.) I never even worried about necessity of circumstance.

Eventually, I thought about it: what happens if I move or she does? That was more because of the negative experiences of others, I think it would not have occurred to me to wonder so early on otherwise, but still it never worried me. It was just a thing at the back of my mind, a bridge to cross at some future date.

However, as I began to read more blogs I became aware of the whole Sisterlocks vs. Nappylocs issue. Hmmm...who knew?

I've read comments from people on both sides of the issue and I have my own opinions about it, which I have most often kept to myself. I've really adopted a 'to each her own' attitude about most things concerning locks. I know how I want to wear and maintain my own locks. I know what I want them to look like, and so on.

I am still infinitely happy that I chose Sisterlocks over other methods for starting locks, but locking is such an individual process, I don't really feel a need to weigh in heavily on what other people choose to do. I will share my experiences and offer my opinion when asked, but other than that I don't much feel the need to comment on what others should or shouldn't do concerning their locks. Or what methods, products, techniques are superior or inferior.

I will never feel like I overpaid, or that I was promised anything that wasn't delivered. My Sisterlocks experience continues to be so much better than I thought it would be and so much more than I expected. This is largely because of the friendship and support I have found online, but also because I feel like it was very much the right time in my life for me to undertake this journey.

While I have not ever complained about the cost of my Sisterlocks or spoken out about the cost of the consultant or retightening classes, my decision to order the nappylocs tool as opposed to taking the retightening class comes down to two factors and one of them is cost. And not so much cost as value. (The other one is ease of use, and they are really intertwined.)

By the numbers, of course, it's simple. $15? $250...hmmm...not really a tough choice, especially when I have read so many comments about people finding the Sisterlocks tools difficult to use and feeling like they weren't taught anything they couldn't have picked up on their own. I didn't want to spend money on the class only to come home frustrated because I didn't like using the tool and feeling like I didn't learn anything I couldn't have figured out on my own with practice and some friendly advice.

If the mood ever strikes me, I am much more likely to spring for the entire cost of a consultant's class. Even though it is much more money, it seems to me to be a better value overall. $250 just to have somebody show me something I can probably figure out myself with a little experimentation, just seems really steep...but I don't feel that way about the things that are taught in the consultant's class. Then there is the camraderie and the friends you, that is still something I may undertake in a few years.

This may seem like a totally ignorant statement because I have never even tried to use either Sisterlocks tool on my head or anyone else's, but it just seems like it would be difficult to learn to use on my own head. It seems to me that if I learned in a class how to work on a mannequin and got the hang of the parting and the different patterns, then it would be easier to transfer that knowledge to working my own head.

I'm kind of a visual learner, so I feel like I could pick up the technique well by watching and then doing it on a head in front of me. Then I think I could do my own hair, but I think it would be harder for me to go to a class and learn how to do my own hair by feel. However, I freely admit that perhaps I don't understand how the class is taught. Maybe they let you watch someone else who has the same pattern. That would make sense....In any case, it simply seems like the best option for my current needs and circumstances for me to learn use the nappylocs tool.

I always understood the desire to know how to do one's own hair, it just wasn't a sticking point for me. I didn't feel like I wouldn't be happy until I learned. I know I won't have that feeling of freedom and relief that others describe at learning how to self-maintain, but I do believe that is because I have such a good relationship with my consultant, and everything about my retightenings is positve.

I do not feel dependent on my consultant (although, in point of fact, I am). I guess I do not feel dependent in a negative way. Phyllis and I have become friends. We enjoy each other's company. Her home is welcoming and comfortable. It is a very short drive from my house. Her prices are reasonable, so everything about my installation and retightening sessions has been pleasant from the first day until now, and I suspect things always will be until we part ways. And even at that we have promised to keep in touch for life.

I always say that she is so calm and untroubled by things that she transfers a lot of that serenity to me. She doesn't worry and fuss, so neither do I. Having said that, it feels good to take the opportunity to learn to do my own hair now, while I am in this positive space, when it is completely optional and not born out of true necessity or dissatifaction.

My seven month lock-a-versary is coming up on Monday. Can you believe it?

The Power of Peer Pressure

So....everyone is learning to retighten their own hair and I was feeling left out! Last night I went online and ordered my very own nappylocs tool!

I can't wait for it to get here. I want to try it out right away!

I had my locks tightened by my consultant 3 weeks ago, which means I will be due again in two weeks. Phyllis is from the Midwest and she informed me that she intends to go home for the Thanksgiving holidays. Okay, no problem. But then she says she might be gone for 4 or 5 weeks. Oh really?

Well, doesn't that put a kink in my normal retightening schedule? And isn't it all about me?

So, I'm going to have to go a week longer before she leaves or possibly wait a week or two for her to get back...Bummer!

Then there are those locks around my hairline that always want to slip at three weeks....what about those?

I have two locks at my nape that need retightening now, but I was just in her chair last week for lock repair. (One of my straight-hair locks had developed an almost two-inch hole! I could stick two fingers through it!) Someone is probably out there saying, "That's because you didn't braid and band...." But you know what? For all the time I've saved in the past 6 months not braiding and banding, it's a small price to pay. Even if this happens to five more or ten more, it's not a big deal to me.

It took her about 10 minutes to fix, maybe 15. And my lock is perfect again.

But I said all that to say that I am reluctant to go back and have the twins tightened this week, and then turn around and go back for my regular visit in two more weeks. It just seems a little obsessive. Of course, it is my obsession, so it doesn't bother me. It is being perceived as obsessive by others that I wish to guard against.

Phyllis is ever-gracious and wouldn't say a word, I was fingering the locks that already need tightening and thinking ahead about how she is soon to be unavailable, I just decided that I would go ahead and order the tool and be done with it.

I used to twist my own hair, so I don't believe I will have any problem maintaining my locks when necessary. Somehow, I can't bring myself to put a latch hook in my head. I am just really averse to the idea. I'm not sure why. I guess because it just seems awkward and unwieldy, in spite of the suggestions for modification that people have made. It just seems too difficult, and like more trouble than it's worth for me. I can see myself snagging and tangling and marrying locks, getting a 'crick' in my neck and cramps in my thanks!

I also tried using a hairpin and I don't know where I went wrong, but that wasn't working for me either!

When I was younger I used to sew (both by hand and with a machine), and I did needlepoint and cross-stitch, and latch hook rugs, so I am familiar with handicrafts and the necessary skill and dexterity, but it is different holding something in your lap in front of you where you can see it, and working on top of your own head where you have no choice but to go by feel. However, everyone says the nappylocs tool is like sewing, and that idea appeals to me. I like sewing. That sounds easy and simple and comforting.

I expect it will be like twisting my own hair and that once I establish a rhythm, I will find it quite enjoyable. I may even be able to go 6 or 7 weeks between tightenings. I go in at 5 now because I get locks around my hairline that feel really loose and floppy and I just don't like that feeling, but it's only about 20 of them that really bother me. I don't much care about the thickness through the interior. I rather like the volume I have when I'm due for a retite. If I can tighten those few looseys myself, I can probably go another week or two....but, we'll see.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Um...Is that your pet tarantula?

So I sauntered sleepily into my bathroom in the wee small hours of the morning and found this joker staring me in the face!

Not a happy surprise!

Also not a tarantula. The species is known as the Carolina Wolf spider. I never saw one in my life until I moved into this house 6 years ago. They are so large you can literally hear them walk across a floor! The one in the picture I took is probably a full three inches long including legs and body. It could wrap itself completely around a small egg. I started to slip one under the bowl for perspective, but I chickened out and grabbed the deodorant stick from the counter instead. That's a six cup bowl that buddy is under. That's right - 1.5 quarts!

The first time I saw one I was home alone at night. It was October and I had the lights down low. In the far corner I saw two large green glowing eyes emerge out of the darkness....I kid you not...that's exactly how it happened!!!

They reflected the light like cat eyes. I could see them a full 15 feet away at the opposite end of the room!

I'm really not making that up, check out what Wikipedia says about them, "Their eyes reflect light well, and one way of finding them is to hunt at night using a flashlight strapped to one's forehead so that the light from the flashlight is reflected from their eyes directly back toward its source." Although why anyone would want to go hunting for them at night is beyond me!

I flipped on the bright lights and spotted the largest spider I'd ever laid eyes on indoors that was not part of a science project or museum exhibit. It looked like it belonged in somebody's kid brother's terrarium, but here it was running free across my living room floor. I was too scared to even try to kill it. It looked big enough to fight back! What if I tried to squash it, but it didn't die? All I would succeed in doing is making it angry. Then it could lie in wait for me, or come after me in my sleep!

I did the same thing back then. I put it under a glass bowl, so I could sleep in peace. Needless to say, I called the exterminator the very next day. All I could think was that one day I'd come down my basement stairs, or walk through a dark doorway and find myself tangled up in a huge web with one of these critters in the middle. I was horrified.

The exterminator put my mind at ease by explaining that wolf spiders don't web. They live in underground burrows, sometimes with trap doors. "How do they hunt?" I asked. "They're so big and fast", he said, "they can pretty much chase down and pounce on anything they want to eat." Which is exactly what the Wikipedia article says. That's why they're so named, because they stalk their prey like wolves.

They are solitary, so I don't have to worry about nests and infestations, just the occasional weary wanderer wanting to withdraw from the weather. He said that I could spray chemicals to kill them and try to keep them at bay, but they will come in to the house seeking warmth every fall when they weather starts to cool.

My house is a split foyer and partially underground with a daylight basement. On the front side of the house, there is earth up to the height of the windows. On the back side of the house you can walk out. Because of the design and elevation of my house I will see more of them than someone in a newer development with fewer trees and shrubbery, or someone in a house that lies completely above ground.

The Wikipedia article goes on to say this about them. "Also unique among spiders is their method of infant care. Immediately after the little spiders hatch and emerge from their protective silken case they clamber up their mother's legs and all crowd onto her abdomen."

Unfortunately I had the opportunity to witness this phenomenon first hand as well. A few years ago I was on the landing at my front door when I saw a very large specimen. Its body looked strange...all bumpy and bubbly and kind of diseased. I could not have known what was about to transpire.

I was talking to my then-boyfriend on my cell. I was less afraid of the spiders by this time (they stay pretty much to themselves and are basically harmless if not provoked), so I went to grab the broom to sweep it out the door. I had the short kitchen broom in one hand and the phone in the other and was nonchalantly chatting with my boyfriend about the spider and telling him the story of the first time I heard one walking across the floor and saw the glowing eyes appear out of the darkness, etc.

I had my niece open the solid door and screen door. I touched the spider with the broom and the next thing everyone heard was a chorus of screams. What seemed like hundreds of baby spiders scattered in every imaginable direction across the floor and up the walls! My niece and I were both barefoot and wearing our pajamas and were in deathly fear of being overrun by these eight-legged mini-monsters. (Ever notice how God made the most of the weirdest-looking creatures small? He knew we couldn't handle it - looking at eight-eyed, fanged, and otherwise scary things all the time. Anyway...)

My boyfriend said it sounded like the two of us were being murdered with an axe.

I honestly couldn't stop myself from shrieking. It was like the screams were being ripped from my throat. Seriously, it was one of the freakiest things I have ever seen in real life. It made my skin crawl like the worst kind of creepy scene in a horror movie....but, you know, that's what bug spray is for.

After they died I vacuumed the bodies and recovered my senses and collected myself, knowing it would be a funny story to tell later.

So yeah, every fall I can look forward to sharing me home with the wolf spiders. They don't usually bite and tend to avoid humans, but....eww!

Almost actual size! The real ones are bigger, not smaller!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gal-to-Gal Update

I'm a Gal Pal (which means I'm on the mailing list), so I was e-mailed this link today.

If you have a moment, check out the stories. One is about a mother who came up with the idea of selling pink lemonade in October to raise money for breast cancer, and the other is an interview with Jeanne, one of the Founding Gals of Design-her Gals. You may have already seen her interview if you followed the link from the official site.

I thought the pink lemonade stand was a wonderful idea. The best part is knowing that the concept is so basic and inexpensive, it can be duplicated in almost any community across America.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Gal-to-Gal Virtual Walk

All of us know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most of us have had our lives touched directly or indirectly by breast cancer. Who doesn't have a mother or sister or friend or co-worker who has not battled the disease?

A lot of us with locks created Design-her Gal avatars at some point in time. If you have not yet heard of Designhergals, take a moment to visit the site and read about the Gal-to-Gal Foundation, a charity that benefits Stage IV breast cancer patients.

And please, join the virtual walk. It's a marvelous idea. You can register with a $3 donation. That's less than a cup of gourmet coffee or a fast food meal.

Look me up! I'm Natasha L. in Greenville, SC.

Help them reach their goal of 1 million gals by the end of the month. When I signed up a few days ago, there were only 560 walkers. Now look how many have joined, and some are big name celebrities.

Like Martha Stewart says, "It's a good thing."