Hair Cuts and the Invasion of Personal Space


             Recently I made an appointment at my local salon for a much-needed hair cut, and when I arrived I followed the normal procedure of going to the back and having my hair washed before the actual cutting session. As I’m lying back in the chair with my head hanging over a sink and a strange man shampooing my locks, I was suddenly struck with how odd it is that this activity is considered completely common.


Humans are very strange about others invading their personal space. Even accidentally, if you disturb someone’s “personal bubble,” you apologize. You feel embarrassed. You wonder if the violated person thinks you’re rude.


But then you go to a hair salon and have a complete stranger massage your head. Your head! That’s one of the most personal parts of your body (beside your genitals, of course.) If someone walked up to you and started caressing your head, you would freak out! Only those people you consider really close to you tend to be allowed to touch your head. Running your fingers through a loved one’s hair or massaging someone’s temple is reserved for the most intimate moments. You can get by touching a stranger’s shoulder or maybe even hand for a new acquaintance, but no one introduces themselves by rubbing someone’s head. It would be beyond weird!


So why do we regularly participate in a seemingly mundane activity such as getting one’s hair cut that involves such an intense invasion of privacy and personal space without a second thought? Truthfully, I don’t know. I imagine we have a sense of comfort in the activity since it’s something we have dealt with on a relatively regular basis for our entire lives. Whereas when we visit the doctor and they poke and prod us in just as obtrusive areas many of us have extreme panic attacks and most of us deal with significant discomfort at the thought of the situation. Visiting the dentist is similar as well. Again we allow someone to stick their fingers and sharp metal objects into our mouths and poke around inside some very personal regions but not without fear, apprehension, and discomfort. This isn’t even mentioning the gynecologist or the gastroenterologist. Ergh…


Those are all doctors though. They have degrees. They’ve spent years and countless dollars studying and training to poke into your personal spaces with grace, efficiency, and intelligence.


When we get our hair washed at a hair salon, it’s usually by some high school or college kid whose other duties include such menial tasks as answering the phones and sweeping up rogue hairs, not the trained hair stylist. (I have little issue with the hairstylist washing my hair. I feel like their credibility is a little closer to that of a doctor in their own field of practice.) Somehow though, we’ve come to accept un-credentialed strangers washing our hair as perfectly normal. Now that I’ve realized the oddity of this phenomenon, I may never be able to comfortably have my hair washed in a hair salon ever again.

Enlightenment can be an unfortunate thing sometimes.



How to Adult


Step #1: Find your calling in life.
Step #2: Pursue your calling at all costs.
Step #3: Be successful.

I’ve had conversations with several friends recently about major changes happening in their lives, and what I take away from each of those conversations is “how did they do it?” All these friends seem excited, elated, and I’m sure a little scared about these new career and life opportunities. I know the few I’ve had made me feel that way. But what really blows me away is how fast it seems to happen. And it makes me start to think that something’s wrong with me because I can’t seem to incite change as quickly. I feel like I don’t know how to “adult” very well.

One of my friends who recently got her first full-time job and moved away from home was explaining to me she felt so behind on life because she couldn’t afford her own apartment and luxurious lifestyle like the media portrays us having in our mid-twenties, but she also knows that those portrayals are false. They’re fantasy even though we buy into them. I feel that way a lot too. I have an “Apartment Ideas” board on Pinterest where I keep track of all the things I’m going to do to decorate and organize my apartment whenever I can move out and away from my parents. Unfortunately, I’ve been working on that board for the last two years with little success.


So does it make me a failure of an “adult” that at twenty-four I still live at home with my parents in my hometown? That I only have a Bachelor’s degree? That I’m not engaged or married or have a baby on the way?

When you graduate from an undergraduate program and everyone goes their own direction, it’s considered a good thing that you’re no longer following the same path as all your peers. It’s suddenly “allowed” to explore and take more time to figure out what you want in life because it’s hard to get a job and move somewhere new and break away from your family. But why two years after graduating does it seem like I went wrong somewhere?

I’ve been doing the exploring. I’ve been working hard to save money and build my resume and gain valuable experience. I’ve been consistently wracking my brain trying to figure out what I want out of life and where my “next step” will take me. But somehow at twenty-four, I feel really far behind when I look at my friends.

And quite frankly, I’ve had those same friends say they feel behind when they look at me.


How has twenty-something life gotten so twisted that everything is a competition? For example, I have a friend who was a computer science major and recently took a new job that would raise his salary up to over $90k a year plus benefits. That makes me feel a little faint. I’m trying to imagine making $90k a year. Geez! But what’s funny is that as much as he enjoys the money, I think he thinks what I do is far more interesting and fulfilling. He’s always saying that he can’t be creative like me. He just consumes other people’s creativity (e.g. he loves anime). And I’m like, BUT YOU MAKE $90,000! Do you know what I could do with that kind of money!? (I could most definitely move out.)

But you see it is all relative! To him, yes, he makes a lot of money which is enjoyable, but his job isn’t really that fulfilling. He gets a bigger kick out of government security clearances than his day-to-day job. To him, making YouTube videos that make very little money and working my way up the film and media ladder seems far more exciting. Weird, right?

But maybe a better way of thinking about “how to adult” would be this:

Step #1: Find your calling in life.
Step #2: Keeping doing that until you die.
Step #3: Be happy (and never grow up).


Success is what you make of it. Yes, the world defines success in certain ways, and most of us want those things (a good job, financial security, people to love us); however, life comes in all shapes and sizes. What I’m having to learn as a twenty-something is that the only way for me to be successful in life is if I’m happy. And the only way for me to be happy is if I reframe my way of thinking about “success.”

So I’m not living the high-life at twenty-four. That doesn’t mean I’m a failure at “adulting.” It just means it’s where I’m at right now. Maybe my life moves at a little bit slower pace than some of my friends. I can’t devote as much mental time to job searching as some of my peers for my own mental health reasons. Or my area of work is just more difficult to find a job in. It shouldn’t reflect on my overall success just because other people are getting new jobs. I have to stop being so hard on myself. Quite frankly, we over-achieving twenty-somethings need stop being so hard on ourselves.

Hakuna Matata.



Why I Hate Boobs


Breasts. Boobs. Ta-tas. The rack. The girls. Whatever you want to call them, most women have them in varying degrees. But as much as men love them and how they’re needed for certain womanly duties, I’m kind of not a fan.

It’s not that I don’t like breasts in general. They look great and feminine and whatever on plenty of women, but I’ve found over my time with boobs that they really make my life more difficult and sometimes plain exhausting.

I’m not particularly “large breasted.” I was a 34B all the way through high school and college, but in my post grad time somehow the girls decided to fill out and I’m more of a 36C now. (But to tell you the truth, I would probably benefit from a legitimate bra fitting in one of those fancy parlors. But then I would feel obligated to buy the expensive bras. And I’m a poor post-grad.) I imagine they’re probably proportionate to my body, especially for a 24-year-old young woman, but I think I have a rather skewed idea of the female anatomy because of the fashion industry, and somehow being able to go braless and look nearly flat chested seems ideal to me. But I digress.

No matter my breast size, my boobs just tend to annoy me. They get in the way. They make me look fat. They won’t fit into a shirt or dress correctly that fits me in the waist. They wear out sports bras way too fast. I can’t find an appropriate bathing suit top. The list goes on and on. So I decided to compile my list of top twelve reasons why I hate boobs. Any girl with an aching back or an unknown bra size will certainly be able to relate.

 #1: I can never find an appropriate swimsuit. (Padded cups are the bane of my existence.)


Swimsuits (especially bikinis) are made for women with very minimal breasts. Bandeaus and flutter tops are made to accentuate what isn’t there. If you already have something there, you just end up looking disproportionate and/or fat. String bikinis don’t provide enough support. EVER. So then you look saggy. Halter tops are about the only option but apparently they’ve gone out of style in 2014 which is very unfortunate for this avid swimmer in need of some new suits. And one pieces…well they don’t exactly cater towards women with long torsos like myself, but that’s an entirely different problem. Plus there’s the fad now of padded cups, which is great for women with smaller breasts, but makes me feel like I’m going to spill over my swimsuit if I even move.

#2: Low cut shirts look sleazy unintentionally.


During the early 2000s (when I was in middle and high school), Aeropostale became very popular in my area as did their 3 button junior’s polos. EVERYBODY wore those collared shirts in a million different colors. I think they were intended to look relatively conservative and more classy than crew neck t-shirts (which is pretty much all I had worn up until that point), but then bring in the busts. These polo shirts had a limited amount of stretch available to them so they expanded where they could to accommodate breast size. This unfortunately meant more buttons would have to be undone and more cleavage shown. As a teen I really didn’t have much in the breast in the department, but boy, if one too many buttons were undone and you could even barely see a shadow of cleavage, my mom would have a fit! This has thus forever scarred me when wearing low cut or more open neck shirts for fear of coming off as a “hussy” as my mom liked to put it.

#3: I can wear rompers in the summer, except when my boobs get in the way.


Rompers are fun in the summer because they’re light and airy. Rompers are not fun in the summer when you get it to fit your waist but then find that your boobs take up too much room and you end up with a wedgie every time you move.

 #4: I can never figure out where they’re supposed to sit on my body.


When I was a teenager, I would put my boobs in a bra and then suddenly they felt like they were up at my neck and WAY TOO HIGH. As a young adult, they don’t sit quite as high anymore (gravity, bummer) and it makes me wonder if they’re too low. Are they sagging? Do I look like an old woman? Do I need a more supportive bra? Are they lower because I haven’t been taking care of them enough and not wearing the most supportive bra for them? Have I ruined them already? These are the questions one contemplates when looking in the mirror.

#5: Awkward acquaintance hugs and boob brushes.


How do you hug someone you’ve only just met without groping them with your breast? This is why side-hugs were invented. Or what about when you walk up behind a coworker without them knowing it and they animatedly move their arms in the air and do that awkward “boob brush.” Do you say something? Do you just let it go and act like you didn’t feel it? Did they even notice? Does it make you seem like a pervert for letting them touch your boob and not saying something? Do you have to apologize for THEM violating your personal space?

#6: Wearing two sports bras to give you enough support is advertised but not practical.


When you buy a value pack of sports bras they tend to show a picture of a girl wearing two sports bras presumably for the fashion-forward look of mixing colors. It could possibly be she needed two of them for the support. Maybe. Then you go home and you try wearing two sports bras at the same time (either for support or the style) and then you spend the next hour trying to wrangle your upper body out of that stretchy-but-stiff net of death.

#7: Having to buy a shirt or dress a size too big so that it will fit my boobs.


There have been so many times when I find the perfect dress or shirt and that fits me in the shoulders and the waist without tugging or pilling or making me look fat, but then there’s the chest issue. Either the buttons look like they’re bursting or it’s supposed to be a flowy dress and it is everywhere BUT on my breasts or the fabric is so stretched by my boobs there’s no more give left for me to move my arms at all. So then you have to decide if buying a size larger is worth it. It might fit your chest but will it hang off your shoulders or waist?

I’ve also had the opposite of this problem where I find a dress or shirt that fits great in the waist or shoulders but bags out in the boob area. This is actually even more embarrassing for me, I usually just give up on it all together. I would much rather look like I’m wearing something slightly oversized that my boobs fit into than something correctly sized that my boobs are swimming in. I don’t know why but the latter seems to hurt my self-esteem more. And really, I create this problem for myself because I can’t decide if I need to shop in junior’s or women’s clothing. I love junior’s sizing, but they’re made for girls with very limited breast sizes. Women’s clothing though is still made for girls with bigger boobs than me. So where do I fit in!?

#8: If I wear the wrong thing I feel like I look fat or pregnant because of them.


The empire waist dress and shirt are the bane of my existence. They got really popular when I was in middle school and I had this one (jerk) guy at lunch ask me “When’s the baby due?” and I have been permanently traumatized concerning this style of clothing. Empire Waist dresses accentuate your breasts. If you don’t have much and are generally thin all over, it can look appealing. If you’re plus-sized and/or apple shaped, it can give the illusion of a smaller waist. But if you’re average to larger breast-sized with a small waist, things start to get wonky. If you don’t have a perfectly flat stomach, you start to look pregnant even though you’re not and then the cruel middle school comments start rolling in. Can you tell I very sparingly wear empire-waisted clothing now?

#9: There are beautiful strapless/backless/see-through dresses and shirts out there, but how do you wear those things with boobs?


How do you hold your boobs up? How do you look classy when everyone can see your bra? Bandeaus look cute on girls with minimal chests and see-through chiffon shirts, but they just don’t get the job done for anyone over a B-cup. And strapless dresses are a nightmare. You either get them tight enough to hold up your breasts but give you terrible armpit rolls or too loose and in need of a bra that will inevitably show. Girls are supposed to wear bras, and yet the fashion industry makes clothes that seem illogical to wear a bra with. How does any of that make sense?

#10: They just refuse to be evenly sized.


There’s always that stubborn boob that just wants to be the leader of the pack and is therefore just a wee bit bigger. Which means you’ll always look a wee bit lopsided in bikinis and bras and form-fitting shirts. Life isn’t fair sometimes.

#11: Bras are expensive!


I bought a bra the other day, $40 for a basic, no-nonsense bra at a department store. I don’t dare go into Victoria Secret or any specialty bra store. And they never discount them either. They might do the “buy one get one half off” thing, but you’re still forced into dropping a good chunk of change on just bras. It’s like men’s belts perhaps. But still, men don’t HAVE to wear a belt every day. And they don’t usually wear out as fast either. Essentially the bra world is a necessary and greedy evil.

#12: The fear of breast cancer.


Points one through eleven can pretty much be considered first world problems. When you’re a girl, they suck. And as women, we’re united in our frustration with breasts. But breast cancer isn’t such a first world issue. I know men can get breast cancer too, but it’s much more prevalent for women. And it changes us in ways that men can’t experience. Women are heavily influenced and burdened by mastectomies. We may complain about our breasts, but no woman would choose to have one or both of them ripped from us maliciously as cancer does. No woman would prefer the scars of breast cancer to the hassle of finding the right-fitting bikini top or shirt. “Uneven” breasts take on a whole new meaning. I’ve never had breast cancer. I hope I never do. I hope no one I know ever does. Sadly, I know that’s very unlikely since it affects so many people.

As much as I hate breasts sometimes, I’m still grateful that I have them and they’re healthy. The frustrations I deal with on a daily basis are nothing in comparison to having a life-threatening illness in connection with them. I have to remind myself that boobs will be uneven, the fashion industry will never make clothing just for my size, and bras will always be expensive, but I’m very lucky to them when so many other women don’t have the choice.


Riding on Planes with Strangers


For the past four years, I’ve been making a cross-country trip to California every summer, and each time I get the same advice/warnings from well meaning observers.

Be careful. California is a dangerous place.

Don’t go out alone.

Watch your bags in the airport.        

And then there’s always the incredulous, You’re going alone?!

Yes, I go alone. I get on an airplane and travel from the east coast to the west by myself without dying or being abducted or sold into sex slavery. It’s an incredible feat. I mean, I’m a woman, you know.

I’m rolling my eyes now, can you tell?

It’s not that the traveling isn’t dangerous whether I’m a man or a woman.  The first time I made this trip, I was a nervous wreck.  I would wrap the straps of my camera bag around my feet when waiting in the airport (even in my rinky-dink, small-town airport with one terminal) so that no one could steal my bag or worse, plant a bomb or other illegal item in it.  I couldn’t sleep on the plane for fear of someone slipping anthrax into my water bottle.  I’m a bit of a paranoid person sometimes.


After my fourth trip though, I actually find myself looking forward to the journey.  I have to admit that most of my enjoyment from a 12 hour lone journey in cramped spaces and unbearably public places comes from my introversion.  It seems weird that being an introvert I would actually want to be in a place with limited personal spaces and surrounded by people.  But I have to say that airports and airplanes are some of the most introverted places in the world.  You may be surrounded by people on all sides, but everyone tends to create their own bubble of reality.  You don’t talk to the person sitting next to you.  You don’t compliment the girl in line on her shoes.  You keep your head down and your business to yourself.  It’s refreshing for an introvert like me.

There are always those people who want to make conversation though, and I revel in that too (usually on a return flight though when I actually have something to talk about).  It’s fun to meet new people and doing so on an airplane where it’s very unlikely you’ll ever see them again means the pressure to make a good first impression is off.  You can just be you and if they like you, HOORAY! If they think you’re a total creep, then you just have to endure 5 hours of sitting beside them and then you can escape to your cave of introversion once again.


I’ve also found I somehow always get seated next to a nice old lady, a middle-aged Asian woman, or a staunch businessman.  I never get to sit by the cute and exotic looking fellows (and there’s always at least one on every flight).  I don’t know who makes the rules of flight seating, but I bet they’re doing it on purpose.  Between the movies and actual stories from friends, I know it’s possible to sit by a cute guy and have a flirtatious few hours of air time.  It’s just not in the cards for me.

Whoever I get to sit by, I still enjoy it.  I recede into my own little world of sleep or reading or journaling or music or daydreaming while watching the clouds zoom by.  Perhaps I make conversation with the nice elderly woman sitting next to me about all the bands and cord bracelets I wear on my wrists.  Or I only exchange pleasantries and “excuse me’s” with the staunch businessman while he reads his newspaper.  In the end, riding on planes with strangers is an introvert’s little paradise.



DON’T STOP NOW! (Novel Writing: Month 6, Chapter 6)

Novel Writing - Month 6

Well June flew by pretty quickly!

I’m realizing that I have the most typed portion of this book ever at this point, and how do I react to it?  I want to go back and rewrite it all again!  I know I’m supposed to be making a dedicated effort to just WRITE, but it’s so hard when you’re a perfectionist.  I feel like when I can’t remember all the details that it would be easier for me to just go back through and recreate stuff—add in little details I need NOW in previous chapters that I didn’t have enough foresight to create before.  But then there are also probably little details I already included in the story meaning to use them as foreshadowing that I can’t remember now and are left hanging in nothingness and meaninglessness.

It’s rather unfortunate.

I’m going to keep moving forward in the story though.  I had some recent encouragement at VidCon from a friend who had participated in NaNoWriMo twice before in regards to just soldiering through it.  You can’t look back! No turning back at all! It’s like Orpheus!

Since I’m halfway through the year and my goal, I’m starting to feel the strain so I want month 7 to be all about encouraging myself to keep going.  I KNOW I can do it, but that doesn’t make it any less tiring.  So help encourage me as I battle another month of writer’s block and fatigue.  It’s been a wonderful journey so far! And I don’t want it to end!

Also because I was out of town last week, I did a very bad job of promoting my previous blog of which I’m really proud.  If you’re interested in young adult fiction or the misconceptions about mental illness, I highly suggest you take the time to read my latest post: Soul vs. Body: Thoughts on David Levithan’s “Every Day”!