Isn’t it strange how you can receive a thousand compliments, but it’s that one insult that sticks with you? I was thinking about one of those just the other day. I have no idea why this one possesses such a sharp, cutting edge for me when it was delivered by someone whom I never met face to face, but it’s a laceration that never quite seems to heal.

When I was in my early 20’s, I had just been brutally dumped by my boyfriend. I had long, thick, wavy hair at the time (I still think my hair is one of my best features), so in an effort to start afresh, I decided that it would be fun to get a curly perm. I wanted to curl that man right out of my hair, so to speak.

I’ve always been kind of a wash n’ wear type of girl, so doing something this elaborate was quite a departure for me. But desperate times call for desperate measures. Fortunately, out of sheer luck, I happened upon what I still think to this day was the world’s greatest hairdresser.

The perm she did made me feel transformed. Sadly, these things require maintenance, so I wound up seeing her many times in the next two years. And of course, while she worked her magic, we talked. I began to think of her as a friend.

It turned out that she had a son my age. She said we had a lot in common. He was as liberal as I am, and he was pursuing his dream to become a writer in a unique way. He was living in a tent in Denver in the winter. Not only was he writing about his experiences, but he was also saving a boatload of money so he could focus on his writing.

It sounded like a grand adventure, so I allowed that it might be fun to be pen pals. And besides, the perm hadn’t attracted a new boyfriend, and since I lived in conservative North Florida and was the only liberal (I thought) within a 500 mile radius, I was lonely. She gave him my address. We struck up a correspondence.

It was interesting, hearing how he lived, and what he did in his day to day. He really was a good writer, and could spin some fascinating tales. We did have quite a bit in common.

In those days before blogs, he wrote a newsletter which he distributed to his friends and family. I was soon added to the mailing list, and delighted in his exploits along with everyone else.

And then one day he wrote an entry about me. In it, he said, “My mom is trying to fix me up with a Florida girl. She tells me that this girl is not at all attractive, but that she is extremely intelligent and liberal. Thanks a lot, mom.”

Nothing quite like finding out that your hairdresser, the one who raves about how great you look while taking your money and giggling with you like a school girl, thinks you’re “not at all attractive.”

Nothing quite like having that put into a newsletter that is distributed to about a hundred other people. Even worse, having that be written by someone who knew it would be read by you. How callous.

I had an appointment with the hairdresser coming up. I decided to go. I sat in her chair. I looked her in the eye via the mirror as she babbled about how she was sooooo sorry and that her son had no right to say those things.

“You’re right. Neither did you,” I said. I left without getting the perm.

Needless to say, I never went back. It would have been too awkward. There would have been two elephants in the room. One named, “Your Son is a Jackass” and one named, “You Have Been Lying to My Face This Whole Time.”

Shortly after that, she left town. It was a shame, too, because I never found anyone else who could perm my hair without either drying it out like broom straw or making it look like a bird’s nest in a high wind.

But then maybe that had something to do with my altered self-perception. Hard to say.

Ever since, with a few brief experimental exceptions, I’ve pretty much stuck with the same tired hairstyle that I had in my high school yearbook. Yeah, whatever.

Me, long after the perm grew out.

Read any good books lately? Try mine!

Finding the Right Hairstyle for You

I had been sporting the same hairdo since high school. That’s rather pathetic, since I’m now in my 50’s. It was time for a change. But such a drastic transformation should not be entered into lightly. It’s really important to do your homework before choosing a hairstyle.

First of all, you need to know the shape of your face. Not all haircuts are created equal. Some will flatter a round face but will look horrible on a square one, for example. This article will help you determine your face shape whether it’s round, square, long, oval, or heart shaped.

I have a square face. When I look at myself in the mirror on a good day, all I see is a jaw. On a bad day, all I see is jowls. But I have good company. Gwyneth Paltrow, Sandra Bullock, Demi More, Angelina Jolie, and Isabella Rossellini, to name just a few. Supposedly we’ll age well and be very photogenic. Go figure.

But it also means I have to be careful. I have to do things to round out my corners. For example, I look horrible in those trendy narrowly rectangular glasses that I love so much. I have to go for something more curved. And hairstyles can be a challenge, too. No blunt cut bangs or blocky styles that end at the jawline. I need more rounded cuts. More asymmetry. Layers. Waves.

Once you’ve determined your face shape, head on over to to see examples of styles that will flatter you. I was thrilled to see that they had 50 ideas for square faces! The possibilities seemed endless.

While I was able to narrow down the possibilities, I still wanted to consult that font of all human knowledge, my Facebook friends. I linked them to the 50 suggestions, and I got an amazing amount of feedback about what I should do. As is normal in life, some advice I took, some I did not. But after all that, I settled upon the one style that I felt would work best for me.

This was going to be a radical change. I didn’t want to rely on some 12 dollar hairdresser-in-a-box franchise place. I wanted an expert. (Look at this as an investment in you. It’s worth it.)

Fortunately, I have a fantastic hairstylist in Douglas, at A Better Day Salon in Lake Forest Park, Washington. I found him by looking for Aveda salons near me. I went to an Aveda salon for years in Florida, and was always satisfied with the results. They have a reputation to uphold, so they tend to go for the best.

Another great way to find a hairstylist is to approach women whose hair you admire and ask them for their advice on where to go. Also, look for feedback on line. Getting the right professional for you is important.


So here’s the haircut I wound up with. I’m still getting used to it, after years of long, feathered hair. But I am getting lots of compliments, and I feel like I’m a new woman. It’s fun! And, hey, if I change my mind, it’ll grow out and I can start again.

Good luck, everyone, in finding the look that’s right for you!


Hey! Look what I wrote!

Bad Haircuts

As I write this, I look like a chia pet that has been caught in a wind tunnel. I feel like putting a pillowcase over my head to avoid all scrutiny. It’s my own fault, really. Never go to a hairdresser and say that you just want “something different” and that you “trust their judgment”.

I can’t really blame him. He’s done a great job in times past, and it looked good enough when I left the salon. But I’m a wash and wear kind of person. I’m not going to blow dry or curl or straighten or use a variety of hair products. I’d rather be out living life than standing in front of a mirror, primping.

Then, too, my hair has a mind of its own. Like me, it refuses to behave. Like me, it marches to the beat of a different drummer. It will not, absolutely will not be tamed.

And because of that, I now look in the mirror and see the same hairdo I sported in my high school yearbook photo. It was excruciating then. Now imagine adding 35 years and 75 pounds into the mix, and you feel my pain.

All is not lost, though. As a friend of mine says, “The only difference between a good haircut and a bad one is two weeks.” I’ve never looked forward to mid-May this much in my entire life.

bad hair

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book!