Locks of Love

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who wanted to grow her hair very long, like a fairytale princess. She saw other little girls with their long, flowing hair, and thought, Yep! That is the look for me!

But this little girl had a very confusing medical condition. When she would stand up, she would fall down, sometimes even passing out completely! This made doing lots of normal little girl things very difficult, and sometimes even dangerous. In addition to falling down, the little girl would get very sick and tremble and shiver if she got too cold or sweat and melt if she got too hot. Sometimes she would get cold when everyone else was warm and sometimes she would get warm when everyone else was cold. It was hard to keep up, and the little girl was very disappointed. She had trouble washing her hair and drying it. It felt heavy and when she put it in a ponytail, it made her head ache. Some of the medications she took even made her hair fall out more than it should, and she began to think everyone could see the thin spots at her temples.

The simplest solution was to cut it. It made the little girl very sad because every time she looked in the mirror, it reminded her of all the normal everyday things that had become so hard for her.

As the years went by, the little girl kept her hair short. At first, she put color in it to make it more exciting, but soon the chemicals also made her sick and she had to stop. Headbands, barrettes, or any kind of pretty hair thing could set off a headache or a pinch or a pull that would make her very uncomfortable.

So she left her hair alone.

The little girl tried very hard to take care of herself. She saw lots of doctors and tried lots of things to feel better. After a lot of things not working out, the little girl finally figured some things out and slowly but surely, she got a little bit better.

Year after year, the little girl improved just enough that she could see she was headed in the right direction. It may not look like much to others, but the little girl knew she was finally coming out from under the dark cloud that had followed her for so many years.

During this time, the little girl continued to leave her hair alone.

She could tell she was stronger because she was able to wash her own hair again. She could tell she was improving because she could finally hold the hairdryer and withstand its drying powers for longer and longer periods of time.

Pretty soon, the little girl realized that her hair was growing…and growing…and growing! All the things that she did to help her health seemed to help her hair be healthy too. She also noticed that her hair wasn’t quite the bother and trigger for symptoms it was once was.

So she left it alone.

The little girl’s hair grew and it grew. The little girl learned to run, and she was happy. She hurt her foot, but she learned not to give up, and she was happy. The little girl moved to a new castle, even though it was scary, and she was happy. She figured out how to make new friends and stay in touch with older ones, and she was happy. The little girl looked in the mirror and saw with each inch that grew out of her head how many inches she had grown in life, and she was happy.

Now, the little girl’s hair was very long and very strong, and very much like that of a fairytale princess. It was everything she ever wanted. She braided it in fishtails and frenches. She brushed it and used fancy conditioner that smelled yummy and made her hair soft. She took very good care of this precious gift whose importance she only knew.

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Then one day, the little girl found out about another very confusing medical condition that other little girls (and boys!) have. The condition causes their hair to fall out or not to grow at all. No matter how well the rest of them was, these little girls could not grow their hair to be like fairytale princesses.

Knowing this made the little girl sad, but then an idea occurred to her that made her very happy: She could give her hair to another little girl, so that she would be happy as well!

So the little girl asked her mom to use her magical Waldorf Astoria Salon-trained haircutting skills to cut her hair. At first her mom was surprised, but when the little girl told her why, she readily agreed.

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11-inches later, the little girl had short hair again. She giggled that even detached from her head, her hair retained its magical powers of personality as it fashioned itself into a bouncy flip as it waited to be sent away to its new owner.

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The little girl had expected to be sad. She expected to feel like she did all those years ago when she had to cut her hair because she was sick and weak.

Instead, she felt incredibly happy. Now when she looked in the mirror at her short hair, she saw someone who helped others, someone who had something to give. She realized that she didn’t lose something, but had given something freely.

The fairytale princess hair that had been such a treasured gift to the little girl would now be a treasured gift to someone new.

And this, the little girl knew, was the greatest gift of all.

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Is your hair super long, Chronic reader? Considering a major haircut? Donate your ponytail of 10 inches or more to Locks of Love, an organization dedicated to making wigs for children who need them but can’t afford them. Their supply mainly goes to children with Alopecia, an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss. You can learn more about Locks of Love here: http://www.locksoflove.org and about alopecia here: https://www.naaf.org/alopecia-areata

 

 

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Wake me up when September ends

Pardon me, I seem to have misplaced the month of September.

Have you seen it?

It’s been a long time, Chronic friends!

I really didn’t intend to go MIA for an entire month. But when has that ever stopped it from happening?

So where have I been and what have I been up to?

Well, I moved.

My Chronic thoughts on that?

Moving is awful and stressful and ohmygosh avoid it if you can!

Yeah, so it’s probably better that I wasn’t spilling my guts to the inter-webs at that time. My updated Chronic thoughts on that?

Moving is the best and ohmygosh everything is so much better now! Daisies and rainbows and unicorns and MOVING! YAY!

Which is why I’m writing now, and not then.

My move was relatively tiny, but it was very involved. In the interest of not sharing too many personal details, I’ll instead show you a few of the nifty projects I’ve been buried under- I mean, happily undertaking- this month.

Outdoor Furniture

My big thing was that I really wanted a firepit for my backyard. Like sooooo much. Because what is more fun than s’mores? You’re right- nothing! S’mores are the best, and we have an electric stove which is not conducive to lighting marshmallows on fire. Microwaving is a cheap shortcut. I want legitimate campfire burned-up gooeyness! Post-summer season sales meant I made my firepit dreams come true for $34.98 at Walmart. But where would we sit?

I inherited a pair of these outdoor wooden rocking chairs:

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………………………yeah.

They were in pretty rough shape- literally. I sanded these things until kingdom come. Then it was time for a bright and happy fresh paint job and some cutesy clearance pillows from Homegoods and Voila!

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Now I can happily rock off into the sunset while getting my pyromaniac on. #TrueBliss

Futon

Know what’s comfy? A couch. Know what’s comfy and muli-functional? A couch that folds out to a queen size mattress! Know what’s not fun? The fact that most places sell futon covers for full-size mattress fold-outs. That would mean we’d be missing a number of essential inches, which would be well, uncovered. No good, my friends, no good.

Know what is good? The sale on canvas at Joann Fabrics that meant that I got to make my own futon cover (and matching pillows!) for less than I would have spent to special order!

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And ok, I’m not going to lie, it would have been way less effort to click a button and have a cover magically delivered to me, but I had to do something with my time while I was waiting for my furniture to be delivered. (It took 20 days past the original delivery date to get here (?!) Do not trust Value City Furniture- sure it’s good stuff for cheap, but you might never ever receive it. #SoMuchFrustration.)

Also, next time, I’m going to make sure the fabric I choose has a little bit of stretch to it- it’s a real pain to try and shimmy an unrelenting canvas cover onto an oversized mattress at 10 pm the night before your housewarming party. Just so you know.

In addition to my projects, there have been closets to paint (mine is pink, just for funsies), cabinets to organize and drawers to line. There have been customer service people to fight with, service people to cry to, and automated voice services to curse at (“I’m sorry. I didn’t quite get that. Please repeat your selection.” &#$% you!).

It’s been a long month, but now that my Internet has been reconnected and I have stories to share, I am back!

I hope you’ve all been Chronically Well in the meantime, and I’ll see you again later in the week!  🙂

Happy Birthday, Sissy!

Hey there, Chronic readers! Today is a super special day: It’s my sister’s birthday! In honor of Sissy turning <older> and the fact that I’ve been cleaning out my <everything> in anticipation of moving, please enjoy this essay I wrote about us for my high school English class, way back in 2004. Sure, it’s high melodrama as only a 15 year old can scratch out, but I meant every word of it. Happy Birthday, Sissy!

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Driving in the Car with My Sister

October 5, 2004

Only 18 months separate my older sister and myself, but it might as well be an eternity. Seniority is a recurring theme in her life- in a figurative and literal sense. Sissy is a senior in high school, newly licensed, who always has to do everything before me, for the pure and simple reason that she was born first. I am more laid back when it comes to this form of subconscious sibling rivalry. (Though when it comes to conscious rivalry, my position does change a bit!) As the younger sister, a sophomore at a different high school, I seem to have the upper hand of sorts: Sissy was the involuntary guinea pig. By the time I was her age, I had already had time to analyze and conclude, to learn from her mistakes, and hopefully avoid making my own.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that my sister and I are completely different people. We lead separate lives at separate high schools, with separate ideas. We are an oxymoron if you will: Whereas most siblings do not, we disagree about everything except politics. Sissy and I love each other, don’t get me wrong, but we are very, very unalike. She is a musical prodigy; she has played the flute for almost 8 years. I, on the other hand, while not a complete novice, have been attempting for about that long to figure out the guitar, the piano, and even the clarinet. I want to be a television journalist, whose talent surpasses that of Barbara Walters. Sissy wants to be a nurse. [Nic Note: Neither of us ended up becoming these things. Dreams change, young people, dreams change!] My sister and I expect great things from life, but our dreams do happen to lead us in opposite directions.

Recently though, Sissy earned her official driver’s license after what she calls a “too long” relationship with her learner’s permit. Gone are the days of our parents driving us everywhere- there is a new chauffer in town. Not that my sister is overly ecstatic about her new position, but she’ll get used to it. She just wants to drive.

We have elected Sundays to be “our days.” Sundays are one of our very few reprieves from our separateness. It is on these days that we go driving.

Whether we have a direct destination or not, she just drives and I ride shotgun, unofficial DJ on our journey.

The process of Sunday is simple. We wake up at different times- usually her before me. She showers and dresses up as she always does- hair and makeup included. I roll out of bed, run a comb through my hair and brush my teeth. We eat breakfast at different times, sitting at opposite ends of the table, even though the other is not there. When the clock chimes 11 or so (we have no specific agenda), we are out the door, CDs under my arm, keys in her hand, our parents under the impression that we are going to CVS or maybe lunch (which we may do, of course…eventually).

Sissy follows standard procedure for all drivers entering a car previously driven by someone else: She adjusts the driver’s seat, her mirrors, etc. I adjust the passenger seat next to her, reclining it to the obtuse angle I find most comfortable, an angle that coincidentally my sister has found makes her carsick. We pull out of the driveway (slower than need be, as Sissy has a new-driver fear of maiming the mailbox), and at some point between here and our final destination, the sunroof opens, every window rolls down, and the radio begins to blare. Sissy and I never speed; she is a cautious new driver after all. But the rush of the wind running through our hair gives the illusion that we are.

There is an unwritten rule that my sister and I don’t talk much during this time. We let the music we choose speak for us. There is Meredith Brooks and “angry girl” music if we are feeling sad or frustrated; John Mayer and Gavin Degraw for the happier days; Britney Spears, boy bands, and other guilty pleasures are usually heard, but not until we are far enough away from our house for anyone to recognize us. Sometimes we may disagree about a particular song, but there is no arguing. The song will be over in 3 minutes and we’ll move on.

Sunday with my sister is my favorite time of the week. With my bare feet on the dashboard and her ever-watchful gaze on the road (and the radio dials), everything else seems to disappear. Sissy and I are no longer 17 and 15, senior and sophomore respectively. We are not older and younger, experienced or not. No, on Sunday, my sister and I lack nothing. There is no separation. We are simply two sisters, bonding together while disturbing the peace.

It’s wonderful, these times, when there is no one to say, “Nicole, you’re off key,” when they hear me singing song lyrics at the top of my lungs, or “Sissy, you aren’t doing this right,” in reference to her driving skills. The only thing that matters is that we are two sisters, one radio, and one “black currant” colored-lemon of all lemons Honda Accord I will inherit in a year or two, all connected to the road, that glorious road that is a metaphor for freedom, a metaphor for life.