Sunday, October 31, 2010

Last chance for the survey!

Last chance to add your experiences of midlife to the survey! I'll be taking it down at some stage this coming week (the timing of which is rather dependant on me being able to work out how - which means there's a chance it'll still be there in 20 years and I'll just have to change it to a survey about seniors). The results thus far have been terrific - and informative. For instance:
  • 52% of respondents think the term 'cougar' is simply a marketing ploy while 41% find the term derogatory and 20% find it sexist. Only 27% find the expression fun, while a rather interesting (?) 9% see it as being empowering and/or inspirational.

  • Weight is the single most annoying thing about middle-age. Followed by gravity.

  • We're about half/half regarding willingness to undergo plastic surgery, with the most popular procedures (if money were no object) being boob-lifts, face-lifts, and tummy tucks.

  • A staggering 60% see the proverbial empty nest as being a new chapter, with only 12% seeing it through a lens of sadness/nostalgia and a mere 5% linking it primarily with loneliness.

  • Respondents overwhelmingly demonstrated a preference towards those in the public eye for their achievements (such as Hilary Clinton, Susan Sarandon, Ellen Degeneres, Aung Sun Suu Kyi), rather than those framed by a primary focus on appearance (such as Courtney Cox, Demi Moore etc). Unless, that is, your name is Sarah Palin. With just 0.7% of respondents indicating an admiration for this particular lady, I think we can breathe just a little easier.

  • In terms of contentment, middle-aged women rate their families the highest and their sex lives the lowest. Paradoxically many are very content with their partners (48%) - so it seems it's just the sex that sucks. Or doesn't.

There's lots more stuff to come and I anticipate several weeks of enjoyment putting it all together (what can I say? I like research; but then all those percentages and pie-charts, what's not to like?). So if you haven't yet, please add your two-bobs worth to the mix by visiting the survey here. The more the merrier!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hair (and there) number three

I didn't mean to have a third entry in this hair (and there) series - apart from anything else the hair (and there) bit no longer seems quite as cutting-edge hilarious as it did two weeks ago. However circumstances conspired against it being put to rest just yet, at least not before I add the colourful events of last Thursday. And first let me give some background by mentioning the fact I have never, in my entire life, had less spare time than I do at the moment. Some reasons for this:
  • in the process of moving mother - after 53 yrs in the same house - to a retirement villa (d-day is next Thursday).
  • started teaching new (Holmesglen) TAFE c/writing course rather unexpectedly (requiring complete set of lesson plans).
  • just discovered I made a slight error with my current (Chisholm) teaching workload and there are two extra weeks worth of lessons I hadn't accounted for.
  • daughter in flux (note the clever play on words here?)
  • son's birthday has just come and gone, including a three week visit by him.
  • new ms due in two months (necessitating approx. 150,000 wds of which I have written approx. 10. Which, coincidentally, is exactly how many are in the title).
  • plus do you realise Christmas is just around the corner? How did that happen?

With this background, and in an effort to balance out the increasingly stressed expression on my face (I think I'm beginning to look like the father in Mary Poppins - the one who resembles a Shar Pei), I managed to extract a modicum of spare time within which to visit the hairdresser (a new one, as my old one has recently shifted her focus to the propagation of the species). I was fondly imagining a stress-free couple of hours, complete with head massage, after which I would emerge looking as good as I get. Humph. I suppose I should have been warned by my new hairdresser's conversational skills. For example:

  • HD: So... got a busy day today?
  • Me (rattling my magazine meaningfully): Yes.
  • HD: Oh, um. Cool. [brief silence]. Whatcha up to then?
  • ME: Just catching up on some work.
  • HD: Oh, yeah right. That housework never ends, eh?

Idiot. But worse was to come. When it soon (two hours later anyway) became apparent that my simple request for something 'honey-brown with a scattering of subtle blonde foils' had been interpreted as 'melange of orange with plentiful streaks of urine-yellow'. Yes, I can see how the two could be mixed up. For starters they both have nine words.

However I suspect strongly that even the hairdresser knew that the resultant concoction was not a good look as she ushered me straight back over to the basin to add 'just a little toner' (plus her voice went up several octaves). I don't think there was enough toner in the entire building (or suburb, or state) to fix this up. The true nature of the result did not dawn on me until she started drying it off, and then I gradually went into a sort of catatonic shock. Which is probably why I paid $150 without demur, and just nodded graciously when she urged me to return if I wasn't happy with looking like a candy shop just vomited on my head. I exited into the sunlight, which gave my hair an almost iridescent glow. My own aura. And I drove straight down to the supermarket where I picked up a packet of $14.00 (on special) hairdye. And Murphy's Law of course dictated that I run into several people I hadn't seen for a while. Including, incidentally, one actually called Murphy. True.

And I think I now have post-traumatic stress disorder. Which is not helped by the fact the hairdye was only partially successful and the orange refuses to truly die (get it?), resulting in an odd gingery-pink glow under lights. Plus, to add insult to injury, I suspect I have less hair on top than I ever had before. I'm sure my scalp was never quite this visible, or shiny. The only silver lining to all this is that I don't have enough spare time to look in a mirror anyway. Hopefully by Christmas it'll either have faded, or fallen out. And I can always ask Santa for a wig. I'm thinking honey-brown, with a few blonde foils.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hair (and there)

My father had a poem, or a ditty, or a saying for most occasions. There was 'I scream, you scream, we all scream for icecream' (to be recited as if brand-new each time we had the aforementioned icecream, which got a tad repetitive in summer), and 'a wigwam for a goose's bridle' (?!), and 'I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life, it makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on the knife (which just infuriated me as we weren't allowed to do the same), and then something about 'bread and duck under the table' (also full of false promise as we were always forced to sit at the table. On chairs). But there was one that I felt was just for me, and it went like this:

There was a little girl,
who had a little curl,
right in the middle of her forehead,
when she was good,
she was very very good,
but when she was bad she was horrid

This poem (actually penned by Longfellow) seemed to sum up everything about me. Curly hair along with a slither of good and a generous, just-beneath-the-surface slice of horridness. Uncanny. But, actually, of all the things that I possessed as a child - smooth skin, beautifully-shaped eyebrows (until I butchered them in my teens), 20/20 vision - one thing I've never regretted losing over time was my head of fluffy, fly-away blonde curls. Especially not later in my young-adulthood when I discovered spiral perms. So attractive. And those nifty foldable afro combs? So effective.
But something odd has happened in the last few months. quite unexpected in fact. I have regressed. However rather than any of the bits that I'd like to regain (see above and add incidentals like effortless fitness and an all-you-can-eat mentality that's matched by zero weight gain), I have managed - bizarrely - to develop a singular curl, smack dab in the centre of my forehead. A kiss-curl, my father used to call them, last seen on yours truly when I was about five or six years of age. Pretty damn cute then, pretty damn ridiculous now. Because there are some things that just don't lend themselves to midlife, like frilly socks and polka-dot skirts and pig-tails. And kiss-bloody-curls. I just look like I devoured Shirley Temple and she's trying to call for help.
I first noticed the damn thing about nine months ago, shortly after turning fifty (and as gifts go, this one's a fizzer), but initially just spent a little extra time nuke-ing it with the hairdryer. The problem is that it's growing in strength and is now it's able to resist even the hottest setting (unlike me, who regularly has third-degree burns on the forehead). A straightener and hair-gel does the trick, but then I look like I'm channeling Cameron Diaz, from There's Something About Mary, except that my bit of hair is sticking straight out, rather than straight up. More directional, like I'm pointing out the way. Or needing some shade.
So my question is - why? I mean, I expected the weight gain and the flat(ter) feet and the generous chin(s) and the blah-coloured hair, but a kiss-curl? Really? Is that some sort of joke? Here I am, a well-balanced (well, at least I don't topple over - often) fifty-year old with short, neat, wavy hair - which I now must cunningly part to disguise the singular spiral in the centre. Otherwise it really is so bad it's bloody horrid.