Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Judge Me By My Name, Do You?

I got an unexpected phone call a couple days ago.

The phone rang and it was a local number, so even though I didn't recognize it, I went ahead and answered it.

G:  Hello?
Woman:  Hello, is G*** S*** there?
G: This is.
Woman:  Are you planning on voting come election day?
G: Probably.
Woman: Well, we'd just like to encourage you to get out and vote in this election because there are a lot of Asian-American issues on the ballot.
G: **stunned silence**
G [stalling while she puzzles this out]: Uuhhhh... what are the issues???
Woman: Asians are the fastest growing minority in the Austin area and they are under-represented in local government. Also, election materials are only available in English and Spanish. They are not being translated into Asian languages, so we are pushing to make these materials available in Asian languages so that more people can participate in elections. It's really important that we get out and vote on election day to support these issues.
G: Okay... Um, thank you.
Woman: Thank you. Bye.
G: Bye. [Hangs up phone]

G explodes into hysterical laughter.


For the record, I am not Asian.  Not even a little bit.  I'm the whitest European mutt ever.

But it just so happens that when my dad was young, he served a mission for our church in Japan. He returned and studied Japanese in college. When he married my mom and I eventually came along, they gave me a Japanese middle name. And that middle name came in very handy when we ended up living in Japan for 3 years for my dad's work when I was a little girl. I went by my middle name then and I'm very attached to it.  So of course I kept it when I got married.

It was interesting to catch a glimpse of the assumptions that were made about names when compiling that call list of registered voters. I'm not Asian-American, but I didn't really feel the need to disabuse them of that notion. I went along with it in the hopes that maybe someday it will lead to some sort of hilarious situation. M and I entertained fantasies of me being invited to some event, only to show up in all my huge white-person-ness.

(Apparently we're a little desperate for entertainment these days...)

But it's a good reminder:

A lily by any other name would look as white.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I have gray hair.

There, I said it.

Not that I've been particularly secret about the fact that I dye my hair.  But still, I've been running away from my gray for a long time now.

I saw my first gray hairs start popping up at 16 or 17.  At first there were only a few and I told myself they were "white hairs." I told myself they were like blond hairs mixed in with my brown. I was already experimenting with hair color every now and then, so it wasn't a big deal.  Since there were only a couple, I sometimes just pulled them out if they were too obvious.

Another year or so and then there started to be more grays. I realized I couldn't keep pulling them out. But I was having fun with hair color still every now and then, so most of the time they didn't show.  I mostly had one streak of gray that was getting denser, but it only showed when I pulled all my hair back and when I had gone a long time without coloring. My blond best friend started saving her old dark brown mascaras for me so I could swipe a little on my streak when it started showing too much. Problem solved.

Then my senior project in college happened. It was a bit of a stressful semester. There were some all-nighters. I can't prove it, but it seems like I had quite a few more gray hairs when it was all said and done.  And I wasn't all that okay with that.

I mean, I wanted to be confident about my natural hair. Really I did. But I was 21 years old. I was single. I was already the 5'10" electrical engineering major who talked too loud. I already stuck out like a sore thumb. It was already hard enough feeling attractive and getting dates. I just wasn't ready to add "...with the premature gray hair" to the list. Sometimes I wished I could rock a "gray streak." But I wasn't sure if my gray streak (or my self-confidence) was strong enough to make the gray interesting instead of just vaguely "off" and dorky.

So I decided that I would just dye my hair a little more frequently, at least while I was still part of the singles/dating scene.

Fast forward a little and I was married and still in my early-to-mid 20's. M knew I dyed my hair and we chatted about it a bit and I decided that I still wasn't ready to stop dyeing my hair. Someday maybe... but not yet. I decided that I just didn't want to be in my 20's with gray hair, so I would keep dyeing it at least until I turned 30. Then I'd re-evaluate.

Fast forward some more and I was 30. I still didn't feel ready to be gray. Now the problem was that everyone already thought I was so much older than I was. Having gray hair would only make it worse! Plus the transition was going to be so hard!

But the more I chewed on the thought in the back of my mind, the more I knew the time was coming. Eventually I would stop dyeing my hair. I just had to figure out when. It was never going to be easy. There would always be an excuse not to. So I started focusing on the reasons to do it.

There are a lot of reasons I want to stop dyeing my gray:

#1 - This is the hair God gave me. I don't want to be fake. It was so freeing a few years ago when I finally accepted that my hair was wavy/curly. I stopped trying to pretend to have straight hair and I finally learned to love the hair texture I had. I want the same thing to happen with my hair color.

#2 - I'm tired of all the money I'm dumping into maintaining an illusion. It's one thing to spend money to do something "fun" with your hair, but spending money just to make your hair unremarkable is so lame.

#3 - Also, the time. I'm sick of the TIME I spend getting my hair dyed. I'd much rather spend it doing something worthwhile. Or even just sleeping.

#4 - I want variations in my color without having to highlight. I look at the amazing red highlights the sun gives my mother's natural hair color and the blonde highlights in my sister's natural hair color and I envy all that gorgeous variation. Maybe I would get highlights from the sun too if I wasn't so busy covering my gray?

#5 - I want to remember what the natural color and texture of my hair is when it hasn't been dyed. Because honestly I'm not sure.

#6 - I want to see what my gray looks like. Where are my "silver highlights"? Is it everywhere? Is it just framing my face? How uniform or how chunky is it? The suspense is killing me! It's not often to we get to surprise ourselves! ;)

#7 - I am blessed to not have to convince anyone that I'm young. I'm happily married and I'm not competing in the workplace. If I look older than I am, why would it really matter? (Still working on believing this one.)

#8 - I'm not a granola or something, but I kinda don't love the idea of pouring all those chemicals onto my head all the time.

#9 - I'm not ready to burn my bra or anything, but I do like the idea of taking a stand against the false standards of beauty and youth that our society is enslaved to. And one of those standards is hair color. What's wrong with gray hair?

#10 - The longer I wait, the harder it will be. The more gray I have, the more often I will have to get it dyed if I want to hide it. (More money, more time, more chemicals, etc.) And the more obvious it will be when I stop dyeing it.

#11 - There's no reason not to transition right now. I'm not interviewing for jobs. I'm not talking to teachers about my grades. There's no weddings on the horizon for me to worry about how I'll look in the family pictures. It's as good a time as any to have funny-looking transition hair. It will never be an EASY transition, but there could definitely be worse times to do this.

#12 - In the end, I've got a bit of rebel in me. Just a tiny little benign bit, but it's there. And having gray is a whole lot more rebel than buying into the "norm" of women hiding their gray.


Today my youngest child entered full-day Kindergarten.

Today is my 34th birthday.

I have gray hair.

Am I young? Am I old?

Who cares!  I'm me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Any Excuse for Snowflakes in May!!!

Like every other little girl on the planet lately, Kate is really into the movie Frozen. So when her preschool teacher said she could choose a day near the end of school to celebrate her summer birthday with her class, she of course, OF COURSE wanted to bring Frozen cupcakes.

Well, she lucks out that her mother is semi-obsessed with snowflakes, because I was eager to oblige.

She really wanted chocolate AND vanilla for the cake part, so we did half and half.

I sprinkled white sparkling sugar over blue frosting then added the snow flakes made of white chocolate. (Normally I consider white chocolate an abomination, but for snowflakes I'll make an exception!)

To make the snowflakes I melted white chocolate and put it in a little plastic sandwich bag with a corner snipped off. Then I piped it onto wax paper over a snowflake pattern. (I used a pattern for DIY window clings I found here, then printed it at about half size.)

This movie is a great chance to use snowflakes in some month other than December or maybe January. YAY!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Grilled Cheese Tragedy

Kate usually really loves grilled cheese sandwiches. Most days she asks me to make her two for lunch and happily devours them both. So last night when we decided to have grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner, I assumed she would want two sandwiches so I didn't even ask. She asked me what I was making her and I told her two grilled cheese sandwiches.

She burst into tears. I was surprised and confused but reassured her that it was okay, she didn't HAVE to have two. I said I would just make her one. But she kept crying saying she didn't want that. I was baffled. I told her I thought she loved grilled cheese sandwiches? I asked what was wrong - what did she want?

Through her sobs she explained, "I don't want two grilled cheese sandwiches, I want THREE!!!"