Monday, 24 February 2014

Hairy History

Yesterday I finally got round to dyeing my hair (from dodgy root ridden blonde to random red!) and then in a crazy mood of hair indulgence I went to the hairdressers for a cut. I've always found Korean stylists a little frightened of western hair, and this trip was no exception. 
"English hair very difficult,' professed the hairdresser as she tried to work out the many knots in my wet hair. 
With a look of doubt she then added, "Home, hair care?...Rinse?" (hair conditioner?). 
Despite her broken English I got the message loud and clear: my hair was a dry, knotty, uncared for mess. In my defense I mainly blame the shampoo girl, who rubbed my head with the towel so vigorously after washing that I thought my head might fall off. 
Not getting very far, the stylist called for back up and before I knew it there was a man on the other side of me, holding up more knots and oh-so-slowly-and-carefully trying to get the brush through my poor humiliated hair, unable to hide the displeasure in his face.

As I sat there wishing I wasn't there, my mind wandered back to the many adventures and insults my hair has endured over the years. 

The first time I remember really noticing my hair was when I was about seven and I decided I wanted a bowl cut (where your hair literally looks like someone put a bowl on top of it and cut round the edge). Being a tom boy this appealed to me greatly and I even ended up with some neat little triangle strands in front of my ears, pixie style. I recall being most pleased when I entered the classroom the next day and my teacher said, "Oh look, we've got a new boy."
Skip forward a few years to university, where I decided I liked black dye (regardless of my pale face). On top of this, in an attempt to save money I asked my sister to cut my hair for me, adding in a nice thick fringe. We went out that night and as soon as we sat down a friend of mine proceeded to try and pull my 'wig' off.

Another time at uni a shocked and appalled hair dresser told me in these exact words, that "if there were social services for hair, mine would've been taken away a long time ago."

About a year later I had descended into the black with a blue shine tone, which I liked very much until one of the gruff northern inmates at the prison I was working at said I looked like a granny with a blue rinse.

Then there was the perm. My dream of bouncy, big curls was thwarted by my dreadfully fine hair, instead creating an effect that was more of the limp and lank curl variety. 

In the past two years I've continually dyed my hair into varying shades of light brown and blonde. Last year I changed it back to brown, but it came out all patchy with spots of leftover blonde. My answer to this was to go back to blonde again, therefore using five bottles of dye in 2 weeks. Now I'm no hairdresser but my stinging scalp spoke for itself in telling me that this wasn't a smart thing to do. At the end of it all, as my sister so aptly noted, I'd achieved that "yellow I liked so much."

A couple of weeks ago in Hair Salon class at school, a student said my hair was three different colours: Yellow, gold and brown.

Time for a change, I thought.

And so there we go.


Red hair, lazy picture

Friday, 14 February 2014

Dream Big, Kid

I recently went on an outing to an ice rink (and on a side note I'm pleased to announce that, unlike the skiing debacle, it was a roaring success!) As I slid at my 'Rachel pace' around in a steady anticlockwise motion, I watched the girls in the coned off section in the middle practicing their turns and spins. Despite often falling over (to the great displeasure of their rather grumpy old man instructor), they were amazing. One girl, aged about eleven, span quickly round and round and round, holding her leg bent behind her as she went and then slowly bringing it up until she was doing the vertical splits. Wowser.

Olympic champion skater Kim Yuna

My friend told me that Kim Yuna herself used to practice at that very ice rink when she was a hopeful figure skating youth.

As I watched I began to ponder on the wonderful- and often later forgotten- world of children's hopes and dreams.

A few years ago I attended a training workshop as part of a collaboration between youth workers and other agents of services for young people. The training was led by a woman from Connexions, which for any of you who don't know, was a careers advice service for 13-19 year olds in the UK. My own experience of them had been less than positive, consisting of a single thirty minute slot in which a fifteen year old me checked boxes next to the relevant interests and strengths and was then presented with a list of completely bizarre 'suitable' jobs. I seem to remember accountant being one of them...

The workshop was about helping to guide young people on the right paths to jobs. I can't say I was particularly inspired, but thought the premise sounded fair enough. 
That is, until the trainer opened her mouth. 
Within five minutes she'd depressed me so much I just wanted to run out the door and never look back. 

Her opening deal was this:

"What did you want to be when you were young?"
We went round the room:

"A fireman!"
"A Space man!"
"A Gymnast!"
"A Pianist!"
"A children's author!"

Oh how we all laughed. 

Then she said (brace yourself): 

"And what do you want to be, now that you're grown up?"
Nobody else even flinched.

"A lifeguard."
"A police man." 
"A senior youth worker."
"A manager."
"Erm...A children's author?"

She chose to ignore the fact that my two answers were the same (I suppose it didn't really fit with the ethos of her workshop) and proceeded to announce:

 "And thats what Connexion's is here for-
to connect young people with their realistic dream jobs!"

I'll never forget that. 

I teach a class here where each student thinks about what job they want when they grow up. I love that to a child the difference between becoming a teacher or becoming an opera singer, is nothing.

It's their dream, and that's it.

So I say dream big, dream big like a kid and forget what that Connexions woman said.