It’s About Options

On December 23rd, 2002, we got a phone call from my dermatologist. The biopsy we’d basically begged her to take came back positive. Melanoma.  My bout with cancer was brief, compared to most. It lasted only months before remission was declared and my future felt more secure. It’s funny how people minimize their experiences, and I’m no different. Still, this post isn’t meant to be about my “little” bit of cancer. It’s meant to be about my hair.

I didn’t lose all of it in those few months, but enough fell out that I grew self-conscious about the spots. A black Nike ear warmer that I owned covered the most obvious places, so I wore it every day, from the time I came back to school to well into April, when fuzz replaced the bald bits. Over the course of a few months I systematically cropped my hair shorter, from mid-back length to shoulder length to chin length, hiding the formerly healthy, now frayed and frazzled ends that I’d never dyed and barely blow dried. Shorter hair made it easier to ignore, easier to go about my day without thinking about the next treatment or check in. My remission coincided with the end of school, and I wore baseball hats and swim caps for most of the summer. My hair grew back out darker, but mostly the same as it had before.

Before cancer, I did nothing with my hair. After cancer, I still do nothing to it. Mostly, hair is something that I deal with. Its length is not my symbol of power, or of how womanly I am. If it gets past my shoulders I instantly gain the intense desire to chop it all off again. I grew it long for my wedding specifically so my stepmother could put it in a french twist, ensuring that my hair would leave me the fuck alone for the entire day (even short hair gets ideas about where it should be versus where you want it to be). Once we got back from our honeymoon, I chopped it short again.

Cutting my hair off is not a challenge. I’ve never cared about the length of my hair – the first time I’d buzzed most of it off had been five years earlier in middle school, and I didn’t give a second thought to the many, many inches of hair that fell to the floor that day. Instead, I felt free of the constant hair in my face or tight ponytails – my only quick option for dealing with said hair in my face. What did upset me, during my treatment, were the funky spots of hair, the patches, the feeling that everyone could spot the different lengths. Had someone, anyone, come forward and said, “just shave it and get a wig,” I’d have done it without blinking. I didn’t even realize it could be an option. Wigs seemed delegated to those who had no choice in their baldness. Clearly, I would have to deal with the in between states just like any other patient, though I never seemed to see anyone else in that transitory phase. Luckily, I didn’t have to travel that road very long.

I’ve always thought about donating my hair, especially in the winter when I forget to cut it for months at a time. Most of the time I became impatient, unable to wait for my hair to get long enough. Until this year. When I came onto A Practical Wedding as an intern in late February, one of my first projects was helping to put together designs for their campaign with Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Something Maddie said in her original post struck me, and really solidified my decision to commit to this cause. 

The thought process is something like: As if the chemo and the radiation and the horrible, horrible steroids aren’t enough, now I get to look like a cancer patient instead of just feeling like one.” 

This is the exact feeling that I had so many years ago, but I believed it was just how things go, not a changeable option. And that’s all that I wanted back then: options. I was in a place where my entire future had been whittled down to whether a biopsy came back positive or negative (visit a college? well, let’s wait for those blood test results first), all I wanted was some better options. And so in August I donated nearly a foot of hair, in hopes that I can help someone reclaim their options when it comes to how they look. Because yea, I don’t give a crap about how my hair looks, but I am lucky that I have a choice in the matter.

Photo taken by the amazing Amanda Summerlin. This post is not sponsored by Pantene Beautiful Lengths, but they are great and if you can donate your hair, I encourage you to do it through them. 

Doctor Who Primer: Season Seven

REMEMBER: I will sometimes be spoiling things like when characters enter and leave (but not how), when a new Doctor appears, and a few character/alien names. If you want to remain unspoiled for everything, I recommend you get off the Internet right now and don’t come back until you’re done. Seriously.

Season Seven

General Notes: This season is actually split into two separate blocks – Season 7 Part 1 and Season 7 Part 2. It’s probably easier to think of it as two shorter seasons, because the first half and the second half feel entirely different, thanks to a number of changes. There are also LOTS of extras from this season, so pay close attention!

Mini Episode – Good as Gold: This doesn’t fit within the current storyline, but it’s a fun mini episode featuring Amy, The Doctor, and the Olympics!

Prequel to The Doctor,  The Widow, and The Wardrobe
Christmas Special – The Doctor, The Widow, and The Wardrobe: My favorite Christmas special, in which the Doctor crash lands in 1938.

Prequel – Pond Life
Prequel to Asylum of the Daleks
7×01 – Asylum of the Daleks:
The Ponds return! Sort of. Nothing is happy and everything is awkward and character arcs mean nothing to Moffat.
7×02 – Dinosaurs on a Spaceship: It’s exactly what you think it is.
7×03 – A Town Called Mercy: A Doctor Who Western adventure! With aliens?
7×04 – The Power of Three: The Doctor comes to live with Amy & Rory while investigating a threat. It works out about as well as you’d expect.
7×05 – The Angels Take Manhattan: Angels. In Manhattan. Also, don’t expect to have any of your questions about this episode ever be answered. Prepare to be sad.

Extra – The Battle of Demons Run, Two Days Later: Set after A Good Man Goes to War
Prequel – Vastra Investigates

Christmas Special – The Snowmen: Hey, haven’t we seen this brown haired girl before? The ending gets sad, then picks back up again.

Prequel to The Bells of Saint John
7×06 – The Bells of St. John:
I’m sorry but I just can’t take a monster seriously if it’s called a Spoonhead.
7×07 – The Rings of Akhaten: We haven’t had an episode with lots of weird aliens in quite a while, and this episode certainly delivers!
7×08 – Cold War: A Classic Who era monster stalking around a Russian submarine. For additional fun: play Guess Who’s the Redshirt?
7×09 – Hide: Haunted mansion ghost story meets seventies styling meets The Doctor.
7×10 – Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS: Yep, that’s what it is. What’s not to love about seeing more of the TARDIS? I want an entire season of TARDIS exploring.
7×11 – The Crimson Horror: Something strange is happening in Sweetville, but where is the Doctor?
7×12 – Nightmare in Silver: The second episode to be written by Neil Gaiman, in which the Cybermen get a facelift.

Prequel – He Said, She Said
Prequel – Clarence and the Whispermen
7×13 – The Name of the Doctor: To keep his greatest secret, the Doctor must go to the one place he shouldn’t. So of course he does.

Meet Topher

When this cute face popped up on Facebook late Thursday morning, I found myself hesitating rather than scrolling by. Later, I couldn’t bring myself to close the tab. One very long gchat with my husband and eight hours later, we were out picking up a collar and toys and food bowls. I feel like that’s how adoption works (at least shelter adoptions), no matter how long it’s been since you’ve decided, yes, you plan to get an animal, it kind of blindsides you. Or maybe that’s just us: both our cats were also spur-of-the-moment adoptions.

We think Topher was abandoned by someone—or maybe left in a yard or dumped—because he seems too mild mannered to be entirely stray. He’s amazing on a leash, a little slower to over the top excited than most pups, and a very quick learner. Still, he’s all bone (poor boy), he sticks to us like a shadow, and cries (howls? screams? definitely screams.) if we leave the room without him. A work in progress, as most puppies are.

If you want to follow along with Topher because you think he has a cute face (obviously), then you should hightail it over to Good Dogs & Co, where my friend Ivana and I wax eloquent about our puppies on a weekly basis. Get it? Hightail it?

I’ll show myself out.

Doctor Who Primer – Season Six

REMEMBER: I will be spoiling things like when characters enter and leave (but not how), when a new Doctor appears, and a few character/alien names. If you want to remain unspoiled for everything, I recommend you get off the Internet right now and don’t come back until you’re done. Seriously.

Season Six

General Notes: Season six has a lot of really great episodes, but the major plot point is not my favorite. Still, there are many character and story reveals in this season, so pay attention. This season is also very easily spoiled.

5×14 – A Christmas Carol: I missed this episode because it’s another that doesn’t appear in the Netflix lineup. Unsurprisingly, it plays out kind of like A Christmas Carol.

Comic Relief Short – Time
Comic Relief Short – Space

6×01 –  The Impossible Astronaut: Part 1 of 2. Amy, Rory, and River are summoned to a reunion of sorts.
6×02 – Day of the Moon: Part 2 of 2. The Doctor investigates the Silence. Prepare for a million unanswered questions.
6×03 – The Curse of the Black Spot: Now for something completely different. Pirates! 
6×04 – The Doctor’s Wife: Neil Gaiman’s first script for Doctor Who. Tissue alert.
6×05 – The Rebel Flesh: Part 1 of 1. I don’t think any good can come from naming something, “The Flesh.”
6×06 – The Almost People: Part 2 of 2. This and the next few episodes all tie together. Note this episode ends in a cliffhanger.
6×07 – A Good Man Goes to War: In which Rory is a badass and the Doctor is tricksy. ALSO ends in a cliffhanger of sorts, though not quite like The Almost People.
6×08 – Let’s Kill Hitler: This is why Amy and Rory can’t have nice things.
6×09 – Night Terrors: Don’t watch this in the dark. Also be ready for creepy dolls.
6×10 – The Girl Who Waited: Amy gets separated from the group in a wibbly wobbly timey wimey way. Tissue alert again.
6×11 – The God Complex: This place is one part spaceship, one part Hotel California.
6×12 – Closing Time: The Doctor visits Craig (The Lodger) to see how he’s doing. No motives here, not at all.
6×13 – The Wedding of River Song: Time is collapsing, the Doctor is being held prisoner, and eye patches are in season.

6×14 – The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe: My favorite Christmas special, involving a crash landing and a promise.

Willing to Believe

Affirmations. The idea that if you just put your mind to the task, you can do anything. I like making affirmations, putting up little reminders on post-its, the whole bit. However, I think they don’t always work the way people intend. It depends on the wording. Like resolutions, even the most positive of affirmations tends to fizzle over time. It’s too rigid, unbending. 

A few years ago I took a course called The Declaration of You, which focused on finding that one secret, special thing that drives you. It’s through this course that I figured out how to turn affirmations into intentions. 

Here’s an example.

I’ve been trying to take up running for a while now. I know it will be good for me in the long run, but I’m pretty terrible at it. For a few months now, I’ve been telling myself, “I’m going to run every day.” The affirmation is easy to remember, easy to say. And yet I almost never run.

Every day I wake up and tell myself, today I will run. Then I don’t. Because I’m not giving myself any room to dislike running. I’m not transforming any of my previous opinions on running, I’m just trying to bully myself into believing something totally contrary. Unsurprisingly, it’s not working.

Imagine using a different phrasing. Imagine being gentler. I am willing to believe that I can become disciplined enough to run every day. By giving more room to experiment, more room to change your thinking, I can make my goal fit into my routines without feeling like I’m cheating. It also makes room for a whole bunch of new questions: is there a type of running I enjoy more? What else should I be looking into about how to form new habits? The list goes on. 

Everyone constantly tells themselves they should be doing something differently, and then ignoring it while feeling guilty. Instead, make yourself a few intentions. And go easy on yourself. Be willing to believe that you have the ability to get there.

 This post is brought to you by a new book called The Declaration of You. It will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, empowering people to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique, and uncover what they are meant to do! I’m thrilled to participate in this post as part of The Declaration of You’s BlogLovin’ Tour alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more by clicking here.

Doctor Who Primer – Season Five

REMEMBER: I will be spoiling things like when characters enter and leave (but not how), when a new Doctor appears, and a few character/alien names. If you want to remain unspoiled for everything, I recommend you get off the Internet right now and don’t come back until you’re done. Seriously.

Season Five

General Notes:  Hello Matt Smith! This is my husband’s doctor. Matt Smith brings his own style of gravitas to the role of the Doctor, with a heavy dose of silly. It’s also just been announced that, after 3 seasons, he’s leaving at the end of this year’s Christmas special. I recommend catching up before he goes, because there’s nothing like knowing you’re going to cry on Christmas day, right? *sob*

5×01 – The Eleventh Hour: The Doctor crash lands in Leadworth, and meets his new companion.
Extra:  Meanwhile in the TARDIS, Part 1
5×02 – The Beast Below: All aboard the Starship UK, a weirdly steampunk future starship.
5×03 – Victory of the Daleks: Daleks + World War Two = I did not expect this at all.
5×04 – The Time of Angels: Part 1 of 2. Let’s go adventuring in a cave full of statues. Nothing could possibly go wrong!
5×05 – Flesh and Stone: Part 2 of 2. What are Weeping Angels afraid of?
Extra: Meanwhile in the TARDIS, Part 2
5×06 – The Vampires of Venice: The Doctor takes Amy and Rory out for a nice romantic getaway…slightly against their will. No worries!
5×07 – Amy’s Choice: Time to add dreams and old people to the list of things not to be trusted.
5×08 – The Hungry Earth: Part 1 of 2. Drilling to the center of the Earth sounds like a great idea!
5×09 – Cold Blood: Part 2 of 2. Where the Doctor asks people to do specific things. Nobody ever listens.
5×10 – Vincent and the Doctor: The Doctor sees a something in a painting, and decides to pay a visit to its creator. Has a painfully good ending and I cry every time.
5×11 – The Lodger: The TARDIS has some technical difficulty, stranding the Doctor in Colchester.
5×12 – The Pandorica Opens: Finale part 1. Vincent can’t catch a break, but manages to leave a warning for the Doctor.
5×13 – The Big Bang: Finale part 2. A very wibbly wobbly timey wimey ending. Rory is awesome.

On the Way Down

If we listened to our intellect, we’d never have a love affair. We’d never have a friendship. We’d never go into business, because we’d be cynical. Well, that’s nonsense. You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.”

– Ray Bradbury

A few weeks ago, I quit my job, and last Friday I walked out of my office building for the last time without hesitation. Not because I have everything figured out, but because I know that I simply could not be in that environment any longer. So I got out.

People advise striking out on your own in stages: save up, work in your off hours, wait until you’re certain of success. It’s a difficult approach, but safe. However, I’ve never been very good at following through when I can see the safety net below me. I need that bit of fear to push me forward. 

So here I am. Building my wings on the way down. 

Extras: The Southern Tradition

I have a post today on A Practical Wedding, about growing up Southern, so go read it!

Here are a few fun facts and trivia that ended up on the cutting room floor:

  • Southern brides are told to bury an entire bottle of bourbon upside down at the site of their ceremony, to keep rain away on their wedding day. We did not do this…unless upending an entire bottle of bourbon into oneself in the weeks leading up to the ceremony counts. Then we definitely did this.
  • I won two “awards” in cotillion: one for best shag and one for a hula hooping contest. This probably says more about me than it should. 
  • It really irritates Bryan that I say buggy instead of [shopping] cart. I find this hilarious, so naturally I say it as much as possible.
  • A lot of notes and thoughts that ended up forming this article got their start from reading Atlanta magazine’s Southern Issue. Some of the pieces are a bit navel-gazing, but still worth a read.

Doctor Who Primer – The Tennant Specials

REMEMBER: I will be spoiling things like when characters enter and leave (but not how), when a new Doctor appears, and a few character/alien names. If you want to remain unspoiled for everything, I recommend you get off the Internet right now and don’t come back until you’re done. Seriously.

The Tennant Specials

General Notes: Here we are! It’s Tennant’s last “season” as the Doctor, and things get pretty intense in these last four specials. Let’s get right into it. 

The Next Doctor: The Doctor meets the next Doctor, and they pal around with their sonic screwdrivers and their TARDISes…wait a minute that’s not how this is supposed to work at all.

Planet of the Dead: I actually have not seen this episode, and it is not in the Netflix lineup so you’ll have to hunt it down. However, it involves a thief, a double-decker bus, and a warning for the Doctor.

The Waters of Mars: So Planet of the Dead is basically the last time the Doctor gets to have any fun. Meanwhile, I wonder what’s going down on Mars on this very specific day in the future…

The End of Time: It’s time to stop running and face the last two part episode of the Tenth Doctor. Naturally, the entire universe is at stake. Again. Warning: lots of magic in this episode, and not so much science.