The Time I Dodged Being Used in Child Porn

Note:  My story is unfortunately not atypical for a youth in foster care.  Rape, abuse, neglect and emotional harm are all rampant in the system.  If you'd like to help please don't hesitate to search for your local foster care groups -- even if you can't parent, you can still volunteer, become a CASA, or otherwise make a difference.

It's funny how the past fragments sometimes.  Mostly I just have two big bundles of my shitty childhood.  There's "home" and "foster care."  Foster care consisted of home after home after home, and subsequent disappointments (of mine and my foster parents'...) it really just blurs into one miserable lump until something comes into my consciousness that demands attention.  That's usually when my therapist learns about it, I get to revisit it and process it, and occasionally rant about it here because that's how I do.  When it's time to share, well, it's time to share.

The foster care system just about breaks its neck getting parents and kids reunited, even though logic would dictate that isn't always a reasonable or good thing.  Some families suck.  If "reunification with bio parents" (I remember all the shitty legal terms) isn't possible, sometimes an alternative in the State's eyes is a permanent guardian in the child's family--think aunt, uncle, grandparent.  The theory here again is that family=better than strangers.  I might even argue for that one, but on a case by case basis.  Sorry, but blood does not guarantee safety, as I unfortunately learned when I was sixteen.


Better than Positivity

I've made it no secret that I detest the syrupy all-positive narrative that infests everything on social media.  Probably the biggest reason I never dove head-first into that "make money with your blog" thing isn't because I don't care to write, I do, or that I don't see it as a good investment, I do, but nobody wants to hear negative things or failures or venting or ranting or anger.  Not just the blogosphere, but even micro-blogging sites (Instagram, Snapchat) and our personal accounts are de facto "not allowed" to say "this shit's terrible!"

I don't mean to say that I scroll through the news looking at horror stories, that's just as bad.  I long to read and see and hear about and talk about, and live, something that's better than positivity--perseverance.  There's a million things I could even say about it right now, but I'm trying to stay on topic here.  Day to day people and relationships are so much different than the curated posts and photos.  I hear and see struggles and the people in my life impress me with their resilience, maturity, and perseverance.  That's so much better, so refreshing, and it teaches me so much more than "derr, sit down and write five happy things about today!"  Lay off.

Anyway, I thought I'd share my favorite passage about this...at least, that's how I interpret it.  Why people persevere and keep going.  The true answer? No reason.  A million reasons.

“The garden is one of the two great metaphors for humanity.
The garden is about life and beauty and the impermanence of all living things.  The garden is about feeding your children, providing food for the tribe.  It’s part of an urgent territorial drive that we can probably trace back to animals storing food.

It’s a competitive display mechanism, like having a prize bull, 
this greed for the best tomatoes and English tea roses.
It’s about winning; about providing society with superior things; and about proving that you have taste, and good values, and you work hard.

And what a wonderful relief, every so often, to know who the enemy is.  Because in the garden, the enemy is everything: the aphids, the weather, time.

And so you pour yourself into it, care so much, and see up close so much birth, and growth, and beauty, and danger, and triumph.
And then everything dies anyway, right?
But you just keep doing it.”


2017 Haircut!

I cut my hair!

Oh no you don't. You're about to go, "and?" Don't you dare.

I'm going to sound incredibly vain and Leo-esque for a moment; my hair has been my life's prize possession, I'm talking about my entire childhood and all adult years. I have no idea where this started, but I imagine it was my dad; he had really long hair, and there was no discussion of whether or not we (including my mother, sister, and me) kept our hair long. We just did it because he demanded it. In fact, both my mother and myself were privy to a secret haircut, courtesy of my aunt and grandmother, and both times my dad freaked the everloving hell out when we came home with chopped locks.

I have no idea where his Puritan lady-hair ideals came from, because I'm pretty sure that Satan himself is more religious than my dad. I never figured it out, but didn't argue because I loved having long hair. I have always been into fairy tales and warrior princesses, before I even read about Eowyn. I kept it long in foster care, cut it off for graduation, HATED it, and waited years to cut it again. HATED it. I cried as soon as I was a safe distance from the barber's chair both times.

So in my early 20's I dedicated myself to long hair, happily. I didn't look back and no amount of the "it's just hair, it grows" comments lessened my fear of scissors. Truly I was a female Samson! I can't stress enough that I would probably bargain my soul and anyone else's soul (except my cats) if it meant choosing soul, or my long hair. It would be like suggesting to someone that they take out their eyeballs and just go blind. Nope.  And the strangest part is that since I periodically trim the extra-extra-EXTRA dead ends, my hair actually got shorter!  It was getting trimmed faster than I could grow it.  That's very discouraging for any long-haired wisher.

Anyway, how did this change of heart happen? It just did one day. I was just so tired of mixing colors or spending time on styles, and most of all, I was tired of the big dead weight of damaged hair trailing down my back. It only looked good if I put ten conditioners and treatments and glosses in, and then styled it after blowdrying it.  I think that hair is a testament to the crappiness I dealt with over the past few years, and honestly it just reminded me of all the struggling I endured from 2011-2016.  What a mess.  Back to the maintenance-- if you know me, you know I like to roll out of bed and go, so this product+styling+management+money+time drain was obviously not my style--if I'm going to have long hair, it needs to be healthy enough to look good with a simple brushing.

I finally accepted that it didn't anymore. And instead of some big cataclysmic moment where I sobbed dramatically or wrote a love letter to my hair and begged it to work with me, I just woke up and thought, "I'm cutting this shit off." Haha! Who even am I? That is SO not like me, I'm even still weirded out by the origin of the decision. Every time I try to bring some deeper rationalization into it, there's nothing. It was just a random decision made on a random day. Not only was it a random split decision, but I actually stuck with it!

I made the appointment at Array Salon, the literal only place I will trust my hair in anyone's hands, and then fretted the entire next week, trying to convince myself to wait for the appointment and not pull a Mulan and whack it off with a katana in the middle of the night. Luckily, there was no katana within reach. I wanted my hair gone, but I wanted to still look decent and adult. So it was important to get it done right.

I had no idea how right! Tonni is an amaaaaazing stylist and colorist. She basically finished all my sentences when I explained what I was going for. There were several times I just said, "Do what you want" because at that point I was ready to go full-blown Furiosa. Instead, I got the blond with some red in--exactly what I wanted-- because my skin-tone is definitely not suited to that grey-ash blond everyone's sporting (looks great, just not on me!) and I wanted more of a golden than a grey. I got the perfect length and I LOVE everything from styling my hair, to coordinating makeup and wearing cute outfits. Even my earrings look cuter now!

I keep waiting to suddenly wake up and miss my hair and cry, or feel "not like myself" since my identity and self-image was so strongly tied to long, red hair.  But I don't feel different.  I still feel like Alex, just Alex without a foot of raggedy carpet on the back of her head.  I guess it's a midlife crisis/almost 30 thing, but I'm totally fine with that too.

So, if you're in the Salt Lake area and in need of a stylist, THIS IS ME TELLING YOU WHAT TO DO.  Also, if you're on the fence about cutting off your hair, all I can say is, you'll know when you truly want it gone.  I hesitated years ago, cut it anyway, and spent years regretting it.  This was much different.  Of course, I also got excited about a new vacuum last week, so maybe I'm just getting old.