Back In the Habit

No, I am not becoming a nun. Also, this would imply that I used to be a nun and stopped being one and oh let’s just stop this train of thought already before we go too “Sister Act.”

I, like everyone, have my idiosyncrasies. I can hardly control myself around food and beverages; I believe in an a very liberal “rule” for how long it is after something fell on the floor that you can still eat it; I go back and forth between compulsively good posture and lazy slumping. But I have one habit that I didn’t have to think about for a good year, and it is only recently back in full force. I’m having a hard time resisting.

I cannot. Stop. Checking my hair for split ends.

I just did it in between writing that sentence and writing this one.

I’ve more or less always had weird things about hair. I absolutely love playing with other peoples’ hair (with their permission). Hair and scalps fascinate me. As gross as it is, when everyone had lice in second grade I found it strangely satisfying to comb through other peoples’ hair and find the nits to remove. It’s a simple thing that takes only a little bit of concentration. Honestly, it’s pretty close to meditation.

I don’t think I noticed split ends until high school. Late middle school at the earliest. I had always had long hair, but I didn’t ever really look at the ends of it. If I had, I would have found tons of split ends–I was never one for regular haircuts.

Anyway, once I really started noticing split ends (let’s blame commercials for conditioner, why not), I couldn’t stop noticing them.

They’re little tiny structural breakdowns. They’re never going to heal. Once a hair splits, it will just continue to split. And a good split end is a strangely beautiful thing. The smaller strands splitting off curve out like spiraling ferns or graceful eyelashes. There can be tens of them on one hair. They’re fascinating, a testament to the fact that we spend so much time and effort on something that is essentially dead tissue.

And you always have more. Every time you shampoo, you’re rubbing the minute scales on your hairs and causing new ones to split off.

As pretty as they are, they also drive me crazy. I hate the idea of leaving them when I know they’re there. It seems sloppy and wrong–that’s part of the point of haircuts, is to get rid of split ends. And so, in high school, during idle moments, trying to mull over an idea, I started cutting them off, strand by strand.

It’s a bizarre sight. A young woman holding little sections of hair up to her eyes, searching for any minute imperfection, and then swooping in with a pair of household scissors. You could argue that those scissors are just making the structural problems worse. Doesn’t matter. I can’t get enough of it. As much as I want those split ends gone, I also hope for spectacular examples to cut off as proof that I needed to do this.

My mom told me once that it was a very unladylike thing to do. I countered, of course, that I never claimed to be a lady, and I didn’t stop. Even after college, when writing lyrics for “Grind” I would think about rhymes while trimming my split ends. And then it all stopped for awhile. Because I did the ultimate split-end cut-off. I took a pair of household scissors (once again) and cut off my ponytail, then had the salon give me a pixie cut.

With short hair, you may have split ends, but you don’t know if you do or not. You can’t see them, and so you forget about them, like they never existed in the first place. That was a good year and a half for me–hair not long enough to examine. Suddenly I looked much more professional in bored moments.

That went well for awhile. But then I started to miss long hair. And now, we’ve made it back–to the DANGER ZONE. *cue Archer voice*

“Get a haircut,” I hear you say. “Cut your hair more often. Dummy.” Guys. I’m trying. But I only like to go to the Aveda Institute and they only have certain hours and they fill up and I’m a busy woman and in the meantime my fine, delicate hair is SPLITTING EVERY DAY AND IT’S JUST SO CALMING TO–

Control, Stratford. Anyway. I know myself well enough to know this will probably always be a habit of mine. I just have to be conscious of the company I’m in when doing it. Sitting alone working on a song or a scene with a glass of wine? Hack away. Middle of a Skype meeting with the Delhi team? Not the time, not the place.

So! Now you know what’s up if you ever see me grab a chunk of hair and hold it up to my eyes. As long as I don’t start stuttering about blueprints and growing my fingernails until they curl into themselves, I think it’s okay. We’re all a little OCD, right? I’ll take my compulsion to improve the quality of my lustrous mane.

And also to touch the frame of every door I go through on each side, rapping out the rhythm to “Tequila.” You know, normal stuff. Right, guys?



1 Comment

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One response to “Back In the Habit

  1. Pingback: Don’t Be A Tease | laurastratford

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