Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Combed Out My Dreads

Do I have to cut my dreads off? No. Can I brush them out? Yes! How? Lots of patience!

Why'd I comb my dreads out?
Multiple reasons. In part, for the same reason I put them in: I was bored with having the same hairstyle, and I wanted a change. My dreads were short (they had finally started to grow instead of shrink, but of course, dreads don't grow very quickly!), so I didn't have many styling options, and I really wanted styling options!

My one-year-old backcombed dreads.
Which leads me into another reason I brushed them out: I missed all the girly aspects of not having dreads. I missed brushing my hair (despite the fact that I rarely brushed it before I had dreads--my hair is naturally very straight and doesn't need much help to stay that way), braiding it, styling it, etc.  If my dreads had been long enough for me to style in fun updos, I might not have missed those things so much.

And finally, I brushed my dreads out because they weren't set up in a way I thought I could maintain for years. The back dreads were really thick--almost two inches or more in diameter--so they were heavy, even though they were short, and they took all day to dry completely (the thinner ones near my face only took a few hours). Also, I had tons of loose hairs which, even after a year, refused to find a home.

Was combing out my dreads hard?
Yes and no. It took a long, long time. I brushed/combed my hair for several hours every day for over a week. Those knots had been thriving for over year, so they were compact. On the other hand, I put half a bottle of conditioner and half a cup of baby oil in my hair and after that all I really had to do was grab a dread and push a comb through the end of the knot. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat ... for a week.

If you're going to do this, you might as well marathon your favorite tv show while you do.

Holy POOF! I had a serious post-dread fro!
Did it hurt?
Not initially. I was gentle with my hair because I wanted it to come out healthy and unbroken. Since I didn't pull at the comb too hard, I didn't pull on my scalp too hard either. After too many hours of pulling in a row, though, my scalp did start to get sore, so I just stopped and picked up another time.

Was there dirt and guck or spiders in there?
Nope. I washed my dreads whenever my scalp needed it or I'd hung out around fires or anything that might make them smell bad, so when I brushed them out, they were incredibly clean. I'd heard horror stories, so I was a little worried, but I shouldn't have been! (Secretly, this was part of the reason I brushed them out--my curiosity was getting to me, and I wanted to know what the insides looked like.) Now that I know the insides were fine, I would feel comfortable leaving them in for years.

Was my hair damaged by being in dreads for a year?
Honestly, although dreads may look like a potential danger zone for hair, when you stop and think about it, leaving your hair alone for a year is much kinder than some other routes: blow-drying your hair every day, bleaching it, combing and playing with it (which can cause split ends), etc. I had a few split ends at the bottom (which, considering I hadn't cut my hair in a year and a half, is only natural), but other than that, my hair seemed very healthy.

After I brushed my dreads out: good as new!
The only weird result from putting my hair in dreads for a year is that my hair has extra volume it didn't used to have. As you saw in the picture above, I had a serious fro after I brushed my dreads out. Most of the crazy dread-caused texture went away after I washed, conditioned, and brushed it, but my hair hasn't quite returned to its pre-dread state of uber-straight-ness. Now, because it was stuck in knots for a year, my hair has a very slight, microscopic wave/curl to it (like in the fro picture, but less dramatic). The waves are so small that they don't actually make my hair look wavy; they just add volume and texture, which is kind of cool, if you ask me. I expected it to wash out right away, but it hasn't yet (it's been a month). Still, I don't believe it'll last much longer than a chemical perm does: three to six months.

The picture to the above is my hair now. After I brushed the dreads out, I dyed my hair black (a temporary dye, so it's starting to wash out), and did some heavy layering with a razor brush. The waves you can see in this picture are not the texture I was talking about (which is much, much smaller--too small to see unless you're very close); those waves are because I braided my hair after I washed it last night.

Will I ever dread my hair again?
Even as I was brushing out my dreads, I was planning my next set.

For the fun of it, I will probably try the twist-and-rip method this time. Not because I didn't like the backcombing, but because I want to know what the difference would be like. I've seen pictures, and I think they might give me more of a natural look than the backcombing did (the big hair look was what I was going for last time, which is why I picked backcombing, but this time, I'm going to try for something different).

Also, I want smaller sections. I had 45 dreads of varying sizes, and although at first, the thick ones were the most fun, the thin ones ended up being more practical. The thick ones were heavy; they sucked hair out of the dreads next to them, so they kept growing; and they made washing my hair a pain because they took so long to dry (and you always want to let your dreads dry completely before getting them wet again, so you don't get mold or anything disgusting like that growing in your hair).

I want to wait until my hair grows out more, so I can have long dreads. I'm hoping long dreads won't create as many loose hairs, but that may be wishful thinking.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks to Joe Iriarte and Steven P. Watson for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! They're both awesome; check them out (click their names to view their blogs)! 

Joe is the rarest of people: a native Floridian (which killed me because nearly all of my family fall into that category -- what were the odds?). His blog features in-depth, thought-provoking posts with a pinch of cynicism.

Steven and I bonded on Twitter over LOTR. I heart nerds (cause I am one), and we share geekiness. Relatively new to the blogging community, he blogs mostly about writing (Five sentence fiction, nano, etc).

So here are the rules:
1. In a post on your, blog, nominate 15 fellow bloggers for The Versatile Blogger Award.
2. In the same post, Add the Versatile Blogger Award.
3. In the same post, thank the blogger who nominated you in a post with a link back to their blog.
4. In the same post, share 7 completely random pieces of information about yourself.
5. In the same post, include this set of rules.
6. Inform each nominated blogger of their nomination by posting a comment on each of their blogs.

As per the rules, 7 facts you may or may not know about me:
1) I was born in a tourist state (Florida), and I live in its tourist-state mirror (Montana). Florida gets 9 months of summer; Montana gets 9 months of winter. People go to Florida to escape the cold; people go to Montana to escape the heat.
2) I became a widow less than two months after I turned 23. My daughter was 8 months old.
3) I love sushi so much, I learned how to roll it at home. Rolling sushi is especially fun with friends (also cheaper because we each buy one of the ingredients).
4) Pets: I've kept a fishtank for years; fish are very easy pets, especially betas. Last June, I got a kitten. He sleeps on my arms while I type (it's awkward, but he's too cute to refuse). My daughter (now 4) treats him like a sibling -- she's even threatened to "tell mom" on him. No kidding.
5) Now I'm a writer and freelance content editor, but I've had a wide range of jobs: programming engineer (fancy way of saying computer programmer), web designer, personal finance consultant, secretary, waitress, janitor, burger flipper (while pregnant, ugh), and retail employee (cashiering, floor, and flow). I found something to like in every job, but I think I finally found my niche!
6) I'm about as fluent in French as anyone who hasn't lived in France can be. I studied French literature (including classics from the middle ages and Renaissance), poetry, and European history at University using French textbooks.
7) I'm getting married this July (on Bastille Day, but that's a coincidence).

And the 15 bloggers I am nominating for the Versatile Blogger Award ...
Walk Slowly, Live Wildly - Sara Janssen loves God, family, health, yarn and eco-friendly living. She used to live in an RV that ran on veggie oil!  She also (as if that isn't enough) has awesome dreads and an inspiring fashion sense.
Linguisticali Speaking - Vegan, feminist, dreadhead, and linguistics nerd, Ali blogs about life with humor.
Romancing the Palate -  Rebecca Lynn blogs about her journey to becoming a published romance author and her food obsession. And yes, the two do mix! Yum, foodie romance.
Veronica Scott - Veronica Scott is a new author (her first book, Priestess of the Nile, comes out next week!) who loves ancient Egypt. Her books combine her love of Egyptian culture with romance and fantasy.
Ruminating in the Desert - Guy Harrison blogs about self publishing (his self-published novel Agents of Change is scheduled for release next month). He offers tips for new authors.
Unintentionally Brilliant - Roxie is an editor, but her blog focuses more on her personal life - single parenthood, etc - than her profession.
The Writer Librarian - Karen McCoy writes about writing from a unique perspective: a librarian's perspective. She is currently seeking representation for a YA fantasy novel, Triskeleon.
Squidink - Sarah Robertson's blog is a fun mix of adventures in writing and random interests (like music -- she's provided me with a few song addictions).
Writability - Ava Jae gives writing advice.
Dasia Has A Blog - Dasia's topics are random, unified by her sarcastic voice.
Between the Sheets - Heather Webb is an author and foodie with detailed advice for writers, including how to navigate not only the pages, but also the daunting world of publishing and promotion. She will be seeking representation for her novel Becoming Josephine: The First French Empress soon.
Anonymous Legacy - A writer who wishes to remain anonymous - so I won't give her away by naming her - blogs about writing with a hint more spunk than most.
Robin A Burrows - Writer. Poet. Dreamer. Want to read her poetry book? Links on her blog. - Jenny Adams is a writer who loves medieval French literature, cupcakes, web design and purple. She's engaged to be married in June!
The Scribbles of Girltaristhan - Hannah J blogs about life as a Christian, wife, geek, nerdfighter and more.

Holy cow, that took a long time! I pity everyone I just nominated. Hard decisions ahead for you! ^_^

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Natural Backcombed Dreads, 9 months old

Picture time again! My natural (meaning I am not using wax or any other products to help my hair knot), backcombed dreads are all 9 months old (some are almost 10 -- I dreaded my hair slowly, over 3 weeks, because I did the backcombing myself).

Seeing pictures of my hair made me feel good; my dreads are gradually moving from crazy mess to awesome knots.

There's still a bunch of fuzzies and loose hairs, but maybe fewer than last time?

My ends are my weakest spot. Playing with them (rubbing the ends in circles against my palm) has helped the front dreads knot together, but there are still huge portions of my back dreads (most notably those closest to my neck -- they're the hardest to reach) that are still completely unknotted. The difference between the knots and the silky, smooth hair is obvious, but I drew some arrows anyway.

I'm considering backcombing and rubber-banding the loose ends in the back. My play-with-my-ends fidgeting habit hasn't worked on the dreads with 4-5 inches of loose hair at the bottom (I tried, but after a few hours, the knots fell out). This might work if my hair weren't so naturally silky and straight, but it is, so force (elastic bands) may be necessary.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Are Faeries Dead?

 One of my favorite hobbies is researching what others might consider useless information. I collect random facts like discarded jewels (thankfully people are a lot more likely to share facts than they are to discard jewels)!

Recently I stumbled upon a gem of knowledge so awesome, I have to share.

Did you know that stories about faeries in Ireland and England may have at one point been a Celtic form of ancestor worship? Or stated another way, stories about faeries may have been, essentially, ghost stories.The dead may have been thought to be still present and powerful on earth, in an altered form.

Alternately, but in the same vein, the legends of the faeries may have started as ways to preserve tales of the pre-Celtic inhabitants of what is now the British Isles and Ireland. Some of the Irish mounds - where faerie tribes are said to live - have been found to be ancient burial mounds.

Fascinating, right? Have you stumbled onto any jewels of knowledge yourself recently? Or do you know any fun facts about the myths, legends and folklore where you live or in other areas of the world? Please share! (Cause I'm greedy, and I want to know your random facts too!)

Disclaimer: These are only some of the possible explanations for how tales of the faeries began; there are others.

Friday, November 25, 2011

There's a SPIDER in my dreads!

Tis the holiday season, and that means time with family. Unfortunately, family does not always love your dreads as much as you do.

I visited my sister's house with my mother over Thanksgiving, and my sister interrupted the conversation to say, "Whenever I look at your hair, I think about spiders." Amazingly enough, my mother immediately agreed, saying she felt the same way!

Then my sister told me a dread horror story:

There once was a dreadhead who was very sick. He went from doctor to doctor, and none of them knew what to do for him. They tried everything, but they couldn't figure out what was wrong. Eventually, they decided to do an MRI to see if he had something wrong in his brain. They told him the MRI would work better if he shaved his dreads, and although he loved his dreads, he was so tired of being sick he felt any sacrifice that would help was worth it.

When he shaved his head, they realized what was wrong. His head was completely covered in spider bites! A black widow had nested in his dreads, and she bit him at night while he slept, slowly killing him with her lethal poison. The end.

Creepy, right? Yeah, I was shivering when I went to sleep that night on my sister's couch thinking, "Could a spider really crawl into my dreads without me realizing?"

I was creeped out, and I almost wanted to brush my dreads out right there to avoid any future horror stories coming true. I had to stop myself and ask, "Okay, seriously, would a spider really be able to live in my hair? Does the fact that I have dreads rather than free hair make that much of a difference?"

Frankly, the answer is, "No! A spider could not live in my dreads."

Would a spider crawl over my face and through my hair in the middle of the night? Well, since apparently (I have no idea who came up with this statistic or how they know it's true, but I hear it a lot), we actually end up eating several spiders in our sleep over the course of our lives, I guess I'd have to say that it's likely there are spiders crawling over me at night, whether I have dreads or not. They've never tried to house themselves in my hair before, so why would they now? Well, maybe dreads look more cozy than straight hair? Maybe, but in that case wouldn't course hair and curly hair also look more cozy than straight hair?

Still, let's say that for some reason, dreads look like a good home, and the spider on the move decides not to return to his own cozy home that night (seriously unlikely seeing as they usually house themselves in places that have gone untouched for months, like undusted corners and inside huge stacks of firewood). So, a spider moves in, defying all odds. Would that spider survive?

No, if defying all odds, a spider decided to leave his cozy nest in a safe, unnoticed corner of my house and move right into my hair, that spider would not live long. Why? Because I WASH my hair, and I FIDDLE with it (because I'm one of those silly people that always has to be fidgeting with something - playing with my hair, my ring, my necklace, or tapping my foot, wiggling my toes, etc). That little spider would be poisoned with shampoo and washed down the drain or squashed in no time!

But in all seriousness, I don't know why a spider would leave his cozy nest for a dangerous one close to me (if he would, why not take up house in my bedsheets or the towels under my sink? I don't touch those very often, and they're nice and soft like dreads, with cozy room to snuggle, but I've never found a spider or a mouse or any other thing in my towels), so I don't think I'll ever find myself squashing a spider in my hair or cleaning it out and washing it down the drain.

And that's all I have to say about that. No dreadhead urban legends for me! I'm not so easily scared as that.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Wow! I have blog followers! I am so incredibly honored that you five have decided my posts are interesting enough to warrant bookmarking! So, this creepy urban legend post is dedicated to you (forgive the ick-factor, please!). Thank you for following, and I will definitely try to post a little more often, since I know I'm not just posting to keep myself busy. Again, thank you guys very much: Robin A Burrows, Deena Barrett, Juliana Haygert, Kate Spencer, and Lily Mann. I love following all of you guys on twitter, by the way! :D

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mondo Dread! How to keep your dreads from becoming one unstoppable dread.

This is probably the hardest challenge I've come across so far in my quest for dreads: at the roots, they tend to tangle together in a dreadful quest to become (dun, dun, dun) MONDO DREAD! I fear if I can't figure out how to untangle them, I will not have a cute head of dreads, but rather one giant dread coming off the top of my head.

Alright, I'm exaggerating slightly. But only slightly.

Even before my the knots of my dreads became nice and tight (yay, approaching delicious rope-ness!), they were reaching out to their neighbors. I encountered a guy at the store who had nice looking dreads, about the same length as mine, but clearly further along than mine, and I asked him if he had the same problem, and what he did about it.

His answer: Yes, I had the same problem. I had a friend take my dreads and rip them apart. It definitely hurt.

Me: !!!! Ow. I'll find another way (read: I'll take the time to try to unravel the knots while I'm watching tv.)

Unraveling them worked (yeah, it took some time, but I was going to take that time to watch Firefly anyway, so it was all good), but it created a lot of loose hairs which haven't all found homes yet, and their efforts to find homes have caused lots of new dread linkage. So, I've maybe given up on being gentle with myself a little. Yank and pull!!

The good news is that the man assured me that this problems goes away between about 6-9-12 months into the dreading process, so any day now this should just fix itself ...?

In the meantime, any dreadheads know a better solution for this problem???

Maybe I could try to wash my dreads more gently, after every good scrubbing about half of them seem to have found new partners to cling to; if I go a week without pulling them apart, they're crazy all stuck together.

What do you guys think? Have you experienced this? What have you done about it?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Natural Backcombed Dreads at 6 months: knot-tastic chaos!

Wow! It's been 6 months! (For those of you counting and thinking that number must be incorrect, I re-did my dreads all by myself at the end of March-mid April -- took me a few weeks doing it by myself. I will make another post about my process, though it was roughly the same as the first one, just more uniform.) So, to honor the occasion, I'm posting pictures of my dread-tastic progress.

  I added a few fun beads. Yay for dread decorations!

 I didn't realize just how crazy-messy my dreads looked until I took the pictures for this blog post. They're much tighter than they look. Feeling the dreads individually, they've come a long way in 6 months. I used to worry that if I scrubbed them too much when washing in the shower, they'd come undone, but now they're nice and tight knots. I love it! The crazy look comes from a lot of random hairs that have come loose and haven't decided where their permanent home will be. I'm hoping another 6 months will take care of most of them.

Regardless what other people may think of the mess, I LOVE my dreads right now, and I'm really excited to watch as they get tighter and the loose hairs get sucked in. They feel really cool, like ropes, so I know everything's going as it should.