December 23, 2011

Naked, Wet and Inspired

The title sounds like an erotic intro, but I assure you, it isn’t. What I’m referring to is a strange phenomenon that inevitably occurs when I’m in the shower—inspiration. I don’t even have to be suffering from writer’s block; I might think my plot and characters are just fine, thank you very much. But when I’m in the shower, minding to the business of getting clean for the day, some part of my brain that is presumably occupied when I’m doing most anything else, is finally free to produce some of my best ideas. Why is that?

Let’s examine some possibilities.

Scent – Aromatherapy researchers have shown that scent can temporarily relieve everything from stress to insomnia to PMS. All I know is: when I’m scanning the grocery store aisle for shampoo, I open the cap, sniff, and base my decision on what to buy on how good it smells. Maybe the process of lathering and rinsing combined with a flowery, fruity fragrance opens up more than just my nasal passages.

Heat – There are very few more pleasurable things in life than the first few moments after stepping under a hot shower spray. Unlike the unpleasant goosebumps that sprout when our husbands or male co-workers insist on keeping the air-conditioner at a frigid 72-degrees, warm water sets off an exquisite chain reaction in the skin. Minescule arectores pilorum muscles attached to each and every hair on the human body react to cold by pulling the hair upright. It is theorized that this functioned as a way to make early man look bigger and more formidable when threatened, by poofing him up (the idea of a poofy, hairy man certainly frightens me). Nowadays, goosebumps in the shower set the stage for what follows:

Relaxation – Breathe that steamy air in…and out. Upon each exhale feel your shoulders dropping as the tension loosens its hold on your neck. We don’t need a yoga instructor to call out instructions guiding us through this part—it’s fully instinctive.

White noise – Sitting in my writing chair, my ears are constantly assaulted by the noises of the household. The base boom of my husband’s computer speakers coming through the office wall as he plays a video game or watches a movie. The incessant chat-chat-chatter from my son as he whirrs around the house like a hummingbird. The click-click-click of the dog’s claws on the wood floor, and his urgent barking at the slightest noise from outside. People actually buy machines that produce constant, soothing sounds to drown out external noise and promote sleep and relaxation. Inside the shower stall, all that can be heard is the steady shush of falling water, a welcome, natural white noise.

Solitude – There are very few places one can go to escape from the world. Even in bed, most of us have to share our space (“Keep your crusty man-feet on your side!"). In the shower, once the glass door steams up, and I can no longer see my cat staring intently at me with his huge, round blue eyes, I’m all by myself. No one judging me; no expectations. Alllll alone.

Refreshment – Clean is good. Just the act of literally and symbolically washing away the day creates a feeling of accomplishment and sets the stage for a receptive mood. I’m clean, I’m relaxed, I’m alone. The shower is my meditation chamber. Let the ideas come!

December 19, 2011

Haircut Chaos

Just for fun, I'm resurrecting some of my favorites posts that no one read.

January 2008

I took my four-year-old for a haircut yesterday.

What an ordeal.

This is a child who cannot hold still. I remember my mom talking about my little brother. She'd say, "If we ever get invaded by aliens and have to hide, we're dead for sure because Matt won't be able to hold still and shut up!" Apparently, my son takes after his unkie Matt.

So of course my son got a hideous haircut. Even worse than usual, but that may be my fault. I was rushed yesterday morning and didn't take the time to brush his hair (he was getting it cut, after all, I rationalized) and when we walked in to Fantastic Sam's we must have looked like some kind of dopey back-country folk who don't give two hoots about their appearance. The hairstylist probably thought he needed a cut that would keep his grown-out hair from getting caught in the pigsty gate or the rusted out Chevy.

She was young and it was obviously her first day - my son may have even been her very first haircut - poor thing, I hope she didn't have a career change of heart after surviving the chaos. So anyway, just about everyone in the store had to get involved in mowing the boy's mop. The other stylists took turns coming over and trying to bribe or distract him into holding still. He thought all the attention was grand fun and acted out even more. Then he got hair in his mouth and in his eyes and started whining and disturbing his apron, which made even more hair go flying. The harried hairstylist tried to remain calm, but I could see her hands shaking.

Not even the promise of a lollipop, a rare treat for him, could keep my little guy's shoulders from rising whenever the buzzy scissors hit his neck. When I say the haircut was bad, I do not exaggerate. I literally could do better - on a kid who held still, of course. So this poor hairstylist is going to extreme measures to fix it and it's getting shorter and shorter. Snip, snip, snippity-snip! I started rolling my eyes because he might as well have been bald by then.

Then he began a loud litany of, "When are you gonna be done? Are you done yet?" The fond smiles on the other patron's faces had long since worn thin by the time he was finally shorn.

Liberated from the chair, my boy went straight for the lollipop jar while I futilely brushed at my clothes, which were covered with a thick layer of short, blonde hairs after my useless attempts to pin his head down during the procedure.

As I walked out the door, I sheepishly handed the stylist a $10 tip for sheer effort, even though my son looks like a fuzzy, lopsided baby chick. Next time, I'm hoping to find a salon that, like many dentists' offices, offers sedation - for both my son and me!