Fear & Braiding in Mount Laurel

Okay, so I have the start of a great politically incorrect joke. It goes like this: a white English woman walks into an ethnic hairdressers in New Jersey wearing a swimsuit…

…except it isn’t a joke. I did that, today, at around 5 pm.

The back history goes like this: my daughter Becky turns 9 tomorrow and she asked me if she could get her hair braided for her birthday. I put it off (having other things to do, including finishing my MFA packet, getting my au pair to Philly airport at 7 am this morning and preparing for said birthday/party, all in the typical absence of my husband) but this afternoon she asked again and so I made some calls.

Hair 4 Kids said they didn’t do braiding but there was a place two doors down called Visions that specialized in it. They weren’t listed in my yellow pages but I resolved to stop by on the way back from the kids’ swim lessons and see what they could do. Hence the swimsuit scenario.

I didn’t even know there were such things as ethinic hairdressers. Of course it makes sense now I’ve been to one. And to be fair, while myself and my kids were the only white people present as we walked in, by the time we left (two hours later!) there had been two other white women around who looked like they’d been in for hair straightening.

I have several observations to make: firstly, and most importantly, these guys were great! They totally treated us like any other customer, and the manager is a perfectionist who manages at the same time to have this quirky sense of humor and be a really cool guy. By the time we left we were pals with about half the staff, who kept coming in to watch B get her scalp tortured, and Lorna had distributed Twinings US/UK flag pins to all the hairdressers, (I’d picked them up when I dashed home after settling Becky, returning in actual clothes!)

Secondly I got chatting with the braider and the beader involved with Becky’s hair, and I ended up leaving them one of my home-printed poetry broadsides. The beader loved “Tan Sandals.” I know I’m not in BAP or the Pushcart Anthology, but somehow that means as much to me.

Finally Becky could easily pass as colored, with her hair like that and the swim club tan she’s developed as usual so far this summer. I think that’s fantastic. I’ve read a number of historical novels which talk about the era in which the importance lay in the ability of blacks to pass as white. No-one has ever talked about it the other way around, as far as I know. But isn’t this what we need, if we want a truly non-prejudiced society? So, here’s my daughter, at least three generations of English English that I know of, and she could convince you she was…hmm…at least a quarter black?

I’ll try and post some pictures.


Alt+Shift –> Gymnastics Mom

Becky did tremendously well at her meet yesterday. Despite a bad start (she fell off the beam, forgot the routine and scored 6.75) she rallied, and went on to score:

  • Floor: 7.9 (Fifth in her Level 4 age group. The judge was marking REALLY strictly. She finally has the round off back handspring looking good though!)
  • Vault: 8.6 (Sixth)
  • Bars: 8.6 (Fourth. This was her best Bars performance ever, sticking the front mill circle and the landing.

She was seventh (out of 12 girls) in the All Around, but clearly had she got her usual beam score she would have done much better. Anyway, we were very proud of her.

Beep. We now return you to your Poetry program…

To The Person Who Egged My Best Friend’s Car Last Night…

…as it was standing outside my house at around 11 pm.

Do you like dogs?

Twice today I have had to call my beautiful but somewhat stupid Golden Retriever in from the road, where she had snuck out to lick the sticky, eggy remains off the asphalt. She’s normally very good about staying on our property but she does love eggs.

If anything happens to her I shall hold you personally responsible.


We Interrupt This Literary BS

…to bring you some Gymnastics news: you are now reading the blog of the mother of the Level 4, age 6-8 All Around Champion for the Sweetheart Invitational Meet in Paramus, NJ.

Becky did an amazing job today at her second ever meet and first away meet. Admittedly, the competition in her age group and level wasn’t that stiff, consisting as it did of five other girls from her home gym. Nevertheless, she earned her success, with an amazing 8.9 on Vault, a 7.5 on floor (She didn’t quite stick the round-off back handspring), a 7.4 on beam (She fell off, but got back on like a little trooper and finished the routine beautifully) and a 7.3 on bars (Okay, the front mill circle was very dubious.)

She was totally chuffed with her ribbons and the all around medal, and has been in a sunny mood ever since, even submitting to do her Computing homework.

Sometimes it’s nice to be just a mom. 🙂


Possibly the Worst Time Ever to Start a Blog

There are five days until Christmas. In approximately three hours my husband, myself, and our two daughters will load ourselves into a cab, along with 3 suitcases (one entirely filled with Christmas gifts) and drive to Philadelphia Airport on the first leg of our week long Holiday trip home to the UK. A week after we get back to NJ, I shall travel to Vermont to begin the first 10 day residency of my MFA course at Bennington College.

So, naturally, it’s the perfect time to start a Blog!

Look, I am a rational minded creature with an Engineering degree. One of my ex-boyfriends used to call me “Spock,” and in Poetry Workshops I have been known to exasperate participants by listing the parts of their poems which caused my logic beeper to emit piercing shrieks.

On the other hand, my creative side is frequently swayed by fate. I have been sorting, packing and wrapping all day, and when I finished about half an hour ago my husband literally forced me to sit down at the computer with a cup of tea. I was checking the referral statistics for my formal poetry e-zine The Barefoot Muse and I noticed a Yahoo link offering me the chance to start my own blog attached to the site. To me that was the equivalent of opening a Fortune Cookie which stated “You really ought to start a blog – everyone does it these days.”

So here we are. I probably won’t be able to add another post until we are back in the country in about a week’s time, what with my parents only having dial up Internet access and my In Laws, who live in Prehistoric Barnsley, S. Yorks, not having a computer at all. However, at that time I hope to regale you all with joyful tales of Christmas in the old country, complete with nagging relations (“Your children have the most appalling American accents“…duh!), pints o’ bitter in the local pub, and hopefully at least one decent Indian takeaway.