Hair – by Justyna

26 Aug


Here are my few thoughts I have about hair.

1. Never been a great fan of chest hair, however the idea of a chest free of hair is repulsive. I like the fact that the older Michal gets the more chest hair he sprouts. As long as it stays off his arse and back, I’m content. And even if it doesn’t, well, what can I do about it now? I also like how his arm hair goes super white blond during the summer time. Hypercolour hair. 

2. I’m not very hairy. In fact Poles are never really hairy as a bunch. My dad has very sparsely haired legs. I often got asked at school why I shave my arms. They’ve always been totally naked. When my mum caught me in the bathroom shaving my legs (I was thirteen and had completely succumbed to the ‘everyone-is-doing-it’ peer pressure), she was mortified and tried to explain rationally that there was absolutely no need for it. She herself only started shaving hers well after she turned thirty. I can go three months without shaving mine and no one is the wiser.

3. I may not be very hairy but I sprouted my first grey hair when I was about twenty. Today the top of my head is roughly 30 per cent grey. Okay, maybe even 40 per cent. It comes from my dad’s side. They all went grey when they entered toddlerhood. For me dying my hair regularly is one of the most annoying things on earth that I make myself do. Yet I cannot bring myself to get it done professionally at the salon. Or stop dying it all together. That is not even an option. It annoys me that grey men look distinguished. And grey women look like frumps. Michal’s mum in her late 50s finally put the hair dye on the shelf. She seriously aged ten years. Damn.

4. Being allergic to dogs and cats for a long time I was told it was because of their fur. When the truth finally came out in about 1995 that the allergen was in the animals’ saliva enzymes the world started to make total sense. Every time a cat or a dog lick me I get itchy bumps on my skin. But when I rub my face in their hairy fur I only sneeze.

5. On the subject of yester-week’s saliva, I taught Kazek how to do a wet willy a few days ago. Tonight when he was falling asleep he licked his finger and stuck it in my ear and giggled “wet willy”. I was super proud. I also pissed myself. I await the day when I can share the special Simpsons episode with him where we will piss ourselves together.


Hair – by Karen

26 Aug

I guess the most spectacular hair in my life is Anika’s. She was born with  a fair amount of hair:

In fact this is more than some lovely babes have two years later. After this newborn hair, subsequent extrusions of hair were blonde, and as it’s never been cut, you can still see reddish tips in her hair that were once dark brown.

In Singapore, she had a devoted fan in our helper Jean, who loved doing her hair and was incredibly skilled at it. She developed a favourite style which became known as The Anika.

All part of the indulged tropical toddler lifestyle


As you can probably make out, this hairstyle formed a kind of golden circlet around her head that was secured by dozens of small elastics. These had the advantage of making it last a good five days.

The disadvantage of this hairstyle is that it was SO REMARKABLE and BELOVED that every single person Anika met would comment on it, in fact, most people she even passed would be compelled to compliment it. So there was a phase of Anika’s life during which pretty much all she ever heard was “I love your hair!”.

This probably isn’t healthy, so even though I have finally mastered The Anika (not to Jean’s impeccable standard, but passing), I use it sparingly. I mean, we can’t have her writing her school report on how she loves her jeans.


Hair – by Beth

25 Aug


An innocent enough word, but it immediately quickens my heartbeat.

The pulse increase is mainly due to traumas gathered in my teen and young adult years, in connection with my ‘hair suit’, as a dear friend once referred to her own hirsuteness. Inspired by Tabs’ wikipedia post, I looked hirsutism up on Wikipedia and found out about the Ferriman Gallwey score. I score 15 out of a possible 36 on that. So, we’re hardly talking a career in a circus sideshow, but a score of eight or more is considered hirsute.

Sites of hair-related trauma include beauty salons (I have cried about three times in these situations. Fuck, women can be bitches to other women), and school buses (nicknamed Magilla Gorilla by an older student). I remember eating lunch at Pizza Hut with my friend and her little brother (we must have been in year 10 and he was about 6 years old) and him asking innocently why I had a moustache. It was that same friend’s mother who did me the greatest service in the world, by waxing my mo for the first time when I was about 18 – just starting uni. She lovingly told me to meet her in the bathroom and she just went for it. A total act of love and womanly camaraderie – she told me it was nothing to be ashamed of.

Until the mo was gone momentarily I never realised how much it had affected my behaviour (I now held eye contact with people more, for example) and my self esteem. Where other girls were battling with their small boob or fat demons (I was also fat and small boobed), I found the facial hairiness the hardest. It marks you out as unfeminine, and that was not something I wanted to be. Yet another reason why growing up around the northern beaches ideal of womanliness: olive skinned (but caucasian!), blonde haired, blue eyed and skinny was not fun. I did have a lot of friends, and I was school captain for heaven’s sake, but I was always aware that I was a sitting duck for teasing.

For years I thought I may have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or have trouble conceiving, but I haven’t had either. I actually think that my ambivalence towards having kids was partly due to this issue – I thought I shouldn’t set myself up for a big disappointment. I also hated the idea of having a girl and her growing up with the same issue.

A kindly doctor once told me that I had more testosterone than average and that makes me really passionate. I have always kept those words in my heart. She was the same doctor who said a Buddhist prayer before killing a tic lodged in my shoulder. A totally lovely and compassionate woman.

Right now I am the most comfortable I’ve ever been in my own skin. Accepting of who and what I am (mostly!). I can look back on those teenaged years and go: “shit, that was hard”, but also be thankful for what it taught me about compassion, difference and survival.

There you go, my friends. My thoughts on hair.

Hair – by Tabitha

24 Aug

There have been a few Wikipedia entries that have really stuck in my mind. There was the one about Henrik, the Prince Consort (aka husband of the Queen) of Denmark, which mentions the scandal that erupted when it was revealed that Henrik, who is President of the Danish Dachshund Club as well as Prince Consort, ate dog when living in Vietnam as a youth. So many potential sausage dog jokes to be made!

And the one about biodynamics which revealed to me that this practice is actually a series of crackpot farming rituals invented by Rudolf Steiner, that involve burying cow horns in paddocks on full moons and stuffing deer bladders with blossoms and leaving them in the summer sun. I’ve never quite looked at my biodynamic yoghurt the same way again.

Or the one about the Port Arthur Massacre, which is both extremely long and extremely upsetting, and left me with a completely different perspective on the events of that awful day. The unadorned Wikipedia facts are in a way much more affecting than any editorial opinion or commentary you could read.

And then there is the one about trichophagia, a disorder where the sufferer compulsively eats hair (their own, or sometimes of others), creating an enormous hairball (trichobezoar) in their intestine. As Wikipedia says:

Rapunzel syndrome, an extreme form of trichobezoar in which the “tail” of the hair ball extends into the intestines, can be fatal if misdiagnosed. In some cases, surgery may be required to remove the mass; a trichobezoar weighing 4.5 kilograms (9.9 lb) was removed from the stomach of an 18-year-old woman with trichophagia.

I will let you decide whether or not you want to see what one of these trichobezoars looks like. If you do, click here. It’s pretty damn gross, but it’s also utterly amazing. You may never again be able to clean the hair out of your shower drain without thinking of that hairball lining a stomach. Bluurrrgh.

Rarity – by Karen

19 Aug

This week I’ve found myself embroiled in conflicts twice. One, a very mild conflict that I willingly went into because I needed to sort something out, and the other a completely bewildering and more serious conflict that has been thrust upon me. I don’t think of myself as particularly conflict-avoiding, but I very rarely find myself embroiled in conflicts over anything more serious than who should turn the light out. Usually there’s a way of just calmly sorting things out.

But sometimes there’s not. And my mind just tends to perseverate, every thought is hijacked, and there is absolutely no help in saying to myself, “there’s nothing you can do now”, or “all water under the bridge”, or other such sensible statements. I really hate conflict. Did I mention that I hate conflict? Hate it.

Rarity – by Tabitha

19 Aug

I have spent the last couple of months in Thailand relishing the rarity of so much time and mental space, conscientiously and assiduously enjoying it while it lasted, like everyone kept saying I should. That is something that a pregnant person seems to hear a lot: “Sleep? Enjoy that while it lasts!” “Dinner with your husband? Enjoy that while it lasts!” “An intact perineum? Enjoy that while it lasts!” Etcetera.

Then we came home, and our plane into Sydney tooled around the cliffs of the Royal National Park before landing, just to make sure we all saw exactly how much the sea glistens here, and exactly how blue the crisp winter dawn is, and exactly how startling the smogless resolution of the horizon is. I felt my eyes manually adjust, like a camera focusing, on the distance and the clarity before them. The ever-present haze of the past three years had been rubbed off the lens.

And I realised, no, this is the real rarity, getting to come home to this. Anyone can take a nice, relaxing holiday, but not everyone gets such a homecoming at the end of it.

Living in Hanoi, we met a lot of foreigners who were there kind of because they had nowhere better to be, or just couldn’t face going back home. Their homes were grey and cold, jobless, difficult. An English friend, bemoaning the weather and the monotony of England, mentioned to me that Australians didn’t know how lucky they had it, and I replied immediately that we did, or at least I did.

I’m sure there are many similarly beautiful and liveable cities in the world, and I would never even attempt to argue that Sydney is a better city than Copenhagen or Paris or Portland or wherever. But to have – to own, to possess, to be thoroughly entitled to – such a place as your home is a rare and lucky thing. No matter where I go, this (this!) is where I’ll always be coming back to. Score.

I’m currently on a rail bus between to Moss Vale, hardly the most likely place to be overcome with the kind of misty-eyed patriotism which I appear to be suffering from, but the freeway is lined with wattle trees, some sulphur-crested cockatoos just flew right past our window, and the bus driver kindly offered to hold the bus while I used the toilet at Liverpool Station. It’s a pretty great place. Australia, that is – not the toilet at Liverpool Station. Although the latter is not too bad at all, either.

Saliva – by Karen

16 Aug

Saliva last week made me think of drool, of lusting after things I don’t have. I used to spend SO MUCH TIME doing that as a teenager. The era of saliva. CDs, clothes, boys, travel – all so entirely unattainable and desperately desired.

Fortunately I don’t spend so much time on it these days, but found myself in the ridiculous position the other day of coveting someone’s front garden. The snowdrops were nodding, the jonquils were beaming, I think there were even some poppies popping up amongst the lavender. And I felt that sense of distress at not having – it was an anxious thing to behold this beautiful sunny garden because mine doesn’t look like that yet. How ridiculous.

The other day the Goulds were watching Gardening Australia again, and there was a 93 year-old called Mavis who said so many awesome things, but among the less immediately inspiring was how gardens “looking nice” was an essential thing for the community. I thought of Mavis again after my anxious moment before my neighbour’s bulbs and thought – “for the community”. For me.

You see, I read a book a while back, can’t remember the name, it was one of those things where someone writes about style and fashion, but is obviously quite intelligent and thus feels the need to justify their interest in such vacuous topics. From memory, her reasoning was that dressing well enhanced the “jollity of the nation.” What a fantastic phrase. And indeed it can.

When I see a gorgeous outfit, or garden as the case may be, my mental exercise is to consider it there in service of my jollity. I don’t need to lust after it, because it’s already mine.