HELP! MY HAIR IS FALLING OUT.

 

And not for the first time. This is the third time and I know that it is now a permanent loss.

The first time this happened, I was living in Hong Kong. My hair was naturally brown but I had been a blonde for a long time. When a fancy new hair salon opened in Kowloon I just had to try it. At that time Asians and Blacks were not able to straighten or dye their hair as they do today. The most daring could, at best, change their black hair to a coppery brown. I was aware that Asian hair is a lot coarser than Caucasian hair but this thought eluded me when I checked into the Shisheido Salon on Nathan Road.

After thirty minutes of being capped with blue gunk I became anxious and called to the prettily uniformed stylist to wash it out. Even though I spoke a smattering of Japanese and this girl spoke a smattering of English, I could not communicate my sense of urgency. Finally, and too late, she led me to the wash basin to shampoo the stuff out. Watching my hair float down the drain was devastating.

Baldness has not enhanced any entertainer’s stage presence…except, maybe, the Irish singer, Sinead O’Connor. I lost my complacency but no-one seemed to share my distress at the result of their service. Swaddled in head scarves, I hired a lawyer to sue them but it was a huge hassle. Finally we agreed that the salon would pay for the wig that I was forced to wear for the next six months. To an energetic dancer who tosses her head while performing, a wig was a less than desirable solution.

Cosmeticians have learned a thing or two since then and there are now millions of blonde, big-busted, Japanese girls with surgically altered eyes roaming the globe. I don’t see any Caucasion women having their breasts removed and their eyes slanted so I blame this trend all on those high-flying, cashed-up Japanese men who frequent the many Japanese clubs along the Ginza. The big money for foreign performers has dwindled, much to the delight of the Dance hostesses who always hated us. And the added bonus for the drooling patrons is that whereas with the foreigners it was “Look but don’t touch” the hostesses have never been averse to a touch or two… even though previously there was not much to touch.

Many years later, after I had sewn my wild oats and settled down to motherhood, I lost my hair for a second time. This time it was due to cancer. I was prepared for my still blonde locks to fall out after chemo. I was not prepared for it to fall out quite so soon – within a week of my first dose, in fact. I well remember the day I climbed out of my car after visiting the grocery store. Huge clumps hair stuck to the head rest, giving me a nasty jolt. Upset, I tugged on the remaining hair and yanked out another handful or two. There was only one thing to do. I ran inside and chopped the remainder off as fast as possible. If it had to go – I wanted to be in control.

So again my hair grew back but it was never the same. Whereas it used to be thick, it was now thin, white and curly. Over time the curls disappeared as the last remnants of chemo left my body but the volume never came back. My mother used to admonish “It’s all the damage you did by dying your hair for years.” She may have been partly right but I never would agree. She had been against me doing anything as immoral as dying my hair from the time I first started while very young.

And now many more years later still, I am stuck with this hateful thin hair. This is a natural part of aging, I know. But I am a vain woman and I fight aging tooth and nail. Thankfully, so far God has been good to me in this battle and I am remarkably free of many aging signs and ailments.

Some people tell me that I must grow old gracefully but I think that is all a load of bull. I don’t consider vanity a bad trait and I find it synonymous with pride. Not everyone uses Botox or pays $300 for a jar of face cream but I say, ‘Why not?’ Most have their teeth capped and/or whitened and I see no difference.

So now, here is the dilemma; as I am a vain woman and my hair is not going to grow back this time, what is the answer? I have always worn hats almost daily. That is not a cover-up. I love hats. But now, apart from a fashion statement, they also hide the fact that my hair is thin. I never lie about my age but I DON’T want to look my age. Judge me if you will!

Wigs are an alternative but they are hot in summer and itch the skin. I don’t do as much head tossing these days but even so, if I accidentally drank too much, there is the possibility one could fly off. These things always happen at the most inopportune moments, don’t they?

Well I don’t lie awake at night worrying about this but I am open to answers. Got any?

Advertisements

SHOULD I OR SHOULDN’T I?

I’m talking about whether I should write a second sequel, or not, to Goodbye Junie Moon.

Several readers have contacted me via Facebook and asked me ‘What happened next?’

I feel as if I have left some of them hanging as I never went on to talk about life with the adopted children. I ended where they started coming. There were two reasons for this.

1st. I was considering their privacy. However, that is not much of an issue as I use a pen name on my books.

2nd. It was far from easy and I do not want to discourage anyone from adopting the ‘older child’. They need homes even more than the infants and yet there are many people willing to take the babies and infants.

However, I have started considering it and I’ve even gone so far as to write a prologue. This leaves me with more questions. For one thing, both Goodbye Junie Moon and Junie Moon Rising read more like a novel. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. They move along at a pretty smart pace and include some action and drama.

Once Junie Moon became a mother to so many children, the parties stopped. And so did the action…other than the normal dramas of a different kind; those associated with raising emotionally injured children.

I realized I did not want to write a chronologically continuous story such as – 1st so-and-so arrived and then came , blah, blah, blah.

If I write it at all, I want it to be in the form of random vignettes interspersed with initial perceptions, leading to philosophical conclusions. This won’t necessarily hold the reader’s attention because the book could be opened and read at any spot. Consequently I would keep it short and hopefully, sweet.

As I waver back and forth on this decision, I would appreciate some input from others – especially other authors. I will also bring up the subject at my next Writer’s Group meeting.

To give you some idea of my tentative direction at this moment, I shall include the prologue in this post;

 

PROLOGUE.

Breeeeepp, breeeepp, breeeepp! I tried shutting out the sound. Still it continued, somewhere in the background, like a sticky fly that annoys you on a hot summer’s day. I was at peace; warm, restful, mellow. Breeepp, breep, breeep, the shrill sound persisted, dragging me reluctantly back to life.

The room was pitch black. Groggily, I reached for the phone while trying to remember who I was, where I was. Phone calls late at night were a no-no. My last one occurred at 3 am one unforgettable morning when my mother phoned to tell me that Russell, my brother, had killed himself.

The digital clock blinked at me in the darkness. Two a.m.! I lifted the receiver with trembling hands.

“Hu…hullo?” I quavered.

“You will pay for this, you bitch,” an unfamiliar screeched over the phone. “And if he dies it’s all your fault.”

Who was this nut? If who dies?

“You must have the wrong number.” I answered, now fully awake.

“Are you Jose’s mother?” The female voice was hysterically loud. I pulled the receiver away from my ear.

“Well…yes.”

“There’s no wrong number,” the words fell in incoherent gasps, “And when I hang up here I’m calling the police.”

This was ridiculous. “Lady, whoever you are, I haven’t a clue what you are talking about.”

“David…David my son. He slept at your house last night. You were supposed to watch him and now he’s in emergency, dying… not breathing.” The words gushed out in a sob.

David? That rang a bell. Wasn’t he the school mate who came home with Jose yesterday? A polite boy…he made a good impression on me. But what was this hysterical woman talking about? I made them stop playing Pac-man and go to bed at 11 pm, after they finished the pizza.

“He and Jose are downstairs sleeping,” I answered as calmly as I could. “Is this some kind of a sick joke?”

She spluttered into the phone and released a string of expletives.

“….you fucking dumb bitch…he’s here in the Good Sam, fighting for his life. He’s got alcohol poisoning after chug-a-lugging a bottle of scotch. Where the hell were you?”

The Good Samaritan was the local hospital in Puyallup where we lived, on the outskirts of Seattle.

I still couldn’t comprehend what the woman was saying. We never kept scotch in our house and the boys hadn’t even had any beer. Jose was sixteen and my husband had told him he couldn’t drink beer until he turned eighteen. We thought we were being pretty liberal with that rule as twenty one was the legal  drinking age in the USA. It was a compromise of course. My husband was American but I was Australian and eighteen was the legal drinking age in Australia. I always thought Americans were crazy – sending their young men to war to possibly die at eighteen but not allowing them to drink.

Trying to make sense of this whole, confusing turn of events, I answered, “I’m running downstairs to the boy’s room now. I’ll call you back at Good Sam’s emergency in a few minutes.” I hung up before she could abuse me again.

Jose was the eldest of my six adopted children. When I adopted him and brought him from Columbia, he was thirteen years old. Raising him hadn’t been trouble free. Prior to being adopted he had lived in an orphanage where he gained advantage by using both charm and lies. He could charm people easily, being handsome and quick with compliments. He was always obliging, quick to carry the ladies parcels and so on. I didn’t blame him for that. In his situation, he had to survive as best he could. However, the lies I had a little more trouble with. There were occasions when I smelled marihuana and alcohol on his breath but I was yet to find any in his room.

I was thinking of these things as I entered the downstairs hallway to his room. In the darkness I smelled an unpleasant sourness. I switched on the light, revealing the source of the odour. Vomit lay in puddles and splattered the walls. Holding my breath, I sidestepped it and opened the door. Jose was asleep, fully clothed, on top of the blankets. When last I saw him, he had been in his pyjamas, under the blankets. David was not in either bunk. Now I was alarmed. I shook Jose roughly while calling his name.  He was dead to the world. I tried again before going to the kitchen and filling a glass with water. Back in the bedroom again, I threw the water in his face. He didn’t even stir. Worried now, I checked his pulse and his breathing. He was okay – just deeply, drunkenly, passed out.

Angrily, I made my way back to the kitchen, lifted the wall phone and called Good Sam. Five minutes later I had David’s distraught mother back on the phone.

“How is David?” I asked. “Any improvement?”

“As if you care,” she spat “but thank God he is breathing at last.” She inhaled noisily. “We have to wait to see if there is any brain damage…you…you neglectful… bad, bad person.”

I sighed heavily. “Look, I could hardly stay up all night watching over them as they sleep. I’m not a robot. But please…tell me what happened. Jose is passed out so I know nothing.”

“Apparently, while you were not paying attention, they went to a party at another teen’s house. The parents were away and when the noise got too loud, the neighbors called the police. Thank God they did. The police found David unconscious and called an ambulance. If he survives, it’s no thanks to you.” She hung up.

There was no sleep for me the remainder of the night. I sat at the kitchen table nursing innumerable cups of tea and thinking about my situation. Had Doug and I made a mistake by adopting so many children? There were times when I thought we had.

It wouldn’t be so bad if Doug’s work didn’t take him away from home, but as a ship’s captain, he was gone half the time and I was left in the role of a single mom. None of the children were babies when we took them and the six of them carried deep emotional scars to varying degrees. Each one had experienced horrors that no child should. The adoption agencies had never warned us of some of the problems we were inheriting. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and considered they may not have known, or wanted to know, the full stories. Our Korean son, Choi, whom we adopted as a healthy, thirteen year old boy, had barely unpacked when we had to rush him to hospital. Two operations later and we had saved his life. The doctors said his heart would have killed him before he turned sixteen.

My heart had been filled with love and a desire to help some of the world’s most needy. You might well call me naive. Good intentions are not always enough and I had unknowingly been unprepared for the problems that I encountered. It would take all my strength and resilience to succeed in the job that I was determined to finish.

 

If you can’t feed a hundred people then feed just one.

Mother Teresa.

THE NEXT BIG THING BLOG MAKES A STOP HERE.

Thanks to Lynn Schneider, author of Perigree Moon for tagging me in this Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Lynn’s book is available from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/Perigee-Moon-ebook/dp/B0083LLUQQ/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1358370425&sr=1-1

The following is a partial review from her beautifully written book;
” I loved this story about relationships and how people manage their problems–very insightful. The characters draw you in, the writing flows beautifully, the plot is engaging. I can’t ask for anything more from a novel. Do yourself a favor and read this one. ”

Because Lynn has tagged me in this blog hop I am required to answer the following ten questions;

1. What is the title of your book(s) ?
A. My current book is called Goodbye Junie Moon. A soon to be published sequel is titled Finding Junie Moon.

2. Where did the idea for the book(s) come from?
A. From an earlier book which I co-authored with Robin Moore (author of The French Connection). He and I wrote The Khaki Mafia. We called it ‘faction’ – fiction based on a true story. I wrote my memoirs because I wanted to write the whole truth behind The Khaki Mafia.

3. What is the genre of the book?
A. Memoir.

4. What actors would you choose to play the characters in a movie rendition?
A. I would choose Jessica Biele, wife of Justin Timberlake. I think she is a terrific actor.

5. What is the best one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A. A brutally honest look at one woman’s survival in an action packed, occasionally dangerous, life.

6. Will your book be self published or represented by an agent/publisher?
A. ‘Back In the day’ I’ve been published by Crown and Avon but I now self publish. It is much faster.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
A. The first draft took almost two years but that went on and on for about four years. Initially the story ran to almost a thousand pages. Readers no longer make time to read such lengthy books unless James Mitchener’s name is on the cover. I cut the book in halves and also eliminated many chapters. Both books are now about three hundred pages long. Two books work better as there was a huge transition at the place where Goodbye Junie Moon ended.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
A. I don’t know that answer. My life has been so different. It is a story of courage and survival. There are other stories out there with these themes. Many of us have overcome challenges but our challenges were not the same.

9. Who or what inspired you to write the book?
A. A combination of fate and circumstances!

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
A. As one reviewer said, Goodbye Junie Moon encourages all women to be unafraid of stepping out of their comfort zone.

Now, as part of this blog hop I must tag another blogger/author and I tag Clancy Tucker. Clancy is a writer, photographer, poet, blogger and human rights activist. He posts daily on his popular and outstanding blog site. I am so impressed with his blog that next week, although his questions and answers will be posted on his own blog, I am also going to post them here. I know you will find them interesting.http://clancytucker.blogspot.com.au/

%d bloggers like this: