I haven’t significantly cut my long brown hair since the Saturday before the bar exam, July 2011. On that day, my hairdresser Allegra told me what a big haircut can mean. Her mother practices Buddhism, and believes the cutting of hair is a release for the whole body: As our bodies process stress and worry, those feelings grow out of our skin into our hair, hanging around with us each day. When we’ve been walking through life wearing our past stresses and worries long enough, when we’re ready for a change in our lives and our souls, cutting off our hair removes the residue of that long battle and helps us to enter into that new stage.
I have been to a few yoga classes this month, but I don’t know anything about Buddhism so I cannot tell you whether any of that is true. I’m not entirely sure any Buddhists out there would read this and identify with that statement in any way. It could be completely misunderstood or misconstrued by me during a bar exam-induced frenzy. But, I’m a believer in the power of a good haircut and let me tell you why: After three years of law school, three months of intense studying, and one significant haircut, I passed the bar exam with no real worry of failure and entered into a new stage of life.
That new stage, which is now my old stage, was rocky and beautiful. I made some deep and lasting friendships, learned a lot, and became much more grounded in who I am professionally and personally. But it was hard. It’s been almost three years now since that last big haircut, and there were a few months in there where I only went to work because I didn’t want to pay a fine for departing before my fellowship was complete, and where I only went to parties when I couldn’t think of a socially acceptable excuse to break the commitment. There were absolutely some days where the veil I wore was too thin, and my actual heartbreak or frustration was clearly visible to those who I like to pretend cannot see the dark edges of my humanity. And, I stuck my foot boldly into my mouth more times than I would like to remember. (I do continue to remember these moments, which is perhaps the worst part of this whole thing called living. Each time I say something horribly ill-timed or inappropriate or unthinking I remember it. Even years later it comes back to me in a disappointing memory which no haircut has as of yet been able to erase.)
Over the last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about getting a serious cut. My hair was just too long, and it was starting to get in the way of things. All of those feelings and memories just didn’t fit onto my shoulders along with the sweater and scarf and coat and hood necessary to survive this winter. I never felt comfortable with my hair sticking out from under a hat and pointing every which way while I walked down Michigan Avenue toward my new office in my new city. In my apartment my hair was straight and lovely, but each time I headed outside toward something new the wind would blow it into tangles and knots. It was time to let go of the baggage and free up some room for warmth and possibility.
I thought that my twenty-eighth birthday would be the time for the big cut, but beginning the day we returned from Las Vegas and until just a few days ago I was so sick I could barely leave the apartment, much less choose a hairstyle and find a stylist. I kept delaying the cut, although I knew how much I wanted it and how ready I was for the change.
This past week, as my cough reduced and my health improved, I found a stylist on Yelp.com and made the appointment. I didn’t realize at the time that my cut was scheduled for the second day of the Chinese New Year celebration, considered to be the first day of the new year, but how perfectly timed it was. As many celebrate the new year by cleaning house to sweep away ill-fortune and make room for good luck (thank you, Wikipedia), I too am chopping off the last three years and starting fresh.
I don’t have a picture for you now. This change wasn’t just about fashion or beauty, it was about being more fully alive, about diving in and seeing what would happen. And so before returning to the surface, I wanted to take the time to share this process. But don’t worry, glamour shots will be headed your way soon. Happy New Year, again. Let’s do something awesome this year.
1. I PASSED THE BAR! I mean, in case you were wondering, after all that stressing out and second guessing and worrying, I’m a little happy. And by a little happy, I mean INCREDIBLY RELIEVED. Because let’s be honest, if I’d failed I would have been blog-silent until the results of the FEBRUARY bar exam came out, which would kind of kill the community we’ve all built here.
2. I bought a china cabinet! And it is being delivered on Thursday, and I am totally excited. I’ve been wanting a new table, chairs, and china cabinet ever since the afternoon after I bought my original table and chairs from IKEA with my first law school roommate. Seriously, that is three years of longing and finally… it is almost finished. And if you are out there saying who seriously wishes for furniture for three years when she could be wishing for prince charming or travels through Europe or a Mercedes, then listen here: I already have prince charming and a 1998 Honda, and if I was being totally honest I would tell you that I’d usually rather stay at home and make dinner than go out to a fancy restaurant and live a ritzy important life.
3. We moved our living room shelves into our kitchen, hung our diplomas on the bedroom wall, and have been really settling into our little tiny home. While part of me would love a larger place, right now this is the perfect size for us and for our savings accounts, which we are very responsibly trying to grow. I’m falling more in love with our apartment every day.
4. I’m starting to do more important things at work. I feel like I’m really doing the kind of work I want to be doing (most of the time), and I’m excited to start setting up training and developmental assignments to bring some serious skills to our office.
5. I’m digging my Bible study. I worry that I am too critical of faith and faith-statements and that they might not want to keep me around for too long, but it is very good to be back in the circle of women of faith. And I’m pretty comfortable being the black-sheep-liberal in the room, since I grew up in Tennessee. :)
Tonight I’m making orzo for dinner because it is easy to chew — tomorrow I’m heading to the oral surgeon because I’m having tooth pain and probably need my wisdom teeth out. . . pronto. But maybe it’s only something easy, like a root canal?
- Weighing the Value of a Law Degree (nytimes.com)
After taking the bar exam in July, I put it out of my mind. I haven’t been fretting about whether or not I passed, or really even thinking about it at all. When people ask, I just say that you never know, and I’d rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed so I’m not worrying about what I can’t control. But, I still worry. I think everyone worries. As I see my friends pass their bars (CONGRATULATIONS EVERYONE!!!) I worry that I might be the only one who is “left behind.”
To be honest, before this week I was more concerned about my personal recommendations all getting in and being a-o-kay than I was about my test scores. I have a weird calm in testing situations: I walk into the room, do what I do, and then leave without giving it a second thought. You can’t go back in time — you can’t study more or change your answers after the test is over — so why worry?
But, I finished my character assessment as of Tuesday this week [THANK YOU TO ALL OF MY RECOMMENDERS WHO MAY OR MAY NOT BE FOLLOWING MY BLOG!] and now I’m just waiting for another month or so for results. I still don’t really worry about it, since my awesome federal policy job will not be affected by my bar status in the short-term. But, my potential OGC rotation will change, as will my ability to feel awesome about myself, at least for a month or two. I mean, some pretty fantastic people have had to re-take the bar exam in their respective states, but here’s the thing about that: they weren’t really that awesome at the time they failed the bar. Instead, they were awesome later on in life, after they recovered from the embarrassment and unpleasantness of failure and usually on the dime of their super rich preppy families. So, having the potential to be awesome in the future really won’t lessen the impact of not being awesome in the moment, will it? No, not at all.
And also, I am not a Kennedy. My parents do not have a home in Cape Cod where I can hole up and study over the holidays.
And still, I honestly feel pretty confident about my exam answers [except for this one problem that is still driving me crazy if I let myself think about it]. I just feel guilty about feeling confident, and then tell myself that if I feel confident and then fail it will be worse than if I am nervous and insecure and fail. Perhaps my biggest fear is being overly confident? Either way, I’m unsure about how to handle unknowns. So I just ignore it. I don’t even remember what day the results are going to be posted, although I’m pretty sure the State of Maryland will send me multiple emails with ALL CAPS SUBJECT LINES so I think that something has gone terribly wrong to remind me of the upcoming dooms-day.
This week I had a dream where I passed the bar, but only by five points, and that it made me really sad. But I was dreaming and not being all that logical, so I probably missed the part where passing by one point is the same as passing by a million points. So, America, let’s keep our fingers crossed.
As I write this, we are waiting in the Aruban airport for our flight to Atlanta, about to begin our journey home. Going through security and customs was an hour-and-a-half-long ordeal, so thankfully we arrived early enough to sail smoothly through and reach our gate about forty-five minutes early. I am craving diet coke, sbarro, and a trashy magazine, but here the diet coke is $4.00, the pizza is $6.50, and last month‘s Redbook is $9.50. Crazy, right? So we are going to order something on the plane. Which typically is ridiculously over-priced, but here is a great deal.
Looking back, there were a lot of sites and activities that we wished we had seen/done, but we are so glad we did not include them in our schedule. Honestly, I think that this past week I have been more relaxed than I have been in four or five years. It is amazing, and while I know that travel photos are a little overkill on the blog this week, this is what the blog is all about: reminding me that as much as I love to be productive and get to work, it is equally important to carve out some time to relax with the people you love, regenerate your brain cells, and remember how to have fun.
I will leave you with a few last photos from “Aruba, one happy island.”
Ummm… if you do this then you rock my world. My friends and I totally do this, but we generally make awkward poses so that the true subject of the photo is not as obvious when the photo is taken – H is not really up on the fake-posing, so there were TONS more prime photo opportunities that were missed due to proximity and obviousness (I mean, can you really turn your back to the ocean and take a photo of a dumpster so you can get the speedo that the old man is wearing?
Oh, and one more thing: there are tons of speedos in Aruba but, lucky for me, the speedos typically COME IN PAIRS, thus multiplying the speedo-spotting opportunities.
P.S. If you find this crude or offensive, then you are probably really boring or you probably wear a speedo. If you find this a bit immature, then you are probably right.
1 South Georgia Speedo! (very rare)
2 Sitting-Down Speedo
3 Accidentally too zoomed in speedo
4 Speedo coming out of the water!
5 Up Close on the Pirate Ship Speedo
7 Speedo with a lady.
8 For the reluctant speedo man, the speedo shorts!
Well, I know I mentioned this before, but holy cow! There are flamingos living on our beach island and they are very friendly. Perhaps a little TOO friendly? Who knows. But today, I fed them OUT OF MY HAND and it was scary as bananas.
Flamingos have these weird yellow eyes that reach into your soul and steal your ability to cry or something like that – seriously, they are so BEAUTIFUL but if you look into their eyes you kind of want to die.
And yes, I know that I look 80% grandma in this photo, but I had some serious sunburn going on and we didn’t want to waste our day indoors. Also, sun protection is sexy.
H fed the flamingos too! But he wasn’t scared (probably because I went first) and I had time to get some more flattering photos of him. And if you look very closely, you will see my JCrew flip flops which are no longer in pristine condition.
In other news, we went on a “nature walk” on our island that was kind of a flop. It was mostly just really hot. But we did see lots of plants that look exactly the same, very large hermit crabs just walking around, and our favorite bright blue lizards. Plus birds, but birds are boring.
We had pizza hut pizza for dinner last night, and even though I made some serious jokes about H wanting to get it, it was actually really delicious and very inexpensive (only $11 for dinner for both of us!). Then, we went to the casino and played our lucky machine and we won back the $20 that we lost last night when we went to meet friends on the other end of the island (their casino was so unlucky!) plus the $7 we put into the machine, making our net casino profits for the week a whopping $0.25! BUT, that will be increasing later tonight.
Well, my legs are so sunburned it hurts to walk, so I am taking this morning to put in a few hours on my contract work and update the blog. But, since I am way too happy and relaxed to have read serious articles, we’ll do a lighthearted version of This Week’s Reads.
And also, I realize now that I may not have been doing this weekly, but so what. It is my blog and I’ll do whatever I want. J.K. Last week was the bar exam, so I just didn’t do anything. But I’ll try to be more stable from here on out.
- Orangette’s procrastination + love of writing that, with a few tweaks, might also have been written by me.
- What I will be making when I get home and start working on my Pinkbriefcase Tours DC two-week blog-a-thon.
- Perhaps the greatest idea for baking ever — cupcakes in a jar.
- Finally, my friend Lynn jumped out of an airplane on purpose! Check it out.
Okay, back to work until H is awake and we try to find