What's On My Mind

Going Blue: Before, During, and After

So I dyed my hair blue last week and…I decided to write about it. I realize there’s no way to avoid making this whole thing sound like the whining of a stereotypical, angsty teen so I’ve decided to embrace it. It’s not a phase, mom! 

BEFORE:

“Why’d you dye your hair, Corine?” I’ve had my hair dyed for less than a week and pretty much everyone I know has asked. For good reason too. Up until now, the biggest change I made to my hair was growing out my bangs Freshmen year. Between then and now, I was always the girl who had dead straight asian hair, occasionally sleeping in a braid but never doing much else to it. My hair was always something I just let be.

So why change it?

The best answer I can give to that question is this: I’ve wanted to dye my hair since seventh grade. There was always something so mystical about it and as I got older, I started seeing it more and more. Beautiful pastel dyed hair seems to naturally flood my Pinterest feed, even if I’m not looking for hair styling tips. Every time I went to the salon there were those giant posters of flawless red hair or effortless ombres. The kids at school with the rainbow hair or aquamarine streaks were like walking pieces of art, standing out from the crowd in the best way possible. I’d watch them walk by in the halls and think to myself, wow wouldn’t it be nice?

There was only one problem standing in my way: I’m a chicken.

As I said above, I never bleached my hair before and the idea of getting split ends from all the chemicals is the last thing I wanted. Caring for sun damaged hair was already a pain in the ass and the extra care for colored hair never really appealed to me. I try to keep low maintenance: I don’t wear makeup or curl my hair (unless it’s a special occasion) because it’s already hard enough to get up for school in the morning. I have zero period too, because apparently sleep is against my religion or something. And then of course, is the biggest reason holding me back: what if it all goes horribly wrong? Every time I’d see pictures of beautiful colored hair, my mind would automatically flicker to frayed split ends, hair loss, and faded chlorine greenish hues. There were, obviously, a lot of reasons to not do it.

I can’t really say those reasons ever faded in my head. I was well aware of all of it, even as I sat in the salon chair watching Howie apply bleach solution to my hair. I just decided though that I wasn’t getting any younger and that if I never tried I’ll never know. (Not exactly the best logic, but what the hell.) My parents were super supportive and before I knew it, I was sitting in the salon chair with newly blonde hair, ready to go blue.

DURING:

The process is definitely something and even though I searched all over, I couldn’t find an article that went into the most obvious details of the process. If you’re like me and you never dyed your hair before, this little section is for you. Here’s my very own First Time Dying Hair: For Dummies.

Research

Figure out what you want. I used Pinterest for this part, pinning dozens of styles to a board. You’re going to need a reference, especially for color because it’s surprisingly difficult to describe a color to someone and get on the exact same page (the shade between cookie monster and indigo??). Then figure out the best salons in your area. Don’t do it yourself, especially if you’re a noob like me. Get an estimate. Then find out what the maintenance will be like, what products are best, and where you can pick up said products. And if you’re not horribly discouraged, then make an appointment and pat yourself on the back!

The Appointment

I had my appointment after school on a Wednesday, carefully planning it out so I didn’t have any homework or other obligations. (Helps to be a second semester senior heh). The timing actually worked out, since 1) they recommend you to dye your hair when it’s dirty 2) midweek appointments are usually less busy than weekends, and 3) dying your hair takes a LONG time…like 4.5 hours long.

I walked to the salon, sat down and couldn’t help but bounce in my seat. Howie gave me a little key chain of hair samples, though I’m still not sure if that hair was synthetic or real, and I got to choose a color. I ended up going with the darkest blue one on the right, showed him all the hair pics I collected on Pinterest, and explained how I wanted a ombre. He was super nice about it:)

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sort of reminds me of choosing colors for my braces…

Howie sat me down and got straight to work, grabbing a bowl of white paste from the back, a ton of tin foil sheets, and a brush. I got a black cape wrapped around me and he immediately started separating my hair with clips. Then he teased a chunk, put a sheet under it, and started painting it white like a fence. It wasn’t until he put the chemical on the first piece of hair that I realized I was actually doing this. Hah, whoops. The process to get all of painted took almost an hour and helped me realize that I have a lot more hair than I originally thought. I looked pretty sweet afterwards, like some sort of astronaut or crazy tin foil person.

Let it sit for another thirty minutes-ish. It didn’t really burn like I’ve heard it does, but I did start feeling a bit of heat on certain pieces of foil. Afterwards, we washed it out and well, that happened. I don’t think I’ll go blonde anytime soon.

Then, it came time to add the hair dye. More painting. No tin foil though. The blue was so dark it nearly looked black. Let sit for another thirty minutes and then wash. I got to try out one of those circular drying machines which I had way more fun in than I should’ve. In the meantime, I bombarded poor Howie with questions about hair care and how hair dye works. He was still nice about it though.

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Blow dry, add leave in conditioner, and voila! I have blue hair. It was freaking awesome, a dark indigo with a dozen lighter shades ranging from turquoise to electric blue to midnight in some places. I go home and annoy my family by taking a ridiculous amount of selfies. The next day at school, I get questions, looks of awe, and get to walk around like the work of art I am.

AFTER:

It’s been five days and I’m relieved to say that I don’t regret a thing. I love my hair (maybe a little too much) and part of me wonders why I never did this earlier. It turned out better expected and has been everything I’ve ever wanted and more.

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Plus my hair is fucking blue, how cool is that?

There are some learning curves, but I think I’m doing fine. There’s three things that are different though, that I figure I should point out for other noobs like me.

1. Bleaching will change your hair

Huh, yeah no shit. But this is a point worth repeating. The color treatment did make my hair drier and there are split ends. Though I’m thankful that the bleach didn’t leaving my hair feeling super straw-like. The bleach does different things depending on the hair you have, so I’d highly recommend you do some research before you bleach it for the first time.

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ahah, oh shit

On the other hand, I have noticed a bit more hair loss. Most of it happens when I try to wash or comb it. It’s concerning at first, I’m not going to lie. But detanglers have really helped to keep my hair together and allowed me to comb without ripping it out. It’s worth investing in.

2. Speaking of investing, this is an investment

If you thought the first salon appointment was all you had to invest in, think again. Dying your hair comes with buying the maintenance products, booking additional touch up appointments when your color fades, and the literally washing your money down the drain that comes with using the wrong shampoo (never again).

I may have slightly misjudged just how many different products I’d need to buy to keep my hair healthy. Of course, if you know what you’re doing, you’ll probably be better off. I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply and picked up a lot of stuffs.

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In retrospect, the must-haves in that loot pile are:

  1. Color safe shampoo
  2. Color safe conditioner (not shown)
  3. A shower cap
  4. Dry shampoo
  5. Detangler/leave-in conditioner

Of course, if you’re a hair color veteran and say that you’re doing fine with your non-color safe regular shampoo then all power to you. All I know is that the first time I tried using my regular shampoo on my scalp, I looked like I strangled a smurf with my bare hands.

Beyond the money, there’s a lot of time that goes in. I’m still a noob and so my routine is a bit all over the place. Most of the time I spend is trying new things, like dry shampoo or leave in conditioner. (Dry shampoo is so weird by the way. So weird.) Establishing a routine is definitely important, and there’ll be a learning curve if you’re like me and don’t have a routine to start with.

3. You’re not supposed to wash your hair everyday

Another no shit moment for most people out there. For me though, I’m a bit of a hair washing fanatic. When I ran in the mornings before school, I was washing my hair up to twice a day. I just couldn’t stand feeling my scalp greasy, although what I probably didn’t know at the time was that washing it so frequently is the source of all that grease. It’s a vicious cycle: dry scalps produce grease and greasy scalps want to be dry.

Not washing my hair for 48 hours, which Howie insisted was the least amount of time I could go to allow my hair to set, was the hardest part of this whole process. I slapped on a shower cap and kept my hair the same level of greasy and dirty to bed, which felt disgusting at first, but sort of worked out in the end with dry shampoo. I don’t know, it sounds nasty. But it worked out and my hair is still healthy-ish and still blue.

And that’s pretty much it. If you have questions or advice, feel free to leave it in the comments section:)

Comics

My Favorite Kind of Pen – Midweek Comic

my-favorite-pen_0000s_0007_layer-1my-favorite-pen_0000s_0006_layer-2my-favorite-pen_0000s_0005_layer-3my-favorite-pen_0000s_0004_layer-13my-favorite-pen_0000s_0003_layer-6my-favorite-pen_0000s_0002_layer-9my-favorite-pen_0000s_0001_layer-12my-favorite-pen_0000s_0000_layer-11

Writing Tips

Three Things I Learned Finishing My Third Draft

A few days ago, I finished my third draft. I printed out all the pages, shoved them into a binder, and the first thing I did was drop it. On purpose. I wanted to hear that sound, that thud that meant something that had weighed on my mind for the last four years had actual, physical weight. And my god, was that a satisfying thud.

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what a rollercoaster…

That binder, with its 271 pages and 77,283 words on those pages contains the third draft of Under the Gold Paint, a novel I started my freshman year. My “shrink” draft as I call it, encompassed the grand task of cutting down 150,000 words of the second draft in half and rewriting everything. I started right after Christmas 2016 and finished on Tuesday February 7th, 2017. In those few months, I wrote almost every day (I wrote thousands of words while on my trip to China and on the plane over winter break) and every day after school. Compared to the four months it took to write my second draft that previous summer and nearly three years it took to write the first before that, I feel almost as though I’d gotten off a roller coaster: a little nauseous, breathless, but dying to do it all again.

All in all, both my story and who I am as a writer grew a hell of a lot in the process too. Here’s what I picked up on, for not just this draft but all the drafts of this project so far:

1. Act in Spite of Doubt

To be perfectly honest, I never thought I’d get to this point. There were dozens of times I sat there staring at a blank page or the list of chapters I had to rewrite and just thought, “Goddammit, none of this is working.” I believed that nothing I did was original or “decent writing” and seriously considered throwing away my manuscript and starting over.

I could say those were dark times and that I pulled through and that now everything’s handy dandy, but frankly I’d be lying. Those thoughts still plague me, each and every time I open up my laptop. That voice is still whispering in my ear from a dark corner of my brain and to this day, I still wonder if my story will ever be good enough for the world to see. It’s one of many reasons I took three whole years to pound out my first draft, the reason behind my vicious cycle of writing, hating it, and throwing it all away.

As someone who rewrote her novel a solid four times before completing a first draft– we’re talking entire chunks of manuscript ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 words down the drain each time– all I ask is that you take one thing out of this post:

To finish a draft, or do anything outside your comfort zone for that matter, you will have to act in spite of doubt.

What the hell does that mean?

Accept that the fear you have simply means you’re trying something new. That you’re stretching yourself and you’ll grow as a result. Know that even if you do suck, everyone has to start somewhere and the only way you’ll know how good you can be is if you continue to try. Accept that it’s okay to be scared out of your fucking mind. And then do it anyway.

Don’t just lie down. Don’t just hate yourself. Find that inner passion that brought you to the computer in the first place and kindle that fire. Refuse to give into that fear.

It won’t happen right away. Sometimes you’ve got to hit rock bottom. Sometimes you have to write an entire draft only to realize that you moved backwards instead of forwards. You might need to cry. A lot. But at some point, you’ll be ready to say “Fuck it, I’m doing this anyway”, climb over those barriers, and get that shit done.

2. There is No Such Thing as Originality

There’s nothing a writer fears more than answering the question “What’s your novel about” with a long-winded explanation only to receive a “Oh! So it’s basically ___ right?” in return.

My god. I ran into this so many times. I used to be obsessed with originality. I felt obligated to come up with something different so I didn’t feel as though I was copying. But guess what? ORIGINALITY DOESN’T EXIST HAHAHA *cries*.

Chasing pure original thought is like chasing a unicorn. It probably exists in a distant magical forest, but the chances you’ll find it are ridiculously low.

The good thing is though, you can BS your way to it. Take your favorite ideas and concepts and shove them into a blender. Put a twist on a classic story. Use cookie-cutter tropes and make delicious cookies that audiences will love. The truth is, although most ideas have already been done before, none of them have been done by you.

I think you get the point. I’m going to keep this portion a bit shorter. You can read a longer post that I wrote two years ago about it here.

3. You Will Need to Forge Your Writing Routine Out of the Magma of Mount Doom…er Practice

Maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but you get the point. Finding what clicks and what doesn’t if you’re a noob like me feels a lot like you’re Gollum searching for his missing ring after that stupid hobitss stole it from you in the dark. You know you need it, you know someone else probably has it, but it’s really hard to tell your precious from a shiny rock.

But why the hell do you even need a routine or style? Writing should be simple. Sit at a laptop, open a word doc and just start to write. And for some, it really is that easy.

But for me at least, I just ended up with a lot of wasted time and “writer’s block”. My writing routine was inefficient to say at the least and I did more back-tracking in the beginning thanks to my lack of a set style.

I can further narrow down the source of my struggle to three things: 1) I didn’t know if I was a plotter or pantser 2) I never decided on a set point of view and 3) I didn’t have a set schedule

For starters, the great debate between plotter or pantser. A plotter is someone who plans out everything before they even set a pen on the paper. A pantser is someone who just sort of plays it as they go, coming up with plot as they see the need to. I thought I was a plotter, and as it turns out, I’m a heavy pantser.

What does it matter, you ask?

Well if you’re like me, mistaking what you are can lead to some major backtracking. For the longest time, I was dead certain I was a plotter. It’s just who I am, Miss To-Do-List and Miss Spreadsheet who always has a Google Calendar event ready for anything that needs to be planned. As expected, I would make intricate spreadsheets outlining details of plot thought down to the very item of food my character was ordering at a restaurant. Straightforward, right?

But when it came to actually writing it, something wouldn’t flow and I’d change it. And then, that loose string undid several other loose strings. Before I knew it I had my plot all scrambled and knotted and I had to go back and rewrite the whole beginning.

After constantly starting over, I realized loose outlines worked better for me. My outlines had only five major plot points for me to pay attention to in the beginning. In between was an empty canvas for me to work with, with no set road map. I could take the detours and turns as I wanted and still meet my destination. I filled in my outline as I went and slowly I “discovered” my story with every chapter.

I’m a pantser. Go figures.

So bottom line of this, find your plotting style and you’ll save a lot of time. You can do some blind poking around like I did until you figure it out, or just read this awesome article by the Write Practice.

Here’s another thing you can do to save time: find a point of view and stick with it. The biggest flaw to fix from my second draft was my inability to pick a point of view. I would jump from first to third, have two main characters narrating and then decide on having just one. Most of my written chapters were unusable as a result.

Don’t be me. Pick.

But how do you choose?

Well really it depends on your story and what you’re comfortable with. First person POV makes it easier to really get to know one character and limits the scope to just one person, allowing for more surprise and mystery. The problem? Some people find it too limiting.

Third person POV makes it easier to bounce from character to character and get a more outsider perspective. The problem with this? It’s easy to resort to head jumping, which just confuses readers.

Somehow you’ll need to find a happy medium. Write a few thousand words in either and find which one suits you better. If you have an idea of where your story’s headed, try and figure out which one best conveys it. Bottom line is, pick one and stick with it. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Last but not least, set a writing schedule. The biggest complaint for most things is that there’s simply not enough time in the day. As a student, athlete, executive producer for my school’s newscast and someone that’s stressed about college and college apps almost every single day, I couldn’t agree with that statement more.

But somehow, you have to schedule in time to work on your book, even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day. That consistency is what makes ideas flow naturally and actually puts you leagues closer to finishing that draft.

You may need to sacrifice something, time sleeping or watching television or checking Facebook, but it’s worth the work. I’m not going to lie, writing a book is a lot of work but it’s worth it, trust me.