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This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Swimming, Black Women and the Hair Thing

Swimming has caused me a problem that I hadn't really thought about – fuzzy edges. In the parlance of Black hair care, this would be the hair at the hair line. It grows in fastest and is often the least chemically processed and unruly. I hadn't thought about the problems with re-touching my relaxed hair and contact with chlorine in a pool when I started swimming. I swim three times a week (ideally), so there was just no time for me to re-touch my hair when it wouldn't be dangerously exposed to pool chemicals. No matter how well fitting the swimming cap is, my hair still gets wet at my forehead and the nape of my neck. It was a big problem with my first cap. It just couldn't contain all that hair. The picture to the left isn't as wild as it can get. It's damp from the pool. It's about a quarter Chaka Kahn. When it's in the full Chaka, my cousin swears I have three heads of hair on one scalp. I had to get a new one for long hair to contain it all (Note my cool mirrored goggles. They kinda scale the seniors in the pool). Ultimately, I decided that now was the time to just stop the practice of chemically relaxing altogether and grow my hair out au natural. But that left the problem of the fuzzy edges.

Is this really a thing, you wonder. Indeed, it really is. I forgot my black beret one morning in a rush for my bus. I have my hair pulled back in a French braid and neatly pinned, but I don't use anything on my hairline as hair products will make my swim cap slip, and I end up washing my hair in the shower after swimming anyway. The driver, a lovely Black woman around about my age, actually quietly asked me if I was feeling poorly. She noted that I usually have my act together leaving the house, and those edges made her wonder. I told her I forgot my hat en route to swimming and allayed her worries.

The Bus Driver Lady's concerns made me realize that I was in need of a routine that would tame my hair while keeping from becoming a part of pool chemical induced superhero origin story. Of course, the internet had a lot of information – especially Youtube. Just look up natural hair care and a plethora of videos pop up for every situation. It seems transitioning from chemically treated hair to natural hair is a thing amongst Black women. Thus, there was a lot of advice to be had on the subject. There was a mind boggling amount of advice on the subject and a cottage industry on specific hair care products for the transition. Fortunately, I have enough stuff in my cabinet to make do. I started last week making sure my hair was properly moisturized and conditioned from the roots to the tips. My edges are no longer unruly. I like the feel of my hair, and Jon likes the way it looks as well. This could be a really good thing.

As for the the swimming itself, I am reaching the point where it's difficult to cope with the goings on during the open pool time. I found that the later sessions have lanes in the pool. And there is a slow lane for swimmers who aren't very strong. They'll even allow me to wear the float belt in the slow lane. The later start would have other advantages for me as it is really difficult for me to get out of the house in the morning on some days. I'm now doing 6 or 7 laps routinely. I'd do more, but navigating the bobbing seniors eats up time. I sure can't work on speed with all those people in the way. So, it's a new time for me.

The next big hurdle for me is buying a new swim suit. Mine is getting to be too loose as I lose weight and tone up. Still, I hate buying such garments. The mirrors in a dressing room are not my friend. And this will be a lot of exposure. But it must be done. I don't want the current one to slip off in front of the lifeguard. He's very nice and should not be traumatized.

Stay tuned.  

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