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Before and After

Pink hair and literary flair

By RosePublished 5 months ago 5 min read
Before and After
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

I’m sitting in a hairdresser’s chair, my arms poking out of the plastic sheath I’ve been given as protection from the bleach that coats my soon to be not-brown locks. My scalp is tingling and my nose is filled with the sour, astringent scent of chemicals. I have three choices of what to do while I wait:

1. Stare and stare and stare at myself in the mirror.

2. Waste time and cellular data on my phone.

3. Write.

I brought my iPad with me specifically so that I could get some writing done while I undergo my transformation, but I’m embarrassed to admit how difficult it is to make myself start. Nonetheless, I’ve already checked Tumblr three times and my email twice. I should write. I really should write.

Beginning is the hardest part.

The thing is, whenever I’m in a position where I can’t write, I’m spinning stories and essays in my head. Even when I’m teaching classes, there’s a tiny corner of my mind mapping out an essay or ten, in the same way that a computer is constantly running a dozen other programs in the background of whatever task you’ve set it to.

I used to be adept at filling pages. Lately, I’ve been overcome with inertia, or maybe just social media addiction. I make excuses. I recently moved to a new country, and my job keeps me crazy busy. I need mental down time! Even so, the hours that I spend each day watching YouTube videos on topics I’m not even interested in seem more like a burden than a rest.

Something has to change, and that something isn’t just my hair.

I started vocal in August of 2021, because I wanted to expand my writing repertoire. I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to share my work rather than tossing words out into a lonely document to collect dust. I’ve been an avid fan fic writer since middle school for this reason. I hoped that Vocal would help me in producing work that was more adult, more original, and possibly even verging on marketable.

I’m embarrassed to say that I haven’t utilized the platform as much as I’d initially planned. That’s not to say that I’m not proud of some of my writing here. I was a runner up in the Dad’s Are No Joke challenge, and an article I recently wrote about moving to Poland was featured on Vocal’s front page. My article about my time in the fat acceptance movement and how I reconcile that with the weight loss journey I’m currently on has been shared by a few online content creators that I enjoy. I poured my heart (and more than a few tears) into my first vocal article, about the misconceptions people have about Wuhan, China, the city that I lived in for 11 years.

What I’ve been missing is consistency, and that’s what I want to develop going into 2024. To accomplish that, I need to make some resolutions and stick to them. Sure, New Years Eve is almost a month in the past, but it’s not as though that day is imbued with a magic that January twenty-fifth is missing. Choosing to get my shit together is something that I can and must do today.

So, here are my resolutions:

1. I will write something at least once a week. Tuesdays will be for creating my rough drafts, and Thursdays will be for editing.

2. I’ll worry more about output and habit formation than perfection.

3. Instead of being a passive social media consumer, I’ll use social media to promote my Vocal writing and grow my audience.

4. Since I find it hard to write when people don’t engage with my work, I’ll cultivate that engagement by engaging with the work of others. Maybe I’ll even make some friends.

The hair dresser taps me on the shoulder with her perfectly manicured fingers, and I have to pause in my writing to get the bleach washed out of my hair. A lot of people have told me that they love getting the hair professionally washed, but I’ve always hated it. Leaning my neck against the hard marble rim of the sink at that unnatural angle is uncomfortable.

Sometimes discomfort is necessary to achieve results.

The hairdresser decides to deep condition my hair. Twice. I spend twenty minutes with my head craned back, staring at the ceiling and wishing this part of the process would be over.

Every process that is worth doing has parts that are tedious and unpleasant. You have to power through them.

Writing for Vocal is the same. Sure, it’s my favorite hobby, but it’s not always fun. Sometimes creating authentic pieces means delving back into old pain. Sometimes it means slogging through the not-so-exciting nuts and bolts of revising your grammar and over-analyzing comma placements when watching a trashy reaction video to drama in the TikTok knitting community would be a better source of instant gratification.

My hair gets rinsed.

A great deal of warm water travels down the back of my sweater in the process, where it quickly grows cold. Oh well. I’m led back to my seat, where the hairdresser and her assistant begin to slather my head in vibrant pink dye.

It’s messy and scary. I look in the mirror, and the self that I see staring back at me is far from pretty. My hair is flat and freakishly bright, the plastic jacket pushes up against my double chin, and the salon lighting really brings out the smattering of acne across the left side of my chin.

There’s an ugly middle part to every creative process. This piece that I’m writing is in that same stage. The metaphors seem cringey and there are typos galore. I’ve come too far to let that stop me.

The waiting begins again, as the pink dye settles into my hair. The hair dresser says I’ll be able to go home within an hour. Things are winding down. I use the time to put some finishing touches on the rough draft of this piece.

At last, I’m called out of chair to have my hair washed again. It still hurts, but I’m getting closer to this salon trip’s grand finale. It comes in a burst of blow drying and a cacophony of curling iron magic. A glance at my reflection makes it all seem worth it.

Despite the unconventional color, my hair looks sleeker and healthier than it did this morning. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time, and not only because of my new look. All this writing has helped me set right the brain beneath my newly minted bubblegum tresses. I’m ready to be bold, and creative, and find myself again, not just in appearance but in spirit. I’m ready to write.


About the Creator


This is just a hobby.

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Comments (4)

  • Esala Gunathilake26 days ago

    Lovely writing!

  • Good resolutions and love the hair colour

  • Rachel Robbins5 months ago

    The bit about discomfort was a really good metaphor for the writing process. Well done, for getting this done. And your hair looks great.

RoseWritten by Rose

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