Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Henna Experience

The Henna experience. How hard could it be?

I’m a writer, so I keep to-do lists and take notes hoping it will provide fodder for my stories. The older I get the longer my list of things to do gets. So, my friend, a fearless thirty-something said, “I brought you some Henna, it’s easy.”
I waited. I considered and weighed the consequences, because that’s what I do. Henna had gone on my list a long time ago. But in my experience when I jump in with both feet and hit the bottom there’s slime and I hate slime.
After a couple of weeks of dithering a day came and the stars aligned themselves. My husband was gone, it seemed a quiet day, what the heck, life is short, do the things on the list. This time I decided to dive in head first, so to speak.
Following the verbal directions my friend gave me I prepared: one bag of powdered Henna, a cup of cold coffee, olive oil, towels. I began mixing the concoction. How much was I supposed to use? All of the powder, all of the coffee, this is amusing I thought, olive oil to taste.
The dusty lump in my bowl wasn’t going to work, I added left-over tea. Then, I added water. Finally, a consistency that would go into my hair. My hair? Was I nuts? I reminded myself that women have been doing this for centuries. How bad could it be? I took a deep breath and dipped my rubber glove covered hand into the mess and began to apply it to my head.

This was not fun. I now had shredded alfalfa the color of a cow-patty dripping down my forehead and sliding down my neck. Enthusiasm waned but darn-it, I finish what I start. Application complete, I wrapped my skull in a plastic grocery bag and waited. Think about that for a minute. Forty-five minutes my friend said to let it sit, I cleaned up. Oh My God, this stuff is everywhere, my bathroom looks like I’d turned loose a three-year-old with finger paints.
Twenty minutes, I simply can’t do this anymore. I’m embarrassed to answer the phone, and then I have to clean the phone. By now the novelty is gone, I want this over with. I strip off the grocery bag and I now have a helmet of dried cow dung stuck to my head. I briefly consider washing my hair in the sink and start stripping off my clothes instead. The shower looks like a scene from Psycho and my drain is resistant to alfalfa.
A day later, the gray in my hair is now bright orange, a nice contrast to the auburn of what used to be my dark brown locks. My husband is amused, my friends say as little as possible. Will I do this again? Probably not, it’s sorta like the bungee jump off the Kuskulana Bridge but isn’t that what the list is about? I took notes.

Yours in the Henna Experience, DeNise Woodbury.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Weeding, Writing, and Arithmetic

Today marks the one-month anniversary of my marathon-writing weekend. And I realize I have not written a single new word on my manuscript since then. Not one … stinking … weed.

Did I say weed?

Gardening season hit, and I’ve ignored everything but getting the ground ready and planted. Kind of my marathon-gardening month. Then I’ll ignore it for a month, until I realize I’ve got to catch up on all the weeds.

I love gardening as much as I love writing. They are both creative endeavors, a chance to put something on paper or in the ground and watch the leaves of a story unfold. But to be successful at either takes discipline. It takes visiting pretty much every day. If I were to spend a half hour weeding just 20 square feet of space every day – that’s a four by five foot area – I’d have weeded my entire garden in a month. (Yes, I have an enormous garden.) If I write 2000 words every day, I’ll have finished a rough draft of a novel in a month.

You do the math. A novel in a month. Give myself another month to polish it, and that would be six novels a year. Even if I took two months to polish it, that would be four books a year. Pretty amazing stuff. Most days, if I sit my butt in the chair and write, I can crank out 2000 good words in about 3 or 4 hours. That’s less time than a part-time job. And I want writing to be my job.

So from here on out, I will visit my creative landscapes. I will weed a little bit every day. And I will write a little bit every day. Between the two, I will have the best year of growth ever.

Weed 'em and reap!

(First published on