My Mane Issue: A Tribute

Before we dive in: I’m so sorry about last week’s email notification debacle! (Wherein my subscribers got an email notification saying I had a new, password-protected blog post available.) You didn’t miss a post, but to make it up to you, this week I’m offering the greatest blog post I’ve ever written.*

*this week

The follicle foibles I mentioned two weeks ago have raged on, and I’ve now colored my hair as many times as I’ve moved in the last six years.

Attempts #1,347-1,351.

The first time I ever dyed my hair, I was in my mid-teens. I had grown up a natural blonde…

Why cut your child’s hair free-form when you can use a bowl instead? P.S. – Happy birthday [to my brother], Bryan! I did NOT print our family portrait on a face mask or blanket for you this year. You’re welcome.

…but by the time I hit teen years, my hair color had faded into some sort of strange nothingness. It wasn’t blonde. Or brown. Or gray. Or anything. In trying to reclaim my roots (pun soooo intended), I wound up with a Chucky-esque, clown-orange hue. I eventually gave up, chopped off the offending remnants, and went au naturel.

I think we can all agree: everything in this photo needs to go away.

That didn’t last long.

By 19, I was determined. I would be Jules. Jules Blonde.

Why is this photo in my blog archives? What is this?

Though I’ve stayed primarily blonde through my late 30s, you can rest assured I’ve tried going brunette.

March 2010

“I don’t like it. It isn’t you,” my boss and mentor said, when, at 27, I decided to switch things up and come to work sporting a dark brown mane. By that point she’d known me as a blonde for five years.

Well this is awkward.

Her name was Carol and I worshipped her. She had a barely tamed, reddish-gray, curly bob, wore boxy, black jumpers over patterned turtlenecks, chunky black orthopedic flats, and took no prisoners. She was a mid-level manager in a high-level pharmaceutical company, and for some reason decided that employing a creative writing major with zero corporate experience was a swell idea.

At 22 years old, I got a plastic ID badge, a 401k, and a fast lesson in office politics and Excel spreadsheets.

My entire life from 2007-2011.

In those days, I didn’t know it was wrong to race into your boss’s office at 7:45am and holler, “I GOT A NEW CAR IT’S A BEETLE CONVERTIBLE COME LOOK COME LOOK!”

Clearly I have a lot of bad ideas.

In those days, I didn’t know it was noteworthy to start a weekly “Cookie Day” and host potlucks in the dreary back conference room.

In those days, I didn’t know that writing ironic birthday poems, baking cheesecake, and hanging calendars across your cubicle was endearing.

“I just have to tell you,” Carol said after a few months on the job, “I finally read what that poster said because I just couldn’t believe you’d have one of ‘those’ [motivational] calendars. I was so relieved.”

Actual poster hanging in my first cubicle.

In those days, all I knew was that the people I saw every day from 9 to 5 had lost a sparkle in their eyes and I was naive enough to think I could bring it back with baked goods and bad great jokes.

After Carol’s hair comment, I didn’t stay brunette for long, and in returning to blonde, I saw that she was right. Over the years I worked with her, she made a few enemies and more than a few missteps, but she always saw me.

Not long after that, she died of cancer. It’s been over ten years and I still can’t really think of her without crying.

When someone sees you, it lives forever.

So. While I’ve enjoyed this latest pitstop [thanks to a botched bleach job] and treasure my friends’ kind words…

…I’ll be back to blonde myself soon.


Do you have a similar attachment to an aspect of your appearance?


26 thoughts on “My Mane Issue: A Tribute”

  1. I have to say I’m loving that color in the last picture and think you should live with it a while. This from the woman who only worked up the courage to change her hair color once and looked like a ho on the stroll all summer.

    1. HA! I may have been heard saying, “I’d compare the current color to a prostitute, but I don’t want to insult prostitutes.” Once I give my hair a break, I definitely need to enlist a professional, if only to get the color evened out (it’s more red near the roots)!

  2. You are one extraordinary, beautiful person. No matter what.
    And BTW, I used the same picture to make a card for Bryan. Something about Hacklebarney. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I’m sure it was brilliant.
    I love you.

    1. I’m sure it was, too! I went down memory lane last night thinking how much I loved Hacklebarney, and now that’s basically what I see when I look out my window! ❤

  3. All I’m saying is March 2010: kicks ass!!!
    But what matters is what you like.
    If you’re a blonde, go Blondie! And if you suffer from multiple personality disorder, just make sure you choose your hair products wisely!

  4. I agree with Vo — March 2010 is quite the celeb shot. I could see a recurring supporting role on Sunrise Bay for her.

    1. Ha! I’d need to change my name to something way cooler. Your last name works perfectly! “Next season on Sunrise Bay, Jessycka gets more than she can handle when Tristan Gage moves to town.”

  5. I’m so envious! You not only wear blond well, but brunette and auburn too. When it comes to my mane, I stopped coloring at around 49 years old when I began to resent having to touch up every few weeks, the chemicals were getting to me, and my natural color felt more authentic. Today I like the smooth, soft texture and natural wave/ curl, and multi-tones that range from dark brown to nearly white. A flattering cut is what I’m more focused on.

    1. That’s wonderful and it sounds so vibrant, healthy, and authentic! And thank you so much for the compliment; it’ll be interesting to see how I feel when I go to the salon in a few weeks, now that I’ve been through every color on the color wheel, ha!

  6. I keep waiting for the robots to take my job! Til then, I’m growing my hair out to save money for the inevitable time when I can’t afford haircuts. I’m going all-in on crypto with the cash!

    Also, keep doing what makes you happy. Even if it’s buying sweet convertibles that make no sense while living in a mountain town.

  7. I love this new color look and the dark 2010 Jules. Obviously we know you look good as a blonde but I’m loving all these new flavors. End they capture a bit of your sassiness. Very cute!

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle! It’s interesting to see how much more comfortable I am cycling through the dark colors this go ’round vs. 2010. (In fairness, that may have less to do with my own maturity and more to do with the fact that I’m still in a COVID bubble and don’t have to show up anywhere in front of hundreds of people!)

  8. Simply gorgeous no matter the shade! As you know, I’ve had a similar path as you…grew up so very blonde, then naturally turned darker brown as the years went by. Then in my 20s I did everything: highlights, streaks, chunks, blonde, black, candy apple red. Then bam! grays in my 40s. Now I’m dying to try balayage blonde. But first I have to figure out how to pronounce it.

  9. I like all your hair colors. I say that because I’m diplomatic. Plus I like anyone who tries different non-binding things when it comes to identity. I’ve been blonde, red-headed, and now am what they call gronde [gray + blonde]. They call it that because the stylists don’t want to hurt your feelings and say you have old lady hair. 🙄

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