I usually buy my hair care products (shampoo and conditioner) through the coop I belong to, or at the natural foods store, so I was unfamiliar with the grocery store's hair care aisle, which is arranged by brand, rather by function. The earthy, tea-tree scented brand I use is not sold there, so this method of arrangement, suited to fans of Paul Mitchell or Finesse did not help me out, when all I wanted to do was compare different brands of gel. I started out in the bottom left-hand corner of the shelving unit, where the products were packaged in shapes and colors that led me to believe they contained more "natural" ingredients than the others. But as soon as I saw the price tags--more than twenty bucks for a tube of gel!--I quickly moved on to the more conventional-looking section of the shelves. I am all for paying more for quality, organic, and chemical-free products. And I also would prefer not exposing my kid to any more phthaltates and parabens and god-knows-what-all than necessary. But twenty bucks for something my kid would use once? No thanks. I then looked in the travel section for a mini-tube, but no luck. Finally, ten minutes after I started looking, I settled on a huge tube of gel labeled "98% naturally derived," whatever the hell that means, and whatever the hell the other 2% contains, and which only cost three dollars. By then I was thoroughly disgusted with Hannaford's, the entire hair product industry, and M's language arts teacher.
This is the kind of
Kenna and I took an online writing class together, many years ago, and she sent me an advance copy of her book at about the same time I started graduate school. I reluctantly set it aside after reading the first few chapters, to focus on my required reading, but earlier this spring, I noticed it sitting neglected on my shelf and picked it up again, plowing through it in a weekend. Despite her constant anxiety about the future of both the planet and her children, Kenna is able to tell her stories with good humor (I love her code names for people and corporations). She has a great sense of self-awareness, and knows when she goes over the top, but is still sometimes unable to stop herself. I appreciate Kenna's honesty, and I felt a kinship with someone who thinks like I do (although I think I'm more adept at stuffing the ugly truths in the deep recesses of my mind--and no, I'm not proud of this). I also appreciate the notes--very fragile notes, for sure, and not at all overblown or false--of hopefulness: those million tiny pink baby socks hanging on the line.
M did not end up using the hair gel for his speech and I took it back to the grocery store the next day, where I stood in line at the customer service desk for ten minutes, behind a woman buying a bunch of balloons. As the clerk inflated each one, all I could think about was the helium shortage. Sometimes I think I'm no fun at all. But I think Kenna would understand. I wish I had read A Million Tiny Things a lot sooner, but I'm glad I finally did.