Tuesday, November 27, 2007


My name is Aarwenn, and I'm a hair-twirler.

I've done it since I was little; my hair is naturally wavy, turning to spiraling locks without much effort, and I've always been a fidgeter. When I was smoking, that's what I did with my hands, but now that I'm not doing that, and especially during office or tutoring sessions when I couldn't anyway, I twirl my hair.

The LT finds it funny, especially since normally, when I start doing it, I'm already so lost in concentration that I look particularly crazy. I do it more when under stress, and especially so when I'm trying to think. (Like now, for example, taking a break to write this really bad post instead of working on the two major papers I have due before the end of the year, OR my novel, which I've also sworn to finish.) I do it when tutoring or working on math problems with my girls, although not as badly; it really starts when I'm trying to force myself to be creative, like now. Putting my hair up in a ponytail doesn't help; I just twirl the loose ends.

Although almost all girls play with their hair, I've never lived with another hair twirler--that I can remember--so I really had no idea what it looked like as a habit. I think, when the LT and I first started dating, I stopped doing it for awhile, possibly because I was less stressed while in love or also possibly because you put on your company manners for someone new. Since the habit has come back, however, I'm happy to learn that it doesn't seem to bother the LT. He likes to bug me by trying to twirl my hair, too, when he notices I'm doing it, and this has the added effect of snapping me out of my trance, often with hilarious consequences. I assume it's a side-effect of stress and single-girl-ness, or at least, girl-on-her-own-ness; if you live with someone who makes fun of your bad habits, you tend to temper them. I recently saw my friend S, whom I met through shady circumstances but who has ended up being a long-lasting and very dear friend. We were both on our way to a mall out in Baltimore, my rental car following behind her Jeep Liberty, and I was twirling my hair, lost in thought, when I looked up ahead and saw that she, too, was twirling her hair. And the other day, I was tutoring my new girl Melissa; and as she worked on an identity problem, she, too, was twirling her hair.

So at least I know I'm not alone. There's a disease, Trichotillomania,, but as Trich sufferers actually pull out their hair, I don't think myself or any of the girls around me are actually suffering from a disorder. The Wiki article says that Trich and other associated diseases--OCD, anxiety--are often brought on by stress, no surprise there. Hair-twirling doesn't calm me down; it winds me up like a spring, often making me MORE stressed, and sometimes in an effort to still my twirling, I reach for my cup of coffee, and you can imagine how that cycle turns out. Mainly, I'm just stressed. By the end of this week, I will have flown four round-trips in a month. I have crossed the country twice, the holidays are coming, I barely remember the holidays that already happened (Halloween, Thanksgiving) and am too worried about the upcoming holidays to relax. What's worse, I have a love-hate relationship with stress; some days I'm so tired of being stressed that coffee makes me nauseous and I really do want to start pulling my hair out; other days, when I'm stuck, bored and listless, I want the excitement and adrenaline of stress, although I know it's not actually good for the body. I KNOW I should back away slowly when I start wanting to scream at customer service people; at times like that, hair-twirling seems like the better option.

I recently met a lady in an airport security line, one of the ten or so I've been through recently. She was from the East Coast, out here working for the Lazy B same as I was, and we had a lovely time bashing the slowness and cluelessness of a normal Seattlelite. She was surprised to find out I was actually a local. "But you have a pulse," she said, confused. "I thought everyone out here dream-walked their way through life?"

See? I'll take hair-twirling over dream-walking any day, even if I may die young.


C said...

Hair-twirling isn't that "weird," I don't think. Is it different, though, when your significant other does it? (DH used to twirl my hair while I was asleep in front of the TV--when my hair was long--and I woke up with knots. Poo.)

Seattle-ites dream-walk through life? I think we're pretty "with it," as compared to some parts of the country. I prefer our way of life to the one I experienced when I lived in the Boston area.

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Aarwenn said...

Hi C,

This post was already long enough, so I left out the part where I hate driving in Seattle because everyone goes 45, the light turns green and nothing happens, pedestrians and cars hold up traffic trying to avoid each other, and coffee lines take forever. It took me twenty minutes to get through a Starbucks line on Sunday because the cashier was slow and friendly, spending a long time holding up the line talking to a child, and I can see that I'm probably in the wrong here, but doesn't that seem like the wrong quality for Starbucks? All I want is my coffee!!

skydiamonde said...

I have a different hair idle-fidgeting problem: I absentmindedly run my hands through my hair. I've noticed myself doing this while coding in my cube at work, or even at meetings at work. Lately though, my bf has brought to my attention that I randomly start doing this sometimes when trying to sleep. The fact that my arm is constantly moving around while I do this distracts him from sleep, so he always quickly points it out so I'd stop. Though sometimes, I end up doing it again without realizing. While I don't really /pull/ my hair out, at least some hair sometimes sheds while I do this so I find it strange when in the middle of a meeting I find some shed hair in my hands from it. Strange habit that I can't seem to break...

Sarah said...

You caught me!

So as I was reading this entry, I was twirling my hair. Shocker. It's been a habit of mine since I actually had hair that was long enough to twirl. I think I started to twirl it because I went for so many years without hair that it was a novelty for me or something. Erik tries to break of it by asking me why I'm playing with my hair or by poking me somewhere that distracts me and makes me stop. It doesn't work well.

At least we don't eat our hair. I think people with that Trich thing also eat their hair. In fact, on Thanksgiving day I read some article about a woman who had a 10lb hairball removed from her stomach. Nasty.

I'll continue to twirl my hair, thanks. :-)

kt said...

add me to the hair twirler list. :) how are you btw? i was in seattle for thanksgiving but didn't have much time or i would have looked you up. next time fo' sho'!