Salafis, Liberals, and Poopie Diapers

On the Jan 25 Egyptian Revolution and delivering Twin Girls…

I think the topic of the revolution has been over exhausted, and rightly so. So let me proclaim that there’s nothing new I can disclose that hasn’t already been said. There is no genius political insight into the bog that is local politics. Like many people, before the revolution I was as interested in local politics as George Michael is in women. And as much as the revolution has politicized much of our daily discourse, local politics still mystify me.

It doesn’t help that while the nation was undergoing a historic change on the political front, I myself was being overhauled! Delivering twins, spending the core days of the revolution in the Intensive Care Unit, recovering, and so on. So you can say I missed a lot of the initial details, and it took me a while to catch up.

And between my attempts at catching up, pumping breast milk, changing diapers, and hating my body, all kinds of locution novelties emerged out of the revolution. Kanassa, Mondaseen, Salafeyeen, and of course, Folool.

Folool, the remnants of the old regime, or supporters of the old regime became the word du jour.  Even the classist beaches of the north coast did not miss the opportunity to make it their own. Annoying people became folool, tacky people became folool; even socially pretentious people became folool. Yes I know, puzzling… Now, when my husband bothers me in the slightest, I derive immense gratification from calling him “enta folool!”

And as post-revolution events progressed, the semantic snowball kept gaining ground. After all, semantics tell us what to think and how to judge. Remember the word “Terrorist” post 9-11? What images did that word conjure up? Bearded Muslim, blood-thirsty fundamentalists, even though really anyone can be a terrorist. Timothy McVeigh – the Oklahoma City Bomber – was a essentially a text-book terrorist, but not one that fit the discourse created by a dirty game of semantics… And so accordingly Salafis became deranged religious fanatics, Ikhwan became power hungry old-regime religious fundamentalists. Even if there is truth to this, actual truth, and not “media truth”, we are conditioned by a political game of semantics to fear the Salafis and hate the Ikhwan. And by we, I mean the educated upper echelons who fear for their beaches and their bars, and who find no specific category to fit into and so go by the broad label of Liberals.

Speaking of dandies… I mean Liberals, I attended one of Amr Hamzay’s political party presentations in an attempt to discover my closeted politico. I was after all having a political identity crisis, and like many, was racing to learn my true political orientation. The meeting was held at the clubhouse of El Gezira compound in Sheikh Zayed city, an upper class compound of villas. In other words, a place where Hamzawy can preach to the choir! Lovely ladies decked out in their designer shoes and Rolex watches came to see the man who quickly gained “hotttie” status over the course of the revolution. Of course it did help that he had just declared his love for the actor Basma in so many (cryptic) words just the day before in a local paper. Women were twirling their hair on finger-tips and sitting up straight in anticipation of this hot Romoeo’s arrival. Even my husband was nervous. And I must say, the man did not disappoint! Even hotter than he is on TV, well dressed, casual but expensive casual, smiling, with a slight tan. Oh and he said some political stuff.

Walking away from that meeting I was hit with two things: Ikhwan are so going to be in power, and secondly, this is the last we’ll hear of the Liberals! It didn’t help that Hamzawy sounded like he came from an already established Western-modeled political system, that his expectations were so high they reached beyond idealistic and into hippie, and that he did not speak the language of the masses: i.e. food, money, survival. My heart broke for this hottie as I kept checking my watch eager to make it back in time for the late night twins’ feed! It also didn’t help that the panel presenting the party’s platform was comprised of social development workers and NGO-ers. No savy political strategist, no business personas, no politicians. Just good, honest, caring citizens… all I could think of was: they’re doomed!

To make a long story short, my twins’ poop is getting bigger and smellier as the days go by. Their poop used to be so adorable when they were born around the revolution. It was tiny and cute, and its production was an event to be celebrated, nothing filled me more with pride! They would lay wherever I put them, and I didn’t have to watch them vigilantly. Now eight months later they’re all over the place, they require so much work, their demands are increasing and becoming more and more complex, and their poopie diapers would send anyone running! Much like a revolution that began so full of hope and is now going to the poop!









Life’s Missing Disclaimers: Disclaimer #113


Ahhhh! The miracle of child-birth, along with the preceding one of child-bearing, and the earlier one of conception. Miracles indeed unto their own; each one a scientific and biological phenomenon, each one as intricate and systemized as the other, as I learned from watching the animated insights of the National Geographic documentary In The Womb… How wondrous! How mysterious! How mind-boggling! How on earth did they discover & map this amount of detail?

You try to wrap your head around it, around the incredulously critical job of the Ob/Gyn (obstetrician/gynecologist), around the timing of everything, the delicate balance of chemicals, hormones, minerals, vitamins, blood, urine, sugars, fluids, neurotransmissions, etc… Conceiving, carrying and birthing are no easy feat. Not medically, and above all, certainly not physically or psychologically. While creating and bringing a child into the world might seem like a medical marvel, a divine miracle bestowed upon us by the gracious hand of God… it is by absolutely, positively no means magical in the least!!

And here’s why…

The most “magical” of moments one may experience during pregnancy is the moment you learn that you are indeed pregnant. It begins, and ends, there. What ensues is an avalanche, if you will, of uncontrollable physical, and psychological changes and phases brought on by hormonal alterations and a complete body transmogrifying!! Kafka couldn’t have written it better himself, his Metamorphosis into a cockroach is a pleasant (& welcome) walk-in-the-park in comparison!

My wise Ob/Gyn once wrapped it up nicely for me in a pretty package with a bow, “I want you from here on in to think of it this way,” he said, “it’s like the movie Alien, and you’re Sigourney Weaver.” In other words, my body is playing host to a parasitical creature, growing stronger and stronger by the minute, depleting me of my resources and nourishment, taking over my insides, altering my physical and psychological state, only to violently rip me apart and burst out of my body one day when it’s good and ready to take over the world and the entire human race… thanks doc!

Well, he was right.

It begins with persistent nausea, 24 hours a day, accompanied by purging the stomach of all its contents on a daily basis. The purging mind you happens whether there actually are contents to deliver or not. In some cases, you purge bright yellow bile, stinging, painful, bile. Sometimes frothy, other times uniform. And with this, you are closer to knowing your insides on a more intimate level. You might be dying of dehydration, but even the smallest sip of water can turn your stomach upside down, and all of a sudden it feels like the “intense” cycle of the washing machine. You would think that the up-chucking would bring with it some kind of soothing and satisfaction… well, it does, for about 10 seconds. For those ten seconds, the clouds split apart and the heavens cast a beam of relief upon your head hanging over the majestic porcelain toilet… Once the ten seconds are up, its immediately back to nausea misery and stomach pains. This may last anywhere from the first 3 to 5 months, and for some unfortunate people; the entire duration of the pregnancy.

You will also experience constant hunger, but you can’t eat because your nauseous. Your mind wants burgers and cake and chocolate bars, but your stomach wants a noose hanging from the ceiling, and a chair. If you dare satisfy your mental cravings, you will suffer the unforgiving wrath of your stomach, the holy trinity of digestive revenge: indigestion, heart-burn, and nausea. And you better get used to this holy trinity, for it stays with you for the entire pregnancy! Morning, noon and night! Of course as you get bigger, your stomach is pushed up further and further into your upper abdomen and into your rib-cage. This causes it to shrink, and cast more of its wrath upon you. Oh and about the rib-cage, yeah, you will feel that enlarging (!!) as your intestines too get pushed up into it… Alien has nothing on you!

Mood changes also occur at different intervals of the pregnancy, hormonal changes cause fluctuations in behavior and reaction. Some women become highly flammable, others, like myself, become emotional saps who cry at cheesy commercials, and can’t watch even cheesier action movies anymore because they can’t fathom why one guy would want to hit another and give him a boo-boo… too heart-wrenching! Of course the continuous gas distracts from many of the pregnancy symptoms, for some its in the form of elegant flatulence, for me it is minute by minute burping. Forget playing coy or demure, with pregnancy the pretty picture you try to paint of yourself to your partner goes flying out the window! It used to be that I would leave the room where my husband was sitting to pass gas… now, if he doesn’t like it, well then he can leave! ‘Coz the gas is coming and by the time I get up to pass it elsewhere to maintain some semblance of allure and charm in my image, it’s escaped with a big bang… and yes, it might cause the extinction of some species if exposed!

Other not-so-glamorous body reactions to the child within (the literal child, not the metaphoric one), are: bleeding gums, nose-bleeds, constipation, shortness of breath, an aversion to different kinds of food, an aversion to people’s scents, a sensitivity to noise, insomnia, back pains, headache, clumsiness, stretch marks on your stomach and breasts, weak nails, hair falling out, immobility, varicose veins in the legs, leg cramps while you sleep, faintness, dizziness, swelling of ankles, feet, hands and face, itchy abdomen, nasal congestion, ear stuffiness, leaky breasts, and hemorrhoids…

Now you tell me, where’s the magical part of the child-bearing miracle?

Disclaimer #113 should be printed on boxes of tampons, sanitary pads, birth-control pills, and yes I would go as far as saying it should probably be distributed in leaflet form with perfume bottles and make-up products. And it should read: “If you are trying to get pregnant, or if you are sexually active thus making pregnancy a valid possibility, please know that pregnancy is a not-so-magical miracle. Your body will undergo changes so severe and so drastic that you will have no control over. Your body will no longer belong to you, but will belong to the parasitic life imbedded within your uterus, sucking you dry of all that makes you healthy, active, and physically normal. The symptoms are ugly, and you might become ugly yourself! You will not be able to sleep, eat, poop, sit, shower, walk, drive, have sex, run around, and go out, like you are used to now, and that is just the simplified pretty version. For more, do your thorough research!”

The thing about disclaimer #113 is that the info is available out there, only for those who are looking hard enough, and I mean very hard. Trying to get pregnant and/or learning that you are indeed pregnant usually overshadows educating yourself about the downside of pregnancy. And if you are actively trying to get pregnant, even learning about the ugliness of it all won’t deter you, it is not until you’re knee-deep in it that you realize what an arduous journey it is, laced with farts, burps, puke, and more… that it is the farthest you can ever get from “magical”!

So the miracle part is true, a scientific marvel indeed it is, a divine phenomenon and a biological wonder… I was told I would glow, I don’t. I was told that I would have lustrous hair, beautiful skin and strong nails: falling, pimply, and breaking…

Seven months in and I’m still waiting on the magical part…



Life’s Missing Disclaimers: Disclaimer #46


Ok, so I’m *cough* 32 *cough*, and I’m looking in the mirror, with my back facing the reflective surface and my neck craning painfully to asses my… well ummm… ass? And for a second I think I’m looking at the wrong reflection and I wait for the channel to fine-tune! Only it doesn’t, because the mirror does not give you a post-edited version of “reality”. Although a filter and some built-in concealer where the face and eyes reflect would be nice.

Maybe a cinched waist too…

and David Beckham….


Ok!!… So back to the ass-essing…

I’m looking at that reflection and I’m taken aback for a split second, WTF?? What is that and what is it doing on my body??? What are those indents and jiggle and horizontal elongation, when did that happen?

Flashback to the age of 23, wolfing down burgers and pop at 3 a.m after a night on the town, waking up to a breakfast of grilled cheese before strapping on a bikini to head to the beach in all my fast-metabolism pompous glory!! What went wrong? And more importantly, why didn’t anyone warn the 23 year-old (hot n’ fit) me??

Disclaimer #46 should be tattooed on your body at the age of 16, somewhere legible, and somewhere that won’t sag, flab, jiggle, or droop… like the inside of your palm for example. it should be mandatory, enforced by law, and it should read:

You are not in control of natural changes in your body, your metabolism will slow as you age, and parts of your body you never thought would loosen, (like your tightly pulled stomach), will! Random men will not always check out your ass, and pretty girls will not always be jealous of you. The 30 something year-old women you see around you were one day like you… yes, it’s true! and you too will one day look like them… you are NOT invincible/immortal/forever young/a celebrity, so you will have to work hard to maintain some semblance of physical attractiveness!”

I am sure had the 23 year-old me had Disclaimer #46 tattooed on the inside of her palm… she would’ve taken one look at it and erupted in laughter, the haughty, bumptious kind!! Then she would’ve thrown on her size 2 jeans, her XS T-shirt and hopped down to a boat party with her equally perky-assed friends…

No Presh!!

Since I decided to start a blog, (an unclearly defined one at that), the pressure has been mounting to maintain my blog with new entries. The pressure is inherent in the idea itself…. you start a blog, you are making a public commitment in the virtual arena of the internet to supply said blog with fresh and original exegesis of recycled topics. I mean, there is nothing that has not been reviewed, dissected, discussed, editorialized, analyzed, and more every which way from every which angle online and off! So by starting a blog, you are claiming to have something new… to say about something old.

The pressure is especially acute when you name your blog “the snide side”… you better bring the snide and it better be first-rate. That is no fault of anyone but myself, I am in snide mode 80% of the time anyway… so I thought why not put fingers to keyboard and bring joy to thousands… (ok, maybe hundreds… fine!! Tens!!)… of (accidental) visitors through clever and dead-pan snide humor? Only trouble is… a blog does not exactly operate with the same dynamic as back and forth banter between myself and friends does, the perfect environment for the snide to come out and have a party! Apparently, sitting at your lat-top is not quite the same… go figure!

Sometimes I wish I’d started a cooking blog.

Out Damned Spot!

Some friends have often commented on my hygiene habits, calling my sanitary customs idiosyncratic, claiming that I may be a bit of a germaphobe. Others who have the pleasure of observing me closely on a regular if not daily basis could argue with that. That I am not a germaphobe, no, but that I am a germaserial-killer! These friends often poke fun at my germ-seeking & killing skills, first through some predictable and unoriginal comments, making me seem eccentric, (which only they find funny, I am often left defensive). Then they coyly slip in a sarcastic gibe or two, things like “oh I think you missed a spot,” to which my ears perk, my germ-radar goes on full alert, and the frantic spot-search begins. (For some reason that too gives them a laugh). Then eventually through straight out berating, “dude! chill out! you’re obsessed you freak!”… The latter I consider preposterous! Are they not seeing what I’m seeing? How can they live like animals? Using the ATM machine and then not sanitizing your hands afterwords?? Savages!

Ok, so here’s a brief run-down of some of my (less severe) hygiene habits, to which some have referred to as an illness, one that some “friends” like to call disinfectia disturbia. You be the judge… Bet you’ll learn a thing or two by the end of this. But first, go wash your hands!

Super Market Super Germs!

The supermarket is one of my favorite places, just the purchasing power gives me a rush! The aspiration to be as clean as you can be! The ceramic tile cleaner, the kitchen counter Detol spray, the Clorox anti-septic spray!! Ahhhh…. it’s heaven for a girl like me. Some girls have a designer label fixation, some have a watch obsession, I have a bacteria-annihilating fetish! But don’t be fooled, for within every seemingly clean surface lurks a petri dish of bacteria… contorting and coagulating… waiting to leech on to your hands.

So naturally, I do what any mentally healthy person would do. Before I pull out a shopping cart, I pull out my pack of Detol wipes. I then proceed to wipe down the shopping cart handle… very very well. Should this procedure require let’s say, 3 or 4 wipes, then so be it. Once the handlebar is loitered with the corpses of dead bacteria, I proceed to pull out my rubber gloves. Not the kind you wash dishes with, no, the latex kind that doctors and nurses use… the “I mean business” kind! You can easily find a box of those in the aisle with garbage bags… ironic. They come in small, medium, and large. The tighter the better, so make sure you buy the right size! (I’m a ‘small’… petite, but deadly).

With the rubber gloves on, I can confidently grab at all kinds of products that thousands of shoppers grabbed before me. I can also pick fruits and veggies without getting any of the remnant dirt or pesticide on my hands. ‘Cause you know my rule: “The hands are the gateway to your health!” (not exactly sure how valid this is scientifically).

Even Germs Go To The Movies

Many hands were held for the first time over the arm-rest separating two eager virginal lovers at the movies. The darkness creates a mystery that makes first dates magical. The movies are also a haven for long-term relationshippers. A diversion from having to deal with one another, a justification for sitting together in silence without feeling awkward. All of that is well and good. What is not well nor good however are the germs that enjoy the movies just as much as you do if not more, with hundreds of people serving as viable hosts. It’s a free-for-all for bacteria at the movies. What with snotty kids wiping their noses with their hands then grabbing hold of the arm-rest. Or sweaty men resting their sweaty heads on the seat back. One must be on guard at the movies, for this seemingly harmless leisure activity, could turn into a blood-bath!

Naturally, the movie seat arm-rests receive my traditional Detol wipes wipe-down! And I mean the five-star treatment. The top of the arm rest, the bottom, the back, inside the cup-holder… the works! The back of the seat also gets a good 3 or 4 wipe-downs, especially the top part of the seat where Sweaty McStinky would rest his un-bathed head! What was once a bonus, but is now a must, is a small towel – you know those square ones you’re not really sure what toweling purpose they’re meant to serve – placed on the part of the seat-back where you would rest your head. And voila! You’re all set for a germ-free relaxed movie experience. Of course if for any reason you need to visit the bathroom at the movies, (God forbid), be sure to bring along your sanitizing gel and hand-wipes. Don’t sit, squat, but if u absolutely must sit then wipe-down the seat, carefully place toilet paper all around it, and sit. When you get up, wipe the parts of your thighs that touched the tissue-covered seat with wipes, as well as you’re hoo-hoo (a.k.a your ha-ha) with a fresh pair of wipes. Flush without touching the flush button, using a clean corner of the used wipes, and then sanitize your hands with gel to wash off this horrid experience at the movie theatre bathroom.

For my more severe hygiene habits… stay tuned… but more importantly, stay clean!

The Great Divide

There’s nothing new really that one can bring to the Byzantine Men/Women/Relationships paradigm. It’s all been covered, explored, churned, carved, baked, soaked, re-woven and tumble-dried. In every sense. We went as far as to ascribe alien origins to each sex, one being from Venus, and the other from Mars. And as cliché as that book title has become, one cannot deny its’ inevitable induction into Western pop culture discourses of relationships. It’s become a catch phrase, an ambitious metaphor that accomplished what “I’m losing my marbles!” never could.

I bet though no one has thought to explore the scientific merit of said statement, I mean, it seems only logical to me… entirely and unequivocally logical. Men and women have been together since the dawn of humanity: Adam and Eve (depending on your beliefs; let’s stay with this line for the sake of the argument). They have been together throughout all of human history! As a matter of fact, the human race is made up of only men and women. Iconic couples; fictional and real man-woman combos have represented the enduring struggle to perfect co-existence: Anthony & Cleopatra, John & Yoko, Romeo & Juliet, Ross & Rachel, Ahmed & Mona, and Posh & Becks. All heterosexual pairs that continue in the footsteps of their predecessors, ploughing through the vast and tumultuous fields of relationships. And yet… and yet do men and women really know each other? Really?

How many couples do you know/heard of/watch on TV have had almost the same (if not identical) arguments? How often do women complain of the exact same male flaws? Emotional (un)availability, (in)sensitivity, (in)consideration, (in)ability to multi-task, affinity to being coddled/cosseted when ill/hungry/sleepy/in need of a massage, laziness, disinterest in social activity/cultural activity, dirty laundry syndrome, dirty dishes syndrome, etc… I think you get the picture. I am willing to bet big ones that the entire male gender overlaps in just this list of flaws, that every man has something from this list in common with another, now wouldn’t that be a fun experiment to conduct? But this is no male-bashing sesh! I mean, we can argue that most men complain of similar female flaws as well: over-emotional, over-sensitive, too focused on the details, over-bearing, chatty, idealistic, stylist syndrome, behavioral coach syndrome, etc… Stereotypical these aforementioned flaws may be, but I am sure every strong/independent/modern/urban woman reading this just saw herself in at least one of these flaws.

So why do we keep having the same arguments over and over? You would think after thousands of years of going at it (literally and metaphorically) that we would have it down packed by now! Why do we keep falling into the same traps? Ancient and mystical languages and symbols have been deciphered, we can now read hieroglyphics, we can deduce cave-man living habits from drawings, we are even attempting to communicate with potential other life-forms in our universe. But we are yet to have deciphered what “men really mean” or what “women really want”, we are yet to be able to refer to a ‘trouble-free relationship manual’, and we are leagues from solving relationship arguments many of our ancestors have already had.

We’ve been together literally FOREVER! And yet we behave like complete strangers, we are often left to our mere speculative abilities to guess what the other is saying/intending/not saying/wanting/needing! How is that possible?

Instead we are bombarded with troubled relationships on frivolous talk shows, magazine quizzes that claim to elevate your knowledge of “your man” or promise to predict whether “you’re meant to be together”. Books on how to communicate/give/be present/become closer/fall in love all over again, and so on… And the reason these books keep being made? Men and women STILL DON’T KNOW EACH OTHER! So more of these books are thought up in a feeble attempt at bringing us just one step closer to the ultimate truth about one another. Only they fall short, and so flourishes the relationship-self-help-books industry!

Sometimes I wonder if this is the whole point, that we are eternally forced to share a planet, (despite our alien origins), without a deep understanding of one another for a reason. That that is what’s going to keep us getting together and pro-creating… that our intrigue at the opposite sex, the unpredictability of how it may turn out, is the lure. (Are we really sadomasochistic by nature?). is that it? If we learned from all the relationship mistakes of our predecessors, there would be no more to make, so we wouldn’t bother, and we’d go seeking other challenges/punishments?

Maybe… I’ll take it up with my husband…

Fly On A Boat (fiction)

She wasn’t always that way. Wasn’t always so self-sufficient, seemingly confident, self-assured, almost intimidating to engage in any sort of conversation. She didn’t always wear shiny black leather pumps, the ones with stiletto heels, the kind that inspire sexual attention in others as well as insecurity and consternation. Her hair wasn’t always austerely straight, swinging about her head like one single mass in pendulum-like motion. Teasingly brushing the surface of her shoulder, vowing to never languidly blanket them again. Her face wasn’t always so pugnaciously alert, her nose pointing to her next victim, her lips lined in battle formation…

She wasn’t always like that. She used to be someone else. Soft. Ruminative. Detached.

She never befell a piercing trauma, never surrendered her vulnerability to the hands of another, never neglected her heart and what it needed, as opposed to what it desired. It didn’t desire.

She was soft. She was ruminative. She was detached.

But she also didn’t feel. She glided through life like a fly on the edge of a boat. Unaware of the sea below, what it is, and what hides in its belly. Unaware of the boat, where it was, where it is now, and where it’s going. Oblivious to time, oblivious to why. Oblivious to the waves that ferry the boat, set it on a course, and carry it adrift above a small section of a world brewing with life, color, food, death, and secrets.

It wasn’t a tumbling of the boat that made her architectural. Made her definitive. It wasn’t a leak in the bow that deprived her shoulders of the swathe of free-feeling locks. Free to feel. But feel they did not. No. It wasn’t a storm, a wind, or a loss that put her bare feet in those shiny black leather pumps.

‘How much are these oranges?’ she asked the store-keeper.

‘3 per kilo’ he robotically answered, taking no note of her. There was none to be taken.

‘I’d like 3 kilos please, you pick them.’

He glanced up at her merely to determine what kind of picking he should do. Not so ripe, he figured.

The young woman was flat, blank…. she had a head of draping auburn hair, the kind that should be beautiful by definition, but that somehow made him shudder. Her summer dress was neither her size nor was it too big or too small. He wasn’t exactly sure she was in it. And her sandals, some kind of straw or bamboo, he wasn’t sure, but they’re carelessness offended him.

‘There you go miss, that comes to a total of 9’ he said as he handed her the lime-green translucent plastic bag with one hand, and outstretched the other to receive the money at the same time. An exchange sort of manner that assured no escapes.

‘I want you to have one’ she said moments later.

He cocked his head from his busy hands, as if certain he heard something, or someone. He thought she was long gone after he counted the money and placed it securely in his apron’s front pocket.

‘I want you to have one’ she repeated.

‘No thank you miss.’

‘Let’s have on together’ she said to the scruffy man with unkempt greying hair, an old-style sweater, and heaviness under his eyes.

She reached into the bag, and with one merciless move, breached the tough skin of an orange with both her thumbs. Juices rushed down her hands as she handed him half of the orange. Reluctant he was to take it, but take it nonetheless he did. After all, upon close inspection of the young lady, he found her to be… pale… soft, something almost… almost detached about her intrigued him.

‘Thank you miss,’ he said as he licked the last bit of orange nectar from his fingers, ‘that was nice of you, have a nice day.’ And that was that. He wanted nothing more to do with her, her presence was unnecessary, not part of his daily program to which he had not only grown accustomed to, but dependent on for comfort. She didn’t make him uncomfortable per se, but she did occupy a space and time he had no reference for.

And she drifted on. Gaining nothing from that exchange except 3 kilos of oranges less one orange. She felt she didn’t feel. She could feel it. She always did. And she nurtured it like a protective wall of tall trees.

Now, in her painful shiny black leather stiletto pumps, as the narrow front clamps down tightly on her toes, a smile escapes the corner of her mouth. She walks on to the hair salon, brimming with anticipation for the chance to hear the hushed sound of sharp scissors slicing through the ends of her hair.