• What’s Up with the Bad Gymnast Hair?

    Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love gymnastics. I took classes starting at age 4; I competed through high school; and I plan my schedule around when competitions are on TV. I even have “my spot” at Wells Fargo Arena where I always sit to watch the ASU gymnastics home meets. It’s a fantastic sports that combines dynamics and grace in such a beautiful way.

    Bad Gymnast Hair (and this is nothing compared to how bad it gets) by Parker Knight from Flickr
    Bad Gymnast Hair (and this is nothing compared to how bad it gets) by Parker Knight from Flickr

    Here’s what I don’t get: over the last 4-5 years, girls’ hair has gotten really messy. When I was competing, our hair had to be pulled back tight and if we had any wispies, they had to be pulled out of the way with gel, clips, or both. Now a lot of girls are doing a ponytail where they pull it up but then pull it through halfway again. This style can look good, but now the way these girls are doing it. It looks like they rolled out of bed, whipped their hair up really quick, and then forgot to do it for the competition.

    At the Secret U.S. Challenge over the weekend, some of the girls had hair that looked ridiculous. You could tell some of them had really long hair – too long just to put in a ponytail. They should have braided it and folded it under or put it in bun but instead they had these knots on top of their heads or looked like they had some type of weird horse-inspired hairstyle. Some of them were really bad. (I’m not going to name names because these are children, but you know who you are.)

    I understand why a teen would want to do this, but I don’t understand why the coaches let them get away with it. My coaches never did. At one meet my coach thought my bangs were too long and she cut them right then and there. At the national championships one year, one of my teammates’ ponytails was a bit too long and my coach cut her hair in the hotel room.

    I don’t get it. This is a sport based on giving a flawless performance. These girls spend thousands of hours over the course of years perfecting their skills. On competition day these girls wear beautiful leotards and have perfect makeup. Why would they neglect their hair? Judges have discretion to take off points for “general impression.” If I were a judge and a girl had a sloppy appearance, I’d dock them for it.

    This is not the first time I’ve jumped on this soapbox. As one of “The Gays in Row 16,” this is one of my biggest pet peeves at ASU gymnastics meets. Those girls are beautiful, talented, and improved so much in the last few years, but they are notorious for having sloppy hair. Some of them look like they got up that morning, mindless threw up their hair in a rubber band, got mauled by a bear on their way to school, and then competed that night. I would send the team a gift basket of gel and maximum hold hairspray if I thought they’d use it.

    I hope the slobbification of USA Gymnastics ends soon. The US Gymnastics Championships is coming up in a few weeks and I hope the powers that be require the girls to have a flawless appearance from head-to-toe. The girls are too good to look so bad.

    This is how Gymnasts' Hair Should Look - Women line up for gymnastics by bryangeek from Flickr
    This is how Gymnasts’ Hair Should Look – Women line up for gymnastics by bryangeek from Flickr
  • Living with Insomnia

    My name is Ruth Carter and I’m an insomniac.

    you can't sleep? by skampy from Flickr
    you can’t sleep? by skampy from Flickr

    I have dealt with insomnia off-and-on for my entire adult life. There have been times when it was so bad that when I finally fell asleep, everyone around me would do whatever they could not to wake me up. Sometimes this meant letting me sleep in the most uncomfortable-looking position where they knew I’d be hurting when I woke up.

    One thing I’ve learned about insomnia is not to freak out about it. It’s pretty hard to die from sleep deprivation, you’re just going to be tired the next day. When you freak out about your insomnia, you make yourself anxious which makes the insomnia worse and it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.  Just accept that it’s temporary and that you’ll fall asleep eventually.

    My weird insomniatic habit is I’ll be tired in the early evening but by the time it’s time to go to bed, I’m wide awake again. I don’t get it. I just go with it. When I can’t sleep I try to stay mellow and watch TV, read a book, or see what my fellow insomniacs are saying on Twitter. If I’m wide awake, I’ll use the extra time to be productive and do things like sweep my floor and answer emails. If I’m at the don’t-bother-trying-to-sleep phase, I might as well put my time to good use, but I try not to do anything that’s going to wake me up or be such an undertaking that it will be a pain if sleepy time hits me in the middle of the project.

    Yawn! by formatc1 from Flickr
    Yawn! by formatc1 from Flickr

    I’m not a fan of sleeping pills (including melatonin) so I rarely take them. I heard it takes the body two days to realize it’s tired so the night of sleep that really matters is two days before a big event, not the night before it. I took something to help me sleep two nights before the LSAT and two nights before the bar exam. More places should really sell sleeping pills in single doses because the bottle of sleeping pills will expire between each incident I need them.

    The real downside of insomnia isn’t lack of sleep, it’s the side effects of sleep deprivation. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation causes cognitive impairments and slows your reaction times. It can be as bad as being drunk. And I don’t know about other people, but I get really crabby when I’m tired. But I usually know when I’m getting what my friend calls “cranky pants” and remove myself from social situations. If nothing else, I make myself take a power nap or at least lay down for twenty minutes. Mythbusters tested this theory with an experiment inspired by Deadliest Catch and showed that power naps improve functioning when you’re sleep deprived.

    Am I ever going to stop being an insomniac? Who knows. If it becomes a permanent part of my life, then so will napping.

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  • My Tattoo Process

    I’m a big proponent of the idea that when you turn 18 you should do something to celebrate the fact that you’re an adult. I went skydiving. I don’t support 18 year-olds getting tattoos as their I’m-18-I-can-do-what-I-want experience. And here’s why -they’re permanent!

    Foot tattoos Ruth Carter
    My Awesome Tattoos

    If I got a tattoo every time I thought I had a good idea for a new piece, I’d be covered in ink and probably regret most of it. A tattoo should be something that you love and holds as much meaning on the day you got it as when you’re 85 years old with saggy skin.

    I’ve been tattooed five times and I love my work. But I have a process for getting a tattoo that has to occur before I climb into the tattoo chair.

    It’s so important to pick something that is meaningful and timeless so that you’ll love seeing your tattoo every day. I think a lot of people pick something that’s meaningful for a limited time and so over time their tattoo loses value. Once I’ve decided on a design that will be meaningful for the rest of my life, then I have pick a good location for it. This wasn’t a struggle with my foot tattoos, but it has been with my latest idea of getting a variation of the Ignite Phoenix bird tattooed on my body. I initially thought I wanted it between my shoulder blades but now I’m thinking I want it on my left rib cage.

    Once I decide on what I want and where I want to put it, then I have to wait for “the sign.” There isn’t one sign but more of a gut feeling that it’s time to get the work done. With my first tattoo – the double shooting star on my right foot – I talked with my artist about my plan and I asked her to give me the weekend to make sure it was time to have the work done. That Saturday I was cater-waitering and I taped up my foot because we were working on rough terrain out in a vineyard. When I took the tape off at the end of the night, a big chunk of skin off the top of my foot came off with it – right where the tattoo was supposed to go. That was a sign that it wasn’t time to get the work done.

    The Steam Crow Ignite Phoenix Bird I'm contemplating for my next tattoo
    The Steam Crow Ignite Phoenix Bird I’m contemplating for my next tattoo

    With my Libra tattoo, I knew it was time to have it done when I put my feet up on the recliner one night and I did a double-take because I didn’t see the tattoo on my foot. My brain had already put the design on my body. I had that tattoo put on my body within a month of getting that sign.

    I’m still waiting on the sign to get the Ignite Phoenix tattoo, and my brain is still trying to figure out if I want black and gray with touches of color or full color for this one.

    If you’re going to get a tattoo, do your homework on your artist in advance. You’re buying custom artwork so get someone who can execute your idea. Good tattoos are not cheap so plan to drop a buck on the endeavor and tip your artist well. When you go for your first tattoo, make sure the artist understands that it’s your first tattoo so they can walk you through everything that’s going to happen. My artist offered to do the first little line without ink just so I could experience how it feels, which I declined but I appreciated the thought.

    And yes, getting a tattoo hurts, especially when tattooing over bone like on your ribs or foot. I got light-headed during my first tattoo session and the artist asked if she should stop. I said, “No. Keep going. It’ll hurt less.” I’ve had five tattoo sessions on my feet, including painful re-coloring, and I only had one time when I had to tell the artist to stop because I needed a few minutes’ break from the pain.

    If you’re 18 years old and want to do some type of body modification as a proclamation of your status as an adult, get a piercing. I’ve had fourteen. They’re awesome. And they’re usually cheaper than a tattoo and relatively easy to reverse if you decide you don’t want it anymore.

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