The Samson Effect

All my hair devices courtesy of my daughter Sonja

An ordinary story for the first week of ordinary times.

My Mane

I have always had a good head of hair, so much hair that when I was younger, it took forever to dry. I grew up in the 60’s, and I cannot remember going to a salon to get my hair cut. Our mother was way too busy raising seven kids to worry about what our hair looked like. She would always cut my bangs so short that it would take months to grow again. I was never that girl who fussed over her hair either. In grammar school two mean girls would always gang up on me to find something wrong to make fun of. I had already developed thick skin by being bullied on a daily basis by three older brothers, so these girls never got the best of me. I would give them an odd look and walk away. One day I decided to comb my hair up in a bun. They came up to me and said, “Who combed your hair?” I remember giving the question a long thought; I wanted to be sure my answer was acceptable. If I said that I combed my hair, they would certainly make fun of me, but if I said that my mother combed my hair, they would be at a loss for words. These were mean little girls. I always thought that they resembled frogs, walking frogs, I was a cute kid. So after a long pause I finally answered the toads, “My mother combed my hair.” “It looks like it!” They ran away laughing. Man, I was so mad at myself; from that day on I understood trick questions.

My sister Norma and I have the same problem with our hair. I’ve always been observant when my hair was being styled so I felt that I could cut Norma’s hair. What a disaster! Norma had holes on the side of her head for months. In God’s justice, my payback came quickly. We had a wedding to attend and it was one those last minute things that I always get caught up in. While getting a pedicure, I  decided to get my hair trimmed at the same time. I suffered the worst hair cut ever! I honestly believe that this Asian woman had a fake license to cut hair.

Angela Davis
Me trying to look like Angela Davis
The Scare Crow look

My hair continued to be a labor of loathing. I went through my teens with a shag haircut, then came the ridiculous perms. Once I was trying to save money but I really wanted to look like the rest of the world, so I went to the other side of town for a cheap perm. I knew I was in trouble when I discovered that no one in the salon spoke English. Even the chemicals that was used on my hair smelled a lot stronger. I was told to place my head back while the stylist worked on someone else. She took so long, that my neck was completely kinked and the tight curlers made an almost permanent indentation on my scalp. But that was just the beginning of the nightmare. When the hair stylist returned, my neck was so stiff that I could barely move. One at a time I saw my hair kink up as she removed the curlers. Remember Angela Davis? My hair looked bigger than her ‘fro. Oh, but I did save a lot of money. Sonja was a little girl, and she had to witness this terrible episode of my life. I drove around and passed my house several times because I was afraid that Mike would not recognize me or that he might divorce me. You would think that I learned from my mistakes, but oh no! Not me! I hated the perm and took matters into my own hands. Prior to this perm, when we lived in the San Fernando Valley I suffered the same fate. I had one of my neighbors use lye to reverse the perm. Again I purchased the lye, but this time my hair was so damaged that I resembled a scarecrow for several months. This was my last perm!

 

The Etienne look

Beverly Hills

I have dragged Mike into my hair woes. My laments were so relentless that he arranged for me to get my hair cut at Vidal Sassoon Salon in Beverly Hills. My hairstylist’s name was Etienne. This was early 90’s, when gays were barely peeking their heads out of the closets. Etienne was gay, but back then it would have been considered a guessing game. I remember hearing one of my friends say that she had a gift for determining the sexual orientation of a person.  Etienne was Oriental (that was the correct term at that time) and though he was not flashy, his clothes looked very expensive.  He was wonderful and I always felt like a million bucks when I walked out of the salon. Etienne liked my hair short, so that meant frequent trips to Beverly Hills. Once the traffic on the 405 Freeway was so bad that I missed my appointment. I was small potatoes for Etienne as he sometimes boasted about famous clients he had, so he dumped me for being late. I moved on to his assistant, Brit, but the drive to Beverly Hills was taking a toll. Finally Brit opened a salon in Redondo Beach. For years I remained a loyal customer  to him and his then-wife Jazmina, but again the driving was too much, an hour up and back, plus the styling was a four- hour ordeal. So I was back to square one. Super Cuts; sometimes, other times just a walk in wherever.

If you’re wondering how I will make the connection to that of Samson in the Bible, it’s very simple. Samson’s hair was his superpower; this is where his strength came from. Women’s hair is pretty much the same. We are the consumers of billions of dollars to have great hair. We get tricked just like Samson did with the Philistines; and even with our eyes open  (his were cruelly  gouged out) we continue to purchase more and more hair products. I for one am pretty gray-haired and must color my hair every three weeks. I do this at home, and, much to my husband’s distain, I make a big mess (but I’m saving money).

Misty

Me, Misty, and Alyn

For the past five years Misty has been styling my hair. We joke about the hours she keeps; she is in fashion when late, not fashionably late. If you have a 10 a.m. appointment you may make it home in time for dinner. Misty is an artist who has to have a cup of iced Starbucks coffee before she starts her project. She colors and highlights my hair every four months. Misty always looks like she just had a makeover; she is trendy and, like Etienne, her garments look expensive.  I can never understand why there only seems to be a few strands of  hair on the floor when she is done. It doesn’t  matter because for one day my hair will look fabulous.

I did not take a Nazarite vow to never cut my hair like Samson, but I did take a vow to always serve the Lord. I pray you enjoy my stories. God Bless!

Judges 16:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.”

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The Lopez Old Wive’s Tales

 

San Francisco circa 1985, cousin Diana’s wedding

 

Deuteronomy 1:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

11 May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times over, and bless you as he promised!

 

We have all grown up hearing old wive’s tales. I am part of the Lopez clan, and my mother and her 5 sisters passed on some wonderful ones to us. I loved sitting around my mother and aunts because they were so full of life and laughter. My mother also had 3 brothers, who along with her sisters produced a total of 50 first cousins.

As a child I truly took these old wive’s tales to heart. When my nose was itchy, I knew we were going to have company. I’ve had allergies most of my life, and I can never remember when my nose was not itchy, but that did not matter. This old wive’s tale always came true.  Another one:  when your left hand was itchy,  you were going to get money. I called my sister Norma to ask if she remembered any old wive’s tales. I reminded her of the left hand one and she said, “Oh, that’s not one: it’s really true, every time my left hand itches, I get unexpected money.” I was left speechless and about ready to call her out, when the Holy Spirit quickened my mind to whenever my left hand is itchy, I purchase a lottery ticket.

I shared with my cousin Nellie that I suffered from leg cramps, and she told me an old wive’s tale. Nellie’s advice: “Didn’t your mother tell you that you need to put your shoes under your bed, but they must be facing down?” She added  “You will never suffer a cramp if you do this.” Our home was built in the early 70’s; it was obviously designed by a man because we have small closets. I store my seasonal shoes in a plastic container under my bed. The other night I suffered a massive leg cramp. It started with my foot and quickly traveled to the upper muscle of my lower leg (tibialis anterior). I struggled to get up, because  my foot was curled under. I wanted to scream but Mike was on a business trip, so it was useless. I finally forced my foot with my hand and planted it on the floor when the cramp moved to my upper thigh (rectus femoris muscle). It was 2:30 a.m. when I looked at the clock. I hobbled back and forth, asking Jesus to remove the pain, but to no avail. I crawled back into bed only to experience another round of torture. Then I remembered the shoes under my bed. I prayed out loud, “Dear God, please let at least one pair of shoes be upside down!” When Mike is home, and I wake up screaming from a leg cramp, he usually gets up to rub my leg, while asking me if I had eaten a banana that day. My reply is always the same, “Really, I’m dying here, and you want to know if I ate a banana?” Take it from me, this old wive’s tale is not foolproof. This walking nightmare lasted over 5 minutes.

I talked to my other cousin Elvia, who is Nellie’s older sister, and she shared with me that her mother, my Tia Margarita, made her attach a safety pin to her underwear while she was pregnant during an eclipse. The safety pin was to keep the child from having any birth defects.

My cousin Delia, daughter of my Tio Leandro, said that our grandmother would cover all the mirrors in the house when her children had the chicken pox. Covering the mirrors would keep the pox from spreading.

The spilled salt dilemma

One of my favorite old wive’s tales: when you accidentally spill salt, meant that something bad was going to happen to you. This old wive’s tale required immediate action:  you had to take a pinch of salt and toss it over each shoulder to avert the bad luck. Every time I spill salt this comes to mind, and sometimes I secretly stick to the ritual. I’m just covering all my bases.

I believe we were all told about the broken mirror and seven years of bad luck. When I was younger I accidentally broke my mother’s compact. It was a horrible day because I thought I was doomed to bad luck. I remember counting the years when this would be lifted from me. No one took the time to explain that this was not true. All I heard was, “To bad for you, seven years of bad luck!”

My cousin Connie, daughter of my Tia Consuelo, reminded me of another Lopez old wive’s tale. This one also required action:  if you did not cover your feet at night, the Devil would lick them. My sister Norma and I grew up yelling, “My feet! My feet!” and running to cover our feet whenever we were scared about something. I honestly believe Norma still covers her feet when she gets frightened. As much as I hate to admit this, in all fairness, my feet are always covered.

Nowadays I cover myself with the Blood of Jesus; that is the only thing that keeps me from fear of the unknown. These old wive’s tales become habits that we carry  from one generation to another. I shared some of them with my grandchildren, and they just laughed. They are not as gullible as we were as children.

1 Timothy 4:7 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion,

Many of my cousins are still my dear friends. The Lopez family has strong roots that are too deep to sever. All the cousins I keep in contact with are also serving the Lord. Some have taken the Protestant path, but  in the end we will meet at the banqueting table of the Lord in Heaven. I praise God for them, and am grateful for the love we share. God has blessed us in keeping our faith intact, despite passing on the tales of our ancestors.

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Banished to Patmos

image
The only picture taken from the boat from the not-so-calm sea

This was one of my first Blogs. This adventure to Patmos took place back in 2008, I added to the original story.

Our boat ride to Patmos was anything but uneventful. We were Izmir, Turkey, experiencing a different type of thunder storm, one that sounded more like an air raid with the loud popping sound of lightning shaking our hotel. We had to be up by 4:00 AM to allow for clearing customs for the departure to Patmos. My mind was filled with doubt about this trip. The unfamiliar weather played into my fear; we did, after all, have to pay a little extra to charter a boat off season to the remote island; things just did not feel right. As we approached the dock, a small, older boat was waiting for us to board. The vessel was bobbing wildly like a whale caught in a fishing net. I could not imagine how we could board the boat, let alone sail in it. We all needed assistance to get on the boat but not our leader Joanne. It seemed that as soon as she placed her jewel-studded shoes on the dock, it calmed down, like Jesus walking on water she was in. No sooner did the rage continue with waves splashing all over the deck. By the time I boarded, the ramp was being violently whipped up and down with huge swells beating the boat, Mother Nature’s heavy hand showed no mercy. We were told that instead of the usual three hours it was going to take five, and the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island” quickly flooded my brain,”A three-hour tour.” I found a spot to sit and started to pray, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for all the bad things I said about of some of the people on this trip.” It was not even 20 minutes when the dread of motion sickness set in. Like a chameleon, my color tone changed from yellow to green, and ridding myself  of the small morsel of breakfast was too much to bear. The W/C was located on the deck. Nothing about this boat was use- friendly. The Aegean Sea made me drunk, and like an inebriated sailor I struggled to go outside to free my stomach of the queasiness. As returned I wanted to check on an older lady from our team, but I dared not disturb her near-death experience. My roommate Alida, a nurse, needed to use the facilities, but she insisted on taking her personal toilet seat cover to the bathroom, I had to take a rain check on laughing.

Where the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation
Entrance to the monastery

By the time we finally docked the boat, I honestly felt like I got beat up by a strong man and lost the fight.

We were quickly ushered to the top the hill to St. John’s Monsatery,  where an unfriendly Greek Orthodox priest was guarding the door as we passed. He told us that we only had an hour because he was scheduled to teach a class. We all wanted to get the most out of the experience, and were taking in all of what our tour guide was explaining. I was in complete awe, touching the spot where St. John laid his head to rest, the makeshift granite table he used for writing. I was trying so hard to imagine what it must have been like, to be in the presence of God. The old apostle wrote the Book of Revelation in this cave, Jesus instructed him to write down these words. This was Jesus speaking to him! The voice so powerful that it cracked the granite overhead in three directions.

The strict Greek priest forbade us to take pictures, but we were not going to be denied. We hid our cameras and took pictures without flash. This was before phones had good cameras. For a special blessing I placed rosaries and handkerchiefs that I purchased in Ephesus on the table, where the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation.  We prayed and could have stayed there for hours but the priest ushered us out and locked the doors behind him.

Patmos icons

We had only a few hours before we boarded the boat from the nether world. Many of the shops were closed but I managed to find a store with original artwork. The only thing I could afford was a painted egg and an icon of John. The artist was out running an errand, so her husband, not realizing, sold me the egg with wet paint. When I got home, the gold frame came off along with the Greek newspaper it was wrapped in.

Our Greek lunch

My roommate Alida wanted to experience Greek food, but we only had a half an hour to eat. By the time our food arrived, my head was still spinning from the ride down to Patmos. I did not enjoy one bite of the beautiful feast set before me, so I can never say how great the food was, just that it looked amazing.

We all boarded the small boat…well not all of us. Jane was missing. Other than the monastery, I could not remember seeing her after that. An hour went by and still no Jane. This is a small island, and for a person to go missing is really unusual. We needed to get back to Izmir before dark, so the last thing we wanted to experience was the bad attitude of the sea at night. We were well into the second hour of looking for Jane, when Joanne, the head of the ministry, decided to call the authorities. I volunteered to go up and down the streets of the smallest village one more time. I yelled, “Jane, Jane, we need to leave, where are you?” Suddenly, just a stone’s throw away from the boat, I found her. Jane was so sick that just like Rip Van Winkle, she  fell into a deep sleep. The bench where Jane was sleeping was hidden behind a shady tree. Jane never heard the commotion we made, yelling her name and nervously running around to find her.

The ride back was smooth sailing. I will always remember this wonderful experience. Years later, we returned but this time we had the cave all to ourselves for hours.

“On  the Lord’s Day I was in the spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and sent it to the seven churches…” Rev. 1:10-11

 

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