Day Fourteen: In Chinese we call this "kuaizi toufa." Or at least I do.

All my life I’ve admired those women who grab their long hair, twist it up into a lump on the back of their head, shove a pencil through the lump and then walk around for the rest of the day with a perfect pencil-held bun in their hair.

I’ve attempted this little trick many times but with no success. The pencil immediately falls out, the hair falls down, and I’m left wondering what I did wrong.

Have I ever asked one of these women to show me the secret? No, and that right there is the reason that youtube was invented, so that people like me can learn 1) how to cast on in knitting when not in the presence of their best friend or mother, who are always happy to cast on for them, 2) how to cast off in knitting, because no matter how many scarves they knit while trying to quell their innate fidgetiness in meetings, they can’t remember how to cast off, 3) how to make fringe at the ends of their scarves for the tenth time once they’ve learned how to cast off for the tenth time, 5) how to make a flip book, 6) how to color their hair so that it doesn’t look too raccoony, 7) how to take a front door off its hinges so as to repaint it, 8) (fyi, something I just learned, if you type the number eight and a parenthesis after it into this blog it will come out not as the number 8 but as a strange little smiley face) how to do a quick+dirty fix on the rusty worn-off enamel part of their bathtub, 9) how to fix their disposal, 10) how to count to ten in Mongolian, and ETCETERA ETCETERA, you get the picture.

So. Today’s never before done challenge was to learn how to put my hair up in a bun using not a pencil but chopsticks. The thought of that right there –the use of two chopsticks instead a single pencil– gave this challenge a certain Asiatic flair that made me extra-happy.

You would be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t, to learn just how many how-to videos pop up when you type the following question into youtube: “How do you put your hair up into a bun using chopsticks?”

It was amazing to find out, as I studied these tutorials, that in all these years of pencil-bun attempts, there was only one tiny maneuver that I had been leaving out. Had I only asked someone, or had youtube only been invented twenty years ago, I could have been wearing a chopsticks bun for decades now.


  1. Barbara · July 22, 2012

    This post has made my day! I always thought I was the only one who didn’t know how to do the seemingly-effortless bun-in-chopsticks/pencil maneuver. I wouldn’t have realized there are videos on such things. If I can figure this out, it could really improve the rest of this very hot summer for me!


  2. alison · July 22, 2012

    Go for it, Barbara! It took me one try and one try only to produce a successful chopsticks bun. Godspeed, my child.


  3. oreo · July 23, 2012

    Thanks to you, I might finally be able to stop hating those effortless pencil/chopsticks in bun people and join them, which would do my heart good.

    By the way, I did much better this weekend. Day 14 I went to a music festival I’ve never gone to in a town I’ve never been to and heard bands I’ve never heard live. Day 15 I rocked this challenge like never before. I went to the workplace of one of my oldest friends for the first time, which also happened to be my first experience in a sushi restaurant. And let me tell you, did I ever eat things I had never seen, heard of, or tasted before. She ordered a smattering of tiny plates full of things that are evidently considered to be delicacies in some circles, and every time the waiter set something new down, I found myself thinking, “But they forgot to cook it! Oh, that’s right. This is sushi.” The strangest new thing I had: raw quail eggs. Also, are you aware that some people ruin spring rolls by frying them? I never knew such sacrilege existed.


  4. nicole · August 17, 2012

    this looks awesome!!! I am so proud that you figured out how to do this after wanting to. Better late than never right. You’ve also given me something to try when my hair grows out more. I think you are right, this is totally why YouTube was invented.


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