birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

On Fire

As a kid, no one could miss me in a crowd, thanks to my blazing orange hair. The color was also a conversation starter. Strangers would stop my parents, who were both brunette, on the street and ask them where I got my red hair. "The mailman," my dad would reply and the grown ups would laugh. Later in life, I realized why it was funny, but at a few years old, I came up with my own saucy reply: "A tomato can!" And grownups would laugh. Redheads have a reputation: Hot-tempered, spirited. Characters in children's literature had red hair (and were also named Anne): Little Orphan Annie and Anne of Green Gables. I think people may have assumed I had the same temperament. "They'd put you on TV if you came to Japan," a friend who lived there once told me. I was also mercilessly teased as a kid, but I really didn't mind. I was also the smallest kid in the class. Those taunts stung more powerfully. As I grew older, I noticed that some guys liked girls with red hair. And some didn't, so really no benefit there. When I was in college, I decided I wanted to dye my hair flat black. The hairdresser refused. "I have clients who pay me lots of money to get your color. I can't in good conscience ruin your hair," she said. After a bad breakup, I settled for having a friend henna it. It turned out brick red. Seriously looked like my hair was on fire. So cool! Over the years, the attention for my hair color has noticeably waned, probably as the hue has darkened, become more auburn. But while it lasted, I enjoyed the extra attention, the ice breaker of having my hair color.

Falling, Falling, Falling

My Feet