1-Year Dreadlocks Progression + a few Updates

Today, we are taking a break from taxonomy and biodiversity to talk about something completely different. My one-year update on my dreadlocks is quite a bit overdue, and today I want to change that.

Before we get into that, there are a few things I want to mention. If I don’t completely forget, I’ll leave a timestamp for the actual beginning of the episode in the show notes.

First, a little look ahead on what’s coming on the podcast: I have pre-recorded a few episodes of the biodiversity series Climbing the Tree of Life, so those will continue to follow over the next weeks and months. There are a few dozen pre-written, all the way up to sharks and fishes with more on amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even plants to follow as I progress. I also have started writing episodes on some of my other subjects with topics like physical oceanography, climate cycles, as well as episodes focusing on a single species or genera.

Well, and then there are almost finished episodes on why zoos are actually not good for conservation, gender, romantic inclination, and sexuality and why the way we talk about these topics is not working. Of course, we’ll continue to talk about barefoot living, floor sleeping, and societal norms and issues, as always.

Speaking of societal issues and human rights violations: What’s happening just a few countries East of where I currently live here in Germany is cruel, unnecessary, and an atrocious violation of human rights. I watch the news—from many sources, as there is way too much propaganda and misinformation out there—with a wary and open eye. It’s much harder to feel distanced from what’s happening when the bad things are happening close enough nearby that a stupid decision from Putin could change everything for us and the people we care about. But one thing remains true: I have become aware that I had closed my eyes to a lot of the human exploitation and injustice because it just didn’t affect me enough. As always, I vow to do better, to grow, to learn, to open my eyes. Ukrainian people, I stand with you! I support you! But as thoughts and prayers have never helped in these situations, there is nothing much I can do to help, so let’s move on, albeit reluctantly. It just feels a little weird to talk about something as inconsequential as my hair while the world is falling apart, day by day, crisis by crisis.

I am currently on semester break, and we are so close to finishing our final lab report. I definitely plan to use the next three weeks wisely because the next semester is again starting with a block subject—full-time for three weeks!—and there is another research block subject toward the end of the semester with a whooping five weeks of full-time in-person education.

Meanwhile, I am working on the next steps. My final semesters and the bachelor thesis are getting closer, and I hope to write the thesis in Aveiro, Portugal, and am hard at work to make that happen. Another move is on the horizon. I can’t wait! There are more exciting steps planned for after the bachelor (hint, hint, ocean sailing has something to do with it) that I am super excited to share with you. Until we leave for Portugal this fall or winter, there are a million things to do, from downsizing our belongings to the bare minimum to finally selling our aquariums—there’s an episode on pets upcoming as well.

And finally, I want to talk about one last thing: my novels. I have done it. I’ve removed my books from the shackles of Amazon exclusivity. This will likely mean a dip in my already low revenue for at least a few months, but I can’t justify forcing people into the Amazon universe and supporting egocentric assholes like Jeff Bezos. It goes against everything I believe in and stand for. So, soon, my books will be available essentially everywhere—at least in the e-book format. The print books are currently still with Amazon only, but as I don’t plan to continue selling print books for future books—a topic for another day—I think that is fine for now. I already published Spores, the 20,000-word novella that sets of the Water & Earth series a few days ago when exclusivity expired, and am currently re-editing all my books to publish them as the KDP Select periods run out. I have recently become aware how many errors were left in my books after a professional editor edited them for me, so I will have to sit down and thoroughly go through all of them to fix those issues. The Willow series is also getting a new cover, where all three books of the trilogy will be united in one volume under the name of the first book: Chase. The cover looks amazing, and I can’t wait to share it :)

I’m making good progress on the next two books I’ll publish: the second book of the Water & Earth series, and the LGBTQ-romance novel that will set of another five-part series that explores all kinds of sexualities, orientations, and neurodivergence.

One thing this means is that I can finally read more of my books for you, as I am no longer shackled by Amazon’s 10%-rule. This means, over the course of the next months, you’ll get to hear the entirety of Out of Hiding, at the very least. Depending on how the re-edits go, I’ll also share my other books with you in audio format. I’m no narrator, so I can’t make cute voices happen, but I hope to still share my stories with you this way.

Okay, we’re almost a thousand words in, and I haven’t started the topic. Let’s do that now. There are two more updates at the end, though, so stay tuned.

On January 4th, 2021, I finished dreading my own hair. I sat in front of my computer and my camera for fourteen hours to segment and twist-and-rip my hair. The result were very loose, thin dreadlocks, that are maturing nicely. I’ll be the first to admit that I would have preferred—and expected—a faster progression. Patience is a virtue I have learned through living with neglect dreadlocks.

The day after finishing my DIY dreadlocks in January of 2021.

Now, my hair looks nothing like it did when I finished the process. The dreads are no longer thin and loose. They are twisted and knotted, felted/matted, and slowly tightening up. While there is loose hair in between, the roots are dreading up nicely without my help. Recently, the dreads started twisting on themselves, something I definitely started to encourage after it began naturally. I haven’t palm-rolled them in months, but I twist them around my fingers (always away from the face and toward the back) while watching the latest Grace & Frankie episodes or listening to lectures. In a few places, I’ve also helped along a bit—no, not with a crochet hook—by braiding loose strands around dreads and securing them with tiny hair-ties. I did this mostly with the dreadlocks at the very back and bottom of my head, where the hair was admittedly too short for the process when I did it. I was considering an undercut to deal with this, but as I don’t want to deal with the maintenance, this seemed like a better choice.

Top-view a few days before recording the progression update video.

I am now 14 months into this journey, and while I was sure I’d have neat dreadlocks by now, it doesn’t surprise me that reality was slower. Neglect dreadlocks take time, way more so than crochet-hooked dreads, and there is just no way I’m destroying all this hard work by sticking needles through my dreads and creating holes all over. No, thank you. But progress seems definitely faster the longer my dreads mature. In the beginning, changes were very slow, while I can see the progress easily now. A few more months, and they should look the way I envision them to look.

Against what some people assume, I definitely absolutely wash my hair. Thankfully, I’ve been able to return to a no-poo water-only approach and the occasional soak in apple cider vinegar and baking soda. Occasional is probably the wrong word here, considering I’ve done this twice now. It is not recommended to soak for the first few months, so I waited until after the 6-months mark before doing the first soak. And about two weeks ago, I did the second one. It means clearing the kitchen counter and lying on it for 20+ minutes, so there are definitely nicer things to spend time on.

I wash my hair about once a week, but I won’t deny that I’ve gone as long as three weeks in a row. At that point, my hair is definitely getting greasy, though, and greasy hair doesn’t felt. I’d recommend every week or so. To wash my dreads, I only use water, first hot and then cold. In the beginning, I had a lot of trouble with dandruff, but that’s slowly getting better, and is no longer a real issue.

After washes, I let my dreads air-dry, something that’s not as much fun in German winter, but definitely doable. When the hair is mostly dried, I twist the dreads a little toward the back and put them into a ponytail or bun to let them finish drying in this twisted form. This seems to help keep things neat a lot better than palm-rolling, but I don’t think it would have been an option before my dreads started twisting like this on their own.

I have uploaded a short video of how things look like now to my YouTube channel. It’s just a #short, but you can see what my hair looks like now. More is not really an option at the moment, as I can’t edit video properly while Apple’s Final Cut Pro is unusable. Their support is still unreachable, so my options are limited.

Oh, that reminds me of one more piece of news that I wanted to share with you: once our plans for after Portugal become reality, I am definitely going to publish videos again. It’s still a bit uncertain if it will be one or two channels, but I am 100% sure that there will be videos because what we have planned is very video-worthy :) The podcast will stay independently, nonetheless. This format has been working really well for me, and I am excited every week to share what I have learned and found out.

Over the last few days, I’ve restructured and updated my website as well. Hopefully, I’ve successfully set up more than a hundred redirects, so none of the old links break, but if you do happen upon an error, let me know. One big change on the website is a new section called Reading. Before going audio-only, I shared how I keep track of my reading in Notion. It’s been working really well. But I wanted a way for other people to see the books I read and recommend—or absolutely don’t recommend wasting time on. Reading is an integral part of my life, and sharing my reviews with you is something I’ve wanted to do for quite a while. So, if you are an avid reader, keep an eye on the Reading tab of my website—or subscribe to the RSS feed if you are still one of those people who know what that is—and you’ll see reviews popping up. I’ll be moving in some favorites—and some anti-favorites—from the past into the reviews, as well, but I’ll try not to bombard you with all of them at once.

Phew, I think that’s it for today. That was chaotic. Well, you know me: chaotic perfectionist—a dangerous combination. See you next week!

As an independent creator who is against supporting the advertising industry—an industry that works mostly by making us feel inadequate—I need your support. If you’d like my podcast, essays, novels, and at some point my videos to continue, consider supporting me in whichever way you can.

And with that, I’ll let you go. Stay vigilant and stand up for what you believe in, work hard to grow and learn, but also make sure to take care of yourself. In trying times, it can be hard to prioritize yourself, but you can’t fight the wrongs of this world if you are too exhausted to stand up and get shit done. Take a break, recharge your batteries, and then get your ass in gear to help me save humanity from itself. To semi-quote Mad-Eye Moody, constant fucking vigilance, my people. And remember, you don’t have to fit into the box! Cheers and until next time.

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand

Kate Hildenbrand is the writer behind the essays here, author of fiction novels, the creator of the Kate Hildenbrand podcast, and a student of marine ecology. At least, that's her on the surface.