every time i think about how i haven't written on here, i think about what i would write and realize that in the hustle and bustle of work and life, i've let the heart, fun, and life drain out of this blog a bit. every once in a while i'll slap a post up to fulfill my posting duty, but that's hardly why we do this, right? i was recently inspired by a new facebook friend who writes the most lovely blog posts and another friend who posts some refreshingly honest reflections on motherhood, and i have been encouraged to let this blog come back to life. this is different than my usual post that says, "i promise to post more. no really, for real this time!!" instead, what i mean is that i want to use this blog for its intended purpose: to share and spur creativity. to write about what's on my heart and mind, to ramble about arts and crafts, to be encouraged to stop business as usual and do something different.
so, first i'll do a little ditty about what's been on my mind lately. my hair. it's no big surprise. i have made about 18 posts about my hair in the couple of years i've been blogging, and anyone who knows me in person has been subjected to frequent interrogations: short or long!? light or dark!? i recently cut my hair really short, which i initially loved.
as i contemplate growing out my hair, the constraint of my once-long tresses and the liberation of shaving my head remains on my mind. i think about what it means to others and what it means to me to have long hair and to care what others think about how i look.
The first time I really cut my hair I was in love with Nicole Richie. Though she had cleaned up her exterior thanks to an overhaul by a team of image renovators, her messy, sloppy, wild interior still sparkled in her eyes, and I loved every bit of it. I drove to the salon ready to reinvent myself with Nicole’s sassy bob and side swept bangs. I would shed my long, youthful tresses for a modern, grown up but still mischievous style. Little did I know that my haircut would only further catapult me on the journey I had already begun. For a while I was completely enamored with the cut, and it never fully did lose its shine; however, while I cut of nearly a foot of hair, its length only seemed grow inside of me and around me as it tightened its grasp, slowly, sweetly suffocating me each day.
After a series of failed attempts to make the hair more interesting, I finally got the courage to chop my now bleach-blonde hair into a short, cropped ‘do. With Selma Blair and her brief moment as a blonde as my inspiration, I went to the salon and had what I thought was the last of the feminine drag amputated from my head. I was free. The boa constrictor’s grasp loosened from around my waist, neck, released from my internal organs. I could breathe. For months I felt relief. However, in the back of my head I knew that I hadn’t gone all the way. I knew shaving my head was the extreme end of the trajectory I was on, and no matter how much I enjoyed the freedom of my new, shorter hair, I could still see that there was more.
In August of 2007 I was sitting at my desk preparing to teach later that morning, and I rose from my chair thinking to myself, “I’m going to shave my head now.” I thought it just as I might have said to myself, “I need to brush my teeth now.” I hadn’t been thinking explicitly of it earlier that day or even in the days preceding that moment. It hit me all at once with such decisiveness that I didn’t even need to consider the choice. My body decided it and my brain was simply alerting me of the fact. I didn’t shave my head just then—I had to go teach—but I couldn’t push is out of my thoughts. As I was walking home from class with a friend we passed a butch woman in jeans and a t-shirt with close-cropped hair. We nodded, giving her the super-lesbian high five.
“I love that,” S said. “Sometimes I just want to say, ‘fuck it,’ and just look real gay. You know, my cut off cargos, some old t-shirt, cut off all my hair.”
“I know!” I exclaimed and told her about my brush with shaving my head earlier that morning. “I’m just done with it.” She agreed, and we continued on our way home.
A few minutes later on the phone I told the woman I was dating about it and she replied simply, “Then do it. Shave your head.” That was all I needed to walk to my car, shaking a little, and drive to Sid’s. As I pulled in the parking lot, I remembered what I was doing and turned down my last chance to back out. “Oh my god, you’re shaving your head!” my girlfriend exclaimed when I told her I had arrived. I promised to call the second I was done, and rushed inside, certain my courage would fail me if I didn’t hurry up.
I only had to wait a few minutes for Merritt to sit me in the chair and turn on her clippers. She began running the cool blade against my scalp and fuzzy, bleached clumps of hair began falling to the ground. Within 3 minutes, my blonde styled head of hair became a dark, quarter-inch velvet blanket. For the first time, instead of hair, when I looked in the mirror I saw my face looking back at me.
Shaving my head was just as liberating as any evangelizing radical lesbian feminist could profess it to be. I felt free. I felt exposed and open, but powerful and in control at the same time. My students ranged from being amused to completely enamored with my shaved head. Old women and African Americans regularly stopped me to tell me how much they liked my hair style. One woman stopped me in the hallway at school and declared me an “honorary black woman.” For ten minutes she told me unsolicited stories about her hair, her sister’s hair, and hair in general. “It’s just perfect for you,” the 85-year-old Italian woman at Target told me. Most importantly, I felt unencumbered. I had nothing left to hide behind, and I was surprised to find that I didn’t die immediately without the protective covering.
It wasn’t all wonderful. People stared, whispered, and shot judgmental looks at me. Sometimes feeling open was too much. There were times when I just wanted to look regular so I could go to the grocery market without doing any emotion work. I kept my head shaved for about two months, and I miss it sometimes now as an inch and a half of hair covers my head again. I’m not sure what my hair is doing now, but I know that it feels different to me.
written november 2007
the second problem with growing out my hair is that it's a pain in the ass! it always goes through a very long phase of looking cuh-ray-zee until it gets to something decent, and last time i went through this process, the end result was just kind of meh.
so for now, i wait. i wait because i am not sure of the answer. i wait because i work all the time and have no time to get my hair cut. i wait because i am stubborn and will only let jen b cut my hair and she's in raleigh and hardly ever works. i wait because $50 is a lot of money. and i wait because i am just not sure.
and for the part deux of this post: the creative bent. i have spent far too long removed from my beloved craft box. years, YEARS ago i started making a black, white, and pink blanket. i have a pink and orange blanket that is pretty much the best blanket in life. i'm not trying to be conceited, but it's pretty awesome. i love it, e loves it, sunny (the cat) loves it. you get the idea. well, the black and pink one is meant to be the same, but it's just not done. i hereby solemnly swear on this blog, the little violet dress, on this 30th day of june in the year of our lord 2011 that i will finish that freaking blanket. i will put needle to fabric and sew the batting to the daggone thing! and then i will start a few other projects, beginning with this: