Archive for the 'hair' Category

My unkempt mop

January 21, 2015

I had a delightful experience the other day.

I had recently used my hair as part of an analogy in a comment I posted online.  I was making a point about whether something deemed “natural” is somehow superior to a version that is not seen that way.  The original issue was marriage, but I pointed out that plenty of permed heads of hair actually meet cultural aesthetic norms better than my natural but unkempt mop.

Win, lose, or draw on my analogy, a few days later I was listening to tunes on YouTube and I got treated to a Dove commercial about encouraging little girls to love their curls by enjoying our own.  It really struck a chord with me.  I listened to the whole thing.

It’s the babysitter!

August 18, 2014

So my mother is in the processing of selling her house, which I grew up in, and she’s got a (local) real estate agent, and the agent and I have talked on the phone, texted, emailed, and faxed.

The agent and I have even discussed who we know in common in town from our school days, including the family who used to own the house she now owns.  And we’ve determined she’s about six years younger than I am  —  she was a classmate of the younger children in the family whose house she now owns, I had been friends and classmates with the eldest of the siblings.

We finally met face to face yesterday, during my current visit with my mom.  And the agent interrupts the flow of the conversation and suddenly says to me, “You look so familiar.  Did you babysit for me?”

I asked if her current surname is her original one, and no, it’s her married name.  She tells me her maiden name, and then I recognized who she was.

It’s interesting, too, because I never changed my name and she didn’t recognize me from that.

It was probably the hair.

Anyway, it was funny to be recognized after all these years as the babysitter.

Hats and memories

September 21, 2013

I developed a substantial sensitivity to sunlight on the skin on my face, starting about the time my father died this past winter.  My dermatologist prescribed a topical creme to reduce inflammation (in the blood vessels, I think) and told me to stay out the sun, wear a broad-brimmed hat when I am out in the sun, etc.  We also discovered that my skin won’t tolerate even the mildest sunscreen.

I was not unhappy wearing a  broad-brimmed hat this spring and summer.  Now it’s fall, more or less, and straw or raffia don’t seem right.

So I thought (now this, I admit, is a little illogical), “Okay, the sun is more intense in summer, maybe I don’t need to wear a hat all the time when I’m out anymore, now that the season’s changing.”  No one had ever said this would be a seasonal issue, and it had started in the dead of winter, but I thought, “Maybe,” nonetheless.

So I didn’t wear a hat for a few days, and now my face hurts.

Those who see confirmation bias are free to do so.

Anyway, it’s pretty clear this skin condition has not cleared up (I suspect that had also been my hope), that the season makes no (or not enough of a?  I got away with no hat for a couple of days) difference, and that I will need to continue the hat thing.

Here’s where I’m running into an emotional issue.  Willy wore a hat, I think it’s called an outback style.


Once I start wearing a non-straw hat, it will remind me of him, as if I am adopting one of his habits.  That feels uncomfortable.  That is part of what I am trying to avoid.

I think my project is to find a hat that I like, that suits (season and hair), and hope that it (and its style, whatever it turns out to be) resolves the echo issue in an unexpected and helpful way.

Willow tree

September 11, 2013

There’s a willow tree I pass by on a route I often use to return home on foot from the center of town.

It used to be tall and grand, with many large limbs and the usual cascade of slender branches.

I think it was Hurricane Sandy, although I’m not sure; it lost many major pieces in a storm.  Then it got pruned by humans, perhaps for the good of it, perhaps to prevent accidents.  It looked kind of awkward, its top shorn off.

Well, in the spring it leafed out, and by now it has grown many of those dripping slender branches, only most of those are much closer to its trunk, since it no longer has many large limbs, and many of them extend much further down the trunk, as well.

It’s like it has a new hair style, such as might result from a chemotherapy patient making the best of their current hair circumstances.  It looks kind of cute and spunky, and a little like Cousin It.

I hope the tree remains healthy.  Not that long ago, another favorite tree of mine, a huge and beautiful copper beech, with an elephantine trunk, lost a large piece of itself, and not long afterwards was cut down completely.  So far, so good for the willow.

Gray hair

November 24, 2012

My mother used to promise me that my hair would turn white and not gray.  She was extrapolating from the similarity of my hair in some obvious ways to the hair of her Aunt Judith and of her maternal grandmother.  Their hair did turn white.  Mine goes gray.  Oh well.

It may have something to do with original color.  My Great Aunt Judith and my Great Grandmother had lighter hair than I, I’m pretty sure.

The process of hair going white or gray I don’t completely understand, but I was told by a hairdresser that it has to do with the hair strand no longer having its usual core.

This state of affairs may be a useful analogy for thinking about what traditionally gets categorized as “good” and “evil.”  Because I think the energy of Source (I’m trying to stay away from theistic vocabulary) and the energy of its difficult, or “dark,” side is really like merely the difference between the hair strand with or without its core.  The  kind of hair strand deemed “other” is different but not monstrously so.  (Yes, I know, some people have a real issue over going gray, but I don’t think it’s perceived as an existential threat.)  I think God’s Dark Side, to be more portentous and theistic about it, is really only God with or without some of God’s usual aspect.  This presence or absence of this aspect we perceive in an unhelpful way if we bring to the party too much of our own human accretions.  We need to match what we’re perceiving, or else we will see ourselves as a reflection in a mirror at the place where we think we’re seeing something directly through a glass.  (At the extreme, people we categorize as narcissists do this all the time.)  We look at God’s difficult aspect and see something fearful but it is only our own crud reflected back to us.  (The monster at the end of the book was only Grover himself, if I remember that Sesame Street book correctly.)

What do we need to have put away before we encounter difficult energy (God’s Dark Side)?  We need complete surrender, no questions asked, no anger.  Fear and anxiety make for problems, too.  It’s best done unwittingly and with a child’s trustingness and lack of preconceptions.  It’s a form of total acceptance, which I think many religions characterize as God’s attitude towards us.  Maybe we accept God’s difficult stuff, too, and that allows it to pass through us without damage.

Time for me to take down the plants in the big garden.  “As a matter of convenience, We don’t speak of dying gardens” goes some lines (I’m quoting from memory so I may not be completely accurate) in a Dave Carter song Tracy Grammer sings on her Flower of Avalon album.  It’s the eighth track.  A lot there about seasons.  And stoicism.  And very sad.  If I speak of dying gardens, maybe they will not exercise such power over the imagination.

Facial expressions

October 12, 2012

In light of discussion of Joe Biden’s facial expressions last night, I got to thinking about an experience relating to mine that I had when I was in college.

My oldest friend from home had come to visit me (her college was on quarters, mine on semesters, so I think she had off while I had classes).  Ellen and I had known each other since before kindergarten and had been best friends in elementary school and stayed friends after that.  (She’s also the person who precipitated my marriage and did my hair for my wedding reception.  Which leads me to an even more digressive aside: she used to have the longest, thickest red hair, past her waist — it was quite something.)

Anyway, during the course of the visit, we went to visit a second cousin of hers who also attended the college I did.  I don’t think I had ever met J. before, but I had gotten to know Ellen’s first cousin, Diana (another redhead; then again, Ellen’s entire family had red hair) over the years when she visited Ellen’s family.  (Diana also turned up living across the street from Willy and me when I was in law school.)  In the course of the conversation in J.’s rooms, J. started saying some things about Diana.  I don’t remember what I said or didn’t say, but I do know that on the way back to my residential college afterwards, Ellen said, “Diana, you really need to be more careful about your facial expression — everything shows.  Your reaction to what J. was saying about Diana was written all over your face.”  Something like that.  (Of course, I had been rather surprised that Ellen hadn’t leaped to Diana’s defense during the conversation, since I knew how close they were, but I figured it was Ellen’s call how she wanted to handle her family relationships.)

Ellen was studying acting, so I figured she knew what she was talking about.  I don’t think I necessarily took her advice or have taken it since, but it did and has made me more aware of what people may be reacting to in me.


May 17, 2012

It became warm and humid this afternoon, and in a way I am grateful.  It sort of reminds me of what New Jersey weather is often like this time of year, and that’s where I’m headed at the end of this week, primarily to visit my parents.  The preview will make packing easier.

Maybe the confluence of the Mitt Romney high school stories and this weather (and the fact that I’m also going to have lunch with my high school Latin teacher while I’m in NJ) is responsible for why I was thinking of how, when I was a freshman in high school, this bunch of senior boys (who included two of my neighbors and the brothers of two of my friends, so I did know them a little) used to run around between classes on a rainy or humid day to try to catch sight of me to see how frizzed out my hair might be.  I think they constituted most of the varsity basketball team, so it was probably an honor at my sports-oriented high school, I’m not sure.  I think they liked the hair, I don’t think it was hostile, but I did cut my hair short the next year, even though I’m not sure I put the two things together.

God, salvation, and philosophers

March 25, 2012

I missed my chance to comment on the piece in the NYTimes, “Does It Matter Whether God Exists?”, by Gary Gutting.

The first place I felt I had a significant point of disagreement was the notion of salvation.  It seems to be thought of as the antithesis of “final annihilation when we die” and akin to being “happy eternally in our life after death.”  I think whatever annihilation there ever is is really just a reunion with God in which the boundaries of self dissolve, so I see no antithesis.

Then comes a discussion of whether God would help us achieve salvation, as if God chooses this or not.  I think we are God, in a sense, and in that sense (that we contain divinity within us), that part of us will unite with others parts of God — the parts of God come together, and this process does not involve a choice by one part or another of God consenting or refusing to unite — it just happens, once the impediments to that union are dissolved.

On the issue of “evil,” I don’t think it exists in the abstract, and as for why painful damaging acts occur in our world, we can also ask why beautiful pleasant things occur, too — we live in a reality of dualisms, and we have the pleasure of beauty and the difficulty of pain.  I suspect that to avoid the painful stuff we need to forgo the pleasurable stuff, too — not through sheer force of will, but by living in a different construct of what is real, in another version of consensus reality in which dualism is transcended.

As to the issue of possible deception, raised toward the end of the piece, I think the aspect of faith that is missing in the analysis there, and would resolve the concern, is love.  If one heart at its deepest level connects with the highest level in the universe, there is no room for doubt — instead there is an assurance that is quite definite but at a level we don’t participate in very much of the time we are living our lives in this world — that sense of definite knowing happens in a moment, but we can remember that we experienced it, and build on that knowing with confidence, through continued connection at somewhat less extreme levels.

Well, that’s what I think, anyway.  It works for me.  It allows me to navigate a life full of challenges without being completely swamped.  I suspect that people with fewer challenges may not feel as impelled to learn how to swim in the deep water, how even to merge with it and to grow gills, so to speak, when that’s necessary.  So, for them, the universe and God and salvation and all this stuff may look quite different, because they are looking at it from a different vantage point.  Maybe they are dealing with life’s events using a different set of reference points, reference points that are adequate for the types of things in their lives.  If a person has thick hair, they need barrettes that will hold a lot of hair; people with thin hair need barrettes that will not slip out because the hair doesn’t fill them up sufficiently.  No one’s hair thickness is “wrong,” and the different barrettes are just what is apt for the situation.  If our hair situation changes, we may find ourselves looking for new barrettes.  And if we’ve never had a certain kind of hair, we may not know what it’s like to have it, and what kind of styling equipment works if one does.

Sibling birthdays

December 10, 2011

It’s interesting to have my birthday fall so close to my sister’s.  We are, if the information on our birth certificates is accurate, two years, one day, and ten hours apart in age.

We used to have double birthday parties as kids; that’s half as many guests apiece, and the perennial question of who would get to invite Katie from next door (whose age put her right between us — I played with her more, but I was inviting her younger sister Peaches, who was actually my age, and with whom I also played).  And the sibling relationship with my sister looked something like this:

I’m the younger one.  With the curls (known as my “halo of curls,” especially whenever there’s a campaign on to urge me to cut my hair, and better illustrated in this picture, with my grandpa:


The 2012 instantiations of the birthdays are rapidly approaching, so I’ve been thinking about the sibling birthday thing, especially after reading about someone else’s (differently) vexed sibling relationship in one of The Life Reports that David Brooks is posting on his blog.

There’s a line in a Jackson Browne song (“Fountain of Sorrow”) about how sometimes it seems it would be easier to change the past than the future, here I feel stymied by how limited the dance steps available to me seem to be when the other person seems to think she’s dancing a solo and I’m a stagehand.  It’s clearly one of my life’s challenges, because I seem to attract other people into my life who have milder versions of my sister’s behavior towards me.  Sometimes it’s easier for me to see what little adjustments I can make on my end with these other people, that is, when the relationship doesn’t involve the intensity of family relationships, just as I find it much easier to deal with an issue (for example, promises not being kept) presented in the context of a friendship with another woman than the same issue in a relationship with a guy in which there’s a significant amount of flirting.  It also reminds me of encountering smaller versions of loss to practice on (like losing a mitten), when I’m having such trouble handling more significant losses.

Getting help

October 1, 2011

I get a lot of feedback about my hair — it has been a running theme in my life ever since I can remember, regardless of how I wear it.

My latest episode involved getting my teeth cleaned.  It’s been humid here, and I think that was why my hair was getting in my dentist’s way — it was sticking out more and lying flat less.  So I offered to pull it back and stick it in my collar, and I forgot I was wearing a necklace outside my clothing (I usually wear them against my skin), and I broke the clasp off the thing.

Later in the day I went to the woman who had originally made the necklace for me, confessed my mistake, and asked her if she could restring the necklace for me.  Which she did, as well as making me a new necklace, one from kyanite and silver (very short, no way this one can be worn completely outside my clothes).  She also pressed on me a hair trim, some haircombs she says are from the 1940s, and a new hairstyle.

To my way of thinking, this episode was about many things, but also a good example of how the universe works with what I can contribute to my well-being — I can get myself to the dentist, and that’s enough to get me some reasonable help with my hair, if I just play along.