Friday, July 14, 2006

Ringlets Down the Drain

This entry originally appeared in "Leap Years: Women Reflect on Change, Loss and Love," edited by Mary Anne Maier and Joan Shaddox Isom (Boston: Beacon Pr, 1999.)

July 20, 1994

This morning I stood in the shower, water pounding my head, until the last seventy percent of my hair fell out. I was in there a long time. I'd scoop a big handful of hair off the drain. More would fall. I'd kneel again in the pulsing water, keep scooping handful after handful onto the yellow bathroom mat, keeping the drain clear. I've saved all my hair from the last few days, set it in a pile on my dresser. I don't know why. I just wanted it. It had come back so beautiful: darker, almost black with no gray, and curlier than it had been since I was six. I went in the shower with diminished yet respectable hair, and came out almost bald. Only a few odd hunks survived--I looked comical, grotesque. All the cue-ball people came to mind (some by shaver): Yul Brynner, Sinead O'Connor, Captain Picard, Uncle Fester.

In a way, I'm excited about by cue-ball head. About the gaudy ways I will adorn it: bright African hats, silk scarves, red bandanas, and purple baseball caps from bars. I have a large selection assembled from my first time through this.

Another new experience: going to the barber. I decided to go all the way. The five percent of my remaining hair--ugly clumps on the top of my head and a Mohawk strip down the back--had to go. If I'm going to be bald, I'll be bald. No pitiful clumps and sad wisps. I'm going for the Woman of Power look.

It was odd stepping into the lime-green walled, male domain of the barbershop. It was right after lunch, 1 p.m., and he unlocked the door to let me in. "I've never had my hair cut at a barbershop before," I said.

"It's not like going to the moon," he said, then proceeded to shave off my tufts.

It was too quiet in that chair, so I told the barber how my second batch of hair, after thirteen chemos, had been so much nicer than the first.

"That's because it was healthier hair," he said, in the tone of one who really knows. Anyway, there wasn't much to work with, but he took his time, clipping it then shaving it again, using a little vacuum cleaner to suck the stubble off my head and neck, brushing off my now-pink skull. He charged me full price.

I came home and John was typing. I yelled, "I'm bald! I'm bald!" and whipped off my hat; spread my arms and started spinning in a circle. I started to dance because this has to be funny. I have to make this funny.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

After the break, the man who was loved by our patient avoided the house: she herself became independent some time after little Otto's death, to whom her affection had now turned.. In accordance with this proposition we have construed the theory of the dream on the assumption that the actuating dream-wish invariably originates in the unconscious, which, as we ourselves have admitted, cannot be universally demonstrated though it cannot be refuted.. It will be at once noticed that it is this self-criticism which prevented the patient from imparting the ideas, which had indeed already excluded them from consciousness.. What do you say?' I told him that I had not the slightest idea of selling my spectacles.. However, by virtue of a particular psychological condition, the thoughts could not become conscious to me.. A little excited then, he attempted one or two of his speeches to the Judge's lady.. The water rapidly rose toward the top of its sides.. Although the foregoing remarks have considerably limited the significance of the day remnants for the dream, it will nevertheless be worth our while to give them some attention.. He picked some oranges, and ate them in meditative enjoyment.. I escaped from the office, and sat for whole days with Preciosa.. In an instant I was precipitated, and had the misfortune to fracture my arm. I believe I have already indicated my meaning in what I have called 'your attentions,' said the Colonel, blandly, and given you my 'concern' for speaking as--er--er mutual friend. The last week of the third month came.. We made our bow to the Superintendent and walked to the place where our carriage was waiting for us.. You zee, said he, it iz te bess vor zit still; and now you shall know who I pe.. You here? What's the news in the country? How's your health? How's crops? Jest mod'rate, Mr.. And now, dear Caroline, you must draw a moral from the untoward events of to-day.. The Colonel returned to his office, and sitting down, took a sheet of letter paper bearing the inscription Starbottle and Stryker, Attorneys and Counsellors, and wrote the following lines: Hooker versus Hotchkiss.. Three hundred dollars.. The two stood before her like detected criminals...

1:14 AM  
Blogger Laureena said...

I'm sorry...
I did tear a bit while reading.
(-remembered watching my own fall out.)

I cut off a tiny pony tale and sent it to a friend...felt good to actually do something with it *smile*

I wanted you to know that I read this (I found you while I was looking for rug hooking articles of all things...)

I am thinking of you and wishing you strength and love.


12:32 PM  
Blogger HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

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This poor woman suffered - she's no longer here to delete them; please get this junk out of here as it's an insult to her name.

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