Grief Is a Fickle Bitch

She throws the worst surprise parties.
I mean, you have to give her credit–she knows how to ambush.
But, all tears and no cake do not a happy party make.

Grief is emotional herpes.
The first outbreak is terrible. You’ll never forget it.
As time passes, the outbreaks lessen.
Though, you might need a pill to keep them at bay.

Grief is a thing you must experience when you face loss.
But, no one can tell you what exactly grief is, or how to do it properly.
Grief is not a feeling. (“How are you today?” Alright, I’m just a little grief.)
But, grief causes feelings.
Is grief an action? A verb? (“I am grieving.” “I grieve.”)
Such a tiny word that means nothing and everything.

If every action requires an equal and opposite reaction,
then grief is the reaction to loss.
It is the thunderous blowback from a sudden absence in space and time.

Grief is a many-tentacled beastie who trolls the murky depths of your subconscious.
If it surfaces, watch out and hit the deck!

Grief is Death’s bedfellow–
a sultry seductress who enters the hospital room at Death’s side.
He aims for his target, and she claims those left behind.
Her silk-gloved finger lovingly traces the tears as they fall down your cheek.

Grief is a greedy, hungry creature.
It gluts itself on your many losses.
Death, in its literal form, is not enough.
It sucks the marrow from all the little deaths.
The divorce, the dreams diminished, the woulds and shoulds all make for Grief’s buffet.

Inevitably, eventually Grief retreats from whence it came.
You share a nod and a smile, knowing you’ll meet again.

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My Shaved Head – Month 1 Update

In June, I shaved off all my hair. The ends were still bleached and pink, so I had to wait a few more weeks for the roots to grow out. Then, I shaved it again. So, as I track the hair-growing-out process, the official start date is June 21.

I also thought it would be a neat project to document its growth–not just with monthly updates here, but a daily, photographic compilation. So, since the end of June, I’ve been taking a selfie every day, with the goal of capturing my hair as it grows for an entire year. Naturally, I’ve already slacked off, and there have been days when I’ve forgotten to snap a picture. But, I’m around the 80% mark, which I think will still be representative.

So far, I love the short, short hair. The timing wasn’t purposeful, but I’m happy I started this in the summer.

I’m definitely transitioning in and out of awkward hair days. The front has gotten to the length where I either let it look like a jerky ’90’s Caesar cut or I push the baby fringe to the side. It’s also starting to grow over the tops of my ears. Again, I just push the hair behind them. Soon, my cowlick will actually be a cowlick again. I don’t think, however, I’ve officially entered the super-awkward, poofy hair grow out stage yet. No matter, bring it.

As to its color, as I suspected, it’s darkened. I’d say it’s a level 7G, dark, golden blonde. (For those pro and amateur colorists out there.) It’s still hard to say what it will look like as it lengthens and light shines on it.

A couple weeks in, it did occur to me that, while all of my styling products are in semi-retirement, I should probably invest in some hair care products that will help these new, virgin hairs be shiny and strong. And, off to Lush I went. (For those that are interested, I grabbed a NEW! Shampoo Bar, American Cream Conditioner, and Roots Hair Treatment. I’m not convinced these products will make my hair grow faster, but I do know I won’t loose length due to breakage. I also know that my hair smells yummy!

This is me day-dreaming about long, beautiful locks of hair. ;p
This is me day-dreaming about long, beautiful locks of hair. ;p

What else? People’s responses? No weirdos have approached me. No one has asked me if I have cancer. Compared to my previous hair stylings, public response has been very low key. Speaking of my previous hair stylings, though they will now be retrospectives, I do plan on writing posts on some of my unnatural hair coloring experiences.

I suppose that’s all for now. If you somehow found your way here because you too are growing out your shaved head, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section! Smooches.

Perfection (or When You Half-Ass Half-Assing It)

Allow me a Shel Silverstein moment:

If you are a procrastinator, come in,
If you are a procrastinator, a nit-picker, a quibbler,
An over-achiever, an all-or-not-er, a good-better-best-er…
If you’re an avoider, come sit by my (perfect) fire
For we have some tasks we won’t be half-assin’.
Come in!
Come in!

Welcome! Come have a seat. I know you’re out there–those of us who walk that fine line between genius and ambivalence. Or, we think it’s a fine line. The truth is, though, there is a vast, grey-scale canyon between all or nothing. We just fail to see it. Or, if we do see it, we can’t seem to make our way down into it. Where are our pack mules and hiking shoes?

For me, perfectionism is tied into the Gordian Knot that is my mental health–the ropes of anxiety, depression, illness, catastrophizing, shame all twine themselves together in this beautiful, intricate mess. So, in my efforts to slowly untangle it all, I find myself staring down into that canyon where the balanced people live, wanting to join them.

I’m of the opinion that being a writer of any sort makes it more difficult to avoid the impulse of perfection.

I hate writing. I love having written.

-Dorothy Parker

When I was a technical writer, I figured it out, mostly out of necessity–wrangling with debilitating and chronic pain (in my case, migraines) forced me to shift priorities. My job wasn’t a career, my job didn’t define my identity, my job was simply a job. I decreased my level of investment, and found perspective. I could have conversations with my employers about quality versus quantity, and, more importantly, I finally accepted that my 75% was a hell of a lot better than most other’s 100%.

But enter today, and I’m struggling again. I’m writing academically and creatively, and I care deeply about both. I’m in a masters program where, to me, there are no throw away classes. I’m not taking classes I hate, where I can just toss some words together, because who cares anyway, it’s just a means to an end. That, however, does not mean I need to make my life more difficult, which, of course, I have done.

One master degree concentration? I think I’ll do two.

I don’t like any of these classes on the schedule. I’ll make up my own!

You’re going to assign paper topics? I’ll ignore those and write about something much more complex.

Half-ass? Nope, just can't do it.
Half-ass? Nope, just can’t do it.

No one can say that I haven’t embraced the “you get out what you put in” philosophy. But, really? I need to give myself a break. And, I almost did it. I’m so close. I wrote a paper last week that I’d been anxious about writing. (Why was I anxious? Just because.) My therapist challenged me to just sit down and write it in three hours. It’s a reasonable amount of time for a 1500-word paper. But, I was already in too deep; I’d dragged Aristotle into it. It took me an hour just to compile the works cited and figure out how the hell I was going to document the thing.

Ahhh. Whole ass. Much better.
Ahhh. Whole ass. Much better.

So, here’s to next time. Maybe I’ll finally perfect this whole half-assing thing. 😉

 

(Shel Silverstein moment inspired by his opening poem in Where the Sidewalk Ends entitled “Invitation.” Not familiar? Shame on you. Get thee to a library!)

IUD SIS

First I have to say, whenever I think, write, or utter “IUD,” the lyrics to the song “Fuck the Pain Away” by the inimical and ingenious Peaches surface and crawl into my brain. It’s purely coincidental, and I don’t read huge meaning into it. It’s a clever bit of a refrain.

“IUD SIS, stay in school ’cause it’s the best.”

-Merrill Nisker, aka Peaches

That little earworm, however, does make me a bit feisty. And I’ve been bopping along with this little ditty for several weeks now, because I’m getting an IUD (Skyla to be exact) next week. So yeah, I’m hella feisty.

Let's talk about uteruses. (photo credit: Theater Festival Impulse/Flickr- Creative Commons)
Let’s talk about uteruses.

I expected I’d write a single post: “Hey I Did This IUD Thing and This Is What It Was Like.” But, this single act is tied to too many thoughts, opinions, and emotions. I’m inspired to over-share and blast out some controversy.

I guess consider this a warning? a cliffhanger? a tasty morsel to lead you into the imperceptible depths of the lady cave?

(Photo Credit: Theater Festival ImpulseCreative Commons)

I Shaved My Head (for No Particular Reason)

To say I shaved my head for no particular reason isn’t entirely true. My reasons are varied. But, what they boil down to is: I did it just because.

Shaved Head Shock

For close to four years now I’ve courted with the world of unnatural hair colors. Name a color, I’ve done it. But, the constant process of changing color absolutely wrecks your hair. It’s not the dye itself. It’s the bleach you use to get your hair as light as possible so that your application of Hi-Octane Orange pops. It’s the processes and applications you use to remove the old color to replace it with a new one. And there’s always a new one. Like the Lay’s Potato Chip, you can’t have just one.

I was fussing with my hair a week ago, and saw the color (a three-toned pink gradient) was fading fast. The idea of going back to my natural color had been swirling in my mind. I could take the slow, non-dramatic approach to transition my hair to match its newly emerging roots. Or, I could test my personal hair styling philosophy–It’s just hair and it grows back–and shave it all off. And so I did.

Pre-shaved hair
One last photo before we say goodbye.

It’s true–my husband and I had seen the new Mad Max movie the previous weekend and Charlize Theron looked pretty bad ass with her cropped head. There was precedence. There is, actually, a lot of precedence recently, beautiful actresses who sheer their hair for a role. Karen Gillan, in particular, comes to mind. She took her hair down to her scalp for her role in Guardians of the Galaxy. And then there are the numerous celebrities, models, musicians, random kick ass chicks who wear their hair shaved on purpose. It’s just the hair style they choose to rock.

So when I was pondering my hair in the bathroom, and I said, “Maybe I should just shave it all off.” My husband responded, “Do it.” The next day we sat on the porch and took turns clipping each other’s hair with a number 2 guard. It was an amusing bonding experience: particularly because my husband was envious of my intact hairline. I’m grateful that his scalp’s follicular retreat means that we don’t exactly have the same hair cut.

The Leftover Hair
Somehow, I don’t think Locks of Love wants these.

I like my shaved head. It’s fun to run my hand against the hair’s grain–the way I might do with my husband’s hair. And, now, he can do the same with mine. (Pet me like a cat, I don’t mind.) I still feel the wind blowing through my stubby, little strands. The shower has turned into an even more wonderful tactile experience–the cascade of water tickles my scalp. And the most surreal of all, I spend zero time styling my hair, and it still looks good.

Of course, there are negatives, most of which I’d already experienced. (I’ve been sporting some variation of an undercut for a year) I have a light pink birth mark on the back of my head that peaks through past my hairline. Random head acne cannot be disguised, and requires make up. I now need to protect my innocent, pale scalp from the sun with hats or SPF.

The hair dryer goes on long-term disability.
The hair dryer goes on long-term disability.

Reactions from others have been interesting. When I wore odd colors in my hair, strangers felt compelled to comment. New people in my life quickly learned that anytime they saw me, my hair had likely changed. So far, people who know me well, react in shock, “Where did your hair go? What’s the story?” I demur, because I can sum up the story with, “Because I felt like it.” Strangers, I assume, assume my hair is shaved due to a worse fate. Though I wouldn’t know, because suddenly people remember things like boundaries, which don’t exist when my hair is turquoise. I haven’t seen any random acquaintances–those people I know, but not very well. I’m prepared to reassure them that my shaved hair is not a reflection of illness or a loss of sanity.

Right now, I haven’t completely rid my hair of its previous color. Its ends are still tinged pink. I’m not quite at “clean slate” status. One more pass in a week with the clippers should take care of that. I don’t intend to keep my hair shorn. I want to grow it out. I want to see my natural hair color. I’m intensely curious. Is there gray hiding in there? How much has it darkened (the inevitable fate of all natural blondes)? Will it grow redder as my mother’s has?

And if I’m being honest (with myself), this whole process is and will be an act of symbolism. A search for self and authenticity through something equal parts significant and insignificant as how I wear my hair. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Rub the head. It feels gooood.
Rub the head. It feels gooood.

This Is My Beach Body

Because I am a human being, it should come as no surprise that I have a body. More so, because I am human, I am flawed. Following the Transitive Property, my body, too, is flawed.

I don’t like all it’s flaws. My body’s betrayals against me are numerous. But, the least of which is its tendency to shrink and expand in diameter.

When young, I was a skinny girl. Size 2, big boobs–a teenaged boy’s dream (and a teenaged girl’s nightmare). But, age, genetics, and life kicked in. I still have big boobs, but I hover in the size 16 category now. In my twenties, I mourned the loss of the body I had when I was a young thing–too young to appreciate what I had. Now, not so much. Perhaps body acceptance is easier for me, because it hasn’t been a struggle my whole life. My story doesn’t begin with, “I was an overweight child.”

Yet, I think it has more to do with with my quickly evolving capacity to accept me, period. (Therapy types like to call this “radical acceptance.”) It’s a process I’ve invested a lot of time and tears into as of late. It’s true, I’ve lost a teensy bit of weight recently, and that makes me happy. But, it’s not because each shed pound adds to my self-esteem and self-image. It’s because I’m finally “indulging” in a little self-care. It’s a sign of my physical and mental well-being–I’m not too sick or too depressed to get out of the house, to exercise, or to cook my own food.

So, last week I donned my bathing suit to go to our community pool on the first sunny day in a month. I observed myself in the mirror, mentally stated, “Yeah that’s me,” wished I could afford a suit with bra-sized cups, jiggled my boobs into a suitable configuration, and moved on.

This may not be “the beach body,” (to which I cry Bull Shit!) but it’s my beach body.

My beach body
Full body selfies are hard. There IS a head and legs attached to this torso.