Sunday, July 7, 2019

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow?

My hair is in its Third Third. Not just the color, and not just the texture.

It started with sparse bangs on the right side of my head. At first, I thought it was just unruliness, another hair rebellion. My hairdresser thought it was because I slept on my right side, but now it’s yet another sign of Third Third-itis: my head is downsizing my hair.

After my daughter was born, I had little baby hairs sprouting all over my head. They were the signs of recovery from pregnancy hair loss, and I was like a little, furry tennis ball of new hair. Yeah, well, that’s not happening now.

My bangs are getting wispier. (Why mostly on the right side??) I have no idea what’s happening in the back or top of my head. My doctor says it’s only visible to people taller than I. Which I guess is a growing number as I shrink, too.

So first I noticed the bangs problem – which could have been debatable –  but the hair in the shower drain catcher is unequivocal. Instead of cleaning it up with a tissue, I have to use a paper towel. It’s a wad of red.
And then there’s the hairbrush.

My hairdresser suggested Costco’s 5 Percent Extra Strength Hair Regrowth for Men. For men! So I had to think about this: how far was I willing to go to defy age and Nature?

Yes, I dye my hair. But that didn’t begin as a means to cover gray or age; it began as a theatrical requirement for a particular role. It morphed into an identity signature long before age had anything to do with it. So I’ll keep the color. In fact, I’ve noticed that white roots make hair loss appear worse, so now I have to be even more prompt about coloring my hair. [And if anyone is going to Costa Rica, please let me know and I’ll place an order for my hair dye with you.]

But I’m stopping short of putting Extra Strength chemicals on my head. I’ve decided: I’m prepared to lose my hair. I wonder what I’ll end up looking like?

Sometimes, when my hair is looking particularly bizarre, I’ve said I look like Bozo the Clown. But I just checked images of Bozo, and he was bald on top! He had no bangs! And he was actually pretty scary looking.

On the good and very lucky side, I am not losing my hair because I’m undergoing cancer treatments. I am truly grateful.

And then I remembered the Velveteen Rabbit:
By the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.
My hair has been loved off! I’m becoming Real!

Monday, July 1, 2019

Crazy is scary

This is not a funny blog post. There are no pictures. It’s about mental illness. Most of the time, I’m only 40% mentally ill.

That’s not right; it’s not illness when it’s only 40%. At 40%, it might be called creative or unorthodox or imaginative or intuitive. Or fun or uninhibited or outspoken. Maybe even probing and problem-solving.

But even that 40% comes with a struggle to maintain. I have to watch that I don’t tip over. I don’t touch, taste, or take anything that would mess my mind. I stopped reading Hermann Hesse novels in college. I exercise, I try to straighten out messed-up sleep patterns, I try to expend creative energy. I am a high-functioning crazy person.

But every now and then – rarely – I become 85% of whatever it is. And then, it’s just crazy.

Crazy is scary.

Nothing looks the same when I’m 85%. Reality leaks. The fronts peel off and sadness leaks out. If I look too long at it, it un-reals itself. Or maybe none of that happens outside of me, but inside of me, I know it’s lurking. It’s just waiting to leak. I have to be vigilant.

And then I succumb. I examine it, stare at it, poke it and prod it. I want to get inside this other-ness. It is so complex and compelling, but whether it’s sad or not, it consumes. I can either get to the alive-ness in the world (up) or the sadness in the world (down) …  if I just probe deeper. And deeper. I’m not sure if I’m seeking to understand or if I’m beyond understanding and just merging with unreality. Things “appear” that may or may not really be there.

Have I lost you yet? I’m pretty sure the rest of the world is not 85-percenters. The problem is, you still only know my regular-old 60% which is now down to 15%, and so I’m not even me (to you). So if the me you know is not even present, then I am isolated. There is the world of people … and there is me, without connection.

85% is lost in a mental world, so 85% can’t write or talk or draw. 85% is not creative or productive. 85% can only hide. 85% faked being normal.

The little 15% keeps trying to push on. It always makes sure to wash my hair. With dirty hair, I might be a full-on 100%, and then I am lost. But if 15% pushes too hard, enters a practical world, there’s the possibility of failure. “No, I cannot buy stamps. I will have to talk to the post office lady.” And maybe I can do it, or maybe I have to leave with the crushing realization that I’m probably down to 10%.

I went out to lunch. I think I blathered, or else I froze up. I fell to 10%.

I could talk to my friend Laurie, and she would understand; but Laurie jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, so I can’t. My friend Jennifer told me once that she had no one to talk to about it, and I said (because I was at 60% and feeling good), “Jennifer, you just need more crazy friends.” I was her crazy friend, but Jennifer died, too.

I think I need more crazy people in my life. Crazy people can sniff out other crazy people, but I must have stopped sniffing. How did I get so normal?

Ha ha. That is a funny line.

I am married to a reality anchor. Thank God. He looks at me, utterly clueless. Maybe he’s not clueless, maybe that’s just me being trapped in my head and positive no one’s head can ever be in the same place. He suggested a walk in the woods. No, no, no! Too much seeping reality and free roam brain! He suggested orienteering, and once we got past the registration table, it was just us and clues. My brain had to work on clues and could escape all its other workings.

Afterwards, I washed my hair.

When our daughter was very little, we stuck glow-in-the-dark stars on her bedroom ceiling. She screamed at us to turn the light back on. We thought we’d have to pull them down, but she ran to get her fairy wings, climbed up on her dresser, and told us to turn the lights back off. Then she flapped her arms and flew amongst the stars.

I cried. She was my daughter. She was flying, but maybe she’d crash. Maybe she’d just be “troubled.” Maybe she’d inherited my 40%. I told my doctor, and she said, “Maybe you just have to teach her to land.” I hope I have.

For myself, I’m always trying, always landing (so far). Today, I’m back up to 40%. I thought you might be interested in the craziness among you, about where I go when I’m gone.

That’s all.

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