Monthly Archives: July 2010

A Precision Haircut

Some might think it unkind to speak of the brilliant nature of a good haircut at the same time I am flogging a book about being bald and creating something called the Bald is Beautiful Initiative.

But life is full of juxtapositions, and this is one of them.

So yes, I just got my hair cut.  And I believe I can make the case for the transformative nature of a good haircut.  (Sort of like a can make the case for the transformative nature of being bald.  But that is for another blog posting …)

Come on.  You know. It seems like you’re suddenly thinner.   Your jaw line is just a wee bit sharper.  And life is demonstratively more in your control.  Shoulders back.  Head up.  Lock and loaded.

I personally have always been a short hair person, with a small stint into long locks around the time of my wedding.  Because that’s precisely the time to be experimenting with who you are … the exact moment when you are trying to convince someone to spend the rest of their life with you.  Regardless, I pulled it up for the wedding, and seemed to pull it up or back most every day between August 1st when we wed and early November when I had it shorn off because it just seemed so pointless.  I mean, I always had it pulled off my face, so why have it at all?

Yet for many years as a young woman, I struggled with waiters asking “… and what would you like, Sir?”  Or strangers telling my father that his son was a great skier.  I didn’t have boobs that announced otherwise, and short hair (at least in the late ’70s and early ’80s) on girls just wasn’t all that common.   But I liked it short, and to this day, when I wear a long wig, I wonder how in the world women can stand to look out from behind a wall of hair.

The man who cuts my hair is named James.  I started going to him close to a decade ago when he was something like 23, because he “got” short hair on women and would make me look sexy and not butch.  When he opened his own salon in 2002, he framed my $10 and hung it on the wall, as I was his first customer.  James is moving to Arizona, which would make me cry except that he is going to fly back to the Bay Area once a month for a few days to cut hair here.

Bless him.

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How Will it Turn Out?

Oh breathe, baby, breathe.

Will I land it?  Does it matter if I crash?  Is anybody even watching?

This week has been filled with a bunch of gut check moments.  Walking up to complete strangers, unannounced, and introducing them to my work.  Some look at you all leery, as if they’re not sure if they can trust you.  Or figure out what in the hell you want.  The ones that are better, the ones that smile right away because perhaps they can tell you are nervous and being authentic in your unpolished way, you want to hug.  And sometimes you do.  Really, I did end up hugging a bunch of people this week.  Because we ended up having a real connection, which would have never happened had I not put myself out there in the first place.

So here’s to jumping off the dock.  To attempting to land a triple axel.  Or dreaming up the McTwist 1260 in the first place, and throwing it again and again until you finally stick it.

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Unsolicited Advice

Would the world be a better place if people gave advice more freely?  Or if it was easier to ask for advice?

Case in point today in the pool.  There was a man who jumped in the pool just as I was finishing my swim.  He was fit, in his early 40s like me, and took his first lap with the kind of gusto and gnashing of water reserved for qualifying for Nationals.  As I was the only person swimming in the pool at the point he entered, it was impossible not to notice his, ahem, enthusiasm in the water.  I made a mental note to keep it long and graceful, my stroke that is, and finished my mile and climbed out of the pool.  By this time, the guy had slowed dramatically.  His stroke was pretty good, but his timing was all off.  Specifically, instead of putting in one hand while the other was finishing pushing the water behind him, he was doing something called “catch-up” stroke (where the one hand doesn’t start a stroke until the other hand has basically touched it.)   This stoke is, simply put, used as a drill in swim practice to make you notice your stroke.  It does not make you go fast.  Indeed, it slows you down to a crawl.

So as I dried off on deck, I wondered whether this fit looking guy would appreciate a wee bit of advice from a fellow swimmer.  I watched him long enough to ascertain that he was not doing this stroke as a drill.  And I figured, what the hell.  So I walked over to his lane, waited for him to hit the wall and turn around, and interrupted his swim.

“Do you mind if I give you a bit of advice?” I asked.

“No,” he said, with a hint of WTF in his eyes.  You know the look.  That slight cock of the head and ever so slight squinting of the eyes.  I mean, what was he supposed to say?  I had the guy cornered.

So I explained the catch-up stroke vs. the ever more efficient regular crawl stroke, and how the speed of the crawl is made in the glide when the one hand has just pushed the water down past your ass the other hand has just entered the water and is stretching out to catch the next handful of water.

“Thanks,” was all he said when I was done.  I stood up and walked away, because I figured it would be rude or stalker-ish to stand there on deck and watch and make comments to him like a mother-figure or coach. But I did look over my shoulder as I walked out the gate, and yes indeed, he had changed his whole stroke.  He had ditched the start-and-stop nature of his old stroke and was trying out the glide.

I’m hoping he appreciated my advice.  I mean, I wasn’t trying to pick him up or make him feel less than.  I was just trying to help.  Was I wrong?  How would you feel if someone did that to you?

I’ll answer that question myself now, as it was the reason I walked over to the guy instead of just walking out.  One of the guys I swim with regularly one day asked if I would accept some advice on my stroke, and he told me how my comment about watching a certain cool-looking white church on the hill while I was doing my backstroke told him that I wasn’t doing the stroke right.  I should be looking straight-up into the sky with both ears in the water, not sightseeing.  It would raise my can and hips to be on the top of the water, making me more efficient and faster in my stroke.  And he was right.  I think about this little piece of advice from Rudy every time I do the backstroke now.

Have you ever given unsolicited advice, and if so, how did it go?

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The Day It All Changed

She said cavalierly, “Oh, I’ve read that book.  It’s great.”

And I just about wet my pants.  Because “that book” was my book, and she wasn’t someone that I knew.

With that simple interchange, I realized that all the hard work, and late nights, and yes, the experience of having cancer as a 33-year-old young mother had translated into something transformative.

In that moment, surrounded by hats and wigs in the fitting room at A Lady’s Touch in San Rafael, where I had come to donate a book and a stack of business cards, I became an author.

I didn’t think it was possible to trump Monday, when I visited the Larkspur library, and asked if they would be interested in purchasing a copy of my book.  The librarian looked on her computer, noticed that the book was already in the system, and told me something that made me clutch my chest.

“Oh, there it is.  And it’s checked out.”

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Natural Patterns

This is rain.

On my couch cushions.

Thank you Sunbrella fabric, and whatever horrid toxic chemical you are covered with.

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Changing Perspective

Eyeballs.  Or boobs?

I know what I know.

I mean, I really do.  100% certain in most cases.  The only real horrid fights I’ve gotten in with Anders have been because I knew something For Certain, and he said that I had gotten it wrong.  But it was he who had gotten it wrong.

So what happens if you’re wrong about that, he asked me later, when we could laugh about how steamed I had become.

But I’m never wrong about things I’m absolutely certain about, I told him.

And so the circular thinking goes.

We hear it a lot.  Walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me.

In the Bay Area we had a court case where a young man was shot whilst laying on the ground, face down.  The police offer who shot him said he meant to taser the kid.  The slain young man’s family said it was a killing, plain and simple.   The jury, bound by law to choose a side, found the officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

I don’t know how decisions like this are made, because how can anyone climb inside the head of someone else?  How can we really know what was said … and what was heard … or felt … or implied?

I know a friend whose marriage was on the rocks.  It happens.  They had been married a long time.  Knew each other’s patterns as much as they knew the exact place on the wall to feel for the light switch in the middle of the night.

Except that they didn’t.  In therapy, when each was asked to say what the other was thinking, or implying in a conversation, they both got it wrong.   She thought he was subtly saying X, except that he wasn’t.  He was sure she was thinking Y.  But she was thinking K.  When they were shown this, a beautiful and humbling thing happened.  They realized they had to let go of the idea that they knew everything.

I think, at the end of the day, we do know what we know.  What we don’t know, is what everyone else knows.

And that’s a fact.

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A Whole Lotta Mess

My life right now feels a bit like this dinner table after Chesapeake Bay crabs.  (They encourage this, by the way.)

I want a clean desktop, both on my computer and on my actual flippin’ desk.   Why then, is the ironing board behind me being used as a credenza?  And the 9 cases of books to the right of me also being used as a credenza?  And ditto for the top of the filing cabinet?

Why, with all the gizmos available to us … the filing cabinets, and the folders for the folders within the folders, and the QuickBooks software, and the iPhone “sticky” app where you can write yourself notes  … why with all this is life still so messy? Where do all these receipts come from?  And why did Wells Fargo send me THREE offers for a credit card, with credit cards affixed to them?  Why does my phone bill have something like 4 pages, when only one has really important information on it?  Where are my staples?

And why has it been so long since I’ve done what I really love, which is write on this blog?

I guess I should remember:  one thing at a time.

Just.

One.

Thing.

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