C'est La Vie
What a beautiful piece of heartache this has all turned out to be. Lord knows we've learned the hard way all about healthy apathy. And I use these words pretty loosely. There's so much more to life than words..
Things I love
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
I read a newspaper article while living in CA in '97 about a local high-school student who was attempting to raise money for a teacher's lukemia treatements by saying that if she could raise $500, she'd shave her head. She was a beautiful girl with some Asian descent, and her hair was about shoulder-length. At the time, mine was past mid-back, and I thought a great deal about how it could be put to good uses apart from just the good use of existing in the first place. When I moved back to FL in '98, my mother was friends with a woman who worked at Locks of Love, and had finally donated her braid (cut off when she was 17 as an act of seperation from her father, and kept in a large envelope all these years) to them. This braid was roughly 32 years old then, but still exactly the same as when she had cut it off, and still more than suitable for their purposes.
Chris (my mother's friend who worked at LOL) talked to me often about how much they would love to receive hair like mine. I told her that I promised I would cut it all off and send it in soon. After about ten months in FL, I moved to Virginia, and just over a year later, I shaved my head. Because I had been planning and tentatively planning it for so long, I was more than ready for this big change, though of course I had no idea what I'd look like without hair. Before that, my hair had never been shorter than shoulder-length. Along with my own readiness, everyone in my life had been hearing about it for quite some time. There were those that saw me regularly (at church or work) that didn't know about it, because we hadn't ever talked or talked much, but other than that, there were few surprised folks.
During the first few months after I shaved my head, though, I met a number of people, both online (due to the website on which I had posted the pictures and the reasoning for this event) and offline (including a great number of people that started talking to me BECAUSE of this), and my relationships with all of those folks is strongly connected in my mind to the fact that we met when I was relatively bald.
It's been three years. A very long three years. And my hair got down to my waist in the meantime.
While preparing to shave it again (which I could have done last summer, as it would have been long enough to donate to Locks of Love if I so chose, but I decided to grow it for another year since I may not want to grow it out again for a long time after the next cut), I thought a great deal about my experience last time.
There were the thoughts, of course, about how much fun I had last time and in each of the re-growth stages. But there were also thoughts about how awkward a lot of things were:
For one, there was the most common reaction: "Oh my goodness! You shaved your head?!? .. oh, but you did it for a good cause, so it's ok." Well, what if I wasn't doing it for a good cause? This reaction caused me to wrestle a great deal with where my identity came from and where the boundaries were between what is good and what just is. Can one do something for fun and have a good bonus to tack on without the thing being all that makes it acceptable? Sure, so long as one is doing something "normal". If, say, I robbed a bank in order to feed the thousands (or tens of thousands) of orphans in India, would that be ok because it was for a good cause? No. So of course we have a right and a wrong, and something is one or the other or nuetral. Something does not start out wrong and become right because it was for a good cause. (Now, now.. don't bring up the old nun lying about harboring Jewish orphans during the Holocaust.. That's a whole nother post, but I'll go there if you want me to.. just email.) So, I struggled with the issue of where my identity stood in relation to rebellion vs. good-clean-fun, and where my relationships with other people stood in levels of acceptance of me for who I was vs. for what I did and why. And then there was the whole issue of right-and-wrong in and of itself, and what the deal was with shaving my head. So, I finally came out with the conclusion that not only was my motive entirely in good-clean-fun, but also that other people were silley to take so much personal comfort in how what I did was ok because it was for a good cause. And I decided that I was going to end that comfort this time around. I therefore very intentionally was not doing this for a good cause.
Another thing I wrestled with is how much attention I got from it. Mostly that also has to do with the whole "good cause" thing. Last time I shaved my head, yes, I was doing it primarily for good causes (which is how it differs from this time, where any good cause would just be a bonus) and yes the whole idea was to gain attention so that I could inspire others the way the girl in the newspaper article had inspired me. But this was too much attention and not enough inspiration that I knew about. I wasn't looking for people to shave their own heads, just to give more of themselves than our self-consumed American society is accustomed to. Give up a meal out per week and have anywhere from 20 to 100 extra bucks to donate to your favorite charity. Lord knows it'll go farther. And of course, if I did succeed in both inspiring people and yet encouraging them not to make it a bighugepublic deal (which was another struggle initially for me in the attention aspect, but overcome by the appeal of inspiration), I wouldn't ever know that I inspired them, which is the catch-22 of this whole fiasco. But all the same, the point being that it seemed lots of effort, little return, and a fantastic amount of awkwardness for me. As much of an extrovert as I am, I don't like being the center of attention for things like this. I don't want people to think that I'm better than I am, though I'm not always certain I want them to know how much worse they SHOULD really be thinking. The bottom line being that all these people were praising ME for shaving my head for a good cause, and completely missing the point of why I had really done it. I didn't want the praise. I wanted the glory to go to God and the awareness to go to others .. not just Locks of Love, but also to the reality of children that must deal with diseases that prevent hair growth, and to the presence of many organizations that are trying to find both/either cures for the diseases and/or ways to help the patients lead higher-quality lives in the meantime. Yet, instead of that, it seemed like the glory and the awareness were both going to me, and I didn't know how to deal with that. I still don't. So, if I'm gonna get attention anyway, I may as well get attention for what I did and not for why or what it says about me; and perhaps telling people that I haven't decided about selling it or donating it will make them think even more in that subtle way about what they would or could do. Not to mention that telling people about some of the offers I got for my hair last time (ranging from 500 to 2000 dollars) has certainly made them more aware of what people who donate their hair are really donating.
A third struggle was the reaction in the internet community among people I didn't know. When I posted my pictures, someone stumbled across them and spread the word, and soon my site was published on every girls-that-shave-their-heads site ever made. Some asked for permission, some didn't. I granted it when asked, under the condition that they encouraged their visitors to read the page I had up at the time about why I was doing this, and that they were a tasteful site not all about one-step-or-less-away-from-porn. Of course, my pictures were about as far from indecent as possible, so I wasn't terribly concerned about that. But there are minds in this world that are just as responsive to pictures of a bared scalp as bared flesh, and my own decency didn't seem to make much difference. The number of emails I got asking if it was a sensual experience and many much less appropiate questions appalled me. I didn't pull the pictures, though, because I figured they were still doing good somewhere, and that God could use my site even in those situations. I also did answer every single email, as tactfully as I could. Even to this day, the idea of how many people in this world have fetishes with bald girls perturbs me, though the long-hair-fetishes are perhaps even more numerous. Perhaps that is part of why I did not pull my pictures. I think one of the greatest reasons, though, is that a stranger stumbling across my website is more likely to be inspired (whether to help out or just to do something "brave" or whatever) than a person I talk to every day. Or so it seems to me.
There were so many other thoughts that ran through my mind, so many other things I wrote about in my pen-and-paper-journal, but these are the ones I wanted to blog about. I am glad to have shaved my head again, and I am glad to be having even more fun with it. I will be posting the pictures taken with friends' digital cameras soon, and will have a link up here once that happens. At some point, I'll get my own pictures developed and posted as well.
So, I have not yet decided about whether I'll be selling or donating my hair. For the time being, the braids (each about a foot and a half long) sit in a container, laid out straight, very dark-smokey-brown at the top and sun-bleached-medium-blonde at the bottom.
When I cut it off this time, I left a mohawk-ready stripe, about two or three inches wide, from forehead to neck right down the center. Today, I parted that in the middle and braided it on the sides, and it looks like I have a full head of hair, though much thinner than my own real full head of hair. To me, it is incredibly noticible, physically (that is, when I touch my head or when I move and the braids swing more freely) as well as visibly. I figured that strangers wouldn't be able to tell that I had ever done anything with my hair, but that people that knew me would notice its thinness. Not so is the case, though. First thing my landlord said when I got there for babysitting this morning was, "You didn't do it!", as was said by most of my coworkers/bosses throughout today. Then I would lift a braid to reveal stubble underneath, and they would say "Oh! Goodness!".. Though I certainly didn't make as big a deal out of things this time, since my intentions were quite different, I was sure to let people know that I was going to be bald, because it is a very big difference.
There are some people that don't know yet, unless they (unlikely as the chance is) have read my blog recently. I will be seeing some of them within the next week or two, and I am very excited about that.
So, tonight I will have a standing-up-mohawk, and tomorrow night as well. And then either Thursday or Friday I will be shaving my head completely, bic'ed and all.
We'll see then if I like it enough to keep it that way for long. Even if I don't, I will very likely keep it clippered to a short length for a while, unless I need to grow it out some for job prospects. I did clipper the non-mohawk-parts last night down to the lowest setting on the clippers last night, and it was fun actually clippering myself for the first time. Since it was just me at home (I had some friends coming over later), I was using my bathroom mirror to get the back. I don't think it'll be nearly so complicated or time-consuming when the mohawk isn't there to be gone around, though.
These are my thoughts on shaving my head, on being a bald-girl, and on struggles with motive and reaction. Methinks there is a whole nother set of struggles to be had this go-round. But then, it's been said that struggles are the stuff of life, the trials that make us stronger and more sure of our own identities and our dependence upon God. Amen.
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Hippie: (after hearing Max wants to avoid the draft)You still have options man.
"So how do i do normal
"It's been known for a train to jump its track. It's ok, so you'll know, most times they come back. It's ok to lose your life, when you finally see your birth. It's ok to say, "I love you," and figure sometimes it's gonna hurt.
"As a comedian, you have to start the show strong and you have end the show strong. Those are the two key elements. You can't be like pancakes, all exciting at first, but then by the end you're sick of 'em!"
"Hey, this is weird! I ordered one frozen yogurt and they gave me two. You don't happen to like frozen yogurt, do you?" "I love it!" "You're kidding! What a crazy random happenstance!"
"Only one more trip," said a gallant seaman,
"It was Flannery O'Connor who said that 'grace must wound before it heals.' Her words help me to separate what is most true about life from the things we want to be true. We want life to be painless. True grace is a hard sell because in order for the human heart to understand forgiveness and love, it must first experience darkness and isolation. A life lived under the rule of grace is a life of need which allows us to receive an appreciate the gift of the giver of grace. This is why we will always have the poor with us; this is why God will not allow us to ignore injustice; this is why we are called to a life we cannot handle alone, which can and will break us in the effort to live it -- because grace must wound before it heals."
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
I thought Christmas Day would never come. But it's here at last, so Mom and Dad, the waiting's finally done. And you gotta get up, you gotta get up, you gotta get up, it's Christmas morning.
O little town of Bethlehem,
Walk humbly, son
Strings of lights above the bed
"In a little while I'll feel better
"Please tell me once again that You love me. That You love me. Please tell me once again that I matter to You and You really care. Please tell me once again that You're with me, forever. It's not that I could ever doubt you, I just love the way it sounds. I just love the way it sounds."
"Every once in a while, a bannerzen posts."
"7:30. What kind of people have to be at work at 7:30?"
have you seen my love
Traveling is significant because it takes so much effort. Either you're going to some place you love, or you're leaving some place you love. Usually it's both.
I think I have Bond's ability to get into trouble but not his ability to get out of it. Someday I'll be in some foreign country with 5 thugs with automatic rifles pointed at me, and I'll just.... fart
"You had no alternative .. We must work in the world. The world is thus." --- "No .. Thus have we made the world."
The summer ends and we wonder where we are And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car And you both look so young And last night was hard, you said You packed up every room And then you cried and went to bed But today you closed the door and said "We have to get a move on. It's just that time of year when we push ourselves ahead, We push ourselves ahead."
Looking out the bedroom at this snowy TV.. ever since commencement, no one's asking 'bout me. But I bet before the night falls, I could catch the late bus.. take small provisions and this Beethoven bust. I could find work in the outskirts of the city, eat some fish on the way.. befriend an old dog for a roadside pal, find a nice couch to stay -- a pull-out sofa, if you please!"
Ooh! Get me away from here I'm dying
"The trouble with folks like Brownie is they hold their life in like a bakebean fart at a Baptist cookout and only let it slip out sideways a little at a time when they think there's nobody noticing. Now that's the last thing on earth the Almighty intended. He intended all the life a man's got inside him, he should live it out just as free and strong and natural as a bird."
"Life is a phantasmagoria .. It is a pell-mell of confused and tumultuous scenes. We try in vain to find a purpose - to bring an order, a unity to life. I suppose that is the appeal of art. Art is the blending of the real and the unreal, the conquering of nature. It is real enough for it to reflect life, but has the unity that life lacks."
"in time memories fade.
I've always had this feeling about Patty that she's complex and intriguing...I like Patty alot. She's got a good heart and tells terrible squirrel jokes.
"Try to remember that world-weariness isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the book of Mark, I think its Mark, Jesus looks at a blind man and sighs. Jesus sighed before even telling the man he would be healed. He sighed, and I'm not sure that there's a much more human expression of frustration than this. Faced with the horrid picture of a cursed earth and looking into the white eyes of a man blind from the day he was born, He sighed. The Creator of the universe in human form was sad "of the evils of this world," the world He created. Your Creator sighed for you in the same way before He healed you and made you His."
After the last secret's told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves
And the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that's just too hard
There is love
-- Andrew Peterson, After the Last Tear Falls
"when you most need people, you don't need perfection - just to know someone gives a damn"
"My brother's always [telling me], 'You should be more mysterious--boys like that.' But I'm not good at that. It would just make me more uncomfortable."
"Loners want to kill you, but not for any particular reason, and they'd probably like you if they weren't being guided by the violent voices in their head."
"No one wants to oil a snake these days!"
Her mom: "We're all safe."
-- Jamie Bevill and her mother during Christmas-Decorating dinner, December 20, 2002
i'd throw out all my shoes
i'd set up cans for friends
to dump their shoes senseless shoes
a pioneer of callouses
lordy-be and bless my soul
i'd be a barefoot spaceman
the first you'd ever know"
"The best way to have God's will for your life is to have no will of your own!"
"Generations circle and each one atones. The sins of the father are seperate from my own. In Pilgrim's Progress, it's forgiveness that makes whole, and as time levels and consoles, I place the daisies in your bowl."
"For a moment he just stared at her. Then, with an urf-urf-urf of laughter, he turned back to the controls."
"It's on the internet.. so, then, it must be true."
"Be at least as interested in what people can become as you are in what they have been."
Blessed be the rock stars!"
Get up for the shower.. wash and scrub and scour every part as if a cleaner man could better bear the shame..
"She was eating gnarly amounts of calcium."
Homeless man to girl trying to give him money: "No, thanks, ma'am. I never work on Sundays."
"Wow! I never thought I'd need a radar-guided spatula!"
"Isn't it great that I articulate? Isn't it grand that you can understand? ... I can talk, I can talk, I can talk!"
I believe that people laugh at coincidence as a way of relegating it to the realm of the absurd and of therefore not having to take seriously the possibility that there is a lot more going on in our lives than we either know or care to know... I suspect that part of it, anyway, is that every once and so often we hear a whisper from the wings that goes something like this: "You've turned up in the right place at the right time. You're doing fine. Don't ever think that you've been forgotten.
When I lay these questions before God I get no answer. But a rather special sort of "No answer." It is not the locked door. It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze. As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question. Like, "Peace, child; you don't understand."
CCM: You've spoken a lot more about crying than I ever thought you would.
"Youth is not a period of time. It is a state of mind, a result of the will, a quality of the imagination, a victory of courage over timidity, of the taste for adventure over the love of comfort. A man doesn't grow old because he has lived a certain number of years. A man grows old when he deserts his ideal. The years may wrinkle his skin, but deserting his ideal wrinkles his soul. Preoccuptaions, fears, doubts, and despair are the enemies which slowly bow us toward earth and turn us into dust before death. You will remain young as long as you are open to what is beautiful, good, and great; receptive to the messages of other men and women, of nature and of God. If one day you should become bitter, pessimistic, and gnawed by despair, may God have mercy on your old man's soul."
""Don't go matchmaking for me, Ilse," said Emily wit a faint smile... "I feel in my bones that I shall achieve old-maidenhood, which is an entirely different thing from having old-maidenhood thrust upon you."
"I wish Aunt Elizabeth would let me go to Shrewsbury, but I fear she never will. She feels she can't trust me out of her sight because my mother eloped. But she need not be afraid I will ever elope. I have made up my mind that I will never marry. I shall be wedded to my art"
"Tomorrow seems like a long ways away. But it will come, just like any other day... Deep inside, where the wounded creatures hide, I am afraid. Maybe I got lost somewhere along the way somehow. Please rescue me... Yea, though I walk through the valley of the dark shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me... Though I fear, though I am afraid, You are with me. Though I'm angry, tired, broken down and confused, You are with me. Though I sin like I've never sinned before, lose myself right out an open door, You are with me."
"The invisible people agreed about everything. Indeed most of their remarks were the sort it would not be easy to disagree with: "What I always say is, when a chap's hungry, he likes some victuals," or "Getting dark now; always does at night," or even "Ah, you've come over the water. Powerful wet stuff, ain't it?"" -- C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
"When People object... that if Jesus was God as well as Man, then He had an unfair advantage which deprives Him for them of all value, it seems to me as if a man struggling in the water should refuse a rope thrown to him by another who had one foot on the bank, saying, "Oh but you had an unfair advantage." It is because of His advantage that He can help."
"But, you know, as a Christian, one of the big questions you always ask yourself is, "So we believe in Jesus, we believe in the teachings of the church, but what does that look like when it's lived out?" Because surely, one of the things that Jesus said that I think we often overlook is, "The person who hears my words and does them is like the wise man who built his house on the rock." He didn't say "the person who hears my words and thinks about 'em" or "whoever hears my words and agrees with it." But he said, "Whoever hears it and does it."
"find that which gives you breath and grants you more to give
"I have packed all my belongings. I don't belong here anymore. This pair of sandles, one pack to carry, this old guitar and this tattered old Bible. And I know I won't be afraid. 'cause I know, I know Home is where You are."
"Open up your weepy eyes, everyone is dancing. Angels peer through sweet disguise, through a fire of cleansing.
"You may be bruised and torn and broken, but
"I don't deserve to speak, and they don't deserve
to hear it. It's makin' me believe that it's not
"Kickin' against these goads sure did cut up my
feet. Didn't your hands get bloody as you washed
"They say God blessed us with plenty. I say
you?re blessed with poverty. ?Cause you never
stop to wonder whether earth is just a little
better than the Land of the Free"
"Computers will know everything in the 21st
century. They'll be like me in the 20th