A Hair-owing Tale From Phoenix.

posted in: Day In The Life 7
I laughed yesterday at my gig in Phoenix; those guild quilters and I were having too much fun. Photo: Dona, from Palo Verde Patchers.
I laughed yesterday at my gig in Phoenix; those guild quilters and I were having too much fun. Photo: Dona, from Palo Verde Patchers. (Also: I was so horrified at my appearance — read below — that I didn’t get a picture this morning. I regret many things today.)

Gather ’round as I tell ye a legendarily funny tale. I am shaking with laughter as I write this from the airport. That’s some hype, but I think I can deliver.

I got here to the Phoenix airport at 5:15am for a 6:45am flight. In order to be able to roll out of bed this morning and just brush my teeth and go, I showered last night and went to bed. Ladies, you know that when you sleep on a damp head, you get some interesting hair in the morning because it gets all smooshed around through the night and dries like that.

This morning, I kind of liked my hair. I thought it looked kinda deshible. Sorta sexy, all mussed up like that. I rubbed a little pomade into the ends to combat frizz and I got into my airport shuttle. Got to the airport. Went through security. People were sort of looking at me and I thought, “Hm. I guess I look good this morning with my wool coat and deshible hair and patent leather pumps.” Gave me a little swagger. I get to my gate and plop down with my journal; this is de rigueur for me, as long as we’re dropping the only French words I know. I got out my ink pen and stuck it in my mouth so I could reach into my bag for my journal. I did not know that my pen was slowly exploding.

Then I realized I needed more coffee. So I get back up a few minutes later, walk ten gates to the coffee place. People are really looking at me and I think, “Geez, maybe they think I’m someone important!”

On the way back to my seat, I pop into the bathroom. And everything becomes clear.

My hair was not deshible. I looked absolutely insane. It was amazing, how insane I looked. It was tangled. It was sticking up almost sideways on the left side. A piece on the right was flipped to the left. I looked like a woman with no home.

In addition to this, half of my mouth was black and the blackness extended past the corner of my mouth about an inch. It appeared that I was suffering from a horrible, contagious lip disease; perhaps leprosy. I looked so scary that I startled myself. As I furiously scrubbed the side of my mouth with soap, I began to laugh so hard I tears were rolling down my face because I have never been such a hot, hot, steaming hot mess than I was just now. And because I was now laughing and crying into the mirror, people began to literally back away from me at the sink.

And as I write this now — the ink is gone and I pulled my hair back into a ponytail — I am laughing so hard (but trying not to because there are so many people around me) that I’m literally shaking with laughter silently in my seat and crying actual tears because this image of myself was so incredible. I have had to walk away a few feet from my computer to go behind a post and let the laughter out.

Phoenix? I love you, baby. See you around.

I’ll Try To Keep This Short.

posted in: Fashion 1
Dewy, ain't she?
Dewy, ain’t she.

Twice in my adult life I have had short hair.

The first time, I had it against my will. This was 2009, and things were not good. The malnutrition, the double-barrell medicine regimen they had me on, the surgeries, the infections, the stress — after all this, my hair follicles were like, “You’re kidding, right?” and they quit. I remember sitting on the bench in the shower of my mother’s house as the water pelted down. I was maneuvering around the tubes and the ports in my body so I could wash my hair; it was among the first times I had been able to do so myself since going into the hospital almost two months earlier. It was exhausting, but I was stoked to be in a shower alone again (orderlies with sponges are appreciated but not ideal.) I was rinsing out the shampoo and felt something strange:

My hair was coming out.

I gently ran my fingers through the length of my hair and long strands came out, too, smoothly detaching from the hair that was still secured to my head. My jaw dropped and water came into my mouth. I spit the water out and shook the clump from my fingers. Splat, on the shower floor. My hand went back to my head to make sure what had just happened had just happened. Another long, wet rope of hair attached itself to my fingers. Splat. The clumps were too thick to go down the drain, so I saw them gather there as the water pelted my head and ran down into my eyes.  I sat there a long time, watching that shower floor.

There can be no doubt that it’s hard for men to lose their hair. But I don’t think many would argue that it’s harder for women. I’ve had an ostomy bag twice, accidents of various kinds (in public and private) and the very nature of my condition means I wind up talking about the bathroom way, way more than most people could bear, but none of these dignity-crushing experiences have been quite as hard on my femininity as it was to lose my hair. I don’t know why this is, but it made me so sad and it still does.

There were bald spots. I had to do something, so when I was next in Chicago, I went to a nice salon and told the stylist my situation. I told her I needed to just cut my losses, literally, and that she had full permission take it down as far as she needed to to make me look more like a girl with a cute pixie cut and less like a girl with mange. I left with very little hair. A month later, my mom and I filmed a DVD called “Learn To Quilt.” I can’t bear to watch that video, though it’s very good. I can’t watch it because when I’m cutting or looking down at the patchwork we’re making on the table, you can see my scalp. We talked about getting me a wig for that shoot but decided that was overreacting. We should’ve done the wig.

Anyhow, the second time I had short hair was when I did my one-woman show, “Performing Tonight: Liza Minnelli’s Daughter” in Chicago in 2011. I had to look like Liza, so of course I went short.

Well, I’ve cut my hair again. I took a picture of Anne Hathaway to Yuka, my stylist in New York, and I said, “Yuka, my relationship has failed. I have many work projects to focus on. Please make me look like this,” and I showed her the picture of Anne Hathaway.

“Ah! Yah!” sweet and awesome Yuka said, in her very thick Japanese accent. “When you come in, first time, I think-ah you look like her! We can do.”

It’s a cliche, I realize, to chop one’s locks when a relationship ends. I’m that cliche right now and it’s fine; I’ve been all kinds of cliches in life (e.g., white chick into yoga and sushi, etc.) and will be many more (e.g., fortysomething woman with interesting eyewear and a masters degree, etc.). My short cut won’t last long; the moment Yuka was done, I began the grow-out process. But right now, I need the focus that short hair brings. There’s less attention from men when a gal has short hair, I think. There’s less primping for me to do. Short hair, in our culture, is a way to distance oneself and I guess I feel like doing that in ways I don’t completely understand.

It’s just hair, except that it’s never just that.

Oh, Goody.

posted in: Day In The Life 7
They do look like they could bite you.
They sorta look like they could bite you on the ankle.

I needed to buy some barrettes the other day, so I went to my friendly neighborhood Target. I left with much more than barrettes, because that is Target’s evil way, but the barrettes were the most intellectually stimulating purchase — I just like Nutella; I don’t think about it.

In the barrette section within the hair section within the hairstyling section, there was a giant. And that giant was Goody. Heavens, the variety! Metal bobby pins, bobby pins colored like your hair, bobby pins made of silicone; barrettes with grippers, barrettes without, barrettes in neon colors, barrettes gray for the Woman of a Certain Age — and on and on. That’s not even approaching all the doo-dads (e.g., the StyleSpring), combs (e.g., teasing comb vs. compassionate comb) and the brushes (did you know there’s a brush now with toweling in it that dries your hair as you brush it?? America’s a heck of a country.)

When I got home, I had to look up Goody. I was stunned by just how many products for hair accessories one factory could make. I imagine the research and development team talking to the marketing team:

R&D: We’ve come up with something new.
MARKETING: Oh, no. (pause.) Okay, what is it?
R&D: It’s called “The Duck Tail.”
MARKETING: And what does that do?
R&D: (pause.) It gives you a duck tail.
MARKETING: Get Henry in here.

I got the name Henry from the Goody website. The origin of the company is interesting. Check it out:

At the turn of the century, Henry Goodman immigrated to the United States from the town of Gritsev in the Ukraine. With a single pushcart, he and his sons began selling rhinestone-studded hair combs on New York’s city streets. And in 1907, Goody was founded.

That’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Rhinestone hair combs from a pushcart. Think of all those lovely ladies in the early 1900s, haggling over the price of the combs, getting one down to a reasonable price of two cents from three. Remember what I said about America being a heck of a place? Goody is kinda proof. [Ed. note: I am not being paid to write this post.]

Oh, and the barrettes I got? They’re honestly the best barrettes I’ve ever used. 100% serious. They really grip and they don’t scratch.