Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Weather For the Rest of the Week

In Reykjavik (for all of you geography-deficient squares out there, that would be the capital city of Iceland), it is a drizzly week.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is expected to reach a high of fifty degrees and a low of forty-two. Plus, there is a chance of light rain and lots of clouds. Burr (albeit, according to what I've read, fifty degrees is like a heat bomb compared to the usual temperature in Iceland, especially in late October).

Friday brings more rain, and more than Thursday. The high is once again anticipated to be about fifty degrees with a low of around thirty-three. No sun that day- just mean rain clouds (but apparently Iceland doesn't get thunder- it's too cold, so you just get the rain without the neat sound effects).

Saturday's weather is looking a little better. It still plans on raining, but considerably less, with a high of about forty-six degrees and a low of thirty-two degrees. We follow this up on Sunday with a high of thirty-six degrees and a low of thirty-four degrees and a chance of snow.


You Don't Like My Music [Points Finger Menacingly]

My mom doesn't seem too keen on my new obsession, Steeleye Span, and something tells me that she won't be fond of Sa Dingding, who's from China and sings in Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan. Cool! This is my first Sa Dingding song, "Alive."

I like her music, though I don't remember how I came across her name. The scene where my mom hears Sa Dingding's name has played out in my head before. First, she would chortle and say, "Dingding? Hmph!" I would reply that that was culturally insentitive but mispronounce insensitive because that's how the cookie crumbles in this household. Then she would listen to her music and either think of it as strangely Asian-folksy or hate it, one or the other, but my hope is that she likes it. And even after writing all of that, I still cannot remember how I found her name. I think that I was looking at the Tibetan language and somehow or another she popped up in the search engine. I haven't looked at too many other songs of hers yet, but I do think that the few that I've heard are neat-o, peep(s).

Anyways, I showed mi madre Steeleye Span and her reaction was as though it was the most obtrusive sound that she'd ever heard. Steeleye Span music is very Celtic, and, frankly, I'm not even positive that the lyrics are in English. "Royal Forester" is, thus far, my favorite.

But on a somewhat brighter note, Madre did check into Baade art and I think that the painting that uses the plague as an allegory for dating tickled her, but other than that, she remained firmly nonchalant.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rainy days and Tuesdays

The play is finished, I have removed most of the makeup from my skull, and I am back on my couch under a warm blanket. I feel the chill a little more these days. Who would've thought hair could make such a difference?

I find it VERY unfair that my good friend Virgil, who shaved his head in solidarity (amongst other reasons) has already grown out more hair than me. I also find it unfair that, as a man, he can walk around without hair and no one gives it a second thought.

I, on the other hand, am learning to be invisible.

It is an interesting dynamic-- I walk down the hall, sporting this black hat or that purple beret, and someone coming towards me will look at me. Look away. Look again, the ol' double-take. Then, look away so quickly I can almost hear neck vertebraes crack. So many people are afraid to look at me, really look at me.

Why? Because we associate baldness in women with cancer or another life-threatening condition, and we seem to fear looking illness in the eyes. I know I was just as guilty of it. If I didn't look at the woman in the grocery story wearing the black ball cap, skull smooth and hairless, I could pretend that cancer isn't here. Sickness isn't here.

But it is. And those who fight it are not invisible. Looking away will not make them invisible.


But my life as a bald woman isn't all bad. There is a whole list of advantages:

  • There is something to be said for the speed in which I can get ready in the mornings, now. I'm also saving money on shampoo.
  • And, I am waiting like a kid at Christmas to see what kind of hair I will get out of this. It may be Christmas before I find out...
  • Running is nicer without the frustration of hair falling in my eyes or sticking to the sweat on my face.
  • People want to rub my fuzzy scalp for luck.
  • I am told constantly I have a "nicely-shaped head".
  • I have acquired an Ismelda Marcos-sized collection of hats and scarves.
  • I am falling in love with long, dangling earrings all over again.
  • I have even learned to forgive my ears, which stick out too much.
  • I can take naps in the middle of the afternoon and not worry about waking up with bedhead.
  • And, I can remember that I once-- once-- had the guts to do something completely out of character.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mad About Baade

I'm not an artist and can't even muster the ability to plop a decent spoon onto a piece of paper, but I do enjoy looking at good art, surrealism especially. Kailee is my favorite artist though I'm not sure what type of art that she works in. It's darker than my newest obsession (not as good as Kailee), Carrie Ann Baade. Whoa! I remember seeing Baade's works at a gallery in Santa Fe called the Pop Gallery. It was love at first sight.

Baade's work uses rich color and a very surreal way of painting peoples' eyes to evoke wonder in the viewer. Her paintings are both inspirational and awe-inspiring. I looked at her paintings for half an hour today while listening to music (good music, good paintings: Baade looks better when listening to And One, Goldfrapp, Bjork, and Greg Maroney) and am decidedly in love with The Involuntary Thoughts of Lady Caroline Dubois. It was the first painting that I ever saw of hers, and it has stuck in my head like a visual harpoon. Yup yup yup.

Over the couple of times that I've sat down to look over her work, I've come to be a fan of numerous of her paintings. After the aforementioned Lady Caroline Dubois, I find myself in full-on squee mode when it comes to True Love on the Eve of the Apocalypse.

Check out a few of her paintings, ja!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm a teacher.

I decided, and Theresa-the-director agreed, that I would have my head shaved with the entire cast present. I thought it would be a nice teaching moment, showing the students in the cast that a job worth doing is worth... you know the cliche.

What they learned is what a coward I am. Linann, the wonderful lady with the brand new clippers, was waiting for me when I got to the theatre. She didn't give me much time to think about it, but directed me to the chair immediately. She turned me away from the mirror, gave me a hug, and turned on the clippers.

I immediately began crying. Clippers off. "Are you sure you're ready to do this?" she asked me.

I composed myself best I could, then gave her the go-ahead. Clippers on. I begin screaming and kicking my legs. Clippers off.

"Just do it!" I shout. Or I think I did. I may have just thought it. Then, suddenly and in one smooth move, Linann turned on the clippers and took a swath out of the back of my head.

Sometimes, you just have to rip off the bandage.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow...

LEST there is any doubt as to the power words yield, I am today eating a bit of crow. It does not taste much like chicken.

It is so very easy to throw out words casually, to say such things as "I would shave my head for this role if it had to be done" when I think there's no danger that those words would stick to the wall.

But they have stuck to the wall. Quite soundly. And I am now accountable to them. This afternoon I am reporting to the costume shop to have my head shaved for the play.

Beware of your words-- they never forget. And when you least expect them, they come home like unemployed children for extended stays.

I'm trying to turn this surreal, Brechtean experience into something useful, like an extended blog life. I think I raced through all the stages of grief in about two hours last night, so now I'm a bit in a numb state, which is probably where I should be until the deed is done. But eventually I'll catch up on my sleep, probably long before my hair grows out, so I need more words to stick up on the wall to get me through.

It IS just hair. I get that-- intellectually. My fear is grounded in vanity-- I get that. To continue pursuing the makeup route will be very, very detrimental to me, as I have discovered how much spirit gum and acetone can burn the skin of the face and neck. Plus, looking like an alien bursting through someone else's skin is most definitely NOT the look we want. I get it. I get it.

But I'm still flirting with a panic attack.

For those who have lost or are losing their hair because of chemotherapy, my deepest apologies for the vanity and pity-party tone of this piece. I cannot imagine your struggle. But I will be sending my prayers out with each piece of hair that falls on the floor today.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I have been hard at work on a play the past few weeks, hence my long absence from posting. It is my first time on stage in... a long time... so between the rehearsal process, keeping up with student essays, and wrestling the constant voice asking me What were you thinking! it has been an exhausting and absolutely incredible few weeks.

The play is called Wit and is about an English Literature Professor named Vivian Bearing, who is dying from ovarian cancer. The play is her journey from the intellectual world into the emotional one. It has also been a spiritual journey for me. Not only playing this incredible woman, but relearning so many things about myself I had forgotten or put away in the closet. Way, way back of the closet.

My students have been waiting, probably less anxiously than me, to see if I would relent and shave my head for the role. I thought it prudent to warn them of the possibility to save myself countless denials that I am myself dying. Fortunately, the hair will remain. But it was interesting to realize that if push came to shove, I would have let the hair go. Not because I am such an artist, but because I am learning-- relearning-- to be one.

I had forgotten just how much I love the theatre. Every part of it-- I don't need to be on stage to feel at home there. In fact, I much prefer writing and directing. The nausea level on opening night is about the same, but I find it more magical to hear my words coming from a good actor than my own words never fully doing justice to another writer's words.

But the greatest thing about theatre is the storytelling. I am a storyteller. I always have been, and the theatre is the place I can do this without becoming a liar. I can tell a story on stage and it is accepted, embraced, sometimes even applauded. If I tell the same story outside the theatre, it is met with skepticism, raised eyebrows, questions of "Is that true?" This usually happens in class after I have told some poignant story to illustrate a point or illustrate a rhetorical mode. My students listen to me weave a story about Hannah, a beautiful four year-old who wants to become a veterinarian when she grows up, but is killed by a drunk driver; or about my grandfather taking me to the state fair in his '59 Chevy pickup with the torn seat covers and Hank Williams, Jr. playing on the eight-track. Perhaps the stories are true. Perhaps only one is. Perhaps neither. But, in some way, every story contains truth, so why do we question?

In the theatre, we don't. We allow the story to unwind and are willing to accept. This is called suspension of disbelief. Even when we become aware of our disbelief, in the darkness of the theatre we are more willing to ignore it. We become like children, believing once again in fairy tales, tall tales, myths, legends, and folklore. That's not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.