Friday, April 26, 2013


I had a pixie haircut when I was eight years old. My school picture from that year shows a small, shy, dark-skinned girl smiling without showing her teeth (a familiar image--often what I look like in pictures from my twenties, only a couple feet taller and a bit more time-tested). In the picture I wear a white, round-collared dress, a pink bow at my neck. And my hair is very, very short. In fact, were it not for the dress and the bow, I would most certainly be mistaken for an eight-year old boy. I don't remember asking my mother for this haircut, but I'm sure that I did, and my mother--being my mother--patiently granted my request.

I am envious of this little girl. I've recently chopped my hair again, and while there are days when I look in the mirror and like the exposed lines of my face and neck, more days I go out into the world a little afraid; it's one thing to be mistaken for a boy when you're eight, it's quite another to be mistaken for one when you're nearing thirty. So far, this hasn't happened. So far, when I've ventured out, people say kind things, or say nothing at all, or don't pay me any attention. I know, I know: it's just a haircut, you're thinking. Hair grows, girl. Bigger shit is going down. And you'd be right. But for just a moment, I want to say a few things about beauty, and vanity, and humility, because it seems like these are the things that either help or harm us when it comes to embracing the bigger stuff, the truths--minute and enormous--that bring us to our knees.

The haircut wasn't the thing that brought me to my knees; truth is, I was already kneeling when I sat down in the twirling chair and felt the scissors come close to my scalp. The haircut was the reaction; from my knees I was seeking outward motion, some sea change to shake me out of the larger forces that had me down on the ground, struggling to keep going with the new life I'd put into motion, the one that was pissing a lot of people off and painting, for me, a future utterly unknown.

The haircut did the trick. To push the metaphor, I'll just say this: the rest of me--body, mind, soul--was kneeling: in the face of certain truth. I was deep in the down-in-the-mud middle of figuring some big shit out. About myself, the world I was creating, the people I was hurting, the path that was asking to be forged. On my knees, I was humbled, because I wasn't pretending anymore. I was getting (painfully) honest for what felt like the first time in my life. So be it. But the hair wasn't following suit. The girl people saw on the outside--she was still trying to be someone she thought others wanted to see. She was still seeking goddamn approval. So she went to the salon.

Beauty: what the world sees on the outside.
Beauty: how we feel on the inside.

I'm working to embrace the latter. But sure thing, it's hard: the truth that I've begun broadcasting from the inside has suddenly been stripped bare and revealed on the outside. In a haircut.

Now there's new work to do--a big struggle with vanity. A big search for humility. But I'm glad. These lessons I've been meant to learn. And I'm hopeful for the learning: it's easier to learn truly when we learn from a true place. We forget that true place, it seems, as we grow. Our eight year old selves knew it without question: this is what I want because it makes me feel like the person I am.

This is what I want because it makes me feel like the person I am. Some days I look gamine and graceful; some days I look like an eight year old boy who needs a good night's sleep. This is what I see. What I feel? Mostly beautiful. Mostly humble. Mostly true.

Thanks for reading.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

I'm Sorry.

That the dogs are dying. 
That there are miles, two thousand of them or more, between here and there. 
That I didn't get the joke, or like it. 
That I let the garden die. 
That I said too much. 
That I said too little. 
That I didn't try and that I tried too hard. 
That my hair was never long for you. 
That I am so cold all the time. 
That I was mean. 
That I was kind. 
That I was patient and impatient, both. 
That I wrote instead of calling. 
That I called instead of writing. 
That there are so many ways of talking. Just talk. Just listen. 
That I don't like clams. 
That I didn't go to shear the sheep that day. 
That I pretended when I should have been real. 
That I was real when I should have pretended. 
That I was late. 
That I canceled. 
That I said no. 
That I said yes. 
That I disappear. 
That I act rash. 
That I take my time. 
That I know absolutely. 
That I don't know.   
That I didn't ask. 
That I even ask at all. 
That I mouthed the three words instead of giving them sound, every night. 
That I cared too little and too much. 
That I didn't read the books. 
That I am sometimes weak to the bone. 
That I am sometimes so tough I push you over.
That I can't always help you up. 
That I drank that much beer. 
That I can't drink that much beer. 
That I don't want to wake up yet (let me sleep). 
That I didn't wake up and see, and live. 
That I woke up. 
That I listened. 
That I didn't listen. 
That I didn't say I'm sorry. 
That I said it. 
That there is so much and so little and that we've got it all to carry. Your yoke, mine; I'd take them up both, were I able. 

Never for its beginning, nor its good and harsh and honest life. Never for that. 

Thanks for reading.