March 13th, 2005

Brad @ Burning Man

Clear Hair

It's nice to see my own face in the mirror again. Feels good, too.

After my little meltdown last November, I had a couple of days where I couldn't stand to do anything, including shave. After about four days, I looked at the stubble and wondered if maybe, just maybe looking old and feeble and vaguely respectable might not help me in getting what I need from various charities and bureaucracies. So I decided to grow it out, and by New Year's I had what was recognizably a fringe of regular hair extending from one ear, across the back of my head, to the other ear. And by yesterday, it was long enough that frankly, it needed a trim pretty badly.

I shaved it off.

I talked to phierma and, more importantly, cos_x about this yesterday. ("More importantly" because she's much, much better at navigating the mundane world than either he or I are.) We batted this one around for a while, and concluded the hair did kind of need to go, but not for reasons that either of us could 100% comfortably enumerate. Then, this morning, I realized exactly how to put it.

One of the things that she said was that with the hair, you could put a blazer on me and I would I look exactly like a college professor, or maybe a high school math teacher. She said I looked too normal, too employable to be applying for assistance. Without the hair, I definitely look scarier, and that's a potential problem, but ... but what? That's the part we couldn't really express. Then I figured it out, and so here's the bottom line:

On me, hair makes promises that the rest of my head can't keep.

With the hair, and dressed respectably, people look at me and they see someone who looks totally functional. It's that ages-old curse of good coping skills again; I was in danger of not getting the help I need for the additional reason that I looked like I didn't need it (on top of the main reason, which is that I really don't know how to ask for it).

Besides, I really did hate having hair, and not just because I'd rather look a little younger than I am than a little older than I am. After getting used to being bald, I hated the effort of shampooing my hair, when before I could just wash my head with the rest of my face. I hated the way it felt, alternately dry and brittle or sweaty and oily. I hated having it brush my ears when I wasn't expecting it. I hated the fact that if I didn't constantly fuss with it, the hair around my bald stripe had a nasty habit of standing straight up on end. And perhaps least of all, but still important to me, I feel like this is what I "really" look like. That's why I said it's nice to see "my own face" in the mirror again.

(I have been writing, and thinking about writing. However, none of it was journal stuff, it was online gaming related. And I know as well as anybody else, and better than most, that there is nothing in the world more deadly dull than somebody talking about their gaming character and the gaming campaign that they're in. Let me wrap up what I'm working on in the next couple of days, and daily updates will probably resume -- if I can scrape up the money to keep the cable modem turned on, somehow. If you were thinking of donating some cash, this'd be a good time, because I'm overdrawn at the bank. If you were thinking of offering to take me out to dinner some time soon, that'd be much appreciated, too.)