Friday, February 11, 2011

Like the hair you've got. That's what you've got.

Yes, those are pea shoots growing in a container on my kitchen bench. Tasty (if a bit hairy) in salads, perfect in stir-fry.

They have a growth pattern disturbingly similar to my hair in February, 2011. (Remember, I'm a poet.)

I read recently a comment from a wise woman, whose name I don't recall—sorry about that. It goes something like this:
'We should all get to love and accept our hair early in life, because that's the hair we've got.'
If I'd read that when I was 14, I would have scoffed. Get used to my hair? No way. I wanted hair like the models in Seventeen magazine. Any model, any hair but mine.

At the time, my hair was thick and lustrous and blonde. Cut in a pudding bowl style that made me look like the pudding, but capable of growing very soon into a bouncy pony-tail that was perfect for rock and roll.

Magazines deceived us with tips on making our hair curlier, straighter, thicker, thinner, less dry, less oily, more like a fantasy woman's totally incompatible tresses and less like our own perfectly wonderful hair. They still do that, of course. And we still expect hairstylists to perform miracles.

Twice in my teens I subjected my hair to Toni Home Perms, and twice it emerged even straighter than before. (Good thing.) The Greek sun bleached it to platinum blonde, the Geneva winters created a brunette, and all by myself I turned a glorious henna red for a couple of years. As for styling, I've had everything from a French roll to a Number Two buzz cut with a poodle clipper.

The upside of this congenital discontent is that hair is very forgiving. Pretty much whatever you do, it grows right back, just the way it used to be.

Over the years, however, hair does inexorably change. It's unmissable evidence that we are, yes we are growing older. Some follicles give up the ghost and you can see the skull through the faithful few that cling loyally on like seaweed. New hairs slither out of your skull that are greyer or whiter and coarser because they are technically dead. (The scalp as a forest of dead, lichen-draped trees or a cemetery with zombies: charming.)

But nature still has a few surprises. In August of my 70th year, something bizarre happened. The undergrowth went crazy and new hair began to grow like weeds. The first ones are up to the canopy already. Fuzzy furly new hairs keep forcing their way into the forest and I just look different.
I asked my hairdresser why my hair has abruptly, blatantly started to grow again. Is it Moroccan Oil or is it the secret of eternal youth?

'It's just a cycle,' she said. 'Some people have a 5-7 year biological cycle, and you must be on the up and up.'

Second time around, I won't complain. I'll like the hair I've got.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Writing for fun again: what am I to do? Can't help it!


So, my 70th year is almost over—doh! (That happens, Rachel.) It's been awesome and the next year will be awesome too.

An influx of maturity and wisdom never arrived, sorry to report.

But just in the nick of time I can imagine my next writing project. Thank goodness: there's nothing more fun than writing for fun.

Ever since finishing Scarlet Heels: 26 stories about sex, I've been almost 100% businesswoman—apart from a blissful stint as writer in residence at Lavigny. I've even stopped transcribing poems that dribbled out of my granddaughter's mouth because I felt I was invading her privacy.

Lately I have been inspired by Maud Casey, a wonderful young New York novelist who was with me at Lavigny. I've just read The Shape of Things To Come. She has that proportion thing right: the prose is exceedingly easy to read and understand and yet quite often there's a sentence that's so brazenly original and wise or mysterious or metaphorical, it's like a salutary slap in the face. I don't want to be boring or bored, but I don't want to be impenetrable or pretentious either. Maud is my model at present.

That, and reading a patchy book of memoirs by distinguished old NZers, yesterday gave me a vision of my next writing project. Very thrilling to see the way it could be, even if it never happens. I think I'm going to write random poems randomly related to life as an officially older person. Not unlike this blog, but as poems.

Odd and funny and real would be the goal. And not boring! I'm sick of oldies who relate earnestly how life was when they were young, how it's changed and what they think of that. I don't care.

I don't usually announce what I'm going to write: that's just asking for trouble. But I'm old enough to be pretty sure this one will happen. Not quickly, because I'm busy. But in a steady dribble, as is appropriate for an old lady laughing.

Writing for fun again—what am I to do? I can't help it.