Haircuts and Anniversaries

I have a haircut coming up with Bledi-with-Scizzors. Bledi has been my hairstylist for at least fourteen years now, which is ridiculous. By now he owns the salon, and I’ve had three jobs since we met at Starbucks. Also by now we’re comfortable enough with each other that sometimes he will tell me what he thinks I should have done to my hair, and I will tell him I don’t care what he thinks or if it’s stylish, I just want long hair. But sometimes I get bored with the long hair (recently, I just haven’t had the patience to dry it–or the time, because we moved and my commute in the morning is 15 minutes longer). And so, when contemplating my upcoming haircut, I thought, “I think it’s time to get my occasional bob.”

Also because it’s October. If I ever get a bob haircut, it’s in October. There are two reasons for this: 1) By October it’s cold enough here I don’t feel the need to pull my hair off my neck in a ponytail; while I like to braid my hair in the summer. 2) October (appropriately, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month) is when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had my hair cut in a bob to take an incremental psychological step toward readiness for shaving my head for chemo. Then I didn’t end up needing chemo, but sometimes I still get my hair lopped off in October.

2008 cancer haircut

I was thinking about this the other week, which is why I suddenly remembered that today is the tenth–tenth–anniversary of my cancer diagnosis. I don’t often talk about my cancer because honestly, most of the time I feel like a “fake” cancer survivor, since, at the end of the day, it wasn’t really that bad for me. I had surgery and radiation, but no chemo. I had to take a hormone suppressant which gave me migraines with which I still struggle. I went back and read the relevant blogposts from my Original Blog and discovered that at the time, I really was pretty freaked out and it was a tough process emotionally–but it also was a pretty quick one, relatively speaking, and I had some amazing support around me.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who’s still trying to recover after a year of harrowing treatment, and another friend who has had cancers of various types at least 11 times. (I’ve probably lost count, I’m ashamed to say. It may have been more, at this point–but I hope not.) Also another friend was diagnosed within the last year; her diagnosis sounded really similar to mine, but she does need chemo, and she has a husband and two little boys and the chemo is doing a number on her. Stories like these brave women’s make me sad, and also make me uncomfortable about publicly celebrating the fact that I have basically been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and officially so for five years now.

On the other hand–I’ve been cancer free since they cut it out of me, and that’s ten years. And while I don’t understand why the above, and other, friends of mine haven’t gotten through their diagnoses as easily as I was able to get through mine, and while it would be ungracious of me (particularly since I had nothing to do with it) to brag about it, it would also be ungrateful of me not to note and celebrate it. I don’t take my cancer-freedom for granted. I know I could get it again. But I haven’t yet, and I’m deeply thankful. And so, in honor of my diagnosis and celebration of my current freedom from it, I’ll be pampering myself next Friday–and getting a haircut.


The Haircut

Family Friday

It’s official. I am married to the perfect man. Or at least, as perfect as they get this side of . . . the Other Side.

This week I finally booked a haircut. I think the last one I got was at the end of February, and the reason for this is, as I have described before, that I also have the perfect hair stylist. It’s just that I can’t afford him. So I go to the salon twice a year for to have my locks lopped–and the rest of the time my hair gets longer and longer and the ends get splittier and splittier, and the intake staff forget who I am and that my surname changed a year and a half ago.

As I have also described before, this summer, my hair has been falling out. I was beginning to wonder if a bob wouldn’t be a good way to give the illusion of more volume in the back, where I’m losing the most of it. I do get intermittent bob haircuts every few years, but I’ve been enjoying my long hair lately, and besides, my Paul has some definite Opinions, including some very definite Opinions about bob haircuts.

In case you’re worried about my ability to “be my own person” in a relationship, let me say that I have had some trouble with that in the past, but my Paul and I don’t really (or usually) have that issue. I’ve never determined a hairstyle on the basis of what I perceived any guy would think in any case, but my Paul is good to me, so I want to be good to him, too–including, where practicable, looking nice to him. I would have gotten a bob today regardless of what he thought about it, if it seemed like the best course of action, but I thought it would at least be fair to give him warning–if for no other reason than so that he would recognise me when I walked back in the house this afternoon.

“So,” I said, “it might be kind of short.”

My Paul turned and looked at me. He paused. Then, “Hon,” he said, “you’re lovely. I don’t care what you do to your hair.”

Sorry, ladies. He’s taken.

Also, Bledi-with-Scissors told me, “I don’t think you need to worry right now. You still have plenty of hair–and more is growing in.”


I didn’t get the bob. My Paul and I are both happy.

My Hair Is Falling, My Hair Is Falling (Out)!

Saturday Snippets

In contrast to the smiley man in the previous Snippet, I think I might be losing my hair. I’m so certain of it that I’m not even going to post a photo of the back of my head to prove it to you, because it’s too embarrassing.

Back when I got diagnosed with cancer and it was assumed I would be having chemo, I actually went wig shopping with a friend of mine, and then went to Bledi-with-Scizzors (I didn’t spell that wrong) and had him cut me a bob just so I could start getting used to something different. But then I didn’t end up needing chemo, so I simply kept the bob for a while and then grew it out.


Although I’ve never had an easy time with my hair, I wouldn’t want to be without it, and it’s always been nice and thick. Every so often I’ll go through a phase where I seem to be shedding more than usual, but it’s never constant and I’ve never noticed much of a decrease in mass or volume . . . until recently. Recently, I’ve been pulling out handfuls of hair in the shower, in the way that women who have lost theirs to chemo describe it. I’ve also not been blow-drying it, but simply braiding it wet, because it’s been so hot here this summer. A couple of times, when I used a handheld mirror to see how the braid had come out in the back, I noticed a little queasily that the crown of my head seemed to be showing through my hair. I was hoping that it was just how I had pulled the braid strands, but yesterday I took a better look and have pretty much decided that that is not what is happening. It’s starting to make the passage where Jesus says not to worry because “even the hairs of your head are numbered” sound more ominous than I’ve ever thought it sounded before. And hey–I wasn’t worried. Until I started realising the hairs of my head are numbered.

“I’m going bald!” I cried out.

“Let me see,” said my Paul from his recliner in the living room. I went over and knelt down so he could look at the back of my head. “Oh,” he said soothingly. “It’s just your part. You just happen to have . . . an inch-wide one.”

I wailed again.

“Don’t comb over it,” he said. “Shave your head. You’ll look cute.”

He seems charitably unaware that if I did that I would look like Dopey of the Seven Dwarves, because my ears stick out and my head is the wrong shape to pull of a successful Sinead O’Connor look.

Then he started fantasising about the kind of wigs I could get. I guess it’s comforting to know my husband will still love me if I go bald, but still. I’d rather not.

The Unexpected

Visible wisdom. Yeah, that’s it.

London gave my my first grey hairs. Or the flight to London did. Or something. All I know is, at age 24 and a half, I arrived at the house I would be staying in the first three months of what was to turn into over five years, looked in the mirror, and there they were. There were four of them. Knowing better, and also because of being a contrarian, I did not pull them out. It was tempting, but . . . everybody freaks out about grey hair. Therefore, I wouldn’t.

Since then, the number has been steadily growing and as recently as just before the wedding, I discovered I was starting to get a concentration of them at the right and left of the top of my forehead. If my hair were black, it would be very Addams Family. I decided I liked it. Still, it came as something of a shock to find what can best be described as a stripe of grey/white in my hair when I pulled the front back this morning.

I guess my hair is trying to tell me something.

I knew, when I said yes to my Paul, that there would be some adjustments. You don’t go from being single and either dating or not dating (mostly not dating) for your entire adult life, and then suddenly promise yourself to someone for the rest of it and move in with him, and not expect to face some adjustments. There are some. Like–I have discovered my inner neatnik. I didn’t even know I had an inner neatnik. Compared to Mom, I still don’t. But let’s just say I’m acting a whole lot more domestic than I used to. All that was more or less to be expected, though. It’s going fine. But let’s be honest. They’re still adjustments. This, however, is the part I kind of forgot to think about:

My Paul is a youthful some-years-older-than-I. I guess I might have thought about that in terms of the potentially-having-to-take-care-of-him-when-he’s-old kind of thing. (On the other hand, I have a cancer history, so the chances of one of us taking care of the other are probably pretty even.) What I didn’t consider was the relative ages of the extended family.

Here’s what I mean:

TheBro and Sister-in-Lu have, as you know, two young and very beautiful children. (No, I’m not biased.) Paul, as one of the younger three of seven siblings, has bunches of nieces and nephews (some of whom I’ve still not met)–and they’re all adults. (They’re not bad-looking either, but it’s kind of weird to talk about them like that when they’re adults.) One of the nephews is, apparently, older than I am. On Sunday we went to the birthday party of one niece’s son. He’s a year younger than Smiley-Guy. I have a grand-nephew. My 40th birthday isn’t until July, guys. Can we slow this down a bit?

While I was processing this thought, my Paul and a few of his siblings were chattering away and following the sun’s movement on the porch. One of his brothers has bought a condo in their mother’s retirement community in the South. That didn’t really strike me as so alarming until they all started talking about it together–about retiring, and where they were planning on moving, and driving around in golf carts. I feel relatively safe because my Paul has enough plans for our house that I feel like we’re probably settled here for a while. But still! My nieces and nephews are my age, and my siblings are retiring? When did this happen? I was the oldest! I started imagining relocating to a community of white-haired people I don’t know when I’m only a little older than my Paul is now. I think I had got so used to being single that when I thought ahead to retirement–well, I didn’t expect ever to be able to retire, for one thing, but I guess I visualised turning into one of those snarky-yet-warm, independent New Englanders who lives on their own until someone finds them dead in their house a week after the fact.

Wait a second. That’s not such a cheery thought either.

Arizona with my Paul when I’m still too young to move there might not be such a bad idea. Maybe my hair knows the future, and is just trying to help me to catch up.