Short-Haired Girl ~ A Manifesto

It was the 70's, and everyone had a Wedge or feathered bangs or the Farrah Fawcett shag. There was a LOT of hair everywhere. Hairspray too. (This may explain some of the political decisions taken in the 80s and 90s. Hairspray might do something to gray matter. Somebody should do a study on it.)

Anyway, I did NOT have a lot of hair. Like, ever. My whole life, my head has sprouted only fine, straight-ish, mostly reluctant hair -- much more Twiggy than Charlie's Angels.

See? Big difference. No way Twiggy hair will ever respond to hot rollers or even to perms. I know this to be true. I tried. 

So, back then, when I was underage and stuck with Twiggy down to my waist and Sophia Loren below it, I rebelled. Not against The Man, or my parents, or anything like that. That seemed a little stupid to me. I rebelled against my peers. 

Fine, I said to myself. Fine. They've all (yes, all) got lots and lots and lots of hair. So I'll cut mine off. This stupid hair was short when I was a kid, and I'll wear it short again. They've all got platform shoes? I'm wearing ballet slippers. I don't need the extra height anyway. ("Short People Got No Reason" -- this song was written just for me.) I will not wear tight jeans. I will not gossip. I will not be cooperative. (I will not be invited to a lot of parties.)

My peers didn't even notice, really. (This didn't occur to me until much later.) No on was knocking, asking to come into the otherwise empty classroom at lunch to get in on the arguing session I was having with Greg. For fun. There wasn't a lunch room in our school, so all the kids were eating in classrooms, and Greg and I would find an empty one, take our lunches, and argue. Debate. Pace and gesticulate and find the weird, geeky, brainy mind-flirting we both liked a lot better than the options that involved actual, physical, personal space.

Anyway, here I am, forty years later, ready to rebel again. Other people make New Year's Resolutions, but I like the French idea of September's being the second new year, and it's in the fall that I like to find mottos (not resolutions) for navigating the coming months. This year's idea didn't come to me until October. And today, in the middle of November, on a day when my hair feels particularly short and my arguing brain particularly spoiling for a fight, a whole manifesto of anti-pop-cultural ideas for the year tumbled in. Here they are.

Short-Haired Girl ~ A Manifesto

1. Think Inside the Box
My life has categories. These categories matter to me, and I'm tired of filling my life with what doesn't matter. This is the year to say no to anything that doesn't fill the boxes I want to keep.

2. Stop Multi-Tasking
Research shows that there is no such thing anyway. The appeal of multi-tasking is its ability to distract from what really matters and replace it with noise and bother.

3. Don't Play to Win
Play to play. A writing practice, and a religious practice, and a music practice, and a cookery practice ... these things are for practice. The practice is the thing. There's no awards ceremony.

4. Use the Power of Negative Thinking
Gretchen Rubin calls this making the positive argument.

5. Do Follow the Leader
But choose the Leader you follow. This year, my Leaders are Mark Sisson, the American Bookseller's Association, St. Hilda of Whitby, and all the working writers I know. My leaders are assisted by podcasters, dead writers I know, and as many miles of walking as I can manage to walk.

This is my second manifesto. Writing manifestos is another thing I got from Gretchen Rubin. Manifestos help me think. And here, within the next few months, I hope to be thinking and blogging mostly about two things: 
  • North Bank Books, the new bookstore opening in Stevenson, Washington, in 2018;
  • and my own professional writing career, which, so far, has consisted of almost nothing. 
I'll be working on these things, and blogging about them, in short hair.


Wet Edge

Behind the chair in which I'm sitting, the wall is made of century-old beadboard, newer beadboard in another style, oriented strand board, and plywood. The paint is Rice Paper (cream colored), with patches of various shades of yellow and a blue -- squares, rectangles, blotches where I've been color testing, literally, actually, for years. I've got artwork hanging on that wall. There are bookshelves filled with DVDs on that wall, and the pellet stove, and the lamp table, and the comfy chairs.

As of a few weeks ago, I turned my back on that wall and now face the wall with the chosen buff shade of yellow behind the TV on its cabinet. A finished wall that wraps around an interior corner and encloses new bookshelves with glass doors. There are candles on top. Icons on the wall above. And the clock that used to hang in the Stevenson train station ticks away the century, as ever.

I started this blog before I went back to school in 2008. In the decade since, I've gotten a (legitimate, accredited) degree (unlike my first one), and added an MFA to that. I've been painting patches on unfinished walls, and I've been starting up blogs for the sake of a writing course, for the sake of a new identity, for the sake of trying one more thing. Is this the thing? Is here my voice? Are here my readers?

And then, this morning, on my daily walk, all at once, the idea of working at the wet edge swam into my mind's view and I knew it was time to come back here. Back to my own Recollected Life. Start the painting again, right at the edge where I just used my roller. Start again where I left off before. I'm not making anything new. I'm finishing what I've already started.

I want to tell you about some stuff. I want to recollect, collect, collect again, and hear from people who are reading what I write. I started here and said, "I want to go back to school." And then I did that. I said, in print, online, in front of God and everybody, "I want to find a way to go back to work." And I did that too. I said, "I want a shop in Stevenson." Now that's on its way. It's going to be a bookstore. I said, "I want to be a writer." It's time to work on that. I'll be telling you here how that goes.

This blog is where I'm going to start again to recollect my life. Also, the wall behind this chair is finally going to be refinished. Soon. I mean it.


This. Here. Now.

Recollected Life, this has been fun. Thanks for the space as I crested the hill. It's been good here, and now it's time to move on.

The next adventure is THIS. HERE. NOW. here.

Join me!


(Resuming) 99 Words for 99 Days: August 22

  1. The Digging
They met in the dark, and each carried a load. His was smaller. Hers was too heavy to lift easily and she walked nearly buckled under its weight. Deliberately careless, he let his pack fall to the ground, pulled a pair of gloves from his pocket, onto his hands. Together, they began to dig.

That night, they buried their dead in the deep, dark earth, and by sunrise they were through. Through digging. Through the stench. Through the night. The children who would come from that place would be beautiful, but the diggers would never stop smelling their dead.


99 Words for 99 Days: July 31

  1. Transfigured
Sometimes we can see what will be before it can be. We sense it. Hear it in the wind. Feel it on our skin. And then it goes – and we cry out – outraged that it is not yet. We mourn. And there must needs be a Gethsemane. A Calvary. A death to which we turn and a resurrection to the new. Then the moment of knowing – the flash of light transfigured – not a trick of the sun in our eyes, but a promise – it lives. We know. In that other moment, we were transfigured.