News for August 2011

the tv in the background is playing i wear my sunglasses at night

And I am cur­rently pro­cras­ti­nat­ing at pack­ing up our final stuff for Burn­ing Man (I’ve bro­ken the fam­ily pat­tern of pack­ing neu­roti­cism), drink­ing beer that was made by Sethotron, and eat­ing grilled cheese sam­miches made with bacon and heir­loom toma­toes (yum), and kind of just kind of a lit­tle tiny lot bit freak­ing out about leav­ing for Burn­ing Man in the morning.

I’m putting on my ethno­g­ra­pher hat (er, in this case a pink tur­ban — no, really! I have unfem­i­nisty hair to pro­tect!) and I’ll report back in a week, hope­fully with some pics of me wear­ing a tutu and cov­ered in playa dust. God­speed us Black Rock City!

Posted: August 30th, 2011
Categories: Daily
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is my hair un-feminist?

[I wrote this a lit­tle while ago so the days are off. I have been scared to post it, because I don’t know if I have made my point ____ enough…]

Exactly 29 days from today, I will be board­ing an air­plane with J to fly to Reno for our first ever trip to Burn­ing Man.

Exactly 25 days ago, I got a head full of human hair exten­sions from my oh-so-very gen­er­ous styl­ist, who offered them at cost* because she is build­ing her portfolio.

Jenna and I once had a con­ver­sa­tion about how we have “librar­ian hair”. I don’t mean this as a knock to any of my awe­some librar­ian friends, some of whom prob­a­bly have incred­i­ble hair that belongs in the cat­e­gory we labeled “fer­tile”, but really we meant this as a joke to say that our hair is thin, unruly, and in my case, con­stantly frizzy (clearly with such frumpy hair it is amaz­ing that I have got­ten so far in life). In real­ity I was sim­ply not blessed in the hair gene depart­ment (I blame Grandma, but the trade­off was that I got her long neck so I think it’s fair). So any­ways, my styl­ist offered exten­sions, I jumped at the chance, and voilà, my hair grew 10 inches overnight and is now the longest it has ever been.

There are all kinds of con­sid­er­a­tions to keep in mind when it comes to human hair extensions.

One is where the hair comes from. My exten­sions are made from what they call tem­ple hair, which is gath­ered from women in India who par­tic­i­pate in a rit­ual called ton­sur­ing to show devo­tion to god. I will admit that I did not read much about tem­ple hair before I under­went this process other than to read the exten­sion company’s web­site, which claimed that the prof­its from tem­ple hair sales go to local schools, hos­pi­tals, and orphan­ages. As it turns out, the prac­tice is far more controversial/questionable than all that, and I can truly say that I am uncom­fort­able to be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the tem­ple hair indus­try and likely won’t ever do it again.**

Another impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for wear­ing hair exten­sions is the amount of main­te­nance required. I now have to brush my hair 3 times a day with a spe­cial boar bris­tle brush (lest it get mat­ted in the bonds) and I have to use spe­cial sham­poo and can’t wash every day (the no poo move­ment would tell you that’s a good idea any­way). To look like I did when I left the salon with silky straight hair, I also need to blowdry and straighten and use a lot of expen­sive “prod­uct” (not usu­ally part of my daily rou­tine thank you very much).

I feel like the hotness!

I have a com­pli­cated rela­tion­ship with beauty rit­u­als. Let’s just say that the ver­sion of me in the above pic­ture is a ver­sion of me in drag. The high-femme me who wears sparkly makeup includ­ing blush and eye­shadow, paints my nails, car­ries a trendy-looking purse and wears high-heel shoes (well, not so much any­more because the stairs at work are treach­er­ous) is totally play­ing with the idea of a fluid iden­tity that I can put on and take off as I please, a cos­tume. (But, I have been think­ing about how this self-described ver­sion of “being drag” sub­scribes to the notion of what is pretty and a socially accept­able self-presentation of my gen­der. And maybe it’s a just “pretty mask” that I get to put on as pro­tec­tion against the world. Y’know, like that Crass song called Real­ity White­wash. What­ever. I just wanted to ref­er­ence Crass twice in a row.)

Back to Burn­ing Man. I will soon be spend­ing five days in Black Rock City, a highly alka­line pre­his­toric lake bed desert envi­ron­ment where white­out dust storms are com­mon. The playa is not kind to hair, and I am try­ing to fig­ure out how that all works now that I have elected to take part in this oh-so-high-maintenance world of hair exten­sions. Accord­ing to a vari­ety of posts on the eplaya boards such as this one, since I have “high-profile” hair I should prob­a­bly shave my head before I go, or plan to spend hun­dreds of dol­lars build­ing a playashower,*** or plan to come back with dreads. Or not even go because I’m a “high main­te­nance sparkle pony”.

(Hm. Love those kinds of assump­tions about peo­ple who pay atten­tion to their hair. Cause it’s just so much more shal­low than this or this, which are admit­tedly cool but no less sparkle­pony. And what’s wrong with ponies any­way? I love ponies!)

I bought you a sparkle pony  but I eated it

The real­ity is that I am not really wor­ried about the idea of not show­er­ing for 5 days and get­ting dirty and uncom­fort­able but I *do* work in a pro­fes­sional field and like it or not, there are cer­tain stan­dards of upkeep that I have to main­tain. Exten­sions aren’t one of them, but dan­git a lot of blood, sweat, & tears have gone into this vir­gin hair from the devel­op­ing world that is cur­rently glued to my head and I feel guilty enough about hav­ing it already and I don’t really want to come back with my exten­sions mat­ted to my skull. I want to have my cake (go to Burn­ing Man) and eat it, too (not come across as too much of a hip­pie to be taken seriously/professionally).

Today I was at the cof­fee shop across the street from work and these two crusty/gutter punk girls came in, set down their packs in one of the booths, and ordered crois­sants with egg and cheese. One girl had bleached out dreads with shaved sides and furry pits and really dirty legs. She bought break­fast for the other girl who had blonde, clean, spiky hair and seemed a bit self-conscious when she ordered (“I don’t know what to get, uh, I’ll have what she’s hav­ing,” she said. “I have 15 dol­lars” said the first girl, “you can get what­ever.”). There were two guys in line star­ing at the hair on these girls’ legs. I found myself con­struct­ing a nar­ra­tive in my head about these girls based on their hair (one butch/strong/savvy, the other femme/vulnerable/naive).

I don’t think the gut­ter­punk look would go over very well in the office but it has appeal. I know it comes across as very unkempt but it is so delib­er­ately and care­fully put together.

When I was in col­lege I dyed my hair green, then pink, and then had my friend Regina cut it all off for $5. She lis­tened to Le Tigre while she cut it and her room­mates talked about mak­ing a vegan din­ner for the house. My short hair sig­ni­fied babyfem­i­nist. When I turned 30 I had a cri­sis and cut it off again; I then hated it because I felt**** like a soc­cer mom or female politi­cian, where you can’t have long hair as you age.

I’m so tired of women’s hair as a politi­cized space, espe­cially when it is politi­cized by other women. It’s a lose/lose sit­u­a­tion when women silently or not-so-silently judge the appear­ance of other women and what their coifs sig­nify: the play­ers on both sides of the equa­tion are never ____ enough. (Fill in the blank — fem­i­nist, nat­ural, cool, pretty, fem­i­nine, butch, tra­di­tional, fer­tile, healthy, well-kempt, etc etc etc).

It’s enough to make me want to shave my head. But you know what *that* will mean… ::eyeroll::

*For those of you who don’t know, get­ting exten­sions put in takes 6–7 hours of labor.

**This is not the first time I have pur­chased human hair, though. When I was work­ing on my New Col­lege the­sis I had friends donate their hair and teeth for use in sculp­tures and paint­ings, but I also pur­chased at least one blonde pony­tail on eBay. I think at the time (2001) it was mar­keted for cre­at­ing dolls and I don’t really know the ori­gin. Here’s what I wrote about using hair as a mate­r­ial for art at the time:

The Func­tion of Bod­ily Materials

Mate­ri­als layer one’s work with mean­ing.  I have become increas­ingly con­cerned with mate­ri­als in my devel­op­ment as an artist, find­ing myself drawn towards that which is organic and from the body.  I am able to say more with a piece of horse­hide or a vial of spit and hair than would be ever pos­si­ble with line, form, color, and word.  My choice of mate­ri­als war­rants dis­cus­sion here, although to essen­tial­ize the way any one par­tic­u­lar mate­r­ial func­tions in my work would be to triv­i­al­ize that material’s power for lay­er­ing and transcendence.

I am attracted to horse­hide, leather, hair, and glue because they embody the horse.  The rela­tion­ship between these mate­ri­als and the ani­mal is both one-to-one and more than one-to-one, the part stand­ing for both the whole and much more than the whole.  A piece of hide rep­re­sents the horse as a phys­i­cal object, rep­re­sents the spe­cific horse it once cov­ered, rep­re­sents the fact that it “once cov­ered” (past tense, sig­ni­fy­ing the lack of horse present and simul­ta­ne­ously the pres­ence of the horse in spirit), and rep­re­sents the process of death (a tem­po­ral event involv­ing the pas­sage from one phys­i­cal form to another).  The pres­ence of hide, leather, hair, and glue in my work makes phys­i­cal that which is not – death, time, and decay.  The metonymic rela­tion­ship of these mate­ri­als to the ani­mals they once were is espe­cially sig­nif­i­cant.  Susan Stew­art points out that “the pos­ses­sion of the metonymic object is a kind of dis­pos­ses­sion in that the pres­ence of the object all the more rad­i­cally speaks to its sta­tus as a mere sub­sti­tu­tion and to its sub­se­quent dis­tance from the self.”[i]  The inher­ent com­ing apart, sep­a­ra­tion, or frag­men­ta­tion in a rela­tion­ship between part and whole rep­re­sents con­cep­tu­ally the phys­i­cal­i­ties of death and decay; when I cut into the pieces of horse myself, I dou­ble and explode these lay­ers of mean­ing.  Other mate­ri­als such as human hair, blood, fin­ger­nails, spit, claws, teeth, and bones can sim­i­larly evoke the com­ing apart or frag­men­ta­tion of bod­ies.  As sou­venirs of the mor­tal body, they mark death and “the end of the sacred nar­ra­tive.”[ii]  Although such mate­ri­als may not sig­nify directly on horses, they can aug­ment, com­ple­ment, and stand in for mate­ri­als which are harder to come by.  The inclu­sion of these ele­ments in my work also plays on the blur­ring of bound­aries between artist (human, self) and sub­ject (horse).


[i] Stew­art 135.

[ii] Stew­art 140.

 ***No grey­wa­ter dump­ing on the playa please! It’s a leave-no-trace kind of event.

****This is not the first time I have writ­ten about hair here. Note the ponies.

Posted: August 14th, 2011
Categories: Daily
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A new kind of plane

Some­times I have really crazy dreams, and my dream last night was super-duper extra blog-worthy.

I was com­ing back from Boston with my mom, and she wasn’t pay­ing atten­tion to when we needed to be there, so we got to the gate at 3:10 for a 3:05 flight. But they were wait­ing for us and call­ing my name and we got on board. Then my mom wasn’t there any­more but John was.

The plane was a spe­cial new model of plane made by a com­pany called SPI or some­thing like that. It was amaz­ing! You walked in and there was a gar­den patio area with foun­tains and a bunch of peo­ple loung­ing by the pool and hot tub. Then when you walked fur­ther in you were in an area with white plas­tic the­ater seat­ing, and neon lights above your head. There was a plas­tic bench area behind me where I could throw my bag. The flight was really empty and there was another cou­ple near us but they went to walk around so we had it all to ourselves.

Then John went explor­ing. As you walked fur­ther back into the plane, it started to sim­u­late nature and there was a wooded area with a path. Then it started to snow (fake snow) which was really cool. We went back to our seats and decided to watch out the win­dows for a while — the plane had big pic­ture win­dow sides made of glass so you had quite the view. All of a sud­den we were fly­ing through the grand canyon, and the canyon walls were TY*5tttttt <– Muriel typed that right there in front of me!

Toward the end of the flight we lined up in this amuse­ment park kind of line with rail­ings. This part is hard to describe but the rail­ings were one way, and then they mor­phed to another shape (the shape of rail­ings for the Den­ver ligh­trail ??) to sig­nal that we were land­ing in Den­ver. Then as we were get­ting off the plane the rail­ings started to col­lect snow, and as you put your hand on them the snow would melt away, but it was all fake because the rail­ings were made of video screens.

I think Boe­ing and Air­bus need to take note of their new com­pe­ti­tion in air­plane design.

There was some other stuff such as set­ting up an office in a big suite at a fancy hotel and we were mov­ing all the art around (sculp­tures of Bud­dha and Santa and cow­boys) and some­thing broke and we were going to get charged a room ser­vice fee, which Car­rie would have objected to on my expense report. also we were in Florida try­ing to get to the Hal­loween PCP at New Col­lege but we kept get­ting dis­tracted and it was very late and we were going to miss the dance party.

The end.

Posted: August 13th, 2011
Categories: Daily
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