First things first: If your name is Rebecca, and you sent me a rooster today, I accidentally deleted it from my spambox. Sorry! The darn thing keeps tagging cock-related e-mails as spam. Please send it again. Thanks.
Since my diagnosis with cervical cancer, I have been living on a different sort of timeline. Once upon a time, there was BC, AD, my birth in 1972, and a few other scattered dates such as December 23rd in 1986 when I had my first period and December 31st in 1992 when I lost my virginity and, of course, my marriage to the Palinode on June 9th of 2001. Those have all been replaced with BCE (Before Cancer Era) and CE (Cancer Era). Some will try to tell you that BCE and CE are the new BC and AD, and they are, but not in the way I thought.
I find that when people ask me questions, I often preface my answers, at least in my mind, with the phrase Well, since I was diagnosed with cancer.... Time in the CE moves differently than the way it did in the BCE. The last week-and-a-half has gone on for months. The stretch of time feels stifling, like the air is too thick through which to move. Something has weighted the string that draws me along from day to day, wowing it like telephone wires along the highway.
I have always had a strong desire to mark my experience of time, to mark my body as I move through it, to place a solid finger on the pulse of whatever predicament I have in front of me. I already have several piercings, no patience to wait for a tattoo at the moment, and amputation goes just a tad too far for my taste, so I settled on a home haircut.
The hair pictured below was buoyed up by two days of a natural accumulation of grease and two nights of pillow pressure. When I arrived in front of the mirror that morning, it asked, no, IT BEGGED to be shorn. Look at it. It is throwing itself up in the air, declaring its obeisance to the almighty clippers.
When I was little, I used to gain or lose weight on purpose, or I would burn myself with incense sticks, and sometimes I would shave this or that part of my body when something important had come to pass. The day I decided that I would no longer allow my friend to tease me in grade five, I plucked my nose hairs out one by one with my mother's tweezers. I marked the occasion, and I have never forgotten the strength I was able to summon out of my undersized, nine-year-old body to tell her that she would never treat me that way again.
I have downgraded my self-abuse as I have aged. That shit hurts! Luckily, there are painless acts to replace it, such as head-shaving.
Don't worry. The cliché of cancer-related hair loss is not lost on me. It would almost be embarrassing if my new haircut didn't feel incredibly fucking awesome. My head feels like kittens.
Wouldn't you like your head to feel like kittens? Small children pat it as though it were bunnies. My father stroked the back of it and winked. Even my cats like to rub my kitteny pate. I wish I could show you the rest of my downy head, but it seceded in 1984 and has not given photographic permission for some years now.
Of course, my view of this new direction my life has taken in the CE has changed little since the sheering. I'm still as I was before: shocked and waiting for some flash of light or a bodily jolt that will shake me into actually getting that I have cancer and that I am very likely going under the knife to have my uterus removed and that I will be spending weeks on end recuperating and hobbling around, cursing myself for not taking the time to start that great Canadian novel.
I have to say, though, that I am glad the haircut didn't do it for me, because, really, who wants to know something like that? It's not like any of us would walk into a restaurant and order a tumor with a side of uterine excision.
Until then, great haircuts abound!