22 Things I Learned in 2022

1. Being a Horrible Hose Beast to myself doesn’t accomplish anything.

2. Self-Compassion vanquishes the Horrible Hose Beast even if it does look like a big, long-haired sissy.

3. Cold showers are invigorating only in the summer when the “cold” water comes out pool water warm because it’s a million degrees outside.

4. I can wash my hair and my whole body with one stock pot full of stove-heated water. (Did I mention our water heater broke this year?)

5. I can still remember the classical piano pieces I learned last October even though, after I learned them, I didn’t practice again until this October. Muscle memory is righteous.

6. I am capable of injuring myself in my sleep. I am gifted like that and also middle-aged.

7. I can withstand hour long phone calls with narcissistic jerks.

8. Other people can stand hour long phone calls with this narcissistic jerk.

9. If I spot it, man oh man do I got it!

10. Eight million twelve step slogans.

11. That even I give in and say “god” when what I mean is “gods.” Stupid three letter words being easier to type. Stupid western world thinking polytheists are weirdos.

12. With all the progress I’ve made at not being a Horrible Hose Beast, the Horrible Hose Beast is still worried about other people thinking I’m a weirdo. Sissy Self-Compassion doesn’t care, but says it’s OK that Hose Beast cares and wants me to give myself a big hug. What a sissy!

13. Life without corn syrup is possible and even preferable. Who knew?

14. My psychiatrist is kind and conscientious enough not to strangle me.

15. I am capable of watching a three hour concert sitting on a hard wooden bench in the Southern California level freezing cold with a spasming back. I am a middle aged endurance hero.

16. I am capable of talking about myself for 25 straight minutes without being a narcissistic jerk. At least I hope I am. If not, I owe about forty people a big apology.

17. Doing service for others is magical. Like, seriously, pop pop pop! Magical. That’s also a sissy thing to say. No less true though.

18. I can keep commitments… most of the time.

19. Tasing yourself hurts like a son of a monkey. Good news! If I ever need to tase anybody, I want it to hurt like a son of a monkey.

20. Wine and lightning are an excellent way to get and stay in the presence of the gods.

21. Gratitude is a superpower. Legit.

And finally… truly worth of a drumroll…

22. Love is patient. Patience is love.

With Love,
This Long Haired Sissy

Self-Portrait: 2022 Is Also All About My Hair

“There is a lot of breakage.” Don’t we all feel that way?

I balked when she said it and immediately went to defend myself. It must be the scrunchie I had near permanently in my mop since the beginning of the pandemic. It’s because I hadn’t had it cut since then. It’s because the hair is in terrible condition because of pandemic neglect and not, dear gods, because it’s falling out. It’s just broken not heading for the hills. It’s just broken, not endangered. It’s just broken—more, healthy, unbroken hair is just behind it.

I got it cut in December 2021 and I feel like a human again. The broken hairs are still broken, but the unbroken ones are no longer frayed like D-grade straw, looking like a witch’s hair. Gods, was I ever embarrassed when I walked my straw haired witch’s self into the Great Clips and asked them to whack the mess off. The stylist was understanding, matter of fact as the hay hit the floor, and gave me a marvelous new start, jawline length, relief from all the burden of the last two years that had fallen well past my shoulders and almost all the way down to my waist.

So the broken ones are still broken, but they’re also still growing and now don’t have so far to go to catch up to their unbroken sisters. The mop isn’t so long that I have to keep it up in a scrunchie anymore. I don’t have to be bound all the time. No more mass breakage is imminent. 2022 is going to be a good year.

How much further can I carry this hairy pandemic metaphor? Let’s see:

The thing about the short curly hair is that there is no second chance. There is no second day hair so, if you’re going somewhere, if anyone else is meant to see you, you must must must take care of it day by day. It’s a hassle when we’ve all gotten so used to not caring much about ourselves as we huddle and hide away. But also a sign of health, this hassle, and anything, even if it’s vanity, that forces you to bathe and primp and proper yourself, is a good thing and a godsend in a time when it’s far too easy just to let go.

With the short curly do that gives no second chances, I wake up from tossing nights looking like Einstein. That’s why I was able to come up with such completely original, genius, and insightful observations about the pandemic vis-a-vis my hair.

Original, I tell you. Original.

I wish you all the best and healthiest in 2022. My goal is to be here more and make more super genius and purely original observations with both my words and my art, photographic and otherwise. My goal is to read more of your work as well. My hope is we will inspire each other. My hope is we will inspire each other enough so as to give each other the tingles. My hope is we will inspire each other enough that, tingling together, it makes our collective hair, broken and unbreakable, stand on end.

-M. Ashley

Photo: My submission for this week’s 52 Frames challenge, “Self-Portrait” I’m calling it “Gallows Humor.” Taken with an iPhone 10. Flash did not fire.