I hope this is the last time my Tired ass leaves the seat of This gray vinyl hospital chair Turned forty-five degrees to My mother’s gray blanketed Hospital bed. She’s being Discharged today to better things I hope.
Today—leaving day— Is the first day I noticed there is Color in this room. I have nothing Poetry profound to say about This presence—the coral and blue. Nothing you can carry in your pocket when Your mom attempts slow suicide too by Refusing to eat—to comfort you. To Reckon the anger. All the anger.
Except to say the color is there. The color is there, aloof Of whether you see it or not.
But do see it. See the color. It’s there.
-M. Ashley photo taken at Kaiser Ontario Hospital, Ontario, CA
“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.
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.
This January hibiscus bud Kissed by absence of color My albino fingers exploring the Hard petals the shy face of A goddess willing to be Searched blindly by the blind Whose blindness comes from Looking too much into the light.
Shadow at the tips and Shadow at the center like A god who is honest about What it means to be a god.
I am legally blind so I know—photography is a weird sport for me. What I am finding so lovely about it though is that I am often capturing with the camera things I would have never seen with my naked eye. To me, in the bright day, this gazania looked like a simple white blur on a field of messy green. It wasn’t until I got home and started working with the picture that I saw all it’s beautiful purple and that soft explosion of orange at the center. I look forward to many more visual surprises the camera is bound to catch for m.
I had fun with this one. I used a fish eye lens—my first successful experience with that. I played with the color a little in processing, but most of that is the natural light that comes in my office through the dark pink drapes.
I did a lot of selfies first, (the one below I like a lot), and I seemed to get a good bead on “depression” which is certainly a darker side of me, but I think the sad arrogance I got in the first photo is far more on point when it comes to personal darkness.
Sort of weird to start the year on the dark side, but I can say the bright side it exposes is knowing that even though I am low vision, I can find fun and creative expression in photography that is meaningful to me. May your 2021 be marvelous and full of opportunities to let your creative light shine.
Let’s get vulnerable with each other. Let’s get naked and play the mirror game. Let’s do it in front of a group of twenty-somethings with their whole brilliant lives ahead of them. Let us let them sit cross-legged in a circle around us and let us let them bombard us with questions as we try to mirror each other’s movements exactly.
We’ll have to answer honestly and be beastly to ourselves in this game because it is impossible to lie focused only on each other, move for move, even down to the twitch in the corner of my mouth and yours when someone lazily lobs, “What is your worst feat?”
We say, “This.”
We are afraid of this. We are afraid of only ever being as good as each other, locked in the hopelessness of leprous perfectionism. Not singly—mutually. Each other’s. Always each other’s.
We are afraid of this: falling short, move for move, in each other’s eyes forever.