Wednesday, April 09, 2008

yellow and blood red bits

sometimes when i don't write on here, it's because i don't feel like it. i don't have much to say, or i'm totally worn out. lately though, i've actually wanted to write, but just haven't found the time. i don't know if the thoughts i have are all that interesting, but i've at least had a couple of late. fair warning: this may be less interesting than you'd like, but if so, skip to the bottom and listen to this song.

i've started receiving comments for my facial hair lately, which often happens because i go in cycles from clean shaven to letting it grow for a bit (i don't really like shaving, and i don't really like facial... double bind). i've said for a while that the only thing good about facial hair is cutting it off in pieces and having fun with it that way. but in this case, i've managed to keep myself from cutting it for longer than normal, and i've therefore been called a mountain man by one friend. i was a guest lecturer in two sections of environmental ethics classes last friday, and one of my former students, in charge of composing and playing a song of welcome for me (a big reason i enjoy visiting ct's classes), he incorporated my facial hair into the song of welcome (growing a full beard may be instrumentally good, but it's probably not a universal good).

last weekend, in addition to a lot of groundskeeping work on the wiffle ball park in our yard (keep in touch feel-d), i watched ncaa basketball games and the lord of the rings marathon. the basketball games were good, and everything ended up about how i wanted it to, or at least close enough that i was fine with it. after watching and reflecting on the lord of the rings movies, i decided that if i grew my hair and facial hair out for long enough, and they subsequently turned grey and white, then i could look a little like ian mckellan as gandalf. and i have to say that the casting/makeup of gandalf is about as perfect as it gets in those movies (really the only people i felt they could have done much better on are elrond/agent smith and boromir).

what it made me think of was the following... if i want to look like gandalf for the adult part of my life, what is the history of that, and what are the other options. depending on how scruffy, well-groomed, etc. i am, i've been told (all in the last two years, and some multiple times) that i look like david spade, a young robert redford (again, three separate times... strange), and owen wilson. with a beard, people just comment on the beard and i stop looking like anyone. if i had to choose among the three, i'd take owen wilson without too much hesitation. but as i was growing up, none of those were really on my radar.

i grew up not really caring what i looked like--my hair, my anything--i was just a cute blond kid with a simple kid haircut, though maybe it was more like luke skywalker's haircut than i realized. my older brothers always told me that when i was little, i had clear hair, but by the time i can remember much, it was just plain white. in fact, my friends' parents (again, on separate occasions) have told me they knew me as the white-haired boy.

by the time i cared what my hair looked like, or had that kind of self-awareness, it was late in elementary school, and being an sdsu jackrabbit mens basketball fan, i wanted my hair to be short, kind of buzzed, but with a little more on the tops than the sides, and my model was troy bauman, whose brother was the third string quarterback for the vikings in case you need a frame of reference. up until i was seventeen and shaved my head for the state soccer tournament, my father was the only person who ever cut my hair (he and i remain the only two people who have cut my hair), and i remember the first time he cut it short. i told him i wanted it to look like troy bauman, and he said, are you sure, and i said yes. rather than a comb and scissors, he used a clippers on most of my head, and it looked just the way i wanted it to look. i guess i should also mention that sometime around this time, my older brothers had both grown out their hair (one of which has had long hair ever since), and i didn't really want to be like them in that way.

the short hair thing stuck with me most of the time through senior year and graduation, with one main exception. during my sophomore and junior years, i let my hair grow a little longer on top and especially the sides. my friends and i called these my wings, and i grew them for quite a while. sometimes i would blow dry them up and out, and for one show that my band played (i think a spring fling concert), i died them red and blue so that i think i probably looked a little bit like the guy from prodigy (i am the firestarter).

after reaching college, i of course moved away and had more intermittent haircuts--it became a once a year or once every six months sort of thing. but the other thing that changed is i started to kind of want to look like westley (cary elwes) from the princess bride (my favorite movie from when i was ten until the present, though amelie and the original star wars trilogy might compete for this lofty achievement). so a few times i even asked my dad to cut my hair like westley's. it never really worked because my hair was always shorter than his was, never long enough for a short pony tail (except for a top knot, and wing pig-tails every once in a while). so even for the year or two that i cared what my fair looked like, it never really did. and i guess if you just recall the every-so-often hair-cutting paradigm mentioned above, you're back to the present. the only difference is, now i sometimes have facial hair, which i never really did in high school or college (with the exception of a soul-patch, which i never shaved my whole life until after graduating from college... and i hate the word soul-patch, but miss listening to the band soulwax).

so here i am, pondering my hair and facial hair, mostly because i'm guessing soon i'll get sick enough of it to cut it. and that's where i have to really respect the real gandalf (the imaginary one, not the movie character played by mckellan with a fake beard) for his amazing grey beard, and the shorter, whiter beard after his balrog-fight. they are both good hair-beard set-ups. i don't think i'll make it that long.

so, for those of you who aren't so interested in my hair history (not sure i am even), i'll have a better post coming soon, one that talks about my spring break out in the black hills, a very special place and a special trip. and maybe i'll do a little more sports analysis then, too. in the meantime, i highly recommend listening to this song--i've listened to it ten times today alone. and i got home and saw the pictures that my parents had ordered poster size prints of: pictures of red and yellow sunsets in the black hills. so... mountains, mountain men, hills, and mountain songs. but most importantly the colors of the landscape.

san bernardino by the mountain goats

we got in your car and we hit the highway
eastern sun was rising over the mountains
yellow and blood red bits
like a kaleidoscope

and flaming swords may guard the garden of eden
but we consulted maps from earlier days
dead languages on our tongues
holding on to our last hope

and the day
was bright and fine
and the highway sign
said san bernardino welcomes you

i checked us into our motel and filled the bathtub
and you got in the warm warm water
i pulled petals from my pocket
i loved you so much just then

and it was hard but you were brave
you are splendid and we will never be alone
in this world
no matter what they say we're gonna be okay

we were safe inside
and our new son cried
san bernardino
welcomes you