wizards, witchery, and my desperate need for a haircut

Home again, home again, and back in the office, to do a little bit of work before it’s home to finish a first draft of one of the two major bits of writing I need to finish in the next eight days. Yes, I’m terrified. But I’ll get it done, because this (writing on really tight deadlines) it what I was trained to do.

Those tight deadlines mean that I’m not rushing out to do the thing (other than going to see The Eagle) that I’m dying to do this week, which is cut my hair. If you were at Gally, you might have noticed I was looking quite a bit shaggier than usual. There was a reason for that, and I’m been trying to find a way to explain it without looking like much more of a mad(wo)man than I already am. But, I’ve decided I don’t care, as it’s on point to some of the things I was saying about Doctor Who the other day.

When I first started acting, I had this moment, sitting in a theater watching the credits roll on something or other than there were three directions I would work with, somehow, sometime. This wasn’t just an expression of desire in my mind, but a fact that had simply not yet come into being (remember what I was saying about all times are now?)

Those directors were, and are, Sam Mendes, Todd Haynes, and Baz Luhrmann. Folks that know me know that I got my first screen credit in Revolutionary Road, putting me a 1/3 of the way to this thing I decided on in a moment of sentimentality at a picture I can’t recall (although I am alternately sure it was either Haynes’ Far from Heaven or one of the Lord of the Rings films). That this first screen credit also came to me for dancing, for doing the first thing I was ever good at and the first thing I was ever trained to do, also meant so much to me. The residuals checks aren’t bad either (and conveniently timed! One was in the mailbox when I got home from L.A. last night).

But beyond that, I haven’t really worried about it. Some auditions that come up I want more than others; such is the way of the world. But I’m always busy with something in my many ambitions, even if it’s not acting, and I am largely content. Living in New York gives me a certain sort of out. If it’s not filming here, it’s largely not my problem. If it’s not filming in the U.S., then it’s really not my problem — I don’t have to worry about success or failure; the option, in these circumstances, isn’t even on the table.

And then Baz Luhrmann started making noises about The Great Gatsby and moved to New York, and my brain exploded. Because who mostly gets work in non-contemporary films? That’d be me. And who dances? Surely Gatsby would need historical dance. And hey, I live in New York and always, always get cast high status. I was thrilled; I was terrified; I was, oddly, trapped in Switzerland at the time, moaning at my friends in email about the gossip sheets and everything that I was missing. All I could do was not cut my too-short-for-the-period hair, which has since been going through an awkward stage both in terms of shape and gender.

Gatsby was on, Gatsby was off. Christian was telling me to cut my hair anyway. Everyone else I knew was sort of rolling their eyes but also totally understanding of my need to look right should the opportunity arise; not cutting my hair was nothing compared to that business of running away to Australia to study at NIDA in 2005. Patty, when I called her at her dig site in India, sweetly and dutifully said, “Poor baby,” when I complained about the state of my shagginess.

Then, while I was at Gally, the story broke (again): Gatsby‘s on. And shooting (apparently in 3D, but that’s a subject for another post) in Australia. My first response was to punch the air, because my hair has really, really been driving me ’round the bend. And my second response was to weep. And when I told Marci about it, who said all the right things in that sorry-like-you-say-when-someone-dies way, I said, I guess some relationships are always better with longing and thought both of the celebration of longing that is the Whoniverse (hey, I was at Gally) and of my very weird and difficult and solitary previously mentioned month down in Sydney. I even found myself missing Bondi Beach, which was the one place in my beautiful borrowed city I sort of hated at the time — too West Coast for this New York creature.

Righto. So no more Gatsby fears for me. No more terror of not getting the chance or getting the chance and not being good enough. Now, I just get to cut my hair, look forward to the next picture from one of my favorite directors, and not have to listen to “When I Meet the Wizard” from Wicked on repeat to remind myself how easily the people we admire can let us down just by virtue of being human.

I’m oddly content with that. For now. But I still remember sitting in that theater all those years ago as the credits rolled on some film I’ve misplaced in my head. And it’s with great and wacky relief that I can tell you my certitude hasn’t changed. But, oh man, I am so glad to be able to do something about this crap curling on the back of my neck. Now the only lingering question is what the hell to do about my grey.

But whatever the answer is, it can wait until March 2, after I’ve made my editors happy.

11 thoughts on “wizards, witchery, and my desperate need for a haircut”

  1. What’s wrong with gray?

    That said, I’ve seen lots of actors who start dyeing their hair when they hit about mid-life. (Rob Morrow had darker hair in “Numb3rs” than he did on “Northern Exposure.” John Barrowman jokes that his hair color is whatever it says on the bottle, as he’s completely gray now.)

    If you decide to color, I’d say go with henna. There are different shades of henna. It’s a ‘natural’ dye, meaning you don’t get any of those harsh chemicals that burn holes in your scalp if you’re overly sensitive. Or if you’re allergic, you end up itching like a dog with fleas. Of course, you could find out you’re allergic to henna, which wouldn’t be fun.

    Oh, and you go to Whole Foods, right? You should be able to pick up some real Henna there. I’ve seen “Henna” at Ulta, but when I read the back label it was a mix of chemicals with no henna in it.

    The Long Hair Community has a big forum under “Recipes, Henna, and Herbal Haircare” with lots of discussion threads about different henna recipes, henna brands, colors and such. This thread has forum members showing pics of henna-ed locks (so you can get an idea of what it might look like. Henna can look different on different hair types/colors.)

    Henna will stain. So no wearing your fave t shirt if you try it.

    There is also a hair oil from India called Amla that can darken light hair. (Or so I’ve heard from blonds on the LHC.) Maybe that could darken your grays?

    You can also use indigo (which is darker than henna), but do NOT use boiling water for the indigo mix as it will kill the indigo. Water at ‘green tea’ temperature is better. Some henna mixes will have indigo as well.

    and I have to remember to go rent Revolutionary Road.

    1. I _love_ gray hair, but my hair is in an awkward place right now. It has enough gray to make the color look eh, but not enough to be the gorgeous white or silver I want. So I need to decide if I want to dye over it until it’s more gray.

      1. Ah. Henna might help there then. I’ve heard from other long-hairs who use it to cover up gray hairs. (When you only have ‘some’ gray hair.)

  2. Leaving the haircolour issue aside – but cut your hair! be free of shagginess and random curls! – what are your thoughts about a 3D made-in-Australia Gatsby? It has a strong flavour of WTF to me.

    1. Now that I have no reason to be growing the hair, I’ll be cutting it as soon as I have time, so next week.

      As to Gatsby made in Australia — it’s where Luhrmann’s creative team was first put together, so locationally, it’s not unwise, and if he’s going for a heightened reality (as suggested by the 3D choice), he’s better off shooting on a set than in actual locations here in the New York area.

      As to the 3D, my suspicion is that he’ll be using it either for depth (as opposed to shit jumping out at people) and/or in very small touches to help the audience be as haunted by Daisy as the story’s narrator. Certainly, if you think about Luhrmann’s past films it’s obvious to see where he would have employed 3D had he had access to the tech. I don’t know if I’ll like it, but I’m absolutely sure he won’t be doing it just for the hell of it. As a critic/scholar, I’m intensely excited about it. As a fan, it remains to be seen.

      1. I guess for me Gatsby is too connected to specific places and architecture to imagine it as something that could be created fully on-set. Maybe he’ll manage to make this the film that convinces me 3D is more than a gimmick that gives me a headache.

  3. I have a TON of gray – I just did the highlighty thing because when my hair grew in after my Dragon*Con dye bath, I look like Cruella De Vil, only, you know, not really like that at all but like a woman with a white hairline who is not keeping up standards. (If I’d never colored it at all, I would love having gray hair growing in in a more natural distribution.) Turning 40 and all of a sudden getting REALLY gray has had odd effects on my psyche.

    If you want to have gray and no line of demarcation, the Natural Instincts-style temporary haircolor is pretty good; I’ve tried it. I think it lasts for 28 shampoos, so you’re not committing, and you’ll be able to grow the gray out while hiding the awkward in-between stage (or if you need it dark for an audition).

    Your hair looked fine the way it was! But I’ve had very short hair and I know the window for liking my own haircut is pretty small!

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