On my left hand, on my ring finger (directly under my wedding ring, in fact) I have a mole. At some point in my teens, I became very concerned about this mole. Not for the normal reasons–melanoma, unattractiveness, irritation–but because of what the mole might mean. If I were a character in a book, that mole would clearly symbolize some element in myself that would create irritation or obstacles in my romantic relationships. Obviously.

I suppose it’s possible that my tendency to find symbols in everyday things might be that element (The Husband hasn’t mentioned it, but then, that’s how I’d write that).

I like symbols when I write too. When the details of something might not otherwise matter (say, what Tennora and Nestrix have to steal in The God Catcher), it adds so much to make those details reference bigger aspects of the story. And I love reading books and stories where writers do this.

Much as I’m tempted to make this post a list of books that I think do this well, that’s actually not where I intended to go. While I should be thinking about the nuanced network of character and plot and symbols, what is distracting me is the symbolism of my hair.

My process with regard to my hair goes like this:
1. Decide hair is too long, too thick, too boring. Reference “Russian farm girl chic” in sarcastic fashion.
2. Feel guilty, because I don’t know what a Russian farm girl’s hair looks like. They may be chicer than I.

The "Russian Farm Girl" (or the closest photo I have to that)

3. Go to salon. Tell stylist s/he is in charge. I’m open to anything. 
4. Except don’t do anything I have to use a round brush, hair dryer, curling iron, flat iron, or hot rollers to achieve. I don’t have the skills to do things with rocket hot tools in a mirror.
5. Stylist sells me on The Style Which Is Not Russian Farm Girl.
6. TSWINRFG takes two hours and uses five (5) products which the Stylist will try and sell me on.
7. TSWINRFG looks good! I buy 1-2 overpriced products out of a mix of guilt and surety that THIS will make my hair look great.
8. Get home. Look in the mirror. Realize TSWINRFG is someone else’s hair.

And why did she take a picture of herself with no makeup?


This is not, let me say, a bad haircut. But it looks like a Hot, Affluent, and Five or Six Years Older Than I Am Mom’s hair. The Husband thinks this makes as much sense as Russian Farm Girl hair, but I can’t help but think this hair belongs on someone who wears designer jeans and sips lattes while watching Emma and Jack play on the slide. I feel simultaneously like my hair is trying to make me someone I’m not, and that I’m disappointing the potential of this hair. The same problem happened with my previous hairstyle:


This is Earnest, Hardworking Marketing Assistant Hair. This hair wants me to be polished and professional and work late hours (Fat lot of good that did me, hair!). It’s a subtle difference. I think it’s the lack of highlights and the color.  This hair was also NOT without it’s efforts. I had to round brush those stupid bangs (note the new ones go the opposite way–we’ll see how that goes).

Eventually I get exhausted of not being me and start the downward slide back to The Russian Farm Girl. Which isn’t really me either. I don’t know what I’m doing, asking so much of my hair. Encompass my personality? Reinforce my sense of self? Be a shorthand symbol for who I “really” am? I’m pretty sure it can’t do that. Even if I buy $20 hair goop.

But if anyone knows what the “Erin” haircut looks like, forward me a pic.

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5 Responses to Symbols

  1. Rob Heinsoo says:

    Maybe your hair is really Ongoing Process Comedian’s Hair. I mean, it seems to be doing a good job at that. Which is to say that this was quite funny and I’m enjoying your blog now that Bruce Cordell pointed me over here.

  2. erin says:

    Hey Rob! Thanks! I’m hoping to keep it up a little more regularly.
    (And, I think I’m obligated to add…If you like my blog, buy my book! [Sorry, it’s like a tic.])

  3. Rob Heinsoo says:

    I wasn’t going to mention that until I’d actually read your book. But yes: I bought your book already, after liking your blog. Tic marked.

  4. E. Foley says:

    Get a stripe of crazy color in your hair. Then it will not matter what the cut is because you’re instantly way cooler.
    Girl with a few pink stripes. 😉

  5. erin says:

    Ooh…I’ve wanted a pink stripe since the Halloween I went as the eSurance girl and rocked a pink wig. But the last time I was feeling brave enough, the stylist said they didn’t do “nontraditional colors.” I should find a place that does…I’d forgotten that.

    Plus, that should help me figure out where the hell my bangs start. “Forward of the pink line.”