I am firing my ego on the summer solstice. At least, that’s what I’m going to tell everyone when they ask.

“Hey, Gloria,” they’re going to say. “I couldn’t help noticing you’re bald now. Interesting. And what caused you to make such a noticeable and off-putting decision?”

I know I’ll be asked and that I’ll need to have a pat answer ready. I could tell them that I’m in solidarity with a friend who is going through chemo. I could tell them that it was a dare. Basically, I could lie. But I don’t want to lie.

This is what I’ve decided to say, “Why yes, coworker/associate/check out clerk/person on the bus, your astute observation is correct. I am in fact bald now. I’ve also quit looking in mirrors between now and December because I have a book to write. I had to fire my ego.”

I figure this answer is esoteric enough to preclude further interrogation, yet full of enough truth to satisfy. They’ll nod their heads knowingly, as if fully understanding that one must shave her head to accommodate the muse.

At least that’s what I hope will happen.

In fact, I’ll probably have to talk about it – a lot – because, well, it’s strange. I’m upsetting the social order.

I’m shaving my head for some very personal reasons, and I’m doing it within the confines of a very public life. I can’t just quit work. I can’t stay in my house or go to a mountaintop. If I could do those things, I wouldn’t be shaving my head in the first place. I don’t have the freedom or luxury to go on a retreat, like Elizabeth Gilbert, to write my book and “find myself.” I don’t even have the freedom to drive to the next town most months. I can’t go anywhere external, but I can retreat as far inside as I need. I can use the landscapes and vistas I find in there – not just for inspiration for my book, but for inspiration for any number of other things.

And so I am choosing to go through a very private experience in front of the world. Like a car wreck on the side of the road, people will slow down to gawk. They’ll take the potentially life-altering as a dalliance. Which is fine. I’ll broken-record the pat answer until its boring. Writing a book; firing an ego. Nothing to see here folks; just move along.

What I won’t explain over and over is that I shaved my head and quit looking in mirrors on the summer solstice and that I will refrain from looking in mirrors until the winter solstice. I deleted my Facebook page. I began a daily regimen of meditation and breathing exercises. I took a vow of celibacy. I started journaling about my experience. And I made all of this up – collecting bits and pieces of rituals and practices that made sense to me. It’s been in the stars for a long time now; it just took me a while to figure it out. I’m a religion-less white girl with no cultural heritage; it’s not like I have some go-to practices to pull from when I need transcendence. Or, at the very least, a spiritual enema.

For the last several months, there have been constant attacks on my ego and my identity.  I became a grandma in April – four days before I turned 34. I expected that my grandson would be born and I’d post a fun, jaunty piece here on The Nervous Breakdown about becoming a GILF. I was all prepared. But it turns out that the birth of my grandson was jarring beyond anything I had anticipated.

Furthermore, several important anniversaries have passed in recent weeks. Some of deaths. Some of births. Some of failed marriages.

Then there’s the constant financial apocalypse that follows a divorce. The waking up one day and looking around and asking “this is what I became when I grew up?” And “where to from here?” The need to listen to Soundgarden’s “Blow Up The Outside World” on repeat – which I haven’t done with a song since I was a teenager. And other stuff – a constant onslaught of it for many weeks now.

It’s something you can’t predict, these radical changes in identity. They come when they come. My friend Cheryl told me on my 34th birthday that I should expect my entire concept of the world to be turned upside down soon. “Happened to me when I turned 35,” she said. “Happens to a lot of people. You’ll see.”

For whatever reason, my entire concept of the world is akimbo right now and I want a quick, meaningful solution to it all. Two other times, I’ve shaved my head. Once was when my boys were born. The other time was when my marriage fell apart. I’ve had some experience with the effects of shaving my head during times of identity changes. It’s like pushing the reset button. But it’s also a shedding of ego – that’s not just something to say to get people off my scent. My ego has been in this driver’s seat for too long. I am a passenger to her knee-jerk reactions to getting older, having grandbabies, being smart enough, being good enough too often. It’s time to unseat her.

Not looking in mirrors is also an attempt to annihilate my ego. Facebook is a distraction that will take me away from my meditations and exercises. Celibacy is key to this process for obvious reasons. I have the support of a small number of friends and advisers who will help me stay focused during this time. I have my journal. I have my book.

And so, let people ask questions. Let people make jokes. I don’t care. I still have to live my regular life. I’ll still be on email. I’ll still be writing for The Nervous Breakdown. I’ll still have my phone. I’ll still be a mom to my sons, who, if I do this right, won’t even know that I’m any different – other than being bald, which I’m sure at least Indigo will not be fond of.

Will anything come of this? Will I ascend to Nirvana? Unlikely. But something may come of it – perhaps something profound. And it’s not going to hurt a damn thing to try.

TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

GLORIA HARRISON is a writer whose work has been featured on The Nervous Breakdown, Fictionaut, and This American Life. Gloria was the lead editor for The Portland Red Guide: Sites & Stories of Our Radical Past by Michael Munk, which was published through Ooligan Press in 2007. She was also a contributing editor to Pete Anthony's book, Immaculate, for which she received a high five and a ten dollar gift card to Stumptown Coffee. Gloria graduated from Portland State University with her B.A. in English in 2006 and now focuses on her own writing. She had a work of flash fiction published in The Bear Deluxe Magazine (No. 26). You can follow her on Twitter here.

Gloria lives in Portland, Oregon with her school-age twin boys. She is currently working on both a memoir and her first novel. You can contact Gloria via her Facebook page.

124 responses to “What Do You Pack For an Ego Trip?”

  1. New Orleans Lady says:

    LOVE the title!

    Ok, I’ll go read now.

  2. Becky says:

    Strange as it all strikes me, I have to say, it’s probably far superior to my ego/reality-shift ritual, which usually involves becoming highly erratic and withdrawn and thrashing and writhing about like they always show people turning into vampires doing.

    Or Indiana Jones and the cult of Kali.

    Figuratively speaking, of course.

    You get the picture.

    It’s sort of like a fever delirium. Fighting something, fighting, fighting…Then one morning, I wake up, and it’s gone. And I feel like a new human.

    Sucks to go through, but feels pretty good on the other side.

    Hopefully your experience will be less traumatic. I think planning, bracing for it is a good idea. Making an event of it. I’m never really self-aware enough, it seems, to think that far ahead.

  3. New Orleans Lady says:

    Maybe a book will come of this….

    I’ve said my feelings on this subject in a comment on your fb note so I won’t bore you again. Just know that I’m always here. Some one to talk to, vent to, scream at, cry at, laugh with, laugh at…whatever.

    I love you. I send love for your journey. Good luck.


    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Maybe. I’m not sure I could parlay this experience into an entire book. However, I’ll be journaling, detailing the emotions and thoughts that go along with shunning mirrors and withdrawing inside. I would like to think it will be interesting. But interesting to more than just me? Hm… I don’t know. It’s funny, too. Because there is a certain amount of egoism that goes into writing a book about your experience. How masturbatory to write a book for the whole world to read about all this. Funny, actually.

      Someone to talk to, vent to, scream at, cry at, laugh with, laugh at… Heh. Sounds like marriage. Are you proposing? Oh my. It’s so sudden. But, what the hell? Everything else is changing. Yes! Yes, Ashley! I will marry you.

  4. Matt says:

    For whatever reason, my entire concept of the world is akimbo right now and I want a quick, meaningful solution to it all.

    No such thing. Life would be to easy otherwise.

    But good luck.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Not looking for easy. Meaningful, perhaps, but not easy. As a matter of fact, I’d say the most meaningful experiences in my life were never easy.

      • Matt says:

        Doubt they were really quick, too.

        • Gloria says:

          Six months is quick in the broad scheme of things, but will probably seem REALLY long as the winter solstice approaches.

        • Gloria says:

          You were right – doesn’t seem long at all. Nor quick, either. Something about the changing of the seasons and watching things grow then die. Light then dark. It actually does warp the perception of time in a weird way. Nonetheless: I’ll say that none of this felt quick.

  5. Malorie says:

    It takes guts to do what youre doing. Wish I had the inner peace and drive to write a book like that.

    I congratulate you, and wish you well on your inner journey.

    Also looking forward to your book, after this is over. 😉

    • Gloria says:

      Thanks, Malorie.

      Inner peace is actually not what’s driving me here. I mean, I’m not a whirling vortex of pain and suffering, but I wouldn’t say that I’m all Deepak Chopra and shit. But peace would be nice. I’m for it!

      I don’t know about guts either.

      What I do know is that I’ve reached my bullshit threshold. And I’m resolvedly announcing, “Enough!”

  6. Amber says:

    Go for it. I think it’s a beautiful thing, letting go of the ego. It makes me think that my own ego is having too great a hold on me, since I’m afraid to shave my head again (did it once at 19) or give up the creature comforts I have adapted to. But then I think that having just read your confessional story and thinking about my own ego might be a little egotistical. Ah, curses, I’m an asshole.

    However, you are not an asshole and I am excited for you and your changes. This is going to be a good, good thing.

    • Gloria says:

      We’re all assholes, I think.

      Other people have suggested that I parlay this experience into a book. But writers are about as egotistical as they come. I have to necessarily access it to write a good story – especially one about MYSELF. Ironic.

      This is going to be a thing. I don’t think it’s going to be a bad thing. But good? I don’t know. I’m hesitant to put that expectation on it. That feels like the opposite of what I should be doing.

  7. dwoz says:

    The interesting, hard part will be when you discover that nobody actually gives a shit. Until that point, your ego won’t be shed, but will rather just be hiding behind a rock, calling the shots in abstentia.

    …and I say that without the slightest shred of malice nor crumb of ill intent. Read the pronoun “you” in the general sense.

    • Gloria says:

      Man…I hope you’re right. I hope nobody actually gives a shit. That would help the cause quite a bit. You make a good point about the ego hiding behind a rock calling the shots. It’s a slippery fucker, that thing.

      I didn’t catch a shred of ill intent from you. I appreciate the thought. Truly.

  8. Richard Cox says:

    I like the idea of making the personal declarations public. Ha.

    But seriously, you have to do what you have to do. I can’t click “Like” on the FB entry you posted for this because your updates will be gone. But I totally get it. It’s a huge distraction.

    You’ve got a good opportunity with the book. In my opinion it’s the most important non-family thing to focus on. So do it.

    What are you going to do with the hair? Burn it? Donate it to Locks?

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Believe me, Richard, the irony of my public declaration is not lost on me. But to be honest, I really struggled with whether I would announce it all or just do it. Ideally – removing the existence of heart-and-soul children from the equation – I would have preferred to have sold all my stuff, quit my job, and skulked out into the night. If I were a single woman without so many terrestrial fetters (so, so many), I actually would have started some crazy journey in the world. Maybe I’d’ve started riding the rails. That’s really where I’m at. But that is not an option. So then I had to think about what was going to be the quickest path to everybody just leaving me the hell alone about it all. Or, at least, what would cause the least amount of hubbub? I mean, there’s no right answer. The truth is, nothing will. Dwoz said that nobody actually cares, and that’s probably true. I’d go so far as to say that is true. But people like to ask questions. Maybe it’s an urban thing. I think people in rural communities are likely to avoid prying too much. It’s impolite. But rules of society exist in different iterations depending on geography. And in this world, there is no such thing as privacy.

      For instance, I tend to enter a room like Mary Katherine Gallagher – all loud bangs and chairs accidentally dragged behind me, bonking my head on low-hanging shelving, etc. I also have a loud laugh – like a bark. I’m out there man. I am obvious. And while I don’t necessarily mind this about myself, I’ve just been noticing it more lately. I think it’s important to observe all the ways I’m out of touch with peace (and quiet) during a time like this. So, I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to be mindful of it – just to see how the butterfly effect of that one small change can affect everything else. Or nothing else. Either way, I’d like to know. Anyway, I was listening to the radio yesterday morning and they were playing a mystery theme eight-song set. I figured out the theme. The prize was some coffee gift certificates. So I called in and won. When the DJ answered, I mindfully was calm and cool. I wasn’t all squealy and jokey and goofy. On purpose. Just to see. Later in the day, my friend Sarah sent me a message on Facebook that said, “Dude. You won the eight at eight. Do you always go to work stoned?” I didn’t have any idea what she meant. Apparently, not only did the DJ announce my name as the winner, but it seems that he also played my mellow acceptance speech. See? I was trying to do that practice all on the sly and someone heard it. Weird. Okay, I get that I called into a popular radio show. But I love coffee. 🙂

      My point is this: people will notice a change. Dwoz might be right – they might not give a shit. But they’ll ask. They’ll make jokes. It does seem so sort of attention-getting, even though it is truly, truly not so. So this is what I figured, tell everyone. Tell them now. Get it out of the way. Because once I’m down in – once I’ve started out on that journey – I will be less receptive to talking about it. Because my ego will LOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEEE the attention. That’s why I’ve made all of this public. That, and I think for some people it might make for an interesting story. Like, “Hey, person who understands what it’s like to crash headfirst into a bullshit barricade, here’s a solution I’ve come up with. Chew on that if you’d like.”

      To answer your question, I’m not doing anything with the hair except sweeping it up and throwing it into the trash can. It’s not very long. I cut most of it off a few weeks ago. There’s nothing salvageable. Oh well.

      • dwoz says:

        It’s funny about that “people don’t care” thing.

        I lead a pretty isolated life, all told…I’m not out there constantly pressing flesh with others.

        Last year I was talking about something similar to your account, and made an offhand comment that it didn’t really matter…there’d be about 15 people at my funeral, including the people who were getting paid to be there. My companion took me seriously (i.e. as if I actually meant the comment) and came back the next day with a list of about 650 people who would DEFINITELY be at my funeral.

        We have a much bigger footprint than we think!

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          Was it literally 650? I don’t think I even know 650 people – and that includes all of the 2D relationships! I mean, did your companion go through and randomly sample the phone book? Wow. That’s a lot of people!

          Also, that was an incredibly sweet and endearing gesture. Your companion’s a keeper.

          • dwoz says:

            Yes, literally 650 before she arbitrarily decided she’d spent enough time on it. Completely knocked me on my ass. In some ways, I had to wonder….I mean, is Kevin Bacon REALLY going to be at my funeral?

            I had no idea either, and I really couldn’t refute many of the names, except perhaps for insurmountable schedule problems arranging flights on short notice.

            The conversation was in the context of a bit of a serious health scare I had a year ago. That’s a lot like shooting your ego in the back at close range, in some ways. Realizing that the world is not going to stop spinning just because I’ve left the building.

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          I’ll bet Kevin Bacon would totally go to your funeral.

      • Richard Cox says:

        With respect to Dwoz, people do care. They’re just so wrapped in their own things that it may not be on their radars the way it is on yours. But when you take the time to talk about it, like here, you see what people really think. They aren’t going to lose sleep over it later, except maybe your closest pals, but I think there’s value in sharing. When I posted something in the same vein, people were overwhelmingly supportive…and some have even asked about it since.

        That’s the thing about posting here. It can be all literary and serious or it can be amusing or it can be challenging or it can be caring. The caring part is important, I think. But I’m a dude so I’m not supposed to say that.

        I like your test with the radio contest. Congratulations for winning. Such a secret little thrill to unexpectedly hear your voice on the radio, or to know someone did.

        And regarding the clippings, you could make Listi’s dream an immediate reality with a little superglue.

        • dwoz says:

          No respect required.

          I agree, too. People care deeply. But we do get wrapped up in our own sense of self importance.

          I had a weird cathartic experience once. Not because it was a weird catharsis, but because the thing that was cathartic was utterly non-cathartic.

          I tore up the asphalt path in front of my house, and put in a reclaimed-brick walkway. WHOOSH, catharsis!

          (see what I mean?)

          What hit me, as I was standing at my fence, chatting with my neighbor’s grandfather who stopped to tell me I did a good job on the path, was that the “real” work I was doing at the time, that was the focus of my life, would cease to create ripples in the realm of human context within perhaps 3 years. The “real” work would be wiped away, nevermore to affect people, within the figurative blink of an eye. HOWEVER, this little piece of stupid brute labor I had just done, this bricklaying, would be providing direct and tangible benefit to the human race for probably the lifetime of my great-grandchildren.

          That’s why I want to write.

        • Gloria says:

          @Richard – the thought of superglue in the Netherlands makes me feel a little dizzy.

          @Dwoz – that’s a great story. 🙂 And you should write! Do you currently? Or are you saying you’d like to start? Either way, I’m behind you! (You’ll know it’s me by the bald head when you turn around to look.)

        • dwoz says:


          I’m about 60K words in on my novel. It’s a piece about a mythic character that turns out to be not-so-mythic, and the linkage between language/linguistics and human evolution, and the meaning of life, along with a very blasphemous re-interpretation of the bible that will piss a lot of people off and make a few others go ‘whoa’.

          There’s a kitchen sink in there somewhere too, around page 57.

          Should be a fun read. But the writing is a daunting process. I’m also a musician. Here’s a link to a song I wrote:


          I’m your fan too!

  9. James D. Irwin says:

    That Soundgarden song is awesome, so is this post AND especially all the stuff you’re doing.

    Totally going to miss you on facebook though!

    Seriously though, I really admire the discipline and dedication involved with what you’ve decided to do. And I’m so glad you’re writing a book. It’s a about time dammit!

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      It’s a catchy song, for sure.

      I’ll miss you, too, Irwin. But it’s not like you’re on there (or here) much anymore. What gives, man?

      It is about time that I wrote The Book! Speaking of which, how’s YOUR book?

      • James D. Irwin says:

        I don’t have the internet at home anymore, which sucks. I want to post at TNB for the first time in months and it’s tricky because… well, I’d have to do it on campus and it’s far too loud in here.

        Now that university is over for the year I’m spending summer taking abother look at my first attempt at a novel and finally getting stuck into a second one.

        But before that I still have three weeks of non-stop football to watch…

        • Gloria says:

          I didn’t know it’s football season in England. Everybody is watching soccer stateside.

          Do actually have a TNB post written? Please email me when it goes up so that I don’t miss it.

        • Matt says:

          Football for the rest of the world=soccer for us. The World Cup.

        • Gloria says:

          I was giving Irwin a hard time. 😉

        • Matt says:

          Woops! My bad.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I don’t have anything up or written. I might have something up tomorrow. I will e-mail you though if/when I ever get around to doing it.

          The World Cup is getting depressing. All the games have been pretty dull. It’s not the best advert for the sport right now…

          I might post something I wrote for my course earlier in the year tomorrow, although I want to write something new. I just can’t think of anything. And the weather is so nice I’m mostly just hanging out with friends all the time…

  10. Angela Tung says:

    great post, gloria.

    writing and networking online changes ego and writing itself so much. immediate gratification is possible, and when we don’t get it, it can be a bummer. i can totally see the value in taking yourself away from that entirely – the question of ego, of weighing self-worth against what some basically random people say on FB. i don’t know if that’s applicable to you, but that’s been my experience.

    after my divorce, i thought about getting a giant tattoo on my inner forearm based on a dream i once had. but i chickened out and even forgot about it till someone brought it up. the woman who wanted the tattoo seems like a different person.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      The basically random people on Facebook were random at first, but no longer. I mean, I haven’t met many of them, but there are some who I love. We joke. We banter. They tell me how funny I am. We make sex jokes. We build man harems. And, before I know it, three years has gone by and I’ve grown intimate with a glowing rectangle. That is…weird. I’ve got no problem with the people. Like I said, there are many who are extraordinarily important to me. Important beyond words. But I have to build a new intimate relationship with this glowing rectangle. Like, write this book and stuff. 🙂

      the woman who wanted the tattoo seems like a different person. What an amazing image. Wow. That’s wonderful. If you don’t mind me asking, what was the tattoo of?

      • angela says:

        it was this demon slaying bad ass woman, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer but darker (though Buffy got pretty dark herself in later seasons).

        you know, thinking about that tattoo has gotten me thinking i should write something about it. i tried writing about it at the time, or shortly after, but i couldn’t get a handle on it. maybe back then wasn’t the right time.

        • Gloria says:

          You should write about that. For sure. I’d kind of like to hear the whole dream. That’s a frightening image. A strong one. Very cool.

  11. Dana says:

    I get it Gloria, and I hope it’s everything you want it and need it to be. And now that you’ve made such a public declaration we’ll be expecting a 1,000 words a day.

    We just got friended on facebook and you’re leaving. This is about me, isn’t it? 😉
    Scrabble me upon your return.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      It is you, Dana. I wasn’t entirely sure how to tell you. Thank you for bringing it up so that I didn’t have to. 😉 And if I ever do venture back to Facebook (and I’ll tell you – I may not), I will totally own you in Scrabble. Okay, that’s a lie. I won’t. But I’ll play! Maybe we could mail each other a board back and forth through the US postal service, gluing letters on each turn? No? Okay…

      I hope I do write 1,000 words a day. 1,000 words a day is 100,000 words in 100 day, which is a book. I would be ahead of schedule!

  12. Joe Daly says:

    As the saying goes, “when everything changes, change everything.”

    Sounds like you’ve got an interesting ride ahead and I look forward to hearing about it. I found myself in the midst of a psychic shift when I was 37, and I don’t think I really felt a new (positive) direction for a couple of years. It was like a battleship turning around- I could feel it going on, I knew the new direction would be good, and I found that the less I tried to control or rush things, the easier life got.

    Tolle’s great. Neale Donald Walsch is good too, if you can get past some of his ego trip. Good luck and rock on, sister.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      I’d never heard that phrase. So I Googled it. Never heard of Neale Donald Walsch either. Sounds like a nutjob. And, seeing as how I linked to Eckart Tolle above, I figure I might want to check him out! We like the nutters, don’t we Joe?

      It was like a battleship turning around- I could feel it going on, I knew the new direction would be good, and I found that the less I tried to control or rush things, the easier life got. This is a great metaphor. It really resonates. Thanks for that.

      You rock on, too, Mr. Joe Daly. Just not to The Beatles.

  13. Tawni says:

    My life flipped when I turned 35 too. Huge cross-country move, marriage, first baby, all after fifteen years of partying, no responsibility and no ties. Suddenly: I got roots. Whoa.

    When I shaved my head, I was 26, playing guitar and touring in an all-girl rock band. (Post divorce.) When we’d get to that night’s club and people would openly laugh at me, I would bitchily tell them the chemo was going great, thanks. I know I probably shouldn’t have said such a thing, but I can’t stand that attitude. It’s just hair (or not hair). Get over it, people. You aren’t better than someone else because you happen to have strands of dead protein hanging off your noggin.

    Although this is about shedding your ego, I think you need to remember to take pictures of yourself for your journal as well, for physical documentation. I picture them inside the book you will someday write about your journey. Be sure to text me all of the time once your Facebook page is no more. Please. I need my G-Lovely fix. (: xoxo.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      It IS just hair. But it’s also not, right? I mean, if it were, then nobody would make a big deal out of it. Hair = sexuality. It does. Gay. Straight. Otherwise. It doesn’t have to be long or short. But hair definitely sends sexual messages. And people see a bald woman and are instantly taken aback. It’s almost like seeing a transgendered person who is still transitioning. It upsets the social order. But whatever. Fuck it. Seriously. I think that’s part of hitting the bullshit barrier. It really no longer matters.

      I’ve thought about the picture thing. And I’m not entirely sure how that shakes down with the no mirrors thing. If pictures were taken of me, I would look at them. And that would be similar to looking in mirrors. And then would I start taking pictures to see how I looked in an outfit instead of just looking in the mirror? That sneaky, sneaky ego likes to find loopholes. So, other than the night of the shave, I’m leaning toward no photos.

      You will always have me, Tawni. I’m like a venereal disease: You’ll think about me every time you have sex. You’ll never get rid of me.

      • Tawni says:

        You’re right, G. Even if it’s only hair to me, it does equal sexuality for so many. I have cut mine very short most of my life, and if I’m being honest, I will admit that my bratty little feminist subconscious is thinking “Ha ha. Fuck your fascist beauty standards,” as I do it.

        I see what you mean about the photos. I wish I lived nearby so I could take pictures. I wouldn’t let you know when or where, so you couldn’t get gussied up or let the ego preen, just… snap! Maybe you wouldn’t even know I was taking them. I’d be totally creepy. Picture Ninja.

        Oh, come on. Who are we kidding. You know I already think about you when I’m having sex. (:

        • Gloria says:

          You would be the best stalker ever. Reminds me of that Will & Grace episode where Jack stalks Kevin Bacon. Did you see that one. Hee-fucking-larious.

  14. Brad Listi says:

    What Gloria fails to mention is that, while she will be shaving her head bald in an act of ritual transcendent self-purification, she will also be growing out an incredibly unruly 1970s pubic jungle bush as a subtle homage to the balance that exists within all things.

    • Joe Daly says:

      And Brad Listi draws the first yellow card of the week!

    • Gloria says:

      Ohdeargod –

      Listi hangs out quietly in background like a ninja and then attacks – BOOM – with something so goddammed funny I nearly spit my granola and wheatgrass all over my screen. I almost dropped the God’s Eye that I was weaving!

      Fucking Listi…

    • Becky Palapala says:


      Isn’t everyone’s pubic hair like that?

      • Gloria says:

        It will now!

        • Becky Palapala says:

          You totally changed your comment.

          Gmail told me.

          And I would just like to say: It’s totally sexy to yell out “Dr. Livingston, I presume!” in bed.

          Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          I don’t get the reference. The Moody Blues? Heart of Darkness? I’m not literate here, Becky. I’m just a simple girl trying to live in a simple world.

          And, yes, I edited. Once in a great while even I can’t abide my sick sense of humor. I mean, if it’s hilarious all bets are off. But that wasn’t really hilarious.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          No no. Dr. Livingston was an actual Dr. A British one, I think, a missionary and explorer who got lost in the jungles of Africa…

          When he was found, that was–allegedly–how he was addressed.

    • dwoz says:

      Well, brad…

      Considering the other particulars of the story, it seems that it will be more like a briar patch.

      joe, when you’re already in for a penny, may as well go in for a pound and give the ref a shove!


      • Gloria says:

        More like Little Orphan Annie in a headlock – if we’re being honest. We’re all friends here, right?

        • dwoz says:

          You know something? That sounds SO much more betterer than the current fashion of Yule Brenner in a headlock.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I like to putt a well-kept green as much as the next guy, but sometimes I also want to work on my 9 iron out of the rough.

          Damn you and your indelible imagery!

        • Tawni says:

          “Little Orphan Annie in a headlock”

          Oh my god. First Brad makes me choke on my coffee with the seventies snatch comment, now you, Gloria, make me unable to look at my ginger nethers the same way ever again. And dwoz, with the Yul Brynner comment.

          My People. I adore you. *opens arms for a group hug*

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          @Tawni – wow! Good job spelling Yul Brynner’s name right! Most people mistakenly put an E where the Y is.

          *hugs Tawni*

          *chest bumps Tawni*

          *pats Tawni’s tushi*

        • dwoz says:

          You know, I KNEW when I posted that I SHOULD go and look up Iconic Bald Guy’s name. it was intellectually lazy of me not to, and I am someone who prides himself on getting basic research right.

          and “Tawni’s Tushi” would be a great band name. Or in the summer, “Tawni’s tawny bushy tushi”

        • Gloria Harrison says:

          Tawni’s tawny bushy tushi is the best band name ever. Funny you should say that, too. Tawni and I have been inventing band names for years now. And shirts. The leader in that category is Men Don’t Want To Fuck My Beautiful Soul.

        • dwoz says:

          Having been in many bands, I know all about the band name dilemma.

          My favorite name for a band was a portmanteau, formed by the names we had for our two guitar players, one of which used a big fancy rack-mounted guitar rig, he was the “Rack Nazi”; and the other guy who used a Marshall combo amplifier…he was the “Combo junkie.” these two different camps will argue until the end of entropy over the relative shortcomings of the other camp’s viewpoint…

          So I put the two together, Rack Nazi and Combo Junkie, and got “Rambo Nancies.”

          that’s a great sticker…my favourite (that I’ve never gotten around to printing up) is
          “God is my co-defendant, Jesus is my codependent”

        • Tawni says:

          *hugs Gloria*

          *chest bumps Gloria*

          *wiggles tush at Gloria in appreciation of magic spelling tricks* 🙂

          @dwoz: I am a Combo Junkie. 60s Fender Bassman head through a Marshall amp. Big Muff Pi pedal for chunky-fuzzy distortion. Mmmmm… delicious tone-y goodness. And I like the name Rambo Nancies. That’s awesome.

        • dwoz says:

          The single worst mistake I ever made in my entire life was selling my 1965 blackface fender bassman amp, to “trade up” to a bigger amp.

          I am kicking myself to this day. I bought it from an older couple who had finally decided to let go of some of their son’s personal effects…he bought the amp and a strat, and two days later went off to Vietnam and never came home. The thing still had it’s old PRICE TAG on it.

          I was a stupid, stupid kid then. Thank god I’m now a stupid, stupid adult.

        • Gloria says:

          Really, dwoz? The worst mistake ever? Not too bad if that’s true. Nonetheless, I get it. My mom, one summer while I was visiting my dad out of state, sold my entire Strawberry Shortcake collection. This may not seem like that big of a deal – except that it was a complete set and would be worth hundreds and hundreds right now.

        • dwoz says:


          In picking my worst mistake ever, I was trying to be kind and gracious to my first (former) wife.

          Probably my biggest MONETARY killer was when I got “downsized” by the company I worked for in 2000, as Bush got elected. As you may remember, the stock market went way south overnight, and $90,000US of stock options went poof due to simple bad planning. Monopoly money.

          Actually the worst mistake I ever made was holding an unrequited love in my heart for decades too long, and letting it fester.

  15. jmblaine says:

    Seems I recall some guru

    When taking an
    ego trip
    be sure to pack

    It was either Wayne Dyer
    or Charlie Watts.

    • Ben Loory says:

      that’s nice. i like it. thanks.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      I like Wayne Dyer. I mean, I hate seeing him on PBS during the phone-a-thon because he totally takes away my Antiques Roadshow and my Globe Trekker, but when I’m in the mood for him, he’s great. And yes, Ben’s right, that is a wonderful quote. And to think, I thought I’d made up the ego trip metaphor. See? Ego. It’s so proud of itself. Humility indeed.

  16. Sarah says:

    I don’t have much to add that I haven’t told you already. You have my number and e-mail address so use them liberally. Please. Know that your support system stretches from Pacific to Atlantic and beyond.

    If by incredible, wonderful chance we happen to finally meet before the winter solstice, after a big squeezy hug can I give you a loving noogie? Bald noogies are the greatest.

  17. Ben Loory says:

    i thought everyone was bald now. bald and with big weird holes in their ears.

    good luck with the book! and with being a grandparent. i can’t even imagine it.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      There’s a certain hipster sect here in Portland that’s bald. But most aren’t. Lots of big, weird holes though. No holes for me. Maybe another tattoo though. But probably not until after all this.

      Thank you, Ben, for the well wishes. I was talking to Richard Cox one night online and we were signing off and I said, “Oh, hey, wait, I have a quick question for you. How do you write a book?” And he said, “Oh. It’s simple. You just come up with an idea and you write 100,000 words about it!” Easy peasy, right?

      The grandparent thing might prove to be much harder. I can hardly imagine either. Except, it must be mentioned, that my grandson, Logan, is a beautiful little baby boy with this wild shoot of Orangutan hair. He’s lovely. That parts easy. The rest of it…meh?

  18. David says:

    I was very recently reminded that perspective is very slippery. I hope this helps clear your view.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Thanks, David. Drop me a line sometime and let me know what’s going on with you and your perspective of the world. You’re a great dude. I love your thoughts.

  19. Slade Ham says:

    You and I are the same age, and I somehow share your… whatever this is… that you’re feeling. I’ve even contemplated the head shaving, though it lacks a certain impact for a guy I suppose. What struck me the most is the way you have pieced these actions together from a host of different places. Take what feels right, leave out what doesn’t. It’s the only way.

    Its your retreat, and sometimes closing out the unnecessary – shaking off what’s been piled on – puts you in a new place entirely, a space simply not occupied by the things that used to occupy it. That’s an escape in itself.

    Good luck to you, Hairless One.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Yes, we’re the same age. I think this is what happens. Somebody said that identity changes in seven year cycles. If that’s true, you and I are a year ahead of the game. Maybe we’re just really advanced, Slade.

      Good luck to you, mighty Jedi, defender of the Realtor frontier.

  20. Sarah says:

    To answer your original titular question: Clean underwear and dry socks. That’s all you need.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      I’ll let the people at work know that it was you, Sarah, who said that was all I need. Expect phone calls.

  21. dwoz says:

    I had a conversation with my mother once. Amazing thing, that I was able to even HAVE this conversation with my mother. One of the lucky ones.

    Anyway, the discussion was during a very low point in my life (some many many years ago). She was concerned about whether I was considering “final” solutions…I think she was more direct and used the “S” word. My reply was that the way I would “commit suicide” would not be to kill my body, but to kill my life. Just peel it off and drown it in the bathtub. Walk into a brand new life, which would mean a lot more than just wandering a thousand miles give or take, and setting up shop. To really do it, would require a baptism of sorts…or probably the more apt metaphor is the Phoenix. Burn it down, rise from ashes. A brand new bagful of proclivities, abilities, faults and foibles.

    …Though I’d probably keep the same social security number. Unless it was in New Zeland.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Funny you should mention the Phoenix. I’m getting a half sleeve of a Phoenix on my arm either at the beginning or the end of this ritual. I’m not sure which. I’ve had the design for years now – ever since I left my marriage.

      That conversation sounds intense, Dwoz. Did you read Duke Haney’s post called “The Worst Crime”? He actually talks specifically about how suicide is a desire to kill your life, not your body. Very interesting.

      • dwoz says:

        I hadn’t seen that post…and the words in that conversation were spoken right around the time of my father’s death, 25 years ago.

        But it’s exactly the same. funny how some thoughts and ideas are so universal.

        I’m beginning to think that we don’t actually have thoughts…thoughts are like birds, sort of…very high speed bird-like sprites, that race around the world as fast as they possibly can, and every once in a while one of them mis-judges the angle, and smashes into someone’s head.

        • Gloria says:

          I don’t know if you read Duke’s stuff much, but I highly recommend anything he puts on here. You know he’s the first one to get published under the new TNB publishing label, right?

        • dwoz says:

          I kinda hate reading guys like that, because after I do, the word count on my own book inevitably goes in the entirely wrong direction for awhile.

  22. Cheryl says:

    I was going to say something meaningful and insightful, but I can’t get the image out of my mind. The image of, you, Gloria, showing up to work on June 22. Bald, wearing clean underwear with bright red sprigs of pubic hair escaping from the elastic, and clean socks. You smile beatifically for a moment, then Tree whips out a portable keyboard and begins to play some riveting jazz piano. You do an interpretive dance.

    I just want you to know that I think you’re one of the most awesomest people ever. Like, ever. In case you didn’t know.

    • dwoz says:

      “…and interpretive dance…”

      I was about to post that this was a redundancy, but then had to stop and take it back.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Cheryl – I made Tree read this comment.You are motherfucking hilarious, my friend. OMG. LOL. ROFL. GHDFBP. FTW!

  23. Simone says:

    Good luck on your bold endeavour. Lord knows you have more courage and dicipline to carry something like this out than I do.

    May this adventure bring you what ever ‘it’ is you’re looking for. But I have heard that if you stop looking for it, ‘it’ will find you…


    “May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!”

  24. Irene Zion says:


    I understand what you are doing.
    Eventually I will be able to write a piece about this, but when my mother was in her downward spiral and I had 5 children to raise and dogs and cats and a husband and dinner and everything that attaches to all those things, I shaved my head because I had to simplify my life. I didn’t think about it, but I also never looked in mirrors, or at least didn’t see myself because I wasn’t looking. I was overwhelmed and shaving my head helped.
    You might be wrong about the boys, though. My kids were not happy with what I did.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Irene, I would love to read that piece, should you ever write it. Then again, I pretty much love reading anything you write.

      I wonder how the boys will react. I’ve not told them yet. But what I’ve decided is that I’m going to let them do the shaving. Not only will it limit the shock, but also it will turn the whole thing into a fun little adventure. I hope…

      • Irene Zion says:

        That sounds like a good plan, Gloria!

        My youngest son kept bringing me pictures he had cut out of neighbors’ magazines
        of ladies with long hair
        to show me what
        mothers are supposed to look like.

        My evil-at-the-time Lenore kept calling me:
        “my mother the dyke.”
        I felt bad for my son, but not at all for my daughter.
        The rest of them just stepped back and understood I needed time.

        • Gloria says:

          My one fear is that for the rest of their childhood I’ll have to watch my back; this may send the message that mom is always up for good head shaving. 🙂

          Adolescent girls are evil. It’s not their fault. I’m sure we were evil, too. But I do have a 17 year old after all. So I speak from a place of authority.

          I wonder if 17 year old boys are evil, too. Man… I hope not.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Boys are pretty up-front with their crazies.
          It’s pretty obvious what’s happening and, for that reason, it is more easily dealt with.
          Girls are sneaky .
          Just a fact.
          (At least in my family.)

  25. Rock the journey, Gloria. In the end it’s all we have.

  26. The no mirror aspect to this is quite compelling.
    Once when Greg and I stayed with a friend of mine who lives in a yurt way up on Mount Shasta, I remember
    us both being affected by her not having a mirror.
    We started looking in spoons and her doorknob to see if our hair was ok. Silly.
    Though, I could never shave my head, because my hair is one of the few things I feel I can control about myself,
    (which, I guess means I should shave my head, so that I’ll learn to like other parts of myself, right?)
    – a mirror diet could be be a wonderful thing.

    Just to be how we feel, as opposed to how we look. Oh, it’s good stuff.

    • Gloria says:

      A mirror diet. Yes! I think that’s right.

      I have a dear friend who did something similar to this many years ago. She did it for a religious practice and spent an entire year not looking in mirrors. She said that after a few weeks, she quit wondering if she had a booger hanging out of her nose or food in her teeth. She says that after a few months, she had no image in her head of what she looked like when she gave it any thought. That sounded wonderful. It’s also part of what prompted that piece of this decision.

  27. Lorna says:

    It’s something you can’t predict, these radical changes in identity. They come when they come. My friend Cheryl told me on my 34th birthday that I should expect my entire concept of the world to be turned upside down soon. “Happened to me when I turned 35,” she said. “Happens to a lot of people. You’ll see”

    It’s true. Some things will change that you never expected to change. Some you will appreciate, some you won’t.

    Good luck, Gloria.

  28. Jen Violi says:

    You inspire me, in multiple ways–public, private, and apparently from the look of these comments, pubic as well.

    Beyond the personal inspiration you provide and the love I have for you, I think this piece is yet another testimony to the importance of you writing that book and sharing your powerful, lyrical, spunky, sparkly voice with the world. Bring it, sister.

    • Gloria says:

      It has been my goal for a long time now, jen, to be your pubic inspiration. *checks it off list*

      Oh, I’m bringing it. It’s going to be so broughten.

  29. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Not to pry, but I hope the GILF commencement was jarring only because of contemplation of life’s progress, and not because of any more serious problem.

    And since I’ve been an intentional bald for years, I just assumed it went without saying that a pubic briar patch is the inevitable complement.

    And TNBers playing Scrabble? I want in on that action!

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Apropos to all of your comment, Uche, I would like to say that yesterday I scored a 50 point Bingo on Scrabble by playing the word alopecia. 🙂

      And the baby is fine. There’s just something about having a baby at 16, working my ass off my entire life to set the course right, and then having that baby have a baby before I turn 34. Identity, man. It’s a bitch. There’s a long history of early babies in my family. My grandson’s great, great grandma (my grandma) is only 70. My mom, my grandson’s great grandma, is only 52. Weird. I was hoping to break that cycle, but yet it endures. Our identity is inevitably wrapped up in our family history. You know?

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        “Alopecia”. Nice. I’ll have it across a double word premium, and with the p or c in a double letters, but ixnay on the ocksray.

        As for the young mother kid thing, doesn’t that just mean your family is evolving more rapidly than most of us. You’ll probably be the fount of the first true superheroes.

        • Gloria says:

          There’s an application on Facebook called Lexulous. You’ll be shocked to see how many of your FB friends play it if you add it. So fun. It’s way better than the Scrabble app. You can go to my profile page to find the link and add the app. Then feel free to start a game with me! I still have five days before I delete it!

  30. Greg Olear says:

    More power to you, Gloria. I think with this sort of thing, the achievement of the task — or achievements of the tasks, in this case — is more important than the nature of the task itself.

    The sun is at 0 degrees Cancer at 11:30 AM GMT on June 21, as per my ephemeris. I should add that, if you want to get even more pagan about it, you might wait until the full moon to cut your hair/vanish from FB. (Pagan feast days were on the first full moon after the solstice/equinox, which is still how the date of Easter — first Sunday after first full moon after vernal equinox — is determined). That’s on June 26, and again, per the ephemeris, there’s a lunar eclipse happening, which makes it even more wrought with symbolism.

    The winter solstice is on 12/21, the same day as the full moon, and also a lunar eclipse. Quite the day to re-emerge from the darkness, as it were.

    • Gloria says:

      Crap, Greg. That’s frickin’ fascinating. But now you’ve upset the whole apple cart! I think the FB disappearance still needs to happen on 12/21. But I’ll give absolute consideration to the rest of it. My goal was not one of paganism, but still…

      And the Easter thing – I never knew that. And I’ve always wondered because I was born on Easter Sunday – April 18, 1976. And I’ve never had a birthday on Easter since. Will I ever again in my lifetime? I’m so glad my mom didn’t name me Bunny, as the priest in the room suggested…

  31. Jordan Ancel says:

    Bravo, Gloria!

    I truly believe that our our egos are trying to kill us, so we must act first. It’s the only way to save our true selves.

    Sometimes it takes something drastic, an act we’d never imagine, or are afraid of, to begin letting go. Working from the outside in. like the act of shaving your head, is a great way to start.

    It’s also a great way to measure time, and the changes in you life that occur within that time of growing your hair back.

    Great piece.

    • Gloria says:

      Have you read any Eckart Tolle, Jordan? If not, you should check it out – especially The Power of Now. He makes the point that our egos are, in fact, afraid of us killing it. Interesting stuff.

      Working from the outside in. Great way to measure time. Two succinct, awesome ways to describe this. Thank you so much for your comment. I appreciate it.

      • Jordan Ancel says:

        No, I have not, but now you’ve piqued my curiosity. I’ve heard good things about that one, and his latest, A New Earth.

        Don’t know why I’ve been putting it off…

        Thanks for the reminder.

        I think sometimes working from the outside in can be a very powerful way to start something, because going the opposite route, we have to deal with feelings, our brain’s chatter, our excuses.

        A simple physical act that is so simple can have a profound impact on how we feel, how we perceive ourselves, and sometimes, more importantly, how others perceive us.

        It’s hard to redefine oneself, which is why sometimes action preceding motivation will help motivate us, when the motivation is hard to muster.

    • kristen says:

      “I truly believe that our our egos are trying to kill us, so we must act first.”

      Yes! Way to fight back, G.

  32. kristen says:

    Gloria, I loved this. All of it, and “Will anything come of this? Will I ascend to Nirvana? Unlikely. But something may come of it – perhaps something profound. And it’s not going to hurt a damn thing to try” is a great closer. So much packed in there, and they’re words I’m living by myself these days. Chancing certain conventionally-off-putting behaviors in favor of, of… X. ‘Cause you just never fuckin’ know.

    And I left Facebook a few weeks ago for similar reasons. Just didn’t need the ego stuff/time-suck.

    Best of luck to you in the coming weeks/months. May the universe hold your hand en route.

    • Gloria says:

      What has that been like for you, Kristen, leaving Facebook? I’m just curious to know how it’s changed things for you.

      Thanks for all these great comments. 🙂

      • kristen says:

        Hmm, well, honestly, not so hard/different. I mean, pre-Facebook, I certainly found plenty of ways to fill time via the interwebs (convenient given my recently slow desk job), so it’s basically just been back to that. More emailing of friends as well, which has been nice.

        I don’t know–a few times I’ve reactivated my account for all of five minutes, just to see, and I’ve admittedly experienced a bit of that “left out” feeling, but it hasn’t been enough to reel me back in. Yet.

        Mostly I just feel freer.

  33. […] I publicly announced my celibacy. But what I’ve realized since then is that it’s not sex that I wanted to step away from. I have […]

  34. […] marks the end of a ritual, not the start. As you might recall, in June, on the summer solstice, I began what over the months I’ve come to think of as an identity journey.  I shaved my head, quit looking in mirrors, deleted all social networking accounts, began […]

  35. […] went through a phase where she cut off her hair, stopped looking at mirrors, and abstained from both sex and Facebook.  (She still abstains from Facebook, although she occasionally hooks up with Twitter.)  We think […]

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