Movember update: mighty fine stache

Once you have broken the overwrought pattern, the ends of it wave back and forth, madly trying to connect to other things. New patterns form, weak and unsupported, very tenuous and temporary. Strange insights may be had at this time, as the patterns are formed in your mind, and it feels freer than ever, frighteningly, exhilaratingly, intriguingly so.

The interesting thing about a spiral — even one that you are out of control in! — is that it comes close to the point where you were before. You can see it, just over there. If the spiral isn’t regular and smooth, the points may even cross over, intersecting but with trajectories in opposite directions. You can linger at that point, but the movement won’t be in the same direction.

Life seems like that, sometimes, composed of moments that are similar to the past, occasionally repeating but never quite going the same way. Continue reading

A Dressing Up, A Dressing Down: RIP My NaNoWriMo 2011, Long Live Movember!

First: let me admit that there really wasn’t much hope for me to do NaNoWriMo this year. In fact, it was really a doomed proposition, given that I’ve felt that I’ve had no free time lately, and really need to make the homestretch push on getting my Phd finished, done, over with. It’s really what I’ve been needing to do, and perhaps part of me has been avoiding it for a while.

Writing a PhD is a complex task. Continue reading

Octobeard 2011 Check-in: The Final Transformation!

There are changes to our bodies every day. Most are simple, gradual, non-dramatic. Sometimes, we don’t even see them unless we carefully take note. Some mark down their weight every day. When we are growing children, we check our height every week. We note our teeth every morning in the mirror, but may on then notice the long, grey hair that must have been growing for a month or two.

Octobeard was a challenge to myself. Could I change my image drastically, at least in part? Would I discover something about my image? Would I even notice?

And then there are the scientific questions: how long does it take for my beard to grow? Does it grow evenly? What parts grow fastest?

The month has passed. Continue reading

Octobeard 2011 check-in: one week in

Octobeard 2011 headshot Oct 10

Octobeard 2011 headshot Oct 10

Well, it’s been a rough week to not have a beard. Lots of cold weather early on, with wicked winds which used to whip my whiskers, now able to stab at my shorn sides. Then, it got warm, just as the sprouting of the new beard starts, making it itchy and uncomfortable..

Still, I’m really eager to see it’s return. After a week, there’s a clear coverage of the face, with intense coverage on the lip and chin which had been the main part of my beard for so many years.

I plan to do something on Halloween, most likely partially shave to some bizarre, monstrous effect. I’m no virtuoso, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it, but we’ll see. I’m mostly curious about how the beard will grow in, and what I might build out of its growth for a pattern for my face.

With winter coming on, I want to have reasonable coverage, but I think I’m less inclined to simply keep a full beard for long. I like beards, I’ve always felt that my face looks proper with one, but I didn’t like the way that it became a metaphor for personal stagnation, if somewhat weak.

I’m also considering Movember. Continue reading

RIP, my beard circa 2003-2011: may you return soon

I, like most, have my fears, misgivings and sensitivities. Like most, I seek to overcome them when I can, challenge myself to face my insecurities and my beliefs and my stable yet unhelpful patterns.

I’ve just challenged another one: I shaved.

I have almost always conceived of myself as a bearded man. I have worn a beard for the better part of the last 20 years. On two or three occasions, I have shorn the beard entirely, just to rattle myself, or to stifle my dependence on that self-image, or something.

Actually, the reasons for my follicular violence are never that clear. In this current case, I can only point to a few motivating factors, such as my frustration over an inability to get a hair cut, something I’ve needed for months and yet have either conveniently found excuses against or have simply forgotten about. I detected this pattern of avoidance, but it’s a strong one and resists direct attempts to change with rationality.

Have I talked about my theory of patterns and mental behaviour before? Continue reading