Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Making the Cut

My dreadlocks have been bugging me all summer.

It gets hot here in Sonoma county. Hot enough that a visit to the local swimming hole is part of the daily routine. Have you ever tried to swim with a foot-tall pile of dreadlocks on your head? Not only do you look like Carmen Miranda, but you can only do the doggie paddle. Getting them wet is not really an option, unless you enjoy spending the rest of the day with the equivalent of a wet dog on your head. Plus, during your non-aquatic summer activities, if you are unlucky enough to have skin like mine, in order to truly avoid sunburn and freckles, you must wear hats. For some reason, wide and floppy english-style sun hats do not come in elephantine sizes. In San Francisco it was never warm enough to go outside without a full down parka, so I didn't have to worry about such things.

There have been other "issues". For example, walking past a gaggle of street kids, they might say "hey, cool dreads", and then ask if I would like to smoke with them. I can never decide whether I should be flattered to be welcomed into a group of teenagers, or horrified that they think I'm a stoner.

At the same time, I have loved my locks. I love geting ready for a performance by tying it all up into a few huge knots. Voila! Ready to go! The result is an enormous pile that I fondly call "The Bedraggled Bimbo". I would feel like my hair was in drag and refer to it in the second person..."Oh daahling! You're looking a bit hung over today". Conveniently, given that I hate shopping, I've noticed that when you sport a Bedraggled Bimbo on your head, it doesn't matter what you wear. People are so stunned and confused by the tangled mess, they don't notice anything else.

So for better or worse, my hair has become part of my identity. Newspaper articles start out "with her striking auburn dreadlocks...". So of course I wonder, will I even EXIST without my dreadlocks? This fear was reinforced for me at a Dresden Dolls concert when I heard someone behind me say "hey, is that Zoe Keating?" and then heard her companion reply, "No, she just has hair like Zoe".

During each of my previous hair phases, I was always told I looked like so and so. For example, in college in New York, and had uber-short, spiky-blonde hair, people asked if I was Brigitte Nielsen. And as a bobbed-redhead in high school some kids once asked me for my autograph thinking I was Molly Ringwald. I guess this must happen to everyone? This must be why so many young women get the exact same celebrity-inspired haircut. If you have hair like a celebrity you must look EXACTLY LIKE THEM! I find it more than a bit odd, maybe because I tend to recognize people by their eyes and their smiles and don't generally remember their hair. But I guess I should not complain. It was nice there for a while to have my hair recognized as mine, instead of that of some random actress. Although an encounter on tour weirded me out a little. A red-haired and dreaded girl (who, I would like to note, was a foot shorter than me and not at all similar) came up to me in a coffee shop.

"Are you Zoe that cello player?" she asked.

"Er, Yes", I replied.

"I though so. When I'm playing my accordion on the street people always think I'm you", she said.

By the way she said it, it was not clear whether she was correcting people. Great! knew this was coming....after weeks of indecision, I poured myself a stiff drink and cut them off. The pictures below tell the story...

(Next up, the true test of my new hacked-haircut on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night.)


Blogger Jessie Maims said...

You are not your hair!

Interestingly, I just remembered how you were once "Miss Dread" on the old old BBS.

Blogger Mr. Karate said...

I cut my hair this summer. It was long -forever-
I wasn't sure I could let go of it, I loved it so much. It was such a part of how I saw myself...
I donated it.
Before & After

When I went down to the karate studio I teach at, everything stopped. Even the class being taught stopped! Everyone was shocked. It was beautiful =)

I don't really miss it anymore. I may grow it out again, someday.

ps: I've just started playing the cello (6 months ago) and love your music. I hope you'll release "don't worry" because I would love to be able to listen to it wherever I go. It's my favorite =)

Blogger Luka Vestergaard said...

Just found your music by coincidence and I think your wonderful! Luke

Blogger somewhere long islander said...

Your music speaks to me fresh and deep. Thank you.

Cello has been one of my favorite instruments and you know how to make it sing so well.

Will spread the word!

Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Victor Z said...

You're not your hair, like Jessica said, but a 'do like that does become part of you. I've had my dreads for two months, and this is my second time around (cut them the first time b/c of a private school's dress codes).

Either way, your dreads were gorgeous. Your hair is cool as is, too. Did you keep dreads, but shorter...or not?
FYI, I'm jealous of your dreads!!

Blogger Victor Z said...

You're not your hair, like Jessica said, but a 'do like that does become part of you. I've had my dreads for two months, and this is my second time around (cut them the first time b/c of a private school's dress codes).

Either way, your dreads were gorgeous. Your hair is cool as is, too. Did you keep dreads, but shorter...or not?
FYI, I'm jealous of your dreads!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the NYTimes piece on pollution in china. Your music added so much more weight to the seriousness of the situation.

Blogger Adam The Clark said...

I bet you can brake a lot faster. Ha. That was a lot of weight I mean

Blogger Mitchel Kennedy said...

Oh no! Your beautiful dreadlocks!

But it's okay, you look just as lovely without them. Hair doesn't make the person, but hair can represent a lot of your past.

I once grew my hair for a good two years or more. It was quite long. One day I cut it, and cut it SHORT. I was depressed for about two weeks, but it represented a lot of my life that I had to move on from.

Good luck with the rest of your life! :D

Blogger Chewbob said...

You still look beautiful. I'd been considering dreading my hair because it was so long and bleach-damaged that if I let it go for any amount of time, it would start to dread on its own. I cut it this weekend and had a similar internal struggle (people know me because my hair is long and pink on the bottom). Then again, I've had the internal struggle when considering letting it go to dreads.

Anyway, in a way, it was kind of reassuring seeing you cut yours, when you're one of the people that made me feel like getting them in the first place might not be a bad idea. Which probably doesn't make any sense. :) What I'm saying is, I like the change!

Blogger lindihop said...

Zoe, I first heard your music on RadioLab which I first heard last year thanks to my American boyfriend :-) I totally love what you do with music! You ROCK :-) And you look beautiful whatever the hair... :-) I´m looking forward to buying your CDs once I get over the ocean. (I´m from the Czech Republic) ;-) Thank you!

Blogger Golden retriever said...

No your arent just your hair. but i think it was gorgeous and my heart dropped a little as i scrolled down and watched you cut it. i hope you didnt cut it to appease anyone and i hope it was just to get it out of the way. it was a beautiful thing and even better if it is your natural hair color. there arent alot of red headed people with dreadlocks in the world, and that really set you apart, and your beautiful too. i think it was a win win.

Blogger Katie Merei said...

This is very interesting. I'm contemplating getting temporary dreads.

Blogger Unknown said...

you look really, really cute with the short locks.

I start my new Internship at the German Historical Institute tomorrow and I am excited how some of the people will respond to my ass-long red dreads and my tattoos...

anyway: love your music.

Blogger Unknown said...


My dreads now reside in a vase on my dresser. Just a suggestion....

Anonymous Tayeb said...

u were beautifull with dreadlocks ,, but u still its my email if u like we can have chat *peace !

Blogger yogeekirsten said...

I love you for sharing your perspective in all of its auburn glory! Now if only I could find the guts to dread mine :)

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