Siege Diaries 5/12/2020

Two months’ growth, in all its salt and pepper glory.

Who knew that hair would become one of the most talked-about pandemic topics?

Every day, Canadians watch Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hair get shaggier and shaggier at his daily press conferences, which has led to this.  There are hair stylists now advising their clients through Zoom.  Haircuts are one of the most frequent demands of those “liberty” protesters.   So how’s it growin’ in my household?

Well, my husband, who’s been cutting his own hair (which he wears very short) for years, was not impacted at all.  On the other hand, I got my last haircut just before the lockdown, but I’d been considering growing it longer for some time and dreading the awkward “in-between” phase.  That last haircut definitely put my hair in a better position to grow it out than the one I had previous to that–so so far, so good.

But I’ve also been colouring my hair for over half my life.  It’s one of the few “beauty routines” I regularly follow.  I buy my dye in bulk from Sally and do it myself, and occasionally change up the shade a little bit.   Gradually over the years, I went from adding some reddish highlights to my natural dark brown colour to covering grey–but I could only guess at just how much grey there was each month just before a touchup.  I have plenty of dye on hand–but I decided this might be the ideal time to just let it grow and see what colour was actually under there.

So now that I’m getting a sense of it (see above), what lies in the future?  I think one thing this pandemic is teaching me is a certain “give no fucks” attitude about how “old” I look.  I’ve mainly kept up the dyeing because of the difficulty involved in stopping.  Now, to be honest, it doesn’t bother me how it looks in this transitional state–because, in a way, I’m in a transitional state.  As are most of us, I think.  Or maybe it’s simply revealing who I actually am.  In any case, I’m kind of enjoying the experiment.

It occurs to me that I originally started this blog to write about research obsessions and rabbit holes.  It spread out to travel writing (not a lot of that happening soon!) and discussions of performances I’d seen (and I’m still doing those), but the history bug is calling me.  I’ve often looked up “history on this day” for Toastmasters meeting themes, and going forward, if I don’t have another good topic to write about (and even if I do), I’m going to touch on some historical event that took place on this date.  We’ll visit some rabbit holes, of course, but I’m sure I’ll find some fascinating things to write about.

So: On this date 94 years ago, the premiere of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony #1 took place.  He had finished the symphony at age 19 as a graduation project from the Leningrad Conservatory, and it was given its first performance a year later–and was almost immediately hailed as a tremendous success–not just in the USSR, but internationally as well.  David Hurwitz calls it “among the most mature and consistently successful efforts by a youthful composer, irrespective of historical period,” and Shostakovich’s examiners said that he possessed a “distinctive and striking creative talent.”   Shostakovich was said to have celebrated this anniversary for the rest of his life.  The symphony, which both looks back in its classical structure and forward in its sound world (particularly, to my ears, in his use of percussion), is still a regular part of the symphonic repertoire.  I’ve not yet gotten a chance to hear an in-person performance.

Here’s a video of the London Symphony performing it, with Valery Gergiev (minus his customary toothpick baton) conducting. (Gergiev is one of the most fun conductors to watch for both his facial expressions and his constantly moving hands. I’m still sad I didn’t get to see him conduct the Shostakovich 7 in March.)