The Lizard Chronicles

Some of this is true. Some of this is better. –Too Much Joy

Come Back to Me March 16, 2018

Filed under: Life tales,cancer — lizardesque @ 5:57 pm
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I took you for granted, and I’m sorry. I hope you realize that I always loved you, even when I complained that you just wouldn’t cooperate. I know I was hard on you. I should have been more understanding. Everyone has bad days now and then. The good days far outweighed the bad in your case. I should have appreciated that more than I did, rather than focusing on those few times when I just couldn’t deal with you. I guess I was frustrated because I cared for you and nurtured you the best I could, but sometimes you just did whatever you wanted, refusing to meet me even halfway. Still, I had it so good with you, and it took the threat of your leaving for me to realize that. By then it was too late. I savored our last days together, sadly knowing there was nothing I could do to make you stay.


You can’t possibly know how much I miss you—not just for your beauty but for your warmth, your soft embrace, the way you protected me, both physically and emotionally. Anything else is a poor substitute. I’ve managed to go on without you, but truly, I’m not myself. My very identity was intertwined with you, and although I’ve tried various ways to cover it up, it’s painfully obvious that there’s something missing in my life.


I hate that you had to leave, but I understand why. It was a toxic situation, and you had to get out of it. Things won’t be like this forever, though. I know you need time, but I have faith you’ll return. I’m not going to make empty promises and say that when you do come back, everything will be perfect. What I can tell you, though, is that when I see you again, I will rejoice. I will cherish you—every last strand of you, even the grey ones.


I am not my hair (or fuck you, cancer) December 5, 2017

Filed under: cancer,Life tales — lizardesque @ 9:04 am
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Being a redhead has always been a big part of my identity. Even when I was a little kid and this way in which I was different was called to my attention a bit more than I would have liked, it was undeniable that it was a part of who I was. When I was a little older, I appreciated my red hair much more, and I was especially happy about it when my granny told me that redheads don’t go grey. Eventually, I learned this is not true across the board, and I developed a kind of existential dread around my hair, fretting about the day it would fade into a stawberry-tinged white (or until I had to do lots of maintenance to have it dyed back to something approaching its former glory).

I had short hair for most of the first couple decades of my life. I tried to grow it out a few times, but I was never able to get past the awkward in-between stage before I broke down and got it cut short again. But beginning when I was around 23, finishing grad school and moving a number of times (combined with a bit of laziness) meant not having a go-to stylist for a while. Next thing I knew, I’d neglected to get my hair cut (aside from the sometimes unfortunate bang trims I’d do myself) for more than 18 months, and it was long. Once I did find a stylist I liked, got my tresses trimmed and shaped, and learned to work with my long hair, it became an even larger part of my identity.

After my hair had been long for a while, I couldn’t imagine going back to a short cut. I could dream about it, though, and the dreams were nightmarish. I don’t recall exactly when, but some time along the line, I began to have dreams in which my hair was cut short against my will. The circumstances varied, but they were always the sorts of situations that make sense in the midst of dreaming but would not be plausible in real life. In these dreams, I would cry. In fact, I would cry so hard, I’d actually start to sob and wake up a blubbering mess. I calmed down once I realized my hair was still intact, but the uneasy feelings from the dream always stuck with me for a while.

I knew there were various possible reasons my hair could be taken from me without my consent—accidents, diseases, hair-fixated stalkers—but none of those were especially high on my list of worries. Instead, I returned to fretting about the increasing frequency with which grey hairs popped up and began to quietly threaten to overtake my scalp. My stylist insisted I was probably the only one who noticed them but still helped me cover them and make it look natural. So, my worries were largely kept at bay.

Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Losing my hair was not my biggest concern, but it certainly was high on the list, along with losing my life and much of my independence (if only temporarily), pain and potential side effects of surgery, as well as many of the other non-hair related ravages of chemotherapy. At first I held onto hope that maybe my particular kind of chemo would not lead to hair loss. Acquaintances told me of cold caps that allowed some people to minimize their hair loss during treatment. As I went through a barrage of tests and got more information about my particular type of cancer and treatment options, my mind was set at ease in learning that my prognosis was quite good. However, there was no getting around it—the chemo was going to make me lose my hair.

I tried to look on the bright side. I love hats and scarves (and have a lot of both). My hair would grow back. I could get a wig. Getting ready to go out wouldn’t take so long. These offered some consolation, but dread, panic, and tears still welled up whenever I imagined my locks coming out in clumps.

So, like many women who have been in similar situations, I decided to exert what little control I had over the situation. I made an appointment to get my hair cut very short. I figured that would give me time to ease into things and would make for less trauma when my hair began to fall out.

Two days before I started chemo, I went from hair to the middle of my back to pixie cut. I’m not going to claim that wasn’t a bit traumatic in and of itself. In fact, I still have a whole stew of emotions about it simmering. I really do like the new cut a lot, but I hate why I had to do it. I also know that my remaining hair will only be around for a few more weeks. I’ve got a wig on order, but that’s never going to be the same. The hair will grow back, but I’ve got a long and difficult road of both hair-related and non-hair–related tribulations ahead of me before that.

For now, I just keep repeating a few things to myself:

  • I loved my hair, and I miss my hair, but I am NOT my hair (no offense, Lady Gaga)
  • Fuck you, cancer—I’m going to beat you

Oh, those carefree, long-hair twirly days!


Off to find a new home


Feeling empowered to kick cancer’s ass


Julaiku: The Conclusion July 31, 2014

July 24

No, Really, I Am

Days full of meetings

Almost make me forget

I am a writer


July 25

The Hazards of Long Hair

Nice day for a drive

Rolled up hair in car window



July 26

At Least There Was Beer

Bummer when Cubs lose

Even bigger bummer when

The Cardinals win


July 27

The House on the Hill

Seven eleven

My beloved childhood home

I bid it goodbye



July 28


Morning alarm sounds

Rudely announcing

The weekend is gone


July 29


The Tiki Terrace

Tropical umbrella drinks

Make for tipsy Liz


July 30

Duty Calls

It is my day off

Yet, somehow, I am working

I’m doing it wrong


July 31

Finish Lines

Last day of the month

So, with this final poem

I end Julaiku




Perhaps my greatest contribution to the field of psychology August 12, 2011

Filed under: Life tales,Psychology — lizardesque @ 9:44 pm
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When I was studying psychology as an undergrad, I leaned about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory first proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943. Basically, the theory states that people have various different levels of need. The lower levels of need must be met before a person can truly begin to concentrate on fulfilling the next level of needs. The levels of need are often represented in a pyramid like this.

A typical representation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs

The theory made a certain degree of sense to me, but I thought there was something missing. Then one day as I was dressing, my hair became mussed, and some of it ended up in my mouth. I abandoned the act of dressing myself and sputtered and pawed at my mouth, desperate to remove the hair. This is when I devised the Maslow-Ott hierarchy of needs (Ott is my maiden name). I’ve often spoken of it but never published it until now. Anyone who has ever gotten a hair in his or her mouth (which is probably just about everyone) will tell you this is true. For those moments, nothing else matters. Getting that hair out of your mouth becomes your one and only mission.

The Maslow-Ott hierarchy of needs