I always manage to get stuck waiting for the train to pass and for the drawbridge to come back down whenever I go over to Sandi's on the weekends. Most motorist cannot find the ability to wait an extra 15 minutes for either, so often they will jump the median and try to find an opening somewhere else. As eager as I was to get there, I waited it out. In the back seat of my Festiva, I had a basket full of all the socks and underwear I went through during my week vacation/trip to Cornerstone two weeks ago plus all the uniform shirts I hadn't washed in the month I'd been wearing them every day. I also had my hair clippers.

When I got them out of the medicine cabinet and opened to check the batteries, one had corroded inside and I feared that it would render them inoperable. I took it as a potential sign that I shouldn't go through with it. But I brought them and some extra batteries anyway. I wasn't giving up that easily.

In my stereo, I was playing a copy of Rage Against the Machine's last album, part of a preparation for the concert in September that I had just purchased tickets to earlier that day. It felt like my life was getting started.

When I got to Sandi's, her car wasn't in the driveway yet, so I carried my laundry basket into her back yard and put the first load in the washer, since I knew the laundry room would be unlocked. She lived in that kind of neighborhood where you could leave things unlocked. Whenever we fetched her son from the various family extensions he stays with while she's at work, I sit in the car and watch Sandi walk up to the house and just walk in, without even knocking. It's a whole different world from mine.

Sandi arrives shortly afterwards and tells me that something went kerklunk under the hood of her car so we had to take mine to fetch the kid and the Chinese food she ordered for us in preparation for the big shave. Since I don't have cable and have yet to see the new Real World series that was filmed here in New Orleans, I begged her to let me sit in front of the TV while she trimmed my hair down to the length where the clippers could do some real damage.

Sandi wanted to try her ability to cut hair short into a certain style before we just shaved it all off, and mine was almost to my shoulders, so she had a bit to work with. At every stage, she took a picture. I'd had my hair so short before that it looked like a boy's, so each stage was not nearly as exciting as the last one. I had a hard time staying in my seat, I was so excited. I was, like all people who willfully do this, terrified that my worst fears would come true. That I would have a bumpy, off-center head, that I would have cowlicks or oddly parted hair, that I would look sickly and diseased, that my eyebrows would be bushy by comparison to my scalp that would now be plainly visible. I also thought that it would, for some reason, make me look fat, or that I would not be able to pull it off, meaning that I didn't have the attitude to back such a severe hair style that in fact, had no style at all.

It was so strange to see New Orleans being filmed the way it was for the Real World, to see places that I went to on a regular basis now being the backdrop for some predetermined TV series. I squealed like a proud mother under the shadow of Sandi's hairdresser's shears, "Look there's Rue De La Course, and Lafitte's Blacksmith Shoppe, and oh, look, now they're at Red Room." Laura, if you don't sit still, I'm going to hurt you. Ok, I'm sorry.

Her son had gotten a Hot Wheels computer for his fifth birthday and ever since then, he had been glued to it every night. Since he has this crush on me, however, he would not leave the living room. Instead, he brought his toys out there and made the haircut process doubly frustrating, what with my hair getting all over the place. Sandi had it in her mouth, I had it all down my shorts and in my sports bra so that it felt like I was going through some mild chemotherapy without the nausea. When it was finally all gone and the clippers about to give out, I was allowed to see it. I grinned back at myself in the mirror over the sofa. It looked good. It actually looked not not bad but good.

In the shower, I couldn't stop grinning as the water fell over me. I changed into some of the now clean clothes from my laundry and stretched out on the couch, rubbing my head like an overexcited boyfriend. On the drive home, it was exhilarating to not have to brush hair out of my face because I had the window down, that unlike most of the city, I did not ever seal myself inside my car with air conditioning but preferred fresher air.

I came home and called one of my friends who would have been the first to see it, if I hadn't passed out with this big grin on my face. I slept better than I had in weeks.