Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Santa Ana Hair

Years ago I read Joan Didion's essay on the Santa Ana winds and every time they blow I think of it. She talks about the manic affect it has on people. How suicide and murder rates go up. School children won't settle down. How even before it comes you can feel it in the air:
What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from
the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes, blowing up
sand storms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to flash
point. For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear
sirens in the night.

She links all of our natural disasters to it. A Santa Ana blows which causes wild fires in the hills so when the rains come in winter it washes the hills and everything on them away. She's right about that. They do cause a lot of problems. And I think the theory is dead on about the affect that the winds have on people. It does make you feel kind of lost. There were several nights in my childhood where I would wake up to the sound of the wind whipping the tether-ball chains against their poles at the school behind my house and thinking that something bad was about to happen. Although she takes it one step further and turns us all into citizens of Thunderdome, fighting for survival and ready to lose it on our neighbors at the slightest hint of a breeze:

Los Angeles weather is the weather of catastrophe, of apocalypse, and, just as
the reliably long and bitter winters of New England determine the way life is
lived there, so the violence and the unpredictability of the Santa Ana affect
the entire quality of life in Los Angeles, accentuate its impermanence, its
unreliability. The winds shows us how close to the edge we are.

Sure, they're bad. But apocalyptic bad? I don't think so. Because my hair would never look this good after the Other Four Horseman pull in.

True story: I was lying in bed yesterday with the lights out and the blinds shut, suffering through a very powerful wind-induced headache and the thought ran through my head - well, at least when I finally get around to doing my hair it will look fabulous.

The Santa Ana winds create a very dry condition and, as anyone with frizzy unevenly wavy hair knows, single digit humidity levels = really good hair day. This is an excellent reason to travel to Utah (other than picking up some squeaky cheese and visiting friends and family. Hi friends and family!) because the humidity level consistently hovers around -83%. My definition of Utah Hair is completely different from the actual defenition of Utah Hair.

So I will put up with the headaches and the chapped lips and scaly skin and dry mouth and wild fires and the homicides and suicides and the dust and the heat and the fallen trees and downed power lines and the sound of the wind wheezing through my drafty apartment and the feeling of impending doom and every news broadcast spending the first 10 minutes on wind-watch just to have those few days a year when my hair does not resemble a tumbleweed.


Liz the Poet said...


Although, if I'm in the wind too long, my hair will soon resemble a bag of cotton candy (minus the fun colors).

Amanda said...

Liz, you could always dye it pink! :)

Katie said...

I'm in for the winds! I actually left my hair down all day yesterday, which I haven't done in about 4 months. It was so straight and smooth, not an inch of frizz. Even though the wind could probably rival Chicago in Fontana, it's worth it for the hair.