Blue hair and work Wednesday

me with blue hairThis was the first official week of my sabbatical, after the summer-long soft launch. I celebrated by getting my hair dyed blue. Not all over blue, just blue highlights in front. Not shocking, you-can’t-miss-it sky blue. Rather, deep cobalt, almost indigo, make-you-look-twice-because-you’re-not-sure blue. There are a few streaks of turquoise mixed in too… I think that’s how the dye stuck to my grey hairs. The blue gets more obvious in the sunlight and when I flip it back. If I have to go somewhere where suits are required, I won’t look too terribly out of place.

I’ve gotten some interesting reactions. Some of my colleagues were confused by it. “What’s that all about?” “That’s not permanent is it?” Some people see me and exclaim, “Your hair is blue!” But for the most part, the blue hair is getting rave reviews. I’m pretty happy with how it came out, except for the fact that I have to keep wiping blue smudges off my forehead.

Some of my friends, who know I have enough purple apparel to clothe the Northwestern University marching band, have asked, why blue? Why not purple? In short, this was  a decision delegated to my  hairdresser. I have learned that I have neither the time nor the skill to coax my hair into doing anything remotely similar to what I want it to do. But my hairdresser has succeeded in getting my hair to do what she wants it to do. As long as she gives me instructions for maintaining my hair that require no more than three-minutes a day to execute, I can keep my hair looking more or less (ok, usually less) the way she wants it to look. And she wants it to be blue. We had a conversation that went roughly like this:

Me: I’m doing a sabbatical this year at the art school.

Hairdresser: Wonderful! You need an artsy hairdo. We will dye your hair blue.

I didn’t even ask her what shade of blue before she began applying bleach and wrapping my hair in little foil packets to remove the natural color, as apparently blue dye doesn’t do much for brown hair. Within the hour I had white-blond highlights. She then applied dark blue gloop to the highlighted hair, wrapped it back up in foil packets, and the next time I saw my hair it was blue.

Of course, if you have blue hair, you have to document it. Who knows, I may never have blue hair again, depending on how annoying the blue forehead smudges get. So I setup for a photo shoot in my son’s bathroom (it has blue walls and good natural light through the window, and the mirror is an added bonus) so I could capture my blue self-portrait. There’s not much room to setup a tripod in a bathroom, but I got it wedged in managed to shoot a decent self portrait.

So, with hair dyed blue, I spent the week enjoying the energy of a campus filled with students once again, content in the knowledge that I would not be teaching any classes to these students this year. I sat outside and watched them play frisbee. When a soccer ball came my way, I kicked it back. And I sat it the STUIO tying French knots on the quilt I was trying to finish this week for a competition deadline (I made the deadline, more on the quilt in my next post). But unlike the past 8 years, I did not spend the last week in August scrambling to finish a syllabus, polish off lecture slides, and get ready for a busy semester.

My sabbatical is actually a 75% sabbatical. I did promise to spend 25% of my time doing research and advising my students. And so, I have designated Wednesday as work day in my office (or in meetings). Ok, the reality is that I cannot get all my work done in one day per week, and I cannot force all meetings I need to attend to schedule themselves on Wednesdays. Indeed I spent a good chunk of Monday in meetings, and arrived on campus at 8:30 am on Friday to get a quick meeting out of the way before heading to the STUDIO. But I did manage to spend most of Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday quilting this week. And on Wednesday I had 13 meetings. In fact, I have 11 standing meetings with my students and research groups scheduled every Wednesday for the rest of the semester. (Except for next week when I’ve cancelled them all so I can go to a conference on Wednesday.)  Oh, and I’m co-directing a new masters program in privacy engineering (more on that later too).

My kids started their schools this week too. Only two days so far. Once we determined that  our school bus stop was not actually located at the corner indicated in the letter from the school district, everything has gone smoothly.