Wednesday, September 27, 2006

the blonde of the week: The Virgin Mary

For many centuries, the only leading ladies of Catholicism permitted to be blonde were the harlots: Eve and Mary Magdalene. And this was for good reason: blonde hair was considered synonymous with sex, sexual attraction, and sexual appeal, thanks in large part to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, Beauty and Sexual Rapture, a.k.a. the Original Blonde.

Mary, on the other hand, was the exact opposite of all of these things. “Mary was in all ways perfect," writes Joanna Pitman, author of On Blondes. "One of her many distinguishing characteristics was her freedom from carnal desire. Not only had she been conceived immaculately by divine intervention, but her purity had been preserved by the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.” She was without a doubt the purest woman in all of Catholicism, and as such it makes sense that she be visually depicted as a brunette, or perhaps more commonly, with hair that was not visible at all, hidden beneath a pious veil.

Thanks to the visions of a Swede named Bridget, all of this changed in the 14th century. Bridget, later to become St. Bridget, first began to receive visions when she was just 7 years old. After the death of her husband, King Ulfo, she pursued what I would call a seriously religious life, eventually denouncing her place in her court and her title as Princess, and turning to a life as a woman of the cloth in the service of God. She went on to found the Bridgettine order.

Bridget’s visions were extremely popular during her life, and even more so after her death. They were originally written in Swedish and translated into Latin, but these revelations were in such high demand that they were eventually translated into most European languages. According to Pittman, “Within a few decades of her death in 1373, the revelations became a standard part of the works of devotion.” St. Bridget’s visions had wide appeal, and even longer-enduring effects. Here is how Bridget envisioned Catholicism’s first lady during the nativity (quoting from Joanna Pittman’s translation in On Blondes):

“I beheld a Virgin of extreme beauty…then the virgin pulled off the shoes from her feet, drew off the white mantle than enveloped her, removed the veil from her head, laying it by her side, thus remaining in her tunic alone with her beautiful golden hair falling loosely down her shoulders…”

It wasn’t long before artists began to incorporate these images into their renderings of the Madonna, casting her as a luminous, transcendent blonde for all posterity, and creating a serious dichotomy in the symbolism of the blonde. All of this thanks to a Swedish saint named Bridget.

Hmm…she was Swedish after it possible that Bridget was blonde herself?

Friday, September 22, 2006

a sort of alchemy

Last Sunday I met Aaron & Maysoon, two of the Mathematician's friends who were in town from Arizona. We spent the afternoon in historic,WASP-y, picturesque Newport, RI, touring mansions and walking along the cliffs by the ocean. It was exquisite: the sky, blue, the ocean, a deeper blue, the air warm, and the sunlight golden.

For most of the walk, the boys strode ahead of us, confabbing about their careers in the field of engineering, whiling away the hours talking about math. Maysoon and I hung back, bonded by our inability to understand. It's not like we're dumb or ditzy, and it's clear that we both try to understand our sig others most of the time--Maysoon even majored in Math! But when it comes to the Mathematician, I also know when to wave a white flag, and the minute I heard the words "log-base-two" come out of his mouth, casually as if he were commenting on the blueness of the sky, I knew my part in that conversation was over. It was a nice opportunity for Maysoon and I to stroll on together and get to know each other, paired off the way couple friends do when they hang out together.

Inevitably Maysoon asked me: "what do you do?" This question is a tough one for me: if I am to answer truthfully (and sometimes I don't), it prompts a seriously long-winded, self-absorbed sounding monologue. I never really know where to begin, and have an equally difficult time determining where "what I do" ends. And though I fully realize that no one will ever take me seriously as anything unless I speak about "what I do" with conviction, mustering up the balls to explain that "I'm a writer" (despite the fact that I've yet to get something published), or that "I do PR for cookbooks and culinary books" (even though I barely know what PR actually is) is sometimes just daunting. These jobs sound like pipe-dreams to so many people, and the minute I explain that I also make a substantial portion of my income as a waitress, I'm sure some people assume that I simply made all of these other jobs up, that these are more like lofty goals I conceptualize while rolling silverware and setting up the dining room at Tremont 647. Of course, any asshole who would pass this type of judgment on my career is probably not the type of person I want to be friends with anyway, their lives consumed by a boring job that I'd rather die than spend half my life working. This is the same breed of person who would ask me my major in college ("concentration...we don't have majors at Sarah Lawrence...mine is creative writing") then say, "oh, so you want to be a teacher???"with a a insidious smirk.

Maysoon, however, is a really, really nice person. She's very easy to talk to, and very easy to be around. So, I told her the truth when she asked me what I do, unleashed the whole 5-minute monologue about where I'm at and where I'm going. She made me feel so comfortable, that I decided I'd even explain to her that I'm writing a book. "It's about being blonde," I said, and she didn't even flinch.

The wind started to pick up around us as I went on about my book idea in greater detail. I explained the experiment behind it, what I hoped to accomplish going forward, and as we were talking, the tide was coming in, making the waves crash a little bit louder, and the exquisite stone cliffs and sparkling blue ocean around us seem that much more wild. Because of all this nature, Maysoon misheard me.

"Well, of course, it makes sense, you can see by your coloring and your fair eyebrows that you're a natural blonde. It will be interesting to see how you're treated differently when you dye your hair brown and live as a brunette."

"No, no, Maysoon. I'm not naturally blonde! All of this is fake, I've spent the last six months bleaching the hell out of my hair. That's the experiment. See," I said, grabbing at a tendril from the bottom layer of my hair, the part Jason refuses to bleach. "This color is my natural color. See? I'm not naturally blonde."

But as I twisted the little tendril around my forefinger, my hair looked a lot more golden than it did brown. This little tendril seemed to be pick up all of the rays of the afternoon's abundant sunshine. Strands of gold woven in among shades of deeper gold and golden brown glinted up at me, and as Maysoon leaned in closer to check out my natural hue, it actually looked...well, blonde.

"Oh, okay," she said, her face vague and puzzled. As I said, Maysoon's a nice person, an easy person, and probably not the type of person to throw down the gauntlet with her friend's colorblind girlfriend. Besides, Maysoon is Jordanian, and compared to her chestnut hair, dark, olive-y skin, and deep greenish-brown eyes, my natural color does look...well, blonde.

I know what I am, that I haven't been naturally blonde since puberty, that it's always taken a spritz of lemon juice or Sun-In to bring out the bright streaks I sported when I was a baby. But in that moment, I wondered if something magic had happened in my dye-ing crusade. I mean, at this point, I strongly feel that if I only take one thing from this experiment, it's the knowledge that blonde is my proper hair color. I like it, I like me in it, I think it suits the wildly contradictory pieces of my personality more than I ever could have known. When all is said and done, I'm certain I'll go back to blonde.

And in that moment, as I stood dumbly trying to explain to Maysoon that I was a brunette, I wondered: is all of this talk and experimenting and writing for shit? Is my hair somehow, miraculously going blonde on it's own? Has my body somehow recognized how at home I feel with this hair color? Hey, it could happen. I mean, identity is a powerful thing. Perhaps, once your personality finds its stride, your body begins to show it, from the inside out? Perhaps, under all that bleach, my natural hue had decided to miraculously changed back to blonde?

The next morning, while brushing my hair in the harsh, false light of the Mathematician's bathroom, I had my answer. No magic beans for me, my roots are starting to show. There is a sharp line of demarcation between where the natural hair ends and where the bleach begins. My roots are real and they are dark (and an inch long--yikes!)

No alchemy for me. At least, not naturally.

Then I suppose alchemy, by definition, is something we make happen on our own

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Brunette Countdown...revisited

Several weeks ago, I wrote this post. I threw down the gauntlet, and announced to the world that I had chosen my date for becoming a brunette. I had decided that it was TIME, that I was OVER being blonde, and that I was ready to launch this little experiment into phase II: The Brunette Phase. And my day to do so would be the 3rd day of October, 2006.

Yeah, well, I’ve decided it’s not going to happen on October the 3rd.

I have a good reason, though! It’s not an excuse to stay blonde because I like being blonde, because I’m hooked on being blonde, because I’ve discovered that that’s the real hair color of the real me! It’s not. I swear…

The reason is because I’m going to Italy in a few weeks, and I want to visit that mecca of romance and overbearing men and dark featured people as a blonde.

When I told my best friend that I’d announced my date-to-go-dark to the world, she was horrified:

"But you have to come to Italy as a blonde!" she said, with exaggerated, gesticulating, Italian-inspired emphaticness. "OF COURSE you should come to Italy as a blonde, you NEED to experience Italy as a blonde, you’ll get so much more material and be treated so differently as a blonde." She'd never say it because she is the sweetest person, but I know in her mind she was thinking: "Duh!"

So, I’m thinking that I’m going to stay blonde thru Italy.

What do you guys think? Do we think this is a cop out?

The dates are set for my Italian adventure: October 11th the Mathematician and I fly away. We'll go to Rome, then to Prague for four days (Prague again! I can't wait!), then to Florence, and maybe Cinque Terre.

I can always go brown in November…or December…or perhaps I’ll go brown as a change for the new year? New Year, New You and all that jazz.

And of course, all of this only means one thing: that I’ll simply have to go back to Italy as a brunette.

I have to. It’s for the book. It’s for posterity. It’s for the greater good of blondes and brunettes everywhere.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

mi familia weighs in

MOM: So, you’re still a blonde, dear? Still liking your hair that color?

(NOTE: Bear in mind, my mother knows all about the book.)

ME: Well, yeah, mom. I'm writing a book about having it this way, remember??? I love it blonde. I think having it this color is really fun. I want to keep it blonde forever, but I’m only going to for the next few weeks. Then I’m going to dye it brown. You know that.

DAD: Noooooooooo! You’re going to dye it BROWN? WHY?

(NOTE: Bear in mind, my father, too, knows all about the book. He was my main advisor when I asked him if I should quit my job to write it. Just a week earlier, he asked me to email him my blog address.)

ME: For the book, dad. Remember the blog address you asked to see last week?

DAD: Yes. I still don't really understand what a "blog" is...(Absently turns to the next page of his paper.)

BROTHER GREG: You’re writing a book?

MOM: Yes, she needs to dye it brown, so she can see what happens. First she is BLONDE, to see if people treat her differently. Then she dyes it BROWN, and sees if people treat her differently. Haven't you checked out her weblog?

BROTHER GREG: Brown? Really? Why brown?

ME: Dude. Mom just said.

DAD: Don’t dye it brown…you should keep it blonde! (Shaking his head and going back to his paper.) It looks so pretty blonde.

GREG: Yeah, blonde’s the way to go.

ME: But guys, I have to. I just told you. It's for the experiement. That's the whole point of the book.

DAD: What book?

ME: (Sigh.) Nevermind.

Well, at least now I know how my family feels.

Monday, September 18, 2006

what they're worth

Last week I got a freebie because of my boobs. I find this totally curious, because they aren’t that big, or really that special in any way. They're fine, I guess, well proportioned and well suited to all of my other body parts, but not really something I consider that remarkable about my body, or really that interesting at all. Nothin’ to see here, guys, nothin’ to see…So, maybe it was my hair that got me the freebie? Or maybe a combination of the boobs and the hair? In any case, it happened on the commuter rail, going from Boston to Littleton.

I was thoroughly engrossed in my book (The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) when the adolescent looking ticket collector made his grand entrance in car three of the 4:40 p.m. train to Littleton.

“Tickets, please!”

“Oh, yeah,” I said. By this point I was so caught up in the adventures of Tibby, Bridget, Lena and Carmen that I'd completely forgotten that trains are something you have to pay to ride. “I need to buy one, please. I’m going to Littleton.”

“Littleton’ll be five-fifty” he said, cheerfully.

‘He looks about 12 years old,’ I thought, 'Since when did the MBTA start violating child labor laws?' Of course, I had yet to go to the bank with the weekend’s installment of cold hard cash from my waitrssing job, and was left to wrestle through a fistful of disorganized twenties before I could find fives and ones.

‘On second thought, he’s at least 24,’ I decided as I my fingers plucked a five from my money pile. ‘He’s just one of those guys who looks way young. He is also short and has chubby cheeks which make him look young and vulnerable.’ I was just pulling out a 1 from my stash when the ticket guy blurted out:

“Oh, no, no…Five’s fine. Don’t worry about it, I’ve got the fifty cents. I've got it. Heh.”

“But, I’ve got it right here…” I started to say, stopping at “but…” when I looked up and saw his eager, smiling face. Truthfully, it was a little silly, I mean, I was holding the 1 dollar bill right there, in the same hand as the five I was about to pass across the aisle to him. But his smile seemed so earnest that I just shrugged instead.

“Okay, here’s five. Thanks!” ‘How nice,’ I thought to myself, and smiled at his back as he walked away.

Ready to become totally absorbed in the magical powers of the traveling pants, I looked back down at my book. As I glanced down, my gaze fell on the low, scooped neckline of my shirt.

Oh. So that's why hewas being so nice.

And that, folks, was a lesson I learned last week. That my modestly sized breasts exaggerated by a low-cut neckline, and coupled with my carefully dyed blonde hair, can get me 50 cents off a train ticket to Littleton.

Awesome. My boobs are worth fifty cents.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

you never know who you're gonna run into

Two nights ago, Shanna took me out for pre-birthday dinner. It was fabulous and lovely. Sushi at Duozo, where I must confess, I had the best spicy tuna roll of my life!

BOSTONIANS NOTE: Despite the inherently middle-of-the-road nature of the spicy tuna roll, I implore you to check out Duozo’s take on this gateway-sushi. Perfect ratios of tuna, spicy mayo, and light, flaky, crunchy tempura—it will make you re-think the roll entirely…But I digress.

After every last bit of the sushi had been eaten and every drop of the Soave drained, but before dessert (which sneaky Shanna ordered unbeknownst to me), I excused myself to the ladies. I walked out of the dining room, through the busy bustling bar area, where all the bar stools and bar tables were full. I paid attention to no one as I walked, feeling pleasantly sushi’d, pleasantly Soave’d, and thinking all the while about the fabulous spicy tuna roll I’d just eaten, and about how Shanna makes my life feel a little more fabulous in general.

I was still thinking about all of this when I exited the ladies room, and started back out through the bar area. But I was quickly jostled out of these thoughts when my eyes alighted upon a familiar face:

There sat my ex-fiance.

That’s right, the one who I just saw for the first time about a month ago. The one who moved to Texas, who I never thought I’d have cause to run in to in Boston again.

“Hi!” I said, walking over to the table where he sat with two of our mutual friends. “I didn’t even see you sitting here! Have you been sitting here the whole time???”

“Yes!” He said.

“So, I just walked right by you guys, nose in the air, like a total asshole? I feel so silly!”

“No, no, that’s okay! I didn’t realize you were here either,” he said. “I didn’t realize that was you walking by, until I recognized your jeans.”

Yes, that’s the Ex. He recognizes jeans.

“Yeah, I’m here having dinner with Shanna, see, she’s right down there!” And I pointed down to Shanna, who waved up at us from the dining room.

“That’s who that is!” The Ex said. “Yeah, you know, I knew I recognized that girl, but I couldn’t figure out where I knew her from! That’s right. And I didn’t even see you, since your back was facing us. I mean…well , I did see you…I just didn’t recognize you from the back of your head,” he said.

“It’s understandable,” I said. “I mean, it is the back of my head.” Though, after five years together, you’d think he’d recognize me by any body part, liltof tone, or gesture, no matter how obscured his line of sight.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” he said. I guess I just didn’t recognize the hair.”

And I smiled. “Yeah, I guess you wouldn’t!” I said.

What a difference a year makes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

today is my birthday

Today is my birthday.


Thank you!!! That's very sweet.


I am 27-years old. As the Mathematician pointed out, in true Mathematician form, that is 3 to the 3rd power, or 3 times 3 times 3. It is also 3 times one of my favorite numbers: 9. I love my birthday, and I love today, not just because everyone must treat me like I’m special, but also because I like the combination of numbers that came together the day my twin & I popped out of the womb: 9-13-1979. It’s a good, special, magical numerical combo.

Tonight I am going to dinner at No.9 Park with the Mathematician. I am so excited and am going to eat as little as possible all day, in the hopes of maybe partaking in their tasting menu. As the Mathematician pointed out, I will need to eat something so I don't wind up too bombed after my first cocktail to enjoy dinner, or so hungry that I have 2 bites of bread and end up full. But I will eat very little so as to make as much room as possible in my body for Barbara Lynch's delicious food.

I will also get a pedicure, do a little yoga, and try to write a little bit, and ruminate about what I hope that my 27th year holds.

A lot has happened in a year. I have:

Quit a dead-end job that I hated.

Built a wonderful relationship with a hot Mathematician.

Started a career in PR.

Started writing a book.

Started freelance writing (it’s been a slow start, but a start nonetheless.)

Opened a savings account that actually has some money in it.

Begun to pay quarterly taxes.

Really started doing things for myself, with my own best interest in mind, for the very first time in my life.

And I have no doubts that my 27th year will hold more of the same.

I have more to say, but for now, that’s all. This post can just be about my birthday, more about blondeness later...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Thank you for bein' a friend...

Sitting, working quietly at my desk. Thinking about how much I love my new, office-job free life. How happy I am. How much I like doing PR.

Sunlight streams in through south facing windows, bright on the outside, but muted in my bedroom, strained through drawn plastic blinds, like liquid through a colander.

Three stories down, trucks amble down Mass Ave., noisy despite their mufflers.

Suddenly I am struck by a craving, a deep, intense, core of my being longing. It is the kind of longing that can only be triggered by the perfect conflux of sensory images, by a just right stream of light, the familiar timbre of a squeaking truck axle, and the faint scent of laundry detergent, wafting up from my sweatshirt.

Everything in the right proportion, at the right moment. All of this, coming together, making me long for and crave a television set, a comfy couch, and reruns of one of my favorite TV shows:

The Golden Girls.

I am lucky that I do not have a TV because if I did, I would swathe myself in a blanket, march out to my living room, and settle deep into my roommate’s black leather couch. I would grab the remote and hungrily surf the channels until I found the show that I would for some inexplicable reason give anything to watch right now. I would feel an overwhelming sense of peace settle into my cells as the first few chords of the theme song rang out.

Thank you for being a friend…
Travel down the road and back again…

I do not know why I want to watch The Golden Girls right now. I am happy today, energetic, in a good mood, delighted & totally not bored by my work. I feel productive. I am having a good day.

Yet for some reason, if I could settle in with Rose, Dorothy, Blanche, and Sofia, I think I’d be a million times happier right now, at this very instant.

Insights are welcome…and if you don’t have any, Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

mea culpa on my MAJOR mistake, after writing my pathetic, lamenting blog entry last week about how DARK my hair is, Jason came by the restaurant last Friday while I was setting up the patio for my shift.

"Hey gorgeous!" I heard him scream to me from across the street. Then he started to move towards the sidewalk, then the crosswalk, then oh no! He was crossing the street, coming over to the restaurant to say hi to me. SHIT! Having just gone on at length about how DARK and terrible my hair looked, I felt disloyal, like a disobedient child who was about to get busted with her hand in the cookie jar.

On the other hand, I was also dying to ask him when I could come in to get it lightened again.

"How's my beautiful blondie today," he said, approaching me with a big hug and a kiss on each cheek, like the French, all smiles and cheeriness.

I had no choice but to dive right in:

"Jason...we need to talk," I said. I looked desperately into his light blue eyes, then away above his head, then down at the sidewalk, fumbling for the right words. "I just...I think it's too dark. And...I'm kinda freaking out."

"Kitty," he said, his face breaking open into a wide smile, his tone, soothing and sweet, once again like that of my therapist. "Don't be silly. I told you, it's not any darker. Hey Julie! Julie, come over here a sec!" he yelled inside the restaurant to the bartender. "Do you think Kitty's hair looks too dark?"

“No,” says Julie, “I told her the other day, I think it looks pretty.”

“See, Kitty. Not any darker. Oh, hey, there’s my 5 o’clock, gotta run!” And he swooped away, almost as quickly as he came.

As he dashed across the street, he turned around to yell back at me: “You know, it’s going to lighten up the more you wash it!!!”

“It is?” I hollered back, lamely, unconvinced.

“Yes, silly, I told you that last week. Just wash it again, you’ll see.”

“Yeah, right,” I said, my heart sinking as low as the concrete patio floor. And I almost cried. If Jason doesn’t believe me, then what am I to do?

But then you know what happened? Yesterday I washed my hair for the first time in…a while…and it did, in fact look lighter. I caught a glimpse of the sun reflecting off the highlights as I walked by my own reflection in a store window, and smiled. I’m back!

The moral of the story?

Jason is always right.