Saturday, December 29, 2007
It is 7:00 a.m. ET. I took a red-eye flight home, but missed my connection because my plane was late. I am tired and JFK blows.
My only joy is the fact that one of the airline personnel prattling on endlessly over the PA sounds exactly like Fran Drescher's character on the Nanny. The high, nasal pitch of her voice is invigorating. Could NY possibly be this stereotypical? Could she really be speaking that way, without a shred of irony?
Boston, I am coming for you!
Monday, December 24, 2007
We had a leisurely breakfast, then packed into the car and got hopelessly, happily lost in the Gaslamp on the way to this. That's the view of the beach from the historic Hotel Del Coronado, where Some Like It Hot was filmed.
Here's a view of the hotel from the beach.
Christmas Eve certainly is different here on the west coast. But people still seem excited about doing Christmas-y things, like ice-skating. Only here, they can do that in shorts.
At sunset, we went to the Juan Cabrillo monument, where I captured this picture of the ever elusive Undercover Brother.
And this is how we ended our nearly perfect, totally relaxing afternoon.
Feliz Navidad from California!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
What is the deal with In-N-Out Burger?
In real life, I do not eat fast food. In fact, most days I eat only salad for lunch, and something marginally to very healthy for dinner. In California, however, I eat In-N-Out Burger. And so does everybody else.
I was resistant to the concept at first: a burger is a burger and fries are fries. Fat + fat = fat people, so in my world, those items should be avoided unless you have PMS and are indulging in a guilty pleasure. But here, in California, the land of endless sunshine and very large cars, they have a magical burger place called In-N-Out Burger, where the prices are somehow lower than your local McDonald's or Burger King, but the food is fresher and more wholesome. Fresh cut, well-seasoned fries, "real" meat patties (not frozen dog-food grade like at the competitors), delicious milkshakes made with actual ice cream. And as if that all wasn't enough, the place is staffed by happy-seeming people who do not seem put off by the fact that their uniform requires them to wear a paper hat.
This Boston blonde has to ask--what gives???
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I have missed you! Have you been wondering where I’ve been this week? I’ve been traveling for the holidays since Monday, a week earlier than most, visiting the Mathematician’s family in California. For some reason I assumed that wherever I went while I was on the road, I’d be able to access the magic of the Internet and keep up with posting. And at every turn, I’ve been pretty much foiled. It’s made me realized a few things:
1. How spoiled I am by the modern conveniences of my urban lifestyle.
2. How dependent I have become upon modern technology & it’s conveniences.
3. That there is a very significant portion of this world that is NOT dependent upon modern technology & it’s conveniences, a portion of the world that could not give a shit about them, in fact.
It’s been interesting, trying to do things like keep up with work emails and such while in the company of the folks mentioned in #3. When I asked, “May I use your computer to check my email?” at midnight, one of the Mathematician’s Aunts said, “Of course, sweetie, help yourself,” then looked at me with such concern, that I’d be worrying about work while on vacation.
The Mathematician keeps calling me “Ms. Internet” when he finds me logged onto the computer in those precious minutes, as though he has somehow also become one of those people who aren’t totally dependent upon modern technology. This is interesting, because he works at Intel.
I wish I could say that this time away from the computer has been a refreshing change of pace, a nice respite from my everyday life that has helped to refocus my priorities. Instead, I’ve felt constantly worried that real life is passing me by, and that I’m doomed. Upon my return to work, I will find that the sky has fallen, my blog readership has dried up, and that Oprah and the Today Show have been trying to contact me all week via email, and that I have f***ed up the biggest booking of my life while on vacation. It’s been stressing me out all week.
Then yesterday afternoon I opened up the shades to the bedroom where I’m staying at the Mathematician’s dad's house in Orange, and this is what I saw.
After two days of traveling from Sacramento to Tahoe to Reno via car, and a 22-hour trip from Northern Cali to Orange County in the tricked out motor-home, we had finally landed in a place where I had infinite computer access, but did I run to log on? No, I actually went outside and took that picture.
Then I took a picture of this.
As I wandered around the the Mathematician's dad's backyard, I thought about how orange trees must seem so mundane to people who live out here. But to me they are exotic and beautiful. Until I was in my 20s, I thought oranges grew in those baskets where you find them in the grocery store. And palm trees have always been a shining symbol of tropical lands. To my snow-weary east coast eyes, the backyard was an exotic jungle.
Vacation hasn’t been half bad.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I'm sure that by the time the first and second and third day of the New Year have actually arrived, I'll feel very differently about these "goals." But as of right now, with 2007 basically over and no time for me to make good on these To-Do list items before the Times' Square Ball drops, I'm all about conceptualizing resolutions. And I will share them with you here. By the time '08 rolls around, I'm certain I'll have pages of resolutions to work with, divided into categories, and color coded with specific deadlines attached to each. That's the Virgo in me.
But in the meantime, here are a few that I've brainstormed so far:
Resolution #1: I will join a gym. Since I no longer burn 1000 calories a night 3 x a week running laps at Toro, and I can no longer run laps around the South End for fear of slipping on a patch of icy sidewalk and breaking my neck, it's time I rearranged my schedule to accommodate gym membership. I wish it was still the '80s and I could buy outfits like this to psych myself up about this resolution.
Resolution #2: I will try to learn how to accept my body for what it is, a.k.a. not want to stick my head in the oven Sylvia Plath style every time I choose to order a burger instead of salad at lunch.
Resolution #3: Start seeing a therapist again, so as to better get my head around the contradictory initiatives that are at work in Resolutions #1 and #2.
Resolution #4: Get better at remembering people's names. I am terrible at this. And it sucks. I am a publicist and more importantly than that, I am a kind person who is very interested in the people that I meet. My brain is just not so interested in learning their names at first, I don't know why.
I partially blame the naming gene pool for this, with it's incestuous lack of variety. At this point, I know 3 Jasons, all of whom happen to be bald, a boatload of Kates, and enough Matts to build a sizeable tower for the Princess & the Pea. So much name cross-over makes them begin to overlap.
In any event, I need to become better at remembering all names, all of the time, if only out of politesse. In high school nobody could ever remember my name, mostly I'm sure because I made a meek and shy first impression. I always pretended that I didn't care when people I liked and respected forgot my name--"Oh, it's fine," I'd say, "Nobody ever remembers my name." But in my memory, that phrase sounds sad and a little pathetic. And I that's not how I want to make other people feel. I implore anyone who has a helpful mnemonic for name-remembering to leave a comment or email me. I need you!
More resolutions to follow.
What are your resolutions?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Great Armageddon impression. Can we have some decent weather back?
a Soaked & Tired Blonde Waitress trying desperately to hail a cab after a total bummer of a Sunday night shift
This was all I could think as I slipped and slid over a veritable death-trap of sidewalk, directly into a 6-inch deep puddle in the middle of the road. This city is soaked people, and its streets over-runneth like a super-saturated sponge. When I called to book a taxi to bring me to work at Toro 7 hours earlier, the dispatch at City Cab quoted me a 2-1/2 hour wait. The dispatches at Town Taxi and Boston Cab didn't even pick up. I am so screwed, I think, as a Silver Line bus splashes past, spraying a 4 foot-tall wall of chunky, icy water in all directions.
Then, a miracle. A taxi appears, way, way down Washington Street, on the other side of Mass Ave. I begin to wave furiously, screaming "Taxi! Taxi" into the deaf frigid air. Please let it be empty, please let it be empty. Somehow, the driver sees me, and flashes his brights at me from so far away: he is coming to take me home!
The cab pulls up near where I stand in the middle of Washington Street, only he passes me by about 4 feet. He holds up an index finger in the window as he glides by, as though to say, "Hang on a sec,"while his cab slows to a stop. What the...? I think, Is he dropping someone off first? Then I realize, he's expertly maneuvering the cab so as to avoid splashing the aforementioned puddle every which way. Such attention to detail, I think, and run to grab the passenger door handle fast as my massive boots will carry me.
"How are you this evening?" the driver asks. The Taxi Driver has a long-ish, bushy white beard that makes him looks like Santa. I consider telling him this, but don't.
"Okay," I sigh. "It sucks out tonight! Boy, you must have been busy today!" I tell him my address and we are off.
"We were kind of busy..." he responds. "Weather made it kinda hard to get around." Then his phone rings, and our small talk dies, which is fine with me. I zone out and stare out the window, thinking about the holidays and packing and our big trip to California tomorrow, for which I still have not packed. The Grateful Dead hums in the background. Bits of the Taxi Driver's conversation drift into my consciousness.
"Hey..." he says into the phone, "What are you up to? About to turn in?" His voice is gentle and private. I imagine he's talking to his wife, and try to guess what she looks like. Maybe like Mrs. Claus? I appraise his profile and decide not. I bet she is a short, wiry brunette, with a simple, pretty face and a strong jaw.
"Oh...Oh no," he says. "Well, that's too bad...Well, I guess we'll have to get a new one then...You're right, we can't afford it, just like we can't afford the mortgage, either..." he laughs, but it's not a very funny laugh. "Okay, well, just put it on your debit card...put it on the Citizen's Bank credit card, that's all we can do...I know, it's going to cost like $240 in interest by the time we're doing paying for it, but we need a new one. What else can we do?" His sigh is heavy. "Alright, love you. Talk to you later."
We are almost at my street, at the corner of Berkley and Tremont. "Now, where did you want to get out here? On the corner?"
"Actually, if you don't mind going left here, I'll get out right after the light," I say.
"Okay," he says, turning wide and slow on the icy pavement. "Right here? I can turn down Warren if you want..." He says.
"No, no worries. I'll just hope out at the corner. It's a one way at the top and you'd just have to turn around."
"Oh. Okay," he says, a little surprised by my decision to make his job a little easier. "It's $4.35," he says, but I am already passing a $5 and five $1's through the open Plexiglass window.
"Thank you so much," I say, gathering my things and pushing the door open. "Have a great night!"
"I'll try," he says. "I just found out I need to work another shift to pay for a broken computer, but what can you do" he shrugs and laughs, but it's not a very funny laugh. "Oh well." I hear him shuffling the bills as I place a ginger boot on the icy pavement. "Be careful, it might be icy," he says.
"Thanks, I will. Happy Holidays!" I slam the door behind me before he can say anything about the 100% tip I just gave him.
I'm not really sure why I just did that, and it's certainly not like I can afford it. But I hope the broke Taxi Driver takes it for what it is--an arbitrarily big tip as a token of gratitude, simply because he seemed like he needed someone to say thank you for once. And also, because he saved a blonde in need from chunky icy puddle and Armageddon-like weather. If you were outside at all yesterday, you know-- that was priceless.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
"Hello???" I called, my voice echoing off the walls of our excessively long hallway. The Mathematician and I live in a huge apartment that used to be inhabited by myself and two other girlfriends. Long story, but I ended up getting stuck with the lease and a palace of an apartment in the heart of the South End. (I am not complaining.)
"Hahaha...Oh, hey baby!" the Mathematician answered. "I'm in here." I hear jazzy music with a Latin beat in the background. It sounds so familiar...like a certain theme-song...
"Baby, what are you watching?" I ask.
"Sex & the City."
"That's right," the Mathematician answers. "I'm watching Sex & the City. Of my own volition. And I'm also eating those cinnamon chocolate biscuits I bought at Lionette's the other day. They're delicious."
"Yup," he says. "What do you think of that?"
"I think it sounds like you have PMS."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
For those of you toasting at home, however, here's a recipe for one of the drinks that will be served when we reconvene for LUPEC blondes in January.
Shake with ice and strain
1/2 pineapple juice. (1 1/2 oz)
1/2 Calvados. (1 1/2 oz)
2 dashes orgeat (almond syrup)
Shake and moisten the glass with a dash of creme de menthe before pouring.
Serve in a cocktail glass (4.5 oz)
But what am I supposed to do with all of these blondies?
Monday, December 10, 2007
I spent the better part of the evening making some funny-looking-yet-delicious Butterscotch Blondies from this book, and researching cocktails to serve and blonde forebroads to discuss while we drink them. More on all that tomorrow. For now, I thought I'd share some fun facts about Hollywood's brightest blonde stars of yesteryear.
Did you know that...
When Fox refused to stop casting her as a dumb blonde, Marilyn Monroe moved to New York and started her own production company so she could take on more serious roles.
Marilyn Monroe is rumored to have had an IQ of 168.
Jean Harlow and Mae West were both credited with keeping their respective film companies in the black at different points during their careers through blockbuster ticket sales -- even during the lean years of the Great Depression.
Jean Harlow wrote a novel before her untimely death at age of 26. It pubbed in 1965, almost thirty years later.
Mae West was a life-long advocate for gay and trans-gendered rights. Her early play, The Drag, was about homosexuality and played to sold-out audiences--in New Jersey. The show was banned from Broadway.
Mae West recorded a rock and roll album. (I know.)
I hope you'll raise a glass in absentia tomorrow to these smarter-than-they-may-have-seemed blonde forebroads.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I know the evidence management assembled stacked up to suspicious activity, otherwise this waiter wouldn't have been fired. But were they sure he was stealing? Could any of us be 100% positive? All servers have 15% nights, full of bummer tables who short-change us. Could we prove it, beyond doubt's shadow, that it wasn't some kind of accounting mix-up?
Yesterday we had our semi-monthly all-staff Cleaning Day, where the waitstaff, barstaff, and backwaiters come in for an hour on Saturday afternoon to clean the restaurant. They feed us and we sit and chat for a while, then we clean. Armed with swiffers & brooms, we crawl around on our hands and knees in search of dust-bunnies and stray forks and knives and whatever else hides behind the banquets in the restaurant (Cinthya once found a single, lonely high heel shoe.) We dust and polish and generally make the place look spic and span. What, they don't make you do this in your office?
Anyway, knowing we'd all be there, the recently terminated employee showed up. He walked in while we were busy scrubbing away, and asked us to stop for a minute and gather around: he had "something to say" to everyone. Oh Jesus, I thought. This can't be good...
The kitchen staff stopped prepping. The front of the house staff stopped cleaning. We all formed a wide huddle around our ex-colleague, and prepared to listen. The air was thick with tension--you could have cut it with a Chef's knife.
"This won't take too long," he said. His voice quivered, filled to the brim with potent emotion. was it anger? Frustration at being accused of such a thing? Was he going to tell us all to go to hell? Uh-oh, I thought, here we go...
Then, he apologized. His speech was neither long, nor particularly eloquent. But it was one of the most heartfelt, moving apologies I've ever received. A writing teacher would tell me "show, don't tell," here but I prefer to keep the words private, out of respect for his own sense of pride and because I suspect he occasionally reads this thing.
I continue to feel amazed by the waiter's bravery and vulnerability in that moment. I think about how hard it is for people to admit when they've done something wrong or made a mistake, even when that mistake isn't deliberate or hurtful. This waiter's mistake was deliberate. It hurt all of his fellow waitstaff directly, purposefully. And still, he walked in there and stood up in front of that whole room, and apologized. It was totally the right thing to do.
I know I'd never have the balls to do that. I'd choose to live with my sin, by turns justifying it and being torn up inside by it. I'd spend the rest of my life vowing to redeem myself when guilt kept me awake at night, and wiping my mind clean of it the next morning with freshly scripted excuse, before I came clean to a room full of people like that.
The waiter left immediately after saying his piece. We all sat there, jaws on the floor, staring at one another. The girls were crying, the boys looked uncomfortable. Our managers took turns saying managerial things to bring closure to the circle. Moments later, we were cleaning again.
I hung back for a moment with Cinthya, my Mexican co-worker. We sighed and looked at each other.
"Everyone makes mistakes," she said, shrugging as she wiped tears from behind her glasses.
"I know," I said. "We all do. We really do. What a confession."
We were silent for a moment. Then I said, "Cinthya, I have a confession to make. My hair is not really blonde."
"I know, Kitty, I know," she said. "We all do. It's okay."
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Hair day has become one of my favorite days for sure, and I had been looking to Wednesday all week. Sadly, I woke up feeling under the weather yesterday morning, and because of this I begged off the Repeal Day Party at Green Street. I couldn't miss my ritual reblonding with Jason, though. Besides, I hadn't seen my dear hair-whisperer in weeks! Six-to-eight weeks, to be exact (a.k.a. the amount of time it takes for hair to become all rooty and dirty, as the Unabashedly Girly-Girl puts it.)
I knew the new salon would be different from Liquid, which has begun to feel like home, and felt a slight tingling in my stomach as I approached the long glass doors for my 2 p.m. appointment. It felt kind of like the first day at a new school: I knew my best school friend would be there, and I knew we'd have safety in numbers, but everything else? A big, fat question mark.
And different it was, from the moment I set foot in the door. First of all, it's very quiet at Escape. They keep the music at a really low volume, which is odd, because it's not soft, soothing, water-flowing-over-pebbles-in-a-Chinese-rock-garden spa music; it's bass-heavy, Foundation-Lounge-on-a-Saturday-night salon music. Only played at low volume, so you can still here yourself think. An odd combination, n'est-ce pas? It makes for an intimate, serious mood that I did not anticipate.
And in that new environment, Jason was different. When I used to walk in the door at Liquid, Jason would yell "KITTY!!!" across the room at the top of his lungs in the most excited, welcoming voice. The music was always loud & upbeat, in keeping with the salon-style commotion: water running, hair dryers going at full blast, and a whole mess of client-stylist chatter. When I walked into Escape, Jason gave me the same enthusiastic greeting, only at half mast. Instead of "KITTY!!!" it was more like "kitty."
And also to my surprise, Jason didn't tell a soul in that joint who I was! I mean, the fact that I'm working on a book about hair color & Jason is my stylist is at least mildly interesting...isn't it? I would have thought Jason would have mentioned it to at least someone who worked there. I introduced myself exuberantly to the person at the front desk, expecting them to know exactly who I was, and to be excited that I'm mere months away from having a book deal (I hope!): "Hi, I'm Kitty! SO nice to meet you," I said, and pumped his hand up and down while grinning at him expectantly. He smiled politely and said, "Yeah, I think I spoke to you on the phone to book the appointment..." Not a glimmer of recognition crossed his face.
Stylistically, Escape is more compact than Liquid, and has a sleeker, brighter aesthetic. Less Elvis, if you know what I mean. They don't use assistants, so Jason was with me from start to finish. At Liquid, he was always fitting in a short men's haircut here, a bang-trim there, while I cooked under my foils then moved to the shampoo bowl to have my hair washed and toned by an assistant. At Escape, I had Jason's undivided attention. That part was very intimate and kind of nice.
Of course, my dear Jason did an amazing job, as usual, and I left feeling like a little blonde princess in spite of my sniffles and running nose. Here's a peek at the new locks:
When I was done, my I-have-a-cold-and-just-threw-on-the-first-outfit-I-saw look did not match the runway ready vibe of my hair. From the neck up, I was ready to go to a gala. From the next down? Ready to go to bed.
And that is exactly what I did.
Any fans of Jason should go see him ASAP! We need to make him feel at home in his new, quiet, bright, sleek digs!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Needless to say, I was tired yesterday. So instead of writing all afternoon like a good, ambitious little author, I had to go down for a nap around 3:30, like a kindergartener. While I napped, I had brunette dreams...
In my dream, I was on the phone with the folks at Escape Salon, making an appointment with Jason:
"What kind of processing do you need done?" the salon guy asked.
"My roots," I said.
"A foil, then?"
"Yeah," I said. "I'm not exactly sure what Jason does, but he always makes me ask for a long appointment when I book. Because I have a lot of hair."
"Okay, then. We'll put you down for a full foil. See next week!"
"Thanks!" I said, and hung up the phone with a smile.
Then I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth or put on make-up or something. And when I looked into the mirror, the me staring back at me was...a brunette?
Yes, there she was. Brunette me, from last winter. My hair was dark, and long, and lustrous, and shiny.
Oops! I thought. My hair's brown again! When did that happen? Jason is going to be so pissed! I'd better call the salon back and tell them I don't need highlights, I need a full color.
Then I started thinking about the situation rationally: How the hell is he ever going to get this color out? My previous visits to go from brown to blonde flashed before my eyes:
sitting in the chair for FIVE HOURS...
the burning sensation of the bleach on my hairline...
the part where my hair turned SALMON PINK...
the limp, lifeless, doll-hair texture that my hair ALREADY has from going blonde, to brown, and back again...
Sweet Jesus, what did I do???
A few minutes later I woke up. I grabbed a fistful of hair and held it in front of my eyes...
Phew, still blonde!
But goodness, what a nightmare!
Friday, November 30, 2007
South End stylist extraordinaire Jason, formerly of Liquid Hair Studios, has landed at a new South End salon. Starting tomorrow, Dec 1st, Jason can be found at Escape Spa on Waltham Street on the edge of Boston's SoWa district.
Jason left Liquid abruptly early last Fall, much to the dismay of his devoted clients. The stylist has been difficult to track ever since. He offered services to desperate clients in need of cut and color on a limited basis from his South End apartment. These clandestine meetings allowed the stylist to keep a certain high maintenance hair color client blonde for the duration of his "between job phase", but the arrangement was sub-optimal: "Jason has two cats and I am allergic," says the maintenance blonde, who asked that her name be withheld. "But he did send me home with some delicious meat sauce after my last visit."
Jason can be found behind the stylist's chair at Escape Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from noon to close. For appointments, call (617) 423-1350. Please check back after next Wednesday, to read a detailed review of the high-maintenance blonde's salon-going experience.
Regular blog programming will now resume...
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I wanted to be the first woman to burn her bra, but it would have taken the fire department four days to put it out.
I still close my eyes and go home - I can always draw from that.
I'm not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Is it a wheat field beneath a stormy sky?
Oh, no, wait...that's hair. Lots of long, blonde hair, spread luxuriantly beneath a stormy sky.
And a tiny little Saab 9-3 Cabrio in the corner, with the top down.
A unique twist on the age-old concept of of using a blonde to sell an product, n'est-ce pas?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Conducted by French scientists at Paris Nanterre University, the study asked male participants to view pictures of women with various hair colors, then complete general knowledge tests. According to The Daily Mail, "Those who had been shown pictures of blonde women scored lower marks than those who had been shown pictures of brunettes and redheads."
What can we conclude from such a study?
Professor Theirry Meyer, a joint author of the paper, concludes that, "people confronted with stereotypes generally behave in line with them," and that "Blondes have the potential to make people act in a dumber way, because they mimic the unconscious stereotype of the dumb blonde."
Is this true in my experience as an Undercover Blonde? Well, unfortunately boys, I have to say it is. As a brunette, I was taken much more seriously by complete and total strangers, as evidenced by the research I shamelessly conducted at my waitressing job. I am condescended to and patronized with much greater frequency as a blonde.
Sometimes guys dumb it down with me to be assholes, or because they're trying to flirt, or have had too much to drink while waiting for a table and no longer know how to act like civilized diners. And sometimes good, intelligent, well meaning people assume I'm an idiot, without even realizing it. Just the other day at Toro, for example, a regular assumed I wouldn't be able to help him out a bottle of wine to go with his dinner. This was a special customer, a VIP guest, an important regular whom I've waited on before. I know all about this guest: I could rattle off his usual order to you in a heartbeat, and more importantly, I know exactly what kind of wine he likes to drink. I knew in advance that he'd be coming, that he'd be sitting in my second, and I had a perfect bottle of wine picked out for him in my mind ahead of time. So when he said, "Can you send the Wine Director over to help us pick out a bottle of wine?" my eager little waitress heart sank.
This regular must have read the disappointment in my face, because he quickly offered, "Unless you know the wine list and can help...?" His voice was tentative, the sentence limp.
"Actually, I do have a wine in mind for you," I smiled, "I think it's perfect for your tastes. It has that kiss of oak that you like so much about French Chardonnay while still retaining the integrity of the Albarino, very unusual..." and so on. I offered to bring him something else if the wine didn't suit his tastes.
And he loved it.
Was he surprised? I'll never know. But I'm glad he decided to take a chance on this blonde.
Monday, November 26, 2007
And, Saabs are neat. They come from Sweden, like me. Here are a few things I learned about Saabs:
1. They are born form Jets
2. Those cup-holders are small for a reason
3. Saab culture and Saab-love is bigger than you and me
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Amazon sent me an email today, and in addition to recommending items like Cootie, Ants in the Pants, and Hasbro Playskool Busy Ball Popper (which are all baby -- why does Amazon think I want to buy these things?), they recommended a book that is on my blonde research wish-list: Going Gray, by Anne Kreamer. Her hair project was similar to mine, only instead of going blonde and embracing artifice, she let her naturally gray hair be, well, natural. She approaches the same beauty myth and cultural construction of beauty and body image that I explore, only from the other end of the color spectrum. I can't wait to read it.
Thanks for the tip, Amazon! It only took you 2 years to figure out what I like. And I think I helped you out by even almost purchasing it once. But it's nice to know that you're really got a finger on the pulse of my purchasing needs!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I have been coming here ever since I was little, and not a thing seems to have changed. The wood still smells like church, the cafeteria tables remain eternally set. The piano in the corner of the room looks slightly smaller than it used to.
Aunt Kay buzzes around us, smiling and chattering same as ever, overjoyed at all of our news, no matter how mundane. She saved some hot dogs from lunch which are heating up in the toaster oven, offers pie and Lipton tea, and we visit. Then it is time for Mass, and we join her. Why not? I think. My life took a complicated turn this weekend. A little church couldn't hurt.
The inside of the chapel feels warm and special. Aunt Kay and all of the sisters make us feel warm and welcome. After Mass, we join them for supper: macaroni & cheese, new potatoes, green beans, and cranberry sauce with chicken or meatloaf, if you want it. Followed by ice cream and pie, and the sound of happy spoons scraping the bottoms our bowls.
Time feels frozen in this moment, like we are insects suspended in a chunk of amber. I don't feel older than the last time I came here three years ago, or the time before that, five years prior, or any of the other times I came when I was just a child. I could be 28 right now, or 6. We have a traffic filled hassle of a drive behind us, and a long road home ahead of us. But here we are warmly welcome, amidst ice cream, pleasant chatter, and a vague spirituality.
Part of me doesn't ever want to leave.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Hollywood always wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism.
- Bette Davis
From the moment I was six I felt sexy. And let me tell you it was hell, sheer hell, waiting to do something about it.
- Bette Davis
I am just too much.
- Bette Davis
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Does this apply to car travel, too? 'Cuz I'm about to get into one and drive down to Delaware. With any luck the trip will only take 7 hours.
In all of your transportation situations right now, the overall energy will be very calm and quiet.
More like asleep, since I didn't get home from work until 12:30 last night. note to self: Toro is busy ANY night before normal people have a day off from work.
Moving from one place to another will also ignite your wanderlust tendencies, and you will be getting lots of new ideas about where you want to go next.
You might surprise yourself by wanting to go to a much more exotic place than usual.
I wish everyone would stop laughing about the fact that my Thanksgiving family moved to Delaware. The rest of us think it's weird, too.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I've never cared much either way about the issue: I am a "dog person", and have an intrinsic affinity for most dogs, especially it they are fluffy and big. When people bring fluffy, big dogs into the office, it makes me happy. I am willing to tolerate even small hairless dogs in the office, too, so long as they are quiet and well behaved. I feel the same way about children.
That said, having dogs in the workplace is probably considered most unprofessional by traditional standards. Like wearing jeans and sneakers to work, or hats of any kind indoors. On the one hand, times have changed: suits and ties are de rigeur in only the most formal office settings. On the other hand, what exactly are you supposed to say to a when a dog starts barking incessantly in the background during a business call? It's embarrassing, and it used to happen in my former workplace. The same dog also used the editorial department as it's personal litter box, which was even less cool. And since he belonged to the BIG boss, we were left with no choice but to grin and bear it. But that's another story...
My question is, how does one determine it's "Dog Day" in the office? Is it a "casual Friday" thing? Or a "casual day-before-a-holiday" thing? Is the rule, "I get to wear jeans, so my dog gets to go to work", thereby likening the dog to your jeans? And what happens if your workplace is always casual? Does that make every day "Dog Day"?
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I may not have paid very much for the blender that I destroyed last night in the Great Soup Debacle of 2007, but I can't bear the thought of never using it again.
We just got it a few months ago. I used it a total of three times before melting and churning the top part into chunky little bits that bobbed about in what was supposed to be my dinner. Plus, I just dropped a third of my shifts at Toro to make more time for book writing in my busy schedule. I am on book leave, friends, and this means I am broke. I cannot afford to go around breaking blenders willy-nilly and replacing them like so many summer tank tops from H&M.
I woke up thinking about the blender last night at 4 a.m. As I lay there listening to my radiator clang and bang like a bunch of free jazz amateurs, it occurred to me: Maybe my Osterizer Classic came with a warranty! In the light of day, I looked into it. Here's what I found out:
Good news: I actually saved the instruction booklet which came with my Osterizer Classic blender! I did not read it, of course, but I did save it. (Deep down inside, I must have known I'd break the damn thing.) And, I remembered where I shoved this valuable little booklet so many weeks ago when the Osterizer Classic arrived on my doorstep from Target.com! I was not so blinded by the Osterizer's chrome-red beauty that I stashed it somewhere stupid! I put the instructions right where they belong: in the drawer beneath the blender's home on my kitchen counter. Kudos me.
Good news: The instruction booklet contains great tips for proper care and usage of your Osterizer Classic. The part that I ruined is properly named a "Feeder cap"- who knew?! The booklet even contains 30 pages of delicious recipes, from Cocktails to Baby Food to Pies and more! All of which can be made right in your home kitchen using your Osterizer Classic blender.
Bad news: The instruction booklet clearly states that the"Feeder cap" is not supposed to be used when blending hot liquids. And the recipe portion of the booklet disappoints. Dishes like "Sour Milk Pancakes" and "Ham Salad" miss the mark (and beg the question: why would I ever blend ham?)
Bad news: The magic warranty does not cover "damage resulting from negligent use or misuse of the product," (p. 39). Also, the warranty does not cover "Acts of God." If my soup experiment does not fall into the former category, it certainly falls into the latter.
Oh well. This means that when I call the authorities at Sunbeam Products, Inc. and try to convince them to give me a new "Feeder cap" for my blender, I'm going to have to lie about how my Osterizer Classic met it's maker. But, no worries. I'm not above that.
Monday, November 19, 2007
First I dreamed about you.
Then, I dreamed about you again.
Then I made you, after having several glasses of wine at a work thing with my boss. I chopped the leeks into manageable bits. I sauteed them. I added carrots--grated carrots, which required much elbow grease-- and butternut squash bits. And cooked you down in a low-sodium vegetable both bath for 25 minutes until tender.
Then, during step five of the soup recipe, it was time to blend you. And I melted part of my blender while trying to puree you. And was left with half a vat of useless, plastic-filled soup and a broken blender.
Thanks for nothing, soup.
Get out of my dreams and get out of my life.
It's solid foods for me, from here on in.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
But...soup? What could it mean to encounter soup in the "mysterious and fascinating world of dreams where the rules of reality do not apply"? I consulted a dream interpretation website to find out:
Similarly to food, to dream about soup, represents emotional hunger or nourishment. In addition, it also signifies comfort and healing. Consider the contents inside the soup and its symbolism.
Huh. Interesting. So, was I nourishing my emotional hunger by making the soup in the first place? Or were these dreams my subconscious crying out to my conscious mind for help? I decided to look further, by considering the contents...
On Friday night, I dreamt about a brothy, hearty winter soup, kind of like a minestrone or a stew. My queries for "minestrone" turned up nothing. Then I typed in "stew":
To make or eat stew in your dream, signifies aspects of yourself that are being joined together as a whole. The dream may also be a pun on someone who is named Stew.
I don't know anyone named Stew, so...guess it's the former?
In last night's dream, I remember feeling disoriented by my search for ingredients. I was trying to mimic a style of "anything goes" soup-making that my friend Jamie introduced me to the other night, where anything and everything I had in the fridge was a candidate for the pot. I didn't know what I was making, to be honest, but I knew I needed to start with onions, carrots and celery, all of which I would need to dice very, very finely:
To see or eat onions in your dream, represents the deep layers you need to get through in order to unveil what is really underneath. You need need to dig a little deeper into a situation or problem.
To see or eat celery, represents your need to be cleansed, either physically or emotionally. The dream may also be a pun on "salary".
To dream that you are eating garlic, signifies your practicality and sensibility in matters of the heart; you look for security over love. To see a garlic patch in your dream, foretells of your rise to wealth and prominence in your business.
What does it mean to forget the garlic?
And I recall that I really wanted to include carrots or root vegetables in my soup, and none of those ingredients were on hand. What does that mean?
I typed "carrots", "root vegetables", "forgot the garlic", and more into the dream dictionary, all to no avail.
I guess I'll never know...
Saturday, November 17, 2007
A dame that knows the ropes isn't likely to get tied up.
- Mae West
Every man I meet wants to protect me. I can't figure out what from.
- Mae West
I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond.
- Mae West
I never loved another person the way I loved myself.
- Mae West
Friday, November 16, 2007
I felt burned by the last election, though. I was so impassioned in my distaste with the Bush administration during Election 2004 that I fell in love with the election, with the campaign process, with the potential of stopping Bush before he really fucked this country up. I signed up for all the MoveOn.org daily email blasts, donated what little money I could afford to give to MoveOn (trust me, it wasn't much & it still jeopardized bill pay a bit that month), and was ecstatic when the DNC came to Boston. I stood outside the tent where U2 gave a celebratory concert on Newbury Street, drunk with the excitement of it all, more thrilled about the possibility of change than about the fact that the legendary Bono was like, 15 feet away from me, just on the other side of a white canvas tent.
And the election disappointed me. It failed, like so many other things I believed in had that year. So, it is with great wariness that I turn my attention to the 2008 campaign. Still, watching the debate last night was invigorating and fun, like getting swept up in Red Sox fever as they race for the pennant.
And watching a woman negotiate this campaign is absolutely fascinating. If you watched last night, you may recall: in the space of one hour, Hillary was forced to DENOUNCE the prevalence of gender bias in our political system in response to a pointed question delivered by a woman, who implied that Hillary is "playing the gender card" in this race; then AFFIRM her femininity at the debate's end with a flagrant highlight to her womanliness, when a nubile female undergrad asked only of her, "Senator Clinton, which do you prefer: diamonds or pearls?"
Sen. Clinton laughed and responded quite naturally, "I want both."
Both what? To be BOTH the President AND a woman? To be BOTH powerful AND feminine? To have BOTH diamonds AND pearls?
I want that too.
(Well, not the President part.)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
before the Marilyn,
when she was still Norma Jean Mortenson...
No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they are pretty, even if they aren't. - Marilyn Monroe
After the blonde,
after the star was born,
a living icon, candy for any camera lucky enough to spy her...
I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else. - Marilyn Monroe
The fascination continues...
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Is it true...blondes have more fun?
If I've only one life...let me live it as a blonde!
Do these phrases sound familiar? They should: these ads were penned back in the '50s by a trail-blazing female copywriter named Shirley Polykoff, and changed the American hair care industry forever. Let me put it this way: before Shirley Polykoff penned that first slogan, just 7% of American women dyed their hair, most of whom were actresses and models. When Shirley's stewardship of the Clairol account ended in the 1970s, that number had skyrocketed to 40%, and included women of all walks of life.
Shirley Polykoff's words were so effective, they even inspired me to pursue a book length project on the topic, 50 years later. But who was Shirley Polykoff? I scoured the Internet to find out, and in the process learned: she was a delightful paradox.
She was born in Brooklyn in 1908 into a poor, Ukrainian Jewish family. She went on to became one of the most successful, well-compensated advertising professionals of the 20th century, despite the obstacles presented by industry bias against her gender and her religion.
She was a natural brunette, but always dyed her hair blonde, even when she was still just a teenager, "even in the days when the only women who went blond were chorus girls and hookers."
Shirley's attitude was decidedly unfeminist: "Miss Polykoff was cut from a pre-feminist mold, never forgetting, as she often put it, that she was 'a girl first and an advertising woman second,' (NYT Obituary, 1998.) Polykoff went by a different name at home, as Polly Halperin, always kept the two lives separate, and put her family first before her career. She even insisted that her employers cap her salary at a measly $25,000/year, as she believed it inappropriate for a woman to make more money than her husband (her advertising firm, Foote, Cone & Belding, doubled her salary twice within a few years of her husband's death.) But Shirley's actions spoke louder than her words, and Ms. Polykoff was incredibly ambitious: she lied about her age so as to obtain a job in advertising while still in her early teens, worked her way up in the ad world and held a copy-writing job (as opposed to a secretarial or administrative position) in the '30s when the Depression found many American men out of work, and already had an established advertising career by the '50s, while most of her peers were at home managing the cult of domesticity.
Now, I truly believe that advertising and marketing in this day & age have a terribly deteriorating and damaging impact upon women's self esteem. More specifically, upon my self-esteem. I struggle every day with notions that I am not skinny enough, blonde enough, made-up well enough, dressed well-enough, and on and on. And I am not alone: as Naomi Wolf wrote in The Beauty Myth, "Recent research consistently shows that inside the majority of the West's controlled, attractive, successful working women there is a secret 'underlife' poisoning our freedom; infused with notions of beauty, it is a dark vein of self-hatred, physical obsessions, terror of aging, and dread of lost control." Wolf argues that we may be worse off than our un-liberated grandmothers, that the beauty myths that bind us now may be more stringent than our great grandmother's corsets.
And then there's Shirley Polykoff, a woman who, according to her daughter Alix Nelson Frick, believed "you could acquire all the accouterments of the established affluent class, which included a certain breeding and a certain kind of look. Her idea was that you should be whatever you want to be, including being a blonde." And thanks to her brilliant copy-writing, that's exactly what I've done.
What do you think, readers? Is it a delightful paradox? Or a vicious cycle? Are we liberated by the ads? Or oppressed by them?
Some days I feel like I just can't decide...
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
When I became a brunette, this blonde competition stopped. Sure I noticed the blondes, but I was no longer threatened by them. In a way, it was probably similar to how my best friend Marissa felt as an American living in Rome. She kept up with America, of course, our trends and our politics. But she no longer lived by our rules. She drank espresso instead of drip coffee, abandoned vegetarianism because it was too hard in that carnivorous culture, and adopted a whole new way of life, with Italian rules. Her American self was still inside of her, but suddenly things that loomed large and important when on American soil became quiet and distant memories while living in the noisy city of Rome.
It was good for me to live in Brunette Land for a while, by the Brunette Rules. Now I am blonde again, but I’m coming at it from a totally different angle. Much less competitive; much more centered. But, since I am blonde again, I find that I often encounter other blondes, who give me that same once over treatment. And occasionally, I’ll find myself explaining my book to these other blondes. While most blondes get the topic, every once in a while, I’ll meet a blonde who doesn’t. They may challenge it or even criticize it, and deny that their life has been different as a blonde. I nod and listen politely, because what am I going to say? Deep down inside I’m thinking all the while:
If your life isn’t different as a blonde, why do you dye your hair blonde in the first place? You aren’t among the one in 20 adult females whose hair is naturally so—I can tell by your eyebrows and your roots. Highlights like yours cost at least $200 a pop. If it doesn’t make a difference, why do you do it?
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I was just browsing around on one of my new fave blondie-sites, Ask the Blondes, and it looks like she struck there, too. As a way of showcasing my blonde-solidarity, I thought I'd share how these smart blondes handled it with my readers. You can check it out here.
Or, if blood-boiling blog wars aren't really your speed today, you can simply enjoy this picture of the patron saint of all misunderstood blonde beauties.
Doesn't she look excited to be holding all that bling?
Friday, November 09, 2007
I am nervous.
I excuse myself to use the ladies. 'It's out the door and to the right, then go directly to your left and it's right there.' Sure, no problem. I slip around the other diners & their chairs & the din & chatter, move towards the tall doors to the hallway, step out the door and...
I fall down.
I don't remember stepping up to get into this room, but oops! There's the floor! Guess I missed that crucial step down.
Fortunately, the only people who saw believe me when I tell them "I'm okay, there's nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see." Nobody makes a big fuss. Perhaps they think I am so young and green, I will bounce.
Oh well, I think. It's cool. Sure, I feel embarrassed, but nobody seemed to notice, and if they did, who cares?
Sometimes in life you fall down.
Especially when you're trying new things.
Especially when you're trying new things in heels.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I think we were both a little nervous at first. Our slight hesitance kinda reminded me of the very first time we hung out outside of school together 14 years ago. Remember that feeling? Your first friend “date” with someone you just met at school? Tentative at first, but we ended up having so much fun. A few days later I slept over her house & we snuck puffs of a loosely rolled, very weak joint (my first) and watched Dirty Dancing together. We ate Cool Ranch Doritos and raw cookie dough right out of the Pillsbury tube, and laughed and laughed and laughed. I knew it that night: it was love! The kind of special girlfriend bond I’d always missed out on, having only brothers.
Fourteen years later our lives are very different, but within hours of hanging out together in Portland we realized: we still heart each other every bit as much as the first time we ever hung out. And it’s amazing to have someone like Mary back in my life, who knows that old part of me so very, very well.
So I took her comment a little differently when, while talking about my blonde project Mary looked at me and said: “ I always thought you were blonde, Kir!”
“Really? Hmmm…well, you know, I did too. But I’m not, honey. This is blonde, this hair that I have now. And this is bleached.”
“Yes, I know, but I just remember you and I BOTH being blonde when we met.”
“Hmm…Maybe you’re right?” I shrugged. “I mean, hair gets darker with age. Maybe at 14 we were still little blondies.”
Several hours later, while looking through a mess of old photos, I had my answer. By fourteen I had a head of very light brown hair. So did Mary. But in our own minds, we both considered ourselves blonde.
Were we both in blonde denial? Sure. But, as I am learning more and more, blonde is as much a state of mind as it is a hair color. So I guess you could say, in addition to our Dirty Dancing obsession, our cookie dough obsession, and our Pixies obsession, we also shared a blonde thing.
I guess we're both blonde at heart.
Happy Birthday, Miss Mary xoxoxoxoxo