Saturday, May 26, 2007

I'm back...

Well, it happened. I'm blonde again.

It happened suddenly and without warning. I walked into the salon for my cut & color appointment at 3 p.m. yesterday, thinking we'd brighten me up to a light chestnut-y color, maybe even work in a few highlights if that was at all possible. I walked out 6 hours later as a blonde.

I was not ready, I am in no way mentally prepared, and I'm kind of freaking out right now. And I don't think I'm ready to talk about it.

But, I thought you should all know...

Saturday, May 19, 2007


The other night at Toro I banged my head so hard that I made myself cry. Anyone who know me well knows, I have an immense threshold for pain--it's surprising, really given my girly nature. So suffice to say, if I'm crying it hurt pretty goddamn bad.

It happened while I was crawling around in the basement, stocking printer paper and decaf espresso. The "basement" is actually no more than a wretched, dusty old crawl-space that measures no more than 5 feet tall at it's tallest spots. The "ceiling" is a virtual spiderweb of exposed pipes and beams covered in many places with screw and bolts and sharp hardware. You can't move around down there without bending over and walking with your back at a 45 degree angle, which places your gaze constantly at the ground, meaning that all of these treacherous items are nearly impossible to watch out for. I've banged my head down there countless times...but never so badly as I did last Wednesday, when I whacked the crown of my head on an exposed beam that was obscured by a mountain of chef jackets.

I ran into that beam so hard that my head and neck wrenched to the left at a whiplash angle. The blow knocked me to the ground, where I fell on top of that evil pile of chef jackets, and burst into tears like a four year old. I lay there, tears streaming down my cheeks, nose running like a faucet, for 10 minutes. When I could finally collect myself enough to crawl out of the basement, I had to spend at least 15 more minutes in the bathroom trying to collect myself, because no matter how hard I tried, I could not stop crying. It was like I whacked the sobbing spot in my brain or something. I felt dizzy and kind of nauseous for the rest of the evening, and have had a dull headache on and off ever since it happened.

As I lay there, bawling and pathetic on top of the chef coats last Wednesday, I somewhat ironically couldn't help but think of how lucky I am. It sucked--I mean, it really really fucking sucked, but I knew that it would be only a matter of time before the pain and the crying passed, and I would get up, go upstairs, and wait tables like a trooper, as I have done a thousand times before, no matter how sick, hungover, or bloody the wound. It got me thinking about how infrequently I experience physical pain, how sturdy and solid my body is, and how sheltered I am from physical danger in this life. I thought instantly about my mother, whose arthritis has been slowly eating away at the cartilage in her hands and feet as long as I can remember, making every step she takes at times a painful struggle. It made me think about my good friend Alexander's sister in Holland, who nearly lost her life in a severe bike accident last fall. She was hit by a car that was driving very fast, and she wasn't wearing a helmet. She's likely going to fully recover, thank god, but I know she's been going through physical, and mental hell due to the traumatic head injuries she sustained. So while my mind may torture itself with notions that my body isn't good enough or perfect enough, with thoughts that I should eat less, be thinner, and work out more, at the end of the day, my body is a wonderful, competent machine that functions well above par and has for my entire adult life.

That same night at Toro, I overheard a table of pretty, lightly dressed girls say to the waiter they'd been flirting with all night. "Oh, we're just talking about how lucky and spoiled we are," one of the girls said, twirling a lock of expensively bleached blonde hair around her finger, "how our parents were, like, poor, and they had to, you know, work like really hard. And how we just, you know...come to Toro all the time."

I think I may have thrown up a little bit in my mouth when I heard her say that, but I couldn't help but think that these girls were okay, to be acknowledging their own luck and feeling thankful for what they've got. For the most part, I feel far more aligned with the hard-working parents than with their spoiled, vapid spawn, but the reality is, I'm just a profoundly fortunate. I spend most of my time here, in the decadent, artistic, cerebral sphere, writing a blog about hair, aspiring to be a writer, thinking constantly about art and meaning. I'm lucky, too. Very lucky.

I guess all it takes is a good thump on the noggin to remind me as much.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

pink lady

It is Tuesday, and it is gorgeous. The temperature rose to almost 80-degrees today, and though the city is now cooling off, the sky retains a lovely, light pink glow. My favorite color.

My life is so busy these days. I realized the other day, to my dismay, that I have turned into a person who has absolutely no concept of how to relax. This is largely owing to the many directions I have decided that my life should take--writer, publicist, waitress, cocktail enthusiast, French student. In addition to all of these jobs and hobbies, I am also a girlfriend, a friend, a daughter, a sister. I am lucky to have so many things enriching my life, but sometimes I feel pulled in every direction by them. It's exciting. but totally exhausting, and makes me feel as though every free second that I have is precious, and must be packed to the gills with productivity. And that is why I can't relax. What them hell am I going to do when I have kids???

Lately I have determined that it is important for me to practice relaxing. I have added "Learn to relax" to my masterlist of goals and aspirations, the mother of all to-do lists. I aim to be methodical and meticulous about it. It's kind of ironic.

My attempts to relax usually start with me asking myself the following question: "What do you want to do today, Kirsten?"

My initial response is usually something like, "Well, I should work on my book," or "I should do a little brainstorming about new freelance articles I can write," or "I should catch up on the latest food writing in the Globe just to see what's going on out there," or something along those lines. I think of things that are both productive and interesting, a pleasurable two-for-one.

But that's not really relaxing, now, is it? However, I recently learned that if I let those thoughts flow through me and try not to pounce on them too quickly with immediate, self motivated action, another voice starts to speak up. This one is uniquely my own and doesn't give a shit about my career goals or my overdue duties. It says things like: "I want to get in bed and read for 3 hours, even though it is the middle of the day on a gorgeous day in May when I should want to be outside," or "I want to go buy some amazing, over-priced produce that I may or may not cook for dinner for myself and the Mathematician later tonight." That voice is the voice I must work to hear.

So, tonight, I had a free hour to kill before meeting up with my friend, Shanna, for a long overdue dinner. When I asked myself, "What do you want to do with this hour, Kirsten?" the little voice answered, "I want to make myself a fabulous classic cocktail." So, I went to the liquor store, bought myself a bottle of Plymouth Gin, and made myself a Pink Lady.

Pink Lady
.5 oz Plymouth gin
1 egg white
1 Tbsp grenadine

It is 7:45 on a gorgeous Tuesday evening in May. The light slowly fades outside my window, and the sky is darkening from light pink to deep purple. I am sipping a Pink Lady cocktail in my apartment alone and listening to Getz & Gilberto. The bossanova beats float through the empty rooms of my apartment on a lazy breeze. I am dressed for dinner.

Pink Lady is the name that I chose for myself when I recently joined LUPEC. So I guess that means that tonight, I am drinking myself. Or my namesake. Or whatever. In any case I have decided to drink to myself.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

vocabulary lessons

I have decided to learn French.

The Mathematician and I are going to France in a few weeks, so I want to learn the language. I have become quite good at parroting the childish restaurant Spanish that Luis, Bibbiana, and Sylvia, the Columbian bussers that I work with at Toro, teach me on nights when the restaurant is slow. This has me convinced that I must be secretly "good at languages", that perhaps there is some sort of latent linguistic genius locked up inside of me, just dying to get out and start yapping unencumbered in a Latin tongue. So I have decided that it's time to bite the bullet and learn a Latin tongue. I have six weeks--we'll see if it pans out.

I took French in junior high and high school, and am hoping that even if I'm not an undiscovered linguistic savant, what I used to know will all come back to me like magic if I study really hard before our trip. So, the Mathematician and I took an Immersion for Travellers class this weekend at the BCAE with a fabulous woman named Nancy Winston (highly recommended!) and now I feel more confident in my abilities...even if the only phrase I could muster during our passe compose exercise on Sunday afternoon was:

Il a loue ses chaussures!

Literally this means "he has rented his shoes". But hey, the conjugation was right! Bon, c'est tres bien!

So, in light of my new found hobby (since between writing a book, working as a publicist, waiting tables, and freelance writing I have LOADS of time on my hands), I've been thinking a lot about words lately, and thought I'd post about the treatment of the word "blonde" in a few other languages:

En Francais, blonde is...well, blonde. Actually, now is a good time to note that "blonde" is technically the incorrect English spelling of this term. It should be "blond", sans the extra 'e' at the end, or at least that's what spellcheck thinks. I have chosen the spelling with the extra 'e' because, quite simply, it looks prettier to me than 'blond'. It is also interesting to note that the word 'blond(e)' did not appear in English until approx. 1481, and is believed to derive from the Old French term blont which meant "a colour midway between golden and light chestnut". The word was reintroduced into English in the 17th century from French, and was until recently still felt as French (thanks, Wikipedia.) But what did they call yellow-haired women before there was blonde?

En Italiano, blonde is bionda. I did not have to look this word up on to learn it. I learned in Florence, when Marissa and I went for a drink on our own one evening, sans Le Mathematician. As you may recall from this post, Italianos tend to be very friendly to women who are unaccompanied by a man. One Italiano was so enthusiastic with his friendliness, that his exuberance caused me to jump clear out of my skin with fright: "Que BIONDA, mamma mia!!!" he screamed as we passed him on the street. "Bionda means blonde," Marissa said. "See, I told you Italian men like blondes! Put that in your book!"

En Espanol, the word for blonde is rubio. In Columbian Espanol, the word is mona, which Luis was so kind to point out to me is also the word for "monkey" in his home country. "Monkey," I said, "are you sure? Blonde and monkey mean the same thing? Are you pulling my leg" Quickly I realized that some slang and colloquialisms are just impossible to explain to non-native speakers of your language, and should simply be accepted at face value, like the phrase "pulling my leg."

Blonde, bionda, monas, oh my! There you have it, mes amies, blonde in trois langues.

Now I just need to figure out how to say "undercover".