Friday, November 30, 2007

Until I find you, Jason

We interrupt this blog for the following Public Service Announcement...

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

blonde wisdom: dolly parton

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.
Dolly Parton

I still close my eyes and go home - I can always draw from that.
Dolly Parton

I'm not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb. I also know I'm not blonde.
Dolly Parton

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

the blonde and the Saab

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

"Blondes Make Men Act Dumb"

A recent study suggests that blondes have the power to actually make men act dumber.

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

saab took me out to dinner tonight...

Quite randomly, I got invited to dinner this evening by Saab Automobile USA. They invited me to dinner despite the fact that I do not own a car. Note to selves, dear readers: if a group of nice people from Saab Automobile USA ever invite you out to dinner, SAY YES. A pleasant time was had by all!

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 finally learned something about me...

After years of trolling Amazon's pages for books on "hair", "blondes", "identity", "beauty", "body image", and various "isms", Amazon finally learned a thing or two about me!

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

tea at the convent

On the way home from Thanksgiving we pull off the Jersey Turnpike, take the Garden State Parkway into Paterson, and follow the directions laid out carefully for us by my Aunt Mary Ann. We go right into the St. Joseph's Medical Center Emergency Room parking lot, past an ambulance and cars, and take a right into the Convent parking lot. Then we go inside and have tea with Aunt Kay.

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

blonde wisdom: bette davis

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

today's horoscope

If you have any air travel planned for today, you will be pleasantly surprised at how effortless and stress-free the entire process will be.

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.

Paris, anyone?

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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

dog in the office

Do people ever bring dogs into your office? They do to mine. I walked in today & was greeted by a a big, fluffy, husky type dog with a gender ambiguous name. I was unperturbed, though, as bringing dogs to work was also considered "cool" at my previous place of employment.

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

how many blondes does it take to break a blender?

Answer: One. Me.

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! 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

soup II

Dear Soup,

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


The past two nights, I have had dreams about making soup. To dream about making soup once seems kinda weird; to dream about it twice in two nights, well, that sounds like a pattern.

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".

Okay, so I need to dig through deep layers in an effort to unveil some hidden truth, while all the while needing a good cleanse, and/or a salary increase. However, I recall that once those ingredients were well on their way to being cooked in the dream, I realized with a panic: "Oh SHIT! I forgot the garlic!!!"


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

blonde wisdom: Mae West

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

Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 16, 2007

diamonds or pearls?

I happened to watch the Democratic debates at UNLV on TV last night. It reminded me how much I love a spirited Presidential campaign, and how invigorating an election year is: especially now, just about a year in advance of the big day.

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 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 and after blondes

Before the blonde,
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

Shirley Polykoff, the Patron Saint of Blonde Marketing

Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure...

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

Is it true?

This is the print ad that started it all, penned by Shirley Polykoff in the '50s...

More on Shirley, the patron saint of blonde marketing tomorrow...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

blonde competition

One thing I noticed about myself the first time I was blonde, when I was flirting with platinum and very excited about my new look, was that I was very competitive with other blondes. (Like this blonde in the shirtdress.) Another blonde would walk into the room, and you bet I’d notice. I would take her in very carefully, with that appraising head to toe look that judging women give each other. I’d also note how this blonde carried herself, how other people in the room reacted to her, and how she handled the attention. This kind of observation was necessary, right? It was research for the book. But I’m not going to lie. It was also guiltily competitive, punctuated with paradoxical thoughts: “Who does she think she is?”; “my hair looks better than hers, right?”; “wow, I wish I was that thin”; “she is the prettiest girl in the room and I hate her.”

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

blondes unite in face of crazy anti-blonde blog-stalker

Remember the crazy blog stalker from this post?

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?

Happy Saturday!!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

sometimes in life, you fall down

A work dinner. I am presenting myself as an author for the first time. I am presenting myself and my book and my project to a room of seasoned professionals for the very first time.

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

but Kir, you were always a blonde to me

About 2 months ago, the Mathematician and I journeyed west to seek our fortune in the hipster utopia of Portland, Oregon. Actually, he was going there for work, and I decided to go along for the ride. I reconnected with an old, dear friend of mine from high school last spring, Miss Mary, and she had recently relocated to Portland, so I decided to take this opportunity to visit with her in person for the first time in like 5 years. Our very different lives had put us on disparate paths. Would we still get along? Would we have anything to talk about? I had to find out!

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

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

the magic talking box in my living room

The Mathematician moved in with me several months ago. With him he brought vast amounts of really expensive recording gear (see #3 of Six Things to Know About Me in Bullets). This gear is not just designer jeans expensive. It's Prada bag expensive. And some pieces of it are certified pre-owned compact car expensive. I do not understand what many of these gadgets do, and because they are so expensive, I am afraid to touch most of them.

In addition to owning lots of expensive recording gear, we are now the proud owners of a really big, marginally expensive high definition monitor. Once the Mathematician purchases the uber-computer he has been designing in his mind for months, it and all of his recording gear will become one with the aforementioned monitor, and just like that, my living room will double as a semi-professional recording studio. For now, the HD monitor simply functions as a TV. It does a great job in that role! We watched the Sox win the Pennant & the World Series on it, and it looked like they were right there in the living room with us.

Last night, while I should have been working on my book or perhaps organizing all of the small details I have to coordinate in honor of the Mathematician's birthday next Tuesday, I decided I should watch a little TV. Since I'm a cookbook publicist it counts as work if I watch the Food Network, right? The Secret Life I come. Remote control in one hand, dinner in the other, I hunkered down on the couch for what I hoped would be a blissful hour of vegetation.

Then I realized I had never turned our 'television' on by myself.

Uhh...there's two remotes here. Am I supposed to use this one, the one that says Universal Remote? Or that one, the small gray one?

And how am I supposed to turn this monitor thingy on?

And which piece of gear needs to be on for this to work? The one with the enormous buttons on it that twist like a volume button? Or that one, with all the switches?

I pushed every "ON" button I could find. I tried different combinations. I turned things that seemed "ON" "OFF", then back "ON" again. All to no avail.

After a few minutes of staring at that lifeless gray screen, I returned to the kitchen to eat my dinner, book in hand.

Looks like the only vegetation I'll be encountering tonight is my beet salad.

Monday, November 05, 2007

if nothing else, the man is honest

I walk out the door of the South End Bank of America and am blinded by the bright noon daylight. Blinking in the sunshine as my eyes adjust, I rummage around in my purse for my sunglasses. Seemingly out of nowhere a voice booms:

"I am so glad you dyed your hair back, honey. It makes me feel that everything 's right with the world!"

I turn around and find an old regular of mine from 647 has snuck up on me. "Oh my God, Rich, you scared me! Hi!!!" I say, and we exchange cheek kisses. "How are you, baby?"

Rich has been a regular at T647 since they opened: he was there on opening day, so he has been drinking at the place literally since Day 1. I worked at T647 for five years, but really only got to know him recently. Sure, I'd see him there drinking at the bar at least once or twice a week. But I don't think he ever actually talked to me until I was a blonde.

We shoot the breeze for a moment outside the bank, talk about our plans for the weekend, exchange bits of scripted speech about Toro & his real estate job, etc., before Rich goes on to say:

"You really look fabulous, honey. Your hair looks so great blonde. I mean, you're a beautiful girl, and so the brown hair looked alright..." He wrinkles his nose a little bit and gives his head a little shake, "but the blonde looks much better on you. It really suits you!"

"You always told me that," I smile, remembering that Rich and I didn't make friends when I was a little blonde: we didn't actually even had a conversation 'til I was a certifiable, nothing-natural-about-it blonde. And the day I dyed it brown, he was very vocal about his opinion. I think his exact words were: "Why 'd you do that? I don't like it."

Now, I'm not saying Rich he has a thing against brunettes or anything, because he's actually a real sweetie, and is friends with all of the brunette bartenders in the restaurant. Plus, it's not like I ever went out of my way to chat him up, either. I think we just saw each other so often that after a certain point, we were past the point of introduction. To walk up to one another and say, "Hey, I've been seeing you here every week for the past four years and never felt like introducing myself, but wanted to say hi now," well, it would have just felt weird.

"Stop it with the compliments," I say, "You're making me blush!" We say goodbye, and as I walk away, I smile to myself, I'm so glad that we finally did start talking to one another. Because if nothing else, Rich is honest.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

who is that girl?

Who is that girl?

Is that me?

How come I don't look like that in real life?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I'll never get over that reaction...

"Oh my god! You make an amazing blonde!!!" Aly says.

"What? Oh, thank you," I say. What does she mean and why does she sound so surprised? I've been blonde since June, I think. And, before that, I was blonde for like 2 years. Uh, okay.

"Seriously, if you told me you were dying your hair blonde last time I saw you, I'd say, no way!"

Ohhh, right. Last time I saw her was last spring. A really long time ago.

"But you're like a Marilyn Monroe blonde! Totally gorgeous! I barely even recognized you. No one told me that you dyed your hair!"

"Oh, thank you so much!!! You're so sweet," I say. Alyson continues to go on about my hair for a minute, and I'm so flattered that I even begin feel a little embarrassed.

I realize as we're chatting away: it is so rare for me to talk about my hair with people who aren't familiar with this project. I talk about it so much, think about it even more, and worry about it whenever I'm not working on it. But right now, sitting in the car with this very sweet girl who I barely know, it's nice to just try to accept her compliments as gracefully as I can, and let the hair talk end there. And her reaction, so honest & blunt and truthfully surprised by how different I look, it just makes me feel that much more validated: yes, I am totally different as a blonde.

Why not write a book on that?

Friday, November 02, 2007

more thoughts on self-discipline

A week ago on Tuesday I had a mole removed from my back. There were inconsistencies in the color that made my dermatologist think it suspect. As she explained it to me, there is this very wide spectrum between "potential problem moles" and "basel-cell carcinoma (a.k.a. cancerous) moles". Mine exhibited tell-tale signs, but they wouldn't know what the hell it was until they took it off and did a biopsy. (So none of you worry, it turned out to be right in the middle of that spectrum: not cancerous, but removing it was the right move.)

In any case, the doctor said I wouldn't be able to exercise for 10 days after getting the mole removed. No yoga, no jogging, nothing. "Oh, o-kay," I told her, feigning reluctance. "I guess I'll find a way to muddle through!" I was lying, though. I have definitely gone for 10 days without exercising before. In fact, I usually go for long, 10-day plus stretches without exercising. I am working two jobs and writing a book here, people--something's gotta give. Also, I figure that doing laps around Toro several times a weeks is plenty good exercise.

Yet for some reason, since the minute I learned I would not be permitted to exercise for 10 whole days, it's all I want to do. I fantasize about getting up with the sun and doing yoga. I have developed elaborate schemes about sneaking cardiovascular physical activity into my day. The other day, I walked home from Foodie's with an entire week's worth of heavy, canned-good laden groceries, huffing and puffing all the way in high heeled boots. I knew all along that I should just stop and hail a cab--but for some reason I keep walking, dressy work outfit notwithstanding.

What is wrong with me? Why is it that the minute I set my mind to something-- or in this case, am strictly forbidden from doing something that might injure me-- some naughty, rebellious part of me wants desperately to do it?

Perhaps it's not that I lack self-discipline. Perhaps I'm just destined to always want to do exactly what I am not supposed to.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

removing oneself from her body issues

I participated in a photo shoot for the Boston Chapter of LUPEC this Tuesday! Somehow we convinced this awesome photographer, Matt Demers, to photograph us. We are going to make the fruits of his labor into a calendar. I hope to be Ms. September. My images haven't been posted yet, but Matt was kind enough to send us one group shot right away.

Actually, Matt is working on a series of photos inspired by this very famous image of Louise Brooks.
He started by shooting some of the most powerful female figures in his life (his mom, a few close female friends), and now the project has spread and grown to incorporate...the ladies of LUPEC BOSTON!!!!

One interesting theme that Matt has discovered: As his subjects realize that their black outfit against a black backdrop obscures the nuances of their body shape, they become liberated from their own body consciousness, and less inhibited by the nit-picking, unrealistic beauty ideals that they confront on a daily basis. This was abundantly true in my experience. Plus, being a model for 20 minutes was fun!!!

More pictures when they're ready...

Also, Happy NaBloPoMo! This is my very first official post, hope I can keep up!