Saturday, December 29, 2007

the nanny

I am sitting in JFK International Airport in NY, the armpit of all international airports. I think Mr. Kennedy would be very disappointed to see it now.

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

California travel journal: scenes from San Diego

I am spending approximately thirty-six of the approximately 240 hours we have been in the California area in San Diego, crammed into a hotel room with my parents. We are here visiting my twin, the Undercover Brother. I barely slept a wink last night: mom has a cold and cough, poor thing, and dad makes all manner of sleeping noises (snoring, sighing, etc.) Nevertheless, when I awoke to an 80 degree December morning, I felt like I awoke in heaven. I pulled back the blinds and saw this.

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

California travel journal: In-N-Out Burger

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

California here I come

Dear Blog-land readers,

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

new year's resolutions

Like any self-critical, forward thinking, slightly compulsive Virgo, I have already mentally zoomed through the glorious excess of the holiday season, directly to the contrite, slightly embarrassed period where one makes New Year's Resolutions. That's right, as my body is still in the throes of the holidays, with their days full of socializing, drinking, merrymaking, and endless eating of sweets, my mind has already fast forwarded to the part where I vow that in 2008, none of this tomfoolery will be permitted to happen.

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

taxi driver

Dear Boston,
Great Armageddon impression. Can we have some decent weather back?
your friend,
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

guilty pleasures

I worked at Toro last night. It wasn't a super late night, but we weren't finished closing the restaurant until late in the 11 p.m. hour, and I didn't walk in the door until after midnight. I turned the key as quietly as I could in the lock, thinking the Mathematician might be asleep. Then I heard the faint sounds of the TV in the background.

"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 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

blonde cocktails

So....LUPEC blondes was postponed. Yes, it's that crazy time of year when the holidays take over and make everything seem really hectic, so attendance was slated to be low. The three of us who could make it decided to grab a drink and some food at Gaslight instead.

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.


Platinum Blonde

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

blonde trivia

Tomorrow evening I'll be hosting the December meeting of our local LUPEC chapter Chez Moi. The theme I've chosen for the evening? Blondes, of course.

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

the confession

A colleague of mine got fired from Toro last week. He was accused of withholding tips: not a lot of money, just a $20 here and there, a barely noticeable transgression. Management eventually began to notice, and he was fired immediately, for stealing.

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

Jason's new home

Yesterday I had my very first appointment at Jason's new salon, Escape!

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

Repeal Day Party

Happy Repeal Day, everyone!

Today marks the 74th Anniversary of Prohibition's Repeal. At 5:32 p.m. the ladies of LUPEC Boston will be gathering at Green Street in Cambridge to raise a glass, simply because we can!

We hope to see you there!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Is it true...blondes have more fun?

I just purchased this vintage ad on Ebay this weekend! I can't wait until it arrives on my doorstep, via the magic cyber fairies in Ebay-land. I will frame it and hang it over my desk as a constant reminder that I am but one woman in a long tradition of blondes, obsessed with answering this very question.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

brunette dreams

I had an early meeting on Friday, so you'd think I would have stopped drinking before midnight Thursday evening. I did not. And when the wine ran out around midnight, I went right ahead and poured myself and my guest a nice glass of bourbon, saying "It'll be fine! I'll just add a little water to mine!"

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!