Thursday, January 31, 2008

blonde wisdom: Madonna

I'm tough, I'm ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.
- Madonna

I sometimes think I was born to live up to my name. How could I be anything else but what I am having been named Madonna? I would either have ended up a nun or this.
- Madonna

I have the same goal I've had ever since I was a girl. I want to rule the world.
- Madonna

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

pointers for bachelors emboldened enough by alcohol to attempt flirting with their waitress

Leave a big tip.

I mean, sure, you were polite enough, but that thing you just said would qualify as sexual harassment in a normal workplace. Would you talk to your boss like that? Or your secretary? I know you didn't mean it that way, and no offense was taken by the waitress. But don't you think it's weird that you could be prosecuted in a court of law for that comment, provided this were a normal workplace?

Your waitress' sole responsibility in your evening is to transport your drinks/food from bar/kitchen to your table. She is not responsible for not taking your comment the wrong way or not getting weirded out or offended by your suddenly outgoing nature. And because she is a kind-hearted, patient person, she will hold none of it against you next time you come into the restaurant. She will bring you your patatas bravas and glass of vino and smile and say 'Nice to see you!' and actually mean it. She will pretend what you just said never happened.

The least you can do is leave a big tip. Like, bigger than 20% big. Why? Because there aren't many people in the world who will do that. Most people in this world are obsessed with holding each other accountable, with placing blame, and with being right. Tonight, she let you say whatever stupid shit you felt like saying, and never said boo. And she will not judge you for it in the end. Because for the most part, you're a nice guy.

And that suspension of judgment is worth much, much more than 20% of your dinner tab.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the liar's diary by patry francis

Patry Francis is a writer I stumbled upon one day via her blog.

It used to be titled I'm Not Really a Waitress. The name resonated with me. "Hey, I'm not really a waitress, either!" I thought. "I'm really a writer, no matter how unbelievable that sounds to the customers I wait on." I felt there must be something Patry and I 'got' about each other, both struggling to make it as writers-by-day, waitresses-by-night. I linked my blog to hers immediately.

In the months that followed I learned Patry was definitely more writer than waitress: the hardcover version of her first novel had been signed by a publishing house. The manuscript was delivered, edited, and presumably already in production by the time I found her blog. Six months later the book was published. Sometime during that process, Ms. Francis hung up her apron permanently. I loved it, and was very happy for this fellow writer/stranger: she was living out a life-long dream and posting about it frequently. It's a dream I share, so I looked on.

Patry got quiet after the book came out because she was busy promoting it . She went on a book tour and traveled across the country for readings and signings! Publishers never plan book tours anymore, so I knew this must mean her book was well-received. Patry stayed quiet over the summer, but a few posts indicated that she was busy digging deep into the writing of her second novel! More of the same dream come true. I checked her blog less and less frequently but thought of this writer/stranger fondly. It made me smile to think of the kind comments she left for me, encouraging me not to give up on my book as my initial attempts to get an agent were rebuffed.

This November I stopped by SIMPLY WAIT to see what was up with this quietly inspirational fellow writer I'd "met" through the computer. "Haven't been by in a while," I thought. "Wonder where book 2 is at?"

I was directed immediately to this post and discovered my blog friend had been diagnosed with cancer. And her last four or five posts were about the cancer. The finding out part. The facing it part. The hospital for surgery part. The coming home part. The back to the hospital part. I felt strangely guilty for not checking in on her. And imminently vulnerable that something so serious happened while I wasn't looking. And a little odd because the news made me feel so upset, it made me cry. Is it weird to cry about someone you've never met, who you don't know beyond an Internet window into their world?

I immediately posted a heartfelt comment on Patry's blog.

Yesterday I read in Publisher's Lunch that the paperback edition of Patry's first novel The Liar's Diary pubs today, and that "a large coalition of authors, agents, publishing professionals, journalists and bloggers has formed to publicize the release following Francis's recent diagnosis of an aggressive form of cancer." The list includes people like Khaled Hosseini, Marcus Sakey, Douglas Preston, Lorenzo Carcaterra, Caroline Leavitt, Jacquelyn Mitchard, MJ Rose and Jennifer Weiner.

No one invited me to join, but I decided to play too, in honor of this virtual stranger, the quiet inspiration she's given me, and her very human struggle with a very scary disease. Thanks, Patry, for letting me look on.

Here's the Amazon link to her book. I ordered my copy today.

Monday, January 28, 2008

the blondest spot

Last week I saw Jason for highlights. Instead of posting about the usually euphoric experience of becoming blonder after enduring three and a half weeks of roots, I posted about Dan who died. But today, while applying mascara I realized: there is an entire chunk of my hair that is blonder than blonde:

See it? Right there in the front?

Usually Jason does a toner rinse for me, but last Wednesday, he decided to bring the whole of my head up a notch. "How blonde do you want to be, Kitty?" he asked.

"What do you think?" I said. The guantlet was thrown.

10 minutes later, Jason was rushing me from the chair to the shampoo bowl: "It's turning grey, Kitty, go! Over to the shampoo bowl! NOW!" I threw the January issue of Shape on the floor and ran. It could rest there in a pile of hair for now. Who really cares what my "happy weight" is, anyway?

Fortunately, the almost grey spot stopped at blonde. But if you look closely, you'll see: it's a little blonde-grey. Here it is again:

The moral of the story: ladies, beware. Blonde hair = bleach + hues of purple & blue to off-set brassiness & orange. In short, when you really go for it with peroxide, grey is just minutes away.

Proceed with caution.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

the regulars

This evening at Toro I had the pleasure of waiting on fellow waitress Sarah's favorite regulars. As I approached the table to pour their sparkling water, Sarah introduced me.

"Kitty, this is Dave and this is Jan," she said.

"Pleased to meet you," I said.

"They come in here all the time," Sarah told me, "Don't you guys? You haven't met Kitty before, have you?" She asked the regulars. They shook their heads and smiled up at us. "But I guess it's not usually on a night when you work."

"No surprise there," I said, "I only work one night a week at the moment. Well, I used to work more than that. Actually, my schedule has changed a lot since I started here: first I worked Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, then Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, now I just work Sundays. Surprising that we never met. But how lovely it is to meet you now!"

The couple smiled and shrugged. They looked so familiar to me...yet to them, my face didn't ring a bell.

Only several hours later, as Dave & Jan were finishing up their meal, did I realize: I did meet Dave & Jan before. Almost a year ago, actually, on the same night of the week (Sunday) in the same section of the restaurant (by the fireplace.) Sarah chatted them up the whole time they were at Toro, just like tonight, and introduced me to them as her favorite regulars. There was just one major difference between that night and this night back then, my hair was dark brown. Now I am blonde.

It's a little absurd how frequently this happens to me. Entire relationships, begun and forgotten because of a simple change to the shade of my hair.

But then again, I guess that's why we're here, isn't it?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

how the mathematician's new iphone sees me

It kinda makes me look like Miss America...even though I'm just standing in the living room.

Friday, January 25, 2008

blonde wisdom: jean harlow

No one ever expects a great lay to pay all the bills.”
-- Jean Harlow

"I'm handicapped by a very even disposition."

-- Jean Harlow

"I've always hated my hair, not only because it limited me as an actress, but because it limited me as a person. It made me look hard and spectacular."

-- Jean Harlow

Thursday, January 24, 2008

blonde of the week: Jean Harlow

In 2008 platinum blondes are all but common. But it hasn't always been this way. While women have been dying their hair blonde for millennia, starting with the Ancient Greeks, followed by the Ancient Romans, and pretty much every known civilization that followed, the "platinum blonde" didn't develop until early this century, when a young screen actress named Jean Harlow broke into the movie business.

With Jean Harlow the stars aligned perfectly: not only was peroxide safer and more accessible to modern women of the 1930s than for previous generations (though not nearly as accessible as became in the 1950s thanks to Clairol), innovations in lighting and new types of film stock made blonde hair appear lighter than ever before. The talkies were just catching on. Harlow had recently moved to Hollywood where she sort of fell into the movie business...or was pushed into it by her over-bearing stage mother (the real Jean Harlow; the famous young actress' birth name was Harlean Capenter.) A recent divorce left Harlow nee Harlean broke, and necessitated that she work as much as possible to make ends meet. As a result, young Jean appeared in three films that opened at the same time in 1931. Suddenly Jean Harlow was everywhere and her "look" became a sensation.

Harlow claimed that she had never dyed or bleached her hair...but sales of peroxide sky-rocketed anyway. (Legend has it Jean spent every Sunday with a studio hairdresser banishing her roots with peroxide, ammonia, bleach, and soap flakes--so much processing that at one point, it all fell out & she was forced to wear a wig.)

"Flaxen, tow, yellow, gold -- none of these was dazzling enough, modern enough -- to describe the astonishing hair of the movie stars of the late 1920s and early '30s," writes Ellen Tremper in I'm No Angel: The Blonde in Fiction and Film. "It was called platinum, after the jeweler's metal, rarer, even more valuable than gold." Platinum blonde. In 1931, Jean Harlow starred in a film of the same name, based on a young starlet whose life was not unlike her own.

So today, we celebrate Jean Harlow who gave bleach blondes of the 20th century new heights of blondeness to which to aspire.

If platinum blonde is "the lightest shade of blonde hair, obtained by bleaching almost all the color out of the hair and then adding violet and blue tones to give it a white-platinum blonde look", modern blondes of the new millenium have to wonder...

What's next?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

this is the post where I talk about my friend who died

Dan always asked about my hair.

Not the way other people at Liquid did. Not that other people asked in a bad way -- that people asked at all is quite flattering. But Dan was always so interested.

When I met Dan he was an assistant stylist. He brought me water or tea and cookies while I waited for my hair to "cook" beneath the foils. "How's the book coming?" he'd ask, then listen attentively while Jason explained the complicated chemicals he'd used to turn me into an Undercover Blonde.

Dan gave the best head massages, and he was the best at washing hair. Between the massage & the personal chatter, you always felt so welcome in his chair.

Then Dan graduated. Before I knew it he was on the floor, building up his own client base. I felt like a proud older sister watching him paint tiny little brush-strokes of bleach onto a client's hair, or snip away at their bangs, chattering away as thought he'd been cutting hair all of his life. Just look at him, I'd think, Is he really only twenty-years old?

The biggest difference between Dan and the other stylists -- the other people in this neighborhood who I know casually, for that matter -- is that Dan always listened to me talk about my book. Attentively. In great detail. It wasn't just small talk, or bullshit smiling and nodding. He wasn't just waiting for me to finish talking so he could talk again. And even though he was little more than an acquaintance when we met, Dan believed me when I spoke about my book idea. He believed my project was a good idea, and he encouraged me to pursue it. Even when Undercover Blonde felt like a weird dream I was telling people about, a concept that would probably never go anywhere, a forgotten goal like those had by so many failed artists.

Dan believed in me before I did.

I guess that's why he's right there in Undercover Blonde, right on page two of the first draft of the first chapter: asking me how the book's going; explaining to a regular that I'm a writer, working on a study of hair color. Because Dan's supportive, interested, honest belief in my project was a perennial part of every visit to Liquid.

Last week Dan died, just hours before I delivered that chapter to my agent. He was murdered, actually. The details are hazy. I don't want to think of them. They are too much like an episode of Law & Order. You can read about it yourself here, here, here, here, and here. I almost threw up when I found out, and have felt mildly queasy ever since.

I worked so hard on the scene where Dan appears on page two: shaping, editing, infusing it with as much vivid detail as I could muster, reminding myself all the while, show don't tell. I know this is just the beginning. There are edits from my agent to come and professional, wordsmithing copy editors and proofreaders in my future. And with their help, someday that scene will jump off the page, it will be so rich and full of life. You'll see Dan as a stylist again, forever twenty-years old, painting tiny purple ribbons of bleach onto a client's frizzy bangs, then pushing his dark-rimmed glasses up the bridge of his nose with the back of the brush.

"How's the book, Kitty," he'll ask, and listen to me. Just listen.

Someday, in that scene, Dan will come to life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

LUPEC Blondes...aftermath...

The girls just left, all full & boozy and I am busy cleaning. While I attend to the needs of my humbly rocked abode, here's a delicious nightcap cocktail to put your weary mind to sleep. Do try this at home -- it's worth the extra calories.

Parisian Blonde

1 oz light rum
3/4 oz orange curacao
3/4 oz cream

Shake in iced cocktail shaker & strain
Serve in a cocktail glass (4.5 oz)

My thoughts after drinking this?

Why don't I drink cream every day?

Pairs nicely with home-made blondies. You'll be in blonde heaven.

Monday, January 21, 2008

LUPEC Blondes...pregame

In honor of tomorrow evening's long anticipated LUPEC meeting, I thought I'd share with you a preview of drinks to come. One of our featured cocktails will be....

the Mae West Cocktail

Yolk of 1 egg
1 tsp. Powdered Sugar
1 Glass Brandy: I'm using Laird's Applejack actually--it's a bit sweeter but not overbearing, and tastes divine

Shake well and strain into a medium sized glass. Top with a dash of Cayenne Pepper.

It's not sweet really, so much as full in the mouth & rich and creamy the palate. The spicy cayenne is a delight with the hot booziness of the brandy. Full, rich, and spicy: just like the old broad herself.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

table 48

I approach table 48, cocotte of beef short ribs in hand.

"Here you folks go," I say, "the short ribs. Be careful, the plate's hot." The man with his back to me swivels in his chair, looks up.

"What?" he laughs, incredulously.

"Beef short ribs..." I start to explain. Sometimes people forget what they order, and I'm more than happy to explain when they do.

"I mean, Jesus," he says. "Boy, are you ugly." He takes a sip of cava. "AND you have bad skin..."

I survey the scene. Three well-groomed, handsome older men, one of whom has excellent posture. One bottle of rose cava, 5/8 empty. Sarcastic tone. Floppy body language. Something tells me this is cava bottle #2....

Could this be a table of fabulously catty, boozy gay men, here to brighten up my night?

"I mean, are you really that pretty? I bet you've got a great boyfriend, too," he spits out the words, coy smile buried beneath feigned cruelty. His guests look on, a mixture of drunk, and embarrassed, and in full agreement. "And you're in a totally great relationship. Do you have a great boyfriend, sweetheart? Are you in a great relationship??"

"Mm-hmm," I nod, shrugging my shoulders, like the luckiest girl in the Brady family. "And he's rich, too." I smile.

"And look, there's the smile. Just look at that smile. You've gotta be kidding me."

"Yeah," I say, "totally rich." I shrug again, as the fact that only good things ever happen to me is one of life's great puzzles.

"Bitch," he says.

"I know," I say. "I try."

MLK Day celebraters, how did you spend your special Sunday?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

saturday's blonde...Mae West

I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing.

- Mae West

Whenever I'm caught between two evils, I take the one I've never tried.
- Mae West

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.
- Mae West

Friday, January 18, 2008

blonde moment of the week; or the smoke alarm Part II

So, I pouted about the smoke alarm all day yesterday.

I called up my landlord and made a fuss.

I wrote a relatably frustrated blog post about it, to which several nice blog friends have replied (thanks for the support, all.)

And when the Mathematician finally got home last night at 7 p.m., I made him get immediately up on the chair to "deal with that freaking thing." I watched from below, and barked suggestions up to him as he pulled the alarm out of the ceiling, ripped out the battery, and pushed every last button on its exterior white casing in an attempt to get it to stop beeping.

Miraculously, it the smoke alarm chirped on.

So, we left. We went to dinner, the to the movies, and while we were out, we picked up a replacement battery for the smoke alarm. We could still hear it chirping from the foyer of my building when we got home at 11:30--and we live on the fourth floor. And the minute we crossed the threshold into our apartment I forced the Mathematician back up onto the chair.

"Fix it!" I cried. "I've been hearing that goddamn thing chirp every five seconds since noon today! Fix it, goddamn it, fix it!" I stomped down the hall to the bathroom, hands over my ears. Earlier that the afternoon I felt annoyed at the smoke alarm, for how helpless it rendered me, being so high up on the ceiling and so broken. I hate feeling like a damsel in distress, I thought, waiting for my boyfriend or my paternalistic landlord to come home and fix my problems. My Sarah Lawrence friends would be ashamed. Post movie, however, these feminist thoughts were long gone. By 11:30 p.m., I felt like the kind of stark-raving mad female main character you might find in a Bronte novel. Thank god the Mathematician was there, to save me -- and the building-- from myself.

The Mathematician climbed up on the chair in his dutiful way, and commenced tinkering with the smoke alarm. He installed the new battery. The alarm chirped on.

"Rip out that white wire!" I ordered. The alarm kept chirping. "Try that one now," I snapped impatiently. The chirping could not be stopped. Finally, the Mathematician stepped down from the chair, disassembled alarm in hand, and announced:

"I don't think that sound isn't coming from this. It's coming from somewhere there." He pointed to the guest bedroom.

Seconds later the Mathematician held the real culprit in hand -- a carbon monoxide monitor with a dying battery. Guess where he found it? Plugged into an outlet behind the guest bed, about a foot about the ground. Well within my reach.

I believe that qualifies as the blonde moment of the week.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

the smoke alarm


My smoke alarm is broken. Or it needs a new battery. Or something.


I don't really know, and I don't really care. What I do know is that I can't reach it. I'm tall, so that misfortune usually doesn't happen to me. I can usually reach things.


In fact, with the help of a chair, I can reach every tall thing in my apartment. Every tall thing except the smoke alarm. Every silent tall thing, that is.


Don't think I haven't tried. I have dragged every chair we own into the hallway. Even the ones with wheels, which I have attempted to still with boxes.


I have tried stacking our Ikea stepstool on top of a chair. I couldn't get it to stay up there for more then ten seconds, let alone with me on top of it.


I even considered putting on four inch heels and getting on top of a chair. Then thought better of that.


I then called my landlord. He is at work today, his wife told me, but he will be sure to come and fix it tomorrow.


In the interim, I am stuck with the chirp.

Home. Alone. On a day that was intended for serious writing.

And every five seconds:


A matter of fact, glaring chirp.

Fuck you, smoke alarm, I think.

I stuff ear plugs in my ears and keep working.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

marilyn monroe as a thing

I decided recently that Marilyn Monroe is one of my all-time favorite blondes.

I know, I know. It seems like a no-brainer. She scored the #9 spot on Forbes' Top Earning Dead Celebrities List in 2007, after all--anyone that lucrative clearly strikes the fancy of many. (She's the only woman on there, too.) But the more I learn about Marilyn, her tragic childhood, her difficult life in the spotlight, and her sad death by her own hand, the more I feel fascinated by her.

In light of this fascination, I decided, on a whim, to purchase these coasters with her image on them from Posh on Tremont Street a few weeks ago. The Mathematician and I were killing time waiting for a table at Aquitaine one Sunday, so we wandered in to look around. Posh is one of those stores that sells expensive nothing: novelties, silly cards, board games with names like "Dog-opoly". "Oooh, they have coasters with Marilyn on them!!!" I exclaimed when I saw the display. "Let's get them!" I guess you could say I got caught up in the moment. $40 and 20 minutes later, there I was eating brunch at Aquitaine, happy as a clam with two boxes full of Marilyn Monroe coasters be my side.

The thing is, part of the reason I bought the coasters because we needed them. I grew up in a coaster house, and have since been trained to use one under all beverages glasses (except those with stems, like wine or martini glasses.) And since I bought them, I've used my Marilyn coasters every day. But last night, while getting up to grab something from the kitchen, I put my glass down on Marilyn's face and it made me feel sad: there was Marilyn's enigmatic smile staring up at me. And there was my pint glass full of l'eau, on top of it. Water swished back and forth in the bottom of the clear glass as the liquid settled; her face swayed back and forth, too, suspended and submarine.

It made me feel sad to commodify Marilyn so because I believe her status as a living, breathing commodity is what drove her nuts. Feeling less a person than a thing, contrived and controlled by other people all the time--it must have been terrible. And I think it's a feeling to which many women can relate. Or at least, I can.

I love those coasters, but now they kind of make me sad.

So, where am I going to put my drinks?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

best friends...

...there's nothing in the world like them.

You may think you've become so grown up when you toast your most recent successes over dinner together.

But the camera will show, you both still look as silly as you did in 10th grade.

In fact, you love each other even more now, because instead of dreaming about the big bad world out there, beyond the doors of your '85 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and your cigarettes and Amherst, NH, you've gone out & lived in it. And some places look surprisingly the same as others, like Siena, Italy, a place that looks, from these pictures, quite a lot like Manchester, NH, with it's graffitti and it's grit...

And you've survived each other's losses, through thick and thin. And look how strong you are to show for it now. A veritable force to be reckon with.

But then again, maybe you always were that way...

Monday, January 14, 2008


I won the Euromillion!

According to an email I received this evening from Marina Scuola in Italy, my Email Address attached to a Ticket Number has one me 1,000,000.00 Euros! Because our dollar blows right now, that's actually 1,487,698.00 bills in America!!!

I wonder if Marina in Italy knows that Mrs Barbera De Graft in the Netherlands also contacted me today to let me know that I won the Euromillion. In fact, according to Barbera De Graft, I have won the Euromillion every third day for the last six months. What is that, like 60 million Euros, or $89, 261, 937 American?

Wow, I must be one of the richest blondes in Europe!

Enough with this Blog 365 nonsense! I must respond urgently to claim my prize!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Amy and the broken heart

"I am having the worst day!" Amy announced a few weeks ago as she walked into Toro at the start of our Sunday evening shift. Amy is my brilliant blonde friend. She is a doctor, currently going for her Ph.D. at Harvard, and writing a dissertation on an obscure congenital heart defect. Someday she will be a cardiothoracic surgeon (say that five times fast.) But Amy also grew up working in restaurants: her dad is a chef, her parents own a very well respected joint in Park City, UT, she knows tons about food, speaks French and Spanish, and is totally kick-ass at everything she does for us at Toro. And presumably elsewhere in her life. And miraculously, the girl doesn't really complain, despite the fact that she works five DAYS a week as a doctor and five NIGHTS a week as a hostess/backwaiter/waitress.

"What happened? What's wrong?" I asked.

"Well, they say it's bad luck to go into the lab on Sunday, but I have so much work to do, I figured I'd go in for a few hours before coming into Toro today. Boy was that a mistake! Everything I was trying to do kept going wrong! Then right before I was supposed to leave to come here, I dropped this heart that I've been working on for months on the floor. Now it's ruined!"

"You dropped...your heart?" I asked.

"Yes! I am so pissed at myself! I dropped it in the jar we were keeping it in, so there was glass everywhere and it was just a mess!"

"Glass? Like shards of glass all over? And the heart..."

"Yes, there were pieces of it sticking out of the heart and everything, and it was a total pain in the ass to clean up. And I don't know what I'm going to tell my boss tomorrow!"

"Wait a sec. A heart? Like, a human heart?'

"Yeah, now it's ruined."

"So, you literally broke someone's heart today?"

"Yeah," Amy laughed. "I guess I did."

"How interesting," I said. I thought for a second about how different Amy's other life is from her restaurant job. Working in a hospital, a real doctor, where all of your mistakes have material consequences--beyond just having a customers get pissed off at you and complain to your manager that you're a terrible waitress.

"So, what are you going to do now? Can you get a new heart?" I asked.

"Well, yeah, I'm gonna have to!"

"How interesting. Are hearts expensive?" I asked, suddenly fascinated by the esoteric turn our conversation was taking. "I mean, can you actually put a price on someone's heart? How much does a human a heart cost?"

"About $700-$800." Amy replied. It was a rhetorical question...but, there was my answer.

"Seriously?" I said. "That's it? A human heart only costs $700?" It just seemed so...unromantic, I guess. Way to steal the thunder out of every love song ever written.

"No, no," Amy explained. "This heart was pretty messed up. It had all kinds of stuff wrong with it, it's not like it was a healthy heart."

"Oh," I said. "Okay. So an unhealthy heart, $700. I wonder how much a healthy one costs."

"I don't know, " Amy said. "Probably more."

"And now that heart is totally broken."

"I know! I don't know what I'm going to do!" Amy cried.

I didn't know what to say. "I'm sorry, babe," I said and gave her a hug. "You're a heart-breaker, I guess."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

mixology Saturday

Here's a cocktail recipe to get you all through the weekend. I will be serving it when LUPEC finally reconvenes to celebrate blondes at my house in a week and a half. I can't wait!

Jean Harlow Cocktail

1/2 Bacardi Rum
1/2 Italian Vermouth
Peel of Lemon or piece of lemon

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Friday, January 11, 2008

a little blonde before & after

I always love to compare, don't you?

Brigitte brunette...

Brigitte blonde...

We women look so different after hair and make-up, don't we?

Bon weekend!!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

blonde wisdom: Brigitte Bardot

If only every man who sees my films did not get the impression he can make love to me, I would be a lot happier.
- Brigitte Bardot

I have been very happy, very rich, very beautiful, much adulated, very famous and very unhappy.
- Brigitte Bardot

People are forever finding something wrong with you.
- Brigitte Bardot

Women get more unhappy the more they try to liberate themselves.
- Brigitte Bardot

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

friend or foe???

The scale that I bought from came in the mail today. I have avoided owning such a thing for my entire adult life, preferring to take a "don't ask-don't tell" approach to the number that is my weight. On the one hand, I realize that numbers can be deceiving, and that a person's general health can have very little to do with some magic number they conceptualize as their ideal weight. On the other, I realize that I have obsessive tendencies, and have avoided purchasing one for fear that if I did, I would torture myself with it.

However, in light of this post, I thought it might be a good idea to bring a little reality to the business of my body image issues. Who knows? Maybe having a scale in the house will be a good thing? Maybe it will help me stop worrying about the unknown so much, deter me from deciding that I have magically gained ten or fifteen pounds when I have no material reason to believe that is the case. And it might be nice to know, for once and for all, exactly how many pounds I gain from water when I have PMS (somewhere in the vicinity of 1-3 I think, but to my crazy mind, it usually feels like ten.) So, I made the Mathematician buy us a scale using his company discount on He likes gadgets & selected a fancy one. I have been eagerly anticipating it's arrival since its purchase Sunday evening.

I unwrapped the scale and squealed with glee when I realized that it can not only measure my weight in pounds and kilograms, it also measures my total fat percentage AND the total percentage of water in my body. (I do not know why the latter is important.) I liberated it from its plastic packaging, plugged in the included batteries, and briefly skimmed the instruction booklet (so as to avoid blender-melting disasters like this one) before giving it a go. The question loomed. Would our new scale be my friend or my foe?

I then immediately weighed myself eight times in a row.

The first time I got on it, the scale told me I weighed about 2 pounds more than I thought I should. Foe I thought, and narrowed my eyes at my new enemy. Then I realized, Oh, wait. Maybe I should take off my shoes. And , while I'm at it, my clothes. Jeans are heavy.

The second time I got on, the scale reflected what I considered to be a much more acceptable number. Friend! I smiled. Welcome to your new home.

The third time I weighed myself, I was disappointed to see that it was accusing me of being 55.5% body fat. Foe, I scowled. I hate you! How dare you call me half fat!!! Then I read the instruction booklet, and realized that was the water percentage number the scale was reporting, not the fat percentage, and being 55% water is goo. Friend!

The fourth, five, sixth, and seventh time I weighed myself, it was in an attempt to decipher the body fat tabulation offered me by the scale. First it said I was 20% fat, then 23% fat, then 21% fat, then 18%fat. My reactions to all of these numbers: Foe, foe, foe, probably foe but since you're 2% less than the initial estimation and 5% less than the highest, I might like you a little better. Then I referred again to the instruction booklet, and realized that all of those numbers were on the low side of normal, with the 18% figure being below average.

By the eighth time I weighed myself, I realized: Staring at these numbers isn't going to change them. At this point, I've been playing with the scale for, like, 20 minutes. I'm naked and I just weighed myself eight times in a row for no reason, and I would never ever do this if someone else were home. So, I put on my clothes, declared a truce with the scale, and made a new home for it beside my closet.

Friend or foe? Who cares, at least this new appliance is honest. And I need something in my life that can tell it to me straight.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

what about rum?

Bored of vodka? I know I am. In fact, just a few weeks ago I was thinking about how bored with vodka all the cool cocktail kids I know seem to be--despite how enamoured with vodka the rest of the world continues to be.

How did it get to be this way? What precipitated vodka's vogueness? There was a time when no one wanted to drink it, allegedly, when gin was the "white" liquor de rigeur. Then three marketing savvy guys walked into a bar -- one from Smirnoff, one seller of ginger beer, and one purveyor of copper -- and together they invented the Moscow Mule, a vodka-based highball alternative to gin. The rest, I guess, is history.

But what will precipitate the next spirit craze? This weariness of vodka will eventually trickle down. And what will will dominate modern cocktail lists when it has? We find gin drinks often enough on menus, and despite the popularity of the Cosmo, the gin & tonic never seemed to die. We also see whiskey & bourbon drinks here and there, Manhattans and hot toddies, especially in New England in winter. But what ever happened to rum? An occasional guest at Toro will order a rum and coke, but aside from the mojito, I don't think I see it much on drink lists. It was super popular in the '60s. But, what ever happened to rum? I think rum might actually be the least sexy spirit out there at the moment, making it a perfect candidate for a make-over.

Within minutes of forming this thought, I received an intriguing email from the proprietor of Beija, a new kind of cachaca, which in this country, technically falls into the category of rum. It was the invitation to a very exciting, very exclusive product launch of his new brand of virgin cane rum, held this evening at Eastern Standard. And that is how I spent my evening: drinking a spirit that is unlike any I've ever had before.

I've tasted some bangin' cachacas, thanks to a recent tasting of various versions of the spirit that we carry at Toro. But I've never had one quite like this. It was light, easy drinking, and not rough around the edges like the other versions of the spirit that I've tried. And mixed in the lovely cocktails that Jackson and Tommy created to showcase it tonight, it was absolutely, effortlessly delicious.

More over caiprihnia, there's a new kid in town, made with a younger, hipper version of your base ingredient, more sophisticated and oh-s0-much easier on the palate than her worker bee lineage suggests. Even the name is elegant, the Portuguese word for kiss.

Who knows? Before long it could be all that we drink.

Monday, January 07, 2008

crying in public

While on my way to the Saladerie (a.k.a. the salad bar at Foodie's) for lunch today, I walked past a woman who was bawling uncontrollably. Right there on the street, at the corner of Washington and Monsignor Reynolds.

I hear the woman whimpering from at least 20 feet away, and gave her a nonchalant once-over as I approached--our South End offices may be in one of the most rapidly yuppifying zip codes in the South End, but that doesn't mean I don't see my share of wackos on these streets. She wore a black leather motorcycle jacket, black leggings, and fawn-colored Uggs -- the short kind. She had slightly frizzy, long, brown hair--but then again, whose hair wasn't frizzy today, it was so humid. She looked to be anywhere from 35- to 42-years old. She did not look crazy, or cracked-out, or unkempt. On the contrary, I imagined her as an artsy type, the kind of woman who might have owned a South End loft on Washington Street before it was SoWa, when you were more likely to run into a prostitutes at the intersection of Washington & Mass Ave. than a herd of yuppies headed to Toro for vodka-based cocktails and tapas.

As I approached her, the woman just sobbed and sobbed. Sometimes she'd let out a little wail. Nothing loud, or angry. Just subtle, totally sad crying. I noticed a small, black duffel bag at her feet. I wonder what's inside? I thought.

I thought hard about how I should react to this woman as I approached her and prepared to pass by her on the street. Since I left home to go to college I've only ever lived in New York and Boston, two of the emotionally coldest urban centers in the world. In the past ten years, I have developed a hard candy shell. I do not (usually) give money to homeless people, I do not make eye-contact with strange men, and I try my damnedest not to let catcalls get under my skin. That said, this impersonal, guarded existence goes against my nature. I'd love to live in a place where I felt safe enough to say hello to strangers or strike up conversation with people on the bus. How does a soft-hearted blonde from the sticks handle a situation like this? I thought.

Put yourself in her shoes, I decided, like your mother always taught you. It wasn't much of a stretch. I remembered how horrible I felt when my life was falling apart a few years ago, when my fiance and I were breaking up, when my mother had cancer, when my dad was losing his job, when I hated my job and felt I had no way out. I drove to and from work with tears streaming down my cheeks several times in that period, feeling so, so depressed, despite the anti-depressants I was taking. I sat there in traffic, bawling, mascara all over my face, sniffling and gasping for air. I didn't care whether the people in the cars all around me saw me crying, my face bright red and my eye cavities puffed up like peaches. No even one iota.

As I approached the crying lady on foot, I cast my gaze as respectfully as I could down at the sidewalk. I didn't want to intrude on her moment, but I certainly didn't want to make it worse.
I tried to look peaceful and without judgment as I passed, like a kind, sensitive city: someone who would might offer you a tissue if she had one; not a mean, heartless city stranger, to whom your tears would be a wild inconvenience.

The stop-light at Washington and Monsignor Reynolds was green when I got to the crosswalk, but no cars were coming, so I stepped into the street. I could still hear the woman in black sobbing as the automatic doors to the grocery store parted.

What could have happened to make her sob like that? I wondered as I made my way through the fruit, over to the salad bar. Lost love? A broken heart? Maybe it was a death in the family. Or maybe she just got evicted, and has no place to live and nowhere to go. Maybe the black duffel bag at her feet contained all of her worldly possessions and she is all alone, with no home in the middle of January in Boston...

But before long, the salad bar had my full attention: negotiating the line for the mixed greens, picking out the best cherry tomatoes, deciding between beets & feta or tuna & carrots, trying to drizzle the perfect proportion of Annie's Naturals Goddess Dressing on my vegetables. This minutiae got the best of my thoughts.

The woman in black was still there, still crying, as I passed her on my way back to the office. She was no longer there when I headed home at 5:45-ish tonight. I'm still full of questions:

How long was she standing there before I passed her en route to lunch?
How much longer did she stay after I left?
Where did the woman in black go?
Did anyone else see her?
Why was she crying like that?

I wonder if she ever stopped.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

the sadness of roots

I woke up today thinking about my roots, and I realized--they make me feel kinda sad. Here's the pattern I have identified over the course of my blonde-hair-self-image research:

Book hair appointment, Jason abolishes my roots. I walk out of salon feeling beautiful, rejuvenated, revived. People comment on how pretty I look. Traffic stops, I feel movie-star glam.

A few days later I wash my hair (I only need to do this twice a week since my hair is so dry & my skin is the opposite of oily), blow dry it myself for the first time. Doesn't ever look quite as good as it did when Jason did it, but still falls into place beautifully--and bright blonde.

About a week later: Hair doesn't look quite as wonderful as it did right when I left the salon, but still lookin' good. Can see the first hint of roots...oh no you can't...oh yes you can...who cares? Jason is so good, they look natural when they grow in.

About three weeks after first appointment: blonde highlights start to look more yellow. Hair starts to seem less healthy, drier, no matter how much I condition .

Four weeks later: I wake up one day and discover that suddenly overnight my roots have become noticeable. My hair looks kinda dirty, despite the fact that I just washed it yesterday. I feel depressed.

*sigh* It certainly is an addictive habit.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

blonde wisdom: Princess Di

People think at the end of the day that a man is the only answer to fulfillment. Actually a job is better for me.
-Princess Diana

Being a princess isn't all it's cracked up to be.
-Princess Diana

They say it is better to be poor and happy than rich and miserable, but how about a compromise like moderately rich and just moody?
-Princess Diana

Friday, January 04, 2008

blonde moment

I got to thinking about the term "blonde moment" today. It's become 100% synonymous with flakiness, ditziness, and stupid, innocent mistakes. But when did we, as a culture, start using it to describe a state of mind and excuse our errors?

I started to do a little research...then got sidetracked by the plethora of jokes & videos out there that so glorious illustrate the concept. Like this one, from the '70s, with love.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

things to love about working in restaurants

I was reading over my post of New Year's Eve and feeling as though it gave restaurant work a bad name.

The fact is, I love working in restaurants and I always have. On a good night a busy, smoothly run restaurant is an amazingly fun, energizing, lucrative place to work. And in their best incarnations, restaurants lend themselves to a community-oriented working environment that is unparalleled in the world of cubicles, flourescent lighting, and desks, more akin to hanging out in a fun club-house with your weird friends than working your blue-collar job.

In light of this, I thought I'd list some of the reasons that I love working in restaurants, and will be loathe to give my notice when my big break comes, no matter how rich and fabulous I have become:

1. Interesting people work in restaurants. It is difficult for ex-convicts and illegal immigrants to get jobs in offices, but usually not much trouble at all for them to find work as bussers, line cooks, chefs, and waiters. Some of these people live shrouded in mystery on the margins of society, sure; but they often have the best stories to tell.
2. You get to be around food ALL THE TIME. As a former fat kid, food and I have had a tumultuous love affair. As a restaurant worker, I have been able to cultivate this relationship a positive friendship.

3. Waitressing is an instant, free education in food and wine. Good waitstaff must familiarize themselves daily with the stuff that self-proclaimed "foodies" dream about. Plus, if you start in the business at the tender age of 16, like I did, it is high probable that some of the talented young cooks you used to work with, or maybe even your former roommate, will have marched up the culinary ladder to the very prestigious position of Chef de Cuisine or Executive Chef, by the time you are 28. Then you can tell all your office-worker-bee friends as Will Farrell did in Elf: "I KNOW HIM!!!"

4. Waitressing is the ultimate PR education. In both professions, you must learn to spin or die trying. It is also great for building up a thick skin, and learning to know in your heart when you've done your job well, no matter how ornery, cranky, or crazy your nightmare table is, and to pat yourself on the back for your work, regardless of the size of your tip.

5. Restaurants are deliciously unprofessional. I am an ultra-liberal lady who strives to be as politically correct as possible in real life. It is nice to have an alternate work environment where I can tell an obnoxious co-worker to go f*** themselves every once in a while. As necessary, of course.

The fact is, I live precariously balanced between the world of restaurants and offices. Like an immigrant who has lived for twenty years on new soil but pines for her home country every night as she falls asleep, I feel completely at home in neither. I'm not really sure how this blonde is going to handle it once every night of the week is mine again, and all of that free time stretches out in front of me like a string of dark, blank pearls.

Oh wait a minute, yes I do. I will spend that time writing posts for Blog 365.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


I'm participating in Blog 365, a blog marathon that requires me to post once a day for 2008. Can you believe it?

NaBloPoMo was hard enough--now I'm committing to try to replicate that success for an entire year.

I'm simultaneously excited & scared.

If you, too, would like to feel simultaneously excited & scared by this commitment, click here to join.

See you tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Feliz Nuevo Ano

I woke up yesterday, New Year's Eve, feeling terribly depressed.

I felt tired from working at Toro the evening before, with so little time to recuperate from our hellish trip back from California/Colorado. I felt exhausted by the thought of having to work there again that night, New Year's Eve. And I felt cranky that when you work in the service industry, holidays are not special days--they are work days, with certain holidays (like New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, and Mother's Day) representing the exact opposite of the special, relaxing experience the perfect holiday night should be. Inevitably marred by overbooked restaurant seatings, complicated tasting menus that confuse the most streamlined kitchen crews, and overdressed guests with inflated expectations, it's a miracle that restaurant industry professionals survive these nights each year

But mostly I felt deeply discouraged that, after almost ten years in the service industry, I am still totally married to it. My writing and public relations careers have progressed, to be sure: I been promoted one and a half times in my PR job, have acquired a literary agent for my writing career, and am reaching a modicum of professional success that any other 28-year-old would likely find extremely satisfying. Yet still, after all of this time, it is the waitressing money I depend upon to make ends meet each month.

It's not Toro's fault. I love everything about working at Toro: the people I work with, the delicious food, the easy money. That job is a waitress's dream. It's not even the restaurant industry's fault. Ultimately, having to work two jobs, well, that's what I get for choosing an artistic, half-dead industry for my career. Theoretically, I don't regret that choice for a second. When it comes to working holidays, however, I have to wonder: would a career in a boring-yet-lucrative industry have been so bad?

All day long, I pouted about having to work on New Year's Eve. I lingered about the house as late as I could that afternoon, curling my hair to cover up my mood with a "festive" 'do, watching snippets of the Law & Order: Criminal Intent marathon, fussing endlessly with my eye make-up. I didn't leave for work until the last possible minute--so late I had to take a cab to Toro to make it there by 4 p.m. A cold gust of wind whipped my freshly curled New Year's Eve locks into my face, rendering me blind as the taxi pulled up to the curb to collect me.

"1704 Washington Street," I told the cab driver, then sank into the backseat to resume pouting.

"So, are you ready for the New Year?" the cabbie asked in proper, accented English.

"No, I'm really not," I replied. "I'm heading to work at my waitress job now, and I'm not really sure what to expect. New Year's Eve is always kinda crazy."

"Yes, yes, this is true," the cabbie laughed. "Lots of people out and about. But I bet the money is good, yes?"

"Yeah, I guess. I've just been working New Year's Eve for so many years now. I hardly think it's worth it any more. So many people, so much pressure, and it's so stressful."

"Yes," the cab-driver chimed in, "it's difficult. So busy and people are so crazy!"

"Yeah! And in my experience, you usually end up over-staffed and not really making much more money than you would on a busy Saturday. I'm just over it, I guess. I hate working holidays."

Neither of us said anything for a moment. I descended another step in my path to self-pity.

"I know," the cab driver said, his voice heavy. "I came to this country five years ago. Originally I am from Brazil. And the very first time I worked New Year's Eve here, I cried."

"Really?" I said.

"Yes, yes, it's true. I pulled right over to the side of the road and just cried. Because in Brazil, I never worked on New Year's Eve. Never! I always spent the night with my family, my friends, celebrating. But when I came here, the New Year just didn't feel much of a holiday. So I worked. No family here, not many friends. Might as well work."

"Yeah," I said, my voice soft in my throat. "Might as well work." I tried to imagine what it would be like to drive a taxi back and forth across the city all night, in a cold, snowy foreign country, without a single friend or family member to see on New Year's Eve. People are so rude to taxi drivers, way ruder than they are to waitresses, and especially when they're drunk, which people always are on New Year's Eve. Suddenly I was jarred out of feeling bad for myself, and directly into feeling bad for this poor Brazilian cab driver.

"Anyway, that's life, you know?" the cab driver said. "Everybody has to work. You have to make money, and to make money, you have to work."

"It's true," I said. "That's life."

A moment later, there we were, at Toro. "Thanks so much," I said, "And thanks for chatting with me. I wish you the best and I hope you have a Happy New Year."

"Thank you!" he said. "Good luck tonight! And I hope you have a Happy New Year, too!"

"I will," I said, thinking of the awesome friends I work with, awaiting me inside, my wonderful boyfriend, awaiting me at home, my beautiful, comfortable, truly home-y Boston home. "I definitely will."

And I did.