Women Get Shit Done

23 Sep

Beyond the illogic of being mad about a man kneeling in protest and not mad (or not as mad) about the black men and women dying on the streets by police hands day in and day out, I am equally mesmerized/baffled by calls to boycott the NFL because of Colin’s protest and the organization’s “non-reaction” to it. Where were the calls to boycott the NFL the hundreds of times before this when athletes beat their wives, raped women, abused their children, etc and the NFL has completely failed to react in any real way? The majority of white american men are batshit-crazy-backwards on all this. Fucking get it together losers!

Also, while I’m sort of hovering around the subject: Let me say first that any and all officers/state actors who unjustifiably kill people should be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, so don’t get what I’m about to say twisted. But it’s just funny to me that we can very quickly charge and arrest female officers, and Asian officers, but white men appear to be some special class that we give the benefit of the doubt to at all times.

Lastly, I’m going to just say it. Women are generally better at this shit (notwithstanding the Betty Shelbys of the world) – better at compassion and belief and support and doing the hard work. Better at self-reflection and change. I, for one, am more excited than I have ever been that we may soon have a female president – hopefully it will help lead to more women in leadership positions across the political and social spectrum. Because women GET IT DONE. We listen, we hear, we respond – we are the leaders our country needs at this tumultuous time.

I’m not saying men can’t be valuable (and indeed, necessary) allies or that men don’t get shit done in their own right. But too often they are all might and power and force with no ears for listening or hearts for hearing, especially about anything outside of their own lived experience, and I am so sick of it and ready for something different. I understand that in a million ways Hillary is more of the same – but in this one, key way she is altogether different and I am so excited to see what she can do. More importantly, I’m excited to see what WE can do, together.

Two years

29 Jul

I came to write a blog post today and was hit with an “it’s been two years since your last post” automated message. Two years?! This is incredible to me, shocking and yet not really that surprising once I think about it for a moment. Turns out it’s really only been a year and a half and apparently WordPress likes to round, but it has also been two+ years since my divorce, two years split between four different home situations, two+ years working two jobs, two years building a new relationship, two+ years with a nephew and more family obligations….the list goes on. I know that life goes fast for everyone, everyone is busy with all their own stuff, everyone has their own concerns and motivations – I am not unique. And yet just lately I have felt so drowned in all of it.

I stumbled upon this post today while searching for something else and it called out to me so clearly. I think we all read these things hoping somehow to find THE ANSWER there and it never is there (because how could it be?) but sometimes what you find is helpful, which was the case for me today.

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about this issue – having two jobs, seemingly for all eternity, and the attendant sapping of my time and energy that comes with it. I recently made the decision to sign another six month lease at the salon. Although I’ve talked about the possibility of winding down my salon work in the near future, when the time came to make a definitive decision I didn’t feel ready to walk away just yet.

There’s so much tied up in the work we do – at least for some of us. I know there are people who just do the job and go home and if the job kinda sucks, oh well – it’s not an identifying feature of their life. But that has never been me. I’ve quit jobs that weren’t the right fit and I’ve gone back to school to try to jump-start a new career path. My feeling is I spend so much time at work, at the very least I want to like it, best case scenario: it’s fulfilling.

I used to be of the mind that it HAD to be fulfilling. The realities of adulthood have tempered that a little. I’m coming around to being the kind of person who looks for fulfillment in many areas of my life, not just work, not just my relationship. It’s hard, but it does free me up to care just that little bit less about what I am doing with my work day.

However, I still tie a lot of my identity to the work I do. I have identified for a long time now as someone who isn’t conventional, who eschews the cubicle – someone who does better with odd hours and odd people. But that hasn’t been my day-to-day for a while now (two years!) and I think I’m happier here. I’m certainly more comfortable – I make more money, I spend less time on my feet (although more in a chair, which is unhealthy in a different way), I have more control over my schedule – all good things.

There’s a lot about unconventional work that I don’t miss. It’s more that it had been a piece of who I was and now I can’t claim it anymore. I have this fear of being normal, this fear of being conventional that in practice is actually kind of a hindrance because it might stop me from living my best life.

But I also have this love of creature comforts, this desire for a beautiful home and free time and travel and the best food and drink – that I also fear could stop me from living my best life. This sounds ridiculous on the surface – like “isn’t that you living your best life?” But it makes me wonder if I could find something more fulfilling if only I had the courage to sacrifice for a while. Would it be worth it?

I have a growing sense that the older I get the better I get and the better life gets. I have a tendency to look at what’s happening to me right now and assume it’ll just be the same moving forward – that it’s relatively static. But I can look back only two years to a time when I was in a polite, but unhappy marriage; when I was managing a shop full of people who hated the shop where we all worked; when I was less self-assured than I am now; when I had fewer friends, fewer plans, and very few family obligations. I may be busier now and more stressed, I may feel like I am overworked and understimulated – but I like to believe my life is richer now, too.



Looking ahead

14 Jan

Almost to the day exactly, it has been a year since I first went into business for myself. I’ve learned a lot already, but I feel like I still have a long way to go.

Some people spend years dreaming about their business – planning, prepping, saving money. I had about a week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve daydreamed about opening my own salon pretty much from the day I started beauty school. But I thought about opening an entire space where I would hire other stylists – I had a ton of great ideas about how I would want to run my business and treat my employees, largely influenced by the 6 years I spent managing someone else’s shop.

Managing a business without owning it is largely thankless, or at least it was in my case. You try to make changes where you can, but your hands are often tied by the owner’s vision, finances, and their own ideas about how a business should operate. You try to maintain great relationships with your crew, but you’re often stuck between a rock and hard place when it comes to being the go-between from them to the owner – often you can see both sides clearly, while each side seems incapable of seeing the opposite side’s point of view. So, my management experience taught me a lot, but was also incredibly frustrating and stressful. But that frustration was one of the main motivators for me to open my own shop – I wanted to finally be able to run things MY way, to test my theories on how things SHOULD work and see if they really did.

I pictured opening my own salon in 10 years, if I was lucky. Then the shop closed. The owner gave me about a week’s notice – the rest of the staff had about 4 days notice (another decision I would have made differently were it solely mine to make). I’d already been thinking about transitioning to another salon – I didn’t think I had enough of a clientele built up yet to lease a chair of my own (when we closed, I’d been cutting for about a year and a half). But suddenly I was out of a job. And I wanted to maintain what clientele I did have so I needed to move fast so as not to cause a huge gap in service. I needed to stay nearby, too. A friend of a friend was looking for someone to share her small studio with part-time and I seized the chance without really allowing myself to stop and think about it enough to really let it scare me.

But it has been scary. The first two months I only had my part-time work at the salon studio, and it wasn’t enough. I was able to cover my chair lease, but not much beyond that – this was going to be untenable in the long term. To make matters worse, my husband and I decided to get a divorce during this same period. We had never truly shared income, we kept separate accounts always, but he had certainly been helping me since my job loss. It became even more imperative that I find some other source of income since my business just was not capable of growing that much that quickly. I lucked out and found a well-paying part-time administrative job with an amazing company where I’ve been ever since – I love it there, and it’s allowed me to continue doing hair on my own.

As an independent contractor, I have to handle all aspects of my business, the day-to-day stuff and the bigger-picture stuff, too. Taxes are something I am still figuring out. I’ll know more about where I stand soon. I recently figured out that, while I didn’t make much from hair last year, I did turn a profit. While I couldn’t survive on doing hair alone, many small businesses are not profitable until their 2nd or 3rd year – so I’m still proud of what I have achieved.

This year, I am focused on growth. Last year was so much about learning how to run my business, and basic survival. That was true in my personal life, too – I had to learn how to be “alone” again (even though I am with an amazing man now, this is still something I am working on – the ability to be self-sufficient and self-contained when needed). It was such a big, difficult year for me, emotionally (and actually!) – I spent a lot of time just treading water, trying not to drown. Now I am ready to swim.

I want to establish more cohesive branding. I want to create new logo work to use across my marketing materials and a website with a portfolio of my work and descriptions of my philosophies toward hair. I have a goal of trying to attend at least one class/workshop/show each quarter – with a special focus on sharpening my color skills. I’d like to upgrade my equipment, and look into switching or adding to the product lines I offer my clients. I’ve already added an additional weekend day a month and am looking for other days when I might offer more appointments to my clients. Overall, I want to see if there are ways I can add value for my clients, whether that means complimentary add-ons, more availability, or something else entirely.

It can be hard to find the time and energy to make these changes, but in my mind I’m committed to another year, this time with more concerted effort to do more than just survive. I want to thrive.

Weird Things You Do When You’re Alone

27 Aug

Shout-out to “elaborate sitting positions”, which are a hallmark of my alone time.

I will also add:

Weird dancing/slinking about.

Obsessively tweezing ingrown leg hairs while watching How I Met Your Mother episodes.

Scolding myself aloud, especially while cooking (“Why did you put the salt there? You don’t even make sense!”).

Catching myself talking to myself and then scolding myself for that (“You’re crazy”).

Making faces/hand gestures at myself in my bedroom closet mirrors.

Exaggerated sighing or hurumphing when, after just sitting down, I have to get up to: plug in my headphones; cross the room; get a glass of water; pee.

Absentminded boob play.

How to Be Alone

21 Jul

I needed this poem today. Single or coupled, you can still feel lonely. Sometimes it’s because your other half is 800 miles away, but sometimes it’s just noon on a Tuesday.

I feel like there are so many different ways to be alone, and I’m okay with some of them and not so okay with others. Alone in public is a specialty of mine. Shopping, dining, seeing a movie, going to the zoo – I find such wonderful moments of contentment in these places, alone. I am never unhappy to take a yoga class, try a new restaurant, buy someone a birthday gift, alone.

But being at home alone is a special kind of tyranny to me.

Being in bed alone is the loneliest of the lonely. Waking up in the morning is quite nice – you get to stretch and roll about and move freely without fear of disturbing anyone; you can fart loudly and often…without fear of disturbing anyone. You can sleep in as late as you like without anyone judging you, or at the very least waiting on you. But falling asleep alone is so lonely it almost eclipses all the morning-after benefits. My heart grows heavy at night thinking of, well, everything – and it seems the only thing that makes it lighter is sleeping next to someone you love who loves you, too. He becomes a living, breathing reminder that perhaps things are not so bleak after all – how could they be, now, here, with him?

Watching tv alone is similarly lonely yet freeing. After all, no one is there to argue with you over what to watch. Or care if you want to watch Father of the Bride for the 1200th time. But, again, the mind wanders.

It turns out wandering minds are the very worst thing for loneliness. That’s why being somewhere novel, experiencing some new food, focusing on a very particular task – these are easy things to do alone, they even lend themselves to being done alone. Sitting in your room on a Sunday night, hours off from anything remotely resembling bedtime, with nothing but Pinterest and some maudlin songs to keep you company – the mind wanders. The dreaded Ifs begin.

They start seemingly out of nowhere, out of nothing. They start small and reasonable and grow large and ridiculous. One minute you are wondering what will happen IF you ask for next Friday off and the next minute you are wondering what IF you lose this job. What IF you can’t pay your car insurance this month becomes what IF I can’t pay ANY of my bills next month. What IF he doesn’t miss me as much as I miss him becomes what IF this has been an elaborate scheme or a dream or I’ve been bamboozled in some way and for some inscrutable reason into actually believing I might actually be happy for once. You see what I mean.

The only success I have had with holding these thoughts at bay has been to a.) be doing something sufficiently distracting and contentment-inducing or b.) be near to the person with whom I am madly in love because, see, that in itself is quite distracting and contentment-inducing, too.

I suspect this need for some outside force to provide security and reassurance is a failing of sorts – a giant character flaw. But it’s a flaw I unfortunately have – and have had for some time now. I’ve thought I found solutions, thought I was improving, only to find again and again on the first hint of a test that, after all, I have not. The only thing I can think to try next is to uproot myself completely and start working on a dairy farm somewhere – and yet, unfortunately, I will still be there. In the words of Ben Folds: “Everywhere I go, damn, there I am – and I just want to walk away, sometimes”.

Anecdotally and in my personal frame of reference, I feel like being alone in this way is harder for women than for men, and I wonder why that is. I have any number of theories – most of them involving the ways in which we raise our boys to be self-sufficient, independent, and free-thinking, and our girls to be dependent, to ask permission, to seek approval. Where men assume, women ask. Could it also be that where men simply find a new hobby, women write long blog posts about the crisis of self they are having when they find it impossible to be alone?

Sometimes I rather like to hang up my feminist, politically-correct hat for a moment and say it is probably because men just aren’t thinking this deeply with this frequency. What do they need distraction from? They are single-minded creatures and the task at hand is the only one that enters their brain except for when they are listening to you tell a story, in which case everything but what you are saying to them is interesting and of note.

Ahem. *Hat back on*

Anyway, writing this blog post has killed at least an hour and I find now that it is nearly time for bed. Mission accomplished.

Finding The Perfect Stylist

31 Jan

I recently read this and, aside from having TONS of thoughts (in agreement – and which I will write about later), I also came across a few comments that basically said “yea, well how DO I find a stylist that’s right for me?!” And I wanted to repeat here what I said in the comments there, because I think it’s really useful information that may not be obvious to someone outside the industry.

There are a couple tricks to finding a stylist who is a perfect fit for you. Some of it is just trial and error: finding the perfect stylist can be a sort of Goldilocks-like quest. Even if you find a salon you like, it might take a couple visits before you find the right stylist for you.

1. Look for someone who has a similar hair type to you and is sporting a desired style and ask them where they got it done. This one is easy – especially if you ask them about their routine and find it’s similar to what you are hoping for.
2. Look for salons that appeal to you aesthetically. The way a salon is designed and decorated says a lot about the type of clientele they want to attract, the amount of money they want you to spend, and how much maintenance they expect you to put into your hair. For example, a super modern salon in the center of a bustling downtown with front desk staff that consists of 2 or more people likely denotes a higher-maintenance styling philosophy. Whereas a salon set in a converted house in the arts district that carries all organic hair care lines is going to denote a more easy-going styling mentality.

3. That said, a good salon will have all types of stylists to serve all types of clients (and a good stylist can serve all types of clients, even if they themselves are higher or lower maintenance with their hair or overall look). So another good idea is just to call a salon that looks interesting and ask. Do not ask “who is the best” as that question is an affront to stylists and meaningless if the person on the other line knows nothing about you – but ask who works with your hair type the most, or explain that you want a certain look and ask who would be a great fit. Don’t be afraid to tell them you are looking for a great fit, they will want to help you find it so you stay at their salon.

4. Look for a hair product line that has a similar philosophy towards haircare as you do and then find salons that carry it exclusively. For example, any salon using organic color is going to have similar ideas about hair in general. A salon that carries Davines or Aveda, both lines that emphasize natural ingredients, will (generally) be more low-key. But a salon that carries Kerastase, Oribe, Kevin Murphy, etc. is going to be for a client that is into doing a lot of styling.

5. Look for a stylist who looks like you. Again, a good stylist will be able to do all types of clients hair, but finding a stylist with a similar personal style and taste to you can help you find someone who not only will get what you are going for, but also might be a really great fit in terms of personality. Similarly, a curly haired stylist knows how to deal with curly hair because she’s been dealing with her own her whole life and you can bet she had an awful cut or two before she became a stylist.

Obviously, you’re going to find salons that carry one or other of these product lines, have stylists who look like you, or appeal to you in terms of design and they may still not be what you hoped. Again, it’s a little bit of trial and error with this sort of thing. The more of these things match up, the higher your chances of success – but sometimes it just comes down to personality. You might find someone who does your hair well, but that you feel no connection to, and this may or may not matter to you. But I hope everyone finds a stylist who truly “gets” them and their hair – a great hairstyle is a seemingly small thing that nonetheless can have an outsize impact in our lives, making us feel beautiful and more confident, or simply making life easier. Good luck!

Baby Shower Games I Just Made Up

23 Jan


I borrowed this image of a not-lame baby shower from Martha Stewart, natch.

My sister-in-law, Annette, just sent out invites for her upcoming baby shower and myself and our good family friend, Kate, have been pinning away on a board I created to house ideas for the shower. When last talking to Annette, we had a discussion about how she doesn’t want to play any lame baby shower games. I sort of knew what she meant, having heard tell of the awful games that are played at these events – but since I’ve never been to one (all my baby-having friends thus far are either acquaintances or out of towners), I didn’t fully understand until I tried to search for baby shower game ideas online (especially on Pinterest).

These games are all awful. From guessing mom’s measurements (rude!) to bobbing for nipples (mildly amusing, but messy) to chocolate-filled diaper activities (ew!), it seems like every other game is made to embarrass the couple or guests (or just everyone all at once). There were only a few games that seem normal – and guarantee most everyone has played those (name the baby animal, baby mad libs, decorate-a-bib, celeb baby name match). So I decided this really can’t be that hard. I will just come up with some baby shower games and activities of my own. I make no guarantees that no one has thought of these things before, rather that no one has successfully compiled them in a not-lame-games list such as this. Let me know if you have any other clever ideas or additions (that do not involve diapers and chocolate, please) – I will be adding more as they come to me. So here goes:

Gift-a-book: Ask guests to bring a favorite children’s book – can be a picture book or for older readers – and to inscribe the inside cover with a message to the child/parents about why they chose the book, or just a sweet message in general. Similarly, you could use a page in a large children’s book or the baby book as a guest book.

Exquisite-Corpse Monster/Creature: Once you determine how many guests will be attending fold one or more large pieces of paper into the appropriate amount of sections and leave out coloring/drawing supplies so that guests can each illustrate their own section of a beastie’s body. Give the artists some direction, but keep it loose (draw a monster, draw a woodland creature, etc.) then just explain how exquisite corpse drawings work, in case there’s anyone who doesn’t know. (Ahem: Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.) Once the drawing is done, you can frame it to hang in the kid’s bedroom if you like it. Another option is to have a matte board precut and use that as the guest book – then frame both the drawing and the matte board for an awesome visual reminder of all the love and creativity that surrounded you at your shower. If your friends are more wordy than visual – have them create an exquisite corpse poem around a loose theme, instead.

Charades: ok, so I didn’t make this up, but I am adapting it for play at a baby shower. Give each guest 1 or a few (depending on how many guests you have) small sheets of paper or index cards to write down clues. Instruct your guests on what they should write down (“things that’ll happen once the baby is here” is a great prompt) – once everyone has written all their clues down, split the group into two teams and have each team play off the other team’s contributed clues so no one playing will know what is coming. Play a certain amount of rounds or up to a certain number of points – whichever team wins gets bragging rights or you can offer some sort of prize either to the team as a whole or to individuals on the winning team.

Craftacular: Ask guests for help with one particular nursery decoration. For example, if you want a million origami cranes in the room, or crafty clouds that will hang on the wall, or pieces for a mobile you’re planning, or drawings of airplanes (or whatever!), you can gather the supplies and set your guests to crafting. I love this idea because then there is room for variation from person to person and your nursery will be truly unique – plus I’ve found guests with busy hands tend to get into a nice chatty rhythm, too. Depending on how close to the birth your shower is, Dad and/or other interested parties could even be IN the nursery painting – a painting and beer party also sounds pretty fun to me!

Quilt Squares: If you have even one friend or family member who can quilt or sew, decorating quilt squares can also be an awesome activity with a great finished product – a baby blanket or floor quilt. Just make sure you’ve got someone on hand willing to make the finished product.

Cards Against Humanity (custom): This one takes some prep. Download the free blank templates for Cards Against Humanity Black and White cards and create your own custom set for game play during the shower. The cards can be baby or parenting -themed, or you can personalize them to the couple and/or group playing. For example black cards might say “I forgot what _____ was like since I had my baby”, “The two things I miss the most from pre-baby are sleep and _______”, “Baby throw-up smells like _______”. White cards might say things like “Sleep deprivation”, “The Wiggles”, “Lamaze”, “Back Labor”. You get the picture. (On second thought, I might make this set in the coming days – I’ll repost and share if I do).

That’s all I can come up with for now, but now that this is on my mind I’ll hopefully have more to add soon. Good luck planning your Not-Lame Baby Showers! Hopefully I’ve helped.