9.27.2010

fixer-upper.


Hair, I've learned, will never come easily for me.

At age two, springy, course curls erupted all over my little head. My mother, unsure what to do with it all, trimmed it into a dirty blonde halo which floated around my chubby, smiling face. This was endearing until I was six, after which explaining why I, a Caucasian girl in the midwest, had an afro was somewhat difficult. The years which followed were flashes of frizz, mullets and one steady stream of uncontrollable mane.

Three years ago, I visited the salon to dye my locks. I asked for brunette...purple is what I got. After the salon's numerous stripping treatments and cover-up jobs, I'd had it. Not only did I have aubergine tresses, but they were falling out of my head with the faintest touch. An awful cut just months after this incident left me looking like an electrocuted poodle. And that was it. In 2007, I gave up on trading my hard-earned dollar for stylized disappointment. I couldn't remember the last time I'd left the salon feeling like I'd gotten my money's worth, or even my time's worth. I fell into an easy and safe routine: I'd trim my ends when they began to look mangy, and mix my own dye when I needed a touch up. In between it was business as usual: wash and wear...and flat iron, iron, iron.

Oh, the damage a girl can do to her own tresses. I knew it was bad. They were lackluster and my split ends had turned to split strands. But, for years I'd convinced myself that it was better to do damage by my own hand than pay for another to do it for me. Today, I finally gave in. The damage was irreparable, and I needed help. So, I went back to the one salon that's ever done me right. At least an inch and a half had to come off to shock my locks back to life, my stylist told me. This was particularly heart-wrenching as I've spent years dreaming of long, wavy, effortless locks. And the years have never brought them to me. But, the snipping had to be done, so I crossed my fingers and placed my trust in the very talented scissors of Kiersten. Within minutes she had whipped up a batch of brunette perfection, and I was cooking. And the finished product, although not long, luscious locks, was surprisingly livable. More than livable, rather likeable. And not at all purple. The exact shade of brunette I'd hoped for, cute new bangs and a sweet, shorter 'do.

I've crossed my heart that I'll take better care of my locks-using a heat-protectant when I straighten and following through with regular check ups with Hair Dr. Kiersten. It's a whole new me. And maybe--just maybe, if I'm good, year 25 will bring me the tresses I so desire.

They say healthy hair grows 6 inches a year, right? :)

Behold the new 'do. And, a very sweet boy sent me flowers on Friday...it was his birthday, and he wanted to thank me for making the end of his 33rd year, and birthday, incredible. Should I keep him? :)

9.22.2010

Word Lover Considers New Path


Bethany is a student with a passion for creative freedom.

After two weeks in a Writing for the Media class at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Bethany, 24, has decided that journalism is not her destiny.

UW-Stout requires Journalism and English Writing minors to take a course which focuses on journalistic practices and the media. Bethany, who was considering both minors at the start of the semester, has crossed Journalism off her list and hopes to forge ahead with an English Writing minor.

"Why spend so much time fretting over AP style, and nary a second building an alternative vocabulary for over-utilized words like 'said'?," said Bethany.

Although she didn't find her destiny in the class, Bethany says that the experience has given her a new found respect for journalists.

"Any writer who can act as an informational sieve, holding back her own opinions and ideas while sending through only facts, is to be commended," said Bethany. "Unfortunately I lack that restraint. I write like a sieve with a hole sawed in the middle. You're getting it all, and it's gonna be messy."

Bethany will spend the next 14 weeks attempting to reign in her vocabulary, while maintaining her love of the English language.

Editor's Note: The author admits she didn't spend one minute thinking about AP style while writing this post. Suffice it all to say: Hellllooo, creative writing class next semester. We shall be chums.


9.18.2010

a sweet gift.

I am a technological minimalist. Less gadgets, less stress. When I first moved into my apartment, I lived without a TV for three months. Finally, I snagged a cute little silver 19" flat screen TV with a built in DVD player...and it was boss. Granted, I have spent the last two years trying to find the exact location of optimal reception...every passing car on the street below interrupts my TV viewing. I've never found it.

When Gabe was here, he was certain I needed a new TV--his treat. I protested, telling him I didn't need anything new and my little television suited my lifestyle perfectly. A larger TV would only clutter my tiny living room. After several lighthearted debates, he brought out the big guns: I had a stressful school and work year ahead of me, and he wanted to make sure that during late nights spent painting, I didn't need to watch hours of Frasier at 2am.

And...to Best Buy we went. "Nothing extravagant," I told him. "Nothing over 32 inches." He agreed to keep it in check. In good faith, I gave him the key to my apartment and went to work for the day.



The boy lies. Meet my 42" telly, which is hooked up his Netflix, a massive iTunes collection and Hulu plus. Oh, and give a friendly helloooo to my new media center, which we pieced together after a trip to IKEA. I've developed a theory that if a couple can survive a trip to IKEA, they've got a love for the ages. Not only did we survive, we had an incredible time. He was a true gentleman, analyzing box measurements, the size of our SUV and consulting IKEA staff on available colors and sizes.  We giggled our way through store, and he even managed to continue to adore me after I stealthily swapped his soda for Lingonberry tea. (Never, ever leave me with your IKEA soda cup. You're gonna get Lingonberried...)

Two weeks later, I've come to believe that the size of one's TV is directly proportional to the size of one's rump. However, I will admit that it's been a lovely addition to my home and has kept me company as I've burned the midnight oil.

But, my next shopping trip: New gym shoes, and a strong desire to put down the remote.

9.16.2010

old school romance.


There are eight hours between my time and his. This means as I snuggle up in bed, he's ready to trek through the Iraqi dust and start his day. When I return home for the evening and crack open my textbooks, he's fast asleep.

And so, rather unromantically, we must plan, schedule and creatively create ways to spend time together. Neither of us are lovers of the phone, and considering we both live long, busy days, phone calls aren't always optimal. Our first creative invention: long distance movie dates. By Thursday we select a movie, then both download or acquire it. On Saturday morning (for me...evening for him), we both hit "play" at the same moment, chatting online as we watch the flick. We even eat matching snacks...last Saturday it was white cheddar cheese popcorn and sodas...the breakfast of the champs, indeed. Our first selection was Dear John...all in all, a little too close to reality. Quick summary:

"A romantic drama about a soldier who falls in love with a conservative college student while on his two-week leave."

Sooooo....yeah.We're aiming for something a little less parallel to our lives and relationship this Saturday.

His birthday is coming up, so along with his birthday package, I finally put to use a few of the 80+ vintage handkerchiefs that I've hoarded for over two years. I once read that during the war in the 40's, women would send perfumed handkerchiefs with their boys who went off to war. And so I did the same, embroidering the word "Mine" on the hankie scented with my perfume...and the word "Yours" on the hankie I asked him to spray with his cologne and return to me.

Ah, I remain a romantic at heart.

9.09.2010

behind door #2...

(Some lovely doors in Ireland. Left, in the town of Killarney. Right, in the town of Adare.)

Today marked the second day of school, and in my typical fashion I arrived disgustingly early for an 8am class. A class I'd been dreading, the Light Construction and Methods classroom was cramped, orange in wall color, dimly lit and full of males. Not a single female present. Suddenly my mind began racing: Did I really need this class...and why am I the only female here? Interior design...is that truly what I want to do with my life? For the love of Moses, WHY ARE THERE ONLY BOYS HERE?! And then I ran, like a jittery horse who'd been kicked squarely in the side. I snatched up my laptop and galloped as far from the classroom full of boys as I could, finally ditching in a distant hallway to gather my thoughts.

Now...I'm a smart girl. (Is that too confident to say about oneself? I suppose I mean this: I'm not dense.) So, why is it that even in this modern world where we're all equal regardless of gender, race or orientation, a classroom full of boys can still frighten me? And not just frighten me: terrify me to the extent of fleeing a wing of a building. Is it that I worry they're all smarter than me? Do I fear they're calling me saddlebags under their breath?

Silly, ridiculous me.

Within 10 minutes I had dropped my Light Construction and Methods course in favor of English Writing course, which is, to be honest, where my heart has been headed these past few months. There once was a time that I dreamed of arranging pillows and furniture, of fanning myself with paint chips. But, as time has passed I've discovered that more than anything, I most enjoy the aesthetics of words, letters, the arranging of experiences and emotions. 

And so, currently I sit in a coffee shop...a smidge confused, overwhelmed and teary-eyed, wondering if it's too late to find out what's behind door #2: English Major of Sorts. Writing, I believe, is the closest thing to my heart, it's my sanity and so very often my only form of true expression...but if I discovered that I was terrible at it, I would be utterly crushed. (Wow. That was incredibly dramatic...imagine I've now flung the back of my hand to my forehead. Even better. Blame it all on my previous stint as a theatre major.)

Which brings me to this question: If you pursue the one thing you love as a career, do you sell out your hobby, your love, your creative soul?

9.07.2010

hello, his name is...


21 days. 7 states. 5 time zones. 2 countries. 1 amazing time.

This morning, after many hugs and tears, my travel companion boarded a plane back to Iraq. All this time, I have referred to him only as that--my "travel companion". Truth be told, I have done so because revealing his actual name seemed too strange, too novelesque for reality. But, it is with an enormous smile that I inform you that my travel companion will become a long-term character in my story, appearing every few chapters, whenever he can snag leave from Iraq. So, it's time that I officially introduce you to my companion, my at-a-distance-love interest...

His name is Gabe.

(Note: I am not making this up.)

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