Walk-Ins Welcome

My sister and I found ourselves at Bergenfest (www.bergenhealthandlife.com/Bergenfest2012) last Thursday night through the generosity of Companion Animal Advocates (www.companionanimaladvocates.org) a charity I adore.  Bergenfest is a celebration of the best of Bergen County NJ with exhibits by many local businesses included Parisian Beauty Academy in Hackensack NJ.

There were several people dressed in black with varying degrees of tattoos and hair color wandering through the very thick crowds handing out flyers and coupons for salon services at the academy. To say they exuded enthusiasm is an understatement.  The academy is a Paul Mitchell Partner School which means:

It is a full-service educational program for cosmetology professionals, teaching a full array of body, hair and personal care services that provide lucrative employment opportunities for program graduates, in the salon, spa and business. The program features training in hair design, cutting and color, makeup, texture and bone structure. The Paul Mitchell Partner School Program trains future professionals and works with them in passing state board exams necessary for business certification (taken from their website).

So not two days before I was bitching about the cost of my haircuts and here I am with a flyer in my hand, a coupon and a chance to do something different.  I made my appointment, what is there to lose?  I know you’re hearing the song from Grease in your head but not so fast.

Walking into the salon you are duly impressed by the design of the waiting area and immediately greeted by the staff behind the counter.  Had you made an appointment, what were you thinking of having done today, where did you hear about us? Oh how they wish they had been at Bergenfest on Thursday, just sayin.

Fill out the release. Yes there is a release.  This is a school, you’ll be attended to by students, stay with me here.  You acknowledge such and will have the opportunity for a redo in a certain amount of time but I can assure you that won’t be necessary.

You are greeted by your student stylist and escorted back to their station.  There a about 40 individual stations, there is fabulous lighting, I looked damn good back there, and enough energy to power all of Hackensack.  There is the bustle of a salon only more youthful, there is the chatter of a salon only more enthusiastic, and there is music just loud enough.  At one point Tom Petty’s Free Fallin came over the speakers and literally everyone joined the chorus.  Good to see an entire room of mostly twenty somethings belting out Tom Petty.

On to the consultation with your stylist; they take some information, examine your hair, and discuss what you’d like to do.  They write it all down.  Then over comes the instructor to sign off.  They confirm what you’re looking for and there is a lesson right on the spot.  Did the student get the client’s wishes correctly?  Did the client convey their wishes correctly?  I got a very good lesson on how to convey my wishes and will use that lesson going forward; I had not really done a good enough job.

Off to the wash house, love that.  How do you prefer the temperature of the water, the pressure of your scalp massage?  When was the last time you were asked that, come on this is great stuff.   Back to the chair.  There is a moment of concern when your student stylist consults their diagram book to make sure they are parting and clipping your hair correctly before cutting but it’s all in their quest to give you the best they can give.  Before she made one snip she conferred with the supervisor on what she was going to do and how she was going to do it.  He concurred; she exhaled and regained her confidence immediately.  Let us begin.  Handle the length first, on to the layers, check in with the supervisor and complete with product.

God knows one can’t live without product and my student stylist was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about a new line for wavy/curly hair that had just come out.  I don’t know if they get anything for selling the product but you know I was going to buy it.

Your student will walk you back to the desk, get your product for you, shake your hand and thank you for coming in.  You pay your bill for services rendered (which is very very nominal, my haircut cost $12.00) and the last thing they ask was how was your experience.

My experience at the Academy was wonderful.  My haircut was perfect, even though it took far longer than I expected it was perfect.  Be prepared to spend time when you go to the Academy, you are not only getting a service you are taking part in someone’s education.  You have the opportunity to talk with them on a level that might make a difference in how they might speak to their clients going forward.  You can be encouraging in letting them take their time allowing them to confer with the supervisor.  You are allowing the supervisor the time to sneak in a lesson or two in real life, real time.  Your student will remember you if you are a pain in the ass or if you are a patient encouraging client, you decide.  I was grateful to have spent a wonderful afternoon with Kristina and Caesar, thank you both.

You can find the Parisian Beauty Academy online (http://parisian.paulmitchell.edu/hackensack-nj) and on Facebook (you know they want you to hit the LIKE).  Give them a try (I hear earlier in the week is less crazy but the crazy was fun too) it will make you smile all afternoon.


Thirty Years Ago Today

Do you know what you were doing thirty years ago today?  I know exactly what I was doing and where I was and who was there.  I played the best racquetball set I ever had on Sunday morning, September 26th, 1982.  A girlfriend and I had a knock down drag out tight scored game like never before.  I dove, I smashed, and I served up some of the best lobs ever.  It lasted over two hours and I walked away the victor.

To say this is amazing is an understatement because I am not athletic.  I’m not a klutz and I wouldn’t call myself too uncoordinated but this kind of thing usually isn’t my style.  Somehow racquetball did it for me and I was pretty good at it and I played often.  In my twenties I played almost every day at lunch and yes I was tiny.  Not just short the way I am now but tiny. Like 115lbs tiny.  Stop laughing its true.

I’m really more a walker and a dancer (back in the day anyway, and I had the hair to prove it) but athletics just weren’t my thing so this was a very sweet win. No injuries, no pulls, no bouncing off the walls and jamming my shoulder, ok maybe a little pull. Fabulous. Put me in just the right mood to get married later on that day.

Oh yeah and I got married on September 26th thirty years ago today.  It was a lovely, small affair and I danced with everyone there.  It was a beautiful fall day and everything went as planned.  I walked my father down the aisle, we brought tears to our mother’s eyes, and we said everything we wanted to say and meant every word of it. Everyone knew it would be a wonderful journey to see us through to our old age. Everyone knew it.  Everyone.

And for quite a while it was a wonderful life.  It was us against the world, the crazy Italian family, the circumstances thrown our way and we had everything life had to offer.  Then it wasn’t a wonderful life, the circumstances became a heavy load and we couldn’t bear it any longer.  Himself (as Cookie so aptly named him) succumbed to addiction and I succumbed to isolation.  Both trying desperately to fight our way out but caught in the mire.  No one’s fault, no bad feelings.  As far as I know, to this day I’ve never said a bad word about himself; he did the best he could.  I did the best I could but what I didn’t know then was that was not good enough.  What I was doing didn’t help either of us and I’m sorry I stayed as long as I did.  Not for the reasons you think, but because had I left sooner we might have been saved sooner, recovered sooner.  Who knows how it all would have turned out?

I left racquetball because I wasn’t good enough.  I left my marriage because I discovered I was good enough and deserved more. I believed I was good at racquetball; turns out everyone passed me by, my abilities were limited.  I believed in my marriage and stayed a very long time, turns out life passed me by, my intentions were good but the road to hell was indeed paved with them.

Where are we now after four years since we’ve divorced?  Himself is doing well, working hard at life and its simple rewards. He keeps in touch and frankly he is still my favorite brother of that family. After a lifetime with someone there are still some things that only they will understand and thankfully we can talk. I’m doing well too.  I believed when I left that I would crawl first, then walk perhaps soar.  I get closer every day.

Things Happen

Things happen.  Sometimes you find yourself in a compromised position and you trust your brain to generate the truth. Sometimes you actually believe that truth.  Sometimes you know you’ve just lied and you can justify it somehow.  Sometimes it doesn’t sit right with you and it keeps you up at night.  You haven’t hurt anyone.  It was a lie of convenience and since no one else but you knows, it’s fine. Right?

Yeah, not so much.  I found myself in this position just recently.  It has been bothering me but somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to give it up. I didn’t hurt anyone, I don’t think.  But I lied about something that would make me look good for maybe a minute.  So did looking good for that minute make me feel any better.

Yeah, not so much.  I actually heard myself tell the lie and thought what the hell are you doing?  But once it’s out it’s out and you can’t take it back.  You can let it die a natural death but it’s out there.  So you tuck it away in the back of your mind and you’re done with it.  You won’t do THAT again.  After all you’re building a legacy here.  But it stays there and every once in a while it comes to the forefront and says remember me?

Yeah, I remember you. Just when you think it will be with you the rest of your life (very dramatic I know and believe me it’s a pretty tiny lie) something intervenes and allows you to pay for it.  Literally, with gratitude and finality.  It’s done, you’ve made it right and you know like you know you’ll never do that again.

On the eve of Yom Kippur sometimes even the Goy are awarded the chance to atone. Thank God.


What If?

The girls, Kyle and Sandra, have gone home and I thought what if this was my retirement?  What would a day look like?  So for the last two days I’ve tried to, not only envision, structure my day as if.  Here’s how it would look:

Wake up at my leisure.  So that really turned out to mean I wake up around 6:30. Habits are habits after all and when you feel relaxed enough to want to get your day started early that’s what will happen. Take care of business and off to the beach walk with the girls, Toto and Lina, I go.  I love that walk, I might not live by the beach when I retire but I will continue my morning walk routine.

Home to coffee, dog feeding and playing, the girls were so vigilent when Kyle and Sandra were here that they finally let lose in the backyard running back and forth and enjoying the space.

Relax over my breakfast and affirmations for the day.

Sit down and write. Finish the post .

Weather permitting, pack lunch and go to the beach.  Ok so maybe I do need to live by the beach, gotta think further on that.  I met a darling man at the beach the other day that was walking toward me as I was stretching my legs. He said it was a fine great day wasn’t it.  I agreed.

I was poking around looking for hopscotch rocks (much easier to find than good shells or sea glass) and he was coming back the other way and let me know I was moving far too slow to be exercising.  He went on to tell me that he met a woman the other day that was much older (he appeared to be in his late seventies) who told him he had big feet. He figured that’s why he was so much better at getting up and down the beach.  He parked on the bench near me reading his paper and we left it at that.

I stayed at the beach doing my research (reading with my blessed Kindle in the blazing sun, love that) on everything from legacy to mean girls to the impact a father has on their children’s lives to how to make content on your blog count until late afternoon.

Now home to shower and prep dinner; cook something fabulous and healthy, pour an inch and enjoy dinner on the deck if weather permits or at the dining table, definitely not in front of the TV.  Turning the TV on would be my demise.  I get sucked into the damnedest things.  At home I’m hooked on this show “Abandoned” where these guys go into abandoned buildings looking for treasures.  And God knows I don’t need another marathon anything on HGTV or the Food Network.

Then catch up on email. At work I’ve started answering email late in the afternoon not every minute of every day.  I find things have a way of resolving themselves if people copy enough other people on the email.  By the end of the day I simply need to confirm they are right or give them another alternative.  My worth is no longer tied to the number of times during the day I email rather it’s tied to the quality of my reply and getting the last word has always been my strong suit.  Quite the concept once you get the hang of it.

Take the girls for another walk, feed them and straighten up.

Make notes for future posts, make notes for a personal history I’m working on for a friend, make notes on Ordinary Legacy seminar. Read. Talk to my sister.  Wind down.

One more quickie pee pee for the girls and then into bed.  Sometimes that’s early, sometimes that’s later.  I’ve always wondered about those people who say they lose track of time when they are doing what they love.  I’m starting to get that concept too.  Before going to sleep I catch up on pleasure reading, magazines, Facebook and some of the blogs I follow and am inspired by.

So could I fill everyday this way?  I’m sure I’d have to clean and do laundry once in a while. Zumba at least twice a week until my joints all give out. Oh yeah and visit with friends, go to the movies, shop, day trips to interesting places in the city.  Break out my camera again, go to classes.  Yeah I could pretty much handle some version of this each day.



Chatham Lunch



September 18th is my dear friend, best friend’s birthday.  I tend to miss it every year by a minute or two.  I don’t normally miss birthdays except for the people I love most apparently; I tend to miss Kyle’s too.  Though I miss their official birthdays I celebrate them and tell them as often as possible that I love them.  So here they are on the Cape for Sandra’s birthday.  I can’t screw it up this year.

Sandra is on Cape because of the accident she had back in January, you remember Whiteface had a thing or two (broken legs that is) to say about her lifestyle and slowed her way down.  I drove up to be by her side and the conversations went everywhere as you could imagine they would after a near miss.  What will life look like now?  What should the goals be going forward?  Well, one tiny little goal could be to celebrate your birthday on the Cape….just saying…might be nice…could work. What do you think?  Fast forward and here we are.

The weather was supposed to be a bit iffy but the Cape being its own little ecosystem (read finicky as hell) it turned out to be a beautiful day.  So let’s do the tourist thing and stroll around Chatham to shop and have a celebratory lunch.  Off we go.

Kyle and I have a very strong fondness for Chatham.  She found herself there after a traumatic event and scooped me up to bring me there after a traumatic event.  We went each year for many years and it seemed that either she or I or neither of us had some kind of thing to work out.  It was a salve for us and we looked forward to our time together there as only Summer Sisters could.  I’m so glad she could work out being on the Cape this year after her bout with breast cancer, sometimes I just can’t get close enough to her to give her all the energy and love I have for her.  But when we’re on Cape we know that we have enough love to pass back and forth to hold us for a while.  She’s got adjustments to make and life and style changes of her own to work out but I have the utmost faith that she will arrive on the other side of this as only she can, with grace and determination to continue to make her way in the world.  I’ve said it a million times, she is the smartest woman I know and I admire her more every time I see her.

Now we’ll bring Sandra there to poke around and shop and walk and eat and just be on the Cape toward making her new found life and style come together.  It’s funny the things one thinks will put them on a new path.  For Sandra it seemed to be about a more outward vision and so we found ourselves at the optical center in Chatham.  Get it?  Trying on glasses and imagining their effect not only on the people you’re planning to do business with but on your own reflection back from the mirror. Are they me, is this what I want to put out there?  Do they convey what’s happened to me and what I’ve gained from it?  Oh we found the perfect pair but we’ll come back later to be absolutely sure. 

So what would take your mind off such a weighty decision, lunch of course.  Sandra’s birthday, what would you like to eat.  Lobster roll, well if you’re going to do the tourist thing you may as well eat like one…or maybe not.  In the middle of Chatham is a place we passed on the way to the Squire named Celestino’s Café.  We sized up the items on the menu board and dismissed it as too expensive for dinner.  But lunch?  The items on the lunch menu board looked beyond appetizing and quite reasonable so we took a chance.  Imagine Dijon mussels, fresh salads with strawberries and goat cheese.  Imagine grilled cheese taken to the next level by using brie and lobster.  And thankfully a beautiful lobster roll for our birthday girl.  And oh yeah a bottle of wine…chardonnay that was light and fruity enough even for me.  Did I mention we topped it off with dessert, I mean three desserts, one more delicious than the next. Hours spent at a table over lunch is somehow much more decadent than going out for dinner.  We were the ladies who lunch enjoying the food and each other’s company. 

So now there is shopping to complete.  We continued our way up Main Street poking in and out of stores and people watching and chatting all along the way.  Back at the optical center and yes we’ll take those beautiful tortoise shell frames that are just big enough to make a statement and just classic enough to say I know a thing or two.  Perfect.

Back on Willow we sit around happily with our books and our nibbles (because dinner is the furthest thing from our minds) in companionable silence until we just can’t keep our eyes open another minute.  Happy Birthday my dear friend, the rest of your life and your wonderful style will be far reaching. Love you.