Two Roads Diverged…

2 Sep

Have you ever been both supremely happy and sad at exactly the same time? Have you ever looked around while everyone around you is talking, clinking glasses, laughing, smiling…and you know that things will never be the same, that this very moment is the turn in the road and no one knows it but you?

I just came home from a party tonight. And, it was lovely, and joyous, and everything a party of its kind could hope to be. But, there is something about parties like this, that is so sad to me. It’s both an end and a beginning. But, what if you are more part of the end, the part that is being left behind? It’s such a conflict: celebrating and yet, knowing that it is also a goodbye.

Goodbye to what has been, who we have been, and a history that is now just that…the past. There will be new memories, new experiences, and a new us, all of which will be categorically different.

Have you ever looked and seen so clearly the change in the air? Have you seen the moment when two paths split?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I could not travel both.

Two roads. I guess Frost is right, but it’s a pity we can’t travel both. A pity that the nature of choices are that you may have one or the other. A pity that as roads further, they move away from each other.

It’s something bittersweet. A time of momentous change, growth and happiness. But, with that comes increasing distance from what was and who we used to know. What used to fit so perfectly becomes more difficult, until it becomes strange and alien.

Familiarity fades and so too will our roads behind us. There will come a point when you turn back…

And looked down one as far as I could          

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh        

Somewhere ages and ages hence

We’ll look back and all will be different. We’ll tell stories about what we remember. Imagine it because it’s no longer there to describe. It’ll be a memory from somewhere ages and ages ago.

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

Top 5 Life Lessons from the Makeup Chair

31 Aug

With classes at UC Davis starting in just a matter of days, I’ll be seeing the beauty shop a whole lot less in the coming months. As a tribute to all the practical knowledge I’ve gained from my years in retail, I’ve put together the Top 5 things I’ve learned working in the beauty shop.

Valuable little tid-bits gleaned from my moments of embarrassment, humiliation, and learning the hard way.

1.     Be nice to EVERYONE.

We all have those days. Days that we really shouldn’t be interacting with others. Days we probably should’ve stayed home. Where I work, those are days where I’d rather not do a complimentary makeover for a twelve-year-old, I’d rather not give someone free samples, and I’d rather not have anyone in the store. That sounds really awful, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t happen too often but once in a while, I have a really bad day.

Well, it was one of those days, and I was ringing someone’s purchase, when all of a sudden the customer says, “Did I do something to offend you?”

I was in shock. I didn’t think I was being rude, but I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t been paying attention, I was just trying to get her out as quickly as I could. At best I’m sure I had a disinterested look on my face and maybe the customer didn’t enjoy the silence she was being served up that evening.

After she left, I felt awful. It sent me into a real spin. I began thinking about how she had come in perfectly fine, and how my bad mood had ruined her night. She left pretty put off and maybe she wouldn’t even shop in our store anymore because of it. I began to think about how many people I come into contact with on bad days, not just at work, but at the coffee house, at home, over the phone, or at the grocery store. How many bad days had I inflicted on others because of my own bad mood? I am never intentionally rude, but others’ perception of us can be very different than our intention. It was then that I decided that it is very important to be nice to everyone. If not for others, for your own peace of mind.

2.       Don’t jump to conclusions.

I work at a beauty store in a relatively affluent community. With that comes a little higher prevalence of entitlement in our clientele. It can come in the form of the cell phone talker, who refrains from acknowledging my existence, any of a number of snide comments, or dirty looks, or just a general attitude of false superiority. Well, I had become pretty used to spotting this kind of behavior and it didn’t thrill me.

One day, I greeted a woman as she walked in. She made eye contact with me and kept walking without a word.

“Hello” I said, again a little louder. Nothing. Well, I wasn’t going to take this lying down. I was not going to let her blatantly ignore me. I am a person, and she was going to treat me as such!

I stormed up to her, “Hi. Is there anything I can help you with?” I asked with a little attitude.

In response she began signing to me. Signing. She was deaf. She hadn’t heard any of my greetings. She wasn’t ignoring me and I was officially the worst person alive. Don’t jump to conclusions. You’ll thank me when you avoid being rude to the hearing impaired.

3.       Go easy on people, maybe they’ll go easy on you.

As a quintessential over-achiever, I hold myself and others to impossibly high standards. I am competitive. This is great for many areas of my life including work. Though I only work in the beauty shop part-time and my education is my main priority, that doesn’t stop me from striving for excellence at work. I am usually the highest performer in sales and since I managed the shop before I went back to school, I am also very familiar with the operational responsibilities in the store. One of my opportunities is cutting people breaks, when the job doesn’t come as easily to them. I expect a lot because I expect a lot from myself.

Well, we have secret shoppers in our company. They shop you to see if you are doing all that you’re required to, and in ours there’s a lot to remember and to perform. If you don’t do the list of things you are supposed to, you get a bad shop and it is reported to your supervisors and company. Well I got two bad shops in a row. ME! I’m the most experienced, highest performer in the store! I was so upset. I was sure I was going to get in big trouble. I felt terrible that I had let everyone down. I asked my Assistant Manager if she had seen it. She said, “Yes. Well, no one can be perfect all the time. Give yourself a break. We all make mistakes.” I can’t even describe to you the relief I felt after she completely let me off the hook. If I had been the manager and this had happened, I would not have been so understanding. But, it was just what I needed to relax and focus on the future and let go of what I had done. So, go easy on others, and hopefully, someday, when you need it, they’ll go easy on you.

 4.       You get what you give off.

We’ve all heard that old adage: you catch more flies with honey. Well, it sounds obvious and simple, but it’s a piece of advice I rarely see in practice. Smile, ask nicely, say something nice to someone, and go out of your way to do something kind. Trust me. Not only will you see more positive responses from others, but it’s a great mood booster. Give off positivity, and you will get it back in spades.

5.       Mean people are almost always sad people.

This one took me a while to learn. I couldn’t understand why some people went out of their way to be rude or mean to me. Well, we have a customer, we’ll call her Grace, and she had been coming in every month or so for her hair products. She was almost always unpleasant, short, and well…mean. I decided, this time, I wasn’t going to passively endure her negativity. I was going to kill her with kindness. I offered her a makeover and to my surprise she said yes. I lured her into conversation and complimented her beautiful skin. A little while into the conversation, she told me she was going through a difficult divorce and this was the first time she had worn makeup in a year. She later apologized to me and she has been one of my regulars ever since. You never know what someone is going through. I learned that being mean is not something happy people do. Try not to take it personally next time you’re on the receiving end. That person has a life and a history that you don’t know, maybe their meanness is sadness in disguise.

What are some lessons you’ve learned over the years? What are your stories?

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

First Comes Love, Then Comes…The Rental Agreement

25 Aug

Anthony and I

My boyfriend, Anthony, and I have been dating for six love-filled years. There have been countless hugs, I-love-you-s, tears, shared failures, and triumphs. I have dated him through the end of my teens to our current mid-twenties. And, that is why we feel we are ready for the next step, the proclamation of our love, putting our commitment to each other in writing, making it official.

That’s right, we are signing a rental agreement and moving in together.

Sixty years ago, the next step would have been marriage and for some, it still is. But, after many conversations about tying the knot, it seems, marriage is not for us. And we’re not alone.

Here are some facts:

The Washington Post reported the present as a record low for prevalence of married couples and the “proportion of adults who are married”.

Only 51% of adults 18 or older are married, which is a 6% decrease from 2000 and a sharp decline from 72% in 1960.

There has been an increase in the median age when people first marry. It’s at an all-time high of 26 for women and almost 29 for men.

40% of Americans under 30 think marriage is passé.

And, lastly 7.5 million couples in the U.S. are living together without being married.

Some attribute these drastic changes to the rising divorce rates in the 70’s and 80’s. Perhaps, many are thinking more carefully about marriage, before entering into it. That would explain the fall in the divorce rate in recent decades. Maybe those that would have married and divorced are waiting.

Really none of that has anything to do with my reasons or my significant other’s reasons for abstaining from marriage. We are not religious. We are not in a hurry to start a family. But, really the largest factor is: we are happy. If it ain’t broke, why marry it?

Studies like those reported by Rachael Rettner of MSNBC in 2012 found those living together to be happier than comparable married couples. Why mess with something that works for us? I have known many, many happy couples who married only to be suffocated by their commitment. No more fun. No more spontaneity. No more sex. All that kept them together was the piece of paper declaring them man and wife, until…not even that kept them together. When have you ever had a married couple tell you that the fun really began after marriage? No, no, no. The marrieds I know always tell nostalgic stories from when they were dating, almost longingly. I never want to look back at the best time of my life. I want to live in that time forever.

Anthony and I are committed to each other in our own unconventional way. We don’t want to be with anyone else and have vowed to each other over and over to love and support one another for the rest of our lives. Isn’t that enough? Isn’t it enough that I choose to wake up everyday and be with him rather than be bound together by a legal document? I guess, it all comes down to what marriage means to the individual. For some, it has religious significance or traditional meaning and I wouldn’t dream of devaluing that. But, for Anthony and I, I think we’re fine just being us, sans the white dress and copious amounts of floral arrangements.

No certificates, no ceremonies, just us, and our lovely little rental agreement.

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

Why are men so disgusting…and other gender-related musings.

9 Aug

A little gem found in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

I found this helmet in a parking lot on the last day visiting my grandmother. In addition to the quaint little maxims pictured above, the other sides of the helmet were adorned with sayings like “Free Mustache Rides” and “Save a Horse, Ride a Biker”. While attempting to take a picture without offending a bearded biker, I wondered, why are men so disgusting?

In addition to that little treasure, events at the store where I work would suggest that there is not a single place where a woman is free from clever perversions from random men.

Even at the beauty shop, a virtual Mecca for women, men wander in to stare at my supervisor’s chest inquire about skin care.

After a recent occurrence, I have identified the three types of men that enter a beauty store. Type A. They drag their girlfriend or wife inside, spend one hundred dollars on varying hair gels and body washes, and leave with their partner rolling their eyes.

Type B. They have bought the same ten dollar bar soap for the past 30 years. Maybe they check you out, maybe they don’t. But at least they’re subtle about it. In fact, Type A and B are very rarely guilty of any counts of douche baggery. It is the third, infamous Type C, that pull the weight for the whole lot. Type C’s are social creatures and generally wander inside with the security of their herd and are completely unaware of the type of store they have walked into, nor do they care. It’s a store full of women that are paid to talk to them and be kind, regardless of inappropriate advances.

Just this week my co-worker offered a complimentary treatment, as per our current promotion. The man responded, “I’ll give you a treatment” in a very specific tone of voice.

Really?

What do men imagine will happen next? That his offer would stir her into a lustful frenzy?

Likely not.

It’s the same with cat calls as I leave the store. Do they think I will turn around and return their appreciation of my backside? Well, last time it happened, I spun around to shame them with eye contact and I discovered three men whose boyish grins quickly dissipated as my gaze burned in their direction. I embarrassed them! Hadn’t they wanted me to turn around? It was then that it hit me: these shows of virility are more for their male friends than for the women.

I imagine that these advances have a very low rate of return. It’s the show of masculinity that these Type C’s are after. The high fives from their buddies, the chorus of laughter, and the camaraderie  built through the shared experience of hitting on chicks. It’s similar to pack behavior and animalistic displays of dominance.

The biker from the Wal-Mart parking lot is not wearing that helmet as a sartorial sex invite as I originally thought, it’s for his biker buddies! It’s still disgusting, but at least it makes sense.

What are your thoughts and stories? 

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

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