Tag Archives: Growing up

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

Tell Nothing But The Truth

30 Jul

I remember, in first grade, I put a bright yellow sticker on another kid’s art project. I smoothed the happy face the size of a silver dollar right on it. I don’t know why; I just did. I had no idea it would be as big of a deal as it turned out to be: the kid cried, our teacher was furious and the whole class was forced to stay in for recess for a whole week, until someone confessed to the defacement of property. I never said anything. I never got in trouble and it never mattered.

Fast forward. After a difficult transition at work, my supervisor asked me how I feel about her. I stared into her eyes and I told her the truth. Well, the truth did not set me free; if anything, it has sufficiently muddied the waters. My truth effectively offended her and changed the dynamic between us for the foreseeable future.  I could actually see her bristle as my words evaporated into the air. But, I told the truth! Is that still the right thing to do, IS honesty the best policy?

Now, I have ruffled feathers, and for what? For some sort of phantom virtue police? Was I expecting a pat on the back for my directness and authenticity? A trophy in the mail for my sincerity? Well, no one feels better, least of all me.

Who does honesty benefit anyway? Does it ever turn out well for someone to reveal something that is painful? Why do it then? What motivates us to tell the truth? If anything it is the lies that save your ass.

How many times have you told someone they look great when they don’t, told someone you were busy when you weren’t, said you were seeing someone when you definitely weren’t? And who was the worse for it? No one. In fact, it spared feelings and probably helped you skip over a bunch of unneeded drama.

Do we need lies to navigate safely through life? To buffer and soften the blows that can make things complicated? Is lying the adult thing to do?

Maybe as we grow older, candor is replaced by discretion and honesty is no longer appropriated to the public sphere. It’s not that it is necessarily punishable, more like frowned upon. It’s rude, or dramatic, inappropriate, or just plain unnecessary. Telling the truth becomes self-serving. Why tell the truth when you can smooth things over? Don’t rock the boat.

Think about couples that have been married 50+ years, old and gray and still happy… I bet you hear a whole lot of “Yes, Dear” in their house and I’ll bet my right arm it’s not always truthful. Happy wife, happy life. What my husband doesn’t know won’t hurt him. When did we all turn into such liars? And why didn’t I get the memo?

Ever since my omission of the truth in the first grade and an unfortunate situation where I stole a pen from my neighbor in second, I have been relatively honest since. I’m definitely not saying I always am, but for the most part. After I stole the pen, I was forced to return it and apologize. It was probably one of the top 10 worst moments of my life. I felt horrible, tears streamed down my face as I told my neighbor, Larry, what I had done. I relinquished the pen to its rightful owner. I told him I stole his pen because I really liked it and I was very sorry. Of course, he didn’t really care and in retrospect I think he thought it was a little cute. But in the moment, I was completely distraught. The guilt was overwhelming. What did these situations teach me? Lie. Bad. Truth. Good. But does this still hold true? Are there still only the two extremes to choose from? Do the rules change with adulthood?

The truth is, I don’t know. I didn’t know then and I certainly don’t now. I was wrong about the pen and I was wrong at work. Maybe the only thing I was right about was keeping my mouth shut about the sticker. Maybe silence is the new ideal, the middle ground between the truth and the lie. Would the world be a better place if we all just kept all things controversial to ourselves? If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. You know, that whole bit.

Perhaps with adulthood, comes the realization that your personal truth may not be everyone else’s. Not all situations necessitate one’s vocalization of “the truth”. Not everyone needs to know how you feel; it’s OK to keep it to yourself. Did I think my opinion would somehow enact change, trigger an epiphany or be met with applause and a Nobel Prize for my contribution to the world? Well…yeah. Not really all that, but I thought it was important at the time. Turns out, it wasn’t.

With my next day at work only a very short, menacing 36 hours away, I’m dreading facing the music. Walking through the doors and seeing the fall out from my virtuous expression. I’m sure it will be fine; things are never as bad as you think they are. People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think they do.

But, I do know this, from now on, I’m going to keep my damn truth to myself.

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

Merge Left for Marriage

18 Jul

Photo by Anthony Delgado

At what age do we become real grown-ups? Is there an invisible boundary between twenty-four and twenty-five that activates the marriage and mother gene? If so, was I absent that day?

It seems everywhere I look; I am surrounded by Bugaboo strollers and blinded by bright, shiny engagement rings. The really strange part about it is I know some of these strollees and diamond slinging offenders. It’s as if I woke up and suddenly there is this Domesticity Partition separating the marrieds from unmarrieds, the yes-I-want-kids from the yes-I-want-to-travels.

My best friend and engaged traitor, Shayla, has been moved over the Partition, and now attends grown-up soirees for New Years and receives fancy thousand dollar plates as engagement gifts. As a sort of a UN peace ambassador between the two sides, Shayla gracefully balances between her life affianced and her friendship with me, student and poor person.

“But tell me this” I asked her over the phone, “when did it become normal to talk about diapers and poop for hours? No one bats an eyelash! They just keep talking and talking about puke and poop as if it’s the most natural thing in the world”

“Well, no one wants to hear about your child’s poop. They should know that. They probably were never very interesting to begin with” she told me.

“But it’s true! People that are only four years older than me have these completely alien lives, they have kids and husbands and I can’t even pay my phone bill on time”.

It was then that she went into a long story about her favorite aunt and uncle who had it all. They traveled, had kids, and retained their ability to relate to people without kids. But it just seemed so distant to what I had experienced, like a sort of fairy tale ending. She popped out a kid, went back to work, and then they traveled the globe. The End. No poop.

I told her about how earlier that day, I leaned over the balcony in the mall that overlooks the kids play area. The loop of multi-colored plastic couches were crowded with moms watching their children slide through tubes and jump into a sea of red, yellow, and green plastic spheres. The women were all probably a few years older than me, but no more than five or ten years. As I watched them sip their four dollar lattes and smooth the imaginary wrinkles from their perfectly coordinated track suits, I wondered, am I the strange one?

What happened to making a friend in the sandbox when you were five or later proclaiming lifelong friendships over too many beers? Are those days over, to be filed away with old yearbooks and Hanson CDs?

“Yes, you are weird” she said. “You call breast implants enlarged mammary glands; you’re weird. But I promise, when I have kids, I won’t talk about their poop. I’ll probably want to forget that I ever cleaned it anyway.”

That’s what I love about Shayla, no matter how far we get from our 18 and 22 year old selves, we’ll always be kindred, even if she does enjoy doing laundry and I haven’t had my car washed in two months.

So with that, I resign peacefully to my half of the partition with the comfort of knowing that maybe we don’t have to pick a side.

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

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