Sunday, February 27, 2005

Saint in a Smock

It all started so innocently. Eighth grade if I remember correctly. Maybe seventh.

I was at my my friend Jennifer's house tanning by the pool on a hot summer day.
We had just gathered all of our tanning equipment from the linen closet.
Baby Oil, zinc oxide, colorful oversized beach towels, two pairs of her Mom's Foster Grants and a tiny transistor radio.
We clicked our metal and plastic tubing lounge chairs into tanning position and draped our enormous towels with upholsterer's precision over them. The radio was playing Hall and Oats when we turned it on. It was going to be an great day.

As we wiggled into the lounging positions we would assume for the rest of the afternoon, Jennifer remembered the most important pool side accessory of all.
She sprang from her lounger with the agility of Nadia and bounded for the house. What on earth could she have forgotten? We have most everything I can think of. Must be something good. I sipped my Tab and waited anxiously.

When she emerged from the screened-in porch I could make out a small, white, plastic bottle. As she got closer, I noticed the spray nozzle and bright orange letters.
They spelled out S-u-n-i-n. Sunin. What the heck was Sunin?

"Want some?"
She tossed the bottle to me and even with my oiled up paws I managed to pluck it out of mid-air.
"What is it?"
"It's Sun-In, silly... for your hair. You spray it on and the heat from the sun activates it and makes your hair totally blonder."

What? Wasn't I already blonde? My hair would naturally bleach out on family vacations to Hilton Head each summer and I always liked the beachy look it gave me.
I realized at that moment that my hair wasn't at it's full blondeness and vacation wasn't until the last week of July.
Hmmm, July. That's a long time from now.
Sure. What the heck? Why wouldn't I use Sun-In to give my mousy hair a head start this particular summer?

I read the directions. Cautiously, starting slowly, I sprayed just a little bit on top of my head.
I was going for a "lightly sun-kissed" effect according text I had just read.

It only took a the better part of an hour before I wanted more. Just a few more tiny sprays. Here and here.
And, well, maybe just a couple more, here and here to even it out.

By the end of the afternoon, Jennifer and I had used almost the whole bottle.

I loved my new slightly blonder hair. Who knew it was so easy to be blonder?
And who knew that blonder was so much better? Sunkissed rocked.
I liked how it made me feel sporty, yet mysterious, and a little naughty. My own little glamorous secret.

As the summer turned into fall, I was already thinking of how I would miss my new improved blonde locks.
I was already experiencing the first tiny itch of withdrawal.
So imagine my delight, on a routine lip-gloss-purchasing-trip to the local Revco drugstore
when I discovered a new version of Sun-In that worked it's magic from the heat of your BLOW DRYER!

"YESSSSSSS! Score!" I said to myself.
I put down the Kissing Potion multi-pack I was carrying and decided to put all my money down on two bottles of Sun-In.
I was so excited by my discovery, that I bought a celebratory pack of Eve 120's Menthol cigarettes at the check out.
(Yes, in Kentucky kids could buy cigarettes pretty much anywhere. No questions asked.)
As I cut though the cemetery, smoking my unusually long cigarette, I could feel the anticipation bubbling up in the pit of my stomach. My pace quickened. I didn't even have time to finish smoking.
I was at a full run by the time I cut down the alley to my house.

My need for blondeness was about to spiral out of control and I never suspected a thing.

I found myself spending all of my spare time either hanging out in the hair care aisle at Revco reading hair color boxes or locked in the bathroom at my folks house for hours blow drying my tresses on max heat.

Soon, even the hair dryer version of Sun In just wasn't doing enough for me anymore.

I bought my first box of Frost and Glow in the dark winter months of 1981.
It was a rush to try something new.
I mastered the hook and cap method on the first try.
I loved it. It was comforting yet exhilarating.
Before long I wasn't even using the cap.
Or the hook.
Or the instruction booklet.
I had come up with innovative ways to get the most bleach for my buck. This should have been my first warning sign.

Still in denial, I ignored the sign with complete bliss.

The level 3's were next. I started slowly. Permanents were nothing to mess around with.
This was grown woman hair color. Professional waitresses and bank tellers used this sort of product.
I was getting in deep and I knew it. There were a few girls in my freshman class that were using, but it was never talked about. We all shared knowing glances with one another, but the code of conduct would be to deny use of products of any kind if asked point blank. People were starting to comment on my ever changing hue swings. I was becoming one of those girls.

So, with the hope of not being too obvious, I chose my first box of L'Oreal Medium Natural Blonde.
It was the point of no return. I was fully aware that it was permanent color, but I had to try it.
And although I had not chosen an alarming color, I knew I had crossed the threshold.
Level 3's smelled different. There were tiny bottles to mix. It was a complex process.

I was soon a level 3 junkie, although it was not wholly apparent to those even closest to me.
6 weeks later I chose Not-So Natural Straight-Up Blonde.
6 weeks later it was Extra-Light-Summer-Kissed-Blonde.
Next came Screaming-Bleach-Bottle-Blonde.
And finally the infamous Who-Are-We-KIdding-I'm-Out-Of-Freaking-Control-Truck Stop-Ultimate-Blonde.
I was hitting the bleach bottle hard and everyone knew it.
I didn't care.
I would make jokes about it.
It wasn't against the law. Besides, who was I hurting?
No one.

I continued on this way for another couple of decades, with only brief experimentations of technicolor
Manic Panic shades in college and a very brief attempt at going cold turkey to my natural dishwater blonde at the beginning of my marriage.

It wasn't until just recently that I sought help from a professional.
It was way past time to hop off the never ending merry go round of touch ups, full head applications and deep conditioning treatments. I was finally at the end of my rope. I was sick and tired of the hair care aisle. I never thought it would get to this. I was feeling low and my hair looked really, really bad.

Basically, my situation had gotten bad enough that a caring co-worker and friend of mine took drastic measures.
One Friday, after the lunch crowd rush, he picked up the phone in front of me and dialed a friend of his. He said, with full honesty and a sense of urgency to the person on the other end of the line that my hair was "pretty jacked-up" and I needed an appointment with her the next morning. I didn't even get offended. I knew I had hit the rock hard bottom.

Now enter the woman who changed everything for me.
The Lady K.
Her real name is Stephanie Kingston but her devotees call her Lady K.
She works at a tiny unassuming hair salon called Head to Toe on Oleshi Drive near the Westport Target, here in Louisville.

She understands the plight of the hair color junkie and has helped many other women in my same position.
She never passes judgment and will even have lunch with you to talk about options.
She is a saint in a smock and has helped me get to a "better place".
She will even do consultations for the skiddish.

Sadly, her business is struggling. It seems that when the economy is slow, one of the first things people remove from their budgets is things they consider frivolous, like coifs and color. She is barely making ends meet. This is a shame.
This wonderful woman will see you day or night and even come in or her day off if needed. She is dedicated to the cause. I cannot recommend her with high enough regard. She should not be struggling. She changed my life and helped me put a 20 year addiction to rest.

So here is my request to you the reader. If you know of anyone who needs to "get off the merry go round", and lives in the Louisville metro area, please consider sharing my story of hope with them.
She did quite a wonderful thing for me and I would like to return the favor in some small way.
It is the least I can do.

And did I mention my hair looks fabulous?
Think it over. Pass it on and God bless the Lady K.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The Girl from Microwavania

Recently, I have received a few of "recipe exchange" e-mails from my girlfriends.
They are, in most cases, a great idea and there is quite a buzz about how fun they are to be part of.
I really like the idea of this process.
First of all, it's a social thing and we all know, I love to be social.
And it's a creative thing.
Well, perfect! I love to be creative!
Unfortunately, it's also a cooking thing.
Herein, the problem lies. I can't cook.

Even though I consider myself quite talented in other homemaking arenas, the truth about my cooking is tragic.
Yes, it is a tragic truth that I have known even as a small girl burning up teeny tiny cakes in my Easy Bake Oven.
The truth is, I have the uncanny ability to screw up even the simplest of recipes.
The truth is, I have the power to burn water.

You are probably thinking at this point, "Surely, she can cook something".
Well, no. It would be comforting to believe that I might have something up my sleeve. Comforting for both you, and for me, and for my family. However, the same sad truth prevails. Even with someone holding a gun to my head, there would be no quick and e-z recipes up my sleeve to save my ass.

Pretty much all of the people I know can whip up a meal in 30 minutes or less. Amazingly, most of them even appear as if they are enjoying themselves and having fun in their cozy kitchens. Pots and pans are clanging, water is running, things are bubbling on the stove, wonderful smells are wafting and tiny tastings are being savored from big wooden spoons.
The talent gene for this sort of culinary frolic must have skipped me.

The pans are cold in my kitchen. I have a couch and a television in there. It is a room where I check my e-mail and work on my blog. I do have a fridge, but it is not full of "ingredients". It is full of beer, diet cokes, ketchup and dozens of extra soy sauce packets that come with take-out sushi. To me, our gas stove is just a huge cigarette lighter that I am incapable of losing. The microwave is different, however. We have come to an agreement. I won't try anything fancy as long as it will continue to work for me. It is my little enabler. My crutch. The only appliance that says, "Hey, it's cool. You are a non-cooking person and so what of it?"

But, even with my microwave love fully in place, I must admit that occasionally I feel a bit isolated because of my lack ability to trade recipes with the girls.

When I receive recipe exchange invitations, I feel a vague twinge of sadness. I tiny bit of loneliness. Almost like there is a hip party going on and I'm the exchange student that was invited out of pity. They're speaking a different language.
I can't help not fitting in.
I'm simply different.
I'm the girl from Microwavania.

I guess there isn't really an end to this story. Only a beginning.
A beginning, because I have decided to as of 2005 to learn the art of cooking.
It is a new resolution. Enough is enough.

I look forward to a day when I can participate in potlucks.
A day when mixers become something to make batter in, not something to stock the bar with.
A day when the fire alarm means FIRE, not time for dinner.

It's a brave new frontier for me, but it is a frontier I must conquer.
So now, it is with fire extinguisher in one hand and a cookbook in the other, that I begin my journey.

One measure at a time.
One meal at a time.
One mess at a time.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Sarcasm at it's Finest

Well, I did it again.

After a long hard day of painting, cleaning and preparing the house to sell, we finally called it a day around 8pm.
We very much deserved and highly desired a few dumb hours in front of the television. We put on our favorite fleece pants, slippers and sweatshirts. Mark pulled the up the pay-per-view movie menu and we decided to watch Before Sunrise.
I popped a big bowl of popcorn and turned on the little gas pot belly stove.

"Aaaahhhhhh.....What a day, honey. I am pooped..."
"Me, too. I'm gonna take along hot shower after this movie."

So we settle into the comfy couch and start the movie.
About 5 minutes into it, I smell gas.
Natural gas.

"Do you smell gas?"
"No, but I smell paint."
"Hmmm. Are you sure don't smell gas? Over here?"
"Maybe, but I really think you're smelling cleaning supplies, or the turpentine I used to clean the brushes, or paint."
"Okay, I'm sure you're right. Do you care if I turn off the stove and see if the smell goes away?"
"Sure, Hon. Knock yourself out, but lets watch the movie."

About 10 more minutes pass.

"I'm sorry. I still smell it. Right here, next to the stove."
"Okay, so what if it is gas. Although, I'm sure it is paint. What do you want to do about it?"
"I want to call LG&E and make sure we don't have a leak."

The movie has now been paused for several minutes. For the second time.
I decide, better safe than sorry and call the 24 hour service.
It's free and they have a neat little gas sniffing electronic device that makes crazy noises around gas leaks.
45 minutes later they are knocking on the door.

We stop the movie again. Mark's patience with me is wavering, but he keeps it in check.
The LG&E man is bizarre and talks incessantly, but I listen to the stories of his cheatin' wife and encourage him to check the stove area.
Nothing. Area secure.
I encourage him to check the dining room where I also thought I smelled it.
Nothing. Also secure.
Okay, cool. My mind is now at ease. I must have been smelling paint. Just like Mark insisted.
Boy, that gas man sure can leave now. What is he saying now? His wife gave him a STD from sleeping around? Sheesh!
Did I need to hear that? Okay buddy, sorry I called you out. No leaks here. You can split.

However, even though I am quite obviously thanking him and trying to get him out the door, he continues sticking his little noise-making machine in every nook and cranny in our 120 year old house.
He is determined to find something. He wasn't going to come out for nothing.
Finally, as he's telling the story of his nasty divorce he has a eureka moment. He found 2 or 3 very small leaks, where the gas line connects to the hot water heater, in the basement..
Very, very, very, far away from where I thought I smelled danger.

"Here ya go! A leak. I found it. I'm gonna have to shut down your gas service until a plumber can come fix your connections."

Mark looks at me. Not so pleased. It was paint I was smelling, after all, but my paranoia got the best of both of us and now there will be no hot water for the showers we wanted. There will be no pot belly stove to enjoy while watching the movie. Hell, at this point we have stopped and started the movie so much, there really is no movie to watch.

After the crazy gas man finally made his departure in a whirlwind of cheated-heart blues and bravado, we went back into the house. I start looking for the telephone so I can call Robin and Alice and schedule showers at their house tomorrow. It is the least I can do.
Mark is ignoring me.

He answers flatly, "Yes, dear?"

"Honey, do you see the phone anywhere?"
Short pause.
"No, but I think I might SMELL it. Why don't you call the phone company and have them come check it out?"

Ha ha....
Well at least one of us was laughing.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


The setting: My rental house in college on Transylvania Park at UK.
The witnesses: None, which is amazing since all five of us shared the same bathroom.
The moral: "Over-styled" is sometimes the better choice.

I was almost ready for a hot date when I decided that my hair was way too "hair-sprayed" and "over-styled" looking for the hip and trendy art party I was attending later that evening.
I decided I needed a more I-really-don't-care-about-such-things-my-life-is-art-looking hairstyle.
A quick wash and re-style would be the best remedy for my situation.
Since, of course, there is no such thing as a quick wash and re-style, and since my date would be arriving in only moments, I decided to go for it.

And the scene unfolds:
Okay, I'll just hang my famously cool pink jacket over this knob. Surely this won't mess up my makeup too bad. I'll wash my hair in the sink. Yeah.... quick n' easy! This will take mere minutes. Ten minutes tops.

So there I am, craning my neck over the tiny pedestal sink, washing my tragically over-styled 'do into submission.
Shampoo second time for optimal results.
Fabulous, almost there and ahead of schedule. That only took, like, two minutes!

Now let's just flip this wet tangled mop back into place and whip out that brush and blow dryer.
Feeling a little disoriented from having my head in the sink so long, my first "flip back" was weak.
Just didn't flip it back with enough force.

I can't brush that mess.
Let's try that flip again...this time with FEELING.
Flip and BONK *total blackout* ...well, that time was certainly with feeling.

Apparently the sink was much taller than I thought. I smacked my head with absolutely everything I had on that poor little pedestal sink.
To imagine what that graceful move looked like to some random passerby.

I came to my senses only moments later. Flat on my back on the bathroom floor...a tangled mess of wet hair...shirtless and someone was knocking on the door.
Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!
Oh CRAP! My date!

I climb back to my feet using the toilet as a ladder and look in the mirror. When the stars quit floating around I finally focused in on the damage.
Freaking great. Just awesome.
An enormous red hump. On my forehead. Running the entire length of my frontal lobe and I was pretty sure it was turning blue as I the seconds ticked by.

Knock! Knock! Knock! Knock!
Oh my.
Oh no.
This'll be brilliant.

I put my famously cool pink jacket back on, now feeling not-so-famously-cool, and pushed the matted mess of bird nest hair away from my blurred eyeballs and throbbing noggin.

"I'm coming. I'm coming."
I crack the door and try to look charming.
"Hey handsome."
Handsome date is curiously peeking back at me.
"What the hell happened to your head?"

As I began to tell my story, I wished, if only for a moment, that I wasn't a blonde and that I hadn't just grown my bangs out.

Ah, Vanity, what a cruel friend you can be.

Breaking News

from street
from street,
originally uploaded by Anessa.
We are Paducah! HA! How about that?

I will have more info in the following days, but for now here's a photo of the house we have a contract on.
Scheduled closing is April 4th...
Can you believe it?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

W's Pie Hole

This evening, after the State of the Union Address, I decided I wanted to empty my mind of words like "terrer" and "terrist".
I decided I wanted to re-set the State of My Optimism.
I needed to be reminded of art and creativity and the wonder of imagination.
Yes, I needed it, and I needed it fast.
Who to call? Who has the power?
Ah, my old friend Ed.
Yeah. Why don't we all pay him a visit now?

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