Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Intentions; or, Self Discovery and Spiritual Revelation in a Hair Salon

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Employment Stats:
Employment status: still not
Number of jobs applied for: 11
Number of interviews: 2
Number of jobs offered and declined: 1 (not a good sign when someone asks about religion and politics and if you're crazy in an interview)
Number of jobs I was really hoping I wouldn't get offered because I was going to have to accept but was ridiculously disappointed when I wasn't offered it: 1 

Now for the main entertainment! (Warning: it is long, and I ramble for awhile, and don't really make my point until the end, so feel free to skip the top if you want!)

I don't spend a lot of time in hair salons.  I get my hair trimmed - at best - every 6 months (although I have gone longer than a year ... they had to take a lot off at that point!)  My hair is stick straight - not a hint of a wave or the beginnings of a curl in sight - and, especially now that I'm unemployed, rarely leave the house and have no one in particular to impress, I pretty much let it do whatever it bloody wants to do.  This does not go over well with whatever hair stylist I've managed to get an appointment with that day:

"What do you want done today?"
"Just trim it."
"How much?"
"As little as possible but as much as necessary make it all healthy and glowy."
"Yeah, you know, that fabulous, 'I just got my hair done and now it's better than yours' look."
Looking skeptically at the ends of my hair pinched between her fingers, "Um, it's pretty damaged.  I'm going to have to take at least an inch off."
"Totally fine."
"Don't you want to do something else with it?  I could do layers or something," she says, starting to get excited looking at the blank canvas that is my head.
"No.  Just trim it."
"With your hair so straight [read: so lifeless, limp, boring ...] some layers could really add some body."
"Would that require me to do something with it?"
"Not a lot, but it would look really nice if you did ..." - a poorly disguised admonishment. 
"I could just do a few long ones in the back ..."
Big sigh as she realizes that I am every hair stylists' nightmare - someone with halfway decent hair that refuses to do anything interesting with it, "Okay then.  Where do you normally part it?"
"Oh, you know, wherever it feels like it ... usually here-ish (indicated by a waving of the hand in the general direction of my head)."

Needless to say, I don't have a cosy, gossipy relationship with my hair stylists like you see in the even-on-my-worst-day-my-life-is-still-better-than-yours-could-ever-be type movies and TV shows aimed at women my age.  Salons are not sacred grounds to me, they aren't ever particularly liked grounds!  So it was in this frame of mind, while chanting my salon-mantra "don't let them talk you into layers; don't let them talk to you into layers," that I made the bi-yearly trek to a salon last week.

I was early - of course, a tried-and-true tactic to keep my defenses up and will strong.  I was escorted to the back couches with the water that I asked for even though I what really wanted was the tea that she'd offered.  My stylist-of-the-day would be Grae, an apprentice - a status that made her MUCH cheaper (score!) but also slower, which made my showing my 15 minutes early even more unnecessary.  I pursued the selection of magazines and picked up a thick one that actually ended up being a book rather than a magazine and settled in for a long wait.  I was a little wary about the book which is, as it ends up, produced by the salon itself and has "MUST READ!!" scrawled in black Sharpie across the bottom.  "It's a salon book," I told myself, "what could it possibly tell you that you would have the least bit interest in?"  I almost gave in and put it back, but looking again at the magazines didn't give much more hope in the "interest" department - hair magazines made for people who actually style their hair and popular magazines about celebrities love lives and prison sentences ... all of which I'd already read at the physical therapist's office.  The salon book it is.

The book ended up being about creating harmony in your life.  Pretty cool - I'm good with harmony.  The first section talked about external environments and things we choose to put in our bodies: food, chemicals, etc. (I don't think that the quarter I swallowed as a kid because I didn't have pockets to put my video-game money in would've made their list of "healthy" things to put in your body ... just a guess).  So I'm reading along about what my personality types says about what kind of food I should eat - it's definitely not a science as evidenced by the "cheese" and "dairy products" which is just cruelly ironic to a person who can barely be in the same room with dairy products without throwing up and getting a migraine, and I'm really not sure what eating dairy products is supposed to say about your personality anyway ... like I said, not a science - when I got to section two - rituals.

Now, let me explain a couple of things before I go on.  I have been a runner most of my life.  I am one of those crazy people who really enjoys a nice long run (when I'm in shape, which - let me tell ya - I'm totally not right now!).  I love the connection you feel with your body, the rhythm of your stride and heart beat, the solitude.  On a not-all-together-unrelated note, I'm also a fairly spiritual person.  I'm not religious in any sense of word, and in fact have to try hard to not be anti-religion - a battle I seem to be loosing right now.  I do, however, really enjoy ritual and the idea of spirituality much for the same reasons I enjoy running ... connection, rhythm and solitude.  Both running and spiritual practice have been huge parts of my life until recently.  I stopped running because of bad knees (which are getting better with physical therapy!) and stopped any sort of spiritual practice when I started my last job both because of time issues and because the introspection necessary for spiritual practice was much too difficult while doing the kind of work I was doing.  

Back to the book:  I turned to page to section two about ritual and what is listed as the two most important rituals for creating harmony in your life?  Physical exercise and spiritual practice.  So there I was, still waiting for my hair stylist, reading about the importance of exercise and spirituality ("Almost everyone, even those of us who are not religious, have some sort of spiritual belief and ritual - whatever yours is, do it!" according to the book) and it hit me - I have had one of the most difficult years of my life, first with my job and now with my lack of job, and I have spent this incredibly difficult year almost completely devoid of physical and spiritual work.  Maybe that's where my harmony went.  I almost started to cry - tears were welling in my eyes and about to break free - but that would have totally scared the high school boy sitting next to me waiting for his massage appointment - which, really, seems pretty creepy, right? - so I pretended to have something in my eye - pulling out my little mirror and everything.  By the time I was done with the something-in-my-eye charade, it was my turn with the apprentice.  

I put down the "MUST READ!!" book and ended up leaving the appointment with lots of long-ish layers and my hair two-inches shorter than it really should have been, but also (here comes the gushy part) with a new intention.  If I get back to the things that are important to me and practice both physical and spiritual ritual maybe this next year can be lived with more harmony and grace than the last one was.  I'm willing to try.


  1. I love how you write... you really should be an author or something, it's great... anyway such a random place to find such a great inspiration... but that's life, right? Things happen in the most random ways. I'm so happy for you to have an idea of what will make you happy... That's actually rare for a lot of people, including myself sometimes... Let me know how it goes!!