Hair Envy

I have wanted bangs for most of 2014, and off and on for years before. Every once in a while I’d tumble down a Pinterest rabbit hole and pose the question to Facebook. Almost everyone shut me down, and with good reason: Curly hair and bangs seldom mix.

I asked my stylist about them over the summer and she just laughed and laughed. I dropped it.

But I still wanted them so, so bad. I like my hair, and I’m happy with having low-maintenance, curls. I knew throwing care-heavy bangs into the mix was ill-advised, but I wanted a change. I wanted Jenny Lewis hair.

Then Jaimi got bangs last week. She looked like she fell gracefully out of a damn 1970s issue of Vogue and I was positively dying from hair envy. She was one of the few to encourage me to try bangs despite the social media backlash I’d gotten at the idea. It’s just hair — it grows back. Everyone has a bad hair cut now and then and life goes on.

Saturday, I brought a Pinterest board to my stylist to show her.

“I know you said no to bangs, but is there anything on here that’s feasible?” I asked, handing her my phone. She scrolled through:

(via)

(via)

“No.”

(via)

(via)

“No.”

(via)

(via)

“…Okay.”

“Yessssssss,” I hissed excitedly.

She refused to give me blunt, choppy, across-the-eyebrows bangs. Fair enough. She did agree to long, side-swept ones, but she made me swear to blowdry them straight every single morning.

“But I don’t have a blow dryer,” I said.

She stared at me. Then she told me to go buy one from the CVS across the street before I did anything else. I agreed, worried she would change her mind if I hesitated.

She thinned out my crazy-thick hair and asked me one more time if I was sure. I said I was, and seconds later, BANGS.

She blew out my hair and I watched her deftly use a round brush to hold my bangs straight under the heat of the blow dryer. I bought a brush from the salon and headed to CVS.

AT LAST.

AT LAST.

The ends started curling almost immediately after I left, so I suspect keeping them straight will be the never-ending battle I was warned about. But so far I love having a different look for the first time. I have no idea how I’ll need to go about maintaining them or if I’ll stick with them, but for now they are fun to play around with.

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Tiny Blue Record Player

The record player

The record player

I mentioned a couple times this year that I was bummed I no longer owned a record player.

Now I own a record player again. It’s tiny and blue and all my own.

It was pretty low on the list of priorities (somewhere below a bed and mixing bowls) which means I am getting down to the bottom of that list like a bad ass.

I own six records, three of which I don’t care to listen to right now since they are from a past life.

I see some record store shopping in my future.

Settled In

I moved three weeks ago, and as of right now, I have only one unpacked box. Before today, at least half a dozen boxes still sat in our living room, backed up against the sun room wall with the boxed-in dining room table. When I moved, I immediately ran out of storage space in my bedroom, but even more so in my bathroom. So on Friday, I bought a boxed set of shelves at Target.

Back in 2008, when Christina from college and I moved in together, she and I built a similar bathroom storage unit — just the two of us. We’d been pretty proud of ourselves because we hadn’t needed to ask either of our boyfriends for help, and the thing turned out looking like it was supposed to. I knew deep down, however, that I’d played second banana in that project, and had with every similar one since. Kevin took the lead in building all of our IKEA purchases, and even helped me build my bed shortly after we broke up and he moved out.

I woke up this morning from a stress dream about this set of bathroom shelves and briefly, hazily, considered asking for Kevin’s help. I woke up a little more and shook the thought out of my head. I was on my own for the shelves and I knew it.

My roommate and I went out to brunch this morning, with her visiting friend (and former roommate, whose place I took in the apartment). Afterward I had the place to myself for a bit. I resigned myself to the task of putting together the shelves, since no one would be around to hear me swearing.

First of all, whatever possesses us to keep buying furniture we have to build ourselves? Does IKEA have some kind of lingering chemical in their products that leads us to forget what a pain in the ass the thing was to construct in the first place, allowing us to buy more later as needed?

That said, the Target shelves, while similar to IKEA’s, were much easier to build than I thought they’d be. I only messed up once and ended up screwing two tiny holes in the wrong end of one shelf, but it’s the bottom one and no one’s going to see it. I sat back and marveled at my own handiwork.

I built these shelves all on my own, and they are mine.

Bathroom shelves from Target

Bow before me, queen of building boxed furniture

It’s a small victory maybe, but to me, it’s one more sign that I’m moving forward in my life. Moving out of my old place has had an extremely positive effect on me. I don’t think I realized how trapped I was in the old apartment — the memories it held weren’t always in the forefront of my mind, but they were present all the same. I lived in that one-bedroom apartment Kevin and I shared for six more months after he left it. I went a little nuts, but I didn’t know it until I was out of there.

Now I live in a bright, sunshine-yellow room and share an apartment with a lovely, kind person and I can’t explain to you how much better I feel for it.

bathroom-and-desk

Private bathroom, desk, bed

desk

New writing space

books

(Some of) the books, DVDs

closet

Clothes shelves, closet

bed

Bed, with Lincoln Square and Columbus art

It also helps that I’ve been insanely busy for all of August. In the last three weeks, I have:

  • Seen Jenny Lewis live with Stef
  • Enjoyed a visit from Rachel and Ryan, which included a trip to the Field, dinner at Crisp, lunch at Honey Butter Fried Chicken, Portillo’s, and a trip to Eataly
  • Joined Christina’s writers group
  • Gone to two live lit shows
  • Saw Shakespeare in the park with Travis, Alex, Becky, Andrew, and Leigh
  • Grabbed Giordano’s downtown with my aunt, cousin, and cousin’s friend
  • Attended a fancy pop-up dinner with Laura in support of the upcoming opening of a new cider bar in North Center
  • Grabbed dinner and a show with Jaimi
  • Met with the folks behind the webseries I’m writing for
  • Took two Pilates classes with Becca and Stef
  • Went to parties at Travis and Andrew’s as well as Kate and Erin’s
  • Had brunch with awesome women including Hillary, Anne, Katie, Sarah, Adele, and Sonya

This week I’m lucky enough to see more live lit, go to book club, and take part in Christina’s writers group again.

My summer has been filled to the brim with quality time with women I admire and feel great being around. There are still so many more of them I haven’t seen enough of this summer and I look forward to fixing that. I’ve been keeping myself busy and full and happy, and I find myself so encouraged and inspired by the people around me. I’ve been writing more in recent weeks than I did most of last year, and I’m proud of what I have to show for it.

This time last year, Kevin and I were living together and we’d just gotten back from Colorado. We’d visited my college friends Doug and Chandra and their four-month-old daughter. I watched Kevin get along so well with my married friends, and I saw how good he was with their little girl. I came back from that trip thinking maybe he was coming around to the idea of a long-term future with me, and a day later he told me that being there made him more sure he wasn’t ready for any of it.

It was honest, and it hurt.

That was also the same time that, after months of job searching, I got hired for my dream job at a newspaper — only to have it fold days later and for them to have to retract their offer. It was a rough patch, to say the least.

Some days I feel like I’ve fallen backwards and I miss the way my life used to be. But now I have a job I love, and I don’t spend any time worrying that my boyfriend will never propose.

These days I’m afraid to date anyone longer than a month, because I can’t wrap my brain around letting myself feel too seriously about anyone again. My Single Summer has been rewarding in so many ways, but it’s also meant I don’t feel hurt anymore.

It’s been a good summer, though. That much is true.

To Boston and Ohio: From Chicago, with Love

All of the bands for Meryl

All of the bands for Meryl

Months ago, I bought expensive tickets I had no business buying, for the Boston Calling music festival. My friend Margaret lives in Boston, and I’ve never been there, and the line-up consisted of every band I’ve ever wanted to see, ever: Death Cab, Modest Mouse, Tegan and Sara, JENNY LEWIS. It was insane. It was a fate.

It was a terrible idea.

I bought weekend passes for me and Margaret in February for the Memorial Day weekend event, back when it was possible, but not certain, I’d have a new job soon. Things were in flux, as they would be for weeks, but I took a chance regardless.

It felt good to make a choice, reckless or no. I was deciding my own future, in one of few ways that I could.

Fast-forward to early April. I’d just started my new job and been told I wouldn’t have vacation time until July. Airfare to Boston and back was at a minimum cost of $400 for Memorial Day weekend, and it would mean flying in LATE on Friday and leaving early Monday, missing Margaret’s friends’ cookout and having little-to-no post-festival recovery time.

I didn’t have $400+ for airfare, and I didn’t have a way to take additional time off. I told Margaret I’d have to pass on the weekend getaway. She understood, and found me someone to buy my ticket, which was super nice of her.

By late-April, I’d accepted my fate, and decided to surprise my friends in Ohio instead.

At some point this winter, my best friend Brittany had called me and told me she’d be throwing her husband Adam a 30th birthday party Memorial Day weekend. I’d been sad to tell her that, despite that weekend being literally months away, I already had plans. She was disappointed, and I felt terrible.

So I decided I’d surprise her and her husband.

I got her mom and her friend Stacey on board, and they filled me in on the party details. My family was excited I was coming home for the first time since Christmas. Boston wasn’t looking so lost to me after all.

On Wednesday morning this week, I woke up with a sore throat and a nasty cough.

I stifled it. I denied its existence. I went to work.

On Thursday morning I woke up coughing, a deep rattle in my throat. I swallowed and took some ibuprofen and drove to the ‘burbs.

By Thursday night I thought I might die. I crawled up the stairs to my apartment after being stuck in traffic for over an hour. I emailed my brother and my dad and said I couldn’t come. I sat on my bed and cried for 15 minutes and ignored my brother’s phone call.

Then I called him back and cried some more on the phone, and fell asleep in a pathetic heap.

Now it’s Saturday night, and I’m dog-sitting for my neighbor because I don’t have out-of-town plans like everyone else. I still have a deep, disgusting cough, but I can walk around the neighborhood without feeling exhausted.

All I wanted to do was get out of this city and out of the muck I’ve dragged into my life all winter, but I can’t even make that happen. And I won’t have another opportunity until July, when my 90 days at work is up and I can finally take a day or two off to go home. I’m glad I was able to see Eileen and Tim in February, because I’m sure stuck here for now.

Maybe I didn’t need to see Jenny Lewis – maybe – but I did need to see some friendly faces. I miss my family, and I miss Brittany and Adam and everyone in my hometown. I guess I should be glad I’m not out $400 in airfare and however much in a weekend concert pass, and that I didn’t need to find some way to rush Margaret’s ticket to her in my sickly absence.

But man. I really could have used a break.

Today was a low-key, wallowing Saturday, but by God, tomorrow I will be sitting in the sun and relaxing, and Monday THERE WILL BE BRATS. Because this is AMERICA and it’s MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND and no one but horrible germs can get in my way and I’ve had enough of those.

There will be no plans, only beer and sunshine. Assuming I’m well enough to drink beer by then.

Happy Memorial Day, you guys. Enjoy this time with people you love, or at least people you like a whole bunch.