Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Eleanor

It's been eight years since I first met Eleanor. The day I met her, she was a very spunky and stylish 81-year old lady, who would run circles around most any 20-year-old I have ever known. She had moved to our small small mountain town to retire from the hustle and bustle of south Florida. Just like many of my new clients, she was nervous about coming to a new hairdresser, as having bad hair can affect each and every day to come for months. Eleanor had  been going to the same stylist, Steve, for many years, and every move I made, every detail was consciously or unconsciously compared to Steve. From the salon decor, the comfort of the styling chair to my skill level, Eleanor was critical of every detail, and I was not Steve by any means. I listened carefully, and did my best work to please this distinguished lady from south Florida. She was apparently pleased with the end result, booking her next appointment before she left the salon that first day. Not long after that, the mention of Steve became less and less and the plethora of stories she shared with me about her life kept me entertained, if not enthralled.

 Eleanor had lived a very rich and exciting life, filled with interesting careers, hobbies and extensive travels. She had lived on the northern west coast of the U.S., where she was a breeder of sheep.  In Manhattan, New York she worked for a scientist and performed experiments on lab rats. Eleanor had raised three successful girls, each of them successful in their own specific talents - either academic or artistic. She was also married to three successful men, had happy marriages and had been left a widow all three times.  Eleanor had traveled the world over....Europe, Asia, South America and numerous cruises throughout North America, the Mediterranean and beyond. Eleanor had survived melanoma, having one of her eyes removed. She had also survived breast cancer, had a full mastectomy and survived ovarian cancer. She had been hospitalized and rehabilitated after being kicked by a horse, and another time after being run over by a car. Still, this lady could run circles around the most energetic people I have ever known. 

Eleanor's project in this little Appalachian town was her two houses. She spent years remodeling and decorating, making the houses into comfortable homes - inside and out. Always catching me up on her project of late, Eleanor has shared with me her design ideas, furniture purchases and the orders of flowers and trees to enhance her properties. 

In December, when my dad fell quite ill and was hospitalized and than sent to a rehab facility, Eleanor made a trip to take him a healthy salad and pay him a visit. Not knowing how she would be received, I tried my best to discourage Eleanor, practically begging her not to go. This lady would not take "no" for an answer and by lunchtime, she arrived with salad in hand. I was not present for this visit, but was later told by both my father and Eleanor that they spent the afternoon in conversation and playing bridge on his IPad. To this day, my dad talks about the angel named Eleanor who came to visit. 
About six months ago, Eleanor decided the houses were too much for her. At eighty-nine years old, she was tired and wanted a more carefree lifestyle so she purchased a condo in a retirement community, about 30 miles south, in more metropolitan area where she would have easier access to the necessities of her generation - groceries and medical facilities. The community where she was moving was very upscale and had all the necessities and luxuries you could imagine, including a beauty salon and hairdresser. Despite the convenience, Eleanor has continued to make the 30-mile-each-way trip to continue her appointment schedule with me. She has filled me in on the details of her new life so vividly, that I can just about picture her condo and facility and the new friends she has made since she has been there. Eleanor seems happy with her new home, inspire of talking longingly of her homes in the mountains. 

Eleanor kept a standing appointment for a shampoo and style every week until a month ago. She called to cancel just one day before her appointment with bad news. She had been having some episodes of numbness and lack of movement of her arms and legs. It got so bad one day, she drove herself to the hospital. Only a few hours later, she was told she had two tumors. One in her brain and the other in her lung. Her treatment protocol was very quickly composed, and within a couple of weeks, Eleanor was calling the salon to set up an appoint,net for cut and color. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Under Wraps pt 2

Over the next 2 years, many of Shelly's appointments were devoted to the bad decisions and deceit by Jaime.  Jaime swiping a doctor's prescription pad while interning. Jaime getting expelled from the PA program and forever prohibited from practicing medicine for prescribing herself medications on the stolen prescription pad. Jaime's erratic and explosive behavior towards her family and friends. Trading sex for money and drugs.  Stealing money from Shelly and her husband. For nearly a year, it was something more and worse that Jaime did, and those things built up in Shelly so much that she eventually cut off ties with Jaime and she and her husband moved to a foreign country to escape their pain, and probably their responsibility. 
Shelly returned to the States periodically over the next year. Her conversation topics mainly revolving around the new home abroad and the friends she and her husband had made. Rarely was Jaime even mentioned by her. 
Fast forward to today, Shelly had called the salon a few weeks ago to book an appointment for herself, and her daughter. Yes, Jaime was coming to the salon , and she was booked with another stylist in the same time period as her mom. Mommy, daughter time at the salon.  I was hopeful that the broken ties had been amended and Jaime's life had take a turn in a more positive direction. 
The two arrived at the salon, first thing in the morning. Both with smiles on their faces and full of exuberance and enthusiasm about everything, from their hair appointments to the coffee we served them upon arrival. They talked about their plans to leave the country the following week, to stay in the house abroad, and their plans to find a rich South-American man for Jaime to marry. Mother and daughter were seated next to each other in styling chairs, and myself and my co-worker set to work on their hair color. For the next hour, Jaime was the director of most of the conversation, talking about her many dates with semi-famous men, showing us pictures of them on her phone and telling us of her wild adventures. She babbled on so many off-the-wall, random things that I can only remember snippets....She named her bong "Puff Daddy" after she spent a day with P. Diddy. She showed off her "camel toe," which was a tattoo of a camel on the big toe of her right foot. She kicked off her shoes and remained barefoot for the remainder of her appointmen, even when she walked about the salon. Shelly, who normally talked so much that she hardly took a breath, was silent for much of the time Jaime was commanding the attention of the room. Shelly kept her head bowed, with her eyes closed most of the time, with little interaction and lack of emotion. I wondered if she was embarrassed or resigned, and still honestly don't know the amswer to that question.
After the hour-long flurry of conversation, the action died down - almost suddenly. Jaime bowed her head and her hands reached up to cradle her face. After a few moments her fingers began to curl, the tips of them poking and prodding her forehead, her cheeks, her eyes and then her lips. I tried not to stare but had a hard time keeping myself from glancing over at the intense facial massage going on in the chair next to me. Jaime dug at her face as hard and fast as she could for the next forty-five minutes, as my fellow stylist continued putting the foils in her hair. And the kneading of facial tissue continued, lest time to pop a couple of pills and visit the bathroom, for yet another hour getting increasingly more intense.  Meanwhile, Shelly remained in her bubble of oblivion, eyes either closed or averted from her daughter's fervent facial assault. 
Near the end of Jaime and Shelly's visit, as their hair is being styled, Shelly comes to. Her eyes widen as she observes, closely, the fingers digging into her daughter's flesh. Shelly jumps up from my styling chair and rushes over, bending down to whisper in Jaime's ear. Jaime begins to cry, and for a moment I think that Shelly has had a moment of divine clarity. However, Shelly returns to my chair to tell me that the disease her daughter has is causing her intense pain and it is unexplainable. There is no diagnosis and no cure. As we are talking, we are interrupted by Jaime, who is holding her phone to her mother's face. She is asking her mom if she should increase her bid on a pair of shoes on EBay from $60 to $65     Shelly, the sucker, nods and says "Yes, baby. If you still want them."

Under Wraps

Always intending to, but never getting around to it.  The words swirling in my head, sometimes in rhythm but most often in a swirling mess - a tornado of thoughts and ideas that never come together to complete a story. There is no beginning. There is no end. There is no better time than the present to attempt to calm the storm or finish at least one story - hopefully more. 

I write here because I can somewhat anonymously. So many of these stories whirling around in my head involve real people and real situations and I'm more than certain none of them would appreciate me sharing them and for certain would not appreciate my perspective. The stories to follow are written from my view behind the chair as a hairstylist. I live and work in a small town and have always worked in a more upscale salon in the area. I even owned and operated my own salon for 10 years. It was a beautiful and magical place, but took its toll in many ways. I am happy to have had the opportunity and even happier that it is said and done. 

You've heard people say that working with the public can be very interesting and challenging. You really have no idea until you've done it, and after several years have collected enough interesting stories to write a book.  A book has been my intention for the past 10 years. For no particular reason, I'm starting now with a story from today. (Names of people and places have been changed in hopes of not violating the silent agreement between client and stylist.)

Flip the calendar back about five years. I am the owner of my salon, have a full-time staff of about six people and am booked at least forty hours a week - usually more. A new client, who is booked with another stylist, walks in and immediately stresses out the other stylist. She is obviously high-maintenance and begins to rattle off everything from her hair mishaps to medical maladies and everything in-between. The stylist comes to me, wide-eyed and utterly freaked out, begging me to take her on as a client. Since I'm a weak manager and a people-pleaser, I agree to take her.  A few minutes later, a lady with carrot-orange, so-short-it's-spiky hair is sitting in my chair. We are going to call her Shelly. Shelly is talking so hard and fast, filling me in on almost every detail of her life since 1973.  I can hardly keep up with her story-telling pace, let alone get a word in. After a few hours of correctional color and cutting services, and non-stop babbling, I have a happy client who has returned every six weeks for the past several years. Shelly is always full of stories that are, at least, major life happenings if not catastrophes. 
One of the main topics of Shelly's conversations are about her daughter, Jaime. Jamie is incredibly intelligent and currently at the top of her class in PA school.  Jaime is very pretty and smart and has the best of everything. She lives in the city in a trendy condo that belongs to Shelly and her husband. She drives a cute sports car, supplies by her parents. Jaime hangs with the elite crowd and eats at the top restaurants, drinks at the trendy bars and shops for the finer wares at the nicest stores in the city. Jaime is living the high life and her mom, Shelly, is proud.

A year goes by as Jamie is in her element in PA school. I hear from Shelly about Jaime's success as a student and the incredible parties and dates she is experiencing. If you were to ask me, Jaime was carving her way not only in medicine, but also the elite social scene in the big city. Famous people, fancy cars, designer clothes and bags - you get the drift. Jamie was climbing the ladder of success and Shelly was a very proud parent. 

Then one day, about 2 years ago.....


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

past lives

past lives by Zuzu Pelous
past lives, a photo by Zuzu Pelous on Flickr.

"I wish that I were good
oh man, I wish that I were great
I wish that I'd been early
more often than late
but nothing lasts forever
maybe that's fate....."
-Langhorne Slim ~ "Past Lives"

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2011 ToP 10

A couple of weeks into the year and it dawns on me that I spend the majority of my time seeking, reviewing, acquiring and listening to music.  I can't let the new year get too much in swing without recognizing what I think were the best releases of 2011.  I'll admit now that there are a couple on the list that I included that are technically not albums, but EP's.  In such cases, it means that I enjoyed their 2010 releases so much that they remain on my list of favorites for yet another year.

FYI - my list is just a list.  It doesn't necessarily go from best to worst, or vice versa. It's the music from this past year that I continue to play and the tunes that remain in my head.

1.  The Kills  "Blood Pressure"
2.  Bon Iver  "Bon Iver"
3.  Home Video  "A Quiet Place"  EP
4.  Foster The People "Torches"
5.  Feist  "Metals"
6.  James Blake  "James Blake"
7.  Adele  "21"
8.  Audra Mae & The Almighty Sound
9.  Boy & Bear
10  Gotye  "Making Mirrors"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby Blue Sky

Baby Blue Sky by Zuzu Pelous
Baby Blue Sky, a photo by Zuzu Pelous on Flickr.
And here it is. The Av was one provided by CapCat Ragu in a sim called "Delicatessen." I very slightly modified the shape, and made minimal adjustments to the outfit. I dressed my avatar and posed her and took a snap. The real talent goes to CapCat for providing the artistic tools with which to create such an image.