Saturday, December 27, 2008

what have i done?

File this under "S" for stupid things that women do to try and improve their looks. A couple of friends have recently coloured their hair, and their locks look gorgeously shiny. I coveted their glossy manes, and wanted to acquire some of that glimmer for myself. I found an over-the-counter product today at the drugstore - Clairol's Shine Happy - which promised a clear shine treatment in only 10 minutes! How could I resist?

I don't colour my hair. I'm not interested in colouring my hair. I love my natural colour - which some people refer to as "mousy" - with its God-given highlights and blonde streaks. There are now some healthy grey streaks mixed in there, too. Bring it on, I say.

My hair does look kind of dull, however - at least compared to my salon-treated friends'. I just finished with my box of instant head-bling, and am wondering what could have possessed me to do this to myself.

Notice that I am drenched. That's from the showerhead in my tub - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

First, I read the instructions found inside the box. Dire warnings about not getting the solution in my eyes nearly deterred me before I even got started. How to explain that one to the grandchildren? Yes dearie, I blinded myself trying to get shiny hair...

Armed with a makeshift eyebath should things go awry, I suddenly realized I wasn't going to be able to see during the 10+ minutes my hair was getting glossied, since the solution wasn't supposed to come into contact with metal (my eyeglasses' frames), and, due the abovementioned potential for blinding, the wearing of contact lenses was not recommended.

I memorized the instructions and pulled on the gloves supplied with the kit. Double-checking to make sure I was adding the correct solutions to the appropriate containers, I mixed everything together, and quickly applied it to my damp hair. Got some solution on my forearm, which was immediately bleached white. Decided now was a good time to dampen a towel as recommended in the instructions, and wipe all excess solution from any exposed skin (including my forehead, ears and neck).

Also decided that if I ever do this again, I'm going to leave it in the hands of trained professionals at a salon. Hard to tell if one is giving oneself chemically-induced vitiligo when one can't see two inches in front of one's face.

After the longest ten minutes of my life (which were really only eight-and-a-half minutes, because my scalp was burning and I was tired of waiting), I bent over my tub and rinsed out my hair with the new adjustable showerhead that my parents gave me for Christmas. Proceeded to get water (and possibly some of the solution, I worried) everywhere within a three-foot radius, including the inside of my right ear. Was wearing gloves as the instructions suggested, so I couldn't tell when my hair was clean. Couldn't check to see if the water was rinsing clear (also as the instructions suggested), because I was keeping my eyes fiercely shut in order to avoid blindness. Couldn't have seen anything with my eyes open anyhow, because I wasn't wearing my corrective lenses.

After rinsing for what I hoped was a sufficient amount of time, I removed my gloves to apply the conditioner included with the kit. Squirted the recommended dime-sized amount halfway across the bathtub. Scooped up as much as I could (by feel - still couldn't see) and rubbed it into my slippery locks. Wasn't convinced I'd rinsed out all the previous solution, so after some back-and-forth debate with my inner hypochondriac, who was convinced she was starting to feel a burning sensation in the corner of one of her eyes, I rinsed out the conditioner a minute early and stood up, damp, sweating and swearing with my outside voice.

I just checked my nearly-dry hair in the bathroom mirror; am disappointed to report that said hair does not seem noticeably shinier. My neck, on the other hand, feels itchy and irritated, and the skin on my hands is dry and tight. Maybe this stuff has some potential as a mild skin peel...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

how i spent my christmas eve

I was lying in bed late last night, trying to remember the last time I didn't go to church on Christmas Eve. And to be honest, I think last night was the first time ever. I've gone to church on every other Christmas Eve of my life.

As I approach the new year, I've been reflecting on the year past. Normally New Year's doesn't mean that much to me, since I measure my life by my birthdays, and not by the calendar year. But at this time last year there were many new things just about to happen in my life, including a job that I began in the second week of January, 2008. How strange, one year later, to be leaving that job and searching for another.

It's about balance. I loved the work, but it had taken over my existence. I was doing noble things, but had set aside many of the activities that I loved most, including my creative writing and visual art. In the end I realized I was waking up unhappy more days than not. Life had lost its juice. I yearned to be in a place - live in a place - that would feed my inner callings. Less and less did it seem like that place was Toronto.

As a result, I have upended my life and moved away. Or should I say towards?

I find myself facing new beginnings once more. I am in the waiting place yet again. Exhausted from my move a month ago - all that painting and unpacking! - part of me just wants to hibernate for the rest of the winter. December has been a blur, compounded by frequent commutes back to Toronto for my work with the Chorale.

I've observed a few of my favorite Advent rituals - the Wesley-Knox Christmas concert with Denise Pelley, the RCCO Carol Service - but last night I wasn't ready for Christmas to happen. How did the days go so quickly?

I enjoyed the Chorale's Indigo concerts within the last week, and I've even made it to Sunday services at various churches this month. The music is running through my head. The scriptures have been read in my presence. I wasn't feeling the magic, though.

Yesterday I woke up intending to do some cleaning in my apartment and maybe (hopefully! finally!) unpack my library and set up my meditation/yoga room. My best friend and I had tentative plans to hang out in the afternoon, and then I was likely going to go to my new/old church for Christmas Eve.

When I tried to go online first thing in the morning, however, I realized my phone line was dead. That one event threw a spanner in the works. I couldn't pick up Laurie when she got off work early, since I had to wait around for the Bell technician to show up. When he finally finished, it was nearly suppertime. Laurie wasn't picking up her phone, and her voice mailbox was full.

I packed my bags for my trip to my sister's this morning, and ate some supper. Laurie finally called me back, and that's when I made the decision that I wanted to do nothing more than spend Christmas Eve with my best (and Jewish) friend, working on my apartment.

I fed her some of my supper and put her to work folding boxes and flattening packing paper. Sometime after nine we finished for the night, all my books unpacked and safely in my bookshelves. Both exhausted, I drove her home, and I'm sure she hit her bed as quickly as I did.

The evening couldn't have been more perfect. I got to spend time with one of my favorite people, who sometimes feels left out at this time of year; we laughed a lot; I now have a meditation room; did I mention I got to spend time with one of my favorite people?

Christmas in the past has been about catching that warm fuzzy feeling, for me. I think I'm there...