Saturday, July 26, 2008

Hairdresser On Fire

I'm in Chicago at the moment, trying to maintain my sanity but also having fun in between bouts of family craziness. I also managed not to have a nervous breakdown at Denver International Airport, hurrah. I even got some cool photos of a rainbow and funky clouds from the plane.

One of the things I like to do when I'm in Chicago is to treat myself to a haircut and some highlights/lowlights. It's an indulgence but I only do it once a year and it helps take away some of the stress of the trip. The 'salon' is a run down, dumpy place run by a gangstery looking guy and frequented by little nine million year old Jewish ladies. I'm not kidding, you have to dodge the walkers in that place to get from the hair washing sink to the hair cutting chair. It's a cultural experience to be sure. Plus, I feel so young for once. But my man Robert is a genius with the hair coloring and he's one of the only hairdressers who's ever succeeded in sending me home happy and not in tears. Plus he does it all for a super price, way less than what it would cost me at the foo foo places. He inherited a boatload of money and doesn't have to work but works 2 days a week anyway because he likes it. He is an artiste. He's also a really nice guy and a bit of a character. For a while he was going to my aunt's house and doing her hair in the comfort of her own home for a fraction of his already reasonable rates but she had to put a stop to it because he would come to do her hair and then not leave for like 7 hours. He's also a bit high strung and is always in a tizzy about something. This year the trauma was a double booking, namely me and some other woman also wanting a dye job. For some reason the salon is trying to drive him out and so double booking him all the time to make him look bad. I'm not sure why they want rid of him but my aunt confirmed his story. I'm not sure why he doesn't leave, I'm sure he could work somewhere nicer.

On top of the stress of a double booking he's limping around in a leg brace with his leg swollen up to 4 times its normal size. He's got a torn ligament plus put a nail through his leg doing some home remodelling project, was in the hospital with an infection in the leg and fell down the stairs there injuring it further. He's not supposed to be on his leg at all let alone running back and forth across the salon between 2 customers. I tell him a million times that I'm in no hurry don't worry about it, but he's worked himself up into a state.

In the meantime the woman sitting next to me decides I'm her new best friend and starts chatting and chatting and chatting. Usually people like that drive me crazy but I'm sitting there with a head full of bleach & tinfoil looking superfreaky and what else do I have to do so I chat with her, or rather I listen to her chatting. She was diagnosed with diabetes 3 months ago and learning to cope with her new dietary restrictions. She's also given up smoking, lost 9 pounds and taken up exercising. To keep her exercise regime interesting she's signed up for some program that sounds like a combination bootcamp/exercise/self-defense with the Israeli commandos. She says that on the bright side she'll be able to defend herself if anyone attacks her. 'Don't mess with a woman who can't have ice cream anymore' is her new motto on life.

For some reason the highlight dye is taking forever to develop so he has to keep coming over to check on me, puts me under the dryers, checks a bunch more times, and I'm feeling terrible about his leg and guilty about all my whining and self pity about my own knee. Finally he finishes the cutting and blow drying and somehow manages to tame my rats nest into something respectable looking. Total elapsed time: 2 hours. But wait, he's not satisfied with the highlights. There's not enough light tones and even though I tell him I think it's fine he's not happy with it and decides I need more. So he puts more dye & tinfoil on my head and sends me back under the dryers. Do you know what it's like sitting under a hot hairdryer with tinfoil on your head looking like you're waiting for the UFO's to come? If you are a boy, probably not. Then we have to go through the washing, conditioning, drying and styling again. But by the time he's done my hair looks fabulous and I'm good for another year.

The other thing I like to do while in Chicago is go to the Evanston dog beach with my friend and his dog Annie.

When my friend told me she was a border collie mix I was skeptical from just seeing photos of her but after seeing her in person I'm convinced she's part BC maybe mixed with Golden Retriever. Whatever she is, she's an absolute sweetie. Lovely temperament, greets you like you're her best friend when you come to the door but doesn't bark, isn't at all destructive, doesn't eat your pockets out of your pants or eat every unattended plastic bag or steal food off the counter or or... We've been threatening to swap her out for Strummer but my friend is having none of it.

I was playing around with my new camera lens but didn't have a whole lot of luck. Seems like all they had at the park were tan dogs blending into sand or black dogs who are challenging enough if you know what you're doing but downright vexing if you spent the plane trip doing Sudoku puzzles instead of reading instruction manuals like you were supposed to. These guys were having a good time though and I couldn't help taking a few photos.

Maybe I'll have some better luck tomorrow. Walking in the sand feels like fabulous therapy for my foot, an added bonus of the dog beach.

I managed to convince my other friend to go to my favorite Mexican restaurant instead of a kayak trip on the Chicago river. We did see his fancypants new condo that backs onto the river and it is really nice. He's a ways above the river so you get to enjoy the nice view of it without having to worry about getting any of it on you. I'll admit though it looked so nice I was almost tempted but then his wife admitted to falling out of the boat into the river and feeling absolutely disgusting covered in the mucky water. Plus we would have had to climb down a rope ladder for nearly 2 stories to get down to the river and there's no WAY Jonny was going to do that. I wasn't thrilled about the idea either what with the prospect of a misstep sending you tumbling into the river. We stuffed ourselves with burritos instead.

Now to see if I can last 2 more days without having a nervous breakdown.


  1. Thanks for this post. I needed a good laugh in my life right now. Diana

  2. Burritos over toxic sludge. Good choice!

  3. Great hairdresser story! I have my hair "fixed" (with a perm) twice a year and that process is glamourous compared to what I see with those highlighting jobbies.

    The two frolicking black dogs came out fairly well--you can see the texture in their coats, and that's what you need in black dogs. Even if you had laid off the sudoku and read the instructions, taking photos of ANYTHING that's black in the same picture as anything that's light colored is just not going to work well, ever, for anyone, except maybe with perfect lighting, which is usually artificial.

    Glad to hear we didn't lose you to Chicago river toxins.


  4. I did finally read the manual for the lens and it wasn't terribly helpful because it expected you to know what you were supposed to do with it. What I need is a basic photography class and yeah I'll get right on that.

  5. Depending on your budget--about 10 years ago I got an excellent community adult education program beginning photog course for maybe $50 or so.

    But is all online, they're great at giving personal feedback & answering questions, good material, you don't have to travel anywhere (except to take photos if you want), but pricier.

    * Fundamentals

    * photographing your dog (included work on black dogs, too). Wish I could afford to be in one of their classes all the time! But maybe one a year...

  6. Thanks for the links, I'll look into it. I have a friend who took some classes through a photo store I think and they were cheaper but he said they were pretty lame. I guess you get what you pay for.

    Still, whether in person or online I still need to find time to devote to it and those running dogwalks keep calling me.