Thursday, December 10, 2015

Product Watch: Best Shampoo

I have hair the consistency of a horse's tail, and an unruly one at that. My hair has ALWAYS been coarse, thick, and curly. Before you wax poetic, it's not that lovely kind of curly where you have billowing tresses perfectly framing your face. No, it's more like crazy cat hoarder who always looks disheveled and might be a little touched in the head.

Sigh.

I have learned that product is not so much my friend as it is my necessity. My hair has tried every shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in serum on the market and yet I just came by the greatest shampoo and conditioner yet: Sake Bomb by Drybar. I LOVE this shampoo! I have tried everything from Living Proof to Biolage and everything has left my hair rather lackluster. I'm always surprised that raved-over products on Sephora look terrible on me.


And so as I washed my hair with Sake bomb, I went selfie-crazy. Well, it was for this blog post but it was awesome to have a great hair day! And though this is all in fluorescent lighting it will at least show how soft my hair is after these products. So after a lifetime and closet full of products, I can finally start to pare down. All I need is the following:

Sake bomb shampoo
Sake bomb conditioner
Purple shampoo for brightening occasionally
Perfect 10 leave-in for heat protection against blow dryer/curling iron
Coconut oil for occasional deep conditioning
Aveda control paste for humid days
Kerastase Elixir Ultime for post-style seal of any stray hairs

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Date for Three

Last week I had a date with an attractive and interesting guy. Little did I know it would be a date for three. Although physically there were only two of us that showed up at Bar Dupont, in actuality his ex was everywhere.

Mr Ex has been single-ish for six years now but, as I quickly learned, is still married. That's actually not the worst part. I realize that Life is not always black and white. After some probing on this bizarre subject I found out that they're Swiss, have two lovely children that he does not want deported if they divorce. Can we say complicated?

Already my alarms are going off, when he gives me the full details. May I just say Eek? Mr Ex's ex has not worked in over 20 years, doesn't really take care of the kids and he supports two households: his and his ex's. Whoa, what?! She doesn't work, she doesn't really take care of the kids, but you pay for her livelihood? You also put her through college twice, equal to the number of times she dropped out on your dime. And oh! You put a girlfriend through school and supported her non-working ass and she dropped out too?

I think your cock is doing the thinking for you, Mr Ex.

Unfortunately I have no poker face. I sat there in horror, mostly that he has been suckered by at least two gold diggers and now he's confessing this all to me- a virtual stranger. Alas, a virtual stranger who blogs. But as I have the Asher Curse upon me, meaning that everyone tends to tell me their life stories, I just sat and listened. I should have had that extra glass of wine.

Needless to say that over the next couple of hours I heard the downfall of Mr Ex's life; how his ex maxes out his credit cards on the dates she goes on, how his mother passed recently, how he is completely unavailable to his kids, how he accidentally drank a friend's $25,000 bottle of wine and poured most of it out... ugh, I can't go on. I sincerely bid him the best of luck and went home in an Uber.

Perhaps the one funny part was the next day when I was telling my friend about the date. "But was there chemistry?" she asked. Seriously? Have you not heard the story (and there were many other shake-your-head moments omitted here). Good God, no! There comes a point when a cool handsome guy is a meaningless shell- it matters what's going on inside. Even the mere thought of a relationship with a guy in that much drama and crap... no, No, NO!!!

If I have not said it clearly before, I reiterate it now: if you're in a relationship that is relatively happy, go hug that person and thank him/her for not being a total headcase. If you are single, Honey I'm deep in the trenches with you, perhaps on the front line.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Breathing New Air

I recently went on a trip to Northern France. It wasn't a long trip just 10 days, but it came at a time when I definitely needed to get away.

With the sudden passing of my dog, wondering whether my job is worth dealing with the constant political crap from Congress, and meandering around with no real purpose... Yes I needed a vacation. It got to the point where I couldn't hear one more negative thing from anyone or I was going to burst.
I'll be the first to tell you that if you get to that point you should have taken your vacation a few months prior.

For me I make traveling a priority. It isn't that I have wealth beyond means it's just what I prioritize. So this year I made it a priority to go somewhere big for vacation. Last year, I stayed closer to home but still traveled the Northeast.But then I thought about my family (who prioritizes different things) and how this might be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. And with that come all of these pressures to make it the best trip possible. Thank goodness I don't look at it that way.

I pared it down to what I really needed: 1) forget about my life in DC for a bit; 2) take some pretty pictures; and 3) breathe new air.

Honestly I think these goals saved the trip for me. Nothing went smoothly and as far as pleasant and relaxing trips this one would never make the list. But did I accomplish my goals? YES! And because I let go of any expectations past those 3 little goals I had amazing moments. I breathed the air of Bretagne/Brittany, saw jaw-dropping castles, and stood on the grounds of William the Conqueror and D-Day.

I was also rewarded with moments when I could feel the presence of my Mom and Michelle. I could feel my dog walking through the maze of Chenonceau with me. And I had a truly miraculous moment when I looked upon the English Channel at St Malo. I remember a conversation with my mom over 20 years ago that one day I would go there. She believed me, she believed IN me and I could tell her in that moment that if she hadn't had so much faith in me I would never be there. Immediately a rainbow appeared. That's so like my mom to respond with beauty and grace. The next day I knew exactly what direction I needed to turn my life to and the fear of floundering disappeared.

As far as pretty pictures, well, here is a sample taken from the true star of the trip, my phone. Between the Google Translate app and the camera, my phone delivered and made sure that I could speak only French to the French. And I'll say this, for as much as I butchered their language, everyone was so lovely. Most importantly I learned that letting an experience be organic will allow Life to teach you and guide you. Had I tried to force it to be something else I never would have figured out my next stage in Life and THAT is truly a blessing.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DIY Bookcases 4: Finishing

Yeah, when you get all the framing done there's this moment of panic when you think, "AAACCK! I have a little uneven gap!!" Especially if your house has had any time to settle chances are everything isn't perfectly flush. And then you have these screws that aren't perfectly flush...

Have I identified that I am NOT a carpenter?? If you didn't guess it you'd know now. This is an imperfect project. After all it was built by yours truly. That doesn't mean that it doesn't look good or I'm not proud of it but I do know that a skilled carpenter would not have made my myriad of rookie mistakes.

For the nails I used a whipped putty to cover the holes. For the screws, I used a wood putty. This is a great molding putty that can turn screw heads into looking like little wooden knobs or smooth the surface. Again, if you have a nail gun I think that's preferable and then all you have to do is cover the holes with a little putty.

After that it's my favorite part- CAULK. I have come to love vinyl caulk- it covers all manner of sins. Gaps? vinyl caulk to the rescue! It seals everything and makes it a smooth, cohesive unit. You'll need two bottles of this and I recommend asking a worker at the hardware store which brand to get. That plus a caulk gun and you'll spend under $15 to elevate your bookshelves and really make them look finished. Look at the picture and see what it looks like before and after- amazing, right?


Next, I bought some semi-gloss white paint. For some reason it did nothing so I ended up taking my leftover matte white paint from the ceiling and painted two coats. Then I went over with a coat of the semi-gloss paint. I'd recommend two coats of that though.

Another day spent organizing my books and there's the finished product! All done for about $350.00


DIY Bookcases 3: Framing

Sorry! Been on vacation and before that I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get things done.

The most important part of making a factory bookshelf look custom is by framing. Make sure you place and anchor the bookshelves evenly, then measure, then re-measure, then measure again... for good measure. You want the boards to overlap by about 1/4" (lesson learned!) because you never know if there might be the ever slightest sway of a bookshelf on uneven flooring (again lesson learned!).

After you have your measurements bribe a friend with a truck or SUV for a day of fun at Lowe's or Home Depot. You want a 3/4" board and I chose poplar because it has less dark veining and will require fewer coats. One board should cover everything. They'll do the cuts for you there though I found buying an $80 circular saw came in very handy for getting the length of the boards cut perfectly. After you have that you can start adhering them to the bookshelves. Apply a line of wood glue (seen right) and nail or screw the board on. I chose flathead screws but that required a lot of pre-drilling. I would almost recommend a nail gun for finer tuning.

After those initial boards were put on it was time for the top pieces. I anchored a 2" X 4" across the top and (with the help of a friend to hold it) screwed in the top poplar boards. After that I nailed the crown moulding and trim (annoying little buggers and hard as plastic), as well as the baseboards. And then, voila! You have a framed book case. Next up- finishing.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

DIY Bookcases 2: It Takes a Village

There are two downfalls to doing a home project on yourself. The first is making sure that the materials fit into your car. The second is carrying said supplies to your home.

When I first went to IKEA I stacked 6 74" shelves onto a wobbly trolley. In a comedy of errors, I somehow managed to get these stuffed into my car. But even with the back seats laid flat and the shelves shove to the rear view mirror, this occurred BARELY.When I got home I sighed in resignation as I had to lug these up the stairs to my little corner nook. Then the villagers arrived.

The villagers in question are the two coolest kids in the world: Reese and Walker. These brothers are 11 and 8 respectively, very chatty and friendly, and the most thoughtful kids around. They always have a ballgame going on in the courtyard, help the neighbors with pruning and weeding, and pause the ballgame (played with a woofle ball) whenever a neighbor leaves their home, for fear of hitting them. See? Thoughtful.

I had carried the first two shelves in when Reese came down to help his dad unload the car. He looked at me balancing two more shelves on my shoulder and ran over to grab an end. Walker followed not long after and decided to get the middle of the shelves rather than help his dad. Sorry, but seeing our little Marine unit carrying shelves is kind of funny. Never mind that I ended up returning them and replacing them with bookshelves a week later, the help was still awesome.

Walker then begged to help me put them together. "I want to learn things. I want to do things," he said. So I put off assembling the bookcases until he had a free day. I went to Starbucks that morning and got myself a latte and him a hot cocoa. I had just assembled the first bookcase when he came in. I laid out all the tools, the materials, and the instructions and we went step-by-step together. He learned the difference between a flat-head and Phillip's screwdriver, how to paint, how to hammer (I started the nails off and he finished them off), and how to read directions. He also learned how to fix mistakes, like when you hit a nail crooked.

His favorite tasks were hammering nails in, which after about six nails he would rush into the kitchen for a cocoa break. Throughout he was willing to listen, learn, and apply what he learned. Great kid!

Most of all he learned how to break down a project into steps. I learned this when I first moved out as the only time I worked on projects was with my dad. Yeesh! Scary times. After the first five minutes of excitement he would follow-up with a bout of angry cursing, beating parts into submission, and eventual throwing of anything handy. Ironic, as those items are rendered un-handy when you throw them. I wanted Walker to have a different experience. Instead when Walker looked panicked at a crooked nail I just replied, "If this was going to be perfect it would have been made by God, not us." He got to learn in a relaxed environment and at the end he got to see the results of a job well done!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DIY Built-in Bookcases

I like my little cottage place but it is little. It was built in 1940 and the closets are exactly big enough for a 1940s wardrobe: your Church dress and your work dress. There are many pluses to my place but square footage is not among them and making the best use of space still leaves everything looking cluttered.

I have a phobia of hoarders. I have family that fall into that category and I walk in and feel overwhelmed. That being so, I still have too much damn stuff! I donate AT LEAST twice a year. Result? Still too much damn stuff.

So I have a serious addiction... books. Yes my vice is literacy. An awful thing! Actually when you look at my bookshelves, yes it kind of is... See these are not all of my books. I also have 5 more bookcases around the house. Okay, but one is for cookbooks by the kitchen. Two are in my bedroom. One holds various DVDs and miscellany, and the last organizes all my important documents and this really cool old set of encyclopedias. Sigh, I'm a book hoarder.

Here is my before shot. You can see the cases buckling under the weight (they're double and triple stacked!):

















So the first idea was to have floating shelves all the way across the wall. But even though I'm not an engineer I worry about the weight. It's a lot of books, after all! Yes you can reinforce with heavy duty anchors but still... So after having bought lack wall shelves and the paint to do an accent wall I realized that this would be a huge fail. Sigh, taking the shelves back.

What I AM going to do instead is line bookshelves up along the wall. Yes, new ones from IKEA, have 3/4" panels cut for the spaces and the top, and then add crown moulding. Voila! Custom built-in bookcases. I ordered the Billy Bookcases from IKEA and expect them delivered next week. Let the projects begin...

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DIYer

I am in the serious mood to do projects. I have this insane pull every time I know someone is going to visit me. I just always feel like my place is never "finished" or refined.

I look at the neighbors' places and we fall into one of two categories: those that look like staged homes ready to hit the market and those that look like we might have 8-10 cats hiding. I'm somewhat in the middle but leaning toward the latter.

I will say that for many their homes look tidied because they're parents have all their childhood things. But I took any childhood belongings with me years ago when my mom sold her house. Then when she passed away I inherited a lot. I will say that Wendi and I donated over 17 truckloads of things to charity. We also gave most of the crystal to family. And her clothes? Well she was 4' 9 1/2" and wore a size 4 1/2 shoe. All donated (except my favorite Shooting Star shirt!).

That still left us with albums, boxes of pictures, sets of china, and jewelry. To be honest my favorite keepsakes are my Great-Grandmother's bread board and a wooden spoon that my mom cooked with all the time. Every time I look at it I can think of her stirring potato soup, making sun tea, or fixing us Kool-aid. It's a happy spoon.

So with only 1,000 square feet it's hard to decide what to work on next. I decided mine is to re-paint my bedroom. Right now it's this vanilla that the whole house is in (except for my lemony tower room I painted this Spring), and it looks like a mish-mesh. Just random pictures hung and no real intention or style. I like my grey ombre rug and my grey cello chair but that's about it.

I didn't even bother with a before pic as there was nothing interesting about the room. I cleared out several books to donate, grouped pictures the way I wanted them, and added some crisp white curtains. I still have yet to replace my bed frame but you can see what a cool vibe the grey gives the room. I feel like it is very grown up-y. Most of all I feel like this space is now very intentional.In the very near future I will need to hang pictures and the like but for now I am just feeling out the space.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Man de la Larbert

I have had many head slap moments in my life... too many to mention here but for some reason one in particular appeared quite vividly today. It's odd really, as I haven't thought about this in some time but apparently the Universe would like to humble me and so I must write.

Glasgow Scotland, September 2012
I spent a lovely couple of weeks exploring Scotland with my sister. We went all over, from Iona, Culloden, the Orkneys, and Edinburgh. I won't mention my embarrassing driving experiences nor how I said I was Canadian to get less of a sourpuss face from the island natives. But I will mention the time I went to see Bannockburn.

If you know your Scottish history you'll know of the very important battle that occurred 700 years ago for Scottish independence. So after my sister took off for the States I headed up to Stirling and then over to the bus for Bannockburn. Little did I know that this battlefield was not *gasp* preserved as a memorial site but instead is a pasture with a plaque. So I sat there looking for some obvious monument markers when a lovely lady sat next to me.

She jabbered on cheerily and even with my 5 years of Scots Gaelic lessons I could not discern the Broad Scots she was speaking in. Here are snippets that I understood: icebox, American, dance, soldier, and icebox again. Apparently an icebox was the star of the story and I feel a bit remiss that I didn't get more of the story. I had lost all sense of direction by this point and then she said something about how she wished she were going to Glasgow because we'd have a grand old time. Wait-- GLASGOW??!

DUCK. Now I have to backtrack a third of the way back up the Country and I still haven't seen Bannockburn. Now I'm irritated at myself and-fantastic! I'm lost. I just want to get to my hotel and eat a nice meal. Okay so the train station is nowhere in sight so I'm feeling defeated. Just then I see an attractive guy. I approach him and he offers to walk me to the station. Awesome. 

We walk along exchanging stories. He works in the financial sector and is originally from Larbert just south of Stirling. He walked out of his way to deliver me, even though his train station was along the way. He waited for my train and in that pinnacle moment I shook his hand and thanked him. What a dumbass move on my part, if I may say so. I should have offered to buy him dinner, a drink, tuck him into my hotel bed- SOMETHING. I never even got his name. And so I shook his nameless hand. Forehead slap. 

So why am I thinking of him now??  That I cannot tell you but I can say that missed opportunities are just that: missed opportunities. Even if you don't think of something for years when it creeps up on you, there must be some reason for it. So I'm putting this out into the Universe out that if this gentleman from Larbert comes across this, THANK YOU. I was having a crappy day and you made it a lovely memory. I even checked out your town and the old Parish there per your suggestion. And if we shall ever meet again, dinner is on me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why Hello, Cello!

None of us is immune from loss and I am certainly no stranger. The only thing I know to do is allow the feelings as they come and throw myself into something productive. This has resulted in prioritizing time with loved ones over acquaintances, more volunteer work, and artistic expressions.

After my mom passed, many of the hobbies fell to the wayside and Michelle, my close friends, and family became priorities. They were always priorities but now even more so. I also took to knitting for people, something I picked up when my mom was sick so I could knit her a cashmere cowl that was both soft and warm.

Now that Michelley has passed there is a lot of silence. I don't want to run away from it and throw myself into meaningless endeavors. What I do want is to live a life with meaning and intention. For some reason the worrying about what the future will bring has fallen to the wayside. It has been replaced with an awareness of what feels right, what doesn't; what is important, what's not; and finally what to fight for, and what to let go of.

A few years ago I picked up the cello. As one of my million bucket list items I rented a cello, found a teacher, and went every other week to lessons. Surprisingly it felt right. That doesn't mean it sounded right but pish posh. Michelle surprisingly liked my playing, even when it sounded like a distressed cat. But I kept at it and a year later decided to buy a cello. I continued to take lessons until I moved to DC.

Once I moved here there was a new world to get used to. Honestly, my cello became more of a decorative piece in my bedroom than anything else, I'm sad to say. When Michelle first passed the silence was deafening. I felt her presence those first few days and felt like she wanted me to play the cello. So I start tuning and SNAP! a string breaks. Standard Jilly Modus Operandi (SJMO).

The next day I cart off to the violin shop and get a new string. Just being in the shop rekindled that love I have for cello, well hearing other people play cello. I went home and started with one of my Scottish airs. Nope, too soon. So I broke out my old Suzuki books and started to play. What had once taken me months to get through I finished that book in 6 days. Book two was no different and so I bought a book of easy cello Christmas songs. Sight reading, felt natural, only a few things to really tweak.

Every time I sat down to practice it felt better and better. And then this week I decided I had to practice the dreaded vibrato. Ugh. First off, no beginning cellist or stand up bass player likes vibrato. Our strings are heavy and something about moving your elbow up and down while simultaneously stabilizing I have worked on this so much, my normally patient teacher wanting to pull his hair out. I could not get it. I would peruse youtube videos, pester my teacher for more training tips, do bizarre air exercises, drink a glass or two of wine to relax. Nothing, nada, zip. Until this week. I picked it up to try and then immediately I got it. "Fluke," I think as I try the other fingers. It sounded okay... on all of them. I still thought it was a fluke but then it kept happening again and again.

I am now convinced that I have a little intervention from my Sheltie angel. She probably met Pablo Casals and decided that I needed to improve drastically if she was going to have to listen to me from Heaven. But I am enjoying myself again and more so I am finding purpose. I want to be a good enough player that I can join a quartet and play Christmas music at rest homes. Little by little I play my cello, clear my head, and find purpose and meaning again. Thank you, little Sheltie Angel!


Friday, July 31, 2015

And Speaking of Eulogies...

Last week I lost my little girl, Michelle. She was recovering from a 6-week bout of pneumonia. A couple of nights after her latest check-up she was coughing badly and hyperventilating. This time she didn't respond to the oxygen tank, or medicine, or sedatives.

There was really only one option and it was to end her suffering. I won't go into details but she went downhill rapidly. I wrote her eulogy, read it to her, and then I nodded at the vet. Most dogs go to sleep after the first shot, but not my Michelle. I held her and looked deep into her eyes and said "I love you" a million times. She held my gaze until the end. I shut her eyes. She was only 10.

I am devastated. I love that dog so much. She is brilliant, loving, strong, stoic, hilarious, and regal. She was commonly known as the Grande Dame and I her staff. She had some trouble getting up the stairs (but not a bit when I burnt bacon!) and she would go to the two steps to the platform, turn back as if to say"I am ready to be carried now." She would lay on the lawn at Mt Vernon and everyone would say how she just seemed to own the place. She pretty much did. I know she was thinking that I just need to get my finances in order so when George Washington's estate hits the market (or Vanderbilt's, she wouldn't be choosy), it should be bought for her.


And she's right.

This is a dog that loved her people; she had a special yip just for Shelties. She spoke Scots Gaelic and would smooch and snuggle on command. She also had a strange obsession with Highland cows and bagpipes but that's another story. I always told her I would take her to the Shetland Isles because in my mind the main island is a large grassy knoll with free-range Shelties frolicking on the hillside. I'll take her ashes there.

But grief is grief and it takes time. I've been throwing myself into playing my cello every day (which she surprisingly loved even when it sounded like a cat in distress). I am grateful for 10 years of wonderful memories, from her puppy/Tasmanian devil days of shredding everything with razor sharp teeth, to our morning and nightly Sheltie hugs where I would hug her and she would hug me back with her chin, to those wonderful Sheltie snores. I will also miss her barking her hellos to everyone, including the national call-outs and International calls I do for work. Without fail she barked through every single presentation I've done when teleworking.

So now I just work through the loss and the quiet and the absence of her. And I realize that Michelle knows I love her more than anything and I know she loves me more than anything. That alone shows me that love continues to grow within us for our duration. I have so much more love because of Michelle and God bless her for that alone. Now she has crossed over the rainbow bridge and I only hope to live a good enough life that I will one day pass, she will sniff the air and come running to greet me. God bless you, sweet little Michelley.

A Living Eulogy

It was my 41st birthday last weekend and it was lovely and understated. I actually prefer a lovely day having one good meal, relaxing, and talking to a few close family members and friends. The ostentatious parties, the expensive gifts- I don't really need that. Sure if you're turning a round number: 30, 40, 50- that's okay but 41?

Many years ago my sister and I started this tradition with birthday gifts. Every five years we do something big for the other (35, 40, 45, etc.). This includes flying out to see the other and a nice check for that person to have some fun with. This year my sister turns 45 so we'll meet for a long weekend in Vegas. But on the other years we simply give each other a $25 Amazon gift card and mandate one book that the other must read. This results in my always reading historical fiction with a romance and my sister reading esoteric novels written in a Modern-day version of Old English. I can hear my sister sighing now.

And since we've endured a slight torture with those off-year book suggestions we decided to incorporate a lovely tradition: a living eulogy. We first did this when our mom was in her final days with cancer. We both wrote our eulogies and read them to Mom- I mean why not guarantee the person you love is the one that hears this? And since we often take those we're closest to for granted, my sister and I decided to start a list of all the things we love about the other.

I would say that this was not an easy road to get to. No two people could be more different than my sister and me. In fact... it took me a minute but we have a love of history in common. And we both like bagpipes... yep! that's about it. I mean look at us! My older sister with her sable hair, dark eyes, and dark complexion. I am all light- hair, eyes, skin. But when Mom passed we had one more thing in common- we lost our best friend. And as we took care of her through her illness and dividing the work with the estate, we also had equity in common. Finally as the world moved on and we processed all that goes through loss- the letting go of small things, the earned patience, we had personal growth in common too.

It's not like we didn't have these things in common before but it was the first time we didn't focus on our differences and instead really took a good look at the other. I think it's easiest to take those closest to you for granted. It's also easy to not work near as hard to find commonalities. But perhaps I'm past the need to find things in common and instead look at what that person's strengths are that will help me grow into a better person.

I won't go into the details of our private letters but I will say that the impact is overwhelming. Not only do you realize that someone really SEES you but you also realize that they love, respect, and even admire your attributes. It's a very emotional moment and one you can't wait to do for the other.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tweaking the Universe

I had a conversation with a friend recently about dating in this day and age. We both preferred to meet people organically- through friends or peers, but that's getting harder and harder every day. Where will you meet these people? Every day I ride the Metro and every day I see hundreds of new faces- new faces buried in their emails, their texts, their mobile games. Some are old school and carry books or newspapers but the result is the same: we live in a world crowded full of people and no one interacts.

Seeing as I have a better chance of attracting someone online then I do standing buck naked in front of them, it's simply changed the way we date. I have heard of those couples that met on the metro, exchanged numbers, and rode off into the sunset but that's now an urban myth. Did she accidentally break his iPhone thereby having to replace it within the hour? Because I know nothing short of that is going to make someone look up from their riveting game of Candy Crush. So much for that organic meeting ground.


I was out at an Irish pub with a friend this weekend. We had met for dinner and to watch whatever band was on hand. As we left and were walking to our cars, an out of breath gentleman approached us. Being female, in a city, and being startled by a breathless man, we were on alert."Excuse me," he says, "but weren't you just in the bar back there? I wanted to know if you'd like to have dinner sometime."Okay, that's the cliff notes version. There was a lot of stammering and flubbing but you get the gist.

In the movies there are sparks and he's not a short nondescript guy that's balding, but instead he's Aidan Turner. My reality needs tweaking. :) ALSO in the movies the recipient (ie Moi) understands perfectly the scenario, slightly blushes, and hands her number as the butterflies rise when they brush hands. Again, my reality needs tweaking. When this happened, I'm trying to discern if he's "touched." He's nervous and flustered and my staring at him like he might be the dangerous village idiot only seems to make things worse. FINALLY slight comprehension sets in and my initial reaction is to say I have a boyfriend. But I'm glad I didn't. Instead I gave him my email and smiled.This is an ORGANIC meeting; I'm so shell-shocked by it that I am now averted to meetings like this. What we've come to...

The next day I receive a message laying all of his cards on the table: he has two wonderful children that he adores. He is also married, getting ready to file the divorce papers. If any of this is a deal-breaker he completely understands. Um, yes, that MARRIED part. I was very polite and said that I would never be comfortable going out with a married guy and even though relationships are not black and white but instead very complicated, it's just not a scenario I want to be in the middle of. I think at best you're a rebound then and at worse, the soon-to-be-ex-wife may not know. Anyway, I wouldn't disrespect the sanctity of marriage nor a fellow woman in that way.

Still I see this as moving in the right direction. But let's tweak that vision and next time the Universe can insert a very single Aidan Turner in there!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Michelle Ma Belle

I love this Beatle's song and it also happens to be the name of my little Sheltie. This song has many memories for me including a college ride with a long-time friend who asked me the words when I sang it. See, he never knew the words and since I seemed to know them would I mind sharing? Little did I realize I was being set up. Not even after I sang, "some dumb monkey won't play pianoed song" did I realize how ludicrous my version was over the simple French prose "son de mon qui bon tres bien ensemble." Pardon my spelling, but how was I to know they knew French?

I can't help but smile when I hear her name because Michelle really is the funniest little dog. It's known nationwide that if I'm on a webinar presenting Michelle will pick that time to bark, perhaps reminding me of all the life I'm missing out there presenting, while I could be barking at squirrels. It's no longer an anomaly but an expectation that she will indeed contribute. This has occurred on countless national report-outs, webinars, and even international calls to the Minister of Colombia. Michelle has become quite famous.

She's also famous with everyone she meets. In the neighborhood she is known as the Grande Dame, enforcing royal protocol. That basically means that we must all attend the wishes of Miss first and leave the Staff (i.e. me) to clean up the mess. When I cook and the oil is too hot- zip! Michelle runs up the stairs to leave the Staff to calm the situation. She is not my guard dog.

So the reason I've been absent is that I've been taking care of my little sick puppy dog. Last week she was panting heavily. I thought she was dramatizing the fact that no, it's not 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) and I know anything above that is uncomfortable in her mind. So she's ALWAYS panting. But this continued another day and her staring at me non-stop was beginning to freak me out. It was when I heard her breath get really labored that I took her to the emergency clinic.

Here I am thinking she got overheated and might need some fluids and then the vet tells me she's in an oxygen tank and needs to stay there until she can breathe on her own. OR, she says, I'll have to make a tough decision. WHAT??!! She's only 10 years old. I was devastated. Michelle had tried to tell me and I didn't get it. I failed her. I stayed until midnight and went home and prayed. I was lost. I got a call at 5 am that she wasn't doing well at all. I went immediately to see her. The new vet on call tried lasix, which clears fluid around the chest. From the x-ray they couldn't tell if that's what that mass was or if it was a tumor.

I called my vets from home for their advice and they recommended to try everything. Luckily Michelle responded. Within 24 hours she was breathing on her own. Another trip to the cardiologist confirmed that she has pneumonia. She stayed a total of 3 days at the clinic but she's home now.

I must say that an experience like that is a little death. The Jill and Michelle team of old is gone and is re-formed into this stronger union. I understand my dog so much more and she understands me. I just silently laugh and roll my eyes when she barks at a bird, a squirrel, a blade of grass. I love and accept her unconditionally. In return she gives more smooches, more snuggles and lots more taily-wags. She's the best part of my day and she knows it. I couldn't be more grateful.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DIY: Floating Shelves

One of my favorite blogs is Content in a Cottage. Unlike me, she always has fantastic photos and short but sweet descriptions. It's just one of those blogs that makes me smile. On one of her blog posts I saw these fantastic dishes. I searched high and low and finally found that there are several china patterns that are similar.

I thought I would start a slot collection process but then I saw a full set for 4 on ebay. I put in a ridiculous offer and the seller accepted so I found myself in a predicament: where do I put said fabulous dishes in my ever-slightly-larger-than-the-original-teeny-tiny-galley-kitchen I have??

Already, I have been in great need of space in this tiny kitchen. I love to cook- love it. So of course that means I have appliances and cookwear and I need the space to keep it. I had this counter top over a little bar as you enter the kitchen and I use it to hold my dog products: her cookies and arthritis chews. I also keep my Sodastream machine there that I use to make carbonated water. Yeah, it doesn't look too good.

Initially I thought I would try to match the white cabinetry and add one for this space but when I looked at ideas for Pinterest the idea of floating shelves came in. I thought it would give the space a lovely French Country feel. So I had the boards cut to size and then I set to all the work to sanding, staining, and protecting them. With three brackets placed and a level, I was able to create strong shelves that don't have a lot of messy hardware.

I found a stain in Provencal and voila! I have an organized space for Michelle's doggy stuff, I can display my new dishes and my favorite Colonial coffee pot that my mom gave me, and I can also highlight those odd baking tools that I love: pie birds and Springerle cookie presses.

It's a simple fix but what a difference it has made! My kitchen looks organized and intentional, and that means a lot to someone who loves her little cottage but is sorely lacking in space.

Later on I will tile a back splash all around but next on the agenda is the patio. No rest for the wicked!







Wednesday, May 13, 2015

DIY... Striped Walls

I own my first home which at 40 may seem very late to many. But I'm also doing this on one income and my vagabond lifestyle of yesteryear just wasn't too interested in ties. Apparently people also get help from their parents which just seems weird to me (cut the cord and earn your own living!) so I borrowed some against my TSP, put in a down payment, and bought a two-story condo in one of the most expensive places in the Country. I never do things the easy way. Sigh.

I love my place though. It's in a dog-friendly, quiet, historic village in Alexandria and it has this lovely cottage feel. It also gets cracks after the mini-quake a few years ago but the good thing about condos is that I don't pay for the fix!

I DO, however, pay HOA fees out the watoosie and I have to clean up after the plaster mess left behind. They'll technically "paint" but it will just be touch ups and would look uneven. The biggest mess was in the guest room, which I also call the Tower. I love this room- I watch tv, do yoga, knit, hide out from the world on a hard day- it's my special retreat. It's also tiny but as a hangout it's perfect for me.

Originally I thought I would get the same color albeit not matte paint, for it drives me crazy when I'm attempting an inversion and I feel the powdery cheap paint dusting on my feet and floors. There was a whole progression of contemplating *gasp* actual color on the walls. I decided to get some new pillows and brighten the space a bit and finally decided on yellow.

My sister told me about vertical striping on the walls to make them appear taller. What a cool idea- painter's tape and a level and it could be done. So I went on Pinterest and after much soul searching decided to paint 16" horizontal stripes in two tones of yellow: summer moon and chickery chick. How do those names not instantly lift your spirits? My sister is very Traditional in her design choices and I am very Cottage in mine so I took her idea and I think I gave an updated look to the Tower (now the Lemon Tower):



I feel like it went from generic small bedroom to updated Hamptons room. I painted 3 walls with the stripes and left the 4th the pale yellow color to give the illusion of depth.

My accent pillows are a cheerful blue and apple green and isn't that the happiest room you've ever seen?? I love everything about this room and I LOVE this pullout couch. I took my friend shopping with me and made her try out every pullout couch until she found the comfiest. That's the one I bought. It is super comfy. I even keep my dog's (aka Michelle, aka Gran Madame) stairs in case she wants to come up for a belly scratch.

This will be the room where I do my first hand stand but in the meantime it remains my retreat and instantly lifts my spirits to be there.

Monday, April 20, 2015

End of an Era (1950s, that is)

Well, after nearly five months with the Greek, he became way too comfortable in revealing his whole self. All I can say is yeesh. At first I thought- what a nice guy, he seems so into getting to know me, so interesting himself, down-to-earth, and I saw a possibility of a future. Everything is true except the last point.

I have said it before and I will say it again: people tell you exactly who they are in the first 20 minutes. There are signs. I knew well the signs from his, shall I say, conservative politics, and his statements in absolutes (read immaturity) that this may not, indeed have a future. However I feel you just continue until you REALLY know if a) you want to make that person family and marry him; b) part as friends; or c) just part altogether.

After a particularly revealing conversation driving home the realness of the above-mentioned flags, I decided upon option "b".

I can summarize this into a Cliff Notes version:
Him: I’m more like a Tea Party guy, I believe in traditional marriage roles, Women’s lib is a bad thing, I should live in the 1950s I’d be a lead Prof at MIT. WTF??!!


My responses, consecutively: 
Tea Party- NOOOO, No No No No! Thank goodness you’re Greek and therefore will never vote here otherwise I’d have to vote in EVERY election just to cancel you out.


Traditional Marriage Roles- If you want to live by 1950s values then you can’t have double standards. For example no intelligent wage-earning woman wants to work full time, clean after herself and double her workload by adding YOU to the mix. You should only date someone that makes less than half your wage so her standard of living doesn’t go down by being with you. I make too much money, i.e. more than you. Therefore I'm out of your league.


Women’s Lib- What do you actually BRING to the table, because waving a penis around means nothing. Sperm? Yes, I can get that at a bank or a bar. I certainly don't need to take care of you to get that. And seeing that I'm the principle breadwinner (when shouldn't that be YOUR 'traditional' role?), you're not even living up to your basic, and only, responsibility.


1950s god- In the 1950s you would still be in Greece or here earning a low wage. The American world was not a friendly place to non-WASPs in 1950.


Even though it was hot topics the tone wasn't contentious. He saw this as a debate, one that he lost every point on. The only thing that seemed to hurt him was killing the dream of his being a 1950s MIT god. Being Greek he thinks the world sees Greeks as they see themselves- the epitome of humans on earth. The reality is that no one cares: people never say to themselves, “gee if only I were Greek, Life would be so much better.”

I'm not even upset or disappointed at this point. Just sort of mellow and cool about the whole thing. It wasn't wasted time it was just another great lesson learned and understanding more the kind of person who would (and wouldn't) make a great partner for me... and vice versa. I mean at least we can speak openly and honestly and there's value in that. And who knew I would ever call a Tea Party supporter a friend? Its just that I would never want a life with him so I'm happy to part on friendly terms.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fake Profiles on Match.com

I can't tell you enough how I dislike online dating. However it seems the new "organic" way of meeting people. But when you move to a city and everyone is tired from the commuting and getting used to a new schedule you come around to find the idea of online dating appealing after all. Well, sort of.

I guess in my head I never wanted to have the story, "Oh we met online," yet I have met a lot of men online and a handful I've kept as friends. Still I occasionally sign up as I feel like I'm supposed to really put myself out there. I weed through the sea of insecure and often odd men and find a few gems where we connect and meet up. Then a month goes by, I forget the membership until the alarm comes up on my calendar for me to cancel the account.

And that's when it happens... I get a lovely email from an exceptionally interesting and handsome man and I sign up for one more month.

At first I though I was Murphy's Law when this happened as soon as I cancelled. But after a couple more times, I began to get suspicious and surfed the web. Was my profile highlighted? Maybe, but the forums that came up showed that there are a great deal of people out there thinking Match.com creates fake profiles.

I thought this all sounded a little too conspiracy-theory until I read their accounts: good-looking person that's perfect on paper and very good-looking sends them an email either right as their subscription ends or is about to end. They send their phone number and ask you to text if you're interested. Several text messages occur until one day they disappear.

This very thing happened to me and with one of particular note, Darren. Darren was a very handsome man, seemed down-to-earth, family-oriented, a couple of years older, and very into getting to know me. All things I love, of course. He sent me such a nice email and followed with his phone number. We texted and were making plans to meet up then Pow! He disappeared. His account on Match was nowhere to be found; it was like he never existed. I followed up. No reply.

I wrote this off as he met someone else, etc. etc. and then I saw these forums. I got curious and still had his email with profile pic. So I saved the pic and decided to do a reverse image search. Sure enough, a fake profile was created- this guy is not Darren from DC but rather a Lebanese guy named Ali. The care that had been put into creating that fake profile was astounding: no less than 15 pictures with friends, family, etc.

I was stunned at first but honestly, it made me feel slightly better. After all, I wasn't really rejected, I just fell for a scam. And I don't have to feel pressured into renewing my match subscription. One should note, Match.com will often block you permanently if you decide to cancel your subscription. However for the online daters I would recommend the following steps to prevent encountering a fake profile:

1) Really look at the photos: is there just one? I mean I'm lazy about putting up a lot of photos but I always have at least a few.

2) Now look at the quality of the photos. Are they candid or do they look like they were taken at a studio? So often we just look at the person that we overlook that the lighting is perfect and this might be a model shot.

3) If you really want to know, do a reverse image search. Engines such as Image Raider and TinEye search thousands of social media sites. It's a good way to see if the person is who they say they are.

This may sound like drastic measures but it's becoming very common to see fake profiles- people wanting to live vicariously through someone else, someone who may be married and living out a fantasy, or dating sites that want to look like they have more enticing members. Whatever the reason, it saves a lot of time and investment to take a few precautions to realize if these people are legit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Green Broke

I grew up around horses and horse people. In fact I was helping to break horses from the age of four. My Grandpa would start the wild horse on a lead, then put a saddle on him/her, and when they got used to the saddle, well the next logical step was to put on an uncombed 4-year-old tomboy. Immediately I would be thrown and just as quick I was expected to get back on, ride for a few minutes, then my Grandpa (the real expert) would take over.


So growing up around horses and breaking horses we always left them a bit on the wild side, or "green broke." I often define this as the horse knows the rules but he may just buck you off for the hell of it... or rub you off on barbed wire... or run like lightening toward a low-hanging branch.

Anyhoo, I have often (and still do) use this term to describe myself. It's a bit more appropriate than you'd like to think. I also used this analogy before my sister's wedding: we were always considered Grandpa's wild ponies and those ponies choose who rides them; no one breaks their spirit.

As I was straightening my hair this morning I looked at those crazy little new growths and thought, "Damn. Green broke." They're no longer wild little forest children, they've been beaten into submission enough to know the rules. That doesn't mean they don't just stand at a 3 inch attention straight out of my scalp. Little bastards.

A while back I showed how to train the cowlick (which Auto-correct turned to 'Catholic' and henceforth I received the first hits from some Middle Eastern countries I had not before seen on here). I used a blow dryer to tame them. But to tell you the truth, I hate blow dryers. It takes FOREVER to dry my hair and since I want to curl or straighten it, I only want to do styling damage once. Now I have learned the art of using barrettes to tack down these crazy cowlicks to each side so they won't rear up on me.

It works and as you can see from this photo, shot at 5.20am nonetheless, that those wild little spurts of new growth you get when you stop dying your hair DO eventually grow up. That's a great benefit to not coloring your hair- you gain a lot of new growth. My hairline came down a full inch. They come in standing at full attention but eventually do behave. My wispies are only teenagers right now but I do hope that, unlike me, they grow out of their green broke stage and become well-behaved adults.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Midwestern Suffocation

After a weekend of traveling the friendly skies I have noticed some… annoying traveling habits of fellow flyers. There are those that crack their gum, those that shuffle cards for three hours (WTF?!), and those that disclose their life's story. 

I usually sit beside the latter of the group. In my family we call this the Asher Curse: where the world by one glance deems that you are a wise sage and have the answer to why their marriage fell apart or how to get through their next bout of depression. Personally I think the world can't afford therapy but somehow when they're trapped on a plane in an overbooked flight it's a great time to unload!

I've learned to enter the plane with headphones, apologizing to the talkers that I need it for the air pressure on my ears. Occasionally I sense nervousness from the person beside me and then we talk to take their mind off the rocky flight. And sometimes there are just delightful people to have conversations with. 

Unfortunately the guy behind me is not having this scenario. He has many strikes against his getting a nap in: he's British and therefore a novelty to all Midwesterners/Southerners (I'm in Texas right now), he's in the center aisle and therefore no chance of escape, he's sitting next to a conservative and elderly military guy with countless stories and opinions, and he must have left his headphones in his bag (doh!). 

If I run into him in the bathroom line I will attempt to run an op and ease him into weaning himself out of cauliflower ear for the rest of the flight. I might pretend to have run into him earlier and give him a new pair of earplugs (I carry a stash). But for now, he'll have to just suck it up and take one for the team because he's on his own. 

I noticed when I was in the teeny tiny Kansas airport there was what is described as a friendly Kansan. Now most Kansans are friendly but this is over the top. She talks to EVERYONE in sight, asking them all sorts of generic and personal questions and sharing every single thing about herself. She assumes an instant bond and sits beside you keeping the conversation going. This is the person that will ask to change seats to be near you and want to exchange addresses to be pen pals. I left her to use the restroom and she had befriended another, wondering aloud if Dallas (directly south of us) is in the same time zone. 

Oh my. Time for headphones. 

I have changed so much. I used to be a milder version of this girl but now I respect that people share and converse at their own pace. I can sit and have a lovely conversation and never exchange names; it's not always necessary. Or I can go without talking at all. So now instead of finding this friendliness well… friendly… I see it as invasive and somewhat inauthentic. I hope this girl has a safe and uneventful flight, good luck in her midterms, and a wonderful time visiting her boyfriend of three months in Colorado. However, I will forgo friending her on Facebook and I hope she doesn't internalize this. 

On the other hand, the guy next to me wants to change seats? Sure, whatever. The kid across the aisle wants to use the empty bin above me? No problem. The guy behind me wants to bring me into the conversation with the Tea Party guy? Oops sorry, I've got earphones and can't hear you. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

All About Women

Happy International Women's Day!! What a perfect time to celebrate. I spent the weekend on the anniversary of my Mom's passing with several strong and wonderful women who helped mold and shape the person I am and celebrated my mom- a woman who taught me unconditional love and the kind of woman I want to be. I'm also at a crossroads in a relationship where I'm wondering what the balance of compromise is: when is it not enough and when is it too much?

And just as it always does, Life provides an answer. I was scrolling through Facebook this morning as I was getting ready and came across a post from Nuno Bettencourt. If you're into 80s metal bands you'll recognize this gorgeous rocker. If not, you'll want to. He posted the following statement: 'Strong women don't play victim, don't make themselves look pitiful, and don't point fingers. They stand and they deal.' I agree with every word but it's what he said to preface that moved me:

"Ladies… today is International Women's Day. 
It's your day to be celebrated, recognized, and acknowledged. But for all of us men, it has to be every day that we celebrate you. 
Guys… the real power of a man is in the size of the smile of the woman sitting next to him… show your love and admiration for your girl, your woman, your mom every chance you get. They are your equal and need to be respected as your equal. Kiss them every chance you get. Squeeze them really hard. Don't take them for granted…
Empower them and they will empower you back. Cheers to all the amazing women around the world!
#internationalwomen'sday #partners #powerful #love #admiration"

Can I just add a couple of hashtags to the mix? #Loveitandloveyou!! #madrespect #wherearethemenwhothinkthisway?? #goodheavensareyousingle?

Okay, so I don't have the whole hashtag thing down but I do know how amazing it was to come across that post. I read it to my sister and she was impressed, calling it a rare example of emotional maturity. It made me question whether emotional maturity is an innate and therefore inevitable point for people to come across or whether this is a chosen and/or hard-won path. 

I would think that Life's curve balls would force one into maturity but then Wendi pointed out several examples of people of all ages- people we know very well- that never reached it and probably never will. This is a humbling lesson and also a wake up call. If you are surrounded by people that are emotionally immature, i.e. they don't compromise, they're full of absolutes, they run from problems or adversity, they are close-minded... they may just stay that way. Eek! 

I think the only thing I have going for me is that I do change. I try to learn from my  many (add *gasp*) many mistakes and grow from them. I can't imagine a life where you are so set in fear of the unknown that you remain stagnant or worse, regress.

Therefore it is even more impressive that this guy is out there celebrating women and taking the time to empower others. So I would like to take this moment to toast Nuno (choose adult beverage of your choice... mine will be an 18-year-old Bunnahabhain) and to say how much I appreciate the standard you set for all men. SlĂ inte!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Best of the Worst: SNAGadu

Unfortunately, I can easily do a whole series on my worse-case scenarios: dates, exes, breakups, etc. Also, rather unfortunately, I enjoy these experiences because they're a hell of a good story. To start off, let's not undermine my idea of the worst. For instance, my best of the worst in movies would include Urban Cowboy (a story about a mechanical bull rider who wants to be a better mechanical bull rider), or Baptists at My BBQ (a story about a Baptist that dares to intermingle with modern-day Mormons). How can you beat that for favorite bad movies?

So for my best bad date let's go with SNAGadu. He is a now famous story that my friends occasionally ask me to reenact. I met him when I had first moved to North Carolina. He was several years older than I was, had a PhD is Gaelic studies (if you know me, this is cool), wrote a book, recorded a CD- all-in-all, very talented and interesting individual. I thought surely this guy is  smoochable. Turns out not so much.

We were both at a ceilidh and I noticed that he "presented" himself to each partner with great theatrical elan. I should not have ignored this. I also noticed that most of my friends thought he was gay. Despite these barriers, I carried on and we had our first (and last) date. We met at this restaurant and he kept asking the waitress if she honored the NPR coupon. In fact he harassed the woman so much I thought she was going to leave for the night. Turns out this was a 2-for-1 coupon he was trying to get.

The conversation began and he asked me very specific questions: could I sing opera?; had I ever illustrated a children's book?; was I part Cherokee? To most this would seem odd until you knew that these were all things his ex-girlfriend was. Then the conversation went downhill: "I'm a SNAG." "Huh?" I say, half listening. "I'm a SNAG: a Sensitive New Age Guy." "Ugh," I reply, not even able to hide my disgust. He proceeded to tell me all about himself- the fact that he was a 40-year-old man living in a hippie commune, how 'theatrical' he was, etc. etc. By the end of dinner I was past wanting to go home. I had cable and the History channel and surely it was better than this.

"Let's get gelato," he insisted. "You know, I think I'm done," I replied. But after even more insisting I caved and agreed to walk the block and a half to the gelato store. We go in, he selects his, I select mine and then he leaves the store... many awkward moments pass as both the server and I realise that he intentionally wanted to stick me with the bill. I guess he wasn't over not getting that 2-for-1 discount.

I go out and he skips down the street, pointing his toes. "What do you think of my new shoooooes?" he sings. "Did you just skip like a little girl?" I ask, "I kind of want to punch you for that." This violence from me brushed aside, he repeats his lilt and then tells me how he got them for $1 at the garage sale. I sigh. We can skip through the tirades about his family, the Bad Renaissance festival jokes in poor accents, and all of his other delightful personality… quirks.

As we walked back to our cars he asked me what the story is on my friend, Brenda. "Are you seriously asking about my friend while we're on a date?!" "Well, it's just that I met her first, and well, I was just curious about her status." Good grief, and yet I was more offended that he skipped like a little girl.

He asked me out the following day. I told him I had t.v. that took precedence, i.e. NO. The good news is that my father (known to threaten castration to... say a brother-in-law at the Wedding Rehearsal) heard this story. He has never met any of my boyfriends (can you blame me??) but he heard about SNAGadu. And while he chuckled about the idea of he and SNAGadu skipping down to the barn together I know that I saved any guy I might introduce to my dad. After all, he only has to have the tiniest bit of testosterone and walk upright and he'll be now be golden with my dad. I should probably be embarrassed that my dad thinks this is what I attract but I prefer to see it as paving the way to the future. Any guy I get serious with has no idea the favor I just did for him.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jinx! I Owe You a Coke

Okay, I don't want to write this post because I don't want to jinx this. But this is a blog about dating so I should just put this out there: I'm kind of sort of getting to know someone and I like him. Good gosh, what a coward I am!

Here's the thing, it's been a couple of months now and there's so far nothing really wrong with him. Well, his taste in politics is iffy but as long as he gives a good shoulder massage, who cares! In fact there are freakish things we have in common that frankly, two people should not simultaneously co-exist and have in common. I'm not quite sure what I would do if he shares my favorite bad movies too (oops! he does!!).

I have been quietly observing myself and my reactions in getting to know him and it's been quite interesting. To be honest with you, I'm used to people picking and choosing what they think is cool about me; at best, they see me as a novel creature. People tend to focus on one part of my personality they like and ignore the rest, willing it away. It's maybe what happens when you're an eclectic personality.

This time, however, I feel... normal... What an odd thing to be. I'm a vagabond, having moved 10 times in my adult life. I'm a Native/Scot/German who is Greek Orthodox. I have a love for '80s metal bands, esoteric languages, and the fiber arts. I'm a Mongolphile and have more than a little crush on Genghis Khan. There's never been anything "normal" about me and even my closest family scratches their heads about me.

So I sit and observe myself and I realise that I'm a commitment-phobe all of which is very fear-driven. "Duh," the world seems to say and I say that too but I see the very manipulative ways I play with my own mind. I tend to always look for ways out instead of reasons to stay. I see a teeny tiny crack and I basically bulldoze it until there's an unrepairable hole. But I'm not doing that this time, or at least I am trying my damnedest not to.

I think the next question is if I've been doing this my whole life how many great men have I let go? Surprisingly, not many. Seriously, have you READ my blog?? There are a few exes that have remained friends, guys that are good guys. I'm glad we got through the hurdles and became friends but I don't look back: there were very good reasons those relationships ended and it wasn't all because of me or all because of them- it was just time to end.

I also know that a lot of my fear has to do with protecting my heart. Losing my mom- even saying those words makes me tear up- that was the single worst thing that ever happened. And if you know me, that's saying a lot. Going through Life's milestones seem rather insignificant when I couldn't share them with her. I have very little family left and I've become rather skittish about adding more people to care about; I know how devastating it is to lose them.

So here I sit, observing myself and my fears. I'm not fighting these feelings or stuffing them down inside, just sitting in a Buddhist-like observation. Even so I move forward in getting to know this guy. I don't want to jinx anything by even mentioning him but I need to get over that too. Already I am moving in a good direction if I'm attracting people into my life like him. And even if this goes no further I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be free to fully be yourself and I also can't tell you how much I enjoy getting to know him.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Photo IDs

I've always had this thing for spy movies. I imagine myself some svelte honeypot with a lethal Black Widow vibe. I now live in the city with the most spies in the world. I've also been to the Spy Museum more than I care to count, have memorized my game secret identity (I am a 58-year-old fisherman from Russia visiting family in Boston named Igor)- see, isn't this fun?? 

I've also shown my many IDs to my new friends here; friends whom have never seen me with anything other than silver locks. One was my passport where I'm sporting long, dark brown hair with side-swept bangs. One is my old driver's license with shorter, curly light auburn hair. The other is my badge with a long red ponytail and bangs. 

I am in-cog-ni-to, so incognito that I have no photo IDs that can sucessfully get me through the airport. Luckily I have a new VA driver's license that shows my silver hair because I've been stopped more than anyone by TSA. 

Happy of all happies? My passport and badge are also up for renewal. FINALLY. Okay my passport expired. Yes, it expired last year and I refused to have two-tone hair for a 10-year photo. So in my uber vanity I decided to wait until I graduated and my hair grew out a bit before I renewed it. I extended said vanity by looking at Yelp.com for the best place to get said passport. Don't judge, you do it too. 

I just completed the overly complicated process for renewing my badge. Tomorrow I will get dolled up and have my photo taken... and fingerprints taken... and violation of any semblance of privacy... Anyhoo. 

This may not seem like a big deal but it really is because my identity includes being a silver sister. I'm not a redhead, or auburn, brunette, or colour d'jour. I AM a silver sister. Something about updating all of your IDs and having those IDs reflect you as you are now is just another level of acceptance. This is another way of severing the past and embracing the future and the new you. I may not blend into the background anymore and I just gave up any hope of my spy fantasy but I certainly feel way more interesting.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Best Conditioner in the World

It is Winter here and that means dry everything- cracking hands, wind burnt face, chapped lips, and brittle hair.

No matter what, I always seem to want to buy the next miracle brand of product. This is probably because I'm American and a born consumer but I'm always convinced that there's going to be some fix-all product out there for my hair. Well there is and it's coconut oil.

I've raved about the wonders of coconut oil before but it never ceases to amaze me. I'm now dealing with dye-free hair that's in its healthiest state in 20 years. I can't blame the state of my hair on the dyed and fried ends or from keratin treatments. Now I'm seeing my hair and its unique personality. Lately this personality has revealed itself to be moisture-lacking dull grey hair.

I've gone to some of my miracle products- from the cheaper end Frizz-ease lotion (which made my hair seem a litle less dry but still a bit crispy), to my mid-range serum (which made my hair feel dry with an oily coat), to the high-end Living Proof (which made my hair feel dry with a waxed coat). Maybe these shouldn't be miracle go-to products after all?

It wasn't until I thought about my old friend the coconut oil that I used it as a last resort. Well I guess the best was saved for last because it instantly transformed my hair! It is so luxe and soft now. There are many uses for coconut oil and I'm going to list some below: 

Internal Health 
A tablespoon swallowed is good for you. I take one and melt one over my dog's food. I believe it gives us both a shiny coat. 

Cracked Skin 
I use this on elbows and also the pads of my dog's paws. A few uses and we're both feeling better. 

Makeup Remover 
This is the single-best eye makeup remover I've come across. It can take off any mascara without pulling out half of your eyelashes. 

Quick Hair Fix 
A little goes a long way so for my just-past-the-shoulders hair I use a teaspoon (if that). I take a little bit, rub it in my hands until it's an oil, and distribute through my hair very sparingly. You'll see an instant change in your hair and in an hour your hair will be perfectly hydrated. 

Deep Conditioner 
Here I use a tablespoon or more and coat my hair. Some people cover their hair and sleep with this in but I find that leaving it in for an hour and washing it out works well. You'll never have to buy expensive hair products again.

Monday, February 2, 2015

New 'Do

It's been a minute since I had a haircut... six months, to be exact. I went in, sheepishly hiding under my hat and awaiting the wrath of a new stylist lecturing me on the importance of haircuts every six weeks. Enter Yorda, a Senior Stylist at PR Partners in Shirlington.

Now I'm going to stop for a minute and reiterate how difficult it is to find a good stylist, especially if you're a silver sister. Stylists seem too often to shame people into thinking they need hair dye. Even the subtlest of raised and exasperated eyebrows, the sighs of "what are we going to do with THIS hair," or the half-assed effort spent on you. You'd think I was exaggerating but it's still too common for stylists to think that since you own your grey you have somehow given up on yourself and require the bare minimum from them.

Grr.

So when I DO find a great stylist, I want to pass that information on. I would like to say that Yorda was great- she loved my color on me, listened to my goals of growing my hair out, and gave me a cut to get me where I was aiming. She gave an awesome consultation, asking what I liked about different photos and really explained what she was going to do and why. Awesome! And she did this all while commenting on how healthy my hair was. Double Bonus!

I think the comfort started at the get-go when there was a detailed form I had to fill out. This has my goals, whether I wanted to talk about hair color, etc. It's a standard form they collect on everyone and I felt free to list that I liked my color, had no intention of dyeing it. I could also put in my allergy with hairspray and my desire to not use curling irons/flat irons (still not trusting after the one burned and yellowed that section of my hair). That was helpful as I didn't feel critical or high-maintenance, but still felt like I had a voice in my hair.

And voila! I don't feel like I lost any length but she thinned out the bottom and took that bulky weight out. It feels so much healthier and I love it. I also noticed that it lightened my hair. Apparently I am greying at a rapid pace and every cut shows lighter and lighter hair. I now have an ombre going down my hair that is purely natural. At this rate, I'll be white in 5 years! I'm not sure that this is normal, but it's kind of cool all the same.