04 February 2006

It was just one of those days...

...when you just have to laugh and reconfirm your conviction that "truth IS stranger than fiction".

Today consisted of sheer madness, but we laughed a lot in between the waves of wackiness. We always find SOMETHING or SOMEONE to laugh about. For instance, two different, unrelated clients brought two different, unrelated very small dogs. One of these dogs was placed on an empty, expensive, leather stylist chair and the dog seemed to behave as if she was expecting some kind of special conditioning treatment or trim. This tiny dog had this small, pink stuffed pig toy that she proceeded to drop every few minutes - it was fascinating to watch as its "Mom", who was sitting under a dryer as her color processed, would pop out of that chair and run to retrieve the toy and place it back on the seat beside the dog. I watched this for about 20 minutes and every time it happened, I could only roll my eyes. The dog looked rather indignant when the client was having her hair rinsed and unable to see that the dog had, yet again, tossed its toy to the floor. The poor thing had to go a good ten minutes without it's pink pig toy. It never uttered a sound - not even the hint of a growl, but that dog still managed to express her displeasure with our lack of subservience - when we noticed it had peed on the pillow right before "Mommy" picked it up. Now wasn't that too cute? NOT!!!!!!

Let's see, what else. We had one client bring her Mom along for a hair extension consultation - she would require a full head PLUS a pre-coloring so that her natural hair would match her newly bonded hair making the total cost around $1650. And of course, there was a sense of urgency. The young lady, who I would guesstimate was around 21, was set to go on a cruise to Grand Cayman and Cancun in four weeks. Was this for a study program? Oh no, Spring Break! Parteee!!!!! They discussed. The stylist laid out all of the maintenance requirements and restrictions required to keep the extensions looking like new and they read over all of the paperwork and after about ten minutes, they bellied up to the desk and laid over $750 as a down-payment. It turns out that Mom just couldn't say no. C'mon now, how can a self-respecting young lady honestly sail to Grand Cayman without 9 inches of straight blond hair? NOTE TO Katie: Thank you so much for being practical and quite reasonable.

Believe me - I see some things that could curl your hair - which is what a lot of our clients pay good money for; to have their hair curled if it's straight or to have an expensive technique known as "Japanese Hair Straightening", i.e. thermal ionic reconditioning, which permanently straightens hair and takes a minimum of five hours and runs around $100/hour. And then, there are those who feel they simply can't live another day without an extra 4 - 6 inches of hair and, in this instant gratification society we enjoy in the US, for $1500, our stylists (all SoCap Certified), can expertly apply keratin bonded hair SoCap extensions that come in every hue of every color, every texture, and I swear if you were to see someone walk out with our expertly applied extensions, you would NEVER in a million years guess that the person who's head they are attached to didn't grow them.

While the prices at our salon are competitive, it never fails to amaze me that people just walk in and plunk down $1500 to have long hair or $750 to have the hair they already have straightened. Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm glad they do and so is the man who signs the checks! But I guess if you have your heart set on something, you can find the money to get what you want.

Now, I have to be honest, I'm way too noncommittal to ever fork over that kind of money for straight or longer hair because I know that as soon as I'd do it, I would immediately decide that I wanted shorter hair with waves. Having said that, if I truly wanted longer hair, I'd find a way to get it. Gee, I remember back in the day when people who wanted long hair had to actually grow it and wait however long that might take.

Which made me wonder, what would I be willing to pay a fairly large sum of money for that might make someone else say in wild amazement, "Why would anyone pay THAT much money for (fill in the blank)?

Hmmmm...with me, it would probably involve Brite Smile, because I have an unhealthy obsession with preternaturally bright, white teeth. Who cares that my teeth ache after peroxide-based whitening treatments - I pop two advil and sign on for more. I have no idea where this fixation with really white teeth comes from, but I do know that whenever I quiz my friend Vanessa about how she came to possess such amazingly perfect, gleaning teeth, I'm pretty sure she's holding back on me, "I don't do anything out of the ordinary!", swearing that her million dollar smile is simply the result of genetics and clean living. Oh sure Vanessa, like I really believe that!

Or maybe I'd be inclined to spend a hefty amount of money on a new computer and finally break free of Microsoft and take a bite out of an Apple, more specifically, a Macintosh. Yeah, that's the ticket. My daughter LOVES the ibook we bought her for Christmas and is thrilled with her ipod and pretty much rates Bill Gates right down there with all things evil. I do know that Mac's have far superior publishing-based software programs and I must admit that I have been toying with the idea, especially since one of my two Dell Dimension 2350 towers has been in the computer hospital since this past Monday. So far, I have been informed that my registry is screwed up and a lot of my files are positively corrupt! Ouch! I didn't realize I had done anything untoward, but I guess you just never know. I enjoyed reading the Time Magazine profile on Bill and Melinda Gates and I was impressed with a lot of what I read, but when my desktop icons failed to load when I fired up my left Dell tower last Sunday Night, I became rapidly disenchanted with all things emanating out of Redmond, Washington. Microsoft is quickly becoming a four letter word or, at the very least, it inspires me to break out with quite a few choice ones.

But I guess if I just had $1500 lying around, simply BEGGING to be spent, it would eventually wind up belonging to a bookstore, in exchange for as many books as that money could buy. I admit it - I am almost powerless when I walk into Barnes and Noble or surf Amazon.com. I grow weak and one field of interest and all of the books attending it, bleed over into another interest and another and before long, I am mentally calculating the shelf space left in my office and how many books I could reasonably buy without squeezing them in so tight that they are in danger of becoming fused together. Yes, it would probably be books, with a little put aside for lumber so that my husband could erect more book shelves in my office. Or his office. Or our bedroom. Or maybe replacing our exotic finch collection with volumes on "Exotic Finches And The Eclectic People Who Clean-Up After Them And, More Importantly, Why Do They Do It?". Or maybe, "The Dummies Guide To Meal Worm Farming - It's Not As Much Fun As It Looks - What You Need To Know Before Buying That Ranch". Hey, I'd probably buy those books. Wait a minute - I could write those books!

On a positive note, I was more than thrilled to see the first piece I have written since my "Single...With Children" column, published! I had the great privilege of interviewing the regional director of the "Self-Help Credit Union" and I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent discovering who he is and what he does, that I would have (almost) done it for nothing. He was a joy to meet and a pleasure to describe.

I was invited to do two more interviews in the next week and, as you might imagine, I said "yes" before I was completely sure what I was saying "yes" to! I guess maybe I should play it cool and be a little more aloof, but I swear I can't do it. I love writing and meeting new people and describing their lives. I'm actually enjoying the fact that I have a deadline looming! How crazy is that?

OK, OK, OK, so I'm not making enough to "quit my day job" YET, it's a beginning and I am completely beyond grateful.

Now, if you have a little space left on your prayer list, I would ask that you visit the site of a very special little girl: Christi Thomas. I have followed her site for a couple of years, and things have been extra difficult for Christi and her family in the past few weeks. Now, don't visit her site thinking you are going to be sent into a horrible spiral of depression because that won't happen. If you read the journal or a bit of her history, you will risk exposure to inspiration - discovering a family embracing life, living one day at a time - which is all any of us really have, and still finding things to be grateful for and never failing to give thanks to God, for another day, another hour and even another minute. You will smile, you will laugh and you may immediately feel your priorities being reorganized and whispering thanks for all that is good and precious in your life and the lives of those you love the most. It's definitely worth the read.

After reading a few of the recent entries from Christi's blog, and trying to imagine the stress and difficult decisions that have been made, and the decisions that are waiting in the wings, it seems so silly to covet things like hair extensions, straightening systems, hi lites, low lites, spray tans, glycolic peels (and I LOVE glycolic peels and hydra microderm abrasion treatments!), spending time wondering what is the most effective mode for producing teeth so white that you literally need sunglasses just to look in their direction, or even giving too much thought to the pros and cons of changing computer operating systems (Should I stay with Microsoft or walk on the wild side and take a bite out of an Apple?). As fun as any of those things might be or, more pointedly, "seem" to be, I can't imagine a single one of them would be items that would stand out as stellar moments when my end comes near and it's almost time to go. You know, the stuff that dreams, and maybe even last thoughts, are made of.

It is in considering what might "make the cut" and fall into the precious memory file when the sand in my hourglass has nearly slipped away, and wondering how my time might be better spent in making more deposits into my precious memory bank account. Should I be presented with a small window of time to reflect before that final crossing, what components of my life would be worth recollection? Having never been in that situation, and hoping I don't have the chance to find out any time soon, I still think it's worth some consideration and a couple of questions; Is what I'm doing today something I can look back on with pride and satisfaction and feel really good about or, are my present actions something I would never want to revisit and have the potential at some point in the future to make me cringe?

Right now, as long as I'm upright and breathing, I have some choice in the matter and it is within my power to go for the gold or the frivolous. Since I don't know how many more grains of sand remain to pass through, I can't help but think it might be prudent to give the remainder of my time more forethought and maybe even toss in some purpose.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that on February 6th, I will turn a whopping FORTY-SIX YEARS OLD!!!!!!! Kind of freaks me out to think that in four years I will be eligible for membership in AARP. I remember when I used to think 35 was old and 40 was really old. My most overwhelming feeling though, as sorry as I might feel for whatever birthday cake I may be presented with and the number of candles it will be enlisted to support, is that I'm just so thankful to be around to celebrate another wonderful year of life.

Money can buy longer hair, colorful hair, straight, wavy or curly hair, all manner of skin treatments, trips to Paris, dinners on the Eiffel Tower, the best champagne that can lead you to the worst places, newer, faster, futuristic looking computers with a mouse that can click on just about anything your mind can dream up, and then some. But money can't buy extra days for a sick child, or one more year and the chance to load down a birthday cake with even more candles. I want the chance to add a lot more candles.

I love many of the things that money can buy, without apology. But I love the things that money can't buy, even more.