"My toga made of blond Brilliantined Biblical hair" -- Hair

I have revisited my annual brain bending predicament of my hairstyle -- to cut or not to cut? More highlights or should I try the brunette thing again? The Today Show, this morning discussed how many people find their identity in their hair. Change your hair, change your life -- right? Or is that shoes...hmmm. In any event, a hair style can reflect personality, stage of life, state of mind and in my case, that is usually par for the course.

Growing up, my mama insisted that I keep my hair long, chemical free and brushed. A punishment I found to be worse than torture as my "friends" were allowed to dye and cut their hair as they saw fit, beginning as early as grade school. Of course in hindsight, I am grateful that I don't have roots in my fifth grade photo (just some God awful teased bangs) and my first adult hair cut after high school graduation was all the more special when I had a foot of locks to give to a charitable cancer organization.

Then there was college and my boyfriend at the time told me how much he like long haired blonds, which was my state of hair at the time. To reveal a little bit about our very functional relationship, I shortly after walked into the nearest salon and walked out a brunette with a bob. While it was one of my favorite irrational decisions and I actually loved the style, I felt lost with that hair (and clearly, the boyfriend) and eventually the highlights crept back and my ponytail grew. And again two years ago, I thought maybe I would try the dark hair again, but soon enough we were right back where we started.

Then, most recently there was the wedding hair saga, where it couldn't grow long enough or blond enough in time for the photos. Which thankfully, it did.

And now here I am, turning 25 next week, my life busy with a job I love, keeping our apartment in living condition, living out of a suitcase what seems like every other weekend and trying to have a sparkling relationship with my husband. I think it dawned on me one morning last week as I was ripping a brush through my hair that the style, falling to the middle of my back was no longer reflective of me. For one, it takes way to long to blow dry, time that could be better spent Meredith, Matt, Al and Ann at 7 a.m. and it's a rare occasion that I attempt more than twisting my semi damp mob into a pile on my head.

Unsure of why I was even keeping my hair so unmanageably long -- and as Dusty put it, my layers had grown into a mullet -- I took advantage of my half day off yesterday and was able to switch my June haircut. The result? A new look for me as I pass over the quarter century mark with a mid-length hair style and a teensy bit more blond. Perhaps I had it backward -- change your life, change your hair.

Who Packed Your Parachute




As a freshman in college, at my very first Reagan Fellow orientation, my mentor passed out Xerox copies of an old article "Who Packed Your Parachute." I remember reading it and immediately feeling a sense of guilt. Had I been gracious enough to everyone who supports me each and every day? While this story displays the most dramatic of situations -- most of us aren't being shot out of planes on a daily basis -- we do all have many people to thank for the little things that keep our clocks ticking.

From the man driving the metro in the morning, to the sandwich artist at Subway, to the mail carrier delivering packages to the receptionist at the front desk keeping office traffic organized. I could continue this list for days, and at some point you will find yourself fitting into a role. 

This story has haunted me in the same way as my grandmother's advice to always look in the mirror and see her looking back before lapsing in judgment. You never know when that parachute is going to be the only thing holding you up -- hope it's been packed properly.

Who Packed Your Parachute
by Author Unknown

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. skydiverPlumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, "You're Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!"
"How in the world did you know that?" asked Plumb.
"I packed your parachute," the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, "I guess it worked!" Plumb assured him, "It sure did. If your chute hadn't worked, I wouldn't be here today."
Plumb couldn't sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, "I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; a bib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said 'Good morning, how are you?' or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor." Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn't know.
Now, Plumb asks his audience, "Who's packing your parachute?" Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.
Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.

Miracles

Miracles are a concept which I don't throw my full support behind. I believe in a lot of things -- God, love, predestination, the healing powers of Kate Spade and Burberry, private school educations, naps, among others -- but miracles are not included in that laundry list. Perhaps it is my religion and faith in a higher power that bars me from investing the same faith in fairy dust (or Holy Oil for that matter).

However, something an event yesterday morning was nothing short of a miracle and I suppose for those of us who are vested in a religion -- somebody was really looking out for me. In our interim of healthcare while switching jobs, the price of my everyday prescriptions has sky rocketed to a dollar amount I refuse to pay; if nothing else, on principal alone -- I will not give the pharmaceutical companies one more penny than I must. I am paying the price in a lot of other areas however, one heavily impacted is my sleep pattern and thus my energy levels. I cannot seem to get enough sleep and spend my days in some sort of functioning comatose. Luckily June 1 our insurance will kick in.

Needless to say it is taking next to electric shock therapy to wake me in the mornings and even then I'm not sure awake is the adjective that describes my state of being, but that is neither her nor there. Back to yesterday morning, I remember my alarm ringing, "waking up" to turn the Today Show on and reading a few emails. Next thing I know, my work BlackBerry (which I don't believe a soul has the number for) is ringing with an unknown caller and the clock says 8:45 a.m. I answer to a phantom caller and jump up from bed, stunned because I had never heard that phone ring, stunned at the time and stunned that while I was going to be late, I was up.

Who had called? If it had not been for that person, that miracle worker, I probably would have slept the morning away. But I didn't. I was thirty minutes late for work, but that is easily excusable. Someone was looking out for me. A miracle? Perhaps.

Barbeque Sauce

I am sitting outside of my apartment building, having imposed a self quarantine from apartment 112. Let me replay the past 15 minutes, so you can understand how I came to have moved outdoors for an undisclosed amount of time.

It all began 15 minutes ago...I was peacefully napping away my tiring day and dreaming of organizing the new apartment. Ah, the glory of napping when the sun is just barely shining through the window and warming the room to perfect beach temperature. Well, that was rudely and abruptly stolen from me as a rancid smell filled my nose. We aren't talking about your run of the mill dirty garbage. Oh no, this was like nothing that my olfactories had ever encountered. My immediate thought was that Elle had vomited next to my face.

I rolled around for a moment thinking that maybe I was actually still dreaming. Nope, this was an awful and twisted reality. I ran out into the great room, screaming and gagging, nearly tripping over my sill sleeping legs. "What the hell is this smell?!" Dusty's response?! "I made barbecue sauce." Well okay, but barbecue sauce is delicious and smells like, well, BARBEQUE SAUCE, not rotting skunk. What he forgot to mention is one of the steps toward the creation of the sauce is cooking a cup of vinegar, in our 850 square foot apartment. Lovely.

The best/worst part of it is yet to be revealed, because while he was concocting this poison, there was a man trapped five feet from the stove fixing our air conditioner and could not get away from the vinegar wind tunnel. I wonder what was going through his head.

So now we are back to the present I am stuck outside sitting twenty feet from Dusty, because the vinegar has seeped into his pores. What if my clothes smell like this and my couches and bedding? I am stuck here forever. Or...I'm going to have to go shopping.

**Update: I have moved back indoors and have every door open, fan on full blast and have been neurotically been lighting matches in every room.

You can't make this stuff up.

It happened. A bird pooped on my food today. For real. I was eating lunch with Maureen and the weather is actually beautiful today, so we sat outside. Only to have my food desecrated by a filthy winged rat. Well, it may be true that I was able to salvage my sandwich because when it incurred the trauma, luckily it was still wrapped. That, however, does not take away from the overall emotional damage and stress that little asshole caused. One more strike against the bird community. A gentleman at a neighboring table had the nerve to tell me that he though it was good luck. To which I questioned his planet of orientation. Come on; that is the dumbest thing I have heard since Spencer Pratt last opened his mouth.

For the rest of the lunch everyone was flinching anytime the shadows shifted. I suppose what goes around does come around and I did run their little reputations into the ground with an earlier post. Perhaps I brought this on, but let me say it here -- this isn't over.

The Second Leg of the Trip

As promised the regales of how I came to cross another item off my bucket list: running through an airport with actual purpose.

Since airlines these days are as timely as, well, me, and flying to a destination with a connection in between is always risky. So when our plane had to burn off fuel for 15 minutes in Bloomington so we were at the legal weight limit to fly, I had a bad feeling. Both about missing our second flight and falling from the sky. The feeling was made worse when we wobbled on to the runway to an airport of entirely full gates. No room at the inn for our plane. So again we sat, this time for 30 minutes, and prepared ourselves to board the next plane. Which, was scheduled to take off 10 minutes from our deplaning.

Our arrival gate told us that they had called ahead and the plane to Reagan National was being held for 10 minutes just for us, all six of us that were supposed to be on it. So, just like the McCallister family on their infamous late arrival to the airport for their Christmas trip, we took off. No "Run Run Rudolph" playing, but sprinting none the less. Shouting ahead and behind to the straglers, keeping tabs on complete strangers uninted by a common goal -- reach that damn plane before it left us.

Wheezing and sweating, we got to the gate and our plane was still there. Victory! Not this time. They had closed the doors and would not let us on the plane even thought we watched throught glass as it sat there for 15 minutes before backing away from the gate. Apparently, they (whoever they are, I guess the gods of air traffic control) changed their minds after telling us they were holding the plane.

But, I am not here to complain, because you better believe I did plenty of that at the airport. I wasn't all that mad, I was so alive that I was able to set aside my vanity and just let people stare as I made a fool of myself sprinting through families, cutting in front of wheel chairs and lugging my suitcase up and downstairs.

Try it sometime. Both run through an airport and cross something off your bucket list.

Travel Tips

This weekend during our trip to Illinois, I was able to accomplish two of my bucket list items.

1. Cut in front of everyone in the security line at the airport.
2. Run full speed through a terminal in hopes of reaching your flight before the doors close.

Now, I'm sure you are just dying to know how I achieved these lofty goals, right? Let's start in numerical order with one. Since flying is not my most favorite activity to engage in, I typically tend to wait until the last possible second to go to the airport. The feeling impending doom is much more controlled in the comfort of my own home. So of course on Saturday, I had pushed the envelope and we arrived at the airport at 5:30 a.m. for our 6 a.m. flight. On a usual day at Reagan National this would not be a problem, because the airport is the size of a snow pea. However, since 99 percent of the District's population actually claims their home to be a remote destination, I should have known that the city would be draining itself dry of residents on a Friday morning in May. But, I digress.

When we arrive and my husband was already seething mad, because I may have missed a flight or two before on account of my Flash Gordon speed. We made a deal in the cab ride to their airport that he would keep his anger muted unless we actually did miss the flight, in which case he was allowed to unleash. Motivated by pure fear (haha, right) and the drive to prove him wrong I was willing to risk my pride (and possibly my neck) to make sure we boarded the plane. I walked to the guard at the front of security line of 200 plus people and asked how long it would take to get through the line, explaining that our flight left at 6 a.m. I have always heard that if they call your name over the loud speaker or you are running very late, you can skip to the front of the line if you make your situation known. Had I really believed this? No.

I am here to say -- it works. That kind lady moved us up to the front of the line and we walked effortlessly (and shoelessly) through the metal detectors and on to the plane. And I never looked back. Mostly because I was afraid that the people left waiting were going to throw their removed shoes at me.

For the second accomplishment, you will have to wait patiently until tomorrow.

That's Life, That's What All the People Say

I know, I know -- when it rains it pours. That is the inevitable rebuttal remark when things all pile on at once. And it's also the way things always go. "You're riding high in April, Shot down in May." Okay, a bit melodramatic, but isn't it the truth? One slight lean in an you're sliding face first down the teeter totter ending up with a mouthful of pea gravel and blue paint chip in your knees. But then you pick yourself up and get back on with better balance.

In my case, I am usually the instigator of my own imbalance; I crave change and despise it in the same instance. So why not get a new job, while your husband is making a career change, move into a condo in the city, while your neighbors and dear friends move out of state and your little brother is graduating from college and a best friend is getting married. Sure, pile it all on. None of these are negative alterations, even the neighbors' move, though I hate to see them go, is very exciting, but all at once...this shit is engulfing me.

The only way I can illustrate my state of mind is I feel like I consumed an entire bottle of amazing white wine, (so I don't have "wings" on my face, of course) and look composed but just don't have control of what comes out of my mouth.

And there you have it -- my excuse for my blogging sabbatical.

FREE Holy Oil

For you commuting Washingtonians, I'm sure your day begins as mine does -- with the Express newspaper. With its short blurbs of articles and snarky headlines, it is the perfect way to drown out the stained metro seats and occasional talkers who carry on a conversation despite the sideways glances from all those around them.

As with all publications, I start at the back and read the ridiculous celebrity news, blog quotes and horoscopes before I make my way to the real news, which as of late has been nothing short of horrifying and depressing. Today, though, the back of the newspaper is what really caught my eye -- an entire full page, four color advertisement entitled, "Healing with the Hands and Distribution of Holy Oil." Knowing the costs of advertising in Beltway publications, it probably ran them about $10,000, which I would think would be a lot for a Church organization.

This I found to be a bit ridiculous, and was only made worse by the subheader that exclaimed (in three different fonts and random capitalization), "You will receive a FREE Bottle of HOLY OIL from Jerusalem!" Wow, now we must go, right? And FREE ADMISSION ONE DAY ONLY! What church charges admission, I mean other than the standard passing of the offering plate. I know you are thinking, and rolling your eyes, that this can't get much worse, but wait it does...

Because right smack dab in the middle of the page is an illustration of what looks like an energy shot bottle, and in place of 5 hour energy the label read, "OLIVE OIL from the Holy Land Jerusalem." HA, seriously. Are we cooking here or healing? (On a side note, is Jerusalem known for their Olive Oil?) Or maybe this is one of those new age medicine techniques. My guess is, that it was a Freudian slip and the artist conjured up an image of what is really in the free bottles of Holy oil. What a nice, giant $10,000 mistake.

It's the little things, folks that get us through the day. Do they really think free Olive/Holy oil and one day of waived admission will bring people flocking to the doors?

Don't worry, I got a photo to prove it:

It's Graduation Season

My younger brother is graduating from college in less than two weeks and I can't help but feel a little dizzy from the speed at which the past three have flown past me. It takes me back to my own college graduation, which of course seems like last weekend, and all the mixed emotions that it was shrouded with. A day that always felt far away and a chapter that I thought would never end. Obviously it did.

And now it is surreal that my kid brother is closing the door, too. It seems impossible that we are less than 14 days from playing on a level field -- we're both college graduates in our mid twenties and the three year age difference is suddenly much smaller. I hope he feels as settled with his college experience as I did when I packed the Tracker down with the contents of my dorm room for the final time. College graduation is such a bizarre, Twilight Zone frame of life -- you finally are an adult, but you still feel like a fifth grader and the path ahead is suddenly wide open with no end in sight. Now what?

As I think back over my college career, I think the most important lessons I learned came from my own mistakes and and the happy accidents that occurred along the way. And that showing your midriff is only appropriate if you are sun bathing or you are an exotic dancer. Oh, and that sidewalk chalk is best when used sober. Aside from the latter two lesson -- my hope is that Zachary has never worn a belly shirt or this is a whole different can of worms -- I hope he looks back on everything fondly and feels ready to celebrate his accomplishments.

And I hope he has made as good of friends as I did during the turbulence of college. Ones that he can't help but miss every single day.

(The photo is the two of us at dinner the night before my graduation.)

Addiction

I have an addiction to movie theater popcorn. It has been horrible and life altering experience and the cravings sneak up on me and I'll find myself needing a fix in the middle of the day. There was a stint of time when we when to see a movie on the silver screen every weekend, and the movie was just an added bonus, my ticket to the concession stand.

Just like any other hard drug, movie theater popcorn consumption has it's side effects. And let me be the first to admit, I have learned the hard way. First, it is highly addictive; you can't just have a handful or even the small size (which really, why would you order the small when it's just pennies less than the five gallon bucket that is the large size). And forget ordering it plain -- load it down with the "butter" from the pump. The worst is the period of time that lapses from when the popcorn is placed in your possession and the moment you sit and can dive in, face down. And after the credits have finished and the lights are on, I have always found myself pondering the consequences of being marred from society versus the joy of returning to the concession stand to have my bucket refilled to take with me and enjoy at my leisure.

Slowly but surely this addiction began to take hold of me, and I was out of control. I have been known to eat every last kernel and lick my fingers clean, only to find myself withering in pain for hours to come. Okay perhaps is just about every time. Once my husband even drove to the theater and bought popcorn for us to eat while we watched a movie at home. And, every time we go see a movie, as we are walking in, he will remind me, "don't gorge yourself." To which of course I promise I won't.

It took my fall to the rock bottom to grasp a hold of this addiction by the horns and take control back. Our last trip to the theater -- the one before yesterday -- caused a night of horror, faced down in the toilet. It was like they pumped a stomach flu virus into the bucket in place of the butter. It was then I swore never again would I do that to myself. And I am proud to say last night, we ordered medium popcorn and I wound up with only a minor stomach ache -- nothing a little ginger ale couldn't cure.

I know there are more of you like me out there, and I have told my story today so you that you are not alone. The first step begins with you and acknowledgment of your problem.

____________

A little ridiculousness to make up for my time away from the blogosphere. Happy weekend!
 
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