Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cute dresses aren't as fun in Texas.

Another summer day
Has come and gone away
In Paris and Rome
But I wanna go home

May be surrounded by
A million people I
Still feel all alone
I just wanna go home
Oh, I miss you, you know

Splat. Splat.

My tears dropped one after another from my face and splashed on my desk as I looked at pictures from home and listened to Michael Buble. Isn't it funny how you don't hear a song for years, then it arrives in your head the second its lyrics pertain to your situation?

But unlike Michael Buble's song, I'm not in Paris or Rome. I'm the closest I've ever been to hell. At least, that was what went through my head as I slammed my car door and fumbled for the key to my apartment after attending a barbecue at my husband's friends house. I thought getting out would be good for me, but I'm starting to think it only reminds me even more that I'm not at home.

They say time heals all things. Really? Because it's been six months and I still feel bitterness and denial everytime I leave the apartment. Although there are many things I loathe about this state (so far, everything), my feelings only grow more intense when asked to list them. And so, I've stopped listing them (and I apologize if you're one of the nice people that I have met during my stay who experienced a vibe of this hostility).

I'm too big of a fan of life to allow myself to count down the years until we're allowed to leave and never look back. So until that time comes, this is one obstacle I don't feign to have figured out. All I can do is remind myself how lucky I am to have the most important thing that matters, my husband. So many other Navy wives have to miss their husbands for ten months at a time. When I remember this, I want to shut my big mouth and hang my head.

But I still miss the palm trees. Feeling the sun bake my skin. Hanging out with my family every Sunday. And being able to wear dresses practically all year long. Even wearing a cute dress has lost its fun in Texas. I don't know, maybe it's because no one here appreciates a good cute dress (and those who do show it with sexually suggestive language). No offense to the barely existent amount of friends that I have made within the last six months who might be reading this, but Texans seem to be kinda weird like that. And I just want to go home.

Another aeroplane
Another sunny place

I’m lucky, I know
But I wanna go home
Mmmm, I’ve got to go home

Let me go home

I’m just too far
from where you are

I wanna come home

Friday, February 25, 2011

Haircut Phobia: Solved!

I hate hair cuts.

It starts with the ding-ding of the bell that hair salons often have above the door to notify the stylists of fresh meat (er, a new customer). They shoot you a look of judgment; their silent moans and groans settle any doubts you may have had about whether or not you're welcome, and they go back to what they were doing without saying a word. (I used to think that this clique-ish behavior was all in my head --- after all, what business would risk customer satisfaction by treating them as an unwelcome new employee instead of a person whose patronization pays their salary? It's unheard of. Grocery store employees treat their customers with more gratification, and they're not relying on tips!)

Eventually someone takes the initiative to see what you're there for. This person is usually an old lady with bad eye make-up and a smoker's voice or a younger woman with a chip on her shoulder, sporting emo-hair with pink undertones.

They then ask if you need a shampoo. This is a rhetorical question, to which the customer's scripted answer is "yes".

Yes, I want to pay you the cost of a bottle of Pantene Pro-V (the equivalent of 20 at-home quality shampoos) to wash my hair. I want to do this because 1. washing my hair is such a huge inconvenience; it's not like I shower everyday or anything, and 2. we both know that ultimately this makes your job easier when you go to cut it, and when it comes time to leave I'll have to pay extra to have it blow dried as well. Now that you've added tasks that require the skill of a monkey, you now have reason to expect a greater tip. (Lose-lose situation, much?)

After refusing their offer to wash my hair, the stylist usually heaves a heavy sigh to reprimand me for not sticking to the script, and we move on.

The time comes to explain what you want done. If you're lucky, you can say "just a trim"; but if you're like me, you're still looking for someone to get it right. Often this step is a verbal battle of explaining yourself accurately without losing their attention to boredom or their subconscious decision that you're just a pain in the ass. Then the complaining ensues. My hair is not only extremely long, it's a deadly combination of thick and fine; one big, tangle-prone chore. I've actually caught the hair stylist rolling her eyes and exchanging faces with the stylist next to her. (Um, if you want to back-stab your customers, it helps if you don't put them in a room of mirrors.) Now for the annoyingly rude questions: the first one being, "Do you cut your own hair?" My hair has been cut by 50 different people 50 different ways, so it's no surprise that my layers look like a disaster to the trained eye (or so I'm told). But to ask this question after a series of complaints obviously bears derogatory implications. Regardless of your answer, the goal of the stylist is to let you know that you've made her job harder and, if you did cut your hair, make you feel ashamed for having robbed them of work at some point in time.

Though I don't know what's worse --- a demeaning interrogation, or forcing me to engage in meaningless small talk. "What do you do?" "When did you get married?" "Aren't you kind of young?"

...and do your job.

Why is that so hard?

Earlier, I mentioned that I couldn't understand why someone who relies on a tip would treat a customer as anything less than a welcome guest. But now I realize: they're relying on our obligation to tip. At one point in time, a tip was an expression of gratitude for a job extra-well done by a competent and friendly individual who went above and beyond. But no more: it is now expected. There's no question in their mind (or yours). You will express gratification of what will be deemed a job well done. If I don't tip because I'm dissatisfied --- even insulted! --- I'm made out to be a terrible person. For the fools that tip regardless of the quality of service: know that you do not possess some godly compassion, you've just been peer-pressured by society. Thanks to society, people such as myself shake in their boots when it's time to get a haircut because the ones with the scissors have no incentive to do anything but bare minimum. So shame on me for ever tipping someone who ruined my hair and my day, and on everyone who perpetuates such nonsense.

I'm through with dreading something that should be so painless. I'm sick of sitting in that stupid chair, with a woman's chest two inches from my face, being insulted, fists clenched, face itching, heart racing, flabbergasted that not only am I over-paying for this traumatizing experience but I'm expected to either tip an additional amount as gratitude for snide remarks and impatience, or muster the courage to do otherwise.

So last week when I was dying for a hair cut, I got in my car to go to the hair salon and went to Sally's Beauty Supply instead.

The salon I would have chosen cost $25 for the basic cut. After an upcharge for having long hair plus a tip, it would have came to about $34. Which is exactly how much I paid to buy a handheld mirror, a variety of clips, a spray bottle, shears, and a cute pair of leopard print scissors.

In the past, cutting my own hair was out of the question. I once trimmed the little fuzzies that grow next to my ears because they get on my nerves. When I told a hair stylist what I had done, she said "You did WHAT ?! NEVER do that AGAIN !" Initially her shaming tactic worked; she successfully made me believe I should feel ashamed for trimming fuzzies, which I now realize was absolutely ridiculous, not to mention rude. So unless I have an appointment with the red carpet, I'll do whatever I please and thank you very much to shut your trap.

This example just shows you how hair stylists try to embarrass you for even
thinking about cutting your own hair. If the whole world caught on to the fact that with practice cutting hair is no different from any other routine task that is done to maintain personal hygiene, hair stylists would be out of a job, feel unimportant, and probably regret not going to college.

In my case, I already cut my husband's hair (and do a better job than the last girl who did it "professionally"), and I'm all about DIY and saving money. These facts --- combined with how much I dread going to the salon --- made me wonder why I hadn't thought of this before!

I took about two inches off. If it's not technically perfect, the paparazzi will just have to deal.

It was easy --- and I can already tell it'll get easier. For healthy hair, it's recommended to get a hair cut every four to six weeks. So for the cost of one cut, I saved $300-400 a year (way more if you spend above $20-25 on a single cut). My husband requires a hair cut almost every week, so I already save about $800 a year doing his myself. That's about $1,200 a year out of the pockets of nasty opinionated old women who think they're pretty rad stuff for doing what an inexperienced housewife casually picked up one day, and back into my checking account.

If saving thousands of dollars doesn't impress you, look at it this way: everytime you cut your hair you can take the money you didn't spend at a salon and buy a quality hair product. (Biolage = my guilty pleasure.)

Either way, I would say it's worth YouTubing some how-to.

If any part of this entry made you say "I can relate to that!", then I encourage you to stop paying way too much for something you can do yourself! But if this blog didn't boost your confidence enough to take a pair of scissors to your own hair just yet, then at least tip appropriately --- not regardless of the quality of service received (and be honest about it!). Withholding a tip for rude and/or awful service is not depriving anyone of income; it's asking them to work for it.

*Note: These grievances are not in regard to highly qualified and capable stylists who know the importance of customer service and emphasis satisfaction. I am not referring to qualified individuals who charge top dollar and give you every pennies worth, such as my cousin who works at a higher-end salon in Chicago. However, some people cannot afford high-end and are forced to forfeit customer service at a not-even-affordable price; these are the culprits of my frustration.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Catch 22's and Being the Bigger Person

It takes a strong person to spend extensive amounts of time alone with just their thoughts and not go insane. Living so far from my family and not working, I know this from personal experience. It’s harder for some people than it is for others. I view this time in my life as an opportunity to invest in hobbies, be a good housewife, keep good grades, and pursue my dreams.

Though I can’t say the solitude has no effect on me: I probably have more “blasts from the pasts” than the average preoccupied individual. Luckily for me, my entire life has been pretty smooth sailing; my biggest “hauntings” are four little words: “I should have said…”

The older I get, the more enthusiastic I am about calling it how I see it. I’ve found that honesty eliminates guesswork, saves time, and encourages reciprocal genuinity. It also repels the super-easily offended ones, who annoy me anyway.

Unfortunately, any attributes we may acquire with the passing of time cannot be redeemed retrospectively.

In case you didn’t know, I was home-schooled for eight years of my life; so when I attended a private school for the first time in seventh grade I was na├»ve, even for a new kid. Up until the first day of that school year, peer pressure was not something I had had to deal with, and as a result I was obliviously content with my baggy WalMart clothes and Pooh Bear backpack. (You think Heidi Klum wore Gucci to grade school? Come on.) Need I say more? Kids were kids (though I have to say, the overweight ones who feasted on the nicer, self-confident children to feed their own insecurity issues were especially little bitches). Technically I have forgiven them and in all actuality, I am in their debt: they not only made me stronger, they made me strong. And watching them watch me be happy --- while I watch them be the miserable, unsuccessful people that pathetic and insecure bullies are destined to be --- is just the icing on the cake.

I found one of said insecure bullies on Facebook and asked her to be my friend, assuming that people change over the course of a decade. Until recently when I was tipped off that she hadn’t. I could tell that she was still a bitch, and I practically had flashbacks right then and there.

And ohhh, I wanted to say something.

But there’s a dilemma. If you’ve ever seen the 90’s classic You’ve Got Mail, you may remember the part where Joe says something to Kathleen that sums the topic up quite well:

“I must warn you that when you finally have the pleasure of saying the thing you mean to say at the moment you mean to say it, remorse inevitably follows.”

It’s so true! If I don’t open my mouth, I risk experiencing random moments of “I should have”; and if I successfully zing them, I feel almost as though I have become what I demeaned them for being. I’m not a person who "lets things go" just with the passing of time unless they’ve been spoken, so this particular Catch 22 drives me a little crazy.

Do I go to this girl (her name is Emily McLaughlin) and inform her of the pathetic individual that she is? Do I tell her that she confirms her own insecurity every time she opens her mouth, and ask her if it is a result of some early childhood hurt or just her weight problem? Do I point out the irony that she’s a fan of Taylor Swift, a person who was also picked on in middle school and wrote the song Mean for bullies just like Emily? (She's a creepishly huge fan, so as pathetic as it may seem, it'd actually be a stellar jab.)
Do I say these things and humiliate her?

I think not. I am both remorseful for Emily and everyone in the world like her. In her attempt to distract others from her own insecurities at the expense of an unsuspecting peer, she helped me become who I am today; someone who I feel very proud and lucky to be. She was tearing herself down to build me up. Ten years later I couldn't be happier, while my guess is that she will spend life as an ultimately unhappy, lonesome, and unsuccessful individual. So I pity her, and from the bottom of my heart I (implore her to burn that hideous dress she was wearing in her profile picture when we talked, and) thank her for making me a "fighter".

As far as dealing with the Catch 22 in everyday situations...I am still trying to figure that one out! =/

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

I had the best Valentine's day. Ever.

In fact, it probably made #1 favorite day with my husband since we've been married. Maybe since we started dating. Maybe ever. It didn't go any better than the average date, which for whatever reason usually involves an event or list of events that evoke a stressful mood, which promotes irritability, threatens the presence of fun and romance, and ruins the chance of perfection 100% of the time.

I suppose it's "Murphy's Law". Still, I always hope that for once something is going to go as exactly as planned (and that I could punch Edward A. Murphy in the face). No obstacles. Just for one evening. For once I want to do my makeup and not poke myself in the eye with a mascara wand; I want to not hit so much traffic that we wonder why we ever left the house; or I want to be on time for a movie instead of the usual 20 minutes late, which seems positively unavoidable...

Just once.

More than any other date, I wanted this one to be perfect. I had purchased tickets for the opera four months in advance. We would see Romeo and Juliet and then exchange gifts at my new favorite restaurant. I guess you could say I had the night envisioned in my head. (Yes, I realize this sounds high-strung. No, I don't know how my husband does it.) I'm probably being unreasonable, especially since I am almost positive that these frustrations are not shared by my husband... though he is so passive, I suppose no one will ever know.

Long story short: We hit traffic, missed half the Opera, got a parking ticket, and underestimated the distance to the restaurant so drastically that our stomachs were eating themselves by the time we got there. Normally I would have let all of these things get to me, but I was determined to have an amazing night and make sure that my husband and I both had a good time.

And we did. The Opera was great (I'm secretly glad we missed so much of it: we got there just in time for all of the good parts, and I can only take so much Opera), seeing the business district of Dallas was fun, my husband liked the restaurant I had chosen, and well, he was so sweet. He is so sweet. I can't help feeling unbelievably blessed to have this awesome, handsome person who keeps telling me I'm beautiful and is not only in it for the long run but who wants to love me, provide for me, and give me Fossil watches along the way.

It doesn't take long to get caught up in a daily grind. But once in a while there is something --- such as a date that could have gone horribly wrong, but was more than rescued by the simple fact of just being glad to be together --- that reminds you of what you've got. Those are the days I wonder if my husband knows I got the better end of the deal. And, even though he spent way too much money on me and doesn't even like the candy I got him, you can't convince me that I'm not the luckiest person in the whole world. I almost wish this page in our life would never turn.

Long stemmed red roses = my favorite.

As my husband puts it, he is "not a card person". In the past, this referred to both giving and receiving. Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised when he gave me a beautiful card that had the sweetest things written inside. ♥ Extra bonus points were given because it matched the paper my roses came with almost identically.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fine Dining (At Home!)

Yesterday my husband submitted a special request for dinner: chicken marsala with pasta and Red Lobster biscuits.

If you're thinking that biscuits and pasta are somewhat of an odd combination, I'd agree with you (though Red Lobster's biscuit recipe is technically to die for). However he doesn't make special requests very often, and I always try to honor them. So chicken marsala and pasta with biscuits it was.

In case you were wondering, marsala is a type of wine. (The recipe allowed for it to be substituted with chicken broth, but I wanted it to be legit.) I spent fifteen minutes wandering up and down the wine aisle, sorting through merlots, rieslings, cabernet sauvignons... In the end I realized that the marsala was with the vinegar. But my efforts in the wine aisle were not in vain: I discovered wine. And by discovered, I mean I acquired a curiosity.

So many wines, so many fun names, so many tasty-sounding flavors! Up until that point I had only tried chardonnay, champagne, white wine, light moscato... are you noticing a trend?

I was afraid to stain my teeth.

It was a rational fear. I have very poor enamel, and for this reason you would never catch me drinking coffee, tea, red wine, or anything colored. This is where the know-it-all's chime in and say "Oh, well, you just have to brush after you drink." "Oh, well all you need to do is use a straw." Really Captain Obvious? In years of depriving myself of anything but water you don't think I would have tried absolutely EVERYTHING? Not to turn this entry into a review, but it was only after I started using Pronamel toothpaste that I tried taking a sip of tea and realized that for the first time it had no instantaneous effect. So I'm hoping that as long as I use that toothpaste and keep the advice of Captain Obvious, I should be good to go.

Moral of the story: A whole new world has been opened to me.

And it occurred to me all at once in the wine aisle of Kroger's. I got kind of excited and had to restrain myself from grabbing random bottles off the shelf. But one bottle in particular caught my interest: a cheap red wine in a variety of flavors. I'd heard that red wine was good for your heart, and I was all about $4 a bottle. So I chose Blackberry flavor, put it in my cart, and could hardly wait till my husband was home and I was done cooking dinner to pop it open.

It smelled like cough syrup, but it tasted delicious. So flavorful. So sweet. So smooth. So cheap!

My choice was a kind of merlot, which as it turns out is very congenial in regards to food-wine pairing and is in fact recommended as an introduction to red-wine. Looks like I picked right!

What had I been missing?! Well, I guess since I'm 21 I haven't been missing much for very long. But seriously, I think I'm going to become a wino. (I learned that word from my brother over Christmas break and I look for just about every excuse to use it... it makes me smile.)

Even my husband, who rarely strays from Nesquik and Tropicana, found it to be delectable. The combination of the wine with the chicken marsala and pasta (and, ahem, biscuits) --- which all came out amazing, by the way --- was impeccable. Add some burning tapered candles to the mix (check!), and I would call that fine dining!

I wonder what kind I'll try next :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Roberto rates his first recipe. And a cute little recipe card.

With the cold weather around, my husband and I have been on a real soup kick. I never knew how many kinds of soups there are out there! I mean I guess they were always there but I never realized how good they all were?

Recently I've made broccoli cheddar, wedding soup, butternut squash, and tomato basil. The old favorite of the household was chicken noodle, made with fresh cooked chicken, tons of veggies and big fat egg noodles. But its spot in the heart of my husband has been replaced with that of tomato basil.

I've probably mentioned this before, but my husband is a picky eater... a real chef's nightmare. You know the type: likes to stick with safe things, everything cooked a certain way, no generic brands, hates seafood without exception except for the exception of tuna, and if his chocolate chip cookies aren't the right balance between dippable and underdone he WILL send them back. Yeah, he doesn't like the title, but in my book he's picky. (And although this paragraph kind of just made him sound like a jerk, he is as usual very nice about it.)

Anyway, I thought I'd use his pickiness to my advantage. From now on every recipe I blog about will have a Roberto Rating. (Kind of catchy, don't you think?) Unlike myself who adores anything to do with crab and whose favorite snack of late is brussel sprouts, Roberto's tastes are safe and congenial. Except for his preferred snack of oreos dipped in hawaiian punch... yeah, that one is kind of acquired.

The recipe this time is tomato basil. Personally I fell head over heels with the butternut squash, but much to my dismay it took me about an hour and a half to make and included peeling, slicing, seeding, cubing, cooking, blending, and re-cooking the squash. Unfortunately it was a huge pain in the butt and I'm a fan of super easy + amazing. And if ever I made a recipe that fit that description, it's this one.

And the "Roberto Rating" is... 5/5.

Like my cute new recipe cards? :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Food and Bargains = Love.

After my terrible episode on Sunday, I decided it was time to start the ease-out process of the Master Cleanse. I've concluded it was the cheap, regular syrup that I substituted for the authentic grade B that was my downfall, and I think in a couple of months I will try the cleanse again. Not wanting to break precedence, I'm going about the ease-out phase my own way, starting with chicken broth and then soup.

But this round wasn't a total loss: I learned to better appreciate food, and I also look and feel a little better in my jeans. :) But oh how I love taking something other than that spicy lemonade.

You know what else I love?

This Dolce & Gabbana purse I bought from eBay for $25.
I don't know what I love more -- the purse or the price!!