Day 11 - Something people seem to compliment you the most on.

Photo Credit: Kym Shumsky ( first thought when I saw this prompt?

My hair.

I don’t complain about my hair. It’s the one part of me that I really like. I don’t necessarily do much to make it good - I just landed some good genes.

From a pretty early age, my mom would express her envy over my thick locks. The only thing she ever “complained” about with my hair was that it wasn’t red. She almost believed that if she hoped hard enough it would actually happen. Alas, my hair stayed blonde, then turned a darker blonde as I got older. Any hint of red these days comes from a bottle.

My hair is thick and grows fast. So fast that as a very young girl, Mom got tired of trying to maintain my bangs and grew them out. Sometime around the time I turned eight, I remember starting a campaign to have my bangs cut. It only took me four years to convince her to let me. By that time, I’d developed a steady habit of cutting my hair off to a shoulder-length bob for the summer and growing it out through the school year. So, when I finally got those bangs I’d begged for, I got the bob done and my very first body wave.

Mom was so nervous. She had thin, fine hair that would take a perm easily. She had no idea how mine would respond. She was right to worry. Every time I tried to perm my hair, which really wasn’t as much as it sounds like, I ended up with a fried frizzy mop. God only knows why I kept trying. It was just before the end of my 8th grade year when I did the very last perm for a very long time (not long enough to tell the truth). This one thoroughly ruin the bottom half of my hair, which, after growing throughout the school year, was halfway down my back.

I had so much damaged hair that I needed to take drastic action. So, I got my shortest haircut yet. A chin-length bob this time. It was cute. I loved it so much, but I had a plan too. No more perms. Minimal cuts so the ends would look okay and no more bobs. I was going to grow my hair out until I was done with high school. I remember the day in 10th grade when one of the cutest, most popular guys told me my hair looked good. I made a mental note of what I’d done and tried to replicate it every day, until I got bored and decided to try a new experiment.

What else do you do when you have that much hair? Experiments were the BEST!

I wore foam curlers at night to get my hair really, really curly and it almost always lasted at least until lunch, provided I remembered to put gel or mousse in. My boldest experiment was my most successful until it became a spectacular failure and forever became known as Karen’s bad hair day - well, to my best friend and I. It took hours to do, but I braided small pieces all over my head, then rolled each individual piece/braid into a foam roller. I had the right idea. Every time I had a body wave done, my hair was easier to curl. By braiding it then rolling it, I was basically doing the same thing. And, oh the curls I had that day! Then I panicked. This was ultra-big-hair and I got really scared. So, I eyed the lineup of hair products on my dresser and chose the one I thought would “calm” the curl. Spray gel.

It was a disaster. Half my hair stayed ultra curly and the other half fell completely flat. And I was late to school with no choice but to walk the halls with hair that looked like it couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. My best friend told me several times in the years after that day, “Karen, your hair always looks good. Well, except for that one day.”

I never wavered from my plan to grow my hair out, unless you count the six inches I cut off in December prior to graduation. My hair was down to my waist at it’s longest. But I forgot to mention the second part of my plan. The part that scared the stylist I’d gone to for all those years I’d been growing it out. I wanted a drastic cut. Not a bob. No, I wanted the 1996 version of Heather Armstrong’s short do. It only took me 3 visits to my stylist to get her to go as short as I wanted it, which at the time included the use of clippers. People I’d known for years didn’t even recognize me.

Since that time, I’ve enjoyed experimenting with my hair, but I’ve never grown it out for long and I’m not sure I ever will again. Frankly, it takes too long and the in-between stages aren’t all that fun. I’ve gotten impatient in my old age. :)

Recently, I decided it was time for another haircut. I walked in to a new salon on a friend’s recommendation planning to get the exact same haircut I’d gotten six months ago. I told the stylist what I wanted with every question she asked and she asked a lot of questions - she was very conscientious. And the end result was something FAR shorter than I originally intended, but she did exactly what I said to do, so I have only myself to blame for the change.

I guess it’s a good thing I like the new do! I’m even thinking of going a tad bit shorter next time. What do you think?

A Hairrowing Experience

This is not a story for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach.

Everyone has a personal list – whether mental or actual – of the food places they've heard about or know to be unclean. Many have eaten at these places despite their presence on such a list. Maybe because the food is just that good that it’s worth the risk. Maybe for convenience. Maybe because you forget. Or perhaps you just don’t think the warnings you’ve heard are all that bad.

Working downtown, there are little eateries all over the place. In my building in particular, there’s a little Chinese food place that always has a steady stream of customers. They also have a reputation among my co-workers. In fact, of all the places to eat in our building, the Chinese place is talked about the most. But up until this week, it was vague comments about how people say it’s not clean. My supervisor actually said a number of times that she thought it was pretty good.

At first, I was reluctant to try their food. Particularly since one of my co-workers (who also happens to be Chinese) always scrunched up her face and shook her head whenever we talked about eating there. Then, one day she walked in at lunch hour carrying take out from the infamous and notorious Chinese place. She brushed it off when I asked, but I got the impression that it really wasn’t all that bad after all.

If it was good enough for the Chinese lady, it must be good enough for me! I decided to give it a try. I enjoyed it the first time I went, so I ended up having a once a week Chinese lunch for about three weeks in a row. This week, my Chinese lunch day was Wednesday. Actually, all I really wanted Wednesday was a sandwich. Quick, simple and I could maybe work while I ate or play on my iPhone.

The lineups everywhere were nuts! I think there was a conference or meetings going on nearby because we usually don’t have that many people around. I looked around at all the lunch options and the shortest line was at the Chinese place. Decision made. I wasn’t particularly in the mood for it, but the short line was definitely appealing. I got my food and went upstairs and started to eat while I played a game on my iPhone. So I wasn’t actually paying attention to the food closely.

What was it going to do – jump up and do tricks!?

The chicken balls were overcooked, but they always are – whatever. It still tasted good. Until I took a bite and there was a texture that didn’t fit. I thought – hoped – that it was just a really thin noodle. I discreetly pulled said “noodle” out only to discover it was a lovely 12” long black hair. I have dirty blonde hair, so I had to rule myself out. It wasn’t mine and I discreetly got rid of the food in my mouth. (Then I started trying to avoid losing the food in my stomach. I was really grossed out.)

I packed up the food, marched downstairs to the food court and waited for the line to clear so I could show the woman at the cash what I’d found and ask for my money back. When I showed it to her, she immediately agreed to give me my money back. Then she said something that boggled my mind. It was something like, “Thank you for telling me. So many people eat here and then never come back and I don’t find out why.” (“So many”? Is customer feedback the only way to figure out the problem?)

I went back to work and told my supervisor and co-worker what had happened. When I told them what she’d said, my boss FINALLY admitted to me that she used to eat there every day. She didn’t even have to tell them her order – they just served it up for her. Then something happened. I don’t k now what it was and I don’t want to know. She’s not talking about it anyway. It was bad enough that for over a year now, she’s never been back. She also says she has no intention of ever going back. The Chinese lady decided we all needed to take a vow not to eat there ever again.

I was up for that. And I even got a recommendation for a really good place across the street. I also decided that I’m going to be more trusting of those recommendations people make even when they’re vague. Maybe the story is just not meant to be shared, but knowing they don’t eat there – ever – is always good information to have. In the end, I concluded I'd better start bringing my lunch. At least then I know the reputation of the cook - no one's ever gotten food poisoning from anything I've made. How's that for a five-star reputation!?

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Loose pants, email and a new haircut

Today was such a good day. I got dressed in one of my favourite, really comfy pairs of corduroys - perfect for wintery days - and they were loose on me. I just got them a few weeks ago a size smaller than usual and they were just a teeny bit tight. Now, they’ve gotten loose enough they’re dragging on the ground. Oh, the horror! :>)

When I checked my email at work first thing, I had received one from my boss that was a great little “pat on the back” note. What a great way to start the day!

For the first time ever, I decided to go to the salon at lunch and get a haircut - the first I’ve had since a disaster cut last July. It’s a good cut, too. That pretty much made my day, not to mention that it’s pretty amusing to see people do double-takes when you look so different in the afternoon from the morning.

The only thing that might have made today better would be a new episode of The Office.