Thursday, September 24, 2009

Special Moments

I think I have written once or twice about the unique bond Marines and their families share with any other Marine or USMC family member. It is an instant connection and a mutual understanding. While that connection may not be as strong with other branches of the service there are random moments that bring a smile to my face.

Several months ago I was working at LOFT and was ready to ring up a client. She was wearing a USMC Camp Pendleton t-shirt and I said "I have to ask, who is the Marine?" She said "my son is. He just returned from deployment a few weeks ago." I said "oh, congratulations. Who was he with?" She replied that he was on an aircraft ship. I said "oh so he was on a MEU then." She got this puzzled look on her face and said, "so how do you know about MEU's?" My response was "my husband did 4 years in the Corps and deployed on a MEU as well." We continued our conversation about the USMC as I finished her transaction. It brought a smile to both of our faces. It made my day a little brighter. Editor's Note: A MEU is a Marine Expeditionary Unit and is a regularly scheduled deployment where Marines deploy on Navy ships...sorry for the USMC lingo.

When I got home from work that day I told Bivins about my experience and as it turns out he had met a Vietnam Marine on that very same day. He said they had a great conversation about their respective times during life on active duty. I remember thinking that it was something we both needed that day. A jolt of USMC family to tide us over until the next chance meeting.

Tuesday I was headed to work and feeling particularly morose about being so far away from our USMC friends. I really miss having the boys over to our house for dinner and the craziness their visits always brought. Lasagna anyone? I promise to turn off all the burners when I put it in the oven. Bivins will stay away from the stove. (If you haven't heard his story...I made lasagna a few nights before the boys deployed. I left a burner on and Bivins found it with his right hand. Needless to say it made the beginning of his deployment a little painful and left me feeling stressed. Not a great way to start a deployment.) Anyhow, as I pulled into the mall parking lot I saw a recruiter headed to the mall as well. It made me smile. I kind of wanted to hunt him down and talk to him for just a few minutes...but I had work to do. Then during my shift at work I happened to talk to a woman about what she was looking for on her shopping outing. She said she was headed to an Air Force reunion this weekend in Yorktown, PA. We talked a few minutes more and I learned she was born in Toledo, Ohio (not terribly far from where I grew up) and that she now had a son and a daughter who had each given them a granchild here in AL. I wished her happy shopping and said I really hoped that she enjoyed the reunion. {Sigh}

My dream is that I can start a reunion like this for all of "my boys." I can't decide if I would like it to happen on the 4th of July or if it should take place on the USMC birthday (which is getting closer...I must plot a night of fun to celebrate the 234th USMC Birthday.) I would like it to be a yearly reunion so my boys can stay in touch with each other and so I can sit in on some of their fun times. Also, part of my dream is that we would be able to fund the majority of this reunion so the boys will be further enticed to participate. Who doesn't want a free trip? Or maybe a mostly free trip? I'll keep dreaming and hopefully one year it will become a reality. So far we've been able to get Combs to come visit. The way I see it we only have a few more Marines to entice here.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Misadventures of a Gypsy in a Hair Salon

I feel like this post should come with a warning, but I can't decide what kind of warning to be forewarned.

It should be noted that I like to think of myself as a fairly low maintenance kind of girl, although I am beginning to realize that I may be only partially low maintenance. There are few things that I require to be happy in any particular place we have lived. One of them is a decent hair stylist & colorist. In DC the hair stylist wasn't a huge problem b/c we were only 6 hrs from Ohio and I could visit Amy, the fabulous hairstylist whom shall be referred to as Fabulous Amy from this point on. I am aware that it might seem slightly impractical to drive 6 hrs for a hair color and cut, but seriously people, I had family to visit there as well. In NC I was able to find a hair salon that was comparable to the one in Ohio. While I didn't find a particular stylist there that I loved as much as Amy, they were able to apply color and give me a decent cut (especially when I gave them Amy's handwritten color mix and application instructions). I also managed to have Amy do my hair once or twice on visits home to Ohio. AL has presented me a challenge. I would rather have a root canal than find a new hair stylist/colorist. Before you ask, yes I have actually had a root canal before, twice on the same tooth. I've also had several cavities filled. I'd still rather visit a dentist. And this is where the real story begins...

Typically a trip to the salon leaves a spring in my step and a smile on my least when I visit Fabulous Amy. I was hoping this trip would do the same for me because I've been a bit stressed lately and I'm finding few things that bring me joy. There were many warning signs long before I ended up in the hair salon (I'm using this term loosely in reference to this particular place) that this trip would not end well. This particular salon was located in a rather nice area of Birmingham, not the snobbiest of places but still snobby. (This typically means that you're going to find somebody with some kind of knowledge there...but that you will also being paying for their knowledge as well. I have no problem paying for a great color and cut; however, I do have a problem paying for a less than great one.) It was all good and fine until I drove up and realized that this particular salon was in a strip mall type place. Ok, not a problem there could still be potential...and then I walked through the door. I was bombarded with thoughts and my brain frantically tried to sort them out. I was greeted by a big green desk-the kind you find at nail salons, except there was no one sitting at the desk to greet me and there was no clip board to sign in. I went to sit down as I tried to discern if I was in a nail salon or a hair salon (because behind the desk were several nail tech desks) when I saw my stylist wave me on back to the chair. No personal greeting or coming up to retrieve me as a client, nope. Just a wave and a come on back. .oO(Oh crud, I feel like I just walked in to some "down home" salon where I can't find a single person who looks like they might have stepped beyond the 90's. Now what? It will be ok, right? It isn't Fabulous Amy, but surely this person can do hair after years of styling, right? Right?!) Everyone was dressed rather casually and not up to date casual either. I can't say I'm the most stylish person, but typically a hair dresser has a put together sort of look, their hair is styled, and they've looked at a fashion magazine in the last decade and taken some notes. .oO(Yes, I'm still holding on to being a low maintenance girl...)

As I walk back to the chair we have to locate a clean smock for me to change into so that the stylist doesn't ruin my shirt with hair color. Ok, good sign, right? Well, maybe it was a good sign but we have to hunt a bit too much for a smock, we manage to get one straight from the dryer. Then the discussion of what to do with my hair begins. It should be noted that at that point in time I had highlights and low lights that were looking very nice, but about an inch and a half of root growth that was a lot darker. My mission was to get the root problem fixed and trim my hair back into the sleek bob that Fabulous Amy created for me. The stylist recommends dying my hair back to my natural color for fall/winter and if when my hair is dry afterwards I decide I want some caramel colored highlights the stylist can add them. Ok, it sounds like a good idea to me. (Even though I was loving the high & low lights I know that an all over color is easier to maintain than the multi-colored tresses so I agreed. I'm thinking it odd to do the all over color first and then do highlights-kinda seems like there might be some skill issues here, but whatever.) The stylist went back to mix the color after guessing at what my natural color. (Nope, no color samples to look at-just an inspection of the root color and off we go.) I'm starting to wonder if this is going to turn out all right or not. The stylist comes back with a single bottle of color and begins messily applying it to the roots of my hair. Once the roots are covered the stylist just starts kind of mushing dye onto the rest of my hair. I'm pretty sure you need to ensure that the hair dye is evenly applied to each section of hair, but who am I to judge? I didn't go to cosmetology school...then again I have been getting my hair dyed for at least the past 15 years even if it was only highlights at first. .oO(I'm starting to panic, but trying not to show it. I'm wishing I would have taken a sedative or something before trying this.) Also, the stylist only used one single bottle of color. Again, it wouldn't be a problem for most people, but I happen to have very thick hair. I've never seen a stylist use only one bottle of color on my hair. .oO(My heart sinks because I can already tell that this hairstyling adventure is not going to lift my fact it just might crush them.) Once the color is applied a plastic shower cap is placed over my hair and I am sent to sit under the dryer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes the plastic comes off, the dryer gets turned off, and I sit in the air for the dye to oxidize. It's a different kind of dye but no biggie, I'm game for trying it.

Time is up and I am sent to the shampoo bowl where the attendant washes the dye out of my hair. Then it is off to the stylist's chair to get the cut. I say "I had a bob that had a few different subtle layers to give it some movement. So if you could just cut it back into shape and take off about an inch and a half or so that would be great. My hair gets hard to deal with in the humidity when it gets to a certain length. " The stylist asks a few more questions about how it was cut and then begins cutting. I begin to relax. Surely I can get a decent cut. Just follow the map and cut off a proportionate amount the whole way around. The next thing I know the stylist has whipped out a razor. (Sharp intake of breath because I'm fairly certain my hair doesn't do well when cut with a razor, but it has been so long since someone cut it with a razor that I can't quite remember. The Fabulous Amy knows not to use a razor on Frantz hair. She's smart like that.) The stylist realizes my shock and says "I'm using a razor so that the layers will be subtle and you can easily style it." I smile and say "ok." .oO(I know that is why a razor is used...but come on. The voice in my head is saying "SCREAM" I quietly squelch that voice.)

The cutting and slicing is over. Thank goodness. Now begins the drying. I'm carefully looking at my hair as the color is revealed to me. It kinda looks like I still have a root line, it's just darker now. Surely that isn't right. I came to get my root problem covered up, not to change its color. Honestly people. So we dry and dry and dry some more. (My hair takes a long time to dry.) The stylist asks if I'd like some highlights. .oO(Uh, NOPE! Do I want to give you one more chance to screw up my hair? NOPE. I want to get out of here asap!!) I say no thanks this is good. .oO(Why can I not scream at this point and say what I'm thinking? Something like, uh can you try dying my hair again because you still haven't fixed the root problem. Why? Because I am still too shocked it even happened.) Surely the torture is over at this point. We've dyed it all one color, supposedly. We've cut it, more like liberated it in all the wrong ways with a razor. Surely we're done.

But alas, we still have to style it. We flip out the ends. Not a big problem, flipped out ends can be stylish. Then we begin to tease the hair at the crown of my head. Teasing it with a metal teasing know, the kind your grandma uses. (Sorry, no offense grandma. Your hair looks wonderful teased. Mine doesn't.) I don't have a part just a sort of swooping, teased creation. To add insult to injury hairspray is applied to the swoop. Goodness knows we don't want that swoop to fall in the humidity. Seriously? I look like I just stepped out of the 50's. Can you say Stepford Wife? Eeek!!

Somehow I manage to change out of my smock and pay for the disaster on my head. I grumble to my car and spend the rest of the day grumpy about the fact that my hair didn't go as planned and now I'm left wondering what to do about it. I run my fingers through my hair and kind of calm down the teased mess. I find a part line and make it look a little less 50's and more like something from this decade. I try to soothe my frazzled nerves with some retail therapy. It doesn't really go well because I am unable to really find any of the things I was looking for to finish the bathroom remodel and to accessorize my wardrobe for the move to the higher volume store.

It is now 3 days later. I have washed and dried my hair twice at this point. I am trying to determine if I am going to try and have Bivins dye my hair for me to make it truly all one color or am I going to wait a week or two and try again. (In retrospect he didn't do a bad job when he dyed it last December.) I have managed to get my hair to go into somewhat of a sleek bob, but I still have some unruly strands that were liberated with the razor and think that they don't have to follow orders from my straightener. .oO(Stupid razor.) It isn't as bad as it felt the day it was done, but it still irks me. All I wanted was a great hairstyle to bring me some joy in a place where nothing feels familiar. Apparently it was too much to ask. This gypsy is wishing her travels had brought her a bit closer to the Fabulous Amy. Maybe the next move will bring us closer...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

CaTcHiNg Up

Hmmm.... haven't blogged in awhile. I had every intention of blogging, but something else always eats up my time. Plus, I've once again had writer's block...or a not knowing exactly what to write. So there are some things you need to be caught up about.

1. Married for 4 wonderful years. As of September 6, 2009 Bivins and I have been married for 4 years. Most days I can hardly believe it. I love my life with him, yes even in Alabama b/c I am with him. I know when I "ran away" to get married there were some people who were a little nervous, but I'm so happy that we got married in our own God's way really because I know I wouldn't have met my dear husband without his intervention. (Honestly, have you heard "Our Story?" An Ohio teacher talking to this sweet southern Marine stationed in DC on the phone for hours, and hours, and hours and annoying everyone she knows by doing such, lol. If you haven't heard it then ask me sometime and I'll be happy to tell you. I apologize now for the dreamy look I'll get in my eyes.) As I told Bivins on our 2 year anniversary when he was an ocean away-he literally was-"I wouldn't change a sentence of Our Story."

2. Weekend Remodel Project~During our anniversary weekend we typically try to get to the beach or spend the weekend doing something fun. We were unable to get away this year~funding was limited and we were both very, very tired from fighting sinus problems. So we decided we would work on one of the many things that need a little fixing and tlc in our home. We started in the master bathroom. It had vinyl floral walls. 'Nuff said. So we painted the walls and we replaced all the fixtures~the lighting fixture, the towel bars, the toilet paper holder, the shower rod, and the electrical face plates. We replaced the mirror and cabinet with a mirrored medicine cabinet (which was a steal for $44 instead of $100). We painted 2 walls a creamy color and then one wall is a chocolate brown. I feel like we doubled the size of the bathroom just with the paint and the new cabinet. I still need to find a rug, a curtain for the window, and some new towels which is why I haven't taken any "after" pictures because I don't feel like it is completely finished yet. If you happen to know where I can find a curtain rod for a window that it 14" wide please let me know. The smallest one I have been able to find is 28" and it is too wide for the window and the wall space. I love walking into the bathroom though because it feels like a completely different place. I think the next project will be painting the master bedroom. It has speckled vinyl walls.

3. I woke up at 4am for no reason and have been unable to go back to sleep. I'm very sad about this. I typically sleep very well when it rains and it is pouring down rain right now, but I am wide awake. Why? Why? Why? Ugh. Hopefully once I finish blogging I will be tired enough to go back to sleep again. {Yawn} Yes, maybe I will...

4. LOFT~I will be moving to a higher volume LOFT store this week. (If you don't speak retail that means I will be moving to a busier store that receives about double the amount of traffic my current store receives.) It is an exciting move that will offer me a chance to sharpen my skills as a sales lead and help prepare me for a co-manager position should one open up. While I am excited about this move, I am also a bit nervous. I am a bit of a perfectionist and I tend to get really frustrated when I feel like I'm not doing a good job. I enjoy a neat store with everything in its place. When you have a lot of traffic in the store it makes it harder to keep everything in its place. I hope my OCD about not being able to function well in a mess doesn't get the best of me at this new location. I hope the challenges brought on by this new store don't kill my "love for LOFT."

5. Alabama Living~We are still in Alabama. It still doesn't feel like home. .oO(I don't think it feels like home to Bivins either even though he was born and raised here.) I don't know where home is...I know it is a feeling and not a place, but really where are we supposed to be. I feel like we're going through the motions of life instead of living it sometimes. Bivins is going to school still and doing well, but he still dislikes it most days. I am still working my retail job and enjoying it, but wondering if retail will be my life or will I end up back in the classroom. A few weeks ago Bivins was notified that he was promoted to the rank of Corporal. (He is still on inactive reserve duty for 3 more years.) The letter originally went to the in-law's house since their address is still listed as his permanent address. When I heard that the USMC had sent him something I was almost hoping it was a recall notice. And then the guilt sets in because if they called him back he would most likely deploy and I don't want to spend time apart from him again, but it would get him back on active duty, which he misses. (I miss it too, which is a bit ironic b/c if you go back and read my posts about him getting out all I can say is how excited I am for "life after the USMC"...) I even asked him if the promotion to Corporal would up his chances of being recalled or help him get back in, we don't know. So I'm in Alabama trying to remind myself God has a plan and I just need to trust he is working it out...

I know there were a few other things I was going to blog about, but I think I may be feeling sleepy again so I am going to try and go back to sleep for a bit before I have to head into work.