Thursday, March 29, 2007

When: January 1996, my first year at the U.
Where: Utah Museum of Fine Arts, U campus
What: Checking out the museum's recent (and temporary) acquisition of a VanGogh painting
Why: I must have been smokin' hot that day
Who: John
How: A bit stupidly, on my part.

Here are the facts, as I remember them:

I had read about the VanGogh in the school newspaper and asked myself, How many chances will you have to see a real VanGogh? The answer, Hopefully, many, but probably not very many. So, the first opportunity I had, I ambulated on over to check it out.

The musuem had placed the painting in a spot of glory; the very center of the front room; one couldn't miss seeing it. It was encased in glass and could be viewed front, back, and any other angle you could want. I don't really remember a lot about it, as it wasn't a painting I wasn't familiar with, but I remember it had muted colors and looked serene. I liked it and stood contemplating the scene for a long time. At some point, I noticed a man watching me, so I attempted to subtly ascertain more about him. He had brown, curly hair that came just past his ears. He looked older than me, but he wasn't old. He wasn't very tall, but taller than me. He had nice eyes; they were brown. Anyway, I must not have been subtle enough, or maybe he just grew tired of watching, but he came over to talk to me.

John asked me what I thought about the painting. I still had yet to acquire much knowledge of art, so I really didn't have an insightful opinion, but I was quite conversant with the art of flirting, so I managed to sound somewhat perceptive and clever. Of course, being an accomplished flirt and having a healthy interest in others, I asked his opinion. He shared with me why he liked the brush strokes, the colors, the choice of subject, etc. He was quite interesting. Eventually, John asked me if I'd visited the museum before, and, when I answered no, offered to accompany me. I gratefully accepted the offer, and we spent a couple happy hours perusing the musuem's selections. He was a worthy guide, and I was pleased with his insights and his attention.

When we finished, John asked if I wanted to go to the student union for a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, I replied, I had a class, Girls Chorus, in a few minutes and needed to be heading to it. He decided to walk me there. On the way, he asked me if I had a telephone. I laughed. Of course I do! Thinking: who doesn't?!?! Good, he said, can I ask; what's the number? I looked at him mutely for a moment. Oh! Was he asking for my telephone number?!?! I gave it to him. He pulled a thick notebook out of his backpack and wrote it down. He asked me a few questions about myself; what was I studying, where did I hail from, how did I like the U, etc. I asked him questions too and found out that he was 26 and a psych grad student. He wasn't from Utah, but now I can't remember where he was from. I remember his eyes, his hair, and that he had a really nice voice. Oh, and he wore glasses. I thought he was very attractive. We arrived at my class and John bid me farewell saying, I'll be in touch.

This was a real coup for me, a nice self-esteem boost. You see, just a little bit (a couple weeks???) before this event took place, I went to the mall for a hair cut. It was horrible. It was so bad that I went back (what was I thinking!?!?) to see if they could fix it. The girl made it worse. Disaster. My roommate took me to a reputable, and expensive, salon that sadly informed me they could fix the problem but would have to cut off most of my hair to do so. They did a great job, but I didn't feel comfortable with my short hair; I felt unfeminine and unattractive. I took to wearing skirts every day and up'ed my make-up usage. Having John ask for my phone number helped me feel attractive again. It was a positive experience and I'd give him my phone number again any day, if he asked.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

At the Salon

I've been needing a haircut for an eternity (eternity = several months). I haven't liked my cut since the last time - the cutter butchered my bangs and made my layers too chunky - but I've put off getting it cut again. As much as I haven't liked it, I was worried that my hair would look worse after getting it cut.

Last week I finally decided I had to do something with my hair. The bottom layer was going completely out of control; it would turn up when I wanted it to curl under and would be flat as a pancake when I wanted it to curl up. Sigh. I called my usual beauty salon, Salon Divo, to schedule an appointment. Imagine my surprise when instead of hearing, "Salon Divo, how can I help you?", I heard "Mane Attraction this is Mary Lou"! I mumbled my apology about dialing the wrong number, but Mary Lou politely interrupted, "Oh, were you calling Salon Divo?" I replied in the affirmative, and she explained that Salon Divo had gone out of business. I put off getting a haircut and this is what happens?!?! I sighed and asked if they had an opening for a haircut for that evening, as close to 5pm as possible. She said no, so I decided to try a few other salons. No one had an appointment open. Double sigh.

Yesterday, I got up my nerve again. Actually, I was desperate. If I didn't get a haircut a.s.a.p, I would end up either a) shaving off my hair myself or b) checking myself into the neighborhood loony bin. I decided to try the salon located downstairs from my office. Just as last week, they had no openings. Mini-sigh. After a little thought, I decided to try Mane Attraction. You see, I don't know anyone who works there, no one who has had a haircut from there, and a girl who had her nails done there (years ago) who didn't enjoy her experience. That's why I hesitated.

When I called, Pete answered the phone. It seemed a little odd that a man answered (no men cut hair at Salon Divo) but I just plunged ahead with my request for an appointment around 5pm. Pete looked at "the books" and replied that there was an opening at 5pm. Yipee! He took my name and phone number and asked if I knew where the salon was located. I said yes, then Pete said, "Okay, I'll be cutting your hair at 5 - see ya then."

Yes, I admit that my initial thought was "WHAT!" Yes, I did have preconceived notions about who could cut my hair. Would a man know how to cut and style my hair?! Would he be able to understand my hair struggles and know how to help me?! I almost cancelled the appointment. I thought of the TLC show What Not To Wear. Nick is a guy, I reminded myself, and he always does a fabulous job with the guests' cuts/styles. I reminded myself of all the famous men who cut hair for the stars. Okay, I'll do it, I said, with a prayer in my heart.

Good decision. Pete was great. Absolutely marvelous. Pete is in his 40's and has been doing hair for 17 years. He sat me down in his chair and, while combing my hair with his fingers, asked what I wanted. I told him. He listened. He understood - at least, he seemed to, I hoped. Next came my favorite part of getting a haircut - the shampoo. It's 10 times better with a man. You'll have to call me if you want details.

Pete and I had agreed to cut off almost 3". I'll admit I was worried that my hair would be too short. I was wrong; Pete was right. I would have never guessed I had that much hair to lose and still have the length I wanted - it was that troublesome bottom layer! Now it's gone! Yipee!

Second favorite part: blow drying. I love this part because I love having my hair brushed. When I dry my own hair, my arms start to hurt.

Third favorite part (just seconds behind blow drying): compliments. Almost without fail, whenever a new person cuts my hair they remark at some point that I have thicker hair than they guessed. Pete was no exception. While drying my hair, he said I must have strong forearms. I asked what he meant, and he said I'd have to have strong arms to blow dry that much hair every day. Then he just went on and on and on about how luxurious my hair is, how thick and healthy it is, how much of it there is, etc. It was great. He said that if it weren't for the visible line, he wouldn't have guessed my hair was dyed because it is in such remarkable condition. Sigh. I love getting compliments! I just demurely said thanks every time, beaming inside and out.

In the end, my hair turned out exactly like I wanted. Pete, you convinced me. You are now my go-to guy for hair. Thank you.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I think his name was Jean-Luc...

but I'm not sure any more. I could always check my mission journals and find out, but I'm feeling too lazy. So...we'll just say his name was Jean-Luc.

One of my favorite times on my mission was living with Soeur Laverne on le rue Van Horne, just up the street from le metro Plamondon. Soeur Laverne and I lived on the third story of a three-story apartment building, and our apartment faced Van Horne, a very busy, noisy street in the heart of Montreal. (Side note: our district leader nicknamed us Laverne and Shirley because we habitually made it home after his nightly phone call - we were supposed to be home before. He'd sing into our answering machine, "Give us any rule we'll break it" - obviously to the music of L&S's theme song. I was Shirley, I think because I was shorter and had dark hair, but I'm not positive now.) Our apartment housed people from all sorts of countries. It nightly smelled strongly of the different foods being prepared with all sorts of spices, and it seemed everyone cooked fish on the same day. Our little apartment had no air conditioning, lots of windows, hard wood floors, a broken fan (not fun in 90+ weather with 150% humidity), a balcony, and an elderly concierge - Jean-Luc (JL).

I couldn't understand a word that came out of JL's mouth, his accent was so thickly quebecois (pronounced kay-bek-qwah). I think Laverne just pretended to understand him. I had never been in a full quebecois area (fyi, quebecois = canadian french and is kind of comparable to American english vs. Great Britain english), so I had had very little exposure to anyone speaking like JL. When we saw him, I would say bonjour and smile like an idiot while he said supposedly nice things to Laverne and me. He was a nice man and helped us with the repairs our little apartment often required. The night before he died, we locked ourselves out of our apartment and went to his apartment to request his aid. He had us stay in his apartment while he worked on getting our door open. It housed an eclectic collection of old, dusty knick-knacks.

Laverne and I had been working together for several months, and I knew that my time in this area was coming to a close. Unfortunately, a male investigator that was working with two of the elders in our district had developed a crush on me and had made it known to me, Laverne, and the elders one Friday night at a ward party. Transfers were the following Monday, and I knew when he told me his feeling that I wouldn't be staying. I was sad, but I had enjoyed my time in the area and with Laverne.

Monday mornings, our prep-days, Laverne and I normally did our laundry in the downstairs facilities after finishing our daily studies. While our loads washed, we'd clean the apartment, then put our clothes in the dryer. While our clothes dried, we'd write letters and plan the day's activities. This Monday, however, we waited to do our laundry, wanting to be in our apartment when the district leader called to tell us about transfers. He called, and I had been right, I was being transferred to a small town outside of Ottawa, Ontario. I was bummed, but it had been expected. Our zone leader was being made an AP (Assistant to the President), so our zone was going to have a goodbye party for everyone in the zone that was being transferred. While Laverne talked to Elder Boyle, our DL, about the plans, we heard a commotion outside our apartment building. It sounded like someone yelling for help.

I ran to our balcony and Laverne went to our window. I saw JL stagger down our steps, his hand clutched to his chest, before collapsing face-down on the grass in front of the building. I yelled to Laverne to call 911 and she did. A passerby had rushed to see what was wrong with JL and as he rolled JL onto his back, I saw blood soaking his shirt and a blood stain on the grass. I wanted to vomit. Somehow I didn't. Laverne yelled instructions to me (from the 911 person) and I yelled them to the man beside JL on the grass. He'd then yell to me and I'd yell to Laverne (our window didn't open) who would tell the 911 person. The paramedics finally arrived and the 911 person let Laverne get off the phone, so she came out on the balcony with me. From our viewpoint, we could watch the paramedics work on JL. We watched as he died. I could actually tell when it happened, strange, but I really could. Laverne must have, too, because she looked at me and we started to cry.

After an eternity, they loaded him into the ambulance and took him away, somewhere. Police had blocked off the road, so there were no cars driving by. It felt so strange. We watched the police going in and out of the building and wondered what had happened and what was happening right then. After a bit, they brought out an old man I had never seen before and put him in another ambulance. He didn't look hurt, but we really couldn't tell. He was in grayish blue boxer shorts and had a dark gray robe that wasn't cinched around his waist but flapped around him as he was led to the ambulance.

It was a couple hours later that we learned what had happened. We weren't supposed to leave the apartment, but I needed to do some things to get ready for my move the next day. We went downstairs and found a policeman in the lobby - there were pools of blood on the tile floor. He gave us permission to leave and told us what had happened. JL had been in his office (which was right next door to the laundry room) when a resident barged in, angry about getting an eviction notice. He was acting crazy, according to eyewitnesses. JL handled him firmly, but gently, and the man left, seemingly appeased. He came back a short time later and stabbed JL in the chest. JL had staggered up the mini flight of stairs to the lobby and out the door, looking and calling for help.

We could have been down there had we not waited for the call from the elders. The policeman told us the approximate time it happened and it was about when we would have gone down to put our clothes in the washers. I hate to think about seeing that happen up-close, or worse, being involved somehow. As it was, it was a horrible thing to witness just what we did, after the stabbing. We were subdued the rest of the day, and at the party I just couldn't get my mind off what had happened. All the elders were awesome and one offered to give us blessings. Ah, you gotta love the priesthood and the worthy men that hold it!

When we turned off the sidewalk into our apartment building, we notice that the grass and sidewalk were stained with blood. Fortunately, the lobby floor had been cleaned and we only notice an occassional red drop. We talked a lot that night, later than we should have, but it was theraputic. We talked about life and death, the plan of salvation, and our gratitude for our knowledge of that plan. We reminisced about our encounters with Jean-Luc and laughed about my complete inability to understand him, even when he was just saying bonjour. We prayed for his family and all those he left behind.

The next day I left. I was sad to leave for so many reasons but was excited to begin again in a new area, with a new sister, with new people to meet and love.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Did You Know...

1. I'm almost 30?

2. My favorite colors are yellow and blue?

3. I once saw a man die? I called 911. He died anyway.

5. I am completely, semi-irrationally afraid of sink disposals?

6. I've never shot a gun - not even a BB gun?

7. Chocolate truffles are the bestest things in the whole entire world?

8. I have a mild-ish crush on Peyton Manning?

9. I'm currently watching a contortionist on Who's Line Is It Anyway? Freaky!

10. My favorite time is 12:34 (a.m. and p.m.)?

11. Having flowers sent to me is my favorite romantic gesture-to-date?

12. I dream in color?

13. I was once married for less than 48 hours?

14. I'm planning on getting a graduate degree this coming school year?

15. I've never been fired from a job? I've quit more than I could list in 10 years.

16. I once gave my phone number to a complete stranger? He didn't ask for it and he never called.

17. I once gave my phone number to a complete stranger? He did ask for it and he did call and we went on a great date.

18. I can touch my toes without bending my knees?

19. My dream career: owning a bookstore?

20. My dream man: Mr. Darcy?

21. I'm a little bossy?

22. I once almost fell off a mountain?

23. Bryce Canyon is one of my favorite places?

24. Chocolate truffles are the bestest things in the whole entire world? I know I did this one already, but it bears repeating.

25. I once met a mobster?

0 - 24 We haven't spent enough time talking. Call me!

25 You are a great friend and you've patiently listened to me. Your reward in heaven is being prepared.

Yes, #13 is a lie. It lasted a little more than 48 hours.