Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The End of My Rope

I work in a really small salon. Aside from me there are only two other stylists, the owner and a girl my age who got her license last summer, and three receptionists. There's never more than four people working and we all contribute to all the menial tasks.

Lately, well since deciding to take a break from school and started working full-time in January, I've become obsessed with becoming busier. When I was working part-time it felt like I was busier, but with the same clientele and twice the hours, it doesn't quite feel that way anymore.

Business is slow most days and maybe once a week I'll be pleasantly surprised by a full day of walk-ins. I hate walk-ins. I'm a planner, I like knowing ahead of time what I'm going to do each day whether I'm at work or not. And I like to be busy. All the time. I don't deal well with boredom. For example, I am at work, right now, writing this instead of doing someone's hair.

I've been told that maybe I should look elsewhere, but I really love the people I work with. I couldn't ask for a better boss, and the girls I work with are like family, and I really want the salon to do well. Since becoming a full-time employee I've been trying to figure out what I can do to increase business. I've passed out fliers and coupons, "welcome bags," told everyone I encounter where I work - and I've created Twitter and Foursquare accounts. We've had a Facebook account, but it wasn't until recently that my boss made me an admistrator.

My boss' updates and mine can be very different. She may post something about a sale we're having, and then post again later that day about going to Lowe's to pick out pansies for the flowerbed out front. I hate the later of these. We're good at what we do, we shouldn't have time to update Facebook, let alone go shopping for pansies! No really, true story. I wanted to shoot myself in the head the day that she was outside weeding the flowerbed.

Explaining to her the benefits of Social Media and how we're not using it fully is difficult. She has never had a cell phone, she thinks the amount of time I spend on my Android is silly (though, if I was busy doing hair, I wouldn't have the time...). But the people with the silly smartphones, they're the ones that we want in our door. They're the one's that are going to check-in and tell their friends where they get their hair done.

I've asked her repeatedly to re-do our Web site as well. It looks like a MySpace page circa 2003, with the two-tone scrollbar and everything. Nevermind that the page is in no way user friendly and uses way too many words. It's all words. But not words used effieciently, the page goes on forever and is repeated and information is copied and pasted from product lines' Web sites - it's terrible, but she maintains confidence in our "web guy." This man was also kind enough to tell her that he wasn't "sold on Social Media" after she told him how I had started using it for the salon. Of course he's not sold on it, it's not profitable to him if one of her employees is doing it. Duh.

I've tried talking her into advertising with local publications, but the one she contacted didn't respond promptly or something and "it's expensive." Expensive is relative, and if you have to spend $500 on an add to get three new clients in, it will pay for itself.

Her idea of advertising is pursuing old clients, which is also important. I agree that clients should be rewarded for loyalty, but sending a postcard to someone every week just doesn't seem to be effective (because it's annoying). We get calls regularly from people asking to be taken off the mailing list, and I don't blame them. And the money we spend on that could be well spent on something else (like a pay-per-click add on fucking Facebook).

We ran a special where clients got a percentage off their serivce if they followed us on Twitter or "Liked" us on Facebook, it was somewhat successsful. It would be nice if we offered a discount for booking in advance, like before you leave the salon, like they do at every other salon everywhere, but nope. That would be an inconvenience? Or something..I don't know. I have absolutely no idea. But when you've been running a salon for 25 years, one would think you would be booked weeks or at least days in advance, no?

Sorry, this is all so disorganized. What do you do when you don't feel at all supported by your boss when you're trying to do something better for business? I'm at the end of my rope.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Making Out With Strangers

When I drink, there are three things that I really like: lipstick, speaking in a British (awful) accent and making out with strangers (or friends).

1. Stephane

Last week I got a call from a number I didn't recognize and they didn't text or leave a voicemail, so I didn't think anything of it. Then they called again a couple days later. I texted back to see who it was. The poor boy, he was a stranger that I kissed right after the part where I kissed my friend and drove uptown two weekends ago.

This boy's name is Stephane. He's a beautiful French-African dude. I know this because he sent me his picture, which I will now use to avoid him just in case I happen to be at that bar on a Saturday night ever again. That was a fluke though. That is still the only weekend I have ever gone out to the bars on my block. I intend to keep it that way.

So Stephane keeps texting me and wants to hang out. I did make plans that I was happily able to break this past Tuesday, I would feel bad about it, but...oh, no there are no reasons to feel bad about it.

2. Daniel

This past Sunday a couple of friends of mine came down from DC to see another friend's band play here, coincidentally at the same bar I made out with Stephane in. Anyway, my friends were kind enough to buy me several shots of whiskey, among other things.

After our friend's set was over we walked to the bar that I live above and continued the party there, where I met Daniel.

I'm sure he's a lovely fellow, really, but he called me the next day. Before noon. Even if I get up before noon, there are few circumstances when I will answer my phone before then. Anyway, my friend passed me my phone and told me it was "Daniel" - I had programmed his number into my phone this time. Progress!

He first commented on how I wasn't actually British. Nope. Not a lick. I'm from Drunk.

Then he continued to text me incesssantly with emoticons and improper grammar. Neither of those are preferred qualities.

3. Evan

This past Tuesday I went to a party followed by dinner, followed by filling out an application at a bar (I'm not really sure how that happened, but please call me back!) and then karaoke. All of it was "fantastic." I used that word almost all of my tweets that night, and can only imagine that I said it, in my British accent, even more.

It was at the karaoke joint that I made out with and exchanged numbers with Evan, who after a text the next day, has a girlfriend. Sorry, Girlfriend, 1) for making out with your boyfriend and 2) that you're dating a dude who makes out with other people, unless you're into that, then great for you!

The lesson learned here is that boys are silly, and don't understand that a girl really can just kiss you and absolutely not ever want to hear from you again, but give you her card to be polite.

P.S. Related, if someone gives me their card, I always email first, as should you, though if someone is giving you their card and not just their number, they are probably okay with never seeing you again and just being polite.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bad Influence

When my friend, E moved to DC a couple months ago she kept talking about meeting new people because she had "burned so many bridges" in Richmond. E and I have known each other since high school, but were equally annoyed by each other then. It wasn't until I moved to Richmond to attend VCU that she and I became friends. After a bunch of haphazard encounters we finally started hanging out on purpose.

A few weeks ago we were exchanging stories of our childhoods. She told me about how making friends was a game to her as a child, she would go places determined to make as many friends as she could and fully aware that she would never see these other children again. It didn't bother her, she just figured she'd make new friends later.

I was the exact opposite. I had a few very good friends at any one time. My kindergarten best friend was a girl named Kimberly who would get upset with me daily, usually at lunch or recess, and tell me that we weren't friends anymore. And every day as we stepped on the bus she would ask if we could be friends again. Of course we could, I had never considered us not to be friends anyway. I'm still this way. I could list the number of people I've had legitaimate falling-outs with on one hand.

E doesn't disregard her friends, quite the opposite, and I think this is why we're friends, she just doesn't allow herself to deal with other people's problems and projections. That's not to say that she isn't there for her friends in their time of need, she is, but she also isn't going to let you go on about things that don't matter for weeks on end. It's healthier.

I have only recently been okay with letting go of relationships. I don't do it well, and I tend to hold on for far too long. My, now ex-best friend, and I had not had a decent conversation for months. The last of which she had told me about the possibility of her getting engaged. Then I was supposed to visit her and things fell through, and then I saw her briefly at church of Christmas but she insisted that she was busy the entire time she was home, and it wasn't until after New Year's when we finally had it out, via G-Chat. Seriously.

The Ex-bff is still a practicing Mormon. She has never been particularly good at communicating her feelings, she's always taken the passive route whereas I take everything head on. We grew up together. We sang duets almost annually at church Christmas parties and planned youth activities together because we didn't trust (like) anyone else's judgment in where the balloons should be placed for youth dances, or what songs should be put in the Mormon-camp song book. We never had that much in common, but we complimented each other well and enjoyed making fun on the same people. She was really the only reason I went to church in high school, and she was fully aware of that.

It wasn't until we had this G-Chat conversation that I realized how much she disapproved of my life. It came out of nowhere, we hadn't talked, what did she know? She explained that she had tried to be subtle before, I had no recollection of this. She said that I was "self-destructive" and "let people walk all over me." She was the first one I told after I had sex for the first time, but I never expected her to go out and do the same. I never expected her to do any of the things I did.

She recently got engaged. He was, is, her first kiss. And from what my mother has told me, she has quite grad school. I haven't talked to her about it. She made it very clear that she had no interest in having me be a part of her life anymore, which hurt, a lot - I cried all day that day, and then it was over. I haven't talked to her about the engagement, but part of me can't help but think about all of her ambition. I don't think it just went away, I just can't believe that she gave up going to the best school in the country for her program to get married. But then, we don't really know each other anymore. Apparently she's changed just as much as I have.

E had a similar experience around the same time and we both decided that we were part of people's resolutions to rid their lives of "negative" influences. Good riddance. Thankfully E and I negatively influence each other regularly.

Friday, March 18, 2011

99: (No) Pants Dance Party

Chris Owens is a local photographer who has a project called "100 Portraits 100 Days." Last week he needed a salon to use for a set for one of his shoots (portrait 98) and through Twitter I was asked if he could use the salon where I work. I got the okay from my boss and we were set.

I was familiar with the project, I know several of the people he has photographed and did hair for one of the shoots. Each portrait captures a specific characteristic or cause of the subject. When he was done with the shoot at my shop I asked him about his last two subjects and how he picked them. He explained that he had approached people to take part in the project, but as it grew others approached him. He didn't have anyone officially set up for the last two, so I asked him if I could be a part of it.

On Twitter I frequently use the hashtags #nopantsparty and #nopantsdanceparty. Chris liked the concept and we shot it in my apartment this past Monday. 

I put on a decent mix, but he asked me for a larger range of motion, so I turned on Florence and the Machine's 'Dog Days' - a song that despite it's slow intro, I always lose my shit to at dance nights (in DC, not Richmond). It's a song that I've had on pretty heavy rotation for a couple of years (see here for embarassing ramblings from dorm life! They were so deep! Please note that I didn't proof read that post at all!).

If you've seen Florence and the Machine live, or the original video for Dog Days, that is pretty much how I dance. There's lots of spinning and flailing involved. I think Chris captured it perfectly.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

All by Myself

The past two and a half months have been full of the changes I've wanted (mostly), in the best possible ways. First of all, I quit school and started working full-time. This was something I had been considering since the shitshow that happened this past November. I have never enjoyed school, the only reason I graduated from high school was because my test scores exempted me from most of my exams and I had teachers that were very generous in extending deadlines for me. I have never been motivated by grades, I couldn't care less about them, I wish I did, because I do value learning, just not in such a structured way. And certainly not about Byzantine art or the complexities of a pig's chest cavity.

Deciding to temporarily halt my education was not an easy decision. When it comes down to it though, there was nothing about it contributing to my happiness - it was a constant strain emotionally and monetarily. I couldn't enjoy basic social interactions without being reminded that I had a paper due the next day in addition to having to go to work. But I love my work, I look forward to it each day, I love interacting with my clients and knowing (or hoping) that I have the opportunity to make them feel slightly better, or at the very least look slightly better than they did before they sat in my chair.

I had already signed up for my classes for this semester before I decided not to go back to school. When I clicked the little arrow next to each class to drop them, part of me felt uneasy; school is what we're told we're supposed to do for as long as it takes to get us where we're told we need to go. And my parents had been paying my tuition. I withdrew before telling them and it wasn't until after several weeks of "classes" that I finally told them. They took it surprisingly well. They weren't angry, all they said was not to expect help financially save for occasional car maintenance. It was as though a huge weight had been lifted from our relationship, not that it's ever been the most healthy of relationships, but it's easier to talk to them now because school isn't an issue and I'm not relying on them financially.

Secondly, last year I wanted a boyfriend, or thought I did, but in retrospect I was just looking for an escape. I thought being a relationship would make me happy. I thought I was in love three times last year. That's stupid. So stupid, there are not words for how stupid that is. I wasted so much time talking to my girlfriends about whoever and why was he with her when he should be with me. God, it was fucking terrible. I cried so much. I already cry a lot, at well, most things, but last year it was definitely excessive. I was unhappy with where I was living and hated being at home and didn't ever feel like I could totally be myself. Since moving into my own place I feel like an entirely different person. And all that effort I put into thinking I thought I wanted a relationship, I've refocused and enjoy being at home, by myself. And frankly, I'm over dating in Richmond (and DC), it's boring. Boys, I'm not sorry, but you're boring.

I've found that in my time spent alone, with my phone turned off, a record playing and sitting and reflecting is more enjoyable than everything else. I enjoy going out, but I love going home and not having to still be on to interact with a roommate or their friends; to a bed that I don't have to share with pets or humans. The mess is my mess and there's no one to be clean for and there's no one else's mess to irritate me. Perhaps this sounds selfish, but everything I'm doing right now is in an effort to maintain this contentment. I don't need anyone or thing or class or job to screw that up. If something isn't contributing to my happiness, I've finally learned to have control and dismiss it.

The friends that I've made here are some of the best, and they're slowly moving away. I have one in DC (soon London) another in New York, another moving back to Norfolk, etc. It's seems appropriate for me to get things in order to move too.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Lesson Learned

I have rules against going out before 10 pm. Nothing good happens if you do. You get drunk too early, you're shitfaced by the time you need to go home, do and say things you shouldn't, etc. I typically don't do shooters (save for shots of whiskey) and I'm not a catch-up drinker. All of this is to say, I attempt to be responsible, most of the time.

This past Saturday I lost my shit.

I was invited to play "bar poker" - $5 buy-in, five bars, draw a card at each bar, whoever has the best hand at the end of the night wins. We met up at 8:30 and were at our third bar, and five drinks in by ten.

I remember going to the first four bars, none of them were bars I frequent as I don't usually hang out in my neighborhood. It attracts suburbanites that wear Ed Hardy like it's their job, I'm not into it. And I'm not into "dancing" to top 40 singles. Nothing about my neighborhood really appeals to me after 10 pm Thursday through Saturday nights, but I thought I'd give it a go. I would not have had a good time were it not for the people I was with and the amount of shooters I did.

By 11:30 I was gone. The only reason I know this is because of the drunk texts the next morning that I had no recollection of sending. I left my friends around one after smothering one in lipstick and thought it was a great idea to walk upstairs to my apartment, grab my phone charger and bag, because I only had my wallet and my phone was dying (it's an Android, go figure). And then I thought it was a brilliant idea to drive uptown. How I managed to not kill anyone, myself, or get arrested is still beyond me. Feel free to judge, but know it's not something I'm proud of, but I can't change it and I'm thankful that none of the above happened.

Anyway, I drive uptown, park, but can't remember my friend's address and my phone keeps dying so, from what I vaguely remember I plug my charger into someone's porch outlet and eventually get to my friend's house around 3 am. By that time I'm more aware of what's happening. We end up watching TV and eating cereal and fall asleep on the couch. In the morning I can't find my bag, but I have my phone, my charger and my keys so I figure it's somewhere I'll find it later and go back to sleep.

I was wrong. We searched everywhere, closets, the basement, random storage areas and could not find it anywhere. From this point I can only premise that I left it on someone's porch. Fuck. This is terrible. Really terrible, but we both have places to be so we search for my car instead. It was parked a lot closer than either of us thought it would be.

I get home and find my apartment trashed. I managed to knock everything that could be knocked over, over, which also explains all the bruises I've found on my body since then. But I'm still bag-less, wallet-less, ID-less, money-less, so after sulking for a bit I head back uptown and walk the streets in about a two block radius around my friend's house looking on people's porches, knowing how creepy I must look to those passing by.

And nothing, except a pink post-in note with my friend's address scribbled on it illegibly.

Sunday ends and I can't sleep, so I clean. Subconsciously, I'm pretty sure I was punishing myself - my mother used to always make me clean things as punishment and at really inconvenient times. I'm terribly anxious after I lose things, not because of the credit cards or various IDs, but the totebag and all the buttons on it that I've been collecting from shows and elsewhere since I was fourteen, and the clutch I use as a wallet that an alcoholic, chain smoking, retired nun gave me.

I checked the activity on my cards and there was none, but I canceled my debit card just in case, and went to the DMV to get a new license. Afterward I had to drop some things off at my sister's, my sister who has never had a drink in her life and rolls her eyes anytime I mention my drunken stupidity, as she should.

Monday evening, I wait until it starts to get dark and I attempt to retrace my steps again, hoping that the dark may jar some memory of Saturday night. It doesn't and I go home and attempt to sleep again. Monday night's sleep was worse than Sunday's. I woke up around 4 am and fall in and out of sleep at odd intervals after that, by sunup my neck is in knots.

Tuesday morning I arrive at work in a hurry for my 9 am appointment, and I find my totebag, complete with wallet, cards and IDs in the back room, on the table where I presumably left it and at the front desk, where I clock in, is a stack of pink post-it notes.