Thursday, December 10, 2009

"A" Student

I got 100% on my anatomy test. I'll admit that I get 100 on all my tests (except once I got a 98); but for this one I actually had to study. Had to memorize all the bones and muscles in the head, neck, arm, hand and feet. Things like the sternocleidomastoideus is the muscle of the neck that lowers and rotates the head. It's the one that, along with the trapezius, frequently goes into spasm from leaning over a computer for twenty years. At least that's what happened to me.

Friday I can start "checking out" on the practicals. I did some very nice barrel curls yesterday.

It's fun learning all this stuff. At my age one hardly every develops a new skill, interest or hobby. I remember when my first boss at Grey (who was in his late 50s at the time) started taking Spanish lessons for the first time. He was so excited. That's how I feel, excited and happy. It's all just so damn FUN.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Little Miss

I've mentioned in an earlier post that, like in pre-school, all the teachers at beauty school are addressed as "Miss." Miss Kathy, Miss Lisa, Miss Ebony. Since I began the program, most of the other students also address me as "Miss" -- "Miss Cynthia." Initially this made me extremely uncomfortable. Because...

When I was a very small child my grandparents had full-time "help." Beatrice and Herbert. They were Negroes (this was 1964-ish). Beatrice was mostly in the kitchen helping Grandma and Herbert did stuff in the yard, the garage. These two people had been with my grandparents since my mother was a child. And, this being dysfunctional WASPy-wasp-land, my mother always felt that Beatrice was more her mother than that tall, skinny white woman. (And in fact, when Mummy was dying she asked for Beatrice; which is how I know that Beatrice really was her emotional mother.) But I digress (as usual). Beatrice and Herbert both called me "Miss Cynthia." As a four/five/six year old I was very confused as to why these grown-ups, who were so like my grandparents, would address me as if I were a grown-up too. I don't remember ever asking anyone why; but like a lot of things in WASPy-wasp-land, I was probably cued not to "say anything." By the time I was seven or so, Beatrice and Herbert were gone. I don't know where they went, if they passed away or what their last names were. I'm not even sure my mother know Beatrice's last name (although Mummy did keep a framed picture of Beatrice on her dresser.) Still whenever I've thought about Beatrice and Herbert, the thing I remember most is how they called me "Miss Cynthia;" and how strange it felt, how racist, how classist.

So forty years later I get to beauty school and all these young Black girls are calling me "Miss Cynthia," and IT'S BEEN CREEPING ME OUT. BIG TIME. But the joke's on me 'cause yesterday I flat out asked what the deal is and was told "Miss Cynthia it's cause you're old." Ha! Any student over the age of 40 is "Miss." In the place I am now, it's not about race, or class, it's about age. There's me, Miss Marcy, Miss Chantel. Friends will also call each other "Miss," regardless of age. So it can also be a term of endearment.

So here I've been getting all tangled up in my emotional underwear and spending weeks on all kinds of emotional and intellectual gymnastics for nothing. The lesson is, don't over think stuff.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


With being in school, teaching religious ed to 2nd graders and Christmas (parties, concerts, shopping, decorating, baking) I haven't had much time to write the past week or so. So sorry to disappoint. But get this -- I have to be fingerprinted Thursday evening. So stay tuned.....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


While I was enjoying Thanksgiving in Colonial Williamsburg, surrounded by families i
n my own demographic and quickly becoming accustom to the lifestyle to which I use to be accustom, there was a fight at school. And I missed it! I still don't have the whole story, but it had something to do with a roller set. And the thing of it is, the fight was between two of the women I really like and have thought of as
sort of in the same clique. Turns out the white girl is C-R-A-Z-Y. I had no idea. I should have known something was up with her when I learned she went to one of the prestigious Catholic girls' schools here in town, graduated in May and is now going to this beauty school (instead of OSU or Xavier or for heaven's sake the Aveda school in Hyde Park!). The other one was my most respected, Miss Monique -- whom I think of as freakin' mother of the year, most amazing, strong, brilliant, funny and totally-has-her-shit-together 36-year-old mother of two college students and two (extremely successful) teenagers. Girl, that female has her head on straighter than anyone I know; straighter than I do. (Ha!) I can not believe she got into it with that crazy 18 year old. What. Ev. Er.

Almost every day I wish the beginning of class were like a focus group where we'd have the participants introduce themselves "tell who you live with, if you have kids, what you do for a job, etc." But we don't, so I have to glean all this information over time. But I digress... I'm suppose to be talking about fights.

I only remember two fights in advertising. Once, at a shoot in Vancouver between a Director and an Art Director.... Screaming at each other over a child's wardrobe. The client and I ran from video village to see what was the matter. When we saw what was going on, we looked at each other and he said "let's get out of here." "Good idea" I replied. The Gulf War broke out a few hours later and then we were all focused on how we'd get home. (Fly to Toronto and drive down to NY.) The second fight was between myself and an ACD. I don't remember what it was about; but there was a lot of yelling -- in a hallway. And it must have been bad because everyone shut their doors and then later people sneaked into my office, closed my door and wanted to "talk." I remember this ACD and I didn't talk for a long, long time (although we have been very close). Weeks went by (but maybe it was really more like four days, or maybe two); then the big black out of 2003 happened. 777 Third Avenue was being evacuated. We literally ran into each other in the fire escape stairwell on the 22nd floor -- hugged, cried and then walked to Chelsea to find an open bar.

Time, time, time ... while I look around....

Time sheets. You gotta fill 'em out in advertising, and in beauty school. In advertising you track time in order to bill clients and/or to gauge profitability. At beauty school you keep track of time in order to fulfill The Ohio State Board of Cosmetology required 1800 hours of study.

When I was at Grey, every month I'd get the "time sheet run" listing the hours "charged" on each of my businesses. It was a big stack of computer print-out and included the time of anyone who "touched" the business -- my group, creative, media, traffic, accounting, etc. (It also gave a list of the dreaded "unbillable" hard costs -- but I'll save that for another time.) The purpose of my review was to make sure everyone's hours were in line with the client contract. Said another way, I was to make sure no one was working too much. The trick was to work less than was stipulated by the contract and therefore be more profitable. This was especially difficult when 1) my core team was 100% devoted to the business and 2) I could never shake the ethical commitment to doing the best work. What I could never figure out, was how profitability can change if overhead is essentially fixed, and the client pays a retainer. I had many a conversation with EVPs and CFO's and only one would admit that the obsession with hours was pretty much bogus. And an obsession it was. The myth, I suppose, was that we would somehow bill the client for these hours -- but of course unlike the clients of attorneys, our advertising clients would never pay a fee based on hours. All I can figure is that the paradigm is a hold over from the Mad Men days when advertisers did pay by the hour -- or a huge percentage of the media buy. I was constantly searching for a more useful profitability model; never found one and so spent a lot of time crunching time sheets.

Now I punch a time clock. I didn't figure it out until day three -- you have to look through the little window and line the little box on your card up with arrow. In addition to stamped time cards I'm also required to fill out a daily time sheet keeping track of time spent on each activity. This sheet is then initialed by the instructor at the end of each day. At the end of each month the time sheets must then be reconciled. BY HAND -- there is no Excel in beauty school. Twelve columns are added, "managers" hours are isolated (and those can only show on Monday's), hours are forwarded from the previous month, "Saturdays" are recorded in a separate box. It is quite the chore. And although it takes me about twenty minutes to get my time sheet straightened out, it takes most of the class the entire morning. It's mind numbing; but at least it makes sense.

I can't help thinking -- maybe the thing we needed in an ad agency was to have people punch a time clock, and then have their time sheets initialed at the end of every day. I'm pretty sure there must be a program attorney's use for that purpose.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I'm thankful that I'm able to pursue my dream. I'm thankful for my supportive husband. I'm thankful for the friends and family, and ex-collegues, acquaintances, and strangers who are reading this blog and cheering me on. I hope that I'm helping you see that you can make your dream happen. I'm thankful that I'm not upsidedown in my mortgage, that we've only had to cut back on luxuries and not necessities. (Okay, so going to Colonial Williamsburg for Thanksgiving was not a necessity -- occasionally we do backslide.)

Many of you, dear friends and readers, email, text or IM me about something I've posted here. Please feel free to comment within the blog itself. Even if it's a general observation, comment or story that does not pertain to a particular post. Go ahead and leave it as a "comment." That's one of the strongest features of the "blogging thing." It's a conversation. If you want to have lunch, or invite me to your cookie exchange or just catch up, of course you should call, IM, text, or email me. I love to hear from you. But if you've got something to share about anything you've seen or read here, on "Hair-Do," -- please "comment" here. I'm pretty sure that everyone reading this is as interested in your observations as they are mine.

Pursuing an alternate career is a long journey. A journey that starts out as an intellectual and emotional one. You know when you're in that meeting, or that job interview, where you're asked "If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?" Think about it. Fo real!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Car Cred

In New York just having a car is cool. If you have a big car, that holds lots of people, even better. With a minivan or a SUV you can drive people places -- upstate, the Hamptons, to client meetings in Connecticut and Jersey, where ever. Even though I only have one kid, in 2002 I bought a minivan. Mostly because at the time we also ferried around our two Godchildren, and we liked to road trip.
My first week in Cincinnati I swiped the side of the van on the pillars in the underground garage at the office. Twice. Hey, I was use to having the car parked for me in underground garages. So now I had a minivan with dents on the side. Totally uncool amongst the BMW's, Lexus', and Audi's in that garage. I'd sometimes think about getting a new car, but my old WASP up-brining -- where one bought a car for cash and drove it for at least 100,000 miles, wouldn't let me entertain that idea for very long. And, I just couldn't buy into the whole BMW, Lexus "thing." I'd sometimes think that the thing to do would be to rise above all that and get a Prius -- especially since those (gas guzzling) luxury sedans were just one step down from a Hummer as far as I was concerned.

Well now I don't have to worry for a while. The Minivan still has only 60,000 miles on it -- and now that I'm in beauty school I get compliments on it again -- "Miss Cynthia, I sure like your van." There is one student who's mother picks her up in a big Mercedes ("rich bitch"), and another who's boyfriend drives a Cadillac Escalade (drug dealer), a couple of nice Camary's and a Honda CRV ("nice, lucky"); but for the most part the cars resemble those of my friends from the prep school days -- really old, beat-up and 100,000 miles +. Back then you were lucky to get your mothers old car when you got your license. Except for Steven Goldberg -- his dad bought him a Camero (I think) and we all kind of thought "how nouveau riche."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Client Service

The study guide from yesterday's theory class makes it all sound so easy.

Communicating for Success Study Guide:

What is reflective listening?

Listening to someone and repeating, in your own words, what they said back to them.

Define communication

The act of effectively sharing information between people.

What is the purpose of a portfolio?

To show your client a visual tool. To showcase your talent.

What are good relationships built on?

Mutual respect and understanding.

What is the key to operating effective and successful customer service?

The ability to understand people.

What should always be done before any service?

A client consultation.

What is recorded on an in-take form?

Client’s contact information, services and technique performed.

What is an important aspect of reflective listening?

Talk less, listen more.

What does reiterate mean during a client consultation?

To repeat in measured, precise terms.

What is the best way to handle a schedule conflict with a client?

Be polite and ever argue.

What is the best way to handle a conflict with a co-worker?

Privately and directly

What is the best approach when dealing with an unhappy client?

Tact and honesty

What is discussed during an employee evaluation?

Performance, desires and progress

What does upkeep after a service mean?

Home maintenance and limitation, and commitments needed to keep the best look.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Coming Out 2

About a month ago I started to come out about going to beauty school. At first I was almost embarrassed, but then slowly I started to tell friends, neighbors, ex-collegues, then people I hardly knew. "Follow the blog" I say. The support has been tremendous. But until this week, I had not come out the other way. No one at school knew anything about my life or former career. (For all they knew I could have been away.) Then on Monday we had a business math class.

Even the teacher was getting a little stumped on how to get the answer; so I sort of took over. After I started explaining how to do the first problem, Tiara and Jess both moved over to sit next to me. "Miss Cynthia, how you know how to do this so good?" My simple answer was "I was in business my whole life. I know how to to business math; ... but don't ask me to do algebra." That afternoon, a teacher from another class asked "What did you do before this?" She had asked me before and I'd always answered "I worked in an ad agency." But this time she was looking for more -- I think because of the earlier math class. So I just came out with it " I was a vice-president at an ad agency. I dealt with the clients. For most of my life I lived in New York and worked in a really big agency there." Then I rattled off some of the campaigns I'd worked on that I was sure she'd recognize. This information got around faster than what had made Asia go away.

Surprisingly, the support has been just as strong on this side. I think because everyone in the school is on a journey to fulfill a dream. We're all working to that same goal; no matter what our background, where we came from, or where we are now.

Later in the afternoon when we were working on the relaxers, Aimee (whom btw is 36 and has two kids in college), asked "Miss Cynthia, when you going to come out with us?" I said "Aimee, I am way too scared to go out with you guys. I gotta work up to that."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Product Tip

Was never much into make-up. Now we "study" it and have classes and "practicals," which is how I discovered Mineral make-up. I love consumer products (which is one of the reasons I went into advertising in the first place); and I love this one: L'Oreal Bare Naturale mineral make-up. Check it out ladies.

Ebony and Ivory

When Chris Rock was on Oprah promoting his documentary Good Hair he said that the thing he learned about White hair is that no white woman has their natural hair color and a lot of them are gettin' weaves too. The thing about Black hair is that it's all relaxed and, Oprah aside, any time you see a Black woman with hair longer than her chin, 97% of the time that's a weave. See the movie. (NY Times review: Even if you're not interested in hair, you'll learn a lot about people and culture and the beauty industry -- and America.

Yesterday's practical was on relaxer. Of course I was the only one who had NO IDEA what I was doing. I didn't even understand the demonstration -- what the hell does "base it up good" mean? Finally I had to say: "Miss Lisa, I'm just an old white woman and I don't know a thing about relaxer; I need help."
Tiara, who's been doin' "kitchen hair" since elementary school chuckled and then she and Miss Lisa came over to walk me through it.

Like I learned from Good Hair, the relaxer is so toxic that if you don't base the head first (cover the scalp with a think layer of protective ointment) the client will get chemical burns and sores. And if you're doing a relaxer touch-up (which was the assignment), and you go beyond the regrowth to the previously relaxed hair, the hair will break off. Not is MIGHT burn and break off; it WILL Burn and Break Off! Remember Salt and Peppa from the '80's? Remember how she shaved off half her hair -- that was the result of a relaxer accident!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas in July

I walked into Target two weeks ago, and was instantly surrounded by Christmas. And I was happy. I embraced it. Even though it was the day after Halloween I loved seeing the Christmas decorations. For the past few years I've been very "bah-humbug" about the season. At least until a week or two into Advent. I threaten to get one of those little table-top trees -- AND THAT'S IT, DAMN IT! I haven't of course, but I've wanted to. I was trying to figure out why this year I feel so different. As soon as I got home from Target I wanted to put lights up every where. I relized it's because since 2002 I've worked on retail accounts; I'd have to start thinking about Christmas ("the Holidays) in July. It'd be 100 degrees out but I'd be writing holiday marketing plans -- what would we do for Black Friday, for the 23rd and 24th -- what great deals could we offer -- what would the door breakers be? If I started much after July 4th we'd be sunk. Then in August or September we'd be shooting -- making snow in Los Angles. Santa would be there... Then we'd donate a all the props to Habitat for Humanity -- and even that was Christmas-y. Then as the holiday actually did get closer, the tension would build until Black Friday where you'd just hold your breath to see the sales results on Monday. If they were good, you could relax a bit and enjoy the holiday; if they were bad, you'd be fucked and might loose the business. ... and your job......

Now I love Christmas... can't wait to get started..... after thanksgiving, like a NORMAL person.

Friday, November 13, 2009

....One is silver and the other gold

When you go to a new place, you make new friends. A new job, a new city -- a new school. You gravitate to the people who are like you; the one's with whom you share similar world-views, experiences, senses of humor; that sort of thing. There's an excitement to a new friendship as you share stories and pieces of your life with each other. One of my new friends is Asia. She's smart and funny and a bit cynical -- just how I like my friends. We started school the same day.
Yesterday I gave Asia a ride to her second bus stop. It's near my house and I noticed she was kind of tired and out of it all day, so I offered her a ride. I would have taken her all the way to the place she stayin, but she said the bus stop would be fine. Before beauty school Asia was away. (see yesterday's vocab word) Now she's in a Talbert House program where she has another 118 days to go before she's able to go home in January. But she'll only be allowed to leave her house to go to school. She'll have to wear an ankle monitor. She's pretty transparent about all this. So I was askin her all about Talbert House and how it work. So she's tellin me about it and it sounds REALLY horrible. I wanted to share something but, all I could think of was when we were shooting the Kmart Christmas commercials in LA with Martha Stewart and she was about to go away and really scared about it. Then when she came home, she had to wear an ankle bracelet too. But I can't say to Asia, "Oh yeah when I had dinner with Martha she talked bout being away and then having to wear an ankle bracelet..."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

30 Days

Since it's debut three years ago, I've always thought 30 Days was the best, the smartest and most interesting reality show on TV. Most days I feel like I'm living it. It's on FX -- check your local listings!

In this unscripted series created by Morgan Spurlock, participants face their fears and prejudices when they spend 30 Days living someone else’s life.


Yesterday we began learning how to give facials. I was like all "ick! I don't want to do that, I want to do hair." But once I got into it it's actually one of those experiences that really surprised me. It's very relaxing, giving a facial. I sort of got that hypontized feeling myself. It would have been even more relaxing had I not been trying to memorize all the latin names for every part of the face. You know that indent below your nose for which people say there's no word? There is. It's pepressor septi (two words actually).

Of course the facial thing lead me back to old life thinking and how when I was in high school a friend introduced me to the Georgette Klinger facial. I remember at the time it cost $75. The same as a pair of Fry boots. It was awesome. Such a luxurious experience. You'd come out all raw and blotchy and then 48 hours later you'd have clear, beautiful, perfect skin. Of course the products we use in school are crap. Every time we do facials someone has an allergic reaction. So I asked if I could bring in my own product (no way am I putting that stuff on my face). When I got home I went to the Georgette Klinger web-site hoping to buy some of those amazing products from years ago. I was disappointed to learn that the business had been sold (name retained though) and now they use all Aveda products. So then I started searching the Sephora site... If anyone has any tips on products for sensitive skin, let me know.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vocab word of the day: Salty

Salty (saul-dee): 1) pissed, upset. 2) Upset, embarrassed or indignant as a result of humiliation or wrong-doing by another person. 3) A word originating in Philadelphia generally meaning that you just got played, or are looking stupid, either because of something you did, or something that was done to you.

The Ad Club downgraded my name tag from a real badge to a printed name tag. That made me be salty; but the talk was good, so I kind of got over it.

Don't be hatin' on my school

Twice in the last few days I've had people hatin' on my school and that's not cool. First a friend made a really racist remark (which I can't repeat) and told me that I could transfer to the Redken school because they are starting a new part-time program. Then, at the professional beauty supply store where I have to show my student ID and transcript in order to make a purchase, the sales woman (to whom I of course started telling my whole story the minute I walked in and she started following me around) was all "wow, you probably have the best grades and attendance record at that school. You know, they have people there that are in women's correctional facilitates. They just let them out to go to school." I had to sort of agree with her. But then she went on to tell me how she went to the "best beauty school in the state -- International in Colerain." And how a "person like you would be much better off there." OH REALLY?! I wanted to say to that self satisfied snob.. "well -- maybe that's true but I have DEGREES FROM SOME OF THE BEST SCHOOLS IN THE Freakin' COUNTRY. And I think Western Hills School of Beauty rocks! There are some very, very strong teachers there. One (at least) who could go up against anyone I had at Horace Mann, Hamilton College or COLUMBIA-FREAKIN'-UNIVERSITY. The Ivy League? Heard of it? No? I didn't think so! (Who's the self satisfied snob now? Ooopps.)
Western Hills rocks because the teaching is good, there's lot of individual attention and because in practice, everyone actually has an individualized curriculum and pace. Do you already know how to do roller sets and fingerwaves, but want to work on foils? You can, and you do. You start doing practicals your very first day.

Surprisingly, it is at the Western Hills Beauty School that I have discovered that I was never taught exactly how to study. I was just always in the "smart class," then the "honors program." By the time I got to prep school I guess they assumed that everyone just knew how to study. I've got say I did struggle. And now I see that I really could have done SO MUCH better. Maybe would have gone to medical school after all. Did you know that if you read the review questions BEFORE you read the chapter you'll retain the material (almost as if by magic). (Granted this material is pretty simple -- although there is a lot of anatomy and physiology.) And if you write out the study guide.... you know it. These "tricks" really work. When I mentioned this to my rocket scientist (literally) husband he told me "yeah, I didn't know that either. And then when I got to Michigan and they told me I didn't believe it and blew it off. Once I started doing it (studying the right way), I got really good grades. I should have been doing it all along."

Sunday, November 8, 2009

treasure island

Ever drive, or walk by one of those beauty supply stores that looks really enticing, but has a big ol' sign on the door "professionals only?" Wondered what was in there and why it was "professionals only?" Was it really that much better? Well..... I've been, and it is! A fantastic array of products. Color and texture. All those "salon only" projects. The ones I use to buy at salons. Goldwell, Sabastien, Kiwi, OPI -- all my favorites. The one's I use to pay BIG BUCKS for. Flat irons that get hot, hot, hot -- so much better than anything you can buy at Target. Better even than the pink one you buy at the kiosk at the mall -- and for A THIRD OF THE PRICE. I love retail environments. I love the displays. The organization, the end-aisles, the colors, the patterns. Retail at it's finest. And they had a lot of holiday season gift items...... so you all know what you're getting for Christmas....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

The week I got fired, David Kessler the author of The End Of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite ( was interviewed on the The Daily Show. That week I also saw Food Inc. ( I felt I was left with no choice but to start weaning myself and my family off any and all processed food and meat. I got some vegetarian and vegan cook books from the library. Brought the food processor up from the basement and bought one of those Asian rice steamers. I made the most delicious curry veggie burgers -- with ingredients I could only find at the health food store in Clifton. I spent A LOT of time chopping. I also committed to buying local and cutting back on dairy. I bought organic. Not only was I chopping for what seemed like hours a day; I was driving all over the freakin' city to buy produce, meat, dairy and bread. Sometimes I was baking my own bread. It was a huge time commitment. And a little bit crazy. Channeling all that unemployed energy. Not a life style change I could sustain. Especially not when I'm in school six days a week. Months later, we've managed to hang on to the soy "dairy" products and the local meat and eggs. So I feel good about that.

But the food at school is an entirely different story. The food culture is probably the single thing that is the most radically different from my "old life." These ladies eat JUNK ----- ALL - DAY - LONG. A typical breakfast is chips and pop. Mountain Dew and potato chips! For Breakfast! Mid-morning snack is Doritos. Lunch is KFC, McDonald's, Chili Cheese Fries, Rallys or Taco Bell. And not just once in a while. Every - single - day. In advertising you might see a bunch of people go out to say, Chipotle or a wings place once in a while. It's an indulgence; a treat. People's breakfast would be a boiled egg and coffee, or a yogurt. Oatmeal was very popular. Lunch was salads or soup or a Lean Cuisine, maybe a sandwich from somewhere. (And, not all four!) Of course there was always the skinny guy who ate junk all the time and the fat girl who never had anything but baby carrots and rice cakes. But, man... these beauty school chicks just let's it all go. Most of the girls are quite thin, some have great figures, many are overweight and one is pregnant. But with only one exception, they all consume A LOT of junk food. Junk food, junk food, junk food. The girl who's trying to diet has a slim fast shake in addition to her Lean Cuisine and then a donut. Really, I couldn't make this stuff up. I had no idea that people --- young, attractive people -- ate like this. And God knows, that unlike in advertising where people go to the gym five days a week -- these ladies get no exercise whatsoever.

On Friday, a teacher from another class came down to our class room to ask if anyone could claim the lunchbox left in the break-room 'fridge. It was a nice neoprene lunch bag. She held up the bag:
"does anyone belong to this? Anyone? No? It's got to be one of you guys, you're the last class I've asked."
Student "Well what's in it?"
Miss Teacher: "let's see (she opens the bag...) celery, baby carrots, a little thing of low-fat ranch and an apple."
Me: "No one in this class would have that!" Laughter
Other Student: "Fo' Sure!" Much laughter.

We're a bunch of junk food junkies! Fo' Sure!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Coming Out

I put off even looking into beauty school for months because I couldn't admit to my family, friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues that that was what I wanted to do. It would be so much easier to say "Oh I'm going back to school for .... law, or veterinary medicine,... or education... or a PhD in Theology." Anything but BEAUTY SCHOOL. For God's sake.... Beauty School?? WTF?
At the six month mark I started to realize that I needed something, I'd had enough of cooking, gardening, quilting, scrapbooking. And besides, the pool was closed now until next May. I called the beauty schools in town and went to visit them. Figuring there was no reason to get everyone's panties in a bunch until there was something real, I didn't even tell my husband what I was up to. Of course I also keep looking for that elusive "day job" -- the one that would pay me in excess of $100K to get treated like shit from madmen and morons pretending to know how to work with an agency. I even went on an interview; sent a couple of resumes, did a few networking lunches/coffees and checked every day. Truth be told I am still doing all that stuff. 'Cause I like it, and turns out I'm good at it. But I digress. This is suppose to be about coming out.
I pick a school -- based on overall flexibility and ability to switch to part-time (for when I get that big, perfect day job). I filled out applications for financial aid and student loans. I talked to unemployment about whether or not I can go to beauty school and still get benefits (I can). And still I TELL NO ONE. Because it's embarrassing. BEAUTY SCHOOL....WTF?

So I decide I just have to do it, and now's the time. I tell my husband and a couple of close
girlfriends. They are all unbelievably supportive. But I don't tell anyone else. I'm embarrassed. But then I start school and I LOVE IT. On so many levels it is completely awesome. (See first posts) I keep trying to channel Michael Gill Gates of How Starbucks Changed My Life ( I want to be happy -- publically; but I can't. Not yet. I tell my brother, a few out-of-town friends, close friends who live far away but know I've been talking about beauty school for years. I give a few people the url to this blog. Every single person I tell is genuinely thrilled and many are jealous. When I meet new people (which is often because since I've been unemployed I've gotten very involved in my church -- but that's another story) I start saying "I use to be in advertising." It feels weird, really weird, and I wonder if it's true.

Then comes Halloween. I live on one of those streets that you see in the movies, that you wish you grew up on. Everyone is nice, everyone is normal, people watch out for each other, and everyone is smart and fun and the kids are all above average and they all get along -- all the time. Halloween is a big deal here. There are little block party-like affairs on the front lawns with adult (and kid) beverages, hors d'oeuvres, fire-pit fires and everyone sitting around having a great time while giving out the candy to the trick or treaters. Okay, so you get the picture. As the evening winds down and we start to talk to each other, I get the curious, but sympthay-loaded "how are you doing?" Phrased the way you'll know if you're unemployed -- emphasis on "doing," in kind of a sing-song tone of sympathy. And then it happens -- instead of the lame and uncomfortable ... "working on projects, doing some consulting, networking, exploring options..." I just come out with it... "I just started beauty school. Yup, beauty school. Have wanted to do it for years... blah, blah, blah." People got really excited, everyone was so psyched for me -- and then they wanted me to give them highlights. It's like being the doctor at a party I'm finding.

Then yesterday was the big one. Like telling your parents your gay. I attended a networking event with about thirty other "highly networked" professionals -- invited because "people know, like and trust you." These are the people who could help me get that "big job," these are the people who could help my friends and associates find great jobs (Tangent -- I've kind of fallen into a little; albeit successful head hunting thing. Again... need to save that for another time.) As usual we go around the room and introduce ourselves to the group -- our name, company, why we're here, what we want to get out of it, etc, etc. Lawyers, designers, HR professionals, marketers... I'm starting to sweat and
feel like I'm going to have a panic attack. I think to myself that if I'd know this was going to happen I would have taken a Xanax before I got out of the car; and it's too late now. The damn thing takes twenty minutes to kick in. I'm thinking I could do the "laid off, ... project work.... consulting.... " thing. But when it's my turn, I come clean. I tell the whole freakin' room that I'm fulfilling my dream of going to beauty school so I can work in a high-end salon and do cuts and color. That it'll be fun, and creative, and fulfilling. I'll be making people feel good. And if the client is an asshole -- they'll be out of my chair in 40 minutes! It felt good. Even though a little voice in the back of my head keeps screaming (WTF are you doing!!!! You're going to ruin any chance you have of EVER going back to a big job you moron!) But the room went wild. Seems I'm living out everyone's dream. Later, during the networking part, people came up to tell me they wish they had the balls... how inspirational I am. And of course wanted my opinion on their hair. (again, I think it's like being a doctor... weird.) They asked for the address of this blog.
I loved being in the professional meeting enviornment. I felt validated. I felt secure. I felt at home. At 9:00 I had to race off to school where we did theory on pedicures (YUCK) and spent the afternoon doing thermal curls. I heard some crazy stories about shit that went down in ISS (In
school suspension), and some really jacked opinions about birth control (did you know if gives you cancer? and "That Norplant don't work. when I got that thing taken out I got pregnant a week later")

An interesting day. (and I didn't even get to the part about my seond grade religious ed class making their first reconciliation last night. So sweet. It fills me up.)

At least I'll never get called up by the pilot to trim someone's bangs!

Oh, and I'm still keeping this a big secret from quite a few.... but I'm working on dealing with that.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Mourning

I'm constantly comparing my old life with the new one. Yesterday we did theory and practical on manicures. I keep thinking of the hundreds and hundreds of manicures I've had. Remember when the magazine reps use to take us to the Elizabeth Arden salon at Saks for lunch? We'd get manis and pedis and a "light ladies lunch." The best was at Jessica's Nail Clinic on Sunset in West Hollywood. The concierge at the Mondrian hooked me up with an appointment there one time, and then I'd make one for whenever I was in LA. Only place ever to be able to save a natural nail and make it look good. Along with good schools, gray flannel, straight hair and alcoholism, my WASP heritage came with weak nails that break all the time. Total opposite of my Italian family -- they actually have to cut their nails; a couple of times a week. Imagine! Anyway I keep remembering all those manicures and the life that went with them. I wonder if I can really keep at this beauty school thing. Then I have to tell myself that that life no longer exists for anyone. At least not for overweight fifty year olds who have priced themselves out. Today we'll be doing pedicures. There was this place on 73rd street that would do a reflexology pedicure that was heaven....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Assimilation of Language

The Summer I was eight we moved from Framingham, MA to Hartsdale, NY. That Summer the cocktail crowd at the Riverdale Yacht Club would tell my mother "your children have awful Boston accents." Beefeater & Tonic in hand, and always in denial, she'd reply "Funny, I don't hear it." But by the second week of September I was pulled out of my new class for one-on-one speech therapy where instead of asking where "Mummy paked the ka," and adding an "er" to any word ending in a vowel (my own name included), I was taught to speak correctly. By Halloween I was speaking like a real New Yorker and no longer had to meet with the speech teacher in the little room.

Twenty-one years later after living in Mexico for a few months, friends from back home began commenting that I was "getting a weird accent." Even though my ability to speak Spanish was was on par with the average Mexican three year old, I'd picked up the accent of native Spanish speakers speaking English. On moving back to NY, the "weird accent" went away in a matter of days.

Then again, shortly after the move to Ohio "are-ange" became "or-ange," "warrter" became "wahter," and sometimes "soda" is "pop." Now when ever I'm back in NY I'm taken-aback by the strong New York accents in friends whom I previously had thought had none.

I've just always picked up the accents and dialects very easily. I'm also an excellent mimic. I could never understand people who spoke, say Italian for the first twelve years of their life but then spoke nothing but English for the next fifty years, AND STILL have a strong Italian accent. That would never happen to me. My speech patterns -- accent, vocabulary and grammar -- naturally assimilate seamlessly.

Now in this very different beauty school culture, I'm trying very hard not to stand out. Because I already stand out enough. On Friday I actually heard myself say "Where's that flat iron at?" I felt my grammar slipping all week -- the inexplicable urge to use double negatives, ending sentences in prepositions and the deletion of the verb "to be" from any sentence. Mr. McCardell (my high school English teacher) would TURN OVER IN HIS GRAVE. Interestingly, there are many, many people who easily slide back and forth from "speaking white," to "talking black." Just not many old white women like me. On the plus side I've got some great new vocabulary words. I'm seeing that like Yiddish, there are some Urban words that just perfectly express something I had no one single word for before. My favorite is "bitter," as in: Those teenagers, I don't know why they so bitter all the time. That puberty get to them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Two Worlds

Over the past twenty-seven years I've spent hundreds of hours, maybe thousands, behind two-way mirrors listening to people talk about their lives and about the products, concepts, and advertising we wanted to "make meaningful to them." I always loved the focus group. It's anthropology. You learn so much about people and why they buy what they do; why they do the things they do. The consumers on the other side of the mirror are smart and stupid, funny, boring, crazy, weird, amusing; which ever, you always learn something.

Now six days a week I get to be immersed into this totally new, and until now, foreign culture. It's as if I get on a plane and travel across the world every morning, but I'm only four minutes from my house. I've been thinking about what it is that makes this beauty school culture so different. Is it an age thing? A Black thing? A Woman thing? It's somewhat of an age thing. Like the twenty-somethings taking over the ad world, these women are transparent (they'll talk about personal stuff you can't believe), they're freakin' funny (not as funny as my ad-friends Seb and Aaron but close), and they spend a lot of energy on men/dating (trying to get laid -- just like their age cohort in ad world.) There's definitely a Black thing -- but that is so far out of my purview, at this point I need "table" it. Even with the "Black thing" what is really different for me is the Woman thing. Until now I have NEVER been in an environment with all women. Hell, I went to an all boys high school! Have always worked in groups managed and directed by men. Even the women I worked for were men -- in management style. You have to be. It is SO different in girl land. Girl land is vertical -- everyone has a "say." Everyone has feelings, and stories, and offers advice. There's consensus, discussion. In man land there are decisions and actions and people take charge. I'm trying to sit back and observe it -- like the focus group. To understand it and maybe even embrace it. But I can't help thinking to myself things like "could you get on with the freakin' story?" "Why are we STILL talking about this?" "When are we going to get back to the lesson?" OMG -- they go on, and on, and on. Some years ago I was considering a career move into the world of non-profits -- I was warned that people from the for-profit, corporate world do not do well there. Especially people from advertising. It's too "touchy-feely." So for now I'm observing, trying not be be frustrated but what I can't help thinking of as "all this nonsense", and waiting for the next hilarious quip.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


How much fun did you have a work or school today? I had more!

"Good Hair"

See Chris Rock's Good Hair. You don't have to have a passion for hair styling (like I do), but if you're interested in people and culture, and want to laugh, see this film. Jason Giggers is my hero (sort of).


The predictability of life is beauty school is a pleasure. Every day I know what I'll be doing -- theory in the morning and practicals in the afternoon. I look forward to it and can plan for it. Like today. We're studying make-up -- every day, glamour and halloween. There will be a written test. There will be school-wide contest for Halloween make-up. I'm going to do a ghoul and a cat.

This is the TOTAL OPPOSITE of advertising where every day I would go in, mentally planning my day -- what I needed to do, what I wanted to do. Most days I'd write a list; jot down ideas. Then by 9:20 in the morning BAM!!!BAM!!!BAM!!! the day would be completely derailed by a client, or a new rfp, an agency principle, or a force of nature.

I realize now how incredibly stressful that was. I knew at the time... but being released from the constant stress of having no control over the day is truly liberating. I feel so happy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Disco is back

All afternoon while we'er doing our practicals we listen to Q107. By day two I thought I was so cool because I really liked the music. However, once I went to the iTunes store to buy it and add some songs to my play-list I realized that DISCO IS BACK. That was so sneaky. I loved it then, and I love it now. So if you baby boomers out there need something new (and slightly with-it) for your workout play-list check out:

Jay Sean's Down (Lil Wayne)
Ne-Yo's Closer
Boys Like Girls, Love Drunk
and of course,.... Chris Brown's Forever

Sunday, October 25, 2009


You're in the salon, you're head is in the shampoo bowl, your Stylist is massaging shampoo and conditioner on your scalp. If feels good, you zone out. If you're a white-anglo-saxon-protestant like me (from a family where they kiss the dogs, but never the children and the scent of a martini reminds you of Grandma), being so physically close to someone, especially a "stranger," is a little weird, but you make yourself relax and enjoy. Well this week I learned that from the other side it's a completely different experience. At least for this WASP-child-of-privalage. When I've colored friends' and family's hair they usually rinse the color out themselves; in the shower. But I did get a snapshot of the weirdness of washing someone's hair when I did a double process on Anna (niece) and then on Amy (best friend). Amy put it best, exclaiming with a laugh "this is different, it's like you're my mother." Anna, being 16 was blunt, "this is really weird, it's so.... so... subservient. I'll wash my own hair now."

"Shampooing" is tested for the State Board, so I needed to learn it. Miss Lisa asked if anyone wanted to shampoo Kennisha's hair (before she was getting a roller set by another student). I volunteered. I wasn't really sure what to expect. I had never even touched black hair before (except maybe when I was making-out with Tony Mitchell at Harvard weekend... and I certainly don't remember is Hair!....but that's another story). As soon as I put the towel around Kennisha's neck and draped the cape around her I knew this is going to be something completely different from anything I've ever experienced. Her hair is so soft, and full. Miss Lisa came over to show me the correct way to wash and rinse. Since when my head is in the bowl I really do love the massage, so I tried to do a lot of that. I squirted Kennisha in the face once (handed her a towel); but mostly I massaged her hair and tried to articulate (to myself) what I was feeling. What I felt was that she was a little child -- I had this surge of feeling protective and loving. I thought about how my mother was essentially raised by the Negro nanny/housekeeper, Beatrice. I thought of all the generations of privalaged white women in my family; and the Black women who took care of them. Now now here i was washing the hair of a black women. Did I mention that Kennisha is the woman who "couldn't keep no weave in there?" (see earlier post.) I got this big welling up of emotional ad gratitude. I thought of the washing of the feet at Lent. Which before I only understood on the most intellectual level. Now I felt it, really felt it. It was a transcendent experience.

Doing someone's hair is so incredibly intimate. The only other "stranger' who'll get that close to you is a doctor. On top of that, "hair," for a lot women is such an emotional area. It can make you feel wonderful and beautiful and sexy; or make you feel like crap.

Oh, and on Saturday (I have to go to school on Saturday's too) I wash the hair hair of some dumb-ass white girl before I used the Marcel iron to style it into awesome big, all over curls. It was somewhat intense, but I can see that by the fourth or fifth time, washing hair will be like doing the dishes -- maybe.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Email to a friend

Today's update is an email I sent to a friend this morning. (He's got a new blog: No time for an "original" update -

Wow, your blog looks really good. I need to do something like that. But I HAVE NO TIME! School is six days a week from 9 - 3. I've got Mom stuff to do from the time I get home at 3:30 to 5:30 when JJ goes to football, then prep for the religious ed class I'm teaching -- or the actual class (on Monday's) or parent meetings for the class. Last night I spent an hour and a half doing a friends hair for a wedding. I try to pay some attention to my husband and go to sleep by 9:30 -- cause the alarm goes off at 5:30. Saturday afternoons (after class) I've got JJ's football games -- they're in the playoffs so that'll last a while longer.... I'm hoping to get to the blog design this Sunday for a bit. If only I could bring MY computer to school. there's a lot of sitting around waiting for the clock to roll to break time or 3:00. The theory part (the book learnin') moves pretty damn slow; but I am learning A LOT. I spend the extra time reading other chapters in the massive text book. The practical takes all afternoon and that goes quickly. Yesterday I did two roller sets... a regular and a spiral. Know any 85 year old women I can practice that on?

Gotta go -- today we're doing waxing and halloween make-up. I think I'll be Snow White with a Brazilian!

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Mr. Tim was talking about client loyalty and how word-of-mouth builds up your clientele. Exactly what EVERY marketer is trying to do with social media. It'll work for a hair stylist, but not for canned ravioli. Hear that canned ravioli? Any way, he was telling us a story about the time he gave a Delta flight attendant a very short hair cut. The cut was so flattering that many other flight attendants came to him -- after a while he had about six clients purposely scheduling lay-overs in Cincinnati (a former Delta Hub) just to get their hair cut by him. The students were impressed but skeptical. I mean really, who would travel like that... so far out of their way to get a hair cut?
Me, me, me! The year I lived in Mexico I came to NY twice to get my hair colored by Johanna at Bumble + Bumble! And even now whenever I go to NY I make sure to go to Bliss (at the W at Lex and 48th)for waxing.
Several times a day I'm just HIT, like a truck, with how different my life is....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Today I did foils. I'm pretty good at it. As for the rest -- I don't even know where to start. Maybe tomorrow. One thing that's the same for advertising and beauty school is that everyone wears black. Black is the new black; actually there never really was a "new" black.


Status use to be a two-window office, an Aeron chair, the latest Blackberry and a secretary. Now it appears to be linked to the required beauty school smock -- worn out of the building when doing errands or picking up BK/KFC/Coney's at lunch. I can't get on that just yet.

So Different

I'm a three minute drive from my house but it's like I flew twenty hours and landed in a completely different culture. It is SO interesting. I could have gone to the Aveda school -- with the other upscale college graduates. But the program is ridged and there is no part-time program. Then there was the Redken school; with a middle class/upper middle class student body. But they don't offer a part-time program or rolling admission. So I'm with the Sista's at Western Hills. The Administration are very flexible, and forgiving on attendance (in case I have interviews, networking events, etc); and the rolling admissions let me dive right in. Immediately I am actually getting to work on hair and can see that there's a lot to learn. Because of the flexible structure, students get a lot of individual attention. Which I desperately need. I'm doing great on the book learning; but when it comes to doing the hair I have NO IDEA. It's the opposite for the girls that started with me -- they've been doing hair since they could walk and are awesome at it. (But are nervous about the academics.)

Last night I got a email requesting an interview for an ad job. They want to see me Friday or Monday in Lousiville (main office). A friend recommended me for this position and they got all excited by me resume. The job description sounded like a good fit. I very conflicted --- thinking that after just two days I'd be a beauty school drop out. Even though I'd move to the part-time program if I were able to actually get another "big" job. When I read to the end of the two page job description and got to the salary range I discovered that the compensation is less than half of what I was making at my last "big" job. I still might go on the interview though; you never know.

Quote of the day (from yesterday): "When I was incarcerated I had braids, 'cause you can't keep no weave in there." I heard this as I was quietly working on my color wheel -- and I'm thinking "Did I hear that right?!"

Am working on getting RSS feed and twitter updates and will post more amazing/funny/interesting stuff. There is a TON of it. But wanted to get the background down today.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First Day

All the teachers are "Miss." Like in preschool -- Miss Lisa, Miss Stella, Miss Ebony, Miss Karen, etc. We started right in with color -- which is great because that is my favorite. I'm the only one that asks questions. Two girls put their heads down on the table during the lecture and one was actually asleep. It's like high school. In fact the hardest part for me is that you have to leave your phone in your locker - - only allowed to use it during the 45 minute lunch break. Today I'm going to have to copy 50 questions and answers into my note book. I don't think I've every had to do something like that, ever. But I was always in the "smart class." No smart class in beauty school. I'm feeling self conscious about my grammar and vocabulary. I'm going to try to keep my head down and my mouth shut. 'Cause frankly even though I finished my touch-up application early and will excellence; I SUCKED at doing finger waves. (Does anyone actually wear finger waves any more?)
First day and already we were told that "Pantene is a terrible product. NEVER use Pantene." I think they're wrong about that. When I briefly worked on that brand they told us it was developed from burn medication and was great for hair. I'd like to know who the myth of "bad Pantene" got started among salons/stylists. My Marketing Brain will have to look into that one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Old Life

Cocktails at Skybar, riding a bike around Stanley Park in Vancouver, the amazing 5-star hotels, shooting on the beach in Malibu. Delta Gold Medallion. The thrill of seeing "my" ad on TV (or in print, OOH, the web). Working out a marketing plan, and seeing my strategic plans executed in award winning campaigns. The half hour I had to spend on the phone with a client at my son's first communion (and again at a friend's wedding) with a client who "had an idea." Not unlike Don Draper and Connie Hilton. The 26 hour return trip from Detroit to NY. Driving to Dayton in a terrible ice storm to make a flight (missed it). The disappointment of pitches not won; the euphoria of getting the assignment. The politics and power plays.

And now I set off into a completely different culture. Totally alien to me. Today is my first day of Beauty School...

Friday, October 9, 2009


I have never had to "prove" that I graduated from high school. But for Beauty School you need to show your high school diploma. Something to do with the state licensing board. You can show your college diploma, but that's not the one they care about. Problem was that my high school diploma does not say the work "high school" on it any where. I'm probably the first person from Horace Mann to go to beauty school, ever. I had to explain "well, it's a snooty private school in New York City and they assume everyone just knows." So then we move on to the college diploma. Problem with that one was that it's all in Latin.
I only got a perplexed look from the Director. Luckily, I was able to produce a college transcript that noted the awarded degree and the fact that I graduated from high school -- all in English with an official stamp. (Transcript was originally obtained for my Mexican working Visa back in 1992 when I worked in the Mexico City office for Grey.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The beginning

I was let go from my job on April 21st. Three days before my 50th birthday. I had been fired twice before (which is like never in advertising). The first time in 1988 I had a job in twenty four hours with a 30% raise. The second time in 2008 it took me three weeks and I took a 18% pay cut. Those times I was very upset. This time I felt immense relief. All I could think was “I don’t have to come back here tomorrow. Yeah!” Now it’s five months later, that last agency has gotten rid off all the senior advertising people — the ECD, the President…. not sure what will happen there. Seems everyone is trying something new and is in transition. But, advertising is a young people’s business. Hell, the new worldwide creative director at Grey is under 40 (I think). Even for the under 40’s the job market is D-E-A-D. The only way to move forward is to reinvent yourself. So I am… or I will.

I’m actually lucky, luckier than a lot of friends in the same situation. I have a husband with a great job that he loves (with health insurance and all the rest); but more importantly, for a long time I’ve had a passion for something totally unrelated to to what I’ve been doing for the last twenty-eight years. Now I can follow that passion and make what use to be a crazy pipe-dream into reality. I’d like to give a shout out to MIchael Gate Gill who’s book How Starbucks Saved My Life( is helping me keep my head through this transition. More on the book (and my head) later…. for now; the big news is that…

I’m going back to school for a degree in Cosmetology Management! That’s right, Beauty School. For the past 15 years whenever I’ve been bored in a meeting I’d start critiquing everyone’s hair. To myself, of course. I’ve also been doing color, cut and styling for relatives and friends for quite some time. I start school the week after next. It’ll take between 11 and 14 months to finish. It’s an 1800 hour program. The first 400 hours are class room; then I move to the “clinic” salon.

I think I’m really going to like salon life. Just think, the client is out of the chair in 40 minutes!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Extended Profile

For twenty years I had a career as an advertising “account guy.” Most of that time was spent at Grey Worldwide in New York City. When I left, I had a nicely appointed office with a sofa, country French desk and wall unit, and an Aeron chair. I had a Blackberry and a secretary, and a view of the East River. On a really clear day I could see all the way to Connecticut. In my time in advertising I was lucky enough to travel all over the country – for meetings, focus groups, or commercial shoot. I even got to live in Mexico City for a year while I helped our office there win an account and then stayed to get it up and running. My ads won awards; and I won new business. For a long, long time I loved it. But in addition to all the perks and trappings, I also had prescriptions for Zoloft, Effexor and Xanax. In 2006 I moved my family out of NYC to a more sane life in the mid-West city of Cincinnati. I threw away the anti-anxiety meds and tried to adjust to life in a cubicle.

Then on April 21, 2009, three days before a "milestone birthday," I was let go from my job as Vice-President Account Director; for the second time in a year. Being let go came as a huge surprise because two weeks earlier I had been in the meeting were “we” were going over the personnel that could be eliminated to make up our $2 million budget short fall. As soon as I was called to come to the CFO’s office I realized what was going down, and thought to myself “this makes perfect sense, I should have thought of it.” It was pretty obvious that the job I was actually doing every day could be done just as well (maybe better) by a senior Account Executive for less than half the price. Who wouldn’t take that deal?

I initially thought I’d just move on to something else – something related to my former positions, but a little different. I was pretty burned out. Because my resume includes the golden tickets of large Procter & Gamble brands (and some other big names), I have always gotten any job interview I wanted. With very few exceptions I’ve gotten any job I wanted.

This time was different. There’s a deep recession, agency billings continue to shrink daily, and shops all over town continue to drastically cut staff. I know a lot of people who are out of work. In Cincy and NYC. And come to think of it, almost EVERYONE I know who was once a VP is either unemployed or drastically underemployed.

I’ve sort of had the idea that I didn’t want another big ad job; certainly not with an ad agency. But the money was/is awesome so I continue to try to find something that I wouldn’t totally hate. It did not go well. Largely because I had committed the three deadly sins of an advertising career – “50/50/150.” I was fifty years old, fifty pounds overweight and my salary hovered around the $150K mark. (For those of you who now have your panties in a bunch over that compensation level, suffice it to say that I am rounding. That number in Cincinnati was quite a bit less, the number in NYC was quite a bit more.)

At the sixth month mark of my unemployment, a friend recommended that I read Michael Gates Gill’s book How Starbucks Saved My Life. It’s the story of an ex Ad Guy who always had a passion for, and interest in, coffee. After getting fired from JWT and totally screwing up his life, Gates becomes a happy barista at Starbucks. (Coincidentally he works at the Bronxville Starbucks; which use to be MY Starbucks.)

Like Mike Gates, I’ve always had a passion for something other than advertising. It’s hair! For YEARS I’ve sat in meetings thinking about everyone’s hair. While others were texting, checking their email or thinking about sex, I’d be critiquing haircuts and color – the good and the bad, wondering where they get it done, thinking how I’d change it (if it were bad). When my friends were all getting married in the late ‘80’s I’d give them an up-do for the wedding. The past couple of years I’ve been doing color and styling for friends and family. Several times I’ve looked into going to beauty school. But because of the hours necessary for the big ad job, and the fact that “part time” beauty school is four nights a week and all day Saturday, it was just never do-able.

Luckily for me, I have an awesome, supportive (and pretty cute) husband with a great job that he loves. Also lucky for me was our decision four years ago to get the hell out of NYC. The move allowed us to have a house we love that is below our means (at least it was when I was working). And, while we’ve had to give up some things (HBO, European vacations, regular vacations, new clothes, fancy restaurants, new cars, the gardener, buying books, magazine subscriptions, entertaining, expensive hair cuts & color…..) I haven’t felt a significant change in lifestyle. At least most days.

If you’re going to be following this blog, the other thing you need to know about me is that although I’m passing for Italian now (thanks to that hot Italian husband mentioned above), I was raised by “old money” WASPs. The money, has been long, long-gone. But the way I was raised you’d think we’d had real trust funds – clad in Lilly Puliitzer and Izod we attended private schools, learned to sail at the country club, and thought the open bar on the kitchen counter the entire months of July and August (and December) was something everyone had.

The blog is about how I’m learning to turn my hobby into my new profession. About adjusting to life in the culture of beauty school. As my former colorist (at Bumble + Bumble) told me, “you are going to meet some real characters!”