Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Turning a new page (or two)

First of all ...
this is really the way my cat drinks water. Actor portrayal.
My actual cat doing this.

Things don't always go the way you planned. It's not always bad, but before you see the good, you can only register disappointment. Sometimes it's something you can control (maybe you messed up), sometimes not.

New York City is a hard place to try something new. When I arrived, I was completely overwhelmed by all the people and the cramped spaces and the sheer overload of the senses (and suddenly Philly didn't look so bad anymore). I was also taking on a completely new career: hair. During this time, I also tried self-publishing my novels. All good stuff to try, but sometimes life throws you a curve.

a hairstyle I can really be excited about
The hair industry is tied heavily to the fashion industry and to editorial styling, much of which I don't give two s**ts about (probably why I've been pushed out of certain salons -- even one I loved very much). My co-workers were all about experimenting with pairing bowties and suspenders with pleated jeans and shirts you could see straight through, and pants that may or may not have been pajama bottoms. I wore something I thought looked professional (and felt comfortable enough cleaning toilets in).

When I decided to get into hair, I thought the best I could expect was to sell makeup to people at Macy's or work at Supercuts. Neither of those options are what you do in NYC. You style celebrities. Or old people who've had a lot of cosmetic surgery and wish they looked 25. They complain about why no one wants to wear tailored clothes anymore to a person making less than minimum wage. Often it feels like you're dressing in your absolute best clothes and coiffing your hair to get on your hands and knees to scrub the bases of the chairs: the best dressed janitor in town.

Finally, though, something miraculous happens and you're able to get your hands on a client's hair to do some styling yourself, and go at it with such gusto that you give yourself carpal tunnel syndrome within the first two months.

Someone loves you, regardless.

So I went to get some acupuncture on my wrists and cut my hours back at work (at a place now where I feel like I finally fit in, which is a miracle in itself). The only glitch is that I'm not cutting any hair at this place, but trying to fill those gaps with freelance work.

Somewhere in all that, I lost my love of hair. I was excited about it at the beginning, but now I feel like I'm banging my head against a wall and it might be better to give up than to try another place and another and another.

One of the biggest draws about this city is that there are a million different options. At the beginning of my hair career, I understood that if one place didn't work out, I would eventually find my perfect match and everything would be fine. That is still true. Somewhere out there is a salon where I won't feel like everyone's sneering at my sparkly t-shirt and uncomplicated hair, where I can cut a client's hair and get paid for it, and where I don't feel like I have to put on a costume and a fake persona to fit in. That place exists. But can I stop feeling wounded enough to go find it?

I'm adding henna to my resume, and enjoying it very much. Since I've been drawing most of my life, I've picked this up relatively quickly, because it just involves drawing with a different medium. It's artistic and involves "beauty" without being either hair or makeup. Kind of a fresh start.

I've taken down a few of my self-published works in an effort to only showcase my best and try again with traditional publishing. It feels like a step backward, but it isn't. The hair thing will work itself out, hopefully without me having to become an office temp again. I'll get my henna practice in and book some parties. I'll find an agent who loves my fiction and maybe make a moderate living that way.

Sometimes you have to step back. Sometimes you have to try something new to get something to work. I'm sure all this headbanging will prove productive in the end as long as I'm adjusting my approach each time. Or at the very least, it'll look like I'm rocking out pretty hard.

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