Archives for June 2009

I just like being blonde

I’m not a very girly girl. I don’t tend to leave the house without a little eyeliner and mascara, but that’s pretty much where it stops. I loathe shopping. I never get my nails done. And for several years getting a haircut meant holding my hair behind my back and lopping the ends off with a pair of kitchen scissors (it was really long and curly and didn’t much matter if it was a little uneven). I’m kind of low-maintenance, (although, if I’m being brutally honest, I’m probably “the worst kind.” )

I’ve celebrated this level of not doing things for me like it’s something honorable. Like not taking time for myself or affording myself little luxuries was some sort of badge I should wear proudly. I’m frugal. I’m noble. I’m hard working and no-frills and I don’t need all that silly foofaraw (how awesome is that word?). I am hard on myself, and I am my own worst critic. But I’m starting to realize the importance of being nice to myself and I’m starting to loosen my grip.

When I decided, recklessly, to go blonde back in November, it was totally out of character. I did it, telling myself It’s only hair and thinking I’d go back to brown as soon as my roots started showing. But I kept it up, going a little darker, but not back to brown. I made up weird excuses for it in my head, like I’ll see so-and-so in a month and she hasn’t seen me as a blonde and she’ll get a kick out of it, or, I should stay blonde for summer because brown dye will fade in the sun anyway.

But two weeks ago when I made an appointment to get my hair done, I had decided enough was enough. I was set to go back to brown. I asked my hairdresser what she thought, and she said, “You know, I like you blonde. It works with your skin tone.” And even though I know she stands to make more money keeping me blonde, it was like what she said gave me permission to like it. “I like me blonde too,” I said, and saying it out loud, as silly as it sounds, was a turning point for me.

I like being blonde. I like the way it works with my skin tone, and more importantly, I like the way it forces me to take care of me. Those roots start showing and eventually, they bug me enough to drag myself in to the salon. My amazing hairdresser and I have a great chat while she works her magic, the ladies at the front counter ooh and ah over how great my hair looks. I leave feeling better, and for the next two or three months, I smile when I catch my reflection in the mirror.

There is something restorative about a great haircut, one that you didn’t give yourself with a pair of kitchen scissors. There is something nice about having confidence in your appearance. I’ve had such a hard time admitting it, because it flies in the face of that weird puritanical pride I’ve been clinging to, but here it is: I am proudly, and unabashedly blonde. And I think I will be for awhile.

Only 39 To Go!

Last week J and I headed to Lake Placid. @HighPeaksResort was having an amazing special that resulted in us staying in the most gorgeous hotel I’ve ever been to for 49 bucks a night. It was heaven.

What was not so heaven-y was our trip up Whiteface Mountain. J and I have decided to climb all 46 of the High Peaks in the Adirondacks. Prior to this trip, we’d done five, and despite various bumps and bruises (and a huge hole torn in the back of my hiking pants and my upper thigh), the view from the top has been worth it. And there’s no way we would have seen those sights if we hadn’t done the hike.

The thing about Whiteface is that the trail isn’t very nice. The only people who bother to hike up it are people who aspire to be 46ers, because there’s a drivable road going up to the top. There’s a snack bar, and an elevator from a lower parking lot to the summit marker. Nothing like climbing 4,867 ft to eat crappy nachos at the summit in a snack bar full of people who drove up the mountain in their air conditioned cars and couldn’t seem to figure out why J an I were so dirty and smelly.

Also, the elevator creeped me out big time. I have issues with caves and confined spaces. I get agita watching documentaries about cave diving. There was an elevator going through the center of the top of the mountain. Seriously. We didn’t go in it, but it’s very presence bugged me. We peeked in the drippy, dark tunnel leading up to the elevator, and my legs stopped working for a minute. My head knew we weren’t going in there, but my feet hadn’t gotten the message yet, and they were totally protesting.

I said, “You couldn’t pay me to go in there.”

J laughed and said, “Trust me, no one wants to get in that elevator with you.” I believe this was a commentary on 1. the amazing stench I’d worked up getting to the summit and 2. the inevitable panic attack I would have had if we’d gotten in the elevator. I pretended to be offended, but I have to admit he was right on both counts.

On the way down, we hit the adjoining trail for Esther, which is 4,239 ft high, and also one of the 46. Esther is named after a 15 year old girl who made the first recorded climb to the summit of the mountain in 1839. Unfortunately, she thought she was climbing Whiteface. I love her.

The view from the top was lovely and it was nice to get to a peak that did not have a gift shop. But, the trail on Esther was wet, muddy, and rocky, and by the time we started the return trip, my feet were a pruney, bruised mess. So J got to listen to me curse Whiteface and its crappy summit nachos all the way down the mountain. Because he is an amazing man he promptly called the front desk when we got back and scheduled a massage for me at the resort spa.

We spent 4 nights in Lake Placid. We climbed Baxter, which is not one of the 46, and spent an afternoon kayaking on Mirror Lake. We worked a little, read a little, watched crappy TV since we don’t have cable at home (seriously, what happened to television?), ate some amazing meals (including the best sandwich ever, on gluten-free bread), and just got to be together. We get so caught up in the every day hassles, and we don’t get away often. It was so nice to have nothing to do, and have more space for moments of looking at J and being overwhelmed by thoughts of ‘Wow, I love that guy,’ instead of ‘Why can’t you put your cereal bowl in the dishwasher?’ (not that I don’t have ‘Wow, I love that guy’ moments at home. . . you know what I’m saying).

I have to admit that I’m a little sad to be back in the real world, even though my version of the real world includes my amazing husband, my dream job, two adorable dogs who are still tired from their time at the kennel, and a whole bunch of other great things. If I could live in a hotel, I totally would. And if that hotel were in Lake Placid, I don’t think you’d hear me complaining (unless I had to climb Whiteface again). Effing Whiteface.

An Interview with Author Mandy Hubbard

I don’t usually read Young Adult books, but I have to say that I am beyond excited about the release of PRADA & PREJUDICE tomorrow. It’s the first time in a long time that I will be at the book store looking for a book on its release date. There are two reasons for this.

1. The premise is fantastic and it sounds like such a fun book (it’s also getting great reviews!!!). “Fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada pumps to impress the cool crowd on a school trip to London. Goodbye, Callie the clumsy geek-girl, hello popularity! But before she knows what’s hit her, Callie wobbles, trips, conks her head… and wakes up in the year 1815!”

2. Mandy Hubbard is seriously amazing. I’ve been following her blog for about two years now. She’s been so generous in sharing her highs and lows on the road to publication. She’s stuck with it, revised fearlessly, and encouraged her readers to keep at it too.

Check out my interview with Mandy below, check out her website, and make sure to pick up a copy of P&P tomorrow.

1. Your blog tagline is “A published author is an amateur who didn’t quit. Don’t quit.” Your journey in publishing has been a huge inspiration to me (and so many other writers). Can you tell us a little bit about how you got from being someone who loved to read to someone who has your very own book coming out and two more books in the works?

I think I’m some kind of weirdo, because most authors have these cute little bios about how they’ve written fiction for so long that their first stories had to be written down by their mothers, because they were only toddlers. It really never occurred to me to become a writer until I was 20 years old and found a site called Fictionpress.com. On that site, everyone is a novice, and seeing wonderful–and often flawed–stories helped me realized that everyone starts somewhere. So I jumped right in and started posting my own tall tale. It was really not very good, but Fictionpress members were supportive and I continued writing. Eventually I felt my work had improved to the point it was worth trying to get an agent. So I did. Try, that is. That work, THE BROKEN ROAD, wasn’t really agent ready. But the next one was. I signed an agent in 2006, then switched to another agent later that year. The second agent began submitting my work, but it was pretty rocky. I ended up completely rewriting PRADA & PREJUDICE from scratch, and that’s the one we sold.

2. How has your life changed since your agent sold PRADA & PREJUDICE?

I take writing more seriously. I carve out the time even when it seems like there is none left for it. And I’m not afraid to tell people I’m a writer. Some of my long-time friends were taken aback when they discovered I had a book coming out because I never even told them I wrote! Now, I don’t mind talking about writing and books to anyone who will listen.

3. Where and when do you write?

If I’m on deadline, I tote the laptop around with me and write on the train commute or during my lunch break, and then again at home. If I’m not on deadline, I tend to just write at home, after my daughter has gone to bed.

4. What is your writing process like? Do you outline, or just start writing and see where it takes you?

I’ve always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, but with that has come a lot of revision. And I mean A LOT. PRADA & PREJUDICE is somewhere north of 11 drafts now. I think if I outlined I might eliminate some of that– but then again, it might not be quite as much fun, either. We’ll see how my process evolves with future books!

5. If you could go back two or three years ago, knowing what you know about the publishing process now, is there anything you’d do differently?

I’m not sure I’d change anything. I don’t think I made any monumental mistakes in the actual process, per se. I wish I could go back to 2006 and hand myself PRADA & PREJUDICE as it is today, because I think my agent could have sold it much more quickly. It took revision requests from a few editors to help shape it into an entirely different novel, and that’s the one readers will see. The original looks completely different!

6. What’s next for you?

I have a romance novella for Harlequin titled DRIVEN which will be out June 2010, as part of their NASCAR licensed line-up. I also have a few other YA’s in the works and hope to make some announcements about those soon!

Thanks Mandy!