The Little Things [ 2005-08-17, 8:27 p.m. ]

Is there a word for people who can handle crisis with smooth aplomb but lose their shit when the little things start to fall apart? Whatever that word may be, it is me and I am it and so help me god if I didn't almost start crying this morning as I was getting ready for work because EVERYTHING WAS RUINED AND BAD AND CLEARLY LIFE WAS NOT MEANT FOR LIVING, and it all started with a pimple.

I woke up and looked in the mirror and discovered a new blemish on my cheek and was already running late but after my shower I needed to Deal with the blemish (which sounds almost pretty when I call it that) and was rushing and reached for the pimple cream on the top shelf of my medicine cabinet and in doing so, knocked the tweezers which skidded over to the cuticle cutter thingy, and both fell off the shelf and the tweezers clanged in the sink and the cuticle cutter thing rolled on the countertop and hit the toothpaste cap and sent the toothpaste cap rolling and they both headed for the edge of the counter and I was trying to grab for them both because if there is one thing I hate it's tiny pokey things flying around and dropping and rolling everywhere, but in reaching for them I knocked them more and they rolled off and I leaned down to retrieve the toothpaste cap from behind the (ew) toilet and then couldn't find the cuticle cutter thingy on the bathmat and as I was looking for it I banged my eyebrow bone on the corner of the hamper and at that point I squeezed my eyes shut and actually STOMPED my feet because THE WHOLE WORLD WAS CONSPIRING AGAINST ME, and WHO HAS TIME FOR THIS and WHY GOD WHY with the blemish and the falling pokey things and the teeny rolling things going astray.

Was convinced the Heavens were testing me. Convinced it was all a Sign. That the medicine cabinet won and I lost and it was time for me to just pack up, put on sweatpants and order some pizza.

I hate getting ready.

I love Product. I love shopping for hair goo and face cream and makeup and exfoliating scrubs. I love arranging all the Product in my bathroom. I love looking at their pretty bottles and I love flipping through magazines like Real Simple and comparing their faux-bathroom's cabinets with my own. But I hate - really, really hate - getting ready. I like getting clean and smelling nice, but I hate the process of showering, hate all the steps and stages to getting skin ready for makeup, hate shaving my legs and washing my hair and dripping on the bathmat and dripping on the counter and leaving the bathroom all steamy and damp. I hate the 40 minutes it takes me to get presentable in the morning. Is wasted time, and I would very much like to just blink my eyes or wiggle my nose and Be Ready and never have to step into the shower again. The inefficiency of it HURTS me, deep down inside my compulsive soul. Which is why it's such a shame that I require so much work.

I am the perfect candidate for the wash-and-go lifestyle. I ALWAYS want to just wash and go. Especially "go." But in place of fresh-scrubbed good looks and straight shiny hair, I have a pallid complexion and what I am convinced is the worst head of hair on Earth. And there are many components of my night-time routine which make it impossible for me to ever consider applying for a reality show that does not have private bathrooms. It's my hair, however, that tries me. In August, in New York, my hair is bad. No, it's Bad. You may be thinking that, Hey, I don't like my hair either because it has that wierd curl or it just hangs there or my bangs are too long, but I assure you, mine is worse.

Last week, I got so fed up with my hair that I cut it all off. I thought, I know! I will get a sassy, flippy bob that will transform my hair from mid-length mess to effervescent curls and sass! And for one night, the night on which I got it cut and styled by someone who is not me, my hair was good. Since then, it has been bad. No, it has been Bad. Ahh, fresh-scrubbed good looks and straight shiny hair, why have thou forsaken me???

Because the stylist was able to make my hair cute and sassy, I am convinced that the problem is one of Product. I saw her make my hair cute; she rubbed goo in it, twisted sections around, diffused and I WAS CUTE. I have not been cute since that night, and I keep buying more and more hair products in hopes of achieving the perfect alchemy with my curls. I have tried serum, gel, lotion, balm and spritz. I have created entirely new substances whilst mixing balm and gel in my hands. I have overloaded and undertreated my hair. Still, I get fluffy, ugly, messy, puffy waves that make me look like either a boy or like Grace from the flashback episodes of "Will & Grace" in which she has the Wall of Curls in her college years. I just want to be cute. Not even pretty or hot or god forbid, beautiful. In August, I am thrilled to achieve "cute."

So I turned to the French. In general, I think this is an excellent policy when in doubt, whether it be over food or fashion. Brit sent me a link to an article extolling the virtues of Phytodefrisant, and as I am no stranger to the Product world, I was already familiar with this particular Euro-goo (whose virtues were also extolled in Allure and InStyle), and I picked up a tube yesterday. It is a "Baume Defrisant Vegetal," which sounds both appalling and encouraging, as something so clinical and icky sounding is bound to be effective.

My only previous exposure to French hair products was on vacation in Paris. I had forgotten to pack shampoo and conditioner and assumed - incorrectly - that the fancy hotel would have those items available to us. (We were staying at a ridiculously expensive hotel, by the way, because I booked us at a weensy little place that had a giant wet mildewed spot in the middle of the carpet and no deadbolt on the door, both of which made my husband - then boyfriend uncomfortable, as did the lack of a safe in the room since my husband-then-boyfriend had my engagement ring with him. We decided to try and change hotels and of course I got defensive because I had picked the cheap, little place and assumed Kent was insinuating that I was a bad person for having chosen it. But, the big bi-annual fabric shows were going on, which meant there was no availability anywhere in our price range, so we ended up at the Intercontinental, which was very, very, very nice. And expensive. But so very nice.) Our hotel provided many lovely L'Occitane products but no conditioner. I am not a wash-and-go girl, as I mentioned above, and my hair NEEDS certain things, specifically conditioner. Shampoo I can do without, but I NEED conditioner. I set out in search of it, and discovered that apparently, the French do not use conditioner. I went in many pharmacies (so easy to find with the green lighted cross outside!) but could not locate any conditioner. I finally asked for help, using my god-awful French, and said something about "Pour apres lavage le cheveux?" while pointing at my snarly hair and worrying that 'cheveux' meant horse and not hair. Ah, mais oui, a woman in a white smock finally said, reaching BEHIND the counter and producing a small tube of Phyto brand conditioner. I bought the shampoo as well, because I love a matching set of products, and I think I left both in Paris because I found the shampoo and conditioner to be utter crap. The shampoo did not lather and the conditioner did not condition, but both came in very scientific-looking tubes and bottles with lots of literature and instruction, and while I enjoyed the process of procuring the French hair products, I was left thinking that perhaps it is not what the French do best, which is fine and good because they do such excellent work with pastry.

Still, I hand over money for the Phytodefrisant Baume Defrisant Vegetal in hopes it will fix me. It promises to gradually change the proteins of my hair strands with vegetal extracts, I think, although my French is rusty (yes, there are English translations but it is FUNNY to read in French). So far, it is hard to say. I combed it thought my very wet hair after warming a dollop in the hollow of my hand and distributed with a comb, as per the (French) instructions. Then I had a cigarette and a croissant and bought impractically high boots.

Today, the hair is not so good. And, as Bad Hair falls into the category of Small Things Which Set Me Off, I am on edge. I am dreaming of getting home and washing my face and using some dumb little clippy-twisty things to get my hair off my face. I understand that there are serious things going on in the world, but it is the state of my hair that makes me want to crawl under the covers and hide for a while. Until mid-September, perhaps, when the humidity disappears and my long-sleeved shirts can come out and play.

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