growing up, i never understood his perspective. to me, it truly was the most wonderful time of the year. lots of days off from school, parties, cookies, presents - and my birthday smack in the middle of Thanksgiving and Christmas. it was like a six-week sugar rush every year.
but now - of course now it's a different story. now i understand. i'm booked every weekend through Christmas this year. i have a to-do list constantly scrolling in my brain, i have notes and reminders written in eighteen places, and i'm trying to cram too many things into too short a time frame.
want an example? take this past weekend. my schedule, planned early last week, was this: friday night, dinner with Michael at Bar Carrera (my choice). saturday: TBC class at the gym followed by a haircut, followed by a facial at Bliss, followed by Michael's cousin's 30th birthday party in NJ. sunday: back to NJ to visit with my Gram.
sounds fun enough, right? i'm the type who generally likes having places to go and people to see. so i was looking forward to it.
friday night i got out of work on time and made my way down to the East Village to snag a seat at Bar Carrera. it's one of my favorite spots in the city - i'd been there a few times before with the girls and figured it'd be a cozy, romantic-ish spot to have dinner with my boyfriend.
it's a tapas bar. i told Michael that earlier in the week, when he said he'd be up for it, but he thought tappas = hearty man food (or, at the very least, panini). so when the first little plate came out, full of little food, he blinked a few times. "this is it?" he said. poor Michael, who'd had a hectic day at work, who'd rushed to the gym before meeting up with me. he was starving and here i was, ordering a plate of chorizo and a small dish of sauteed shrimp, thinking it would suffice.
eating with a boy is quite different than eating with the girls. how could i forget?
so, while Michael was a good sport about it - after making a few jokes at my/the tapas place's expense - i was majorly, disproportionately bummed.
but oh well. saturday was a new day. my class at the gym was typically awesome (well, aside from the push-ups...i'll never enjoy those) and i managed to get myself to the hair salon on time. i was armed with a picture i'd printed from some website of a hair model with bangs. i decided i needed a change, but not one like two years ago and one that could be quickly grown out if i changed my mind. my stylist, Mimi, did her usual speedy and excellent work and i was outta there - bangs and all - in 30 minutes.
i made a quick stop at CVS to pick up a birthday card for Michael's cousin, swung by the laundromat to pick up my clean and fantastically folded clothes, spent 15 minutes at my apartment fussing with the bangs and then it was time to head to Bliss.
my cousins Darren and Alayne had given me a gift card to Bliss for my 30th birthday - yeah, almost two years ago. the card didn't expire, but i was in the mood for a little pampering and decided to try the Triple Oxygen Facial. the web site says it's "red-carpet revered," which, i'm ashamed to admit, made me feel fancy.
i'd never been to Bliss before and wasn't sure what to expect. the Soho outpost wasn't quite as posh as i expected but i really didn't care once i slid under the heated blanket on the heated table in a serene little room while Ella Fitzgerald music piped in ever-so-soothingly. i really was so excited for (and so in need of) 75 minutes of uninterrupted relaxation. my brain may start to smoke most days from overthinking and trying-not-to-forget, but when i wanna turn it off, i can. and i did, laying there on the cozy table, while Julia B. worked her magic on my face.
but right in the middle of my rapture came the phase of a facial i think most women could do without: the extraction. the last few facials i've had haven't included extraction, and i can't emphasize enough how i haven't missed it. i admit to being weak when it comes to popping pimples. i can never leave well enough alone (Michael can, um, attest to this, too). but that's totally different than a well-meaning but still Russian woman taking special tools to the blackheads in my nose.
holy crap. seriously. i have a high threshold for pain, but i was on the verge of grabbing this woman's face and screaming, "what the hell do you think you're doing you animal!?!?!" i refrained and i made it through and she rewarded me with a lovely seaweed mask to soothe the pain. (and, OK, my nose is blackhead-free, but i'd just as soon stick with my Biore strips, thanks very much.)
i shouldn't complain, though, because this facial included a few massage portions: my arms, my shoulders, my neck, my feet... and my hair. toward the end of the session she did made like the shampoo girl at the salon i'd been to a few hours earlier, massaging my scalp and tugging on my hair in a way that felt divine.
but she also had gunked-up hands from all the face products and when the session was over and i went back into the ladies lounge i looked like i'd been electrocuted. my tresses had been totally Medusa'd and my brand new bangs were sticking straight up like the Statue of Liberty's crown.
i left the Bliss building at 3:49 and Michael had told me we were leaving Brooklyn at 4:30 to go to NJ. it was a surprise party, so we couldn't really be late. so there i am, with my crazy hair, fresh-faced but not in going-out form (i'm not a huge make-up addict, but an Irish girl needs at least a little bronzer in the middle of November) and not anywhere near dressed for a party. i was also at least 20 minutes from my apartment via subway.
once the F train made it to my stop, i literally ran from the station to my apartment, where i frantically ironed and threw on some clothes, applied make-up to my still-dewy face, and stared dishearteningly at my hair in the mirror. i had no time, obviously, to take a shower and undo the damage Julia B. had done. i tried wetting my bangs and blow-drying them, but after five minutes they just went back to looking ridiculous. so i decided to make life easy and wear my green knit hat.
the hat, Michael says, that reminds him of the hat Aunt Gladys wears in one of my favorite movies, Home for the Holidays. if you know the movie, you know it's not really a compliment. ("i'm just kidding, i'm kidding," he said. "the hat is cute." right. too late, buddy.) but i had no choice. looking like Aunt Gladys was better than looking like the Statue of Liberty.
i won't even get into the stress and hilarity that was involved in getting to Westwood, NJ on Saturday night. i have no idea where all the people come from, but we were in bumper to bumper traffic on Route 17 at 5:30 in the evening. are you kidding me? it had to have been people Christmas shopping already.
which brings me back to the point i was trying to make about forty paragraphs ago. 'tis the season not to be jolly, but to lose your mind. 'tis the season to overextend, to cram, to fret, to ask the wrong guy for directions and drive two miles in the wrong direction.... anyway, it was a crazy weekend and i just have a much better understanding of and appreciation for my dad's holiday wariness.
still, i'm really excited that Thanksgiving is only a couple days away. and when i see Santa on the sleigh in front of Macy's that morning, i know i'll have a big smile on my face. so maybe there's hope for me yet.