Tag Archives: Older Bloggers

The Eyes Have It: Adventures in Monovision

When I first got contact lenses in 7th grade and announced ecstatically that I could finally see properly, my mother burst into tears. I remember this primarily because it’s the only sentimental thing she ever did.

Since then, glasses, contacts and post-age-40 reading glasses have been a fact of life and an ever-expanding part of my wardrobe.  If I wear my contacts I can’t see anything smaller than type THIS BIG so I stash reading glasses all over the house, in the car and in at least one pocket.  This also requires the expensive addition of reader sunglasses — also stashed in multiple locations. And yet, I often can’t find a pair.

Although I see best with my regular (progressive bifocal) glasses, they’re a real pain. They get dirty. They stretch and eventually slip off my nose. And they’re heavy enough to break tiny blood vessels in my cheeks if I wear them all the time. Memo: stock up on cover up.

Eventually I’ll probably need cataract surgery and maybe by then science will have a perfect solution. Meanwhile, at my latest annual eye exam, my doctor suggested I try monovision to eliminate the need for readers, which she thought would work better for me than bifocal contacts.

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How It Works

With monovision, you wear a contact lens on one eye to correct your distance vision (aka nearsightedness) and a lens on the other eye to correct your near vision (farsightedness). The distance vision lens is worn on your dominant eye, i.e., the one that sees far away objects better.

The term “monovision” is a bit misleading. After about a week or two, brain learns to merge the two images to (theoretically) let you see clearly at all distances. But each eye will still see best at its own designated correction.

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Plan on Multiple Visits

My eye doctor warned me that it might take multiple visits before landing on the right combination. Meanwhile, as my friend S (who won’t try this) says, I could be walking into walls. I leave with a 10-day supply of trial lenses. Note: you may be charged a higher fitting fee than usual because most people need “tweaking” before the lenses are perfect.

Rx 1: Right eye (distance) same as my normal prescription. Left eye (close up): under-corrected for distance and too blurry for close-up reading. Result: dizziness and lousy vision. Lose-lose.

Rx 2: A different doctor (young and impossibly chic) gives me a thorough exam trying a lot of subtle modifications to get me closer to the best prescription. Results: No change to right eye. Left eye made weaker so close-ups are better, but not great. Still dizzy and not seeing well enough. Feh.

Rx 3 (3 weeks after my initial checkup): Dr. Chic has me try a toric (weighted) lens for the mild astigmatism in my right eye. Upside: distance vision is a little sharper. Downsides: toric lenses are more expensive, thicker, and have to be perfectly positioned. She explains that there is a vertical line on the lens that should be at the bottom when you place it in your eye. After struggling to figure out why the line keeps moving, I realize the next day that there are actually TWO vertical lines – one will be at the top of the lens when the other is at the bottom. This seems unnecessarily complicated.

For the left eye, she gives me an even weaker lens. Now my close-up vision is excellent. Off I go with more test lenses, opting to wait a few days to see if this whole experiment is worth it or if I should just renew my old contacts prescription and stick with reading glasses. After all, I have made a substantial investment in readers at this point!

laptop-1047086_640The Research

What I’ve learned so far: Not everyone is a monovision candidate. Some people find that it compromises the clarity of their distance vision, making far away objects appear slightly blurry. I suspect this is going to be my problem, especially when I’m driving.

For others, monovision doesn’t provide good enough near vision to eliminate the need for readers. That would be pointless, no?

Finally, although the two eyes work together as a team, there can be a slight loss in depth perception. And I’d always need to carry glasses with me in case of an emergency (e.g., getting something in my distance eye and truly not being able to see anything.) If I have to carry glasses, wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to just wear them?? Plus, they’re never going to fit in a small purse.

All in all, I’m giving this another week. Fingers (and eyes) crossed!

Where to Retire: US Edition

A friend sent me this helpful guide the other day. Author unknown.

You can retire to Phoenix, Arizona where…

1.  You are willing to park three blocks away from your house because you found shade.
2.  You’ve experienced condensation on your rear-end from the hot water in the toilet bowl.
3.  You can drive for four hours in one direction and never leave town.
4.  You have over 100 recipes for Mexican food.
5.  You know that “dry heat” is comparable to what hits you in the face when you open your oven door at 500 degrees.
6.  The four seasons are: tolerable, hot, really hot, and ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

OR

You can retire to California where…

1.  You make over $450,000 and you still can’t afford to buy a house.
2.  The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.
3.  You know how to eat an artichoke.
4.  When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.
5.  The four seasons are:  Fire, Flood, Mud and Drought.

OR

You can retire to New York City where…

1   You say “the city” and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan.
2.  You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can’t find Wisconsin on a map.
3.  You think Central Park is “nature.”
4.  You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multilingual.
5.  You’ve worn out a car horn.  (IF you have a car.)
6.  You think eye contact is an act of aggression.

OR

You can retire to Minnesota where…

1.  You only have three spices:  salt, pepper and ketchup.
2.  Halloween costumes have to fit over parkas.
3.  You have seventeen recipes for casserole.
4.  Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.
5.  The four seasons are:  almost winter, winter, still winter, and road repair.
6.  The highest level of criticism is “He is different,”  “She is different,” or “It was different!”

OR

You can retire to The Deep South where…
1.  You can rent a movie and buy bait in the same store.
2  “Y’all” is singular and “all y’all” is plural.
3.  “He needed killin” is a valid defense.
4.  Everyone has two first names:  Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, Joe Bob, Betty Jean, Mary Beth, etc.
5.  Everything is either:  “in yonder,”  “over yonder”  or “out yonder.”

6. You can say anything about anyone, as long as you say “Bless his heart” at the end.

OR

You can move to Colorado where…
1.  You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.
2.  You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home, so he stops at the day care center.
3.  A pass does not involve a football or dating.
4.  The top of your head is bald, but you still have a ponytail.

OR

You can retire to Nebraska or Kansas where…
1.  You’ve never met any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name.
2.  Your idea of a traffic jam is three cars waiting to pass a tractor.
3.  You have had to switch from “heat” to “A/C” on the same day.
4.  You end sentences with a preposition: “Where’s my coat at?”

OR FINALLY

You can retire to Florida where…
1.  You eat dinner at 3:15 in the afternoon.
2.  All purchases include a coupon of some kind – even houses and cars.
3.  Everyone can recommend an excellent cardiologist, dermatologist, proctologist, podiatrist, or orthopedist.
4.  Road construction never ends anywhere in the state.
5.  Cars in front of you often appear to be driven by headless people.

 

 

 

Oh, What Fun!

Let’s re-name Black Friday, “Insane Driver Day”. The official start of shopping frenzy is less about the sales, whether online or brick-and-mortar, and more about the holiday fog that threatens to engulf even the mildest of revelers. Miraculously, it appears to lift on January 3rd.

I especially notice this at the grocery store. Austinites are generally considerate and polite. But come holiday season it’s every one for him/herself, cutting people off in the parking lot, leaving their cart blocking the aisles, and rushing about as if there will never be another opportunity to buy milk. Gah!

A few suggestions for anyone who wasn’t organized enough to have all their holiday shopping done in July (that would be me and 99% of everyone I know).

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1) Always have a back-up plan. If the sweater you wanted to buy Cousin Joe isn’t available, already know that he needs a new iPad cover, gym bag or shot glasses, and move on.

2) Keep some wrapped all-purpose gifts (fancy chocolates, imported cookies, small tins of caviar, champagne, wine, candles, pretty soaps etc.) in an easy-to-find location so you’re ready if someone you never exchange gifts with suddenly surprises you. (Do you hate that as much as I do?) This is especially useful at the office. Take that cardigan out of your desk drawer to make room.

3) Never shop on an empty stomach. You will be cranky and resentful. Keep some peanuts in your purse or car for a quick protein boost.

4) Buy something nice for yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something that will make you feel pampered. A new lipstick always perks me up; men, you’re on your own as far as suggestions go.

5) Take deep breaths. I recently read that a quick trick to relax is to cover one nostril and breathe slowly several times, then repeat by covering the other side. Failing that, a glass of whiskey or a Xanax should do the trick.

6) Watch comedies and avoid dramas, especially if your family or romantic situation is less than picture-perfect. This is no time to feel inadequate.

7) Plan a vacation for January or February. It could be as simple as a spa weekend or exploring a nearby city you rarely visit. Keep reminders of your trip on your night table so you fall asleep with something positive to anticipate.

8) Don’t feel obligated to accept every invitation. Being over-scheduled will make you tense. General merriment is highly overrated anyway.

9) Call or write to the people you love, give something to charity, soak in a hot tub, and be kind to yourself. That’s the best gift of all.

There’s No Place Like Home(s)

I was born with wanderlust in my heart. I emerged not head first, but with an outstretched arm. Although this was widely interpreted as a sign of friendliness (quickly disproven, as I was a shy and introverted child) I believe it was a deliberate reaching-out for someone to grab my hand and get me out of the womb as quickly as possible so I could explore somewhere new.

As my husband and I (and many of our friends) approach retirement, one of the big questions we’re debating is: Where will we live once we’re not tied to a job? For many, there’s a desire to return to their childhood hometown. I envy those of you who have a clear vision, because I can’t picture any single destination that feels like the perfect fit.

I come by this schizophrenia naturally, having grown up in two places. My family lived in Manhattan (and, later, Long Island) for nine months of the year but spent every summer on Cape Cod as my father, a professor, had summers off. Although we were only there from June until Labor Day, the Cape felt like my true home. I was just marking time the rest of the year until I could return.

These days, I feel the same impatience to begin the summer in coastal Oregon. It’s the pull of the ocean: the smells and sounds of the waves as we fall asleep, the cool temperatures, and a pervasive sense of relaxation.

At the same time, though, I wouldn’t want to live there year round. It’s too remote and too far from a city; I’m still a New Yorker at heart. But which city? I have no desire to move back to Manhattan, so the conversation goes round and round as we keep exploring where to spend those other 6-7 months.

Maybe I’ll never find that one perfect place. And maybe that’s ok. As the cliché goes, home(s) is where the heart is.

A Family By Any Other Name

If you’re like me, the concept of “family” is complicated. The family we’re born into may be less than ideal, incorporating fraught relationships with parents or siblings. Even in families with a relatively healthy dynamic, there’s often a tendency to act or be treated as if we are eternally eight years old.

As we get older, our definition of family expands and changes. Lines blur as our children become friends, close friends become more like siblings, and siblings may become strangers.

Since Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s typically associated with family, let’s celebrate ALL our families, not just our biological ones:

  • Circumstantial: The family we join through marriage or re-marriage
  • Work: After all, we probably spend at least as much time with our “work family” as we do at home
  • Friends: Who else could we bitch to about everything — including our families?!
  • Support System: Our family of stylists, massage therapists, manicurists etc., with whom we share stories and confidences
  • Our church, synagogue, mosque or other religious affiliation
  • Neighbors

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This is one of my favorite recipes for dessert, whether you’re hosting or bringing something to the feast. Almond flour and Whey Low make it healthier.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone — however (and with whomever) you spend it!

Double Chocolate Almond Flour Brownies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (I use 4 tablespoons (¼ c) butter + ¼ c canola oil)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (substitute bittersweet if you prefer less sweetness)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I use 1/3 c brown + 1/3 c white for less sweetness)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Optional: ¼ teaspoon espresso powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º and butter an 8”x8” pan.
  2. Place the butter and chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler or a large glass bowl set over a pot of gently boiling water. Whisk together until the butter and chocolate are melted and well combined. Set aside and let cool for five minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla.
  4. Add the cooled chocolate and butter mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Whisk to combine and then mix into the dry ingredients until everything is well blended.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean with a few crumbs clinging to it.
  6. Cool before slicing.

Ready. Set. Purge.

The 45-minute closet clean up

One of the best ways to clear my head is to clean up my surroundings. It’s a no-brainer to toss the stuff I hate. What’s harder to identify are stealth garments that lurk among my favorites: clothes I used to love but barely wear, items that are serviceable but not exciting, expensive mistakes, and anything that doesn’t quite fit.

Weeding out things that no longer work — whether clothes or noxious elements in your life — can seem overwhelming. So start small. You can do this whole purge in under an hour.  Or if that’s too much, attack just one category a day. Spend 5 minutes on each and be ruthless!

  1. Fixer-Uppers: Broken zipper? Sleeves too long? Put anything that needs to be fixed into a bag. If you don’t take it to the tailor or shoemaker within a week, you’ll know that you don’t love it enough to keep it.
  2. Pants: Do they fit perfectly? Can’t wait to wear them? If you don’t feel attractive, you’ll always pick another pair. The exception: jeans that used to be flattering and are now too tight, but ONLY if you are serious about losing those extra 5-10 lbs. Save one pair and re-evaluate in three months.
  3. Shoes: Too big, small or tight? Gone! Not really your style? Had them for months and still haven’t worn them? Odds are, you never will.
  4. Duplicates: If you own multiples of the same style, only keep the ones you wear the most. Even among five black sweaters, you undoubtedly have one or two favorites. Ditch the rest.
  5. Fill-Ins: Do you have clothes, shoes and accessories that are nice enough but you always gravitate towards something else instead? If you’re not ready to toss them, make a list of the pieces you want to upgrade and when you buy that perfect jacket, shirt or belt, get rid of the fill-in.
  6. Sad Sacks: Underwear, socks, t-shirts…. Throw out everything that’s stained, shapeless, faded or has holes. Check collars and cuffs – that’s where the wear shows up first. Even if you’re only running to the grocery store, why look like a hot mess?
  7. Fantasy Island: If you can’t imagine wearing a particular item or outfit any time in the next year, get rid of it. Exception: your favorite LBD or a timeless designer piece that will always make you look and feel great.
  8. Guilt Trippers: We’ve all had buyer’s remorse after spending a lot (usually on sale) on something we just don’t wear. Donate it to charity and you’ll feel good about yourself instead of guilty.
  9. Old Loves: If you can’t bear to part with something for sentimental reasons, box it up and store it somewhere outside of your closet. Even better: enjoy the memories without letting unnecessary mementos take up precious space.

A final note on fit: Clothes that are too small make us feel like failures. Clothes that are too big make us look frumpy and imply we’re going to backslide.  Limit your wardrobe to fewer items that fit right now. You’ll feel more attractive, confident and in control.

The Bunion Diaries – First Month

Now that I’m at one month post-surgery, I can tell anyone who’s contemplating a bunionectomy what to expect. Warning: gnarly photos ahead; not for the squeamish (this means you, dear husband)!!

Day of surgery 

We arrive at the facility at 7 a.m., where the TV in the waiting room is endlessly replaying recaps of last night’s endless presidential debate at top volume. This is one time I would give anything for Keeping Up with the Kardashians or any of the Real Housewives.

I’m prepped, changed into a gigantic dressing gown and stuck with IVs and other stuff to measure my vital signs. My blood pressure is very low (100/70) so I am either actually relaxed or a zombie, not sure. Luckily, hearing Trump did not spike my BP to lasting effect.

We talk to the anesthesiologist, who is extremely thorough and asks detailed questions nobody else has. I see my doc and it’s off to dreamland from about 9 to 12, when I emerge in the usual post-surgical fog. (Note: they use a general anesthetic since they literally don’t want you to move a muscle.)

Here’s my “before” photo. Pretty ugly, I know. That’s why I’m here.

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Once home, I settle into bed with the following:

  • Wedge pillow plus another old pillow under leg to keep elevated (also brought to surgical center for the ride home)
  • Computer and cell phone
  • Glass of 7:1 water/orange juice to stay hydrated
  • Meds and saltines to avert opiate-related nausea
  • Stack of magazines and book (the latest from the excellent Alan Furst)
  • Rented knee roll-about scooter (mine’s a nice shiny red) and crutches for tomorrow.  img_1567

Today’s about resting, following multiple instruction sheets, eating mild food and sleeping. Lots of sleeping.

Day 2

No pain yet so nerve block must still be working. I take pain meds prophylactically every four hours to avoid it though. My main job is to alternate ice on/off every 30 minutes and keep moving my legs and rotating my ankle to prevent blood clots.

I’m not at all hungry until dinnertime, and still in a drug fog most of day. My poor husband has to do all cooking/cleanup/etc. and it’s going to be a long slog until I can contribute.

Day 5

My foot is bandaged like The Mummy, and just about as shapeless.

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I’m now taking ibuprofen only if needed. The pain block (Exparel) lasted 4 days and is a bona fide miracle drug.  Getting around on the scooter is quite a production. It doesn’t have much of a turning radius and I have to keep locking the brake so it won’t slip. Once locked in position, it gives me a secure place to rest my leg.

Crutches require upper body strength so I’m lifting hand weights to help. I can touch down with my operative foot (partial weight is ok) which is better than hopping. But it’s a pretty exhausting way to get around.

I’m officially allowed to shower, which is a multi-step process beginning by removing my safety shoe and encasing my foot in a knee-high plastic bag that looks like a giant condom.

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Funny, I never noticed before how high the “lip” of the shower is; trying to get over it with one leg is quite a challenge. My DH (dear husband) helps lift me in; once in, I’m fine. His back, not so much. We don’t attempt this again– back to sponge baths!

Day 6

My heel and the sole of my foot are quite bruised. I resume taking oral arnica, which I stopped a few days ago, and start applying topical arnica too. Hope this helps.

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First post-op visit

It’s 8 days after surgery. DH drives me and the scooter over to the doctor’s office. His nurse removes the bandages. The top of my foot is swollen and my toes look like fat little sausages. She tells me that swelling can take 6 months to a year to fully resolve. Oh joy. The incision is about 3″ long and is healing well but I can’t transition to a walking boot yet; the bone a little softer than ideal for full weight-bearing so I’ll have to wait and hopefully get the boot next week.

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Week 1: Who are you and what have you done with my ankles?!

I bump up my calcium intake to 600 mg twice a day, having slacked off to once a day during the previous month. (Note to those of you anticipating having this procedure: Make sure to increase weight bearing exercise and check your vitamin D levels well before surgery since vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption.)

Pain is low level but I experience occasional throbbing. Ibuprofen at normal levels (a 200 mg tablet every 4-6 hrs as needed) is helpful. Sleep is more challenging.

By now I have mastered the multi-step shower dance: first, DH places a chair outside the shower so I can use the chair back as support. I ease in and sit on the shower bench and then DH moves the chair so the door can close. You do not want to be in a rush for this one!  If my shower didn’t have a built-in seat this would not work, since I can’t balance on my left heel for the time it takes to shower and do my hair. Best plan is to alternate with sponge bathing for now.

2nd Post Op Visit

Big disappointment at Week Two:  Although everything is healing well, my nice doctor wants me to stay off my foot for another two weeks to be on the safe side. We do not want the pins in there shifting around. Ergo, still stuck with the scooter. On the plus side, my triceps are tightening up from lifting and repositioning the damn thing every few minutes.  And since the incision is almost fully healed, except for a couple of steri strips, I have a new cleaning option (sans giant leg condom): the tub!

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Week 2

This is way easier: position the scooter next to the tub, step in with my good leg, then lower the other one, making sure not to step down. All good.

Weeks 3 & 4

Continue to heal, no pain although bruised areas are still sore, and finally when I see my doctor at Week 4 he lets me transition to a walking boot. It’s very space-age, with a pump to inflate and deflate pressure. Unfortunately, the sole of the boot is 2″ higher than my regular shoe, so I am listing like a drunken sailor. But, I’m ambulatory! BTW, you can order a sort of platform thingy from Amazon called EvenUp. It looks a bit like a snowshoe and adds 1/2″-3/4″ height to your normal shoe or sneaker. My hiking boot is almost the right height so I’m not too uneven for the two days I wait for Amazon delivery.

Week 4

My tasks at home are to exercise the toe by bending it forwards and backwards (ouch) to keep it flexible (3 sets of 10 reps, twice a day) and to cover the scar with ScarAway, a silicone patch you cut to whatever size you need to help prevent and flatten the incision. So far, I’ve taken four baths and it hasn’t budged.

Wrap-up

After 4 weeks I’m still swollen around the ankles as well as the ball and top of my foot (an ace bandage leaves indentations) but I can already see improvement. Best of all, I’m now cleared to drive so I feel much more independent.  Come spring, I might even splurge on some Jimmy Choos!

Breaking Up With Your Housekeeper

I always feel conflicted when someone else cleans my house. On the one hand, there are times I’m sidelined due to injury or illness, or just plain too busy to keep things looking tidy. On the other, it feels much too “Lady of Leisure” to be lolling about while someone else does the scut work, regardless of how much they’re being paid. Ideally, I’d be out of the house but it’s not always practical.

This feeling of guilt makes it even more difficult to fire someone if they’re (OK, she – because, let’s be honest, it’s usually a woman) is not doing a good job. Admittedly, this is a “high end” problem that won’t get you a lot of sympathy from any friends and family who clean their own homes.

Nevertheless, whether and how to do it is a legitimate quandary.

I hate to generalize, but I’ve found that even the best cleaning people become complacent after a while. If you really like your housekeeper but are becoming unhappy with the quality of work, here are some suggestions before you pull the plug:

  1. Make sure you’ve given clear direction, such as “Please clean under the bed.” Leave a pair of shoes under the middle of the bed and if they’re still there after she’s finished, well, there’s your first clue she’s not too motivated.
  2. Give her several chances to do better if you really like her, without letting her know she’s on probation. Each time ask for specific chores to be done and notice whether she added these to her to-do list or skipped other tasks to make time.
  3. Ask her to help plan her schedule and make sure you set reasonable expectations. Maybe she only needs to clean the oven or guest shower every two weeks or once a month, whereas she must do the master bath every time. Make sure she actually has enough hours to do what’s needed and adjust accordingly. And of course, make sure you pay the going rate for your neighborhood.

After a few weeks, one of two things will happen: Either you’ll be happier with the work or it will be time to part ways. Needless to say, never break up with someone if they still have your keys!

This is one of the few instances where I believe fibbing is in order.

  1. Say you’re going on vacation. Then try a cleaning service.
  2. If the service does a noticeably better job, it’s time to cut the cord and trot out your best excuse. My suggestion: “I have to cut back on our spending. So I’m going to have to clean the house myself. I’ll never do as good a job as you do.” There is absolutely no percentage in telling someone she’s not up to your standards.
  3. Wait until after she’s done for the day. You don’t want her to be simmering with resentment while she’s dusting the breakables.
  4. Pay severance if she’s been with you for a while – at least the amount of one or two service calls. She counts on the income and it may take a few weeks to add a new client.
  5. If you’re letting her go because you’re moving, make sure to give her plenty of notice. An extra bonus is a nice gesture.

All things considered, I prefer using a cleaning service. You always get new people, so you don’t develop an awkward relationship. And I think they try a bit harder.

Remember: Be fair. Be firm. And line up your next option before you quit cold turkey.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do – especially when it’s your stylist, manicurist, housekeeper, etc.

A dear friend writes:

“A couple of months ago, I decided I was tired of paying $100+ for hair color every four weeks (for one-process color, no highlights or anything exotic!) So I started doing it myself and actually my hair seems healthier and I love the color. When I went for my next haircut, I told my hairdresser that I just couldn’t justify paying over $100 for hair color. I told her I wasn’t going anywhere else, just doing it myself. Of course, she copped an attitude and I got a really crappy haircut. I thought, “Hmmmm…I hope she isn’t being spiteful.” Then the next month, I got an even worse haircut! This confirmed it for me and I won’t be going back, but I haven’t called yet to cancel my next appointment. What do you think? Have you been thru this???”

Yes! And more than once.

When I lived in New Jersey I regularly went to one salon for haircuts, color, skin care, manicures and massages. For a long time, a woman I’ll call Lisa cut and highlighted my hair and did a terrific job. I was willing to overlook the increasingly bizarre stories she’d tell about her relationship with the boyfriend who didn’t want to marry her. But after a while it became too stressful to listen to her tales of woe when all I wanted to do was relax and get my hair done. I was also hearing from my facialist that Lisa was driving her co-workers and other clients crazy; it wasn’t just me. I finally cut the cord, switched stylists, and eventually Lisa was fired. I always felt badly because she was clearly troubled, but I had to make a change.

About two years ago I had another unfortunate experience. Out in Oregon I had a good haircut and decided to have “Alice” touch up my highlights the next time. The result: wide, orangey, hideous streaks. After two tries, she was able to tone them down but the color was still way off.

When I got back to Austin I immediately went to my regular salon for help. A new colorist (“Casey”) decided to apply overall color (which I don’t need since I only have scattered grays) to blend everything in. Unfortunately, it was much warmer than my natural shade. And now I had a whole head of it! The only remedy was for everything to grow out, switch to yet another colorist (who, thankfully, is much more knowledgeable) and wait a year for my true base color to emerge. It was awkward having my hair done by someone else when Casey was in the salon but luckily she has now moved away – turns out she’d f’d up several other clients’ hair as well. It’s not me; I swear!

So here’s what I’ve learned: 1) We’re entitled to get what we pay for, but 2) many of us have trouble ending these relationships and feel anxious making up excuses.

Why is this so hard? Let me count the ways.

  1. We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.
  2. Nostalgia. We remember that one perfect haircut, color etc. and know they have it in them to do a fabulous job.
  3. Fear of retribution. Unless we’re moving or planning to change salons and never come back.
  4. Fear of confrontation. Few of us like it.
  5. History. We’ve been together a long time; often they’ve been a confidante and friend.
  6. We worry about being premature or unfair. What if it’s a phase and he/she is going to be great again?
  7. Laziness or low self-esteem (a subconscious feeling that we don’t deserve “great”).
  8. We feel guilty, as if it’s somehow our fault and we’re too demanding.

Repeat after me: It’s OK to move on! Once you are ready to break up, here are some suggestions:

  1. Decide if you’re done with the salon or just the stylist.
  2. If you don’t like the salon anyway, ask friends or co-workers with similar hair texture where they get theirs done and then ask their salon manager for recommendations.
  3. If you like your salon and the problem is the stylist, talk to the manager. Be honest and specific and ask for someone new who’s good with your type of hair.
  4. Never settle for a bad cut or color! A reputable salon will have someone fix the problem as soon as possible at no charge. After all, they want to keep you as a client.
  5. Try a different stylist at your current salon on your old stylist’s day off.
  6. Make sure you try the new person a couple of times or until you’re comfortable.
  7. Once you have transitioned to your new stylist, tell your soon-to-be ex you need(ed) to go in a different direction (“It’s not you, it’s me”). No long explanations! If you have been seeing him or her for a while, or if you get other services at the salon, you may want to give (or leave) them a little thank-you gift with a note so you won’t feel totally awkward when you run into them.
  8. Most important: Do not have make-up sesh! You will get a revenge cut!

Next time: How to break up with your housekeeper. (Or should you?)