Never gonna give it up

by Lorin Michel Sunday, May 22, 2016 10:46 PM

There are some days that give meaning to life, that make you glad to be alive in this time, in this moment. They don’t occur often. Sometimes these moments involve a changing event, like the birth of a child, the acquiring of a puppy, a marriage. More often, these moments are attached to nothing but the universe. It’s a feeling, and it happens without warning. You’re driving along with the top out and the windows down, the music blasting. The road is a series of curves, long and winding, easy. You downshift and then you upshift, moving up toward the sky. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the trees impossibly green. 

And it hits you. This is joy. Unencumbered, unemotional. It simply is life defined. At its most pure. There is no one that’s responsible. Your joy isn’t contingent on another person being involved. There isn’t a situation that needs to develop. There isn’t a relationship that needs to start. It is already there. You are the person that’s involved; you are the situation. You are the relationship. And you’re here. 

I know. I’m being cryptic. I don’t mean to be. Our friend Tammy was here this weekend. She came in yesterday morning and we did nothing but hang out and enjoy. We went to this fabulous Mexican restaurant yesterday afternoon and had table-made fresh salsa and appetizers. We had dinner on the deck last night with a fire in the fireplace. It was cool, not cold, and the fire was more for ambiance than heat. It was lovely. We had wine, we talked; we laughed.

This morning, we decided to head up to Mount Lemmon for breakfast. Kevin asked Tammy if she’d like to go on the motorcycle. She grinned. I said I’d follow in the Porsche. I showed Tammy how to get up on the bike (it takes a bit of a contortionist move to do so); I helped her hook up the strap on her helmet. Off they went. I pulled the Porsche out of the garage and followed. 

It was a beautiful morning, just after 9. The sky was clear, the temperature was hovering in the upper 70s. I put both windows down; the roof still out. I grabbed my Patriots baseball hat, popped a CD into the stereo since I don’t have satellite in this car.

We climbed and climbed and climbed. I watched the bike in front of me, carrying my husband and my good friend. To either side, the green of the desert. The cactus gave way to trees which gave way to pine. Up we went, until it seemed we had entered into a forest. The temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees. The air coming in through the open windows was cool. The pine trees were dense. The greenery was heavy. The rock formations glowed. I felt complete, whole. Overjoyed. I rounded a corner and the green completely obscured any other view. Through my Maui Jim’s, the colors came alive. Deeper blues, richer greens, clearer air. I breathed it all in, I watched it all.

And it occurred to me, this is what life is all about. The clarify of beauty. The reality of nothing special and yet everything … special. 

Several weeks ago, I wrote about listening to Al Jarreau in the Porsche. I thought of his music today, of the purity of it, of how it has always made me feel. Happy and in the moment. I thought about one song: Never gonna give it up.

I'll never give it up, never gonna give it up, even when this life is over
Never give it up, never gonna give it up, even when this life is over
Never give it up, never gonna give it up, even when this life is over
I'll be content in time

I’ll never give up this feeling, this moment, this complete purity. Not now, not ever. It’s what living it out loud is all about.

The beauty industry

by Lorin Michel Thursday, January 21, 2016 7:01 PM

I got my hair done today. I may not have as much as I used to (I blame hormones) but what I do have grows like a proverbial weed. It had started to look like a weed as well. I was actually scheduled to have it done next Friday and I knew I couldn’t possibly last another week. I called and changed the appointment to this Friday instead. But I have a client coming into town to work on her book, so I changed the appointment again, to this morning. Luckily my new hairdresser Todd could accommodate me. I like Todd. He’s my fourth hairdresser since I moved here and the one I like best. He’s no Tammy, but then, who is? 

I love getting my hair done. Not the actual process. I hate sitting in a chair and not being able to do anything for an hour and a half. It goes against my nature, especially during the day. All I can think about is what I have to do and what I’m not getting done while sitting there in luxury. 

Before you roll your eyes and say “For dog’s sake, it’s an hour and a half. Do yourself a favor and enjoy it” I’d just like to proffer that I realize how ridiculous it is that I consider getting my hair done a frivolous waste of my precious working day. Note the use of the word “frivolous.” Like getting my hair cut and colored is tantamount to sitting on the couch and watching TV all day, feet up, not a care in the world. This is decidedly not the case. 

It’s necessary. And I love the result. At least I love the result lately. 

When I sit in Todd’s chair, or anyone’s chair for that matter, my eyes always stray to what products are on his station. I attribute this to my many years in the beauty industry. I like to see what hairdressers are using; what they find that helps them do their jobs better. What they like about certain product lines; what they dislike about others. Todd seems to be particularly enamored with KMS. I like KMS. They’ve been a client of mine, both here in the States in Santa Monica and at their headquarters in Germany. Their products are as good as anyone’s and in some cases better.

I rarely if ever see Sebastian products. I cut my writing teeth – a painful metaphor if ever there was one – at Sebastian. I often say it was the best thing to happen to my writing career. I learned a lot about the inner workings of the industry, especially about hairdressers. They’re an interesting group, sort of misfits in regular society and yet completely comfortable in who they are and what they do. I admire hairdressers, and not just because they can be on their feet all day. I admire them because they’re always open to what’s next. They’re anxious for it. It has made my job easier in many ways. 

When I started in the industry, it was at its heights. It was the late 1980s and most of the professional product manufacturers had started slowly in the 1970s. Almost to a one, they were all started by hairdressers. John Paul Mitchell Systems, Nexxus, Redken, Aveda, Sebastian, KMS. People who were open to new ideas and who were positively averse to anything that had been done before. They were forever seeking the what’s new, what’s hot, what’s coming. I loved the energy, the passion, and even the shallow nature of it. At least that’s how I used to think of it. After all, it’s only hair and makeup. It’s only beauty. It doesn’t matter as much as, say, brain surgery or rocket science. Except it does. It helps us all to feel better about how we look and looking better leads to feeling better. It’s a winning combination.

The beauty industry is now mostly conglomerates. Procter & Gamble owns Sebastian and has effectively run it into the ground. Aveda is owned by Estee Lauder. Redken and Matrix were gobbled up by L’Oreal. Like everything, the beauty industry is now run by corporations not by people and certainly not by hairdressers. 

But beauty is still a sensorial thing. It’s hands on. It’s warm water and a head massage during shampoo. It’s a comb out and a cut. It’s hands running through the hair to disperse product; it’s the lush scent of that product. It’s the intense stare of the hairdresser as he or she studies what they’re created. That’s the beauty industry to me now. That’s what keeps it real; what keeps it human. And it’s what I’m celebrating today.

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