Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Great Outdoors

For the past few days, I have been venturing out into the city centre by myself. And what refreshing change of pace that was! The past few days have been ALL ABOUT ME...a selfish, narcissistic beotch. No more running up and down the stairs to answer doors for the cableman postman or delivery man, no mopping kitchen floors, doing laundry, or catering to Hop-Along. Just rest, relaxation, self-nurturing, and pampering.

On Tuesday, I went to get my eyebrow waxed at Zen Day Spa on Great Victoria Street. I left the house an hour early to allow myself to find the place. It was easy enough since the bus stopped a block away. I had an hour and a half before my appointment so I explored the area. I walked along Great Victoria Street, I wouldn't say that it was aesthetically appealing, KFC on the corner, SPARS, several business suites, restaurants, and uninteresting stores. I spotted Belfast's celebrity chef, Paul Rankin. He was outside his restaurant, Cayenne, talking to some people. Ever since, I saw Anthony Bourdain dine in his restaurant on Bourdain's show No Reservations, I have always wanted to follow in his footsteps and sit in the very same seat bad ass mofo chef parked his butt. Craig vowed he would take me here before we leave (let's see about that). I kept walking up and crossed one street over, parallel to Great Victoria Street onto Botanic Avenue. Botantic Avenue is a hip and happening street,sort of a boho vibe to it. It reminded my of Haight Street in San Francisco with cafes, vintage clothing stores, dusty bookstores, restaurants lining the street. I ducked in and out of the bookstores browsing and I also found a cheapo store and bought house stuff.

3:15 rolled around and it was time for my appointment. When I walked into it, it certainly wasn't what I expected. It looked like a cheap place, for a spa there was no relaxing ambience whatsoever and reception looked like a closet. The woman led me to a stairwell and told me to fill out a form and to wait until I was called. I felt like someone stuck me in a stairwell in an office building rather than a tranquil retreat. As you can guess, I was freaking out and was wondering if I should make a bee-line for the exit before I look like a chola who went overzealous with a sharpie. But foolhardy as I am, I just waited. A woman called me in and again led me to another flight of stairs. The corridors were narrow and she told me to go to the room in the end at the far left. It looked like a Dr.'s office. She told me to lie down. I prayed the Hail Mary as she was doing my brows. She was very nice and pleasant. It was quick and painless, and she asked if I wanted to take more off. I said, "No way!". My brows were decent enough. Nothing to wow over. Still doesn't compare to my beautician in San Fran. I would go here again, just don't expect to be transported to another world. It's a very clinical atmosphere. No pampering here, they just get the work done. If you're pressed for time, this is the ideal place to go. I was waiting at the bus stop to go home, and the same old man who tried to make small talk with me at the cheapo store was at the bus stop. He said hello, and he started talking to me about his day at the Doctor's appointment...TMI. He was also those types of people who speak so close to you that they're practically down your throat. I clutched my purse close to me body and just answered him with an "Uh-huh". I then realized this is like being at home, nothing has really changed except the accent. Because a weirdo is a weirdo and I am a weirdo magnet no matter where I am in the world.

Today was my haircut appointment at Alex Mekki. The other day, I was browsing for "professional" hairstylists. I came across Alex Mekki. Like Zen Day Spa, their website looked really smart and appeared like they knew their shit.

Their intro read:

An exceptional hairdressing experience through visually stunning surrounding and outstanding quality of service.

This is what really sold me:

We are one of the few salons in the country that are trained in the styling, relaxing, and treating Afro and Asian types of hair.

I booked my appointment right away. When I got there, it was far from visually stunning. It looked like a hair salon you would see at a strip mall. The decor was gaudy and a bit dated. Yellow everywhere, it felt like I was inside a honeycomb. As for the service, they lived up to their word. As soon I walked in, I was greeted by an amicable receptionist. She took my coat and offered me tea and biscuits. This is something not unusual. My salon would do the same thing. There was no air of pretention just people getting their hair done. I didn't feel intimidated at all. Brian, my hairstylist, greeted me, he listened to my requests, he did a thorough hair analysis where he runs his fingers through my hair, tosses my hair from side to side, and asks me how many times I shampoo a week, whether I was the wash and go kind or the high maintenance kind. I told him I was the wash and go kind. He said I have combo hair which means oily at the roots, and dry tips. He tells me which products he will use to remedy this problem some photocytokinetheesistisis. I get my hair shampooed and conditioned and got a heavenly scalp massage. He starts cutting but all the while, he was working on someone else's highlights, extensions, answering the phone, etc etc. His multitasking was making me nervous and I was concerned that my hair was not the focus of his attention. Although, I did like the way step by step, he described what he was doing and what kind of affect it would have on my hair. The end result was astonishing. He layered my hair beautifully and he jazzed it up with some texture. I love my hair!!!! Brian is awesome! I highly recommend him! At £45, it's worth it. It is about the going rate for my haircuts in SF. When I told Hop Along about my hairdressing experience, he laughed so hard. Compared to his barber, Alex Mekki makes his barber sound like he is at a sheep shearing factory. LMAO!

After my hair appointment, I went crazy shopping at Victoria Center. I bought 2 cardigan sweaters, 2 cowl neck dresses, and 3 comfy pairs of flats from Clarke's at 70% off, same shoe in different colors. There were sales everywhere, I was completely mesmerized. Although, I did snap back into reality and converted everything back to $$$. It's not that much of a bargain afterall. Oh well, you only live once. After 4 hours of drooling over clothes, I took the bus back home. And it actually felt like home on the way back. For the first time, I didn't feel like a stranger in a foreign land. I didn't feel uneasy, nervous, or anxious but felt an extraordinary feeling of comfort and familiarity. I was just taking the bus home over a long day of shopping. That was all.

Pampering yourself is hardwork. I'm knackered. Off to bed. Tomorrow is a BIG day! Please, PLEASE don't rain.

1 comment:

Ms. McDermott said...

How about a picture of the fabulous hair? Remember Tim "The Toolman" Taylor's neighbor? We only ever saw partial facial shots of him so as to mask his mug, you could do it like that if you wanted.