The Sunday Currently Vol. 5

I took a break for the holidays that ended up being longer than I thought. The break, not the holidays. I meant to start blogging again in early January, but after drafting an unnecessarily morose 2014 reflection post I thought it best to focus on the ‘real world’ for a few weeks until I’d rediscovered my sense of humor.

December and January have been busy. Right after our final presentations and the last holiday parties Matt and I spent a brief but wonderful week-and-some-days with my family in Manila (where I got to see some of my nearest and dearest, but not enough!). We flew back on December 31st and promptly passed out, waking up to soft pops of fireworks and clinking beers on the roof just long enough to mumble Happy New Year to each other before passing out again.

On the heels of that, I had to finish the last of the term’s schoolwork before we packed up and moved to our new flat in North London. The past week has been spent cleaning top to bottom, unpacking, and arguing about furniture placement. The flat is tiny but cozy; at the moment sparsely decorated, but tidy. I want to make the space feel comfortable and beautiful, but am hesitant about cluttering the apartment more than it already is.

Also, I find it hard to justify buying items whose primary purpose is to simply add beauty to a space, even if I know it will make a world of difference. When you move every year and a half, getting nice furniture and household items seems a waste–you just have to find a way to get rid of it later.

Also I have the design sensibilities of a wild donkey so what is decorating even.

I started an internship at a publishing company last week. It’s pretty good. I enjoy it. I apologize for that super eloquent summary of my experience thus far. I only mention it because lots of new things happening at once tend to throw me for a loop, and if I don’t force myself to focus solely on managing those things then untold disasters will happen. Tomorrow is the first day of the new term and I’m hoping a return to routine will set everything on its normal course again.

Wish I could say the move was stress-free but sometimes we just need to crawl into a box and have alone time.

Wish I could say the move was stress-free but sometimes we just needed to crawl into a box and have alone time.

Onto the Currentlies:

Reading

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. I’ve had this on my shelf awhile but have been too guilt-ridden with my slobbery, clutter-y habits to read it without the accompanying waves of self-loathing. So far it’s wonderful. It’s the first book so far that I feel has a convincing philosophy about how to tidy and get rid of what you don’t need. Have I put any of it into practice? Not yet.

I especially like Kondo’s advice to keep things that only spark joy in your life, and to reconsider how an item’s purpose has been “fulfilled.” You don’t have to keep things till they’re unusable — even a regrettable clothing purchase or wrong shade of makeup fulfills the purpose of teaching you something about yourself and your tastes, and so can be thrown away without guilt.

It’s a very radical approach, especially for Filipinos who adhere to the “new shirt>little brother’s shirt>pambahay>rag” philosophy or the “I’ll save this on the 1/30000th chance that I’ll need it again” philosophy. Kondo’s approach also involves a lot of thanking of inanimate objects for a purpose fulfilled (how Japanese). But for a hoarder-on-the-verge like myself, perhaps there is some value in personifying objects — before you usher them gently out of your home and life.

Writing

A lot of lists. An IKEA shopping list. A cookware dream list, in which a Le Creuset 5.5 qt dutch oven takes the lead. A monthly budget of rent and bills (horrifying). A blogging schedule that I immediately ignored. A weekly grocery list. I’m domestic as fuck now and loving it. I think

Listening

Childish Gambino’s “Retro [Rough]” not of my free will. It was nice the first couple of times, but for some reason it now slips under my skin like barbed wire. It’s not even a terrible song, it just makes me…react. The song is making me regress back to high school emo poetry days. The barbed wire cuts deep, the piercings in my skin matching those in my heart. I long for light. I see only darkness. I call for my raven. But the raven was me all along. 

Thinking

Waaaaaaay too much about cookware. I’ve become a bit possessive of the kitchen. Maybe obsessive is a better term. I just want to cook all the things. Maybe I should save this answer for “Wanting.” But seriously, I spent an hour comparing electric kettles. I spent a good half a day educating myself on enameled cast iron vs stainless steel vs copper vs hard anodized cookware. I’ve evaluated the need for stock pots, steamers, casserole dishes, food processors, and essential kitchen knives (for the record: chef and paring). But since I have the budget for none of these magical things, I will probably just get a boxed set from IKEA.

Smelling

Bleach. We did a serious cleaning this morning because Matt’s parents were coming over. But for a sexier answer, I also have beside me an open bottle of Satinka Naturals’ Fleur a Gruem reed diffuser. Rich and floral (o rili?) without too much sweetness. You can find them in Legaspi Market every Sunday.

Wishing

For structure again! I feel like I ask for this every week.

Wearing

A white Uniqlo dress shirt under a loose black Zara blouse, Uniqlo jeans that have so much excess space in the butt area that they go flap-flap-flap when I walk, and the ugliest hot pink socks in the world.

There is a lot of text in this post, so here is some ulam to go with it.

There is a lot of text in this post, so here is some ulam to go with it.

Loving

The new apartment. I’m trying not to be impatient and to take it one step at a time, but after a few months of crashing (with some very gracious, generous people) it’s so nice to have a room of one’s own. That I share with my boyfriend, but still. I love not being cold all the time. I love that I have a separate room to work even when Matt goes to bed. I love that the toilet is actually in the bathroom. I love that the shower feels like a thousand angels leaving hickeys on my skin. I love wrapping myself in a freshly heated towel, AKA the physical manifestation of Alan Rickman and Tom Hiddleston reciting Shakespeare at each other.

I love that my domain is the kitchen, and Matt’s is anything to do with electronics. I love our sexy wooden chopping board (also bought at Legaspi Market). I love that our tea bags and sugar are in freaking mason jars. I almost grabbed a shipping pallet off the street to go full Pinterest until Matt warned me that those particular pallets were rentals and I would actually be stealing, not salvaging, to fulfill my shabby chic dream.

But seriously. Shipping pallet herb garden. It’s happening.

I also love Come Dine With Me, a British TV show where 5 strangers take turns hosting dinner for each other for a week for the chance to win £1000.

Wanting

A Le Creuset 5.5 qt dutch oven (though I might not actually be physically strong enough to carry one, so I am eyeing the far more affordable Sainsbury’s version so I’ll still have money for medical bills). A big, sturdy stainless steel pot. A masticating juicer (the one with the dildo-like accessory that crushes all the veggies). Chinese steamed fish. Vietnamese spring rolls.

Feeling

Excited about the new term. Apprehensive about 2015.

Clicking

I haven’t been very active online, and that includes reading. However I did read through Ira Sukrungruang’s account of living with cluster headaches. I cannot even imagine that kind of pain, but he does more than enough to describe it for you. The fact that he suffered from cluster headaches for many years and still produced an extensive body of work is admirable. And sobering.

Also, a lot of people are starting up Tiny Letters, something I am considering doing as well. It might be a better outlet for more personal *~musings~*. Yikes, I can’t say musings with a straight face. I can’t even type it with a straight face. But anyway, if you write Tiny Letters or have favorite Tiny Letters do share the link with me so I can subscribe k thanks.

Ugh, that’s enough Currently for now. At 22 minutes past midnight it’s technically Monday Currently but who cares! Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You

This is a draft of a short story written for one of my Creative Writing workshops. I’m working on a collection along these lines, and thought I’d share an excerpt here. It’s a bit experimental, so it may be kind of weird! 

1

They sit by the lake, as they do every night, and nurse cups of fast-cooling tea. She is good with words but only when they are used for the unraveling of her own execution. He is adamant about sugar in his tea; a half-teaspoon is enough for clear nights such as this. Above, the moon hangs round and heavy. It is the sort of night for quiet reflection or portents—a haphazard squint at the stars. Don’t be surprised if the stars explode one by one. They are wont to do as they like.

He insists; she demurs. A translucent fish with silver fins streaming like ribbons surfaces. Finding nothing of interest, it becomes absorbed back into the lake, which has difficulty falling asleep, and often simply pretends until something exciting occurs.

He insists again. “Okay!” she says, putting her cup down. He continues to sip his. Tonight his tea was prepared with a steep of broken nails. No sugar. His silence about the matter confirms her worst suspicions.

2

A little girl finds herself lost in a magical forest. She circles for hours amidst restless trees, who misinterpret her movements for a desire to dance. They pass her around from brethren to brethren and shake their leaves in laughter. Exhausted and afraid, the girl collapses onto the ground and weeps.

Drawn to the sound, a kind woodsman spies her and makes to approach with promises of aid, but the trees wrap him tightly in their roots and hide him deep beneath the ground.

The little girl picks up a crumpled leaf and wipes her face with it, and starts at the cries of dismay coming from within. She unfolds the leaf once, twice, thrice. An uncountable time later the leaf stretches before her like a meadow. On her final unfolding she pulls the leaf aside to reveal a bustling city full of miniature people.

“Oh, thank goodness!” she cries. “Good people, can you help me get home?”

“Where are your manners?” the miniature people cry back. “Didn’t you ever learn to mind your own business? Quick, close us up again. It is cold and we cannot stand the stick of your tears!”

The little girl falls silent. She lifts her foot — slam! Stomp! The soles of her best Sunday shoes thicken with blood and debris and clumps of miniature people matter. She might, at the end of her massacre, find herself beyond the leaf and safely out of the wood. Or she might find herself more lost than before.

3

Our house is haunted by a specter who only exists in foggy glass. I see him first thing in the morning when I’m on the toilet peeing. No sooner are my pants down than his form begins to coalesce in the little round window on the door.

“Pervert!” I spit out, but that’s not the worst of it. He’s there when I shower, drifting back and forth across the door, his face pressed up against the glass when I’m good and soapy. The cheek of it! Yet when I lunge at him, nearly killing myself in the process, he dissipates in a silver steam. At least there’s no foggy glass in the bedroom. Bet he’d really like to see what goes on in there!

Peter doesn’t believe me about the specter. “I wish you’d be more quiet in the morning,” is all he says. Peter blocks out his time in 15-minute increments. It helps with his productivity – or productivi-Pete, as he calls it, as he’s the one who has to work. I used to have four increments with him at night but lately I have had zero. We fall asleep in a bedroom blacked out by thick curtains.

I awake when it’s the darkest of the dark and crawl to the bathroom. “Specter?” I whisper. “Are you there?” I pull my pants down, sit and wait.

No answer. The cold bites extra much. In the apartment across the bathroom, a woman lights a candle with a newspaper. In the room next over, someone confirms in a loving murmur: milk and two sugars, thank you.

4

“He didn’t!”

“He did!”

“How could he?”

“How are you?”

They look at her with stained-glass expressions, checkered with fury and dismay and pity. She smiles back.

“I’m perfectly all right! See?”

She grips the base of her skull and pulls forward, unrolling her external skin as she goes. She steps out of the pile and kicks her former self aside. “Ta-dah! Like new again.”

They exchange glances. Some solutions are more satisfactory than others. “You can’t just do that.”

Rip, kick. “Yes I can!”

“Don’t be a bitch, Emma.”

Rip, kick. “Water under the bridge!”

They pinch her hard enough to bruise, and she’s sobbing when they’re done. Rip, kick. Rip, kick.

One wants to go further but she’s stopped by the other. Curiosity is a lottery that tempts many and rewards few, so they say. Instead they silently scoop up the discards and take them home.

“We can steam-press them and hang them up for later,” one whispers, a peacemaking effort.

The other is overcome with disapproval. She is remembering a peach she ate the other day, perfect except for a bit of rot on one end. This she had relished with a sprinkle of salt.

5

Or maybe, I amend, peering deep into the foggy glass, maybe I am the specter.

6

She, now finished, sips her cold tea. He peers down at his empty cup. He is weary for some reason, but he cannot explain himself: she is usually better with words. On that note, whose fault is it, really?

On the other side of the lake an earthquake disrupts evening television, to general confusion. The shuttering of TV screens one by one reminds him to put water in the kettle before bed. It is late. His bones ache with a phantom urge, an echo from somewhere unbidden.

She draws her attention to the moon. It is time to settle the balance of the hours wiled away. Enraged, she bats the moon out of the sky, and it splashes into a startled lake, softly bobbing. The translucent fish returns and swallows it up. Light fills the bursting fish to the tips of his scales, his pretty silver fins, till he glows unbearably.

She regrets what she has done. She dives, and fins flash coyly in her palms before flittering out of grasp. She follows the light further into the darkness, falling so deep she might as well be floating upwards, her hands outstretched for a star.

 

Featured image via eyvindwolf 

The Sunday Currently Vol. 4

This feels like the first Sunday in awhile that I’ve not had the pressure of a major assignment (though the feeling is an illusion, as I have a big paper due on Friday). It was also the first day that I’d experienced a Christmas dinner in London, and the two combined made for a very enjoyable day.

There were Christmas crackers waiting at every seat when we got to the pub. I’ve never had a Christmas cracker before. You cross arms with the people next to you so you’re each holding onto the ends of a cracker and give it a tug. With a great pop, the cracker splits and out tumbles a variety of things you’ll use once and never again: a crown made of colored tissue paper, a little toy (mine was a plastic hairclip; Matt got a paperclip, and others got eyepatches and star cookie cutters), and jokes and riddles. Everyone puts on their crowns and tests their friends on their riddle lore, and when it’s combined with enough booze it can be great fun.

On a side note I seem to have drunk more in the past few weeks than I have all year. That fact combined with the swiftly chilling weather has led to a less than desirable amount of sniffles, zits, and general deadness behind the eyes.

Our dinner was in a pub tucked into an alleyway that led straight to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which has not stopped being beautiful no matter how many times I’ve seen it. After dinner we circled around and saw a portion of the dome illuminated through tree leaves like black lacework. Our last view of St. Paul’s for the night came from the other side of the Thames, in front of Tate Modern, where the cathedral unobstructed and bright as the moon..

In three days I head back to Manila (!!) and I’m so excited to see my family again. I’m going to do my best to see as many friends as possible but I’m only there for two weeks. If it’s difficult to coordinate a get together normally, imagine the task at Christmas when everyone is dealing with their fair share of family, extended family, balikbayan family, and all else. Never mind budgeting 3 hours just to get anywhere! (I’ve been sympathizing with people who have shared their travel and commuting woes this season).

Anyway, on to the Currentlies:

Reading

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry. I’m slowly making my way through this book but every time I read a few pages I always feel guilty about the lack of structure in my life and poor self-discipline. While not every artist followed a stringent ritual, many of the most prolific ones adhered to a schedule that would make Phineas Fogg feel ashamed.

For example, did you know that Gertrude Stein could only write half an hour an day? But much of the day was devoted to thinking of what to write for that half hour (often by driving around fields staring at cows — and it had to be the right cow. I’m not joking! Then again I never did care for Stein’s work). Also, Stein relied heavily upon her partner, Alice B. Toklas, to do the household and admin work, a trend that runs commonly throughout the book.

Aside from a fastidious routine, I’m learning that to be a productive artist I must also: pretend the real world does not exist and hope someone is willing to go through hell and high water to give me my “creative space”; rely heavily on some substance, whether it be cigarettes or alcohol or worse; eat simple breakfasts (HAH NO THANKS); be in possession of a spacious country retreat; commit to working every day, even if nothing gets produced.

I’d love an updated version of this book with more true-to-life and diverse examples (aka, not dead and white).

Writing

Christmas shopping lists, mostly, though I have a big paper due on Friday. I don’t know how I’m going to get that done.

Listening

This afternoon, I listened to a semi-complete orchestra of senior citizens perform a string of Irish ballads and Christmas carols in the bar. Currently I’m listening to some vintage Maaya Sakamoto: she was a Japanese voice actress-turned-singer (aren’t they all?). I’ve learned that my music tastes haven’t evolved much beyond high school, so I listen to the same songs for years and years. Like this one, from 2001:

Cooking

Not much these days — I haven’t had much time to cook! Whenever I’m mildly hungover though I’ll cook a huge breakfast — scrambled eggs and shredded fried potatoes. It’s all just a grand excuse to shovel as much cheese as I can into my system, even though cheese is terrible for me.

Thinking

A lot lately about the role of social media and how much we should let it control our lives. Not too heavily — perhaps I’m just annoyed by the sudden influx of people on my feeds complaining about how people judge them for their social media activity and how what they post doesn’t say everything about them.

To some extend I agree: as a person who loves Instagram but also loves privacy, it would be hypocritical of me not to agree that social media doesn’t say everything about a person. At the same time…the loudest critics I’ve heard tend to be highly active on social media and are smart about leveraging it and their personal assets when it suits them, but the moment they’re criticized for it it’s all, “OMG you don’t know my whole life story okay?”

I don’t know! Basically, I believe it’s a safe assumption and common knowledge that people have more varied interests than what they choose to make public, but if you’re so worried about what people think about you based on social media, maybe you should revisit how much you rely on other people’s opinions of you — or what you post on social media.

Smelling

Fresh laundry.  We’re doing as much as we can before heading to Manila. This has resulted in accidentally doing wools on the Sports Intense setting and dyeing all of Matt’s white shirts blue (damn you cheap Adventure Time T-shirt!).

Hoping/Needing

To get everything I need done by Wednesday.

Wearing

Guerlain Rouge G L’Extrait Orgueil after a long period of neglect. It does transfer a bit and needs some touching up, but it’s such a gorgeous color especially for Christmas dinners!

the-sunday-currently-03

Wanting

To find nice but affordable decoration and furniture for our new flat, which we’re moving into the first week of January! I won’t be able to do much to it until I’ve seen the place again and once we have our stuff in, but I’ve started Pinning ideas.

Loving

Miso soup. Just the thing for icky sicky feelings. I saw a suggestion online to add a poached egg and noodles to miso soup, and thought this was a brilliant solution — until I realized that that dish exists, and it’s called miso ramen.

Feeling

Reflective. This weekend we went to Matt’s house to meet the family before Christmas, especially his new baby nephew. The baby was only 2 days old when we went, and I got to hold him for a little. I was terrified — that my arm wouldn’t support his neck, that I was dirty and grotty from the train, that he’d be uncomfortable and upset, that I would drop him — but it was a wonderful experience. I wouldn’t say that it switched my maternal instincts from 0 to 60, but perhaps I have a better understanding now of the “magical moment” that mothers describe. At least until the babies learn to cry and say no and run around, haha.

I wish my siblings would have kids that I could be a cool Auntie for – so I can hand them back when they need changing!

Eating

For today’s Christmas dinner, we had a 3 course meal at the pub: chicken liver pate with chutney and greens, lamb with lentils and roasted potatoes with vegetable sides like cabbage and brussel sprouts, shredded red cabbage, and carrots and parsnips, then profiteroles filled with Bailey’s cream. Aside from a few glasses of prosecco I had a chenin blanc then a pinot grigio. All delicious.

 

Original Sunday Currently

The JuRo Salon Experience: How Two Stylists Perfected Bespoke Hair

The door to JuRo Salon — or a version of it, anyway — swung open. I looked up, surprised to find the hairstyling power duo Jude Hipolito and Rose Velasco already standing by the door, greeting me warmly. They ushered me to a small dining table, where a light breakfast had been laid out: tea cakes, fruit, and organic coffee slow-brewing in a contraption I wouldn’t pretend to understand. The table was decorated with eye-catching accessories: a coffee mug with a curved mobius-strip handle (left-handers beware), spoons with long spiraling handles, and simple plates with only the slightest decorated touches. Music filled the air.

“So! What are we doing with your hair today?” Jude asked.

It didn’t take all this to know that Jude and Rose were not your typical hairdressers. I was about to try the JuRo Salon experience.

A Hair Philosophy

When you have experienced your fair share of disastrous haircuts, you tend to become particular about where you go.

People have often been shocked at how far I’m willing to go to find the right stylist. It’s not because I’m a snob, or because I equate expensive services with quality. I don’t care about branded salons or big-name stylists. All I want to do is find The One. The One Who Knows. The One Who Understands.

My mother does not agree with my philosophy, but hers has always been “if you can, DIY.” Once, she cut my bangs so short that she later apologized and said I was such a nice girl for not being angry with her (I must have just been in shocked silence).

Left: cut, no color, with a JuRo Salon stylist in February 2013. Right: going blonde with Ms. Rose of JuRo Salon, no cut, in June 2013.

Left: cut, no color, with a JuRo Salon stylist in February 2013. Right: going blonde with Ms. Rose of JuRo Salon, no cut, in June 2013.

My belief stems from a familiar pattern of disappointment, where you tell your hairstylist what you want, they nod and give every impression you’re on the same page — but then a couple hours later you emerge feeling somewhat…underwhelmed. If not downright horrified.

Some of these things you chalk up to an expensive lesson learned: no one told you that by asking for the Rachel, you were subscribing yourself to hair doom. You didn’t know that when the creative director of a recommended salon picked up razor scissors that he would make your thick, frizzy hair resemble a lion’s mane, the frizz so out of control that you would later be called out by some Malaysian hairstylist who himself resembled blond Professor Snape.

I know better next time, you say, waiting patiently for hair to grow, pinning back bangs and tucking in stubborn curls before you do it all over again.

The inevitable truth is, in most cases you are one customer of many. At best, you find someone who knows your hair and exactly how to style it. Otherwise, you find someone who knows how to layer, how to bob, how to flatter your face shape in all the technically correct ways — but they apply the same style to everyone. At worst, you are simply a widget in the assembly line, and the stylist bestows upon you the one cut they know how to do, never accounting for the nuances in hair texture, face shape, or personality.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could guarantee that your hairstyle was designed and crafted just for you?

The Process

Jude assessing what needs to be done.

Jude assessing what needs to be done, while Rose watches.

Over breakfast, Jude, Rose and I discussed what to do with my hair. If you read some of the recaps of others who had been invited to try JuRo, you’ll find that most girls left the decision up to them, to wonderful and diverse results.

In a more adventurous time, I would have said the same. However at the time I was invited to try their service, I was gearing up for my big move and new start as a graduate student. I was also just coming down from a year as a long-haired blond (which Rose had also done) and really enjoying a lower-maintenance style.

So, I spoke up only about the following: I wanted to maintain the current length just past my shoulders, and have wash-and-wear hair to suit my upcoming get-up-and-go life. I described the cold winds that blew hair everywhere, meaning a high-maintenance style that couldn’t accommodate movement would be destroyed in seconds. Knowing Rose’s talent for color exploration, I also requested a color that could be easily maintained, where regrowth would blend in gradually.

Jude and Rose were game.

Of course, around the time I started shooting, a huge mosquito bite decided to appear. Only during the one time I needed to photograph, of course. >.<

Of course, around the time I started shooting, a huge mosquito bite decided to appear. Only during the one time I needed to photograph, of course. >.<

“Hair should be custom for everyone, a combination of technical skill and talent,” Jude said. They consider every client an individual case, where even “shoulder length layers” can translate to a hundred possibilities. All information the client volunteers is carefully considered: their work and life habits, their hair type, if there’s any severe hair damage, what aspects of their personality they want to enhance.

Now for a confession: prior to my meeting with JuRo, I was quite happy with my hair. I’d just had it darkened from brassy blonde to dark chocolate brown and it was passable for the look I desired. But “passable” is not a word that Jude and Rose believe in.

“I find it a bit bottom heavy,” Rose observed, scooping up strands from below. “What do you think, Jude?” Their process is collaborative and completely in sync — the cut and color must work together, which is why they make styling decisions together. In some cases, Rose will wait until Jude has the initial style in place before mixing her colors.

Cut

The final result: soft, wavy layers.

The finished look that shows off the layers

Jude went to work fixing the cut. He added uneven layers and thinned out the lower half. “Layers should be natural and uneven to mimic hair growth,” he advised. This technique results in hair that grows out wonderfully (as the pictures below will hopefully demonstrate!).

Though this wasn’t my first time at JuRo, it was my first time under Jude’s scissors. The first two cuts were with a stylist in training (an option for those who want a cut at JuRo for a more affordable rate), which I was quite happy with. But Jude, with his years of training under the Vidal Sassoon school of precision, is a different experience altogether. If he makes you stand during your cut don’t be surprised — it’s just to get a precise length.

Color

Tackling the darker regrowth first.

Tackling the darker regrowth first.

While he worked, Rose took strands of hair and flipped them over, checking the color balance and tone. She noted that the top third of my head was darker than the rest of my hair because the fresh growth had been dyed the same as the lighter hair on the bottom (correct). She also noted that the highlights were too light for the dark brown base color (correct again).

To fix this, she decided on a multi-step process using a family of cool ash tones from L’Oreal’s Majirel Cool Cover and INOA brands. She highlighted and fixed the base of the darker regrowth separately, before adding highlights and lightening the base of the lower two thirds of hair. Her attention to detail is unmatched: for example, she captures every bit of flyaway hair, sometimes devoting one foil to a few baby hairs.

To some this might seem like much, but it’s comparable to fine dining: every moment is precise. Nothing is left to chance. The value of a JuRo hair session is akin to the value eating at a high-end restaurant: you pay for precision, consistency, originality, and artwork. You pay for the guarantee.

The result? A lovely medium ash brown color with sophisticated highlights, to perfectly complement Jude’s layers.

Just because, let me show you what Rose originally wanted to do with my hair before I came in with all my pesky requirements:

Ooh la la! Thank you for your faith in me, Miss Rose. I don’t know if I could do ash blonde at this moment…maybe when I’m braver and within driving distance to my stylist!

It wasn’t until Rose made her observations that I realized my regular colorist had used the same highlight shades for blonde hair as for dark brown hair. Sure, in the grand scheme of things it’s not the end of the world to have overly contrasting highlights, but for Jude and Rose such things are oversights. They are shortcuts, one-size-fits-all solutions, and — among the worst practitioners — sheer laziness.

It’s a characteristic of the industry they are determined to stamp out.

Why “Bespoke Hairstyles” are Good for the Industry

The finished look of a true JuRo experience, with a cut and color by Jude and Rose!

The finished result of a true JuRo experience, with a cut and color by Jude and Rose

“We’re trying to change the perception of the Philippine hair industry,” Jude said.

Jude grew up in Santa Monica, where he ran a salon for several years before returning to the Philippines. He got into the hairstyling profession in a roundabout way, after pursuing a more corporate profession with his MBA. Rose started off teaching hairstyling students how to color, until a mentor encouraged her to apply her formidable talents to actual clients.

The Philippines is an economy traditionally powered by affiliation. It’s not what you know — it’s who you know. For most hairstylists, prestige is acquired through a star client list. This is not unique to the Philippines by any means, but given the small celebrity pool, the effect is amplified.

So, who are JuRo’s celebrities?

“People ask us [all the time],” Jude said. “We say every client is a celebrity because we work on a style that suits you and only you.”

“If you asked me when I was 25, I probably would have listed all our celebrities!” Rose laughed. “But maybe it’s a sign of maturity that we don’t need to now.”

If you’re dying to know, you can check JuRo’s Instagram to see examples of nearly every client they work on. But true to their word, every client — from the new to the regular — is featured like a celebrity.

“Maybe to legitimize the industry we have to respect ourselves,” Rose added.

This means treating every client as an individual, and hairstyling as an art form. It’s a concept that goes deeper than simply creating elaborate hairstyles at edgy fashion week shows. They seem to be suggesting that when you treat your creative work as an art form — whether it be hairstyling, or writing, or designing — then you will succeed. Artistry drives everything because it’s about the process, not the outcome.

Another angle of the finished look: also I needed to break up the text a little.

Another angle of the finished look: also I needed to break up the text a little.

As an example, Jude and Rose open themselves to new experiences and new inspiration by traveling when their schedule permits. They collect beloved items from abroad and elsewhere in the Philippines: artwork, handcrafted souvenirs, music, good food (but not as important as good coffee!).

If this makes the JuRo team sound unapproachable, on the contrary. Jude and Rose are incredibly kind and modest. They listen with genuine interest and live genuinely interesting lives. Through our discussions, I learned that:

  • They are Broadway fanatics — on their last visit to London, they watched a different Broadway show 5 nights in a row!
  • They are foodies who determine their favorites not by brand or chef name, but by the Hallelujah moment: “It’s got to make you go “HALLELUJAH!”
  • They are most proud when their handiwork is recognized abroad, because it signals a global recognition of homegrown Filipino talent. Once, on a cruise ship, a woman asked Rose for her colorist information; Rose whipped up a custom formulation for her on the spot.
  • Philanthropy is a big part of their lives. JuRo has partnered with a Japanese NGO to teach street children how to cut and style hair. Mostly to equip them with a skill and a future livelihood, but also with the hope that the children will be the next generation of innovative artists — ones who take the sideways path to finding their creative voice, away from formal schools and “cut and paste” methods.
  • Three things that mean most to them: family, advocacy, art. They used to have 2 salons but cut down to 1 in order to spend more time with their kids and more personal interactions with their clients.

“It’s hard but if you work hard, if you’re sincere enough and you’re disciplined enough, you can achieve it,” Rose said while applying the finishing touches. A good philosophy for just about anything you want to put your mind to!

Loved chatting with Ms. Rose about their travels, family, work ethic, and more!

Loved chatting with Ms. Rose about their travels, family, work ethic, and more!

The Aftermath

I never, ever judge a hairstyle by how it looks fresh out of the salon. Your hair always looks and feels best after a blowdry, but the proof is in how it grows out in the following months. So, here are a few pictures ranging from late September to early December, in somewhat chronological order: all unstyled and air-dried.

hair-couture-juro-salon-experience-09

Brushing my hair is the least of my priorities, let alone styling it. I don’t have a hair dryer or curling iron here so wash and wear is really the only option. The most I do these days is dry shampoo for oily roots, or a shine spray to freshen up hair.

I think part of the fun of this haircut is figuring out how it’s going to settle. It does something different every time, and the loose waves totally fit my personality (sleek and polished I am not!). My hair kind of does what it wants, and I’m more than happy to keep letting that happen.

Final Word

Shortly after this Jude had to rush over to the main salon to meet with another client, leaving Ms. Rose and I with girl time (and more coloring)

Shortly after this Jude had to rush over to the main salon to meet with another client, leaving Ms. Rose and I with girl time (and more coloring)

I absolutely love what Jude and Rose have done with my hair. Even my boyfriend, who wailed like a drama queen when I told him I was cutting my hair, admitted that it was a nice haircut. (It’s more than nice, but I’ll take what I can get!)

I really enjoyed this session with the JuRo team, and not just because I came away with an awesome haircut that would rival any of London’s best. Understanding Jude and Rose’s philosophy and mission, and getting to know them personally made me appreciate all the hard work they put into their business and craft. Not to mention finding time for philanthropic work while juggling a growing client list and family! You couldn’t find nicer, more talented people who only want to see Philippine hairstylists take the global industry by storm.

Of course, as alluded to above, the JuRo experience requires a dedicated investment in your hair. To my knowledge, Jude’s cuts begin at P6,500 and the price of color varies depending on what you get. You can also opt to book with a stylist who will no doubt have benefited from Jude and Rose’s expertise. But if you have the means, do spoil yourself this season with perfect holiday hair that you can take into the new year!

For more information about JuRo Salon Exclusif, please visit their website, Twitter, or Instagram (where they are most active). Bookings strongly recommended (they are only in the salon when they have appointments, so do book one in advance!).

Contact Info:

ADDRESS:
Kensington Place, Unit #2D, 1st Avenue corner 29th Street

HOURS:
10 AM to 8 PM daily, by Appointment Only

CONTACT:
(02) 822 5673
+63 999 767 9073

I was invited to experience the services of JuRo Salon. Other than the services outlined, I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Impressions: Mary Kay True Dimensions Lipstick *

One of the earlier subheaders of this blog was “matte, not glossy.” Aside from being a borked attempt to sound cool and obscure but still beauty-related, the subheader served as a simple statement about my lipstick preferences.

Basically, all you mofos with juicy, naturally-pigmented lips and good breeding could keep your glosses and sheer, satiny lipsticks. I was perfectly content with my awesome, waxy mattes — the only finish capable of disguising the fact that my lips are the color of old paper. Ah, if that were the only reason! Unfortunately, my hair tends to fly around on even the best days. If all those stray strands touched down on the pool of sticky goop then went back to business, in five minutes I would resemble someone who got into a fight with a kitten — and lost.

Also, frequent snacking and lip gloss do not go together. Ever tried to carry on a conversation with bits of Ritz crackers and god knows what else stuck to your lips? That is, until the gloss is wiped away entirely. Yugh.

However, a few products this year have made me see the error of my ways. First, the Dior Fluid Addict Sticks, which were featured in my Lip Product Addict Tag video and this post. Then, Burberry Lip Cover in Brick Red. I haven’t had the best of luck with other Lip Covers, but Brick Red — used as a stain here —  is something special.

Product

Finally, we come to the Mary Kay True Dimensions Lipstick rangeI received two shades, Citrus Flirt and Sassy Fuschia, earlier in the summer, when they were part of the new additions to the True Dimensions line. I hadn’t encountered the line before, and the first challenge to figure out was how to open the thing.

I spy grubby fingerprints! The True Dimensions lipsticks open by pushing down from the top of the cover, popping out the tube from beneath. Honestly, if you’ve ever dealt with a tampon you will understand. It’s a cute if somewhat unnecessary mechanism that works with the slim style of the tube. It probably does a better job of protecting the bullet from accidental nicks or scratches.

The lipsticks are shaped into slim, subtly angled bullets much like the NARS Pure Matte Lipstick or Laura Mercier Rouge Nouveau Weightless Lip Color products. Mary Kay describes the formula as “intensely moisturizing [and] exquisitely soothing,” a fragrance-free concoction containing skin-loving ingredients like Vitamin E, jojoba and sunflower oil, and mango butter.

Swatches

I was going to write something boring about how I didn’t expect all that much, predicting an incredibly sheer gloss with a ghost of the color suggested in the tube. However, these swatches say it all. They truly live up to their names, with Citrus Flirt being a juicy pump of pure summery orange and Sassy Fuschia being a cheeky pink with blue-purple undertones.

The left swatch represents one swipe, the right one a layer of three swipes. As you can see there isn’t much difference between the two – you get fairly decent coverage on first swipe. In fact, I’d argue that too much layering tends to push things around a little, and they’re not meant to be piled on heavily.

They do have a satin finish with a slightly slippy feel in the beginning, which then becomes less noticeable once the lipstick settles into your skin. Though the lipsticks are touted as fragrance-free, there is a strong, waxy floral scent you can almost taste on the lips. While it doesn’t really bother me, it’s not the most subtle of fragrances.

Citrus Flirt

This picture is from earlier in the summer. I didn’t take Citrus Flirt with me to London because it seemed like such a perfect warm-weather color, best paired with a summer glow. I love the natural ease of this orange, despite it being such a strong shade. The coverage is semi-sheer – definitely not as intense as the next shade. It reminds me of what I wish the Korres Lip Butter Glaze in Mango could have been – a lightweight butter with some oomph to it.

Citrus Flirt makes my lips look healthy and hydrated with just the right amount of shine. I’m excited to wear it again when I’m back in Manila!

Sassy Fuschia

Sassy Fuschia was definitely a color that would work in the winter, which is why I brought it along. I’d describe it as a “power pink in training” — it doesn’t have that supernatural potency and dark matter opaqueness that you would find in a truly magical pink, but it’s pretty damn close. I’m wearing two swipes here.

Because it is a bolder color, it did require slightly more maintenance. Matt pointed out that some had gotten on my teeth just ten minutes out the door, and fading is more noticeable, but the tube is slim enough to accommodate isolated touch ups. I was worried about being out in the wind, though!

One very important attribute about Sassy Fuschia that I like, but others might not: it has incredible staying — and therefore staining — power. Where Citrus Flirt would be demolished by poorly-aimed bites of Starbucks’ Cinnamon Danish, Sassy Fuschia can power through: a salt-beef bagel, a smoked salmon bagel, a hummus plate, and tea before needing to be reapplied. Since “hydrating” and “satin” tend to be the opposite of “long-lasting,” this served as the best of both worlds.

I believe this has to do with how the pink pigment stains the lips — so much so that a faint remnant still remained the next morning! Because I don’t have pigmented lips, it was a treat to be greeted with somewhat healthy looking lips.

Final Thoughts

I love how the True Dimensions lipstick disguises your sins against lip hydration by making them appear plump and healthy. I wouldn’t consider this a lip treatment replacement – I don’t believe it’s that hydrating or healing, especially in harsher weather.

It’s not necessarily a budget buy: it’s priced well above drugstore lipsticks and near the vicinity of Benefit and Stila. But if you find the perfect color for you, it’s a great lightweight formula that will give you the color payoff you want. I’d be curious to try the more muted and earthy colors, because I never learn.

Mary Kay True Dimensions Lipstick is priced at P860 and available from your local Mary Kay Beauty Consultant. If you don’t have a Beauty Consultant, you can go to their website and they’ll find one for you! Or if you are a Beauty Consultant, feel free to comment here!

 

*PR Sample. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own.