Tag Archives: Rochester

Thank You Note

Eleven months ago, I wrote a note to a crying stranger in a café, assuring her that her troubles would pass and that she was not alone. You can do it, I wrote.

A week later, I needed a kind stranger to write me a note, promising me that I was not alone, that my troubles would pass, that everything would be okay.

More than a few kind strangers entered my life this year; they grew into kind friends.

I’m at my parents’ house in Rochester, enveloped by a quiet joy, a delight at having my family all together. There’s a warm bubble somewhere just above my heart, noticeable despite a slight constriction in my chest. In a few days, I’ll be getting on a plane with my two checked bags, a carry-on bag, and a backpack to move back to Singapore, a place that I love and still call home. I’m not sleeping well, which must mean I’m nervous.

And just like last time and the time before, it’s bittersweet. I think it always will be.

Before I go, I want to thank everyone who has supported me through a year fraught with personal challenges. With their support, I learned a lot about myself, confronted some demons I didn’t know I had, and gained a sense of what I want and what I’m looking for.

So, I want to say thank you.

To the friend who sat with me for hours to find an apartment, figure out the next steps, and forced me to literally get up, get dressed, and get out;

to the friend who let me be sad and supplied me with wine and cheese to help the sadness go down a little easier;

to the friend who held me when “New York City” by The Chainsmokers filled the LA Convention Center;

to everyone who told me to talk to a therapist and to my roommate who gave me the last push in that direction;

to the therapist who let me talk and assured me that that I’m doing okay at this thing called life and that I’m allowed to listen to myself;

to the friends who called on Skype and over the phone to remind me that they may be far away, but they’re here;

to the colleagues who put a smile on my face every single day, made me look forward to coming to work, became my friends and confidants, taught me about resilience and overcoming adversity, and gave me the safest, most nurturing place to be when I had nowhere else to go;

to the students whose questions pushed me to rethink schools, education, and my plans for the future;

to the UES carpool squad who became my reason for getting out of bed nearly every day for the first few months of school and for friendship, political solidarity, and Starbucks Fridays;

to my sister and brother who checked in on me, came to visit, and reminded me that my “built-in friends” are really never going anywhere;

to my parents who showed me the world;

thank you.

Thank you all so much.

Love,

Rebecca Michelle

 

Thoughts of Home

Some time ago, home stopped meaning places and started meaning people. Home is where my people are, wherever it is they happen to be. Home is multiple places at once because I’m lucky enough to have friends and family members the world over.

But Rochester, New York is my first home. My longest home. Rochester is the place I know the best and the place I feel safest. It’s where my immediate family lives, where my oldest friends are from and where some still are. It’s a place of both fond memories and dark moments, times of absolute elation and the deepest uncertainty. Rochester and its people have raised me and only asked that I remember where I come from wherever I go.

Rochester is technically a mid-size city on the shores of the Genesee River and Erie Canal, but it’s very much a small town. People are friendly, the pace of life is calm, and there’s a sense of collective responsibility and a spirit of helpfulness. People make connections with others, knowing they’ll cross paths again. Rochesterians have a sense of genuine pride in their city that they want to share with others. It’s not enough that we love our town and that we’ve made our homes here; we want you to feel the same way.

I’ve called other places home since going away for college back in 2008, but Rochester has always been home home. No matter where in the world I am, it always will be.

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Pittsford Village on the Erie Canal

Hey, curly girls! This one’s for you.

I got my hair cut today. This is a big deal because I think the last time I got my hair cut was three years ago. And it’s an even bigger deal because I asked the stylist to straighten it.

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I normally wear my hair down and just let it do whatever it’s going to do. This is a coping mechanism – equal parts resignation, exasperation, and experience. Sometimes it looks great and I love it, like in the picture above. It really is that curly and I really do have natural red highlights, which sometimes show up.

Since I’m asked this a lot, these are my current hair products:

Most people have never seen me with straight hair. I’ve rarely seen me with straight hair, actually. Once upon a time, about three years ago, I wrote about having curly hair and I straightened my hair to make a point. I don’t think I’ve had straight hair since.

And yet, here we are again!

On a recommendation from my mum’s stylist at Tru Salon in Rochester, NY, I went to the Aveda Institute here in New York City to have my hair trimmed by a student stylist. I’ve had enough bad haircuts as a curly-haired person to avoid a) getting my hair cut entirely and b) paying a lot of money for a haircut. Rachel, my mum’s stylist, assured me that the Aveda Institute sees a lot of curly patrons because getting a good curly haircut can be such a challenge and a huge expense.

It’s only hair, right? It’ll grow back, right?

Ha.

Normally I’d say yes, but that’s precisely the problem.

I haven’t cut my hair in three years because it doesn’t grow. I’ve dreamt of long, flowing curly locks for enough years to know I’ll never have them, even though I follow all of these tips.

Oh yeah. Except for the one about regular trims. Oops.

So off the the Aveda Institute I went!

At the Aveda Institute, student stylists have to get the procedure and each stage of the process approved by an instructor. While this might make some patrons nervous, I understand the need to practice on real humans to learn your trade (I’m a teacher, after all). I truly encourage everyone to look into the Aveda Institute if you’re looking for a top-quality, inexpensive service. After all, students are very careful and deliberate because they’re still learning and you have the benefit of an expert stylist watching each step of the way.

My student stylist, Mary, told me everything I already knew about my hair – it’s surprisingly healthy and hydrated, surprisingly soft, and surprisingly fine. She was surprised that I haven’t cut it in so long. People usually are. What made me happy is that she understood exactly what I wanted and clearly explained how she was going to make my hair look even healthier (and hopefully grow). Even better, the instructors agreed with her! I dread the oft-heard question, “How do they usually cut your hair?” from a stylist, indicating that curly hair like mine is unfamiliar. Mary’s confidence made me feel at ease and since she had the scissors, that was probably a good thing.

Reasons to Visit the Aveda Institute

  1. They provide a wide range of salon services (I’ll probably be back soon for a facial)
  2. They serve tea
  3. It’s fun to watch the students style and color mannequins’ hair
  4. The students are very conscientious
  5. Instructors check every step of the process and make some adjustments along the way
  6. It’s very, very affordable and reasonably priced

One thing to note: If you want to tip, they only accept cash and don’t have an ATM.

When Mary was done, I asked her to take some pictures:

Hey, everybody! I have long, flowing locks! Amazing. Darn all that curl shrinkage.

Unfortunately, my hair won’t look like this tomorrow. I don’t own a comb, brush, blow dryer, or straightening iron (or blush, eyeshadow, or lipstick) so it’ll either be back to curls or up in a ponytail. But it’s super fun to feel it swish against my back and the sides of my face! It’s always the little things, right?

So after three years, about a 1/2-inch of split ends have been cut off and my layers are relayered. I’m looking forward to seeing what my hair looks like curly!

If you have tips, tricks, or hints to share, I’d love to hear them! I’m pretty low-maintenance (could you tell?) but surprisingly vain when it comes to my hair. Happy to hear anything you’ve got! Comment below or through the contact page. Cheers, curly girls!