Eat. Play. Run.

My quest to live in Rome, a bite and a step at a time.


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When it comes to leaving for Rome, I could probably tell you to pack only what you can carry, that it’s okay to cry at the airport, to get a temporary international phone plan until you can buy a local phone, and to eat classic American food, like a burger and fries, before you get on the plane.

Instead, I’ll tell you this:

Don’t wait 48 hours before departure before you decide to color your hair yourself.

Yes, you can tell where this is going.

My current hair didn’t look horrible, but grey hairs were starting to show. It had been about 7 weeks since my San Francisco stylist colored my hair (she is fabulous), and the thought of trying to navigate a Roman salon with a language barrier seemed too daunting. So during a trip to Walmart (blech) with my mother, I decided on a whim to buy hair color. We found a shade very close to my current color, so I figured it would work well.


Apparently hair colors come in two tones: warm and cool. With my hair and skin type, I need “cool” tones. I picked up a warm color.

So on Sunday night (remember: I leave Tuesday morning), I get ready to do the deed. My mother offered to apply the coloring for me, and after twenty minutes, we rinsed it out. When I removed the towel from my head to blow-dry, I immediately knew that something had gone very, very wrong.

My hair was orange. And not in an all-over-my-head-one-color orange (although that too would have been horrific), but rather this interesting brown on the top, orange at the roots kind of way. This was due to the fact that we applied the color at the roots for a longer amount of time.

I stepped out of the bathroom and said, “I don’t like it. It’s wrong.” My mother tried to reassure me that it didn’t look bad, but the bathroom light really accentuated the orangeness. When I came downstairs the next morning and stood in natural daylight, she commented,

“Oh. Now I see what you’re talking about.”

I guess something in the back of my mind knew that this was going to be an epic fail, which is why left myself a one-day window in case I needed a professional. Fortunately, a salon in nearby DuBois was able to squeeze me in later that morning.

I really didn’t know what to expect, and the salon itself was quite a change from what I’m used to experiencing in San Francisco. For one, I’ve never heard country music playing in a hair salon. But it was very clean and organized, and two of the stylists discussed very thoroughly about what process to use to fix this debacle. I felt like I was in good hands.

Another difference between city and small-town salons (besides the music) is that in a city, stylists don’t really discuss your personal business. In a small town, where everyone knows everyone else, every client is discussed in detail. When asked questions about my personal life, I was careful not to divulge specific names and to keep details general in nature. I’m all for having a network, but situations like this remind me of one of the perks of living in a big city.

In the end, I walked out with hair a natural shade of light brown, accented with blonde highlights. It looked great, and she even wrote down the colors to take with me to Italy. What a relief to board the plane looking and feeling like myself!


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