When Meredith Eaton walked into the front door of Salon Gossip in Bloomfield, NJ (www.salon-gossip.com) on a chilly Thursday morning for her daughter's appointment, she was greeted - as always - by Donna Vaicels, the salon's effusive and effervescent owner. With a Brenda Vaccaro-esque raspy alto and short pink mohawk spiking out of a shock of white-blond hair, Vaicels cuts a striking presence in this cozy salon, where a staff of four--Naomi, Stefanie, Kathleen, and Gail--attend to every manner of your beauty needs.
Eaton, a personal chef and owner of The Good Life Gourmet (http://thegoodlifegourmet.net), has been bringing her daughters Salon Gossip for years, but today, as she walked toward Donna's station to settle in, she saw something she would never have expected at the nail bar: a typewriter.
Since early September 2012, the salon has been hosting this vintage Remington Ten Forty, one in a growing collection I've purchased to bring the Type Rider project (http://www.mayastein.com/type-rider) to new venues with the goal of making writing opportunities available to unexpected--and unsuspecting--audiences. Salon Gossip is the flagship location for this experiment in environmental inspiration; I was curious to see if this relaxed and social atmosphere--where customers tend to linger long after their appointments are finished (the comfy couches and offers of tea don't hurt)--would encourage some creativity on the page.
I left Donna and her girls with some suggestions for writing prompts but invited her to come up with her own and change them whenever she saw fit. In late November, I stopped in the salon for a cut-and-color and to see how things were coming along. Donna reported that her customers loved having the typewriter there to jot down their thoughts (often ignoring Donna's prompts altogether), and seemed unfazed by the public aspect of their writing, sometimes even springing out of their chairs after their stylist was finished to add a few more lines to the page.
During Donna's annual holiday party, the nail bar had been cleared of its bottles of polish and replaced with bowls of chips and dip, giving the party guests additional reason to sit down and respond to that evening's prompt, "All I want for Christmas." By year's end, Donna had gathered an impressive collection of writing. I returned recently to retrieve the typewriter and gather the pages.
THEY NEVER TOLD ME...
...that life could be so difficult yet so exciting and full of surprises! That working with all women would be the best ever!!
....it would be easy, but [they] promised it would be worth it.
...it would be easy. Life is a pisser. Enjoy [it]!
...that white wine would burn that much when I laughed out my nose!
...that raising children would be so hard, enjoyable and stressful all at once.
...that laughter is a choice.
...I could change the prompt...
...life can be so challenging.
...using a typewriter can be so confusing.
....it would still hurt so much to watch the towers fall. (9/11/12)
...coming here is an adventure!!!
I'M SO LUCKY TO...
...be able to express my thoughts without fear or concern of what those think...
....remember how to use this typewriter.
....actually enjoy going to work and the people I work with.
...have my hair done at Salon Gossip.
...be surrounded by great people.
...to know Donna the way I know Donna.
...to have my health and be able to do the things I want.
...see and hear.
...to have the best husband in the world!
...Thank you for the great relationship advice you gave me tonight. I love you.
...be surrounded by such awesome people.
...have a yogi in the salon with us.
...beat Stevie in Words (with Friends) not once but twice back to back!
...have the best daughter in the world.
...be blessed with 4 beautiful children and a wonderful husband.
...I am so lucky to be a mother to two wonderful children. I am lucky to have a home. I remember using these typewriters when I was younger. I remember the humming, the anticipation to use these and have official paperwork. I felt important.
...I am lucky to have a family, a dog, and to just be alive.
ON MY WORST DAY I...
...would still never think to change a thing about my life. I am where I am because of every choice I made and how I handled the choices that were made for me. If I could do it all over again...I wouldn't change a thing because I would not have the two most amazing reasons I have to wake up, smile, love and live.
...still thank God and am happy to be alive.
...never wanted to have this much time off.
On January 5, I lost my father to suicide. That was the worst day of my life. I miss him dearly but it has made me stronger. This is extremely difficult to type. Life is a gift, and I don't intend on wasting it.
...the Nor'easter after Hurricane Sandy.
...reading, mathematics, and architecture.
...Each day I wake, I aspire to learn as much as I possibly can. We all have hardships and how we learn from them defines us as a human and defines our collective humanity. Yours in good feelings and in life, Michael I.
...Credula vitam spes fovet et melius cras fore semper dicit - Credulous hope supports our lives and says tomorrow will always be better (Tibullus, Roman orator and statesman).
...Suddenly the door opened, and in she walked. I knew right away...trouble was not too far behind her. She wore a cowboy hat, a long trench coat, and bright red boots. She was quiet when she entered the room, not a word said. Everyone stared in disbelief, and that's when it happened. She removed the hat to reveal her bald tattooed head. The dragon tattoo would prove to be a harbinger of evil.
...Nothing seems to surprise me...
...But I should know better...
...At that precise moment Dad asked me to bring him the lighter fluid.
...I love my new hair!! Thank you Donna for making me feel better! - Maryann
...And this commercial break has been brought to you by Salon Gossip.
...The results are in: Cancer is gone, TIME TO BURN THE WIG!
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS...
...for people to slow down, look up, pay attention, take care, show their love in healthy and generous ways, be open-minded, and consciously make changes in their lives to reduce waste and improve their relationship with their environment. And other stuff too, but my girlfriend wants to type now.
...I already have everything I could ever want. Santa can bring my presents to someone who needs them. Share the love.
...I am so thankful for my great friends and family and my son Brendon. May all be blessed this season. - Sharon W. P.S. I thank God for Donna's RED LIPSTICK!! Oh, and a MAN PLEASE!!
...for women everywhere to recognize the power and the beauty they possess.
...for people to be more considerate of others. Why must we impeded on the happiness of others? Everyone's goal in life is to be happy, so if people would just keep that in mind and remember that in the end we all have the same basic goal in life, we will treat others with the same respect and dignity we expect to receive. If we all keep an open mind and respect those who are different from ourselves as different whether we understand or not, then this human innate goal of reaching happiness may be achieved by all. Just think about it.
...Luci was here. Salon Gossip rules!
...Merry Christmas everyone and a happy new year. Enjoy the holidays!
...Sofia was here. I love Salon Gossip! I am just getting my hair straightened. I think it is going to be done by Stephanie or my Aunt Donna!! She is the best. (I love Salon Gossip.)
...Dear Mobil Type Rider, Congratulations on your endeavor to trek across the United States with a typewriter on your back. I am certain not many people remember using the typewriter. I used to use one for term papers back in the 1980's. Today's generation does not know how fortunate they are to have backspace and a delete button...and they still misspell words! This little machine certainly brings back memories...fond ones of a time when we look back and say "life was easier back then." Now we sound like our parents! Anyway, no sense waxing on about what was. In twenty years we will remember the simplicity of a PC when we are speaking into a box that types, autocorrects and goes to the bathroom for us! Aah, technology moves at the speed of light. Thanks for the memories and good luck with your cycling!
...My word for the year is "fearless." I want t step into every aspect of life without fear. Without fear of judgment, without fear of shame, without fear of anger, without fear of fear itself. Leap, soar, jump, dive, dance without fear. FEARLESS.
...After a 21-hour drive it feels good to get my hair done and look fabulous...