Tangerine red balayage & phantasmia

A few months ago I wanted to try out balyage coloring on my hair. I’ve always gone for fire tones – tangerine and sunset. But…I can’t stand going to the hairdresser’s! I have a huge aversion to the small talk – and being stuck in a seat bombarded with small talk for hours on end is something to be avoided at all costs.

I know that hairdressers probably hate the chit chat too, I’m sure they fait don’t give a fig where anyone is going on vacation this year. They engage in small talk to put the customer at ease because most people absolutely cannot stand silence. So, kudos to hairdressers but… I won’t be going to one.

Also, this whole past year at the house-sit assignment in the south of France was about saving money for a house – and a beauty treatment just wasn’t a high priority.

So Sean, in an act of infinite kindness, offered to give me a balyage treatment! Even though he had never heard the word before and had no idea what it was. I really had no idea how to do it either. I explained it like this : I want my hair to be a little bit bleached at the ends and dyed Tangerine so it looks like my hair has been dipped in fire.

Youtube tutorials to the rescue! And now I have the exact hair I dreamed of! I can’t believe we pulled it off!

Faded balyage:

Balyage redoux:

I love the results! Especially in the sun. I can’t usually be bothered with cosmetics routines or make up, but I love my hair that’s just caught fire around the edges.

Sean is a saint.

I always use Light Mountain henna – 100% organic, 100% botanical (no metals). It’s cruelty free, easy to use, *very* little mess compared to the other types, and it takes great to gray hair.

On the work site this past month (aka our house) my hair has been sorely neglected. It was only this bad in 2018 when I spent a month on pilgrimage, backpacking across Europe and sleeping in monasteries and hostels etc.

I often had to wash my hair with bar soap and it was always hopelessly tangled in all the zips and cords and straps of my backpack. Glamping in our new house feels an awful lot like that, and our house with its stone walls and spare ambience feels an awful lot like a monastery! So my hair is a bit straw-like but I can’t really care too much or bother with conditioners and all that. There are too many way more fun things to do.

So….onto phantasmia…

When we first moved into our old house a month ago, I was afraid of ghosts. Little did I know that I would encounter a different kind of phantasm – something known as “olfactory hallucination.”

Smelling phantoms instead of seeing them.

It started yesterday when I was woken from our nap by the smell of burning grease. I checked the oven but it wasn’t on and there was no sign of anything having been burned.

Sean said he didn’t smell anything. How on earth could he not smell it??

Our lovely nap before hallucinatory phantoms interrupted us (but of course I wasn’t really asleep because I took the picture…but still…how rude…)

Then I went around the airbnb like a crazy person sniffing every electronic device and every vent. Then I went out to the hallway – maybe the apartment next door was on fire? Maybe they had burned their dinner?

But there was nothing.

Next I closed all the windows in case the smell was coming from outdoors. Sometimes people burn piles of sticks and grass. Maybe something plastic had been burned in the heap? Like a dog toy or errant water bottle?

But the smell of burning grease persisted and I soon began to feel like I had lost my mind. So I looked it up online – something I know I should never ever do because without fail every single symptom anyone could ever have *might* just be indicative of cancer, a brain tumor, or Parkinson’s.

Well my research was helpful because I learned that this is a real thing : phantom smells are usually unpleasant, like rotting food or burning rubber. Bingo! (I’m so grateful to my neurichemistry that it landed on burning grease instead of rotting food!!)

So I’ve created a fire in my mind that doesn’t really exist. There must be a poem in that. It’s so accurate in so many ways.

Underlying causes for scent hallucinations :

1. strange new allergens (or old dust and plaster?) in the nasal cavity confusing the smell receptors. A saline rinse will solve the problem.

2. growths in the nasal cavity – need to have them removed

3. lead poisoning – this scares me a little bit because this old house, like all old houses, has lead paint. And we’ve been washing the walls, chipping the walls, breaking down the walls… (and not always wearing masks – in 100 degree heat a couple of weeks ago it just didn’t seem practical). So could it be a little bit of lead poisoning? Can it happen that quickly?

The last possible causes of phantasmia on the health website were, of course, brain tumors and Parkinson’s! So now I’m all paranoid.

Sean said no way – he’s been working on old homes his whole life and he’s never had any problem. It’s only bad if you’re chewing on it, swallowing flakes of the paint, or if you’re working with lead for years with no ventilation.

And everyone in the village – and in every village in France – lives in old homes that absolutely have to have lead. They’re not all going around sniffing their neighbors ‘ ovens for grease fires.

I hope, hope, hope this is only temporary. The smell of rancid smoke is so thick and acrid that I choke on it every so often. I’ll go douse my nose with saltwater and hope it puts out the fire.

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