2014年08月04日

When a finger


From 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night most days, Ericka Trinh can be found cutting hair, setting perms, manicuring nails, and waxing limbs at her beauty salon in St. Paul, Minn. In the evenings, she heads to Minneapolis and starts work on her second business. "Sleeping is not a big thing that I do," Trinh jokes. She might stay up all night baking taro-flavored cupcakes or draping fondant over wedding cakes.

Trinh, 33, enjoys styling hair. She also enjoys baking. But she's not running two businesses for fun; she's doing it for financial security. "I started right after my mom got better from cancer," Trinh says of her bakery. "That was kind of a wake-up call: you can't just ride on the money you make now, because it's just enough for you, and if something were to happen to the family again, I don't know how we'd survive."

Trinh's parents were Vietnamese refugees. They met in St. Paul in the late 1970s. Her dad worked as a lab technician at a pharmaceutical company, and her mom, Anh, owned and operated a beauty salon, called Anh's Hairstylists. The Trinhs bought an old house in St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood, tore it down, and replaced it with a two-story clapboard building. The salon took up the ground floor, and the family lived upstairs.

Frogtown has always been a working-class neighborhood, with a large immigrant population. Anh's Hairstylists looks out onto on University Avenue, the neighborhood's main commercial street. Trinh and her two younger siblings grew up doing chores in the salon, folding towels, sweeping the floor, and taking out perm rods. The salon stayed small, but grew a loyal clientele.

Trinh learned to perm hair by the time she was 12, and to cut hair by the time she turned 16. She left home at 19 to earn a bachelor's degree in computer animation from the Minnesota School of Business, a for-profit institution. Shortly after she graduated, her dad had a stroke. Trinh came home. Her mom had to care for her dad, and couldn't spend as much time in the salon. Then her mom was diagnosed with cancer. Then the global economy collapsed.

"I find that whatever challenge comes up, I just kind of deal with it. I don't really think about how hard it was," Trinh says. But still, for about three years, as her mom battled cancer, Trinh was the only person working at Anh's Hairstylists. She was also trying to look after her parents, as well as her younger sister, who has a mental disability.

Fortunately, Trinh's mom recovered, and the salon survived the recession, thanks in part to its low prices. "People who used to spend $50 to $60 on a haircut would start coming to me for a $15 haircut," Trinh says. She took over as owner of the salon about two years ago. Her mom works part time, her sister helps out, and her cousin plans to join the team after beauty school.

In 2011, Trinh started Silhouette Bakery, a catering business, as an extra source of income. She rents commercial kitchen space in the Midtown Global Market, a small-business incubator in Minneapolis, and bakes desserts for birthday parties, weddings, and other celebrations.

"I do fusion flavors," Trinh says. Her elaborate creations—like a two-tiered cake shaped like a castle—look like they belong on a cooking show. Her younger brother, who has a culinary arts degree, is her business partner, and her boyfriend works with them. Recently, Trinh's parents gave her another property they owned, a duplex next door to the salon, which Trinh plans to remodel into a brick-and-mortar bakery storefront.

Frogtown has become one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the Twin Cities. It's home to immigrants from Southeast Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and is dotted with small businesses from noodle shops to medical practices. It's also benefited from public investment: earlier this summer, a gleaming new light-rail line started gliding past the front door of Trinh's salon.

To capitalize on the new transit, a neighborhood nonprofit is trying to brand the area around Trinh's business as 'Little Mekong,' a destination district where visitors can get a taste of Asian culture. The Asian Economic Development Center now organizes summer night markets, outdoor events featuring dancers, Lao drummers, and lots of food. Trinh learned to make Japanese-style custard buns to sell at the market.

It's never easy to run a small business—let alone two—but this is a good time to be a business owner in Frogtown. "I'm hoping the salon will grow a little more. I don't want it to be just a one-man business. As much as I love being here, I'd like a little bit of backup," says Trinh. "I'd hope to bring in maybe a couple more chairs, a few more employees, just to make it a little bigger, a little bit better."

"And then once the bakery's up and built, I'm hoping it will draw in a crowd, and people [will] like what I do. And then maybe I can take a break!" she says, with a laugh. "It would be nice to have a break."
posted by dodo at 15:09| Comment(0) | story | 更新情報をチェックする

2013年08月07日

こんな夢をみた


どう言う訳か夏になるとお化け屋敷が賑わう。子供の頃、真夏のお祭りに行くと神社の参道に大々的に設置されたお化け屋敷に毎年のように通ったものだ。当時は、case coversお化けなど信じていなかった私でも真昼に真暗闇の建物に入り、その瞬間から突然、長い黒髪の女が顔からは血が流れ、着ている衣装と言えば白襦袢に帯が中途半端に腰に巻かれ、頭には死人が旅立つときの頭巾を被り、その恰好で突然目の前に現れてくると、悲鳴を叫び出てくる頃には大汗をかいて、それでも自信たっぷりに「何も怖くなかった」と自分に言い聞かせて出て来た私だった。

数日前にテレビ番組の中で現代のお化け屋敷についての放送が有り、この時に思い出して読んだのが『夢十夜』だった。久し振りに本棚の奥から取り出した『夢十夜』は、冬でもなく夏でもなく汗を滴り出る様な真夏の夜に読む一冊だと感じた。

第1夜の「こんな夢をみた」で始まる書き出し。読み進めて行くうちに夢に誘われて何時しかお化け小屋に紛れ込んでしまった気持ちになった。更に読み進めていくと、そこには100年後の私なのかお化け屋敷を出た瞬間と重なった。自分ではもう少しお化け屋敷で冷や汗をかいて見ていたいと思いながら現実に戻ってしまった。だが、それはお化け屋敷に紛れ込んだのでもなくsmart cloud HK、夢を見たのでもない。不思議な経験をした時間だった。

普通、小説とは自分の経験を書く私小説的なものや、虚構を交えて自分やある人を通して表現をするものだ。少し違っているかも知れないが、今の私にはそう思えてくる。ところが『夢十夜』は、そうではない。後書きの感想で大林宣彦監督は「実は言葉自身の存在を見つめているのである。更にいえば、その言葉が本来持っている想像力生み出す、ひとつの風景を、である」と述べている。

漱石は明治の日本を代表する作家の1人です。漢文、短歌等の定型詩にも詳しく、英語も話せ、本の翻訳を行った、今で言う言葉のマジシャンのような作家の1人です。彼が身に着けたマジシャンによってお化け屋敷に誘われたように読み終ってから気が付いたwhere to buy wigs。それは自体、夢でもなく、現実でもなく、言葉のマジックによって忘れていた想像力を思い出してくれた一冊です。

そう言えば子供の頃にお化け屋敷の他にマジックや手品を見たことが有ります。どちらも手に汗をかかせる夏には欠かせない風物です。
posted by dodo at 16:58| Comment(0) | story | 更新情報をチェックする

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