Friday, April 27, 2007

Single, Lightly Steamed

Okay. I’ve been a big girl for years now. I own my own tool set, balance my own checkbook, and if they’re not TOO scary I can kill my own bugs, although if they’re nightmarish I’m big enough to admit defeat and call in some brave warrior to kill it for me. ‘Brave warrior’ usually means the nearest child, cat or elderly person. I’m not picky. They just have to be bigger and faster than the bug.

I was lucky enough to be brought up to be independent. To think of my life and my responsibilities as my own, and not to put anything on hold ‘until I get married’ or ‘in case my future husband does/not like it’. I’m single, and while I may have daydreams about what it would be like to share my life with someone on a daily basis, it’s not going to happen any time soon, if ever, and I choose not to be upset by that.

So it is sometimes a shock to me when other single women of my acquaintance make what sound to my ears like retro, even vintage, comments about women living their lives for men. Case in point: (Bear with me, the exposition is a little long.)

I have a single female roommate and 2 cats. I’ve had the cats longer than I’ve had the roommate. One of my cats – Wilkie – is quite large. The vet’s eyes get bigger when they light on her. Wilkie’s not petite. But she has been the same size and weight for years, and she seems to be quite happy about it. She’s been on the same weight control food forever and while it doesn’t appear to be lessening her weight, one can only assume that the ‘control’ it exerts is preventing her from becoming the size of an armchair.

So one night this week while Roommate and I were each making our own dinners in our tiny kitchen, we were talking about Wilkie, who was sitting on a chair, keeping a sharp eye on all food prep activities.

Roommate was telling me that when her mother calls from California she always asks about the cats, and always asks whether Wilkie has lost weight.

We both look at Wilkie. As usual, no discernible weight loss. Wilkie looks back at us, unperturbed. We laugh a little. I shrug.

Roommate continues: “We think that maybe Wilkie has already found her lover and doesn’t need to worry about keeping a slim waist.”

I froze mid-shrug. I was really quite shocked. I felt obliged to defend Wilkie so murmured something about “Oh Wilkie loves herself as she is, very healthy self-image…” Roommate didn’t seem to notice the vast gulf of difference between our comments. I got my food and I got out of there. (Wilkie went with me.)

Now. This is just appalling to me. How can an intelligent single woman in her thirties in this day and age say something like that without being struck by lightning? When I told my sister this story she gasped in horror, which is exactly what I felt like doing at the time, but politely did not.

Question: Why on earth does Wilkie have to find a lover at all???

Roommate’s Answer: Because she is an unmarried female.

It makes me want to bang my head against a wall. Lovers are a BONUS, people!!! You don’t live your life only to find them. You appreciate them when they arrive, try to make your two lives fit together if you really want them to, you might look for them if you really want one but don’t have one – but the entire reason for your existence is NOT simply to find one. You have to make something of your life either way, whether or not you find a partner to share it with.

It’s alarming to me that my independence today still doesn’t rest entirely easy. It may have been relatively easy for me to go to college, get a job, find an apartment – all things that single women in the past had to fight to do on their own. But it exasperates me that I still have to justify my choice to live on my own. I am not marking time. I am not waiting for some male judge to pop out at the ‘end’ and grade my performance, maybe even give me a ring if I do well enough. And yet comments like Roommate’s imply that that is exactly what I am doing.

Roommate, Wilkie and I are all unmarried females. Wilkie and I are okay with that.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sitting on Cheese

Perhaps you're one of those curious people who *wonders* things all the time: I wonder why that woman chose those pants? I wonder what mustard tastes like on chocolate? I wonder why mustard and chocolate - two things that can go so far on their own to make bland things taste better - taste so BAD together?

I'm only a dabbler at wondering. Which is why the Cheese Seats caught me completely unawares.

We have these new seats in the museum. They look like brightly colored foam cubes on legs. That is, in fact, exactly what they are. In the midst of a very busy day of dashing hither and yon, I stopped mid-dash to rest a sec on one of the bright foam cubes. The foam sinks a little when you sit on it. Not much - the foam is somewhere between the firmness of styrofoam and the squishy-ness of memory foam. And that's when it hit me: this is what it feels like to sit on a big block of cheddar cheese.

I got up. I have not sat there again. It wasn't unpleasant. It was just too... cheesy.

Remember when it was 'thought the moon was made of green cheese'? We have a green foam cube in our museum that you can sit on while you wonder what that might be like.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sunshine and Apples

The sun is out!!! It's so pretty today. There's a line in The Great Gatsby about "twinklebells of sunshine" bouncing across a floor - there are TONS of sunny twinklebells bouncing around out there today. It's glorious.

It's almost miraculous what a difference this makes in my mood personally and the mood of the city in general. Everyone seems more cheerful and sparkly and playful. Of course, it helps that it's Friday and we're all looking forward to the first sunny warm weekend of the year. We're like kids on the last day of school, barely held in check by routine.

And I am heading to NY to visit friends and to forget about all things Boston for 2 whole days. I plan to throw a frisbee in Central Park. This may not sound glamorous or important to you but believe me, this is a portentous statement. I've only thrown a frisbee one other time in the past 10 years and that too was thrown in Central Park on a glorious sunny weekend. It is a sign of perfect leisure in my book.

So, wearing my apple green blazer, I'm heading out into the sun to visit the Big Apple. I hope your weekend is also full of sunshine!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Day o' O'Day

I woke up this morning veeeeery slowly, to the sounds of some NPR talker going on and on about the late great jazz singer Anita O'Day. Either he said the phrase 'the best female jazz singer you've never heard of' 18 times, or else my waking mind caught that phrase in some sort of wringer, because I remember hearing it way too many times for one short radio story.

The thing is, I *had* heard of Anita O'Day. I'm no great shakes when it comes to remembering stuff about music. For some reason my mind cannot hold onto song lyrics, band names, song titles, or singers' names - and I have virtually no chance of getting all of those right for one particular song. Ever. But I do know Anita O'Day because when I lived in England my dance partner introduced me to her.

My dance partner was an extremely tall man who looked like a young John Cleese. I found him at a swing dance club outside of Oxford and when I mentioned that I wanted to start teaching a beginners class in my own neighborhood he volunteered to help. We had a good time teaching classes and I will always remember him for two things: he's the only very tall straight man I've ever known in person to use jazz hands, and he introduced me to Anita O'Day by way of her song 'Peel Me a Grape.'

If you've never heard 'Peel Me a Grape' you should find it somewhere and have a listen. I'm no jazz scholar so I won't attempt to dissect it. I'll just say it's the kind of song that Marilyn Monroe wished she could sing - all pouty sex-kitten lyrics - but with a great swingy rhythm and truly perfect vocals. It goes fast too so O'Day purrs through bossy lines like "peel me a grape", "french me a fry" and (my favorite) "cashmere me" at a pretty good clip. And the whole thing is such fun to dance to. If you know someone who dances to swing music, beg for a twirl around the floor. It's that good!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Let there be light!

After a year of planning, and a few months of scrambling, a project that has SO MUCH potential is about to be left in the dark.

Do you hear that noise?

It's too dark to see clearly, but you may just be able to hear steam whistling from my ears.

I work in a museum that has been under construction for a year now. And for about the same amount of time I've been working on a project that involves local artists designing artworks for display cases we've built into the new part of the museum. Of course, it's been a little tricky since the artists have had to design stuff to fit into cases that none of us had ever seen except on paper. Now we've got the cases built - they're lovely to look at - and they don't have lights.

Art in the dark. Perhaps an interesting approach for lasers or music, but less so for visual art. You need the light.

I have no idea why we don't have light, and frankly, the why doesn't interest me. I'm only interested in when we can correct this problem. I'm not a patient girl so it could be a long painful wait till we get to the part that interests me.

The only way I know to deal with chronic frustration like this is to change the subject. So. In other light-related news, I haven't seen the sun in something like 14 days. If you see it, please give my regards, and also, perhaps remind it how to get to New England.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ooh LaLa

Why LaLa? My nephews call me LaLa or Aunt LaLa. It's not my 'real' name, but it's a nickname with far more durability than others I've survived, so for blogging purposes, it works.

Why LaLa Land? Oh well, I suppose we all live in our own lands, don't we? Another good reason is that I work for a museum, a work environment that sometimes departs from reality so drastically that it feels like we all drank drugged KoolAid for lunch, or were shot into zero gravity without any warning.

Why blog? I've resisted the pull of the blog for so long that I can hardly believe I'm typing this. But here we go. I've had things rattling around in my mind for a few months now and I think they might rattle less if I spill them out onto these pages. It's an experiment. We'll see how it goes.