The Second Half

A middle-aged lady (or old, depending on perspective) sharing this and that with whomever strays into her digital property. Of course there are cats involved ;)

A shoutout to all the clichés out there — November 21, 2019

A shoutout to all the clichés out there

What a shitty blog owner I have been, right? My last post is dated March 2018 – who the heck neglects their blog in such a shameful manner?? Is it any excuse that my freelance practice took off, and I got far too busy to sit at my desk and stare through the window? A bit flimsy as excuses go, but I don’t have a better one.

My birthday is coming up, but that’s not the topic I have in mind. What I’ve been pondering lately is this: am I a cliché and, more importantly, do I care if so?

For those unfamiliar with the name Ali Wong, she is a stand-up comedian and one of my absolute favorites. I had no idea stand-up was such excellent entertainment – I only discovered it when I got Netflix. Anyway, in her second special for the streamer, Ali talked about mothers being attracted to glittery things, craving the sparkle “to compensate for the light inside that has died.” You know, the hardships and sacrifices that accompany motherhood and all that.

I’ve never shined brightly or dared to, but this seems to be somewhat applicable in my case. Only I crave color: my hair is pink, lilac, or turquoise these days (green and lemon yellow to be tried next), and I’m buying brightly or multi-colored clothes, shoes, and bags as if my life depended on it.

To an outside observer, this probably appears to be some sort of a mid-life crisis, which it very well may be, but it might be another thing. You see, I was quite pretty as a young woman and never lacked for attention or opportunities, but confidence and self-esteem were not really in the picture.

These days, I don’t care who thinks what (one of the perks of growing older), on top of which I’m enjoying a comfortable life. Don’t believe those telling you that money doesn’t matter – it freaking does! Not losing sleep over bills and being able to buy stupid things on a whim are empowering! These are also relatively new developments for me, so I do what the average person does when they get financially comfortable – I buy tons of stuff I don’t really need.

Back to the colors. Yes, I’m obviously compensating for the lack of self-esteem and financial stability in my younger days. I can go out now decked in all colors of the rainbow, giving no hoot about what anyone has to say as regards age-appropriate attire. OK, let me make something clear: I don’t prance around in skimpy skirts, bum-baring shorts, or crop tops. There are certain boundaries I’ll never be confident enough to cross, which is fine with me and good for the general public, I assume. The point is that I have no problem now with being bright and conspicuous.

Also, the number of my cats has grown to four, so what that picture up there suggests is a ship long sailed. This brings me back to the cliché part. I’m a middle-aged lady who lives alone with a bunch of cats. Cliché? Seems so. Does it matter? Not to me, it doesn’t. I am healthy (well, relatively, nothing unusual for a person in their 50s), family members are fine, financial worries are out of the picture, and my few friends have stuck with me through the years. Why concern myself with inconsequential perceptions?

So, I’m turning 53 next week. Wisdom is not something I pretend to have acquired, so I won’t be offering any lessons to the young people out there (not that they would listen anyway). What I can say at this juncture in my life is that being a cliché is fine if it doesn’t bother you. When you are content and appreciated, you get to own that shit.

Time to go harass my cats now – these critters owe mommy some lurve because she spends crazy money on them. Here are a couple of pictures of the latest arrival:

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By the way, his name is Loki. Yep, he is named after the Marvel character, specifically as portrayed by Tom Hiddleston.

To wrap this up, I can’t promise I’ll suddenly get my shit together and behave as a responsible blog owner should. However, I will certainly try to pop up at least once or twice a month. Maybe I’ll introduce you properly to Loki next time or divulge some shameful secret. You stay positive, a’right?

Special birthday girls, Part 3: B.B. — September 28, 2017

Special birthday girls, Part 3: B.B.

On this day, a silver screen legend turns 83. But what does it matter? They say myths are ageless and Brigitte Bardot is every inch a myth and then some!

I thought for a moment there to say “the quintessential silver screen goddess” but it immediately felt wrong. Oh, Bri-Bri is a goddess – no argument there or at least none that I care to hear. But she is too unique to fit into the confines of any description. Silver screen goddesses were thick on the ground during the golden years of cinema, but Bardot was in a league of her own. Besides, she never thought much of the profession and never sought the adulation.

What was the hysteria about then? Sure, she was insanely gorgeous, physical perfection personified. But then again, there was a horde of other actresses beautiful beyond words.

It certainly had nothing to do with her acting abilities either. Bardot herself once declared, “I started out as a lousy actress and I have remained one.” Film critics say she did well in a couple of films (Le Mepris and La Verite), but she is generally considered a mediocre actress at best.

I have to agree: she usually seemed disinterested and somewhat disdainful on screen, as if the whole thing was an annoying chore. This inevitably translated into wooden, forced performances. Bardot never claimed to love acting. On the contrary, she consistently voiced her dislike for the profession and vowed to leave it when she’d truly had enough. B.B. kept her word and bid cinema adieu in 1973, devoting her life entirely to the animal rights cause.

But this woman had a presence so powerful that you couldn’t tear your eyes away from her! She could just sit in a corner and sulk, stare vacantly at a wall, or smoke with a supreme air of boredom and you would still feel compelled to gaze at her, entranced and spellbound.

The magic of Bardot has virtually nothing to do with the quality of her cinematic work. Her films are mostly light fare, sometimes downright silly and occasionally boring to tears. But people kept flocking to watch her. Why the abiding fascination?

The pursuit of the answer made Brigitte the subject of cultural, sociological and feminist studies. Another French icon, Simone de Beauvoir, explored the appeal of B.B. way back in 1959 in an essay titled “Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome.” Here is an excerpt from that work:

“When Marlene Dietrich exhibited her silk-wrapped thighs while singing in her husky voice, she was casting a spell . . . Brigitte Bardot doesn’t cast spells; she acts. Her flesh doesn’t have the generosity that symbolizes passivity. Her clothes are not fetishes and when she undresses, she reveals no mystery. She simply shows off her body, which is in constant movement. She walks, she dances, she moves. In the hunting game, she is both hunter and prey. Males are an object for her, as much as she is an object for them. This is precisely what hurts males’ pride.”

Another prominent woman of French letters, Françoise Sagan, made Bardot the focus of a book in 1975. “She was success, money, love incarnated and she didn’t see why and who she should reimburse. She wasn’t ashamed of herself, she didn’t apologize for her absolute triumph whereas so many others apologized for their half-victories. And this is why she scandalized everyone,” Sagan wrote.

Brigitte refused to bow to conventions at a time when such dissent sparked public outrage and moralistic diatribes. This is a woman that the Vatican once denounced as the personification of evil by using her image at the 1958 World Expo in Brussels in its pavilion hall to depict suffering, hell and the devil, and lasciviousness. There’s an irony somewhere here because Brigitte remained a conservative at heart throughout her life. She was, after all, brought up in a wealthy Catholic family that upheld tradition.

Controversy has always surrounded Brigitte, nowadays mostly for her far-right inclinations and nationalistic views. Many in France revile her for her stance on immigration in general and anti-Muslim sentiments in particular. She’s been convicted several times of inciting racial or religious hatred. And while claiming to have many gay friends, Bardot has spoken some ugly words about homosexuals.

On the whole, the French have mixed feelings about their erstwhile screen goddess. Many hate her for the things mentioned above but many also praise highly her immense contribution to the fight for animal rights. Quite a few admire her refusal to follow in the footsteps of actresses her age who desperately fight the passage of time by resorting to cosmetic surgery and often end up looking ridiculous. Bardot looks every year of her age, all wrinkled and frail, limping along propped on crutches.

The woman has endured, that’s for sure. Her style has been copied avidly through the years, but no-one has even come close to the original. She was a being apart, floating in her own universe: an incomparable body moving with animal grace, a shock of blond tousled hair, a pout the likes of which the world had never seen and has yet to see, an unapologetic attitude, and a total disregard for the trappings of fame.

She has symbolized many things in her life, among them France, sexual freedom and women’s liberation. It didn’t seem as if she cared much about all of that. Brigitte often claimed she was happiest in La Madrague, her villa in Saint-Tropez, next to the sea, surrounded by her swarm of animals and away from people. They say that Saint-Tropez became the jewel of the French Riviera after word spread that Brigitte had taken up residence there. The city is now honoring its famed denizen by unveiling a statue of Bri-Bri on her birthday.

Bon anniversaire, Brigitte! Be well and stay happy doing your thing, even if that happens to be nothing more than feeding the animals in your yard and puttering in the garden.

 

 

(Featured image comes from Brigitte’s official Facebook page.)

 

Special birthday girls, Part 2: Mona — September 10, 2017

Special birthday girls, Part 2: Mona

Buckle up now because a human tornado is coming this way! That would be the other birthday chica, whose name is Simona.

Most call her Mony but she looks and feels like a Mona to me. Mony is fine and all, but it’s kind of a girly, wimpy sobriquet. Mona, on the other hand, packs a solid punch and perfectly reflects the pluck and pep of the person. Of course, the association could be in my head alone. Whatever…moving on.

To this very day, it remains a mystery to me why Mona thinks so highly of yours truly. We used to work for the same company before plunging into freelance waters and she goes on about having learned a lot from me or some such. You know what I think? Beer is at the bottom of it all. Our shared passion for the frothy, golden elixir (we favor lager) tuned out to be a great foundation for our bond. Laugh all you want, but far crazier things have brought people together.

How should I start my introduction to Mona? Maybe by telling you that she is an acquired taste. I didn’t take to her right away and her intensity and oomph still send me running for cover sometimes.

You wouldn’t believe the force of nature this girl is! She fears nothing and no-one and pursues her goals with dogged determination, even if said goals are no loftier than procuring the latest pair of sneakers that have got her all a-tingle (she’s a sneakers fanatic, this one).

 

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You do realize that’s just a teeny-tiny fraction of her collection, right?

 

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How deep does her passion for sneakers run? She calls her favorite pairs “my precious”…Need I say more?

 

 

Mona is also clever, witty, loud, obsessively neat and frighteningly determined. Yeah, yeah, I know I mentioned her determination, but I really need to drive the message home!

Mona keeps going on about how lazy she is, but I allege that’s all a massive ruse. If she’s not working, she’s cleaning her flat or her car, reading, out doing stuff with friends, traveling to some place, having quality time with her angelically cute little girl, or sorting out family messes. I swear to you I get dizzy and exhausted just by listening to the accounts of her activities!

And Mona is a fighter! She fights for everything and everyone that matters. She fought like a champ for what matters most: life. Mona grabbed breast cancer by the privates and squeezed until the vile thing screamed for mercy and slunk away! You can’t help but be awed by such willpower and lust for life.

This girl is 18 years younger than me but I often feel like an immature brat around her. And don’t get me started on the debt of gratitude I owe her: Mona was the one who delivered the precisely timed, vigorous kick in the derriere that sent me flying from a dead-end job into a whole new work dimension.

Mona is a giver, plain and simple. She generously shares her time, energy and money, rushing to the rescue and tackling your problem with the abandon that characterizes everything she does. Trust me, you want Mona in your camp when tough times come a-knocking. Actually, you want her in your camp no matter what: this one is also great fun and a party animal the likes of which you rarely see.

 

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Striking a “moody, cool dudess” pose

 

Let me wrap it up by saying this: You overwhelm me, girl, and I mean that in the good sense! Sending you love, kisses, hugs and the best of wishes on your special day! Don’t ever let up because the world might go down the crapper if you do!

Special birthday girls, Part 1: Ina — September 9, 2017

Special birthday girls, Part 1: Ina

Yaaay, it’s September! Why the jubilation, eh? To begin with, this is the month that ushers in my favorite season. Besides, it will provide me with some writing material as quite a few special people were born in September. Some of them move in a different world, like French film icon Brigitte Bardot – the most captivating woman to ever walk the Earth!

However, I won’t be taking you into the realm of decadent luxury, swoon-worthy men, ravishing women and jet-setting lifestyles. Nope, we’ll remain firmly planted in real life. But who says special people don’t cross our path every day? In their inconspicuous way, they achieve extraordinary things, touching the lives of those around them.

I’m lucky to count two such not-quite-regular people among my friends. These girls were born in September within a day of each other, both turning 33. I got to know them as colleagues first. Sadly, we don’t meet in person very often as they live in another city, but that doesn’t make them any less important for me. Anyway, enough of the preambles, let’s get down to the essential bits.

Today is Ina’s birthday. Everything about this girl is delicate. She’s slender and soft-spoken and her presence breeds serenity. Ina radiates tenderness and kindness. When I’m around her, I feel at peace and all is right with the world. Even when we indulge in gossiping, bitching and venting, she does it in a way that makes these vulgar pastimes seem almost decorous.

Ina often tells me she has a short fuse and sometimes flies into rages worthy of a Homeric narrative. I’m yet to witness such an outburst but I’m sure she remains every bit the lady even in those tempestuous moments.

 

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Aren’t they just dazzling??!

 

You only need to observe her little boy for a while to see the impact Ina has on people. Yoni is a sunny child; he was constantly smiling and gurgling happily from the moment he became aware of his surroundings. It’s a joy to watch the video clips she sends me: the two just make you want to smother them with kisses and hugs!

Hey, don’t you make the mistake of thinking that Ina is some meek lamb who walks about with a beatific smile plastered on her face, rainbows and unicorns shooting out of her orifices. Hell no! There is a steely layer beneath that velvety facade. Ina will tell you in no uncertain terms what she thinks and will stand her ground with iron resolve. Yes, there’s a tigress lurking inside this delicate doe.

And just to dispel any doubts that Ina is a great gal, I’ll tell you that she’s heaps of fun to be around. You can sit down with her for a few beers and laugh the evening away, talking about anything and everything, acting as imbecilic as you want without fear of being judged or frowned upon.

Ina is the type who would give people the benefit of the doubt and is quick to focus on their strengths, never missing the chance to praise and encourage. I can’t count the number of times she’s boosted my confidence, be it with lavish compliments on an article, peals of laughter over some lousy joke I’ve cracked, or relentless insistence that I look amazing even when I’m actually in one of my fat periods.  It may not sound like much, but who doesn’t want to hear nice things when they most need them? Ina dispenses them generously and her natural goodness precludes those whiffs of insincerity we often catch when others say the same things.

My love and best wishes for your birthday, you lovely girl, and may it be a memorable one! Keep smiling, be happy and never change because you’re perfect just as you are!

 

 

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Yep, the whole bunch are too adorable for words 🙂

 

 

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