Archive | Feminist Matters

Scrap-Iron Louisa

Louisa May Alcott’s birthday should be another national holiday—one for independent-minded girls everywhere. Certainly I have no idea of who I’d be without Little Women to straighten my spine and warm my heart through every stage of my life. As a child I felt special knowing she’d lived within 20 miles of my house, and ever since I’ve looked to both her life and work as an example of what can be accomplished through the marriage of hard work and imagination. These days, the phrase of hers that resonates with me most is this: “I’d rather be a free spinster and paddle my own canoe.” Happy birthday, Louisa May.

A Tiny Swan Song for Doris Lessing, 94

Doris Lessing died this morning at such a good, old age that I can hardly complain about her departure. But she did go just as I’d just been thinking about how much she’d given us and how little we’d noticed it lately. She said many wonderful, incisive things that opened our eyes, minds, hearts and crystallized a lot of realities with which we’d only been murkily familiar. The quote I always kept taped somewhere near me was this: “A simple grateful thought turned heavenward is the most perfect prayer.”

A Cat Lady Testifies: Love Is Love

Though normally an early riser, I could not wake up in these last weeks before daylight savings time. I slept through phone calls, alarm clocks, even my neighbors’ noisy morning sex. Finally, my cat Grace took matters in her own hands. Not by yowling or ruining furniture or biting my toes but by carefully dragging all her toys next to my head, one by one, until I finally opened my eyes. Each morning I was greeted by a pile of soft feathers and strings and catnip mice and her sweet, worried face—the gentlest landing from a flight of sleep I could imagine. It reminded me of how lucky I am to live with such a considerate, tender-hearted little being. And how proud I am to be a cat lady.

These days the words old maid or spinster may be dismissed as outdated, even cruel, but cat lady is still bandied about unreservedly and with the same intent: as a derogatory term for an unattached female. A single woman in a Mrs. Whatsit getup of coffee-stained schlubby layers who reads dog-eared paperbacks, never misses her shows, eats from cans along with her furry wards. Who hasn’t got laid in decades and couldn’t if she tried. Who languishes in a cramped, overheated, urine-stained apartment piled high with dirty dishes, cigarette smoke, ratty furniture, and, of course, cat hair.

If it sounds awful, so be it. That’s the mishegas that gets thrown my way because I am Of A Certain Age and remain unmarried, childless, and domestically solitary save for a feline cohabitant—especially now that nearly everyone can get married and have kids. Forget about the fact that I live in an amazing city, enjoy my work and friends, love my considerate and charismatic roommate. Because she is a cat, there exists a two-word phrase that people can use to dismiss my life.

I am cat lady, hear me purr. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy