Spring Awakenings, So to Speak

It’s self improvement week here on the ranch.

All the nice bulky sweaters that have facilitated denial throughout the long winter are now too hot to wear.  I dug out some spring clothes and put on my favourite light blue Life Is Good t-shirt.  It did not enhance my end-of-winter yellow complexion so I opened the drawer to get out some make-up.

My make-up drawer at best consists of three items:  an ancient bottle of Clinique foundation and two identical lipsticks.  I shook the foundation bottle and applied some.  It was like spreading grout over a gravel driveway.  I scraped it off, and remembered that the family make-up expert, Young Maria Callas, wears something called moisturizing cream.

Speaking of Young Maria Callas, now, brings us to the reason that I feel the need to self-improve at this particular time.  In less than two weeks we will be attending her junior recital.  Young Maria Callas studies at a conservatory which is in a part of the country where they care more about what they look like than I generally do, and besides that, Young Maria Callas is a soprano and so most of her many friends are also singers.  I met some of them last year, when we went to Yale Man’s senior cello recital at the same conservatory.  Like all singers, they looked like they belonged in a fashion magazine, they were put together so smoothly and so elegantly and they were all so perfectly accessorized. Now my own dream of growing old involves living in a very tiny house somewhere on the Maine coast, wearing ratty old stuff from L.L. Bean and doing all my own snow shoveling, looking weatherbeaten and elderly and not giving a damn what anyone thinks and I have to say I’m well on my way to achieving that style and most of the time I’m pretty happy with it. But that’s not the look to bring when you’re mixing with a bunch of singers. One senses that they don’t recognize it as the charming individualism it actually is, and one feels self-conscious.

So with the upcoming trip to soprano-land in mind I went out and bought some moisturizer.  What a miracle that stuff is.  Do you know, I have always assumed that facial skin is supposed to feel like it’s about to crack and fall off.  Now I know that this can be avoided.

I thought that I should also get a new dress for the recital.  Now I know I have a very nice black dress which I just bought, but the thing is I wanted a different colour. When we went to the recital last year, which was in late April, we were a large party of extended family.  As we all stood around the reception area afterwards, one of YMC’s singer friends asked who the big group was.  YMC replied, “Oh, that’s my family.  Some of them are from Massachusetts and some of them are from California.”  The friend looked at us and replied, “I can tell who the New Englanders are. They’re the ones wearing black.”

And of course she was right.

So I thought this year I would try to dress more appropriately for the season.  A horrific shopping trip eventually netted a nice Ralph Lauren dress in dark red jersey (well, it’s not BLACK, anyway) and when I got home from that shopping trip I got out my exercise DVDs from last year.*  I like the Leslie Sansone Walk Away the Pounds series. This is a very nice program that really works if you actually do it.  I enjoy it, and I even enjoy all the dorky encouraging chatter.  Leslie tells me periodically that I am doing a good job and each time I nod in thanks and say, “Yes! I am!”  Near the beginning of one of the warm ups there is a move where you reach one hand across to the opposite knee, and Leslie says, “That activates that big muscle, the Transverse Abdominus.  As soon as you reach across there, that big muscle starts talking to all the other muscles in the region!”

I listened to my Transverse Abdominus.  It was hissing in a frantic whisper:

“Hey!  You down there!  Anyone… Hip! Knee! Ankle!  Psst!   Listen!  If one of you will just let go for half a second so she falls over, then we can all go back to sleep for a couple of months!”

That didn’t discourage me though.  Walk Away the Pounds has worked before and it will work again.  As I walked I thought of a perky little inspirational article I had read in spite of myself that morning. If I remember rightly it mostly nattered along in the same vein as most of these articles:

“Find Your Pas-Sion!

Rah! Rah! Rah!


Car-Pe Di-Em!

Sis! Boom! Bah!


Learn To Say No!

Nah! Nah! Nah!


To Thine Own Self!

Blah! Blah! Blah!”


and so on.


But at the very end was one piece of advice, a crystal clear truth that I have long suspected.  It said, “If you like what’s on the mannequin, buy what’s on the mannequin.”

I feel that this one thing may be just the self-improvement I need.

The Patient Man has been informed that it will cost a great deal more to clothe me in future.


Only Three Days Till Spring!



*Remember that I have just been through the kind of winter where my walking exercise has been limited to shuffling a couple dozen steps between my car and my studio.  That exercise I only did three times a week, but I was much more faithful about the other exercise, which was wandering downstairs to see if there was any cake left.  That one I did every evening, without fail.


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2 Responses to “Spring Awakenings, So to Speak”

  1. Darla Stong Says:

    Your idea of retirement on the coast of ME sounds good to me! The ratty LLBean clothes too….

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