Dolce Zitella's Latest Post, Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Buy Yourself Jewelry

The following is a re-post from February 2016.

Valentine’s Day holds the promise of hearts and flowers. But some of you married gals might have the kind of husband who’s not so good at remembering these things.  And what about the single girls who don’t have a boyfriend at the moment?  Why should they get gypped?

My advice?  Buy yourself jewelry.  It’s even better than going to the day spa.  I’m not suggesting you do anything crazy.  No Colombian emeralds or black Tahitian pearls.  You don’t need to buy the kind of loot you find in the Jewelers’ Building, with the able assistance of some older gentleman in a custom tailored suit and half glasses, who calls you “Miss” and, jeweler’s loupe at the ready, offers you a free appraisal of whatever happens to be hanging from your earlobes or dangling from your wrist that day.

A quick drive to the mall is all it takes to find something sparkly.  Even better, you can sit on your sofa with a glass of Red in one hand and the remote in the other and find some pretty serious bling on the shopping channels.  Or simply go on line to find your new bauble.  Remember, you’re not out to find the Hope Diamond here.  Just a pair of garnet studs.  Or an amethyst ring.

I’ve been buying my own jewelry for a while.  Some women like to travel – I’d rather buy gemstones set in precious metals.  For me, it’s one of the benefits of being a single woman in the twenty-first century.  You see, the jewelry is much more than a mere indulgence.  It’s a symbol.  To empower you.  And to remind you of your worth.  Sure it’s nice when a loved one buys you jewelry.  All I’m saying is that the loved one can be yourself.

red poppy

 

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Girl Talk, Home Improvements

The Thrill of the Chaise

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a chaise lounge.  As a young girl I must’ve seen one on television or in a movie, because I imagined myself, grown up, sitting on my own chaise just like Cleopatra on her barge.  The glamour and luxury such a piece of furniture promised…

Each time I moved to a new place, my desire was renewed.  I could see myself on a rainy Saturday, sprawled out with a book, or dreamily napping on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  But a chaise lounge is not the most practical piece of furniture when you live in a small space.  And every chaise I came upon was either too big, or too ornate, or too extravagant.   I all but gave up my search.

Even before I moved into my house, the bay window in the dining room was crying out for a chaise.  The time was right and the search was on!  There was the pink satin one that looked like it belonged in the parlor of a bordello; another, so industrial with its straight geometric lines, was well-suited for a psychiatrist’s office; and the wave-shaped style was too avant-garde for me.  I felt like Goldilocks with the three bowls of porridge.

Two weeks before Christmas, I found what I was looking for online.  But there was a catch.  Actually two catches.  The manufacturer informed me the model was to be discontinued on December 31st and the only showroom where I could go to see the chaise was located in New Jersey.  How badly did I want this chaise, and was I willing to drive 260 miles to sit in it?

It was perfect.  And the navy blue jacquard fabric I chose strikes just the right balance between classic and chic.  I handed the saleswoman my credit card – Merry Christmas to me!

My chaise is ready and waiting to be delivered, but there’s been one final catch.  Work is so crazy that I haven’t been able to take a day off.  Do you know how long it takes to get a Saturday delivery?   So I must wait a little longer…

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Girl Talk, Writers and Writing

A Writer’s Writer – Carson McCullers

She was a rock star.  Her first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, brought her critical acclaim at the age of twenty-three and she made her mark on the literary scene of the 1940’s and ‘50’s at a time when the field was still overwhelmingly dominated by men.  Her body of work hauntingly echoed the themes of loneliness, unrequited love, and being different.  A southern gothic writer, she railed against racism and homophobia – and her message still resonates today.  Her name was Carson McCullers.

While living in a Brooklyn brownstone called “February House” with a menagerie of other writers and artists, she wrote The Member of the Wedding.  When she was in residence at Yaddo Artists’ Colony, she penned The Ballad of the Sad Café.  Later, as her health was failing, her home was a Victorian with a wrap-around porch and a view of the Hudson River, not far from where I grew up.  Each time I passed by that house, I imagined Carson, decades earlier, sitting on her porch, peering from her window as she sat at her typewriter, perhaps walking down South Broadway in the mornings.

When I came upon a grainy, 1958 recording of her reading from her work, I was awestruck.  There was a fragility in her voice, which quivered, as though she were about to cry.  That shakiness, along with her thick Georgia accent, conjured in my mind an elderly southern lady rather than a woman who, at the time, was only forty-one-years-old.

Carson McCullers left us a beautiful literary legacy.  Whether you’re looking for a thought-provoking book for yourself, or a good-read for your book group, her prose is lovely and her message will surely ignite great discussion.

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Wonder Women

Girl Power has created a whole generation of wonder women.  And I am grateful that so many of these ladies have had my back in times of crisis or as I was navigating a major life event.

I didn’t plan it that way.  It just sort of happened.

It started with the medical profession.  When my primary care physician was retiring, the doctor coming in as replacement was a young woman, just starting out.  I was told she was “good with women’s issues.”  She wasn’t just good, she was great.  Over the years, she referred me to a female ob-gyn, and a female surgeon who, in turn, recommended a female oncologist. When it was time to pick an eye doctor and I could’ve gone with the stern-looking older gentleman with the bow-tie, or the gal who was my age and dressed in smart Talbots separates, who do you think I chose?  And yes, my dentist is also a woman.  The bottom-line: I am healthy today because of the collective skill, smarts, and compassion of all these women.

Now let’s talk money.  After working with several young, fast-talking male financial advisors who left me confused and skittish about stocks and annuities, I got lucky and luck was a lady. My new financial advisor, a single woman like me, finally demystified the whole investing process and gave me confidence to boot.  Recently, I chose a well-known and successful Boston realtor – then a family member recommended an excellent real estate attorney, who in turn connected me with an accountant.  All three of these professionals are women and their collective acumen helped me move from a small condo to a house of my own.

I hope all this doesn’t sound like I’m anti-man.  Believe me, I like ‘em and I’m still hoping to marry one someday.  All I’m saying is that there’s a profound truth in that familiar quote about the iconic dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  She did everything he did, only backwards and in high heels.

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Girl Talk

Will You Marry Me?

Last September, I wrote about Jaimie and Nick.  While I haven’t yet solved their romantic mystery, I do have an update.  But first you need to read the original post:

My neighborhood is lined with cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks.  As you might imagine, the old chipped bricks make for an uneven walking surface.  And over the years, I’ve ruined more than one pair of high heels.  So I’ve learned to watch where I step.

Back in July (2016), I noticed that an old brick had been replaced with a brand new one with clean, sharp edges, and a perfectly etched message that read:  JAIMIE, WILL YOU MARRY ME?  NICK

I’m not sure how long the brick had been in place when it caught my eye.  But each day as I walk by, I feel compelled to check and see if the brick is still there.  It’s become a wildly romantic mystery to me as I spin all sorts of stories about how the brick came to be in this spot, as well as my speculations about this couple – Jaimie and Nick.  Do I know them by sight?  Maybe they live right across the street from me.  Is Jaimie a woman or a man?  Have they gotten married?

So many questions remain unanswered.  Why did Nick choose to propose in this way?  How exactly did he plan his grand gesture?  And what happened when Jaimie spotted the brick?  If Jaimie accepted the proposal, wouldn’t they have dug up the brick as a memento?  Likewise, if Jaimie rejected the proposal, wouldn’t Nick have dug it up and gotten rid of what would’ve become a painful reminder?  Either way, why does the brick remain?

Update: One morning, as my downstairs neighbor and I left for work at the same time, we walked together down Dartmouth Street.  When I pointed out the brick and confessed that I was intrigued by it, she told me that her husband had witnessed the proposal.

“Tell me everything!” I pleaded.

Jaimie is a young woman, and Nick a young man, she confirmed.  Whether Jaimie saw the brick at first or not remains to be seen.  But when Nick got down on one knee in the traditional pose, my neighbor, right along with Jaimie, realized what was about to happen.  My neighbor didn’t want to impose on such a personal and meaningful moment so he quickly turned the corner and got out of sight.

“That’s it?  That’s all you know!” I persisted.

“My husband assumed she said yes,” she replied.

More than ever, I believe Jaimie and Nick are together and living happily ever after.

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons, Mothers and Daughers, Pop Culture

Red Hat Lady for a Day

Have you ever seen a group of women all wearing red hats, and flamboyantly dressed in purple?  These older ladies can be seen lunching and laughing, and generally whooping it up all around town.  Some of them even wear feather boas… Truth be told, my mother is one of them and, on a recent visit home, I crashed the party.  But I did not wear the requisite purple, nor the red hat.   According to Red Hat Society lore, someone my age wears lavender and pink instead.

The Red Hat Society was founded quite by accident by a woman who bought a stylish red hat for herself, then started giving them as gifts to her friends.  The purple attire came about as an homage to the poem that begins, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple…”  Now, there are a bazillion chapters all over the country.

On the first Wednesday of every month, when my mother and her friends get together adorned in their whimsical outfits, they remain mindful that everyone is not as carefree and blessed as they are.  That’s why they never fail to pass around an envelope for their donation to a food pantry.

I was expecting lunch to be a quiet affair in a subdued café.  Instead, it was a raucous celebration in a sports bar with Bon Jovi and Led Zep piped through the loud speakers.  The ladies talked about hair and makeup, current events, and their families, just like my friends do when we get together.  And I nearly forgot how much older they were until the talk turned from gardening, to their former careers, and to their numerous doctor appointments.  Save for the arthritis, they were mostly just like their younger counterparts.

So thank you Red Hatters for welcoming me into your circle, and for offering me a window into what lies ahead.  It promises to be fun and fabulous!

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons

Italian Sisters

Ya know, I’ve known you for more than half my life,” my friend mused as we were enjoying a long-overdue girls’ night out recently.

I get a kick out of how she eats with such gusto.  She marvels at my talent for knowing exactly what shoes to wear with any given outfit.  When we shop there’s no dilly-dallying.  We see something we like, there’s no waffling, we just buy it.  The compliments are abundant and genuine.  I comment on her new eye shadow and she notices my new earrings.

We share the same story:  The only daughter in an Italian-American family.  Exceptionally close to our mothers.  New Yorkers who came to Boston for college – and stayed.  We are modern women yet we celebrate, even revere, tradition.  We’re scratch cooks who constantly swap recipes.  We know how to set a nice table.  We send hand-written thank you notes.

When we talk, our conversations are peppered with Italian words and phrases:  mia cucina (my kitchen); la familia (the family); and ciao bella (so long beautiful).  And the slang, of course: scoochi (pest); jaboney (jerk); and capisce (understand).

Our lives have taken us in different directions.  She’s married with two little girls while I’m the single one.  She’s the teacher and I’m a writer.  We’ve grown but we have not grown apart.  We remain each other’s confidant and sounding board.  One year for my birthday she gave me a Willow Tree figurine of two young girls sitting on a bench, seemingly deep in conversation.  It was the perfect gift.

“We’ve been friends for a long time,” I agreed.  “We’re like sisters.  Italian sisters.”

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