Saturday, October 29, 2011

All Carved Up

Hallowe'en here should be fun - dressing up, excessive excitement - but I find the obsession with "sexy" costumes utterly boring, and having been stuck on a train coming in from Long Island with youth pounding bud lights and vomiting in the toilets - at 7.30pm - it's just all a bit disappointing. Maybe it's a hangover from my youth in which I thought it was fun, but nowhere near as much fun as the fireworks, bonfires and sparklers that come with Guy Fawkes' Night a week later, pyromaniac that I am. Or maybe it's partly because I don't really like American "candy" that much - if I were likely to have a basket full of tasty chocolate, as opposed to Hershey's style chocolate, it might help.

Nonetheless, there are definitely Hallowe'en things I do enjoy, and pumpkins are one of them. Last night Dr. TOH and I partook of a traditional Rhode Island event that was remarkable in many ways. It's unseasonably cold - bloody well snowing in NYC today, for goodness' sake - and maybe that put off the crowds, but there were not the rumoured massive queues and problems reaching the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo. I'm not sure what I expected, but although I think I was a little disappointed at the painted pumpkins that were then carved, it was a remarkable experience. Not least for the choices of what represented a nation's identity, the theme being a Journey Round the World. The British bit started ok, what with James Bond and the Beatles' All You Need Is Love playing. We then hit Churchill and the Italian Job, but as the Beatles faded into the Benny Hill theme tune and I saw the Mr. Bean one, I began to despair, and that was confirmed with TOH's triumphant shrieks that there was, as he predicted, a Wills & Kate one. Ye gods.

But the best bit was at the end, where there was just pumpkin upon pumpkin, some absolutely bloody enormous (so big they had whole other pumpkins tucked inside). They looked spectacular, a strange dance track with cackling looped over and over, and it was beautiful. Hence the photos galore. So see below Frida Kahlo, the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, Jack Sparrow & Fidel Castro (I'm sure placing them next to each other was not a coincidence), and some amazing pumpkins.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Status Anxiety

To change or not to change, that is the question. Yes, the modern dilemma that confronts a person's life: Do I change my Facebook status to state "Married"? A friend of mine just changed hers, out of the blue (I had no real idea she'd got married) and so I had a mind grape or two about it.

The reasons against:
  • I don't really think it's any of anyone's business
  • I don't think it should be of relevance to people or be upfront as something about me - for example, I'm a Ms., and a Ms. I will remain - I don't think my marital status should be so on display.
The reasons why my arguments are not quite perhaps as effective as they should be:
  • My status is "in a relationship."
So for all my protesting (although, admittedly, two bullet points don't seem like much protesting but they are vehement), I do put the fact that I'm in a relationship out there. I like to think that "in a relationship" is ambiguous - the way I thought using "partner" would be in the United States when I first arrived here* - but it's not, really, only in my head. But I now justify keeping it because it's important that the relationship I am in is the same: the questions you receive once married tend to be all about the length of the marriage, and the wedding itself, or the proposal, rings and so on; the twelve years beforehand - just plucking a number out of a hat - are relegated to secondary status. We didn't stop being in that relationship because we're married. But, really, maybe this would be more effective (although a moot conversation) if I didn't have the status at all.
  • The status applies to men and women
So my "Ms." argument is not quite apposite, really and, as discussed in the previous answer, I already place an importance on my relationship that places it as the third most important thing about me - according to Facebook, at least.

My overall feeling, however, is that I just don't want to change it. As we come up to six months of marriage I have enjoyed every bit of it, with one or two notable exceptions aside, and it hasn't suddenly changed me as a person in some of the ways that I worried previously. But my fundamental unease at the centrality and import society and, of course, many of my acquaintance place on being married, along with the expectations of me as a married person, hasn't altered at all. So it stays the same. For now.

* Strangely, in the past few years I have noticed an increased acceptance of the term "partner" for hetero couples. Of course, this is snatching the term from gay couples, but I think it so nicely describes a relationship that I'm pleased that there is something that isn't just boyfriend/girlfriend, dating and marriage. There's now room in the straight couple catalogue for that option.