the feminine question interests me profoundly for i am a woman who has benefited tremendously from our mothers and grandmothers steering the winds of change. i was born in the mid 60's, growing up in the late 60's and 70's. by the time the glitzy and sparkling decade of the 80's rolled around, i was in high school and well on my way to forming the opinions and attitudes that would continue to shape my life. there was nothing off-limits to me. anything i wanted to do or become was available to me. and i recognize the fortune that afforded me. but only to the fullest extent now that i'm in my mid 40s and can look back. when i was 12 i opened a bank account with my parents to save for my medical school tuition. i was going to be a doctor. i was certain. yet when i became a high school student and the sciences and maths were a source of constant frustration and even tears, my career plans changed to the field of law. for i was determined that no one was going to take advantage of me. doctor, lawyer, ceo....that's how you got respect. i had grown up with gloria steinem and ms. magazine. i didn't need to learn about the ideas i should have and the equality i should expect, it was just there, within me. i was never going to marry, although i loved children and idea of having a family...i would do that on my own. i had too much to prove. although my parents marriage was a solid autonomous union, i could do better than that. and if i did ever marry, no man should expect me to be his little wife. i was better than that. what i didn't recognize was how blindly i was embracing the hard-nosed and self-righteous policies that had created such a divide between the sexes in the first place, only in reverse. and with these opinions i entered university, ready to move on to law school as quickly as i could. but thankfully, i was diverted once more. i took an art class as an elective, partly because i was fascinated with an artist boy who was going to be in the class, although i would never have admitted that then. that class led to another. and then, because my parents had so lovingly taught me that my decisions were mine to make and had given me the confidence to trust my innate, i walked away from my history degree and declared myself as an art major. i would be a painter. i would stomp on the capitalist, male dominated art world. and i tried in my own little way. i painted for years. i painted aggressively, strangling my frustrations with oil on canvas. in your face fucking patriarchal society. yet, thankfully, somewhere along the way, gradually i realized i was tired of getting what i wanted in an aggressive 'anti' way. i wondered what i was trying to prove. i only wanted to be respected for the woman i was, not the woman the ideology insisted it was my right to be. i knew my rights. it was my right to be accepted and respected as a woman. by men and women alike. i would not accept the self-loathing of traditional feminism any longer. as i was doing what i needed to do to find my path and my place in this crazy world i began to embrace the person who emerged. i had been condemning who i was out of fear that i would be seen as weak. but instead of the patriarchy determining my future in reverse, i was about to determine it on my own. it was a lovely, long and organic trail of self-discovery that finds me today, happily ensconced in a world of my own making, living with my wonderful husband, surrounded with amazing friends and family and making quilts for a living. that young woman of 25 years ago would never have imagined this as an option, but she only knew what the intellectuals were telling her. now she's wise enough to know they were wrong. my own private feminism is simple equality and the opportunity to follow a path of one's own choosing and to see the gleam of pride and respect in the faces of our peers.
i think we'll go bowling tomorrow. something fun and different and competitive and a little bit physical. perfect valentine's fare. when i was a child i would wait for my father on valentine's evening with such excitement. he would always bring me home perfume and a card. and i loved how special that made me feel. i looked forward to it all day and wondered what lovely extravagant perfume he'd choose for me. when i got older, no boyfriend ever lived up to that lovely special feeling of being adored that my father had taught me to expect, until my husband. i had boyfriends who pretended valentine's didn't exist. or who went so far over the top that it felt phony and soul-less. or just did what was expected of them in a blank and hollow way. and i learned, it was never about the lavishness of the gesture, but rather, the feeling behind the gesture. so when tom and i were just realizing we were falling for each other and he showed up with a cd for me on valentine's, that was the perfect gift. because i felt adored.
february. sluggish and cold. a blizzard with an accompanying snow day. the beginning of a new house renovation project. demo and planning. too much driving on snow-covered and slippery roads. hours of repetitive shoveling. frozen pantlegs and then once inside, wet pantlegs. a pile of baby quilts, finished and folded. wonderful long cozy hours in the studio cutting squares for quilts and watching mad men. middle of the week chili night with our neighbors that made it feel like a weekend on wednesday. my first haircut in 1o months. a wonderful book i forgot i had ordered, arrived. and now tom is playing the guitar and singing, ending the week perfectly. it's been a good week.
i feel like quilts are alive. they reflect all the little joys that make life special. they emanate love and warmth. the quilts i make blend a grandmother's ideals with a fresh youthful flair. there is a nostalgia for seasons past combined with hopefulness for a bright full future. you can find me online at www.chasinglightningbugs.com