Measured Extravagance

2001-02-25 - 10:48 p.m.

Yikes. I just inadvertently broke another desk chair. I leaned back a trifle too emphatically, it seemed, resulting in a sudden, rather sickening snap, followed by the clatter of a knob-screw-and-bolt combination hitting the floor, and the chair-back subsequently drooping like a consumptive opera heroine. Damned synthetics.

Yes, another. The back of my cubicle chair also caved into stress late last fall. I don't think I'm repressing that much violence in my system, but I've also been asked how a small woman like me manages to walk with the tread of an elephant. "Small" being relative, of course - speaking in figures, I'm 5'5" and 135 lbs. In a group of Asians, I usually rank among the tallest; in a group of Caucasians, I'm often middle-to-short. I consider myself to be of medium build, but many people perceive me to be taller and slimmer than someone else with similar stats, particularly when I'm in full-blast "I am strong, I am capable, I am experienced, I am a babe" mode.

I'm not always capable of such confidence (or such obnoxiousness, take your pick). Last week, it wasn't there at all: I was mouse, I was shrew, I was bunny - I was not leopard or elephant or otter. But now I am rested, as the cat and I lay back to back on the sofa all afternoon, both unrepentantly snoozing away. The spring is back in her step and the stalk in mine - I'm once again ready to go after what I want.

I once did a magazine interview with a local actress of whom everyone in town was in awe...In the midst of our conversation in her airy condo overlooking the city, she said, "You know, I'm not really beautiful." I was shocked. Of course she was beautiful. Everybody knew that.

"Look," she continued, leaning across the glossy mahogany table until her face was only a dozen inches from mine, "I actually have very plain features." At such close range, I could see that her eyes weren't enormous and her nose may have been a wee bit crooked, but I would never have thought so had I not been handed an invitation to scrutinize it. "I realized when I was quite young," she said, "that my life would be better if I were beautiful, so I decided I would be. That's the impression I've given ever since." - Victoria Moran, Shelter for the Spirit

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