Monday, September 12, 2011

Musician and Athlete

This past weekend, I went to a "house concert". A house concert is a real concert, featuring a professional musician, but held in a private home. I only recently found out about these concerts, through a relatively new friend who has known the host ever since she was a teenager. This was my first concert at GA's house.

Before going, I checked on Youtube to get an idea of the featured performer's musical style. I found a number of hits for her and decided to go to the concert. Obviously, Youtube is visual, but I was listening to the music and didn't really pay attention to the musician's physical appearance, especially since her body was in part hidden by her guitar.

Just before the musician came out to begin her first set, the house concert host gave a short introduction. He said that this was the first time that a triathlete was performing in his home, since the performer had recently completed a triathlon for the first time. I think we were all impressed.

A triathlon is a three-sport event made up of swimming, biking and running. There are different distances for each of the sports, depending on one's level. I just looked up the triathlon that the musician I heard on Saturday night competed in. It was a beginner's level and included a 375 m swim, a 10 km bike ride and a 2.5 km run. By tri-athlete standards, this is pretty light, but I know that even before falling prey to arthritis and degenerative back disease, there would have been no way that I could ever have run that 2.5 km. In fact, I am ready to bet my home that the average Jane or Joe in the street--no matter what their weight--could not do this beginner level triathlon without some serious training.

Back to the concert...

So, having just heard that the musician we were about to hear took her physical activity seriously on top of being a great musician, you can imagine my shock when in walked a morbidly obese young woman. Yes, I admit it. I was shocked. Which only goes to show just how brainwashed I too am by a society that insists--day in and day out--constantly and emphatically--with no exception--that fat people CANNOT be athletes and that fat people are by definition unhealthy.

She proceeded to give an amazing concert. Her energy level was through the roof, her voice was strong and vibrant. And she was truly one of the best blues guitarists I've ever heard. BB King move over, you've got some incredible competition out there.

Who is this amazing woman? If you really want to know, you can send me an e-mail and I'll give you her name. She's amazing. However, I'm not giving her name here because I believe it's spectacularly unfair to write a post about a great musician that focuses on her weight rather than on her incredible musicianship. But I just had to: I felt that this was an opportunity to stand up to the bias, stereotypes and ignorance that permeate our world.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Car, the Carpet and the Cat

In the spring of 2009, we finally started a long-desired but major renovation of our home. They say that you should live in a home for awhile before making any major changes and that is essentially what we did--aside from having to renovate one bathroom (not a choice, but an unexpected necessity), redo the roof and change all the upstairs windows within the first six months of moving in.

By 2009, we had already been living in our little midtown semi-detached house for almost nine years and we were ready to make the big leap into the horrors of home renovation.

We knew that cats don't like change and that living in a construction zone would not be good for Miss Bean, so I called our cat babysitter to ask if she would take the Bean for an extended period of time (several months, at least). She agreed to do so, but warned us that for the first week, JB would have to share her home with another kitty guest. Well, JB's stay at the sitter's was over within 24 hours. She probably realized that this cat was also a guest rather than a permanent resident and decided to make his life a living hell. Sandy, the babysitter, was afraid that JB would try to harm the other cat and since that cat was already there, we had to take JB home.

And there she stayed--with us throughout the long and arduous renovation.

First, we were without a kitchen for eight weeks. Then, the contractor took the front of the house down and rebuilt it, incorporating what had been a decrepit, three-season front porch into the actual house. Of course, it being an old house, all kinds of unexpected things came up and the renovation dragged on and on. We never used the fireplace, which had probably been built in the 1970s and jutted like a Star Trek space ship into the living room.We had it removed and therefore had to re-do part of the hardwood floor in our living room/dining room.

At first, Miss Bean took it like a trooper. She really liked the man who laid the kitchen floor with a new eco-friendly linoleum-type product called Marmoleum. She soldiered on through the dust, the walls coming down, the noise and the upset. But by the time we got into the third month of what was to be a six-month renovation, she had had enough. For that matter, so had we, but we were humans and she was Jelly Bean.

We started finding wet spots (i.e. pee) on the paper spread on the living room floor. Litter box use became unpredictable, but there wasn't much we could do.

Finally, the renovation ended and we had to find a new place for her litter box, since the room where it had always been had changed "vocation" and been turned into the breakfast room. Chaos ensued. After fighting a losing battle, JB won and the litter box went into the new, beautiful little sun room at the front of the house. We started calling this several thousand dollar renovation the "litter box room". Obviously, JB was showing us that this renovation had NOT been worth it.

As a result of the renovation, the reorganization of our living room and the changing around and discarding of some furniture, the carpet that had previously graced the living room floor no longer looked good there. We were, of course, pretty well out of money by this time and on top of it all, our 13 year-old car needed replacing.

Enter Abbas, the oriental carpet man.

The two oriental carpets we already had were sorely in need of cleaning so we sent them down the street to Abbas's emporium. I mentioned to him that I really needed a new carpet for the living room, but that I needed to buy a new car even more. Of course, he had a used carpet right there and he suggested we try it out. It fit perfectly...but we still needed a new car even more.

Abbas came up with a solution: he would trade us the carpet for the car. Sheer brilliance!

The new carpet went down on the living room floor, the new car moved into the driveway, the dust settled and we were happy...until we noticed that Jelly Bean was no longer using her box for "number two". She chose the new carpet to do her business and treated it just like a litter box, scratching to prepare the area for her "gift".

Within short order, the beautiful carpet was looking rather frayed in one corner. We rolled it up and took it back to Abbas to have it fixed.

"When you want carpet back?" asked Abbas.

"In about ten years," I replied.

Abbas looked at me as if I were crazy. The carpet was ready a few weeks later. We paid a fortune to have it fixed, took it home and put it in a closet, thinking it would stay there for many years.

But now Jelly Bean is gone and the carpet is back in its rightful place. It looks gorgeous and feels beautiful and soft under my bare feet. The sun room has finally gone back to its true vocation as a chess playing and reading nook. But I still miss crazy Miss Bean.