Valentine’s Day, Forrest Gump, May Sarton

The final countdown to Valentine’s Day has begun! With only 48 hours to go until the day of Hearts, I have my work cut out for me.

I am hosting a writers soiree at Chez Penguins. It’s going to be an evening of reading poetry, singing songs and talking about love.

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn

Is just to love and be loved in return.

Do you know the Moulin Rouge quote above? I didn’t know it until last year’s Valentines Day Party I threw. We voted on what movie to watch and “Moulin Rouge” won. The young people were shocked that I had never seen it before, and I was willing to step out of my comfort zone and watch a film made after 1950.

It was a delightful pastiche of olden days and classic story, the best music of the last 20 years and very creative directing. But this year, I’m thinking of something a little quieter… a little deeperv… a little more soulful.

I’ve selected the poets from who’s troves my guests can recite this Sunday:

  • May Sarton
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay
  • Emily Dickinson
  • HD
  • Christina Rosetti
  • Elizabeth Bishop
  • Virginia Woolf

It might strike you as an unusual list for a couple of reasons.

  1. This is Valentine’s Day! Isn’t that supposed to be light-hearted?
    1. Well, yes. There can be chocolates (because we all know that what Forrest Gump said about life being like a box of chocolates, and there will be many of those being passed around my house on Sunday). It is also a day of gravity. We remember how important love it. Important things bear weight.
  2. “It’s only women,” you might be thinking. “Isn’t Valentine’s day supposed to be about the union of the sexes?”
    1. Again, I have to say yes: but not unequivocally. Valentine’s day is about romance. Romance appeals to the softness of femininity. I acknowledge the feminine energy in men as well as women, but that doesn’t mean women should receive a heightened consideration on the day of love! Women so often are stretched to there maximum levels of tolerance in a results-oriented society. A society that regards forcefulness as confidence and expects women to be tolerant of catcalls, workdays that they can’t take off just for cramps, and countless other stressors. So for Valentine’s day, let us honor women. By doing so, we will indirectly honor men.

As for the chocolate, there will be plenty, I assure you. I don’t know if I should be eating much of it. I had a crown put in where some old fillings used to live by my fancy Beverly Hills dental office. I know I’m already an old lady, but I want to have my teeth for many years to come! I don’t want to have to get tooth implants for my whole mouth until I’m at least 115 years old. I eat plenty of bacon like Susannah Mushatt Jones, so I intend on sticking around.

If I don’t, who will take care of Clinton and Carter, those precious pussy cats dears?

Either way, this Valentine’s Day Party will be a delight. I’m having it catered with indian food. I’ve chosen what to read:

By Virgina Woolf: “Look here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads — They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.”

Beautiful, isn’t it? I love how assertive she is in her desires, and how vulnerable she is at the same time. I have millions in my head, too.

A Billboard, A Memory, A Sigh

What a flurry of events happening here in the Little Penguins household! Cater and Clinton don’t know how lucky they are that they only have to deal with my emotional flurries, while over on the East coast, Central Park filled up with twenty five inches of snow! (And no, it has nothing to do with that bus driver, Andre, I mentioned to you, the flirtatious one. Although he did send me roses! No kidding. And I sent him a thank you card with a bag of caramels: “to sweeten the rough roads.” I think he likes that I wrote about hm on the blog, which I accidentally let slip.)

It’s been years since I was in a snowstorm.

What sent my mind a motion? I was driving down the PCH in my trusty old jalopy when I passed a billboard for “Grease.” I haven’t thought of that movie in ages! I remember when it first came out and what am impression Olivia Newton John and John Travolta had on me.

It was truly the perfect fairytale. Boy and girl fall in love, not knowing anything about each other. They are separated. They are reunited but this time, there are obstacles. Finally. they BOTH change and end up as one.

I loved Sandy’s transformation. While some people dismissed her sexy outfit as selling out and being anti-feminist, I disagree wholeheartedly. From where I stand, Sandy was embracing a part of her felinity and femininity that was theretofore shrouded in fear and repression. Suddenly, she is graceful in her skin, hair loose, shoulders back and body revealed for the beautiful miracle it is. Danny BabyThen there’s Danny, looking as clean cut and vulnerable in his white letterman’s sweater as anyone could expect a teen heartthrob to be. They find their way to union, and I just love it.

Kitten on My Knee

I write this as Carter sits in my lap and stares lovingly at my face.

Every so often, he takes a little paw and pats it on my cheek. What a dear. He never faced any violence and never came to learn that he had claws. His big cat instinct lies dormant, and his padded feet are used to give affection only.

I think we’ve come to the point in our relationship where I get to the heart of why we’re here, on Penguins Express. It is because I am enamored with romance. From the doilies on my kitchen table to the dab of rose oil I put behind my ear even when I am alone and doing housework, I never find a drop of decoration to be silly. Lovers may come and go, but as long as we live, we are with ourselves! So why not make it a little festive? Should taking that care pave the way for a real, old-fashioned romance with a kind and passionate partner, no much the better.

Nothing is more romantic than Penguins. These special creatures express their love by mating for LIFE. They have elaborate courtship rituals and remain monogamous to their partner, working together to raise offspring. One of my favorite penguins is the rock hopper penguin: they find each other again and again, year after year!

I went to my nieces wedding recently and shared this story. It was a beautiful ceremony! I feel quite confident that they are going to last a long time in their partnership. Hopefully, as I said in my toast, as long as the Rock Hopper Penguins! Though cold winters may separate them, they always find their way back home to loyal, loving arms.

I’m glad I didn’t wear mascara to that ceremony! The whole day was lovely. I was picked up at my hotel by the kindest driver. His name was Andre from, near where my sister and her family live. It wasn’t so easy to travel, but I knew it mattered to them. Well, to make a long story short, sometimes my hip makes it hard to get into cars, especially low cars, and the limo they sent me was that kind.

“May I help you, miss?” he said, offering a white-gloved hand.

“I am much too old for you to be flirting with me!” I admonished him. He only smiled and helped me step in.

The rest of the day, he was always there when I needed to get in or out of the limo, from the hotel to the venue, and then back on home. I do admit, I might have fantasized a bit that he really COULD flirt with an old lady like me.Even though I am still in love with my late husband! Either way, it was fun to play penguins for a day.

Carter and Clinton

Carter and Clinton are my two little kittens. They came to me through a great stroke of luck.

I teach a small group of students once a month at my home. They are the reason I am writing Penguins Express blog. “Rhoda!” they cry. “We SO appreciate your teaching and your lessons, but why don’t you share them with more people?” Eventually, I accepted that they were right. I have so much to say on literature and love. It just isn’t fair to burden a few graduate students with the sum total weight of a lifetime of impressions.

I think it would be an interesting experiment to use this page as a classroom, or forum. I will post assignments, both reading and writing.

How this can work:

1) Read the recommended text.

2) Let me know in the comments that you would like to submit an essay or response.

Then you can email or fax me your writing, since some people might not be so good at typing as I am! (Wink wink.) Well, one of these students, lets call her “Alice,” mentioned that she had two little kittens staying at her home.

“I love them!” she cried, “But my husband is allergic!”

When I heard this, I knew it was fate. My late husband was allergic to cats, as well. I always wanted one, ever since I was a little girl, but out of respect for Penguin’s nasal passage (Penguin is what I call my beloved), I gave up that dream. Since I’ve been mourning him far longer than a year, I decided it would do him no dishonor to bring the little orphan cats into our home. I promised Alice she could come and pet them whenever she wants, for which she smiled a great big, happy smile.

That was several months ago. The boys are now well established in the daily life of my home, and I couldn’t be happier. Unless, of course, Penguin was still alive. I know he moved on when he meant to, but it is hard to miss him.

More in the next post. Happy Friday, all you lovers out there. Happy Friday, all you cats.