never married, over forty, a little bitter

the y factor

The findings also counter the longstanding assumption that the age of the mother is the most important factor in determining the odds of a child having developmental problems. The risk of chromosomal abnormalities, like Down syndrome, increases for older mothers, but when it comes to some complex developmental and psychiatric problems, the lion’s share of the genetic risk originates in the sperm, not the egg, the study found.

Previous studies had strongly suggested as much, including an analysis published in April that found that this risk was higher at age 35 than 25 and crept up with age. The new report quantifies that risk for the first time, calculating how much it accumulates each year.

The research team found that the average child born to a 20-year-old father had 25 random mutations that could be traced to paternal genetic material. The number increased steadily by two mutations a year, reaching 65 mutations for offspring of 40-year-old men.

The average number of mutations coming from the mother’s side was 15, no matter her age, the study found.


Interesting and timely article on dating in large cities such as New York City and Los Angeles (I missed it in July but boy I am feeling tapped into the zeitgest these days):

This was a conundrum I faced before moving to this city.  If I was going to be single forever, it seemed better to live in a city full of singles.  But then, was I dooming myself to be single forever?

If you have ever been tempted by the low-hanging fruit of the sexy Internet slideshow, you may be under the impression that Los Angeles is one of America’s “Best Cities for Singles.” Over the past few years, online publications have periodically culled regional data from dating websites and census tracts, made pseudoscientific calculations of their impact on singletons, then excreted the results into clickable lists. Kiplinger filed its latest tabulation in February, claiming—based on its large population size, high percentage of unmarried households, and relatively moderate date-night tab—that Los Angeles was the fifth best city for single people in the country. Los Angeles also made Forbes’ 2009 list, clocking in at number eight. It hit Travel and Leisure’s 2011 count, too. And alongside college towns like Iowa City, Durham, Bloomington, Ann Arbor—cities so stuffed with single coeds that they ought to be disqualified—New York City joined L.A. on nearly every list.

To anyone who has actually attempted to date in America’s two most populous cities, these results are puzzling. A closer look at the studies shows that they’re often measuring the best cities for single people to stay that way—depending on your perspective, the worst cities for singles. In New York, Kiplinger’s 2012 count notes, over half of the metro area’s 18.7 million households are unmarried ones (the national average is 28 percent), and one in five people fall between the ages of 20 and 34. Of the Los Angeles metro’s 12.7 million people, 54 percent of households aren’t hitched. Forbes’ 40-city list rates L.A. first in its proportion of single people, and second in the percentage of them who actively date online. New York ranks the highest in online dating—singles in the five boroughs make up 8 percent of the entire user database of

On logistics–  That endless search can prove to be a logistical nightmare. One New Yorker told me that “subway distances can make things grueling,” meaning that budding romances easily die on a stalled L train. (How much subway time are you willing to invest in one date, when every platform appears teeming with other options?) Meeting a potential love interest halfway for a nightcap means being stranded in a no-man’s-land that can prove both inconvenient and awkward.

On accountability–  Less awkward is saying goodbye forever—the city’s geography is “more conducive to breakups” when you likely never have to see one another again.

On economics–And young people in New York and Los Angeles aren’t just competing for dates—they’re elbowing each other for a shrinking pool of jobs, too. While Forbes ranks both cities highly for singles and online dating participation, they rate poorly in job growth and cost of living. Forbes attempts to resolve this distinction by asserting that in number-one-ranked New York City, “financial stresses have brought a shift in priorities for singles,” who are “taking advantage of generous severances and enjoying the spoils of the city … with dates they’ve met online.” In reality, these big cities are sheltering more broke singles with stoked anxieties and broken creative dreams. They spend more free time hustling than they do staring into one anothers’ eyes. Sometimes, it feels easier to just look away. One night at a low-lit Mexican restaurant in Los Angeles, the man at the table next to me asked his bored date, “Have you seen my reel?”


the plague

back and forth

You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan/ And the next five years trying to be with your friends again— LCD Soundsystem,  ALL MY FRIENDS

When I was in grad school in my early twenties, I was into bands and the book Edie: An American Girl.  Come graduation day,  I got scared and wanted to get married.

Instead, I moved away for my first professional job, bought real furniture, and filled my closet with a dry-clean-only wardrobe.

That phase lasted about a year.  I started watching Woodstock and began missing my hippie college days.  I ditched everything and went abroad with a youthful volunteer group.

Then I came back and did the professional job again.  Then I ditched that to live with a roommate and join a dot com, where everyone wore sneakers and shorts to work.  Then back to the professional job life.  Then the obsession with a youthful dance scene.  And so on.

My feelings about marriage and babies followed a similar trajectory.  Sometimes I really wanted to get married and have kids, and other times I delved into obsessions far from that path.

The marriage/kids desire usually coincided with times when I was lonely, lost, and unsure of my next step.  Here’s hoping I don’t spend the next forty years stuck in that mode!


In kundalini yoga class one day, the female teacher said to the class, “As women, we have to teach men how to treat us.”

Something to chew on.


This is not just a recession-induced thing, he says. It reflects a long-term change in the economy. Since the 1980s, management’s philosophy has evolved to “look at work as projects.” Instead of keeping workers on staff to perform all tasks needed, they outsource them or hire consultants.

“This gives companies tremendous flexibility without any risk,” Greenwald says. “Flexibility” means they don’t have to keep people on the payroll during slack periods, pay them when they’re sick, pay for their health insurance, or obey workplace regulations. This, he says, has “shifted all the risks that large institutions used to have onto the backs of individuals.”

“It’s a great business model, but as a social model, it doesn’t work,” he explains. Essentially, it means that the world of work is becoming more like the music business, in which a handful of superstars get rich and a minority of professionals have steady work with benefits, but most workers have to scuffle for intermittent, low-paying gigs, and hard work and talent are worthless without marketing skills, clout, and charisma. “The bar to get in is low, but the ability to make a living is harder and harder,” he says.

The overall social change “might be as big as the shift from farm to factory,” Greenwald says. “I don’t think that many freelancers have thought of this as a permanent way of life. It seems to be a shift back to 19th-century artisanal culture.” 

…still, trying to improve conditions for freelancers and contingent workers is difficult in an economic system that has been vampirizing workers’ rights and incomes for a generation.

“The social contract that was part of American society for many years is dead,” says Greenwald. “We need to have a serious conversation about who’s winning and who’s not winning.”

The cutthroats can survive in this new world, he says, but “the rest of society is suffering.”


As one of these younger feminists, I appreciated Slaughter’s honesty but was frustrated by the premise that we are eschewing the high-powered career track to its difficulty. What if we were eschewing the pioneering glass-ceiling route not because it promised a miserable existence, but because we didn’t believe it was a path toward achieving equality? In other words, is it possible that the suit is a distraction or a diversion, rather than the ultimate aspiration?

Ruth Rosen’s recent piece on AlterNet began to tease out these questions, taking Slaughter to task for having “failed to understand that the original women’s movement sought an economic and social revolution that would create equality at home and at the workplace.” By recalling the history of the early feminist movement, Rosen illuminated how media distortion has warped the movement’s goal of changing the social structure into today’s vision of women “having it all”–all being the dream job, the perfect home, the flawless body and, of course, a closet full of slimming yet respectable suits.

“Activists in the women’s movement knew women could never have it all, unless they were able to change the society in which they lived,” Rosen writes. “[But] by 1980, most women’s (self-help) magazines turned a feminist into a Superwoman, hair flying as she rushed around, attaché case in one arm, a baby in the other. The Superwomen could have it all, but only if she did it all. And that was exactly what feminists had not wanted.”

…given the power of experience and hindsight, isn’t it time that we stop bemoaning the inability to “do it all”–as men have defined it–and instead celebrate those who are balling up the navy blue suit and creating a new way of doing things in the first place?



the tide

“You’re going to hate me for saying this,” says my good friend, a married mom of three, as we stand on the beach and look toward the ocean. “But you’re never going to find a man. They’re just not out there. No single woman I know can find a guy.” She takes a breath and adds: “So you should have a baby. Do whatever it takes and have a baby. You should at least become a mother.” I don’t hate her for saying it. She is saying what so many others are thinking.

…I’m sad too, but I know I’m not the only one dealing with this. Just last week, a business colleague, a single woman in her mid-thirties, confessed that an article I wrote made her cry on the treadmill in the middle of her morning workout. “I saw myself in your writing,” she said. Later that night, an acquaintance stole me away at a party, where the ratio was at best 80/20 women to men: “I never thought it would end up this way,” the very pretty brunette told me. “I can’t believe I’m turning 40 next month and this is my life.”

“All the single women I know are fabulous,” a 50-something divorced mom and business colleague said over the phone. “I was in a meeting yesterday and looked around the room. Each woman was in your shoes. It’s a different time now than in my day. Maybe you have more financial freedom and social acceptance to wait for the right guy, but the right guys don’t seem to be coming along.”