never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: October, 2012

back and forth

I began this blog back in January writing about “missing conversations,” so I love that they are starting to happen:




side by side

Recently I’ve visited a bunch of art shows with companions in tow.  While I was happy enough to see these people and chat with them before each show, it felt a little confining to me (but also, I suppose, touching) that each person wanted to stick by my side while looking at the pictures (in one case, chatting to me the entire time, which drove me a little batty).  I kept wanting to say, “We can split up and I’ll find you afterwards.”

Pondering this later, I considered the idea that I’ve become a hardened loner.  I spoke to one of my (male) coworkers about this and he told me he feels the same way.  He’s in a long-term relationship (although never married and childless), but when he goes to shows with his girlfriend they usually split up, and he frankly enjoys going to movies solo.  We further discussed the inconveniences and difficulties of coordinating plans with other people and the fact that it’s often more exciting to go places alone, as you are more likely to meet new people.

I suppose those are the positive flip sides to feeling “alone, alone, alone, I’m always alone.”


One of the lessons I learned in my twenties was that no matter how old you are and how many life experiences you have had, when you start something new– a job, a location, a hobby– you are a freshman all over again.  I think that is why people get stuck in a rut as they get older; they are resistant to feeling clueless, foolish, and lost again.

Although I was in my late thirties when I relocated here, I was definitely a freshman again, trying group after group and activity after activity to find my footing and my people.

Eventually I settled in, but I feel like I’m entering another “freshman” period again, as the people I was hanging out with the last few years are no longer here or in my life.  I’m back to hanging out with new people and trying new things, traveling down a lot of blind alleys along the way.



…and regardless of Nelson’s own nostalgia for the ‘90s (“I miss Feminism! The whole culture is so 1950s right now, so conservative and conformist”)…


“One of the things I think I owe to that early unhappiness, it was a hard lesson, was that I learned that I could be alone,” she said. “I can. I like my own company.”


A couple of days after Christmas my phone started ringing again.  Rebecca wanted me to go to a party of her sorority sisters.  So I did.  I have to admit they were a fun group and not dumb at all.  They were very interested in me and impressed about me being back East.  Still there was something about them, there was an underlying fear beneath the casual fun.  I got the feeling that what they really wanted was to get married and start families and they were just being wild college girls because that’s what they were supposed to do and that was the best way to meet the right guys.

I never said that though.  And driving home Rebecca and I were talking about boys and college and about life in general and she was actually very wise about things.  But getting out of her car I still felt a separation from her.  Like from now on our lives were going to be fundamentally different.  It hit me hard too because later I was making some food by myself in the kitchen and all of a sudden I felt so sad and tired and weird.  I had to sit down.  And then I started crying.—  Blake Nelson, Dream School, p. 49

the gauntlet

I was talking to some women this week about our first years in L.A.  They also moved out here jobless and with few social connections, and it sounds like they went through the same gauntlet I did– uncomfortable roommate situations, loneliness, soul-destroying first jobs, stints as babysitters, lengthy commutes, and the decision to leave by a certain date if things didn’t improve.

For all of us, after a minimum of a year, things turned around, and we are now all doing fairly well and positioned to make good money if we keep on keeping on.

Things are easier, but it’s still not an easy life.


I was disappointed by this report yet heartened by the insightful comments:

common denominators

When I was in my twenties and thirties I would stroll around the older neighborhoods I tended to live in and admire the houses.  I would imagine myself living in some of them, but ultimately I felt a little flat about it.  The houses were appealing, but I guess it didn’t seem like all that exciting of a life vision to me, hunkering down with a husband and a couple of kids in a cute house in a nice neighborhood.

I was thinking this week about a few of my favorite authors– Cleo Odzer (Goa Freaks, Patpong Sisters, Virtual Spaces), Lucretia Stewart (Making Love: A Romance, The Weather Prophet), and the male Blake Nelson (Girl: A Novel, Dream School)– and the similarities between them.  For one, none of them have/had kids in real life.  Two, in their books they present themselves and/or their female characters as women who are independent and somewhat cynical, who are unconventional and like to explore subcultures, who don’t remain wholly identified with any one group in particular, and who don’t believe that going the safe route in life will be fulfilling for them or even all that secure.  They are women who just go for it in terms of their relationships with men; they pursue the men they are attracted to with the attitude that if they fail, at least they will do so pursuing their heart’s true desire.

I realized that I have identified myself through those books.  I am that woman.