never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: November, 2012



I wanted a baby!

I wanted that kind of attention from people.  I wanted to feel the excitement of all that possibility!  I wanted people to be excited about what to call my kid.

(Let’s face it.  Not many people get excited about what you’ll name your next CD.)

Mostly, I wanted a daughter. And I wanted to name her “Tula.”

I began to play with the name.  I imagined cute clothes for my hip artist daughter, Tula.  I left the salon in a state of near hysteria. I called my friend Joy and left her a 10-minute message about how “Ohmigod what if I never have a girl named Tula? Is it possible that I’m making a huge mistake here?” (I think Joy still has that message saved for future use.)

I have friends who don’t have children and who never have moments like this one.  They simply love their choice to not have children.

I, on the other hand, do have occasional moments of doubt.  Usually these moments are superficial, and have less to do with me wanting to be a mother, and more to do with me getting approval and attention.


Somehow this no longer bothers me; I guess I’ve come to accept that it is just the way my life is:

It is this dinner more than New Year’s Eve or my birthday or the beginning of the academic year that acts as a sort of marker for me.  For several years now, I have gone alone and every time I say to myself, “This time next year I bloody well hope I might be with someone and can come, like everyone else, if not with a husband, then at least with a viable companion.”

fur babies

I was touched by Fiona Apple’s moving tribute to her dying dog; at the same time, after some experience with dog owners, I’m slightly hesitant to get involved with another one (although that’s not a popular thing to admit).  I’ve experienced all these issues except for #1, thankfully, and #9:

Cute puppy in that picture though!


Oh, I wanted to talk about babies. This too, is a failure. My assumed, completely theoretical, infertility. My ob-gyn tells me I need to have a baby like this year, as I turn 35 in a month. So I’ve failed at that as well. I feel there’s an equal chance I will have a baby as I will enter a Ph.D. program. I observe both with the same ironic distance that’s covering over massive amounts of fear.


It would be even more fantastic if Paula turned out to be some kind of performance artist, but there is an appeal in her apparent guilelessness:

Around the time Paula and I became friends, I noticed that great things had started happening to other people. It wouldn’t be so bad, except they tell me about it all the time, their posts like unwanted love notes left behind by ex-lovers. Modernity has made it so easy to share: who you’re with, what you’re doing, why you’re the best. Everyone else’s food looks so good when they post about it (never mind that it all turns to shit).

Suddenly, I was congratulating my friend on the purchase of her three-bedroom home. Then I was writing heartfelt comments to someone I had met only once – at a party, was it? She was pregnant. “You look radiant!” I said because that’s the type of thing you tell someone who gets knocked up on purpose.

I didn’t and couldn’t compare. (Though it seemed the ruler I used to measure was always slanted in my opponent’s favor.) I am underemployed, and I hadn’t succeeded in meeting those goals I had set for myself before I started the actual business of living – marriage, children and, most important, career. But then I compared myself to Paula.


E! Entertainment Diamond Edition, which is my forthcoming full-length book of reality TV conceptual writing, has an affinity to The Ravenous Audience because you see the same myths playing out, only televised in a very contemporary way. I wrote a short story in the book of Kim Kardashian’s “Fairy Tale” wedding, so there’s a focus on marital and other major rites and life rituals. And the interesting thing about those rituals being made into reality TV shows is that the meaning really starts to break down when you see it presented in that way, with all the cameras and interview snippets and everything. As I’m watching it, I am thinking, “This is so meaningless. Not because Kim Kardashian is doing it, but in and of itself.” Weddings are so weird. These rituals we go through in our culture are very strange and very repetitive. Why do we keep repeating ourselves? Especially when we’re not particularly satisfied with the end result? We all know what happened to Kim after her fairy tale wedding!

the hope

The hope in literature is that we are allowed to be imperfect, to write of our imperfection, without being overly critiqued for being unlikeable. I think the online space can be a free space, in that we are not reliant online on the publishing industry or readers who just don’t get it. I am curious to see what books will emerge from all this writing online that’s the result of those who grew up pouring their feelings out on Livejournal or Tumblr—excessive, sometimes automatic, sometimes enraged, emotional, while also quite intellectual—or if formal books will emerge at all, if that’s not the point of these unmediated raw spaces. I’m excited by the possibility.


‎”When nobody pays attention to you, and you pay attention to everything, you become a saint.” – Yogi Bhajan


You’re already an expert in dealing with shitty outcomes

Coming to terms with not having a family when that’s what you expected, hoped for and dreamed of, has changed you. You’ve come face to face with the fact that no matter how ‘good’ or ‘deserving’ you are, shit happens.  That despite a culture that tells us that everything can be fixed if you throw enough money at it, it’s not true. And once you’ve grieved the loss of that future, that identity, you are psychologically mature in a way very few ‘grown ups’ are these days. You’ve looked your own genetic death in the face, and survived.

the gods laugh

A few years ago I stumbled across and really enjoyed the filmed performance of Julia Sweeney’s God Said, Ha!, which came out in 1998.  I believe she was about 38 then and I recall her talking about being happily single after a divorce:,Ha!

In one year Julia Sweeney got a divorce (amicable), bought a small bungalow in Hollywood, and looked forward to a life that said, Here dwells a happily single young woman!

A few years later, in her early forties, she adopted a child as a single woman, an experience she writes about here:

OKAY, my friends were right. My conservative, stay-at-home mother friends, many of who live in Spokane and whom I’ve known my whole life. Who were very supportive, but skeptical and tried not to be worried about me when I announced that I was going to become a single mother by choice and adopt a baby. One of them even said to me, “It’s best that the mother stays at home.” And oh how I resented that comment. I figured they lived in the olden days and that they didn’t understand how a big city gal like me would handle it.

Oh I was so naïve. Oh they were so right. So, this is what I think: I don’t think it matters what the sex is of the parents, but I think there should be two parents. Or I should say two adults. And I don’t think it matters what the sex is of the parent who is primarily responsible for a child, I just think someone, some adult should be. CAUSE IT’S A FULL, FULL, TIME; OVER-TIME job, without being distracted with things like…oh…a JOB. Like an actual job. Like a job that brings in money, not just the kind that wipes you out like never before and doesn’t earn you a cent.

Several years after that, she remarried:

One relationship has worked out just fine and she’s getting married soon to a Chicago scientist whose gay brother, Sweeney claims, e-mailed her a marriage proposal on his brother’s behalf after hearing her discuss Letting Go of God on NPR’s This American Life.

I thought of the title God Said, Ha! recently because as much as I’m enjoying tooling about town solo, it seems as if fate keeps placing examples of other people’s miraculous coupling up and childbearing in my path to subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) inform me that I’m heading the wrong direction, being happily single.  And yet, the gods don’t place appropriate single men in my path, and when they do, as when recently I befriended a man on Facebook who has so much in common with me it actually freaks me out, he doesn’t respond.

The gods have a funny sense of humor, I’ll say that.