never married, over forty, a little bitter

comfort zones

Another good book:

“These were people who had realized that the value of life was … getting out from behind your comfort zone and going places and doing something to help people,” she says. “When you’re sitting in a newsroom in L.A. with people who are dealing with commutes and mortgages and ‘Oh my God, I don’t have a baby and I don’t have a boyfriend’ it’s easy to forget.”

dress rehearsals

While this book certainly covers floral bridesmaid dresses and date dissection over cocktails, it has a darker and more resonant undercurrent. It gives voice to my quiet suspicions that the decade following college graduation is one of loss after loss; a time of people you once loved immensely peeling away into parenthood or panic attacks or bad marriages or sudden religiosity or the suburbs. It captures those strange mixed feelings of trying to be happy for friends when they choose things you think you know will never make them happy; the helpless panic as the strongest and most ambitious feminists give up and give in or maybe just grow up and learn to compromise and who are you to judge anyway? It displays real wisdom about the ways that, over time, paths dead end and options disappear and life can feel like a narrowing of possibilities when you always thought it would be an ever-broadening horizon. Also, it’s funny.

In general, my favorite literary genre this year was what I like to call “women-processing-their-shit books,” in which I also recommend Blueprints for Building Better Girls byElissa SchappellThe Man of My Dreams by Curtis SittenfeldThe Fallback Plan by Leigh SteinBoys and Girls Like You and Me by Aryn Kyle, and anything by Nora Ephron or Cheryl Strayed.

fixations II

It was during the final minute of the interview that Jolie, who happened to be sitting next to Foreign Secretary William Hague, responded to the question of whether she ever thinks her humanitarian work is more rewarding than her acting. “I think I’m going to have to give up acting as the kids hit the teenage years anyway, because there’s going to be too much to manage at home,” she said, adding, “If it went away tomorrow, I’d be very happy to just be home with my children.” And that was totally the most significant part of the whole piece. Not William Hague calling the situation in Syria “one of the worst things happening in the world today.”

…Jolie’s acknowledgment that the obligations of parenthood don’t end when a kid is toilet trained – a sentiment that became part of the national conversation earlier this year whenAnne-Marie Slaughter famously railed about “having it all” — would, in the context of a different discussion, have been a legitimate jumping-off point for another public discourse of work and motherhood. I would like to point out, however, that, gosh, it’d sure be nice if a woman’s choices about how to raise her family didn’t always seem to come with a big fat wave of A-HA! She can’t hack it! By all means, let’s focus on making sure women everywhere are reminded that, as the CS Monitor tells us, Jolie and Pitt “can hire whatever help they want. Nannies, housekeepers, tutors, LEGO experts, whatever. But still, parenthood changes things.” Thanks, helpy helpertons!

It’d be even nicer if the takeaway from an 11-minute segment about bringing aid to women who’ve been sexually assaulted could be something other than the big news that Angelina Jolie says she’d be happy staying home with her kids. I swear to God, I can’t imagine how emotionally deficient a journalist would have to be to watch a story about harrowing sexual violence and boil it down to a headline about who’s quitting acting.


Whether it’s an international pop star or just that person you went to high school with spreading the news on Instagram, the ultrasound pic has become part of the increasingly detailed, publicly shared experience of baby-making. I know that life is amazing and whatnot, but here’s a thought: Not every internal miracle needs to be distributed to the world…

But the main reason that a widely shared ultrasound photo triggers such a sinking feeling in the pit of my being is that it represents the promise of a child’s life that’s relentlessly documented before the kid even breaks out of the amniotic sac. Somewhere in the process of what I have no doubt is the legitimate anticipation and happiness of starting a family, it’s just really easy to turn it into one big exercise in oversharing. To believe that everyone is entitled to, nay eager to, see the fascinating chronicle of what’s unique and special to us. But our children, our babies and even our unborn babies have a right to not become a constant source of fodder for our social media streams, just as our friends and followers have a right to not be deluged with the minutiae of our odyssey through breeding. And frankly, if there’s one location in the universe an individual ought to be entitled to a little privacy, it’s inside his mom’s uterus.

pity parties

I think this encapsulates what this blog has been about– getting it all out:


Commitment: This paragraph in your book really struck me, “Can you explain the world to me? Because I don’t understand it. How can you be in love one minute, thinking of all the places you’ll take your big suitcase for the rest of your lives, and the next minute watch him marry someone else? I wanted an explanation.” I think many of us have been in relationships where the guy professes his undying love one moment, and is breaking up with us the next. How did you come to terms with this? How can a woman stay hopeful and romantic when maybe this has happened to her one too many times?

Amy:  Staying positive and romantic is a choice and not always an easy one, I know. I think you need to say to yourself, “no matter what — no matter how despondent or sad I get from time to time, no matter how wronged I feel and how unfair things seem sometimes, I am not going to allow myself to become bitter, because that would be the death of me.” 

Now, that doesn’t mean that you can never spend a Saturday night throwing yourself a pity party. On the contrary, I think that’s what allows you not to become bitter because it gets all those feelings out.  You’ve paid attention to your less noble feelings, even given them a little party and now it’s time to move on.


Lovely, moving piece (and I can recall attending similar game nights myself):

Meanwhile, all around me, people were finding their dreams. Kira got a great job and found a great man (who is now her husband). My other friends were already coupled or found their future spouses as well. I was the solo friend — the one who often left the living room game night parties because she felt so lonely surrounded by couples. In my twisted, dark mind, I decided our mutual friends didn’t really like me.

I spent a lot of time being a Bar Fly on my own. I wrote in endless journals –Why has my dream become a nightmare? What am I doing wrong? Why is this happening to me? And then, like any good, young human, I became RIDICULOUSLY jealous of Kira. I decided she had somehow stolen my dream — like the Universe only had so many dreams, and somehow mine got handed to her by mistake. She was insanely happy in Portland. She had great friends, a great place to live, a great man, and a great job. I. Was. So. F*cking. Jealous. It showed.



I’m currently reading and enjoying Andy Cohen’s memoir Most Talkative.  It’s interesting to hear about his process of “coming out” as well as funny to see all the bad fashion decisions of his youth and to hear about his mistakes on his first jobs.

One thing that struck me while reading is that he is around 44 today and, I would say, just hitting his stride in terms of becoming the person he was always meant to be and, might I add, becoming a big success while doing so.

Then I felt annoyed all over again that large segments of society consider me “washed up” by this age (and that includes at least a couple of my gay friends).


Couldn’t resist excerpting some of this:

Commitment: Why do you think so many women are having a hard time finding that right guy? Is it our culture? A generational problem?

Amy:  I think there are a lot of women (like me), who would prefer being alone to being with the wrong guy, who feel so much lonelier with the wrong person than they ever do alone (that is definitely the case with me).  I have a lot of friends who aren’t like that.  And that’s fine.  They’d much rather be with someone – anyone – than alone.  I have a dear friend who I just adore, who’s married, who blurted out one night at dinner, ‘everyone wants to know why you won’t make the same compromises we’ve made!” I explained I’ve made different compromises, which I think is sometimes tricky for people to hear. 

 Staying single can mean a lot of explaining, as people ask, “Maybe you’re too picky!” and “come on, tell me. What’s wrong with you?” They feel really comfortable asking these things, but you could never say (or at least I wouldn’t), “hey, how about the marriage you always complain about?”  This is something I thought a lot about as I was writing the chapter, “Queen of the Court,” about the many misunderstandings single and married women have about each other, how they tend to idealize each other’s lives. I think the difference with this generation is women saying, “I want a relationship, but not at any price. And that’s OKAY.”

Commitment: The break-up of your boyfriend Josh after your mother’s death was naturally very painful. I could almost feel your pain when you wrote about running into him at a restaurant with his new wife just a week after he was married.

How did you have the guts to go downstairs and congratulate your mutual friend on his engagement, when you knew that would involve seeing Josh at this engagement party with his new bride? Any advice for women out there who may face running into that dreaded ex-boyfriend at some point?

 Amy: You’re so sweet to call it “guts.” I think it was “nuts.”  I know I’ve felt like I should be dressed by Rachel Zoe and have my hair and make-up done by Sarah Jessica Parker’s team, just in case I run into any exes.

But I’ve run into lots of them and been fine because the truth is, if you really believe you’re better off without them (as my mother indoctrinated me), then no matter how you look, you’ll feel victorious.

Commitment: Loneliness. Many of us have experienced deep loneliness after the end of a romantic relationship. What did those bouts of loneliness teach you? What advice do you have for anyone reading this interview who may be trying to cope with the loneliness they feel right now?

 Amy:  Again, I’m someone who feels so much lonelier with the wrong person.   It’s so funny, I was at a writer’s conference with other memoirists – people who had written about being bipolar, being sex addicts, drug addicts who stole, but so many people asked how I could be so open about feeling lonely sometimes, as if there were no more intimate detail a person could share. 

  There is nothing shameful about feeling lonely – either alone or with other people.  It is totally and completely normal.  I don’t talk about it much, but as I was finishing my book I had a very dear friend who killed herself.  A girl who was easily the most social and well loved of all my friends.  

 She left a note in which she talked about feeling lonely and I thought, “why didn’t she ever talk about it with me?” and then I realized it was because I’d felt lonely too, and never talked about it with her. So I went back through my entire book and started being really, really honest about that part of my life.   So my advice would be to talk about it with someone you trust and to never, ever, ever feel ashamed. 


I wrote about this author’s book, which I really liked, here:

Despite conflicting emotions, here is Rachel Lehman-Haupt today:

My journey to single motherhood began as I approached my fortieth birthday in 2009. I wasn’t dating anyone at the time and seriously began thinking about taking destiny into my own hands by trying to get pregnant on my own with a sperm donor. Before I actually took the plunge, however, I decided to make a radical change and move away from New York. A few months after my 40th, I traded in my out-on-the-town heels, rent-stabilized apartment and go-go life for a pair of rubber boots, a used VW beetle and a purple houseboat in Sausalito, a Northern California community with a long bohemian history. I hoped this change of scene might open up my chances to meet someone new, or just give me a new perspective.

After a few months of casual dating, however, it hit me that the urge to have a child started to outweigh my desire for a partner. Looking into my future, I believed I had the rest of my life to find the right love with a man, but knew I only had a precious year or so to conceive a baby. Even though I had a fulfilling career and wonderful friends, the image of being childless looked gloomy and made my heart seize up with fear. I felt devastated by the idea that I might never have the opportunity to be pregnant and give birth, that I would be missing out on one of life’s most vital experiences. Becoming a stepmom or an aunt – even with the right partner – didn’t feel like enough to fulfill this maternal desire.

She is lucky; I can’t imagine I would find community like this (nor have a few of the women I know who have gone the sperm donor route):

The collective “we” is what I heard, and is the reason that becoming a single mother has been nothing I imagined or feared: lonely nights, no support, and experiencing every milestone alone. Taking this leap of faith alone has drawn a network around me in numbers stronger than if I had conceived a child inside a traditional relationship and family. In the big and small moments of this new kind of passage, I’ve found love and connection in the intersecting hubs. Whether it was my best friends or distant acquaintances, it has never been just I, but this collective “we.” “We’re on a baby moon.” “We’re shopping for stroller” “We’re heading to the hospital.”  It was always “we” even though that “we” never referred to the all-in-one husband and father. And now on the other side of a labor supported by this network and team birth, I now know mother love, and it is indeed every cliché ever spoken.

Author Amy Cohen, author of another memoir I loved– The Late Bloomer’s Revolution–


— also has a baby now– adopted I think? 

Yet I remain steady in my conviction that doing it alone would not have been the right thing for me.  I’m more fearful of that, I guess!