never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: February, 2013

bygone eras

I was in the midst of reading this memoir when I felt a stab of envy at the author’s description of the eight weeks of summer vacation, half paid, that she received each year at The New Yorker. What do you want to bet clerical staff at the magazine no longer get that?

As we know from Mad Men, workplaces back in the fifties and sixties could be sexist and degrading for women. It was difficult to get out of the secretarial pool (still is, actually). My mother, however, claims that back then working was “fun” in a way it no longer is. At every institution I’ve worked, it does seem like decades ago, the place was a lot more fun.

Also, I believe that back then 9 to 5 meant 9 to 5, not 9 to 6, as it does now.

Finally, the glamour seems gone. I know from my past that working in places that involve author readings means that the author comes in, promotes a book, and is gone. It does not mean that the place is an intellectual hangout for writers, or that you will be socializing with them, as you might have been in times gone by.

Perhaps more envy-inducing than the literary friendships and book parties were the summer vacations she writes about: eight trips to Europe during her years at the magazine, each one lasting a month or more, often with pay (a princely $80 a week). “The New Yorker believed in long summer vacations for their receptionists,” Ms. Groth deadpanned.


In the passage, Ms. Groth addresses her years at the receptionist desk and grapples with whether The New Yorker somehow mistreated her. But after considering the vacations, flexible work schedule and the many “intangibles” like party invites and a front-row seat to New York literary life, she concluded, “It is not clear to me who was exploiting whom.”

talk to me

I’m realizing lately that if all of us here in America came out from behind our Facebook facades and turned off our TVs, we would realize just how much common ground we have, and there might be a revolution.

Now that my plans to uproot myself have materialized, I’ve started having real conversations with people and discovering just how stressed out everyone is at their jobs. I’m amazed at the number of people who have taken up meditation as a response.

In terms of health insurance, I was out with three women this past week, none of whom have it. Over the weekend I met up with another group of women of whom two don’t have it and one does (a professor).

On another note, a married woman with a fabulous career, lovely home, a couple of cute kids, and a nice-looking, friendly husband, told me how difficult a long-term marriage can be. She explained how you aren’t the same person in your forties as you are in your mid-twenties, and that the sexual spark is very easy to lose amongst the business of raising children and the overfamiliarity of a long-term union. I told her about the frustrations with dating here (confirmed by the other lovely single women who was with us) and intimated that, if she were single, the sex would most likely be infrequent and brief, if at all.

Hopefully the conversation helped her as much as it did me.


One of the discussions that has come out of my stress this week has been the possibility of marrying a gay male friend of mine. I could get health insurance; he would gain a free place to live. I would have the freedom to dabble and work part-time; we could inherit or bequeath social security payments. We could keep our own names, dispense with rings, and date other people for fun and sex.

The part of me that still believes in the love-and-marriage package holds back, but why? In a lot of ways, this could be an ideal solution. He can’t marry another man in the state he is living in anyway, and neither one of us sees our marriage odds as very good.

I told this to a younger co-worker of mine and she said she has had the same discussions with a gay male friend of hers.

student bodies

I had this idea a while ago but thought maybe I should look for work instead… now it seems like a good way to stay insured:


My doctor’s office calls again: UHC says the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix has no record of me in their files. Well, duh! I haven’t been there yet. Now let’s see if I’ve got this straight: I can’t go there until UHC approves it. UHC can’t approve it until all the requisite information has been filed and a case manager assigned. But I can’t have a case manager until the intake coordinator has entered the case in the system. And the intake coordinator hasn’t entered the case because the hospital where I’m appealing to go has no record of me. I don’t know whether to scream or cry!


I’m in despair. I think back to last year, when I signed up for early Social Security. It took one phone call. Fifteen minutes max. Everything was loaded into their system and I could look it up online. All the information was there. It was all correct. My checks come like clockwork on the same day every month. I’ve never had one problem. Last year my husband signed up for Medicare. Same experience. No problems, no complaints. This is your government at work. Some bureaucrats know how to get it right.

health insurance

From all my reading, I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that feeling lonely, scared, and isolated contributes to ill health. It’s like being doubly punished.

Knowing that, I’m trying not to let this health insurance issue get to me, although it’s definitely an issue that makes me feel lonely, scared, and isolated. Like I’ve been thrown on the scrap heap for having a medical issue. Like I’m being punished for being single. Like nobody cares, and I’ll lose every cent I have if I’m hospitalized. Like I’m a target for aggressive, predatory companies that like to throw around the word “God” a lot.

A friend of mine, a freelancer, has some medical issues and said the single biggest negative impact on her health is dealing with health insurance companies.

Another friend of mine, due to the stress of his job, developed a temporary medical problem that then created a health insurance nightmare when the job ended.

I’m taking deep breaths and meditating but the sadness and fear is still breaking through.

irish times

More people are separating in Ireland. More live alone. Dating is changing, as are definitions of singlehood. A new ‘Irish Times’ series explores the sometimes lonely, sometimes liberating reality of single life


We need to find a way to open a dialogue between mothers and nomos (not-mothers, my term). To name, describe and domesticate the elephant in the room. If intimacy and honesty are really the same thing, without being honest with each other, friendships become a performance. And then they wither away and die.

quick turnarounds

Somehow within a year this went from not enough enrollments:

To closed to further enrollment:

nutty professors

A long time ago on this blog I wrote about the fact that too many women who expound upon the joys of working are either freelance writers or university professors, with the latter possibly holding the last desirable job around.

A friend of mine is married to a professor and, having just had a baby, is now agreeing with me about this. Her husband stays home with the baby several days a week and has lengthy breaks from work. She, who works at one of the most liberal institutions in the country, has thus far not been allowed to work from home one day a week, and she must schlep to another building, quite a distance away, to pump breast milk.

It infuriates me when people in the media (mostly old men and some wealthy wives) promote motherhood without addressing these issues (not blaming the profs for that one, as they at least might recognize them).

In other news, a co-worker of mine, a couple of rungs above me, confessed to me recently that her job is continually stressful and she developed an autoimmune disorder herself a few years ago.

With all this plus my health insurance problems, I do have to laugh that we still think of ourselves as the “land of the free.” I’ve never felt less free in my life.