never married, over forty, a little bitter

the days

I’ve been keeping my eye out for this one, hoping someday it will appear on DVD since I missed the screening:

Days Together (US, 2011; 85 min.)
Director: Peter Monro

Days Together explores a young woman’s search for identity in love, the prospect of parenthood, and the comfort of family.

Alex is single and at a crossroads in her life as she watches her close friends settle down, get married, and have kids. A trail of numbing late night hook-ups and useless advice leads her to Paul, a drummer ready to leave Los Angeles for a simpler life.

Eager to escape the city for a while, Alex plans to drive up to Seattle to visit her sister, and decides to let Paul hitch a ride. The two new friends take on the road together, enjoying each other’s company and affections until they realize that they must both forge ahead on their own.

The film didn’t get a good review here:

But it did get a good one here:

And I enjoyed this brief podcast interview with the filmmaker:


Last night while cleaning house I came across the DVD of the film Junebug, which I hadn’t yet gotten around to seeing, so I popped it in. Interestingly, it contains scenes of discomfort surrounding a childless, married, professional woman who encounters the inevitable questions about her childbearing status in a small Southern town.

It’s a more nuanced film than this blistering review suggests (for a better review check, but I was a little miffed by some of the subtext in the ending:

And while Ashley is the film’s heart, Madeleine is its brain, which is, as expected, her great curse. Hell, she’s not even American! She’s lean, pretty, and such a striking contrast to the locals that she all but sprouts horns in the middle of the baby shower. She too is well-intentioned (she’s never callous or snooty, even though she’d be more than justified), but she questions, doubts, and just might place her job over the feelings of others, which cannot stand in such a world. The deck is further stacked when, during her attendance at a social gathering, she refuses to bow her head in prayer. She even manages to maintain her composure when the chaplain comes over to the table and asks God to make her marriage a spiritual one, despite never having considered her feelings in the matter. And I’ll be damned if she doesn’t skip church the next day, further alienating her from the mother! The father might also care about her lack of deference to Jesus, but he’s too busy drooling in the corner to register a response. She’s also assumed to be defective because she doesn’t have any children (she’s asked several times, all with incredulity), and I can only imagine the outrage if she were to reveal that she doesn’t even want them.


“All smart women are crazy,” I once told an ex-boyfriend in a heated moment, in an attempt to depict his future options as split down the middle between easygoing dimwits and sharp women who were basically just me with different hairstyles. By “crazy,” I only meant “opinionated” and “moody” and “not always as pliant as one might hope.” I was translating my personality into language he might understand — he who used “psycho-chick” as a stand-in for “noncompliant female” and he whose idea of helpful counsel was “You’re too smart for your own good,” “my own good” presumably being some semivegetative state of acceptance which precluded uncomfortable discussions about our relationship.

Over the years, “crazy” became my own reductive shorthand for every complicated, strong-willed woman I met. “Crazy” summed up the good and the bad in me and in all of my friends. Whereas I might have started to recognize that we were no more crazy than anyone else in the world, instead I simply drew a larger and larger circle of crazy around us, lumping together anyone unafraid of confrontation, anyone who openly admitted her weaknesses, anyone who pursued agendas that might be out of step with the dominant cultural noise of the moment. “Crazy” became code for “interesting” and “courageous” and “worth knowing.” I was trying to have a sense of humor about myself and those around me, trying to make room for stubbornness and vulnerability and uncomfortable questions.

But I realize now, after watching these crazy characters parade across my TV screen, that there’s self-hatred in this act of self-subterfuge. “Our future depends on the sanity of each of us,” Rich writes, “and we have a profound stake, beyond the personal, in the project of describing our reality as candidly and fully as we can to each other.”

Maybe this era of “crazy” women on TV is an unfortunate way-station on the road from placid compliance to something more complex — something more like real life. Many so-called crazy women are just smart, that’s all. They’re not too smart for their own good, or for ours.


In addition to listening to Penny Marshall’s book recently, I also listened to one by Bob Newhart.

What’s interesting about both of those celebrities is that they grew up in relatively poor families in which several generations lived in one room, sometimes a converted dining room. Then, of course, they both went on to big success.

By the time she was my age, Marshall had been married twice (Rob Reiner was her second husband), had a daughter, had helmed a television show, was quite well-off financially, owned a beautiful home, and had many famous, A-list friends with whom she jetted around the world.

It’s enough to make a girl depressed.

Moving back to my former city is stirring up a lot of emotion in me, so that’s a part of my reaction. I’m leaving behind my modest apartment and all of my furniture, most of which is in sorry shape after several moves. I’ll be arriving at my 80-year-old mother’s house in much the same place I did upon graduation from college– jobless, furnitureless, childless, husbandless–the difference being that this time, there’s no longer hope for children and, it’s beginning to feel, for a husband.

It definitely feels odd, like the circle of life was not, in my case, completed.

One thing I tell myself is that Marshall’s and Newhart’s generation lived through unusually prosperous times. Unfortunately, I think my generation more closely resembles that of their parents.

the movies

I like the thought too, but I don’t know if it’s true:

But at the end of the day, as someone who’s feeling societal pressure to settle down and have kids at age 24, I felt like the movie gave me some license to relax and live my own life without worrying about hitting an arbitrary age where I will be doomed to live a lonely, miserable, single life. As far as fantasies go, I can definitely buy into one where I get to be myself and pursue my career goals, and when I’m pushing 60 maybe have a fling with a paunchy yet charming lawyer.


Dating in L.A. was hard. Maybe it was my young age, but I was never able to find a partner who was in it for the long haul. Angelenos develop “Grass Is Greener On The Other Side Disease” or what is also informally known as, “Ooh, Shiny Object! Disease”. Not only is the next person more beautiful, but they may be more helpful to your career ambitions.