thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: May, 2013

the longest journey

Here were some of the hurdles I overcame during my move: A woman who went all borderline personality disorder on me over some things I had given her. A car accident, my first, a week before I was to hit the road, happening during a delivery to a friend of some freebies. A landlord who is being shaky on returning my deposit (21 days have past so he legally owes me all of it now but I’d have to travel to California at least twice to file a claim and then do more paperwork to get the money) and who insisted I give him a check for last month’s rent even though I paid that up front (another $1250 I will probably never see). A condo tenant who asked me to pay him two months rent in order to move out early. A property manager who somehow failed to notice that an earlier tenant had removed a large, beautiful wardrobe from the condo (probably not worth the hassle of suing, but disappointing nonetheless). A moving company that was contracted to leave two huge pallets of shrink-wrapped furniture outside my door but not move them in (had to pay the guy under the table to help me get the furniture inside and remove the pallets). Missing items from the delivery. A travel companion who is a poor driver, so I did all of the driving across country. A grueling week with my mom which dissolved into a lot of arguing. A full-length mirror that arrived shattered in pieces. Endless paperwork and bureaucracy to get into community college. The need to send my health insurance company proof of former coverage (even though it’s the same company), the need to find a primary care doctor to give me the referral I need for a specialist, the need to get all my paperwork sent from my former specialist to the new one before I will be seen. Lots of paperwork to get my car registered and my driver’s license. A new “smart” phone that dialed out on one number but when people called that number they got someone else. A shady company that mysteriously charged several thousands of dollars to my credit card and then refunded it a few days later, prompting me to pursue an investigation.

And that’s just what I recall off the top of my head. If I had kids, I never could have done it.

Considering all the work and effort that went into moving, I was all set to pass on the safety jobs and really go for my dream vision. But then, on the last night before the deadline, I ran into that friend who warned me about the job market. He’s highly educated and has a great resume and was basing his advice not just on his experience but that of his friends, so I tend to believe him, although he has three kids so more urgency than me. But even the people who were encouraging me to wait it out have been conducting their own job searches, while employed, to no avail.

I’m just worn out and worn down.

I was having a conversation with my roommate this morning about the difficulty of finding a good job. We discussed the fact that it’s surprising it’s not easier to find partners in this kind of economy. It’s not like the swinging sixties, when jobs were plentiful and life was relatively easy and one had the time to pursue lots of sex and wild encounters. You would think people would be eager to pair up to try to weather all the difficulty of trying to survive. Instead it seems that the dog-eat-dog mentality has bled from the economy into the dating market.

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the puzzle

I thought I could turn down the interview later for the safety jobs, but alas, they got back to me the same day. There will be little time to explore other options. I’m trying to look on the bright side. It’s nice to feel wanted. I could pick my pension back up. I like my former coworkers (yes, this is a place I worked at before). I could move into better jobs eventually.

Would I have moved back here for this? No. But then, would I have moved to California if I had known in advance how things would turn out? No. At least I have more of a sense of community here, so there’s that.

A former friend of mine, a woman who in that godawful year of seventh grade won parts in several plays and made it on to the cheerleading team while I failed at both and was suffering through my parents’ divorce, posted some pictures today of her daughter winning several academic awards. This woman is married to an attorney and stays home with her three kids. I’m trying to hold on to that wise saw about not seeing others’ successes as my failures.

I’m struggling with that same old feeling that there’s just not quite a place for me in this world. I’m a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit. Bright, creative, and resourceful, but not wealthy, connected, or extraordinarily good-looking. Still single and looking for love and adventure long past the age our culture expects women to be settled down and raising kids.

As far as money-making opportunities, I suppose I could try to start my own business, but I’ve never had that dream, and the market for writers is probably the worst it’s ever been.

I know plenty of lovely, older single women who are well-educated, attractive, fit, and decently-employed and have empathetic, kind souls to boot. They should be able to find partners, but they can’t. Where can they turn? Classes, bars, online dating. All are far from guarantees. A basic human need for love and companionship and there’s nowhere to turn but the vagaries of the capitalistic marketplace.

It’s the same with the other basic human need to find satisfying work. What are the options? Job boards, employment agencies, networking. No guarantees.

It’s a tight market for both, and the competition is stiff. We may live in a world of abundance, but it’s not an abundance of appealing jobs or partners.

I’m hoping I’ll have at least one more month off. I’m enjoying Spanish and looking forward to my sewing class. I’ll have to drop Spanish if I get the job, and I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for sewing. I’ll still be able to fit in some dance classes.

Will I get desperate for some kind of fulfillment and turn to online dating again? There’s a good chance, and a good chance I’ll be disappointed with it. Whenever I consider going down that road now, I turn my attention to my hobbies, but once I’m working, I’ll have much less time for them. And once again, I’ll be looking for something to offset the daily grind.

unfriending

Just before I left Los Angeles I “unfriended” the woman on Facebook who had treated me so poorly after getting engaged (and her behavior had been quite shaky before that, frankly). I wanted to remove all ability to keep up with her and her life.

That same sentiment is echoed here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/australia-culture-blog/2013/may/29/bff-female-friendships-end

I haven’t spoken to my ex-best friend in almost five years. Late last year, after another night of chasing her around in my dreams, I unfriended her on facebook. Having that link there had become a reminder of the failure between us, and of how painful the situation had become. And although part of me will always wonder where she is and how she is going, removing that link has helped me move on. My dreams have become my own once more.

capitulation

I turned in the job application for the safety jobs today. Feeling a bit glum. I could always turn down the interview, I suppose. In the meantime I will hit up an employment agency and try to gauge my prospects. I’m not so sure that applying to ads is going to get me anywhere. I wish I had a little more time to fish, but I’m afraid to pass up an opportunity.

Most of my friends have told me to hold out and think I’m a great candidate with an impressive resume. Maybe, but that doesn’t matter if nobody’s buying. It reminds me of dating. You can have a great profile on a dating site, but so what? It doesn’t necessarily mean anyone’s interested.

I’m feeling a bit defeated but am thinking I’ll rebound in a few days. I’ll have to look on the bright side of things, because once again it looks like making change in the biggest areas of my life (work and love) might prove impossible.

trouble in paradise

And now for more doubts.

I think my roommate and I will get along swimmingly– we enjoy each other’s company– but I have long known that he is fairly lazy. Despite having a lower-level and far easier job in L.A., he didn’t cook, clean, decorate, do laundry, exercise, or go out on the town. Somehow, despite having a higher-level job and far more responsibility at work, I managed to fit all those things in. He mostly lays around and watches TV, and he has a work ethic to match.

But that’s not the central problem. The problem is, while I had resolved to take some time off work, I am once again thinking of caving. I ran into a former acquaintance of mine who warned me that the job market is very tight and that it took him almost eight months to get his current job and that many of his friends have been looking for two years. He thought I should apply for those safety jobs. If I do, I will end up in a lower-level, lower-paying job than my roommate and will have a bad commute, while he is in line for a better-paid, close-by management job that I refrained for applying for because I knew he wanted it. And a small part of the reason I moved back here is that he wanted us to live together, and he acted petulant when I talked of staying on in L.A. Ultimately I own my decision and it was made for myriad reasons, but I’m afraid resentment could grow.

Argh. I don’t know what to do. I want to change my life but don’t know if it’s possible. I’ve only been here two weeks– how can I know? But if I pass on applying, I could find myself out of work for years, which is longer than I want. On the other hand, once I take one of those jobs in my former field, it will feel like the next twenty years of my life have been settled.

I am down, I admit. I sometimes feel that I just can’t change my life, no matter how much I try. I fear that if I take one of those jobs I will feel like my only distraction is the hope of a relationship, and then I’m afraid that won’t pan out either.

I’m seized by fear and doubt. I’ve worked all night on the application, thinking I should turn it in by the deadline tomorrow with the idea I could back out of an interview if I changed my mind. Or perhaps turn down an offer later on. But I don’t want to burn bridges either.

Argh.

feeling the fear

Today is my first day of community college classes. I was up half the night, tossing and turning. I’ll admit that I am occasionally getting gripped by fear over this entirely new direction. New location, new roommate, school, putting off the job search…

Doing it anyway.

domestic partners

My roommate, a gay man, has officially moved in.  He’s gaining a very low-cost place to live, and, at least while I’m out of work, he will be paying for the food if I do all the shopping and cooking.  If we were married, I’d have health insurance, and the pressure for me to get back to work full-time would be completely off.

There’s something to this partnering up.

one step

There were three pregnant women in my smallish yoga class today, and the teacher made a big fuss over them, saying the joke about “it might be catching.” I briefly missed my large urban yoga classes in L.A. where that kind of thing never happened, but I also remained aware of the other people in the class, people of varying ages, who may well have been childless like myself.

The happy hour with my former coworkers from more than a decade ago was also less family-oriented than I feared. Yes, a lot of people had become parents (and some had several marriages behind them), but there was at least one other never-married, childless woman in attendance and a few who had partners but no kids.

Overall I’m feeling energized and happy about my move, although I have no idea what I will end up doing for work. I’m putting that fear on the back burner for now though and giving myself a little freedom-and-discovery time.

On that note, I loved this blog post:

http://sashacagen.com/uncategorized/stepping-off-the-standard-path-of-adulthood/

One night while we were riding a bus to a milonga (a place where we dance tango) she told me her story. Christine is Swiss, in her late 30s. “I worked as a nurse and then a nurse manager for 18 years but I really didn’t like it. I hated it.” She kept expecting to meet the guy, that she would buy a house with him and get married and do all that stuff in her thirties. At a certain point, she decided to just up and go; to come in Buenos Aires to dance tango.

nets

Last year I wrote about my confusion over who I should put down as my emergency contact; now it seems that those types of concerns have gone so mainstream that an organization has been created to address them:

http://www.personalsafetynets.org

I’ve decided not to apply for those “safety” jobs and instead spend the next few months fulfilling personal goals, updating my skills, job searching in new career fields, and, just as importantly, socializing and building up my own personal safety net. I’ve spent so much of my life living alone and working, and now I want to take a pause to build up some kind of family for myself.

Part of that family may be a group of lively performers who live and work here and are connected to the network I knew in L.A. They will only be one part, however, as I’ve grown a bit leery of people who are trying to “go places.” I need more permanence and security than that, and I seem to have other options for that here.

I did briefly reunite with the old flame, and although I’m sure we will keep running into each other, I was confirmed in my impression that the situation with him is no longer right for me. I want more kindness and commitment than he can provide.

I’m also going out this weekend with some coworkers from fifteen years ago, most of whom are married and parents, although they were all single when I met them. Wish me luck. It might be awkward.

the big shift

I’m shocked at the “one in three” statistic, although many of those never-marrieds probably have children:

http://www.bgsu.edu/offices/mc/news/2012/news111088.html

Using data from the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses and the 2009 round of the American Community Survey, Dr. I-Fen Lin, an associate professor of sociology, and Dr. Susan Brown, a professor of sociology and co-director of the NCFMR, found one-third of adults aged 45-63 are unmarried. This represents a more than 50 percent increase since 1980, when just 20 percent of middle-aged Americans were unmarried.

Most single boomers are divorced or never married. In fact, one in three single baby boomers has never been married. Just 10 percent of unmarried boomers are widowed.

And:

“In the past, family members, particularly spouses, have provided care to infirm older adults. But a growing share of older adults aren’t going to have a spouse available to rely on for support. Our figures indicate one in three boomers won’t have a spouse who can care for them. And, unmarrieds are less likely to have children who might provide care. These shifting family patterns portend new strains on existing institutional supports for the elderly. As more singles enter older adulthood, we as a society may have to reconsider how we care for frail elders. The family may no longer be a viable option for an increasing segment of older adults.”

And:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-feather-phd/long-term-care_b_3275051.html

Indeed, some commentators feel that growing older alone is one of the most important — and ignored — women’s issues of the next 30 years.