never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: August, 2013


Stigmas, stereotypes, and conflicting messages abound for women living in today’s world. For women caught in these seemingly impossible conflicts, it takes on the feel of being trapped in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t world. Kathleen Hall Jamieson aptly describes this phenomenon in her 1995 book, Beyond the Double Bind, by opening with a reference to the witch trials of the 1600s. She writes, “In 1631, in Cautio Criminalis, Julius Friedrich Spee identified one no win situation in which prosecutors placed women accused of witchcraft. The suspect witch was submerged in a pond. If she drowned, she deserved to; if she didn’t, she was a witch. In the first case, god was revealing her nature; in the second, the devil.” Hall Jamieson points out that centuries later, “the penalties are disdain and financial loss, not death, and the sanctions social, not theological, but it can still be hazardous for a woman to venture out beyond her ‘proper sphere.'”


“Power is being told you’re not loved and not being destroyed by it.”
— Madonna


I’ve never been interested in dating a man with children; I’ve written on here before that I don’t think we’d be able to relate to each other.

That belief has hugely limited my pool of available partners, of course, but after reading Stepmonster by Wednesday Martin, I think I dodged a bullet. According to Martin, not only do stepmothers have it much tougher than stepfathers, but childless stepmothers tend to have it the toughest of all. I can’t imagine coping with all the tension that seems endemic to the role.

Although Martin eventually found her footing with her husband and stepkids, the reviews of the book on Goodreads confirm that stepmotherhood is no walk in the park.

global relations

“The institution of marriage basically benefits men, and when women are hurt, this institution doesn’t protect our rights,” a young woman in Beijing recently told me. “The most rational choice is to stay single.”


I’ve hidden a great number of my “friends” on Facebook while gradually adding a lot of the Facebook versions of the journals I love (which I often refer to here). Like clothing, I believe Facebook can be tailored to reflect who we are as opposed to making us feel bad for not fitting artificial, mainstream standards.

To that end:


Sometimes when I look back on my life in L.A. I can’t believe I made it through. I remember early morning meetings that involved hourlong trips on the 10 to the 5 to the 710 in apocalyptic traffic jams, surrounded by roaring semis on all sides as I exited and entered the freeways and changed lanes. How did I survive?

I think it would be madness to put myself back there, but if I can’t find a reasonable job here, I’m not sure what I will do. Chuck it all and become a nanny and (self-published) writer?

I do feel happier currently than I have in a while, but I have to chalk that up to not working. In terms of place and my day-to-day emotional state, I probably could be just about as content in L.A., but making a living there is more stressful than doing so here.

I still of course get down these days; it’s just that I’m better able to nurse myself into a better mood when I don’t have to get up and get to a job. I can do a good hour of kundalini yoga instead.

I like what Lucretia Stewart has to say about happiness. I wrote about her earlier here:

And here she is today:

The causes of my anxiety are various: money, or the lack thereof, and getting older seem to be the main culprits.

Yet I don’t remember being free of anxiety when I was younger, and I don’t think that I would be happier if I had married, had children or led a more conventional life.

page turners

The pleasures of this novel—its lucidity and wry humor—are mixed with the sting of recognizing the essential unfairness of the sexual mores of our moment: after years of liberated fun, many women begin to feel terribly lonely when realize they want a commitment; men, who seem to have all the power to choose, are also stuck with an unasked-for power to inflict hurt. We’ll have to keep searching for an arrangement that works better, and monogamous coupledom may not be it, Waldman suggests. But she offers no balm, no solution—and tacitly resists a culture that offers sunny advice and reassurance to women.

the chill

I found out today that the “glamorous” position I applied for– one that was within my range of experience but in the private sector– has been filled. Apparently they were deluged with applicants, so I failed to get an interview.

I’m waiting to hear back about another position I applied for at my old organization. The promotional opportunities there have been opened internally only, so this one would be more of a lateral move. Still, I have a fair amount of competition. Once those promotions are filled, a few more slots should open in the fall or spring.

I don’t necessarily want to be employed this minute, and if I had my druthers, I would choose January or even June. These exploratory forays into the job market, however, have not been very heartening.

A slight, chill wind has begun to blow. I’m trying not to isolate, but my enthusiasm for socializing grows dimmer as my ability to stay on here long term is thrown into doubt.

the chin

In my old organization, I mentored a woman who was entering the profession after doing contract work in another field. She was also a wife and a mother of two kids who were leaving home for college. She was quite green in terms of my career field but managed to score a desirable job close to her home.

A few months into the new job I spoke to her and she had some complaints about the organization but overall was content where she had been placed. She did say that she was sad about not being able to accompany her husband on the trips he was taking for work. Boo hoo, I thought.

Less than a year into the job, she quit to follow her husband across country for a gig.

I’m so glad I am taking this time for myself, because I was getting to the point where I was bursting with envy at people like her, those dilettantes in the world of work. I have another married friend here who is in the midst of taking several years off, but because I am happily enjoying my own time, I can talk to her without bursting into flames.

Of course, even though I’ve taken it on the chin for decades, unlike those women I am having to hustle up my next gig.


Novelist Isabel Allende, in an interview with Carolyn Rountree (1993) for Rountree’s book on women over 50, mused “when you articulate something, it then becomes part of your reality; before you articulate it, it’s just confusion.”

I have a friend here who is very sweet but who drives me batty sometimes with her insistence that her overly idealistic (to me) view of reality is the correct one. This same woman is prone to major breakdowns and depressions. I can’t help but feel if she would look at some negative realities in the face and accept them, it would help her move forward in life without so many depressive episodes.

Interestingly, the Allende quote is pulled from a blog page about the invisibility of aging women, something this friend vehemently denies.