never married, over forty, a little bitter


If contemporary feminism is to pose the kind of threat to the status quo that riot grrrl attempted to evoke, it desperately needs to recoup the demand for redistribution of wealth alongside the ongoing battles for expanded representation and personal evolution. Though a book of riot grrrl zines or even a summer spent at a Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls might inspire young women to pick up guitars and pens, without the financial resources to sustain these creative pursuits, fewer and fewer women will be afforded the opportunity to make art. In 2011, Le Tigre’s JD Samson published a widely-circulated article detailing her precarious financial situation despite her status as a well-known musician. Describing her lack of steady income, health insurance, and guaranteed work, she concluded by imploring, “Another reason to occupy Wall Street.” Similarly, earlier this year, Kathleen Hanna spoke out in support of Guitar Center employees’ efforts to unionize, noting that without access to a living wage, “Only the trust-fund kids, who don’t have to pound the pavement all day, end up being the ones in bands. This makes for a scene that isn’t diverse or interesting.” As austerity tightens and public funding for arts programs vanish, the possibility of a punk, DIY, arts-based girl riot diminishes, even as new books and films herald its legacy and continuation. – See more at:

the numbers game

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day and the host mentioned that, after a couple of years of doing the podcast, he has now had over a million downloads.

I don’t advertise this blog at all, but I can assure you my number of hits is way less. Maybe 100-150 people visit on an average day, with perhaps 200-300 post views.

1-in-5 women enter their mid-forties childless. I’m unsure what that translates into as far as actual numbers; it must be huge. Yet there aren’t a ton of blogs on this subject; I routinely read only a small handful.

I am guessing this blog pops up now if one were to search the subject, so the question is, where are the readers? Are single, childless women searching out this kind of material? As a reader myself, I’m curious.

mixed bags

And boy does this sound like the “mixed bag” that was my life in L.A.:

Moving to the city will solve some problems and add new ones. It will provide a woman with privacy– she will be able to come home late without the neighbors talking, but this new gift of privacy also means she doesn’t know her neighbors. It means no lawn to mow, no home to keep up, no taxes to pay, but it also means busy streets too dangerous for your eight-year-old to ride his bike on. It means higher costs for food and baby sitters. But perhaps the greatest advantage for a woman alone is that the city gives her an environment where she is not considered out of step with the rest of the world. She may not know her neighbors, but they include other mothers, single women, widows, bachelors– a variety of people alone whom she can seek out if she wishes. In short, living in the city can mean a mixed bag of freedom, variety, and loneliness.

— Patricia O’Brien, The Woman Alone, pp. 126-127

tough cookies

I’ve written before about how it can be difficult for me to make room for spontaneity in my life; I am usually unable to show up somewhere at the last minute. My friends seem to expect me to be able to do so; I suppose they think I am just sitting around, staring into space. In reality, my days are planned long in advance, and dropping my plans any time a friend calls can feel like opening the door to chaos.

I now have a better understanding of why I am like this:

With recognition of their diversity, is there any one characteristic shared by most women alone? I would say there is, and I would identify that characteristic as their meticulous attention to planning. Women who are totally alone, without children, plan their lives with great attention to detail: they map out the hours of their days, setting down certain routines they do not allow themselves to break; they plan dinner parties and vacations far in advance of the event; they will almost choreograph their contacts with other people. They do all this for the very common-sense reason that they cannot take anything for granted. There is no structure that will generate things happening if they don’t make them happen, unlike the household of a woman with children, where the daily routine means a variety of expected and unexpected events– PTA meetings, skinned knees, new math lessons, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, good or bad report cards, crayoned drawings that say “I love you,” a mixture of warmth and worry.

This attention to planning is sometimes obsessive, often exhausting, but it is needed. It allows a woman to plan a European vacation over the Christmas holidays so she won’t have to sit alone in her apartment and be reminded she has no one during this, the most family-oriented of all holidays; it helps her circumvent lonely weekends when sitting around on a rainy day reading the Sunday papers isn’t enough. It is a way of providing norms and constraints on herself when there are none applied by society. In the same way, so is the fact that large numbers of women alone keep dogs, cats, parakeets, potted plants; something, anything, that demands regular attention and care. I asked one divorced woman about this, a woman with a dog and a cat in her apartment, and she added another reason: “I keep pets because they are a source of giving and receiving affection I can depend on.”

Planning is a crucial element of life not only to the ordinary woman managing to support herself on an ordinary salary, but also to women with special life structures, women who have achieved a certain degree of fame or fortune. Writer Marya Mannes has told me that without a carefully built discipline, a pattern to her life, she would be lost: “If I didn’t have my writing, and if I didn’t have an enormous zest for living– alternating of course with periods of depression like everybody has and feelings of great loneliness– I don’t know what I would do. It’s very tough to really do everything yourself, for yourself.”

–Patricia O’Brien, The Woman Alone, pp. 119-120

the undefined

Yesterday an old high school friend of mine sent out a baby announcement. She’s my age and had her first, a son, a couple of years ago. Yesterday she had a daughter.

I no longer harbor any illusions of having a child of my own, so I was able to handle the announcement pretty well. Any pangs I did feel had more to do with where my life is at the moment and my resulting “status” or lack thereof.

If everything goes according to plan, this friend will be embedded in the status of wife and mother of two for the next twenty years. Currently, I am single, (relatively) friendless, childless, and jobless. Given that I’m on the cusp of my mid-forties, I don’t have particularly high hopes of any of that improving, save perhaps me landing some kind of job.

Nobody is going to congratulate me for taking time out to rejuvenate. I am in undefined territory.


All women need to be stronger and more individualistic than they have hitherto wanted, tried, or dared to be. Perhaps women alone have a unique chance to gain this personal strength if they redefine who they are in relation to a society that undervalues them.

–Patricia O’Brien, The Woman Alone, p. 70