never married, over forty, a little bitter

Month: September, 2013

the cusp

I tried to approach this thing as a journalist, not as one of those people who take a strong stand about the whole thing. Because I’m not really that interested in us going extinct, or hastening our extinction, I really look for signs of hope, and I think there are a lot of them in that book. You may have felt that the preponderance of the evidence was not encouraging, and I admit we’re in a very tough place. That’s my conclusion as a journalist, and it’s going to be a pretty wild century. But within that century we have the means to do something about it. And it doesn’t mean inventing incredible new energy systems that don’t muck up the atmosphere, or somehow changing human nature so we all suddenly consume less or distribute our food more equitably, stuff like that. This involves technology that we already have.

There is a side benefit that is even possibly a contribution to humanity, which is that the best contraceptive of all is educating and empowering women, and men. What better world would we have then?

the simmering

I’ve been cleaning house today and thinking of all the work I put into this place. I spent a lot of money and effort getting the former tenant out; painted the walls and cabinets and had numerous repairs done; moved furniture cross-country, had other furniture moved from my mom’s place, and spent hours buying yet more furniture and getting it delivered; hung all the pictures; dealt with a pest infestation; got the mail box keys straightened out and extra keys made; found specialty light bulbs for the fixtures; bought curtains and new blinds; purchased and installed the AC filter; had knobs installed on the cabinets; stocked the kitchen with dishes and cleaning utensils; got a TV, cable, and DVD player installed; and purchased all new cleaning supplies.

At the time, I was fine with doing all the work, as my roommate had a full-time job and was also having back problems (another sign of internet addiction). His contribution? He got the internet hooked up. He called the company where I found my bed and had them deliver one for him (he had been living in an apartment with nothing but an air mattress for the preceding year). He wanted darker curtains, so I suggested he find some or have some made; instead, he hung a sheet over the window. Then he settled onto his back, surfing the net and belching.

To be fair, he didn’t have friends over or otherwise cause a lot of noise, and he wasn’t particular about anything with the condo, so I tried to count my blessings.

Yet when he took my job misfortune as a lucky sign that perhaps I’d have to move on and he could buy this place for himself, I finally saw the light. I raised the rent to market rate (he was paying way below market, with no lease or deposit) and insisted he at least do one chore each week– clean the small shared bathroom. I had to remind him to do it, and he would pout.

As soon as his new promotion was secured (at my former organization again, ugh), he decided to buy a place of his own in this same building. He gloated about his new job and the good favor he had curried with administration, and every time he heard I might be applying for a position, he decided maybe he should apply for that particular promotion himself. Then, of course, my last reminder to clean the bathroom set him off into a volcanic rage of insults, which finally brought me to coming clean about my own disgust and resentment.

I sent him an email and gave him a letter stating that he has thirty days to move on; we are currently ignoring each other. It’s a shame that he’ll be living in this same building and yet we won’t be able to rely on each other, but every time I think of breaking the ice, I realize I am still angry. I block him out 99% of the time, but when I think of him, I don’t feel I have the ability to “make nice.”

bouncing back

Yesterday as I stood outside my dance class I noticed a poster for study abroad opportunities through the language classes that I’m taking. I felt a surge of enthusiasm and rushed home after class to investigate. Turns out the timing is off for my schedule, but it was nice to know I still have the ability to bounce back from disappointment.

One of those disappointments is that I’m guessing I didn’t get the job I recently interviewed for. I know there were about a dozen candidates, all strong. The thing is, several years ago I recruited one of the interviewees to work on a team I was leading, and we got along quite well and had some big successes. Another one of the interviewees came to the opening of my biggest project in L.A. If those kinds of connections are not going to get me a job here, I may well be sunk.

The situation is especially difficult for me because a number of my friends here are former co-workers and are still employed at this same organization. I can’t vent to them too much, and although I’m trying to keep it light, I’m afraid an uncomfortable rift might grow, and this city will start to feel unwelcoming. At the moment I actually have nobody to unburden myself to about all this, so here I write.

In any case, I signed up for my first shift of farm work this week and have my work shirt, boots, and gloves at the ready. By Christmas I will have accomplished many of the things I set out to do with this time off– a small trip, a cooking class, sewing classes, language classes, and a volunteer stint on an organic farm. Over the holidays I’ll do some traveling and see extended family. Perhaps I’ll revisit the idea of self-publishing a book from this blog next month.

When I attend interviews, the interviewers of course discuss topics like supervising others and managing the general public. I’m not gonna lie; it’s been incredibly nice to have a break from all that. My stay-at-home friends have NO IDEA how difficult public service is in this day and age. I know this because now that I’m at home, all those problems are mostly invisible to me as well.

While on the one hand I feel healthy and vibrant from this time off, on the other I often feel lonely and adrift.

If still unemployed in 2014, I’ll have some big decisions to make. I could stay here and continue on with language classes– I’d have at least two more semesters to go– and take whatever kind of temp job I can find. If Obamacare turns out to be the real deal, I’ll have more freedom to do so. I could give myself until fall 2014 to consider moving elsewhere (and going back to my former organization in L.A. will still be a possibility).

Or I could just throw in the towel on this place the first of the year. I’m sure my roommate (who hasn’t moved out yet but to whom I’m no longer speaking) would be thrilled to see me go.

I guess I’ll take my temperature in December.

the herd


Notice that we didn’t mention climate change above, or the exploding population/consumption levels that are triggering it — the two major factors threatening humanity’s future. Sure, if you’re not too far from the Western wildfires or Midwestern floodplains, the conversation might have turned to the crazy weather that is finally forcing some media to actually talk about climate change in the context of daily events.

But population? Get out. Way too inconvenient a truth. Take National Public Radio, for example. Of NPR’s sparse record of population pieces, just one or two actually address unsustainable population growth. But as the political right whittles away at family planning clinics across the nation, the latest NPR series, “The Baby Project,” devotes a plethora of articles to pregnancy, with the most serious subjects the problems some women have conceiving and birthing. If there is even a hint of too many babies, it is well hidden. This, even though a 2009 NPR story on U.S. pregnancies reported that half — yes, half — of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended. That’s a lot of unintended consumers adding to our future climate change.

And that’s what the right calls the “liberal” side of the mass media. The politically conservative U.S. mass media cover unsustainable population levels even less.

That pretty much reflects the appalling state of U.S. public education today on population. The U.S. approach to population issues across all levels of government, in terms of such things as education, attacks on family planning and tax deductions for children, is an exercise in thoughtlessness. The ramifications, however, are far more insidious and brutal. Women are culturally conditioned daily to welcome the idea of having children — plural, not one or none. How to support those children economically is not discussed. Indeed, our abysmal lack of adolescent sex educational programs ensures there will be plenty of young women who secure their destinies, and those of their babies, to brutal poverty and shortened lives through unwanted pregnancies and lack of choice. The latest available statistics from the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan tell the story: 1 in 5 American children lived in poverty in 2008; 1 in 3 if they were black or Latino.


In the past, Hugo Schwyzer was one of the few men writing thoughtfully about ageism in romantic relationships:

So it’s incredibly disappointing (to say the least) that he’s ‘fessed up recently to sleeping with his students again (the one who wrote the Tumblr was around twenty when they had their affair). The naysayers have been proved right on this one:

the magic number

So how many of us can the planet hold, with enough fresh air, clean water, and food to go around? Two billion, Weisman says, roughly where we were in 1900. And we could get back to that number in a century, he argues, if we all adopted China’s one-child policy. “We’re not going into space anytime soon, if ever,” says Weisman of the tenacious daydream that if we fill up this planet, we can simply find another. “I don’t see us being able to change our lifestyles fast enough. The one thing we can do is contraception. We could change human impact more quickly that way, and give ourselves time to solve these other problems.”

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ghost towns

When I moved away from this city seven years ago, my last two remaining social groups had begun to crumble. I didn’t realize they’d be dust by the time I returned.

As I’ve written before, one of my friends informed me he was moving to Los Angeles with his girlfriend just as I arrived back in town. I went to his goodbye party expecting a blowout, but it was instead a small dinner party with a handful of guests. I thought he had lost touch with the large circle of friends and acquaintances we used to socialize with, but now I realize that circle just doesn’t exist any more. The younger mother I ran into recently had been part of it, but she is still in touch with only two others, one of whom just moved away with her husband and child this month. Another helpful friend here had also been part of that circle, but she married and moved to the suburbs over the last few years and is no longer in touch with any of them.

Another older, long-term friend of mine here has for decades been living in a funky old house, which was something of a touchstone for me, as he threw numerous parties in his backyard over the years. When I came back to visit from L.A., I would always spend a couple of nights there.

He just sold the house and is moving a bit farther away with his girlfriend. The goodbye party was this weekend, and I was sad that hardly any of the old gang was there. I did see one man who used to flirt with me a little; he is now (deservedly) paired off with someone with whom he seems eminently more compatible. Other than him, I only recognized a few other faces.

I found myself choking up as I drove home.

I feared staying on in Los Angeles and becoming an older woman alone in an anonymous megalopolis, but I get scared here too–scared that there is no place for me any longer. If I can find a decent job, I’ll dig in my heels; I’ll try to find my way again from scratch. If I can’t find a good job, I can see my commitment dissolving.

Ironically, I’ve been having obvious signs of ovulation the past two months, while never having felt so adrift from intimacy. Just totally betwixt and between.

theme parks

At 31 I had a pretty rockin’ social life, actually, but I didn’t realize I was at the top of a mountain I was about to ski down:

4) “I remember being single. When I was 25.”

Single in your 20s cannot be compared to single in your 30s. They are different beasts, for so many reasons, but the one I’ll focus on here (I’ll probably hit others in future posts, don’t fret), is the fact that when I was single and 25, I had lots of single and 25 friends, too. The pool of single friendship shrank drastically after that, so when you’re 31 and feel alone, it’s on two levels: friends and lovers. You don’t know what it’s like, but thank you for trying to find common ground with me. On the flipside, I don’t know what it’s like to be 30-something and married, so we both have lots to teach each other.

Some other good points in the article, like these:

7) “Are you seeing anybody?”

And here’s why I hate this one. You’re asking me about my love life. I’m SO not asking about yours. What if I started a conversation with, “How happy is your marriage these days?” Awkward. There is more to me than my singleness, and far more to talk about. Let’s start there.

My job is pretty cool, wanna talk about it? I have an awesome hobby writing for xoJane these days, want me to tell you about it? I’m obsessed with Momofuku Noodle bar, wanna go? Have you traveled anywhere cool lately? I have! Blah, blah, blah and so on. I am me more than I am single.

8) “OMG I’m SO excited to be single now! Let’s go out!”

My dearest, newly single friends, welcome. I’m happy to have you, and I’m sure you’ll navigate these waters just fine. But you just arrived in this theme park. I’ve been on the same ride for years. I am not your tour guide/wingman/nurse through your new foray into freedom. My singlehood is not a toy for you to play with.

Also, could we not go out when you were wifed-up? Why is it now more okay than it was before? Why am I in a different bucket than your couple-y friends? I don’t appreciate 2nd class friend status, all the more reason I’ll likely shut you down when you come to me in wild-child party mode. I will however help you move out, change your locks, or find a new apartment. What are friends for?

status updates

Last week I ran into an old friend I haven’t seen in a good ten years. She’s several years younger than me and has always been a cool, alternative type. She married and had a couple of kids quite some time ago.

We friended each other on Facebook, and I found that her pictures are the same array that I see with both sorority girls and tatted-up chicks alike: a bunch of photos of the kids, several with mom holding the kids, one photo with the whole family with dad as a barely discernible blur in the background, and one or two photos from the wedding. That is so different from my Facebook photos, which are all from parties or travels or events. Interestingly, when I clicked on the dad’s Facebook page, there were no pictures of the kids!

When I asked her about some of our mutual acquaintances, her answers all began (and mostly ended with) s/he got married or s/he is still with her boyfriend/girlfriend or s/he has a new partner. I was reminded of the prominence of that theme here, and how it was a big reason I had become so antsy to move away as a single woman in my thirties. It seems to me that relationship status was not as big a deal in L.A., but then I lived in the central city, near Hollywood.

I will have to guard against getting bored here in the same way again. As long as I stay focused on hobbies and certain kinds of community engagement, hopefully I’ll be okay. If I stay unemployed, I plan to get on that organic farm next month!