never married, over forty, a little bitter

open books

I was listening to, yes, a podcast the other day, and the woman being interviewed said she never listens to music or watches TV anymore– all she does is listen to podcasts.

I can relate in that I have no idea why I’m paying for cable. I rarely turn on the TV anymore. I still listen to a lot of podcasts, although I’ve cut my listening down from what it once was.

One of the reasons I like podcasts so much is, like everyone else, I’m stressed out and busy and podcasts allow me to multitask. Along those same lines, I, like most people these days, have little time for long, intimate conversations either in person or on the phone, so podcasts fill that hole.

The other thing I’ve realized, though, is that podcasters (and celebrities in general) are rewarded for an honesty and an airing of dirty laundry that the rest of us can only dream about. As the competition for jobs becomes ever fiercer, the average citizen must build a carefully crafted image that allows for no vulnerability, no strong opinions, and no mistakes.

Podcasts allow us to vicariously experience humanity in all its messy complexity, a messy complexity that, in our personal lives, we must keep under wraps.

the outcast

So. Elliot Rodger.

I don’t want to say much because I have no idea what his issues were, and I could only stomach his videos for a few minutes. What seems apparent, however, is that he felt entitled to a certain type of woman– blonde, pretty, popular– and that his entitlement was likely fed by the surrounding culture. Unsurprisingly, those women seemed to be the only ones on his radar, and even then, he failed to grasp their humanity. The other apparent thing about him was his loneliness, alienation, and anger. He was angry that “undeserving” men were able to get women, but his racism and classism fueled his perceptions of “undeserving.”

The main reason I’m bringing him up, however, is that he gives all us lonely, bitter, skulking, single bloggers a bad name!

At least some of the “ick” factor I got from him has to do with my own sense of shame. So I just want to say it’s easy to feel alienated when you are single and childless. It’s common to give in to to the impulse to skulk about Facebook. It’s normal to have WTF moments when observing that some seemingly terrible people manage to get married and/or have kids when you haven’t been able to do so. It’s hard not to lapse into bitterness occasionally. It’s ordinary to find oneself without close friends, as they have all disappeared into coupledom and parenting. It’s common— and healthy in the absence of alternatives– to turn to the internet as an outlet (ahem). None of this makes you a pathological freak.

I have known many lovely, sociable, competent, attractive women who have unintentionally ended up single and childless, who have felt all those things, and who have found a great sense of community and solace in blogs and forums and books aimed at them.

I have felt all those things. And yet, I’m once again seeing the silver lining in my situation (like the clouds, that silver lining comes and goes). As a single woman, you still have to work, and you are more likely to be stuck in a stressful job than the married women you know. You have to do all the household maintenance and sometimes have to take care of elderly relatives. But. You don’t have to go to kids’ birthday parties or to Disney movies or take a child to the orthodontist or help out with homework. There are still slivers of free time to pursue the self-development that often gets curtailed when people start the cycle of birth/childhood/schooling all over again by having kids.

Rather than continue to pursue what I’ve missed out on, especially when it’s becoming clear that that ship has sailed, I have an opportunity to develop in some unusual (if unheralded and even unnoticed) ways. I’m feeling the urge to seize that again.

the delicious

I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.” – Albert Einstein

Minds previously each preoccupied with their own concerns defer to the other’s topic of interest, so as to arrive at a more shared and unified perspective on the object of attention or the topic of debateā€¦ insistent bleak ruminations diffuse and scatter as the mind mingles with the mind of an intimate or congenial companion.” – Marcel Kinsbourne, What Should We Be Worried About?, p. 87

I spent the bulk of this three-day weekend with other people, putting in a full day on Saturday at a party and a full day on Sunday with work colleagues and visiting another friend. On one hand, I agree with the latter quote above– it often does lift my mood to interact with other people and it usually puts me in a much more optimistic frame of mind. On the other, I would have loved the weekend all to myself to get through another pile of books, study Spanish, get some cooking done, clean my apartment, and think.

Also, the friends I spent the weekend with are still on the active hunt for a partner, and as I have written before, I am not. I’ve already spent two decades on that hunt and am not eager to waste a third! In every other area of my life, if I put in the effort, I get results; not so with trying to “meet someone.” Again, I’m open to it, but it will have to happen serendipitously while I’m out and about, pursuing the things I would be doing anyway.