thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: community

the burbs

The burbs. They are easier, safer, less jangling on the nerves. The single men who are around may be more serious about relationships, if I could find any common ground. But with a lifestyle tailored for marriage and family, it’s hard to fit.

http://nypost.com/2012/07/23/you-go-girl-out-to-burbs-for-real-romance/

“In Connecticut, they’re just very normal, very sweet, very unassuming. They don’t have game. They’re steak-and-potatoes American. They don’t care about fashion, they’re not metrosexual,” said Kassner, who hopped on a train to Stamford, Conn., on July 12 for an outdoor concert featuring alt-rocker Matisyahu in order to meet a decent guy.

High-end matchmakers said it’s a matter of time before heading to the suburbs is no longer considered a trend — and becomes the norm.

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/27/nyregion/not-in-manhattan-and-not-married-singles-who-prefer-the-suburbs.html?src=pm&pagewanted=1

Carolyn Grossman, a 40ish executive secretary, complained that married people segregate themselves from singles, then “stereotype single people as being drinkers and party people.” In the singles enclave in South Norwalk where she lives, she said, town authorities more readily tolerate noise than in a family neighborhood.

“They just don’t seem to have any conception that there are other people besides themselves,” she said of married couples.

Ms. Thompson believes that suburban single women are distrusted by their married counterparts.

“Even if you go to a P.T.A. meeting, the husbands are carefully guarded,” she said. “You’re made to feel you should stay on the outside.”

http://www.nextavenue.org/blog/after-superstorm-spinster-finds-community

Being a single, childless woman in the New York City suburbs has never been easy. My neighbors all moved here “for the children” — for the quality public education, backyard swing sets and cars that didn’t require usurious garage bills. They wonder, not unreasonably, what I’m doing here. I sometimes wonder, too, even 16 years after moving back to New York following a decade in California.

At the time, I was unwilling to return to a dark hamster cage in the city I had lived in most of my adult life, where nature is largely confined to parks and potted plants on fire escapes. But once I reached a certain age — I’m now 65 — living here became more than just a matter of being a social pariah, with few friends whose lives don’t revolve around their families. Sometimes it’s dangerous.

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the hipster

I miss hipsters. In all their various guises they are easy to poke fun at it, but over the last twenty-five years I’ve thrived most when living in the hipster corridors of the United States. Romantically, no, but my failure in that realm cuts across all social realms, so I can’t pin that one entirely on the hip.

The thing about hipsters is they are obsessives. They obsess about music, movies, books, fashion, food, art, and ideas, and they are attracted to the novel and to alternative lifestyles.

When you remain single and childless, what else are you gonna do? Those have been my interests too.

The question is, over the age of forty, can you be a hipster? It’s a look and stance that doesn’t age particularly well, although aging is hard on everyone. Perhaps one’s hipsterdom hardens even as the young move on to various new iterations (http://madmommamoogacat.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/confessions-of-an-aging-hipster/). It does seem that it’s harder to get as excited about all things new as when gets older.

Most hipsters, like most people, have kids, although it seems they do so on the later side. They then turn to creating a hip family.

What about the rest of us? We don’t really fit in at a lot of the usual hipster haunts anymore, especially as older women. On the other hand, it’s really hard for me to relate to people who have spent the past several decades primarily focused on marriage and kids and careers and sports, while I was intently reading multiple books a week, obsessing over certain films and music albums and alternative social scenes, and attending all kinds of unusual events.

Where’s the commonality? I have become a certain type of person after spending the first twenty-five years of my emerging adulthood in a certain type of way. To completely lose touch with all that would be to lose who I am as a person.

fallout

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/30/a_very_ugly_blame_game_how_great_recession_is_affecting_people_in_totally_unexpected_ways/

We should’ve been able to do that, but, in practice — and I think this goes down to America and Britain being such unequal societies — we weren’t able to do so. We find that there had been very grave consequences in terms of social engagement — particularly in Britain. We find that there’s great consequences in terms of mental well-being, which are at least as marked, perhaps more marked, in the United States than they seem to be in Britain. And we find that there are consequences too —certainly more suggestively, but there’s still a lot to convince me — in terms of family relationships and how people get on with their nearest and dearest. All of these things that we like to think that money shouldn’t be able to buy — friends, family, community — all of these things have been tainted by the social fallout of Great Recession.

getting over it

By my reckoning, here are some things I have “gotten over” in the past decade:

1. Getting over the need for a social scene, getting over the need for a social group, getting over the need for a best friend. All while getting over the idea of a close and supportive family of origin.

2. Getting over the idea that there is an ideal place to live. Some are more suited to me than others, yes, but all seem to involve significant trade-offs.

3. Getting over the idea that there is an ideal job. Again, some are more suited to me than others, but all involve the daily grind of solving one problem after another, eight hours a day, and all involve a certain amount of indignities suffered at the hands of the public, bosses, and co-workers.

4. Getting over the realization that I have ended up becoming the type of person whom, at least in some part of my youthful psyche, represented the worst sort of loserdom: single and childless and without some sort of glamorous career to compensate.

5. Getting over the idea that I am guaranteed to find a satisfying romantic relationship, despite being just as able to engage in one as the next person.

6. Getting over the idea that I can truly rely on anyone but myself.

These are pretty big things to process, and it certainly took some time, time that others were often too impatient to grant me:

Being told to “just get over it” is devaluing. It implies that I am making a mistake in processing an event. It indicates that something is wrong with ME because I am in still confused about something that has not been resolved. The statement is emotionally abusive. – See more at: http://emergingfrombroken.com/the-problem-with-statements-like-%e2%80%9cget-over-it%e2%80%9d/#sthash.CzelJbbm.dpuf

pods

http://www.oregonlive.com/O/index.ssf/2009/01/multidisciplinary_artist_tiffa.html

She wanted to talk about the grief, but publicly acknowledging the pain of wanting a child, but not being able to have one, the complexity of that — there seemed to be no good framework for it. People talk about their children all the time, but how can you talk about mourning the child you will never have without taking away from their happiness? How do you explain to your closest friends that attending a baby shower is just too painful right now, that you can’t go to the grocery store during the day anymore, because the sight of all those children and mothers overwhelms you?

She felt she had to carry so much in silence, alone.

“There are some days,” Brown said last spring, “where I feel like an alienated, childless freak. And as I get older, there will be fewer and fewer people around me who don’t have children. … ”

[…]

She threw herself into researching childlessness, reading everything she could get her hands on, joining online discussions, listening to other women’s stories of childless by infertility, or reluctant choice, trying, as she put it, “to contextualize myself in a larger humanity — as opposed to my tiny pod of grief.”

terminology

http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/05/08/childless-childfree-difference-matters/

Here’s the problem: While “childless” means the condition of being without children, it implies that everyone who does not have children would like to have them. However, being “childfree,” like Mirren—and like me—means that one does not want to have children at all.

The implications of using these two terms interchangeably reach beyond celebrities, of course. People (not just women) can be childless for a lot of reasons—reproductive and financial challenges among them—but, like being childfree and not wanting kids, it’s a deeply stigmatized experience, accompanied by shame. Both groups of people are in search of a community, and finding that can be incredibly difficult, particularly when you might be looking in the wrong place.

behind the walls

http://lifewithoutbaby.com/2014/06/16/behind-walls-mommy-club/#comments

My biggest lesson from access into the Mommy Club is this: Being a mother does not make you automatically connect with another person. I’ve found the same holds true for infertility. It just might give you something to talk about for a few minutes or a few get-togethers. We are more complex and interesting than our children. Or lack of them. I choose to instead consider that we are all part of the Human Club. And for that, there is no special admittance required.

the immoveable feast

Recently I attended a nearby party with a bunch of married couples with kids–friends of a friend. It was good for me to get out of the house but about what I expected. It was difficult to find common ground for small talk, and I left without speaking much to anyone outside of my friend.

This weekend I was invited to a party by another friend where I might have had more in common with the folks (although they might also have all been paired off), but it was over thirty miles away, and, although I was intrigued, I couldn’t bring myself to make the drive, especially at night. I’d like to get out and mingle but don’t want to spend that kind of time and energy when there isn’t much that results from it except the chance to get out of my head for a little while.

More or less the only thing to do at night in my new surroundings is go to bars or restaurants, which I am not inclined to do alone. There was a tiny music/art/literary space around the corner, but it has already closed up shop and moved on.

All during my thirties and early forties I would throw parties, including during my first stint in L.A. But the guests in L.A. were a real hodgepodge– an acquaintance from a temp job, a guy or two I met through online dating, current coworkers of various ages and backgrounds, an acquaintance from my undergrad days, a woman or two from dance class. Many were un-or-under employed and/or in transitional states. People would seem palpably relieved to be at a party where 95% of the guests were single, as opposed to the other way around, but only scattered and short-term connections between the guests ever resulted.

I was located centrally before, so my friends only had to drive anywhere from, say, five to forty-five minutes to get to my place. Now they’d have to drive forty-five minutes to an hour-and-a-half.

I just can’t see the point in throwing another shindig and trying to get that mishmash of people back together. I don’t mind seeing them individually when I’m up in L.A., but I feel like I said goodbye to all that when I left town.

I’m in my own little version of Key West now, you could say.

alleviation

http://ejop.psychopen.eu/article/view/534/440

A common experience among women posting to the online bulletin board was a sense of isolation from the “fertile world” and the feeling that they were somehow “different” to other women. Many women talked about how not having children of their own meant that they were forever “on the outside looking in” on their peers becoming mothers and raising families. The knowledge that they would never be admitted into this “mum’s club” evoked a range of strong negative emotions in members of the online community. Emotions commonly expressed in the postings included intense feelings of grief and anguish at the loss of their opportunity to become biological parents, as well as anger that this role had been denied to them.

“I constantly feel like an outsider in this world. Wherever I go or whatever I do, I feel like the odd one out. I work in a female dominated environment with either younger girls having babies or the older women becoming grandparents. There are always happy family photos being passed around, so I do feel ‘different’ to everyone else.”

Several women also described how being unable to conceive a child of their own, appeared to have changed their outlook on life in general, which served to further separate them from other women around them. For example:

“One of the things I find hardest to deal with is people with a child talking about the next or one planning their first as if they are going to order one and the universe will deliver, at particular age gap, what sex they want and that be most convenient after their holiday so they can enjoy a drink!! But the reason it bothers me so much is that I’ve had to learn that life isn’t like that when it appears others don’t have that lesson taught. It can make me feel singled out for some hardship and it’s so unfair.”

Hearing about other people’s pregnancies appeared to be a particularly painful experience for women in the online community and served as a poignant reminder that they were unable to conceive themselves. For many women, receiving news that a friend, colleague or family member was pregnant resulted in a mixture of joy, despair and feelings of jealousy. Such news often prompted members to access the online community, in order to vent their frustration and express these conflicting emotions to people who could empathize with their experiences. In this context, the online community served as a unique environment in which women could alleviate their sense of isolation and connect with other women in similar situations.

“I went over to see a friend yesterday to ‘mourn’ the breakup of my relationship and she announced that she is pregnant. I wouldn’t wish this feeling of isolation and hopelessness on anyone, especially a close friend but it felt like a kick in the gut non-the-less….”

Some women also described feelings of distress when they heard stories in the media about motherhood or attended family gatherings, where there were young children present. These experiences heightened their feeling of being “the odd one out” and once again brought home the realization that they would never experience motherhood.

“TV personalities seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat or they have fertility treatment and it just seems to work first time for them. Reading these stories makes me really upset and angry”.

To protect themselves against reminders of their infertility and feeling like an outsider in social situations, several women reported avoiding certain family gatherings or cutting themselves off from friends who were pregnant or had children. Although this coping strategy was effective in avoiding painful feelings in the short-term, in the long-term it appeared to create a vicious cycle with members feeling more isolated and alienated from society as time went by:

“I have had an in built safety mechanism for years in which I distance myself from any friends/work colleagues/family of child bearing age, hence I was left with very few friends of my own age and have gradually felt more and more isolated.”

“I always dreaded family gatherings and made excuses not to go because i hated feeling like the odd one out whilst everyone around me had children or were expecting them. I tried to protect myself because i found it all too painful but at the same time i have found the feeling of isolation really painful and difficult too”.

footprints

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/01/alive-in-the-sunshine/

It’s beginning to look like we should have taken the other New Deal. We need to explicitly shift toward working less — to reorient the consumption-leisure tradeoff towards the latter on a social level — and share the work that remains more evenly. The sociologist Juliet Schor says we could work four-hour days without any decline in the standard of living; similarly, the New Economics Foundation proposes we could get by on a twenty-one-hour workweek. Meanwhile, David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot suggest that the US could cut energy consumption by 20 percent by shifting to a schedule more like Western Europe’s, with thirty-five hour workweeks and six weeks of vacation — certainly not a panacea, but hardly impoverishing for a start. In a study of industrialized nations over the past fifty years, Schor, Kyle Knight, and Gene Rosa find that shorter working hours are correlated with smaller ecological footprints.