thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: dreams

the scorched earth

Mary tried to be fair, but her jealousy was beyond all bounds. Possibly Mrs. Herbert had been shy. Possibly she might be something more than beautiful, rough, rude, brainless, vulgar. This was Mr. Herbert’s serious permanent choice. She had been an amusement, a very small incident. “But I am superior,” she thought.

— F.M. Mayor, The Rector’s Daughter, p. 152

Sometimes the old dog in the corner can still be roused; it will, on occasion, still prick up its ears or wag its tail. This particular old dog will, on occasion, even be roused enough to leave its solitary cushion, if a smart, witty, sensitive, like-minded soul comes around.

This weekend I made a bold move; I reached out to someone I barely know in an attempt to forge a connection with someone I’ve long identified with and admired. I put aside my sense of shame and took a chance, something I do about once a year, when I realize that any semi-satisfying relationship of any duration that I’ve ever had resulted entirely from my efforts. In the midst of my communication, however, I heard from a decades-old friend, someone I normally keep at a bit of a distance due to a long history of empathy fails. Long story short, wires got crossed, paragraphs were sent to the wrong person, and I ended up revealing a lot more to Mr. A (as I’ll call him) than I ever in a million years would have wished to reveal to him or almost anyone else.

Modern communication being what it is, however, I have no certainty that Mr. A received the messages. If he has received them, he has not responded. The power of vulnerability, indeed.

On a bigger level, I don’t know what, if anything, the universe was trying to communicate to me. “Shed old friendships that are standing in the way of more fulfilling ones” or “stick with the ones who actually call, no matter how frustrating and dispiriting they can be.”

In any case, in a week in which there has been a public outpouring of sympathy over a celebrity, I could have used a small show of kindness from Mr. A. On one hand, I could be totally humiliated over this; on the other, Mr. A could find the whole thing funny or touching and reach out. It appears, however, that there will only be silence; perhaps I don’t rate a response.

This old dog, however, with a head so weakly raised, easily returns to slumber in the absence of encouragement. There was nothing to be roused for, after all.

The internet is not much help in moments such as these. At worst, it provides the glib platitudes one encounters enough of IRL; at best, there is a feeling of “me too” solidarity and connection. What is missing is an empathetic ear that can take in all the specifics of the disaster that has happened; even better would be an empathetic ear that has some general familiarity with the players involved. This used to be known, back in the day, as friendship.

In my student period I was acquainted with a group of friends; of this group two were always my favorite. Over the decades, those two have only grown in my estimation, showing kindness, creativity, and wit in our encounters. They have both become writers. There was another member of that group whom I cannot recall saying a single thing of substance, intelligence, or charm, and who was unable to give me the time of day when I first moved to L.A. She moved here with no real career plans and ended up marrying a successful writer and having a brood of kids. It feels like she is living the life I would have liked to have lived. I was reminded of her again in all of this, because she is loosely connected to Mr. A, and were she a nicer person, I could try to glean some insight from her. Were she a nicer person, in fact, perhaps I would not have had to advocate for myself in the first place.

I feel, at this point, that I must just let all the embers die. The embers of unsatisfying friendships from my past as well as the last remaining embers of certain kinds of hopes for my future. That I must sit with the dark void for a spell, here at the bottom of the U-shaped curve of happiness, at age 44.

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the back nine

http://www.golocalprov.com/lifestyle/dear-john-midlife-boredom-how-do-i-get-excited-about-life-again

…nothing’s really wrong, but nothing is really great either. Like my job: I make excellent money in a prestigious career, but the truth is, I hate it. Quitting is not an option because I need this income, so I just grin and bear it. It’s a fake grin, though. I feel terrible thinking of all the good, struggling people who would kill for my job, but even knowing that, I feel how I feel. I don’t have a girlfriend, but I date as much as I want to, and it’s the same thing. Nobody really excites me. I feel like I’m on the back nine of my life and I’m just running out the clock, to use a couple of sports metaphors. To meet me, you wouldn’t know I feel this way, and it is a low-level kind of thing. I don’t think I’m depressed (because I feel like all my feelings are grounded in reality – I have a reason to feel this way) and don’t misunderstand me; this is not a desperate cry for help. I just can’t seem to shake this feeling that everything really good that was ever going to happen to me has already happened, and now everything pales in comparison.

cuanto cuesta

This is why I keep up my Spanish:

http://www.livingabroadincostarica.com/blog/2011/08/a-reader-asks-can-i-live-on-20kyear-in-costa-rica/

At present I work as a metal worker. I am a shop foreman in a steel/aluminum plant with 30 men under me. I have always been a man of the left (social democrat, democratic socialist, trade union type). I want to simplify my life, I am done with the rat race, and I just cannot do it any more. I want to live intentionally. If you know any community or communal style living, like a religious or spiritual group, I may be interested.

I am 58, and have about 4 years before I can get Social Security, but have a bit of money in my 401k plan (I lost a fair amount in the stock exchange). How much would I need a year to live, renting a house somewhere in a town outside San Jose or around La Fortuna? I have in mind a smaller two-bedroom home with a small yard for my Collies. Could I find something for $500 – $600 a month? I would also need to buy into the national health insurance; would that be about $60.00 a month? I own two motorcycles–I would ship both to Costa Rica, also mountain and racing bicycles.

Could I do it all on $1,600 a month, or about $20,000 a year?

skipping it

Since my first job in my early twenties, I’ve tried to be careful about “wishing my life away,” thinking about nothing but my next vacation (or, as I got older, retirement). To this end, instead of putting all my hopes and dreams into exotic vacations, I tried to find activities I was excited about that I could look forward to on a weekly basis.

And yet, I’m starting to feel like I’d be willing to give away the next ten years of my life to get to retirement already. That makes it sound like I’m seriously depressed, but I’m not. I just don’t have high hopes for this particular phase of my life. The physically uncomfortable transition of menopause is looming, I can’t count on finding romance, the activities I enjoy are pleasurable but no longer thrilling (salsa, swimming, etc.), and I can’t seem to get excited about taking a vacation since I’d have to travel solo, which has also lost its thrill. Additionally the novelty of exploring California is gone. I’m in a job that overall I’m happy with and appreciate having but my career field has never been my dream. The new challenges that come with promotions are helpful, but I’m less and less interested in the field as a whole. Finally, while my new home is pleasant, I can’t shake the sense that I’m just “passing through” and without a family I will remain on the periphery.

The pull of just doing my own thing, sleeping in and having time to read retains its hold on me. In the meantime I continue to look for things that will seize me, engaging me with today as opposed to tomorrow.

globe trotters

http://www.biographile.com/how-to-trade-awesome-for-awesome-qa-kristin-newman-himym/32312/

The idea that everything should be goal-oriented – with the goal for women so often being that we’re all supposed to get married and have babies, and if you’re doing something that’s not taking you toward that goal, that you’re somehow off-track or wasting time – I wasn’t ready for that when everyone said I was supposed to be. I worried, but that was the truth, and I hope that honoring that and not forcing myself to do something I wasn’t ready to do helps me have a happy marriage now. A lot of people get divorced because they feel that it’s time before they’re ready, and then they implode. I didn’t want that to happen to me. I watched it happen to my mother and some of my friends. Being single for a long time is like getting on a plane by yourself, which is absolutely terrifying: You’re alone, and you don’t know where you’re going. In life, we never know where paths are going to lead, but that’s the only way to happiness, right?

Interview here: http://www.gregfitzsimmons.com/2014/07/18/kristin-newman/

Her sentiments are nice, but as I’ve written before, she ends up getting married, and in the podcast interview discusses how she and her husband plan to have a baby someday (which is optimistic considering she didn’t marry until forty). I also couldn’t relate to her thirtysomething single life: the money she must have been making, the three to six months off a year for travel, the large group of globetrotting single/celebrity friends she was able to bond with when her other friends got married.

I did have a lot of fun going out dancing in my early thirties and then exploring L.A. in my late thirties, but friendships with people my age were few and far between and I was working like a dog through the economic downtown. I don’t know many single people who have had her type of life.

pretenders

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/22/my_double_life_as_a_mommy_blogger/

And that’s just the kind of hard-won mom wisdom I would give to myself right now. The time isn’t right yet for the mom portion of my life, even though it’s on my mind more and more. I would also remind myself of that old Buddhist saying, be here now. I know we all have desires and dreams, we all have worries and questions about our lives. We all have wonder and adventure. It just takes different forms. I need to remember to be present in my actual, daily life because there’s a lot there for me, whatever it presently holds.

I had always imagined I would be that suburban mom with two kids, with one keeping me up at night with the stomach flu or complaining about how they won’t eat their vegetables. I never dreamed I would be a writer in beautiful faraway city doing things I never thought I could do. But life is funny like that, and also surprising. Just because you don’t have something now doesn’t mean you’ll never have it. Sometimes you have to pretend something before you can make it real.

predecessors

Her fellow actors were odd but unexciting, their way of life haphazard, their behavior opportunistic. Like the artistic and literary circle which Mary Jocelyn penetrates, they turned out to be dirtier and cattier than expected.

–Janet Morgan, Introduction to The Rector’s Daughter, p. xiv

churn

This is how I felt at 36 and again at 42:

http://sashacagen.com/wet/

Wet starts in 2009 in my mid-thirties when I was single and working in Silicon Valley. I was never a girl to worry about an engagement ring. I was more likely to ask, like Peggy Lee did in her hit song from 1969, Is that all there is? In fact, I had become famous as a non-settler when I wrote the book Quirkyalone, which launched a movement of people who choose not to settle in love.

I felt disappointed and disillusioned that actually I had settled. I was burned out, unfulfilled, bored, and hopeless about love, fearful that having written Quirkyalone would only attract singleness into my life.

My resume was amazing, but my life felt very dry, like a giant to-do list and there was no more satisfaction in crossing anything off.

I wanted the script of what a woman is supposed to want: a husband, house, maybe one child, but then again, I didn’t really want that either. The real problem was I didn’t know what I wanted.

the monotone

I finished a good memoir this week called Gone Feral about a woman searching for her (slightly mad) father. She and her sister were the children of “back to the land” hippies and experienced unconventional childhoods. They both struggled mightily to find their way in their twenties and thirties but both found unconventional partners who were good matches for them and both ended up having a child. At the end of the book, there is a lot of ink spilled about how their own children “saved them,” gave them purpose, taught them the meaning of love, etc. They are now both “back to the landers” themselves, so the cycle is complete.

It’s so hard to know how to feel reading that kind of stuff. I, too, took many detours in my twenties and thirties (and now in my forties), but none have led to a partner, and all have led back to a one-bedroom apartment and the taxing full-time workweek. It’s basically been a long stretch of monotone with splashes of color every so often when I got brave.

I never felt that “well-matched” feeling with a partner that these women did (or if so it was with someone that it couldn’t work out with long-term), but admittedly, I had more concern than they did about things like a roof over my head and health insurance. Still. A lot of other people have those concerns too, and they found partners.

I have no answers.

adaptation

Some excellent answers here. That is all:

http://ask.metafilter.com/254947/Help-me-adapt-to-the-idea-of-being-childless