thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

day jobs

I feel like I’m entering a period of life when childlessness will feel like a blessing:

Thank God the girls are away for another ten days.
In my twenties and thirties I was into expansion.
Nearing fifty, I am now in retreat.
Full of loathing for this mortal coil, I just want to step outside the shell of myself, leave it behind like a wrinkled skin, and drift on, perhaps becoming a point somewhere beyond, hovering in space like an infinitesimal dust mote.

[…]

…now I have lost that dreamlike forty-ish haze I was in during nursing and babyhood and toddlerhood, when the peach fuzz of my daughters’ cheeks made for a heady narcotic, when my heart thrilled at all their colorful pieces of kinder art, when I honestly enjoyed… baking birthday cakes. Almost fifty now, when I squat over to pick up their little socks and snip quesadillas into little bowls and yank fine hair out of their brushes, as I have now for the thousandth time, I feel as if I’m in a dream, but a very bad, very sour-scented dream. I have totally, finally, lost the will to continue this day job of motherhood.

–Sandra Tsing Loh, The Madwoman in the Volvo, p. 177 & 212

Advertisements

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?

half truths

http://confessionsofanimperfectlife.com/2013/11/18/of-false-bravery-and-half-truths/

It’s difficult to reconcile: being proud of what you can do alone, and desperately wanting to not have to do it.

I wrote earlier this year about how turning 35 meant letting go of a life I had imagined for myself and replacing it with something else, something I was already living. But the real truth there? (Again, the but). I stopped short of the part where I admit that even in my happiness, there is still sadness. That I do still want a husband, and I do still want children. I have accepted that I don’t have them now, and I have made my life work without them because that’s what I had to do. It wasn’t brave, or strong, it just was.

Because you adapt, and you let go, and you accept, or you won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning.

hairy issues

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324591204579037370544014260

What causes this dip? Economic speculations concern financial pressures on sandwich generation middle-agers, with costs for mortgages, orthodontists and tuition, as well as the threat of the huge financial demands of an ailing parent. In contrast, psychologists have emphasized the different psychological challenges of different stages of life. Early adulthood is a time of expanding vistas, ambition and promise; stressors are coped with by conquering them. In contrast, healthy old age is when stressors are coped with by accommodating them; there is greater control of negative emotions, and the clutter of acquaintances has been pared down to the actual friends.

Middle age dangles in between, with the dip in well-being full of the poignancy of the human predicament. Plateaus are achieved in time for us to question whether they were worth it, and things that will never be accomplished loom larger, as we simultaneously accept and deny our mortality.

But as we wallow in this sturm und drang, along comes a study that upends this thinking. In a late 2012 paper in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Alexander Weiss of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and colleagues demonstrated something remarkable: Other ape species also have the midlife dip in well-being.

the dark

And this is largely why I stay in the public sector, and why I feel lucky that some random things fell into place to grant me my current job:

http://www.salon.com/2014/08/02/how_the_middle_class_got_screwed_college_costs_globalization_and_our_new_insecurity_economy/

Amid these shifting economic tides and morphing definitions, many have lost their way. While old beliefs such as that hard work will lead to security and prosperity have fallen by the wayside, it’s unclear to many Americans what new truths lay in their stead. As President Obama’s pollster Joel Benenson discovered, this lack of direction causes a great deal of unease. “One of the big sources of concern for the people we talked with,” Benenson said, “was that they didn’t recognize any new rules in this environment. All of the rules they had learned about how you succeed, how you get ahead—those rules no longer apply, and they didn’t feel there was a set of new rules.” These kinds of examinations suggest that in the age of insecurity, Americans are not just trying to weather an economic storm, but they are also feeling their way through the dark.

the jaded

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/seven-ages-of-love/the-seven-ages-of-love-40s-942411.html

Because no matter how hard you try to hold on to the idea that love is the only thing left in the world worth believing in the one guiding light you need and a spiritual force to be reckoned with reality is hell-bent on teasing, testing and taunting such notions into submission. And when fairy-tale notions of romance are removed, what are we left with? Is love as pragmatic as two people deciding to support each other until one of them dies? Is love a higher plain that we can ascend to via a combination of behavioural insight and tantric knowledge? Or is love, to return to the lyrics of a popular song, nothing more than “a simple prop” to occupy our time?

the lulling

http://www.centerprogressive.org/lulled-into-numbness/

Successful movement through this Transition Zone accounts for some of the data about that upswing of happiness after the 40s, but not all. A larger source, in my experience, of later life happiness is more likely masked resignation and accommodation: People who more or less give up trying to grow and change. They decide, consciously or unconsciously, to lope along in the life they’ve been living and define that as happiness.

It’s illusory, though, because over time they tend to become “comfortably numb,” emotionally and spiritually. And, increasingly vulnerable to physical ailments, an upsurge of late-life depression, alcoholism or drug usage.

My daily meditation practice has provided me with a lot of benefits. My health has improved and I’m much calmer and more forgiving of others.

It hasn’t changed my actual circumstances though– despite the popular theory of “abundance”– and so, at the same time, I feel numb. Undeniably and remarkably numb. Numbly adapted to my circumstances.

I have trained myself not to expect romantic romantic fulfillment and not to feel disappointment over the lack of deep, meaningful friendships in my life or any kind of consistent intimacy. I have cultivated an appreciation for pleasant diversions and have stopped expecting much more than that in my time away from work. Having recently been bruised on the job market, I have stopped hoping for a job that truly engages me and instead appreciate the fact that I have one I don’t hate and that may allow me to retire early, if I hold my lifestyle steady.

All of this “accommodation” has taken a toll, but I’m unsure what choice I have. I could try online dating again, but chances are slim that anything will come of it, and I don’t particularly feel up to the psychic drain. I already participate in a number of social activities, but rarely do I meet like-minded peers. Occasionally I’m really, really enlivened by and drawn to a performer or artist of some kind, but outside of polite exchanges, nothing ever develops. I don’t see any solution to the job problem, but feel it could be greatly ameliorated by a satisfying personal life, but then that brings me back to the beginning of this paragraph.

I would like to keep growing, but I feel like I am reaching the limits of how much I can grow in solitude.

Accommodation. Resignation. I can’t see a way out.

pencil to paper

http://thoughtcatalog.com/katie-devine/2013/09/im-35-and-im-glad-i-dont-have-kids-or-a-husband/

I am the sales rep, I am the apartment dweller, I am the car leaser. Nothing too permanent, nothing that lasts. It’s a life lived in pencil instead of pen. It can be erased in an instant.

I’m not where I always thought I would be at 35.

the upside down

https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/help-desk/bank-robbin-in-brooklyn/#rf8-5159

Everything is upside down. Your life is sold to serve an economy that does not serve your life. So should you turn to crime, if you haven’t already? Do whatever it takes to avoid participating in this “construct,” risking hunger, imprisonment, or dependence on people with real jobs, who’ve learned to keep their heads down?6 Should you learn to do a better job hiding your soul from the oligarchs and make what is beautiful on nights and weekends, if you can get them, when you are not too tired, and have not drunk yourself into numb oblivion? Or should you sacrifice years of your life to educate yourself, incur massive debt,7 and “put in your time” to qualify for a job that might feel more like “creating something beautiful,” only to risk turning that very beauty into “the most soul-oppressing thing [you] can imagine,” too? Should you try to work harder, save more, get your hands on some capital, even though the game seems impossibly rigged, so that if you do work out how to make a profit, it will be incredibly difficult to do so without replicating the system of exploitation that enrages you?

[…]

What I will have to say to you, by the end of this, is that anyone who has found a way to transform anger into purpose and even some measure of peace about work has learned to reckon with two contradictory truths:

Most work seems designed to make you feel absolutely alone, and
Almost everyone, if they are honest with themselves, feels exactly like you about much of the work they do.

[..]

With my butt up in the air, I have meditated on how everything is an illusion and tried to learn to detach from my boredom with bending over, jumping back, and putting my butt up in the air, trying not to think about the possibility that one of yoga’s most important historical functions has been to help people cope with a caste system cultivated by the Aryan invaders of India in 1500 BCE and institutionalized by the British invaders in the 19th and 20th centuries, a system organized by color like South Africa during apartheid, in which the lightness of your skin coincided with your class and thus the kind of labor you might do. To believe that because you were born dark-skinned and a servant you must remain a servant until your next reincarnation is perhaps easier when you have learned to endure repetitive compulsory movements, especially when the dominant movement is to prostrate yourself with your butt up in the air, while practicing detaching from your desires. I have tried not to think about the fact that more and more Americans are finding this practice incredibly helpful, if not necessary, to keep this whole thing going.

[…]

But I suspect that for most of the members of the upper 10 percent, and even the 1 percent, the real story is different—it is the system that is exploitative, and they have chosen to fight for a position in that system that is the only way to have a kind of personal power that should be everyone’s right. Do you think that if they weren’t so scared of falling into our position, so many people would choose to work in finance, for example, an industry built, in large part, on preying on the debt of others? Employment in that sector is currently the one of the best bets for ensuring one’s basic needs are met, and sending one’s children to college, if they want to go, and getting to live where you most want to live, and traveling to other countries, and getting good health care, without going into debt. It’s not bad to want these things, it’s just that everyone should have them.