Recommended Reading: The Last Conception September 13, 2014Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: adoption, amatonormative, Buddhism, Gabriel Constans, heteronormative, lesbian relationship, pressure to have children, religious heritage, singles blog, The Last Conception
Gabriel Constans. The Last Conception. Melange Books, LLC. White Bear Lake, Minnesota. 2014.
Gabriel Constans dedicates his book The Last Conception
To Love, in all its manifestations.
We here at Onely are interested in all aspects of the single experience and particularly like to learn about single people from different backgrounds than ourselves (Lisa and I self-identify as white, upper-middle-class, agnostic, heterosexual women). The beginning of Constans’ novel allows us into the world of single scientist and first-generation Indian-American lesbian Savarna, whose parents–still unaware of her sexuality–have been pressuring her for years to marry and give them a grandchild. Any unmarried, child-free reader whose parents have pressured them in this way will wince along with Savarna as her parents become increasingly fervent in their matchmaking–all while Savarna is trying to figure out her relationships with two different women. (I refer to her as “single” because initially she is not part of an “official” couple.)
Appropriately, as an embryologist Savarna spends her working hours manipulating eggs and sperm to help women conceive. She herself, however, doesn’t feel the tick-tock of her biological clock. If she did, this book wouldn’t exist. (Or it would be very boring.)
The Last Conception teaches that Indian culture places even more importance on marriage and childbearing than U.S. culture. So we have several layers of tension going on throughout the story:
–Savarna the happily childfree woman vs. her grandchild-wanting parents
–Savarna the American vs. her Indian parents
–Savarna is not religious, but her parents who travel to India once a year for some ceremonious gathering that Savarna has never attended and vaguely considers cultish
–Then there is lesbian Savarna vs. the heterosexual world her parents inhabit (though from habit as opposed to bigotry)
–Even Savarna and her closest girlfriend have differing opinions on commitment and children
–Savarna is torn between loyalty to herself and to her parents–whose constant nagging about reproduction, we soon discover, stems not from desires to pinch bubble cheeks or see if their grandchild has their eyes, but something far more weighty.
Through the course of the book these subtle battles wage, peak, resolve and eventually weave together into an ending so satisfying I really wish I could share it here. I’m afraid to say much more because I don’t want to put out any Spoilers. Let’s just say that ultra right-wing conservatives would hate this book, especially the conclusion. (All the more reason to read it!) One of our favorite words here at Onely is amatonormative, which means the normalizing of a few specific kinds of love relationships while marginalizing all others. The Last Conception kicks amatonormativity in the a$$.
Which is why it gets one thumb up from our blog. The other thumb is busy turning the pages for a second read-through.
Book Release: A Voice For Singles With Chronic Illness August 27, 2014Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews, Single with chronic illness, We like. . ..
Tags: chronic illness, misdiagnosed, misdiagnosed the search for Dr House, Nika C. Beamon, single and sick, singles blog, undiagnosed
1 comment so far
A while ago we here at Onely.org gave our dear Copious Readers a heads-up and review about Nika C. Beamon’s book MISDIAGNOSED: THE SEARCH FOR DR. HOUSE.
Now we wanted to announce that it’s available on Amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle book. It’s also available on Smashwords and as a Nook Book. Look for the paperback version on Barnes and Noble.com. Congratulations, Nika!
She also wrote a guest post on Psychology Today that ties into the book and talks about how to deal with being sick and single.
Copious Readers, I hope you’re not sick and that no one you love has a serious illness. But even if you are so lucky, check out Nika’s book anyway, just for educational value. You might find a whole new world of weirdness as you enter the seamy, stupid underbelly of the U.S. healthcare system.
How Many Showers Per Pregnancy? June 13, 2014Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
Tags: marriage privilege, multiple baby showers, selfish single, wedding showers
Question: Is it ok to have two baby showers for the same baby? Or is it taking a double opportunity to get free stuff?
Usually here at Onely we focus on singles’ advocacy and marriage privilege, not babies, and not baby showers. This is because baby showers do not discriminate against single people. Both married and single people have babies, and therefore, both married and single people usually get baby showers (at least in the U.S.–this doesn’t happen in every country). So when we here at Onely freak out about showers, we’re usually talking (or sniping) about wedding showers. For wedding showers, there is no singles’ equivalent, even though unmarried people too may have significant events in their lives that perhaps require crystal bowls, dish towels, or friend-financed trips to Tahiti.
However, singlism (pithy word defined by Dr. Bella dePaulo, meaning discrimination against singles) is tied to childfreeism (stupid-sounding word defined just now by me, meaning discrimination against people without kids) because unfortunately our society still largely normalizes the marriage-children trope. Therefore, in this post we will talk about baby showers.
There is no baby shower equivalent for childfree/childless people. Like singles, they can’t throw a party for a big life event–such as their dog recovering from major heart surgery, or them raising 5,403 dollars by running a marathon for a starving children’s charity (there’s irony for you)–and expect to receive tribute from their friends and family, without very likely being whispered about: Wow, can you believe how selfish she is? How greedy! Shocking. I’m going to come up with some excuse not to go.
Because I am terrible about coming up with excuses not to go places (Oh, too bad, that was the day I was going to shampoo the curtains), I will be attending the baby shower.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not an ogre–I often like to give a friend a congratulatory gift–but I just don’t want to be forced to do so by some discriminatory and presumptuous social custom. The host of the shower told me flat out, “If you are getting clothing, get something larger than newborn because babies in our family have weighed a lot at birth”. Roger that.
Hopefully there will not be too many outfits, because all the requisite cooing and aww-ing over teddy, duck, and “Mommy’s Little Girl” patterns gives me a throatache. My plan is to get something for my friend to use personally because I’ve heard that often the mother, buried under a pile of strollers and footie pajamas, neglects to pamper herself. But then I’ll feel guilty about not buying something for the baby, so I’ll do that too.
Copious readers, any thoughts? Things to consider: Twins. Second pregnancies. Recent relocations.
Weird Things We Worship: Weddings May 21, 2014Posted by Onely in We like. . ., YouTube Style.
Tags: Buzzfeed, Things you would only do at a wedding that would be creepy elsewhere
Copious Readers, welcome to the first installment of our new series, “Weird Things We Worship”. The theme of today’s post is Weddings.
Check out this Buzzfeed video “Things you would only do at a wedding that would be creepy elsewhere”. It shows how bizarre some of the aspects of marriage ceremonies are and makes you wonder just why we get all spun up about the Big Day. That’s fine–lots of ceremonies have quirky bits, which are often fun. But weddings are different somehow. They often take themselves too seriously. And they can mirror society’s overall aura of marital status privilege (MSP). Watch the part of the video where our hero tells his friend to bring him a present. Well, watch the whole video, but especially watch that part. (Though all social analysis about MSP aside, it’s also fun to watch where our hero throws the rice. . .)
Tags: chronic illness, I didn't work this hard just to get married, misdiagnosed the search for Dr House, misdiagnosis, Nika Beamon, single and sick
Copious Readers, as you can see from our previous post, we are currently exploring the topic of singles with chronic illness. As we have discussed before, unmarried people face a good deal of discrimination not only socially, but economically as well. Social security, health insurance, retirement savings plans–all of these are governed by laws that can very negatively impact singles. So we asked ourselves, what about unmarried people who have severe health problems? How would all the legal and financial discrimination affect them?
We would love guest posts on these (or other) topics from singles who are battling difficult, ongoing diseases or disabilities. But in the meantime, we are pleased to introduce you to an upcoming new memoir written by Nika Beamon, who is the author of I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married: Successful Single Black Women Speak Out and a chronic illness survivor herself. She is available for speaking engagements about her books and related topics and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more ways to follow the book, see the end of this post.
Misdiagnosed: The Search for Dr. House
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK:
Anyone who has a chronic illness. (Para 1)
Anyone who has cared for someone with a chronic illness. (Para 2)
Anyone who has treated, or attempted to treat, someone with a chronic illness. (Para 3)
Anyone who has not had a chronic illness. (Para 4)
Anyone who influences health policy in the U.S. or other countries. (Para 5)
WHO SHOULD NOT READ THIS BOOK:
The faint of heart.
SUMMARY: Beamon writes raw. Her memoir chronicles her journey from a hospital-worthy hemorrage on a first date to scorching headaches to intestinal polyps to a 104 degree fever and an ongoing combination of all those symptoms, plus many many more. You the reader make the scary journey along with Beamon. Neither you nor she knows what’s wrong with her, or what freaky thing her body might do the next day. Not until the very end of the book.
1. Anyone who has had a chronic illness–even one that is fairly easily diagnosed and stabilized–has probably experienced at least one Doctor with Attitude who avoids eye contact and only half-answers your questions, especially if he or she can’t figure out what’s wrong with you. Nika meets many such health care professionals. Survivors of mysterious chronic illnesses will recognize themselves in her dogged search for someone, anyone, who can tell her what’s wrong.
2. Anyone who has cared for someone with a chronic illness will identify with Beamon’s boyfriend, Bryce. Beamon paints a stereotype-shattering picture of Bryce as both dedicated caregiver and thoughtless philanderer–at the same time. Bryce is a living metaphor for any long-term caregiver who (hopefully) loves or respects their “patient” but eventually starts to feel the strain of constant medical jargon, pills pills pills, a forlorn attitude by the sick person, and maybe, in extreme cases, the physical stress of helping the ill person move or medicate. This frustration doesn’t mean the caregiver has stopped caring about the sufferer. It just means the caregiver struggles with conflicting emotions, the confusing kind that probably encouraged (but was no excuse for) Bryce’s sleeping with other women (a habit he’d had even before her sickness). Yet he still provided invaluable support to Beamon. . . But what if she had been socially single, you ask? Well, her parents often stepped up to help as well. If she had not had a nuclear family, she would have had to rely on friends, and no matter how much her friends loved her, it might have been harder for Beamon to accept extreme amounts of help (the kind she needed) from them, because we’re just not conditioned to think of friendship that way. (Note I’m speaking my own opinion here, not referencing anything Beamon says in her book.)
3. Anyone who has ever treated, or tried to treat, someone with a chronic illness, especially a mystery chronic illness, will recognize themselves in at least one of the puzzled doctors Beamon seeks out for help–internal medicine practitioners, surgeons, gastroenterologists, neurologists, and more. They give her endoscopies, colonoscopies, pills pills pills, and more than one tube up her nose. Most of the doctors fall somewhere along the scale of mildly assholish to major prick, until. . . but I don’t want to spoil the story for you.
4. Anyone who has NOT had a chronic illness will learn from this book to feel a little less sorry for themselves when they have some dumb cold. Heck, I myself have a fairly serious chronic illness, but even I flip through the Misdiagnosed manuscript whenever I need a mental ladder out of one of my sludgy wells of self-pity.
5. Anyone who influences health care policy will–hopefully–be horrified at how much Beamon had to struggle, as detailed in all the paragraphs above. They will–hopefully–be horrified at how often she had to take her health into her own hands, seek out her own doctors, and research her own condition(s) and symptoms. Fortunately she was able to fight this battle off and on throughout her sickness–but many chronic illness survivors are not so lucky. They can’t work and must rely on disability, or they don’t have insurance, or—or they’re single, and these problems become amplified for them. Look at the crowded rooms of the startling public hospital in which Nika accidentally stays for several days; it is bare-bones, not super hygenic, and even possibly dangerous (for example, her wallet is temporarily stolen). This is where the unluckiest chronic illness victims end up–if they are poor or under-insured. Perhaps, given the legal and financial discrimination against singles, more unmarried people end up in substandard facilities than do coupled people. This study has not been done, but it should be.
Hopefully Beamon’s book will be one step towards opening the dialog about singles with chronic illness. Read it, people, and start talking! Thanks!
P.S. Keep up with Nika and Misdiagnosed here:
Photo credit: garret_33
Help! I Need Somebody! (A guest post) April 11, 2014Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Guest Bloggers, Guest Posts, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: friends and family network, single and sick, single with chronic illness, support system, writing about chronic illness
1 comment so far
Copious Readers, welcome to another installment in our latest series about singles with chronic illness. Today we are pleased to introduce a guest post by our reader Bea, who ponders the meaning of “friends and family” and their role in the life of a single person with chronic illness.
Help! I need somebody!
Ever so often I stumble over this one expression that triggers kind of an allergic reaction in me. Like a mental allergy, even though I swear I can nearly feel it physically. It makes me upset and my mind starts to go in never ending circles, consisting of negative thoughts, hopeless thoughts à la „how is this ever gonna change?“. And I stumble over this expression all the time, in conversations, magazine articles, TV shows and…in self-help books, which is the last place where I wanna be confronted with depressing thoughts, seriously.
The expression I’m talking about here is this: „getting support from your family and friends“. Which is supposed to be something good in your life, something soothing, empowering, something to rely on. Especially when you are in a crisis, like losing your job or your home or an emotional crisis or getting sick. Like so sick that it changes your life, temporarily, or in case of a chronic illness, permanently. Which in itself is an enormous challenge, because a chronic illness alters your life in so many ways. It can be compared to a grieving process, accepting changes in your body, maybe restrictions in mobility, maybe constant exhaustion, maybe chronic pain. And if this illness is something totally new in your life, there’s a lot of things that need to be said good-bye to, things that you remember you were able to do before, but now can’t anymore. The good thing is, there’s also a lot of beautiful moments during and after the grieving process and the human psyche is definitely something magical, being able to adapt, to survive and build new things.
But one thing is for sure, dealing with a chronic illness all on your own is not advisable, the one thing you absolutely need to adapt to is the fact that you need help. And not only professional help from doctors or therapists etc., but in your personal life. Which is what brings me back to this expression that I don’t like, this “family and friends” thing. What I mostly don’t like about it is the subtle distinction between the two, the meaning behind the words. Because the conventional understanding of family is a biological – or at least legally adoptive – family, meaning your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles etc. The only way to extend this kind of family – in a conventional understanding – is, if you fall in love with somebody, then marry, maybe have kids, and by this way you build a new “family branch”.
But what if you don’t have this? What if you don’t have a family, never had one or lost it or had to cut all contact out of self respect or the will to survive? And what if you don’t have a romantic relationship either, a so-called “life partner”, and your life works quite well without one? But that’s what the “friends” part in “family and friends” is for, isn’t it? Yes, that’s what I thought, too, and I’m a big advocate for families of choice, for people building close-knit ties without a romantic or biological connection behind it. The problem is I still feel quite alone with it most of the time, with this wish of changing the status quo. And I feel even more alone in moments when I am depending on somebody’s support.
Because way too often I experience that people secretly still have this hierarchy in their head, this clear distinction between family – and – friends. And yes, I do understand that people only have a certain amount of energy, that they can’t support everybody, that they have to take care of themselves, too, after all. But it bugs me that there still seems to be this huge self-evidence of who comes first and who second. It bugs me in many ways, if for example I see friends circling their life around each new “life-partner”, no matter for how little time they’ve known this person. And it bugs me, if people don’t even question the fact that they spend their vacation always with their “loved ones”. And it bugs me, of course, to then get pity from those people, because I don’t have this kind of life, not even asking if I want or need it, pressuring me into something that I actually don’t want for myself. Honestly, I love being on my own!
But what I do need is help and support, if I like it or not. And it will become more and more in the upcoming years, since my chronic illness will result in me sitting in a wheel chair at some point. And I admit that right now, I am still in the midst of my grieving process, and maybe I am too pessimistic and bitter and single-minded at this point in my life. But, of course, what’s behind this pessimism is an unfathomable amount of worries and fears. One of those fears is that my lifestyle of choice, being a single and being without my biological family, will not be compatible with this new situation. So I guess what I need the most right now is to know that there’s more people out there who have an allergic reaction to old conventions and who don’t give up working against the status quo.
Hi, Christina here again. If you are a single person with a chronic sickness, feel free to write to us at email@example.com to share your story. We are also looking for good ways to say “singles with chronic illness” with fewer syllables (“sick singles” already having been nixed as a possibility). Some of us brainstormed up Single and Surviving Sickness, Single and Sick Survivors, Single and Sick but Surviving–all of which condense to the handy acronym SaSS. But acronyms aren’t everything so we still need your help to come up with some non-tongue-twisting terminology.
Photo credit: kr8v
The Humor Code: A Book Review April 9, 2014Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: Joel Warner, Peter McGraw, Simon and Schuster, The Humor Code
1 comment so far
Copious Readers, welcome to the second installment in our new series Things That Don’t Have Much To Do With Being Single. Marketing managers at Simon and Schuster kindly provided us with a review copy of The Humor Code–A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny and asked that we write about it on Onely. At first glance, we thought, “Hey, this has nothing to do with singles’ rights!” But we really, really wanted a free book. So we said sure, we’d review it. Plus, we rationalized, single people like to laugh, right?
McGraw, Peter and Joel Warner. The Humor Code–A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. Simon and Schuster. New York. 2014.
Two guys. 19 experiments. Five continents. 91,000 miles. And a book that will forever change the way you think about humor.
That’s the publisher’s summary. Here’s mine:
An intrepid sweater-vest-wearing university professor (Pete) looking for the grand unified theory of humor and a jaded journalist looking for a fluff story (Joel) quickly find themselves, if not over their heads, at least frighteningly up to their nostrils in a flood of humor, as they try to observe what makes people in different cultures laugh and why. A lot of the laughter they encounter is fun, some is dirty, some is mean, some is unintelligible, some is even dangerous. They make some assessments based on science, such as when they look at various gender bias studies (verdict: no, Adam Corrolla, men are not funnier than women). The authors also form theories based on interpersonal interaction, such as when they compare penis sizes with Japanese actors-slash-game show participants.
The Humor Code has not one, but two, storylines. First, there’s the travelogue, intertwined with expository prose analyzing the results of their adventures. Second, there’s Pete’s struggle to become a standup comic–or at least to develop a standup routine that, based on what he’s learned about humor, cannot fail to entertain. He appears on stage several times, each instance in a sweater vest. I won’t give away the end result, except to say that he gets better with practice.
The Humor Code is, appropriately and necessarily, funny. But the whole time I was reading I kept thinking, A book about what makes me laugh is making me laugh. A book about what makes me laugh is making me laugh. It was a very fractal feeling–not unpleasant, but rather like little meta fingers massaging my brain.
Our heroes go in search of Tanzanians who remember the contagious laughter outbreak, omuneepo. They examine headlines in the satirical newspaper The Onion published right after 9/11 to learn how laughter offsets tragedy (for example, “September 11 Hijackers Surprised to Find Themselves in Hell”). They meet with some of the Danish cartoonists who drew the famous and infamous cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that caused so much uproar around the world.
Speaking of which, here’s one for your next cocktail party: many of the cartoons didn’t even feature the prophet Muhammad; the vast majority of people protesting or defending them hadn’t even seen the drawings; and–this tidbit should be brought out after the canapes when people are well into their martinis and mojitos–the one cartoonist who did draw an actual prophet Muhammad with an actually offensive bomb in his turban was later in his home with a five-year-old daughter of a friend, when presumably a non-fan of his cartoon beat down the door with an ax and chased the cartoonist into his panic room–leaving the ax man alone with the little girl. She may or may not have drawn cartoons of Muhammad at some point in her Crayon career, but fortunately, the ax man hadn’t seen any and left her alone.
This book is full of cocktail party fodder, but it dives deeper than that too. Essentially, when it comes to humor, we humans are more united than divided.
Tags: FROZEN, singles, sisters
FROZEN is mostly just another stupid Disney Princess movie, with one tiny difference. As the film progresses it becomes apparent that our main heroine (a princess) can only be saved from her horrid fate (slowly turning to ice) by an act of True Love. We’re led to believe that this will come in the form of True Love’s Kiss by the bumbling but good-hearted sledgedriver named–something, forget. I’ll call him Burt.
However, in the climactic penultimate action scene, the True Love occurs when–SPOILER ALERT, FOR ALL OUR COPIOUS READERS WHO ARE ALSO DISNEY PRINCESS FANS–the princess selflessly saves her sister’s life. They hug and say “I love you!” Moreover, our princess heroine never even marries Burt. There are no couples riding–or sledging–off into the sunset. Instead, everybody in the kingdom gets together and ice skates. The last “couple” we see up close are the two sisters, skating together.
I grudgingly say “Good for Disney.” Grudgingly, because I loathe Disney, not only for their singlism and marriage mania, but for their sexism and racism. Just some random examples: All the princesses look the same–skinny, with ginormous eyes and tiny or nonexistent ears. They vary only according to hair color or style and–if we’re lucky–skin color. I barely need mention that their fates revolve around men. And in Aladdin, all the Arabs except for Aladdan have accents–meaning that all the bad guys sound like they are actually from the region where the story takes place, whereas Aladdin sounds like he grew up tipping cows in Indiana.
So I look at FROZEN as one small step in a journey of about ten million miles that Disney needs to walk in order to undo all the damage they’ve done to little minds over the years.