Tags: barbara mcnally, Eat Pray Love, Ireland travel, Jamaica travel, singles blog, singles memoir, unbridled
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McNally, Barbara. Unbridled. A Memoir. Balboa Press, 2013.
I totally want to go to Ireland. I totally want to make sandwiches for underprivileged girls. I totally do not want to take burlesque dancing lessons. I totally want to re-read Unbridled.
What it’s about:
Essentially, the book is about a woman, our narrator, who tries in self-destructive ways to get out of her suburban marriage-with-kids life. No offense to the suburbs, or marriage, or kids, but she feels that somewhere in the whole combo, she lost herself. So she rips herself free into singledom (I won’t tell you how), leaving behind a tangled mess of family and feelings that she regrets but cannot repair, at least not at that time. She embarks on a journey of self-seeking to Ireland and Jamaica which (spoiler alert?) ultimately allows her to return home and reconnect with her daughters. Then she gets semi-naked and dances at a hospital.
Why It’s Less Annoying than Eat, Pray, Love:
Does story of a quest for personal fulfillment via travel sound familiar? Unless you’ve been living under a literary rock for the past few years, you’ll recognize this book as possibly capitalizing on the whole Eat Pray Love phenomenon. Now, I happen to hate very much on Eat Pray Love, so I was worried that I would be equally annoyed with this book. But no. I read it in three sittings (or lie-ings, if you count the bathtub).
First, McNally isn’t spoiled. She doesn’t have a zillion-dollar book contract to fund her journey. She pays and budgets like one does on a real trip. Second, she isn’t vain. Not once do we hear a man gushing about how beautiful she is (although don’t think that means we don’t see a good deal of carefully wrought sex in the book). Third, she acknowledges that she is leaving behind some serious responsibilities, especially her daughters, and this weighs on her. Her love affair–with a falconer on the grounds of an Irish castle nonetheless–isn’t claustrophobic and the culmination of her journey, as if single is ok as long as in the end you couple up. Rather, McNally leaves her lovely falconer after one day and moves on, not without regrets but also happy to be continuing her journey as a free, single woman. All this is totally opposite of EPL. So we can thank the EPL phenomenon for opening up the market to books that are actually–in my opinion–better in many ways than EPL.
“I held the meat gingerly and stretched my arm out like a branch. A very nervous branch.” (88, on feeding a falcon)
The tone of the book isn’t as easy and woman’s-magaziney as EPL. In order for you to really get maximum enjoyment from it, you have to be the kind of person who likes to read description. If you are a reader who takes time to imagine the descriptions of green hills and little bustling pubs and the endless lawns splayed around a very old castle, then you will be blown away. Especially by the six-fingered Wiccan who approaches McNally in the dark with a hood covering her face (to her credit, McNally doesn’t scream and faint, as I would have certainly done).
The Ultimate Onely Experience:
McNally goes to the Hedo resort in Jamaica, a clothing-optional resort especially geared toward swinging couples. I was proud of her for going alone, even though a man she was dating had offered to accompany her. She explores just how hedonistic (read: naked and kissing beautiful Jamaican woman) she wants to be–does she want to be like her wild, fearless Grandma Pat, or does she actually have more of her staid, religious, conservative mother inside her than she realizes? In the end she realizes it doesn’t matter–through sheer chance she ends up somewhere in Jamaica where she learns that real adventure and self-fulfillment comes from helping others–in this case, abused girls shut up in a fenced-in school to protect them from (among other things) the rapists outside. Read the book to find out about the touching fieldtrip.
“I danced until I thought I’d melt from the heat of bopping bodies.” (171, a party at Hedo)
Marsha moved her chair closer to mine. . . ‘You remind me of my mama,’ she said softly. (196, at a girls’ home fenced in to keep out–for one thing–rapists)
McNally is home and is reconnecting with her daughters–who are calmer now about the divore and look older, even though she hasn’t been gone long. But she keeps looking for extra tidbits inside herself she didn’t know about. For instance, she didn’t know she could dance half-naked with feathers and fishnets in front of sick people, but she does it.
I wore leather chaps and a sequined vest. (231, prepping for a hospital dance show)
The stories should shake up anyone who thinks that they know the boundaries of themselves. The stories teach us that none of us knows our boundaries.
And that is the main reason I enjoyed this book. Though you will never, ever see me in leather chaps.
Now, I’m going to harp on a small thing as I have in previous reviews. The cover feels sort of funny, like an odd kind of fuzziness. I don’t really like the texture and wonder if I should wrap it in paper like we did with our school textbooks, in preparation for my second readthrough.
Tags: discrimination against divorce, singles blog, things not to say after a breakup
My friend Bee’s roommate Dee recently broke up with her boyfriend of several years. Bee’s father stopped by her and Dee’s apartment and, when he happened ask where Dee was, Bee told him she was in her bedroom with her tearful face buried in her laundry pile (dirty or clean, Bee wasn’t sure) listening to Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” on repeat, repeat, repeat.
“I always knew that man was bad news,” Dee’s father said. Now, most people know that that is the the one thing you never, ever say to someone who has just had a breakup. But Bee’s father toed that line, then lept over it:
I knew he was bad news, because he was divorced.
Bee rolled her eyes and thanked god or the universe or whatever that Dee couldn’t hear anything over the Sad, Sad, Song playing in the background.
Copious Readers, your thoughts on this statement? Forgiveable from an old-school, overprotective father?
Before you answer, know that Dee’s dad actually came from a divorced family himself.
As someone myself who has dated some wonderful divorced men, I can’t help but think. . . WTF?
Tags: Eric Klinenberg, forrent, living alone, single blog, single homeowner
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We here at Onely like to experiment with guest posters! We love having them and the interesting perspectives they bring (which may or may not completely jibe with Onely’s optic). Today we are moving from pure text to something a little more visual–an Infographic. This medium is new to us so we’ll be interested in hearing your feedback on both the form and the content, which in this case has to do with the growing trend of Living Alone. Click on the graphic to see the whole image on ForRent.com, an apartment search company exploring this new trend. Normally Onely does not advocate specific businesses, but we believe in companies that consider renting or building alternative housing for non-traditional familes such as single people, and so we appreciate that ForRent has taken notice of single dwellers.
In 1950, only 9% of households had single occupants. Comparing that with today’s 27%, it is easy to see the trend of solitary living. With extending life spans, the average age of marriage slowly increasing and large rises in urbanization, we are on a path that will not be changing in the near future. The economy is in a slow recovery yet, surprisingly, a very small amount of young adults have moved back into their family homes.
In this infographic, we will take a look at some of the other factors influencing Americans to forego residential companionship and instead prefer to live by themselves.
“Alone But Not Lonely” infographic designed by ForRent.com
Singles Strike Back: #UnmarriedEquality April 16, 2013Posted by Onely in As If!, Everyday Happenings.
Tags: #SinglesBlogfest, #UnmarriedEquality, Marital Status Discrimination, tax day, taxes on singles
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As described in our previous post, the Communications League for Unmarried Equality (CLUE) is creating Media Saturation Mania around the topical issue of Marital Status Discrimination. Single people, have you encountered laws or practices that discriminate you based on your marital status? Then join us in writing your own stories on your own blogs, or wherever you write! (Married people are welcome to share their own stories of discrimination too!)
All these bloggers hit the cyberstreets protesting Marital Status Discrimination in their own words. Join us and them! #UnmarriedEquality and #SinglesBlogfest. The following bloggers did:
Single? Blogfest Explains How to Get Screwed 1,000 Times! April 15, 2013Posted by Onely in As If!, Bad Onely Activities, Food for Thought, Guest Bloggers, Guest Posts, Marital Status Discrimination, Singled Out, Singles Resource, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: #SinglesBlogfest, #UnmarriedEquality, Atlantic Magazine, bella depaulo, Christina Campbell, Cindy Butler, Eleanore Wells, Marital Status Discrimination, singles blogs, The High Price of Being Single, Unmarried Equality
Marital Status Discrimination: Today, Onely joins forces with dozens of other bloggers to highlight the problem of Marital Status Discrimination. Why? Because on Tax Day, Uncle Sam picks the pockets of singles at the same time he’s rewarding couples for getting married.
So what? So this: The U.S. government–a democratic government, a government “By the People and For the People” and all that–discriminates against fifty percent of its population: unmarried people. Our federal code alone contains over 1,000 laws where marital status is a factor, and in most cases single people lose out.
Because this phenomenon was a problem with no name, we at Onely christened it “institutionalized” Marital Status Discrimination. In January we made a big slam-dunk stink about it in The Atlantic.
The Million-Dollar Difference: According to our very conservative and basic calculations, a single person earning $80,000/year could easily pay at least a million dollars more over her lifetime than her married counterpart, based on only a few of the most discriminatory laws (such as Income Tax, IRAs, and Social Security).
What’s more, our hypothetical scenarios did not consider state laws, nor the many ways Marital Status Discrimination shows up in corporate policies–such as when singles pay more for all sorts of insurance. These factors could easily push the million-dollar figure higher. Much higher.
But money isn’t everything: That’s why our government has thoughtfully provided other laws that don’t impact single people’s pocketbooks. These laws instead impact single people’s peace of mind. For example, as we described in 2010 on Psychology Today, an anti-stalking law promises protection to the victim’s spouse. Phew! But a single person being stalked is offered no such additional protection for a loved ones.
Any stalker who does his research (and we imagine this is all of them) would know exactly whom his stalkee loves most. R.I.P. Grandma; if only you had married your grandson maybe there would have been cops by your door when his stalker came calling. . .
The U.S. Government thinks being unmarried means: a life free of connections and cares, and full of discretionary spending. Unfortunately, even if this were true (and we at Onely fervently wish it were), no society is at its best when half its members are treated differently from the other half.
So let’s get started obliterating Marital Status Discrimination! Our first step is to. . uh. . . We will start by. . . ahem. . . Our next move should be. . . um. . . Well, as you can see, while we at Onely are skilled at pointing out these problems, we aren’t so sure what we should do next.
So, Copious Readers, here’s where we need your help: Now that we’ve gotten the dialog started, what do you think our “next steps” should be? How do you think we should take action (and by “we,” we mean the collective blogosphere standing up for single people everywhere)? What subject matter experts are best positioned to spread the word or propose legislative change? Do you know tax professionals or legislators friendly to our cause? (Or can you convince them to embrace our cause?)
Please share your insights and spread the word: Comment below. Or tweet #UnmarriedEquality and #SinglesBlogfest. Or share this article on Facebook!
If you have more questions about Singles Blogfest, please write to Onely@onely.org or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Huh? Clue? Yes:
The Communication League for Unmarried Equality (CLUE):
We at Onely were not the only ones who instigated this effort. We were honored to have had lots of help from three of the most active voices in the progressive singles’ movement, who jumped on board the Singles Blogfest project with unparalleled enthusiasm and expertise:
Thanks Copious Readers, We Love You!
Photo Credit: The Atlantic.com
Tags: benefits of being married, civil rights, critical of marriage, gay marriage, human rights, marital privilege, marriage debate, U.S. Supreme Court
Marriage is not about love. But most of the public conversation about marriage – most recently, the conversation about gay marriage – tends to treat marriage as the equivalent of love. Marriage, public discourse suggests, makes love official. And who could argue against that? Just as you generally can’t have a satisfying debate with a religious person about the existence of God, you’ll be booed off the stage if you say there’s something wrong with being in love. In popular rhetoric, the word “marriage” is used to signify (stand in for) the concept of romantic love.
Let’s be real; let’s stop saying marriage is about love.
In the best of cases, marriage stems out of love. But marriage itself is not the same as love. In truth, marriage is decidedly un-romantic. It is a legal, and sometimes religious, contract between two people. The contract ties the partners together – in no uncertain terms – in terms of finances, law, and kinship. These are not romantic concepts. In fact, in certain contexts, these concepts can be downright terrifying.
But public rhetoric wants us to ignore the ugly reality and focus on the feel-good. As a result, it’s challenging – almost impossible – to take a critical stance toward the institution.
The recent conversation about gay marriage, currently at the center of two cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, is a prime example of the consequences of our popular discourse. Our discourse suggests that the right to marry is an issue of civil rights (in the States, as some have pointed out, the Human Rights Campaign has problematically dominated this kind of discourse). While we at Onely agree that the achievement of marriage equality is an admirable goal, it does not in fact achieve the larger goals of civil rights, which would ensure that all people – regardless of their marital status – are treated equally in the eyes of the law.
As we have argued time and again on this blog and elsewhere – marriage creates and maintains a social hierarchy that grants specific financial, legal, and kinship benefits to individuals based only on their marital status. And guess who loses, precisely because they are not married? More than 50% of the population, single people.
Saving Gracie: Book Review March 24, 2013Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Tags: Jill Teitelman, middle-age mom, Saving Gracie, single mom
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Marty was married for 17 years seventeen years, so he’s used to thinking in terms of us. When I say I instead of me, he notices. (173)
This is Onely’s first review of a novel. It’s about singleness–the good, the bad, the self-absorbed ex-husbands. How was the book? Well, it got me through two sick insomniac nights.
Ruth was single for a long time and loved it–she traveled the world, met fascinating people (lots of them men, and lots of those she slept with) and overall relished her freedom. She worked on her writing; she thought, Who would want to be married if they could get published instead? (44)
Then suddenly she reached her early forties and her biological clock kicked in. Late. Too late? Not quite, but its ticking was loud enough to impair her judgment when choosing Jake as her husband.
We here at Onely say that people can (and maybe even should) be happy in their single state–which makes us sound a lot like subatomic particles so let’s call it single-at-heart (“it’s how they live their most authentic life,” says Dr. Bella DePaulo).
I was worried that Ruth would become one of those people who feels desperate and worthless if single. And yeah, she does have some of that, but it’s because she has a son–and single mothers don’t always have the option of living single-at-heart, even if that’s what they really are. If she can’t pick up her son at school, is there someone else who can? (Jake doesn’t count–he only does things with his son when he feels like it.) Or does she have to race across town in a panic?
She dates a bit, hoping for that extra support, if not exactly love. And what she is lucky enough to find is not what she expects, but it’s what we need more of in this world–a support system of close-knit neighbors who can share resources and childcare and food and rides to the hospital. Something to penetrate the walls of the apartments and condos and single-family homes. She meets Grace.
Now, their friendship doesn’t magically create one of these idyllic eco-and-alternative-family communities, but it is tiny, shimmering example of what could be. Grace has two sons and a husband and a relentlessly positive attitude. In many ways she functions as a husband for Ruth, providing platonic emotional support–that continues even during Ruth’s short marriage to another man, Marty. They make a tiny community.
When Grace falls ill, her friends and neighbors–remembering how she had always had a smile for them–rally around her, bringing food and running errands. The community grows bigger. Ruth and Marty split up because Ruth doesn’t love him and has less fear of raising her son alone. But Grace, the pebble that started the pearl, is still sick. Her most intimate care falls on Ruth.
The most fascinating part of the novel for me was hearing Ruth’s thoughts as she tries to figure out what to say to her best friend, her sick friend, who was always so upbeat and remains upbeat despite feeling uncomfortable. Ruth is more of, well, let’s just say she’s more like me, a cautious optimist and realistic pessimist. She analyses every interaction with Grace during her sickness–should she tell her friend a joke? When her friend falls into a rare moment of depression, should Ruth try to pump her up, or should she agree that the situation is frustrating and let the moment of despair sit for a minute, because maybe Grace is sick of optimism? (more…)
Do You Have a Best Friend at Work? March 11, 2013Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
Tags: amatonormative, best friend, Human Resources, singles blog, Surveys
Everyone in my office had to fill out some HR office morale assessment questionnaire. I know, I feel your fear of the letters “HR”. But in this case our HR department was working to (ostensibly) improve morale and alleviate any antagonism. Now, I *love* surveys–I love people asking me what I think!–but one particular question stumped me:
Do you have a best friend at work?
Tags: 2 hopeful spinsters
People sometimes comment on (or laugh at) the fact that Lisa and I are two people co-writing a blog about being happily and progressively single. Most other singles’ blogs are, quite logically, written by a single person. So imagine our delight when we discovered another website co-managed by pair of single women, just like Onely! Except 2 Hopeful Spinsters consists of action-packed web video, instead of action-packed web words.Heather and Dellany (the Hopeful Spinsters)’s goal, like Onely’s, is to challenge the cobwebbed notions that thirty-something single women are bitter, jaded, ugly, and surrounded by cats (well, actually we’re not going to challenge that last one).
In their kickstarter pitch, the Hopeful Spinsters point out Webster Dictionary’s definition of spinster: a woman past the common marrying age. In the US today, that age is 27. In the pitch they also include a segment ”Shit People Say to Spinsters (Inspired by actual events)”. At a college alumni shindig, the partiers demonstrate typical lines often thrown at ‘spinsters’, for example: Are you a lesbian? Have you thought about freezing your eggs? and, my personal favorite, where a man certainly over thirty years old says,
I don’t date women over 30. (more…)