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…)
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…)
Going Solo–With the Rest of Society (a book review) February 28, 2012Posted by Onely in book review.
Tags: Eric Klinenberg, Going Solo, Going solo book review, living alone, rise of single living
Eric Klinenberg. Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. The Penguin Press, 2012.
I began my exploration of the world’s first singleton societies with an eye for their most dangerous and disturbing features, including selfishness, loneliness, reclusiveness, and the horrors of getting sick or dying alone.
A singlist statement like this one would normally make us here at Onely ululate and tear at our hair. However, it’s hard to fault Eric Klinenberg for his honesty or his preconceived notion of solo living. After all, in 2002 he had just written Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago, a book about the hundreds of people who died in 1995 when the heat index hovered for days in the low 100s. Most of the victims lived alone. Their tragedies informed the CDC’s list of risk factors for heat wave victims:
Living alone, not leaving home daily, lacking access to transportation, being sick or bedridden, not having social contacts nearby, and of course not having an air conditioner.
But in Klinenberg’s new book, he discovered that
. . . singletons have helped revitalize the public life of cities, because they are more likely than those who live with others to spend time with friends and neighbors, to frequent bars, cafes, and restaurants, and to participate in informal social activities as well as civic groups. (230)
Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone examines and celebrates this relatively new social trend. Klinenberg uses the term “singletons” to mean people who live alone, as opposed to “singles”, who may or may not be socially single (eg. unmarried/unpartnered) and who may or may not live alone. We at Onely like this distinction and will be using “singleton” in the same way henceforth on this blog.
In his engaging text sprinkled with statistics, Klinenberg touts the benefits of living alone, tramples stereotypes about the selfish, rotting singleton, and profiles some of the heavy-hitters in the field of singles’ rights, such as the Alternatives to Marriage Project. Yet despite all the praise of this lifestyle, the book never loses sight of the fact that right now, in our current society, living alone is generally only an option for the very privileged–or the very woebetrodden.
The most important parts of this book (but make no mistake, the entire book is important) are those which acknowledge the latter: the poor, frail, ill, and/or isolated folks who die in heat waves (for example). The goal is not to deride them, or the practice of living alone. In fact, by asking How can we prevent underprivileged singletons from succumbing to the dangers of living alone?, Klinenberg is actually saying, Living alone is such a valuable experience, how can we allow more people to have it safely? Or in his own words: (more…)
Single With Attitude: A Compendium of Singles’ Blogs January 2, 2012Posted by Onely in blog reviews, Great Onely Activities.
Tags: singles blogs
Do you like Onely’s perspectives on single life but think we don’t post often enough? Do you find yourself desperately needing your progressive-singlehood fix, but none of the super-singles blogs you regularly read have anything new up, because their authors are too busy watching five straight hours of Breaking Bad on Netflix (an example just off the top of my head and not based in any way on any actual blog authors living or dead)?
Never fear! Just go to the new compendium of enlightened singles’ blogs at Single with Attitude, a site set up by singles scholar Bella DePaulo. Fresh posts from the different blogs feed to the top of the page–posts from Onely and other sites you may know from our blog roll, and posts from new voices you may discover you like.
Check it out.
Single Women: Tell Your Stories to the Camera July 22, 2011Posted by Onely in book review, Great Onely Activities.
Tags: Nika Beamon, single women of color, singles documentary, successful single black women, successful single women
You may be able to take part in the upcoming documentary series Independent Spirit: Successful Women in America Speak Out on the Joys and Pains of Modern Day Single Life.
The producers hope to hear from single women of *all* enthicities: Black, Asian, Latina, White, whatever! If you want to tell them what it’s like being a single woman [legally single or socially single], please contact Nika Beamon at email@example.com, and please include a .jpg photo and a bio, which are needed for the treatment package going to the executive producer.
Photo Credit: 997 Ourem
Hard Core Onelers: Hired Hermits March 11, 2011Posted by Onely in book review, Food for Thought, Great Onelies in History, Reviews.
Tags: hermit, victorian england
Welcome to the latest installment in our series Hard Core Onelers, where we feature people who take independence to new or interesting extremes. Today’s subject: Hired Hermits.
Copious Readers, what would it take for you to become a hermit?
Bryson, Bill. At Home: A Short History of Private Life. Doubleday, 2010. (Onely recommends: Read this book. It’s amazing.)
For a time [at estates in Victorian England] it was highly fashionable to build a hermitage and install in it a live-in hermit. At Painshill in Surrey, one man signed a contract to live seven years in picturesque seclusion, observing a monastic silence, for 100 pounds a year, but was fired after just three weeks when he was spotted drinking in the local pub.
An estate owner in Lancashire promised 50 pounds a year for life to anyone who would pass seven years in an underground dwelling without cutting his hair or toenails or talking to another person. Someone took up the offer and actually lasted four years before deciding he could take no more; whether he was at least given a partial pension for his efforts is sadly unknown.
Queen Caroline had the architect William Kent build for her a hermitage at Richmond into which she installed a poet named Stephen Duck, but that was not quite a success either, for Duck decided he didn’t like the silence or being looked at by strangers, so he quit.
Copious Readers, would you be a hired hermit? For how long? Under what sort of parameters? Before I’d make my decision, I’d need the answers to a few simple questions:
Do people have to journey through the woods and up a mountain to see me? Am I confined to the cave/cottage or can I frolic in the nearby fields too? Does the public come to watch me do my hermitting? Do I get food delivered or must I rely on my gardening and snare-making skills? Am I allowed to trim my nails and nose hairs?
I thought long and hard and decided I could last at least five years under some combination of these conditions. Time to nap! Time to write! Time to do backbends and tree pose! I would only need just a few meager possessions:
–warm babbling brook running through the cave floor
–some bags of cashews
–memory foam mattress
–$20,000 year stipend (good cat food is expensive)
–make that $60,000 (good cat food is really expensive)
–access to medical care (assuming the doctor makes cave calls)
–visits from my family and friends (depending on the conditions set by the estate owner, these might have to be clandestine, involving parachutes and balaclavas)
Rich estate-owning readers, want to add a touch of whimsy and mystique to your premises? By following the few simple guidelines above, you can have your very own Onely hermit, with crisply groomed nose hairs.
Photo credit: aug.edu
Film Review: Seeking Happily Ever After November 9, 2010Posted by Onely in film review, Singles Resource, We like. . ..
Tags: kerry david, michelle cove, princess fairy tale, seeking happily ever after, single women
Seeking Happily Ever After: One Generation’s Struggle to Redefine the Fairy Tale. Directed and Produced by Michelle Cove; Produced by Kerry David. 2010.
“I keep seeing parts of the movie in my head,” said my friend Monica at dinner, after we saw Seeking Happily Ever After at its DC screening. This is usually the sign of either a very inspiring movie, or a very disturbing one. Seeking Happily Ever After deftly manages to be both. I hope our Copious Readers get a chance to check it out. If you don’t live near a screening, maybe you can arrange one in your area.
For the award-winning documentary, director Michelle Cove and producer Kerry David didn’t so much “interview” various single women (mostly heterosexual, but including at least two lesbians) as she let them talk–if and why they like their single lives, what “happily ever after” means to them, what their pasts were like and what their hopes are now. My favorite was the thirty-something woman who said she could imagine herself being perfectly happy as an older single woman with white hair down to her butt, turquoise jewelery, and a bunch of cats milling around at her feet as she sipped a martini with girlfriends (I may be combining one or more interviews, but you get the idea). The film is full of such gems.
But, like life, it’s also full of nails-on-chalkboard moments of awkwardness and horror. Cove and David don’t whitewash the world of single women. (more…)
Book Review: Seeking Happily Ever After October 4, 2010Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
Michelle Cove. Seeking Happily Ever After–Navigating the Ups and Downs of Being Single Without Losing Your Mind (and Finding Lasting Love Along the Way). Penguin, New York. 2010.
General assessment: A fun bathtub read. Cove writes well, in an accessible style with vivid examples. Singles of different stripes will relate to many of the book’s insights, such as this example of Europe’s progressive singles optic:
“In America, the government taxes the household, whereas in Europe the government taxes the individual. That means many people in the United States who marry get certain benefits and provisions that make marriage a better economic choice” (261).
That said, this book, like all books, has some parts that could be improved. Mostly, the title. (Which is better than saying, “Mostly, the content.”)
I have read most of this book, but not all of it yet. I didn’t have to! I could skip right to the chapter most relevant to me and my personal outlook on romantic relationships, thanks to the fun structure of the book. Cove’s premise is that single women often fall into one of four very broad categories:
I should probably stop here and say that this book is largely written from a hetero female perspective using hetero females as real-life case studies. I would have liked for the title to indicate as much. Our Not-So-Copious single male readers can still find relevant insights in the book–such as when interviewee Cindy says, “We want our partner to be everything. And that’s just impossible! Nobody can be everything!”–but as it is now the title gives the impression that singlehood is such an inherently female obsession that the book’s female slant doesn’t even need to be mentioned.
That issue aside, back to the four categories, which I feel are as accurate as any categories can be and which give a pretty good idea of the span of the book:
–Looking (Eagerly) for Mr. Right
–Experiencing Conflicting Feelings About Being Single
–Changing Love-Life Goals
–Navigating a Marriage-Obsessed Culture (Subtitle: Time-out, people. Who decided this was a race, and what’s the *&*ing rush?)
Each major grouping contains several sub-categories. For example, I fit into the last category, which contains three chapters: The Someday Mom; The Slow and Steady; The Trailblazer. Each starts with a handy Pop Quiz that tells you whether or not the contents is suited for you. Really, they’re mini-questionnaires.
And I adore questionnaires. I love being asked for my opinion. I love the safe, cozy feeling of seeing my answers added up, categorized, and in the end telling me a little bit about me, if only a small corner of myself and if only for an instant. I found out I was a Trailblazer (yay!), by answering the following quiz: (more…)
The Most Onely Video Ever August 12, 2010Posted by Onely in film review, Reviews, We like. . ..
Tags: andrea dorfman, how to be alone, tanya davis
Performance poet Tanya Davis is Christina’s new favorite Lyrical Person, bumping from the top slot the folks who came up with “country as a turnip green” (sorry, Richochet). Davis’ astounding poem “How to Be Alone” was made into a video by also-awesome filmmaker Andrea Dorfman in 2009, but Onely only just learned about it. Thanks to our Copious Reader Oriole-2 for flagging it! She didn’t mince words when she described the film as “beautiful, true, affirming, encouraging and real. . . grounded, calm, inspiring, and hope-giving.” Onely agrees with her on all counts — you should definitely check it out for yourself:
Oriole-2 also noted that the film does a good job of avoiding any trace of defensiveness. We think this is an important point. Even though we don’t (usually) write about singles/aloneness/oneliness issues out of defensiveness, readers sometimes misinterpret our message as a defensive one — and it’s difficult to find a pro-Onely position so clearly articulated as Davis’s, where there’s little room for anyone to misinterpret her life-affirming message as anything but. (Or so we thought, until we perused the reader comments in response to this Salon.com post about the video… hmph!)
Copious Readers, what do you think?
–Christina and Lisa
Alternet Explains Why Marriage Doesn’t Matter April 18, 2010Posted by Onely in As If!, blog reviews, Reviews.
Tags: against marriage, alternet, marriage doesn't matter, single versus married
I heart this hilarious and insightful Alternet article about Why Marriage Doesn’t Matter. It points out that:
Women are carpet-bombed with the idea that marriage is their happy ending from their first viewing of Cinderella to the last potboiler Rom Com they saw starring Sarah Jessica Jennifer Kate Meg Julia Whatsherhair.
True and straightforward, right? But I’m astounded at how many Alternet readers–normally a pretty progressive bunch, doncha think?–went all right-wing-family-values on author Liz Langley. Several long-married people shrieked that she’d offended them by disparaging their life choice–a life choice that endowed them with special wisdom and compassion for others that the author supposedly doesn’t share, as well as legal privileges that the author would be wise to avail herself of. For example:
. . . I am newly married. I was engaged for love. I married quickly because I needed health insurance. I think that if people choose not to get married, or don’t find that love that’s fine. I understand that Alternet is not often here to play nice to both sides, and usually I appreciate that. I do, however, feel offended by this article. There are a lot of benefits to marriage both emotional and practical. All I read here is “Oh, you got married? hag.”
If this were the Daily Mail or some other trash news outlet, I wouldn’t be surprised at the caliber of commenters. But it’s Alternet! Hence my manic quest to comment on the other commenter’s comments. (Which you can see if you go to the article.)
The discussion is yet another example of how marriage is so disproportionately revered. Even an intelligent, open-minded readership such as Alternet’s freaks out when someone challenges the Marriage Myth, the way people freak out when they see someone kick a puppy.
photo credit: Toomas & Marit Hinnosaar