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?
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?
Guest Post: 3 Tips to Creating Happily Ever After…YOUR Version February 12, 2013Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Guest Posts.
Tags: Jacqueline Boas, kerry david, lessons of being single, michelle cove, singles blog
Onely is thrilled to offer a guest post by award-winning author and filmmaker Michelle Cove, with extensive input from her co-director Kerry David and her lead character, Jacqueline Boas. Cove, David, and Boas discuss a question people often ask them:
What is your biggest “takeaway” when it comes to being a single woman?
Copious Readers, what are *your* biggest takeaways (we welcome input from our male readers as well)? Please note that the opinions expressed in guest posts may or may not be those of Onely.org (although they usually are!).
When Michelle Cove and Kerry David started making Seeking Happily Ever After (www.seekinghappilyeverafter.com)– a feature-length documentary that explores why there are more single 30-something women in the U.S. than ever–they had plenty of theories about why women are staying single longer and whether the trend would stick. One of the many questions: what would happen if you took a 30-something woman who was perfectly happy being single and forced her to spend a year at singles events so she could get friends and family off her back? Would she be happier one year later like they insisted? Michelle and Kerry put 30-something Jacquie Boas to the guinea-pig test. We’re not going to give away the twists and turns, but here were some of the big takeaways they each experienced. (more…)
The Worst Singlism Ever (And We’ve Seen Some Bad Stuff)–Protest It! February 9, 2013Posted by Onely in As If!, Celebrities, STFU Celebrities, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: David France, Ed Koch, new york magazine, singles blog
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Copious Readers, get your pens on! We need to write letters to the editors of New York Magazine, which published an article by (supposed) social-justice advocate David France, wherein David France says single people–specifically, New York mayor and “lifelong bachelor” Ed Koch–are heartless.
In the article, ”Ed Koch and the AIDS Crisis: His Greatest Failure,” France says that in the course of his research:
That fact [that Koch "never coupled"] stood out above any other as a probable explanation for why he seemed to lack even the faintest stirrings of empathy when the AIDS crisis came. (more…)
Single Women: So What If They’re Over Fifty? January 5, 2013Posted by Onely in As If!, STFU, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: ageism, cougar, demeaning terms for singles, demeaning terms for women, lookism, looksism, sexism, singles blog, singles sexism, singlism, SMOFTY, spinster stereotype, SWOFTY
So apparently now there is yet another term to describe women who behave in a certain way: Before it was Cougar, meaning an older woman who dates younger men (implication: these women must be preying on younger men, because why would the guys be attracted them of their own accord?) . Now according to this article flagged by our reader Iolanda, as well as other articles, we have SWOFTY. This means a single woman over fifty.
Copious readers, is this offensive or empowering to women, and particularly to single women? I say offensive, and here’s why:
Where is the term for single men over fifty? A Google search for SMOFTY returned the result: Did you mean SWOFTY? . . . Um, no, sigh.
And there’s more: The term SWOFTY markets itself as a badge of honor for single women, but really it objectifies and classifies women in a three-for-one deal: according to their relationship status, gender, and age. It’s the same old sexism, singlism, and ageism that has been going on in most cultures since forever, just re-labelled. Even the fact that we get surprised by the idea that single women over fifty can be vibrant and happy — so surprised that we have to give them a name — shows just how ingrained the stereotype of the drab spinster is. It’s a stereotype we need to talk in full adult words about, not cutesy acronyms that keep reminding people how the existence of happy single older women is surprising.
And no, SWOFTY does not do anything to increase the dialogue about or dismantle the spinster stereotype (more…)
Can Couples Advocate for Singles’ Rights? December 30, 2012Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: couple communication, singles advocacy, singles blog, singles versus couples, singles' rights, singlism
For more than four years now, Lisa and I have spent a good deal of time objecting, advocating, railing, protesting, blathering, and even (to our shame) name-calling, all in the name of singles’ rights. We’ve been doing it every since we realized that, at the time, all pro-singles writing said it was GREAT to be happily single, but only because it made you more appealing so you could get a mate.
Lisa and I, two single women in our 30s, thought that was stupid. What if, we proposed, it was great to be happily single, period? We were both happy, and single, and didn’t care whether we’d find a mate or not. So we started this blog, which has since been quoted or cited in several major print and online publications (and I say that only as an example of how vehemently we pushed our topic in people’s faces).
Our question to you, Copious Readers, is: would we, could we, have ever had the same revelation–and the same work ethic–if one or both of us had been coupled? Or by extension, can a coupled/married person ever advocate for singles’ rights as passionately, accurately, or extensively as an unmarried or socially single person? If yes, under what circumstances? If no, why not?
By singles’ rights, we mean that the U.S. government ought to stop discriminating against half its adult populace. We call this institutionalized singlism.
By singles’ rights, we also mean that people–regular people like you and Lisa and me–need to recognize that it’s not acceptable to treat single people like losers in the game of life. (“You’re not married yet? Awww.”) We call this cultural singlism. Examples are all over this blog and all over the blog of social scientist Bella DePaulo whom I linked to above, so I’m not going to retell the stories here. (I will give you some keywords though: Immature. Selfish. Desperate. Cats. Dead. Eaten by.)
Onely’s opinion is that anyone, aaaaaanyone, with an open-minded, critical-thinking type of brain, plus a (more…)
You Choose: Best New Relationship Signifier of the 21st Century! December 17, 2012Posted by Onely in Dating, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
Tags: ex-boyfriend on facebook, relationship signifiers, singles blog
Many single people date. They date in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s. In a previous post we declared that the words boyfriend and girlfriend sound stupid when applied to people over the age of oh, say, ten. For example, stick a little gender neutrality in there and look what we’ve got:
Thanks so much for inviting me to your cocktail party, Jane, but I’ll have to pass because I’ll be in Aruba with my childfriend.
Cheers to reader Terry T for pointing out that icky yet accurate rhetorical twist. Onely’s boyfriend/girlfriend post also got other great responses (thanks to Lola for companion, my favorite because it works for people *and* cats) from people who felt passionate about this troubling gap in the English language–and, in fact, in languages around the world (thanks to Beth ODonnell for beau and paramour). So now we here at Onely are asking our Copious Readers to choose The Best New Relationship Signifier of the 21st Century!
What term should we use to describe that person (or persons) with whom we have a unique, committed combined emotional, sexual, and (perhaps) financial relationship outside of marriage? Because of the complicated, multi-adjectival nature of these relationships, you might be tempted to use an acronym (mine above turns out to be UCCESPFROOM). But instead please consider words that are easily translated. This will allow for maximum scalability around the globe (hey, we here at Onely like to aim high!)
And please remember, we are looking for relationship signifiers versus terms of endearment. = )
U.S. adults have “boyfriends” and “girlfriends”–Do other cultures also infantilize the unmarried? November 28, 2012Posted by Onely in Dating, Food for Thought, single and happy, Your Responses Requested!.
Tags: adult boyfriend, adult girlfriend, cultural expectations for dating, cultural expectations for the single woman, relationship signifiers, singles blog
The U.S.’ widespread use of “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” is a decades-old cultural relic, from a time when we married barely out of boyhood or girlhood. But now more and more adults are waiting until their late twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, or beyond to marry (if at all). So what does it say about our society that we call the people we’re dating “boyfriends” and “girlfriends”?
It SAYS that our society views unmarried people as younger/less evolved/more childish than married ones.
To be sure, our habit of using boyfriend/girlfriend in perpetuity did not arise from a concerted or conspiratorial cultural effort to infantilize unmarrieds. But the passive persistence of the terms does represent how singles are viewed. (For all that alliteration, you may thank this glass of wine.)
A thirty-eight-year-old hetero female has a boyfriend? Come on.
Progressive thinkers (usually as an extension of Queer rhetoric) have played with new terms: Significant Other; Partner; Life Partner. . . These terms allow people of all ages to achieve the rare art of sounding both stodgy and mysterious at the same time.
Copious Readers, Onely requests your responses: (more…)
Singles Shopping Day November 18, 2012Posted by Onely in Everyday Happenings, single and happy, We like. . ..
Tags: alternative Valentines, November 11, singles, singles blog, Singles Day in China
Lisa and I are so behind on our Onely research and writing that we missed Singles Shopping Day on 11 November! So sorry we were unable to flag it for for you, our Copious Readers, because I know you all (and by you all, I mean me) love any holiday that combines shopping with the chance to get all up on our soapboxes about the awesomeness of singlehood.
On 11/11, Singles Shopping Day, according to this AP news article,
Singles Day was begun by Chinese college students in the 1990s as a version of Valentine’s Day for people without romantic partners. . . Unattached young people would treat each other to dinner or give gifts to woo that special someone and end their single status.