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Bad Onely Activities: Killer Bats February 23, 2011

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our series Bad Onely Activities, where we muse on those awkward moments when being single–or living alone–seems kind of tough. This week we wonder whether we should join Match.com: “Woman who loves laughs and walks on the beach seeks same, plus a bat wrangler.”

“EEeeEEeeEE click eeEEeeEE click.” My cat Alvin crouches on top of the kitchen buffet looking at something squeaky and flapping. Then the useless feline turns and runs. It’s midnight, and I’m alone and exhausted. I start to cry.

This is my fourth domestic bat. You’d think I’d be a bat-removal expert by now, but no.  I have post-traumatic bat disorder.

The first bat trapped me in the bathroom for five minutes. I curled up on the tile floor, a sheet over my head and body, every now and then cracking open the door to see if the supersonic little bugger was gone. And each time he wasn’t. Whenever I peeked into the hall, a smear of swirling black air whooshed past my face, forcing me back under the sheet. (Lest you wonder how I so conveniently happened to have a sheet in the bathroom: I woke up to the bat flapping around in the canopy of my bed, so I dragged the sheet on top of me as I crawled to safety.)

I didn’t remove that bat from the house. Nor did I ever capture the other bat that one night swooped my face so closely I felt the air from its wings. I lost each one in my mess of bookcases and picture frames. I just had to hope they would escape by themselves, before dying and rotting, or before killing me.

The third bat appeared while my mom and uncle were alone in my house. They trapped it in a jar, like a firefly.  I didn’t get those genes.

Which is why I’m shaking and whimpering as I stand on a chair peering over the top of the buffet at this brown furry lump, knowing it is about to charge me. Its wings of crinkled black leather can unfold to over three feet, and its mousy mouth hides fangs as long as my pinky. (I estimate here.) It will rush me, and I will fall off the chair and break my skull and lie on the floor for days until they find me, with the engorged bat still attached to my jugular.

I want nothing more than to go upstairs and get my seven-foot-tall boyfriend, the firebreathing one with hydaulic steel forearms. But I’m single and live alone. So I do the next best thing: I call my mom.

“Help help! I’m scared! Tell me how you managed to trap that bat before.”

And she says helpfully, “What bat?”

Seeing that my mom is as useless as my imaginary boyfriend, and also perhaps a little senile (who forgets trapping a bat?) I realize I have to get my Onely on. I must take matters into own hands–once I don my leather work gloves. And a fleece with the hood cinched around my cheeks and chin.

I arm myself with a racquetball racquet, mason jar, and a towel and climb back onto the chair. But my equipment is useless. The creature has cleverly wedged itself between some vases and the raised ledge of the buffet.

The bat jiggles its hips. “EEeeEEeeEE click eeEEeeEE click eeEEeeEEEEEeeEEEeeee click EEEee,” it says, which if I remember my freshman Bat 101 correctly, means something like, “B&tch with the racquet, I’m going to rip out your throat and leave it to rot on your crummy linoleum.”

Point well made. I jump off the chair. What, I think, would my huge, fearless, imaginary boyfriend do when confronted with such a foe?  Why of course–he would throw cat toys at it.

I toss some jingle balls. Ding ding ding EEEeeeeEEEclickEEEEeeee ding ding ding. The bat crawls down to the floor behind the buffet. I roll ping-pong balls to dislodge it, thinking that any moment the fiend will swoop me. Instead it waddles backwards into an open corner, where it just sits. I tiptoe forward, sniffling, holding the towel in one hand and a nine-volt flashlight in the other. My goal is to blind the bat into submission while I disable it under the towel.

With a wild scream I toss the towel at the corner, where it–damned areodynamics–parachutes down right next to, but not covering, the bat. EEEEeeeeEEE click EEeeEEEee click! Wailing, I grab the corner of the towel, back up, and throw again. Success. My hand shakes as I put the mason jar over the little lump of cloth and pull away the towel. I feel the cloth pulling at the bat’s body. Because it’s almost as if I’m touching the bat itself, I whimper.

Peering through the glass, I see the bat has a ripped wing. At first I feel sorry for it. Then I realize that only its injury stopped it from whooshing at me and clawing out my eyes. I start to whimper again.

I whimper more as I slide cardboard under the jar opening, and I whimper as I drag the jar and cardboard with my fingertips across the carpet to the porch door. I whimper as I lay down a spiral binder as a bridge to slide the jar over the threshold and into the wild.

Sure, that’s not how Bear Grylls would have dealt with the situation. (He would have grabbed the bat with his bare hand and popped it in his mouth.) But in my own wincing, mincing way, I got the job done.

Once again, I’m reminded that living alone is a great privilege, especially in this economy, but a privilege with a price. Am I independent and resourceful enough to deal with crises? Sure, if I’m allowed to whine.

Copious Readers, have you had Bad Onely interactions with wildlife? How dignified were you?



Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

The Dangers of Living Alone July 18, 2010

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities.
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Yeah yeah, all sorts of perils come with living alone: close encounters with burglars and choking on melba toast and slipping in the shower and being crushed by falling sofabeds (or maybe that last one’s just me). But the real danger I want to talk about is–accidentally peeing in front of strangers. Yes, it’s a hazard all you intrepid alone-dwellers need to know about.  Or you do if you’re the kind of person who habitually pees with the bathroom door open because there’s no one around to see you.

How easy it is to drink too much soda water and then run to the bathroom and begin your autopilot pee routine, which involves pulling down your pants and sitting on the seat, but does not include shutting the door. How easy to forget that the plumber is upstairs working on your showerhead.

This happened to me the other day, and I only remembered I wasn’t alone when I heard his footsteps coming down the stairs towards the hallway where I sat on the pot in flagrante (I’m not sure what that means exactly, but how it sounds is how I felt). “Quick! Close the door!” you might have said, had I been the star of a wierd indie film and you an audience member. Ah, easier said than done.

Whenever I do try to close the door, the thick turquoise towel under the kitty litter box wedges the door halfway open.  From my perch I could see the plumber’s thighs, then his torso, thumping downwards next to the bannister. Like in any good Bourne or Bruce Willis film (I’m scrapping the indie metaphor), I had about two seconds to make a crucial decision before the plumber’s head came into view and he turned towards the hallway–should I try to unwedge the towel and close the door, or should I yank my pants up?

I chose to unwedge. Copious Readers, what would you have done? I know you think you probably would not have been so silly (or, to take  Freudian stab at it, so unconsciously exhibitionist?) to have left the door open in the first place. But I still felt it my duty to warn you.


Photo credit: Flying Pig Beach Hostel

Even Coupled, You Can Still Die Alone June 16, 2010

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
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This is a follow-up post to Lisa’s piece about the importance of support networks in old age. We’ve all heard the stereotype that if you’re single, you risk dying “alone” in a small apartment and being eaten by your pets. I just wanted to point out that even if you are happily married after almost forty years, you can still die alone.

My parents have been married for thirty-seven years and still love each others’ company. They enjoy relatively good health and we’re a fortunate family all around. That said, recently on my first day back home for vacation, my mom fell off the attic stairs and broke her knee in quite a dramatic fashion. She couldn’t even sit up, the pain was so nauseating and intense. I was there to call 911 and, per the operator’s instructions, shut Charlie the cat in the bathroom where he wouldn’t be underfoot for the paramedics (or eat my mom).


Bad Onely Activities: Killer Chairs June 14, 2010

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities.
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Although here at Onely we enjoy being single, sometimes we write about ill-considered or unfortunate activities that remind us that being coupled (or at least, living with someone) does have some advantages. Are these Bad Onely Activities bad enough that we should change our single status in order to avoid them? Read the following example and decide.

I felt sick one recent Friday night, and as I often do when I feel sick, I get an urge to move furniture. (Maybe it’s an attempt to reset my qi by altering the feng-shui of my house.)  On the evening in question I decided that The Chair needed to go downstairs, STAT. I was having a gas fireplace installed in the basement and needed somewhere to sit and cozy up in front of the flames. Note that the fireplace was only partially installed at the time, and not even close to functional. But that The Chair needed to be downstairs now, tonight, in mere anticipation of the day when the fireplace would be complete and I could curl up in front of it.

The Chair had upholstery the consistency of old rec room carpet. A series of cats had clawed down the armrests so that bare wood showed through in spots. It was wide but still narrower than the staircase it needed to travel down. It was also very, very heavy.

At about 8:30 pm I dragged the chair to the top of the staircase. I intended a controlled push down the carpeted stairs. Slowly I shoved the chair down one step, then two, then three. Then the sofa bed inside unfolded.

Sofa bed? No one had slept on that sofa bed since my grandfather, and he’d been dead for thirty years. I forgot there was a sofa bed. (more…)

The Promised Butt-Post March 18, 2010

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought.
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Yay, it’s so good to be writing again! I have missed Onely and our little blogger community! In my last post I promised to write about butts, and now I am. But I have to be careful how I tag this post, in order to avoid creating the kind of accidental pornography that has warped our Most Popular Posts lists, for example: “Hard Core Oneler: Dick Proenneke” and “Animal Sex.”

But this post isn’t about sexy airbrushed porn butts. It’s about my butt, and no amount of airbrushing will get the lumps out of these cheeks. Why? Because my butt has been getting shots of antibiotics. Thick cold serum. From needles the size of cocktail straws.  Administered slow as molasses to mitigate the pain of pressurized tissues.  Every third day. But the problem is (no, we still haven’t gotten to the problem yet) I cannot give these shots to myself, and sometimes the third day falls on a weekend when the doctor’s office is closed.

Before beginning the treatment, my doctor asked me, “Do you have a friend you can ask to give you the shots?” My question to you, Copious Readers, is do you have a friend whom you could ask to give you shots in the butt? Because my answer to the doctor was, “Hell no I don’t have any friend I can ask to give me a shot in the butt!

I’m not sure whether I meant, “Hell no; I’m not close enough to any of my friends for that”, or “Hell no, I love my friends but wouldn’t trust them not to sever a nerve or burst an artery”, or “Hell no, I’m not showing my stretch marks to anyone who hasn’t had Gross Anatomy 101”.  But in any case, the result was the same: I had to scrounge around to figure out how to get my weekend shots.

“Sometimes,” said the doctor’s office manager Maura (short for Mauron), “Our patients who don’t have anyone can find an Urgent Care facility that will administer the shot for them.” Oh no, I thought, I don’t have anyone.

If I had a significant other, I would be expected to ask him to give me the shot, and he would be expected to give it. Gladly. With no embarrassment or hem-hawing. Regardless of how solid, or not solid, the relationship might be in daily life. But in any other relationship the request “Please can you stick this needle in my heinie?” would be fraught with overtones–do I expect my friend to come to my house? Do I go to their house? Do they feel comfortable punching a needle through my skin and tissue? Seeing my stretch marks? My stretched-out undies? No, no, no, no, and no.

Turns out, my mom came to visit and administered my first weekend injection, making sure to stab me right where I’d asked the doctor to draw with a sharpie: X marks the spot and, subsequently, the golfball-sized lump of liquid and tissue. Moms are on tap for dirty work even more than significant others. But my mom returned to Michigan and I, because I don’t have anyone, found an Urgent Care facility to give me my other weekend shots. Problem solved? Well, mostly, except every now and then I worry who I will call if I fall and break my face.

Still, despite the occasional inconvenience, I like being single. I’m not going to cultivate a relationship just so I can have a shot buddy, just as I won’t install a sprinkler system on the off chance that my house will catch fire. Or something.


photo credit: Steven Depolo

Worldwide Onelers: In China, Women’s Marital Status Impacts Their Careers March 9, 2010

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Look What Google Barfed Up.
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Here is my Change.org post about how Chinese women are forced to pretend to be single in order to advance their careers, because single women are seen as less committed to family and more available for socializing with male customers.  Does anyone know what other countries this happens in? In the U.S. employers can be punished for asking anything about a woman’s marital prospects, but I’m not sure whether this actually affords female job seekers any actual protection from those annoying people who think single women will bail on the company as soon as  they find a man or get pregnant. I imagine that an unscrupulous or ignorant interviewer could make the assessment about a woman’s marital status/prospects without ever asking her anything about it, basing his judgment solely on her age and supposed attractiveness.

I promise to get back to writing posts on Onely soon. I plead clemency right now because I’m stricken with the terrible stomach flu, truly a Bad Onely Activity. Please stay tuned for my next post, which will involve Butts. (Not related to the stomach flu though.)


Bad Onely Activities: Sorting through a Mountain of Paperwork January 21, 2010

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities.
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Hello from underneath a mountain of paper.

Yup, that’s me over to the right (!) attempting to sort through the  massive amount of paper I (or, to be more accurate, my printer) have produced since starting my Ph.D. There are the papers I have written and revised; the papers my classmates drafted for class discussion; the academic articles printed and read throughout my coursework and in preparation for my doctoral exams last semester; there are the syllabi from my coursework, and the syllabi from the classes I’ve taught; there are the extra copies of handouts and writing assignments; and finally, there are the portfolios of student writing left over after the end of every semester.

It’s only been two and a half years. But I have created a (very environmentally UNfriendly) monster. And because I am about to begin writing my dissertation and don’t feel I’ll be able to focus until my life (and my papers) are in order — I told myself earlier this week, it’s now or never, Lisa. You’ve got to organize!

But my god, this is a daunting task – the deeper I get, the more the mess grows. I’ve made three trips to Staples since I started and have only managed to file and alphabetize my journal articles — which I guess is OK, considering that there are several hundred of them. I have a long list of mundane tasks ahead, and it’s far too easy to get distracted…

So, I am officially declaring this a Bad Onely Activity. I’ll feel like a rock star once it’s finished, but this tornado is my own private disaster: it affects no one but me.

Copious Readers, what private disasters or personal mountains have you had to manage on your own — and how did you overcome?

— Lisa

Kiss This! (And Happy New Year) December 31, 2009

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Food for Thought.
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Jacopo Werther

(Jacopo Werther)

What are you doing for New Year’s? What are your resolutions (if any)? What are your traditions? What are your traditional resolutions? (Mine is, “I will write an hour every day.” I make this resolution every year, and every year I break it by January 7.)

One NYE tradition that needs to go far, far away is the idea of kissing someone at the stroke of midnight. I’m not saying we shouldn’t kiss people at 12 a.m. on the first day of the New Year. We just needn’t get all mystical about it, as if kissing someone during the first second of 2010 is somehow more romantic or meaningful than kissing someone during the 3,845th second of the year.  More importantly, if we don’t have anyone to kiss, we shouldn’t get all worried. Nonetheless, every year millions of people fret about having someone to snog on this one night. Some settle for less-than-savory dates just so that they can ring in the new year with a kiss. Why?

Because the NYE kiss tradition plays directly into the prevailing myth that a romantic coupling marks the beginning of a new (improved, grown-up) life. The NYE kiss requirement says a new life (the new year) should start with a romantic coupling. Because “relationships” are intended to last for forever, the NYE kiss is seen as “lasting” too–that is, setting the tone for the entire year. (This same optic, where one particular moment is seen as representative of an entire timepan, occurs in panicked discussions about single people “dying alone”.)

I postulate that this paradigm has come to overshadow the good things about the NYE kiss–joy, celebration, spontaneity. Instead, we now have the Desperation Kiss. You’ve seen it. Go to almost any large New Year’s Eve gathering and at about 11:55 (or earlier!) you’ll notice the crowd clumping up into groups of two. Yes, many of these are pairs of people who are either “together” or who genuinely like each other. But too many of them are succumbing to the dynamic I experienced several New Year’s Eves ago on board my fancy-dress Jimmy Buffett Cruise (insert your oxymoron joke here). All names have been changed to protect the idiotic: (more…)

Co-opcrisy? November 16, 2009

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Great Onely Activities.
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I was thinking the other day. (Sometimes I feel as if my brain is a rental car alarm going off and I can’t find the right button to turn it off.)  During my thinking, I realized that I may be a Onely hypocrite, at least partially. Lisa and I do a lot of advocating on this site for “new paradigms” of social structure that go beyond (isolated) couples and nuclear families. Yet when I had a chance to live for myself in a community that practiced a unique and apparently enlightened form of group living, I turned it down. Am I not as progressive as I make myself out to be? Or am I just not a team player?

My friend J worked on a coop organic farm that had a small community of twenty of so single-family houses (my memory is hazy) lining a curved street with no cars because everyone parked in a small lot down at the bottom of a gentle hill. There was a community center in one of the houses, with a common kitchen. J and I ate there once–a delicious eggplant stirfry with ingredients grown in the fields just outside the door. Just beyond those fields was Tyson’s Corner, the most congested, commercial area in all of northern Virginia, which is already pretty astoundingly congested and plastic. But you’d never know that, sitting in the coop kitchen, with crickets chirping under the porch outside.

Residents didn’t have to cook in the common kitchen, but they could if they wanted to. On a big white board a calendar drawn with multicolored markers and without rulers showed the dinner schedule. Most residents cooked a meal for the entire community once every couple weeks.  Again, not required, but I noticed that the calendar had a variety of names on it, many of the days were assigned.

There were houses for sale in the community. I was in the market for a house. But I decided not to buy one on the farm. Why? I was afraid of the common kitchen. No, not of germs. Not of community wooden spoons or coughing children. No, I was afraid of cooperation and calendars. The thought of even preparing a just huge pot of soup and several baguettes of garlic bread for a large group horrified me. The weight of the grocery bags! The math involved to extrapolate a recipe for six! Making sure there were enough plates! Finding all the spoons! AAAAAAAA!   As some of the very kind residents showed me around, I wondered, but did not ask, if I would be branded a rebel if I *never* ate in the community kitchen, in order to avoid ever having to reciprocate by making a meal for everyone else. I looked at the separate calendar for the den cleaning schedule and had the same feeling of suffocation. What if Tuesday came around but I didn’t feel like vaccuming the TV room?  What if on Saturday I was on the hook to cook chicken and dumplings but my own tummy just wanted toast and guacamole?

I just couldn’t do it.

I love my current townhouse. I do wonder sometimes (not often) whether I would have benefitted from having that community around me. Where I live now, the neighbors barely see each other, and I know very few of them. Of note, the farm community consisted of mostly couples with children. Would that have been a great environment for me–a casual environment to get to know neighbors and laugh at the children’s antics before going home to my quiet house? Or would it have been just a smaller, tighter version of our big heteronormative world? I don’t know, because I couldn’t get past my fear of scheduling. For the most part, I think I was right to listen to my shivering gut. But if everyone were as cooperation-averse as I turned out to be, how could we ever manage to produce new, fairer, and inventive ways of interacting with each other besides coupling up?

Copious Readers, have you had experiences with co-ops?


Secret Lives of the Happily Single: Parents’ Edition October 19, 2009

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Great Onely Activities, Secret Lives of the Happily Single.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our SLOTHS series, where we explore the Secret Lives of the Happily Single and celebrate their enlightened idiosynchrasies! 

Lisa and I write a lot about the specific instances in our daily lives when we are grateful to be single. Often a banal moment such as not having to rinse out the laundry detergent lid will trigger a flood of endorphins. I get almost weepy with happiness at night when it’s time to go upstairs to my cozy peach-and-blue bedroom for my nighttime wind-down. I love sitting on my full bed and futzing around with my novel, or tearing articles out of New Scientist, or doing forward bends, without someone scurrying around in my periphery.

But what if I were a single parent? I’d have a small scurrier around all the time. Lots of the things I like about being single now–having my quiet time, eating whenever and whatever I want, sleeping from 2 am to 11 am on Saturdays, watching Corey Feldman dance on YouTube–are impossible or irresponsible if you have kids. Yet I’m sure that there are Onely parents out there, and they must have their own beloved SLOTHSy habits that they would miss if they ever coupled up. 

I’ve been trying to think which of my SLOTHSy proclivities I would be able to keep if I had kids. I suppose it depends on their age, whether they’re in school, how many hours I have to work, and so forth. But no matter what, I’d still have to do laundry, and I’d still rejoice at not having to rinse out the detergent bottle cap. I’d also like not having someone else to tell me how to raise my child (“Are you crazy? Don’t let them watch that Corey Feldman video!”). 

Copious Readers, if you are a single parent, we want to hear from you what you like about being single and a parent. And if you have things you don’t like about being single and a parent, we want to hear those, too. 


P.S. How adorable is this baby sloth picture I found? Check out Kirsten Hubbard’s Wandergirl blog, where every week she posts a picture of a baby animal!

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