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Onely Commits Amatonormativity Twice In One Conversation December 20, 2014

Posted by Onely in Bad Onely Activities, Everyday Happenings, Great Onelies in History, Heteronormativity, single and happy.
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For a blog that for years has been waving its bloggy arms and screaming about how our world is largely set up for couples, especially hetero couples, and about how they are privileged at the expense of other kinds of loves and families (this is what we mean by amatonormativity, sometimes also called heteronormativity), we at Onely sometimes screw up and act just as badly as the people, governments, and organizations we critique.

And by “we”, I mean me, Christina. I don’t believe my coblogger Lisa, who is much more in tune with peoples’ feelings, has ever been so gauche as myself.

But first some background, in defense of my recent episodes (yes, plural!) of amatonormativity:

–For years my friend Natasha has been looking for the love of her life. The perfect man. She’s suffered many breakups, after one of which she told me, “He was my everything!” When I explained that, in fact, she also had a cat and parents and siblings and friends and a house and a job, she gave a surprised little “O!” with her mouth in that same shape. As if that had never occurred to her.

–For years she talked about how she was tired of being “alone”. For years I tried to talk her out of this need she felt to be part of a couple. Find yourself first, I said. Just do things you like and be happy and it will happen. Go on the internet if you are truly in a hurry. It increases the statistical likelihood that you’ll meet someone compatible (or get killed). Lots of my friends have met this way (and even lived to get married).

Eventually I just stopped trying to Onelify her. I started wishing she would find a stable boyfriend. (That is, opposite the one in college who played basketball and one night said he was being a snippy asshole to her after one game because his team had lost, and they had to act sad and upset.) She was crankier when she was single. If she was single and I wan’t, then she got crankier at me. Then she wanted kids. I wished she would find a partner because obviously it was important to her. My bloggy diatribes about living single and confident and proud were not for her, and I finally accepted that.

SO then the other day we were talking on the phone and Natasha said she was going to an Italian speaking meetup that night. So I said, “Great!”

Do you think there will be any eligible bachelors there?

(First, who still uses the term “eligible bachelors”? Me apparently.)

Natasha was silent for a moment. “No, it looks as if it’s mostly women. But I can never make enough good girlfriends.”

Huh? Who are you and what have you done with Natasha?

I (more…)

The World’s Bitterest Single Woman June 23, 2013

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Just Saying., Marital Status Discrimination, Profiles.
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12 comments

This post is a sort-of sequel to a previous post about bitterness. It’s a long one, but we hope you bear with us.

The World’s Bitterest Single Woman.

Adriaen_Brouwer_-_The_Bitter_Draught_-_WGA3303We here at Onely feel conflicted in writing about this woman. Too often Non-Bitter single people who advocate for single’s rights get accused of being Bitter. And we hate to encourage that logical fallacy. But the thing is, I (Christina) have met this woman in person. And so I must tell.

Copious Readers, hear her story and tell me if you think her bitterness is justified, or self-perpetuating, or creepy, or sad, or whatever jumps to your mind. Also, please skim our conversations and tell me if I could have–or should have–done or said anything more supportive (or chastizing) than what I had to offer at the time.

Note that these interactions happened long before Lisa and I started Onely–so this would be before I knew about singlism, about stereotyping singles, and about marital status discrimination.

I met The World’s Bitterest Single Woman during my grad school period. We had a fiction-writing course together. I also sat across the aisle from her at a reading given by some other graduate students. Upon reflection, perhaps she could also be the World’s Bitterest Single Writer.

In the classroom: It was the first day of class and I’d arrived early. Empty seats stretched to the right and left of me, arranged in a semi-circle. As soon as she walked in I felt her toxic aura. The back of my neck and my torso squeezed into themselves and I clenched my arms to my sides and held my breath. Please please don’t sit near me was my first instinct.  I’m not sure why.

Fortunately as she entered the room she followed the toilet stall/urinal/elevator rule: if there are several open spots, don’t sit/stand right next to the single occupied spot. She wedged herself into a desk several seats away from me and shook out her short hair, white and trimmed in chunky layers that looked self-cut.

The latecomers had to sit next to her. I wondered if they sensed her off-kilterness. My classmates didn’t seem to be leaning over the sides of their desks away from her, as I would have been. Perhaps they did not have my sensitivity, or perhaps I did not have their maturity.  Perhaps I was judgmental, or perhaps I unconsiously smelled on her just a tinge of something that bothered me in childhood (Tang, perhaps).

I will call her Gertie. Gertie was 56 (I discovered later), older than most of us by a couple of decades. She accused (unfairly) my friend Sam of not doing enough historical research. She insisted her own story was funny, even though none of us got the jokes . She wasn’t mean, but she was mean. I couldn’t get a handle on exactly what was wrong with her until (more…)

Happy Anniversary…. To Us! July 2, 2011

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time, Great Onely Activities, Honorary Onely Awards.
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11 comments

Copious Readers,

It’s that time of the year again… When we head to the local Walgreens or CVS, stare desperately at the quarter-mile-long display of Hallmark cards, and wonder why, out of the thousands of anniversary cards to choose from, none of them – not one! – adequately articulates how we feel about beginning Onely three years ago.

Sigh. Guess we’ll just celebrate by enrolling ourselves in another cheese-of-the-month club and hope our little blog project doesn’t call it quits.

But seriously, we are wondering what occasions merit an annual celebration for you, our well-adjusted, single-and-happy friends, in lieu of the traditional couple-centric “anniversary.” Sure, there are work anniversaries, but we figure those are few and far between, given how often the average worker changes jobs or careers in this day and age. People might celebrate the anniversary of buying a house, or graduating from college, or turning in one’s dissertation, or choosing to move to Beirut to begin a career, or the first time one went to Trader Joe’s, or the first white hair…. (apologies for the free association!)

Lisa celebrates the anniversary of adopting her dog, Kitty. Christina celebrates the anniversary of ___.

Ahem. Full disclosure: Lisa told Christina to fill in the blank, but Christina couldn’t think of anything. After Christina cursed out Lisa for not making the test multiple choice, she realized why she couldn’t think of any milestones or memories that she celebrates regularly: she doesn’t know any of their dates. She doesn’t know the date she moved to Germany, or the date she left Germany, or the date of her first Chinese class, or the date she quit her underpaid job, or the date she adopted her beloved cats. She had never been programmed to remember dates of anything, except related to romantic relationships (or birthdays).  So going forward, Christina decided to just randomly assign dates to some of her favorite memories. For example, she will now celebrate the anniversary of her first Chinese class every September 13. And every November 13 she will celebrate the day Alvin and Theo came to their new forever home.  In fact, she may have one anniversary per month, like a picture calendar (or a period).

So, what is it, Copious Readers? What do you (or will you) make a point of celebrating annually, in spite of the fact that Hallmark makes no cards for the occasion? And perhaps a more interesting question: How do you celebrate?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

— Lisa and Christina

Hard Core Onelers: Hired Hermits March 11, 2011

Posted by Onely in book review, Food for Thought, Great Onelies in History, Reviews.
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9 comments

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:

–toilet

–tub

–skylight

–warm babbling brook running through the cave floor

–some bags of cashews

–journals

–memory foam mattress

–ceiling fan

–heated floors

–my MacBook

–wifi

–my cats

–$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.

–Christina

Photo credit: aug.edu

Great Onelers in History and Real Time: Combo Edition November 27, 2010

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in History, Great Onelies in Real Time, Profiles.
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3 comments

Welcome to the latest installment in our Great Onelers series, where we profile outstanding single people who refused to be marginalized or stereotyped. This special super-bonus ultimate combo post features two women who lived over a thousand years apart. It’s a long post, starting with our present-day Great Oneler. If you’re curious about the historical Oneler, skip to the end.

Our Great Oneler in Real Time is Asra Q. Nomani. You may remember her from Bella DePaulo’s Living Single post, Deleting a Friend to Spotlight a Spouse. Nomani, a good friend of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was intimately involved in the fallout from his disappearance and eventual beheading. She and his wife were the last two people to see Pearl alive and free. After his disappearance, she held vigil with his wife and was even asked to help track down his dental records. As described in DePaulo’s post, filmmakers deleted her existence from the movie about Pearl, but we here at Onely know more than Hollywood. Nomani is a Great Oneler.

I recently read her 2005 book Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam. Nomani was raised in the U.S. by Muslim parents who immigrated from India. She recounts her struggle to reconcile the true tenets of her religion with the sexism and singlism often perpetrated in the Islamic world, by people who twist those tenets.

In search of answers, Nomani goes on Hajj to Mecca. For anyone not familiar with the logistics of this religious pilgrimage, as I wasn’t, it’s a fascinating look into the culture, rituals, and economics surrounding this time-and-body-intensive trip. But what interested us here at Onely were Nomani’s thoughts, interspersed through the story, on what it was like to partake in this Islamic tour de force as a single woman, with her son Shibi just out of infancy.

You see, while she was working as a journalist in Pakistan, she became pregnant by her Pakistani boyfriend. He freaked and left her alone to deal with her growing belly, the disappearance of her close friend Danny, and the fear that the authorities might come down on her if they found out that she had (GASP) gotten pregnant out of wedlock.  (And the filmmakers took her *out* of their movie??!) (more…)

Great Onelies in Real Time: Chen Wei-yih to Marry Herself October 22, 2010

Posted by Onely in Food for Thought, Great Onelies in Real Time, Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy.
11 comments

In Sex and the City, it sounded too good to be true. But Chen Wei-yih, a 30-year-old Taiwanese woman, is making it a reality: She’s marrying herself.

And the event — scheduled for November 6th — is making international news. Check it out on the Huffington Post, Wei-yih’s blog (if you can read Chinese), and/or friend her on Facebook if you support her. We at Onely think Wei-yih (and those friends and family who support her) rocks, though we wonder if she will enjoy the same benefits as her “real” married counterparts do.

We’re wishing her all the best. Copious Readers, what are your thoughts?

— Lisa (and Christina)

Honorary Oneler Couples November 3, 2009

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time.
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Today we’re knighting two of my coupled friends as Honorary Onelers.  I’m giving these friends the award because they have defied the common image of couples who ditch their single friends.

 

First, to my friend F:

Despite having a full-time job and three children under two years old, you still managed to read my nine-page essay and give me supportive feedback on it. Your kind words fortify me against the onslaught of rejection letters I hear thundering over the horizon. You have more than enough excuses to bury yourself in your coupled life as people so often do, but you don’t. You always sound happy to hear from me when I call–in fact, you reach out to me more often than I do to you. You even (somewhat foolishly?) asked for a sequel to my first essay. I hereby declare you an Honorary Oneler.

Also, to my friend J:

It was the weekend of your second wedding anniversary, but you brought your husband on a ghost tour and corn maze combo outing I had planned some other friends. I would have completely understood if you wanted to go on a romantic camping trip, but instead you walked around Leesburg listening to the tour guide talk about “residual and sentient” spirits, and you hung out with us at a haunted bar afterward, and then you and your husband left after midnight to go continue your camping trip, armed with flashlights and fortitude. I hereby declare you both Honorary Onelers.

Copious Readership, which of your coupled friends would you knight and why?

–Christina

Hard Core Onelers: Dick Proenneke (part 2) September 3, 2009

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time, Great Onely Activities, Profiles.
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44 comments

Welcome to the Hard-Core Edition of our series, Great Onelers In Real Time. Today we are talking about back-to-nature afficionado extraodinaire, Mr. Dick Proenneke. We’ve covered him before, but he’s so hard-core he needs a second post. 

I just finished reading the book about Proenneke’s first year in the Alaskan wilderness, where he built his own cabin using only hand tools and white spruce trees (ok, with some polypropylene and tar paper flown in for a roof). One Man’s Wilderness is a collection of Proenneke’s journals compiled and edited by his longtime friend Sam Keith. In his journals, Proenneke reveals his respect for and enjoyment of his fellow man. In this post, I want to emphasize that even though he spent most of his last thirty years living by himself in a cabin next to a remote mountain lake, he didn’t do it because he disliked people. Sometimes loners or singles’ rights activists are viewed as asocial or even anti-social. Dick Proenneke was neither. 

In one journal entry, he decides to build bunk beds instead of a single bed because he “might have company”. Remember, he’s forty miles and a float plane ride from the nearest town. But he still wanted to be prepared for guests. He muses how he’d like his brother to come stay for a few weeks and see the beauty of Twin Lakes. When the supply pilot Babe arrives every few weeks, Proenneke looks forward to the letters he receives from friends and family back home. In turn, he writes long letters back to civilization–that is, when he isn’t working on his understated, quietly joyful journal entries that describe how thrilled he is to be making his own way in the wilderness with his own two hands. The following essay excerpt is taken from One Man’s Wilderness and unlike the journal entries in the book, may have been composed by Sam Keith using his ample knowledge of Proenneke’s outlook and writing style. Keith was friends with Proenneke  for over 40 years, ever since they worked together at Kodiak Naval Base in Alaska. He also spent two weeks at the hand-hewn cabin (presumably that extra bunk came in handy after all). So we can assume that the Dick would concur with the below “Reflections” as related by Keith: (more…)

Great Onelers: Sylvia Williams of Temple Hills August 12, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Food for Thought, Great Onelies in Real Time.
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2 comments

Yesterday the Washington Post had an article on Aging Well at All Ages. One of the four large faceshots on the front page of the Health section belonged to Sylvia Williams, 62, of Temple Hills. She is a counselor at Walker Mill Middle School. She says,

Being grateful and not trying to be a teenager again. Not trying to be younger than you are. It’s ok. And today’s my birthday. . . I’m single, no children and I guess that’s why I’m doing well.

Cheers to Sylvia.

Separately, I noticed how each of the photo captions mentioned three things about the person featured:  (more…)

Hard-Core Oneler: Dick Proenneke June 12, 2009

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time, Great Onely Activities, Profiles, Secret Lives of the Happily Single, single and happy, solo travel, We like. . ..
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5 comments

DickProennekeCabinWelcome to the Hard-Core Edition of our series, Great Onelers In Real Time. Today’s Hard-Core Oneler is former Navy carpenter Richard Proenneke. In 1968, at the age of 51, he went to the ultra-wild wilderness of Twin Lakes, Alaska and built himself a cabin by hand, with no chain saws or other automated machinery.  He even carved the handles for the tools he used to hew the spruce logs. Then he lived in the cabin for over thirty years.

The mesmerizing video  Alone in the Wilderness by Bob Swerer Productions tells the story of Dick’s first year at Twin Lakes. Dick used a tripod to film himself building his cabin. We see many shots of him from the backside, walking away from the lens with a determined, slightly bow-legged stride, once with a sheep ribcage strapped to his back. He films grizzly bears rolling joyfully  down snowy slopes. He feeds birds by hand. He makes door hinges, for goodness’ sake (I didn’t know you could make door hinges; I thought they grew on the door hinge tree).  (more…)

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