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Onelers of the World: China Edition April 11, 2021

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time, Great Onely Activities, Onelers of the World, Profiles, single and happy.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our series Onelers of the World (or, as autocorrect deliciously calls it, Omelets of the World). Here we flag stories of interesting, empowered, and unique single people who are not based in the United States. As our Copious Readers know, the progressive singles’ movement remains heavily focused on U.S. white cis-hetero women, and therefore we here at Onely would like to hear more from and about singles who identify as people of color, cis-hetero men, and/or LGBTQA, as well as single people of all stripes who live outside of the U.S. Meanwhile, here’s a little something from big China. Thanks to author and singles advocate Donna Ward of Melbourne, Australia for flagging this article for us. 

Every so often you read a news article about someone and think, “I want to be best friends with that person!” My most recent fantasy best friend is Ms. Su Min of Henan Province, who at 56 left her abusive husband and started driving across China, camping on a tent on top of (on top of!) her car. 

There’s a photo of her cartop tent in the NYT article about Ms. Su by Joy Dong and Vivian Wang. The profile is chock full of gem sentences describing her chutzpah, so my post is going to contain a lot of quotes (with apologies and gratitude to Dong and Wang). Here’s a summary: (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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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

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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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.

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?


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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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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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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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…)

Great Onelies in Real Time: Dr. Trudy Steuernagel February 4, 2009

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in Real Time.
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Onely salutes Dr. Gertrude Steuernagel, a beloved and progressive women’s studies and political science professor at Kent State in Ohio. Steuernagel is an accomplished and outspoken and feminist and autism advocate. As she raised her adored son Sky, who is autistic, she also found time to make an impact in both the women’s movement and in mental health advocacy–all while Onely.

Trudy Steuernagel (NewsChannel 5, via msnbc)

Tragically, last week Steuernagel was severely beaten by Sky.  Autism does not/not cause violence in and of itself, but the resulting sensory overload and frustration of not being able to communicate can cause sufferers to lash out, and Sky had other neurological challenges as well that may have contributed to the assault. He didn’t know what he was doing.  Steuernagel knew the challenges associated with caring for Sky, but she also knew the joys, as she describes in this amazing essay. She is truly a Great Onely, and we send our strongest well-wishes out to her numerous family and friends.


Great Onelies in Real Time: Wang GuiYing January 13, 2009

Posted by Onely in As If!, Great Onelies in Real Time, Heteronormativity.
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A Chinese woman has decided to become unsingle after 107 years of Oneliness

She didn’t marry because she was afraid of marriage. When we are tempted to glorify the long, historic tradition of man-woman matrimony and disparage those of us who, for whatever reasons, are not participating in it, let’s also take a moment to listen to Wang Gui Ying’s story (Reuters cites the ChongQing Commercial Times): 

Born in southern Guizhou province the child of a salt merchant, Wang grew up watching her uncles and other men scold and beat their wives and often found her aunt crying in the woodshed after an attack, the paper said.

“All the married people around there lived like that. Getting married was too frightening,” she said of an era when Chinese women had few rights and low social standing.

For me, Wang Guiying makes an interesting contrast to the many people nowadays (at least in the west) who marry because they are afraid of being single (I know, I know, not everyone–but lots!).  Wang kept the family farm going until she was 74. Now that she’s finally beginning to slow down, she’s worried about being a burden to her nieces and nephews. (more…)

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