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Operation Singles Saturation: Blogfest2 Celebrates In(ter)dependence July 3, 2013

Posted by Onely in blog reviews, Guest Bloggers, Marital Status Discrimination, single and happy, Take action, Your Responses Requested!.
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5172185224_d6e0aae10a_oThis July 4th, as the U.S. celebrates its Independence Day, Onely is joining other pro-singles’ bloggers in a Media Saturation Event to celebrate the independence – and interdependence – of the single life (you might remember our participation in this blogfest about the cost of single life, back in April).

This time, we’re asking you to write, vent, question, and tweet just what In(ter)dependence means to you.

And by “you”, we mean LOTS of you. We at C.L.U.E. (Communications League for Unmarried Equality, consisting of Onely; Bella dePaulo, PhD; Spinsterlicious; and Cindy Butler of the group Unmarried Equality) have worked hard to assemble the BEST and the BRIGHTEST and LOUDEST voices in the progressive singles’ community. So if we haven’t just found you, then join us! If you don’t have the time to compose reams of masterful text about what In(ter)dependence means to you, then get on the Tweet train with these tags:  #unmarriedequality and/or  #singlesblogfest and/or #endmaritalstatusdiscrimination. Sprinkle them like fairy dust into your tweets about singleness and in(ter)dependence. (Extra credit if you can combine your hashtags with Haikus!) And if you *do* write a post, make sure to send the link to contact.clue@gmail.com so that we can give you credit.

And now, here are Onely’s deep thoughts about In(ter)dependence:

There are plenty of stereotypes about what it means to be single, and one of the most common is that we “have it easy” because we aren’t responsible for, or to, anyone else. If only! You might even say that the category “single” is an oxymoron – for it’s impossible (or at least unpleasant) to live in this world without relationships of some kinds.

This interdependence, we believe, is something to be celebrated. But when we’re single, we are often (sometimes. . . occasionally. . .) expected to celebrate our independence. Songs have been written about this phenomenon (think Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson). Never mind that this independence is, more often than not, portrayed as a response to previous romantic relationships! Indeed, here at Onely, we’ve made it a point to emphasize – and celebrate – the strength and resilience required of single people in the face of heteronormativity, amatonormativity, and matrimania.

The truth is, though, no matter how strong a single person is – no matter how truly independent any one of us might be – we are supported and strengthened by our relationships with others. Life would be pretty lonely without these relationships. But there’s little space in our culture to celebrate relationships that aren’t SEEPie (Sex and Everything Else Person) relationships, and so it’s easy to lose sight of the many “other” significant relationships that help us feel human.

This blind celebration of independence – oftentimes at the expense of recognizing the value of interdependence – trickles down to our identities as single people. If we have anything to be proud of, Western culture suggests, it should be our so-called “freedom,” our “lack of responsibility” to others, and our apparent “mobility.” We should be. . . Movie Cowboys!

But this attitude devalues the many kinds of relationships that nourish us, and it ignores the reality of our daily lives (income issues, sick family members, roof rot, and, perhaps most challenging, raising a child as a single parent). When we lose sight of the significance of the many different kinds of relationships we enjoy (financial advisor, aunt who cares for her sick niece, the kind coworker who also does insulation and tile work, the neighbor who loves to babysit) it becomes easy to define ourselves, as single people, as somehow weak or lonely.

And that’s a shame. Because there’s something special about being single – and we like to call it Being Onely.

Copious Readers

How does in(ter)dependence

Influence your life?

Remember:  #unmarriedequality and/or  #singlesblogfest and/or #endmaritalstatusdiscrimination.

— Lisa and Christina

Photo credit: Listen Missy!

Book Review: “Unbridled” — Like “Eat, Pray, Love,” But Not Annoying May 21, 2013

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews, solo travel.
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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)

Caution:

(more…)

Saving Gracie: Book Review March 24, 2013

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
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 Claude_Dejoux_-_"L'Amour_et_L'Amitie"_(Love_and_Friendship)_-_Walters_27504

Jill Teitelman. Saving Gracie. Freestyle Press, Boston MA. 2012.

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…)

Unmarried Thirty-Somethings Rock: Support ‘2 Hopeful Spinsters’! March 2, 2013

Posted by Onely in Celebrities, film review, single and happy, We like. . ., YouTube Style.
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1a2e16b2e8b07adc9aed052af4f68b69-d4molsuPeople 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, 2012

Posted by Onely in book review.
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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, 2012

Posted by Onely in blog reviews, Great Onely Activities.
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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.

–Christina

Single Women: Tell Your Stories to the Camera July 22, 2011

Posted by Onely in book review, Great Onely Activities.
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Are you a compelling single woman between ages 25 and 60? Want to honor Women’s History Month by sharing some of your life stories and lessons learned?

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 docuseries is tentatively in the works now, inspired by Nika Beamon’s book  I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married: Successful Single Black Women Speak Out.

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 denali17@optonline.net, and please include a .jpg photo and a bio, which are needed for the treatment package going to the executive producer.

–Christina

Photo Credit: 997 Ourem

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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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

Film Review: Seeking Happily Ever After November 9, 2010

Posted by Onely in film review, Singles Resource, We like. . ..
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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, 2010

Posted by Onely in book review, Reviews.
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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.”)

Detailed assessment:

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:

screeeeeeeeeeech

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…)

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