The Spinsterlicious Life


where the modern day spinster comes to play


“Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face.  You really need to be certain it’s what you want before you commit.”  -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray Love.

images Being childfree is a state that is even more fraught than being husband-free.  A woman who has never been married is (still) considered a bit of an oddity in our society.  A woman without kids is pitied.  A woman who chose not to have kids is…well, there’s probably something really wrong with her. Lots of people think that, though I say “is there”?

Though this blog –The Spinsterlicious Life– is mostly about women who don’t have husbands, its all-time favorite, most popular, most commented on blog post is one about, not just not having kids, but not particularly liking them! (Click here, if you want to read it).

The “I don’t like kids” blog post is strong, and even stronger than I actually feel…but it’s close enough.  It clearly touched a nerve with lots of people who mostly acknowledge that this is a sentiment they know better than to express out loud.

funcfish.com

funcfish.com

I was warned by many people that I would regret my decision to be childfree once I passed my childbearing years.  No regrets, so far. Unlike many women, I never fantasized about perfect little children with perfect days and nights. I always acknowledged that my kid (anybody’s kid, really) could grow up to be a jerk…which is a much less interesting fantasy.

And I’m a mediocre auntie, at best.  I’m fortunate that my nieces, nephews, and my friends’ kids seem to love me anyway.  And I love them; I just want them to go home.

So I was intrigued when I was asked to review a new book called Kid kid me notMe Not, edited by Aralyn Hughes. It’s an anthology of stories by women in their 60s who don’t have children.  Some made an active decision not to have them; for others, life just kind of got in the way and then it was too late. They seem fine.

I was struck by one story by a women who lost a dear friend who felt  they no longer had anything in common because one was a mother and one was not. The woman without kids was sad about this.  I said ‘good riddance’ because her friend-now-a-mother sounds pretty shallow to me, which doesn’t make for an interesting friend, anyway.

It’s interesting that women still have to explain a decision not to have children.  Kids aren’t for everyone.  How come everybody doesn’t know that?

 

 


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soundcloud.com

soundcloud.com

It’s been interesting to me the way being single has become such a popular topic over the past couple of years.  The US Census and Pew Report (among many others) reported on the growing number of singles and the decline in the marriage rate, and websites, Meet-up groups, books, news articles and tv shows sprung up, all coming at it from various angles but usually falling into two camps: how to be single and how not to be single.

One of my fellow spinsters sent me a link to an article about a website that kinda falls in the middle of being-single-while-not-being-single.  (Thanks, Nissa!) This site purportedly pairs up people who are looking for Part-Time Love,  ”people who want to be independent but also want to fall in love.”

My first reaction (as a woman who works in the marketing business) was

freakingnews.com

freakingnews.com

“What an interesting marketing ploy”…primarily because this seems kinda newsworthy, but really isn’t.  I mean, what does that really look like?  How is it different from being the chick (or guy) on the side or an elevated booty call?  Besides, being independent and being in love are not mutually exclusive.

The site talks calls itself a “no-strings website”, which sounds to me like a place where one goes for hook-ups.  This doesn’t sound like a place where someone goes to find love.  But it also describes itself as being for people “who are set in there ways and may find it difficult to adapt, domestically, to a new partner.”  And then I laughed because I get that part; it sounds a bit like me.  When I’m in a relationship, I always prefer to spend more time at his place than mine because I don’t like people moving my stuff.

imagesI think it’s incumbent on each couple to figure out the parameters of their relationship on their own.  A website that attracts “weekend lovers” seems like a bit of a slippery slope to me if you’re looking for the love part.

What about you?  Would you be attracted to a site like this?


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Source: favored1-dailyfavor.blogspot.com

Source: favored1-dailyfavor.blogspot.com

Perhaps you’ve seen her on the news recently, or you may remember “Princeton Mom” from her last round of publicity when she stridently advised/warned young college age women that nailing down a husband while in college should take a bit more precedence over actually getting an education.  Well, she’s at it again…louder and bolder.  She was smart enough to take the mini-controversy she started and turn it into a book.

 

I wrote about her the first time around.  You can find it here, if you want a memory refresher.  I’ve found this whole topic quite interesting, not the least of which is because I mostly disagreed with her but was surprised to find that a few of my close friends agreed with her. (Just when you think you know somebody…)

 

This time around, one of my favorite fellow spinsters, Lisa Brignoni, has a few choice words for Princeton mom.  When she’s not giving Princeton Mom a piece of her mind, Lisa is a travel enthusiast who enjoys blogging about her adventures, and believes women should support other women through helpful advice.

 

Here’s what Lisa has to say:

Princeton Mom: You missed a few things…

Recently, I became acquainted with the thoughts and opinions of Ms. Susan Patton, The Princeton Mom.  The reaction to her is mixed – people either thinks she’s right on the money or needs to be sent back to the 1950’s.  As my own life stands as a strong contradiction to all of the advice put forth by this woman, I feel compelled to point out a few flaws in her theory.

Princeton Mom’s basic premise is that women in college need to focus on finding a husband and do whatever it takes to make that happen.  Her logical basis for this advice is that a woman will never be younger (okay she got us there), prettier or have such a deep pool of qualified candidates. 

She also advises enhancing one’s social success by learning to bake cookies and getting cosmetic surgery as soon as possible. Oh dear.   She shows off  pseudo-scientific pie charts to demonstrate how women should spend 75% of their time on husband-searching and 25% on professional development, though her advice does have some gaping flaws.

 

One of my biggest concerns is her liberal use of the term “personal happiness” as an interchangeable substitute for marriage and babies. 

I’ll try not to go into a long diatribe about how promoting marriage and babies to the exclusion of other goals is a negative message to send to young women. But I will send a caveat to young women considering her advice and even older women questioning their own situation: Personal happiness should be exactly that – personal.  It should be something you determine, free of undue pressure from societal expectations.

 I can tell you from my personal experience that I was the anti-heroine to Unknownthe Princeton Mom’s ideal in college –skinny with a dorky haircut and no fashion sense– and that I spent the majority of my fertile years as a single and disappointed woman because of failed relationships. As I matured and figured out what it would take to make me happy, the disappointment dissipated.  My personal happiness wasn’t going to be found in a husband or a promotion.  It was going to be found by traveling around the world.  I set my goal and it’s been amazing.  I found a path to happiness that didn’t involve stalking men, and so can other women. 

My goal in sharing this is to offer up another path for women who may be feeling like life isn’t working out for them because they don’t have a husband or kids.  And just as I have my story, I’m willing to bet that there are millions of other women out there who have gone “off-mission” and still achieved a sense of personal happiness.

 That said, my advice is simply to consider the alternatives.  Should you be a woman who wants to prioritize marriage and babies however, I still think you should strongly reconsider following the advice of the Princeton Mom and here’s why: 

Flaw #1: Men do factor into your strategy

images-1During her TV interview, the Princeton Mom dodges an excellent point made by the interviewer about a possible negative reaction from men in regards to these tactics she is suggesting.  Perhaps these young men might find women who follow her advice to be a bit too desperate.  Princeton Mom doesn’t care, and replies that her book is for women, not for men  We know that a predator must understand the movements of its prey if it’s to be successful. Shouldn’t women also be told that men may invoke counter-measures to their painfully obvious actions and adjust their strategies accordingly?  As of yet, Princeton Mom has no suitable answer for this realistic battle scenario.

 

 

Flaw #2: Her own observations contradict her advice

The problem with instructing women to find husbands amongst their deep pool of peers becomes clear when you realize that everyone is the same age in college.  All of these supposed husbands women would be chasing also have their own deep pool of female candidates for them to play around with until they’re ready to get married.  The conventional wisdom is that men are most likely to want to marry once they’ve established themselves in their careers and feel they have a stable financial base.  Wouldn’t the logic then follow that if women work hard at inserting themselves in the workplace they’d have a better pool of qualified candidates from which to snag a husband?  Except, if they paid more attention in college to getting a husband than an education, finding that job might be a bit of a challenge. In fact, her strategy could backfire.

 

Flaw #3: What if all women followed this advice?

Today, women make up a large part of the workforce and drive the economy forward.  But what would happen if all of these women followed Princeton Mom’s advice when they were still in college?  First we’d have a lot of women flunking out of university due to only spending 25% of their time on their studies. But let’s say you were so socially successful, you managed to snag a husband before you got expelled.  Wonderful!  Well, it better be a happy marriage in every way because now you’re stuck for the rest of your life raising your children and taking care of your husband because you have few marketable skills.  And if the majority of women in the workforce followed this advice, we’d likely see  a major decrease in GDP. Thanks for blowing up the economy Princeton Mom. 

 

There’s more. What happens next?  Is Princeton Mom going to write a book on relationship- building?  She’s divorced.  Has she learned enough to advise young women on how not to be her?

And what about those young women who can’t afford cosmetic surgery? How will they become “socially successful”?  Is she writing them off?

Here’s the thing.  We all have to find our own paths in life and need to be careful to not let some random woman with a book deal take advantage of the struggles in our journey of personal happiness. 

In closing, I would like to indulge a little alma mater rivalry and say I should know about achieving personal happiness.  I went to Penn. (NB: I guess that’s an inside joke that I don’t get, says Eleanore. I assume Penn and Princeton folks will).

 

In a perverse kind of way, I (Eleanore) applaud Ms Patton for taking her idea and figuring out a way to make a business out of it.  At the same time, I have disdain for what I believe is some pretty bad advice to young women (for all the reasons I cite here.)  I do appreciate that this brouhaha may stimulate some thoughtful discussions about life’s opportunities and how young women everywhere can think about making the right decisions for themselves.

 

http://eleanorewells.com/getting-that-mrs-degree/


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image

Last week I attended Match.com‘s annual presentation of its survey results on single life in the USA. I went, not so much that I care a lot about the survey findings, but because it was hosted by my friend, Sherri Langburt of Single Edition Media, and her team always puts on a fun event. And this one was no exception. It was held at Toshi’s Living Room in the Flatiron Hotel in NYC, and the cocktails were flowing, compliments of Van Gogh Vodka. I got to mingle and catch up with many of my fellow singles bloggers and meet other interesting folks who are active in this “singles” space, including Mandy Stadtmiller of XOJane, who has a wicked sense of humor.

 

The 2014 Singles in America survey results were presented and discussed by a panel of folks with dating on their minds: Millionaire Matchmaker Patti Stanger, Celebrity Blogger Perez Hilton, Dr. Helen Fisher – Chief Scientific Advisor for Match.com, Leading Sex Expert Dr. Emily Morse and Cosmopolitan’s Sex & Relationship Editor Anna Breslaw.

 

While I often look at surveys like this with more than a hint of skepticism (because they seem self-serving and I always wonder if the results are slanted in their favor), I offer a glimpse of a few of the findings:

 

-51% of people have imagined a future together on the first date (not that it worked out, but that they fantasized about it).

 

- Texting: men don’t want more than one text from a woman if they haven’t responded to an earlier one; women don’t want a sexy selfie from the guy.

 

- Most people don’t want sex every day.

 

During the Q&A, Patti Stanger told me that if I wanted to find a man, I should grow my hair and look in the suburbs. She might be right on the second point (lots of divorced guys there). I’m completely dismissing her first point. Any guy who thinks my hair needs to be different clearly is not the guy for me.

 

Here’s a link to the live stream of the panel discussion: http://youtu.be/hAizfmjcxOM

 

And Happy Valentine’s Day, my sweets!

 


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imagesWhen I say “yikes” about this impending Valentine’s Day, it’s not because I don’t like this ‘holiday’, because I do.  I think it’s kinda sweet.   When I’m in a relationship, it’s an opportunity to stress out one or both of us as we try to figure out if we’re sufficiently participating in this very important day.  And when I’m not in a relationship, it’s an excuse to go out for drinks with another single girlfriend (as if I need a reason to go for drinks.)  In a relationship or not, I always treat myself to a bag of Haribo gummy bears…which is my favorite part.

 

As a blogger, I’m inundated this time of year with all kinds of pitches and promotions around Valentine’s Day, from people who have a product or service to sell.  For some reason, the pitches seem even more dialed up than usual this year.  I’m wondering if any of it is related to a study that came out recently that said Americans will spend $37 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts this year.  (Geez, that sounds like a lot, doesn’t it?)

 

So, rather than write another blog post on “How to Survive Valentine’s Day If You’re Single”, this year’s theme will have more of a Scratching My Head tone to it…because every day for the past month or so my inbox is hit with way too many ideas from others who want me to help them promote whatever it is they want to sell.  I’m going to spare you most of them, but here’s a list of a few that really struck me:

 

The Good Stuff

  • RedEnvelope.com invited me to write about designing a Valentine’s Day date using a gift idea from their website as my impetus, and then send it to them so I could be entered in some sort of bigger idea that they’re doing that I didn’t quite understand.  I decided not to participate but am mentioning  them in this post, anyway,  because I have used them many times to gift others or myself.  I like them.

 

  • I received some really good cookies from IsabellasCookies.com.  My favorites were  sugar cookies in the shapes of X and O, and some surprisingly tasty Red Velvet vegan cookies (“surprisingly” because I don’t usually think of tasty and vegan cookies in the same sentence, but they pulled it off!)

 

 

  • I also received two “love kits” from BunnyJuice.com, containing condoms, lubricants, and “adult toys” for…well, you know what they’re for.  I haven’t tried them yet, though if I had, perhaps writing about it would fall under the heading of much-too-much-information.  I must say they look like they could be fun, though my friend, B, (who was visiting at the time the box arrived) and I spent a few minutes examining one of the toys trying to figure out how it’s supposed to be used.  We never really figured it out…though perhaps someday I will.  (If I do, I promise not to write about it.)

 

The Stuff That Made Me Wonder…WTFUnknown-7

  • A company hoped that I would help promote their website (and video) that features “adorable, over the top, crazy marriage proposals” because they thought my readers would love it.  Have they ever even looked at The Spinsterlicious Life?

 

  • Another company thought I should write a blog post about “how to look like a top model” for Valentine’s Day, including what kind of control undergarments to buy, where to get your brows waxed/plucked/threaded, and what kind of bronzer to choose.  Sounded to me like an awful lot of work –and costly– for such a nominal day.  No thanks.

 

 

  • And then there’s the woman who suggested “tips on how to be safe on Valentine’s Day”…I’m guessing in case you decide to go on a date with a psychopath.  Her tips were good ones, but for every day, not just Valentine’s day (tips like using a valet to park your car instead of parking in a desolate spot, and letting someone know who your blind date is). Or you could take her self-defense course.

 

So, yes, Valentine’s Day is coming and, more than anything, it’s starting to be featured right up there with Christmas and Mother’s Day as another day whose meaning is likely to be overshadowed by sheer commercialism.  Enjoy it, anyway.   xoxo


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photo-2I saw this cartoon in the Feb. 3, 2014 issue of the New Yorker and smiled.  That’s me.  Though I don’t drink straight from the milk carton, I have drunk directly from the juice bottle.  And the mouthwash, on a regular basis.  I can do this.  You see, I live alone.

What else do I get away with doing because I live alone, that I would find obnoxious if someone I lived with did?  This:

  • Walking around the house in my smelly workout clothes for a couple of hours before I jump into the shower.
  • Taking a break from whatever I’m doing and leaving it in the middle of the floor (or table), so it’ll be right there when I decide to get started with it again.
  • Not brushing my teeth as soon as I wake up because I hate the taste of toothpaste on my tongue when I’m drinking coffee.
  • Turning the TV up as loud as it’ll go so I can hear it when I’m in the shower.
  • Not making up the bed.
  • Walking around naked.
  • Cooking and eating whatever I want because I don’t have to take others’ eating habits into consideration.  (See this blog post for one woman’s take on this: http://eleanorewells.com/when-broccoli-rabe-freedom/)

I know that some of this could sound like I’m having an extended adolescence, but what I’m really having is an extended freedom-to-live-like-I-want.  And what about you, dear reader?  What are the things you get away with doing because you live alone?  Please share.

(And, by the way, you can read about some of the things my single girlfriends love about living alone in Lesson 20 of my book, The Spinsterlicious Life: 20 Life Lessons for Living Happily Single and Childfree.)


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Every couple of years, for the last decade, I start running again…against doctor’s advice.   I was a runner for most of my adult life and it’s the only exercise I enjoy.  But  I had arthroscopic  knee surgery in 2001 and was instructed that running wasn’t “helpful” to the situation.   I was advised to find some other form of exercise that I could enjoy that is better for my knees.   I knew that no such thing existed, but I gave it a shot anyway.  Many times.

I joined a gym, went a few times, and then didn’t.  Again and again.  I took spinning classes at one of those fancy places where you spin in lovely candlelit rooms. For awhile.  And I bought a bike, rode it a few times and then didn’t…except on a rare occasion, and not often enough to be considered part of my exercise regimen.  In fact, once I stopped running, I didn’t really have an exercise regimen.  I walk just about everywhere, and even bought a FitBit which would track my steps and let me know when I hit my 10,000 steps/day goal…but walking is slow and is really only a bare-minimun exercise, in my opinion.  It’s enjoyable, but supplemental, at best. I’d do yoga from time to time, but I’m not sure doing so once a week is enough to matter. And it’s probably not a substitute for running because there’s no cardio…unless it’s that scary Power Yoga which was just too aggressive for me.

I don’t think an exercise exists that I could enjoy as much as I do running.   Said differently, I hate all exercise except running.    So every couple of years, I start running and then after awhile I stop because I’m afraid I’ll damage my other (unoperated on) knee. But the truth is, the “good” knee hurts on occasion whether I’m running or not, so what’s the difference?

But what really got me to lace up my running shoes again was my gut.  Not the gut that = intuition, and is a good thing to have.  I’m referring to the gut that was threatening to hang over the waistline of my jeans, and is not a good thing to have.  Medical websites always have articles  about the way the mid-section of women-of-a-certain age tends to plump up as the body goes through hormonal changes.   I don’t like that.  For most of my life, I’ve been pretty pleased at the way my stomach just lay there.  I’ve never really had a gut (as in “muffin top”) before and I’m not interested in making friends with one now.

I’m really accepting of many bodily changes related to aging.  I’m okay with my less-firm thighs, that funny crinkly skin on my underarms, the cellulite that’s starting to appear on my butt, my not-quite-as-perky boobs.  But the gut thing pisses me off.  I draw the line there.

But then I say to myself “you’re willing to risk your knees for vanity’s sake? Just because you don’t have a flat stomach anymore?”  And I feel a little shallow.  Like those stupid women’s fashion magazines that make having a flat stomach seem like one of the most important things in the world.

Then I remember I was also  diagnosed with high blood pressure. Well, that’s a much better reason to start running, right?  Cardio exercise has been proven to be good for people with HBP.  So while I’m out there pounding on my knees, it’s not because I’m tired of having to suck in my stomach, it’s because I’m strengthening my heart and all those other organs that can be weakened by HBP.  That’s a much better story.  One that I can be proud of.  And good for me if the by-product of all this running just happens to be a tighter mid-section.


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I don’t love Christmas.  It’s just too much. The season is two full months long. The stores start the Christmas carols and decorations the day after Halloween and it’s like too much candy.  What would be great in a small dose loses its appeal because it’s so overdone.

I do like the decorations and the festive feeling in the air.  I also like the parties and social gatherings that allow me to catch up with people I like but haven’t seen in awhile.  But I really hate the over focus on gift-giving.  I wish I could make that part go away. And after the third week, “Deck the Halls” starts to get on my nerves.

IMG_2431My sister feels the same way so this year we decided to do something different.  We didn’t want to escape the holiday, but we thought it would be great to do Christmas with a different twist.  And we both immediately knew what would do the trick:  Paris!  A city we both love.

Welcome package from the hotel

Welcome package from the hotel

We’re both single (I’m a spinster, she’s a divorcee) and we

Croque Monsieur at Cafe de Flore

Croque Monsieur at Cafe de Flore

have no kids, so getting away was easy.  We did have to give a heads-up to our brother who hosts Christmas breakfast every year but, other than that, we didn’t need permission from anyone.

Carousel near Place Vendome

Carousel near Place Vendome

We immediately booked ourselves two airline tickets and a room at the W Paris Opera hotel for Christmas week.  Yay!  And it was perfect.  The weather was warm (for December) and mostly great. (It rained one day).

 

The Louvre

The Louvre

The entire city was beautiful, the food was great, and so was the shopping. (What?  Who goes to Paris and doesn’t shop?)  We didn’t go crazy with the shopping.  I bought a pair of ankle boots and some of my favorite Annick Goutal perfume.

The tree at Galleries Lafayette

The tree at Galleries Lafayette

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

We slept in every morning, getting up around 10a, and would stroll to the cafe around the corner for breakfast.  After a long walk taking in the sights, we’d return to the hotel to dress and head back out for more sightseeing, shopping, eating, and wine-drinking.  And then, repeat it the next day.  We went to the movies on the day it rained. IMG_2456

We loved it.  It was a great way to spend Christmas week.  I did miss our traditional Christmas  breakfast with the family…but I got over it.  :-)

What a great Christmas it was.  Now…what should I do next year?

My ankle boots

My ankle boots


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