Wholly Unsurprising Revelations

What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be.

Ellen Burstyn



And, don’t give me any of that “everyone dies alone” crap. I’ve seen Donnie Darko; turns out it’s one of my favorite movies, ever. It doesn’t make me feel better.

What I believe WOULD make me feel better is a boyfriend. Who eventually became my husband. And basically, nothing else. Which is what I’m trying to get over. It hasn’t been easy.

It has been suggested (more than once, often by rejected suitors, but also by friends and/or family) that my standards are just too high. Because, apparently, wanting someone who is intelligent, funny, and attractive* is a totally outrageous expectation.

I don’t think so. Because I have that stuff to offer. And lots else besides; I am generous, thoughtful, devoted, open-minded, and flexible. I am also a tiger in the sack. Virtually every person I have ever been involved in a long-term relationship with has said I was the best partner they ever had. I bring a lot to the table.

So, what’s so freaking hard about all that? Why is it that I have spent the majority of my adult life wallowing in solitary singlehood? I think, at least in part, because in many ways, I haven’t been picky enough and I am now paying the price for my willingness to settle.

Howso? Because, I spent years of my life in relationships with people who were fundamentally ill-equipped, profoundly disinclined, or systemically incapable of meeting me on an equal footing as a loving, committed partner striving toward the goal of building a future together. While they each met my very basic criteria, they failed to be a suitable option for me in a multitude of other critical ways. I wasn’t sufficiently healthy or whole to notice this was the case until I had spent far too much time becoming emotionally invested and entangled.

I squandered my youth and indeed, my capacity to bear more children languishing in relationships with people who couldn’t, shouldn’t, or didn’t want to build a life with me. I stayed in these situations because of the irrational belief that I could not expect better, would never find anyone else I loved so much, or worse, that I would end up all alone if I left them.

But then I always did, anyway**.

And now, I am older, barren and fat***. I can’t help but believe this will diminish my appeal.

I am also, happier, wiser, and much kinder to myself and others. I like to believe that with a certain segment of the population anyway, this will serve me better than having visible abs.

And I am, as it turns out, totally willing to accept the idea that demanding more for myself might lead to a greater chance that I’ll go on being alone. Because having spent this much time by myself – happier, wiser, and fatter – I have also come to understand and more than that, to have experienced,  that being alone is far better and more satisfying than being in a bad relationship could ever hope to be.

But hey, If you know anybody…



*Yes, I realize I have very particular taste. It isn’t my fault. People are attracted to what attracts them. It isn’t like a Mongolian Buffet where you get to go in and say “Hm, yes, I want it SPICY, but also with some baby corn in it.” You like what you like because you like it; not because you planned (or even like) it that way.

**With one notable, humiliating exception, I have always been the one to end my long-term relationships.

***Fatter than I have ever been when not pregnant. I realize I am not, by customary standards actually fat, but it is irrefutably the case that I am heavier and rounder than I have ever been whilst not producing offspring.

 [prof-li-git, -geyt]  


1. utterly and shamelessly immoral or dissipated; thoroughly dissolute*.
2. recklessly prodigal, wasteful, or extravagant.


3. a profligate person.


Now, I don’t mean to imply here that I even have money to burn, so much as I seem to do it without even trying. Also that I am afflicted, perhaps more keenly than most, with the inability to live within my means.

It is altogether common for me to have zero dollars. Like, anywhere. Usually it happens by the beginning of the week when I get paid. Most of the time I just coast till payday and everything is fine. Every so often, things get kinda grim; so many cheese sandwiches can’t honestly be good for a person.

I can readily admit that this being so, perhaps the acquisition of a new (old) car at this particular moment in my life might be called into question in terms of its fiscal wisdom. I have decided not to listen to those pesky thoughts, and people, and simply really really really enjoy driving my new (old) car.  

Having this happen at Christmastime was perhaps not the most fortunate timing, but since Svanja stands in as my present, and the child was already tended to in that respect, I’m just rolling with it; counting the hours till payday, which will allow me to throw some actual wood on that fire, instead.


*As I explained recently, I prefer “libertine” along with my modified definition. Feel free to come to your own conclusions on the subject.

Hard to be soft; tough to be tender

And it turns out I am very good at something really hard. Something I have always done with such ease that it never occurred to me that it might be difficult for others*. I like to say I am only good at five things. It is an oversimplification, of course, but really… I’m not well-rounded. The range of things at which I am mediocre to terrible is considerable and multitude. And, I’m not ashamed of this. In fact I am quite comfortable with it. I am perfectly content to have a handful of gifts to offer, luminous with great practice and profound commitment. 

I am good at being vulnerable. 

I do not mean this to imply that I am not also strong, because I am. In fact, I believe that my profound and innate tendency toward vulnerability has made me a stronger person by far, than I would be without it.

Some time ago a good friend of mine encouraged me to watch the excellent TED talk by Brene Brown on the subject (which I also encourage anyone I ever meet to do)

The Power of Vulnerability

After watching this talk, I realized that I had not previously seen my vulnerability as an asset; something that required courage and practice. Instead I had viewed it as something to be overcome and bargained away with clean living and proper good sense. I now understand that while I was skeptical of the value of such an open and tender nature, that having one contributes directly to something I am deeply proud of; I am good at fostering intimacy and trust. 

People confide in me. They always have. The number of times I have heard someone say:

“Wow. I have never told anyone that before. You are just so easy to talk to.”

is uncountable, but a key data point in the chart of my internal universe. It is important to me that I am someone people can reveal themselves to. I have deep respect for introspection that leads to the capacity to share oneself in such entirety. And I enact this type of candor and emotional honesty, not in any calculated fashion, but as the only way I can possibly imagine existing in the world. 


*Sort of like when I found out that not everyone can see in the dark.

“Wherever you go, there you are.” Buckaroo Banzai


It is tempting to believe that a radical change in circumstance will fundamentally alter the experience of reality. Turns out not to be the least bit effective. I still look at the world, surroundings notwithstanding, out of the same pair of eyes, bringing the same perspective to a new location. I am undoubtedly expanded by new stimulus, but still bring the collected wisdom and accumulated damage of my life along with me; I just demand that it cover more ground.


I like to know exactly what is going on.

This is because I am a bit of a control freak. Having spent much of my childhood in circumstances which were chaotic and unsettled has turned me into a person who prefers a rather high degree of consistency. This is not to say I cannot enjoy spontaneity, or that I crumble in the face of the unexpected, but it is rather the case that in my day-to-day endeavors, I am happier if I know what to expect. To this end, I give a lot of thought to why things are the way they are, why I have made the choices I have, what drives me, what I might want to do differently, and occasionally, how my actions affect other people.

Turns out, not everyone does this. This came as a major WTF when it was finally explained to me. Apparently, many people do what they do without giving it a tremendous amount of thought. They don’t chase themselves around in their heads, analyzing the motive and origin of every action  they have ever taken. Weird, right?

So, I like to ask a lot of questions. Questions to which I want very specific answers.

By which I do not mean I want an answer in particular. I want the truth, whatever that might happen to be. I just want it in scrupulous detail.

“Well, was it that you found it confusing, or just annoying?”

“Did it just surprise you that it turned you on, or are you expanding your notions about your sexuality?”

“Was the whole thing gross, or was it only the texture that bothered you?”

Apparently, some people experience this as The Third Degree, and do not much enjoy the treatment. It is not that I am trying to pick them apart, but to peek inside and understand them better. I think I believe if I do this,  I can remove some of that pesky unpredictability from human behavior. For me, this is just about ensuring a high degree of accuracy in communication to facilitate more accurate predictions about the future.  Like any data, the more explicit and specific the information is, the better.


First let me say Hawaii was beautiful. Unquestionably, utterly, beautiful. And I had a pretty damn good time. There were some… intense moments, but it was a truly memorable and positive experience. More travel for me, yes, that.

There were more shades of it here than e'er I knew

I am not well-rounded. I am more like one of those weird dice you use for D&D that have big flat sides to fall on that are kinda hard to roll. I don’t have a broad variety of skills, but rather a few things at which I am particularly good.

My mother tells me I could sing before I could talk. That nights when I was 7 or 8 months old, she could hear me making a sighing noise from my crib, little wordless tunes. Nothing else I can do gives me as much pleasure. It lights me up inside and dispels the darkness all around me.

When I am feeling especially in need of something beautiful I will go find a spot with the kind of accoustics you used to only find in church; echoing, ringing, enveloping. I will lift my voice until the sound rolls over and through me raising the hair on the back of my neck and sending shivers through my skin.

Heathen that I am, it’s rather ironic that my voice is best suited for the cathedral. Likewise, I am not much a fan of opera, but I have a Big Voice and a very high range. A vocal coach once marvelled that I could sing several notes higher than the higest not that anyone bothers to write. That capacity to reach those heights has diminished some with age, but a few years ago a friend of mine was making an album and asked me to sing for her. There was a particular sustained note that would overlay parts of the chorus and it was far too high for her range. She had been very generous with her time and helping me record some of my own music, so I was more than happy to oblige. Later, after she had mastered the whole record she presented me with a copy, she told me that all the while she was sequencing the vocals, hers would come through the mixer as a somewhat jagged and uneven line but that when she put my voice through it made a perfect sine wave. This made me giddy.

I sing in the car, I sing at work, I sing at the gym, while I shop, and when I’m riding the bus or walking down the street. Occasionally people look at me with a quizzical or annoyed expression, but for the most part I am happy to say, other people seem to enjoy it when I sing too. Lucky me.

when i was about 12 years old, i went to live with my dad. it was a fairly typical thing for an adolescent girl to do; tension with mother had reached a breaking point, the hateful stepfather, extra hateful. i’d had enough of the tyrrany and was looking forward to some freedom and peace.

it turns out, i was looking in the wrong place, but that is not the point in this particular narrative. what is the point, is that when i arrived on my father’s doorstep, i owned exactly one pair of shoes. they had serious holes in them. i would stand out in the rain and my feet would get wet. i was accustomed to this, but not inured. i told my dad i needed some money for a new pair of shoes. after some struggle, i got the shoes. and then, something strange happened; i got another pair of shoes.

this was unprecedented. i had always just had one pair at a time. it was heady and strange to be able to decide which shoes i was going to wear that day. i remember sitting in my room feeling giddy at the prospect. and it didn’t stop there. unlike my mother who harbors a profound disdain for the acquisition of things, my dad, he comes from stuff-likers. so. suddenly, i had stuff. items were given to me and neither rescinded nor destroyed. as such, i was able to amass a selection of things. and though i knew intellectually i was going to be able to keep these things, i became rather attached to the notion of having stuff, keeping that stuff, and getting new stuff to join it.

and in this way, i am still pretty much 12 years old.

never is this more apparent than when i cleaning. my god, i have a lot of stuff. stuff from when i was in middle school. stuff from my marriage. stuff from i have no idea where. even when i have nowhere to put it, and i am oppressed by it, i am very very reluctant to let it go. and of course, i still want more stuff too…

and what’s more, now hodie has a lot of stuff. toys, games, clothes, electronics, art supplies, books, costumes, gee-gaws, etc etc ad infinitum. as we were sorting through her room in the annual “pre-first-day-of-school-clean-and-purge” i was stunned by the quantity of crap my daughter has managed to collect. and most of this is my fault. i have definitely trained her to hold on to things; or more precisely i have encouraged her to hold on to things she would pretty much be perfectly happy to let go of. for you see, unlike her mother, she does not have deprivation consciousness, because for the most part, she has been deprived of nothing.

and so today. as we were cleaning her room, i did something i have never done before. i told her she could get rid of whatever she liked. she was not obligated to consult me about what to keep and what to be rid of. she could send off whatever struck her fancy. i didnt encourage her to to keep anything she did not want for her own purposes, and i let go the need to dictate where the things that were left ought to go. as long as everything had a place, i wasnt going to try to insist on placement or particulars; just that things were relatively tidy after all was said and done.

she was judicious for the most part. lots of books from when she was 2, stuffies she hadn’t even looked at in months, gifts from people years out of her life. she arranged her remaining things in a riot across all the flat surfaces of her room in a way that makes my fingers itch with organizational longing, but i resisted and praised her diligence.

i am happy to say that hodie does not seem to care nearly as much as i do about stuff. that she’s generally pretty happy to have it, but that it doesnt seem to be something she gives all that much thought to. and in this way, i like to think i have done a good job. the shrug of her shoulders, in the face of all those things, my best reward. even better than stuff.

and yet…

i promised hodie i wouldn’t go to the gym at night, because she doesn’t want to come along, nor does she want to be alone in the house after dark. i can’t really argue with either position, and usually, by the end of the day, i am so ready to sit down and not do a damn thing, i thought i might as well shoot for a pre-work workout schedule instead.

this, however, requires me to rise at the UNGODLY hour of 5am. this is about 5 hours earilier than i would rise given my druthers. so, this has been kinda sucky. to be fair, i haven’t managed to go more than once or twice in a row because shortly after i tried it out the first time, i ended up in the hospital and wasn’t going anywhere at all for a while, let alone the gym. i’m hoping that once i get into the swing of things, i won’t find the experience so fucking utterly and totally excruciating as i am finding it today.

i mean, i’ve figured out how to overcome my initial inertia by leaving a bottle of 5 hour energy on my nightstand and having at it as soon as my alarm goes off. this allows me to feel fairly awake by the time i’ve put on my gear and made it to the front door. i also realize that, much against my custom, it behooves me to eat something before i go. i forgot this morning, which i have no doubt made things a little rougher on me overall, but as with everything else in this scenario, i’m hoping routine will make all these things a little easier to manage when i am awake at an hour only meant for people on too many drugs and tiny birds who might otherwise die of starvation if they don’t eat every 4.25 hours.

but i went. and i worked out. and now, some 8 hours later, i am le tired. and also supremely cranky. i’m really hoping this will get easier.

for now, it will be best if you back away slowly…

there isn’t always a countdown. i’ve resisted the urge to do so the last few years, but for some reason, i am ALL ABOUT m embracing my customary (though admittedly ridiculous) amount of enthusiasm for all things birthday.

so, at T- 32 days, there is still much to be done:

  • find purple gloves and red wig for costume cause this year instead of only TALKING about being Jessica Rabbit i am actually going to DO IT. sheesh
  • obtain pumpkins, and carve them
  • take hodie down to the haunted trail and hope she does not repeat her larceny
  • call mother and request she make me a batch of The Best Carmel In The Known Universe and then hoard it
  • find ingenious new ways to subtly, but unmistakably indicate my desire for various birthday gift items
  • devise system wherein my closest friends & loved ones will not bludgeon me before my birthday just to get me to shut the hell up about my birthday.

that last one’s going to be tricky.

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