You Don’t Need THAT Much of a Dream Home

I recently decided to sell my townhouse and move to another state. I’ve lived at my current residence for almost a decade and a half. It’s a nice home, and it has served me well. However, as time has gone on, I have outgrown the townhouse, and I am now “busting at the seams.”

It’s an interesting thing to see the reactions of others, when you make a big life decision. Their judgements and opinions of you come dancing and leaping into the light. At times, without them even realizing it.

The conversations end with comments like, “You don’t need a house that big. It’s not like you have a family.” And, “You couldn’t possibly take care of a house by yourself,” or “What do you need all of those bedrooms for?” Then there are the friends and loved ones who feel that you are somehow making a statement about their lives and success (or lack thereof). They offer gems like, “You couldn’t possibly afford that kind of house. Isn’t it extravagant?”

The best was from a dear loved one, who kept sending me house listings for homes that were almost half the size of the one I would be moving from. She noted, “I wouldn’t need something that bid, so you shouldn’t. They’re cute and quaint. What would you need all that room for, anyway?”

It’s as though the world thinks that, if you’re single, you shouldn’t take up that much space. As if you should leave the world without making any sort of mark. And it’s presumptuous and arrogant, if you want more than what they think you are entitled to. I get the distinct impression that the attitude is that, if you are unmarried, you have not earned your right to have a home of your own.

Truth be told, the purchase of a house would be A LOT more manageable with a contributing, romantic counterpart. However, it has been my personal experience that men have no inclination to be a “contributor,” and are happy with any sort of life that they do not have to give money toward. Now, I will note that I know many men who are NOT that way. They are decent human beings and would not use a counterpart for comfort or financial gain.

Even the process of selling my townhouse is not without its judgement. I bought the home when I was 30 years old. An average age for new homeownership, a townhouse was the perfect purchase. I did begin my life as a homeowner with a boyfriend who lived with me for the first seven years. For all intents and purposes, he was a renter. He barely paid his fair half, and at seven years, expected to be a part-owner of the property. To his surprise, common-law marriage was not a thing in my state of residence. In fact, I made sure of that, before I ever agreed to live with him. Call me a “pessimist,” but better to be safe than sorry. Once he did confirm that he would not just be handed half of a property that he made no investments in, he manhandled me once, then was asked to move out. He truly felt that not even contributing the minimum entitled him to half of what I had. My response to him was, “Why would I commit half of my home to you, when you wouldn’t even make the commitment of marriage to me?” One of the only times I witnessed him speechless.

You are entitled to what you earn, in this life. It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, childless, parent a hoard of children, so on . . . If you pave your own way, and make enough to purchase your dream home, you should do so with gusto and pride. Do not let anyone steal your thunder, or judge you for wanting a home of your own.

What If This Isn’t My World?

Years ago, when I was about eight years old, I remember laying in my white canopy bed with frilly, pink bedding, thinking, “How did I get here, in this body? How did my soul end up in this exact place?” I asked my mother, and I don’t know that she ever understood what I was asking fully. To be fair, the question was coming from a child, so she assuredly saw it as a basic inquiry. I never could understand how a soul floating around in space, would end up in a specific body, with a specific family, and live the particular body in which they landed. I had a bit of a disconnection, at times, with everything around me, because I just couldn’t understand where my soul came from, and how it ended up where it did.

About a year ago, I was having a tough time with some things. I asked one of my dearest friends if I was having a “mid-life crisis.” She responded with, “No, you’re having an existential crisis.” She may have hit the proverbial nail upon the head, but I don’t know that the crisis was limited to last year. I think I’ve been having that existential crisis my entire life. I grew up in a very Italian area. I was notably not Italian. I was very “Nordic,” in comparison. I mention this, because I looked, sounded, and acted differently from the other children. To add to that differentiation, I loved castles, unimaginable beasts, magic, mysticism, and anything that was not quite of this world. That bothered some kids, but I was fine imagining and playing on my own, anyway.

I often daydreamed that I was part of another world, and that at some point, someone would come through a great sci-fi portal to bring me back home. Wherever home was, that is. As a child, I was fairly convinced that I came from a world where people looked and acted more like I did. I felt like, somewhere, there was a home that I was missing. Somewhere, I fit in. 

Some thought I looked like the literary descriptions of elves. Not the elves that make Santa’s Christmas happen, but the ones from fantasy books, who were tall and slender, with fair, glowing skin and pale eyes. It gave me hope that, maybe, there was a world out there that I would fit in. Some place where I just “fit.”

Although I’ve grown up, that feeling has never completely left me. That feeling of being uncomfortable in your own skin. That cloud of not being like anyone else in the world, and never really fitting in. I’ve never been an extrovert, or an outgoing life-of-the-party type. I’m uncomfortable in most social situations, and prefer to keep to myself and “people watch.” At times, it really does feel like observing some foreign species that I just don’t relate to. Heck, if someone showed up at my door tomorrow, and said that they were here to take me back to some other world, maybe everything would suddenly make some sort of sense. 

I rarely approach or handle things like other people. The world is very “black and white” for me. In most situations, there are very defined points of “right and wrong.” I was recently speaking with my sister about how we grew up. She said, “Most people don’t seem to understand why it’s so easy for us to be ethical, but I don’t know any other way to be.” You see, my sister and I grew up in a household that was very strong on ethics. My parents are still married, even after 55 years. They have stayed faithful to one another, without question. My mother once said, “Your father would have never cheated on me. Not because he loves me so much, but because you just don’t do that. That’s not something that is in his ethical makeup to do.” The comment seemed both sweet and sad, all at the same time.

My sister and I were raised viewing the world very differently from other people. We were expected to handle everything, remain strong, and power through any issues. If something needed to be moved, we moved it on our own. If a spider needed to be taken care of, we were the removal crew. Even when I fractured my foot, I was expected to get to the car (to go to the Emergency Room) on my own. When I failed to make it to the car, (upon request for assistance) my father simply said, “Hop.” In our household, there was simply never any allowance for “girly-ness,” “femininity,” or weakness. 

This expectation of being strong has stuck to me through adulthood like super glue. Even when I tried to avoid it at all costs. I once asked a male friend to walk me to my car on a late, dark night. He said no. He wouldn’t even watch me walk to my car. He said, “You’ll be fine.” I wasn’t fine, I was nervous, and apprehensive. I didn’t feel safe. Months later, I found out that he was walking his new girlfriend a couple of blocks, from one destination to another. The distance he walked with her was viewable from his place of employment and did not exceed two city blocks. One day, I asked why he would walk her, and not me, when I had asked. He said, “Look at you, no one would bother you.” He never did elaborate on that more, but did (in the realization of hearing what he had said) try to then say that his girlfriend seemed more like a “victim” than I did. 

The expectation is to “need” men, and to have them take care of you, if you’re a woman. Society is pretty unforgiving, if you’re a woman who can live without one. However, I have never understood what society thinks will happen to women without men, when they need to handle “manly” things? Are we expected to fail? To flounder? Or to take care of it ourselves? And if we take care of it ourselves, why are we condemned, and not regaled? 

Ultimately, I am a breed unto myself. I sit alone in a world of species whom I do not understand, nor do I really relate to. And I continue to wait for my companion to show up and escort me back to a world where people think, act, and look like me.

The Low-Hanging Fruit

My birthday is just around the corner. It’s not really important which one it is (once you’re over 40, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore). While driving a friend to work, he reminded me of the impending day, and I had to hear about how I’m “old.” It’s worth noting that he is only a year younger than me, and (as standard practice) dates women young enough to be his daughter. And it would be comforting to think that he was the only man who had this opinion, but he’s not. Far from it. Somewhere along the line, someone decided that older women weren’t desirable, sexy, attractive, or even valid. And to be fair, it was probably a man.

I don’t know that I ever saw myself as “pretty.” I have a lifetime of people telling me that I’m not, even after a short stint with modeling. It’s been 40+ years of people not just “making me aware,” but going out of their way to “notify” me of how “not pretty” they think I am. As if it was their moral and social obligation to let me know, and not go through life blissfully unaware. Dating websites were the absolute worst. It’s a free-for-all of jilted men who have this burning need to insult and berate women they do not know, in sad attempts to make them feel better about themselves. Through it, I’ve heard some horrible things from people. Things that shock some, and would amaze others that they had even been uttered.I have family members who feel it is now their obligation to go against what these people have said, and try to tell me daily that I am “beautiful.” With over four decades of random and unsolicited opinions to the contrary, the encouraging words sting more than comfort. They anger, they don’t encourage. 

In never thinking I was “pretty,” I also never thought that I was “ugly,” either. I never saw myself as some sort of mutant or otherwise. About a decade ago, I was in an unhappy relationship and had gained a notable amount of weight. Once I left that situation, I got to work at being healthier. I lost over 30 pounds at one point, and felt so good about myself. The comments were almost immediate . . . “You’re too skinny,” “you look sick,” so on. I had a coworker say, “You need to stop losing weight, because it’s hard for everyone else to.” Wow. Just . . . Wow. The backlash was immediate, and big. And I didn’t understand it, because I was happy, and I felt good. Healthy. I was a lot more confident. Then, I gained two-thirds of it back. That seemed to comfort people, oddly enough. So now, I’m not skinny, I’m not healthy, I don’t feel good, and I’m still not pretty. At least, a few years ago, I was skinny and confident.

On top of all of that, now age has caught up with me. I would like to note that I don’t really look my age. Good, bad, or indifferent, I don’t look my age. Most people guess me to be in my thirties. And that’s okay, but it serves no purpose. I’m still, well . . . My age. And when that comes to the opinions of others (especially men) in society, looking young means nothing. In today’s world, men may say that they lust after women like Jennifer Anniston, but in reality, what would their peers think when they find out she’s almost 50? It wouldn’t matter if a woman is a great catch, if she’s smart, sexy, funny, warm . . . She’s old, and that just doesn’t “look” good.

So what is to become of these “old crones?” We would be foolish to ever expect a man to step in. And why would they? We’re not children. We’re not living “sex toys,” who drive their friends green with envy. Women who are older, more independent, and more settled in who they are, are much more intimidating anyway. They aren’t impressed by a man’s clean apartment, or the sports care they don’t know how to drive. After all, they have their own clean home, and their own sports car that they’ve mastered. They’ve impressed themselves beyond what a man can do. It’s much easier to reach for the low-hanging fruit of youth, instead of the blooms that grew higher for the sun. That said, it never fails that the man doing the reaching is likely to be angered by the fruit just out of arm’s length, so he tries to knock it to the ground where he thinks it “belongs.” I mean, everything in the world should “know its place,” right? 

In a just world, older women would be heralded as the bigger prize. They are much more difficult to obtain, after all. It would take someone very special, very accomplished, and very dedicated to hold onto a woman who doesn’t need him. And realistically, that’s just to hard for most men. That lower fruit is just so much easier. Not as sweet, but easier.

The Storm Cloud of Spinsterhood

Most little girls grow up with fairy tales. Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, they all end up with the epitome of happiness in the end . . . The man, the marriage, and the “happily ever after.” There’s a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Mirror Has Two Faces, that addresses just this thing (https://youtu.be/EcuhMYVjY_Q). The point of it is, they never tell you the “after.” 

I was once in a long-term relationship that lasted over a decade. Seven years of which, we lived together. There was never a proposal, and rarely a word or conversation about going down to the courthouse and filing those important papers; let alone, anything culminating in a grand display of his “love and devotion” to me. Somehow, the absence of this grandiose celebration rendered my long-term relationship invalid in the eyes of almost everyone. It didn’t matter that we functioned as a married couple. It didn’t matter that, when we parted ways, we had to divide things and suffer the emptiness left behind from the other. It didn’t matter that we were more devoted to one another than most joyous young couples who are currently planning to walk down the aisle. None of it mattered, because I didn’t have that ring around my finger. He never “loved me enough” to “seal the deal.” It’s always amazed me that, in order for others to take a relationship seriously, a couple has to plunge themselves into enormous debt and unimaginable amounts of stress, in order for anyone to consider their coupledom worth, well, considering.I recently had the honor of attending the nuptials of my cousin’s daughter They had a gorgeous wedding, it was a great party, and they deserve every happiness that the world affords them. The family could not be happier for them, and has been happy for them for their entire journey. Those same family members didn’t seem to be able to muster the same happiness for my sister, who became engaged for the first time at 51 years old. The whispers of “desperation” floated through the air, as the judgement on her fiancé bounced alongside of them. People just couldn’t find the same happiness for her that they had bestowed upon my cousin’s daughter. 

All of this begs the question . . . Where is the line? When does the view of joy turn to a view of disdain? When does the happiness turn sour? When does elation turn to pity? Is it in your thirties? Maybe so. Somewhere around 32 or 33, I think. That notion that, if you were worth “getting,” you would’ve been “gotten.” 

The storm cloud that hovers over the unmarried-and-childless-over-35 woman is that no one “wanted her.” No one found her “good enough.” And it prevails in everything from career to personal life to family life. Everywhere. These are sometimes accompanied by the whispers of lesbianism, but ultimately, the onlooker’s conclusion is that this woman must be so defective that, even the lowest of the low, didn’t find her worthy. 

The irony is that the same is not true for men. Unmarried and childless men are heralded as “players,” “don juans,” and “confirmed bachelors.” Men are never branded with something as heinous as, “spinster.” They are high-fived and congratulated for “dodging bullets,” and not making “bad choices.” For not succumbing to the wiles of an unworthy woman. No company or professional organization would even think to consider a man’s personal life, when they are being considered for a job or promotion. They would never weigh the absence of marriage and children, as a commentary on their value. No one would even make the connection. However, for women, if that part is missing, there must be something horribly wrong with their makeup, their character, their person. Was it their looks? Their constitution? Their personality? Why would anyone take the chance?

This is not to imply that women should never marry. I do think that marriage should be a mutual agreement, or pact, of working together to survive this world. A partnership that means you always have someone on your side, someone in your corner. I never aimed to be unmarried or childless. It’s just what life offered me. I wouldn’t compromise. I didn’t want to marry for the sake of marrying. I just never received the memo telling me that the world would hold such condemnation of me in doing so. I honestly thought that people would consider me wise, and of good judgement. I thought that I would be applauded for knowing myself. My wonderful sister should be commended for waiting until she found someone she considered the perfect match for her, and not taking any lesser offers. Alas, people think she is just jumping on the first life boat in the shipwreck of age and spinsterhood. 

I would like to note that, women who are divorced, are exempt from all of the notions carried by unmarried women. Divorced women get a societal “pass,” because they were “chosen” by someone at some point in time. Someone found them “worthy,” it just didn’t work out. Someone found them “good enough” to bestow a ring upon their delicate finger, it just unraveled later. 

Most women live their lives dreaming of their wedding day. The end-all-be-all of existence, when a man has declared his love for you, and rendered your existence valid. I was honestly no different. Growing up, I had the magazine clippings from Bride magazine, and the daydreams of what a reception would look like, who would be in my wedding party. After all, nothing, and I mean nothing, is as important as getting married (so society told us). You could have a PhD in Physics, but you are “broken,” if you are not married. You could be the President of the United States, but it wouldn’t matter. It’s sad, and terribly unfortunate. Even in today’s world, women are valued and judged by the salutation before their name, and the jewelry on their hands.

What Is a “Spinster?” Welcome…


What is a “spinster?” There are a lot of varied opinions, amongst the people I ask. The opinions range from “prude,” “inexperienced with men,” “unwanted,” “defective,” and all the way around. According to a Google search, it’s, “an unmarried woman, typically an older woman beyond the usual age for marriage.” a quick look at the online Urban Dictionary states, “Old unmarried woman. Not necessarily a virgin.” Then there’s this gem from vocabulary.com:

Spinster originally meant “a spinner of thread,” and as that was a job typically done by unmarried women, it came to have the meaning — even in legal documents — of “single woman.” Another term for spinster is the equally old-fashioned sounding old maid. Either way, it means a woman who never got married. Spinster is not a word you should call anyone: it reduces single women to one detail about their lives.

We can all agree that the main definition would be an older, unmarried, and childless woman. This is not to include a divorced woman, as she would be a “divorcee.” The definition is not of much concern, and would typically go into the “who cares” category. Unfortunately, it’s the implicit bias that causes the rub. Literature and society are at no shortage of older, unmarried women who are independent, inspiring, and strong. Just do a search of any of those women, and you’ll see that the rumors and theories of them being homosexual are not far behind in those searches (simply because society needs an explanation as to why a woman would be a spinster). It’s worth noting that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being homosexual. It’s no different than someone being a brunette or being tall. However, you wouldn’t look at someone and say, “Look at that unmarried, childless, older woman…she must be a brunette.” See how utterly ridiculous that sounds? 

What is implicit bias? According to the Kirwan Institute (http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/)

 …Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control.  Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. In addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming are often-cited origins of implicit associations.

How does this translate into every day life? You may not think you’re discriminating, but sometimes…It just happens without you even realizing. I have a friend who is a Jack Daniels Squire. In order to become a squire, you have to be nominated by another squire. He was randomly pulled from a tour of the distillery and nominated by our tour guide. In the two years since his own induction, my friend has nominated numerous male friends (some who are not even really fans), but no female friends. One might explain this by saying that he doesn’t know that many women who are fans of Jack Daniels. However, I am actually a stockholder, I own various bottles of Jack Daniels, have repeatedly gone on the tour (even with him), own more JD swag, and I am just as big of a fan as he is. That said, he has never even asked if I even wanted the nomination. When I mentioned it to him, he said, “I didn’t know you wanted to be one.” And there it is, that nasty little implicit bias where, my being a “chick” supposedly eliminated my desire to be a part of the organization, where his non-fan male friends would want to be. It wasn’t a malicious judgement, but it was a judgment. He did not leave me out to be nasty or intentionally exclusionary, but that assumption that I would be disinterested in something considered “male,” was an example of preconceived notions about me, based on my gender. 

How does this parlay into being a spinster? Well, being an older, childless, unmarried woman carries with it the “joy” of A LOT of preconceived notions and biases. Many are subconscious, many are blatant. What is certain is that it is one of the last remaining types discrimination that society deems to be “okay.” Much like “dumb blonde” jokes (come on, they’re “just jokes,” right?), these notions, media promotions, and attitudes bleed into everyday life.

And this is what Spinister is all about. It is an abolishment of those preconceived notions and implicit biases. It’s a discussion about what life is like to be older, unmarried, and childless in this generation. It’s a redefinition of the term, spinster, to show that it truly should mean strong, independent, and free-willed. Welcome to the conversation.