Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It's the little things...

It is the little things in life that can turn a day around.  The friend who surprises you with your favorite frou-frou coffee drink when you are having a bad day.  The five dollar bill that you find in your jeans pocket when you have $0.50 to your name and 24 hours until pay day.   The hot dog guy who always knows your order without you saying a word even when it's been over a year since you last visited his stand.  Oh yes, it is those wonderful and pesky little things....

You're on vacation and having a great time, when an event happens that triggers all those old feeling of self doubt, which always leaves you feeling sullen and you really don't want to talk about it because this is the1,547,845th time that you've felt like this and you know it will pass (plus you are likely slightly hormonal which isn't helping anything) when you realize that your debit card is gone and so you call the bank, make all the arrangements.  The card is cancelled, you have a second account and extra cash.  Life should continue as normal.  You gather your bags and prepare to check out of your hotel.

Then the bottle of hard cider you bought on your trip, which thus far has survived being packed full of fermented liquid, being transported in the back of a truck, hauled into a store, put on a shelf, bought by you, carefully carried in a sac until you set it down ever so gently on the floor of the hotel lobby, tips over and (crack!) spills its contents onto the floor.  The hotel staff graciously mop up the spill, you pay your bill and are on your way.

You make the journey back home, doing your best to just remain quiet because at this point you've moved from sullen to cranky and you just want to make it home where you can deal with your angst in private.  And you do just that (mostly).  You drop your bags on the floor and think to yourself, "Yes, I made it."

So you take your self out to dinner, because you don't feel like cooking and you have a great time.  The food was delicious, the service fantastic and you really enjoyed yourself.   You are feeling good, you just might go home and do some writing.  After you have a bit of a treat...

...and that is when you find yourself sitting in the middle of your kitchen floor crying while holding a package of smushy chocolate that was once the world's best maple creams from your favorite chocolate shop (which by the way requires a six hour drive AND a passport to get to) which melted into unrecognizable goo somewhere along the way.  You can't believe how your day has suddenly gone from kind of bad to down right awful.  

This is where I wish I could say, my kitties did something adorable to make me laugh, or I got an unexpected call from a friend which cheered me up, or that I had a moment of clarity in which I thought how this was really a small thing and life goes on, but none of those things happened.  Instead, I poured a glass of wine, popped some popcorn and watched a few episodes of Desperate Housewives on Hulu.

I feel better.

Now, I'm not saying that now, sitting here on my couch, surrounded by purring felines, that I'm feeling full of happy thoughts; I'm still grumpy but I'm okay.  My few hours of escapism gave me some time to get a little perspective. I realized that, after all, little things are just that, little things and though they can tip the scales either way some days, on occasion they also lead to interesting blog posts.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Self-educated Optimist

"Take chances, make mistakes.  That's how you grow.  Pain nourishes your courage.  You have to fail in order to practice being brave."  - Mary Tyler Moore

I am grateful that I can look back over the past 39 years and feel good about what I have accomplished and what I have learned.  I have stumbled, fallen, tripped, and crashed on so many occasions, sometimes quite spectacularly. Though I've had my periods of rolling around in the "Life Sucks" wallow, I do eventually realize I'm doing nothing but making a mess of myself. Each time I have managed to stand myself back up, steady my stance and keep going.  

I wish that I could say what exactly it is that sustains me.  I wish that I could point to some sort of inspiration or  source of faith, because if I could it would make those moments when doubt rises or an old hurt is revived easier to move past.  Much of it is simply past experience, and recognizing that I have been here before and I didn't crumble then, I didn't die.  I survived. I'm able to hold enough perspective to learn from the experience, to take the lesson and file it away for future reference.

I could call myself a self-educated optimist.  It's isn't so much that I'm sure I'll succeed as much as, well if this doesn't work it can't possibly suck THAT much, right?  I mean, remember that time when...yeah, that time, well that didn't kill me (though I cried for a week, ate a pint of ice cream for breakfast everyday and came within minutes of getting an I heart Ben & Jerry tramp stamp).

In the end, I still have a heart that is mostly intact and all of my limbs...that's success!  Now. on to the next adventure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spinster in the Kitchen (Bacon)

One of the great things about living alone is that I am queen of my domain, and that domain includes the kitchen. I've done many a kitchen experiment before some of which didn't seem doable but worked out (buffalo brussel sprout chicken nachos) and some that should have been okay, but didn't quite make it (broccoli rab quiche).  The wins far out number the fails and tonight, tonight well...

It was more than just a win.  It was a triumph of dessert! It was a conquest of the final course!  And it had bacon.

Wait! What?  You did say dessert right?

Yes, yes my kitchen delight was blend of sweet, creamy, crunchy and savory.  Smooth melting richness, a firm but delicate sweetness, topped with a crisp and smoky finish.  Ladies and Gentlemen.  Spinsters and dudes, I give you...

The Pineapple Bacon Maple Sundae
(or as I like to call it....the Mouth-gasm)


Coconut milk vanilla ice 'cream'*
Unsweetened pineapple chunks**
Maple syrup (well chilled)
Bacon (several slices - though I always seem to end up cooking the entire package)


Cook the bacon until crispy.  There are folks who like squishy bacon (yeah, crazy people) but now is not the time to go tender on the smoky pork.  You want to be able to crumble this over the top of your mound of sweet, sweet love this tasty dessert.  This is the finishing touch and it is what balances the sweetness of all the other ingredients.  So fry it up, make it CRUNCH!  Then let it cool.  Not only does sizzling hot bacon not feel good when being crumbled by your bare hands, it will turn your ice-cream into a puddle of goo.

Okay, once the bacon is cooled it is time for assembly.

1. Find a bowl of appropriate size (appropriate as determined by you or your inner ten year old)
2. Scoop ice cream into said bowl
3. Add several pieces of pineapple love and if your pineapple is canned, a few spoonfuls of the juice can't hurt
4. Crumble three pieces of bacon over the top
5. Finish it off by drizzling a tablespoon of chilled maple syrup all over it
6. Take a bite (use a spoon dear, we are still civilized here)
7. Moan, sigh...let you eyes roll back into your head, squeal
8. Swallow (uh, napkin, you, um, have something running down your chin)
9. Take a deep breath and repeat steps 6 -9 until done (this might include a second sundae)

One of the many pleasures of living alone is that there was no one around to watch me devour this satisfying treat, and all of the left over bacon?  Mine.  All of it.



* Due to issues with lactose intolerance I used vanilla coconut milk ice cream, which does have a bit of a toasted coconut flavor to it.  I think this only added to the taste of this treat.  I'm sure regular vanilla ice cream would work just fine.

** I used unsweetened canned pineapple chunks, but I am sure that fresh pineapple would work as well and might even add another dimension of texture.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Spinster State of Mind

I've been asked a few times since starting this blog if I intended to be single forever.  Now I've written about the answer to this question in this blog before, and I've pretty clearly said that while I am making a personal commitment to being single for a period of time, I'm always open to the idea of meeting someone.  I'm not putting my energy into seeking out potential partners, I'm living my life and working towards goals other than being partnered.  In other words, if it happens great, but finding a partner is not the main purpose of my life.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Saturday in the Life of Spinster Jane

After about nine days of gloom and drizzle the sun finally emerged this morning.   While the sun made its appearance quite early, it was not until about 11:00 this morning that I finally emerged from under the covers.  It is Saturday after all and while the sun might have an important job to do, I only had to run errands and do some laundry.

What? Wait!  The first beautiful day in nearly two weeks and I have to run errands and do laundry?   The kitties were low on food, I had to make a bank deposit to cover bills, there was no way the litter box was going to get through one more day, I needed food items for dinner and eggs for breakfast, and in order to do the aforementioned laundry, I required a supply of quarters (certain items of clothing were days beyond passing any sniff test).  Yes.  Some things just have to be done.  So I brewed some coffee, ate a quick breakfast of olives and cheesy poofs, put on my pants* and headed into town.   

It was a truly gorgeous day which made the walk very enjoyable.  I picked up a cup of coffee at the coffee shop, and managed to visit both the pet food store and the bank before my tummy began to tell me that olives and cheesy poofs were simply not going to sustain me.  At this point I nearly faltered in my mission.  I had visions of me sitting on a restaurant patio, margarita  and burrito in hand counting mullets as the hours of the afternoon slowly passed… nibbling a cucumber sandwich, sipping a glass of prosecco while watching the world wander by.

I’d like to think that such visions are inspired by my inner sensualist buuut I know that deep down I was simply looking for an excuse to do nothing, so in order to ensure the day’s mission would be successfully completed, I bought a hot dog from my favorite food cart. 

A hot dog is pretty much a hot dog but the proprietor of this particular cart has never forgotten how I like my hot dog since the first time I visited his sidewalk establishment over 12 years ago.  I am always greeted with the following, “Beautiful day!  Sauerkraut, steamed onions, and spicy mustard! One or two?”  I’m not sure if it’s me and my order that are memorable, or if he just has a remarkable recall ability, but it is a big part of the reason that I keep buying hotdogs from him.  There are people I’ve known for years who couldn’t tell you my favorite pizza topping, and believe me, what I like on my pizza is far simpler than what I put on my hotdogs.

Hot dog in hand I settled onto a park bench in the shade.  Moments later I was approached by a man with a guitar who asked if he could play for me.  Now, I love to be serenaded (and in this day and age, this does not happen often outside of karaoke night) and since he was also an acquaintance of mine, I quickly consented.  He held out in front of me a list of songs and asked me to choose one promising to play it for at least a minute.   My eyes perused the list of titles, none of which were familiar to me but most of which had names like “Burn for you”, “My Love is Like the…” or “Missing You”.  Not being in the mood for a love related song I picked the one title that didn’t seem likely to cover that topic…”Seasons of Death.”

So there I sat, eating my hot dog, sipping a bit of water and listening to a man with a guitar sing about setting himself on fire or walking into a blizzard and freezing to death because he had lost touch with himself and cuddled up close to inner despair.   I couldn’t help but notice that as he made his way around the park to other folks, they all picked the more love related titles. 

The remainder of my afternoon went as planned.  I made my way to the grocery store where I purchased broccoli rab, onions, garlic, a lemon, an orange, kippered herring, salad in a bag, and a 27 lb bucket of kitty litter (yes, nothing says cat lady like a 27 lb bucket of kitty litter).  I completely forgot to buy eggs.  I did remember the quarters, though I’ve yet to do the laundry.  And, since the sun decided to hide again as soon as I arrived home, I took a nap.   The fish I was going to cook for dinner is still in the fridge, frozen solid, so I’ve finished off the bag of cheesy poofs and had a glass of wine.

The rest of my evening, who knows; though I am pretty sure that it will involve putting my pants a back on.

*yes, my spinsterism comes awfully close to dudehood at times.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dinner and a song...

I am sick.  I am sick and I live alone.  I am sick and I live alone which means that certain things have to get done (like feeding the felines) and no one else is going to do them for me (like feeding myself).  So despite the fact that I’d like nothing more than to snug down under freshly laundered sheets (ah, there is another…laundry) with a hot cup of sweet honey lemon tea (oh, I’d have to make the tea too), I drag myself out of bed, dose myself with cold medicine (yeah, had to walk my sickly self to the store to get that too) and take care of whatever bit of business has to be done (like going to work to make enough money to pay the rent, feed said felines and self, wash the laundry and buy tea).

Not that I’m complaining.  In fact I take quite a bit of pride in the high level of self sufficiency I seem capable of maintaining even though I basically feel like my brain has been replaced with warm mashed potatoes,  my sinuses are stuffed full of cotton balls and my joints have taken on a second career in Jello imitation. 

And there is most definitely an upside.  For instance, the odd contortions that any woman performs when squeezing herself into a pair of ‘control top’ tights are made infinitely more unappealing when accompanied by the huffing, puffing grunt-like sounds made by me thanks my inability to breathe through my nose.   Speaking of noses, despite my regular use of Sudafed and soft lotion kissed tissues, mine is still bright red and sore and it whistles each time I exhale (a sound made only marginally less annoying by my newly discovered talent for nose whistling the Jeopardy theme).   I can choose to convalesce on the couch, or in bed, or in a bubble filled tub without fear of being in anyone’s way.  And there is no one around to try to convince me that a soup made of chicken broth, left over rice, Swiss chard and Frank’s Red Hot isn’t only tasty as all get out, but I’m pretty sure it’s the undiscovered cure for the common cold.

Yum.  Sluuuuurrrrppp…whistle.  Sluuuuuuuurp….whiiiiiiiiistle. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I am everywhere!!!

No one could ever accuse this spinster of being antisocial.  I generally keep a rather full calendar.  I come and go from home so much that my cats have refused to let me in because they've been taught not to speak to strangers.  Okay, I made that last part up.  My cats can't talk,  but I am sure they have at times wondered if I am real or just phantom who mysteriously makes food appear at regular intervals.

Just as I am all over the place in the real world, so I am all over the interwebs as well.  You can now follow Spinster Jane on Twitter and Facebook.  Like any human being I like to be liked so go like me (or follow me, which actually sounds rather creepy but hey, it's only cyber stalking right? You are doing it because you think I have wonderfully wise and interesting things to say and NOT because you want to trap me in a dark alley, spinsternap me and keep me in your basement forcing me to write a blog for your eyes only while you sit in the corner watching me, telling me how sexy I am when I type...).

Finally, I've created the rating system for Solitary Banquet restaurant reviews!!!  I am a busy and productive little spinster.  Expect a review very soon and if you are interested in writing a review of your favorite haunt or that new restaurant in town, get in touch.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seeking Happily Ever After (or how to be your own fairy godmother)

I watched this documentary this evening and L-O-V-E-D it.  There will be a Spinster Jane review of this in the near future (why have I not thought of Spinster Movie Reviews before?  Brilliant!!)  For now, watch the trailer and if you can find it (yep..ituuuuuuunes) the entire film.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why Spinster Jane?

Spinster [spin-ster]*

1. a woman still unmarried beyond the usual age of marrying
2. Chiefly law.  A woman who has never married
3. A woman whose occupation is spinning

*courtesy of Dictionary.com

Unmarried or single men are called bachelors.  A word that carries with it not only a designation of a romantically unattached status, but also a sense of freedom and fun.  Bachelors get to live carefree lifestyles, pursue their education and careers without people hinting that they might just one day be too old and wrinkly for romance.  They are generally seen as happy go lucky types who just haven't met the right woman yet (it is never because women may not be pursing them).  While we might sometimes waggle our fingers at them and tell them they might want to think about growing up, no one really thinks poorly of a bachelor.

Now I have single male friends would dearly love to be in a relationship.  They are not happy with their bachelor status, but my point is that society at large does not look down on single men.   In fact they are often looked upon with envy.

Single women on the other hand don't really have any such term for their state of solitary living.  Bachelorette just sounds too cute, and is really very much tied to that pre-wedding night of pink/white and lacy debauchery called the bachelorette party to be useful.  The only word in the english language that has been commonly used to refer to an unmarried woman is spinster.  Spinster does not have the same positive connotations that bachelor does.

When we think of spinsters the image of the middle aged, unmarried librarian who lives with her seven cats comes to mind.   It is a sad solitary existence, full of lonely silent dinners and too much knitting.  Spinsters are to be pitied, we should feel sorry for them since they never found someone to love them.  They are alone because no one wanted them.  Spinsterhood is a state to be feared, a trap to be avoided.  It is the single woman's monster in the closet.  Don't put off the romance for too long ladies or you might just end up....ALONE!!  Aaaaaaaaaaah!!

BAH!  Double BAH!  I say it's high time we single female types take the word spinster and claim it as our own.  Being single isn't the end of  the world.  Many women actually choose (GASP!) this state of living for many good reasons:  self exploration, pursing education or a career, readjusting after ending a relationship, and some of us just prefer to spend most of our time alone.  It is very possible to be single, female AND happy.    I am not the only woman out there to think that turning the word spinster on its head is a great idea.

When I first started thinking about writing a blog about my choosing a solitary life I gave a lot of thought to the name.  I didn't want it to be something that implied unhappiness or that I was just suffering until the right person would hopefully along and save me.  I'd been reading a lot of blogs and visiting forums that had a very positive view of living single and during the browsing of some archives and cross links I eventually came across this blog entry on the Blog Her website.  It turns out that a lot of woman are making spinster their own and the blog author is in love with the term too.
"...I love when women proclaim loud and proud that they're fine with being single.  This doesn't mean they wouldn't be just as happy with a partner; it's that they don't require the presence of someone else to lead a happy, fulfilling life." - Zandria
And so I decided to lend my support to this claiming of the word spinster and to make it part of the title of my blog.  The subheading, 'this is what a spinster looks like', is me saying yep, here is yet another sexy, smart, funny, intelligent and quite happily single woman and this is her blog.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Oh! Oh! Down She Goes!!!!

I think the combined forces of my solo living arrangement and my penchant for solitary dining have finally begun to take a toll on my desire to cook for myself.  Tonight is the first night I've had in weeks where I've enough time to cook myself a real meal.  I was looking forward to it even, thinking about potential meals and planning a menu and then I arrived home...

Jane:  Ah, home.  Let's settle in, feed the felines, check Facebook and then prepare a proper meal.

Spinster Jane:  Where is the corkscrew?

Jane:  Hush lush!  We need to cook a meal.  We might be living a solitary life but we are civilized (yup, solitary life mention and first person plural in the same sentence...to be clear, this 'we' did not include our cats.  We are still therefore, sane.)

Spinster Jane:  That's what delivery is for.  Delivery is perfectly civilized.  Why is the corkscrew in the bathroom?

Jane:  Don't you remember?  We had this talk before!  We need to keep in practice.  Should someone truly charming and worth our time come along we must be prepared.

Spinster Jane:  Meh.  We'll just liquor 'em up.  Have a glass of wine, relax.

Jane:  Sigh.  We could reheat some soup, or some of those pancakes we made and froze a couple weeks ago?

Spinster Jane:  The would mean a pan or a plate would go from clean to dirty, which means that this weekend we'd have to wash dishes.

Jane:  It's only Thurs...

Spinster Jane:  Hey, look.  Crackers!  I think we have some tub cheese in the fridge...sweet, we just made dinner!!!  No delivery required.  Happiness all around.

Jane:  Sigh....

Yep.  I think I need to start inviting people over for dinner.  I am apparently just not enough motivation for myself.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Solitary Banquet

I've wanted to create a blog about dining alone for sometime now and finally I've done it.  Please take a moment to check out (and bookmark) Solitary Banquet.

I greatly enjoy the solitary dining experience but it was not always that way.  Dining alone is at least a bit uncomfortable for most people.  With Solitary Banquet I hope to provide a way to make the experience something beyond just tolerable and hopefully even fun.  While the blog is just beginning I hope that it will soon include not only personal stories but also tips on how to improve the experience and reviews written by me and others of restaurants that are welcoming of the solitary diner.

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 Reasons...

...why marrying your imaginary friend is a good GREAT idea.
  1. Since your spouse is not real, you get all the wedding gifts to yourself.  
  2. Consummating the marriage will literally be the best your mind can come up with.
  3. They are never jealous.
  4. They never drink the last beer.
  5. You can totally take advantage of the cabana boy on your honeymoon
  6. They’ll never “accidentally” wake you when you’re trying to sleep in on Sundays.
  7. You don’t have to remember their mother’s name.
  8. They are all brain surgeons.
  9. They will never forget your favorite pizza topping (neither will you ever hear the words, “I’m not in the mood for pizza” when your mouth is watering and you’ve been craving pizza for seemingly endless hours…)
  10. They have to love you, because without you they don’t exist.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A lack of perfection...

I am not perfect.  Okay, take a moment, let that sink in.  Now breathe.  I'm not perfect.

I try to live up to the standards of behavior I set for myself. Most days I think I'm pretty much successful.  There are however times that I am not.   Yes, it's true.  I am full of flaws, imperfections and character defects.  I make mistakes and sometimes I do things that are downright stupid.  I can be impulsive, sometime resulting in actions that are not in my best interest.   On occasion I'm even selfish.

It is difficult at times to accept this.  Not that I expect perfection of myself, I don't, and most mistakes are easily remedied   The rest, even the really awful ones, I try to process, correct, and learn from as best I can.  However, while I'm a pretty forgiving person when it comes to others, I am much harder on myself.

The fact is I want to be told that I'm okay.  I want to know that even if I do something really stupid or less than honorable that I am still at heart a good person.  Maybe this comes from being raised in a culture where external reward and validation is expected.  Pats on the back and gold stars are a part of everyone's upbringing.  It feels good to be told we are okay, and it feels awful when the reward does not appear and we assume this means something is wrong with us.

It occurred to me today that this is what so many of us seek in romantic partnerships.  We want to have someone there to tell us they love us because we want to know that we are worthy of being loved.  To find ourselves without a partner or a life mate might mean something is wrong with us and so we end up settling for a pairing that may be less than ideal or perhaps even unhealthy.  Instead of seeking a way to find that acceptance within ourselves, we continue to seek it outside.

We've all heard that old saying about having to learn to love yourself before you can learn to truly love someone else, and I'm beginning to believe that there really is a lot of truth in that.