Sunday, August 28, 2011

Jane is enough

This is a note to all of my well meaning family and friends who have recently asked about this ‘spinster phase’ I’m going through and what the reasons for it are (it isn’t a phase but we’ll get to that).  Now, I’m only going to explain this once and if you insist on bringing this subject up time and again, I’ll simply refer you back to this blog post, so here goes:

First, I’ve already written a post about just what spinster means and how I, and others in the blog world, are seeking to redefine it, which you can find here…this is about what it doesn’t mean.

Spinster does not mean that I have sworn off men or women or dating or sex or love.   In fact I’m probably in many ways more open to all of those things than I’ve been in the past because I have a far better understanding of what my needs are and where my boundaries lay.  And one of the most important realizations I have had about myself is that I have a much happier existence living my life on my own.  This doesn’t mean I don’t like company or companionship, and goodness knows that I’m not one to give up sex for any extended period of time.  As for love, meaning the romantic kind, I like being wooed as much as the next girl, and I do date (when I actually have the time) but I’m not looking for any sort of permanent or monogamous attachment.  I’m also not one to publicly broadcast my romantic entanglements, so just because I’m not getting all gooey-pink-roses about some guy or girl, doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have a love interest in my life. 

Spinster does not mean I’m living  a lonely existence where I trudge through life resigned to being forever alone while my heart dries up into bitter, hard little pea.   I am choosing to live my life as a woman who is not looking to for a romantic forever.  I’m walking my own path and it is quite likely that there may be individuals who wander along that path with me from time to time.  Love can be found anywhere, often unexpectedly and I’m certainly not going to kick it out the door when I come across it.  I will enjoy it while it’s here, and I won’t try to cling to it should it start to fade.   

Spinster does not mean that I am against coupling off or living together or marriage (heck I performed a wedding last January and was happy to do it).  What it does mean is that this is not an option I’m seeking for myself.  I’m just not interested in that kind of relationship. I really, really, really like living alone.   I enjoy the freedom that comes with not having to take one particular person into account when I make decisions.  My friends and my family are important parts of my life, and were I to be faced with some choice that might take me far away from those relationships; I’d certainly take that into consideration. Community is important to me, and I’ve been carried through some very hard times by my friends but I don’t have to consult anyone about how I spend my money, or if I want to change jobs, or if I want to go out or stay in, and any mess I make is my own.

My life has its ups and downs like anyone else’s does, and I really like the direction it is headed in right now.   I’m content most of the time, and while I have lonely moments they are rare and have more to do with wanting understanding in a particular moment, and very little to do with companionship.    I’m happy with the choices I’ve made. 

And finally, before all you well meaning, caring folks start to say things like “oh, you just haven’t found the right person yet” and other such platitudes, I’ll say this:  I have found the right person, and that person is me.   Yep me, in all my solitary, cat loving, wine sipping, spinster glory…and you know, that’s quite enough.  

Spinsters can't be prepared for everything...

The Facebook statuses of my friends range from “Hurricane-schmuricane, more beer!” to “Headed for the bunker with my cans of beans and a Coleman stove.  I’ll see you suckers in 48 hours.”  As Irene marches ever closer to my place of residence, I am sitting on my misbehaving futon, sipping a class of cabernet sauvignon while composing this blog post because there is a possibility that I might not have power tomorrow and thus wouldn’t be able to share my life with all of you.  

In the 15 years that I have lived in this happy little city, I’ve experienced several tropical storms (which Irene is due to become before she comes knocking on our door) and at least one hurricane.  During this time I’ve only lost power twice.  The first was when, during a passing non-tropical and non-hurricane thunderstorm, a bolt of lightning hit a transformer near my apartment and the other was when a tipsy driver drove into a telephone pole knocking out power for several blocks.   In each instance I left home to find a restaurant and a friend to share a meal with, and power was restored by the time I made my way back home.

My plan for tomorrow does not involve going out to eat (though it will likely involve the ingestion of left over Chinese food from tonight’s take out binge).  Instead the plan is to chill out at home, arrange and pack my bags in preparation for “The Big Show” next week and generally have a quiet day.  Basically it will pretty much be exactly what my day was going to be before Irene began to head north…except it might be without lights and my cats will be hiding under the bed instead of getting underfoot and making attempts to nap inside my suitcase.

So while I’ve filled a couple of pans with water just in case, made sure my cell phone is fully charged and stocked up on chocolate, wine, cheese and a bread, I’m not too concerned about what tomorrow will bring.  Hurricanes and tropical storms are just more examples of those things in life over which we’ve no control whatsoever so there really is no point in stressing over it.

Of course it is not until now, as I am typing this last sentence, that I’m realizing I’m on my last roll of toilet paper…now THAT I can worry about.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Oh, insomnia...just go away

Insomnia was my evening companion last night.  It doesn’t come along often these days.  Most of the nights that I am up too late it is because I am caught up in some experience that I don’t want to end: the book that is just too exciting to put down, the Hulu TV show where I just HAVE to know what happens next, or my favorite, those conversations with friends that separate you from time until you suddenly realize the sun is coming up.  On occasion I’ll be up due to the human tendency towards procrastination and I’ve a deadline to meet.  Last night however was different.

I have this event coming up.  It is a show my performance group is participating in and it is the largest and most important event we have done.   A whole new audience will have a chance to see just what it is that we do (very exciting).  We will be taking to the stage several times throughout the week with different cast members participating on any given night (also exciting).    I’ve made all the right sorts of lists (set lists, tech lists, prop lists, arrival and departure lists), I’ve taken all the usual promotional steps, and I’ve written down all of the scripts for various sketches and introductions.  I’ve done everything I need to do to be prepared and while I am awake all is well.

Last night however, the moment I climbed beneath the covers it was a different story.  As I lay there in the dark my mind started to think of everything that could possibly go wrong; inadequate sound systems, forgotten lines or props or traffic delaying the arrival of performers.   Then when I do finally fall asleep my dreams were full of these same scenarios, and I was running down unfamiliar streets (because you know, the car never starts in these dreams) against a deadline that involved a spotlight and a drum roll. 

I know that this is just my subconscious dealing with the stress of planning and thankfully my subconscious seems to have faith in my abilities since most of the time the dreams ended with me arriving at the last minute with the right prop, or an impromptu rearrangement of a set to allow more time for a missing performer to arrive, or another performer suggesting an imrpov skit to fill a space.  It reminded me that I and those people I perform with are quite capable of adapting to whatever situation may arise.  

My awake brain is apparently the worrier, and my asleep brain apparently knows better.

So, my hope is that my awake brain got the message and this was all worked out last night. If so, this evening’s slumber will be calm and peaceful with dreams filled with only happy spinster things, such pizza delivery, maid service and red wine...

…sleep well.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Six months...and six months

At the time I began Spinster Jane, I was about six months out from a relationship that ended…well there really isn’t another word, it ended badly; crash, burn, explosions, and fiery debris.  I had all of the emotions that go along with the ending of things but in amongst the feelings of anger, sadness, and the desire to smash things, there was also relief and it wasn’t in any small amount.

Relief isn’t all that uncommon of an emotion when a committed relationship ends.  Most romances don’t die overnight; they begin to whither slowly, browning at the edges in a way that we often dismiss or just don't want to see.  When it does become obvious, even when we know that the situation is miles past the saving point, we will often push to try to make it work; making whatever sacrifices and adjustments we deem necessary.  By the time it’s over we are often simply worn out, tired and in need of a break.   When the relationship ends, the struggle ends…relief.

Relief also comes with finding out a long suspected truth.  Suspicion is a horrible feeling.  When you suspect that the person you are romantically involved with is being dishonest about something (a past kept secret, a hidden addiction, a lover, a second life as a super villain…) it feels much like you’ve swallowed a rock that gets stuck halfway between your heart and your belly, preventing you from taking in nourishment.  It is ever present, coloring every interaction. When the truth finally comes out, that feeling is released; you can breathe again…relief.

I experienced both of these sorts of relief in the immediate but as time passed and I went about my daily life, I began to experience relief of a third sort.  This relief went hand in hand with the realization that my life was once again my own. 

I’ve kept a journal with some fair amount of regularity since the fourth grade.  Stashed away between the covers of these books is a record of the past 30 years of my life.  At times when I have questioned if I’m walking the right path, my journals have proven to be a valuable resource to review what brought me to the place where I currently find myself.   While it often shows me that I am indeed making the right choices for myself,  it is also a record of some of the phenomenally bad decisions I’ve made and the times I’ve managed to ignore my own voice.

After this relationship ended, I went back over my entries from those previous 18 months and right there at the beginning was an entire page devoted to my questioning if I wanted to be in a committed relationship.  All of the misgivings I had about coupling myself off with someone and how, in looking back over my life, my happiest and most productive times had been when I was committed to no one other than myself.   Did I really want to do this? Wanting to find out if this summary of my past was indeed true, I made my way to the basement, dug out my box of journals and spent most of a weekend reviewing my life.

There it was, in my own handwriting; a recurring theme going back to about the age of 16.  A consistent lack of desire to be coupled off with one person and yet, there I went time and again, thinking that there must be something to this since everyone else seemed to desire it so much.  It wasn’t that I didn’t love the people I was with (I doubt I’d have made the attempt if I didn’t) or that I didn’t put my all into the relationships when I was in them.  Yet right there next to the gushy-I’m-so-in-love-and-isn’t-life-grand stuff were the many discussions with myself about whether or not a lifelong relationship was something I really wanted.   

When I was done I was left with two feelings, annoyance with myself and my capacity for ignoring my own advice and a determination that I wouldn’t, at least in the area of romantic commitment, do it again. 

I wondered if there were others out there who felt similarly to me and began to search online for like minded people.  It was a happy discovery that there are many women out there, living busy, fulfilling, love filled lives and who are quite happily single (most of them are on my blog roll if you care to read for yourself).  A few months later I began to feel I had something to say on the subject and, being a writer, decided that I’d share my story of choosing the single life with the world.  Thus, on February 21, 2011 Spinster Jane was introduced to the world.

So happy six month anniversary Spinster Jane!  You’ve been knocking at the door for most of my life and I am happy I finally answered (and you know, really happy you weren’t some sort of creepy stalker type).

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Love Yourself...yeah, that's right LOVE

I know, I know, I've been spinster slacking (actually I haven't) and it's been a week since I last posted.  I've started a second job to help make ends meet.  Spinsters have to eat and pay rent, and well, no one else is going to pay the second job here I come.  Actually it hasn't been so bad.  I really do love my new job and though the pay is not great I do look forward to going into work.  Considering this job is retail, that says a WHOLE load of a lot.  Anyway, things are settling, I'm adjusting and once we have a regular schedule worked out the writing will continue.

In the meantime I came across this very awesome video blog post by Tyler.  I've never watched anything by him until just about 15 minutes ago when I came across a link to the video below on friend's facebook wall, so maybe everything else he posts is ick, but this is most certainly not.  What he says is true; in your life there is only one constant and that constant is YOU.  So don't sacrifice yourself for the sake of making some one else happy.  Instead, find out who you truly are and fall in love...with you (um...yeah, I know, a little Oprah of me...but, it's still true).  Enjoy...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Horror at the Train Station (or Why When Packing for the Apocalypse One Should Always Bring Along a Leatherman)

My Tuesday evenings the past few weeks have been spent at a train station in a not so big New England town.  This has to do with a job, which I love, that I commute to once a week via combination of rail and road.  I take the morning train (la la da da da da…and then...) to this same station where I meet my ride and about 40 minutes later we arrive at work.  The process is repeated in reverse in the afternoon except that when I am dropped off the next train does not arrive for about two hours.   So I wait.

Now really I don’t mind the wait.  I really do love the job and the rest of the week I work from home.  The station is air conditioned so it is a nice break from the heat of summer.  In addition I do make good use of the time.  Since I don’t usually see another human being during most of my wait I am free to write, crochet, wander, watch birds, play the riqq, or dance to random tunes on my iPod.  At least one other Spinster Jane post has been penned while I was waiting for the northbound train and I’m sure I’ve provided some interesting entertainment to whoever might be watching the security cameras in this unmanned station. 

My waits have been fairly uneventful, until tonight.  

I was sitting on the bench near the soda machine with my laptop on my knees tapping away at a creepy post apocalyptic tale that takes place in, yep, an abandoned train station.    As I often do when I write I was allowing myself to slip into the character of the person telling the story.  In this case one who had found a haven from the end of the world in a place similar to that which surrounded me.  My mind wondered how it would be to go months on end without encountering another human being.  What would that kind of solitude be like?  What kind of routine would develop?  Would one give up hope of finding anyone else and what if suddenly out of nowhere…


The computer nearly slid from my lap as a northbound freight train with several engines roared past the station startling me and my heart back to reality.  The bench shook and the soda in the bottles of the vending machine rippled as it passed.   I sat on the bench and my heart slowed back to its normal pace. By the time the last boxcar had rolled on by I again turned to my story.

Where was I?  Solitude.  Months on end alone.  I sat listening to the hum of the vending machines, the tick-tick-tocking of the station clock, the huff and blow of the air conditioners.  I stared at the floor and the patterns of light made by the whirling of the twin ceiling fans high above.  I thought to myself, what if there was some source of power; say a small wind turbine and some solar panels that kept all of this running indefinitely?  Maybe some rural development green tax credit program was used to fund this as a showcase project to help lessen the cost of bringing rail back to some small and otherwise unreachable town.  What would one do if one was here for months and months on end, alone and unable to turn off all of these machines?  As the rest of the world fell silent this one isolated place continued on humming and whirring into eternity with no way to shut it off.  What would you do if stuck here unable to leave because this source of power gave you the best possible way to maybe reach another human being should there be any left?  Day in and day out that steady hum, hum, hummmmmmm….would the sound eventually make you go…

I looked up from the screen as I noticed a change in the light.  The sky had grown dark and the trees planted along the edge of the parking lot outside were bending sideways from the sudden wind.  I stood and opened the station door so I could see the sky.  A storm approaching, a big one, with high winds, thunder and likely a downpour.  I checked the time on my phone.  The train was due in about a half hour and I was relieved that the storm would likely have passed by then so I could avoid a wet dash across the platform when the train arrived.

While I was standing I realized that the last cup of coffee I’d had around 3:00 was making its desire to exit known.   Not wanting to leave my bags and computer unattended, I shut the computer down, packed it into its carrying case and lugged everything into the ladies’ rest room with me.  As I answered this call of nature I thought to myself that this would be one of the worst places to be if I were alone at the end of the world and another person finally showed up.   This was terribly vulnerable position, panties at my ankles and skirt above my knees (I know, in a post apocalyptic world any self respecting spinster would be wearing pants). I was in a room with high unreachable windows and one door, which was locked.  Should the person entering have malicious intent it would not take long to figure out that someone had been living in the station and where they were at that moment.

I decided that if my character were to be in the potty when another person showed up, she would at least have taken along her gun, or preferably two, fully loaded.  Better yet, she’d have gone into the men’s room since people, end of the world or not, are basically creatures of habit and the person who was outside would likely assume, men’s room = dude and thus a guy must be inside.  Then again, they might be a little less prepared to find a female in the ladies’ room fully armed and ready to take them down.  All that aside, if they were stealthy, cautious and afraid of being caught by the station resident, they may just leave and she might miss them altogether.  They’d both go on never meeting until they met their own ends alone sometime in the bleak and lonely future.

I finished my business and it occurred to me that perhaps my character would not use the bathroom in the station at all since the plumbing might not work after a while and she’d be wise enough to not be caught in such a vulnerable position, plus I didn’t want my tale to be just another run of the mill post apocalyptic gun battle, I wanted creepy. 

I looked at myself in the mirror as I washed my hands wondering how my face might change were I in that situation.  What physical changes would my character undergo?  She’d likely lose body fat and gain strength.  I leaned in closer.  I bet she would look in the mirror at times, to stare into her own eyes and try to see if there was any of her former self rema….

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!  It was as a flash of lightning and boom of thunder caused the lights in the station bathroom to flicker that I saw it.  No!  No!  It couldn’t be.  I leaned in over the sink and stuck out my chin, my eyes looking down at my reflection.   It wasn’t true, it couldn’t be.  It was a cat hair; that was it.  Yes, a stray fuzzy stirred up by the draft of the ceiling fans.  My trembling fingers reached up to pluck the offensive bit of fluff from my chin and eeeeeeeek!  Oh no!  As I felt the tug on the skin of my chin I realized with horror that the nearly half inch white hair protruding from beneath my lips was attached!!!!!

Calm down, I told myself.  As is the heroine of your story you are prepared.  I turned to my backpack and unzipped the front pocket.  Inside next to my mini first aid kit, roll of duct tape and cell phone was my Leatherman Micra.  A small but useful tool that has scissors, a small blade, a nail file, a ruler, a screw driver, a can opener and yes, tweezers.  A truly handy post apocalyptic tool if there ever was one.

I flipped out the tweezers and made quick work of the hair horror on my chin.  Take THAT!  I thought.  End of the world or not there is no reason to look sloppy!!!  Oh wait.  It was Tuesday.  The world was just fine at the moment, and I was back to waiting in a train station.  I folded the Leatherman back up and tucked it away again in my pack.  I loaded up and made my way back to bench to wait for the storm to pass.

I stared out the window at the rain spattering against the pane.  It was easing up.  Ten minutes until the train arrived.  Hmmm I wondered.  What if she was here day and day out, searching in ever widening circles for other humans, putting calls out over a radio to anyone who might hear.  Over the months she has been here she has read everything in the station.  The tourist guides, the maps, the local ad filled arts magazine.  She’s even memorized the old train schedule and has developed a habit of checking the time and looking out at the empty tracks whenever a train should be passing.  It would be her crazy habit, her quirk to walk out to the track when the last train was due and wait while sipping a glass of moonshine she made from a still built by her own hand.

What if on one of those unexpected afternoons, say on a Tuesday in August (because the world ended in the spring) she walks out with her cup and her watch, and as always she waits, except that THIS time, at precisely 7:42 PM a train actually shows up…