Sunday, February 26, 2012

One more self-deluded female walking down a path of destruction...or not

Single living has been in the news a lot lately. From Kate Bolick’s Atlantic Monthly article, All the Single Ladies, to the publication of Eric Kilnenberg’s Going Solo, everyone seems to be talking about us.  You likely would have had to be actively working to not pay attention in order to not know that today nearly 50% of adults live by themselves or that 43% of adults in the United States are single.  We are the new demographic to be pursued by marketers and those seeking to win our votes in the next election.  

Now of course everyone wants to know why this trend is occurring and everyone has their various theories, but what really seems to be bugging people is why women are choosing to remain single.  I admit that as a single woman who writes a blog about single living that my eye is more likely to be caught by a headline professing to offer up an explanation as to why there seems to be a sudden uptick in the number of solo living females, but no one seems to be in any sort of panic over why there are just about as many single men living in the US as there are single women.

The theories abound but they tend to fall into one of three areas: we are too picky, we aren’t willing to make the sacrifice thatcommitment requires, or that we are deluding ourselves into thinking we actually enjoy our lives, because deep down we secretly want nothing more than to be partnered up and married off and what we really suffer from is a case of the grass-being-greener.   After all, marriage and being part of a forever pair is something we, as women, are supposed to desire above all else while men on the other hand, have to be convinced that it’s something they want.

I suppose if one is the sort that really believes that marriage is the cornerstone of a civilized society the increase in single living women could be perceived as a threat.  One half the marriage equation is suddenly being uncooperative and not fulfilling their prescribed role.  Except of course none of these folks are making the follow up argument that without women convincing them to settle down  all those unhitched single men are going to turn into wild barbarians creating havoc and destruction wherever they go.   Apparently men who are single do just fine; it’s only the women who are deluding themselves.

Maybe I am just one more self deluding female unwittingly doing her bit to bring about the downfall of civilization as we know it…or maybe, hmmmmm, maybe I really am pretty darn happy with my friend filled, busily creative, ever changing, solo living, unmarried life because when I take a look around, the grass beneath my feet really is pretty darn green. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Blogversary to Me!

One year ago I decided to start writing a blog.  When Spinster Jane began it was completely anonymous.   I chose a generic female name to write under, Jane, and a fairly general topic…me and my experiences with living alone.  My main reason for keeping things anonymous was to allow Spinster Jane the freedom to find her voice (yep…I just third personed my blog pen name).  While I knew I wanted to write about living alone and choosing to remain single, I wasn’t 100% sure how to go about doing that. 

In the beginning all I did was write and I did very little in the way of promoting the blog.  Over the next two months I shared the blog with close friends whose editorial opinions I trusted.  I also began to discover that there was a lot of information out there about single living and was pleased to find that much of it was positive.   Blogs like Bella de Paulo’s Living Single and Eleanore Wells’ The Spinsterlicious Life, were informative and inspiring to read.  After another month or so of regular writing I finally started sharing the blog far and wide, where ever I could think of posting it and I slowly started making it a little less anonymous, even posting a picture of my very own face! 

I am sure that during those first few months 90% of my readers were friends and family but over time other folks began to take notice.  I was asked by Simone Grant of Sex, Lies& Dating in the City to write a guest blog post.  I was approached in the grocery store by a woman who recognized my photograph from the blog.  Most recently this blog was nominated for Best Blog in the Portland Phoenix Best of Portland Awards (and yes, if you want to vote for me you can do so here).  As my audience grew the blog developed too with regular features such as Spinster Nesting and Spinster in the Kitchen posts about ways that one can make living alone easier and more comfortable.

And so here I am, one year, 128 posts (well 129 if you count this one) and a domain name later, still writing, mostly about single living, frequently about my cats and occasionally about post apocalypse survival strategies.  Through this blog I’ve connected with some other amazing single living women around the world and I’ve rediscovered my own love of writing. 

So thank you to everyone who offered advice and support when I began this blog a year ago, and a giant thank you to those who visit and read the blog regularly.  While I do write because I enjoy the process (struggle?) of creating, I think every writer hopes that someone will read  the words they have written.  The fact that there is an audience out there for what I write is the butter crème frosting that tops off the creative cake.

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Oregon Orange Suffragette Penicillin Ferris Wheel Creme-Filled Chocolate Quirkyalone Day

As an author of a blog about living single and living alone, I am pretty much obligated to write about that holiday that is the ultimate celebration of being paired off, the day that we are all expected to worship at the altar of coupledom…Valentine’s Day. 

Right now there are about 101 articles out there on the web about how to “survive” Valentine’s Day if you are single.  There are those that will tell you it’s a tribute to love and that you are perfectly okay in celebrating the day with your best friend (a fine idea if you ask me and one I’ve certainly done), there are others that will tell you to make lists of your best qualities and take the chance to celebrate yourself and be your own Valentine (also not a bad idea) and there are plenty of angry rants about how we should ignore the day all together, it’s all just a bunch of over Hallmarked holiday hype.  I’m not going to write about any of those things.

Yes, I do think it is over hyped and that if you are half of a couple that celebrates the day you are likely to find yourself under a stupid amount of pressure to do something over the top to demonstrate how devoted you are, and it certainly isn’t the first holiday that has come to have the expression of its more humble meaning tied to displays of excessive consumerism, BUT I don’t dislike Valentine’s Day.    For me it pretty much stopped being exciting sometime around middle school when the powers that be determined that we were now too old for the annual ritual of stuffing cards festooned with cartoon characters into doily enhanced, heart shaped envelopes taped to the front of our school desks.  As an adult, when I was dating someone, I was pretty much the one caught with the confused look on my face, stuttering about how “Oh, yeah… I was going to do something but I just got so busy and…it got lost in the mail?” as I was being handed a bouquet of flowers and heart shaped box of chocolates.   In other words, in my world, the great V-Day is pretty much a non-event.   Though Deeply Discounted Chocolate Day that follows on the 15th has always been a date circled and highlighted on my calendar. 
However, for those who do feel left out, excluded, annoyed or who just would rather being doing something else I am here to offer up some alternatives.  I have scoured the web far and wide to find for you the following events which also happen to fall on February 14th, along with a celebratory suggestion for acknowledging these alternatives to Valentine’s Day. 

1859 – Oregon is admitted as the 33rd U.S. state.  In addition to being the home of the other Portland, Oregon produces 95% of the domestic hazelnuts grown in the United States.  I’m sure that there are other things Oregon is known for BUT since hazelnuts are part of what makes Nutella one of the most awesome things you can spread with a knife which is pretty much all I needed to know.  This February 14th we should all take a moment to raise a hazelnut flavored something or other to the State of Oregon.  May she “alis volat popriis” for many years to come.

1886 – The first trainload of oranges leaves California.  Down with scurvy!!!!  Yes that’s right.  One hundred and twenty six years ago on February 14th a train car full of sweet citrus headed east on the Transcontinental Railroad.  California’s been growing them and we’ve been eating them ever since.  Of course, chocolate oranges are one of my favorite sweets but I don’t think they grow those on trees.  However, in honor of those vitamin C packed orbs, orange chocolate would be an appropriate way to celebrate that momentous occasion (and hey…if you wait a day, you might get it 50% off).
1920 – The League of Women Voters founded.  Founded by Carrie Chapman Catt in Chicago, Illinois six months before the ratification of the 19th amendment, the Leave of Women Voters sought to empower women who had recently been granted the right to vote in their states.  Personally I think the celebration of this event calls for some sort of themed party, where everyone dresses up as their favorite suffragette and brings a casserole.  Of course, you’d likely wind up with a room of Susan B. Anthonys, so in order to prevent such an occurrence you may want to include the following link in your evite (
1929 – Sir Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin. Well to be more accurate this is the anniversary of the day that Sir Fleming shared his discovery with the world, and while penicillin can’t cure a broken heart, it can cure certain other equally unpleasant by products of love…and you know it’s also known to cure sore throats.  Getting a quick fix in the form of a pill is a good thing, however as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” so perhaps one could celebrate this day by handing out free condoms to all your friends.  It can also be an excuse to not clean your refrigerator because to throw away anything moldy on February 14th would dishonor his memory.

And finally if you need another holiday altogether to celebrate I offer up to you National Ferris Wheel Day, National Crème-Filled Chocolates Day  and my favorite International Quirkyalone Day, which this year is all about Celebrating Your Secret Single Behaviors (and yes…we all have them).   In honor of this year’s International Quirkyalone Day theme I shall dance around my apartment in my underwear, an old wool sweater and knee high polka dot socks to the sounds of the mambo punk band Babaloo; have an extra long conversation with my cat; spend a solid three minutes staring into the depths of my empty fridge and eat bacon for lunch...just bacon. 

Happy Oregon Orange Suffragette Penicillin Ferris Wheel Creme-Filled Chocolate Quirkyalone Day to you all.  May it be all that you hoped it would be. 


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review: The Weird Sisters

I have wanted to try my hand a writing a book review for some time and so when a novel that appeared interesting came up on the BlogHer Book Club, I decided to give it a try.  I hope to make it a regular feature on Spinster Jane with a general focus on books that apply to single living with the occasional novel tossed into the mix.  So here you have it…my first ever book review. 
(This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.)

“We came home because we were failures.” 
- Eleanor. Brown, The Weird Sisters

I am not generally attracted to books that typically fall into the “chick lit” category but I found the description of The Weird Sisters and its connection to Shakespeare intriguing. From the moment I began to read this novel I was pulled into the story of these three women, Rosiland, Bianca and Cordelia; sisters named by their professor father after three heroines of Shakespeare’s plays, who find themselves making a return to the home of their parents in the small town of Barnwell, Ohio.

The Weird Sisters is a novel about expectations; in particular the expectations placed upon us by our families of origin and, perhaps the most difficult, the expectations we have for ourselves.. Though ostensibly back due to their mother’s illness each sister has her own personal reason for making the journey home; an unexpected pregnancy, fear of embracing one’s potential and a rather serious breach of an employer’s trust. As each sister struggles with how to best deal with the complications of their own choices, they must also decide whether or not to reveal their personal conflicts to their sisters and parents, and in the process each comes face to face with the prospect that they may have let themselves and their families down.

On a personal level I found myself identifying with the struggles of each of the sisters. I think we all reach a certain point in our adult lives where we realize that we have become so good at projecting a certain image to the world that we can sometimes deceive even ourselves, leaving us at risk of blindly stumbling along our chosen path until we discover we have come to a place we never intended to be. As with The Weird Sisters this discovery is often made only when we find ourselves face down in the middle of the road. In the end, we can only hope that we will regain our footing, dust off our knees and be willing to humbly face our faults in order to reassess and change direction. 

I enjoyed Eleanor Brown’s style of storytelling.  Though the story begins with how each sister has come to make her way home, it is through the telling of how they arrived at that point that we truly come to know them. Her use of the first person plural effectively conveys the interconnectedness of the sisters and serves to illustrate their collective views of each other while allowing for each sister’s story to come through clearly. I was also pleased to find that, though I have a fair amount of familiarity with Shakespeare, one needn’t be an expert to understand the frequent references made to his various works throughout the book which occur predominantly during the sisters interactions with their professor father; a man who seems unable to express his emotions in his own words and instead relies on those of his literary hero to convey his inner thoughts.

While I did find the ending of the story to be a bit predictable, Brown’s smooth flowing storytelling and likable characters more than made up for it. I found the book difficult to put down and spent many an evening reading “just one more chapter” before heading off to bed.  I would recommend The Weird Sisters to those looking for a sweet and enjoyable read.

If you would like to read more about The Weird Sisters or to participate in discussions of the book, be sure to visit the BlogHer Book Club page where it is the current featured selection. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Spinster Jane...Single With Attitude

I am happy to be able to announce that Spinster Jane is now listed on Single With Attitude, a website created by Bella DePaulo and dedicated to those who live "the single life, joyfully and unapologetically."  I am honored and grateful to be a part of the site.

I am in very good company on their blog listings.  I encourage you to take some time to check out the blog feed and other site resources.  You will find single living voices from a wide variety of perspectives.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Spinster Nesting: Hey!! Who Made this Mess and Who is Gonna Clean it Up?!!

“Organizing is a process, not an event.” – Laura Leist, professional organizer

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrggggggggggaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!!  My apartment is a @!#%^!  mess!!!” – Spinster Jane

I realize that there is some amusement to be found in my sitting on the couch writing about what a cluttered, disorganized mess my apartment has become when I could instead be up doing the dishes, sorting my make-up, putting away clean laundry or some other organizational type task.  However, at the moment I’m not only feeling overwhelmed enough by the state of things that I’ve no idea which task I would actually choose first, BUT I’m also feeling supreme amounts of frustration.

How frustrated am I?  Frustrated enough that I considered cancelling all social engagements over the weekend in favor of taking the time to clean and this is my BIRTHDAY WEEKEND.  So, I need to let off some steam about the state of my living space before going to the extreme of become a cleaning obsessed introvert or simply dumping all I own into a giant trash bin.    

My view from where I sit includes a coffee table piled with ongoing craft projects, three bags of costuming from shows this past weekend that I’ve yet to put away and a basket of clean (and folded) laundry that can’t be put away as there is no room in my dresser.  I also know that there is a giant mound of dirty laundry in my bedroom and the sink is full of dishes.  My bathroom is a clutter of make-up, hair pins and empty contact lense cases.   At this point I really only like my apartment when the lights are off and my eyes are closed. 
I’ve numerous excuses as to why my living space is in this state…

…I’m a busy woman who works two jobs, attends school full-time, performs on the stage regularly and has a busy, busy social life.

…I’ve been fighting exhaustion for the past two months for which a solution was only recently diagnosed.

…I really just need one more bookshelf (which will solve all my clutter problems) or closet organizer (which will solve all my clutter problems), neither of which I can afford at the moment so why bother?

…it’s just such a big job and I don’t have the time to set aside a few days (WEEKS?) to do it. 

While the exhaustion might be plausible excuse for things falling into a worse state than they have ever been before, this has been a problem for several months and this isn’t the first time I’ve blogged about this before (12/12/2011).  In December I did a large amount of sorting and culling of the STUFF in my apartment. I did get rid of quite a bit of things and it did result in a higher level of organization, for a time, but it wasn’t long before things fell back into a generally cluttered state. 

Something must be done and it isn’t just about making my current space clean, it is about getting back into the habit of keeping it in such a state (because really, despite what stories my parents may tell about my being the messiest kid on the block, I don’t generally live like this).  So I’ve signed up for’s** 30 Days to a More Organized You which will send me one ‘get organized’ type tip every day for 30 days.  My hope is that the daily email with fill the role of nagging roommate.  I signed up on Friday and so far I’ve received two emails the first of which told me to make the bed (done!) and spend 20 minutes on one organizational task (I cleared off the dinner table…trust me, it took the whole 20 minutes).  If all of the tips are that easy then by the end of thirty days I should know where every pin, sock or cookie in my apartment is located. 

…or at least I’ll know where to begin looking to for them. 

**please note I am not endorsing Self or any other Conde Nast publication or product.  I chose to sign up for this particular service because it also allows me to check off when I have completed one of the suggested tasks which allows me to see that I’m actually making some sort of progress.