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Lady Edith, I’m betting on you

Lady Edith, I’m betting on you

I refuse to be defeated by an overweight tyrant.“–Lady Edith Crawley

At last, the final season of Downton Abbey is getting it right. Since its debut season, Lady Edith has been my favorite sister–a classic middle child overshadowed by her spoiled, self-absorbed, overindulged, older sister, Mary, and free-spirited younger sister, Cybil. But in the final season, the writers are finally showing that Edith has the potential to out shine her sisters.

For five seasons, Edith’s been cast as a cautionary tale of what not to be–a middle-age, never-married woman, suffering heartbreak after heartbreak, while waiting for a man that appears will never come. But often overlooked, Edith’s a survivor—she continues to get up each day and face a world that doesn’t understand her. In season three, she’s left at the altar, but instead of hiding in her room, she gets up the next morning and claims “spinsters get up for breakfast.”   

Edith is the underdog that no bookie will bet on. While Mary is portrayed as the strong one, she was born with it, it’s Edith who channels the British Army for the inner strength to keep her head held high and to fight off the naysayers who believe she has nothing to offer. It’s Edith who is her own champion and support group, and though sometimes shaky, believes in herself, because no one (aside from Aunt Rosamund) does.

Edith’s life has been less than what she desired, less than what she dreamed it to be. Remember, she loved Patrick (the dude who died on the Titanic in season 1), but had to push her feelings aside for the good of the estate and bow out to Mary, because Mary is the family savior and Mary gets what Mary wants. And while that dude died, Mary grieved for a nanosecond before Matthew showed up to rescue her. Life is easy for Mary, she has her own ladies maid and when she loses one man, another one comes calling faster than winks on Match.com. 

Then baby sister, Cybil, has a 1920-something girls gone wild moment and falls in love and marries the chauffer, further pushing Edith into a life tittering on the edge of tragic. 

Enter Michael Gregson. Ah, finally, it’s Edith’s turn, I exclaim! She’s waited so long. All she wants is the affection of another, to be desired. She loves Gregson, and I think, he loves her, but there are complications–he’s married to a crazy woman who lives in a psych ward in Germany. Edith has a choice: Follow protocol, the neat, prescribed order of life of which she has been raised to believe, or abandon her notions of what was supposed to be and follow her heart. Her heart wins and she sleeps with Gregson.

At this point in the story, I am completely devoted to Edith–she accepts that her life may not be what she had hoped and dreamed of as a girl, but no matter the consequences, she’s going to make the best of it. And oh were there consequences–an illegitimate daughter, a dead lover, a judgmental older sister, and no suitors calling. Edith is down, and she hates that at every turn, nothing goes her way, yet she keeps going.

Throughout the series, Edith doesn’t know it, but in all her struggles, her disappointments, heartbreaks, she’s blazing a trail of her own. She’s saying to the establishment, I can do it, and if I have to, I’ll do it alone. And in season six, she’s speaking up, even embracing her middle-age spinsterhood, telling Granny, “I’m middle-age, I think I can stay alone.”  She does an all-nighter to meet the deadline for the magazine publisher and inspires a young secretary when she fires the “overweight tyrant” editor. Edith does what she has to do to survive, and for this, I can relate.

I do hope however, love will come to Edith before the series ends–it’s the one thing that has been so firmly out of her grasp, yet something she so desperately desires. But Edith is complex and it won’t be so easy. She needs someone who adores her, desires her, but most importantly strong enough for her–someone who can prop her up when she thinks she can’t go on another day–someone whose ego can withstand the fact that she doesn’t always need him—someone who can see that beneath the surface she just wants to be loved.

Edith is tired from years of doing it alone, the years of hoping that this one or the next one will be the one that sees how unique, how different she is from all the rest, and truly gets her, wants her, and can’t imagine his life without her in it. Edith knows she can do it alone, and sometimes prefers it, but doesn’t always want to. How do I know this? I know, because I am Edith.

 

 

Getting the Shaft

Getting the Shaft

My lady friends will remember the Sex and the City episode of the baby shower and the lost Manolo’s.

To refresh your memory, Carrie attends her friend’s baby shower and is forced to take her shoes off, which for Carrie translates to a $400 pair of Manolo Blahnik’s. When Carrie leaves the party, she discovers that her Manolo’s are missing and she’s forced to walk home in a pair of old sneakers from her friend’s closet.

The moral of this 30 minute episode is that after college graduation, singles get the shaft, and that unless you get married or have a baby, there are no more opportunities to celebrate your life choices (birthday’s are a wash as everyone has them.)

So with this in mind, I can’t help but think about the many ways I’ve gotten the shaft for being a single.

  • Single supplement charges for booking solo travel. Seriously, if more people had the courage to travel alone, this world might be a better place and travel companies would be more profitable.
  • Taxes and social security. Simply, single people pay more as federal and state laws benefit married people. It’s been proven in The High Price of Being Single in America.
  • Wedding showers.  Pots, pans, sheets and 12-piece place settings come free of charge when you get married and register at Macy’s. Yes, house warming parties can serve this purpose too, but I’ve yet to see a house warming for a single rack in the amount of goods you get when one gets married.
  • Dual income society. Thanks to the influx of women into the workforce and the myth that women can have it all, a dual income society has prevailed and it’s getting increasingly difficult to survive on one salary.
  • Insurance rates. When I check the box “single” I automatically pay more than my married counterpart who drives more miles to and from the soccer field than I do in a year.
  • No back-up plan.  You are your back-up plan, so only the strongest of us can survive being single. With every bill dependent upon your income, you have little and I emphasize LITTLE wiggle room for mishaps. Dreams of quitting your current gig without another gig lined up are just that, dreams.

I know I’ve been a negative Nelly on this one today, but it’s Monday and I want to be negative.

 

A Mystery so Big, I don’t Understand

A Mystery so Big, I don’t Understand

I’ve been pondering the plight of the 40+ single, never married, no children woman. And I emphasize, “never married.” The way I see it is, even if you’re single by way of a divorce, you’ve been to the rodeo. I’m interested in the ladies who are standing outside without a ticket, anxiously waiting for more seats to open up before the show’s over.

Why my fascination with this subset of women? Because I find  that despite relatively attractive looks, a worthy personality and a desire to be in a relationship, to be married, heck, to be desired, these women remain alone, baffled at how they ended up here–on the precipice of irrelevancy as the pool  gets smaller and the competition grows.

It’s a mystery as big as how Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes. It’s so big, I can’t comprehend, yet I  desperately want to understand.

I want to understand how these women made it to this point. Who are they? What do they look like? Where do they live?  What jobs do they hold? Is there a common bond that ties them all together?

If I can find these women, collect their stories, maybe, maybe, I can understand.  Or at the very least, publish a  best-selling mystery.

 

Searching for the NBM Woman

Searching for the NBM Woman

Lately, I’ve been pondering the concept of NBM. Or what the online dating sites classify as “Never Been Married.”  I’m particularly interested in this concept for women 40+. Although the claim is that 40 is the new 30, when it comes to marriage, stats still confirm that that the average age for a woman to get married in the US is 26.5.

The marriage rite of passage  is highly touted through the countless shows dedicated to finding the perfect wedding dress, having the most memorable wedding and the tales of bridezilla, yet I can’t point to one TV show or reputable role model that caters to the 40+ NBM women.

I ask, where are the role models that tell us it’s okay to forgo marriage, that it’s okay living alone, and that having a perfect wedding does not equate to a perfect marriage? My fear is that today’s focus on weddings and the bombardment of online dating sites sends the wrong message to American young girls.  Don’t they need to know that being single is not a curse, but another lifestyle choice to be considered?  A choice that can come with benefits that far out-weigh those of marriage?

Being a 40+ NBM either by choice or by circumstance is one to be celebrated. They’ve kissed a lot of frogs and have far more insight to the world of men, dating, marriage and relationships than many of their married antagonists. I believe they need to be promoted and celebrated. There’s so much to learn from this cohort and I want to hear more from them. Speak up. Where are you?

Sue Sylvester, an Online Dating Guide?

Sue Sylvester, an Online Dating Guide?

001dht41Every Tuesday night, I’m doubled over in laughter at the quotes rattled off by Glee’s, Sue Sylvester. This woman hates anything and anyone who gets in her way of winning year- after -year cheerleading national chamiponships.

Sue once dated Rob from the local news, but for the most part I believe Sue has resigned to her fate as a single woman. And then I wondered what would happen if Sue set up an online dating profile on one of the many sites that are advertised during a Saturday marathon of “Say Yes to the Dress?”

I often criticize internet dating. I just don’t believe it’s real. It comes across as forced and trying too hard. You have to put the person you want to be out there versus the person you really are. This usually means a generic profile that says you like movies, hanging out with friends, traveling and listening to jazz. Doesn’t everyone say the same thing in their quest to say something different? A dating paradox.

But what if someone like a Sue, just put it out there and said what she wanted without a filter? Throughout school, growing up, even in the corporate world, we’re taught to be careful with our words.  We’re taught to not offend and to think before we speak. Now maybe that’s appropriate for your professional life, but when did that become okay for your personal life? When did sounding like everyone else become the standard for finding true love or at a minimum a fun date for Saturday night. Shouldn’t we be who we are and say what we mean? I’m convinced that the dating world, both on and offline needs more of this.

If you’re honest about who you are and say what you want, then aren’t your chances better that you’ll eliminate the crap and get better results? Frankly, I don’t want to be bothered with the crap. I’d rather watch a 10 hours of Buffy on Saturday than be bothered with the equivalent of Sue Sylvester’s, Will Schuster, a man Sue despises spending any time with.

So my question is, if you put it out there, say what you mean, say what you want, will men gravitate toward that or against it?

Look at a few of Sue’s quotes and you decide:

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious and if that makes me a bitch, that’s what I am.”

“..simply put, you have all the sexuality of all those pandas down at the zoo, who refuse to mate.

” I always thought the desire to procreate showed deep personal weakness.”

“All I want is just one day a year when I’m not visually assaulted by uglies and fatties.

“I don’t trust a man with curly hair. I can’t help but picture little birds laying sulfurous eggs in there, and it disgusts me.