Posts Tagged single

new music: The Stooges’ James Williamson and The Bellrays’ Lisa Kekaula colloborate on new single


Genuinely sweet and unexpected when a renowned punk rocker comes out with a gem like this one. The Stooges’ James Williamson joined forces with The Bellrays’ Lisa Kekaula for “I Love My Tutu.” The song combines world beats and reggae. Tutu is a Hawaiian word for grandmother and this song celebrates the relationship between grandmothers and grand-children. The B-side “Never Far From Where The Wild Things Are” was inspired by the children’s classic book Where the Wild Things Are. Proceeds benefit homeless children in Hawaii via Project Hawai’i. The 7″ single will be released on vinyl on June 17, 2016. Pre-order here.

Of the single, James Williamson said: “I wrote ‘Tutu’ one day while playing ukulele for my own granddaughter and finished the lyrics with my wife over the weeks to follow. My family and I spend a fair amount of time on the Big Island of Hawaii and have a first hand understanding of the deep relationship that children have with their Tutu’s in Hawaii. I wanted to have Lisa Kekaula sing it not only because she is a fabulous talent, but also because she is part Hawaiian herself and, in fact, her niece and nephew (who live on Maui) are the kids singing backups at the end of the record.”

Williamson plans to release more singles this year.

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book review: reflecting on life’s unconventional choices in Spinster and Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed


Spinster By Kate Bolick.
Crown| April 21, 2015|308 pages |$26.00| ISBN: 978-0-385-34714-3

Rating: ****/5*

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Penguin Random House.

Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids Edited by Meghan Daum.
Picador| March 2015|288 pages |$26.00| ISBN: 978-1-250-05293-3

Rating: ****/5*

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I won an ARC on Goodreads.

“After all, artists—especially writers—need more alone time than regular people. They crave solitude whereas many people fear it. They resign themselves to financial uncertainty whereas most people do anything they can to avoid it. Moreover, if an artist is lucky, her work becomes her legacy, thus theoretically lessening the burden of producing a child to carry it out.” –Meghan Daum

Being 45 never married and childfree I could write an essay on both these books. I have written essays on these topics. At an early age, I knew I never really wanted to marry or have children. It wasn’t something I sought out in relationships i.e. a guy I would end up marrying. I never wanted to own a house. I never felt any maternal urges. I didn’t play with dolls or fantasize about weddings. I rode horses. I wrote poems.

Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed approaches the topic with fresh voices. Much superior to No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood. It’s not the usual “I’m too busy/my career got in the way and I forgot about children” argument that many people use. Many people feel plenty fulfilled with pets, careers, volunteer work, hobbies, partners, lovers and yeah, just being alone. This idea of being single or being a spinster is exactly what Kate Bolick investigates in Spinster. It’s much more acceptable to be single and over 35 these days. However there remain misconceptions and stereotypes [crazy cat lady anyone?]. In fact there are 158.3 million women in the United States and 105 million are single. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way surrounded by wedding rings and couples.

Bolick explains: “Not until colonial America did spinster become synonymous with the British old maid, a disparagement that cruelly invokes maiden (a fertile virgin girl) to signify that this matured version has never outgrown her virginal state, and is so far past her prime that she never will. If a woman wasn’t married by twenty-three she became a ‘spinster.’ If she was still unwed at twenty-six, she was written off as a hopeless ‘thornback,’ a species of flat, spiny fish—a discouraging start to America’s long evolution in getting comfortable with the idea of autonomous women.” Bolick mixes her personal experiences and thoughts with research on literary inspirations—Edna St. Vincent Millay; Maeve Brennan; Edith Wharton; Neith Boyce and Charlotte Perkins Gilman to examine the idea of pursuing not just a room of one’s own but a life of one’s own choosing.

Danielle Henderson [“Save Yourself”] writes: “But to me, the lack of desire to have a child is innate. It exists outside of my control. It is simply who I am and I can take neither credit nor blame for all that it may or may not signify.” Geoff Dyer [“Over and Out”] admits: “It’s not just that I’ve never wanted to have children. I’ve always wanted to not have them.” He continues: “Of all the arguments for having children, the suggestion that it gives life ‘meaning’ is the one to which I am most hostile—apart from all the others. The assumption that life needs a meaning or purpose! I’m totally cool with the idea of life being utterly meaningless and devoid of purpose.”

Laura Kipnis [“Maternal Instincts”] states: “It’s only modern technology’s role in overriding nature—lowering the maternal death rate, inventing decent birth control methods—that’s offered women some modicum of self-determination.” She adds: “Though no one exactly says it, women are voting with their ovaries, and the reason is simple. There are too few social supports, especially given the fact that the majority of women are no longer just mothers now, they’re mother-workers.”

Unfortunately due to societal expectations and pressures it does make one feel a bit of a freak, an outsider that one doesn’t have a ring on one’s finger. That one isn’t coupled up. That one doesn’t have children. For a while you get the “you might change your mind” or “it’s not too late” or “you just haven’t met the right guy yet” when someone hears of your supposed dilemma. At 29 I had to have a laparoscopy and wanted tubal ligation but my gynecologist refused because I might change my mind I was young. Then a few months later I turned on The Today Show and see a 20something guy talking about his choice to get a vasectomy. Just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean I want to breed. I’m happy solo. I’d be a great aunt but no one wants to forge that relationship probably due to my mental illness.

Oh, that’s another thing who would want to inflict mental illness knowingly on a child. I belong to DBSA [Depression Bipolar Support Alliance] and in groups I hear person after person talking about their own children being diagnosed with a mental illness. They themselves are here in a group because they struggle with mental illness every day. Someone once said that her babies were what made her get out of bed because of her depression. Yeah, get a cat. That’s a lot of pressure for a child to be your reason to get up in the morning and not kill yourself. As Lionel Shriver writes [“Be Here Now Means Be Gone Later”]: “The odds of children making you happier are surely no better than fifty-fifty.” Elliott Holt discusses her depression and mental breakdowns in “Just An Aunt.” She writes: “I offer my three nieces an entirely different female model: a career-focused artist, with no financial security, who will probably never own a house.”

Both my brothers married college girlfriends at age 23. My older brother had all three daughters before he turned thirty. His daughter married at 21 before even graduating from college. Who knows who one is or wants to be or is a fully formed individual until age 30? Sometimes it takes a while to figure ourselves out both professionally and personally. Anna Holmes [“Mommy Fearest”] writes: “These days, as I enter my forties, I find that I am now beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin, to find the wherewithal to respect my own needs as much as others’, to know what my emotional and physical limits are, and to confidently, yet kindly, tell others no.” Kate Bolick notes: “Austen never married, Wharton didn’t fully come into her own as a writer until she’d divorced her husband, and Mary Eleanor Wilkins—a wildly successful fiction writer in her day; who like Maine’s never-married Sarah Orne Jewett before her, often chose spinsters as her subjects—did in fact produce her best work before she married at age fifty.”

An ex once told me that marriage and having children was “the thing to do.” Another high school friend said that she and her boyfriend thought about whether they wanted to be the type of couple who had children or the type who didn’t. Sounded weird. Think of first time fathers Jeff Goldblum at 60 and Steve Martin at 70. Having a child can be just as selfish an act as not having a child—- to pass on your genes; to keep your lineage flourishing; to have someone to love unconditionally.

We’ve all seen those couples who work out together or those who call each other from the grocery store to consult on what they need. Then there are those people who cannot see films alone or go to a concert. They miss out on so much for fear to go alone. Bolick, who doesn’t go much longer than a few months without a boyfriend, writes: “though marriage was no longer compulsory, the way it had been in the 1950s, we continued to organize our lives around it, unchallenged.” However on the flip side: “Having nobody to go home to at night had always seemed a sad and lonesome fate; now I saw that being forced to leave the house for human contact encourages a person to live more fully in the world.”

If you’re feeling the need for kinship, both Spinster and Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed are compelling reads. If you don’t understand how someone could choose to be single or choose not to have a child, then you need to read them also. If you’re a feminist [and if you’re reading one of my reviews you should be], these are required reading.

Kate Bolick will be at Harvard Book Store tonight, April 23 at 7pm.

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purchase at Amazon:

Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids

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Choice quotes: Staying single is the best

Lena Headey3

“I’m just going to stay single forever. I could never live with anybody ever again.”
–Lena Headey to Chelsea Handler on Chelsea Lately June 9, 2014


“I don’t want to have to tell anybody what I’m thinking, where I’m going.”
–Whoopi Goldberg on The View June 9, 2014

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book review: It’s Not You

its not you

It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reason Why You’re Single by Sara Eckel. Publisher: Perigree (January 27, 2014). Self-help. paperback. 184 pages. ISBN 978-0-399-16287-9.

“But the myth that we’re 100 percent in control of what happens in our lives makes us extremely hard on ourselves, and single people especially, so eager to solve the riddle of Why, are often willing to accept the premise that some fatal personality flaw is preventing them from finding lifelong love.”

Finally, a book that will ensure singles over 35 that they’re not the last single person out there and there’s nothing wrong with them. They just haven’t met that someone. It’s okay to be picky, to have careers, to enjoy living solo, to travel, to be undecided about your future, to be a bet of a mess, to not smile all the time. Yes, someone will love you anyway. Some people are late bloomers and there’s no reason to beat yourself up over that. Sara Eckel wrote a wonderful article in NYT’s Modern Love called “Sometimes It’s Not You” which reassured many a single that his or her singledom wasn’t for being too ugly or too smart or not into sports or having too many cats or reading too many books.

“Single people aren’t on the fringe of society– they are society.”

In this book, Eckel extensively researched relationships, dating and the stigma of being single. She spoke with a plethora of experts. She uses a Buddhist-style philosophy to let it go, to let the universe happen, to be mindful, to feel what you feel and release it. It’s OKAY to be picky, independent, a feminist, older, sometimes sad, to not settle, and to be intimidating and not play games [remember the dreaded The Rules in the 90s?]. Sara Eckel debunks all those reasons everyone’s been hearing about why they’re still single: “you’re not playing the game,” you’re too desperate, you’re too picky, you’re too negative; you need to be happy alone. And many more. So with 27 of the wrong reasons why you could still be single, you should find solace in this book somewhere.

You Have Low Self-Esteem

“Research shows that people with high self-esteem are no more well-liked than those with low self-esteem, they only think they are more admired, says Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at University of Texas at Austin.”

Eckel embraces meditation and mindfulness and suggest this approach the next time you’re feeling rejected, less than or down about not having a date:

“Instead of assigning blame, simply take a moment and acknowledge the painful disappointment you’re feeling. You don’t try to talk yourself out of feeling bad—since feeling bad is a completely natural response to rejection.”

You’re too Desperate

Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History says: “Historically, desperate is agreeing to marry a much older man whom you find physically repulsive. Desperate is closing your eyes to prostitutes and mistresses and praying you don’t get a venereal disease. Desperate is having child after child because your husband won’t let you use birth control or covering the bruises you got last night when you hurry to the market to shop for the evening meal. Women today may be anxious about finding a mate, but most could not even imagine being that desperate.”

You’re Too Picky

“The implicit assumption –that I wanted perfection or nothing—infuriated me because I wasn’t entirely sure it was wrong. How could it be? I had failed my entire life to find this relationship.”

You’re Too Selfish

Not so fast! Oh the things you can accomplish alone. Sure being part of a couple can be great but I know some marrieds who have to do everything together or check with each other before doing something and that’s a drag to me.

“Single women and men are more likely to call, visit and help out their aging parents with daily tasks (doing housework, driving to the doctor’s etc.) than their married peers.” [Yes. My brothers rarely visit my parents and hardly ever visited my now deceased grandparents. I was the one to visit weekly and take care of them.]

“Single people are also more likely to lend a hand to neighbors and siblings. And never-married women attend more political gatherings and sign or petitions than their married cohorts . . .” [I’ve always been politically active and volunteer on political campaigns.]

You Don’t Know Love

I love this section because I never understand when people feel the need to say they’ve been “almost married” several times or to list the number of long-term relationships they’ve had. My long list of dates, short-term relationships and one-night-stands don’t count as experience? I beg to differ.

“Little credit is given to the person, who has the sensitivity and intelligence to avoid the near-engagement or divorce—who takes months, rather than years, to realize the partnership isn’t working. No due is given the person who refuses to be jerked around—thus compelling the jerks to move on to easier prey. It’s assumed there is some love gene that you lack.”

RATING: ****/5

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Penguin Group.

Sara will be reading at Trident Books on Tuesday, February 11 at 7pm.

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book review: Forget Me Knot

by Sue Margolis

Forget Me Knot is the type of book you read in one day at the pool or at the café and then forget about in a few days. Abby runs her own business Fabulous Flowers and is engaged to Toby. She’s from a working-class background and he’s very much not. In the UK, this is a huge deal. At thirty-four, Toby was a real grown-up. Abby had dated too many men who, even as they hit their mid-thirties, were still trying to work out what they wanted from life and where they were going. They were frustrated, tormented types who—often for good reason—yearned to give up jobs that gave them no satisfaction and take off round the world on a Harley. Her best friends are her school-mate Sophie and Martin, who works at her shop. Toby and Abby haven’t had sex in a while because Toby just can’t get it up. Sophie and Martin [who is gay] suspect Toby is gay but Abby just will not see it in her fiancé. In the meantime, a film decides to use Abby’s shop as a shooting location and the director, Dan is quite cute. As Toby and Abby fall apart, Dan and Abby, predictably begin a romance. Recently, I saw the fabulous documentary Paper Heart which examines love from all angles. In it, Charlyne Yi talks to romance novelist Sarah Baker who explains that the key to any good romance is HEA—happily ever after and that there must be one half of a couple who makes a sacrifice for the other. So expect that to happen in Forget Me Knot which is fairly predictable. It’s a very easy read. Everything is clearly laid out right in front of you. Margolis lays the clues out for the reader and uses simple words. She creates characters you know or quickly recognize. This book is the definition of chick lit in every sense of the word. The sex scenes are so graphic it’s a cross between a watered down Anais Nin and Penthouse Forum. There are misunderstandings over silly movie-style things: something looks one way but in actuality is another. One party seethes while the other cries or broods. The couple comes back together. Then all is well in the end. Happy. Happy. There’s no depth in Forget Me Knot. Which I suppose many people desire in a summer read. For me, it is just to light for reading fare.

Bantam Books
Trade Paperback

Grade: C+

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