One is a Whole Number: A Discussion about Living Happily Single

Hey, I miss you guys. I have been thinking that for a few months, and then I was asked to be a guest on Marcie L. Thomas’ Brown Girl Collective Blog Talk Radio along with Nika C. Beamon, whose title I love, I Didn’t Work This Hard Just to Get Married. It brings me so much joy to keep talking about the main messages and themes of  Single & Happy: The Party of Ones even though I wrote it awhile ago. I hope you enjoy Nika’s insights and mine. You can find the whole show at this link.

The motherless single

This also serves as proof of life, since it’s been so long since I wrote here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the challenges of being motherless as a single woman. As usual, my friends step in with amazing resources and love-filled everything. But I feel like the Eeyore at everyone’s party this time of year. I dislike sadness, and at the same time, I feel like it can be its own safety blanket. I mentioned it to my married friend and she said that she hates Father’s Day like I hate Mother’s Day. She recommended that I do something that makes me incredibly happy.

Sounds too easy to be true, but… I took myself out to dinner after visiting the U.S. Botanic Garden, which is this heavenly oasis filled with orchid-beauty. It helped a lot to walk in nature. It reminded me that we always get to choose how we’ll look at something like loss or pain. Getting over or getting through is never outside of our grasp.

AnonFlower

I don’t even know what this is.

Orchid1

Some amazing something or another orchid

LBJQuote

I loved finding an Austin-connection & Lady Bird with an inspirational quote (which you know the single ladies *love*)

Orchid2

More beauty

Maybe it says a lot about me, but I like the idea of visiting flowers that I know are not going to die or wilt while I try to overnurture them.

As many of you know, I can be a little emotional around this time of year. I wrote a little about my mom this morning at my new blog. I’m reposting it here, but I’m also blogging more frequently at joshunda.com – so I’d love it if you could we could follow each other over there.

A couple of years ago, while I was in the Bay Area for VONA (which I highly recommend, as does Junot Diaz) I was deep in a draft of my memoir with the help of kind, excellent teachers. It was probably too soon after my mother’s death at the beginning of 2012. It was only May. Mary Johnson, author of the exquisite An Unquenchable Thirst, mentioned that it was brave to try to write about us so soon and I like trying to be brave. But there was something about the time that opened me up – there is something about grief that is special. It is always hard. It lingers. But it offers contemplation and shoring up if you let it. (I wrote about the deaths of my parents, especially my mom, for Gawker in 2013)  I was spring cleaning and found this letter.

 

Dear Mom:

In death, it turns out, there is so much meditation on life. When you know the contours of the end, what it smells like, the hollowness of the trivial, the meaning of a real friend, cleaning feces from fingernails and staring down the terror of the unknown, nothing else feels real or deep or confirmed.

I had to stop pretending I cared about facts when you made your quick transition. I used to think information and data were armor. Armed with facts, journalists and writers can get to feeling invincible and God-like. Omniscient. But all knowledge can feel futile in the face of a wounded soul. A broken spirit.

I have no gifts but being a witness to what life feels like, and that is subjective. It is reading the breeze. It is believing the voices in my head are you, ancestors and God. Maybe it means in my grief, I have become mad. My dreams are canvasses of picturesque beauty and upheaval.

When you were on the planet, living flesh, the story that propelled me was that we have parallel lives. That you had closed the door to a specific kind of joy but to be less like you — less mad, less unstable, less Maggie — I would open that door, stand at the threshold, investigate what it was you were rejecting. The intensity of joy and gratitude and not knowing and being still is an unwelcome bittersweet state. It is like living on another planet, or in another world, where time is not mapped in minutes but in how successful one is at navigating life events.

You taught me how to ignore the world and its milestones. How to follow my destiny. How to treat myself regally, no matter the attire or its cost or its worth. I thought you mad for so long for this disregard, considered you inept at life.

In your absence, I know better. Facts are not truth unless they can be felt. What we feel and what we create with what we feel lasts a lifetime. Everything else shifts, no matter our assessment of the shifts. We can be in our moments, owning them, or we can let life’s moments own us. I miss your lucid moments, maybe once a year, when I could drag your essence out of you for a little advice. I hear you, I feel you — it’s different, worse and better.

I feel you watching.

I will try to grow better and more vulnerable and so much stronger.

Stay there.

Love,

Your baby girl

MomGettingDown

 

Other kinds of love and Happy Valentine’s Day

When I became a journalist, I realized that I was in love with wandering as much as the thrill of the chase. I craved monogamy — in love and in a city — but I was greedy, too. I wanted all of the sprawling urban wild of Houston and the quiet hospitality of East Texas and the seafood with a view of Mount Rainier from Seattle. I wanted San Francisco to be as black and beautiful as Oakland and for the whole Bay Area to offer housing as affordable as the South. For minutes at a time, I could stand tracing the lines of the New York subway system on a map like they were veins in a lover’s forearm.

The quote above is from My Valentine’s Day piece about breaking up with Austin, which I’ll always have a special fondness for. You can read the rest here: http://bit.ly/1mg0i3h

I wanted to put this piece here and thank you for all the love and support you’ve shown me by showing up whenever I have time to post. I realized the other day that it’s been a year since the publication of my book Single & Happy and that it all started with the community of single sweethearts and our allies that I met here. If you hate Valentine’s Day, like I used to, hang in there — it’s almost over. If you like it (and all the chocolate) 1) I recommend Chocolove’s Almond and Dark Chocolate bar with Sea Salt before the day is done and 2) Happy Valentine’s Day.

Either way, may you always get the love of your life and the love you deserve.

 

On Being Mary Jane and the intimacies of single black women

I love the idea of Being Mary Jane, but I’m annoyed, too.

There are about 4 million viewers of the show. BET is boasting that it’s the #1 show on Tuesday nights — surprise! — among my demographic: All the single black ladies. If you haven’t been watching because you’re not one of the 55 percent of African-American  unmarried women in America, #BeingMaryJane trends globally on Twitter during every new episode.

Like a lot of scripted (and unscripted) dramas featuring single black women, while the show’s creators point out that Mary Jane doesn’t represent all of the single women mentioned above, there’s such a dearth of single black female characters on television whose love lives are a significant part of their narratives that it’s refreshing to see a show offer that.

I really miss the other one, Olivia Pope. Pope, played by Kerry Washington, is the lead in Scandal. The ABC hit show is based on a real-life problem solver inside the Beltway. Her power and stylishness is what makes Pope iconic, but her Achilles heel is the small problem of the fact that she’s in love with the very married President of the United States and his dreamy compadre. (Please read: Is Olivia Pope the New Sally Hemings? for a little insight into why this seems a little far-fetched and hard to digest for black women.)

Anyway, ‘Scandal’ isn’t back until late February. I figured I’d check out Being Mary Jane to fill in the big gaping void.

I don’t think it’s working.

So, both characters offer uncommon and refreshingly humane portraits of unmarried black women who are generally stereotyped as martyrs or hood rats and very rarely viewed as anything in between. Good on you, television, for trying to give us life.  Enuma Okoro writes at the Atlantic, “Comparing Being Mary Jane to Scandal obscures one of the great strengths of Gabrielle Union’s new series: the relatability of its protagonist. Part of the brilliance behind Brock Akil’s work is that she uses a black lead character and a primarily black cast to appeal to women of all races.”

Does this about sum it up?

It’s a good effort. Better than good. I’m not optimistic about a wildly diverse audience for the show, though.

I watched the movie before the premiere earlier this month because I was intrigued by all the trailers showing Gabrielle Union submerging in a sea/bathtub littered with quotes on Post-Its, which I am fond of writing inspirational quotes on myself. The movie was good. For Gabrielle Union, who hasn’t had roles with the most, um…gravitas…in the past, it’s fantastic.

In the movie, we first meet Mary Jane baking at two in the morning. We rarely view black women doing domestic work for personal comfort in popular culture (looking at you, The Help), so as unlikely as it might be, it’s still nice to see. Her drunk boo, Andre (the excessively fine Omari Hardwick) arrives unexpectedly and cajoles her convincingly enough that she sweeps all her single lady things under her bed, empty wine glass and all.

She discovers Andre is married when she steps on his wedding ring accidentally. She responds by assaulting him with a steady stream of garden hose water. I don’t know if I squealed from pain watching this or glee? I couldn’t imagine this ending well in real life, I guess, so maybe it was a mixture of both.

Things with her family and at work are not any less messy. Mary Jane’s mother calls her all the time to vent, usually when MJ is at work. This is reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s character in Waiting to Exhale in almost every way, but in MJ’s case, the whole family follows suit. Her older brother seems to show up in every scene asking for money. Her little brother flips signs and sells weed for cash. Her niece is pregnant. She tries to get some retail therapy by buying incredibly expensive and fugly shoes, only to run into Andre and his wife, whom she later confronts at the pet store.

Yes, that’s what I wrote. Mary Jane goes to the pet store where Andre’s wife is buying kitty litter for her bereft friend and corners her. Since the one unmarried black woman everyone on the planet knows is Oprah, it’s not surprising that her name comes up. Andre’s wife immediately recognizes MJ from TV and tells her that she’s brought her so much comfort, especially after the talk show queen’s show went off the air. Mary Jane responds by saying, “Did you know I’m sleeping with your husband?”

Oh. Is *that* how that works?

Fast forward to MJ having an emotional night — she was baking a cake for her niece’s baby shower and had a nervous breakdown over a cute baby commercial. She has successfully delivered a story about women stealing sperm in what she calls the “rapey Africa story.” Mary Jane proceeds to steal and store the sperm of David, an ex that she has been labeled “Never Answer” in her iPhone.

Look, if she can’t bother to change the man’s name in her phone or actually meet him for dinner right after she said she would, does she really care enough about him to keep his sperm in a baking soda box in her freezer?

Proof there is a God.

At a party at her house where there are strippers (just because) when everyone is drunkenly confessing their dirt, she busts out the frozen sperm she stole instead of confessing that she’s been doing it with a married man. When she texts him later in what must have been the thirstiest string of texts in modern television, he doesn’t answer because after having an explicit conversation with his wife about why they’re divorcing — along the lines of: “No one likes to put a dick in their mouth first thing in the morning” — these two end up having make up sex.

Anyway, it’s nice that Mary Jane leans away from the Tyler Perry-model of shrill, psychotic and materialistic black women with standards that are too high and unrealistic, but she’s not that far away from that archetype. When she’s working, for instance, and tells David “Never Answer” she can’t go out, she calls him back two hours later to see if he can come over now that she’s finished working. She has a nonsensical hissy fit when she learns that he’s headed out on a date with someone else and she lies to him about Andre.

It’s the desperation that irritates me. That in every other area of a black woman character’s life she is together and in control and measured, but when it comes to intimacy, romance and love, she loses will power and totally becomes undone. [For a better and fuller explanation of popular culture narratives about single black women and how they are damaging in real life, I recommend Ralph Richard Banks' book, Is Marriage for White People? I wrote a review of it here. You can buy it here.]

At least with Pope, we see her make an effort to date a man who is available, she just backslides (like all the way back through history) regularly. With Mary Jane, we continue to see the message that black women are content to be sloppy seconds no matter how successful we are — because our loneliness is so deep and broad that it makes us morally corrupt and reckless like nothing else.

On one hand, this resonates. On the other, I don’t watch TV for a mirror or a reminder as much as for fantasy and inspiration. So to see Mary Jane as eviscerating and judgmental with everyone but herself is painful, even if it’s glossy and there’s lots of eye candy.

I might just wait for Scandal to come back on. Have you been watching Being Mary Jane? What do you think?

Fascinating stories about singles from 2013

I really meant to post this list a little earlier but I moved across country, celebrated that and the holidays with friends and family and as my birthday approaches, a big ‘ol snowstorm has arrived. You guys are my Internet-equivalent of a #winterboo, so I thought I’d say a merry/happy belated Goodbye-to-All-That, 2013 with this mini-list.

Anne Lamott on her year at Match.com: “You could say that my year on Match was not successful, since I’m still single, have been reduced to recycling my Starbucks companions, and am pleased with ‘pleasant.’ To have gone out so many times took almost everything I had, and then I didn’t even meet the right man. You start to wonder if there’s something wrong with you. Nah.”

One of the best reported and most illuminating stories was written by the founders of Onely.org at the Atlantic on the high costs of being single.

I just watched this wonderful video Op-Ed from The New York Times via Upworthy (h/t Natalie Tindall).

If you love videos, this sweet one I first saw at Love, InshAllah is great.

It’s also almost the anniversary of the publication of my ebook, Single & Happy. I had a feeling eventually someone would ask me about the white lady legs on the cover, but I thought I was just being neurotic and should let it go. Then, I wrote this.

And this commenter (as commenters sometimes will) wrote the question that I had been waiting a year for:

On the book cover the photographed legs look like those of a white woman? Why would you do that? Black woman are so beautiful!!

Yes. We are. We are so beautiful!

And whenever we write something that connects what happens to us to broader womanhood or humanity, it is categorized on the African American shelf or in the ethnic studies category. Nothing wrong with that. But I wanted to reach single people generally. Even so, I, too, winced a little when I got the design back and wondered who would ask me about the white lady legs (my brother said it just the way I thought it months ago.) I hoped that the main point of the book — which is only partly about race and a rhetorical, sustained assault on single black women from a particular era (that thankfully seems to have slowed) but mostly about fighting a stigma that impacts women of all races — wouldn’t get missed by picking a pair of legs that looked just like mine. It is my story, too, but it’s also the story of a lot of single men and women.

At least that’s what I was trying for. I might not have been successful. But 2014 is a new year. I’m working on some other books. I’ll keep you posted. Happy New Year!

How to be alone

Joshunda:

You won’t be sorry.

Originally posted on Love, InshAllah:

Gorgeous and wise.

View original

For Potential Givers: A Feed-A-Single-Parent-Family Primer.

Joshunda:

I hope you’ll support a great cause as we start thinking about Thanksgiving!

Originally posted on beyondbabymamas:

Since launching our holiday Feed-A-Single-Parent-Family holiday initiative yesterday, we’ve received overwhelming response, both from families in need and from generous supporters interested in donating. To streamline the process for the latter, here are some additional details and a separate form for those looking to give a grocery gift card to a family that could really use your support this holiday season:

  • Beyond Baby Mamas is a volunteer-run support community. Though we do have plans to transition into a fully-supported nonprofit organization in 2014, we are not currently one. Should you decide to help a family you do not know by donating a grocery gift card, your contribution cannot be claimed as a tax exemption.
  • Please complete the form below or email us beyondbabymamas at gmail dot com, providing ALL the information listed below.
  • We are, to the best of our ability, matching givers to families, based on family size and…

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What my Cleo taught me about how to live & love

Named for a Queen. Owning it.

Named for a Queen. Owning it.

My sweet Cleopatra, named for a Queen, sister to a mastiff I never met named Brutus, died on Monday morning. I was working on something and she had been breathing hard all day and I was planning to take her to the vet on Monday first thing. I called after her and she came over, laid at my feet and stopped breathing.

She was somewhere between 8 years old and 11. She was a gift from a wonderful man I met through a good friend who worked at the newspaper where I used to work. Kurt had a brain tumor and needed to go into hospice so he wanted someone to treat his baby right. Brutus, unfortunately, ran away. Cleo, who had grown up with a cat and Kurt, had remained. As you can see, she was beautiful.

My joke about her was that she knew that she was named for a Queen. She was dainty, quiet and sweet. She was well-trained and reserved at first, but mostly she liked to lick people and puppies. On our walks around the neighborhood, she would point her muzzle at the angry-looking feral cats and wag her tail like, “Look, Mom, it’s the love of my life.”

I would gently pull her in the direction of our path. “Um, let’s stay away from animals that might maim you.”

She worked as protection from all kinds of people and stuff, but she did not bark.

Every now and then she would howl in this really unladylike way that was kind of scary. At nothing. Like the wind.It sounded like the creak of a door coming off its hinges.

She sighed with impatience while I tried to make deadlines and hated my computer.

She pressed her wet nose into my face in the mornings when she was feeling well, a reminder for me to get up and get at it. Because I had never had a dog before, I failed regularly to do anything that makes sense to dogs (and probably humans.) She loved me anyway.

For instance, she thoroughly hated thunderstorms and firecrackers (I hear this is typical for dogs). One night, around 2 in the morning, she kept pacing and shaking, so I got several copies of the Yellow Pages (don’t judge) and made a makeshift staircase so that she could use them to climb up on the bed. She walked away and continued to whimper from a couch that I kept just so she could have her own throne.

A few days later, I went to Ikea. When I came home, she had gotten herself nice and comfortable in my bed, sans Yellow Pages. All I could do was laugh.

It was less funny when the frat boys next door had a Fourth of July shindig and Cleo tore down the living room blinds and nearly ripped a few doors off their hinges.

But Cleo did teach me about living and loving in profound ways. The first thing she taught me is that you don’t have to choose a way to be. My story about myself was that I was a cat person (not a single cat lady) and not really a dog person. They were so much work. They were expensive. I didn’t have the time.  But really I was non-committal and afraid of intimacy. I didn’t want to love something other than myself so hard because I was deeply afraid of loss. I don’t care what people say about it’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved. It is hard to lose the people and things that we love and the ache feels like it never ends. So I understand why people avoid it.

Tall and Proud.

Size does not matter. I affectionately called Cleo my mini-pony because she really was the size of a small horse. What I loved about her was that she truly adored little dogs. They would be barking and freaking out and running around and she would just look at them and sniff their bellies and if they stood still, she’d lick them until they calmed all the way down.  So I learned from her that sometimes things look and seem scary, but approaching them like you might totally be destroyed by an experience is not a good way to make friends at the dog park/in life.

Even when you’re shy, you find the people and things meant for you. Before I got Cleo, I think I thought that I needed to do a lot of work to date and network and circulate to convince any potential partners that I was worth it. But what I learned getting out and about with Cleo is that just by being her beautiful Cleo self, she drew really great people to her and into my life.

You never have to ask your real friends to be there for you. From a recommendation for a vet to a crate (that Cleo tried to sit in without complaint for our first few days together until I felt like a moron and stopped putting her in it) to giving her medication with peanut butter to having a place for her to crash while my mom was sick and I needed to be back East, Cleo taught me how to think first about how to help us take care of her and trust my friends enough to be part of our community. My friends Andrea and Todd went above and beyond, even though they have three other dogs and two adorable sons and plenty of other things they could be thinking about at any given time.

Nothing wrong with getting your snuggle on.

Forgiveness feels better than you think. I used to hold grudges. I still do, but less after Cleo. I have said this before but I like the saying that suggests that festering anger toward people is like holding a hot coal and expecting the other person to get burned. One of the greatest gifts of Cleo in my life was that even when I was annoyed with her or I raised my voice or something, she might cower a little bit and look at me before she stormed off, but a moment later, she would come wagging her tail when I came back to my senses. Then I would hang out with her on her throne and talk to her while I rubbed her belly, hoping I could get back in her good graces — but she had already forgiven me. Grace.

Check out my Striiipes.

When you are fully yourself, no matter how different, the people who are supposed to love you will adore you for it. Cleo was more famous in my neighborhood, especially around tiny children, as the tiger-striped mini-horse than I will ever be. People would always ask me about Cleo before they asked about me. Sometimes I would complain that I wish she had opposable thumbs so she could have done some work, but I actually loved how committed she was to just hanging out and pretending to tan her belly as opposed to needing to do work. She taught me how to take better care of myself and my heart. She hated water but she also hated the heat, so she spent a lot of her summer doing this version of downward facing dog.

Come and Take it! But you won’t! I’m too cute.

Being vulnerable is a beautiful, painful thing. While the people who know me best and have known me the longest know how intensely I love some people and things, the older I get the harder it is for me to pretend to be aloof. One of my best friends, the one who helped me take Cleo to the emergency vet in the middle of the night to be cremated, said that she learned from her puppy how to open up. I did, too. I was lucky to be a dog mom for a few years. Thanks, Miss Cleo, for teaching me how to howl when I needed to and how to walk and keep trying to live with grace. I already miss you so much.

Is Loneliness Lethal?

Hey, if you’re not depressed enough about being single, just remember that loneliness can kill you. You’re welcome:

Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer—tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.

I used to get lonely a lot, but over the years, I’ve been really amazed at the great, wide community out there that wraps me up in loving support,  even when I try to push people away (consciously or without thinking about it until after they’ve gone.)

The great thing about being single is that you get to decide how you respond to external pressure to be in a relationship, to raise a kid on your own or with a partner that nobody approves of or likes, or even just get a pet and make that the center of your world. (Shout out to Cleo, who turns 12 this year.) Anyway, I was reading this book, No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood, a few months ago. Most of the writers, like Margaret Cho, are comedians.  They say a lot of what I’ve written about before when complaining about the ways that coupled people and some uncoupled ones expect that any person presenting as a woman in the world explain their childlessness. Motherhood is still considered a prerequisite for performing real womanhood and women are not treated as such without a lot of drama if they don’t express ongoing maternal yearnings, desire or commitment.

Back when I was working in an office again, a co-worker who has a grown son noticed the cover. She mentioned a couple of other stories about single women, presumably like me, who are much older. One of them had a hellion of a kid even though she didn’t actually want to have any kids because 1) it was what women did in her day and 2) She was thinking about who would take care of her when she got old. I should have left my co-worker’s office. But she was actually standing in my cubicle, I think, which is why I didn’t interrupt the flow of conversation.

As much as I love other people’s kids — and truly, I do — I think having a child with the expectation that said kid will grow up and make sure to escort you to the best assisted living facility when you can longer fend for yourself is not a good enough reason to get preggers. Also, I don’t think merging with another soul in the expectation that you can care for one another into your later years is a good idea, either. We should like each other enough to want to make sure we both survive. That isn’t a given. And it is very, very hard for me to imagine that kind of long-term tolerance. Or maybe it’s that the joy of it, the possibility of the joy of it, keeps me from being lonely.

But I mention all of this to say that loneliness is killer for me as a single woman because at the heart of any panic I ever feel about being single is the belief that I might die lonely. While I’m being maudlin, notice that I didn’t say I would die alone — we all will — or that I would die of a broken heart (that’s my early aspiring romance novelist peeking her head out to say what up.)

Loneliness, after all, is the want of intimacy. Single is not synonymous with loneliness, we know. The faces of the lonely look a little like…well, my people, except loneliness research puts me on the winning side of things, I suppose:

Who are the lonely? They’re the outsiders: not just the elderly, but also the poor, the bullied, the different. Surveys confirm that people who feel discriminated against are more likely to feel lonely than those who don’t, even when they don’t fall into the categories above. Women are lonelier than men (though unmarried men are lonelier than unmarried women). African Americans are lonelier than whites (though single African American women are less lonely than Hispanic and white women). The less educated are lonelier than the better educated. The unemployed and the retired are lonelier than the employed.

Being connected is work. It is as much work, if not more, than being in a relationship. It feels like asserting yourself on the world in order to create a legacy that is not about being sad because you’re not 1/2 of a couple but instead about transforming your relationship to the world (or worlds) that you operate in. It makes me sleepy and sometimes cranky and moody, but the flip side is a reward. It takes loneliness away.

I was all about showing up for my boxing instructor, for instance, one Saturday, but I was tired and felt like flaking almost from the minute we stepped inside a glass-blowing studio (yes!) where she was giving free instruction. A little girl changed my whole attitude, though. She was just full of energy, her parents beaming, her brother off hanging out with the dog and eating something cold that I craved. She picked me as her partner to practice throwing punches, and I was so proud, even though she almost punched me in the face. For weeks afterward, I would run into her mother, and she would tell me about how this little girl who doesn’t know me, loved boxing with me. Weeks turned into months. Now me and her mom are good buddies.

It was great to be able to show up for her daughter without expectation and to make a connection that took me out of thinking about the future, or worrying about who will care for me when I’m old, if I get to be an old lady. Part of making sure I stay around long enough for that to even be a problem comes down to connecting in the moment, as much as I can, as much intimacy as I can stand. The question of how much intimacy one can stand (or, actually, I can stand) is probably a longer discussion.

Singles in the News: A childfree roundup, black love in a time of poverty, Google me! and visual reinforcement for staying single

The Childfree Life: “When having it all doesn’t mean having a baby” is an actual sentence in this Time Magazine article. What!?

Amanda Marcotte points out that none of these trend pieces on the childfree life include men. Check out the sexy bar graphs to go with the Pew Research data.

Also see: No Kidding, this hilarious anthology that I was reading during my lunch break when one of my co-workers asked me who was going to take care of me when I get old. My answer to her was that there was no way to know, and even if I had a kid, there was no telling that said child would still like me enough as an old lady to take care of me. So, BOOM.

On a more serious note (even though I wasn’t kidding! See what I did there?) Stacia Brown tackles the role of trauma and poverty in our cultural narratives about black love in this great post, Black Love in a Time of Poverty:

 If you’re trying to figure out why the poorest of black and brown communities continue to procreate against all odds, think about what children represent (and what they are) for so many families. If you’re wondering why the poorest partners in black and brown communities don’t marry their partners, think about how difficult it is for the most disenfranchised and marginalized among us to maintain healthy relationships without money, emotional support, family counseling, and the other very necessary resources they would need to thrive.

One of my favorite kindred writing spirits in the blogosphere Deonna Kelli Sayed wrote this great post on her blog called Google Me. I Dare You. It really resonated with me though I haven’t told anyone to Google me and it totally reaffirmed my love for her candor:

Sometimes – but not always — I write about the raw stuff, like insecurities, fears, loneliness. If a man can’t approach me about that, he is going to be clueless about the rest of me.  I’m at the point that if someone doesn’t want to know my complexities, they aren’t worth my time.  I have a big story, and if a man can’t swallow the whole of it, (or if he can’t even ask me a little bit about it) then I don’t need him around.

So, now that we’ve covered the important stuff, you get a treat!

Buzzfeed spies on me, I think, because they know that I find photos like these really embarrassing and funny engagement ones so affirming. I can’t decide if I like the couple in the water the best or the ones where the women look completely sad and bereft.

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