Chealsea Handler talks about the “single-bewilderment syndrome”

This was written by Chelsea Handler, actor, comedian and host of Chelsea on Netflix. It appeared in Time magazine.

We should laud singledom, not lament it

chelseaHere I am, a humble single girl trying to make it on my own — just like Mary Tyler Moore was in her 1970s hit TV show — and yet still people reflexively ask me all the time: “Who are you dating?” “Will you ever get married?” “Don’t you ever get lonely?”

I come from a big, loving family. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends, one or two marriage proposals and deep and intense human intimacy in my time on this Big Blue Marble. And after experiencing all that and seriously thinking about marriage, I respectfully reserve a table for one in the restaurant of life. Continue reading

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The liberation of my feet

high-heelsLast night I went to the symphony, which gave me a rare opportunity to dress up. This time – in addition to a fancy outfit and large, glittery earrings, I decided to take the ultimate step. I pulled a pair of rather beautiful high heels from the back of the closet and put them on. (The picture at right is actually of me. Not really.)

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had on heels. It was probably for a play I was in. I used to wear heels more often, although I can remember kicking them off at wedding receptions so I could dance in comfort.

Ah, yes. Comfort. Continue reading

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Learning from Millennials

Gender fluidity. Pop-up stores. The gig economy. Heteronormativity. Apps for everything. Feminism 2.0. Bernie Sanders.

Millennials are transforming the way things are done, discussed and thought about – sometimes in very good ways, and sometimes in very confusing ways. Continue reading

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The woman ahead of me WAS me

airplane-nightIt had been a long weekend, and an emotionally draining trip to visit a dear cousin who was terribly ill. By the time my plane landed at my home airport, it was late at night. I was exhausted, and tired of everything: security screenings, having to keep track of my boarding passes, sitting in cramped seats with no leg room. Once the plane landed on solid ground, it seemed that we were forced to wait forever before being allowed to leave it. Overhead bins were popped open, carry-on luggage pulled down, but still we waited. I was exhausted.

Finally, there was movement up ahead. People began to make their way down the narrow aisle toward the exit. I was able to move out of my row and head toward the front of the plane.

But the older woman ahead of me was moving slowly, pulling a small suitcase behind her. I gritted my teeth in irritation: why couldn’t she go faster? A gap opened up in front of her; why didn’t she speed up and close it?  Continue reading

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Why losing my job in my late 40s was the best thing that ever happened to me (conclusion)

woman-silhouetteWhere was I? Oh, yes. Unemployed, pushing 50 and living in a state (Michigan) devastated by the recession. Yeah. Good times.

And…I was single. I know that married people face crises and challenges, too, but at least they face them together. There must be some comfort in that. A job loss can be financially difficult, but there is still – hopefully – one income coming into the household. When someone who’s single loses their job, they are on their own.

Things looked grim

All around me I saw people with highly marketable skill sets, advanced degrees and tons of experience getting laid off. Anyone involved with the auto industry, in particular, suffered from terrible anxiety about whether or not they’d keep their job, but they weren’t the only ones who wondered how long they’d be getting a paycheck. Every day we’d hear about new job losses. Things looked grim. Continue reading

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Why losing my job in my late 40s was the best thing that ever happened to me, Part Two

Where was I? Oh, yes. That’s right. Unemployed, pushing 50, and aged out of the career in which I’d been working for decades (radio). I had what I thought were marketable skills – written and verbal communication skills, for instance – but despite revising my resume again and again and again to showcase my fabulosity, I impressed exactly zero companies with my credentials.

recessionThis would have been an awful time to look for a job even if I had skills that were useful outside of the broadcasting industry and was young enough to appeal to companies looking for youthful energy and strong computer abilities. You remember the recession. It was a time of mass anxiety, of job losses across all income levels. I read articles about college professors working as supermarket stockboys, about families in wealthy suburbs existing on food stamps. If people like that couldn’t find new jobs, how could I expect to?

And…I was single. I rarely regret being single. I enjoy the hell out of my life. I have the time and opportunity to do the things I love doing, and I’ve got plenty of friends with whom to do them. But when I was laid off, that was one of the few times I would have liked the security – however slim or illusory – of having someone else’s income to help stave off the wolves at the door. Continue reading

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Why losing my job in my late 40s was the best thing that ever happened to me, Part One

I can clearly remember being called into the station owner’s office after a show and being told that the station was letting me go as a cost-cutting measure. It felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.

Yes, I knew there was a recession affecting the entire country and, yes, I knew that revenues at the radio station where I worked as a morning personality were down. It was obvious. We were playing fewer commercials.

Yet it still hadn’t occurred to me that I could lose my job. I was indispensable! The listeners loved me (didn’t they?). My two male co-workers and I had terrific on-air chemistry. We engaged in lively banter every morning about hot topics, current affairs, and celebrity gossip in a way that entertained our listeners and kept the phone lines lighting up with people who wanted to join in the fun. I also did voiceovers for commercials, went out on remote broadcasts, emceed local events and manned a station booth at every arts & crafts fair, barbecue competition and random community festival during every weekend of the summer. I never had a summer weekend completely free — didn’t that dedication count for something?

I was indispensible – or so I thought.

Those excruciating five minutes in the station owner’s office threw my whole world off kilter. The owner told me the company would continue my health insurance through the end of the month – as if that was very generous on his part. The end of the month was five days away.

I packed up the things in my desk and drove home, trying not to think the worst, but it was difficult not to. The economy was in a nose dive. I was in an industry that had been shrinking for some time. When I started in radio, there were lots of on-air positions. Syndicated shows eliminated a lot of them. So did voice tracking, in which one radio personality can be heard in markets in different parts of the country, simply by recording their on-air bits. Salaries (for all but the top, very famous djs) had shrunk. Continue reading

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Turns out I was the one who changed

crying-spinsterWhen I started writing my book about women who have never been married, I was hoping to change other people’s attitudes about us. What I didn’t realize was how much the book would change my attitude.

I’d always felt like a bit of a freak. Like the animals in Noah’s ark, people always seemed to be paired off. Being part of a couple was normal. Being single – past a certain age – was not.

I was so wrong

I’m a journalist by trade, so I set out to explore the topic in the way I know how: by interviewing people and doing research. What’s funny is that I thought I’d have difficulty finding enough old maids to talk to. (Yes, I’m claiming that phrase, along with the word “spinster” until a better descriptor can be found.) I had a few friends who’d never been married, either, but, as I said, that put us in the “freak” category, right? Surely there couldn’t be too many more of us out there, could there? Continue reading

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A good excuse to shave my legs

dirty-dancing-dirty-dancing-19698995-640-400So I wrote last time that I was going to a singles dance. I mentioned that my expectations were low, that I thought there’d be a lot more women than men, blah, blah, blah.

The upshot was: I did NOT meet any potential Mr. Rights, but I did have a good time. I danced. I met new people. I drank a few adult beverages and did a LOT of people-watching (one of my favorite hobbies). I was wearing makeup and a skirt. (Since I started working from home a few years ago, my daily attire is quite casual. OK, I’m often dressed like a slob. After all, who’s there to see me?)

footloose1But Friday night, I was looking (and feeling) pretty good! I’d shaved my legs and curled my eyelashes. Chosen jewelry that I don’t normally wear. I was even flashing a little cleavage.

Was I – am I – desperate to meet a man? Continue reading

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Mixed emotions about singles mixers

Are events specifically for singles worth going to? Being a perpetually single woman, that’s a question I’ve been trying to answer for a long time.

I’ll try to answer it again on Friday night, when two friends and I will head off to a singles dance organized by a Meetup Group. In the past, social affairs like this have ranged from dull to disastrous, but in the absence of a better way to meet men of a certain age, we’re willing to give it a try again.

wine-tastingIn the (comically) disastrous category was a singles mixer wine-tasting evening that I went to with my friend Laura. It was in a distant suburb (an hour long drive) and rather pricey ($45 for wine and light hors-d’oeuvres) but we reasoned that it would be worth it. The higher the cost, the classier the crowd, right? And that classy crowd would include — no doubt — lots of eligible men, with good jobs and good taste. Wine drinkers, in other words. Our expectations were high. Continue reading

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