Single woman sitting at a cafe table holding a mug
Aurora Starr

Table for one, the single girl strikes back!

Recently, during a not-short-enough visit with relatives back in the mid-west, I was reminded again (both subtly and palpably) that being single in your thirties is nothing short of scandalous. Yes, in 2019 an unmarried, happy, single gal in her thirties is still target practice for the misery, conjecture and theories of others. Yet, here’s the thing, I am single by choice. You know what else? I like my life.

Many complain about being single, obsessing over how much they dislike going through life alone. They grumble about how much it sucks to be by yourself and to not have a life to share. You know what really sucks? Having to hear about how much better your life would be if you just met the right person or having to listen to someone drone on about “soul mates” is sad at best and kind of creepy overall. Did I mention it’s 2019? This is still a thing?

Regarding this tired subject, I’ve been called uptight, snarky, unlovable, a bitch, and my personal favorite, a FemiNazi. Do better, people. Me? I’m doing fine. I have friends. I still date regularly – with occasional great sex. I work and belong to a local social-justice organization. My happiness tank is filled, and I’m surely not worried about <Gasp!> spinsterhood and neither should you.

If you are single, stop worrying about why you’re single. Sit back and enjoy the ride on your terms. You’re going to be just fine.  Here are some reasons (not in any particular order) why I remain sans partner, some satirical but all based on personal choice.

  1. I can’t even commit to the question, “What’s for lunch?”

I don’t know if the salad bar or a Flintstones-sized slab of ribs is in my immediate future. How am I supposed to commit to a living, breathing person? How, I ask, how?

  1. I would rather stay home than go out.

Hang out at the bar or be tucked warmly in my bed? Hmm…Currently, my nights are well spent with Sabrina, Moira Rose and Jon Snow. I gather with them at the Church of Netflix. ‘Nuff said.

  1. Speaking of my bed, I value having it all to myself rather than sharing.

Sharing is caring? Not with my sheets and pillows. Why should I choose a side of the bed when I can have a free range mattress? Sex with the occasional “sleep over” is fine, but I’d rather use the extra space for books, laundry and unopened mail.

  1. Relationships require a whole lotta work.

I already have a job. Besides, I reviewed the application and I’m just not all that interested. I have no time for games, politics, patience, or getting to like you.

  1. I love my best friends, isn’t that enough?

I’ve already built a level of trust and security with a few good eggs. Why would I mess that up by introducing someone into my circle who will likely not match the needs filled by my girlfriends? Yes, there’s sex, but we’ve already covered that one.

  1. Spending the evening holding…

 …a non-judgmental jug of wine or a quart of Moose Tracks? That sounds like an outstanding level of both commitment and intimacy – delicious, unconditional and definitely no lulls in the conversation. Problem solved.

  1. I don’t want to meet your family or friends.

If I wanted a room full of people to judge and criticize me I’d go back home to visit my relatives (see the first paragraph of this post).

  1. And finally, I absolutely, positively do not want you to meet my family.

This is a rinse and repeat of my previous reason. The only thing more frightening to me than meeting your family is you meeting mine.

If you are in a committed, loving relationship, good for you and go for it. Beat the odds and remain together for 50 plus years. I really am a sentimentalist at heart, but that’s not for me. I’m good in my current space and time. Should you decide to remain single, stand by your decision, be ready for push back, and enjoy the extra room in your closet and bed.

Shine brightly,
Aurora


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of eTalkTherapy. Aurora Starr is a freelance writer, NOT a therapist, and her views, thoughts and opinions are her own. Aurora’s blog may not be suitable for all audiences.


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Aurora StarrAbout the author: Aurora Starr is a freelance writer and connoisseur of all things dipped in love and deep fried in soul. She lives in Northern California, but hails from the heartland of Ohio. Aurora writes on topics ranging from love to pop culture to psychology and sex, with the occasional soapbox diatribe.

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Aurora Starr

The 10 Month Challenge

by Aurora Starr

They’re out there. You just haven’t been lucky or blessed or mindful enough to find her or him. Ms. or Mr. Right is waiting out there  – a kindred spirit so forged in your mind that only their heart and soul could ever possibly fit with yours. Then there’s reality – good old-fashioned, hard-knocks, buzz-kill reality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a real sucker when it comes to romance, trashy novels, dating shows, Hallmark Channel, RomComs and the belief that he will call for a second date when he says he will. You meet someone new and the air on Mt. Olympus turns stale faster than the magic of a one night stand at 4 am.

A few months in and you realize that this mere mortal who sits like a clueless slug on the sofa next to you is fallible, not as attractive as they once were, and not quite as emotionally mature or balanced as everyone – including you – thought. Well someone lied and, dammit, you bought into it, and even helped facilitate the façade.

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching. Unless it’s your first Valentine’s Day with someone new, then you know what that means. Once you’ve hit three or four years of a Hallmark Holiday you begin to search for gifts and cards that reflect your true sentiments, “I love you more today than yesterday, but less than last week when you ate my last double-fudge brownie.”

Move passed all the clichéd metaphors about romance and you suddenly realize that love is less like a delicate flower and more like a nicely designed chore list with some occasional fun stickers and perks. The time and space where you used to swoon over your better half is now spent thinking about pushing that same person into the snow.

Yet, you punch the clock every morning, slap on your best game face, and head into the relationship factory with a smile and a wave until you realize that your soul mate failed to replace the toilet paper roll…again. Months will go by and you will find that you are intrigued and attracted to new people. You will tell yourself that it’s a betrayal and you need to stay in your familiar little rut, but betrayal also includes intent. So unless your intent is to cheat or shop around, then finding others attractive or fun is not such a negative thing. As long as there are clear boundaries, it could even strengthen your stagnant relationship at home.

A toxic mix of guessing and projecting as to why your significant other thought this and not that or why they did this and not that thing turns you into some half-assed psychic. Mind reading to outwit and outlast the other becomes the only way to win an argument. Because, let’s face it, you’ve convinced yourself that you know the inside of their head better than they ever could.

You watch couples argue and fight in movies and on TV and then they make up with hot sex. Then there’s your fights. Instead of mind-blowing orgasms you’re left with resentment and an empty wine glass until cooler minds prevail. You don’t fight because of housework or missed moments, you fight because this person just doesn’t hear or understand you anymore. Somewhere in the depths of your heart there’s this hope that this wouldn’t always happen if love were just real…like it used to be.

And so, I guess this is my stop, where I momentarily dismount my soapbox and say that love is real. It’s there; it just stays hidden sometimes by our unrealistic expectations and confusion over the ideas of love and romance. If I’ve learned one thing from Alison Sweeney or Candace Cameron or any of the other staples in the Hallmark Channel canon is that hope and love make for strange bedfellows. So, now I am going to eat the double-fudge brownie I have so masterfully hidden and think about how this Valentine’s Day might just be different this year.

Shine brightly,
Aurora

Please note: The opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of eTalkTherapy. Aurora Starr is a freelance writer, NOT a therapist, and her views, thoughts and opinions are her own.

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Aurora Starr

Was It Something I Said?

By Aurora Starr

I rarely apologize anymore. Why? Because saying you’re sorry is the new black. “Sorry” means nothing if it is overused, disingenuous or a faux plea of ignorance. Today so many feel compelled to apologize ad nauseum. “I’m sorry for eating the last slice.” No, you’re not. “I’m sorry, BUT…” Wow, that’s heartfelt. “I’m sorry for hitting on your best friend.” No, you’re sorry you got caught.

So, when a person commented in typical social media fashion (one or two brief sentences with no backup or backbone) on one of my recent posts, I was not surprised. I was called: “Petty, immature and unoriginal.

Well, my first reaction was to reply to her comment with an old and timeless classic of my own: “F**k you.” Perhaps my manners won out, or maybe the Vodka hadn’t kicked in yet, but my sober mind prevailed and I refrained from joining her in verbal fisticuffs. Then came the second and final sentence of her insightful manifesto, “I can’t believe this person is a therapist.” First of all, I never claimed I was. Had she bothered to read the entire blog or any number of my other posts, she would have figured that one out all on her own. However, her uninformed remark did force the editors of this blog to post a disclaimer about my non-therapist credentials. I don’t blame them. It seems people are overly sensitive these days. Or are they?

I WILL STATE THE FOLLOWING IN BIG LETTERS SO THE TROLLS WILL UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL POST.  DO NOT WASTE MY TIME OR THE EDITORS’ TIME BY TRYING TO MAKE IT ONE. I’m not treading on your First Amendment Rights, either. You have an opinion? Wonderful and good for you! Now go share it with the people who already think like you. There, I’m done. Happy places, everyone. Happy places, I say!

Maybe it isn’t that people are more sensitive these days. Maybe it’s that people have bigger and multiple platforms with which to tell you the effects of your actions and words or at least their opinions about them. People haven’t suddenly become more sensitive, they have suddenly become able to let you know how they feel or what they think in real time. Opinions are not inherently bad, but they aren’t facts either. This isn’t new and it isn’t groundbreaking. What is interesting is that opinions are like apologies, they mean nothing if they are not thought out, contain less than three actual sentences or consist exclusively of preconceived talking points.

The world hasn’t changed, but the amount of meaningless fodder you have about it has. Regardless of what your opinion is on whether or not people are overly sensitive isn’t much more different now than it was before. It’s just that now Bob in Kansas (#Sorry Bob and Kansas…) can co-opt someone else’s platform to spout off whatever he likes or dislikes, and it may not be something we agree with or, in fact, may be misinformed, racist, sexist or just plain stupid. Thanks, Bob.

If the current trends in our culture have taught me anything it is this, we have ignored each other for far too long. I want a fair exchange of ideas, not talking points. Discourse and civilization thrive when we engage in respectful dialogue, and not through impulsive reactions to a blog post written from personal lived experiences. In short, you don’t get to throw shit on my “wall” and then walk away. Can we instead talk and learn from each other? If your answer is yes, then I am in. And for this I will never say “Sorry.”

Shine brightly,
Aurora

Please note: The opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of eTalkTherapy. Aurora Starr is a freelance writer, not a therapist, and her views, thoughts and opinions are her own. However, if you are easily offended then Aurora’s blog may not be for you. 

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Aurora Starr

Middle of the Road, What Crisis?

By Aurora Starr

Common mythos dictates that when a bell rings an angel gets his wings, and correspondingly when a woman turns 40 a cougar is born. It’s unclear to me how men were given a pass on not having their midlife years branded with some analogous wild-critter reference.

Men get new sport cars or over-sized urban assault vehicles, or new “hair,” and the inevitable young blonde from the marketing department with the lively boobage. Oh, and that office relationship started off as the bullshit of all pop-psychology terms “an emotional affair.” Midlife women often get unfairly tagged as older horn dogs or bitches who pursue younger men in search of wanton sex to fill their empty and sad lives. That’s not to say some of these women don’t exist. Who doesn’t know some surgically altered, Forever 21 shopping, “milf” or milf wannabe? Let’s be real. Yet, isn’t it sad that we need such labels to begin with, especially for females?

I am still a few miles away from the signpost that is 40, but I am close enough that I still get some peculiar and often rude questions that are the curse of being a single gal in her waning 30s.

Did you know some women are having their first baby in their forties these days?” They are! That’s awesome! They must be so hashtag Blessed! Since I won’t be there for a few years, can I sign-up now for my little bundle of pre-menopausal joy?

Still haven’t found Mr. Right?” Excuse me, but maybe my love meter doesn’t necessarily light up just for men. It does, but let me parry this assumption for a moment. If Mister or Miss Right does exist (and he/she doesn’t), I was clearly having too much fun at Madam Spinster’s School of Old-Maidery to give a shit.

I’ve been thinking about getting my first tattoo…does that count? I traveled to some exotic places a few years ago…does that count? I take care of my cats… I rarely bounce checks… I am very much aware that my 30s are nearing their sad, sad, sad demise. What have I achieved? I’ve been adulting for almost twenty years. Shouldn’t I be more secure in what and who I am? Isn’t that the way it is? For who? For me? Well, I feel just fine.

Is 40 such a big deal? Is it the new 30? How much more time do I have left? If I’ve got 30 or 40 years with luck, will I be healthy for most of them and be able to do the things I want to do? What do I want to accomplish? Well, the short answer is I want to give, learn, explore and be helpful in the second and final chapter of my life. There is no master plan, but I think trying to be a civil, honest and giving person may just have its own rewards. But hey, who knows, maybe I’ll adjust my love meter and hit up that young blonde from marketing.

Shine brightly,
Aurora

Please note: The opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of eTalkTherapy. Aurora Starr is a freelance writer, not a therapist, and her views, thoughts and opinions are her own. However, if you are easily offended then Aurora’s blog may not be for you. 

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Aurora Starr

Bitter Popcorn

By Aurora Starr

The editor of this blog approached me some time ago asking if I would be interested in writing an article about “ten movies that highlight existential motifs.” I know this because the assignment had been scrawled on a coffee stained notepad that often goes missing for weeks at a time. My handbag is a mysterious and often unforgiving portal to the unknown. Things appear, and then disappear. I recovered the pad last week as I desperately searched for my keys and, of course, I had missed the deadline.

To be honest, I had no idea where to begin with this article, which may account for the “lost” notepad. There are no accidents according to Freud, right? However, the editor insisted. So even after missing my first deadline, and in spite of my protests that this subject has been written about by far better connoisseurs of movie magic, I give you Aurora’s take on Five Movies that Highlight Existential Motifs. I know, it was supposed to be ten, but I’m a busy girl.

A bit of explanation is in order before we get started, and as this is not my area of expertise (if there could ever be one), my apologies if I am slightly off the mark. Existentialism is a term coined by 19th and 20th-century philosophers who believed that philosophical thinking begins and ends with the human subject. It is an analysis of human existence and the value and consequence of human choice. “Existence proceeds essence” with a Nietzsche-sized middle finger to any method designed to define humankind in a systematic or empirical way. Yeah, I know it’s complicated. In short, it is a philosophy concerned with finding meaning through free will, choice, and personal responsibility; a confrontation with existence by an exploration of death and meaning.

So, through the beauty of Netflix and Hulu I present you with my 5 flick picks; a sampling, if you will, with no intended spoilers. And in spite of the order they are listed, I wouldn’t consider one better than the other. All of them illustrate existential themes and are entertaining as well.

  1. “The Truman Show” (1998)

Remember that old Twilight Zone episode where reality is not what it seems and everyone but the main character is in on it? Okay, so that is just about every episode of the Twilight Zone, but if you get that then you’ll get the gist of The Truman Show. Starring Jim Carey (minus the usual shenanigans), Truman is a character that is both authentic and conflicted.

This film explores the idea that life has been a lie. Indeed, what happens when people who you thought were your family and friends turn out to be nothing more than actors employed to perform a role in a reality show that stars you? That’s the question posed by The Truman Show. What would you choose? Remain in a pristine world reminiscent of Main Street, USA or walk toward an unknown existence? Cue Rod Serling.

Yet, The Truman Show remains optimistic as many of its darker philosophical underpinnings are curbed by a love story tangled in the hero’s journey. Truman hints at some key concepts of existentialism such as questioning the meaning and purpose of life, personal responsibility and freedom to act, as well as stressing the significance of being with others.

  1. “Groundhog Day” (1993)

From what I remember from my 8:00 am college philosophy class (Thanks, Dr. Nelson) Friedrich Nietzsche offered some fun thoughts about a term he coined as Eternal Recurrence. In a nutshell it goes like this; each one of us will live this life again, exactly as we are living it now. Sounds great, right? It’s a bit more complex than that, with many moving parts regarding time and a finite universe, but you get the idea. So Bill Murray stars in this witty and entertaining film that entwines Nietzsche’s term along with some basic déjà vu. Murray is a cynical and bored TV news reporter who is sent to cover what he considers to be a non-story. Under any other actor’s tutelage this would be a most pedestrian rom-com affair. Yet, Groundhog Day is far more than just another serving of comedy from an SNL alum.

The premise is Murray is destined to repeat the same benign day again and again. There is no escape from a calendar day that repeats itself ad nasueam. In the beginning he uses this knowledge to his advantage, but the novelty quickly wears off as he is confronted with the reality that he may be doomed to spend eternity doing the same thing(s), while watching the same events unfold in an endless point in time. Did I mention it’s a comedy? It is, and that’s where Murray shines in his typical deadpan way.

Groundhog Day wonderfully illustrates ideas in existentialism about time, choice, responsibility, isolation, death, and how we define meaning in our lives. In the end, it is an open and fun introduction to the philosophy of existentialism and how to grasp many of its loftier ideas.

  1. “Ikiru” (1952)

This Japanese film takes on the sobering and always existential subject of death. Ikiru – which translates as ‘to live’ – tells the tale of an individual faced with his own mortality after hearing that he has cancer. Reflecting back on his life, Kanji Watanabe awakens to the fact that his life has amounted to nothing as he has spent it on the accumulation of things and work. He sees his life up to this point as senseless and void of meaning. Determined not to spend his final days in the same way, Watanabe finds meaning and a purpose before his death. Following his funeral, several of his work colleagues resolve to follow the same principles he ultimately found so fulfilling. Despite its age Ikiru’s message is as relevant today as it was in the 1950s. It’s a great primer for some major existential themes, such as being faced with death before learning to live and the search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless universe.

  1. “The Seventh Seal” (1957)

Our second entry in the death category and the Granddaddy of all things Kierkegaardian is Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Its iconic scene of death playing chess with a lone knight has been parodied in everything from The Simpsons to Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. Swedish filmmaker Bergman gives us as a dark fantasy wrapped in a metaphorical meeting with death. In a game of chess between a medieval knight and the human manifestation of death during the Black Plague in Europe, Bergman masterfully explores the answers to a lot of existential questions about life, death and the presence or absence of God. It’s not the feel good movie of the year, but it is clearly a benchmark for how film and philosophy can fuse as one.

  1. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

In spite of what you may have heard 2001: A Space Odyssey is at its core a spiritual journey. Yes, it can at times seem exhausting and slow. Yes, it is visually stunning even by today’s bombastic CGI standards. Yet, it does something few films can do. It takes us along for a voyage that transcends theism, philosophy and agnosticism and squares both question and the answer on the shoulders of the audience. There are many Gods on display throughout this film; the ever loving God; the God of Tech; the God of Nihilism. Director and mad film genius Stanley Kubrick establishes how insignificant we are even with our technological advancements and gadgets. In the end, 2001 flashes us forward to face mortality and rebirth in the form of the iconic star child as Wagner’s Thus Spake Zarathustra reaches a fitting crescendo that will have you asking, “What just happened?” Ironically, a question that all of us might be asking the day we draw or final breaths.

So there you have it – Existentialism, indeed.

Shine Brightly,
Aurora

Please note: The opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of eTalkTherapy. Aurora Starr is a freelance writer, not a therapist, and her views, thoughts and opinions are her own. However, if you are easily offended then Aurora’s blog may not be for you.