Monday, March 26, 2012

On being 35 and single

OK technically, I'm not quite single. But the relationship I'm in is very complicated and I'm not sure we're going to make it through the obstacle course we've been presented with. I am, however, 35, unmarried, and at that delicate point where my fertility is apparently starting to nosedive. Can I just say, and I'm sorry if this sounds like I'm stating the obvious: it's really difficult being in this position. It's properly, existentially, painful.

Despite this, I enjoy my freedom. I like my life, even though I feel the lack of a significant other keenly. But the hardest thing about being 35 and single? Feeling like (and being treated like) you're abnormal.

Most of my friends are happily married with several mini-me's occupying their spare bedrooms. This is fine - great, even, if you like kids (and I do) - but there are times when it's impossible to avoid feeling like a complete freak of nature (behold, The Last Single Girl On Earth!) - an object of pity and/or a problem to be solved (usually by pairing me off with various other stragglers in the game of bonk/marry/procreate).

Here are some of my coping strategies for the other single thirty-something-never-married-no-kids peeps out there. If anyone else has advice, please feel free to share!

- Make the most of your friends kids. I may or may not have kids of my own - I know that it's out of my hands - but I get to have relationships with my friends kids, and that makes me feel slightly better about it. Plus, I can't wait for my future nieces and nephews to make an appearance.

- Observe your friends relationships and take notes. One couple I know are great at treating their kids like people (not cute playthings); another have conversations where they look at and listen to each other - surprisingly rare in a lot of long-term relationships. Spending this much time on your own, you've got more time to figure out what you want and don't want from a long-term partner.

- Cultivate friends outside your age bracket. It will give you a different perspective having friends who are older and wiser, as well as younger and more wide-eyed. Easier said than done, but I'm lucky to have come across a few good ones that I treasure.

- Male friends help. Thank goodness for the single blokes out there - ex-boyfriends and old school mates who are still footloose & fancy-free. I find blokes in my age bracket are more likely to be single/unmarried and a whole lot less likely to angst about it.

- Don't feel obliged to attend every engagement party/baby shower/first birthday/christening you are invited to. There are a shed-load of these things, and it can get tiring being the only single person surrounded by families. Your friends won't mind if you skip a few, or just show your face briefly, especially if you're feeling vulnerable.

- Enjoy this time. I can't help feeling like I will look back on this time and envy the boundless freedom I currently enjoy.

- Don't lose heart. Yuh, it's hard. If you find yourself in that terrible dark place where all seems bleak and hopeless and just too damn hard - wait it out. One day the spark will reappear and you'll be on the roller-coaster again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Cyclists vs. Drivers

It's war out there, yo. Road war. Peopled by Road Warriors.

One one side are the Pedal Powered Peeps, or the PPP (of which I am one, clearly) - putting their bodies on the line every day, weaving deftly between SUVs, trucks and buses (why does no one have a small car anymore?), scaring pedestrians*, all while saving the planet and solving the obesity crisis.

On the other side are the Miffed Melbourne Motorists, or the MMM - piloting the aforementioned SUVs, trucks and buses through the daily snarls of traffic, seeing red when cyclists squeeze past them, sail through red lights, whizz by their open doors with millimetres to spare, or slow them down by riding two abreast or single file in a narrow lane.

Things seem to have been escalating recently, with more people signing up on both sides as Melbourne's population booms. Truthfully, I think we're only a few years away from some kind of Mad Max scenario.

If you don't believe me, watch this video:

Ouch. Not a proud moment for the MMM (UK division). Don't think that it doesn't happen here, too - it's just that we don't have CCTV cameras on every street corner to capture the evidence. Closer to home, a fellow PPP swore at a driver who cut him off recently, only to have the driver chase him down, push him off and proceed to trash his bike.

You may have head about a recent clash between a PPP and a high-profile MMM. Shane Warne claimed the cyclist cut him off, abused him and hit his car. The cyclist claims that Warnie deliberately knocked him over and wrecked his expensive bike before hooning off. Naturally, the King of Spin got straight onto twitter to  blast the cyclist in a  drawn-out rant, rallying his followers in a public howl for cyclist blood.

I'm going to keep an uncharacteristically objective distance on this one and let you decide for yourself which side you are on - however, the I believe the evidence (one wrecked bike + one unscathed Merc + a driver who admitted leaving the scene of an accident) seems to fall in favour of the PPP.

The problem is that the PPP is a small movement that has been steadily growing in profile, while the MMM - a vast army of personal car users who are used to having everything built around their needs - are looking increasingly unsustainable.

What is the solution for bringing these two disparate sides together? Greater civility between both parties would be great, obviously - but the best way to encourage that? Bike registration, as called for by Warney and his pack, would be costly and largely pointless. Separate bike lanes are great, but controversial. Cyclist-awareness programs should definitely be a part of any driver licensing; and of course cyclists who endanger pedestrians or act unlawfully should be punished.

What many drivers don't appreciate is that the vast majority of cyclists are also car users - which means that they have an insight into the mind of their enemy, and they contribute to the cost of road infrastructure (one of the MMM's more petulant arguments being that cyclists don't pay to use the road, therefore they have no rights). Sadly, it seems that the MMM are just not ready to climb down from their SUVs, trucks and buses to experience the  road on two wheels, with only a styrofoam helmet for armour.

*anti-social cyclists. Yes, there are asshole cyclists just as there are asshole drivers. It's just that the asshole drivers are more numerous and control a machine capable of killing.
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