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SEP
13

In Defense of Podcasts...and Marriage

I was in Oregon over the weekend to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary. Which might not seem like much—they were a regular small-town couple who raised regular small-town children and had regular small-town problems (including cars that almost never worked)—except think about that for a minute. Think about people you know who have been married for 60 years. Do you know any? My grandparents are both now in their eighties, and lots of people don’t even live that long. And of the ones who do, a large contingent don’t stay married, or at least to the same person. It really is remarkable. Of course, reaching any kind of marriage milestone (even, like, one year) seems miraculous to the eternal singleton that is me. Indeed, I’m convinced that every single committed, loving relationship is nothing short of a miracle. But 60 years? That’s a whole different level.

Book clubs have (surprisingly) never been my thing. I don’t enjoy reading books that I mostly wouldn’t have chosen to read myself. And so I certainly don’t then enjoy discussing books that I mostly wouldn’t have chosen to read myself. But a friend of mine recently recruited me for a Podcast club, and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. For starters, it’s less of a time commitment, and podcasts can be listened to while accomplishing any number of tasks. And another great thing about podcasts is they so often leave you smack dab in the middle of some kind of philosophical or moral debate. Animal hunting, the treatment of rape victims and perpetrators, the appropriateness of hope in the parents of autistic children, the vast differences in the frames of reference of American children and their much less fortunate foreign parents, the inescapable depression of the 2016 political situation, etc. I mean, these are hot issues. They are issues that will most definitely make you think—no, emote—at a level that most books do not. And what I find so fascinating is that most podcasts have the ability to make me waffle from one side to the other as the various points and perspectives are discussed. And any medium that can cause so many facets of your own conscience to come to the surface within such a short amount of time is clearly onto something.

To bring this back to 60 years of marriage, one of the podcasts I listened to this week centered on this idea of reruns; or, in the case of the married couples interviewed for the podcast, the issue of stories you hear your spouse tell over and over again, to the point of driving you absolutely crazy. I’d never really thought about this dilemma before. Again, as a singleton, I always have a new audience (a different date, a different squeeze, a different boyfriend), and I’ve never really run into this issue. But think of how this could come into play for people like my darling grandparents. “Honey, I’ve literally heard that story a hundred times.” It’s rather amusing to think about, especially after listening to the podcast, in which the annoyed spouses (the ones sick of the other person’s stories) were surprisingly unable to successfully tell the stories themselves, even after supposedly having heard them ad nauseam. On the other end of the spectrum, some of these people had gotten so used to their spouse’s stories that they believed they themselves had actually been there when they, in fact, had not. That one’s almost equally amusing—and not all that unlike my own discovery some years ago that my favorite childhood memory apparently never happened. I’d imagined it so often, every detail easy to recollect, that I had convinced myself (and if I’m being honest still sort of believe) it was real.

In any case, I guess one of the hallmarks of a red-letter marriage is that even after 60 years, you still enjoy hearing him/her tell the same stories. And you can’t wait to create more, together. Happy anniversary, Grandma and Grandpa. I’m pretty sure you two are going to make it.

 

SEP
09

Spinster

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I know I've been overwhelming you with books posts lately, but wouldn't you know it that just after posting my top ten books (Top Ten Books that I Love), I've read a new one that just might bump something else out. And at the risk of subjecting you to a book reviewy post (isn't that what Goodreads is for?), I simply have to say that if you are a single girl--or anyone who thinks reading about significant female writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who bucked tradition by staying (or at least preferring to be) single--you simply must read this book.

Let me be clear. I'm not one of those women who loves to hate on marriage or shout about how I don't need a man. It's true, I don't need a man and have most of the time found being single preferable to being in a relationship (the exception being the one time I was in love), but I am still a person who wants to be married. In that if I could choose for this, my life, to go any way, I would choose to someday have the opportunity to be married. So in that regard I don't relate as much to the author and her "awakeners'" single-or-bust mentality.

That said, our society could use a crash course on the single woman, and this book was consequently a fascinating and refreshing read. Because spinster didn't used to have such a negative connotation. Interesting then that it--spinsterhood--has over the course of time transformed into the one thing every girl hopes will never happen to her. And why exactly is that? How is it that we've come to believe that ending up alone is the worst possible thing that can ever happen to you? A question made even more blatantly ridiculous after reading about these remarkable, interesting, and fascinating women who not only achieved success and acclaim without a man by their sides, but also didn't spend decades of their lives drowning in the sea of societal pressure surrounding marriage. (Sister ain't got time for that, and, quite frankly, neither do you.) And that's what our society--or, at the very least, the minds of female singletons--could use less of; this constant drone of marriage and when it will happen and where it will happen and with whom it will happen and if it will happen and how many eggs I'll have left when it happens and what if there are no eggs left at all when it happens and maybe I should freeze some just in case it happens and on and on for the rest of the days of your bag lady, multi-cat owning unfortunateness. If you ask me, that is what sister ain't got time for. So get on with it. Life. Yours.

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