Where do you get your ideas?
It’s come to my attention lately that people are concerned about me.
The concern isn’t health-related—my body is the best thing I’ve ever gotten for free. Occasionally, however, I do joke about my relationship status and I realize they are concerned because I’m single. I often regale listeners with tales of dates gone epically wrong. Like the time I had a glass of wine with a man my age who, when asked how the dating apps were going for him, he said,
“Not great. I’m surprised that I’m not dating a bunch of younger women.”
And there I sat, not a younger woman, also on a not great date. I thought to myself. I can tell you why if you want to know—it’ll just take a second.
Or, after a perfectly fine first phone call with no flirtatious energy, a man said to me, “Let’s lighten things up. Why don’t you send me a few photos of you in lingerie?”
Lingerie, I thought, who has lingerie?
Instead I sent him five photos of my dog in various bow-ties and blocked his number.
I tell these stories for fun, sometimes because I can’t stand silence (a different essay, for sure), other times because I’m teaching and need a laugh. After the initial outrage and laughter from whoever I’m talking to, inevitably I’ll get pulled aside for a consultation. This kind person is worried I’m not living my best life. As though writing, travelling and basically living my dream is not enough. They want me to find my person.
Here are some of the sad-eyed, head-tilted-to-the-side things people have said to me, as though I have cancer and not a queen-sized bed to myself.
“Maybe your picker is broken. Next time run the person by me and I’ll say yes or no.”
“You’ll find your partner when you stop looking. Like when I go shopping without anything in mind I usually find the perfect thing.”
“Aren’t you good friends with your ex-husband? You two should try again.”
“Your soul mate is out there. I just know it.”
At least these tender-hearted people don’t ask me to send pictures of me in my not-lacy cotton underwear.
I never quite know how to respond without defending myself, betraying my choice to be single, or explaining that the occasional date is not always a desperate play to find someone to hold my hand in the nursing home.
While teaching at a writing conference in Iowa I was asked, “Where do you get your ideas?”
I said I find story fodder in life, and joked about dating. Later at lunch over egg salad sandwiches a lovely woman pulled me aside and said, “You’re so smart and funny, you’ll find your soul mate.”
I covered her hand with mine and with a mischievous smile I said, “I have several soul mates in my women friends and their husbands don’t seem to mind a bit.”
With a benevolent smile on her face she said, “Well, in this day and age. Love is love,” and off she wandered to help another single woman embrace her sexuality.
Apparently, my friends, I inadvertently came out at the Okojobe Writer’s conference while trying to answer the question, “Where do you get your ideas?”
I didn’t try and disabuse her of her notions. It doesn’t matter to me if people wonder about who I sleep with and who I don’t. I would like to say this though:
If you’re single, good for you. If you’re married, good for you. Now, can we talk about something a little easier, like global warming?
For some women, it’s hard to imagine you can live a rich, wonderful life without a spouse. Single, married or partnered–only you make you fulfilled and happy.
I am not “concerned,” about you, Ann. So glad you get your ideas from this confusing, funny, crazy world!
Thanks Jo. I’m unconcerned as well. 🙂 It’s so true. I wish I’d known years ago.
I’m so glad you are unconcerned. I’ll call when I need you though, ok?
For sure, Ann. I love reminding people (and myself sometimes) that happiness comes from within-not hat you need any reminding. Thank you for your insight into things that are difficult and things that are funny!
xo Jo, thanks for being here.
I love how you handled that lady and your words about how you have many soul mates in your female friends. That is so wonderful.
I do envy how easy you make female friends. Unfortunately, I grew up a bit isolated and only seemed to click with the boys over making tree forts and such. I’ve never been able to make deep friendships with women though I do understand they are unique and can be amazing.
I just discovered your books about 6 months ago. You are now my favorite female writer and I adore every single one of your books. You are able to write characters in a way that is more human and relatable than anything I’ve seen before. And I’m a huge reader! After reading your last book, went to hunt for more and dismayed there were not any! Then realized you’re releasing another one in 2023. Whew! Please never stop writing. Your gift is incredibly unique and much needed in our world.
Thanks for an entertaining blog post.
You are so lovely. Thank you! This made my day, truly. It’s so nice to find the others in the world that think like you (us). I will have another book in Aug. And, I’m going to live this day with a little more sunshine because of you.
Nice to hear your whiplash voice again. Not that I was concerned, just jealous. I’d seen your wine-infused posts from your workshop. This comment is merely to say thanks for “my body is the best thing I’ve ever gotten for free.” This Thanksgiving I’m going to be sure to give each of my three kids a big, “You’re welcome!”
Thanks David, 🙂 So lovely to hear from you.
Can you even believe we get bodies??? For Free!!
Quite the miracle. Reflecting back on the “blurred accident of having lived,” as Ted Hughes put it in his old age, I can’t help feeling that, while the price is right, the gift of a body should come with at least an expectation of appreciation and intention. As James Baldwin wrote, “To be sensual is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.” Amen. May you rejoice in a deeply sensual and respectful Thanksgiving.
Thanks David. Stuffing for everyone!! (and champagne)
Well said!!! Thanks for sharing.
You’re so welcome!!
Thank you for saying so. 🙂
I am also unconcerned about you!
I have been with the same man for 18 years and we are not married, by our choice. Astounding number of people assume I want to be married and he just has not asked. Society still has a long way to go!
oh man, that’s so interesting.
We are just dunked in our own soup all the time. xoxox
You had me laughing out loud at the lingerie suggestion and I haven’t stopped. I’ve enjoyed all your books because I can usually relate to your characters’ situations. Also always happy to see dog pics – clothed or not.
So glad you’re here. 🙂
Peanut is the most photogenic dog–at least in my opinion. I see him through heart eyes.
What a wonderful essay! Thanks for the smile,
You are so welcome Sadira.
Oh Ann, you are a riot! I am happily single as well. I haven’t ever understood women that cannot live on their own without a man. A mate is supposed to enhance your life, not be responsible for one’s happiness, that is from within the individual. Sending hugs from one “single and staying that way” woman to another!
From one single to another, Betty.
We should all be comfortable in just being ourselves and letting others do the same! Way to go!
Thanks Cathey–I like that people think of me–just maybe they can send candy.
Hi Ann! I loved this, and I love your humor. I got married for the first time in 2006 at the age of 56 to a wonderful man. He died thirteen years later at the age of 69, and I was once again single after a happy and successful marriage.
People have no business to advice you on your relationship prospects. I thought that we, as women, had long overcome that stupid prejudice that we must marry in order to be happy and fulfilled. The studies concur that being single and female is the happiest state. The old prejudices are misogynist and another unsubtle form of oppression.
I had no intentions of getting married. My meeting with Chris came right out of the blue, and we both knew very quickly that it was right. If you find a match, it’s wonderful. If you don’t find a match, feel blessed that you were not cursed with being in a bad relationship with the wrong person.
I’m with you on all of this.
Annie Lamont was single her whole life (I think) and found her current husband –possibly a year or two ago. I think we can have all kinds of lives and partners. I’ve had many and am sure I’ll continue–just not in the way some people want, I guess. Thanks for writing!!
Love, love, love. It’s weird to me how people think it’s okay to comment on or assume people’s personal priorities or contentment level.
I think it’s meant as a kindness, a compliment, but it definitely comes off as a bit tone deaf.
Ann, when a blog post can make me laugh not just once, not just twice, but three times in the course of a few minutes, I know I’m in good hands. When I think how much time I wasted in my twenties “looking for a man”, it makes me nauseous. Such a waste. Keep living your best life – however it works for you. And keep writing. The world needs more laughter.
Please don’t find “your person”. Reading about your blithely ungoal-oriented searching is way too much fun.
haha Right? If I got too happy I’d just lay around, smile and forget to write.
Same. Totally the same. Thank you Maggie.
Thank you so much for laughing with me
This had me laughing out loud – it was like a little party in my heart!
“Who has lingerie?”
I love your books. I love your humor. I love your sensibility.
I also have many wonderful soulmates, and I feel like you are one.
Thanks for sharing your glorious self.
Oh I felt that smack in my heart as well.
Thank you so much for saying this.
Ann, as always, you exceed expectations and deepen my laugh lines. Thanks for making everything feel lighter and brighter! Julie
Wow, Julie–What a lovely compliment from you. xoxox
Not at all concerned about you. About me is another story for another day. Loved this post and love reading anything you write!
ha! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m not concerned about you either. xo
I laughed out loud in my empty office when I read about the dog in various bowties. Did you actually do that or is this just a wild and funny figment of your imagination? Either way! L O L
I did it. I was so pissed.
I mean, dude. Come on.
Thanks for laughing!
Thanks for the laughs – always a good thing. And good for you!
Thanks Jeanne, thanks for laughing :))
Hi Ann! I too am single, nearing 68 and have never been happier. It’s hard for some women to understand that and it kind of baffles me. Anyhow, I’m about 90% done with I Thought You Said This Would Work. I love it and hate for it to end. What’s for supper??? Pumpkin pie while sitting on my couch with the fireplace on and so content. Love you.
This whole paragraph is music to my ears.
I’m so happy your reading my book and sitting in the warmth with pie. A perfect scenario.
Aaaand scene. I can almost hear your internal dialogue jockeying for position with your audible voice like the proverbial angel and devil sitting on opposite shoulders scene.
“Oh, uh, thanks. I’ll … keep that in mind.” You’ll keep it in mind? Seriously? How about my *picker* wants to pop your precious little pea-pickin, pimple-popping … picker? Also, embrace your inner twelve-year-old. Eye roll, girl. Stick it! “Bless you.” Yeah, no. It’s bless *yer heart.* Oh, snap! I’m sensing eye roll. Wait. That was aimed at me, wasn’t it? Ope. Are you seeing what I’m seeing? What am I saying? You’re me. But Picker Girl just posted a five-star review for “I Thought You Said This Would Work” on Good Reads. Point taken. You can keep control of your tongue. But I refuse to give up my role as Chief Snarkinating Officer in this noggin of yours.
Ann, thank you for this witty blog post. I am a fan of your writing! This offered a reminder of why I have enjoyed your books so much. It also reminded me of the plethora of unsolicited advice that’s been handed to me over the years—on dating, marriage, pregnancy, parenting, extended family… eesh! All that nonsense helped me realize just how self-absorbed and clueless some people can be. But on a positive note, some of those people from real life make great models for story characters.
Keep on living your best life! It appears from here to be your secret sauce.
hahaha You can have that position–Chief Snarkinating Officer. You’re hired! You’ve got it down.
Thank you for being a fan of my writing. So much advice…right?
Such good characters. Thank you for being here to cheer me on!
Love your blog … love your humor … love your books – keep it up! Your dating humor rings so true.
Thanks Becki. I will keep fighting the good fight!!
You’re perfect, just as you are. And it’s nobody’s business, including mine. 😉
Getting fodder from everyday life–that’s what writers do.
That’s what we do Denise. xoxo A
We have a lot in common, you and I. I’m also single, which I didn’t choose, but now I’m living my dream life. I bought a motorhome, retired at 51, and now I travel for several weeks at a time. I started a handcrafted soap company, which keeps me busy while I’m at home, and many hobbies, including reading, writing (I’ve written eight books), knitting, quilting, and whatever else captures my attention.
When people tell me that I’ll meet someone someday, I usually smile and say, “Please don’t wish that on me. I’ve got a good thing going here.” In fact, I wear a wide silver band on my wedding ring finger. I call it my Unavailability Ring.
I met you once at a writing conference at UW in Madison in 2010. We ate lunch at the same table and talked about writing, and I think you had presented a seminar that morning. Anyway, I enjoy your blog! Thanks for sharing your perspective on life.
I love the response–Please don’t wish that on me. I’m so happy your happy and it really does sound like you have a good thing going on. I remember meeting you. I hope we get the chance again. A
I am equally happy being partnered or single. Why? Because I’m happy being myself.
That’s the basis of it, isn’t it?