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by N ik k i Silve r ste in
hile the weak economy continues to inďŹ‚ict pain upon many people, Iâ€™m reaping some mighty strong beneďŹ ts. Sure, freelance writing gigs arenâ€™t plentiful, but I have plenty of free time. Best of all, my best girlfriends do too. Right now, Kate, Abby and Louise are all on the beachâ€”with me. Iâ€™m not exactly reveling in their jobless status, yet I secretly hope they donâ€™t ďŹ nd gainful employment for a while. Call me selďŹ sh if you must. Iâ€™m not. With layoff packages provided by downsizing corporations, theyâ€™re doing dandy. The fact is I need the company. I live by myself. I work from home by myself. Iâ€™m isolated. If it werenâ€™t for my dog Bruno, Iâ€™d probably suffer from full-blown agoraphobia, as opposed to my self-diagnosed mild version. Who wants to go outdoors when A&E is running a Storage Wars marathon or you have to ďŹ nish The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks before you start racking up late fees from the library? Eating alone, sleeping alone, waking up alone, having sex alone and grocery shopping (for one) alone makes me feel, you guessed it, alone. Statistics say otherwise. According to NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg, just under 33 million Americans live alone. In San Francisco, 40 percent of households claim just one member. Klinenberg became so fascinated with the subject he wrote a 288-page book called Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. If youâ€™re one of the 33 million, donâ€™t read it unless youâ€™re a guy. Out of those tens of millions of Americans living alone, 56 percent are female. I donâ€™t know who ďŹ nds this appealing, but I bet itâ€™s mostly men, since the odds are in their favor of ďŹ nding the woman of their dreams. Knowing my neighbors are also alone is somewhat comforting; however, Iâ€™d rather not be in their club. I admit it. Iâ€™m not just alone; Iâ€™m lonely. There are aspects of living by myself that I appreciate and my married friends miss. Everything is just where I left it (even though these days, I often forget where that is). My home does not contain any knotty pine furniture. I no longer clean up after a man who mistakenly believes that a few drops splashed outside the toilet bowl wonâ€™t hurt anything. Not one complaint is voiced when I stay up all night reading with both bedside lamps turned on. I talk baby talk all darn day to the dog without annoying anyone other than the dog.
A few advantages, yes. Still, itâ€™s just not natural being alone so much of the time. Iâ€™m glad Thoreau was able to achieve success by sequestering himself, but itâ€™s not for everyone. Today, with mail order Ativan, I could probably get through it, but why should I torture myself? Iâ€™d rather go live at the pond with a good man by my side. Until then, I have my posse of BFFs 24/7 to help me feel less alone. Or, at least theyâ€™ll be around until the economy improves. Weâ€™re getting important stuff done together. We honestly donâ€™t know how we had time to take care of our lives before the recession hit. Let me share one of our typical days. We try to confer with each other every morning. Sometimes, time ďŹ‚ies and we donâ€™t speak until later in the afternoon. Our collective goal is to shower (alone) by 9am, but Iâ€™d say we mostly miss the mark. Thereâ€™s so much puttering. Louise has numerous potted plants to water and images to photograph. Kateâ€™s planning her remodel. Abbyâ€™s studying for an exam. Iâ€™m jotting down strings of words that likely amuse only me. At 2pm, weâ€™re ready to exit our alone homes and enter the world. Setting out on the trail of the day, we argue about which of us has the cutest dog, counting the compliments each dog receives from hikers passing by. Kateâ€™s â€œhubbyâ€? generally wins. (I told you living alone isnâ€™t natural.) By 4pm, we tackle Marinâ€™s most serious issue. Should we go to Magâ€™s in Larkspur or Swirl in Mill Valley? Weâ€™ve determined Magâ€™s has good frozen yogurt, but Swirl has better toppings. In case youâ€™re wondering, our unprofessional poll shows that itâ€™s perfectly acceptable to eat, on a daily basis, a pint of frozen yogurt smothered in Reeseâ€™s Peanut Butter Cups and hot chocolate sauce. Before you decide to write me a scathing letter about our superďŹ cial existence, Iâ€™d like to share a little more. As single women, currently without much disposable income and no families to feed at night, we attend public readings, local art exhibits and library events, if only to keep us from staying inside our heads too much, which in my case, tends to be dangerous. We volunteer a few hours each week to keep some perspective. We cherish our friendships, especially during these rough patches. We may be alone, but we have each other. Thanks, girls. <
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â€şâ€ş TRiViA CAFĂ‰ ANSWERS From page 8 1a. Roadhouse 1b. Food 1c. Ran 2. Mt. Etna, in Sicily 3. Legume, like a pea or a bean 4. Michael Jackson 5. Three to six years 6. Slowly
7a. Wardrobe 7b. Narnia 8. Indira Gandhi 9. Red Sea to Gulf of Aden (pirate zone) then onward to the Arabian Sea 10. Tennis, ping pong, badminton, volleyball, beach volleyball...others? BONUS ANSWER: Plato
Offer Nikki some helpful advice on TownSquare at â€şâ€ş paciďŹ csun.com AUGUST 10 - AUGUST 16, 2012 PACIFIC SUN 13
Section of the August 10, 2012 edition of the Pacific Sun Weekly