Friday, December 7, 2018

Wake Up Alone and Like It!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Friends, I have finally achieved Empty Nest. And a truly empty one it is; with Ross gone, it's just me and an eight-year-old cat manning the fort at chateau Hugo-Vidal. (Perhaps that ought to be manning the chateau at Fort Hugo-Vidal...)

The Smithie was out this past spring, moving in with her Very Tall Boyfriend, although her place was taken almost immediately by her friend Samantha, who lodged with me while she got up and running at her new Portland job and apartment-shopped. This took some time, mostly because the rental situation in our area closely resembles the Death Race scene in Mad Max Fury Road, with far too many contestants peeling ahead recklessly and doing anything to win.

Meanwhile, as you know, Youngest headed up north to the University of Maine in September, so although she's still "residing" at my house (honestly, tax agents who may be reading this blog!) I don't expect her to be here for more than a few weeks at a time from now on. She's already looking into a summer job...in Kosovo. We have dear friends who are Serbian, so that's going to be an interesting conversation.

Samantha finally found a terrific, affordable, safe rental and moved out the week before Thanksgiving, which gave me a week to clean, cook, pick up Youngest, etc. etc. I was so busy, it wasn't until the guests had all departed and Youngest was back up in Orono that it really struck me - I'm all alone.

And I like it!

Let me tell you - there are some nifty advantages to living on one's own. First and foremost: it's insanely easy to keep the place clean. I was worried about this, because for the past 24 years I've struggled to keep the giant dust bunnies and ghostly fingerprint buildup at bay. I used to consider the house well cared for if three of the five downstairs room were not embarrassingly messy and you couldn't smell any cat pee or dog barf. I always had the sneaking suspicion that my family was making most of the mess, and now I have proof - I'm keeping 3000 square feet tidy and dust-free in less time than it used to take me to do one load of laundry.

Which is another delightful change.  For years and years, I did at least one wash a day. Every day, and of course, that didn't count special, tiny little loads when someone's team uniform or only remaining school shirt was dirty. (Catholic school. regulation shirts.) Now? I'm only limited by the amount of clean underwear in my drawer. It takes me three weeks to get full white, colored and dark loads, and yes, that included the sheets. Heck, I used to have a whole basket each week comprised solely of face cloths and towels (for some reason I've never ascertained, the Sailor used THREE facecloths every time he cleaned his face.)

Of course, this means I'm probably going to wind up tasing my children to keep up standards when they're all home for Christmas.  Needs must, I suppose.

Some other benefits? Last night I made myself pearl couscous with roasted winter vegetables, feta cheese and walnuts. Every one of those ingredients would have raised an objection from at least one of my offspring, and my dear Ross, a man who thought all salads should include steak, chicken or bacon, would have asked, "Where's the beef?"

Also, unhitched from the demands of after-school rehearsals, homework, and 9 to 5 work weeks, I'm eating earlier these days. I like prepping dinner while there's still natural light in the kitchen. On the plus side, it's supposed to be good for you to get the bulk of your calories in early and have time to digest. On the minus side, I'm clearly just one pair of sensible shoes away from the 5pm senior citizen all-you-can-eat buffet.

There are a few quasi-negative aspects. I talk to myself these days. A lot. I haven't started losing arguments to myself, so I guess I'm still okay. Per my kids' request, I carry my phone with me whenever I go outside to haul wood or shovel snow - in case I Fall Down and Can't Get Up. And when I get take-out pizza, I can't pretend I'm doing it as a delightful treat for the kids - I have to own the fact I have a craving for ham and pineapple and run with it.

How about you, dear readers? Ever experience the upside of solitude? Or, surrounded by kids, cats and dogs, do you ever dream of what you'd do if you were left home alone?

71 comments:

  1. I missed having the girls here when they no longer lived with us; I love when they come to visit. But there’s something quite appealing about making decisions or doing things simply because it’s what I want to do. And, quite frankly, fewer people in the house translates into more reading time for me . . . .

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  2. I really loved being part of a pair so, after Warren died, I had to consciously look for things that made navigating solo okay. The first advantage I found was in going to the movies. I didn't have to negotiate with anyone over what film I'd see, or even if I wanted to stay on and make it a double feature. That opened the door to all kinds of "I don't have to ask for a second opinion" decisions and now I'm basically living my 12-year-old self's dream life: I can sleep as late as I want (well, as late as the dogs let me) and read in bed until all hours. I can eat what I want without worrying about someone else's dietary restrictions, and adopt all the dogs and cats I please. I get paid for hanging out backstage, and was able to move to a place where that was an option! I can drive a non-sensible car that isn't needed to haul elderly in-laws around once or twice a year. I can even travel when and where I want without scrimping on cheap hotels. (To be fair, travel isn't as much fun without someone to share the experience, but at least I get to go.) Also, big bonus, no inexplicable plastic objects show up in my house "because they were on sale." I'm not going to say that I would never trade in the single life for a new studly companion, but I would have to think long and hard about it now.

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    1. That's exactly how I feel, Gigi. It's not that I would have OPTED for single life, but not having a choice, I've decided to make the best of it. And there really is a "best" to make of it!

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    2. Perfect, Julia. We all have to make the best of the life we've got, even if it's not the life we wanted.

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  3. Julia,

    I've been alone in the house since my mother passed with the exception of the three weeks that my brother and his family were living here. It was an experiment that ended in epic disaster because my brother and I always get along best when there is a lot of space or limited time together.

    Otherwise, since November 2016 I've been in the house alone. And yes I like it. Given that I'm mostly a loner this is not a surprise.


    Like you, the laundry takes a lot longer to accumulate for me. I don't really eat any earlier than usual though. And yes, it is slightly easier to clean the house since there is less traffic throughout the house. Thankfully I don't have to worry about dog barf or cat pee though.

    I don't know that I talk to myself any more than I did before the solo status happened.

    So...solo living is fine with me (except when I'm the only bill paying person of course).


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    1. Oh, Jay, you've hit on the one downside...it IS nice to know someone else is pitching on on some of those costs.

      I'm with you on the sibling thing - I love my sister dearly, but she and I would drive each other CRAZY if we tried to live together with her family. (My brother, on the other hand, would be a fabulous housemate, but since he and his little boy have bad cat allergies, it wouldn't work out from their end.)

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  4. So glad you are enjoying being solo, Julia. After my divorce nearly twenty years ago, I had teenagers in the house, but only half the time. I loved being the sole decision maker on things like where to hang a picture and what color to paint something. Now I live with a self-employed man who is really, really good at relaxing, thus he's underfoot a bit too much for my tastes, and he rarely travels without me. So when I get the house to myself I love it! I've always talked to myself a lot regardless of who I live with.

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    1. I have to confess i didn't START talking to myself when the house emptied out, I've just been doing it more frequently. I think I got into the habit when I had babies, carried it on to speaking to the pets, and now I just don't have an infant or dog I can pretend I'm conversing with.

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  5. Interesting. Julia, I've often thought about you this past year, so many changes and so much to get your head around. Kudos for doing a great job of jumping over that Slough of Despond and back into a productive, if different, life. Different is the key word.

    I did not spend one night on my own until I was 37 years old, long story, and I spent that night, a hot Texas June night, alone in a first floor apartment with no a/c, all windows shut tightly and all lights on. I was terrified. I'm okay now with being alone at night although I rarely am.

    Alone in the day time is different. It can be as delicious as a hot fudge sundae, hidden, secret, all mine to devour. That was then. This is now. My first week with having Julie around for lunch has been delightful, odd, strange, blissful, unsettling, lovely, smothering, pleasantly surprising. I'll get used to it. One thing I've discovered is that I have to go upstairs alone and have some private time. It's ok. And necessary lest I find myself in the middle of a real crime expose.

    I am, but nature, tidy. No dishes in the sink, nothing extraneous left on the kitchen island other than the cat, and I am accustomed to making a sweep around the house each morning, plumping pillows, tossing things down the laundry chute, gathering the garbage, and making absolutely sure there is NOTHING in the kitchen sink other than the odd pan that needs a ten minute soak before it gets washed and dried.

    I have some adjusting to do. I'll adjust. No murder will happen. Except in my imagination.

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    1. Ann. I've known several women for whom the spouse's retirement has meant a BIG adjustment. At first, it drove me Mom crazy because Dad wanted to to EVERYTHING with her. Which meant errands she could get done in 15 minutes on autopilot suddenly became all-afternoon outings. They adjusted, but it took a while...

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  6. Julia, I agree with Ann--kudos for managing an enormous transition with grace and so much humor! Like Edith, I talk to myself anyway, especially with no pets around...I hope all this spare time has translated into lots of writing!

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  7. Congratulations on accepting your empty nest. When my kids left for college, they found summer jobs either in their campus city or at summer camps. They would turn up in August to visit the dentist and get a decent haircut. We're still addressing the contents of their college dorm rooms which are piled in the basement. My daughters and one boyfriend will be with us for Christmas week, most of which I'll spend in the kitchen. Every year I put new running socks in the Christmas stockings...and I reserve a special bright blue for MY socks in case someone thinks of borrowing them.

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    1. Brilliant, Margaret! Yes, part of what makes this all so much easier is that all three of my kids (and my bonus kid Samantha) are happy, healthy, and pursuing their dreams. Their absence isn't a negative for me, it's a positive for them.

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  8. I've been on my own for quite some time and for all the reasons you mentioned I am quite content. Of course I talk to myself and I even argue with myself! I'm like twins in one body - one twin is a rather aggressive no-it-all but the other is kind of passive and more thoughtful less impulsive.
    Julia, your kids are right to insist that you have your phone with you at all times. There was a time I fell and had no phone. It is very rural where I live, not many houses at all. But I yelled for help, someone's dog heard me and I was saved. Also, make sure to take the phone in the bathroom with you. (You don't have to answer it but you want it handy if you need it.) My aunt, who was living alone, somehow got stuck in her tub and could not get out. It was almost 24 hours before someone came to her door. When I heard that story is when I started taking my phone in there.

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    1. Judi, I did bow to their wishes because I realize it's smart. I'm "only" 57, and I don't think I'm LIKELY to be unable to get myself out of anything I get myself in to, but accidents do happen, and in my rural area, it could be a long time before the neighbors heard me.

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  9. Kudos for managing the change!

    I love being by myself and I was looking forward to this when I made the transition to working at home. A whole eight hours of silence, or whatever music I wanted, time to do the laundry, eating lunch whenever I wanted - and eating whatever I wanted - getting writing done in peace...this introvert was ready!

    Then my brother-in-law moved in with us and that, as they say, was that.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. You have my sympathies, Mary/Liz. My girls asked me several times, "Won't you be lonely?" I answered with the old song lyric: How can i miss you if you won't go away?

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  10. Wait —did you say: take your phone with you to haul wood? HAUL WOOD??

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    1. In my jeans pocket. Or is it the hauling wood part? Yes, I have to haul it from a huge tarp-covered pile near the barn into the house and/or into the woodroom, which is off the barn and beneath the house.

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  11. Julia, if you look back over your emails for the past several years, you will not believe all the things you did, all the disasters you juggled so beautifully, and all the commitments you had to fulfill. I am in awe that you have found peace, and contentment, and it just proves what an amazing person you are. And if you could do my laundry too, that would be great.

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    1. Good idea - maybe I'll try re-reading them some afternoon!

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  12. Julia- You just described a life I can’t comprehend. A day without laundry? A pizza of my own? Meatless dinner? The mind boggles. Sadly, the talking to myself, I’ve got down but I pretend I’m talking to the pets.

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    1. I hear you. I adore my kids, but I was so happy when one by one, they left for college/ the military/the boyfriend. Being a mother is HARD hecking work and I'll never understand women who try to cling on to their kids once they've grown. Go! Fly! You can always text me!

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  13. Still not an empty nester, because I had a LOT of kids! But as the house has gotten empty-ER, I've enjoyed the quiet time to...yes, hear myself talk out loud to myself. It's beginning to look like we all do it. And why not, say I, to myself? I find that talking to myself clarifies things beautifully.

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    1. It's so nice having someone who always understands you... :-)

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  14. Until I was in my mid-40s, I lived mostly alone. As Mary/Liz says above, it was just fine for an introvert. Fast forward twenty years, and my youngest nephews are 20 and 21 and almost, but not quite, ready to fledge the nest. There are plenty of alone evenings now, which I am enjoying greatly. And yes, Julia, you are an amazing person! When you finish this Clare and Russ book, I think you should seriously consider a book of your humorous essays--we need more humor in our lives right now!

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    1. I very well might do that, Flora!

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    2. If you’re serious, Julia, may I preorder it NOW?????

      DebRo

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  15. Julia, how wonderful that you have embraced the joys of solitude and a clean home. I can't help but think that having your daughter's friend as a lodger was a gift to you in this transition. When your chicks do come home for visits, you will enjoy them all the more, despite the tasing.

    Like Ann, I was 30 before I ever spent a night completely alone in a building. It took me a long time to adjust, going from family/apartment living to the little wife at home while my husband roamed the country on lecture tour/photographic assignments. I had/have a very high need for social downtime, although raising kids is not especially conducive to providing it.

    Now that the kids are all grown, Steve still enjoys being on his own, and so do I. Fortunately, we have our farm an hour away, which provides a bolthole, and gives us both much-needed alone time; he usually stays there a day or two a week, or I do. It's a good thing we found one another, because other than my best friend, whose husband also travels a lot, most couples we know prefer--actually expect--to be together all the time. If/when the time comes, I hope it might be easier for us to accept the inevitable because of our independence. No guarantees, of course.

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    1. Karen, I'm pretty sure I had spent the night alone in the house at least once before Ross died, but it was a great rarity. And until now, I've never lived alone. Family home to college roommates to grad school housemates to husband to kids. This is quite the life adventure for me, and that's how I'm approaching it.

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  16. The talking to yourself thing is a real comfort, isn't it? I do plenty of that and don't even live alone.

    D. travels for work and sometimes - mostly in the winter, when the days are short and the roads are treacherous in far reaches of Maine - she's gone for a night or two. Despite the fact she's (very) easy to be around, I do enjoy having the house to myself. I often cook shrimp with cilantro (which she disdains) and watch the TV shows she finds too intense or insipid (depending on my mood).

    Good for you for finding your footing there in the chateau H-V by yourself. It is nice to picture you eating roasted squash and couscous as you crank up your own playlist.

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  17. I confess one of my favorite moments in life is right after my kids and grandkids leave after visiting us. The silence that descends... it's lovely. An hour later I miss them terribly. That's the push-pull of the empty nest.

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  18. And I didn't even touch on the joys of having total control of the radios and Alexa. No hip-hop blasting from the kitchen, no ball game broadcasting while I'm trying to read... you know I adored Ross, but his favorite radio station was the Jimmy Buffett channel. I am FINE with never having to spend another evening wasting away in Margaritaville.

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    1. There's a Jimmy Buffett channel?!?

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    2. Of course there's a Jimmy Buffett channel.

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    3. 24/7 Slippin' on flip-flops.

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    4. There's also going to be a Jimmy Buffett retirement community. Ross was looking into it... I guess even death has a silver lining.

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  19. Talking to yourself? That's what pets are for, aren't they?

    I've lived in single blessedness (except for my cat Martha, until last year) since my one and only child went off to university.

    Every time my partner of 29 years (duration, not age) and I make noises about living together, I back off. The loveliness of controlling my own daily life is too sweet to sacrifice. Lately, though, I've been thinking I may be turning into a scary, vulnerable, lonely old lady. Hmm...

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    1. It struck me that this was how the idea of witches came about - grumpy women living alone and doing what they please with only a cat for company.

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  20. Julia, I'm so glad you're finding the pleasures of living alone. I lived alone for the first time during college, and again for the couple of years between college and getting married at 27, and I absolutely loved it. I can remember thinking I wasn't sure I ever wanted to live with anyone else. And then there was marriage, a child, another marriage. All wonderful in many ways, of course, but I have now spent the majority of my adult life living with someone (or someones). I think if I didn't bolt across the Atlantic for a month of completely alone time at least once a year, I'd be bonkers.

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  21. It occurs to me that women seem to make the adjustment to living alone more easily than men. I wonder if this is because women spend so much of their time catering to partners' or childrens' needs and preference, so that not having to do that is hugely liberating...

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    1. I think you've hit on something, Debs. When you're by yourself, your own needs prevail. Lucky Charms for dinner at 5:15? Sure! Who cares?! It's interesting to consider how our schedules change depending upon who is out of town.

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    2. The flip side of that is that many men are used to having someone around to cater to their needs and wishes. When that disappears, they're all adrift and have to get up to get their own beer. Statistically speaking, men who were in good marriages and who are widowed, are most likely to remarry within a year or so.

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    3. I would give that a big "hell yeah," Debs. And I've heard the statistics Gigi cites as well. It's not ONLY the age-related disparity in male-female numbers that keeps so many widows from remarrying. A lot of us don't see the need to take on that work again.

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    4. You're either the nurse or the purse, Julia!

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  22. Once I no longer had college roommates, I was living on my own, alone in various apartments and condos, until I got married, at age 60. Yes, that's right I was a happy bachelor all those years, just me, plus a cat or sometimes two cats. I talked to myself (but ostensibly to the cats). It was wonderful to have my own space, no compromises, eat what and when, watch and listen to my choice, have books on shelves and available, have all that quiet reading time, have all the closet space I needed, arranged how I wished. I had many friends who visited, I went out and did many things, but it was always my choice.

    Now, married, it's different, but there is still lots of personal space for us both, though the dresser and closet seem to have nearly disappeared. But it's nice to have a companion, and we love each other and fit well.

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    1. Rick, what a wonderful story! I had no idea you were first wed at 60. That sounds very romantic.

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  23. I have never had a place all to myself but I have certainly lived alone from time to time. Fortunately it has never bothered me. My husband's jobs took him away from home, sometimes just a couple of days, sometimes a few months. The lovely thing about it was I could read in bed at night, eat what and when I wanted, keep my own natural night owl schedule. I did miss my son when he moved out to join the military. He's been back several years now and I'm ready for him finish up school and take off. Please. I love my son; he and I have the same twisted sense of humor but enough is enough! Now that we are looking for a place to move to "in retirement" my husband jokes that we each can get his/her own house in the preferred location and skype. That is almost tempting. As for talking to myself? I've done it for years. I'm the only one who listens to me.

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    1. Pat, we have friends who downsized from their big house and bought both sides of a duplex!

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    2. Pat, that's how I felt about the Smithie. I lover her to pieces, and she's great company, but it was TIME. Even in the old days of nearby extended families, everyone had their own home.

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  24. I'm not good at being on my own. If I'm in a strange city I love the freedom for a couple of days, then I start chatting to hotel clerks and waitresses. I have considered how I'd handle a future without John. I think I'd need to get a dog to talk to!

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    1. Rhys, if you're living near some colleges, you might get a grandkid to live with you - they save on the room and board bill, and you get company and a youthful helper!

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  25. I’ve lived alone for much of my life. I don’t mind it. I read when I feel like reading. I never have to be in the same room with a football game on TV. If I want to, I can eat cold cereal or waffles for dinner. There are advantages and disadvantages. While I wish I had someone here to shovel the snow, many of my friends and relatives have had to take that chore over from a spouse who now has health issues and can no longer do it. I’d love to have someone else balance the checkbook or pay the bills!

    When our extended family goes on vacation together, we share a house. I love being with loved ones and when I get home, it takes a couple of days to get used to being alone again. Same thing happens when I get home from a holiday dinner with family.Walking into a silent home feels odd for a couple of hours.And, oh how I I wish had someone to change a tire so I wouldn’t have to call AAA! A few weeks ago I had a flat tire at home. The AAA person was nasty to me, and among other things, asked me if I had a screwdriver he could borrow, and was annoyed when I said no. A male neighbor returned home from somewhere and asked me what was wrong with my car. The roadside assistance person suddenly became friendly. From that point on, he had no trouble changing the tire. (Do I really need to have a man around so I can be treated with respect?)

    As for talking to myself, I’ve been doing that since I was a kid! (Isn’t it supposed to be a sign of genius?:-) As long as it doesn’t give me a sore throat, I’ll keep on doing it!
    DebRo

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  26. DebRo, I'd report that AAA guy. My service almost always sends me a quality survey in the mail after I get help. Let them know!

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  27. Good for you! Enjoy the new world you have. Embrace it.
    I'm told there is nothing wrong with talking to yourself. Just watch out if you get an answer that isn't from you.
    As for sr. citizen buffets, we've noticed that they are disappearing in south Florida! Gone! The "older" people aren't interested or something.
    I'm sure there is still the problem of people pocketing pack of sugar to take home. ;o)

    Libby Dodd

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    1. Libby, I suspect they've become so associated with "little old couple" that actual little old couples, who want to feel they're cooler than that, have given them up. Don't forget, the elderly are Baby Boomers now. There will be some sort of retro-sixties or eighties diner that will capture their business.

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  28. I've lived alone since my mother died in 2007 and managed better than I thought I would. It is nice to be able to do whatever you want whenever you want to.

    I not only talk to myself but to the plants, the TV, the furniture, etc. However I read that people living alone could actually lose their voices. Not happening to us!

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    1. You know, Sally, my plants ARE thriving like never before. Maybe you've hit on something!

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  29. Julia, starting in 2006, I had an empty nest. Kids were at college and husband had been called up from the reserves to the full-time Army in 2002. My daughter married in 2007, and she and her family only spend the occasional night. My son moved three hours away when he got out of college. My husband semi-retired this summer. He had been gone for almost sixteen years, with a visit home every 6 to 8 weeks, except when he was in Afghanistan for six months. He now is only away every two or three months for two weeks at a time. So, I had a long time of living alone, and, well, actually enjoying it. I could eat when I wanted, stay up as long as I wanted, and sleep in as long as I wanted. I had girlfriends with whom to go out to eat and grandchildren to go visit an hour away. Now that hubby is home, we are readjusting to each of us living with someone else again. He's more regular about when he wants to eat, so to compromise, we eat supper between 5:30 and 6:30, usually the earlier time. I would often eat lunch in the middle of the afternoon and not eat suppe until 8. We're pretty much on our own for breakfast and lunch. I still stay up late and get up late, but he's adjusted to that. Reading requires some early morning stay-up hours. I think we're going to make it, but it has been challenging at times. One thing we did was to adopt a senior rescue dog. I hadn't had a dog for over three years, and we were waiting until hubby got home until we got another one together. When I was young, first married, I never envisioned my life as living alone while my husband lived elsewhere for work, but I was glad to find out that not only could I do it, I could enjoy it.

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    1. Kathy, you get a special diamond star reserved for military spouses! My son is deploying for 6 - 9 months next year. I asked his (getting pretty serious) sweetheart if she was up for it. "I guess I'll have to be, won't I?" she said. Good girl.

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  30. I have the opposite problem, I've always lived alone my whole, post college life and to be around others is weird. Holidays Meals have always been with our large, extended family but I always seemed find that quiet corner where no one would bug me. I spent this past Thanksgiving week with my sister and her family. I basically had to do what they wanted, eat whatever they wanted. I had my car but wasn't doing a lot of driving for a couple of days. (Sister flew down to drive me to her house post surgery, which went well but flying or driving wasn't an option) I did get up wherever I wanted, but I found myself staying in my room for alone (talking to myself) time every morning. I was grateful to be there because it as my second Thanksgiving without my larger extended family. But it was different, weird, to be with people for a week. After my sister brought me home, I couldn't wait for her to leave.... Very small apartment.....

    Breakfast for dinner is one of my favorite meals. Since I moved into this small apartment, last year, laundry is done at the complex's small laundry room or I haul it to a bigger laundromat. The problem is they all have closing times so I can't, if I wanted to, do laundry at 2 in the morning, which I don't. And small loads is a thing in the past.

    I think you have to talk to yourself. 1) You always win the argument and 2) as a writer uou have to listen to your story before publication, don't you?

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    1. My talking to myself is more along the lines of having a secretary remind me of what I'm supposed to be doing and what's next coming up. If it was actually another person, it would drive me crazy - "Don't forget, you have to take the garbage out!" but since it's just me, it works.

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  31. My last roommate moved out almost a year and a half ago. I am finding living alone is a mixed bag. If I don't clean up my mess, no one is going to get frustrated with me. On the other hand, I have no motivation to keep things clean. But I am finding that it can be lonely when I come home from work every night and have no one to talk to. I'm still trying to adjust to that.

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    1. I do find I'm putting on music/podcasts/NPR much more than I used to, Mark, precisely because the house feels so empty sometimes.

      Interestingly, my motivation is swapped with yours: I used to have a hard time revving up to clean because I knew anything I cleared off would be covered again in a matter of days, if not hours. Now, if I clean it, it stays clean. I like that.

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  32. It is safe to say that you are sick of waking up alone every morning, continually attempting to feel that body next to you just to discover that there's just barely that vast space of your bed? Have you attempted to look for comfort from different folks, just to get disappointed at last?

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  33. Well it's a bitter sweet feeling when you wake up and realize that you are an empty nester! I'll never forget the feeling. But if you can travel and keep busy then it definitely keeps your mind off of things and especially traveling to see your kids in college or in their new city!

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  34. I have to admit--I love my long stretches of solitude! But I'm always happy when the kids visit.

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