Sunday, May 4, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

back by popular demand

Over the past month or so, the number of visitors to this blog has gone through the roof. Aside from the searches for "single supermodels" (really, guys, what are you planning to do with the information?), the vast majority of the remaining searches that bring visitors here seem to be singles seeking solace of some kind: the anti-Valentine's Day music and Lovers Go Die Club posts get the most hits. Because I currently also find myself single, I am going to return to posting here. The posts may be intermittent or overly self-reflective, but it's nice to know that there are possible sympathetic souls out there. If you would also like to contribute to this blog, once or frequently, please e-mail me at

Happy F*cking Valentine's Day.

Monday, June 4, 2007

On My Own: The Art of Being a Woman Alone by Florence Falk

"Aloneness is an opportunity, a state brimming with potentiality, with resources for renewed life—not a life sentence. Its cultivation should not be an apology but an art. In the space of aloneness—and perhaps only there—a woman is free to admit and act on her own desires. It is where we have the opportunity to discover that we are 'not a half' but a sovereign whole. With that insight, we can then begin to discard the remnant of 'thingness'—the spoiling belief that gives rise to our timidity, insecurity, and fear—so that we can realize true autonomy, with or without a partner."

Monday, February 19, 2007

gone fishing

It is with some sadness that I shut down this blog. I originally intended this space to be the home for a conversation among 30-something single women. While being single can be difficult at times considering the predominance of the married lifestyle as we get older, there also seems to be a growing trend toward acceptance and celebration of the single condition. Being single in your 30s is a lot less entertaining than being single in your 20s, but also a lot more complicated and interesting in many ways. I had hoped to explore some of these ideas here, but it was not to be. After inviting over 50 women to participate and being unable to begin a dialogue, I've accepted this project as a lost cause. Perhaps women don't like to talk about being single. Perhaps akin to the old maternal threat that if you keep making that face it will freeze that way, women hesitate to embrace a state from which they hope to decamp. If someone stumbles by who is intrigued by this site and would like to attempt a resurrection, please feel free to e-mail me at the address to the left.
À bientôt.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

as heard on the simpsons

Marge: You'll never get a husband if you keep being so sarcastic.
Lisa: All right. No husband.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

singles season

It’s fairly commonplace to despise Valentine’s Day if you’re single, but it actually may be a time to rejoice. You see, Valentine’s Day marks the official end of couples season: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and then the dreaded National Singles Awareness Day a.k.a. February 14. What follows, however, is the opening day of singles season – a lovely time of year spanning most of the spring, summer, and fall and boasting holidays that are actually fun.

First comes the general interlude of spring fever. Even the most jaded among us can’t deny a certain annual stirring when the weather starts to warm, the clothes start to thin, and your step starts to spring. This time of year is all about the new, the fresh…the unattached. So show some skin and get out there.

Once you’ve met that new cherry blossom and things start to get juicy, there’s no better time to get away than Memorial Day weekend. If your spring flings haven’t quite blossomed to the romantic getaway stage, it’s still an excellent time to travel. You may see some families traveling over this long weekend, but for the most part, the kids are still in school and there are elaborate summer vacation plans to save up for. Being single, you don’t need to arrange your travel plans around anyone, so off you go to the destination of your choice.

Summer generally takes this freedom to another level. Whereas parents are now faced with children who don’t have school to attend for a month or three and the demands of providing 24/7 entertainment, you can come and go as you please. If you’re lucky enough to have a job with summers off, you can up and move to another state or another country if you so choose. If you only have weekends to play, you can use your disposable income to rent a beach house. Or you can just spend all day lying naked in front of the air conditioner if you feel like it.

Another fact to recommend summer is that it is generally holiday-free. What you have instead is often a series of weddings. While these events can often be excruciatingly painful, they can also be a hotbed of potential romance or at least a chance to mingle, to travel, and to play the role of glamorous guest that the single woman can vamp to perfection. Then, of course, there’s Fourth of July – the holiday whose symbol epitomizes what some of these marrying couples sacrifice for stability.

When summer ends, it’s time to go back to school – something singles can do without arranging a babysitter or soothing the ego of a neglected spouse. This year alone, my single friends have studied American literature, life drawing, HTML, grant writing, improvisational comedy, print making, furniture design, and Thai cooking. If nothing else – and there’s plenty else to recommend lifelong learning – they are the people you want to meet at a cocktail party.

The rest of singles season brings the holidays that are all about putting your goods on display and making your own adventure: Halloween and Sadie Hawkins Day (November 10). It’s fitting that the singles season ends with a holiday that can be seen as encouragement for women to take charge of their lives – to be proud and choose wisely. By this time, maybe it’s not such a unwelcome prospect to relax and sit the next few holidays out.

what he said

I never fail to smile at a commercial for a new TV show called Rules of Engagement. Patrick Warburton (who will always be the beloved Puddy from Seinfeld but he’s great on Family Guy, too) plays a married man, Oliver Hudson plays the fiancé character, and David Spade plays the single guy.

At one point in the commercial, the three men sit in a restaurant and David Spade gets up to leave, saying, “I’m going to go do whatever I feel like doing – all the time.” Amen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

leading apes in hell*

In mid-Victorian England the custom of sending daintily printed valentines, overflowing with hearts, cupids and poetical posies was generally understood to consist of an exchange of missives between special loving friends... Yet beneath the sweet exterior and tender words of these lace-paper beauties lurked something far more sinister - the comic valentine!

These scurrilous printed sheets, entered into the humour of the common and middles classes, fun and mischief were their elements...
In reality they were masterpieces of the grotesque, venomous in humour, spiteful and rude, expressing anything but love.

The Sentimental Slut

Sentimental single one, what causes thee to weep?
Crying, like a crocodile, and sighing very deep;
O! Say, is it Cupidity, that puts you in a flutter?
“O! No I’m in a dungeon cold, and scarce a word may utter:”
You're in a castle, in the air, and dreaming in broad day;
So, Sentimental Slut, awake, and drive those thoughts away;
“Imprisoned, by an uncle bold, who urges me to marry;”
Imprisoned, for your uncle holds the shawl for which you tarry.
“Red bloody deeds, indeed, he’s done; my loves he loves to stab,”
Read bloody books, indeed, you have; till read has made a drab.
“Sadly the wind it blew and howled, when spectre-warn’d - O! - shocking:”
Sadly you mind to sew the holes you have in either stocking.
“It warn’d, and said; what did it say? it warn’d as it was going”
The fire's out, your love-bird’s dead; and how the water’s flowing.
So, Sentimental Slut, adieu! - no more romantic pine -
For I do seek a lover true, - no dreary Valentine.

*“Leading apes in hell” was the traditional occupation for old maids and spinsters in the Victorian era.

Stay single. Keep your organs.

crouching at death's door

This Valentine's Day, the New York Post warns: Beware the bodega bouquet. Better no flowers than cheap flowers.

It is the last refuge of the desperate or the cheap, $20 that keeps you off the couch. Strapped by a cheap rubber band, wrapped in cellophane, destined to die between the corner and your apartment.

The bodega bouquet: savior of men, scourge of women, a New York Valentine's Day tradition.

When you care enough to send the very best, you don't buy this.

I'd rather these Dead Flowers:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

lovers go die

In the Wikipedia entry for Singles Awareness Day, I came across the above photo and tale of the Asian Lovers-go-die Club.

Lovers-go-die club is a club against lovers or couples. The idea comes from the manga Ping-Pong Club. In this manga, one of the members betrayed their fellow table-tennis team members and went on a date with a girl. Therefore, the other team members formed the "Lovers go die" club and tried to break up the couple. Unit Solo has similar meaning in South Korea. In East Asia, it has become a movement against public displays of affection. Some claim that radical supporters have even tried to break up couples.
The photo shows "demonstration activity against lovers in Tamsui, Taiwan on 14 February 2006. The banner reads 'Couples go die!'"

According to Wiki, Korea also has Black Day on April 14:
Black Day (April 14) is an informal tradition for single people (a.k.a. Unit Solo) to get together and eat noodles with black bean sauce in South Korea. The idea is that those who didn't give or receive gifts on Valentine's Day or White Day, can get together and eat Jjajangmyeon; Korean noodles with black bean sauce (hence the name) to commiserate their singledom.

The Korean black day has inspired others around the world to adopt this holiday. A internationally renowned yo-yo player who goes by the nickname of Black has started an annual celebration of Black Day among yo-yo players, who celebrate their single status with black yo-yos and making web-pages around the world black.

get pierced

Evite has plenty of cute Valentine's Day e-cards to send your single friends or secret crushes.

anti-valentine music

For some reason, MSN loves to publish articles on being single. (I think it has something to do with their personals site that I don't think anyone ever uses.) This Valentine's Day alone, we have:

Surviving Valentine's Day Solo
Single on Valentine's? Hooray!
Why I Hate Valentine's Day

My favorite though is probably "Anti-Valentine: The Top 'I Hate Love' Songs of All Time."

Nothing epitomizes the single person's challenge quite like Valentine's Day -- the one day each year that seems defined solely by gestures of romance: the delivery of red roses, thoughtful cards and phone calls, candlelight dinners, et cetera, ad nauseum. So this year, here's a suggestion: You can simply choose to hate love. I mean, really despise the sucker. Wear black. Spit on flowers. Fill your ears not with the sweet nothings of others but with the wails, moans and cries of musicians who have the decency to remind us of love's disastrous qualities.
I don't think we need to be quite so bitter, but I do love that J. Geils Band.

Monday, February 12, 2007

cannibals, crocodiles, and calling cards

In an NPR piece on armchair travel this morning, Nancy Pearl included an inspirational journey by a Victorian single woman extraordinaire. (I have to point out that she was referred to as a 'spinster' in the radio broadcast, but that particular word doesn't make into the transcript.)

Mary Henrietta Kingsley was one of those wonderfully intrepid, unquenchable Victorian lady travelers who roamed the earth and wrote lively accounts of their expeditions. In 1892, Kingsley, freed from her responsibilities in England after the death of her parents, set off for the Congo where she fell in love with the place and its people, despite being threatened by both two and four-legged animals. She describes her experiences in Travels in West Africa, which is marked by lively writing, a wonderful curiosity about everything she sees and everyone she meets. Richard Bausch fictionalizes Kingsley's life in a wonderful novel called Hello to the Cannibals. The title from a phrase of Kingsley's, where she describes how she left one African village to go upstream to say hello to the cannibals. There's a heart-stopping scene in the novel where she beats off crocodiles, as well as one describing her climb to the top of Mt. Cameroon — one of the highest volcanoes in Africa — in full Victorian garb (in all that heat!) and leaves her calling card at the summit.

our house

Single women, financially secure like never before, account for more than twice as many home purchases as single men do.

welcome to valentine's week... at Standing by Herself. While this may be a stressful or irritating time of year for the single gal, it's probably better to acknowledge it than try to pretend it's not happening. In this spirit, there will be Valentine posts just for you every day this week.

To start, enjoy the Valentine's Day edition of PostSecret's Sunday Secrets.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

insert sexual food euphemism here

I learned the hard way that the route to a man's heart is not always through his stomach, but Rachael Ray begs to differ:

You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Cream Pasta

Food Network recipe courtesy Rachael Ray


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, once around the pan in a slow stream
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
16 ouncespasta, such as penne rigate
1/2 cup heavy cream
20 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
Crusty bread, for passing

Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan, 3 turns around the pan in a steady stream will equal about 1 cup. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

While sauce simmers, cook pasta in salted boiling water until cooked to al dente (with a bite to it). While pasta cooks, prepare your salad or other side dishes. Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat. Drain pasta. Toss hot pasta with sauce and basil leaves. Pass pasta with crusty bread.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

50 boyfriends that could be yours

Some solace arrives just in time for Valentine’s Day in the form of a book titled 50 Boyfriends Worse Than Yours, which could also easily function as a list of boyfriends who could be complicating your life right now but are not. I first saw the book mentioned on Dethroner, where the following types of bad example beaus were listed:

  • Star Wars Lover
  • Actor/Musician/Applebee’s Waiter*
  • Lactose Intolerant
  • Better Looking Than You*
  • Not Over His Ex*
  • Losing His Hair and Sensitive About It
  • Friendly Neighborhood Pot Dealer
  • One-Position Peter
  • Worst Kisser Ever*
  • Comedian*

The asterisks represent the ones with which I have personal knowledge. (It’s also helpful to say a word of thanks for the ones with which you’re not familiar.) Any that you’d like to add?

Friday, February 2, 2007

saving the world through sex

Ideal Bite is a daily earth-friendly idea sent to your inbox (highly recommended). Today's tip was dedicated to the single among us.

Hey single Biters: wanna CO2-free way to get your rocks off?

The Bite
Boink your roommate or neighbor. A quickie with zero transit time is a genius way to let off steam without letting off CO2. (Don't even get us started on eco-inefficient trans-Atlantic booty calls.)

The Benefits

  • Get some lovin' minus the mileage. If you drive just 10 miles to spread the love, you generate 8 lbs of CO2 emissions.
  • Build community. In these crazy times, it's nice to really get to know your neighbors.
  • Multi-task. Sex burns 100 calories a pop - get a workout without going to the gym.
Post-coitus, kick 'em out without the guilt - they live right next door. After all, you wanted to sleep with them, not sleep with them.

Wanna Try
Forward this tip to a good-looking, single neighbor or roommate. (If they don't respond, don't sweat it - it's probably just email server problems.)

The sidebar also mentions that if 10,000 people were to walk next door instead of driving 10 miles to their next booty call, we'll save the CO2 created by running a vibrator nonstop for 324 years. They make a convincing argument.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

single supermodels

Thank heaven for small favors. Pete Doherty says he has no intention of making an honest woman out of Kate Moss.

According to Fametastic speaking after a recent Babyshambles gig in London, before his arrest, Pete told the Sunday Mirror: "I'm never getting married. I don't believe in it. Kate and I are in love - I worship her - but we're not going down the aisle. I'm happy the way it is."

She may not be as addled as she seems. I have a feeling the house she's buying is going to be in her name.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

big mistake

If you're feeling particularly hornery about your single status, you can always embrace it and wear this shirt from Busted Tees:

Sunday, January 21, 2007

life lesson

Sometimes the only thing worse than not having a boyfriend is having one.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

the good, the bad, and the ugly

An initial motivation for this blog was to examine the ways in which various media portray single women over 30. Digging beneath the stereotypes (slut/spinster) is the first step toward something more positive. Unfortunately, we’ll have to arm ourselves with powerful shovels. Here is the first installment of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good: This is old news, but it’s worth listing here in our inaugural edition. According to the American Community Survey data, released by the Census Bureau in October, 51.3% of households are helmed by the unmarried – the first time this balance has tipped to the other side. Granted, a significant portion of these households are made up of unmarried partners, but 27% consist of people living alone. The more being single is considered “normal,” the less being single will imply some type of deficiency.

The Bad: A recent plot line in the primetime drama Criminal Minds featured a serial rapist who preyed on young Christian virgins in an effort to create some kind of delusional family. (The script had the characters repeatedly refer to him as a “power-reassurance” rapist so many times that I thought his identity would eventually be uncovered through looking up “power-reassurance” rapist in the criminology encyclopedia.) When one of the virgins becomes pregnant and commits suicide, he realizes that his theory that any baby he created with them would never come to harm is flawed. The rapist then has the brilliant idea to change his victim profile and, through some shady access to fertility clinic records, target single women in their late 30s who have decided to pursue pregnancy through insemination. He implicitly reasons that such a woman is so desperate for a baby that she would welcome one as the product of rape. Lovely.

The Ugly: From the website Overheard in New York:

Guy: Man, if a girl is hot enough that you want get with her, and she's single... You know she's gotta be fucked up in the head.

--C train

Friday, January 19, 2007

it depends how you use it

This Sundance short from Sophie Barthes tells the story of "a spinster who visits a shop near her New York home and buys a mysterious sealed box that’s simply labeled HAPPINESS." Does she look inside? Watch to find out. (Via Very Short List)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

trying to define and remain single

I am nervous. I am a virgin blogger and my ex-boyfriend is driving in from out of town to see the City and stay with me (all his other friends have, um, moved away); he is due to arrive in about 10 minutes. Although not thrilled, my current boyfriend is "okay" with ex-beau's visit as we are striving to have an open, honest, mature relationship. At any rate, I am determined to get this post up and out (is this correct blog jargon or blargon, if you will) before the weekend drags me away from any productive activity.

Okay, so what is "single" anyway? I discussed the definition of this word with a friend (all right, it was singly blessed) and disagreed whole - oops had to run check the door - thought I heard a-knocking but I was a-mistaken - heartedly. Below is the Merriam-Webster online definition of single:

1 a : not married b : of or relating to celibacy
2 : unaccompanied by others : lone, sole
3 a (1): consisting of or having only one part, feature, or portion (2) : consisting of one as opposed to or in contrast with many : uniform (3) : consisting of only one in number b : having but one whorl of petals or ray flowers
4 a: consisting of a separate unique whole: individual b : of, relating to, or involving only one person
5 a : frank, honest b : exclusively attentive
6 : unbroken, undivided
7 : having no equal or like : singular
8 : designed for the use of one person only

I particularly like 1.b. because when I am entrenched in a long-term relationship (the closest thing I'll ever come to marriage), I pretty much redefine abstinence. I'd rather curl up with a good book than my man of x number of years; at least I don't know what will happen in the novel. I am "frank and honest" so at least that one applies but I especially like "individual" and "singular". I was fully prepared to write a post about how single is a state of mind (joie de vivre and all that jazz) - a commitment to freedom - an anti-marriage contract with yourself. Then someone killed a neighbor's wife (who I never had the pleasure of knowing) leaving their child motherless and the man suddenly single, and I realized it is certainly not a choice.

The truth is we are all single. We are born alone and die alone and ultimately we survive everything in between truly on our own. Consider the abused spouse, the mother of a special needs child, the suicide widow, the abandoned mom with four children. These women are single whether they are married or not. What of the living separate lives together sharing nothing but shelter scenario? Single. The reason I choose not to marry is because I don't trust it. Better to remain without legal entanglements - independent, footloose and fancy-free even in a committed relationship - than to trust someone or something that ultimately can disappoint you leaving you more vulnerable and weaker than your previously strong and powerful single self. I don't shy away from love - hell, I love them all - but marriage, as Chris Rose likes to say, fujitaboutit.

The trap of marriage for the female promises a life sentence in dedication to other people's lives. The addition of rugrats assures that a woman can enjoy perhaps waking up emotionally alone but with the added bonus of the eternal trappings of a husband who takes her for granted and a throng of snot-nosed kids to order her about. Er, mmmm, no thanks. Even in the better relationships, it's a Shawshank I'd crawl through sewage-infested waters to escape. For the thinking woman, single is our constant state. Why give up yourself for a prison that offers you no stability and weakens you in the future? At least in the pokey, they provide three squares a day and guaranteed shelter - not necessarily so for that abandoned stay-at-home mother of four.

At, they recently discussed Married vs. Single women bloggers which inevitably led to comparisons between the two in general and sparked up conversation of a female president (in this case Condi Rice who is single) and whether she could handle the Oval Office without the support of a husband and family. I disagree with blogger Morra Aaron:

I don't presume to know about Ms. Rice's support network and personal life, but how could one run for president, the toughest job in the world, without the kind of support that only comes with unconditional love?

However, I fully embrace the "Wow" comment by lauriewrites:

We can no more lump all "single" women together as lacking unconditional love or anything else than we can lump all married men/women together as being lucky enough to have it. This is what educational jargon calls a "deficit model" (love those buzzwords...) It's not about what a woman (who happens not to have a LEGALLY binding relationship, perhaps) brings or has or is - it's what we assume she hasn't got because she doesn't have a (again, LEGAL) partner.

Recovering from the ex-boyfriend visitation (obviously I did not manage to get this post up before the knock came at the door), I do realize one major difference between married and single women putting aside for a moment my abstract painting of our steadfast singular state. If I was married, I don't think my husband would be as copacetic as my current man is with having the ex-beau blow through town and stay with me. Logistically, it would be different since marrieds tend to live together while my man and I are not currently cohabitating. The truth is the former lover's visit improved my current relationship as it reminded my man that I may not always choose to be with him and he best remember this and not take me for granted. It makes me wonder how married women convey this.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I love babies. Almost as much as Jesus.

I was going to put this link in the comments of the Hitchens post - because it's still not technically about being single - but it's too brilliant to not merit its own post. Reno 911's Mary Birdsong has written an essay In Defense of the Funny Man Who Wrote the Big Article. Here's the first section - click through to read more.

I've gotten so sick of my lady friends complaining all week about that funny man who wrote the big article in Vanity Fair ("Why Women Are Not Funny") that I have to come to his aid. This guy knows comedy. I can't remember the last time I read such a hilarious critique. And so chock-full of the gut-busting comedy of Kipling! Nice. Kipling slays me. Always has. I hope other 'zines start printing articles like that in their pages. Articles like "Why Latinos Are Lazy," "Why Jews Are Cheap" and "Why Colored Folk Should Be Kept Out Of Pro Ball."

Wait one second. I'll be right back.

Sorry about that. Somebody emailed me a photo of their baby and I had to stare at it for a couple of hours. I'm totally here now. What was I saying? Oh, right. I remember…

I want to say thank you to the really funny man who wrote the big article. (I can't remember his name, but I do remember the name of my friend's really cute baby-- it's Nate.) I want to thank him for taking the weight of the laugh-starved world off my shoulders. I used to feel so guilty that I wasn't funny. Ashamed, even. But after reading that really funny man's article I now see that IT'S NOT MY FAULT! I'm just a woman. A woman who can't think of anything but babies. And sometimes religion.

Hold on one sec.

I got distracted again. I was looking at my cup of coffee and I swore I saw the face of Jesus in it. (Don’t be jealous, guys, but this shit happens to me ALL THE TIME, because like the funny man very wisely pointed out, my sex is the "rank-and-file mainstay of religion.") But this particular religious vision was a false alarm. I think the milk was just bad and it sort of curdled into what looked like my savior.

What was I saying? Was it something about babies? I love babies. Almost as much as Jesus. Oh, right! I remember.

The funny man wrote that you never hear a guy brag about his girlfriend, "…and man, does she ever make 'em laugh." And that's so true! My boyfriend is unusual 'cuz he doesn't mind if I make him laugh-- in private. But when we first dated I made the mistake of making him laugh really hard at a party in front of people and he bitch-slapped me in the car on the way home. He was totally right. Now if we're in public and I think of something funny I just write it on a post-it and tell him quietly after I say my prayers at night.

The one thing I found disappointing about that funny man's article is that the only women he interviewed were Nora Ephron and Fran Leibowitz. Everyone knows they're definitely not funny. So how can he interview them but not include women who've at least come close to being funny - I'm talking of course about sitcom legends Brooke Shields and Lea Thompson. Hello???!!? (The word "hello" should be read like a gay guy would say it. I think that's HILARIOUS when people do that.) I'm glad he didn't interview women like Sarah Silverman or Tina Fey or Amy Sedaris.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

what do you know about romeo?

I've often joked that much heartbreak could be avoided if potential suitors were required to provide references. If you can't round up a former boyfriend or girlfriend to vouch for you, you do not pass go. In this model, however, there's a sense of the voluntary - you get to choose your references in order to put your best dating foot forward. The new site What Do You Know About Romeo? is a little more mercenary and - I would guess - ripe for abuse, but the description of the founders makes them sound like their aim is true. WDYKAR allows women to post reviews of men they have met through on-line dating sites. The reviews should "include observations you made about a person that you never would have guessed from simply reading his profile, or a review should clarify things misrepresented in his profile." Is this a service you would use? Would you trust the reviews? Is it fair that the reviews are only about men? Do you really think there are going to be many good reviews? (Cue Wallace Sippi's "Women Be Wise"...)


The Seattle Weekly sex & love advice columnist Judy McGuire (a.k.a. Dategirl) is soliciting input for a book she's writing. If you have any thoughts on the questions below, you might want to share them with her. Or you could just share them here.

  • What are some of your more shallow dealbreakers? For example, I loathe cargo pants, men who do yoga and the phrase "it is what it is." Is there anything kind of minor about a person that would turn you right off? We're not talking a second head or physical deformity, just a little something.
  • Have you ever gone out with someone whose manners just killed the whole deal for you? Maybe a super-hot girl who chewed with her mouth open? Or a litterbug?
  • What's the most inappropriate thing anyone has ever said to you on a date? For me, this would have to be the guy who went on and on about how hot his mom was and how he'd always been attracted to her. What about you?
  • How about those overly "honest" people who are, in actuality, just kind of mean. Ever date one of those? If so, which of your flaws did they point out? How did you react?
  • Ever date someone who acted as though they were doing you a favor? One dude (who was older than me!) informed me that he normally dated women much younger than me. Thanks, Jackass!
  • Did you ever go out with someone specifically to get back at someone else? Erm, not that I've ever done that.
  • "Are those space pants you're wearing, 'cause your ass is outta this world!" What's the worst line you ever heard? (That's mine, though sadly nobody ever used it on me.)
  • What about cheapskates? Any good cheapskate stories out there?
  • Have you ever had a horrible first date that eventually turned into something good?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

the camp of woman-centered punditry

In the LA Times this week, Meghan Daum looks at the literary genre that tries to dissect contemporary American womanhood (Laura Kipnis's The Female Thing being her touchstone). She asks if these books that present "complicated personal issues dressed up as trends" are helping or hurting us.

Relevant to us here, Daum writes of marriage: "...hasn't it always seesawed between mildly amusing and downright stultifying? Who are we to assume that things should be any different because it's 2007 and couples can talk to each other about all the fascinating blogs they read? [For] every marriage that looks like a tour through hell, there's one that looks like stratospheric bliss - sometimes these poles can exist within the same marriage on the same day."

Are generalizations about marriage - or being single for that matter - a way to unite us with others or another standard of comparison designed to torment?

Monday, January 8, 2007

why one man rather than another?

I share these 24 hours surrounding the anniversary of my birth with one of the most famous single women to put pen to paper, Simone de Beauvoir. Throughout her life as a prominent intellectual, de Beauvoir never married, instead preferring a (somewhat twisted) partnership with fellow philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre. In her honor, I quote some of her ideas on marriage:

"The curse which lies upon marriage is that too often the individuals are joined in their weakness rather than in their strength - each asking from the other instead of finding pleasure in giving. It is even more deceptive to dream of gaining through the child a plenitude, a warmth, a value, which one is unable to create for oneself; the child brings joy only to the woman who is capable of disinterestedly desiring the happiness of another, to one who without being wrapped up in self seeks to transcend her own existence.”

“On the day when it will be possible for woman to love not in her weakness but in strength, not to escape herself but to find herself, not to abase herself but to assert herself - on that day love will become for her, as for man, a source of life...”

“Why one man rather than another? It was odd. You find yourself involved with a fellow for life just because he was the one that you met when you were nineteen.”

"Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day.”

“To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job.”

Saturday, January 6, 2007

common complaint

From the LAist sex column, Living in Sin...(I had #6 in mind this past new year's eve, but it didn't work out.)

Dear Jen,
Once again the holidays came and went and I found myself alone. I'm 45, female and a generally happy person, but this time of year somehow magnifies the negative aspects of my single lifestyle and always makes me feel terrible. I have a wonderful family, and usually spend Christmas with them, but I'm the only one who's not married and this fact seems insufferable when I'm around them on the holidays.

The worst, however, is New Years. I usually force myself to go out to a party (I've tried staying home and it just makes me more depressed) but the feeling of dread I experience the whole night, just waiting for midnight when everyone turns to the one they love and kisses, makes the entire evening stressful. This year I made sure I was safely locked up in the bathroom. Pathetic, I know, but I just couldn't take another night of standing there with a fake smile plastered on my face while everyone made out around me. Any suggestions on how I can get through next year without wanting to kill someone? Like, perhaps, myself?
- Countdown to Breakdown

Dear Breakdown,
This is the last holiday-related letter I'm answering until next year (unless someone humped the accounting department at an office party or something and then I definitely want to hear about it). I made it through unscathed and am ready to hose it off my body and get on with my life, but I do think it's important that the epidemic be addressed so that maybe there will be just one less suicidal person when 2008 rolls around.

First of all, many many people of all shapes and marital statuses long to harm themselves and others in late December, so you don't need to feel so all alone. I'm not exactly sure why everyone's saddest sad things are magnified at this time of year, but whoever orchestrated it is a super genius because the number of people who feel this way is staggering. If only we could get such impressive group participation for things like solving world hunger, impeaching President Poopypants, outlawing babies on airplanes etc. Your particular sadness revolves around being lonely, so I'm gonna focus on that, but in general, I think everyone needs to remember that, just like weapons of mass destruction, there is no Santa Clause, and that January 1st by any other name would still just be another day of the week. Nobody has to join in any reindeer games they don't want to.

Here are some suggestions that may make next year more tolerable:

1.) Have a New Years party for just your single friends. And their hot, single friends. Pick names out of a hat to decide who you have to kiss at midnight.

2.) Plan ahead. If there's some huge project you've been meaning to work on (painting your room, writing a novel, shaving all the hair off your body) this is the perfect time to do it since Santa's big red ass is in the way of getting any outside work done. Collect everything you're going to need before the world shuts down and dive in.

3.) Go to a midnight movie.

4.) Go on vacation.

5.) Volunteer to feed the homeless.

6.) See New Years as an opportunity to force yourself on someone. Scope out a hot guy, or lady, at whatever party you wind up at and make sure you're standing next to them when the big second hits. Or drag them into the bathroom with you.

Whatever you do, don't go to a party and spend the entire time dreading the end of the night. That's like spending your life dreading the moment you die. What's the point? If you're hating it every year, simply change your perspective and where you're hanging out and turn that frown upside down.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

have a romance with life!

Have you heard? It's time to find new love in the new year! As soon as the clock struck midnight on Sunday, there were tips for how to do this all over the place. Hey, I'm open. If someone knows something I don't know, bring it on. However, I do not need to be told another time that I should "live my life" and love will come like slinking up like a shy sheepdog. For your edification and amusement, here's a selection of some of the ways we're being told to find "the one":

  • Jumpstart your love life by dating more than one person (you know, because there are so many potential dates to choose from), widening your net, opening your mind, setting goals, risking embarrassment, playing the odds, being a good listener, taking a class, and having "a romance with life!"-
  • If you want to find a boyfriend/girlfriend in 2007, consider how your friends did it in previous years, join multiple dating sites, join niche dating sites, sign up for a shared ski/beach house, and become a "blind dating machine."
  • Network for love by being bold, loosening up, being sincere, knowing yourself, and not assuming your UPS guy might not know someone to set you up with.
  • Find fulfilling love by losing the losers, creating your top five requirements, needs, and wants, following the "scout, sort, screen, test" method, and improving that lousy attitude of yours.
  • On first dates, don't talk about your romantic past, kids, sex, or pets and don't even think about calling him a pet name (as tortuously tempting as that may be).
  • Set up your new year in love by establishing a practical love plan, living by the "as if" method, and developing a magical blueprint for love. (Despite the new age vibe, this one actually has some less hackneyed advice.)

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

deep-throated mirth

This may be only tangentially related to being single, unless you suspect that antiquated ideas of men and women interfere with your pursuit of an equal partnership. Recently, Christopher Hitchens made the claim that women aren't funny.

Be your gender what it may, you will certainly have heard the following from a female friend who is enumerating the charms of a new (male) squeeze: "He's really quite cute, and he's kind to my friends, and he knows all kinds of stuff, and he's so funny … " (If you yourself are a guy, and you know the man in question, you will often have said to yourself, "Funny? He wouldn't know a joke if it came served on a bed of lettuce with sauce béarnaise.") However, there is something that you absolutely never hear from a male friend who is hymning his latest (female) love interest: "She's a real honey, has a life of her own … [interlude for attributes that are none of your business] … and, man, does she ever make 'em laugh."

Now, why is this? Why is it the case?, I mean. Why are women, who have the whole male world at their mercy, not funny? Please do not pretend not to know what I am talking about.

Lovely. Hitchens tries to be charmingly subversive with his explanation that might as well have been written on a Vegas marquee for the way it seems as if he's saying, "Hey! Hey! Did you see that? Did you see how I twisted that around? Eh? Eh? Did you see it?"

If I am correct about this, which I am, then the explanation for the superior funniness of men is much the same as for the inferior funniness of women. Men have to pretend, to themselves as well as to women, that they are not the servants and supplicants. Women, cunning minxes that they are, have to affect not to be the potentates. This is the unspoken compromise. H. L. Mencken described as "the greatest single discovery ever made by man" the realization "that babies have human fathers, and are not put into their mother's bodies by the gods." You may well wonder what people were thinking before that realization hit, but we do know of a society in Melanesia where the connection was not made until quite recently. I suppose that the reasoning went: everybody does that thing the entire time, there being little else to do, but not every woman becomes pregnant. Anyway, after a certain stage women came to the conclusion that men were actually necessary, and the old form of matriarchy came to a close. (Mencken speculates that this is why the first kings ascended the throne clutching their batons or scepters as if holding on for grim death.) People in this precarious position do not enjoy being laughed at, and it would not have taken women long to work out that female humor would be the most upsetting of all.

In Sunday's Washington Post, Gene Weingarten responded to Hitchens' claim by gathering rebuttals that prove the opposite.

Hitchens has written what is perhaps the most forward-thinking essay of 1918. - Mandy Stadtmiller

He asks: "Is there anything less funny than hearing a woman relate a dream she's just had?" Well, sure. How about a detailed analysis of potential NFL draft picks? A description of every step (and misstep) taken in upgrading one's operating system or wiring one's home theater? No, wait. How about a staggeringly pompous, interminable, uninformed, dishonest spasm of intellectual chicken-choking in a major magazine? How 'bout that?
- Sarah W. Gaymon

Some people have argued that Hitchens was employing an old journalistic table-turning trick or that he was trying to incite women to demonstrate that they indeed have no sense of humor. Others thought he's jumped the shark and has very little left to say of relevance or recognize that he probably does speak for many men. Your thoughts? (I personally find women hilarious.)

Friday, December 29, 2006

the quirky girl's conundrum

More from xkcd here.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

the holiday reclamation project

My friend D. once told me that occasionally he will stop and question everything he thinks he believes about himself. Does he really want to live in a city? Does he really want to do the kind of work he's been doing? I remember feeling shocked when he told me this. Who does that? What happens when you periodically undermine your identity?

Because D. revealed this to me shortly after the Fourth of July, the first belief about myself that I threw out there is that I detest holidays. They unleash a normally subdued part of me that hates to be told what to do. I love to give gifts, but not because it's some day in December and everyone else is doing it. I love to go to parties, but I don't enjoy being made to feel like a sociopath if I opt out for New Year's Eve. I won't even touch Valentine's Day. So it was with some difficulty that I asked myself what it would look like if I didn't hate the holidays.

Thus began the holiday reclamation project. Beginning this year, I have taken back the holidays. First up was Thanksgiving, and as many of you know, I hosted the First Annual Orphans & Singles Thanksgiving Potluck. I intend to make this a yearly event, upon which orphans and singles across the globe (who happen to be my friends) can depend and arrange their travel plans accordingly. Each year when Christmas arrives, having visited my family earlier in the season when travelling is not a nightmare, I will depart for a three-day yoga retreat at one of the many beautiful sanctuaries within driving distance of my home. I will make sure to return in time for New Year's Eve, in anticipation of which I will have secured tickets for me and my single girlfriends/latest suitor to an enviable live music event.

As unbelievable as it may have been earlier this year, I think there's hope that I will one day be someone who - ugh, it's still hard to write it - loves the holidays.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

what I do not want for christmas...

...your pity.

If I choose to remain in the city where I live and not travel 3000 miles with 3,000,000 other people in order to visit my family, there's a really good chance I may spend the day distinctly not celebrating Christmas. I may watch a DVD (this is an excellent choice), read a book, work on my novel, do some laundry, talk on the phone, cook an elaborate meal or eat mac & cheese, take a nap, blog, make a mixed CD, go hiking, finally write my Christmas other words, anything and everything that strikes my fancy. How many people - struggling to maintain their self-esteem while being pummeled by their relatives' probing questions and passive-aggressive put-downs - would love to spend the day the way I get to? More than a few, I would suspect.

Therefore, I do not need you to call me on Christmas and repeatedly ask me what I'm going to do - your voice dripping with condescending concern - even after I have told you I'm going to do whatever I damn well please. And yes, I'm more than OK.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

holiday cards

Have you ever noticed that single people (or maybe more accurately, people without children) do not send those photo holiday cards? Is it good for my mental health to receive all these reminders of everyone else's "perfect families?" OK, the kids are cute, it's interesting to see how they've grown since last year. What's keeping me from doing one with my best travel photo of the year - just me or me and a friend or me and the scenery? I know my friends with families envy my travel opportunites. But my holiday cards serve the purpose of letting people know I value them. These photo cards seem to say (to me at least) here's what I want you to know about me and mine, not here's what I want you to know about my feelings for you. I don't think I've ever received an annual newsletter from a single person either. There isn't time to be writing blog entries while trying to survive the holidays and yet it's a perfect time to start a blog on this topic since the holidays provide constant reminders of how being partnered is supposed to be the goal.

Friday, December 15, 2006


"My dear, to a brighter future - when there will not be so many forced marriages, and women will be taught not to feel theirs a destiny manqué, nor the threat of poor spinsterhood, should they remain single." - British Woman, 1859

"A woman alone is an atrocity! An act against nature. Unmarried women pose a grave danger...our great civilization could decline...the larger health of the nation is at stake." - British MP, 1922

"I am so lonely I could die. I wake, realize I don't have a boyfriend and put my head in the oven...I go to parties, night classes, museums, various clubs and mixers with my eyelashes curled hopefully and am wracked with disappointment to find only more hopeful women with curled eyelashes. I go to dinner parties and my throat seizes up with envy as I watch the happy couples, who are my friends. My nights are long with longing. Grief. Also, I have a large bridge in New York to sell you. Ho. Ho. Ho." - Cynthia Heimel, Playboy, 1987

All quotes from Betsy Israel's Bachelor Girl