Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Single Women and Single Men

Did I ever tell you I work in a library now? After I quit teaching, I switched gears a little and now I'm in a library. It's pretty great, even if middle aged men call me honey a little too often and I hadn't realized how attached baby boomers are to Internet Explorer. 

Working in a library has been cool for finding new books, though, that is for sure. (Like the Love Birds book.) I found a couple books recently that I thought you all might appreciate. 

The first is Are You My Boyfriend? by C.B. Bryza. It's an adorable and relevant parody of Are You My Mother? and it's fantastic. I liked it, even though --spoiler alert-- it gets a little sappy at the end. Considering how often we talk about "is this a date?" around here, I had to read it. The single main character wanders around, posing the title question to all the men she encounters. 

Picture books for grown ups. Yes please. 

The second book is Haiku for the Single Girl by Beth Griffenhagen. I cried laughing. I would like to tell you about my favorite but I had at least a dozen. Just read it. I assure you, you'll find your spirit haiku. 

I've been pondering these books for a few days. (I'll admit that like, 10% of it is why can't I accomplish something kickass like that?) This pondering is not about the trials and tribulations attached to singledom. I consider that plenty, thanks. 

Friends send me all kinds of self-help relationship books**, websites and blogs, and personal anecdotes, so I am positive that women struggle to find a decent, available, adult man.  (Women who are seeking men, that is. I I haven't heard much from women looking for a decent, available, adult woman, so I won't speak to that here.) We rant about it with our friends, joke about it on sitcoms, cry about it in the shower, drink about it at family gatherings...single women looking for love is an industry. Look at the books I checked out from the library. Sure, there are plenty of women who are content being single, and plenty who enjoy casual dating without the dreaded emotions that come along with relationships. But some women are seriously unhappy with their search for Mr. Tolerable. 

So fine. There are sad, lonely women out there, waiting for the romantic comedy portion of their lives to come to a conclusion. I get it. We all get it. So...what about the dudes? I have fewer male followers on twitter and facebook, and fewer male blog commenters, so I assume fewer male readers. And I suppose that makes probably has a no boys allowed clubhouse feel around here sometimes, since I do so often complain about men. (STOP ACTING FOOLISH AND I WILL STOP COMPLAINING ABOUT YOU ALL THE TIME.) But let's be real--men are single too. At least, I'm guessing some of you are still single, even though I only seem to meet the married ones. Yet we seldom hear about your quest for love. 

Are you not miserable in your search? Is it easier for you to find decent women? Are you suffering in silence or not suffering at all? Are you consuming books and movies and sitcom moments where men commiserate and wish for nice women to come along but keeping them from us? TELL ME. Because I don't come across a lot of books for men trying to be better at relationships. I don't get many letters from men asking why women are so confusing. Am I truly supposed to believe that for every miserable woman trying to get a nice man to ask her to dinner, there is a contented bachelor hoping he can sneak out of her apartment before she wakes up, as television and movies have shown? 

I want answers. 

**I have an alarming number of self-help relationship books, guys. AND I LOVE THEM.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Here's to the new year.

Some of you may recall that despite some fun adventures, 2013 was not my best year. I had high hopes for 2014. 

And let me tell you--2014 delivered. I started a new job and was promoted shortly after. And I'm really enjoying it. Like, I had forgotten what it was like to enjoy your job without waking up in the middle of the night convinced it was time to get up and eat breakfast or take a shower before your twin tells you that no, you have like 4 hours left to sleep and please go back to bed. I don't miss that sort of job stress. 

I had a lot of fun adventures. including five days in Guatemala and a trip to Disney World to cheer on my BFF. I hung out in Pittsburgh and Washington DC and Boston and Smith College and Dallas and Maine and Bloomington and a shocking number of places in Ohio. I'm really grateful I have the kind of job and family that are very understanding of my desire to leave all the time. 

I only went to three weddings. This is huge. SUCH an improvement over last year's five. I mean, the 2015 invitations and engagement announcements are already pouring in, but at least last year was light. Also,I only got tricked into one bouquet toss--and that was through an inappropriate use of Beyonce so really I can't be blamed. 

There were babies! AND NOT MINE, which is also a huge win for 2014. Two wonderful friends and my nephew all had babies this year and I'm mapping out strategies for taking the Best Aunt title. (Unrelated question: what's the age where it stops being weird and inappropriate to buy alcohol for minors and becomes a cool thing to do? Nevermind, I definitely have at least a couple years to figure it out.)

Lots of family members are getting engaged or married or having babies, and while this is by itself is not necessarily exciting for me, it means that they have the attention of all the aunts--who are therefore NOT ASKING ME when I'm getting married. 

My boyfriend didn't break up with me by ignoring me! Hooray! This is totally a win for 2014 AND YES THAT IS NOW PART OF THE CRITERIA. One thing is for sure here, and that is that standards were a little lower at the onset of 2014. Things like, did I cry in the shower every day or just occasionally? became important indicators. 

Yes, 2014 was pretty great. And I have high hopes for 2015. Why is that? Because it's already January 6th and I haven't cried in the shower ONCE. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

BREAKING: Terrible Marriage News

Here's some shitty news about marriage. 

No, I'm not talking about the divorce rate. This is much worse than that. I'm talking about remarriage. Some study found that 40% of marrying couples have at least one spouse who has already been married. FORTY PERCENT*. And apparently, it's becoming increasingly common for those 55 and older to get remarried. 

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? MORE WEDDINGS. I hadn't even considered SECOND marriages yet! I'm still deciding if I want chicken or fish at your FIRST round of weddings! But ohhhh no, it's not over when I'm the last single one standing! Then I'll have to console you over your divorces, which I'm sure will suck and I'm sorry about your emotional roller coaster, etc. But then you jerks will fall in love AGAIN and have ANOTHER wedding and you'll send me ANOTHER save the date and WHEN WILL THE CYCLE END? And on top of that, it seems you'll be continuing to plan weddings well into your 60s so I'll be attending weddings until the end of time. 

I can tell you one thing, friends. I'm not fucking around at your second weddings. It will be my opportunity to fix all the mistakes I made at your first wedding. I'm wearing my converse. I'm snapchatting and tweeting everything---for your scrapbook or whatever. I'm bringing a onesie to wear on the dance floor. I'm appointing myself flower girl. Oh, your daughter is the flower girl? Fine: HEAD flower girl. I'm choosing my own seat. I'm sneaking drinks to the slightly underaged children from your first marriages. I'm not getting up for the fucking bouquet toss, even if you call me out. (IT WILL ONLY BE ME ANYWAY, JUST HAND ME THE FLOWERS.) I am coming to party. And since I'll be the only single human in attendance, I don't care about impressing your groomsmen. (But if any of them are divorced please shoot me an email in advance. Be a doll.) 

You better hope your first marriages work out, friends. 

I'm not making a scene, you're making a scene.

Good news: this article got me on Huffington Post's radar and they keep asking me to sign up for their divorce newsletter. So...there's that. 

*I found it on Huffington Post, guys, so I have no idea how they conducted the study or who they polled. Just go with my righteous indignation here. FORTY PERCENT. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not your typical Thanksgiving post.

This has been sitting in my drafts for weeks. I come back to it frequently, but my words are always a tangle. I want to edit it and finish it all the time. Last night I decided that perhaps my words on this issue will never untangle, but that I might feel better if I just post the damn thing. 

I'm not here to list all the things I'm thankful for this holiday season. Because honestly, there are a lot. I'm a lucky woman with a pretty awesome life. But that's not what I'm here to say. 

Not in this moment. In this moment...I am sad. I am sad in a way that cannot be expressed. I am sad and frustrated and angry in the pit of my stomach and it radiates outward to my whole being. I look at the world around me, and know that we can do better.

Earlier this month, I spent a day at the hospital while my niece came into the world. It was 11 hours in a hospital waiting room and even though that sounds uncomfortable and boring, it was one of the best days I've had in a long time. I spent it with my family and everyone was full of joy and we didn't argue once and yeah, that's something of an accomplishment. She was born into a beautiful, loving, strange, wonderful family. I adore her; she's perfect. I made a collage for the background of my phone, of her and the other babies in my life. And it probably looks weird; I probably seem like I'm one step away from building a house of candy in the woods somewhere. But I look at them, the children of family and friends--these pieces of my heart--and I want them to be safe. I want to know that when they grow up it will be in a world that's just and kind and supportive. I want more for them than what we've cultivated.

I come here and rant about my ex boyfriends and I whine about being single and we joke about my fear of commitment and yes, it can get a little bit angry. It's all love life is abysmal and I have dated some dickheads, but honestly, I believe in kindness and treating people with respect. (Sorry if that shatters any illusions for you, but please know that I will always complain about my exes and being reprimanded for forgetting to flush** when I got up to pee in the middle of the night. I remain terrible at dating. Rest easy.)

We're not doing a good enough job. We treat people who are different from us like shit and we treat a lot of people who aren't different at all like shit and we treat the world around us like shit and in the end...a lot of us treat each other badly, far too often. The sadness and anger I'm feeling threaten to become toxic. I worry that if it stays too long it will infect everything good in my life. I have the same worry for everyone I hear crying out that things have to change. So we need to try. We need to find ways to love each other and fix what's broken. We need to help each other figure it all out and try to understand each other and lift each other up instead of stepping on each other. We have to try. I know that's a very broad, sweeping, naive, privileged way of looking at it...but it's a start, right? It's all I have in this moment, besides sadness and anger and frustration--and I'd rather not pass those along. 

We need to do better. I have a tiny niece who deserves better from this world. 

**Yes that happened. It was just pee--it's not like he had to face a tampon in the morning. SORRY I'M NOT AT MY BEST AT 3AM, YOUR HIGHNESS. Put on your big boy pants and flush it your damn self. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Casual Weekend in Guatemala

I just spent five days in Guatemala, for a wedding. As you do. At least a third of the guests were American, most of the rest were Guatemalan, and there were a handful of internationals. (I spent the rehearsal dinner with a Colombian, a Czech, and a German.) It was one big, awesome adventure. However, I arrived home exhausted. Blogging was lower on my priority list than sleep and laundry and getting to work on time. So now that I've recovered, let's review the highlights:

I was reunited with friends I haven't seen in six years. They're amazing people. It's funny how six years felt like nothing, as if we'd been apart just a few days. I've said it before, but my friends are truly the most remarkable thing in my life. I don't deserve them. I also made some new friends. The universe put me in the right place, ok? 

I stayed at this fantastic hotel. 
Just, you know, stepping stones over a pond to get to my room. Whatever.

My friend has a great new husband, even if they tricked us to do the bouquet toss--using Beyonce! I felt so betrayed. 

Coffee, dancing, drinks, way too much food because they fed us really well, and handsome Guatemalan men. 

Yes, I know--my weekend was better than yours. 

During all the wedding events, we had some conversations about wedding customs in different places. It was rather fascinating, since you know I've become a bit of a wedding connoisseur. One thing that I love is a German tradition called Polterabend. On the night before the wedding, friends of the couple come over and eat and hang out, then they smash porcelain on the ground! Plates, cups, sinks, toilets, whatever. They smash it. And make a loud mess! And it's supposed to bring luck? And then the couple has to clean it up and that's some kind of bonding experience about all the shit they'll have to clean up together in their lives. That part sounds less fun, but the smashing! Sounds great! 

Just throwing out the idea in case any of my many engaged friends want to consider it. I'm totally ready to break shit, In honor of your love. Or whatever. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On a serious note.

Alright guys, Real Talk. 

I've seen a lot of articles floating around lately about the terrible lesson we're teaching men by constantly turning them down by saying we have boyfriends. And I have concerns. 

We're talking about men who hit on you and only back down when you say you're in a relationship--because it can't possibly be something to do with them, but simply that you're taken. First of all, yes I think it's atrocious that a significant other, either real or imagined on the spot, is the only thing that will stop some men from hitting on you. I also think it says something terribly unflattering about those guys--that they don't respect you and your no thanks, but they will respect whatever guy you tell them you're dating. It's awful. Ok? 

So what I keep reading is that we as women should stop playing into this and making up boyfriends or husbands or girlfriends or anybody at all. We should teach this lesson that our no should be just as powerful as our no I'm in a relationship. We should change the culture around being hit on and let these men learn to deal with a little rejection. I'm all for that. 

In theory. I want to be a part of this movement. I want to help now, because I don't want the toddlers in my life to be in their 20s and still making up big, muscular, jealous boyfriends just because they don't want to dance with some random. But the practice of this is a little less...practical. For me, anyway. And maybe for you too. 

There are times when I'm happy to stand behind my no just because I'm not interested, and not feel this pressure to lie to a grown man who can't take a little bruise to his ego. Then...then there are times when a big, tall guy wraps his arms around me to ask if he can take me out. And I assess the situation, trying not to panic. In that situation, I'm not about teaching anybody any lesson. I'm about getting out of the situation and back to my friends. I'm about taking care of myself. So if, in those situations or anything remotely similar, I think that the quickest way out is to say I have a boyfriend, then I will absolutely do it. Every single time.

Because it's a good lesson to teach. And I'm all for doing my part. But it's just that--part. We can't be expected to do all the work. And we can't be expected to feel unsafe while we do it. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Flying Solo

I've never lived alone. I've always had family or roommates or a dozen other summer camp counselors. The closest I've ever gotten was living in a single room in my dorm in college. (Mere feet away from dozens of friends.) So when I agreed to house and dog sit recently, I knew it would be a whole new world.

It was eye-opening. Here are some things I learned about myself:

1. Some of my standards are lower than I thought. I only flush the toilet when it's necessary or when I'm entertaining guests. (On the plus side, I know how and when to clean.) Is this gross? Maybe. But at least it's earth-friendly. And yesterday I wanted to take a nap. I arrived home from work to a bed covered in books, my laptop, and laundry baskets full of clothes I washed last week and didn't bother to fold. I looked at that and thought, hey I can take this nap if I move everything. Then I imagined myself taking the time to do that and thought again. I napped on the floor directly next to my bed. I didn't even consider moving to another room to find a couch. I would make the same decision over again. 

2. I really want a dog.*

3. I am not shy. Ask how many doors I closed during those ten days.**

4. If I could get all my exercise via solo dance parties, I would be much, much happier. I pretty much dance partied around that house every day, despite my dog friend not giving a shit. Sorry not sorry neighbors.

5. I talk to myself, out loud, all the damn time.

6. I may not know how to use every corkscrew I come across, but I'll figure it out. Because I'm highly motivated. 
Way more complicated than it looks. 

7. Did I mention I want a dog?

*Not a new discovery but still worth noting.
**If you guessed 1-3 and only when other people were in the house, you'd be correct.