Things That Go Bump In The Night

Omnipresent in the female New York psyche is the nagging suspicion that our current romantic predicaments are our fault. Days come, inevitably, when the hobbies and the communities and the profession are just not enough to keep me from crawling into my warm featherbed and staying there until 6 in the evening, trying desperately to run away from myself.

I know why it happens. I know what’s going on. I’m not happy. I’m dealing with a bunch of really sad stuff, family history stuff and childhood stuff and other stuff, and I’m not at peace with myself. I know that. But it takes a lot of courage to keep trying to lead a satisfying life in the face of it all, and I know I deserve some serious acknowledgment for that. I know I’m vulnerable to using a boyfriend to make myself feel like I’m okay, and that’s wrong. The fact that I cannot find one definitely can mess with anyone’s head, but I know that I have work to do on myself.

After all, a lot of ground has been covered in my life. I recognize that I need to be more independent and look to myself for the means to a happy life, not hand responsibility for my happiness over to some single guy who’s probably got problems himself. The problem is that accepting responsibility for your happiness is REALLY HARD. It means facing your s*** and coming to terms with all the lies you’re telling yourself, all the games you’re playing, everything you’re running away from. It’s way easier to spend time with a boyfriend than to do all of that.

It’s tough work. Facing your self-hatred, your anger. Some days I’m not sure I have the strength to carry it out. Luckily, my faith in God buoys me when my strength fails, and when the moment passes I’m still here with my feet on the ground and breath in my lungs, the work and its promises stretching out in front of me. I don’t think anyone can do this by themselves. It takes God, in some form or another, to see you through a dark night like singlehood. In reality, the very nature of being single is that it forces you to spend time with yourself, in a very elemental and visceral way. It’s hard to run from your demons when you’re the only one in the room, and that’s what makes singlehood so challenging for so many women.

Luckily, I have lots of cool stuff in my life to support my happiness. I’m so glad I’m not working in some fluorescent-lit office as a file clerk, or caring for a disabled sister, or dealing with the death of my best friend. I’ve put a lot of effort into creating a positive life for myself, and it’s really paid off. My writing keeps me busy and out of an office, which is awesome. I love spending time in cute little cafes or at my local community center with a cup of coffee and soymilk, clicking away and enjoying the freedom of not having to answer to a single solitary soul.

I love eating a no-carb diet and cooking for myself. I love juicing in the mornings. I love my krav maga martial arts classes, which I will discuss in my next blog post. I love going to special events and book clubs. I love living alone in my apartment and listening to Louis C.K. while I chop vegetables. I had some pretty s***ty friends in my life, so I got rid of them, which felt good. I’ve gotta find some new ones now. Friends are really important for a single woman.

I’m grateful. But the work still stretches in front of me, seemingly endless. I guess it’s just a matter of taking it one step at a time.

Why Men Disappear

I’m living a pretty satisfying single life. With a freelancer’s schedule and a generous income, a yoga and martial arts practice, a creative writing life, a bunch of rewarding blogs and great hobbies, I think I can safely say that my life could probably not get any better than it is right now, save for an increase in income and the freedom to pursue my interests that goes along with that. 

All this goes a great way towards soothing the burn of being single. When you go to event after event, and on date after date, and guys either keep disappearing or act like you’re the spin-the-bottle booby prize, it can get a little disheartening. I’m a pretty girl, with a great personality and a ferocious intellect. And yet I might as well be Paris Hilton for all the genuine connections I make. 

In reality, if i were a guy, I’d keep disappearing too. Our culture has completely defiled sexuality – both male and female – and it’s a wonder anybody wants to engage in sex any more. Sexuality is sacred. It is to exist between a man and his wife, both to guard against sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy AND to honor the innately chaste and passionate nature of female sexuality.

But there might as well be no such thing as female sexuality any more. The passion, intimacy, and connection integral to feminine sexuality no longer can be found in the modern-day relationship. Women are turned on not by rock-hard abs or pecs, but by intuiting and exploring the depths of a man – by RECEIVING him. Instead, we have women who dress in short shorts and spend money on makeup and extensions. We open our legs to men on the fifth or sixth date – and that’s pushing it – without ever honoring our feminine disposition towards being penetrated emotionally before physically… and making men work for it. As they must if they wish to genuinely satisfy a woman.

Men don’t respect this. Why should they? When men plunge right into us without earning it, they take the best part of us and cheapen the rest. Frankly, it’s my opinion that men have lost their taste for female sexuality. Women just aren’t interesting to men when they are physically brazen and emotionally reticent. How can a woman open up to the man she loves when she can’t even be honest with herself? The miracle of sex is exploring each other’s secrets and connecting. A woman who doesn’t value herself or her partner is not interesting or arousing.

Working Girl

Read a recent article in the online mag The Root. It talked about how single professional women are now expected to pick up the job slack that their married coworkers leave behind. Very interesting. Being a parent in the professional world used to be a liability. Now it’s an asset.

As a single self-employed woman, I hardly struggle with such issues. But there are women, a lot of them, especially in NYC, who work overtime – 60-hour weeks or more. I may work as many, even though I am freelancing. Actually, my work HAS taken over my life. I’m sleeping more than I used to for health reasons, but basically, from the time I get up to the time I collapse on the couch after dinner, I’m working. I love being able to take leisurely showers and walk to my office if the weather’s nice, and I love the occasional date, but work is the focus of my life.

I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. I know I have to get back into some of the hobbies that make my life vibrant, such as lectures and book readings, concerts, amusement parks, beaches, and art. But, in reality, I don’t want to spend that time on those things. I’d rather be making money. And that’s not a good thing.

Women with families have a built-in mechanism for connection, intimacy and play. I have to say that I don’t. I crave connection and intimacy, but I have a hard time maintaining their influence in my life. That’s one thing that pains me the most. When I’m single, I have to make a special effort to bring intimate pleasures into my life… and I consider art and books to be intimate pleasures.

But I guess part of me feels like I don’t even deserve to do it. Maybe doing those things just illuminates the yawning void in my heart where a family should be. Those pleasures are wonderful, but they don’t compare to the experience of being with people you love. At the end of the day, we simply have to put in that extra effort to reach out to people and things that can nurture and sustain us, and not lose ourselves in the relative comfort and security of work.

Carrie Bradshaw I’m Not

Hey folks,

Here’s a query letter I sent to a website looking for women to blog about the single life. Hah. What single life? I think you’ll get a kick out of this.

LETTER TO SINGLES WEBSITE

Hi,

Who needs to hear about another Carrie Bradshaw? Life in New York City for most single women hardly approaches the Prada-fied, cocktails-and-condoms charmed lifestyle captured by so much of the modern-day media, like Sex and the City, chick-lit novels, and Ke$ha videos. For me and a lot of my friends, dating in New York City is not a constant parade of watermelon martinis at sleek lounges, Brazilian bikini waxes, and men of varying charisma and character. No, for us, life is more like a stew of changing friendships, stressful careers, and compelling personal hobbies, with a stiff shot of dating craziness thrown in. Instead of the gorgeous business moguls with commitment issues, we meet arrogant baristas, M.D.’s with undiagnosed OCD, and aspiring writers with no hint of talent who work as lab assistants and live in their mother’s basement. And that’s when we can get a date at all… which, frankly, is somewhat rare.

No, for us, the dating life is not the process of learning to manage the whirlwind of salon visits and dates with men of dubious character. Instead, for us, the dating life is an exercise in navigating chaotic and sometimes unexpected career paths (sometimes at the local Best Buy), the ups and downs of relationships with friends and family, finances that are often lamentably unstable, and the attacks of insecurity and low self-esteem that hit when we’ve been to happy hours every other night for the past two months and have stood alone by the bar so often that we’ve started a collection of imported beer coasters. If we’re going to have a blog about dating in New York City, then, unless you hang with A-list movie stars, it simply should not be about the “tribulations” of serial dating and being too poor to afford highlights at Oscar Blandi. Instead, talk about the REAL experience of dating in this city. Of going a month and a half without a date, or more. Of learning how to say “no” to the cheating alcoholics, even if it means you’ll be alone for a while. Of managing the crippling insecurities and fears that every woman in this city grapples with to some degree, and learning how to rise above them.

At some point or another, we’ve all wanted to be a Carrie Bradshaw. The REAL story of the New York dating scene is how millions of women have learned to come to terms with a life that falls somewhat short. If you hire me to write a blog for you, I won’t talk endlessly about my dating exploits and how I’m going to switch salons for my pedicures because another one offers better service. I’ll talk about what it’s really like to be female and single in this city. I’ll talk about my career, my ambitions, my friendships, and how I learned to cherish my life and my blessings IN SPITE of the fact that not only has Mr. Right not shown up, neither has Mr. Wrong.

I currently have no social media following, but I am willing to share my content wherever you might need it and am skilled at generating interest in my blog by writing short and punchy posts on online news sites, blogs and magazines. If you want to see examples of my work, please check me out at Thesatisfiedsingle.com. I am hardworking and reliable, and excited about bringing my best work to this very important project. I am a recent college graduate of the State University of New York who has lived in New York City most of her life. I am a freelance writer, author, dancer and motivational speaker, as well as a weight-loss and lifestyle coach. I am currently working on a book of short stories and a self-help book for single women. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I believe I can contribute greatly to your website, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best regards,
The Satisfied Single

Free At Last!

Wow, had a bad spate for about a week. Was REALLY feeling sorry for myself because nobody wants to be my boyfriend. I even went so far as to contact an old friend, one who is REALLY neurotic, for a date this afternoon. He stood me up. I laughed about it… I seem to be batting 1000 here.

Oh, well. I called him last Saturday, and by Thursday I was loving my life again. It really helped to focus on my passions and do things that make me happy. I had been slacking off on my freelance writing business, for example (and this blog!). The past few days have been really productive for me on that front, and I feel much better about myself now that I’m that much closer to being self-sustaining as an entrepreneur. 

I’ve also been treating myself to other little yummies as well. I had french fries from my favorite health food outlet, Fuel, while I was working at Starbucks one afternoon. They always make me happy. Spicy, crispy, and soft at the same time, it’s impossible to believe that they are air-baked and entirely oil-free. They actually taste better than the fried ones. 

I’ve been listening to Pandora a lot, even eschewing the train for the bus in order to listen more. It’s really been soothing for me. I’ve been doing a lot of reading, too. Mostly pseudo-career stuff that’s actually really engaging and motivating, but also fun stuff too. I just read Marcus Samuelsson’s biography, “Yes, Chef,” which was outstanding. He’s the Swedish-Ethiopian chef who worked at Aquavit and now runs Red Rooster.

I’ve been buying a lot of iced coffee, which seems random but actually is not. I love watching beautiful girls walking down the streets of New York and drinking iced coffee. So I now love walking down the streets of New York and feeling beautiful while drinking iced coffee. Plus it’s helping me lose weight. And it tastes really good. I usually hook it up with caramel syrup and plenty of Splenda, and vanilla soymilk. Mmmm.

I also went online and looked for some places to make friends. I think one of the main reasons singlehood is so hard for me is because I’m fairly isolated. I found a website, http://www.e-180.com, that is a network for people who want to take classes taught by other members and meet people. I also found out about a coworking space called WIXLounge, a place where entrepreneurs go for free Wi-Fi and a quiet place to work. There are some other coworking places that cost money, but offer many more amenities and many more opportunities to meet people. I’ve made it a personal goal to make enough money in my businesses to afford a $200/month membership in one of these spaces.

It’s amazing that I can be so happy on my own. I WORKED for this. Bought it with my tears and my painful nights spent tossing and turning, longing for someone to share my bed with. My years of anguish and therapy have paid off. I am happy on my own. And nobody can take this away from me.

Oh, How Times Have Changed

Hi, people. I’m back! And oh how times have changed. I’m happy to report that I’ve made the decision to own my life and start aiming for perfection. I will no longer settle for good enough in any area of my life. I’m sick of pretending. I’ve decided to go for broke and face my fears. Which really means I’m facing myself.

I’m working on a chapter of my book that talks about this… about being Satisfied. At the end of the day, I no longer identify with women who are miserable about being single. Loneliness is one thing. Horniness is one thing. But when you’re unhappy, and you blame your unhappiness on the fact that you’re single, you’re not taking responsibility for it. Instead, you”re putting all the power for your happiness in the hands of single men… who, when all is said and done, DON’T deserve it. 

Being miserable, unfortunately, in the end, is OUR fault. Some of us are miserable because we have a shit job. Some of us are miserable because we live at home and our parents annoy us. Some of us are miserable because we’re not smart, or thin, or tall. But at the end of the day, happiness is a choice. We are free, indeed ENCOURAGED, to change the things we don’t like about ourselves and our lives. That may be joining OKCupid.com, or going back to school, or going on a diet. But at the end of the day, nobody owes us anything. Single men don’t owe us dates or sex. The work world doesn’t owe us better jobs, and schools don’t owe us high GPAs or degrees. Strangers don’t OWE us compliments over how skinny we’ve gotten. 

One of the biggest accomplishments of the past few months for me has been the acceptance of the fact that I can’t expect life to give me what I want. I’m not owed things just by dint of being here, or by dint of thinking that I’m special. I’m not special, and I’m not always going to get what I want. Not because I don’t deserve it, but because that’s the way the world works. So I have a choice about it all. I can be miserable and blame other people for my anger. Or I can accept that life is unfair and start controlling the things I can control. Things like traveling to San Francisco this summer, my first trip off of the East Coast. Or things like starting my dream career as a freelancer, health and wellness coach, and motivational speaker. Things like learning how to compose electronic music on my MacBook. Being single may suck. But I’ve learned to take responsibility for my happiness, and that’s one lesson that will always pay Microsoft-level dividends.

Follow Your Passions

As single women, one of our biggest gifts is our opportunity to create change in our lives. Our married and boyfriended-up sisters are spending a lot of time and energy thinking about their partners, and even when they’re not, their bodies and minds are humming with the energy of their sexual relationships. Having a partner fills a primal void inside of a woman that, when we’re single, we have the opportunity to fill with spiritual, creative, and other personal pursuits. We can choose to do anything we want. If we marry a computer programmer a year from now, it’s probably a given that we won’t be living in an artist’s commune and studying to become a full-time yoga instructor in five years.

But of course we’re all kind of down about being single, and maybe feeling a little unmotivated. How to deal with it? The best piece of advice is probably to follow our hearts. We all have different interests and different strengths. Some of us are intellectuals, some of us are artists, some of us are humanitarians, some craftspeople, some world travelers and some social butterflies. No matter what our passions, it’s REALLY important to indulge them when we are single.

Actually, probably the biggest thing that will keep us from getting depressed and morose about our single situation is indulging ourselves, in every way we can. Don’t, under any circumstances, do anything you think you SHOULD do, or that you think it would be IMPRESSIVE to do. The quickest, most sure-fire way to misery in any undesirable situation, when we’re facing circumstances we don’t like and didn’t create, is to make things worse by trying to force ourselves to do even MORE things we don’t like. While you may be an intellectual, and it may seem like a really edifying idea to read every one of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s books, if they put you to sleep THEY WILL MAKE YOU FEEL REALLY MISERABLE and you will be fantasizing about your ex-boyfriend the entire time. Put the book down and pick up some Arianna Huffington or Ann Coulter instead.

Read books. Listen to podcasts. Knit. Go caving. Bake red velvet cake for yourself every Sunday and have a slice while reading Fifty Shades of Grey under a warm blanket on your living room couch. Mentor a ten-year-old. Nurse a friend through a really bad break-up. Visit Thailand. Paint canvases and get a gallery show. Just do FUN stuff. Stuff that will make your life feel alive. If it’ll make you feel alive to work at Wal-Mart and watch the sunset every evening over the Tappan Zee Bridge, do that. And, while you’re at it, being single is a really good time to improve your life as well. I know this falls under the banner of Very Miserable Work for many people, but if you’re not one of them, improving your physical health, your spiritual life, your professional career, your mental health, or your relationships with friends and family can be an empowering, thrilling, and FUN experience. And it’s one experience that will keep on giving, long after you’ve found Mr. Right, if that’s in your cards.