Tatiana Talks

Thank You, Superstorm Sandy

Lana bought this book for me for my 16th birthday.
I still have it.
When someone asks “How are you doing?” I almost always respond: “Well, thanks. You?” “Well” is simple. The truth is not. But the well-meaning stranger doesn’t want the truth. They were just being polite. So, I return the favor by not regaling the person with all the problems keeping me up at night.

The same can be said for when someone asks, “Are you and your sister close?” The simple answer is “Yes.”  The truth is more complicated than that.
I love my sister. I can (and do) tell her everything. When Houdini dumped me via text message, she was the person I called and she was there in less than an hour with a big bottle of wine and a pack of cigarettes. When I lost my job, she was my first call, and again she was there with cigarettes and wine.

She is my biggest fan and cheerleader and challenges me to be a better person. She is my sister. We email everyday and text on the weekends and have inside jokes, and no one's opinion means more to me (with the possible exception of my mother). Is that close?

But it wasn't always like this. Growing up, Lana was a few years older than me and often saddled with the responsibility of watching me while our mother slept (she worked nights) and my father studied. Imagine being 14-years-old and wanting to just hang out with your friends and talk about boys, but all your friends are too busy cooing over your super adorable little sister. You would hate me too.

As I got older, I became a bigger pest, borrowing her clothes and subsequently ruining them, giving her even less privacy than she had at 14, and telling my mom whenever she did anything wrong.

Eventually, Lana left home, went to college and got a tattoo: cementing her status as the coolest person I knew.

In return for no longer having her favorite sweaters stolen, Lana began to give me advice, took me to parties, and when she was home on break she helped me cut class. Even without email, Facebook and cell phones, it was probably during this time that my sister and I were closest.

But then I started to grow-up and over the next few years she had to adjust to the idea that I was also a grown-up that didn’t always need her big sister.

I had to realize that my hero was also a human.

It was a tough adjustment period, and at times I wondered if my sister weren’t my sister, would she still be my friend?

I got my answer last week.

Hurricane (or, I’m, sorry, Superstorm) Sandy hit the East Coast last week. While Philadelphia was relatively unscathed, airports (as well as the city) shutdown in anticipation of a catastrophe. And my sister, who was in town to cheer me on in the Marine Corp Marathon, was stuck in Philadelphia. I didn’t have anywhere to go – my office was closed – so while Sandy ravaged New York and New Jersey, Lana and I sat on my couch, ate junk food, watched trashy television, farted, didn’t shower, laughed, and talked. Neither of us needed anything from the other. She didn’t need my shoulder to cry on; I didn’t need her to fight a battle for me.  

I feel terrible for all those that have suffered loss because of this superstorm. But I can’t help but be grateful for the good things that came out of it – corporations opening their doors and donating their warmth and more importantly their electricity to those without both, Republicans and Democrats coming together to get relief to those that need it, and New Yorkers actually learning their neighbors' names.

And my sister and I becoming close. Again.

The First Amendment: A Primer

I interrupt our quest through the five stages of a break-up because I have to get something off my chest. I promise to have the next stage to you shortly – I won’t even make you wait a week.

So, the Reddit Troll Violentacrez was outed last week. If you have no idea what I am talking about click here.

I am not going to get into just how disgusting, despicable and detestable I find this man’s online persona – mostly because as a troll, that is what he wants. I do, however, need to address his defenders. Those decrying Gawker for exposing his true identity. Folks flying the First Amendment flag in our faces.

Here’s the thing about the First Amendment (big fan, by the way). It gives every American citizen the right to speak his/her thoughts freely without having to fear persecution by their government.

That last part is the important part. So, I’m gonna say it again: by their government.

If you want to say you hate our president. Our president can’t aim a drone missile at your house and press send. He can’t call the Secret Service and have you detained until you publicly apologize and then tell everyone that will listen that you think he’s an awesome guy. You can lie about our president (because he is a public figure and libel and slander laws are a little more lax for them, not to mention the all the political speech protections). You can protest our president’s residence (you might need a permit, but you can do it). You can Photoshop our president’s head onto a donkey’s body and set-up a Tumblr account with all sorts of nasty captions and compromising positions and the government can’t touch you.

However, if your boss, or your father, or your girlfriend sees it and doesn’t like it. They can take offense. They can stop talking to you. Withhold sex (not your father. Your girlfriend and maybe your boss). And in some states (like my home state of Pennsylvania), if you work for a private company, they can even fire you.

A long time ago I had another blog. I openly blogged about people I worked with (though I did my best to protect their identities) and one day I blogged about a guy that I thought was an asshole. And a few days later that asshole approached me about the blog and called me a bitch for writing it.

When he did (he was actually really respectful about it – asked me into the hallway so as to not do it in front of my co-workers, though that may have had more to do with identifying himself as the asshole) I listened to what he had to say, said something placating back, turned and walked away.

I didn’t apologize (I wasn’t sorry. Besides, apologizing would have confirmed for him that he was the asshole I was talking about) nor did I throw my freedom of expression in his face. I didn’t even bring up my first amendment right weeks later, when I was asked to stop blogging about my co-workers.

Why you ask? Because while I enjoy the liberties that the First Amendment allows me, I know that it doesn’t free me from consequences of my actions. I called someone a name. He told on me and I got in trouble. My rights were not violated.

The First Amendment doesn’t protect you from consequences. For instance, if you are head of a corporation – say a fast food chicken restaurant – and it comes to light that you support organizations that are anti-gay marriage, and a bunch of people get together and decide to boycott your restaurants; those folks are not trampling on your First Amendment right. They are merely exercising theirs.

Now, if one of those folks decides to burn down your fast food restaurant, the government (whether they agree with you or the protesters) has to prosecute the offenders. Otherwise, your rights would be violated.

In relation to VA – he absolutely has the rights to post half naked pictures of 14-year-old girls. Just as the author of the Gawker article had a right to post his real name (if you read the article you will know he obtained this man’s name lawfully). And now VA has to face the consequences of his posts and opinions.

Something to consider as we make our way “anonymously” through this new world. We are accountable for what we are putting out there.

Stage Two: Let the Cleansing Begin

So, after a week of not showering, not changing your pajamas, sleeping on the couch, watching NCIS marathons and only eating meals that can be delivered, you smelled yourself, swallowed back vomit and ran to the bathroom where you saw your tear-stained, swollen, blotchy face. You grabbed either side of the vanity to steady yourself as you asked your reflection, “what the fuck happened?”

Please note shopaholics, you will experience a similar feeling when you see your email credit card alerts.

You will then take a deep breath, brush your fuzzy teeth, run a comb through your greasy hair and shuffle back into the living room, turn off the TV and start picking up the take-out food wrappers with your fingers crossed that you don’t now have rodents or bugs.

Welcome to stage two: the cleanse. It begins with the realization you have become a disgusting unrecognizable mess. Then comes the hangover (I recommend lots of Gatorade and aspirin). Finally the serious work.

Well, not super serious – we save that for Recovery – but more serious than just kicking food wrappers under your couch (yeah, I saw that). First, you really should shower and put on some fresh pajamas. Then, let’s really clean up the kitchen – you don’t want bugs.

Now, I’m gonna need you to walk around your apartment and gather up all the presents and ticket stubs and photos and other flotsam and jetsam from your relationship. Separate his stuff out of the mess, put it in a bag and leave it right by your door. The "by the door part" is necessary. Here’s why: Sometime in the future, you may have to give this stuff back to him. And when he stops by, you don’t want to invite him in.

Why? Because there is no telling what stage you will be in at this point. And I should warn you, in the beginning you will be bouncing back and forth through all the stages. You could be feeling sound in recovery, he stops by, and a couple hours (as well as a bottle of wine and some sex) later, you are right back in grossness. Better to keep his shit by the door so that when he stops by you can hand him the bag, lie to him and tell him you think he looks good and you are so glad to see him and then close the door in his grinning-because-he-thinks-there-is-a-chance-he-is-gonna-get-some face.

So, what to do with the rest of the stuff. Don’t worry. We’re not going to burn it. The cleanse phase – much like that juice fast I tried –s not about permanent change. Now is not the time for tattoos or haircuts or relationship bon fires. This is about short, quick, drastic measures with results that won’t last very long but will get you on the road to making better choices.

Speaking of which, after you hide that box of everything that reminds you of the guy who just dumped you, I need you to sit down on your couch, search through the contacts on your phone, delete all his cute/sexy text messages and then change your ex’s name.

Why do you keep asking me why? You know I have a good reason.

In the next stage, you are going to be doing some celebrating. And sometimes when you celebrate (if you are anything like me) you might overindulge. And on some nights, even with all the smokey eye make-up and plunging necklines and pronouncements that you are "so drunk," you will come home alone. And because your body is so used to getting it on the regular, you'll get home, want some, and drunk you will think it is a really good idea to text your ex and invite him over.

Your last defense will be a searching for a name in your phone that might (and this is really only effective about 37 percent of the time, but hey, it’s something) have you thinking twice before hitting send.

I personally prefer to call them awful things like Douchebag. Or Asshole. Or Shit for Brains.

My sister is more direct and will change his name to “Do Not Call” or “Never Text" or "He Made You Cry."

If you don’t think either of those approaches will work, how about changing his name to “Daddy." Seriously, just think about texting something dirty at 3 a.m. to your “Daddy.” Unless of course, that is the sort of thing that turns you on – no judgement – then maybe Dad? Father? Papa? Just your dad’s name? Mom?

How To Be Dumped: Part One: Grossness

I'm not sure if it was the monster moon this past weekend,or the upcoming holidays, but a number of my friends have recently found themselves single again. And while I believe I clearly demonstrate on this blog that I am terrible when it comes to relationships, my friends are still coming to me for advice.

Maybe they don’t read the blog.

The last time I was dumped, I offered a very simplified road map to how I get over a guy. My plan – like another plan that you may have heard of – has five stages/steps: Grossness, Cleansing, Celebrating, Recovering, and then, finally, Moving on. Though, I only really talk about the first four in my old post.

The first stage, in my opinion, is the most important. The gross stage.

This means different things for different people, but basically is boils down to this is the time you get to be a self-indulgent brat. If you want to drink and smoke while wrapped in an afghan your nana knit you watching marathons of “Say Yes to the Dress,” do it. If you want to eat your way through the entire Ben and Jerry’s catalog, I'll get you a spoon and elastic waistband pants. If you need to go out and purchase one of everything in your size, I will only warn you to keep the tags on as there is a good chance you will want to return some of it at a point in the near future. If you want to do all of the above while crying and screaming “what is wrong with me?” I’m not gonna say no.

Why? Because you are hurt. Being dumped sucks and you have all sorts of questions and doubts and you can’t text or call (or rather you shouldn’t text or call) your ex and demand answers, and you can only hear from your friends so many times that he’s an idiot. So you need to self-soothe. You have all these emotions and feelings and you need to get them out. So why not get the majority of them out all at once. No, you won’t get rid of them all, but a couple of days not showering, eating nothing but chocolate covered carbs, and watching Lifetime television for women (or Spike TV is Jason Statham running around killing people is more your speed) should deplete you of most of your self-loathing.

Think of it this way – remember that episode of Who’s the Boss (or was it Roseann? Growing Pains? Some sitcom I watched growing up) where Sam was caught with cigarettes and Tony Danza made her smoke the whole pack and she got sick and never smoked again. That is what this period is – doing something that is really bad for you until you make yourself sick – when you look in the mirror and see a bloated, gray, oily version of yourself staring back.

It will be like the kick in Inception. It will snap you right back to reality. Then, after possibly throwing up, you will ask yourself what the hell you are doing. You will scream at yourself for letting it get this bad and then remind yourself no guy is worth this, you are better than this, and it is his loss – you know, all the stuff you already knew but needed to go a very dark place to remember.

Then you take the longest, hottest shower of your life, maybe pop out for a pedicure and prepare yourself for stage two – Cleansing.

The second most important thing to remember about this phase is that is just a phase: give yourself a time limit in the bell jar. You don’t want to get stuck here. For many reasons, the most obvious being your friends will only indulge you for so long.

The first most important thing to remember about this phase is that now is not the time to do anything permanent. Save any tattoos, surgeries, or resignation letters for stages four and five.

The John Mayer Problem

A while back ago the celebrity gossip world was abuzz that Katy Perry and John Mayer were a thing. Then, more recently, everyone was talking again, this time about how John dumped Katy.

I was less surprised that John Mayer dumped Katy Perry (isn’t that sort of his thing) than I was that she dated him in the first place. The guy's a jerk. And while I ‘m still not sure if sexual napalm is a compliment or an insult, I’m damn sure I don’t want any guy I’ve slept with to say it about me in a national magazine.

Though, in fairness, it might be nice to have a guy write a song comparing my body to a wonderland.

Still, as I do with almost all celebrity gossip I can quite fathom, I chalked it up to some anomaly inherent in the DNA of otherwise perfect people.

That is until I learned of a similar phenomenon plaguing a group of my friends.

My friend Bob called me the other day, asking if we could get together to catch-up. As I have been sort of MIA from my social group lately due mostly to this stupid marathon I signed up to run, I agreed without thinking much of it. It didn’t even raise an eyebrow when Bob immediately pressed for a time and a place because Bob is used to my agreeing to casual plans and then either not finalizing said plans or cancelling them at the last minute.

But I knew this was no typical wine and whine night when he sat down and said, “I need your advice.”

It turned out since I’d been gone a new dude had entered our social stratosphere and was making his way through our female friends – loving them and then, according to Bob, leaving them heartbroken.

Now, Bob is a bit sentimental when it comes to women, and so I was skeptical. Sometimes a lady just wants to get laid and, as I have recently hypothesized, a douche bag is just the guy to get the job done.

Then Bob started giving me specifics and sure enough, this guy was leaving a wake of heartbreak and Bob wanted to know what to do about it.

Unfortunately for Bob there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn’t approach the guy without looking petty. And he didn’t need to bother “warning” the women because they already knew.

After all, women talk, or at least my friends do.

So the only thing left was to understand why a woman would allow a guy to do this.

And yes, I said allow. Because that is exactly what was happening. This wasn’t your typical case of a woman lying to herself. This wasn’t a guy saying he wasn’t looking for anything serious, but then behaving in every way as if they were destined for forever and ever.

P.J. (Philly John, or Philly Jawn as the local kids might say) was wooing them with promises of love everlasting and then splitting as soon as the condom came off.

It wasn’t a bad boy thing: That I get. But, a) bad boys never promise forever and ever, and b) neither Philly Jawn nor John Mayer could ever be mistaken as bad boys.

Could it be a form of trophy sex? Not the standard, sighing of friends as they ask “you’ve seen him naked?” but an uglier, more competitive, manically laughing and wringing your hands as you gloat, “he broke all the hearts of my friends, but he didn’t break mine. He left them, but he didn’t leave me.”

I have a problem with this on many levels beyond just the icky factor; first being the absolute bitchiness of it. Where is the sisterhood here, ladies? This bro mistreated one of your girls. If ever there was a time for the ladies to form a wall and protest this penis’s party, this would be it.
Also, I’m not sure what kind of trophy PJ makes. After all, all of your friends have seen him naked. Let’s play this out to its logical conclusion (if you manage to tame the wild beast) when you two are standing in front of all of your friends and family, swearing before god and loved ones to stay true to each other forever and ever. Do you know what the gallery is talking about? Not your flowers or dress or even the vows you labored over for months and months. They are talking about how the groom banged all your bridesmaids.

Hopefully, this isn’t what’s happening and it turns out to be just another case of women chasing after the exact sort of love life they want (subconsciously of course). After all, if they dated good, decent guys, what would they complain to their friends about?

Which might also explain why Katy chose John. My favorite female singer-songwriters are always better when they are angry and bitter as opposed to when they are happy and in love. But, please, Katy, for all that is good on this earth, don’t write a song about John. The world already has enough (I’m looking at you Taylor).

Why Paul Ryan Lied – A Feminist’s Opinion

By now, even my parents know that Paul Ryan lied about his marathon time. What people don’t know is why he lied about it. Was it a simple mistake? No way. Was he just boasting? Maybe. Was he flat out lying because he didn’t want to admit a girl was faster than him? Well, that’s my theory.

Yes, as a recently reformed misogynist, I’m seeing misogyny everywhere. And sure, one could say I have developed this theory to get back on Gloria’s good side, but still, stay with me for a minute.

After Runner’s World broke the news about Ryan’s lie, The Washington Post did a quick blog about all vice presidential hopefuls’ (and one vice president's) marathon times.

In the mix is Sarah Palin, who at 41 years old ran a marathon in very impressive (to me at least) 3 hours and 59 minutes.

Now, I don’t know Sarah personally, but she strikes me as the type who would brag about this accomplishment. It’s something about her first name. Sarahs love to tell anyone who will listen just how awesome they are. If she were the type, I would even bet she has her time tattooed somewhere on her body.

Fast-forward seven years and Paul Ryan is being interviewed and it casually comes up that he ran a marathon. Well, he can’t honestly expect that to impress anyone, anymore. I mean, who hasn’t run a marathon? Drew Carey. Katie Holmes. Puff Daddy (he will always be Puff Daddy to me). Oprah. So, to really impress, he is going to have to give the reporter a time and a good time. And his time wasn’t bad. But, wait, what is this he is remembering. What did Sarah Palin tell him her time was? Crap. She beat him, didn’t she? Okay, well now he is going to have to say it was better than hers. But what was hers? Three-fifty-something. But what if he says 3:55 and it turns out she ran it in 3:54. Well, someone in the liberal media will be able to dig up her time and that will be the big story. Not that he ran a marathon but that Sarah Palin beat him.

After all, could Paul Ryan really admit that a 40-something woman beat his marathon time when he was 20-years-old? What sort of man would that make him? Plus she lost the election. He didn’t want a loser to have beaten him. What sort of message would that send?

But mostly the part about her being a woman. Women are weaker and sillier than men. Men rule. Men are better and stronger and most importantly faster. He admits a woman is faster and then what? He has to admit women are also capable of making choices for themselves?

So he played it safe and said he finished in two-fifty-something.

Next time, Paul, if I may, I would go the other macho route: Tell the truth and then add, “But you know, I didn’t really train, and was drunk for the first half, hung over for the second, so what-evs.”

There is no way Runner’s World could disprove that.

My Apologies to Women Everywhere (And Eli Manning)

 I have a confession to make. Sometimes I can be a bit of a misogynist. Now I don’t beat up women or call them stupid when they ask a question or suggest that they belong in the kitchen making me a sandwich. But on Sundays during football season I have been known to yell at my T.V. “What kind of bullsh*t arm tackle was that you effin’ p&ssy. Take your g.d. skirt off and man the eff up.”

One of my favorite t-shirts
now headed to the Goodwill pile.
 Of course, I realized what I was yelling was wrong, but I always explained it away, saying, “I am not a feminist on Sundays (and some Mondays. And Saturdays. And the occasional Thursday night).

 But then, recently, I was reading my Twitter feed and a couple of the sport’s bloggers I follow were talking smack about an opposing team. And as is often the case when a bunch of drunk white guys get together to talk sports – the jabs questioning opposing team members sexuality started flying. This pissed me off. After all, being gay doesn’t mean one can’t be strong or tough or good at sports. I have known a number of gay men who could kick the crap out of the overweight, out of shape bloggers making these comments, which is exactly what I was typing into my iPhone when it occurred to me that these same bloggers were making just as disparaging remarks about women and just like my tough gay friends, I am pretty sure I can take a number of these guys.
No wonder Gloria has stopped taking my calls. Apparently I have become less than a feminist. I’ve become a misogynist.

In all my years of yelling at the T.V. (and it has been many, many years) I don’t think I have once, stooped so low as to question a player’s sexual preference or suggest they engage in homosexual activity. So why then when insulting other team’s quarterbacks (or expressing my displeasure with a member of our team) would I scream at my television, “my mother tackles harder than that.”

Really? I was suggesting if a player was less woman-like (or less like my own mother who is one of the toughest women I know) they might be better able get the job done. Really?

Because with everything we have been reading recently about how women are taking over the world and men might soon become irrelevant; that more women are going to college, and take up a greater percentage of the work force and are bringing home higher paychecks than their male spouses, why are we still suggesting men man-up?

Maybe it is time we start telling them to woman-up.

To put a skirt on.

The Games We Play

There is a game my mom and dad love to play with me. For lack of anything better, I call it the “Anything Else” game.

It dates back to middle school when guys were just starting to notice girls – and by that I mean guys were starting to notice other girls. I remained the girl they only noticed when they needed one more for a game of football.

Every day, when I got home from school, my mom, a nurse where she worked with a parent (or two) of just about everyone in my class, would wake up (she worked nights) and ask, “How was school today?”

I would shrug (because I was a preteen and shrugging was my favorite) and respond, “Good.” And the game was on:

Mom: “Just good? Not great, terrific and wonderful?”

Preteen Tati: “No. Just good.”

Mom: “Anything happen in school today?”

Preteen Tati: “No.”

Mom: “Nothing?”

Preteen Tati: “Umm, well, we have a history test coming up.”

Mom: “Anything else?”

Preteen Tati: “I’m probably gonna need new running sneakers soon.”

Mom: “Anything else?”

Preteen Tati: “Jenny and Rachel are fighting again.”

Mom: “Anything else?”

Preteen Tati: “I can’t think of anything else.”

Mom: “So Jeremy didn’t walk you to math class this morning.”

Preteen Tati: “What? Oh, well, yeah, he did, but.”

Mom: “According to Becky’s mom, Jeremy is one of the cutest guys in your class.”

Preteen Tati: “I guess, but.”

Mom: “So, what did you two talk about on your way to class? Because, according to Becky’s mom, it looked like you two were very involved in the conversation. You know he and Jaime broke up?”

Preteen Tati: “Yes, I know that. But, that’s what I’m trying to tell you, we were just talking about our history test.”

Mom: “Oh.  Well, Becky’s mom also mentioned that he asked for your picture the other day, so you can see why I was curious.”

Preteen Tati: “Mom, we’re just friends.”

Mom: “I don’t know, Tati

Preteen Tati:

More than 20 years later and the game is pretty much the same. Of course my mother no longer works with the parents of my classmates, but she is my friend on Facebook. So, when someone tags me in a picture standing next to a guy at a baseball game, I am sure to get a call the next morning.

To win the game, you have to be the first to fold. And by that I mean, the first to acknowledge the game, come clean and just ask/state the obvious. So, for example:

Mom: “Anything else going on that I should know about?”

Almost An Adult Tati: “I don’t think so. I told you that I’m looking at flights to Austin, that I’m changing one of the characters in my novel, work is good, I got another press release to draft, and I'm signed up for the MCM in October. So, yeah, that’s everything that’s keeping me busy.”

Mom: “Nothing else is going on?”

Almost An Adult Tati: “Mom, I’m not seeing anyone, if that’s what you’re wondering.”

Mom: “That’s not what I was asking, but now that you brought it up …”
Advantage: Mom.

As a teenager, I always won, mostly because I didn’t know we were playing and my mother was often looking for something that didn’t even make my radar as worth mentioning.

As an (almost) adult, I practically lose every game. My mother (and father, because now he plays too) has grown more patient whereas I have grown less. I’ve tried driving them to defeat by detailing the most mundane details of my life (“I picked up D vitamins at the Whole Foods yesterday. I went with the cheaper ones, even though they contain gelatin, but I didn’t get sick or anything.”) or distracting them with details from my former classmates’ lives (“I saw on Facebook that Jeremy had a baby.”). But, alas, this only leads to conversations about how my mother always thought Jeremy had a thing for me (“Remember that time in middle school when he asked for your picture, Tati.”).

And that is how we begin a game of “The One(s) That Got Away.”

Slip and Falls and Stranger’s Beds

I know I retired (killed) the cliché of single women dying alone a couple of posts back and I am not about to revive it here. But it would be disingenuous if I didn’t admit I do fear dying alone. However, my fear is a very specific one.
I’m afraid of slipping and falling and, unable to reach my mobile phone, I die a slow, painful death alone in my apartment. This fear has more to do with my steep stairs, hardwood floors, general lack of grace, the fact that I wear five-inch heels, that I like to drink a lot, sometimes leave my five-inch heels wherever I kicked them off the night before, and often forget to bring a towel with me to the shower thus requiring me to run across my hardwood floors, wet and naked and not paying attention, then it does with being single. 
Bridie once assured me that this was a silly and unnecessary fear: my friends would all start to worry after the second day passed with no Facebook status update.
Still, I get a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when I get a panicked call from a worried friend who hasn’t heard from me.
I got such a call from Marie a couple of weekends back.  Marie and I had emailed back and forth on Friday, arranging to meet for a bike ride the next morning. I wanted to get out before 10 a.m., but Marie, who had plans to go to BBQ that night, wasn’t ready to set a time, in case she had a little too much barbecue (and by barbecue we all know I mean beer).  We agreed she would text me the next morning. I then went home, watched a movie, did a little reading and was snuggled under my coverlet early.
So early, in fact, I didn’t bother to set my alarm. I figured there was no way I wasn’t getting up by 9 a.m. and really, isn’t it always so much nicer to wake-up without an alarm?
My plan worked beautifully. The next morning I was up by 5 a.m. But since it was so early, and Marie wouldn’t be texting for at least another four hours, I fell back asleep.  The next time I opened my eyes it was after 9:30.
I got up quickly, checked my phone and found two texts from Marie and one nervous sounding voicemail. I smiled, sent her a text her back and then got ready to meet her for our ride.
When Marie and I finally met up, I was curious and so I asked her how long she would have waited before she called the cops.
Marie cocked her head to the side and asked why she would call the cops?
“Well, if I didn’t text you back, then clearly I would have been in trouble; possibly sprawled out on my floor, with a life-threatening injury.”
She laughed. “Are you kidding? I was excited for you. I thought maybe you and Salty went out last night and you had hooked up.” She laughed harder. “The only time you don’t immediately respond to one of my texts is when you are in someone else’s bed.”

The One

A thousand years ago, my mom encouraged (made) me read The Secret. For those of you who have read it, you know will know how this relates, for those who didn't, basically, The Secret is everything you want you just need to think really hard about, and then the universe will deliver it to you.

For the most part, I think this is crap. But in the same way I don't necessarily believe in a god, but still sometimes worry I'm going to hell, at times when I am thinking about something and then it happens, I wonder if I made it happen with my powerful brain.

As I mentioned last week, I have been thinking a lot about my past, including past loves. And it wouldn't be a list of my greatest hits if it didn't include The One, because as the saying goes, you never forget your first.

Now, for clarification sake, The One wasn't my first in that sense (oh, god how I wish I could forget that first). He was the first guy for whom I had those feelings. You know those feelings. The shivers, the butterflies, the weak knees and the panties sliding to the floor. All which I mistook for love.

Back then all I knew about love came from romantic comedies, pop songs and novels.

And if life were more like a romantic comedy, college would have ended with The One running to me, apologizing for all the hurt he caused. I would have shook my tear-stained cheeks and responded that no, I was sorry for being so silly and stupid and fill-in-this-blank-with-your-favorite-cliché-for-a-twenty-year-old.

Then we would have embraced and you would have watched our happily ever after flash by in a montage of photos taken during our wedding and on vacations and at the birth of our two children as the credits rolled.

Fortunately life isn't a romantic comedy – it isn't that terribly predictable, nor is there just one person destined to make you happy for all eternity.

I learned that after I met someone who made me feel just as good (even better) as The One. Yes, you can have chemistry with lots of people, but that isn’t love. It’s biology.

So he is The One. Not because I still harbor any thoughts that he is the knight in shining armor I mistook him for in my late-teens, but because I was so convinced he was the elusive one and now that I know there will never be “one,” he is the only one.

Does that make sense?

And maybe because he was the first, or because I spent so much time loving him, I still recognize him by his walk. His voice. His scent.

Even 12 years later.

What does any of this have to do with The Secret?

I saw him this weekend. Actually I didn't see him at first, I heard him. But that is all I needed.

Same tightening of the spine that happened all those years ago and every time I have run into him since.

And for just a moment, as I passed him, I had to remind myself that it wasn't love, it’s chemistry. It isn’t destiny. It is two people living in the same city with common friends and interests. It isn’t magical thinking. It’s coincidence.

And to prove it, I spent the rest of the weekend thinking of CK (and occasionally Ryan Lochte) and I didn’t run into either of them.

A Little Self Reflection During My Last Full Week at 33

So this past week has been an interesting one for self-discovery – nothing all that unusual as I typically do a lot of reflecting on my life and what it all means in the weeks leading up to my birthday.

Around this time every year I start to get the itch to move to Chicago or San Francisco. I think about changing careers, or going to school or doing something so that I have a better plan than my current back-up plan (to retire as a nun) if I don’t make it as a writer. I also spend a lot of time wondering about exes – what they are up to but mostly what would be different about my life if they weren’t an ex.

It was in this mindset that I clicked on the Atlantic’s article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely.”

I was most intrigued by this article because I have often thought that things like Facebook and Twitter actually make it easier for me to be alone. On Friday nights, when I’m not in the mood to go out (or my friends are all out on dates) I will sit home and watch TV, enjoy some wine, and check in on Facebook and Twitter obsessively. If I am watching the Phillies play (or this past week, the Olympics) reading my Twitter feed suddenly feels like I am watching the game with a dozen or so of my closest friends – even though I have never met most of these people.

What I took away from the Atlantic article wasn’t that social media was making me lonelier, but that I might be a narcissist. I’m still wondering about this. I thought about asking Bridie her opinion the other night at dinner, but I refrained. Probably because I think too highly of myself to hear what she thinks of me.

On a more interesting note, the article also gave me a possible title for the collection of essays I will one day publish – Porcupine Problems.

While worrying that I’m a narcissist, I clicked on a link promising dating tips for short men. Now. I am obviously neither short nor a man, but still, I was interested in reading what advice was being doled out to these guys.

I can’t find the link, and I don’t remember most of the advice, but I do recall clearly the first piece of advice: If a girl won’t date you because you are shorter than her: forget her, because she is a terrible person.

Huh. Terrible person.

The author isn’t wrong. If I met a guy that told me he didn’t date a woman over a certain weight or with breasts that were smaller than a c-cup, I would think he was an ass.

But, if we look at the psychology (or whatever) of why one person finds someone attractive, it’s purely biological. Men aren’t attracted to women with big breasts because society tells them to or because they want to put their face between them. But because subconsciously big breasts indicate that the woman will be able to provide a lot of milk for their babies. At least I think I read that somewhere. So my attraction to men that are taller than me isn’t because society tells me it is more masculine but because deep down in the caveman part of my brain, I want to procreate with only taller men so that the babies I don’t actually want will never have to read advice on dating tips for short men.

That's just science.

Does that make me the female version of a douche-bag – maybe. But that sort of makes sense because yesterday I learned I’m attracted to douche bags.

I mean ... photo from Women’s Health.

Just like everyone else in America, I have been suffering through NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics. In part because I love the back stories and the tears and seeing people that have worked so hard achieve success, but also because I think the swimmers are hot. One swimmer in particular – Ryan Lochte.

All the evidence was there. I didn’t need his mom telling me about his habit of one night stands or this hysterical Jezebel article to tell me Lochte is just the sort of ass I rolled my eyes at all through college and my 20s. But still, even knowing this, (mom and dad skip to the next paragraph) I still wanna sit on his face.

Worse than that, I think it is his cockiness and stupid grill and ridiculous style that makes me want him all the more. On the plus side, Cricket and I think we may be able to turn this into an opportunity for me to finally get some. No, I am not so deluded to think I actually have a shot at Ryan Lochte. However, d-bags are a population I’ve never really considered. But with zero chance of actually developing feelings for one, they might make for a good no-strings-attached arrangement.

Now, this is a lot for one girl to think about. Fortunately, next week I will be on a beach in Hawaii, giving me plenty of opportunity to sort this all out before I turn another year older.

Greener Grass

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was recently at the pool with Bridie and Pepper. Before we were talking about how happy Pepper was when she was single, we were talking about the Duchess.

The Duchess had sent me a text the previous day about this single guy she knew (or knew of, it was never really clear) who was a billionaire, but also really short, but a billionaire and so she wondered if I could look past my height requirement for a billionaire. I think she then sent another text, reminding me this guy made billions and I would be a fool to not at least let her give him my number. When I responded, I told her he should take some of his money, go to China and have his shins lengthened. But that would still only get him a first date with me. I wouldn’t promise anything more.

After we all stopped laughing at my ridiculousness and the Duchess’s relentlessness, Pepper chimed in, “But you don’t even seem to mind being single.”

We then went on to discuss all the reasons why being single is sort of awesome and that is when Pepper revealed she was happiest when she was on her own.

Was she telling the truth? I think so. Does it raise the question: if she was happiest single, why doesn’t she break up with her boyfriend? Sure. But, she loves him (note her reason has nothing to do with a fear of being called a crazy cat lady or always having a date on national holidays). Plus she didn’t say she is unhappy. But as she explained it: “If a person is, on average, happy 80 percent of the time, and you are with someone who is also happy 80 percent of the time, then there is chance that 40 percent of the time one of you isn’t going to be happy and that is going to affect the other person.”

I heart math.

What I don’t love is the misconception that women’s happiness is dependent on whether or not she has a man in her life. A married woman (or coupled-off woman) is a happy woman. A single woman, well she may seem happy when she is out drinking and dancing and laughing, but every night she goes home and cries, while paging through the bridal magazines she keeps hidden under her bed and listening to Adele.

For the record, the only bridal magazines I own have articles in them that I wrote.

Maybe this is why we have so many unhappy women on both sides of the broom. The single women are miserable because they are told they are supposed to be, whereas married women feel like failures because they supposedly have it all and are still not satisfied.

Instead of fighting about who is happier, can’t we just recognize each of us is a unique and complex individual capable of a whole spectrum of feelings based on several factors, the least of which is our relationship status. That it is okay if these emotions fluctuate from elated to miserable and all things in between because we are humans and life happens, and while I am happy 80 percent of the time I sometimes cry when I hear a Taylor Swift song (actually this is embarrassing, but I am working on it). It is okay to be sad sometimes. It reminds us to appreciate all the excellent times.

Plus, I think we can all agree anyone that is happy all the time, is just a freak.

Open Letter to Marie Claire

Dear MC,

I visited my hometown last weekend to check in on my parents, but mostly to get my hair done (my Mom and Dad will probably out-live us all, not to mention I had just seen them the weekend before when we went to the Phillies game). Waiting for me upon my arrival was a stack of magazines, almost up to my knees and in that pile were a couple of Marie Claires.

See, my mom has a subscription to just about every magazine published. She curates from her collection a selection that she think I would enjoy and leaves them in a pile for me.

My mom was most excited to show me your June issue. Right there on the cover, she pointed out, was a story I was sure to love: “The New Revolution. Love and the Single Girl.”

The next day, over breakfast, my mom asked me what I thought of the article. I rolled my eyes and told her it annoyed me. I then started explaining why. The problem is, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was that so bothered me.

Then, last week, I was talking to Hot Attorney, really trying to concentrate on what he was saying and not fantasize about all the things I wish he was saying when it hit me – the second vignette. The second vignette in your article is what pissed me off. I went home a re-read it and I was exactly as I remembered.

It started out so well: “Putting themselves first and a wedding ring second, a new generation of women fights for their rights to be left alone (literally) and then went on to point out all the recent attacks on single women (even some I didn’t know about or really perceive as attacks). The article actually has the words, “We are living through the invention of independent female adulthood.”

What isn’t there to love about this article?

Well, after the one page of celebration, with all your quotes and facts and figures, the three vignettes followed. Three little stories about three different single women at three different points in their lives, all expressing a different hardship of being single.

Now, I am not an us versus them sort of girl. I have nothing but respect for married and coupled women. Almost all of my friends are married or in relationships. However, in the instance of Vignette Number Two (or VNT as I’m gonna call her), I have to say it: she isn’t single. She never was single. She was dumped and is now presumably back in a relationship. Using her six-months wandering the city looking for a karaoke bar where she could shine in a article about how awesome it is to be single is like using a woman that likes to make out with her girlfriends when she is drunk to the delight of all of the male bar patrons in a story about living as a lesbian.

Was VNT’s story adorable? Yes. I am equal parts impressed that she went to karaoke bars and got up and sang all by herself and glad that she found a new dude and they are getting married soon. However, you should have saved her triumph over tragedy for the inevitable getting over him piece you will run in February. Because it has no business in an article about women choosing to be single.

I get it. You prefer to include three vignettes because three is a magic number when it comes to examples to back a theory and choruses in pop songs. But there had to have been better examples out there. Why not talk to my friend who called off her wedding when she realized she wanted to be married more than she wanted to be married to her fiancé. Or, if you were looking for a happy ending (which you clearly still define as in a relationship) then talk to any one of my now coupled off/married friends that were single well into their 30s, dating like crazy but never settling down until they found someone that was worth it.

Further, why were the other two vignettes about how hard it is to be single – a pesky father and always having to move over a seat at a bar so a couple could sit down? Where were the triumphant stories of dates so terrible they still make your friends laugh. Or stories about girlfriend-only vacations or the good they are doing throughout the world because they aren’t tied to a home and a family -- there has to be one female doctor out there curing some disease that can shrug and say, yeah, saving lives doesn’t leave me a whole lot of time to date. Where was she?

Do I seem a little over upset about this article? Maybe. But it is just because I had such high hopes. My mother and I both did. And it was just such a disappointment.

Then again, maybe I should stop pinning my hopes to a magazine with other coverlines that included “Extreme Weight Loss Confessions” and “Get it Now! Sexy Summer Style.”



Ten Really Stupid Reasons to Get Married

So, this weekend, while avoiding talking to the creepy guy sitting next to me when I was waiting for take-out, I stumbled across this gem.

Now, I have a lot to say about the single versus married woman (so be prepared as the next couple of posts will be dedicated to it). Mostly, I don’t understand why we are battling, but that is beside the point of this post. This post is to point out that while there may be 10 legitimate reasons out there for single women to get married these aren’t it.

1. Prevents you from dying alone. And now, on this the 16th day of July in the year 2012, I declare this cliché beaten down and dead. First, I have a family and a lot of friends. I am pretty sure when the time comes for me to bite it, they will be by my side. Second, getting married doesn’t guarantee me that my partner won’t divorce me before I die, thus won’t be contractually obligated to hold my hand as I cross over. Third, as my brilliant friend Alexandra pointed out on Twitter, on average women outlive men. So even if I get married, and we stay together, chances are he is going to kick the bucket before I do.

2. Brings you more sex. I can’t really speak to this one, but I am sure there are better single women out there than me having a lot of sex. Even more than their married counterparts.

3. As a married woman, you won't need to work as much as before. I’m not sure I even know what this means. How would getting married mean I have to work less? Sure, some of my bills would be halved, but I don’t think I would drop down to part time. Not to mention this doesn’t speak to that fact that most married women find themselves doing twice as much housework as they did when they were single. So really, even if I was working less, I would probably doing twice the number of dishes.

4. Married people are happier. Says who? I was at the pool with Bridie and Pepper a couple of weeks ago and Pepper told me the happiest she had ever been was when she was single. If you don’t believe Pepper, believe the folks that responded to this Washington Post survey.

But more than anything, if you are happy – you will be happy single or married. If you aren’t happy, then marrying someone isn’t going to fix that.

5. You always have a +1. Because there is nothing worse in this world than going to an event alone. Well, except maybe cancer.

6. Nothing cures a hangover like an orgasm. And everyone knows single women never orgasm. Oh wait, that’s not true.
7. Married women don't have to worry about being called cat lady. Really? This is a reason to get married? So people won’t call you cat lady? How about you just don’t get a cat. Or do what I did and develop an irrational fear of felines.

8. Romantic songs don't make you cry anymore. I am not a big crier. When I should cry and I don't, I joke that I had my tear ducts removed. But at certain times during the month, even a song as innocuous as Taylor Swift’s ditty about Romeo and Juliet will choke me up. This song has absolutely no sentimental value to me whatsoever. I actually think it's pretty dumb. Still, when my hormones are all out of whack, I blink back tears when it comes on. I don’t know how someone putting a ring on it will stop this from happening but if this is true, then this would be the only reason on this list that would have me considering that long walk down the aisle.

9. You have someone to kiss every morning. That is unless of course you get a divorce. Or he gets up and goes to work before you. Or you work nights and he works days. Or you guys get into a huge fight – though I suppose you would still have someone to kiss in the morning, you would just rather kick him instead.

10. You have someone to come home to every evening. On a very weak list of reasons, this is probably the worst. Yes, we are social creatures, but I know for a fact that there are nights when my married friends (and my friends that are living in sin) want nothing more than a few hours to themselves, alone in their apartments. I have had friends turn down plans because their significant others were going to be away and this opportunity to lay on the couch watching Keeping up with the Kardashians without any judgment or having to explain who everyone is and why they all spell their names with K’s was just too good to pass up. So telling me that I will always be able to come home to someone sounds more like a deterrent than anything. Not to mention it is just false. Your significant other won’t be home every evening. And really, thank god for that.

Is Imitation the Sincerest Form of Flattery?

I have a question for my married and engaged readers out there, but before I ask, let me explain.

Last night, Marie and I were celebrating with some cheap wine and what is becoming our favorite happy hour haunt. Marie excuses herself to use the ladies, and I take the opportunity to do some people watching (we were sitting outside because it wasn’t 100 degrees with 99 percent humidity and like all good Philadelphians we took advantage of it).

Caveman Guitarist
As I sat watching what can only be described as a guitar playing caveman, I listened as our waitress took the drink order of the women behind me. She cut them off mid-question and exclaimed, “Are you both wearing the same engagement ring?”

Zack Morris time out: I love brash, 20-something waitresses. They remind me of myself in my glorious youth. Time in.

One of the women, unfortunately I can’t describe them any better than that as I didn’t get a look at them explained, “Yes. When she got engaged, I loved her ring so much that I told my boyfriend that is what I wanted. I didn’t expect him to get me the exact ring, but he did.” Followed by some giggling.

Now, I get angry when I see someone wearing the same top as me – which in this era of mass produced cheap fashion happens often. And when I see something a friend is wearing that I love, well, I regret that I didn’t find it first. On the rare occasion that I absolutely have to have it – I double check with my friend first. Of course they always say yes. But, I imagine, they are just as annoyed as I am when a friend asks me about getting the same maxi dress I was seen wearing the previous Sunday.
A Harry Winston, not necessarily
the ring the friend copied.

And that is just a dress that I probably won’t be wearing next summer. I can’t imagine showing up to a friend’s house, exclaiming, “I’m engaged. And look, my ring looks exactly like yours!”

Am I crazy?

I mean, I know I’m crazy, but about this? Would you be pissed off? If you were the second girl to get the ring, would you be embarrassed? Trade the ring in for something similar, but not the same? Is it cool to trade in your engagement right? And, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend we aren’t just talking about a solitaire, princess cut diamond, but something more complicated, involving a setting and baguettes.

Fifty Shades of Gross

Like everyone else in America, I had heard of this new super series, Fifty Shades of Grey. I knew it was steaming up the bedrooms and bathrooms of women everywhere and I was even interested in reading it myself.

That is until my father told me he was reading it.

Now, I’m not a prude, nor is anyone in my family. But we all have a quiet understanding that I’m a virgin, Ivan was a virgin until he was married, as was Lana who is now saving herself for her next husband, and that our parents had sex only three times. It works for us, because, let’s be honest, thinking about a family member having sex is disturbing.

This bubble was burst when I climbed into my father’s jeep and he asked, “Have you heard of the book, Fifty Shades of Grey?”

“I have. It is basically porn (I can’t say erotica to my father). You don’t want to read it.”

“I already started it.”

I made an incredulous face.

“Your mom bought it. She said you recommended it and I thought it was gonna be like the Hunger Games.”

“I did not recommend that book to Mom. I told Lana to read it. She must have told Mom about it.”

“Well, Kid, let me tell you, you shouldn’t read it. You aren’t gonna get past Chapter Two before you run out of your apartment and just grab the first guy you see and drag him back to your place.”

I swallow back vomit.

“And I am sure as hell not going to let your mother read it.”

I give him a sideways glance at “let.”

“I’m an old man. I don’t think I could keep up with her. I would have to call friends in to help. You know that Viagra commercial with the warning about a four hour…”

“Dad! Stop!” I couldn’t stomach hearing him say the word erection. Just hearing Viagra was enough.

Now, sometimes after a night of drinking I won’t remember the details of certain conversations. I immediately started drinking hoping that would be the case here. Sadly it wasn’t, though I still continue to drink in hopes of erasing that conversation from my memory.

Why More Men Should Speak Out Against Victim Blaming

I recently learned that a football player at my alma mater has been suspended from both the school and team after he was accused of rape.

You can read all about the story, here, but the cliff notes version is a young woman alleges the football player invited her to his dorm to watch TV, she went there, he raped her, she fought him off, and then he later sent her a text asking if she was going to press charges.

I read about this story where I get most of my news these days on Facebook via Twitter. And, unless you have been living under a rock, you know Facebook allows everyone that wants to, to comment on the post (as do most websites these days). It was in the comments that what I read turned my stomach (probably not a good sign that reading about rape no longer upsets me, but I digress).

Comment after comment blamed the young woman for putting herself in that situation in the first place, for going back to the football player's dorm room alone to supposedly watch television. One commenter incredulously asked “who the hell goes to someone else's room in college to watch the damn TV.”

Umm. I did. All the time. I wasn’t raped once.

Now, I have seen victim blaming before: It was her fault for dressing so provocatively, and for getting so drunk and for getting so drunk in that super short skirt and low cut top and then going back to that boy’s room alone. Because everybody knows That Boy is trouble.

And while I certainly don’t condone any victim blaming – I’m of the crazy thought that a woman should be allowed to wear whatever she wants, drink whatever she wants and go wherever she wants with whomever she wants and still maintain the right to say no when things go too far for her sexually – I am used to hearing these things. But this – she shouldn’t have gone to his room to watch TV? By doing so she was setting herself up to be raped. Really? Really?

Why aren’t more men pissed off when they hear these things?

After all, by suggesting that a woman shouldn’t go to a man’s dorm room alone to watch television in the middle of the afternoon, you are saying that men can’t be trusted. Ever. A woman should never be alone with a man she doesn’t know. Or even one she does know. Or even one she knows so well that she married him.

And why? Because when a man wants to have sex, he can’t be stopped. He is powerless against his desire to procreate. So strong is this biological function, it takes away man’s free will and even when the woman is fighting and kicking and screaming no – men have no choice. They must have sex.

Then they must eat a sandwich.

They are no more to blame then when you come home from work and you find your dog has chewed up your favorite new pair of pumps. What did you think was going to happen? You have been working late every night of the week and you are the one that left them on the floor by the door where he could get to them.

Men? Do you see what is going on here? By suggesting that women are to blame when men rape you are suggesting that men are no better than dogs.

And if that’s the case, then we women shouldn’t be hiding under baggy layers and refusing to let you walk us back to our apartments after what we think was a very successful date. No. We should start keeping you men in cages. And on leashes. Us women will walk you and feed you, if necessary, put you down when you get too old or too costly or we move into a new apartment that doesn’t allow men.

I for one would love to have a pet-man, but I think too highly of you for that.

Two Birds, One Stone

Didn’t I tell you all I would solve the matter of yummy?

Okay, so I didn’t solve it. Cricket did. But it is solved. And the best part, it also plays into my desire to travel more.

The answer is vacation yummy.

I will give you all a moment to slap your foreheads, mutter of course, and then shake your heads while you wonder why it took us all so long to think of it.

Now everyone on the count of three, let’s say “Thank you, Cricket.”

I can’t believe it was just sitting there the whole time. Such an obvious solution. I mean, every women’s magazine has written on the phenomenon that is the holiday hook-up. Discussing how, when you are away, your inhibitions are lowered, and you find it easier to meet and flirt. Of course the magazine then offer tips on how to harness that power to find something more meaningful, but I say – eff that. I am going to use this super power to get some. And then I am going to get on a plane and never think about the guy again.

Now the only question that remains is where to first?

My Inner Athlete

I was recently out with the girls when Bridie noted that it seemed “I had gotten my athlete back.”

For those of you that don’t know, I used to be an athlete: a Division 1, full college scholarship athlete. But I lost it. Well, not so much lost as suppressed. Not because I wasn’t proud, but because, during my four years of college among the many things I learned about myself, I discovered I am a terrible loser. My competitive side, is not my pretty side.

But something happened to me recently that brought my athlete out of retirement.

For the past several years I have run a half marathon in my hometown. It started as something my brother and I did, but I liked the race so much, that I continued to run it, even after he flew south.

The race is almost always the weekend before the Broad Street Run, and since I had set a goal for myself for the BSR (as the cool kids call it – or so they tell me) I wanted to just run a nice and easy (read slow) 13.1 miles. And that is exactly what I was prepared to do, until I saw him.

Now, since this blog already has an ambiguous male nicknamed him, and because this him went to my high school and half the population of my high school was named Mike, we will call him Mike.

Mike and I never got along. Maybe because he was the popular athlete and I was the mouthy newspaper editor or maybe because I purposely steered Mike in the wrong direction whenever he asked for help on an assignment or maybe because this was real life and not a romantic teen comedy where we would have been named prom king and queen -- regardless of the why, there was no love lost between Mike and I.

And there he was. At the starting line of my race.

The athlete immediately started whispering in my ear: cooing words like redemption and vindication. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and turned away from Mike. I walked towards the back of the pack, silencing the athlete. I was going to run my slow and steady race. I would not let her get in my head.

But then, a couple of miles into the race, there he was again. And as soon as I spotted him, the athlete was back in my ear.

Pass him.

Pass him.

But I couldn’t just pass him. Passing him meant keeping up this pace, possibly getting faster, looking over my shoulder the whole time, worrying he was gaining on me, not letting him pass me, not letting myself just give up and finish.

Pass him.

Besides. He probably won’t even recognize me when I pass him. And if he recognizes me, he won’t care.

But you will care, she countered. You will know you passed him. You will know you beat him. All the hurt and anger and self-hatred and self-doubt that this guy inspired in you and others all those years ago, you can leave all of that behind along with him.

Then she started naming names. Names of friends I had long forgotten. Friends whose hearts were broken by this guy. I saw his smug high school smile. I remembered the time I heard him call me a bitch.

My eyes narrowed and my stride lengthened.  The athlete was back.

There were times throughout those next 11 miles when I thought I couldn’t do it. When I worried that he was right behind me, or that I was going to run out of steam. But she kept me going; kept pushing me until the very end.

And then at the end, she turned and waited to watch him finish (several minutes later). She looked right at him and smiled, turned on her heel and strutted away.

Sometimes she’s not a good winner either, but I think I’m gonna keep her around all the same.

The Jet Set

One of the best things about being single is that at any time you can pick up and go whenever you feel like. I mean isn’t that the very thing we singles brag about all the time when sitting with our coupled-off friends? Sure. Co-habitation is nice; always having someone to snuggle with on a cold rainy Sunday is awesome. However, if I want to spend the weekend in Europe, I can. Just like that. No questions to answer. Just pack my credit card and take off.

Except, who really just randomly takes off to Europe? Or Mexico? Or Africa?

Well, it turns out, I do.

Or at least it was offered to me. A friend of mine randomly emailed me late last night with a proposal. Along with a bunch of her friends, she was headed to Morocco. Now, one of the friends had back out. So, if I wanted to, I could join them for a week in Marrakesh.

Did I want to go?

Hell to the yes.

But could I go?

Well. That is slightly more complicated. I have the money (I would be eating Ramen noodles for a while, but I could make it work) and the time to take. But it would mean cancelling other plans and living under the weight of a huge credit card bill, and worrying that something should happen and the money or time that I now needed was spent in Africa.  

And therein lies the rub. Yes. I am single and childless. But I am not without responsibilities. I have a job and a credit score and bills. While it is lovely to fantasize that I can just pick up and run off to Rome at a moment’s notice, I can’t.

Or can I?

After all, work and bills will be there when I get home. I lived on Ramen noodles before, I can do it again. So why not take off for Morocco? I don’t have to make arrangements for a sitter. Or assure my boyfriend that my single girlfriends and I will be on our best behavior. I did just buy a maxi orange skirt that would look awesome wandering around a bazaar in Marrakesh. Isn't it my responsibility as a footloose and fancy-free single girl to go on this trip?

Maybe, but it's not me. I am neither footloose nor fancy-free. I tried to be. I got all the way to entering my credit card information and almost hitting the purchase button, but the anxiety and questions and nausea were just too much. I need to plan and map and chart and budget and see it all laid out in front of me. All I saw before me were questions I couldn't answer for sure.

So, I closed the browser instead.