The Single Girl’s Holiday Calendar

In New York, I decided to not get a television in an effort to use my money wisely. Somehow, to me, mini-trips, shopping, and trying out new restaurants around the town is a much better use of my hard-earned cash than sitting at home flipping channels. For those shows that I’m admittedly addicted to (Desperate Housewives, Glee, etc.) – there is always my very reliable and free friend, Hulu.

However, when you’re stuck inside an Igloo and the only way out is in – keeping your eyes glued to the tube seems to be the way to pass time. So, in between gazing outside, running on my family’s 15-year-old treadmill (very scary, by the way), cleaning, and cursing the clouds for their snow invasion – I’ve been hanging out on the couch, remote in one hand, puppy on the knee.

As I’ve watched reruns of Full House and spent hours salivating at the Food Network, and crying over the fancy trips on the Travel channel that I can’t afford to take – I’ve noticed a very strange theme in commercials. Before Christmas, regardless if they were advertising home appliances, jewelry, or electronics – almost every 30-second clip featured a happy, smiling couple. All the taglines promised to “bring a smile to her face” or “to give him the gift that keeps giving” or “be the envied couple of the year.

Ironically enough though, most commercials now are geared to the single crowd with the focus on New Year’s Eve. Beauty companies, fitness centers, major retailers, and all that’s in between – are now promoting themselves as the must-have for independence, for a “brand new beautiful you” or “the back-end that’ll make them take a second look” or “bring in the New Year with new gifts just for you.”

So, apparently flying solo while Santa’s in town is not recommended, but ringing in the next January 1 is? Does that much change in just a week?

I know about targeted marketing efforts and audience sampling to help determine what registers with viewers and maximizes a company’s return-on-investment for their clip during prime time. I know the process to create a commercial that the majority of people mute is a strenuous and standardized process – but maybe playing into our emotions and directing us to the special-times-of-the-year where being single is acceptable, isn’t the best route to take.

Holidays have always been, until late, a very difficult time to be sans-boyfriend for me. There is something about celebratory dinners with families, seeing long-lost friends, or anticipated dates that make me wish I had a physical, in-flesh date by my side. However – I will say that amidst the pressure from grandma and the Green Monster of Envy of your friend’s engagement ring, there is something to be said about the hype surrounding holidays that could make a minus-one lady lonesome. I won’t blame Hallmark or the Saints, but I may shy away from kneeling and purchasing for a bit.

And while most of it may very well be in our minds, watching couples frolicking in between Man vs. Food isn’t exactly appetizing for those of us who would like to take a bite out of a man ourselves. So instead of signing up for OkCupid or hitting the bar hard between now and the-holiday-that-shouldn’t-be-mentioned in February (deep breaths) – why don’t we create our own Single Girl Holiday Calendar?

I propose the following:

January 6- National No Regret Spending Day

While everyone else’s credit card bills will be coming back maxed-out to the limit due to purchasing expensive watches for their boyfriends and fancy chocolates for the boyfriend’s mother – ours will be happily balanced and in tact. And if not, at least we can glance down at our feet and see those Louboutins smiling back at us.

February 15- “I’m Prettier Than Your Box of Chocolates” Day

Those attached may be recovering from a romantic evening of imported wine and smelling the roses, but all the single ladies who spent the last week pampering ourselves with facials, manicures, blow-outs, and treatments, will be the ones who turn heads for days to come. Love does look good on people, but so does radiating skin courtesy of a fancy salon in midtown.

March 17- Kiss Many Irish Men (or Those Who Claim It) Day

Instead of having to wonder if our men will be getting a little too drunk to handle himself maturely at the bar, you’re free to indulge in green specialities, and if the Irish happen to get lucky by your standards, you may even steal a kiss. Or two.

April 24- Born-Again Single Woman Day

If instead of celebrating your singleness on New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, and St. Patty’s, you decided to eat a full half-gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and drink yourself into a hot-mess oblivion, today is the day to rise up and rejoice! If you accept yourself as single, flaws and all, your power and strength will be returned to you. This also pertains to those who have newly been forced into or chosen the single status.

May 6- Single Ladies Get Out of Work (with Pay) Day

Due to an excessive obsession with guacamole and margaritas, any woman who is not attached to a man by formal titles bestowed by the state, church, or Facebook, is permitted to not go into work to recover from her hangover. She will get paid as she usual does and her attached friends are required to send her orange juice, diet coke, and appropriate feel-better food.

June 24 – National One Night Stand Day

Since this is a time where single ladies should be gallivanting to exotic places by themselves or with other free ladies, this is the day to celebrate being non-committed by enjoying a one night stand of your choice. By having the out-of-this-world sexy seduction during this 24-hour period (every minute, if you’d like) – your overall “number” does not go up, your emotions do not go haywire, and you are free to enjoy with no-strings-attached. Protection a must. Foreigners encouraged.

July 4- National Independence Day (USA)

Enough said.

September 5- Anti-Labor Day

In celebration of the fact that we’ve never had to go through labor pains and we don’t have to labor over pleasing a man, let us all raise a glass and a diamond-less hand to our slender bodies and well-rested heads. (Single mothers are the exception because we can’t even imagine how they can do it all on their own, even if they have actually been in labor)

October 29- Free to Be Scary Looking Day

With masks and costumes preparing to roam the streets, single women of the world honor the fact that they can just be themselves, in the privacy of their own apartments, without having to worry about their looks for a man. No makeup with a green cleansing facial masques, no clothes or pushup bras, no shaving in any area if we don’t fancy, and no zit-left-unpopped for this day. Be free, be a tad-bit scary looking…and still feel beautiful.

November 30- Thank Goodness I’m Single Day

While attached ladies are busy worrying about how their in-laws will get along, who will bring what dish to dinner, and if they’re boyfriend/husband will say they are thankful for “them”  when the crowd counts their blessings around the table – we’re encouraged to do whatever we like. Don’t want to go anywhere but our friend’s place and drink wine while “cooking” a turkey? Go for it. Try and make a list of reasons why you’re thankful to be single, too.

December 10- National Sparkle’ for Singles Day

Put down the third gift for mom, and the rice maker for Aunt Jo. Tis time to buy yourself something…just for you. There is no better way to say “I love me” than to feel like a star at the end of the year, throughout the year…and always.

Stuck in a Love Snowglobe

The day after Christmas, in a land far, far away from the majesty that defines New York City, I found myself stuck in my childhood home, surrounded by almost a foot of snow. And worse than being annoyed, was the realization that I wasn’t getting anywhere until Tuesday.

If you can feel my deep, intense, loud, and heaving sigh from wherever you are – I wouldn’t be surprised.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I really did enjoy being home for ten days. It was nice to see familiar faces and do virtually nothing but eat, sleep, and be very merry. I had a very wonderful Christmas and was actually able to consume some solid food by the time we opened presents. And of course, receiving 30 beautiful Christmas tulips (my favorite) from Mr. Possibility was a very nice gesture. (And hey, they weren’t second-hand, but intended for me). But after so much downtime, relaxing, not working, having no obligations or responsibilities – not to mention not really spending any money at all – this woman is going quite stir-crazy. I’ve found many ways to pass my time indoors, from giving myself a pedicure and attempting to teach my six-year-old dog tricks to eating lots and lots of snow creme and cleaning out all sorts of things that I’ve had for way too long.

Nevertheless, there has been something about having absolutely nothing to do and no way to get out – that’s made me a little melancholy.

I’ve found myself lost in my own thoughts, dreaming up notions of tomorrow in my mind, feeling that all-too-familiar twang of sadness and desire for a love to call my own, and even despite my recovery efforts, something has made me revert back to some of my love addiction fantasies.

You know – the fairytale land we’ve all created: those images of how we believe our future hubby will look like (tall, charming, handsome, with blue eyes), what his future career will be (something he loves and makes a ton of money), what our house will be like (old with a history and made of brick), and how he will propose (in a symbolic way that will mean something to us). All of these visions, these beliefs, these hopes for how our future, our lives, and our loves will play out.

And man, oh man, do I have a ton. I even have a journal I refer to as my “Dream Book” and it has documented everything from my first dollar made, my date to prom, my college acceptance letter, my first pay stub from my first real job, and it also holds my aspirations, my bucket list, and keepsakes. Bridal magazine clippings, snapshots of couples in love – from the super young to the very old, catalogs from Bergdorf Goodman with items tagged I’d die to own, pictures of places all over the world that I hope to travel to, scraps of fabric, adorable babies in cute little outfits, and apartments that are so very, very lovely. And it also holds my life’s checklist: I’ve checked off graduating from high school, going to college on scholarship, graduating from college, moving to NYC, working for a magazine, and now, there are still several remaining items to “accomplish.”

However, those left, minus being a New York Times best-selling author, aren’t exactly attainable by merit or ambition – but rather, what I believe, are only possible with patience and well…time. But these must-haves for my future, these figments of my imagination that somehow have never left me – are sometimes, so painful to think about. And yet, so precious to me.

I keep them in a part of my heart that I don’t even go near most of the time, a section of my soul that is still vulnerable, still open and full of faith, and a part of my mind that even against its best judgement is a hopeless romantic to the core. They are under strict protection, hidden away in a box beneath my dresser, underneath piles of sheets and pillowcases, completely out of sight for any visitor, friend or Mr. Possibility who may enter my apartment.

And yet, even though they are stuck under glass, in a love snowglobe of sorts, I almost always allow myself to input the man of the hour, of the week, of the month – into these fantasies. I gaze up at this man, interjecting him into these ideas, and hoping, wondering, praying – that he’ll live up to these notions I’ve sketched. That he’ll help me check off a box, be seated next to me at our wedding in a photo I’ll stick on a page in the Dream Book I’ve had since I was 13, and be the answer to these late-night, pleas for love. But then, when it doesn’t work out, when he was never really meant to play the part of my Mr. Forever – there those romantic angles go, right back in the book, out of sight, out of mind, out of heart. Protected again, under the same imagination they were created by…until the next endearing candidate comes along.

Maybe it is being captured by the snow with way too much time on my hands or just the growth of this journey, but instead of dwelling in these blueprints I’ve outlined for tomorrow – I’ve decided it is time to shake up the love snowglobe.

To twist the dial and let the music play for however it’d like. To watch the snow and the glitter, the specs, and the debris fly all sorts of ways, and allow those plans and checklists to be a little less structured. To give not only myself, but my sacred Dream Book, some room to change and some room for new opportunities to come my way. To give my heart some lee-way and to let go of the rigid expectations I’ve made for my Prince Charming, so maybe when a possibility comes along, my imaginary projections don’t drown out the brilliance of who he really is.

Because being trapped in any way – where it be in snow or in visions of white wedding dresses and homes with finger-painting messes – isn’t a pleasure for anyone. Stuck in the same rut with the same idea and the same hopes….will never liberate the Dream Book from its title or allow the most wonderful dream of all, reality, to play its course.

Merry Christmas, With Love

Maybe it is under the mistletoe or under the tree. Maybe it is in the eyes of your grandmother who giggles at the slightest joke. Maybe it is in watching your mom so thrilled to give you a gift she knows you’ll love. Maybe it is your dad’s awful singing as he carves the ham in the kitchen. Maybe it is in your puppy’s excitement as she “opens” her Christmas present well before the actual day comes. Maybe it is in the hopes you have for the holidays to come with your Mr. Right and the children that you can’t imagine their faces, but one day, will look up at you with rosy cheeks and excited eyes.

Maybe we all long for that romantic love, for a man with a big jacket for us to stick our cold hands in, and somehow feel that magic with someone…and it not to go away. But maybe in all of our desiring, all of our hoping, all of our dreaming – we lose sight of the fact that love is truly everywhere. And many of us, even though we’d rather tell Santa to bring us a man instead of another scarf or necklace, forget that the true blessing of the season doesn’t come from a person, but from ourselves.

I’m under the belief that much of our happiness and our sadness is direcly correlated to the decisions we make. When we’re feeling down-in-the-dumps about a relationship that could have been that now never will or upset with the universe for leaving us alone, again, at Christmas – to snap out of the rut, it really is our choice. No present with a red bow or apple pie can turn it around for us – no matter how many we rip open or bites we take.

So while I’m recovering from food poisioning and wasn’t exactly able to overeat on Christmas Eve as I usually do, and even though things with Mr. Possibility have become quite shaky in the last few days – I’m making a decision – or rather, a demand on myself – to choose to keep the Christmas spirit. To not let any illness or emotional rollercoaster take away from the brilliance, from the wonder, the beauty that this special time brings.

In celebration of all things love, I must share my blog lovers: those men and women who are such avid supporters of what I write and my journey. Of those who comment and click, tweet, and tumble, and keep me motivated and encouraged – no matter what is going on in my life.

So while you’re recovering from a food-coma and getting up entirely too early or spending way too much time with extended family members – take a stop by these blogs to meet my “love addicts” who are truly a blessing in my life. I’m so thankful for each of you.

Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours, with love:

Courting Adell

DearExGirlfriend

From Falling Water

Medaniellemarie

Tallbrewnette

Jenn’s Blog

Binary Boyfriend

Cat’s City Life

Leila Castaneda

Kternes

iTiffTaffTuff

Kacey R. Wherley

BeReal BeHappy

From the Mind of Moose

Life of Sarah

Michelle Joni

Ahuvah Berger

Alesya Bags

Kuldeep Brar

Eternally Single Kelly

The Blind Leading the Blonde

Allison Gee

Opportunity Speaks

Jenny MD

Flickery

Lexamantis’s Blog

Bookspotting

Small Things. Big Dreams.

Simply Solo

Gathers No Moss

I Won’t Go Back to How it Was

To Be Incognito

Shay Rae’s Diary

Shades of Bright

Trains and Sunsets

Ever Perceived

Little Miss Graham

Lucy’s Entries

The Good, the Bad & The Kitsch

Lynaima’s Blog

Divorcing Mr. Wrong

Live for Each Moment

Slam Dunks

It’s The Pits

A Love Train

In Search of Serene

Food Law

Ava Aston

She Who Will Be Tamed?

If I missed you, please know I still appreciate your support. Shoot me an email and I’ll add you!


All the (Uncensored) Single Ladies

Last night, I held a holiday potluck with my friends from high school and college at my house to reconnect, catch up, and share the exciting stories of our current adventures. As guests gradually rolled in, along with the beer and the wine, our conversation turned more towards old school truth-or-dare and the drinking games we all hope we’ll grow tired of, but never quite do.

As we went around the table, each sharing pieces of our most embarrassing, most scandalous, and well, most entertaining moments in recent history – I noticed a very distinctive divide between the couples and the singles.

While the pairs stood or sat next to one another, sharing private conversations, and exchanging glances, the singles were busy mingling with the rest of the party (including my parents who joined in), and they were not being controlled or concerned by someone else. When it came time to answer the questions that sometimes don’t have the most flattering answers or do-a-little-dance to stir up some giggles – the couples refrained from participating and kept to themselves, in whatever alternate universe they were part of in my kitchen. I wasn’t invited and would have declined invitation, if I was.

And while I understand that to be in a successful partnership, you must always think of your counterpart – what irked me was the two friends with their boyfriends (one I’ve known for 13 years, another since day-one of college) – were not acting like themselves. They were guarded. Protective. Holding extremely back. Not being true to the women I know them to be. Hiding the parts of themselves that are so endearing, so powerful, so radiant.

To be frank – they were so censored.

Now – regardless of how hard we try or how much we hope or strive to relate to our lady-friends who are giddily in love or happily wed, there is always a difference in our experiences. And especially in our day-to-day.  Though they may have been there before, walking in our single shoes,  somehow- something changes when you get into a relationship. Priorities, along with viewpoints and schedules, gradually transform as the Mr becomes more prominent, and suddenly every word out of your gal pal’s mouth is about him. I know some coupled women have mastered the art of keeping themselves in tact, but it is a feat for anyone who tackles it.  Believe me, I’ve done this countless times with countless men (which can be found in all the many pages of this blog) – but it is something I’m hoping to correct as the journey continues.

And because of that, because of my progress, because I’m recognizing varying actions and reactions, both in myself and in others – I have to wonder – will I become censored when I meet the next Mr? Or when Mr. Possibility possibly becomes Mr. Definite?

When two become one – does the one that we once were fade away? Do fragments of the supreme single ladies and the fabulous lives we lead while flying solo, become distant memories of who we once were and what we once did? When we accept a Facebook relationship request, when we agree to wear that little (or large) rock on our left hand, and when we sign our name on a dotted line, promising forever – where does our independence go?

And even more so, what about our charm? Our character? Our personality? Our humor? I mean…just who we are, period?

I haven’t been in a relationship since I started writing this blog or since I decided to admit to myself (and to the World Wide Web) that I was obsessed with finding a boyfriend – so I can’t say for sure that I won’t ever lose myself again in a relationship. But what I can say – is that when Mr. Possibility came along, I was more upfront, honest, and sincere than I have ever been with any man.

I laid out what I wanted, what I was doing, what was important, what meant something to me, what I would accept and what I wouldn’t – and I made no excuses. I admitted that I like to be the belle of the ball, I’m confident, but can be needy; I’m a giver, but I can be greedy; I believe in myself and don’t want to be questioned, but I still want to feel supported. And in return, he put all of his cards on the table, too. There was no beating around the bush, no role to play, no mask to put on, and in any social setting we’ve been in, I haven’t hid behind him, and I haven’t censored myself or shrunken my personality to fit into the crowd.

And guess what? I feel better about who I am, my friends are vocal about the fact that I’ve remained ballsy and true to me, and Mr. Possibility respects me….and still likes me. Well, at least, we’ll hope so, right?

After the couples left, all the single ladies sat around, sharing our most recent dating stories, complaining about the men who have not-a-clue what to do, and how we still have that hope for love – and I realized that for the first time, I didn’t envy my coupled friends. I didn’t want to be the lady who had a sub-par evening and rushed home to be with my man. I didn’t long to be the one at the end of the table, doting on my boyfriend instead of catching up with my friend who I hadn’t seen in months. I didn’t wish for a relationship or love or partnership.

Because right there, E, with her most surprising and sexy tales of men she’s allowed into her life and on the brink of a brilliant new chapter; R, with dreams and hopes of international love affairs and letting go of a man who never deserved her; and J, who appreciates being single, but just wishes she would meet one fling to show her having sex can be enjoyable – were honest, free, radiating

…and uncensored by a man. By even the possibility of love. By being in a relationship. They were just themselves – and that’s the company I prefer over any duo, any love interest, or anyone. Because it is when you can be yourself, when you can show every tangled, tortured, and unattractive feature you have to another person, that you never run the risk of having to censor yourself in their presence. Instead, you just let it all hang out and they encourage you to keep going – just like E, R, and J.

And if we can just capture that mindset and make demands on ourselves to never lose that freedom of expression – we can find that same acceptance, that same admiration, that same companionship…when we trade in our single shoes for a pair of love.

Ex on the Shelf

A few months ago when I booked my ticket to come home for the holidays, my mother tenderly and carefully asked: “You think when you’re home, maybe you could go through your room and get rid of some of your stuff?

At the time, I quickly agreed and apologized for keeping so much at the house I grew up in for my parents to look after. While my mom and dad will both promise me that I’ll have a place in their home until I get married (and even after, if I need it) – I know they want to transform my bedroom into something more than a glorified storage unit.

Yesterday, as I went through piles of clothes, boxes full of old notebooks, letters and cards from high school and college, makeup that expired years ago, books I haven’t read in years, and writings that date back to the 1990s – I came across something I had long forgotten about while gallivanting in New York.

The classic ex-boyfriend box.

I’ve heard them called “Love Boxes”, “Remember When Boxes” , “Past Flame Memorabilia” – but inevitably, every single friend I’ve had or just woman I’ve known has some collection of stuff from a man she once dated.

When I pulled down the box, opened it, and discovered what it was – I immediately pulled away. In year’s past, my ex-boyfriend box had been a part of my room I only teetered with in those sad, desperate moments of being a single-something when I wanted to remember what it felt like to be in love. When I wanted to smell an old t-shirt, that while I’m sure lost the scent of the man who gave it to me many moons ago, somehow still reminded me what it was like to be in that comfortable nook. It would be the item I’d use to excuse crying or remind me that while I “simply can’t find love” that I have in fact, been in love, and if I just hold onto these sentiments, I’ll never forget what it was like to be romantically happy.

I sat on the edge of my bed for a little while, gazing at the box, all four flaps open revealing the corner of a blue t-shirt that I knew was from Mr. Idea. I thought about my journey, my experiences in New York, and the growth I’ve been feeling, and knew I didn’t want to willingly push myself into a crying fest.

I mean, if I’m doing a 12-step program to recovery – I can’t purposefully take a few steps backward, can I? C’mon now.

I looked over at the box, racking my brain to try and determine what exactly was inside of it. If it didn’t include any of the men from the city – it was surely jammed-full of every pre-Manhattan dude who swept me away in his arms or swept me under the rug before stepping on it. I remembered the last time I went through the box; just a few days before I headed North – my eyes still swollen from crying myself to sleep more times than I would like to admit over the bittersweet end with Mr. Idea.

But – if I’m ever going to reach a point of self-love, of complete security in my single self, I certainly can’t let the Ex on the Shelf who is looking down at me, keep me from releasing the fear of being sad. Because sometimes, with a little bit of pain, comes a hell of a lot of change.

So, I dug into my Ex-Boyfriend Box of Memories.

I pulled out every last t-shirt and smelled them each. I looked at every picture, smiled at the memory of each man who has had his grip on my heart and my back. I read (and re-read) the words that these men, who at the time absolutely adored me, and felt my heart swell with thankfulness that I’ve been lucky enough to experience the blessing of  love from another person.  I held the ticket stubs and the plane tickets and thought of the experiences I had with each man, regardless if the flame died sooner than I wished upon it, or if the love was real or unrequited.

And not one letter, snapshot from the past, anniversary card, or sweatshirt made me cry. None of them crushed me. And more importantly, the memories this love memorabilia evoked – didn’t sadden me or make me long for old love – but they just made me remember how magical, how powerful, how life-altering, how incredible love can be.

Maybe because the timing wasn’t right, the romance wasn’t compatible, the desire wasn’t equal, the taking was more than the giving or due to him or due to me, or due to us – the love with the men of the box didn’t work out. It wasn’t designed by the fates to be everlasting, unconditional, and concrete enough for the commitment and upkeep of a lifetime. It took me a long time to realize that just because a relationship ended or a man walked away or put on my boots that were made for walkin‘ – that all love was lost. And to preserve those feelings, to hold onto to the images in my head that I valued so much I needed to catalog their apparel, their handwriting, and their handsome faces in a box on a shelf 600 miles away.

As I looked at all of my mementos and physical shadows of boyfriends-past (praying my parents didn’t open my door and ask what I was up to) – I decided I didn’t need any of it anymore. Well at least, not most of it, anyways. Of everything in that rather large box – I kept only two envelopes.  One with a few notes and another with a handful of photos. The rest of it was either tossed away or placed in a box for charity.

Because I don’t need a box to put my past behind glass or keep old love filed away. My exes don’t belong on a shelf – but rather, in special place in my heart, in my soul, and in my mind. And those memories, those images, those moments I shared with some very special men can never be contained to a single box or an entire blog, anyways. They are far too immense and have helped me become the woman I am more than any memorabilia I could ever keep.

After all, the love I’m searching for in myself, in the brilliance of being bold, beautiful, and single, in the bliss that comes with being independent – is partly due to the experiences of the past. Of the love I’ve shared and the heartbreak I’ve endured. Of the reminients of love that linger in my heart and will forever hope to find a love that not only stains, but stays. Of the process of not only admitting to the difficulties of the journey to loving myself, but accepting and learning from them, too.

If I’m going to free my mind and liberate my heart – I can’t keep all the exes on the shelf. Especially when the thought of them no longer makes me yearn, but makes me grateful for what was…and even more excited about meeting the man who I will share my life with, and hopefully much more than what could fit in any box ever created.