She Can Get Some Satisfaction

It was snowing on Saturday when I left my apartment to catch the downtown train. I’ve been aching for a change and for the temperatures of Spring, so naturally my hair became a prime canvas. I’m not sure where this craving for transformation grew from — I’ve felt really settled and comfortable lately.

In fact, I haven’t desired much lately at all. With many amazing things spattered about my calendar in the months to come, I’m impressed with the life I’ve made and the days that I have to look forward to.

But that hunger. The fight. The work… To meet someone. Well, it’s gone.

Sure, I’m checking online dating profiles and if a guy wants to buy me a drink, I let him. I send flirty text messages and from time to time, I sext with Mr. Smith.  But nothing is really piquing my interest or encouraging the flight of butterflies and bumblebees. I haven’t felt their gentle and intoxicating stampede for nearly two years now.

And the thing is, I’m kind of satisfied.

Sure on nights like last night when the sleet beat against my air conditioning and the air was so cool I took two trains to get home, just to avoid being outside for an avenue longer than I needed. When I watch my beautiful best friends fall in love with men who have a promising twinkle in their eyes, I wonder when my turn will come. Sometimes I question if it will ever arrive at all — or if a girl with a heart as big as mine ca ever find another one to love in return. Sometimes, as my parents age and things don’t work as well as they once did, I feel guilty for leading a selfish existence instead of producing the grandchildren they keep telling me they look forward to spoiling.

I get down on myself, but I’ve been happier by myself than ever before. There’s something nice about solitude and those Saturdays I get to spend at the salon and the dog park, running in Central and treating myself to a $6 latte just because I want it. Or booking a trip to Mexico with my best friend because we want to celebrate being sufficient and young — and in need of some serious sun. And if I feel like going out on a Friday, the city is my playground with it’s men just pawns in a game that I’m good at playing, even if I’ve yet to win. But if I want to stay in, there is no harm, no guilt from a partner who wants to do something else, the only harm, really, is in my fear of missing out.

Lots of my friends who mastered being single a lot faster and earlier than I did used to tell me about these perks – of never having to consider another person in any decision. Or being able to date around to see what feels right, right now and what may feel right later on. They used to talk about how good it felt to be free and to have endless options, opportunities — from travel and finances to dining and sex.

I never understood it, though.

I wanted to factor in a man into the plan. I wanted him to figure out what we were cooking for dinner, what we were doing next weekend, what we wanted to do about that lightbulb in the kitchen that keeps going out or where we should take the dog to get her yearly vaccinations. I craved those discussions. I needed to meet him so I could go ahead and start thinking about the rest of my life.

But why wait for my life to begin when I’m already living it? Why linger to get satisfaction instead of doing things to satisfy myself?

When 2013 started, I had a feeling in my bones that it would bring about positive change and personal growth. I just knew that something big — something incredible — was in my cards this year, and the romantic in me convinced herself it had to do with love.

And maybe it still does. Or maybe not.

Sure, I might meet that man — who is as elusive and imaginary to me as he’s always been — but I think I’d rather meet a better version of myself. I’d rather become a woman I’m proud of. One who doesn’t need a man … and that’s why she meets him. Not because she’s doing all the right things and working hard to be available and open, but because she’s herself, leading a life she’s proud of.

 And most importantly, she can get some satisfaction… with or without him.

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The Peril of Public

I’m definitely part of the new digital era of media. I tweet, I tumble, I like, I post, I stumble, I blog, I share, and I promote. I’ve mastered the art of scheduling and I somehow manage to keep less than 20 emails in my Gmail inbox at all times. I have a full-calendar on and offline and for now, with at least some sanity, I keep it all rolling and going, and produce blogs that I feel are at least somewhat intriguing.

And as topics usually do on the social media wave of information overload, a study recently circulated that speculated those who are active on Twitter have shorter relationships. The study surveyed OkCupid users (a site I used to be a part of and some of my friends currently use), and claimed other findings, like Twitter-fanatics are more inclined to masturbate than those who don’t tweet. (Hmm?)

I’m not sure if I buy into these claims for studies are just that, a study of a concentrated group (those who online date, in this case), not every person on Twitter or every person who masturbates – which if you combined the two, just may be the vast majority of the population. But I will say the Internet has changed the bounds of a relationship and created what I’d like to call the peril of being public.

With so many easy ways to share information with those you know and don’t know – how do you resist the temptation to spew? Some things become sacred once you transition from dating to being exclusive and certain topics are no longer up for discussion with your friends, as you owe some sort of secrecy to your partner. Without keeping things private, a true intimacy can never develop.

But what if you’re say, a dating blogger? Someone who writes about love and relationships on a consistent, daily basis? What if your relationships, the love you find or lose, and the sex you enjoy and the sex you know could have been better – is what brings in the most readers? How do hold back when holding back would ruin the honey-like honesty of a blog you’ve worked so hard to develop and drive traffic to?

Well, just as smooth as the honey pours, its stickiness sticks.

I’m admittedly a little stuck in the peril of public myself, and though I’d never let someone else censor me – a true journalist doesn’t – I do know censoring myself is a battle I’ll have to fight. There are some things, some experiences, some identifying characteristics, and some truths about my life that don’t belong in the tangled World Wide Web. Because even if I delete this blog tomorrow – somehow, in some techie-savvy way, someone would be able to bring it back to life, and all of those words will be found and read again.

So what’s the happy balance? How do I decide what to reveal and what not to give? How do I consider my own integrity and the importance of protecting and respecting someone else’s honor, who unlike me, may not feel comfortable displaying their persona life to all who can subscribe, click a link on Twitter, or see my Facebook page?

It isn’t easy. I suppose I never expected my life to transition as it has or to be in a situation where ex-boyfriends or current possibilities would find themselves asked questions about a blog they don’t write. Or maybe, don’t even read. While I’m under no obligation to do or not do anything, I can understand their desire not to be caught up in something that while it somewhat involves them, is primarily about me.

But the peril of public isn’t just in this blog or on my social media accounts – it’s the fluidity and the ease of sharing information. Before such networks existed, I’d have to call up my friends, on a regular phone with a long, curly white cord, and talk to them. I couldn’t send a quick BBM, an email, a Facebook message, a private Tweet, a Gchat, or a text message to ask for advice. There are dozens of ways to reach most everyone we know, several ways to discover information about anyone we don’t, and continuous, reliable access to most anything we want to see, know, read, or do. And while I’m a supporter of these advancements, in a lot of ways, we’ve stopped making the relationship private. Not just online – but off, too.

Maybe my friends don’t need to know every little detail of my dating experience and I’m sure some of them could really care less, apart from the fact that most of my stories are quite entertaining. Maybe I don’t need to ask what I should do in each and every situation and realize that like I make decisions about every other aspect in my life, I am wise enough to lead my relationships in the way I decide, without clarification or recommendations from my friends. Maybe I do have many means of communication with people I know personally and many I’ve never met – but it doesn’t mean I have to use them. It doesn’t mean I have to teeter on a dangerous road between revealing too much and revealing too little.

What it means is that I can accept that my obligations are not to anyone but myself. And as easily as I can tweet, post, and blog – I can remain silent. I can log off. I can put my phone on vibrate. I can stop connecting online and start connecting in bed. I can get out of the web of the Internet and be wrapped in the warmth of someone’s arms.

And I can stop interjecting the world into my relationships and let my relationships relate to just me and a special he…privately.

You Probably Think This Post is About You

I’m overly analytic of nearly everything in my life, which is probably the reason why I’ve been able to consecutively blog for such a long time. My friends always comment on how they’re amazed how a single moment can cause me to spew a 1,000 word post in twenty minutes. I can’t explain it other than I feel like I was born to write because it comes easier to me than anything else and I’m lucky to have it as my day and night job.

So, with idle time this weekend after finally finding the perfect apartment for me (more details to come), I spent some time in the back-end of this blog, figuring out what I could about the people who visit and the readers who comment. Always interested to see what works and what doesn’t, I went through the posts to see what topped the list. As trite and overly cliché as it seems, I was under the impression that the most read and most liked daily journals would be the ones I considered empowering and demanding. The ones that slap you in the face with their boldness and their dedication to being fiercely single and satisfied. The posts that I wrote when I felt completely content being alone and celebrated the fact that any opportunity was around the corner, and if it wasn’t, I was more than okay stomping to the beat of my own Louies, while telling the man of the hour or the man of forever to hell with himself.

And as I usually am when I think I’m right about something – I was totally wrong.

Apart from the blog that made it to the homepage of WordPress (and is primarily the reason many of you are reading), “Frankly, I Do Give a Damn” – the most read posts have to do with one thing and one thing only: Mr. Possibility.

This discovery not only annoyed me but confused me: why is he the breakout star of my blog? Why do I receive more traffic when I write something about what he does or how I feel about him? Why does he matter so much in a space that’s supposed to be about declaring independence and breaking away from whatever bounds restrict us to the need to feel completed by a dude? In a blog that’s about the journey to learning to love myself, why is everyone so concerned with who I possibly could be falling for? Why does Mr. Possibility get all the attention?

Equally intrigued and irritated, I painstakingly went back through all of the top 20 posts, 13 of which mentioned, referred or described Mr. Possibility in some fashion, and re-read them. I looked for trending topics and themes, the style of writing and the language I used. I tried to pinpoint my tone or the overall conclusion I reached by the end of the topic-of-the-day. I read through comments, I checked the links I linked to, and even Gchatted a few friends to see if they would join me in my rather unimportant research.

Could it be that everyone loves a love story? I suppose if there was a “Mr. Big” of the blog, Mr. Possibility would hold that title. We did see a Broadway show starring Chris Noth, so maybe that analogy isn’t so far-fetched. Nevertheless, is it the possibility that something more could unfold, that I could find happiness in romantic love while blogging the e-pages of the endless tangled web of WordPress? Is it the ups and the downs we’ve experienced, the drama that’s unnecessarily unfolded, and the fact that the ending is undetermined as happily ever or undefined? Is it that we relate to a character who shows promise, who grows on us, who we give a second chance to, or even just a first if we’re so jaded that we often refuse to give anyone a window into our hearts? Is it from the lovers who want to see love, or the haters who would like to see me crumpled on the cold New York pavement, that so many hopefuls like myself, have found themselves, in the decades before?

Or is it the honesty? Is it the willingness to go on record (even if it is just my own) and say how I feel before a world of strangers? In front of people I’ve never met and most likely never will? Is it that while you can share your name on an online space that belongs to you, there is a sense of anonymity in blogging – real names, real emails, real anything not required to begin, comment, or share? Is it inspiring, entertaining, and comforting to read about the dating dilemmas we all have in common? Is it that we’ve all felt the same things at different points in varying towns from California and Georgia to South Africa and London? I mean, isn’t any man a Mr. Possibility until he proves to be the right guy or another in the long list of Mr. Wrongs?

Or is it me?

In re-reading through the posts, trying to take an outsider’s perspective on my own experiences, I discovered that somehow, along my path to self-love, I took a different direction. Instead of being a single gal parading about town, dismissing guys as quickly as I tempt them to buy me a drink, I found myself pretty connected to one person. And while my blog was always about finding self-love, with or without a relationship, when the prospect of being a couple doesn’t seem so scary or so far away, things change. Along with priorities and perspectives. And hype is built, along with hopes and plans of what a future could hold regardless of how likely or unlikely such a thing is. Somehow in those pursuits, I found myself swept and carried away, writing and rambling about my love life because that’s what I’ve always done. That’s the pattern. When someone new and exciting who brings me joy in a way others haven’t before, I get excited. The only difference now, is that I have a record showing the progression and the story I’m writing with Mr. Possibility merely a click away. There is no hiding from a published post, no matter how hard you try.

And so I realized again, as I tend to realize quite frequently these days, that I’m human. That when I like someone, I don’t hide it. When I’m upset, I write it. When I’m pleased, I proclaim it. When I’m tired, I damn it. When I’m hurt, I walk away. And when a Mr. Possibility is a possibility, I pour so much into the post, so much of that brutal honesty that readers seem to click.

I may have been so vain to think this post, this blog, is about me and maybe I was right. But popularity apparently is not based on the blogs that entice independence and make me look powerful in my super high heels. It is tracked, however, by the ones that get – and deserve – the most attention because they get to the heart of the matter. The heart of the person writing. The heart of the person who is dwelling in possibility or in impossibility, depending on the day or the time or the guest star.

And Mr. Possibility is currently deserving of that role, even if the length of his stardom is undetermined. My guess is though, should he lose, gain, or denounce that title, and another man takes it – the clicks will be just the same. I mean, he, just like me, can’t be as vain to think this post is about him. It’s about every Mr. Possibility who has ever been a possibility for any Lindsay or any anyone who has ever saw a glimmer of love that could make a someone into a something.

Undoing the Undo

Sometimes I wish I could take a week off from my computer. If I estimated how many hours I spend looking at a screen, from my job that’s primarily at a desk to this blog, which takes up some time to write, publish, and promote – I’d be embarrassed of the total.

But the truth is – a computer helped raise me. I can’t remember a time without one.

I come from a generation that’s always known what it was like to be connected to this digital creation and the World Wide Web. In elementary school, we took turns buying a bag of cotton balls so we could clean off our headphones for computer class, where we learned about home row keys and data entry. By the time I was in middle school, I had my own email account (latigar@aol.com, of course) and my parents let me chat in chat rooms before chat rooms needed a warrior like Chris Hansen to get the predators out.

In high school, I started really becoming a journalist with internships and mastering the Office Suite and how to effectively search on AskJeeves.com. I started to become interested in design and because I knew I wanted to work at a magazine, I started figuring out ways to contact editors – I even found interns in groups on MySpace. Time couldn’t change as quickly as the technology and college was full of Adobe and Facebook, Flash, and Google Analytics.

I’m well versed in the language of the web and when a computer challenges me, I fight back until I find an answer. Maybe because I’m so comfortable dancing across the keys or trying something new, but I’m brave to push my limits and explore the tech world, both socially and systematically. I’m not afraid of making mistakes because I know that there is always a saving grace, should I do something to throw the entire program or network off balance.

Undo.

It was a joke at the college newspaper I rose in the ranks of, that when in doubt, just hit undo. This miracle button could correct anything and it gave us the courage to test the waters of new, exciting pages, and scarily complicated CMS features. I felt a sense of freedom knowing I could do basically whatever I wanted to attempt and I’d be okay if something went awry. I wouldn’t be held responsible because I could just delete the action.

Ever since I discovered this free pass, I’ve found myself thinking “Edit, Undo” in my day-to-day when something goes wrong. Like when I’m walking the two blocks from my favorite coffee shop to my job and I spill a nice trail of Splenda-and-skim-infused Java down my blue blouse, five minutes into my work day. Or out of complete frustration and the onset of my monthly visitor, I snap at a friend who is only trying to make me feel better. Or when I say words I can’t take back, do things I can’t change, or leave people who will never return.

But the thing is – there isn’t an undo in life.

We make choices and we’re forced to stand by them. We make our bed and we lay in it. We meet people and we have the ability to decide (Heavens willing) how long they’re with us and how close they grow. We try things and they often don’t work out in the way we want. We take risks and we have trials, and there is no way to step back on that ledge once we’ve left it.

Though the backend of a computer and the Internet is vastly complicated – making those who understand it highly competitive and disgustingly wealthy – there is nothing more complex than the webs we weave. Life is a funny and beautiful thing, yes – but it is also better spent trusting in the decisions you make instead of wondering if there is a way to get out of them.

I haven’t decided if I enjoy black-and-white or shades of gray better, but I will say that it’s time to stop thinking by the ways of the technological world. Sure, it is the way marketing is going. It’s changing my industry daily. It’s going to continue to expand and there will be a boom that wakes us all up, I’m sure. But if we spent as much time in front of this computer, reading and writing these blogs, Tweeting to the world, and posting on Facebook – actually just living our lives – maybe we’d undo the undo.

We’d stop to think in terms of escape or safe merit. We’d understand that the decisions we claim are ours, even if they take us far from where we started with a hell of a long way to go. We’d click with other people and be more synced to ourselves instead of connecting our social media channels and tapping our mice. We’d see that while an easy-out is beneficial for our Apple or our Windows, it’d be better if we didn’t want to undo the life we lead.

Because while coffee stains are nearly impossible to remove, friends may hold grudges, and love may be lost – without those moments, without those incidents that can be significant or small– we wouldn’t learn. We wouldn’t come into our own. We wouldn’t learn to think before leaping, pause before speaking, or consider before leaving. We’d rely on an undo button to make our lives perfect instead of relishing in the imperfections that make life so worthwhile to begin with. Someone would make more money than Zuckerberg if they created something to give us the option to go back and correct the bad that didn’t seem to lead to good.

Maybe so – but as much as a computer-lover as I am, I’d never buy such a thing. I’d rather click publish in my own life than undo. Because, why would I want to undo…me?

Don’t Push the Button

Manhattan is a mere 2.3  miles wide by 13.4 miles long, and yet it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. To provide housing, nourishment, and entertainment to the millions of dreamers who float on this small island, the only way to build…is up.

And up is where New Yorkers go. To the tallest skyscraper, to the top of our careers, to the highest of heels, to the most impressive of social circles, to the most diverse collection of interests, intelligence, and conversation. To the corner office on the highest floor, to the penthouse suite of a high-rise, to the man who towers at 6’4″ with one of those impressively heavy credit cards that are by invitation only. To get to where we’re going, us, the united and tired people who refuse to live in any borough but Manhattan, we do it quickly. We hustle to catch the train before the conductor warns us of the closing doors, we hastily parade through tourists admiring the sites we probably take for granted, and we are always keeping our eyes peeled for the next opportunity, for the next businessman to treat us to dinner, for the next big thing that’ll take us closer and closer to the peak we all seek.

Because we’re in such a hurry to get to our next destination, no matter if it’s work, our dwelling, or the surprisingly difficult to get to top floor of Macy’s – we take the elevator. Just like the cobblestone streets in the Village and Ms. Lady Liberty herself, some of the shoots in this city are scarily old. But, like Mr. Trump’s towers and the luxury buildings on nearly every tenth corner, some elevators are so fast, so motionless that they’ll take your breath away.

Regardless of their age, though, there is something strikingly similar about each of these mechanisms: the “close door” button is much more worn and used than the “open door” one. It makes sense – if we’re always chasing the next fire to start or to put out – don’t we want to get in and get going as soon as possible?

I don’t usually take the elevator, mainly because my building is a walk-up and my office is on the fourth floor – but when I do, the elevator etiquette is almost always the same. The men step aside to let me, the lady, in first and then they follow behind in suit, as if they’re protecting me by ensuring no one gets in who shouldn’t. We each push our buttons and face towards the exit, without striking up conversation, by smiling politely to avoid awkwardness. And then, as we’re all settling into the spot we’ll refuse to leave for our entire ride up (or down) – someone inevitably pushes the “close door” button. Not once, not twice, or even three times – but as many times as it takes until the door closes and we cascade up the shoot.

I’m convinced most of the “please, please, please close” buttons don’t work or they’ve lost their power over the years – but as much as it irritates me to watch that person insist on moving faster than the elevator already does, I have to admit that for a long time, my approach to love and life was even more diligent than his/her finger.

From the time I decided I wanted to be a writer who lived in New York, I fought tooth-and-nail to make it a reality. I took on more responsibility than I should have, I had more internships than I needed to, I took on titles and roles that weren’t necessary, and I saved more money than I ever anticipated. I walked away from relationships I thought would hold me back, I graduated a semester early from college, and I worried endlessly that my dream, what I thought was my destiny, would never get here.

I closed many doors and never looked back because my eyes were set to what I thought was the end-all-be-all, the top flight of my life. I was so focused on the doors to spread apart and to step out into the world I knew I was supposed to be a part of, that I couldn’t have gotten here faster.

And while I do not regret my path and any of the things I left behind to become a New Yorker or a writer – I sometimes wonder if I needed to rush. Because once you get to where you’re going – you’re there. Could I have missed doors that opened because I wanted the elevator to close so badly? Could I have missed a floor that could have brought me happiness because my sights were set to narrowly to my goal?

Haven’t I done this in love, too?

Once I realized a relationship wasn’t working or the guy let me know he no longer wanted me part of his life -I made a run for it. I jumped on the fastest-ride to mourning, getting angry, and eventually attempting to forget about the certain he-who-should-not-be-named. I figured, no matter if I sprinted towards the doors of the old relationship to try and catch them before they slammed shut  – they would eventually close. Even if I push the “going up” or the “come back to me” button one hundred times, it would be one hundred times wasted. I turned my back often times on letting someone catch the elevator with me because I just wanted to go, to run away from any possibility for fear I’d get hurt. Yet, I always had one eye carefully watching for a door to open, for it to be the moment, when I met the man who would change it all. To stop on his floor, instead of figuring out which one I belonged on.

Like the New Yorker I always was, but now can officially claim, I never give myself a moment to breathe. As much as I don’t have patience with men, with my career, with the train when I’m about to be late to work – I have even less patience with myself. Nothing is ever good enough, clever enough, smart enough, pretty enough, shapely enough, or high enough. I want more and more, faster and faster, tougher and tougher, fancier and fancier -and I don‘t want to wait. I may not push the button to make the doors close, yet I push my own buttons constantly.

But, I’ve finally realized that the span between the lobby and the penthouse is never really that long.

Sometimes the cart is empty and you go from bottom to top without hesitation. Sometimes people come and go with each floor that passes, and sometimes a child wants to make the whole screen light up. Sometimes the doors must be held open to let something large fit, and sometimes you go up an extra floor just because you’d like to continue locking eyes with a handsome stranger (and to figure out which one he’s on). Sometimes there are technical difficulties, sometimes the air conditioning goes out, and sometimes it goes down before it goes back up.

And sometimes, when we’re luckier than we know, the doors open to a place we never anticipated. This is when instead of rushing – we step carefully out into the unfamiliar space and hear our click-click against the floor. And there, we decide perhaps we can enjoy the ride to the top and experience everything along the way. No need to push the open or the close door, and especially not our own. If we so choose, we may decide to go back down or pick a different level, and not worry about the pressures we place on ourselves or about time it takes to go floor-to-floor.

Because when the time is right, when we’ve had patience with ourselves and with the masters of fate, we know the elevator will always go up. And if it doesn’t, we’ll be strong enough to take the stairs.

P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. We’ll make it more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.