Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Sometimes I feel like I was injected with truth serum. Only it's not so much an injection, but it's that I have it running through my veins. Honesty. Just. Flows. And it's not verbal diarrhea; I don't have a need to talk about nothing for no reason constantly. It's just that when someone asks me a question, I give them an answer. An honest, straightforward answer with no thought of cushioning or softening the edges or disguising my opinion to something they might prefer. Just. Plain. Truth.

I am at an event where a guy I've met several times approaches me. He's nice, attractive, fun; but even though he got my number months ago, he's never called or talked to me outside of incidentally bumping into me at random parties, and even then, the conversation must remain shallow, since he needs to focus on looking at any other girl who may be passing by. I run into him again and he asks me about a girl I don't know.

He: So, what do you know about her? Do you think you could hook me up?
Me: Well, I don't know her, so...no.
He: But she lives by you! You know everyone!
Me: uhhh...actually I don't, and as I said, I don't know her. I may have seen her before, but I certainly don't know her well enough to set her up with someone. Nor do I know you well enough to set you up with someone. Particularly someone I've never met.
He: Well. Hey- why don't you call me and let me know when there are parties happening!
Me: um...No, thanks.
He: Why not? Do you even have my number?
Me: No.
He: Well...don't you want to get it?
Me: Not really.
He: ?!?!
Me: Well, realistically, if there's something happening down the street from me, it probably wouldn't naturally occur to me that I should call you, since we really never talk or hang out anyway. It's not really high on my list of things to do; call people who don't live by me or don't talk to much to invite them to a party I probably won't stay at for longer than 45 minutes. But you're welcome to call me anytime if you want to hang out with me, or if you want to head over to my area, I can tell you what's going on that night. And if there's nothing going on, but you want to head over, we can always make something happen.
He: uhhh...but don't you want to get my number so you can call me?
Me: Well, I probably won't. I mean, I'm totally open to making something happen if you want to call me, but I can't honestly say that I would think to call you if something random were happening up the street from me. But you're always welcome to call anytime.

I'm being realistic here. Who has time to create activities to occupy or entertain someone they barely know who has made next to zero effort in becoming a friend or acquaintance of any kind? I mean, at this point, is there really anything more that can be said? Here is someone who clearly has no interest in hanging out with me, beyond using me to look busy during a party so he can check out other girls; and is thereby someone who has made it clear he wants association with me purely for his own benefit, giving nothing in return with no suggestion of friendship or a reciprocal relationship at any level.

Walking away from that conversation, I realize that I could appear to be rude. But isn't it poor etiquette to approach someone merely to use them? And wouldn't it be more inconsiderate, ultimately, to promise or feign the intention to call when I already know that I won't? Say what you say, but if you ask me, I'd rather be honest in my dealings at all times. Even if it may temporarily bruise an ego that (let's be frank here), really had no concern for my own.

Usually I attribute such behavior to the East Coast in me. (East Siders, feel free to disagree.) It appears common habit to the West to say such things as,
"Call me!"
"I'll call you!"
"We'll do lunch!"
"We have to hang out!"
"O! I love you! You're the BEST!"
or something along those lines.

The reality? You usually just see them again by accident. Eventually it will get awkward or frustrating because you never know if they're just gladhanding you to feel good about themselves or to make you feel falsely good about yourself. And eventually, you never really know if that person is trustworthy, dependable, or a real friend after all.

Where I'm from, you don't say things you don't mean, and you don't make promises or suggest actions you don't intend on following through with. You will always know where I stand, and if you ask my opinion, you will get an honest answer. Like it or not, you will always know that what I've said is true. If you choose to, you can always know exactly where you stand. When I get your number, it's because I intend to call. When I say I will be somewhere or do something, it's because I have set aside time so that I may do so. And when I say, "I love you," it's only because I really, truly, honestly mean it.

And isn't that worth risking the reputation of being rude?

So can you kick it? Yes. You can.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


So you know how I'm always propositioning my friends, neighbours, and strangers to get me pregnant? Okay, maybe not, but I think I may have already had a baby without knowing it. And maybe he came out singing the Beatles.

I'd usually leave this amount of cuteness to Moh's puppy postings, but I'm sorry- this actually gives me inspiriation to procreate.


I like to think of Blogg as an opportunity to put some good in the world. To lift up the downtrodden, give the brilliant a better reflection of themselves and even, if you so choose to be brave- even to change the world we live in.
I felt this was one of those opportunities.

Hi Steve,
One of your friends has sent you this message from StopForwarding.Us, a website that allows individuals to anonymously email their friends and politely ask that they stop the habit of sending forwarded emails or FWDs.
Please do not forward chain letters, urban myths presented as truth, potentially offensive jokes, videos or photos without being asked or first receiving permission. If you find something that is funny and it is clean and you genuinely think the recipient will enjoy it then forward it to that person only (not in an email blast to all your friends and family) and include a personal note about why you enjoyed it and why you think they will too. Avoid sending forwards to friends or relatives that you've grown distant with. It can be frustrating for the recipient when the only correspondence you have with someone is via impersonal, unwanted email.
For more tips on email etiquette, visit StopForwarding.Us/etiq.html
Thank you,

A Friend (via stopforwarding.us)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Rebuttle to "Settling."

Holy crap, guys!
That was the LONGEST f*ing article I've ever had to plow through IN MY LIFE. I swear to never ever subject you to something like that load of horsepucky ever again. I think I may have gone blind in-between the moments where I slipped into a coma trying to read something I posted on my own blog. That may have been the most depressing and atrocious excuse for marriage I have ever heard (next to marrying for money over attraction). What is this? 1952? What? All of a sudden, as a woman with a career and a brain and ambition, I no longer have options?!?!
Settle? HELL's NO!

Now that THAT is off my chest, here is my justification:

I should probably begin by saying that my 'standards' (ahem), are not so high. Meaning, I've never had a "type." No height requirement (it's pretty hard to find someone shorter than me in general), no "look"- in fact, I've been accused by my own mother of being attracted to 'ugly' men (her words, not mine). I could care less if he had style or not- but if he takes longer to get ready than me, it's a seriously furrowed brow item. I find there to be a drastic difference between "attractive" and "attractED." And that the qualities an individual possesses- whether it is intelligence or some esoteric passion for art or music or business even (sigh) sports, most people have something quirky and interesting about them that sets them apart and makes them special. And when I find myself attracted to the man who is worthy of giving me a blessing or who is willing to sit still and be alone with me when all I need is a shoulder to nestle in or someone who is thoughtful and insightful, I am just thankful to be blessed enough to know people I admire and respect so much as to trust them with myself. And recognizing those qualities- the ones which compose us as individuals (not as chattel or manufactured products to fit an image, as our society would have us feel) is usually what makes me find appreciation and thereby attraction to an individual.

On the flip side, I don't think it's necessary to budge on my standards of living. Meaning, I am willing to live my life according to certain principles of kindness, consideration and I appreciate intelligence, humor, and a certain level of adventure- and whatever I am prepared to live (or sacrifice), I would expect it's possible for a man to do the same. And no- I don't think it's asking too much in expecting someone else to be willing to do anything I am able to do. Do I expect him to sacrifice everything to make gobs of money? Well...I haven't found that to be a motivating factor to do so myself, so...No. Do I expect him to do everything within his power to live righteously and serve faithfully according to his level of understanding in the gospel? Well...I am striving to continually learn and grow according to my faith. Is it so much to expect a man that would be making the efforts to do the same?

We're all on different timetables, with different experiences and varying degrees of understanding. But that doesn't mean we can't have similar directions and expectations for how we want to live our lives! As entertaining as it may be to complain or bemoan the state of single life, the reality is, we choose to be single. We choose to live the life we're leading because (hopefully) we're consistently making choices for the greater good and for longstanding joy. Find faith in this experience- please- I'm begging you- and stop saying it's because of someone else that you're in this mess. Empower yourself by taking accountability and responsibility for who you are and what you're doing today. Now. And if you don't like what you see, change it. Because, in the end, single or otherwise, the only person who can make you happy with who you are, is you.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Clearly I have been slack, due to unforseen circumstances (ie: homelessness, living in 3 places all at once, continued house-hunt, a cold I just can't kick, a string of really fantastic weather, booking talent I am unfamiliar with but accepting that they're famous, so that's all that matters, painting my toenails, unflattering lighting, etc.) I am posting this article which has been much buzzed about. In fact, I'm really flattered to have had several people ask if I have read it, and could I post my response on Blogg? Well, it's nice to know you care to hear what I have to say. For now, go ahead and read it yourself so you'll have something to say when I make an offensive, generalized statement you'll find amusing but far too scary and honest to say yourself. I've got to blow my nose.

The case for settling for Mr. Good Enough
Lori Gottlieb
Marry Him!

About six months after my son was born, he and I were sitting on a blanket at the park with a close friend and her daughter. It was a sunny summer weekend, and other parents and their kids picnicked nearby—mothers munching berries and lounging on the grass, fathers tossing balls with their giddy toddlers. My friend and I, who, in fits of self-empowerment, had conceived our babies with donor sperm because we hadn’t met Mr. Right yet, surveyed the idyllic scene.

“Ah, this is the dream,” I said, and we nodded in silence for a minute, then burst out laughing. In some ways, I meant it: we’d both dreamed of motherhood, and here we were, picnicking in the park with our children. But it was also decidedly not the dream. The dream, like that of our mothers and their mothers from time immemorial, was to fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. Of course, we’d be loath to admit it in this day and age, but ask any soul-baring 40-year-old single heterosexual woman what she most longs for in life, and she probably won’t tell you it’s a better career or a smaller waistline or a bigger apartment. Most likely, she’ll say that what she really wants is a husband (and, by extension, a child).

To the outside world, of course, we still call ourselves feminists and insist—vehemently, even—that we’re independent and self-sufficient and don’t believe in any of that damsel-in-distress stuff, but in reality, we aren’t fish who can do without a bicycle, we’re women who want a traditional family. And despite growing up in an era when the centuries-old mantra to get married young was finally (and, it seemed, refreshingly) replaced by encouragement to postpone that milestone in pursuit of high ideals (education! career! but also true love!), every woman I know—no matter how successful and ambitious, how financially and emotionally secure—feels panic, occasionally coupled with desperation, if she hits 30 and finds herself unmarried.

Oh, I know—I’m guessing there are single 30-year-old women reading this right now who will be writing letters to the editor to say that the women I know aren’t widely representative, that I’ve been co-opted by the cult of the feminist backlash, and basically, that I have no idea what I’m talking about. And all I can say is, if you say you’re not worried, either you’re in denial or you’re lying. In fact, take a good look in the mirror and try to convince yourself that you’re not worried, because you’ll see how silly your face looks when you’re being disingenuous.

Whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s good reason to worry. By the time 35th-birthday-brunch celebrations roll around for still-single women, serious, irreversible life issues masquerading as “jokes” creep into public conversation: Well, I don’t feel old, but my eggs sure do! or Maybe this year I’ll marry Todd. I’m not getting any younger! The birthday girl smiles a bit too widely as she delivers these lines, and everyone laughs a little too hard for a little too long, not because we find these sentiments funny, but because we’re awkwardly acknowledging how unfunny they are. At their core, they pose one of the most complicated, painful, and pervasive dilemmas many single women are forced to grapple with nowadays: Is it better to be alone, or to settle?

My advice is this: Settle! That’s right. Don’t worry about passion or intense connection. Don’t nix a guy based on his annoying habit of yelling “Bravo!” in movie theaters. Overlook his halitosis or abysmal sense of aesthetics. Because if you want to have the infrastructure in place to have a family, settling is the way to go. Based on my observations, in fact, settling will probably make you happier in the long run, since many of those who marry with great expectations become more disillusioned with each passing year. (It’s hard to maintain that level of zing when the conversation morphs into discussions about who’s changing the diapers or balancing the checkbook.)

Obviously, I wasn’t always an advocate of settling. In fact, it took not settling to make me realize that settling is the better option, and even though settling is a rampant phenomenon, talking about it in a positive light makes people profoundly uncomfortable. Whenever I make the case for settling, people look at me with creased brows of disapproval or frowns of disappointment, the way a child might look at an older sibling who just informed her that Jerry’s Kids aren’t going to walk, even if you send them money. It’s not only politically incorrect to get behind settling, it’s downright un-American. Our culture tells us to keep our eyes on the prize (while our mothers, who know better, tell us not to be so picky), and the theme of holding out for true love (whatever that is—look at the divorce rate) permeates our collective mentality.

Even situation comedies, starting in the 1970s with The Mary Tyler Moore Show and going all the way to Friends, feature endearing single women in the dating trenches, and there’s supposed to be something romantic and even heroic about their search for true love. Of course, the crucial difference is that, whereas the earlier series begins after Mary has been jilted by her fiancé, the more modern-day Friends opens as Rachel Green leaves her nice-guy orthodontist fiancé at the altar simply because she isn’t feeling it. But either way, in episode after episode, as both women continue to be unlucky in love, settling starts to look pretty darn appealing. Mary is supposed to be contentedly independent and fulfilled by her newsroom family, but in fact her life seems lonely. Are we to assume that at the end of the series, Mary, by then in her late 30s, found her soul mate after the lights in the newsroom went out and her work family was disbanded? If her experience was anything like mine or that of my single friends, it’s unlikely.
And while Rachel and her supposed soul mate, Ross, finally get together (for the umpteenth time) in the finale of Friends, do we feel confident that she’ll be happier with Ross than she would have been had she settled down with Barry, the orthodontist, 10 years earlier? She and Ross have passion but have never had long-term stability, and the fireworks she experiences with him but not with Barry might actually turn out to be a liability, given how many times their relationship has already gone up in flames. It’s equally questionable whether Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw, who cheated on her kindhearted and generous boyfriend, Aidan, only to end up with the more exciting but self-absorbed Mr. Big, will be better off in the framework of marriage and family. (Some time after the breakup, when Carrie ran into Aidan on the street, he was carrying his infant in a Baby Björn. Can anyone imagine Mr. Big walking around with a Björn?)

When we’re holding out for deep romantic love, we have the fantasy that this level of passionate intensity will make us happier. But marrying Mr. Good Enough might be an equally viable option, especially if you’re looking for a stable, reliable life companion. Madame Bovary might not see it that way, but if she’d remained single, I’ll bet she would have been even more depressed than she was while living with her tedious but caring husband.

What I didn’t realize when I decided, in my 30s, to break up with boyfriends I might otherwise have ended up marrying, is that while settling seems like an enormous act of resignation when you’re looking at it from the vantage point of a single person, once you take the plunge and do it, you’ll probably be relatively content. It sounds obvious now, but I didn’t fully appreciate back then that what makes for a good marriage isn’t necessarily what makes for a good romantic relationship. Once you’re married, it’s not about whom you want to go on vacation with; it’s about whom you want to run a household with. Marriage isn’t a passion-fest; it’s more like a partnership formed to run a very small, mundane, and often boring nonprofit business. And I mean this in a good way.

I don’t mean to say that settling is ideal. I’m simply saying that it might have gotten an undeservedly bad rap. As the only single woman in my son’s mommy-and-me group, I used to listen each week to a litany of unrelenting complaints about people’s husbands and feel pretty good about my decision to hold out for the right guy, only to realize that these women wouldn’t trade places with me for a second, no matter how dull their marriages might be or how desperately they might long for a different husband. They, like me, would rather feel alone in a marriage than actually be alone, because they, like me, realize that marriage ultimately isn’t about cosmic connection—it’s about how having a teammate, even if he’s not the love of your life, is better than not having one at all.

The couples my friend and I saw at the park that summer were enviable but not because they seemed so in love—they were enviable because the husbands played with the kids for 20 minutes so their wives could eat lunch. In practice, my married friends with kids don’t spend that much time with their husbands anyway (between work and child care), and in many cases, their biggest complaint seems to be that they never see each other. So if you rarely see your husband—but he’s a decent guy who takes out the trash and sets up the baby gear, and he provides a second income that allows you to spend time with your child instead of working 60 hours a week to support a family on your own—how much does it matter whether the guy you marry is The One?

It’s not that I’ve become jaded to the point that I don’t believe in, or even crave, romantic connection. It’s that my understanding of it has changed. In my formative years, romance was John Cusack and Ione Skye in Say Anything. But when I think about marriage nowadays, my role models are the television characters Will and Grace, who, though Will was gay and his relationship with Grace was platonic, were one of the most romantic couples I can think of. What I long for in a marriage is that sense of having a partner in crime. Someone who knows your day-to-day trivia. Someone who both calls you on your bullshit and puts up with your quirks. So what if Will and Grace weren’t having sex with each other? How many long- married couples are having much sex anyway?

“I just want someone who’s willing to be in the trenches with me,” my single friend Jennifer told me, “and I never thought of marriage that way before.” Two of Jennifer’s friends married men who Jennifer believes aren’t even straight, and while Jennifer wouldn’t have made that choice a few years back, she wonders whether she might be capable of it in the future. “Maybe they understood something that I didn’t,” she said.

What they understood is this: as your priorities change from romance to family, the so-called “deal breakers” change. Some guys aren’t worldly, but they’d make great dads. Or you walk into a room and start talking to this person who is 5'4" and has an unfortunate nose, but he “gets” you. My long-married friend Renée offered this dating advice to me in an e-mail:

I would say even if he’s not the love of your life, make sure he’s someone you respect intellectually, makes you laugh, appreciates you … I bet there are plenty of these men in the older, overweight, and bald category (which they all eventually become anyway).

She wasn’t joking.

A number of my single women friends admit (in hushed voices and after I swear I won’t use their real names here) that they’d readily settle now but wouldn’t have 10 years ago. They believe that part of the problem is that we grew up idealizing marriage—and that if we’d had a more realistic understanding of its cold, hard benefits, we might have done things differently. Instead, we grew up thinking that marriage meant feeling some kind of divine spark, and so we walked away from uninspiring relationships that might have made us happy in the context of a family.

All marriages, of course, involve compromise, but where’s the cutoff? Where’s the line between compromising and settling, and at what age does that line seem to fade away? Choosing to spend your life with a guy who doesn’t delight in the small things in life might be considered settling at 30, but not at 35. By 40, if you get a cold shiver down your spine at the thought of embracing a certain guy, but you enjoy his company more than anyone else’s, is that settling or making an adult compromise?

Take the date I went on last night. The guy was substantially older. He had a long history of major depression and said, in reference to the movies he was writing, “I’m fascinated by comas” and “I have a strong interest in terrorists.” He’d never been married. He was rude to the waiter. But he very much wanted a family, and he was successful, handsome, and smart. As I looked at him from across the table, I thought, Yeah, I’ll see him again. Maybe I can settle for that. But my very next thought was, Maybe I can settle for better. It’s like musical chairs—when do you take a seat, any seat, just so you’re not left standing alone?

Back when I was still convinced I’d find my soul mate, I did, although I never articulated this, have certain requirements. I thought that the person I married would have to have a sense of wonderment about the world, would be both spontaneous and grounded, and would acknowledge that life is hard but also be able to navigate its ups and downs with humor. Many of the guys I dated possessed these qualities, but if one of them lacked a certain degree of kindness, another didn’t seem emotionally stable enough, and another’s values clashed with mine. Others were sweet but so boring that I preferred reading during dinner to sitting through another tedious conversation. I also dated someone who appeared to be highly compatible with me—we had much in common, and strong physical chemistry—but while our sensibilities were similar, they proved to be a half-note off, so we never quite felt in harmony, or never viewed the world through quite the same lens.

Now, though, I realize that if I don’t want to be alone for the rest of my life, I’m at the age where I’ll likely need to settle for someone who is settling for me. What I and many women who hold out for true love forget is that we won’t always have the same appeal that we may have had in our 20s and early 30s. Having turned 40, I now have wrinkles, bags under my eyes, and hair in places I didn’t know hair could grow on women. With my nonworking life consumed by thoughts of potty training and playdates, I’ve become a far less interesting person than the one who went on hiking adventures and performed at comedy clubs. But when I chose to have a baby on my own, the plan was that I would continue to search for true connection afterward; it certainly wasn’t that I would have a baby alone only to settle later. After all, wouldn’t it have been wiser to settle for a higher caliber of “not Mr. Right” while my marital value was at its peak?
Those of us who choose not to settle in hopes of finding a soul mate later are almost like teenagers who believe they’re invulnerable to dying in a drunk-driving accident. We lose sight of our mortality. We forget that we, too, will age and become less alluring. And even if some men do find us engaging, and they’re ready to have a family, they’ll likely decide to marry someone younger with whom they can have their own biological children. Which is all the more reason to settle before settling is no longer an option.

I’ll be the first to admit that there’s something objectionable about making the case for settling, because it’s based on the premise that women’s biological clocks place them at the mercy of men, and that therefore a power dynamic dictates what should be an affair solely of the heart (not the heart and the ovaries). But I’m not the only woman who accepts settling as a valid choice—apparently so do the millions who buy bestselling relationship books that advocate settling but that, so as not to offend, simply spin the concept as a form of female empowerment.

Take, for instance, books like Men Are Like Fish: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Catching a Man or Find a Husband After 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School, whose titles alone make it clear that today’s supposedly progressive bachelorettes aren’t waiting for old-fashioned true love to strike before they can get married. Instead, they’re buying dozens of proactive coaching manuals to learn how to strategically land a man. The actual man in question, though, seems so irrelevant that, to my mind, these women might as well grab a well-dressed guy off the street, drag him into the nearest bar, buy him a drink, and ask him to marry her. (Or, to retain her “power,” she should manipulate him into asking her.)

The approaches in these books may differ, but the message is the same: more important than love is marriage. To achieve that goal, women across the country are poring over guidebooks that all boil down to determining, “Does he like me?,” while completely overlooking the equally essential question, “Do I like him?” In other words, whatever compromises you have to make—including, but not limited to, pretending to be or actually becoming an entirely different person—make sure that you get some schmo to propose to you before you turn into a spinster.

Last year’s Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women makes the most blatant case for settling: if women were more willing to “think outside the box,” as one of the book’s married sources advises, many of them would be married. The author then trots out tales of professional, accomplished women happily dating a plumber, a park ranger, and an Army helicopter nurse. The moral is supposed to be “Don’t be too picky” but many of the anecdotes quote women who seem to be trying to convince not just the reader, but themselves, that they haven’t settled.

“I should be with some guy with a vast vocabulary who is very smart,” said Heather, a 30-year-old lawyer turned journalist. Instead, she’s dating an actor who didn’t finish college. “My boyfriend is fun, he’s smart, but he hasn’t gone through years of school. He wanted to pursue acting. And you can tell—he doesn’t have that background, and it never ever once bothered me. But for everyone else, [his lack of education] is what they see.” Another woman says she dates “the ‘secrets’ … guys other women don’t recognize as great.” How’s that for damning praise?

Meanwhile, in sugarcoating this message, the authors often resort to flattery, telling the reader to remember how fabulous, attractive, charming, and intelligent she is, in the hopes that she’ll project a more confident vibe on dates. In my case, though, the flattery backfired. I read these books thinking, Wait, if I’m such a great catch, why should I settle for anyone less than my equal? If I’m so fabulous, don’t I deserve true romantic connection?

Only one popular book that I can think of in the vast “find a man” genre (like most single women confounded by their singleness, I’m embarrassingly well versed) takes the opposite approach. In He’s Just Not That Into You, written by the happily married Greg Behrendt and the unhappily single Liz Tuccillo, the duo exhorts women not to settle. But the book’s format is telling: Behrendt gives perky pep talks to women unable to find a worthy match, while Tuccillo repeatedly comments on how hard it is to take her co-author’s advice, because while being with a partner who is “beneath you” (Behrendt’s term) is problematic, being single just plain “sucks” (Tuccillo’s term).

Before I got pregnant, though, I also read single-mom books such as Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide, whose chapter titles “Can I Afford It?” and “Dealing With the Stress” seemed like realistic antidotes to the faux-empowering man-hunting manual headings like “A Little Lingerie Can Go a Long Way.” But the book’s author, Mikki Morrissette, held out a tantalizing carrot. In her introduction, she describes having a daughter on her own; then, she writes, a few years later and five months pregnant with her son, “I met a guy I fell in love with. He and my daughter were in the delivery room when my son was born in January 2004.” Each time I read about single women having babies on their own and thriving instead of settling for Mr. Wrong and hiring a divorce lawyer, I felt all jazzed and ready to go. At the time, I truly believed, “I can have it all—a baby now, my soul mate later!”

Well … ha! Hahahaha. And ha.

Just as the relationship books fail to mention what happens after you triumphantly land a husband (you actually have to live with each other), these single-mom books fail to mention that once you have a baby alone, not only do you age about 10 years in the first 10 months, but if you don’t have time to shower, eat, urinate in a timely manner, or even leave the house except for work, where you spend every waking moment that your child is at day care, there’s very little chance that a man—much less The One—is going to knock on your door and join that party.

They also gloss over the cost of dating as a single mom: the time and money spent on online dating (because there are no single men at toddler birthday parties); the babysitter tab for all those boring blind dates; and, most frustrating, hours spent away from your beloved child. Even women who settle but end up divorced might be in a better position than those of us who became mothers on our own, because many ex-wives get both child-support payments and a free night off when the kids go to Dad’s house for a sleepover. Never-married moms don’t get the night off. At the end of the evening, we rush home to pay the babysitter, make any houseguest tiptoe around and speak in a hushed voice, then wake up at 6 a.m. at the first cries of “Mommy!”

Try bringing a guy home to that.

Settling is mostly a women’s game. Men settle far less often and, when they do, they don’t seem the least bit bothered by the fact that they’re settling.

My friend Alan, for instance, justified his choice of a “bland” wife who’s a good mom but with whom he shares little connection this way: “I think one-stop shopping is overrated. I get passion at my office with my work, or with my friends that I sometimes call or chat with—it’s not the same, and, boy, it would be exciting to have it with my spouse. But I spend more time with people at my office than I do with my spouse.”

Then there’s my friend Chris, a single 35-year-old marketing consultant who for three years dated someone he calls “the perfect woman”—a kind and beautiful surgeon. She broke off the relationship several times because, she told him with regret, she didn’t think she wanted to spend her life with him. Each time, Chris would persuade her to reconsider, until finally she called it off for good, saying that she just couldn’t marry somebody she wasn’t in love with. Chris was devastated, but now that his ex-girlfriend has reached 35, he’s suddenly hopeful about their future.

“By the time she turns 37,” Chris said confidently, “she’ll come back. And I’ll bet she’ll marry me then. I know she wants to have kids.” I asked Chris why he would want to be with a woman who wasn’t in love with him. Wouldn’t he be settling, too, by marrying someone who would be using him to have a family? Chris didn’t see it that way at all. “She’ll be settling,” Chris said cheerfully. “But not me. I get to marry the woman of my dreams. That’s not settling. That’s the fantasy.”

Chris believes that women are far too picky: everyone knows, he says, that a single middle-aged man still has appealing prospects; a single middle-aged woman likely doesn’t. And he’s right. Single women are painfully aware of this. I hear far more women than men talk about getting married as a goal to be met by a certain deadline. My friend Gabe points out that this allows men to be the true romantics; when a man breaks up with a perfectly acceptable woman because he’s “just not feeling it,” there’s none of the ambivalence a woman with a deadline feels. “Women are the least romantic,” Gabe said. “They think, ‘I can do that.’ For a lot of women, it becomes less about love and more about what they can live with.”

Not long ago, Gabe, who is 43, dated a woman he liked very much one-on-one, but he broke up with her because “she couldn’t be haimish”—comfortable—with his friends in a group setting. He has no regrets. A female friend who broke up with a guy because he “didn’t like to read” and who is now, too, a single mom (with, ironically, no time to read herself) similarly felt no regrets—at first. At the time, she couldn’t imagine settling, but here’s the Catch-22: “If I’d settled at 39,” she said, “I always would have had the fantasy that something better exists out there. Now I know better. Either way, I was screwed.”

The paradox, of course, is that the more it behooves a woman to settle, the less willing she is to settle; a woman in her mid- to late 30s is more discriminating than one in her 20s. She has friends who have known her since childhood, friends who will know her more intimately and understand her more viscerally than any man she meets in midlife. Her tastes and sense of self are more solidly formed. She says things like “He wants me to move downtown, but I love my home at the beach,” and, “But he’s just not curious,” and “Can I really spend my life with someone who’s allergic to dogs?”

I’ve been told that the reason so many women end up alone is that we have too many choices. I think it’s the opposite: we have no choice. If we could choose, we’d choose to be in a healthy marriage based on reciprocal passion and friendship. But the only choices on the table, it sometimes seems, are settle or risk being alone forever.That’s not a whole lot of choice.

Remember the movie Broadcast News? Holly Hunter’s dilemma—the choice between passion and friendship—is exactly the one many women over 30 are faced with. In the end, Holly Hunter’s character decides to wait for the right guy, but he (of course) never materializes. Meanwhile, her emotional soul mate, the Albert Brooks character, gets married (of course) and has children.

And no matter what women decide—settle or don’t settle—there’s a price to be paid, because there’s always going to be regret. Unless you meet the man of your dreams (who, by the way, doesn’t exist, precisely because you dreamed him up), there’s going to be a downside to getting married, but a possibly more profound downside to holding out for someone better.

My friend Jennifer summed it up this way: “When I used to hear women complaining bitterly about their husbands, I’d think, ‘How sad, they settled.’ Now it’s like, ‘God, that would be nice.’”

That’s why mothers tell their daughters to “keep an open mind” about the guy who spends his weekends playing Internet poker or touches your back for two minutes while watching ESPN and calls that “a massage.” The more-pertinent questions, to most concerned mothers of daughters in their 30s, have to do with whether the daughter’s boyfriend will make a good father; or, if he’s a workaholic, whether he can provide the environment for her to be a good mother. As my own mother once advised me, when I was dating a musician, “Everyone settles to some degree. You might as well settle pragmatically.”

I know all this now, and yet—here’s the problem—much as I’d like to settle, I can’t seem to do it. It’s not that I have to be dazzled by a guy anymore (though it would be nice). It’s not even that I have to think about him when he’s not around (though that would be nice, too). Nor is it that I’m unable to accept reality and make significant compromises because that’s what grown-ups do (I can and have—I had a baby on my own).

No, the problem is that the very nature of dating leaves women my age to wrestle with a completely different level of settling. It’s no longer a matter, as it was in my early 30s, of “just not feeling it,” of wanting to be in love. Consider the men whom older women I know have married in varying degrees of desperation over the past few years: a recovering alcoholic who doesn’t always go to his meetings; a trying-to-make-it-in-his-40s actor; a widower who has three nightmarish kids and who’s still actively grieving for his dead wife; and a socially awkward engineer (so socially awkward that he declined to attend his wife’s book party). It’s not that these women are crazy; it’s that the dating pool has dwindled dramatically and that, due to gender politics, the few available men tend to require far more of a concession than those who were single when we were younger. And while I have a much higher tolerance for settling than I did back then, now I have my son to consider. It’s one thing to settle for a subpar mate; it’s quite another to settle for a subpar father figure for my child. So while there’s more incentive to settle now, there’s less willingness to settle too much, because that would be a disservice to my son.

This doesn’t undermine my case for settling. Instead, it supports my argument to do it young, when settling involves constructing a family environment with a perfectly acceptable man who may not trip your romantic trigger—as opposed to doing it older, when settling involves selling your very soul in exchange for damaged goods. Admittedly, it’s a dicey case to make because, like the divorced women I know who claim they wouldn’t have done anything differently, because then they wouldn’t have Biff and Buffy, I, too, can’t imagine life without my magical son. (Although, had I had children with a Mr. Good Enough, wouldn’t I be as hopelessly in love with those children, too?) I also acknowledge the power of the grass-is-always-greener phenomenon, and allow for the possibility that my life alone is better (if far more difficult) than the life I would have in a comfortable but tepid marriage.

But then my married friends say things like, “Oh, you’re so lucky, you don’t have to negotiate with your husband about the cost of piano lessons” or “You’re so lucky, you don’t have anyone putting the kid in front of the TV and you can raise your son the way you want.” I’ll even hear things like, “You’re so lucky, you don’t have to have sex with someone you don’t want to.”

The lists go on, and each time, I say, “OK, if you’re so unhappy, and if I’m so lucky, leave your husband! In fact, send him over here!”

Not one person has taken me up on this offer.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Together Forever.

I've had friends interested in helping out a bit with upcoming events and work I have moving forward with Shameless Self-Promotions. There are some fantastic opportunities coming up in partnering with a magazine's quarterly issue launch (attaching benefit events to each issue), fashion shows linked to women's issues and poverty and (most pressing) an invitation to supply the musical talent for a local UC's Care-A-Thon.

Mtv's Americas Best Dance Crew will be there, and I'd love to find some musical talent equal to what the University has brought in! If you have any ideas for talent, suggestions, or contacts in the music industry local to LA/Orange County, let me know! Otherwise, I'll be stuck looking up my favourite 80's has-beens to try and work in a dance number of my own...

One last queerie:

How has someone not turned this into a church video?

You'd think the missionaries would get ON that! ...And I swear, the obsession stops next week. Right Rachel?
Happy Weekend.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Making Love.

It's official.

After just over a year of deep, deep love, iPod and I have finally taken things one step further. We had a baby.

Isn't he cute? Totally precious.
And SO strong...I took my new baby to the gym the very next day, not certain of how well we would do together and slightly nerveous about my inexperience with such a tiny little gift of joy, but- and this is impartial- WOW. Did baby-love come as a chip off the old block or WHAT!?! I mean, kicking it off with some LL, to Madonna, some Under the Influence of Giants...my baby knew EXACTLY what I like!

Any suggestions for what I should get my new baby? You know how I do love a playlist- tell me what new music is out that I cannot be without!

Monday, April 7, 2008

O, my heart!

So Kent has this video posted and I seriously thought I was going to lose it. 20 years ago I remember thinking this guy was REALLY good looking, but so old! I realize now he might have been around 22? And I didn't like his voice at all- I remember telling my mom that it sounded like he sang with marbles in his mouth. As for the craftsmanship, you can hardly tell the director was found only the day before shooting! Nice job, Rick!
It reminds me of why I loved this so much:

Friday, April 4, 2008

It's Hot in Haiti!

It's Friday and- let's face it. You deserve a laugh at work.
It gets better every time you watch it:

Thanks, Arthur.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Let's be honest: I saw 21 because Jim Sturgess made me fall in love with him in Across the Universe, and pretty much I'd see anything he does now. That is no excuse for the following review which is impartial to the charms of said Brit.

I can't play Blackjack. I can't add fast enough and watching me count to 21 is probably excruciatingly painful for my tablemates. But impressing me with numbers isn't what did it. It's not even the down-home, self-depricating humor of my beloved Beantown that took me in, or the dreamboat, Jim Sturgess. It's not even the fact that two of the main characters were Asian or that I wanted to hug the best friends every time they came on screen. The script and the casting were perfect, the soundtrack's gonna be great and I'm still wondering how the production of the entire look and feel of this film still has me reeling and wanting more; but if you're impressed for anything, let it be for the originality of 21's portrayal of evil.

Sure, gambling's "bad," but...how can cards be so bad? It's wrong to cheat, but...if it's not illegal, is it so wrong to count cards? Lying is wrong, but...even if they're just little lies that we tell so we don't hurt someone? We talk about evil at church all the time. Sin, evil, Satan...sure, sure. They even have slews of films that focus on these topics- they're usually horrific and graphic and better suited for science fiction glorifying gore over relaying an honest, moral concept of sin. I've heard it all before, but honestly- what are the chances of me doing something really, truly bad? And that's exactly how 21 keeps from being a trite, one-dimensional story about college students in Vegas to being the best portrayal of evil I could ever understand.

Kevin Spacey loves to play psychos. He should. He's amazing at it. How he got into playing some math professor at MIT made me beyond curious. But Spacey never disappoints. See, he's not a professor; he's the devil playing a professor. The transition is so slight, so gentle, you hardly feel the grip he has over his student, Ben, first as an intellectual mentor, an encouraging and supportive father figure, then as a friend and confidant, finally to the Vadar-like power that is the only thing about blackjack Ben needs to conquer for total control over the game. It's at that point where Ben realizes he was groomed for this, but in the process, he was allowing himself to be so entwined that, when he's ready to leave, Spacey has him completely caged. So where the first choice was almost arbitrary- you could play or not- what would it matter, really? With a thin, flaxen cord woven of flattery and pride, you are led carefully, gently, until- SLAM! Kevin Spacey OWNS your ass.

It was fascinating enough to watch the development of Spacey's grip over Sturgess, but add to that the production of the film itself, and the temptations of the a colorbook world become very, very real. For a down-home family boy like Ben- hard-working, honest, kind and shy, Vegas seems like the most unappealing choice. Too flashy a temptation- who goes to Vegas and hooks up with smut, drugs, or hardcore anything? But...lead in with an equally softspoken, harmless student (who could have been played by ANYONE, but here, happens to be Kate Bosworth) and the plane ride doesn't seem like that big a deal. It's not about glory, after all. It's just a simple means to an end. And here's where the production went from being really, really good, to making me feel like there was some sort of morality filter put over the lens.

21 could have easily glamorized and glorified the taking of Vegas. Somehow, though- even in the highs of the game and the afterglow of victory, it never feels good. It never feels appealing. The entire time he's winning, all you want is for Ben to get out. Rather than a "stick it to the man" kind of gusto, all you want is for him to get home and be safe. Somehow, in all it's glitz and glossiness, there is a dark, sick feeling just beneath the surface of Las Vegas.

I wanted to get a copy of this movie to show it at church and to seminary classes when we illustrate what temptation is and talk in that nebulously didactic way about the evils of Satan. It's always seemed so unrealistic and sort of a foggy concept beyond a mental grip he can gain, but in 21, the portrayal of evil taking over your entire life through one seemingly harmless choice (which from the start, you suspect is wrong) was so captivating and believable, it made any other smart element of the film fade in importance.