You might recall a popular TV series in the mid-90’s, “Living Single”, that followed six black singletons living in Brooklyn. They were in their twenties.
Because that’s when most people are single, right?
I haven’t written about my (lack of) dating life in a while – in fact, when I searched through the archives of this blog, it’s been at least a year. Why? Well, until possibly yesterday, I didn’t have much to say on it.
I used to look at being single as sad, and then it became a badge of honor. Now it’s just nothing – or at least, nothing that defines who I am or what I do each day.
I know I’ve got some new readers here – Welcome! – and it’s likely that you never thought this was once a place where ALL I talked about was dating. Why?
Because I did a lot of it in my twenties. I dated, I wrote columns about my experiences, I bartended and met more people to date, and then I published books about it, and spoke about it at open-mic nights… and now I just live it.
I had some fun experiences, some really bad ones, I fell in love a few times, and I also strung myself through abusive relationships.
And then I decided to be single.
Not the single where you have crushes, and “talk” via text, and meet new people on Tindr, and have casual sex. The kind of single where I just get to know myself.
That was at least five years ago, and I’m still in that space.
I definitely never planned on being single at 33, but I also never planned on living in Texas, eating mostly vegan food, or contemplating what life at 55 looks like for a singleton like myself.
At times, being single is scary. I have Miranda’s fear of dying in my apartment, alone, with my cat, and wondering how that ends. And some nights, settling into the covers of my big bed is just a weird reminder of how long it’s been since I fell asleep next to someone I really cared for.
Most of the time, though, I’m happy with my life. Many days, I can’t even remember what it was like to be in a relationship, or to even have a crush on someone. I can do nearly anything I want, and for the most part I do. That was always my saving grace at the end of a relationship – I was free.
If that doesn’t tell you anything about the kinds of relationships I’ve experienced, I don’t know what will.
My jump into being single likely got off to a bitter beginning; I was single because I’d been burned. And there are still remnants of that – it’s embarrassing to admit that I’ve never had a relationship that I’d classify as good or healthy.
But even between relationships, I would quickly meet someone new and move to the next person; one rebound after another.
So being single was a much-needed blow to the cycle. For awhile, I found it difficult to even look at a man, whether at a restaurant or when checking out at a store. I was convinced all men were the same, and I wanted no part of their game.
Don’t worry, I have softened a little since then, and although I don’t meet many people whose relationships I envy, I do follow a few bloggers that give me hope in dating, relationships, and possibly even marriage.
When I graduated from college (10+ years ago), it seemed like everyone was getting married, and many of those same people got divorced, and/or had children. But really, a study came out last year saying the number of marriages in the US, and around the globe, have been declining since the late 90s.
A report from the Urban Institute also stated that many millennials won’t get married until age 40. In the past (say, in 1960), people married for many reasons – to have children, for financial gain (taxes, military, etc.); there was also less pressure on education and careers, for women at least.
Today, being single can mean a plethora of things, and it can look many different ways. That’s the catch 22: there’s almost too many options on how I can spend my years. Do I adopt? Travel? Move elsewhere? Get more hobbies?
I suppose I’ve got time to decide.
In these five years, I’ve gone on a few dates, and unfortunately they’ve been really bad reminders of what I don’t miss about dating – ghosting patterns, mixed messages, messy homes, boring conversations, and selfish sex.
It’s unlikely I’ll go on a date before 2020 rolls around, but when it does, I have a better idea of what I’m after – someone who has it together; a good, fun sense of humor, an appreciation for life, and a kind heart.
Until then, I’ll be obsessively reading library books, cooking new recipes, and planning my next vacation.
I was sporting my #CatLady trucker hat (for sale in the merch store) last month, and a guy asked me if I really was a “cat lady”. Yes, I said. “Well, how many cats do you have?” he asked, half disgusted, half intrigued. “Just one,” I said. “It’s a lifestyle.”
It was then I realized that I’ve never really explained my personal campaign to celebrate cat ladies, everywhere. Let me spill my story.
Let’s start with where this all came from. So, here’s the Wikipedia definition of a cat lady:
A cat lady is a single woman who dotes upon her pet cat or cats. The term is usually considered pejorative, though it is sometimes embraced. A cat lady may also be an animal hoarder who keeps large numbers of cats without having the ability to properly house or care for them. They may be ignorant about their situation.
So, there’s that. In general, to call someone a “cat lady” is an insult. Why? Well, way, way back – there were Egyptian goddesses who had cats, and even religious symbols who had cats, but eventually cats came to be synonymous will the devil. So…yeah.
And then came the movie “Clockwork Orange”… *rolls eyes* – the movie that all pretentious English majors obsess over. This is when the more modern-day crazy cat lady appeared in pop culture. And then, Eleanor Abernathy was born as a character on “The Simpsons” – and she is a true cat hoarder.
When you think about it, the cat lady stereotype goes beyond just a single woman with a lot of cats. She’s often insane, out-of-sorts, and generally dirty. She’s cranky, and no one wants to be around her. How terrible, right?
And so, I’ve embraced this stereotype in the opposite way via my merchandise, and the use of #CatLady. Being a #CatLady has nothing to do with the number of animals you own, or cats, at all. It’s about celebrating who you are and not being ashamed of any aspect of your being.
A true #CatLady is confident in herself, in her life, and she’s more interested in doing what she wants than worrying about what others think, or following societal norms. Maybe she is married, maybe not. Maybe she has kids, maybe not. A #CatLady has no age, no holds, and basically gives zero fucks. #CatLady – celebrate it!
Because when you think about it, this whole “Crazy cat lady” stereotype is just another way to degrade single women. It’s an easy way to dismiss emotions, a simple way to label someone we don’t know, and a socially acceptable way to insult someone that isn’t “typical” in terms of American culture.
And I’m over it. There’s no male equivalent, because single males are accepted and rewarded in our culture. As women, there’s so much expected of us, and at times, we give so much just to be treated equal from others, and we still aren’t satisfied.
So, I’m sticking with my #CatLady ways – yes, I do have a cat, and yes I am single, and I live alone. Am I crazy? No. Am I a spinster? No. Do people piss me off? Sometimes. But I have a successful career, great friends, know how to laugh, and I’ve got a few kitchen skills up my apron. So, yeah, I’m a #CatLady – for life.
This is going to come out wrong, but I’ve been really lucky to have friends that don’t pressure me to be in a relationship.
Of course, my friends are rooting for me – they hope that one day I’ll find Mr. Right, but until then, they’re cool with the solo me.
There have been times when my friends have tried to set me up with someone, but there are two ways to go about this: the right way and the wrong way.
The right way is when a friend is truly looking to find your match, he/she asks you if the setup is okay, and/or if you’re interested in going along with it.
I had one friend give a guy my email address, and let me take care of it from there. It was sweet, and we actually dated for a few months.
I’ve had great experiences with this type of setup. The other type of setup is when the friend just wants you to date anyone.
Picture it: you’re out at a bar, there’s a person sitting alone with a beer. All of the sudden, THAT is your soulmate, according to your friend.
Let’s get this right, just because a person is single, doesn’t make him or her a match. And one more thing, it’s really difficult to know if someone is truly single. Right?
I was once out to dinner with a girlfriend; she was happily engaged, and she had a habit of asking every waiter we ever had if he was single. If so, she’d say, “You should date him.”
I knew her intentions were good; she wanted to get me out there and eventually be happy like she was. But, I also was starting to take offense at the people she wanted me to date. Did she think the waiter at Plucker’s was the best I could do?
Don’t get me wrong, I love hot wings and beer, but she was trying to set me up with people before even getting to know them. When I tried to brush it off, she told me I was too picky, and that I needed to give people a chance.
That was absolute bullshit. My problem has always been that I’m not picky enough, and that I give too many chances.
The tough thing is, there’s not a great way to deal with this. Of course, you don’t want to hurt your friend(s), but you also don’t want to deal with dating someone you’re not interested in.
If there’s a way to brush it off and forget it, I say go with that option first.
If not, consider what you can say to your friend to kindly get your point across. Whether you’re not ready to date, didn’t feel a spark with the potential setup, or you just don’t feel comfortable with it, a true friend should understand.
Sometimes, our coupled friends forget what being single is like – it’s not as easy as just dating the waiter at the next pizza place.
Unfortunately, even setups under the right circumstances can go wrong. And then there’s your friend, stuck in the middle.
In all cases, try to keep remembering that your friend has those good intentions. And try your best to leave your friend out of the middle, as difficult as it may be.
If a setup is how you’re destined to meet your match, then it’ll happen no matter what. And then, you can thank your friend at your wedding.
That’s right, I’m here to apologize… for being inauthentic. Don’t worry, I haven’t lied or covered up any big secrets, I just sort of realized that some of the things I’ve been writing about lately have gotten away from the true mission of this blog. And I’m stopping the madness before it gets any further. Let me explain.
Over Valentine’s Day weekend, you may recall I was on a mission to venture out on my own. And I did it, and I felt really good about it. But in the days following, I really started to think about things, and a lot of the things on my mind were things I’d been pushing to the back for some time now – things I don’t want to think about, because they make me sad.
So, I started cleaning, because that’s what I do when I want to do anything but think. I took everything out of my pantry and scrubbed the shelves, and then replaced things neatly. I moved pieces of furniture to mop the floor beneath them. I even used the little brush attachment on the vacuum to comb through my faux fur rug to make sure all of the hairs were straight, and going the same direction.
I also cooked. I made too many bacon-wrapped dates, because, well, why not? And because the ritual of stuffing a date with goat cheese, and then wrapping it with bacon, before jamming a toothpick thru it was oddly satisfying. I also made a pizza, and drank wine, but not too much, because wine + thinking is not really my best idea.
And then, I sat down to write. I spend a decent chunk of my time on the weekends writing drafts for blog posts because I don’t have a lot of time to devote to it during the week. But when I sat down and looked at my editorial calendar, it was filled with posts that I didn’t even want to write. And if I didn’t want to write them, I knew no one was going to want to read them.
The more time I spend alone, the more introspective I get, and as a writer, this is good, but as someone who has struggled with depression, this can sometimes cause cloudiness in my brain.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts while I’m at work. I work in an open environment and I’ve discovered that any outside noise distracts me from tasks that need to be done. So, I’ve invested in multiple pairs of headphones (so I never forget or am destined to be lost without a pair) and spend my 9-6 with headphones on, listening to people (of my choosing) talk about news, politics, fashion, blogging and life.
One of the podcasts I really like is Leandra Medine’s, “Monocycle” and her related podcast, “Oh Boy”. On of the podcasts, she was interviewing fashion icon Stacy London and they were talking about how social media has changed us, and Leandra commented about how she’d recently written a blog called, “Is Instagram Making me a Sociopath?” …in the sense that she can be crying on the phone to her mom about how she is a failure, but in the same breath, post a smiling picture to Instagram promoting her fashion blog and captioning it about how great life is.
I have always hated how fake most people appear on Instagram, and other social media channels for that matter, but that’s another issue for another day.
Regardless, it got me thinking about the image I project online, particularly with this blog. In general, I think I do a good job of admitted my faults, and I’ve shared some pretty damn embarrassing things about myself here, over the years.
But I admit I’ve fallen prey to attempt to produce content that I hope people will want to read. And honestly, that’s not the point of this blog. The Bitter Lemon is meant to be home to my thoughts, opinions, hopes, dreams, goals, and perhaps a map on how to get through it all without appearing like a complete nut job.
And that’s about it. This blog isn’t my livelihood, I don’t have a boss or an editor, I don’t have interns or other writers. It’s just me. And sometimes you get the good, happy Holly, and sometimes you get to read about my complete fuck ups, and watch me attempt to pick myself up with some sort of grace, before I try again.
Yes, I want this is be a place you like to come to; a place where you leave with questions or answers or deep thoughts on life, or society. I want it to be fun and empowering, too.
Unfortunately, just like life, I don’t have some clear-cut user-guide to make that happen. All I have is what I know, and that is what I’m willing to offer you. I have to be true to myself, and in doing that, there’s a massive chance you might not like me, or this blog, and I’ve got to be okay with that.
I also can’t fly off the handle like a psycho, because I do have a professional job, and I’m not trying to get canned. But I am confident I can be honest here without coming completely unglued.
And like I said, I’m not covering up some giant secret that’s weighing on me. In general, I’m still suffering from some growing pains with my job, I’m still stretching my legs in my new home, and some days, I’m just trying to figure out who I am and what I’m ultimately trying to get out of this life before it’s too late – I feel a tremendous amount of pressure when it comes to this aspect of being.
The other side of all of this? To be 100 with you, I was really interested in this guy for a big part of last year and around the first part of this year, and per usual, it went to complete shit after we slept together.
I haven’t said much about it yet, for three reasons: 1., because he really hated me ever mentioning him in this blog, and 2., because I am still trying to wrap my brain around what the hell happened, and ok, 3., because I’m more upset over it than I want to admit and I don’t really want to think about it just yet for fear of a complete mental breakdown.
But I will explain more on that here once I can collect my thoughts into some sort of organized fashion, and/or, doing so without wanting to cry and/or punch a hole in my living room wall.
Whew. So there. I said it. And I’m sorry if you’ve come here in the past weeks or months and felt that it just wasn’t what it used to be. I’m getting back on track; back to being honest. My editorial calendar has completely changed, and I’m vowing to bring back the honest side of The Bitter Lemon, and I hope you’ll join me.
But if not, I’m happy our paths crossed at some point. So here’s to greener pastures. Lord knows I’ve got enough shit to keep it that way for quite awhile.