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Celebrating 20 years of ‘Sex and the City’!

Photo credit: HBO – one of my favorite scenes from the series.

This week, fans of “Sex and the City” have been celebrating its 20th anniversary – can you believe it?

HBO’s iconic series debuted in 1998, when I was in 8th grade. We didn’t have HBO at my house growing up, so I didn’t come across the series until I was a junior in high school, when I went on a college visit to Miami of Ohio.

It was 2001, and I saw an episode on DVD – I’m pretty sure I fell asleep before the episode was over. To be honest, I didn’t know a whole lot about dating when I was 17, and I certainly knew nothing about sex.

But by the time I went to college, I’d scrounged up all of the available seasons on DVDs and brought them to Louisiana. The episodes made me laugh, and I started to see why so many people loved the show so much – they spoke so honestly about dating, and in college, I really needed that.

My DVDs also came in handy when I applied to get a new roommate during my second semester of freshman year. The only open bed available was with someone who’d scored a room alone – she was probably REALLY disappointed when I showed up with my boxes of crap on a random weeknight.

Until I showed her my SATC collection and told her she was welcome to watch them anytime. We watched loads of episodes together.

It’s difficult to believe now, but SATC changed the dialogue about sex  and dating, and it was one of the first shows (aside from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”) that put single, career-driven women at the forefront.

It also carved a larger path for sex columnists, given that SATC’s main character has a weekly column titled, “Sex and the City”. I quickly became a fan of Natalie Krisnky’s writing, who was the sex columnist for Yale’s campus newspaper until 2004.

I also wrote the relationship column for the LSU paper, and while that was not the start of my publishing career, it gave me a place to vent about my dating troubles, and gave me confidence to start this blog, and eventually publish multiple books on the topic of love, sex, and relationships.

Based on the best-selling novel by Candace Bushnell, SATC gave us four women that were relatable, yet far enough out-of-reach that we could drool over their fashion, apartments, and exclusive access to New York City.

In the span of six seasons (from 1998-2004), Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte became our best friends, even if only digitally, we related to their love, loss, fun, and fights.

The best part? The writing is timeless. Over the years, SATC episodes covered first dates, baby showers, breakups, and marriage, and even dipped into more serious issues such as cancer, abortion, miscarriage, infidelity, interracial dating, and sexual identity.

No matter the topic, the tone of the show was always hopeful – that we can get through just about anything with the support of our friends and the relationship we ultimately have with ourself, and that’s a lesson that never comes too late.

As part of a week-long celebration, the E! Network has been playing all of the SATC episodes, and although I have the entire series on DVD (I was gifted an entirely new set after wearing out the first set), it’s fun to just turn on the TV and see all of the episodes I’ve watched countless times – I could probably recite most of them.

For this post, I was trying so hard to think of my all-time favorite episode, but it changes depending on what I’m going through at the time.

Right now, I can definitely relate to “A Woman’s Right to Shoes” (season 6, episode 9) when Carrie attends a baby shower and is asked to remove her Manolos – they get stolen, and she gets “shoe shamed” when she asks for a new pair from the hostess.

I have also always loved “Hot Child in the City” (season 3, episode 15) where all of the women face something from their childhood – whether it’s scooters and sunbathing or getting braces.

Just a few episodes later, in “Cock a Doodle Do”, Samantha goes to WAR with transsexuals on her block – it involves eggs and lots of yelling, but eventually they makeup and throw a rooftop party.

I never really did like any of Carrie’s boyfriends, not Berger or The Russian – I only like Mr. Big. One of my favorite episodes with him is “I Heart N.Y.” (Season 4, episode 18) when he’s getting ready to move to Napa. There’s pizza in an empty apartment, and several references to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and it’s perfect.

SATC also gave us some epic one-liners, including:

  • When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep on walking.
  • Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means that you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.
  • They say nothing lasts forever; dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.
  • I am someone who is looking for love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.
  • Maybe the best any of us can do is not to quit, play the hand we’ve been given, and accessorize the outfit we’ve got.

I will probably spend a large chunk of my weekend watching SATC without regret. But I’d love to know, what were some of your favorite moments of the show? Or, did it change your life in some way? Give you confidence for a career move? Help you meet new friends?

Let me know in the comments! Have a great weekend everyone!

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Taking the high road… or hiding under it?

Is this what the ‘high road’ looks like? Cuz I should hang out here more often.

I had an entire blog post ready for today that looked a lot different than this one does. I was going to post screen shots of some text messages I received from a guy I went on a few dates with almost a year ago (the texts are just a few weeks old).

The texts he sent me were mean, and I was hurt. So, I was prepared to put him on blast – because that is what I have done on this blog every time a man treats me poorly.

Originally, I started this blog more than 10 years ago as a place to keep notes for a memoir I was writing (it has since been published). Over the years, this blog has undergone changes in the same way my life has – at one point, I was dating a lot, boy-crazy, and all I wanted was to be loved.

Things have since changed, and a large part of that changed was a result of how I’ve been treated by boys and men over the course of my life. Many men I’ve dated have later seen our stories here; they’ve gotten embarrassed and called me crazy, told me I was “Taylor Swift”, or that I’m just looking for attention.

I don’t like being told any of those things, of course, and I also realized that dating has never been worth it. I’m not here to bash men, and I am not out to be Taylor Swift. But looking back, I feel like those were just hurtful things said to me because I was simply presenting the truth. I know I am not alone in the way I’ve been treated by men, and it’s not okay that any women get text messages like the ones I am talking about today.

So, even after I drafted a post, I then saw an Instagram post (via Stories) from Color Me Courtney, and basically it was a message she’d gotten that said really mean things. And Courtney’s takeaway was, when you get hateful messages, don’t spread hate, spread love.

And that made me think twice about what I was about to publish on this blog. Would I just be putting more hate into the world? I don’t want that to be the vibe of this blog.

Honestly, that has never been my goal – I have only posted my personal stories so that other people can relate, and know they are not alone.

But maybe I don’t have to post texts and my wannabe reply to do that. Is it enough to just say that yes, even though I’ve been single for 5+ years and have only been on about two dates during that time, those dates still end up awful.

Those are the guys that are finding new ways to hurt me (i.e. texting my friends saying they actually liked them and not me).

Years of therapy has taught me that the reason I have dated so many assholes is because I have a history of not valuing myself, so I accept less than what I’m worth. I was hurt, so I attracted people who were also hurt; people that could (and did) take advantage of me in many ways.

Because of this, I often associate dating with being broken – that only the weak need a partner. This is something I know is not true for most people, but I have never dated someone while I’m feeling whole and confident.

And even in these years of growing and learning and feeling confident – I still end up with the mean texts and actions of rejection.

So, is that all it takes? Am I taking the high road, or am I just hiding under it? Am I doing women everywhere a disservice because I’m not being clear about this situation, or is that how it’s done properly?

If I posted the texts, the person I’m talking about would probably text me again and that’s not something I want. Or maybe the blog post would just say more about me than it does about him.

So, I’m leaving it at that: just a simple message to let you know that even approaching 33, 5 years single, I still cannot seem to get things right in the dating department.

And, I’m still okay with that, but I would be even better with it if I didn’t have to get texts about it 🙂

Detox Your Dating: Day 7.

The FINAL day!

Whew! It’s the final day of this Dating Detox. Technically, I know it took me longer than 7 days to get through it, but I’m a busy gal, and let’s face it, this was tough.

Day 7 Challenge: Check Yourself!

Today is all about taking a look within. Am I ready for a serious relationship? Can I attract the right man with the way my life is currently?
Here’s what Denise has to say: Relationship-minded men seek women of VALUE. These are the women that men want to marry when they are ready.
Below are just a few of the traits that we all need to strive to possess:
  • She doesn’t need a man, but she wants one.
  • She recognizes that men should be the “head of the household but she is the neck”.
  • She has boundaries, and she sets them in a firm, but in kind way.
  • She will ask very good, often pointed, qualifying questions to men she meets and dates.
  • High Value women don’t let their emotions control their actions when it comes to men. They make decisions based on logic and the man’s actions not intentions or words.
  • She values her body and will not offer sex until the man proves his worth through his actions.
  • She values her body and strives to be healthy and fit. Her body is a temple and she chooses to make educated choices about what she puts into it and what it needs to thrive in life.
  • She knows how to make a man feel special and worthy, like he is the only one.

Well, right off the bat, item #1 I don’t have. Ha! This is what I knew going in to the detox. I’m not really ready for a guy, but more so, I don’t want one.

I think what I’ve learned most through this detox is that I like my life how it is. My days are full with the things I want to do. I don’t have to compromise or share. I don’t have to plan or think about anyone other than myself (and sometimes Blanche).

Sure, I can be strong and please a man and wait for his actions and yadda yadda, but for what? I think I’m good. Maybe I’ll feel differently in a month or a year or five years, but today, I’m good. And oh yeah, I deleted my dating app.

Right now, I’m focused on improving myself for me, not for a man. I’m continuing to work on my dance skill, working on my hobby of making jewelry, reading several books a week, and gearing up to volunteer at the Film Festival. My life is full.

So, yeah – the cleanse worked, because I’m basically free from wanting a man!

Anyway, I’ve also added THREE new styles to my Etsy Shop this week:

I still have lots of items I want to add, but this week, I’ve been cleaning out an area in my apartment to dedicate to my jewelry making. Right now I’ve been just making everything while sitting on the couch, which is fine, but then my living room is a mess. Check out my Instagram Stories @OrangeJulius7 for updates on the craft area organization progress!

Detox Your Dating: Day 6.

Day 6 got me twisted.

Ok – day 6! Today is all about the “Top ingredients for a high-quality man”. This is exactly what I need to see. Denise has a list of just SOME of the ingredients of a high-quality man, and they are:

  1. His actions will always speak louder than his words. High Quality mens’ words and actions are congruent.
  2. High Quality men will want to connect with you in the most personal way. Texting is the lowest form of communication.
  3. He has had at least one long-term relationship.
  4. He doesn’t trash talk his exes and takes responsibility with what his part was for the break-up.
  5. Attitude that they can make things happen in their lives…not that life just happens to him.
  6. Consistency is key. He does what he says he’s going to do.
  7. Has a steady job and a string of logical choices and progression in his career.
  8. Willing to delay having sex without getting angry or making you feel guilty (it doesn’t mean they don’t try to have sex…).
  9. They are able to control their emotions–they don’t exhibit extreme bouts of anger, jealousy, and depression.
  10. They don’t profess their undying love to you right away. High quality men know they are a catch and are looking to see if you add value to their life.

…Yep, pretty much never dated a man that fit any of these things.

Day 5 Challenge: Top ingredients of a High Quality Man

Denise shares the Five F’s Formula (which I’ve never heard of). Here it is:

Friends: You want a man that can be your best friend, right? Does he have friends? Is he a bridge burner or relationships keeper? How does he treat them? Are his friends kind and respectful towards you?

Family: Pay attention to his relationship with his family. Consider it a red flag if he doesn’t have one at all. While there are extenuating circumstances, you want to see that your future husband knows how to resolve conflict and repair relationships when conflict.

Finance: Finance is a leading cause of divorce. It doesn’t matter if you’re poor or rich; it’s how he handles his money that matters. Is he responsible? What does his spending and saving habits look like?

Future: Pay attention to his ambitions and vision for his future. Does he have a clear plan for his future? Does he has a history of several career changes and is still searching for what makes him happy? Men often rely on their career for confidence and you want a confident man. It’s not about how much he makes but that he is strong and confident in what he does.

Faith: Do you share the same faith and beliefs? At the end of the day, the last thing you want to argue about is what you consider to be the source and foundational principles of life.

Homework: Share an example of a man you dated and tell us how which one of the Five F’s you wish you had explored or made more important. Do you seem to be dating men who have most of the Five F’s, but have a pattern of lacking one of the above? If so, which one?

I definitely don’t look at finance, future, or faith enough. I’ve dated men before that seem to be on top of their money, but it has always made me nervous in the past because I don’t want to be married to someone that is strict about what I spend my money on. But obviously, I can see both sides of this – my last relationship was with a man who had terrible finance issues and was stealing money from his job. 

Future… this is one that makes me really nervous. I almost feel like I CAN’T have an opinion about this because I don’t have a clear future. Do I have goals? Yes. Ambition? Yes. But I don’t have a clear plan. 

Rarely have I ever cared if I’m with someone where we share the same faith and beliefs. It sounds crazy writing it out, but it’s true! I recently had an experience where I realized the importance of this when I got into an emotional argument with someone over politics. I know politics aren’t faith, but these are at the core of my beliefs. 

…Day 6… I have work to do.

Detox Your Dating: Day 5.

Oh man, Day 5 is a toughie!

SRSLY, everyone is just freaking out about this solar eclipse – is it really that big of a deal? My office doesn’t even have windows, so I’m 100% sure I will not notice when Texas gets 65% coverage. Le sigh.

Anyway, onto Day 5, and this one is a tough one for me.

Day 5 Challenge: Time to go Shopping for a High-Quality Man!

Denise is instructing us detoxers to think about the last two serious relationships we’ve had (oh, boy). She asks, what were the initial traits and qualities each man had that attracted you?

We’ll start with my most recent serious relationship (deep breath in)…

We met at a high-brow dinner party, and our first date was a private dinner prepared just for us by the chef. I really liked that he was a man who appreciated fine dining, interesting food, good wine, and was willing to splurge for our date.

On our first date, I felt like we had a lot to talk about, and he was funny and made me laugh.

The relationship before that… we met at work and I really was attracted to his drive, focus on work, and I felt like he was a family man – I always got lost imagining us as a big family.

…God, this is just embarrassing.

Now, Denise says, write why the relationship ended. What traits or things about his character led to the breakup?

Guy 1: We broke up as a result of his alcoholism. Turns out, his love for good wine was also a love for alchohol, period. He was arrested for drinking and driving multiple times and got into an accident while under the influence. Our relationship changed big time when I picked him up from jail. He was a really great liar, and was cheating on me for the entirety of our relationship.

Guy 2: We broke up after he moved out of town for work. He was obsessed with work – and worked multiple jobs. He was cheating on me, and was quickly married after we broke up. I have talked to him briefly since then, and when I asked him about his family (he has a wife and two kids), he simply said he was married to his job.

…So basically the things that attracted me to these men were the same things that made it end.

Do these men share anything in common, in retrospect?

They were both unavailable to me for different reasons (minus the cheating).

Homework: Name 1 example of a trait you must have and an example of an action your date will do that will demonstrate the trait you’re looking for.

…This is a problem. Honestly, I’ve had such issues in dating that I don’t even know what I want or what to look for. I want to say I need honesty in a man, but I don’t know what he could do to demonstrate that trait. I suppose, given my past, I need a man that is willing to make time for a woman (like me) in his life. So, he would need to tell me about his life, how he spends his time, and what he’s looking for in a partner. That sounds heavy, yes? He could make a sincere effort to make plans with me in advance.

😦

Detox Your Dating: Day 4.

Halfway mark!

The detox for day 3 was pretty eye-opening for me, so I’m curious to dive into day 4! This day is all about “Recognizing your cravings for attention”. Oh boy…

Day 4 Challenge: Recognize Your Cravings for Attention

Denise explains that many successful women admit to having some sort of “attachment” to something on the side. This may be something like:

  • Friends with benefits
  • Sex texts with an ex
  • Keeping a box of memories from past relationships
  • Hookup sex/one-night stands
  • Dating someone with no future

…Eh, none of this is really me. I’ve had friends with benefits, that was around four years ago. Other than that, I don’t do these things. Which is good!

Homework: 

  1. Share with the group a time you held onto one of these attachments.
  2. What triggered this?
  3. How did you let it go?

I used to always, always be “talking” to or texting someone, whether it was a Friends with Benefits type of guy, or a straight up No Future Guy! I’d say there were two things that I did to stop it: 1. I moved to a new city and state. This isn’t WHY I did it, but it certainly helped the situation, and 2. I finally went through a breakup that shed some light on what I was doing to myself. By having all of this drama and baggage surrounding me, I was refusing to let myself grow. By putting down my phone and cutting out the losers, I learned a lot about myself and how to fill days without a No Future Guy taking up my time.

…Thinking more on this now, I don’t know if I’ve ever shared this, but I’ve never really had a romantic relationship that was quality. This is why I can never see what I’m “missing” from my single life. No, I haven’t only dated jerks, but the one relationship I can think of that wasn’t awful, still just wasn’t right.

This is why we have three days left to detox.

Detox Your Dating: Day 3.

The Dating Detox continues on!

Still drinking the metaphorical green juice for this Dating Detox from Denise Poteat. I know I’ve said it before, but even though I would not consider myself an active dater – reflecting on my past always does a number on me (this time for the better, I think). So, day 3, let’s get it!

Day 3 Challenge: Clean Your Pantry

Today is all about clearing out the junk you don’t need, ahem, like those 7 types of guys none of us should be dating. These types include, but are not limited to, The Narcissist (controlling, self-esteem thief, makes you question your own sense of intuition and self), Playboys (badass with moves in the bedroom), Players (physical, smooth talker), and Peter Pan (the guy who never really grows up).

Ew. I have dated ALL of these guys. And then Denise tosses out a checklist: “Have you ever dated a guy like this?”…

  • He doesn’t have his ducks in a row financially
  • He’s passive-aggressive, jealous, and needy
  • He runs hot and cold in his feelings toward you
  • He’s highly critical of your behavior and leaves you walking on eggshells
  • He’s broken up with you more than once, so you never know where he stands

Let’s see… yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

I hate myself.

Then she says, “What about the new boyfriend who claims to love you…”

  • He communicates mostly by text message
  • He never wants to listen to your needs
  • He disappears for days at a time
  • He never talks about a future
  • He makes you feel bad about yourself – to the point you think you’re crazy

…YES, YES, YES, YES, YES.

Ugh.

Homework: Look at your past 3-4 relationships and share your biggest weakness.

Because of my ultimate fear of intimacy, I choose the men that are unavailable – whether it be because he has multiple girlfriends, too busy with work/school/friends, is an alcoholic – I always just use those as excuses as to why it’s not working. Aside from just not being there, these men have made me feel crazy, had me questioning my feelings, and sent me into tailspins. Looking back, it’s SO clear that every single guy I’ve dated (even the ones I just have crushes on) are unavailable in some way.

Detox Your Dating: Day 2.

Rolling right into Day 2!

Who is ready for Day 2 of this Dating Detox Challenge? ME! Well, sort of. Because here’s the thing: I’m not really dating.

I haven’t been on an actual date in two years, and even that is pretty lenient, because that date was a special situation. Needless to say, it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve been on a date. Why? Because honestly, I’m just not sure it’s the thing for me.

I used to think of myself as really good at dating. I’m fun, smart, I can carry on a conversation with most people, I like swapping stories, and in general, I like meeting new people. But as the years passed, I started seeing that the work I put into dating was never worth the result.

So, Day 2 is interesting… Here goes.

DAY 2: WHAT’S YOUR GUT TELLING YOU?

Why are you dating?

I’m not really dating. I’m currently on one dating app and have only talked to two guys in the last month. I’ve noticed that even when I “match” with a guy on the app, the messages are very short and uninteresting, so it just seems like a waste of my time. However, there IS something keeping me from giving up entirely on dating and that’s me thinking about the future.

In general, I like my day-to-day life, even though I spend most of my time by myself. I do have friends – although I am working to make more friends (I moved to a new city almost two years ago). I am close to my mom, but she lives states away. I have spent many holidays alone, and although I’ve tried to do all I can to make this okay, it hasn’t been a pleasant experience.

Ultimately, I want a partner in life. I want someone to share life with at the end of the day. A forever companion for the holidays, for the ups and downs of life.

So you want to share your life with someone so that you can do or feel what?

I do, at times, feel like something is missing in my life. And it’s not Jesus. I wonder what my life would be like as a 50-year old being single, or at 60? 70? What will I do? Will I regret not putting myself out there more? Will I regret not having children?

And once you have that companionship and feeling that someone else cares about you, what will that do for you? What will that change?

I never want to rely on someone else for my happiness, but I do want to support someone (spiritually/emotionally) and have that same support back.

Homework: Share your WHY statement on the Facebook page.

Here’s what I put on Facebook: Day #2 homework: I honestly haven’t been on a date in two years. There have been times in my life that I am actively “out there” – online and going out and getting set up by friends. Why? Ultimately I want someone to share my life with. As a single person, I do spend a majority of my life by myself. Yes, I have friends and family (although a majority of my family is estranged), but I want that partner, that support. Most of the time, I am happy in my life, but sometimes I wonder: is this IT? Am I always going to come home to my cat? Will I regret not having looked more? Not having children? These are the questions that keep me from shutting out dating entirely.

Detox Your Dating: Day 1.

Always up for a challenge!

A fellow singleton friend asked me if I wanted to try a free 7-day exercise called “Detox Your Dating Life” put on by Denise Poteat. I immediately agreed – although I do really, really enjoy being single, I’m always up for a challenge.

This 7-day exercise involves lots of self-reflection, and over the course of the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing these thoughts with you as I move throughout the program. Yes, I was bad and didn’t do the days right after another. It took me awhile, okay?!

Enjoy!

DAY 1: STEP ON THE SCALE

One of the first steps on this day was to state my limiting beliefs. According to popular belief, you are what you eat, and this saying works in dating, too. If you don’t believe you can go after a certain type of person, then you certainly won’t get him or her.

Who you date is a direct reflection of yourself, Denise said. I immediately cringed at this thought. I have dated some real bad ones. Ugh.

What is your single biggest frustration with dating?

Being vulnerable is my #1 block with dating. I have always dated guys that are really wrong for me (probably really wrong for anyone). I don’t do it on purpose, but I believe I do it because then, when things turn south, I can just blame it on them and not have to accept that it may be because of my baggage and flaws.

I also don’t like the work or the compromise that goes into dating. I have my own schedule that I like, I feel like my life without men is relaxed and comfortable. When I am dating, I feel stressed and on-edge constantly. I don’t want to give up my care-free life for a man.

What belief do you have about why you are single?

Ultimately, I don’t want to open myself up to true intimacy.

Top three reasons that describe your feelings about being single:

  • I don’t feel comfortable approaching men
  • I don’t have the energy to date; it’s too much hassle
  • I don’t need to be in a relationship to be happy

Homework: Review the following statements and share with the private Facebook group the thought you struggle with the most.

  •  Am I better off alone?
  • Do I really need a man to be happy?
  • What if I get into a relationship and lose my independence?

Here’s what I put into the Facebook group:

Am I better off alone? I have wondered this for nearly 10 years (I’m 32). I have mostly only experienced abusive relationships, for which I entered counseling and worked to get to the root of my issues. However, I’ve been single for four years now, and have spent that time relearning who I am, and ultimately what I want out of life. I haven’t ever gotten happiness from a man, and I’ve seen so many women fall into the same manipulative relationship traps I did years ago. I feel weak when I even start to like a man – I associate strength with being single. I feel like, as a single woman, I have this absolute freedom that I don’t have when I’m in a relationship. As embarrassing as this is to admit, there were even times I didn’t want a male waiter at a restaurant. I’m growing, and still learning, but I just can’t picture myself being vulnerable enough to love.

And Denise replied! Here’s what she said: Thank you Holly for being so honest…you really hit on something that I think many women in the group can relate to. You said “I associate strength with being single.” When you have been hurt early in your life…you can stop trusting men and ultimately…your own judgement. I want to help women learn to hear and trust their intuition…to be gentle, but strong with what they require in a relationship with a real man.

Day one = done! Be on the lookout for days two, three, and four next week 🙂 Want to do the challenge? You can sign up here – it’s completely free!

BBC: ‘The Arrangement’.

Hello, hello! I’ve had a pretty good week over here – hope you all can say the same! I DID take three dance classes last night though, so I’m definitely sore today. However, I needed it!

But let’s jump right into the book review, because this one is a GOODIE. Here’s the official description from Amazon for “The Arrangement” by Sarah Dunn:

Lucy and Owen, ambitious, thoroughly-therapized New Yorkers, have taken the plunge, trading in their crazy life in a cramped apartment for Beekman, a bucolic Hudson Valley exurb. They’ve got a two hundred year-old house, an autistic son obsessed with the Titanic, and 17 chickens, at last count. It’s the kind of paradise where stay-at-home moms team up to cook the school’s “hot lunch,” dads grill grass-fed burgers, and, as Lucy observes, “chopping kale has become a certain kind of American housewife’s version of chopping wood.”

When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they’ve made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks. There’s a part of her, though-the part that worries she’s become too comfortable being invisible-that’s intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she’s known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy-“real life,” or the “experiment?”

I saw this on a Pinterest list (ugh, guilty) and I’ll admit, I was a little hesitant to pick it up. I’m really sensitive to any entertainment/pop culture that doesn’t respect women, or even discusses ideas that would degrade a woman.

But, it says the woman makes the decision to have an open marriage! So, I read it and I’m so glad I did. This book really takes a look at modern relationships, and how they might really turn out.

This was a quick, easy read, and it had just the right bit of sex appeal, while still highlighting some good writing. I’m recommending this book to anyone who loves a good romance novel – with a twist, of course.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Some Kind of Happiness“, a YA novel by Claire Legrand.

I have got an entire weekend of NOTHING planned – although I do need to work on my queso skills. You might recall I entered myself in a queso contest and it’s officially two weeks away and I have done nothing to prepare. Yikes!

Other than that, it might just be me, in bed, watching made-for-Hallmark Channel movies. I am not ashamed! I hope you guys have some fun out there; I’ll be right back here on Monday!

Is foreplay feminist?

Sexual women shouldn’t be ashamed.

A few years ago, I had a date with this guy I really liked. We cooked dinner at his house, and before I knew it, we were upstairs, in his bed, making out. I quickly told him I wasn’t ready to sleep with him since we weren’t monogamous and hadn’t even been talking that long.

He was okay with that, but I noticed he also never tried anything else but kissing. Never even touched me anywhere below the waist. I chalked it up to him being respectful and that was the end of it.

We had a few “incidents” over the years that put us apart, but, as life would have it, our paths crossed again, and there I was, back in that same damn bed. Only this time, I wanted to sleep with him. He was a nice guy, we had a lot in common, and I kind of didn’t care if it went anywhere afterward or not.

But he proceeded to take things from making out to sex. As in making out to going for it, without ANYTHING else in between. No touching, no feeling, no oral, no whispering in my ear, not even kissing on the neck.

Umm… what? No.

“I’m going to need something else,” I told him.

“What?” he asked.

“You know, touch me…” I said.

“Oh,” he said. “Well, I haven’t done THAT since college.”

And he let out a little chuckle.

No wonder you’re single, I thought.

I can’t speak for every woman, and I won’t, but I’ll say that yes, I need more than just thrusting. I need to be touched, I like oral sex, and you know what? I’m not ashamed of it. I’m a sexual person (imagine that, a woman, being sexual)!

I give and take, and I think sex should be equal work and pleasure for all parties involved. I want to be with a man who wants me to get off.

There, I said it.

This incident OFFENDED me, a lot. Possibly more than I have ever been offended.

In a single second, this guy made me feel embarrassed, ashamed, and ugly. I felt like he didn’t want to touch me or show me a good time. And you know what? I have unfortunately been with some guys who were jerks, but they STILL wouldn’t dare sleep with me and not ensure I had a good time.

This small act let me know who this guy is: a selfish one, who has no interest in pleasing women, and has no interest in trying to the point he insulted me while I was naked, in his bed.

The other thing I found weird, was he said he hadn’t done that since college. That was 10 years ago for us. So, all the women he’s been with between then and now just get the three thrusts and done? Also, why decide “Oh, once I graduate college, I am SO done with oral sex and foreplay”? Newsflash: My basic sexual needs didn’t change when I got a degree.

I clamped my legs shut, and rolled over to go to sleep. In the morning, I was still pissed.

“Good morning!” he said.

I said nothing.

He continued talking to me and I continued ignoring him.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“No, I actually think you’re an asshole,” I said.

“What? Why?” he asked.

“Umm probably because you just go around putting your dick in people without doing anything else and you just take what’s good for you,” I said.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “That was selfish of me.”

He went outside, cut a flower, and brought it inside to me.

“That’s nice but it’s not an orgasm,” I said.

I don’t know if it was lack of confidence, lack of caring, pure machoism at its finest, or what, but I cannot.

So, I’d love to know thoughts on this – especially from the guys! I don’t want to get into numbers here, but I’ve been in enough situations to know this isn’t really normal. But when I talked to some of my girlfriends about it, they said yes, they’ve been with lots of guys who don’t care if they (the ladies) enjoy themselves or not.

This is not ok! I don’t care if its feminist or not, I refuse to be with someone who isn’t interested in what I want, and really what I need.

No really, who’s my soulmate?

“Did I pass you on the sidewalk?”

Hola, readers! Ugh, it has been a weird/crazy week over here, so I apologize for not posting yesterday. In time, I’ll explain it all, of course.

But, something has been on my mind. You may have noticed that when I posted about what happened with my last crush/male-interest, etc., a fellow blogger posted her advice. Here it is, in case you didn’t see it:

Are you willing to give this a try? Right before you go to bed each night, think of the perfect person you would like to meet in detail, down to what you are both wearing, what you are doing, etc- like you are watching yourself in a movie.

More than once, the entire experience has come true in almost the same detail that I had imagined; made the hair on my arms stand up straight and reminds me every day to keep looking forward.

This advice comes from Linda over at A Moxie Girl, and she’s actually someone I’ve worked with in the blogging world. She has some pretty amazing stories about the truth in the power of visualization, so I definitely want to take her advice.

But one thing her comment made me realize, is that I sort of have no idea who I’m hoping to meet. Who is going to fulfill my needs? My desires?

When I was in high school, I made a list of all the things I (thought I) was looking for in a guy. I don’t have the list now, but I remember some things were superficial, i.e. “looks good in a baseball hat”, and some things were personality-based, such as “keeps up with the news”.

It was a pretty long list, and I really have no idea why I made it. I also thought I was only going to sleep with one person EVER, and be married by the time I was 25, so we can just chalk it all up to high-school ignorant-bliss brain.

Later, an English teacher mentioned during a lesson that you can list out everything you want in life, or your career, or in a partner, and you’ll probably end up with the exact opposite. I wondered if what she said was true.

There are times I’ve dated men that fit my original, high school list (I really am a sucker for a guy in a hat), but of course I never wrote down things like “cheats on me”, “is abusive”, or “won’t meet my parents”, and I’ve landed myself in all of those situations.

So, what the heck is it that I want? I know that I need someone who is honest, comfortable (not complacent) in their skin, kind, and a little selfless. I want someone who takes care of themselves, who’s interested in a healthy lifestyle, but won’t judge me when I eat French fries. I want someone who values what they have; someone who is hardworking, but knows how to kickback, too. I hate admitting this, but I want someone who appreciates nice things, whether its a rare scotch or a fine dining experience.

Looks? I am not really sure. Yes, I see men I find attractive all the time – but they don’t all look the same. And I suppose THIS is what I need to work on when it comes to my “nightly visualizations”. Don’t worry, I’ll think on it and get back to you.

What about you guys? Ever visualized HARD and had it actually happen? I’d love to hear about it!

The other side of heartbreak.

Keep away the lonelies.

I promised I’d fill you in on my love life as of late, and well, I’m a woman of my word. And yeah, I’m going to somehow try and explain this as honestly as possible, without going off the deep end. Here goes.

I’ve known this guy for 16+ years (ugh, I’m so old), and over the years we’ve developed one of those friendships I’d see in a romcom and be completely jealous of. We have SO much stuff in common, from politics and television to food and writing.

There’s been spots in our friendship where we’ve talked and texted every day, and there’s been times we haven’t talked for months. For years, even though I was romantically interested in him, I never wanted to force it – I liked him in a way where I felt like I wanted him to do what made him happy, even if that meant not being with me.

But these last few months felt different. Our talks were different. His gestures were different. He was very kind, and I’ll be honest here: I was feeling very vulnerable. Almost scared shitless.

He lives states away, and I needed to know where this was headed. Was he planning on staying where he is currently, or was he open to moving? Is he the type of guy looking to get married and have a family (I mean we are 32)?

These are questions I’ve never really had, and they are DEFINITELY questions I’ve never felt comfortable asking. I was in 100% new territory here, and quite nervous.

When I went to visit him though, my fantasy was not quite what I’d dreamt (imagine that, because this always happens to me). On the surface, he said some things that were sweet – that he felt vulnerable, too, that he didn’t like going a single day without talking to me, and that he ultimately wanted me to be happy – these are things no man has EVER said to me before… and well, frankly, I wonder if I’ll ever hear them again.

But despite the kind words, there were… actions… that happened that didn’t back up these words. Actions that made me wonder if he even liked me at all – ever. I felt a little tricked, and I felt like a fool (per usual). And to top it off, he wasn’t open to moving.

On the one hand, yes, I got answers. They certainly weren’t the ones I wished for, but I got them. I really hoped to keep our friendship, but we haven’t really talked since – granted, I haven’t reached out either, because I’m just not really sure how, or if I should, or if it’s worth it.

There’s a part of me that feels really proud of myself for seeing red flags and knowing that I want better for myself; that I cannot settle at this point, and there’s something in my blood that’s telling me I need to continue my adventure as a single woman.

It’s a weird feeling because – as silly as it sounds – I kind of thought this was it! He was so different than the men of my past; there was so much actual connection, and very little talk of sex and that was refreshing to me. But it still wasn’t right in the way I need it to be.

I don’t have any hard feelings, but I’ll say that being on this side of heartbreak – a place where there was no betrayal or lies (as far as I know) – it was just simply a misalignment – it really isn’t that much easier. Okay, so I’m not dragging ass, eating ice cream from the carton, but… There is still a lot of loneliness. I went from talking to someone every day to hardly even looking at my phone.

I all of the sudden have tons of extra time (which explains why I read two whole books last week).

And I know this is just another something I will get over – I’ve done it many times. These experiences, although painful, are important as I continue to figure out who is going to be the right one for me. In the meantime, though, I make pretty awesome company for myself. And I’ve been on my own for so long, I’ll admit I’m getting verrrryyy used to it – not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but it’s happening!

That’s where I’m at now, and I’m just trying to keep things moving. I’m also thinking about the future. I got a good reminder that I don’t really have anything holding me down, and things are wide open for my. It’s a very freeing feeling, and I know that’s something a lot of people can’t say.

Cheers to what’s coming next, even if I don’t know what!

It’s true: You really can’t go home again.

Indianapolis.

Last week, I took a trip home to Indiana to visit some old friends and family. It had been 18 months since I’ve been back, and I was really looking forward to it.

I had three big things on my to-do list during my six-day trip: 1. Honor my friend Cheryl by participating in a Crohn’s Walk with my mom, 2. Get answers for a romantic relationship in-question, and 3. Visit my friend and her son.

Item #1 happened basically as planned, although there seems to always be secrecy and planning that happens behind my back and then – SURPRISE! – I arrive and it’s not what I thought it would be. Whatever.

Item #2 is a toughie. You see, I have had a little bit of a crush on this person for, well, half of my life. I am really lucky to call him my friend, first, but I know things were starting to inch toward the gray area and I needed to know where we were headed.

Long-distance relationships are difficult, and I have no intentions of getting involved in one unless there was a clear means to an end. One thing I wanted to know was if he planned on staying in Indiana forever.

If so, that would be something I’d have to seriously consider: would I move back to give this thing a chance? I’m happy to report we talked about this right away. I’m not-so-happy to report that his answer was yes, he’ll be staying in Indiana foreevvverrrrrr. Ouch.

Now let me say this, I’m definitely not married to the idea of staying in Austin, Texas forever. In fact, I’m already considering my next move. But I know I’m not equipped to move back to Indiana. I haven’t done all I need to do!

There were other wrenches thrown into the mix as the week progressed – things that showed me, clearly, a romantic future is just not in the cards for me and this guy. I don’t want to say much more than that; I do hope he’ll still be my friend for years to come.

It’s sad, in fact I’m still pretty bummed out about it, but I’m glad I saw things for myself and got the answers I needed before we traveled too far down the rabbit hole.

If you’ve been reading around these parts for awhile, you know that I’m kinda (ok, really) bad at dating. I have a history of ignoring red flags and getting myself stuck in some sticky situations. So, even though this didn’t end in love this time, I have to say I’m really proud of myself for standing up and not just “going with it” when I know something doesn’t align with my values. I know what I want for myself, and I’d much rather be single than try and force something that isn’t right.

So, it’s a bittersweet win.

Now, item #3 just plain didn’t happen for reasons I’m not really sure of.

I’ll say that as much as it pains me to admit it, sometimes people just grow apart, no matter how long or deep a history they have. And maybe that has happened here.

Regardless, my heart is still hurt, and I have been on the mend (read: sleeping way too much) since my return. Loss, of any sort, isn’t easy.

Aside from those things, I spent some quality time with another friend – we got some good laughs, drank delicious wine, and we endured some interesting challenges along the way.

We joined up with some old friends from high school and I laughed until my cheeks hurt over inside jokes that possibly only we think are funny. We went to see Guster and Dispatch in concert, and there were literally fireflies dancing above us, and it was the Indiana I’ve romanticized since my departure 14 summers ago.

As I always say, Indiana will always (!) hold a special place in my heart – I went through a lot of things growing up there. But when I boarded my plan to Texas last Thursday morning, every ounce of me knew that things just weren’t quite the same. Even if Texas isn’t my forever home, I know Indiana isn’t.

I spent 12 years in Louisiana, and although it didn’t necessarily feel like “home”, I accomplished so much there, and it really shaped who I’ve become. Texas, well, hard work got me here, and it gave me a fresh start. It’s an opportunity that I still sort of can’t believe I have.

So, cheers to old friends, but also, to looking ahead, wherever that may be.

BBC: ‘Head for the Edge, Keep Walking’.

Happy Friday! It has been a busy week on my end, and I’m sort of in a race to the finish – the finish being my flight to Indianapolis a week from today. Before then, I’ve got a lot on my plate and I feel like I’m running on some serious adrenaline, but hey, it’s all good!

I still had some time to read this week, and finished my book sale find ($1) “Head for the Edge, Keep Walking” by Kate Tough. Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

Jill Beech’s nine-year relationship is over. She covers the sadness with madness, going dancing with her off-beat friends and attempting a series of hilariously bad internet dates. Then life is flipped on its head again by some shocking news. Adrift in her mid-thirties, no-one does lost quite like Jill. Wry, witty, resilient but bewildered, she is left asking, what does it take to stay sane in this life? And why does it look easier for everyone else? While her friends are preoccupied with pregnancy, Jill looks elsewhere for meaning. Will she find happiness with a kitten called Cyril? A job she can finally believe in? Or a charming ex-snowboard champion who wants to settle down? Events force Jill to head for the edge—will she fall headlong or turn things around and keep walking?

When I read the back of the book, I felt like “Omigosh, this sounds exactly like me” – minus that whole 9-year relationship thing. But when I read the book, her problems weren’t exactly as the book jacket described.

Yes, she was trying to find her life again, trying to find little bits of joy in her job, and see some sort of meaning in the endless cycle of going out each night. But she was also faced with some semi-serious health issues, on top of attempting to date and find love.

It was a good read – just a little bit different than I expected, and I’ll admit, I often don’t understand British humor.

The next book I’ll be reading is “The Night We Said Yes” by Lauren Gibaldi.

I hope you all have a great weekend – I’ll be doing some baking tonight, so if you want to see it you can catch it on SnapChat @OrangeJulius7. Tomorrow, I’m road-tripping it to Louisiana, and I’ve got a Dispatch album in my console, along with an audio book!

See y’all on Monday!