Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On The Brink

I have held off on any political postings of late because I had nothing good to say and because I like so many have watched in numb disbelief the continued ineptitude which daily I thought would be righted by our all mighty checks and balances system however today I woke with a sense of foreboding and defeat fearing that for my fiance's birthday which this year has the distinction of falling on the debt ceiling deadline, he along with the rest of us would be gifted a crippling debt and a country thrown into chaos by the will of the few, a corrupt minority who's endgame and tactics continue to baffle me. Moreover, I cannot overcome the sense of helplessness which has been spreading like a pox over the last several elections as I've watched my reproductive rights repeatedly called into question, the marital rights of my friends and loved ones repeatedly put to heated public discourse, legitimate rape, the end of affirmative action, Creationism and Christianity as required learning, the systematic stripping of rights earned, fought for and hard won by our predecessors all while fighting fervently for the right to stockpile weapons and violate each other in the name of some misguided frontier notion of self preservation. Whatever your feelings about socialized medicine and national healthcare, which ironically the Affordable Care Act is neither, it is clear that this fervent push to defund a program made law three years ago has nothing to do with the will or welfare of the people whom our representatives claim to represent. While the wealthy one percentage mock and misinform, and change the rules to get their way, we pay for it again and again. Private citizens and philanthropists are opening national sites where the government has failed. I don't know how to overcome this feeling of helplessness and rage, mirrored by so many. How can we fix this? And how are so many still supporting the actions of this House of Reprehensibles? You can no longer claim ignorance. And for those who have told me "if you don't like it, get out of the country," guess what, the world is watching, and they don't want us. Once we were the protector on the international playground, then we were the bully and now we are the nameless victims, beaten and ridiculed by our own family.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Lie We Tell Ourselves

You know, I am spending a lot of time feeling blessed lately, like Charlie winning the golden ticket.  Only my chocolate factory is a gratifying future. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you are supported and embraced. For many years, I felt like the ideal platform to showcase my independence was to overcame, to persevere even when I found resistance from others.  And yes, I am very proud of my accomplishments despite the obstacles which stood in my way.

But one of the greatest obstacles, one I never wanted to acknowledge was my ex-husband who supported the efforts which benefited him most. I never wanted to see it, to believe it or to acknowledge it because I was collusive in the lie which said, “We do our own thing and that’s good.  He pursues his interests and I pursue mine. And I don’t need anyone to be successful.” 

See, my generation in particular has been taught that as women, we should seek independence as a badge of honor, that marriage and family were early on career suicide having been raised by amazingly overworked mothers who were sold a bad bill of goods with the supermom myth. I never really believed that career and family were mutually exclusive however I did believe that it was understandable to have a partner who did not actively support my interests and endeavors because I was an independent woman and I was in love. All I wanted was to have him in some small part of my life and to immerse myself in his.

Here’s the trick though, the thing about love that kind of sucks. Just because you love someone and they love you doesn’t mean you are good partners. You might even be good companions, we were brilliant travel buddies, compatible in many ways. But for me, the biggest problem was until I was in a relationship with a true partner, I didn’t understand the difference. Because we don’t approach love and marriage like we approach business; it’s unromantic, it’s unchivalrous, it’s uncivilized. Or so we’re led to believe by the fairy tales and the magazines.

Funny thing is, I’m very business-minded and practical in most of my life; always have been. Always had a can-do attitude. I just had a blind spot for love. So my solution when I got resistance from the one person who should have had my back was to just do it all myself. Which I did. For a long time. And to my credit, pretty effectively given the circumstances.

But, here’s the big reveal…removing that caveat, “Given the circumstances”, I have accomplished more in a year alone and in two years with a partner than I did in ten with a spouse because I stopped fighting an uphill battle and instead starting working on a level playing field. It’s still a lot of ground to cover, but there’s a lot less standing in the way and two people conquering the obstacles together.

So should you approach marriage like you approach work? Maybe, maybe not. But I do think that once you have a partner, where it isn’t just about him or her supporting you or you supporting him or her and instead you spend time with someone sharing mutual respect, understanding, sacrifice and support, it is amazing how much more you can accomplish. We learn this in kindergarten, “work together”, “share”, “raise your hand and ask for help” and yet so often we short change ourselves in love and in life because we put the other person’s needs and wants so far above our own. Sacrifice is not the enemy but it has to be mutually beneficial. Eliminate the obstacles, work together and you become a force to be reckoned with. You don’t have to be the same, but you should be a compliment. And on this point, don’t compromise.  

Check out the definition of a relationship: “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected” and “the way in which two or more people, groups, countries, etc., talk to, behave toward, and deal with each other.” But a partner is “a person who takes part in an undertaking with another.” Don’t we want to stop settling for romantic relationships and instead strive for life partners, someone who takes part in the life of another. How awesome would that be?

How awesome would that be, you ask? Well, give me time, I’ll tell ya!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


In the past year I have had a lot of time to contemplate my love life mistakes.  I have all too often made myself the sacrificial lamb in the relationship, thinking somehow that if I was willing to sacrifice, it meant that I loved the person so much that I would do anything for him.  Sound familiar?  Worse yet, I still punish myself for allowing it to happen and feel the weight of responsibility despite the fact that I was likely dating a douc...not nice person.  But in a partnership, there has to be equilibrium.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and yet as women, we are often taught to seek one; an empty vessel which we can can pour all of ourself into until there is nothing left.  And guess what?  When you're done pouring all of yourself; your love, your life, your dreams....your money and time and energy into this other person, they walk away with all of you and you are left an empty vessel.  Sometimes we seek someone else to fill us up, sometimes we find resources to rebuild and replenish, sometimes we even have children or pets but still we seek out that other person whom we can pour all of ourselves into.  

Never allow yourself to be made less.  Never mistake comfortable for convenient.  If someone says they love being with you because they are so comfortable, make sure that isn't code for "I don't have to work at it.  I don't have to compromise and I don't have to commit."  Relationships are work and if they are not, then likely they are not working, either.  Don't make the mistake of making yourself convenient.  We are all far better than convenient.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Life in Review

So, as many of you know, I’m in the middle of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, 3000 miles from home bringing the message of SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL to the masses and strangely enough, the masses aren’t coming.  It is by far, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and as you’ve been along the journey thus far you know what came before.  I’m not disappointed by the slow numbers, truth is it’s hard to build an audience here where you are just a drop in the sea of offerings across the city.  No, what is troubling me is simply the tepid response.  I suppose it is in part because I am so close to this and I believe so much in the message of this show and the blog, that anyone can change his or her life with baby steps and the absolute resolve to be open to everything the world has to offer.

I’ve been told my show is too much life a self-help book, not sexy enough, not Avant guard enough, not angsty enough or in your face enough. 

Well, enough is enough.  All those people miss the point of this show, this blog and this time on earth.  The whole point of what I do, what I write and what I want to convey is that we are enough. Now.   In this moment.  Ok, maybe there are times I seem like I’m out there saying things can be better but the truth is, I’m just relating my own experiences, my own challenges and my own goofy, messy choices.  It’s like the penny jar on the counter.  If you are in need, take it.  If you have enough, spare it.  And if you don’t have a stake in it, shut the f*ck up. 

Ok, yes, I know that they are reviewers, to be fair, that’s their job.  But the fact is, we all have critics in our lives, those little niggling voices who evaluate our every thought, choice and decision.  Problem with critics these days is there’s no way to delete them; much like the lesson of cyber space, everything we hear lives in the archive of our brain.  So maybe the key is to take the bad review and find the quote.

‘Engaging and amusing…this is the show for you!’ 
‘Touching…intriguing…a heart-warming performance.’

Forget the naysayers and bring on the reviews.  Just make sure you do a little creative editing of your own!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Glamous Life

So taking a page from my own life which is now entirely currently engulfed in running the show in Edinburgh, I was emailed a guide to surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival including such gems as make sure you pack lots of condoms for all the sex you will be having, drink lots of water to offset all the alcohol you'll be consuming and make sure you give yourself just enough to sober up before your show.  Do you think this is a tip list, or a wish list?  Where are these sex parties?  Should I go there and flyer?  Is it sad that at the end of the day all I want is a cup of tea and a scone?  And maybe a nap?

Sometimes I really do feel a bit like a saucy virgin in a brothel.  Ah well, beat of our own drummer, I suppose.  Journey on, you party animals.   

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Signs

Recently, I was asked to compile a list of ten signs that you are on your way to SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL status.  Ok, first let’s get a few things out of the way.  I have become rather an expert on this field, this way of the SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL, not by design or desire but through years of practice.  It isn’t something that happens overnight and there is no easy path so if you’ve been following my exploits thinking, “Wow, that is so who I want to be,” then I have to warn you, you have some work ahead and you better be ready to commit.  This is no fly-by-night program, there is no magic pill or prescription rub to being alone in a relationship, but there are some indicators to let you know that you are on the right track!  So here follows, the top ten signs that you, yes you, are a SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL. 

Just a few rules and regs before we get started.  First of all, you do not need to be married to qualify nor do you need to be a girl.  There are a lot of us out there thinking we are alone with nowhere to turn but consider me your official SMG-GPS.  So here’s a quick and easy list to see if you rank as a SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL.    

  1. When at your place of employ, do the other people in the office just shake their heads and look at you doubtfully as you confirm, “No really, he’d love to be here but he works so far away.”  Sweetie, you’ve worked there for five years, they think you are dating your hand.  
  2. Do you own more than two cats or more than two outfits for your pet (s)?
  3. Have you ever been hit on by a Carnie?  Did you kind of enjoy it?
  4. Do you ever sometimes think, “Just finish already so I can get back to Facebook?”  Are you nodding your head in understanding?
  5. Do you ever reach out for a hand that simply doesn’t reach back?
  6. Have you ever worn kitten heels with skinny jeans just to see if you still could?  Men, this applies to you too! (Bonus points if this was a funeral, wedding or class reunion.)
  7. Do you ever wish your spouse was just your room mate because you really do have fun vacations and love eating ice cream while watching old movies on the couch, and he’s such a good caregiver and really does do a lot of things like the laundry and the groceries and cleaning and he’s so good with the pets and…why do you suddenly feel like you are making excuses? 
  8. Do you ever wish maybe your parents had put their foot down a little more?
  9. Do you ever feel like you’re working just a little too hard to hide your awesome? 
  10. Do you feel that pang of recognition in the pit of your stomach when you hear the phrase, “This is just how it is.  Accept it”?  Is the voice saying it yours?
If you answered yes to any of these, congratulations, you’re human and normal and not alone.  And you just might be well on your way to being a SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL.  So what now?  What’s the next step?  Well, buy my book, naturally, but until I write it, why don’t you start like I did?  Take yourself on a date and see what happens.  Plan it, pay for it, dress up for it.  Spend an evening with yourself and rediscover the amazing person that you are.   You just might be surprised what an incredible long-lost friend you’ve forgotten about. Oh, and take yourself somewhere nice; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's So Simple

I  don’t know about you but every so often I need a good kick in the pants.  I start to feel overwhelmed and lost, all over again, like the world is closing in and I don’t know in which direction to turn.  It is at these times that I return to my own words, not because I’m some sort of guru or something but because, well, I’ve been documenting my own journey for the past five years.  And I have to say, over this expanse I have hit on some pretty decent kernels of wisdom, and few posts that I leave for the sake of balance despite my cringing when I read them.  Ah, being human! 

It’s strange at these moments when I reread my own advice  I have this otherworldly experience, seeing myself through my readers’ eyes, reading my own words and taking my own advice in the third person.   And often, my reaction to something I read is, “That’s so simple, why didn’t I think of it?”  I mean I did but I digress.  Or I’ll think, “That’s so simple, how could I forget that?” or, “That’s so simple, why did I stop doing that?” 

Are you starting to see the through line here?  Today was just such a morning and this train of thought, this phrase, “that’s so simple” got me wondering, why is it that something so intrinsically simple is often incredibly hard to do?  It occurred to me that it is so ingrained in our culture to suffer, to feel like we have to work and slave and sacrifice, that we often dismiss something out of hand if it’s “too simple”. 

“That’s so simple, it’ll never work.”

We even sort of hold it in low regard, unworthy of our time or attention; a simple construct, a simple person, a simple lifestyle; that simplicity lacks any sort of complexity or depth. 

But here’s the mistake in that kind of thinking.  Simple isn’t the same as easy.  Marriage is simple but it isn’t easy.  Honesty.  Death… Geometry.  Often simple ideas can even sound sort of trite because we dismiss them without considering the work involved in bringing them to fruition, impossible fantasies and the stuff of children’s stories.

I don’t necessarily think we should disregard something because it’s easy either, but I will confess to often approaching it with caution because nothing is ever that easy.  But it is often that simple. 

So maybe it’s time to stop denigrating simple and embrace it a little.  Make a simple list.  Take a simple step.  Make a simple change. 

And today, why not commit a little to the real work and let yourself be happy.  It’s so simple. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Should We Say "Happy" Instead?

June 26, just a few days before I headed overseas to this beautiful country which is all too briefly acting as my home away from home, the land that I love righted a wrong of nearly two decades.  The Supreme Court of the United States, by a shockingly narrow margin of 5-4 overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, declaring it unconstitutional, a watershed moment in LGBTQ rights and a gateway to legalizing marriage equality nation-wide.

I cried.  I celebrated.  I am not gay, but I am also not unaffected.  Like so many, I immediately turned to social media to share my love and excitement and support of my friends, family and community.  And I was shot down by a friend of mine, not because he didn’t support marriage equality but because he took issue with my use of the term “Gay Weddings”.

I considered taking down my post, concerned that somehow my distinction of gay marriage or gay wedding was somehow defamatory, some sort of disguised or misguided discrimination that I wasn’t aware of.  I actually spent several days germinating on this.  And then it struck me why I was so bothered by his response and why I simply don’t agree.  “No,” he said, “Just weddings.  Let’s not call them gay or straight.”

Here’s the thing, DOMA was never about marriage or weddings or who was entitled to love whom.  It was about politics, money and dehumanization.  The abolishment of the Act doesn’t actually legalize unions of any kind; that is still controlled on the state level.  What it does do is require the federal government, law enforcement and military to recognize the rights of legally married couples regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision the Department of Defense issued a statement saying that it “intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses — regardless of sexual orientation”.   Imagine only twenty years ago you could be court-martialed for coming out.  Now you might actually be able to get married in Uniform at the Academy, and have military housing and benefits.  Yup, all equal.  Look at that! 

So why am I making such a big deal about saying gay marriage, gay wedding, or same-sex couple?  Who cares, right?  Because the distinction is important, because for nearly two decades this country has said that gay couples were lesser citizens, that gay officers were not entitled to the same rights as straight officers, that lovers and companions and committed partners, often of decades were not recognized as even having a right to exist under the eyes of our legal system.  And because this struggle for equality stretches well back beyond DOMA and still has miles to go before we rest.

I mean, women got the vote like, a hundred years ago.  Totally equal, right?  And Civil Rights?  Hardly worth mentioning  anymore with all this equality and open-mindedness.  DOMA was like two weeks ago, so Gay Marriage is so last season.   The fact is, this event is too important, too far reaching and far too hard won to simply sweep it under the rug with a quick mainstreaming because some people are uncomfortable with the term “Gay.”  It is just a little modifier but it represents a lifetime of struggle.   Maybe someday we really will be equal and the modifier will be unnecessary.  Maybe one day, gay marriage will be legal in every state of the Union and every country of the world but until then, every Gay Wedding is a celebration of victory.  Don’t ask us to slip it by quietly. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Face in the Mirror

This morning I looked in the mirror and was frustrated with the woman staring back at me.  She is an older and somewhat heavier version of the woman I keep expecting to see.  I started down that old familiar path, telling myself how I had failed, how I had disappointed myself, how I had let myself down.

Now I know a lot of people who really believe that tough love is the only way to improve, that you have to beat yourself down to build yourself up, but for me, that kind of derisive self-talk has never done anything but fuel my own self-doubt into an overwhelming downward spiral of defeat.   I stared into that mirror, searching for the woman I knew was there under two dress sizes, remembering the story I had read about how we, particularly as women, focus on the flaws and completely overlook the wonderful things which make us who we are.  I know I will get back to where I'd like to be, but it isn't going to happen by next Thursday when I get together with my girlfriends.  It isn't going to happen by the next dinner, or wedding, maybe even the next class reunion so I need to be happy with who and where I am now so that I'm not just living for some far off tomorrow, frustrating and defeating myself at every turn.

I went back to the old “Three Things I Love About Myself” exercise I devised years ago when I got tired of trying to out-flaw the women around me, foolishly arguing about who was the heaviest or the shortest or the most flat-chested.  And I realized as I sat staring at this beautiful, bold, seasoned, intelligent, able bodied, well,  Goddess, that I did have one enormous blemish; my own self-doubt.  My own self-loathing.  So I decided to give myself a mental makeover.  I decided to rid myself of my own self-loathing, a trait which was never beautiful on anyone.  And guess what, it’s the one thing you can get rid of right now!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Death of Service, Part II

It is time for the next installment of Death of Service, the Midwestern saga.  When last we met, I had suffered an assault at the hands of the vicious and judgmental window monitor at the as yet unnamed fast food restaurant, the reigning monarch of burgers let’s just say, only to leave hungry and empty handed.  My next trepidacious attempt took me to a healthier state of fast food but with little improvement on the experience though I did come away with an amusing anecdote.  I walk in this time, no longer trusting the anonymity of the drive thru and walk up to the counter.  As this is one of those sandwich shops where you choose individually each item, there is a plain faced girl behind the ineffectual sneeze guard repeating after each option, “Anything else?  Anything else? Anything else?”, in a zombie-like cadence which would make George Romero jealous.  There are actually three employees visible, though it seems only zombie girl is working.  There is a second ponytailed blonde girl in the back, leaning heavily on a counter writing and talking on her cellphone and a third, this one young man, with a bright Manager badge blazing gloriously from his chest.  He assesses the situation, the two customer to three employee ratio and says loudly, “It’s a good thing I like you guys or you’d all be fired.”

I complete my order, three items at a time to avoid the hypnotizing drone of the zombie girl and suddenly from the back appears a delightfully energized young black woman, smiling ear to ear, who completes my order at the register.  My heart warms a bit as she wishes me a nice day and as I turn to go, she turns to her coworkers and says, “I am just forcing a smile today.”

I haven’t actually moved yet, but apparently the air which fills the gap between us is soundproof.    

I walk away, slightly defeated but with prize in hand.  Tomorrow is another day.  I shall not lose all faith in humanity, though my trust in the fast food industry which sustained me through my youth is faltering. 

Friday, May 31, 2013


In this age of technology sometimes we get lazy or forgetful or just plain careless.  I admit to this.  I have become complacent about things because I use facebook to track dates which I used to keep track of myself.  I have a calendar which, if a birthday, an event, an appointment doesn’t appear on it, it does not exist in my mind or my schedule.  I rail at those who can’t do simple math, relying on calculators and iPhones and yet I cannot read a map.  Our schedules are busy, our lives complicated.

But it wasn’t always this way.  We used to look forward to special events, marking them on our wall calendars, tracking them in our minds, planning and anticipating rather than logging on in the morning to see to whom we need to send a bit of good will.  Technology can be a wonderful thing, but it isn’t a replacement for human interaction or thoughtfulness.

I was reminded of this yesterday, when a dear friend of mine voiced her disappointment at having been completely overlooked on her birthday.  It was a VERY important birthday because this time last year it did not look as though she would still be with us.  I felt awful, knowing that I had let her down.  I went to facebook to see if somehow I had overlooked it.  It wasn’t there.  

Now I will admit, I am someone who doesn’t chance it myself.  My family forgot my birthday once, everyone did…when I turned 21.  Those who remembered were annoyed with me because I didn’t want to go drinking.  See, I wanted to go dancing because I was finally old enough to get into the clubs but since that wasn’t what they wanted, I spent the night alone.  Molly Ringwald style!  My brother has a history of NEVER knowing when my birthday is but feeling very guilty when he remembers a month later.  So years ago I developed the habit of calling my mom to ask her to “remind my brother” and that way he knew, she knew and everyone knew.  When she passed, I let my Dad in on the family secret and he continued the tradition.  For many years my best friend and I wouldn’t admit we had no idea when the other’s birthday was…we’d been friends for so long that it seemed reprehensible not to know until one day we both confessed and it turned out we were in the same boat all along.

The temptation of course, is to let oneself off the hook, to beg forgiveness and let it go.  But this experience brought up a larger issue in my mind.  Complacency.  The willingness to give over any responsibility and accountability to a machine, that ever encroaching void of anonymity that makes it ok to be just a little meaner, a little more thoughtless, a little more complacent because we are just sooooo busy!  Well, it’s bullsh*t.  We should never be too busy to show a little love to our friends.   I am truly sorry that I missed this, that I can’t fix it or salve it or make it better.  But I promise to be better, to make myself accountable and present as a friend.  And maybe turn off the computer and pick up the phone.  Maybe we all should once in a while.