Monday, December 7, 2009

Music Monday: Stay

Every Most Mondays I'm sharing songs from my Who I Am playlist. If you have favorite songs that inspire you to live a fabulous life, please feel free to share in the comments!

The other night, my boyfriend asked me why women ever get involved with married guys. We were talking about Tiger Woods but his question wasn't so much about why women are willing to sleep with married celebrities, but why women would get involved with men that they know can't/won't give them what they want. I didn't really know what to tell him, except that a lot of people a) are good at deluding themselves and b) are willing to put up with less than they deserve. I should know; I've definitely been there (though not with someone who was married!).

So today, I'm cheating a bit with my Music Monday pick (pun intended) - Sugarland's Stay isn't actually on my "Who I Am" playlist right now but a couple years ago, I did play it ad nauseum to remind me why I needed to get the hell out of my last relationship. I mentioned in my last Music Monday post that country songs often tell stories or at least have a clear message. This song also employs a device that I always think is cool - it uses the same phrase in different contexts so that the meaning in the last verse/chorus is different from in the beginning of the song.

I've been sitting here staring at the clock on the wall
And I've been laying here praying, praying she won't call
It's just another call from home
And you'll get it and be gone
And I'll be crying

And I'll be begging you, baby
Beg you not to leave
But I'll be left here waiting
With my Heart on my sleeve
Oh, for the next time we'll be here
Seems like a million years
And I think I'm dying

What do I have to do to make you see
She can't love you like me?

[chorus] Why don't you stay
I'm down on my knees
I'm so tired of being lonely
Don't I give you what you need
When she calls you to go
There is one thing you should know
We don't have to live this way
Baby, why don't you stay

You keep telling me, baby
There will come a time
When you will leave her arms
And forever be in mine
But I don't think that's the truth
And I don't like being used and I'm tired of waiting
It's too much pain to have to bear
To love a man you have to share


I can't take it any longer
But my will is getting stronger
And I think I know just what I have to do
I can't waste another minute
After all that I've put in it
I've given you my best
Why does she get the best of you
So next time you find you wanna leave her bed for mine

Why don't you stay
I'm up off my knees
I'm so tired of being lonely
You can't give me what I need
When she begs you not to go
There is one thing you should know
I don't have to live this way
Baby, why don't you stay, yeah

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Stuff I liked in the last week...

  • Zandria lists 14 Things This Single Gal is Thankful For. My favorite is #5: "I'm thankful not only for the nice people I've met through online dating, and the good experiences I've had, but for the people who have hurt me. I believe without a doubt that getting hurt -- and more importantly, realizing that you can survive, overcome, and prosper -- makes you stronger." I can also really relate to #1: "I'm thankful that I've never felt any pressure to be anything but myself, or rush into something I'm not ready for. I've talked to other people and I know this isn't always the case. My family likes me the way I am." Amen.
  • Speaking of sarcasm: Rachel, of Rachel's Musings, cracked me up, taking pity on all her poor coupled friends who must be so stressed by the holidays when solitude is so elusive for them.
The choice to stick together and make it work is a conscious one, and one you can make, in theory, with anyone. No matter how much you love (or barely tolerate) someone, there are going to be challenges you will have to face together.If you are going to go thru all of the problems that marriage brings one way or another, why go thru it with someone you don't absolutely adore? Why not go thru all of that with someone you're crazy about?

[Being single] also means I have to put up with no one's bullshit but my own. Sure being single sucks sometimes, but at the end of the day, I'd rather be happy alone than unhappy with someone who's not right for me; I've done that. I know I'm risking living alone for the rest of my life. But life IS risk, and it's only the people who are willing to take real chances who get real rewards.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

No one is an island but...

One of the many nice things about visiting my parents is that they still subscribe to an actual, physical newspaper. So every morning, I come downstairs and read the paper at the kitchen table while drinking my coffee, usually with my mom. At home, I read the paper online and I usually just skim the news headlines, only clicking on the full articles that look the most interesting; with the physical paper, I read almost all the sections, including columns and features like Dear Abby (who is really the most incredibly judgmental woman!). I'm not sure why I enjoy it so much but I do.

Anyway, this morning, the San Jose Mercury had a front-page story about a group of elderly Silicon Valley residents, and how they are embracing 'old age'. Much about their stories is inspiring and certainly makes me feel like I've got no excuse at all to be as much of a sloth as I am. But the main reason I'm sharing this here is because there's one section in particular about how many seniors are 'going it alone':
As much as she has missed her husband since he died, Connolly has fully embraced independent living. "I was always taking care of people," she says. "My husband was the absent-minded professor. There were very few times in my life when I just had to think about me, and now I've gotten used to that and it's kind of nice. I can enjoy doing what I want to do without even considering another person. And I'm fine with that."

Her four grown children sometimes are able to show up around the holidays, and sometimes they aren't. "My kids live in four different time zones, and my daughter who lives in San Francisco might as well live in Hawaii because she's so busy," Connolly says. "You can't count on your kids for company or companionship. They have their lives, so I don't depend on them. You need people your own age you can be with."

The next time someone asks you why you don't have kids and alludes to kids taking care of you when you're older, show them this! There was also something that made me think about how the happily-single community seems to focus more on women than men:

So far, that has not involved pairing off with any of the Saratoga center's male residents, who are in such scarce supply they are prized as companions. "It's harder for single women than single men because we haven't been brought up to be that bold and aggressive," Connolly says. "I've found some very nice women friends here that I can do most things with. I can't go dancing anymore, but you can't do everything."

Connolly actually has plenty of company in her solitude. According to a Census Bureau survey in 2003, three-quarters of the Americans 65 or older and living alone were women. Men, however, seek a significant other. At 85 and older, more than half the men were still living with a spouse — frequently not their first one — while only one-eighth of the women had a husband.

The reality is that even if you're in a great relationship, with a wonderful partner, kids, etc., it's important to be OK with being on your own as well, because you never know what's going to happen and where you'll end up in the future. The only guarantee we really have is that the one person you will ALWAYS have for support is YOU.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Cat lady" vs. Cat Woman

Over the last couple days, the universe seems to be telling me something. First I read Bella DePaulo's post about a 20/20 segment on "Cat Ladies", a documentary about women with cats. As you can imagine (especially if DePaulo is covering it), the segment does not portray such women in a particularly flattering light. Then I finally got around to watching an episode of Private Practice from, I think, two weeks ago (I'm way behind on my crap TV watching), in which one of the main characters, Addison, ends up with the cat of a patient who dies from cancer. Addison is torn about taking the cat, in no small part because she fears being a 'cat lady' and part of the storyline concerns her fear that, like her patient, she will die alone. The title of this post was inspired by a line from one of Addison's colleagues, who wonders why being a 'cat lady' seems sad while Cat Woman is totally hot. That line, in particular, got me thinking about the cat lady stereotype.

And then, yesterday morning, I finally had a cat door installed for my indoor/outdoor cat. I've been meaning to do this for a while but kept putting it off. I was finally motivated to do it because as low-maintenance as my cat already is, I still have to be around to let her in and out. And that means that if she's outside and I'm gone for too long (for example, if I want to stay over at my boyfriend's place), I feel guilty; or if I know I'll be gone, I try to keep her inside, and I feel guilty. So installing a cat door means more freedom for both of us. And that's when it occurred to me that the stereotype of cat ladies as lonely and pathetic makes absolutely no sense. If I were really lonely and pathetic, I wouldn't have a cat; I'd have a dog! No one gets a cat for devoted companionship, unconditional love or any other dependent feeling that one would assume from the cat lady stereotype; cats are way too independent. The reason Cat Woman is hot is because she's like a cat: independent and not giving a crap about what anyone thinks of her. And any woman who is like that is going to prefer having a cat, not a dependent, needy dog who can never be left alone and will piss on your shoes if you don't give it enough attention.

So where the heck did the 'cat lady' stereotype come from?!?!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Monday: Dream Big

Every Monday I'm sharing songs from my Who I Am playlist. If you have favorite songs that inspire you to live a fabulous life, please feel free to share in the comments!

I know that a lot of people don't love country music - up until about ten years ago, I would have counted myself as one of them. But I've always liked folky singer-songwriter types like Lucinda Williams or Shawn Colvin, and a lot of artists labeled 'country' are doing very similar music to them. And over the last several years, there's been a lot of cross-over between country and pop. So now, I listen to a lot of 'country music' and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Sure, there are plenty of corny, twangy songs (She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy comes to mind - yes, that's a real song), but country music tends to be more melodic than other popular genres and there's often very cool harmonies (remember I'm a singer). They also often tell stories or at least have a clear message. So there are a lot of country songs on my iPod. One of my favorites is Dream Big, by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband (I don't really understand the bit at the beginning of the video; the song itself starts at 25 seconds in):

When you cry be sure to dry your eyes
'Cause better days are sure to come
And when you smile be sure to smile wide
Don't let them know that they have won
And when you walk, walk with pride
Don't show the hurt inside
Because the pain will soon be gone

[chorus:] And when you dream, dream big
As big as the ocean blue
'Cause when you dream it might come true
When you dream, dream big

When you laugh be sure to laugh out loud
'Cause it will carry all your cares away
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself
And it'll help you feel okay
And when you pray, pray for strength
To help you carry on
When the troubles come your way


When you laugh be sure to laugh out loud
'Cause it will carry all your cares away
And when you see, see the beauty all around and in yourself
And it'll help you feel okay
And when you pray, pray for strength
To help you carry on
When the troubles come your way


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stuff I liked this week...

...and want to write more about at some point but know it may be a while until I get around to it (if ever) so figured I'd at least share:

Simone on Sex, Lies and Dating has a great list of what is and isn't sexy. What is: a natural smile, taking care of yourself, smart with interesting things to say, chutzah and kindness. From my perspective at least, she totally nailed it.

Sirens has a series called Peace Talks, one between single and married friends, another between a mom and a child-free friend (hat tip to Simone). Lots of common sense here, and very little judgment.

Wendy from First Person Singular asks a great question: if rejection "isn't about you", then what about when there is attraction and love? Her friend says "It's not about you then, either." Hard to refute the logic but sure makes me think...

Liz Rizzo feels she has lost her appetite for love and dating. "Like someone new could be the most beautiful banana split ever, with whipped cream and cherries and nuts, and when confronted with this person I would remember how much I love banana splits, maybe even want to still love banana splits, but be left with absolutely no stomach for one." I really like this metaphor - when you say you're not hungry, no one accuses you of being anti-food or resentful of others who have food or of being in denial about how much you actually want to eat.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Music Monday: Express Yourself

Every Monday I'm sharing songs from my Who I Am playlist. If you have favorite songs that inspire you to live a fabulous life, please feel free to share in the comments!

For women, no playlist of empowering songs would be complete without at least one Madonna song. My favorite is Express Yourself, from her Like a Prayer album, partly because it includes one of my favorite lyrics ever: "Second best is never enough; You'll do much better baby on your own":

Come on girls
Do you believe in love?
'Cause I got something to say about it
And it goes something like this
Don't go for second best baby
Put your love to the test
You know, you know, you've got to
Make him express how he feels
And maybe then you'll know your love is real

You don't need diamond rings
Or eighteen karat gold
Fancy cars that go very fast
You know they never last, no, no
What you need is a big strong hand
To lift you to your higher ground
Make you feel like a queen on a throne
Make him love you till you can't come down
(You'll never come down)


Long stem roses are the way to your heart
But he needs to start with your head
Satin sheets are very romantic
What happens when you're not in bed
You deserve the best in life
So if the time isn't right then move on
Second best is never enough
You'll do much better baby on your own
(Baby on your own)


Express yourself
(You've got to make him)
Express himself
Hey, hey, hey, hey
So if you want it right now, make him show you how
Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not

And when you're gone he might regret it
Think about the love he once had
Try to carry on, but he just won't get it
He'll be back on his knees

To express himself
(You've got to make him)
Express himself
Hey hey

What you need is a big strong hand
To lift you to your higher ground
Make you feel like a queen on a throne
Make him love you till you can't come down
(You'll never come down)

So please


Express yourself
(You've got to make him)
Express himself
Hey, hey, hey, hey
So if you want it right now, make him show you how
Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not
Express yourself
(You've got to make him)
So you can respect yourself
Hey, hey
So if you want it right now, then make him show you how
Express what he's got, oh baby ready or not

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Giving Thanks

November is one of my favorite months. I'm a big wimp about heat so I'm cranky for a lot of the summer and I usually spend most of September just waiting for the weather to cool off enough that I can wear jeans. Of course, I'm also a big wimp about cold - there's really a pathetically small window of temperatures that I consider comfortable - but at least when it's cold, I can layer on clothes and get all cozy under big blankets, while heat is just, well, hot. Anyway, in San Diego, we don't really get consistently cool weather until at least November. Plus, once Halloween is over, the stores start gearing up for the gift-giving holidays, and I just find it a happier time of year. And of course, November means Thanksgiving. What's not to love about a holiday devoted to food, family and thinking about the things we should be grateful for?

To get in the spirit (and to prod myself into posting more regularly), I decided I don't need to wait for Turkey Day specifically to start giving thanks. So I'm going to try to do at least one post a week where I give thanks for something good in my life. Of course there are the biggies, like my family, friends, health, house, job but I think it's important to also give thanks for the little things that make my life better every day. And I thought it would be appropriate to start this series by giving thanks for the internet. When I stop and think about how much better and easier my life is because of the internet, it's hard to exaggerate what a huge impact it has. It makes my job easier, it allows me to easily and cheaply keep in touch with friends all over the country (and world), it makes shopping and traveling easier, I could go on and on. I have only a vague notion that it was developed by government researchers and I don't really understand how it works but part of its wonderfulness is that I don't have to. Every time I send an email or google an address or Skype someone, I'm doing something that wasn't possible twenty years ago. And every once in a while, it occurs to me to think, 'How cool is that?!?'

What are you grateful for?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Music Monday: Who I Am

As a singer, I've always turned to music as a way to express what I'm thinking and feeling. Of course, when I was younger, I made mixed tapes for friends and boyfriends, but I also made them just to fit my own various moods. Mixed tapes evolved into mixed CDs and then playlists on my iPod. Over the last several years, the playlist that I've probably listened to the most is one I've named "Who I Am." It's a collection of songs that all, in some way, remind me that I'm a strong, fabulous woman who deserves an amazing life. I particularly needed those reminders when I was trying to extract myself from my last relationship, but I also find that these songs help me anytime that my confidence is a little shaky. I thought that I'd share some of these songs here, which I'll be doing over the next several weeks. And since I'm always looking for more songs to add to this collection, I'd also love to hear any suggestions that you all might have!

I figured I'd start with the song that is the inspiration for the name I gave this playlist. Who I Am was the title track for Jessica Andrew's 2001 album. It's technically country but also got played on some pop stations. As Andrews herself said, "It's about believing in yourself and being supported by those around you. No matter how many mistakes you make, your friends and family will be there for you." I can't embed the video but here are the lyrics:

If I live to be a hundred
And never see the seven wonders
That'll be alright
If I don't make it to the big leagues
If I never win a Grammy
I'm gonna be just fine
'Cause I know exactly who I am

(chorus) I am Rosemary's granddaughter
The spitting image of my father
And when the day is done
My momma's still my biggest fan
Sometimes I'm clueless and I'm clumsy
But I've got friends who love me
And they know just where I stand
It's all a part of me
And that's who I am

So when I make big mistake
When I fall flat on my face
I know I'll be alright
Should my tender heart be broken
I will cry those teardrops knowin'
I will be just fine
'Cause nothin' changes who I am


I'm a saint and I'm a sinner
I'm a loser, I'm a winner
I'm am steady and unstable
I am young but I'm able


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Public mushiness

Clever Elsie's very thoughtful comment on my last post got me thinking about public displays of affection. I mentioned that my S.O. is relatively affectionate and I like that. I don't think we ever act inappropriately but I can definitely imagine others thinking we are too mushy. Let me be clear - I absolutely believe there is a line for acceptable behavior and it makes me really uncomfortable to see people totally making out in public (if I had to be totally blunt, I think I'd say that if tongue is involved, that's over the line). But when I see people holding hands, or with their arms around each other, smiling at each other and maybe sneaking a periodic smooch, my personal reaction tends to be, "awwww" (again, sucking face with tongues down each other's throats is a whole different scenario). When I really started thinking about it, it occurred to me that my reaction is not that different from when I see people playing with their dogs. I think it's sweet, it makes me happy to see that tail wagging and the smile on the owner's face.

I know that when some people object to PDA, they are thinking of the "get a room" type of behavior that makes most sensible people uncomfortable. But there are some people who think any PDA is inappropriate and that's what I don't understand. That is, I get that some people are, themselves, not touchy-feely people but what I don't get is the objection to other people being touchy-feely. To me, it's just a difference in personality - some people are physically demonstrative and others are not. As long as someone isn't being physical with someone who is an unwilling participant, why is this behavior, in itself, a problem? If a particular couple is being affectionate (in an appropriate way), why is that any more objectionable than a puppy running around wagging its tail?

Maybe I'll feel differently in a few years (though I've never been particularly bothered by others' PDA). We recently went to dinner with some friends who were celebrating their seven-year anniversary (and they've been together more like thirteen) and as they were walking up to the restaurant (where my S.O. and I were already waiting at the bar), the wife said to her husband, "You can tell they haven't been together that long - they're still holding hands." For the rest of the night, we kind of joked about that but it did make me wonder. Right now, I love that my guy always holds my hand, partly because my previous boyfriends never did and it always bugged me. I've always been a physically demonstrative person and touch is important to me. But I'm sure we'll eventually reach a stage of our relationship where we'll be less affectionate than we are now, and maybe that's why some people think that PDA is a sign of insecurity (as suggested by one of the commenters on the Bella DePaulo post I mentioned last time) - the longer a couple has been together, the less likely they probably are to be affectionate in public. But the same could be said for any physical contact - lots of couples also tend to have sex less frequently the longer they've been together but does that mean that any couple that is still having a lot of sex is insecure?

I guess the main point I wanted to make is simply that for anyone who is bothered by public mushiness, I'm sorry you feel that way but please try to keep in mind that maybe what you're witnessing is simply two people in love. Instead of being offended, just think of it as puppy tails wagging and then ignore us...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Fun

How is it possible that I haven't seen these magnets before? I think my favorite is "I had sex with my husband and all I got was this lousy kid" but they are all hysterical!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Can I be sappy without being seen as smug?

I just got back from an overnight trip to L.A. to visit a close friend who recently moved there with her husband. I drove up with my Significant Other, who my friend was very curious to meet, and we had a really fun evening, with good food, drink and conversation. This morning, the guys watched football while my friend and I took her dog for a walk. Of course, I wanted to get her opinion of my S.O. This is a friend who knows all about my previous, incredibly unhealthy relationships, and she's been hearing about this new guy for a while. What she said this morning was that the guy is great but more than anything else, she has never seen me this happy, that she thinks she heard me laugh more in the previous 24 hours than in the last several months, and that she is really, really happy for me.

I'm sharing this because I think that readers of this blog know that when I talk about how happy I am in my current relationship, I do not intend in any way to belittle or diminish those who are NOT in relationships, or to refute anything I have ever said about how important it is to be comfortable with being single. Mostly, when I talk about how happy I am in my current relationship, I do so because this happiness is new, certainly a departure from relationships I have known in the past, and honestly, I'm still kind of incredulous about it. I think that people who care about me will be happy to know that I have found this happiness, as my friend said this morning. But Bella DePaulo has a couple of posts that have me feeling sort of defensive. Her first post was about people who post annoying Facebook status updates about their relationships; her follow-up post talks about how people with these sorts of updates must be insecure (that is, these folks must be insecure or else they wouldn't feel the need to "act" so affectionately in public). What bugs me about that is that lately, I have been one of those people and I know that my motivation is about as far from what she's saying as you can get. When I post something on Facebook about the amazing weekend I had my guy, I'm not bragging about my relationship; I'm letting my friends know that things are great and I'm happy (I should say that I am only friends on Facebook with people that I am actually friends with in real life). Without exception, my friends have responded with comments like "You deserve it!" or "I'm so happy for you!" My S.O. also happens to be a really affectionate person, which I love since I did not get ANY public affection in my last relationship (heck, I didn't get much private affection either). I am sure that to other people, we are probably annoyingly affectionate but a) we are still sort of new at this so maybe it will lessen over time and b) if it doesn't, well, I hold his hand and sneak a quick smooch because it makes me silly happy to do so, not because I want others to think anything in particular (and just to be clear, I'm not talking about making out in a restaurant here).

I get that there are plenty of people who buy into matrimania and who want everyone to know they are in a relationship because they think that they will be seen as a 'loser' if they aren't, and I get why DePaulo feels they should be mocked. I guess I just wish that DePaulo, and many who commented on her posts, wouldn't sound so much as if everyone with sappy Facebook updates must fall into that group. DePaulo talks a lot about 'singlism' which she defines as "the stereotyping and stigmatizing of people who are single"; maybe it's just me being defensive now that I am part of a couple, but sadly, I feel like the singles community is just as likely to engage in 'couplism'.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Will you still love me in the ER?

Jezebel had a great post about a story on another site (that honestly, I don't feel like linking to because it's so stupid I don't really want to be a source of any traffic to it) that dealt with a woman who had basically been abandoned by two so-called friends. In a nutshell, the woman thinks she was drugged at a club, ended up in an emergency room, and the friends she had been with at the club almost couldn't be bothered to pick her up from the hospital. The response in the post-I-don't-want-to-link-to was that she shouldn't have expected them to! That sure, you can expect that of a significant other, but not friends (see the Jezebel post for the relevant quotes). WTF?

When I read this, the first thing I thought of was an incident three years ago when one of my best friends got food poisoning and needed to go to the ER because he'd been throwing up for several hours. Ironically (in the context of 'this is only a job for significant others'), his wife was out of town and SHE was the one who called me at 1 in the morning to ask me to take him to the hospital. I have no doubt that if our situations were reversed, either one of them would not hesitate to do the same for me. Would I call my boyfriend first? Probably. But anyone who thinks that being in a relationship is a guarantee that someone will always be there at 1 in the morning so you don't need other friends, is sadly deluded.

The second thing I thought when I read the Jezebel piece was that no one in their right mind would call these people friends but worse, they don't even sound like very decent human beings. Forget boyfriends, best friends, family, or whatever other relationships you might call on first - when push comes to shove, I think a truly decent human being will help another human being in need. OK, maybe I wouldn't call some random stranger to pick me up at the hospital at 1 in the morning, but I can imagine a scenario where every person I would normally call was, for some reason, unavailable and I might call someone much further down on my acquaintance list. Maybe I'm being too pollyanna but I honestly think that most of the people that I associate with in any dimension would be willing to come. They might be bewildered why I was calling them and they might not be excited about it but I can't imagine someone flat out saying "No, I just won't." Is that naive? Would you help someone out who asked, even if they were not someone you considered a close friend?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Compromising is rational

I'm growing my hair out. I've gone back and forth on my hair length a million times and usually what happens is that I start trying to grow it out and then I get so annoyed with it that I decide to just cut it all off (for any readers who don't really understand what I'm talking about: long hair is great if it's long enough to pull up, out of my face and off my neck, but there's always an in-between stage where your hair is long enough to get in the way but too short to put up - that's the point where I usually get impatient and just cut it off). But this time, I'm trying to stick it out and put up with the in-between stage. Why? Because my boyfriend likes long hair (by the way, what is up with guys and long hair?). But the other night, when I made some comment about growing out my hair, my boyfriend said, "Are you doing that because I said I think you'd look good with longer hair?" and my instant, knee-jerk reaction was to say, "No, of course not!" I mean, god forbid I do something for him that I wouldn't choose to do on my own, right? Of course, growing out my hair is a pretty minor thing but it's slippery slope - today, it's my hair; tomorrow, who knows?

I know I'm particularly sensitive about this because in past relationships, I have often suppressed my own needs, trying to be whatever I thought would make the guy like me more. And in a lot of cases, I would convince myself that whatever it was I was doing, I was doing just as much for me as for him (case in point: I actually DID enjoy hiking several miles every weekend but the fact that I haven't done it a single time since Mr. Outdoors Guy moved away tells me something about my real motivation). But over the last several years, being single has allowed me to do exactly what I want to do without worrying about anyone else's opinion or feelings and this allowed me to discover what I truly want/like/need, in a way that I know I couldn't really figure out while in a relationship.

But my knee-jerk reaction to my boyfriend's comment about my hair got me thinking about compromises. One of the core principles of economics is that rational people make decisions by comparing costs and benefits - if the benefits outweigh the costs, then you do it; if the benefits are less than the costs, then you don't. That may sound incredibly obvious but I have often found it a powerful aide in making sense of other people's behavior. If someone does something that I don't understand, I ask myself what benefit could they be getting from that action, or is it that they do not perceive the costs in the same way I do? Usually, this helps me get to a place where, even if I don't agree with the choice, I can at least understand it.

Unsurprisingly, I also tend to apply cost-benefit analysis in my own life, sometimes in ways that I'm sure seem strange to other people. And while it may not sound very romantic, I've found that thinking about my relationship in terms of costs and benefits can be helpful. Like the costs and benefits of cutting my hair - in the past, I've always gotten to a point where the costs of dealing with it outweighed the benefits and so I cut it off. But now, although the costs are basically the same, there is an added benefit, i.e., my boyfriend thinking I look good. And that's enough to tip the scale toward continuing to grow it out. The totally geeky, economist way to put it is that we have interdependent utility functions - his happiness contributes to my happiness and vice versa. I think the trick to not going overboard, to not compromising so much that I feel like I'm only doing something because of him, is having a rock-solid understanding of what MY costs and benefits really are before I start factoring him in. So yeah, I guess you could say that I am growing out my hair "because of him" but that doesn't mean I've suddenly become a spineless, irrational ninny.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Reining in defensiveness

Clever Elsie has a really thoughtful Singletude post about how to respond when someone asks 'why are you single', pointing out that giving the benefit of the doubt is likely to be a better approach than getting defensive:

As offensive as it can be, though, if you're so inclined, it can be a great opportunity to educate the nosy party about singles. Something I've noticed over the past year and am still coming to terms with is that many people who ask questions like this aren't aware that they're offensive or--hello?--awkward. Sometimes they imagine you must be upset about your singleness (usually because they would be if they were single) and want to encourage you or help in some way. Other times, they may be genuinely curious. They may even just be making small talk and don't know what else to say.

Does that mean it's okay for them to ask why you're single? If it's not okay with you, of course not. But if they're not asking with intent to hurt or irritate, then they're asking out of ignorance, and the best way to combat ignorance is with knowledge--in this case, your firsthand knowledge of being single... As much as you might relish firing back with a real zinger, a candid explanation...could help a singlist person (i.e., someone who has a bias against singles or being single) open his or her mind and understand how "single" can be a good choice, not an unfortunate mistake. It might also help them realize how a question like "Why are you single?" can deeply affect someone. On the other hand, a sarcastic comeback could put them on the defensive or make you seem defensive, reinforcing their unfavorable attitudes about singles.

Her point about people asking out of ignorance made me think about the questions I sometimes get as an Asian-American (for example, 'what are you' or 'where are you from' when the real question they mean to ask is 'what is your racial/ethnic background' ). The person asking usually has no idea how offensive their question is, or that the question itself is rooted in racist assumptions, and every time it happens, I have to consciously remind myself that they probably don't mean to be rude and I should think of it as an opportunity to educate them. At the same time, I have to admit that a big part of me is annoyed that I even have to go through that thought process. That is, why is it my job to educate them, to choose my words carefully so I don't directly suggest that they are racist? Of course I know that the alternative (i.e., saying what is really going through my mind) would be totally unproductive, but it would also be so much easier (well, for me at least). Along similar lines, when I encounter singlist attitudes, I generally try to find a diplomatic way to reply but sometimes I think having to make that effort is, in itself, annoying. Fortunately, it doesn't happen to me all that often. It would be nice to think that we will eventually reach a point where this educating process won't be necessary...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Judginess and defensiveness

I used to be incredibly judgmental. Anyone who has met me in the last few years might be surprised to hear that (at least I hope they would be!) but there was definitely a time when I had very strong opinions about the way people "should be", and I wasn't very subtle about letting people know those opinions. I was also incredibly defensive - if I detected the slightest hint that someone thought I might be wrong, I'd get all bent out of shape. It wasn't until I had been in therapy for a while that I began to realize how my judginess and defensiveness were related to each other, and to my low self-esteem. The way I'd describe it is that since I was judging everyone else, I assumed everyone else was judging me, and since I had somewhat shaky self-esteem, I took others' judgment personally (hence the defensiveness), and that often led me to be even more judgy - you know, thinking along the lines of "You think I'm being too sensitive? Well, that's just because YOU'RE insensitive, and stupid". A fun little immature vicious circle.

As I became more comfortable with myself, I found that I was less defensive, and less judgmental - my thinking evolved more into "You think I'm being too sensitive? Why do you think that? Hmmm, no, I don't really agree with that. Well, OK, whatever". There's a bit of a chicken-egg thing here, in that I don't know if my increased self-confidence made me less defensive and therefore less judgmental of others, or if I mellowed out and stopped being so judgmental so I stopped perceiving that others were judging me. But the end result is that today, I'm WAY less judgmental. That doesn't mean I don't still have strong opinions about some things, but I have a much stronger 'live and let live' attitude (and I like to think I've also learned how to express myself more kindly). I've also become, for lack of a better way to put it, much more of an economist, and what I mean by that is that economists study choices but we try to do it in an objective way, identifying the costs and benefits of all the options. As I tell my students, if someone makes a different choice than the choice you would make, it just means that they value the costs and benefits of that choice differently than you do. Rather than thinking about their choice as 'wrong', it's far more productive to try to understand how and why they value those costs and benefits differently.

Which brings me to the real point of this post. I think because of my own history, I am acutely aware of it when I hear other people being judgmental. And whether I agree with their opinion or not (though admittedly, more so when I don't), I don't like it and it sort of makes me want to avoid those people. And to be perfectly honest, that is one of the reasons I haven't posted anything on this blog in the last couple of months. Because although I still consider myself very much a quirkyalone, I am now also in a capital-R Relationship. And I am happy - incredibly, sappily, didn't-know-relationships-could-be-like-this happy. And in the context of this blog, where I have talked a lot about being happily single, and that I know is read by at least a few in the 'happily single' community, I feel a little guilty about being so happy in my Relationship.

The problem is that over the last few months, I feel like I keep encountering a bizarrely judgmental attitude from those in the single community where anything that suggests coupledom might have some benefits, or singledom might have some costs, is taken as heresy and the writer is suspected of buying into matrimania. It's a very black and white attitude. The clearest example is a recent guest post that Simone Grant wrote for Single Women Rule about how she sometimes thinks that life would be easier with a significant other around. She wasn't saying life would instantly be perfect if she were coupled, or that she wanted just anyone in her life, but Keysha of SWR felt the need to add her own response to Simone's post, basically suggesting Simone is buying into some relationship myths. Anyone who has read Simone's own blog (which rocks, btw) should know how stupid that is.

This bizarre judginess has made me really hesitant to write anything here about my relationship. And I don't think I'm the only one feeling this way - in June, Sasha Cagan, the original Quirkyalone, wrote a really thoughtful post about how she actually wants a relationship, a post that she felt hesitant to even write; over at The Unmarried Estate, Therese writes about her decision to get married and says, "I can’t help feeling guilty – like I am betraying the Unmarried Rights community or the feminist community or something."

Because I feel this guilt too, I've avoided this blog. But the more I've thought about it, the more annoyed I've gotten that I feel this way. So I'm back. I know I'll be returning to this topic - and I know that I will be choosing my words super-carefully whenever I talk about my relationship - but the bottom line is that even though I'm now a quirkytogether, I don't think what I have to say has really changed, since I've always thought about this blog as being about people having the right to be happy being whatever they want to be. I'm not going to promise to post super-often or all that regularly (because I always get myself in trouble with promises like that), but I'm not going to avoid posting either. Go ahead and judge me, if it makes you happy...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mourning Ted Kennedy

Is it just me or has it been a bizarre summer for celebrity deaths? Some major personalities have left us this summer - Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, John Hughes (or maybe it just feels like a lot because I'm a child of the 80's?). But none of those hit me like the death of Ted Kennedy. I simply can't imagine a world without Ted Kennedy in the Senate. What's kind of weird to me about that is that it's not like I've ever followed Kennedy's career all that closely. Of course, I didn't really have to, when his name was simply always around, attached to some of the biggest and most influential pieces of legislation of my lifetime (and especially since I do work in education policy). And of course, he IS a Kennedy. But I think the reason I'm particularly affected by his passing was summed up best by Robert Reich:

America has had a few precious individuals who are both passionate about social justice and also understand deep in their bones its practical meaning. And we have had a few who possess great political shrewdness and can make the clunky machinery of democratic governance actually work. But I have known but one person who combined all these traits and abilities. His passing is an inestimable loss.
btw, I thought it was particularly fitting (or perhaps, ironic) that today is the anniversary of the day that the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote (hat tip to Mixed Race America).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dating a father

In honor of Father's Day, I'm finally getting around to a question that Zandria posed a month or so ago: would you date someone who has a kid? Her answer is 'probably not', and I think that might have been my answer as well when I was in my 20's. As I got older, my view started to change. It's partly that I think how a man approaches his responsibilities as a father can tell you a lot about him as a person (and potential partner). But it's also that as I became more and more sure that I don't want kids of my own, the idea of dating someone with kids actually became more appealing. That might sound odd but the way I see it, dating someone who already has kids means a) it's less likely to be a big deal that I don't want kids myself and b) I get some of the perks of having kids around without any of the responsibility. Still, if you had asked me a year ago, I would have said that, all else equal, I'd probably prefer to date someone without kids because it just seems like kids make things more complicated.

Well, now I'm dating someone who has joint custody of his 15-year-old daughter, meaning that she lives with him half the week (the mother lives across town and they are very good friends). I have to admit, when we first met, this freaked me out for numerous reasons. A teenager? Half the week when I basically don't get to see him (and that includes Friday and Saturday nights)? An ex who not only is very much around but who is a good friend and whose extended family is basically HIS family? Let's just say that this has not been the smoothest ride. But he's an amazing father and to me, his dedication to his daughter speaks volumes about him. It's also reflected in the fact that his daughter is a really great kid so there's been no drama - as far as I can tell, she's completely secure in her dad's love for her so I think she knows there's no reason to resent me. I haven't met the ex-wife yet but we've had many conversations about her and he's always so honest and upfront about their relationship that I'm feeling OK about that too.

But the main point I wanted to make is that, as someone who had a pretty full life before I met this guy, I've found that dating a dad (at least one who has joint custody) has one huge benefit that I never considered before: I get a lot of space. As one of my friends put it, it's kind of like having a long-distance relationship without the expense of plane tickets! It's not that I never see him during the time he has his daughter, but I'm definitely not spending 24-7 with him. I realize that for a lot of women, this would be a cost but for me, it's definitely a benefit. The thing is, I know that if a guy actually wanted to spend 24-7 with me, I'd probably be turned off by that; at the same time, if a guy didn't want to spend 24-7 with me, I would probably feel insecure and rejected (hey, I have never said I'm not neurotic!). But with this relationship, I get to feel like he wants to spend more time with me but can't, for reasons that have nothing to do with how he feels about me, so I get the space I need without feeling insecure about it (admittedly, it also helps that he is awesome about checking in with me on the days that I don't see him).

What I find particularly interesting is that if it were up to me, I'd spend more time with him than I currently do even though I know that would be bad for me in the long run. In past relationships, I've tended to 'lose myself' a bit; in this relationship, I'm basically forced not to, and I'm glad. I wish I could say I was strong enough not to need the forcing, that even if he were available, I would make sure to carve out time for myself and to maintain all my other important friendships, but I'm honestly not sure what I would do. So it will be interesting to see what happens as his daughter grows up - she is starting to be more independent (she'll have her driver's license by the end of the year) and he'll have more time to spend with me. Hopefully, I'll be smart enough not to lose this balance...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Who pays?

I go out with couple friends all the time since my best friends in San Diego are all couples (and by that I mean I am equally good friends with both people). Usually, it's just me and the couple and when the check comes, I pay my share and the guy pays the share for the couple (most of the time, we just figure out what 1/3 of the total is and I pay that). I'm not making any editorial comment about the fact that the guy usually pays, I'm just stating what happens - when people are married, I sort of assume the money is basically coming from the same pot so it doesn't really matter who pays but my impression is that most couples follow the social convention of the man paying. Sometimes someone will pick up the tab for all of us (either me paying for the couple, or them paying for me), especially if it's just drinks. I've never really thought much about the dynamics of paying for stuff in these situations, since when I'm with any of these couples, I feel like we're just three friends hanging out together and the fact that they are a couple is sort of irrelevant.

But a few months ago, I went out to dinner with two couples. I'm friends with both the women and friendly enough with the husbands that it made sense for them to be there (but unlike my San Diego couple friends, I am definitely friends with the women and the guys are 'just' their husbands). These two couples live in the same town and hang out often as a foursome; I was visiting from out of town. When the check came after dinner, the two guys pulled out their wallets and were discussing the check, and I pulled out my wallet and asked what I owed. What struck me was how aware I suddenly was that I was the odd person out. I'm not sure if it was because there were now two women sitting there, each letting her guy take care of the check for her, or because splitting a check five ways is more confusing than splitting it three ways so one of the guys was actually looking at the specific items to figure out what I owed, or simply because I'm not really friends with the two guys I was having the money discussion with. But whatever the reason, it felt odd. And it felt even odder when we then went to a nearby bar and while my two female friends grabbed a table, I went to the bar with the two husbands to get drinks - that is, I got a drink for myself and each of the guys got a drink for himself and his wife. This time, I knew exactly what was odd - with my friends at home, one person would have just bought drinks for everyone.

I'm thinking about this now because this weekend my significant other* and I went on a double date with a friend of his and that friend's wife. Before dinner, my guy bought a round of drinks for everyone; when the dinner check came, my guy and his friend dealt with it; then we went to a club and his friend bought a round for everyone. When it came time to buy another round, I was going to pay but the friend beat me to it. It wasn't a big deal - it was loud in the club, he was closer to the server who brought the drinks and I think he didn't realize I was trying to pay until he had already given money to the server. But the whole evening got me thinking about how the dynamics of paying for stuff is different when you're part of a couple versus when you're single. When it's just me and my guy, he pays a lot of the time; I also pick up the check quite often but when we went out this weekend, I felt like it would have seemed weird if I had tried to pay for my own dinner. But what if we had been out with a single friend, instead of a married couple? In that case, I'm pretty sure I would feel just as weird if I didn't pay for myself.

I'm not sure I really have a point about all this, it's just something I've been thinking about. I've had many conversations with people about paying on a first date (and Zandria has a recent Blogher post that pretty much sums up how I feel about that issue) but I haven't talked with too many people about the dynamics of paying for things once you're in a steady relationship, or when you are out with other people. So I'm curious, for any single readers: when you go out with couples, does paying the bill ever seem awkward? For coupled readers: who pays, and does it matter if you're out with other couples or singles?

* We've been dating for almost four months but I'm still having issues with using the word 'boyfriend' so I don't really know what to call him...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Marriage-Go-Round

Hat tip to Justin Wolfers for the pointer to an interview with Andrew Cherlin, whose book The Marriage-Go-Roundis now available. The book explores the fact that Americans marry more often than folks in other countries, creating a lot of upheaval in family life. From what I can tell, Cherlin's focus is not so much on whether people should be married or not, but for us to think about the impact that merry-go-round relationships can have on society and particularly kids:
Marriage is important. But “get married” should not be our sole message to Americans. We should spend less time promoting marriage and more time supporting stable caregiving in children’s lives. The two are not the same. Let me explain: I agree that it makes sense to help young unmarried couples who have just had a child together get married if that is their goal. But it makes less sense to encourage a single mother to remarry because she probably won’t marry the father of her children—who she has already broken up with—but rather some other man.We know that the new stepfamily that would be formed would not improve the lives of children. And if that family breaks up, the children would be forced to adjust to yet another change in their households. So I urge us to supplement the “get married”message with another message: “slow down.” See the traffic light of singlehood as yellow rather than green. Don’t rush into having children with a boyfriend/girlfriend or a partner you’ve recently started living with. If you are already single and raising children, choose your next live-in partner or spouse carefully. Introduce your partner gradually to your kids; and don’t try to make him an instant parent.
There are other parts of the interview that sound decidely matrimaniacal (for example, he talks about marriage being "a symbol of personal achievement") but I was fascinated by some of the stats comparing the U.S. to Europe, and his discussion of the conflict between the value Americans put on marriage and the value we put on individualism:
...only in the United States do you find both. So we marry in large numbers—we have a higher marriage rate than most countries. But we evaluate our marriages according to how personally fulfilling we find them. And if we find them lacking, we are more likely to end them. Then, because it’s so important to be partnered, we move in with someone else, and the cycle starts all over again.

Also, we start and end cohabiting relationships at an even higher rate. If you are living with someone outside of marriage, and you are personally unhappy, you are supposed to end the relationship. Our cohabiting relationships are shorter than in any other country. It’s not as though some Americans value marriage and others value individualism. Rather, we carry both ideals in our heads and switch between them without even realizing it.
This rings true for me, especially as I struggle with reconciling my independence with my new relationship. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

End-of-semester blogging

The list of stuff I've been wanting to write about is getting really long but end-of-semester craziness will prevent me from writing much for another couple weeks so I figured I'd at least do a quick round-up of cool stuff y'all should check out:

- [via Feministe] Interesting article over on Slate about some of the women on the short list for the Supreme Court, pointing out that they are all unmarried and this is apparently an 'issue' for some people (in the comments on the Feministe post, someone points out that one of the women highlighted in the article, Kathleen Sullivan, is a lesbian who wears a wedding ring but is apparently considered 'single' because she can't legally get married - ugh).

- Blogher post about Steve Harvey's book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. Not sure if I'll actually pick it up but there was one part that definitely resonated with me:

A man always wants something. Always. And when it comes to women, that plan is always to find out two things: (1) if you're willing to sleep with him, and (2) if you are, how much it will cost to get you to sleep with him... Now by cost, Mr. Harvey means not only financially (dates and such), he means your requirements and standards. If you need certain things before getting physically involved like time, commitment, an emotional bond, some guys will consider that too high of a price to pay and move along but others, the ones that are serious about having a relationship, will have no problem with your price.
Of course, why would you want any of the guys in that first group anyway?

- Zandria has two recent posts I really liked. One is about being lonely, and the assumptions that are often made about singles and loneliness:
Here's a secret: some single women are lonely. Please note, I said "some." Here's another secret: just because a person is married or in a relationship, that doesn't mean they'll never feel lonely.

- Zandria's other post that I really liked was about not being a "for now" woman:
...I need the guy to like me just as much as I like him. That’s what clicked for me. If I could see myself being happy with dating only this person, and I knew I wanted to see him more often and get to know him better...but he was telling me that he wanted to keep his options open? He doesn't feel the same way I do. And rather than give it more time and risk being hurt, I decided to move on.
I wish it hadn't taken me ten extra years to get to the same place but better late than never...

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I'm a big believer in karma. When people do things that annoy me, I honestly believe that what goes around, comes around (as a professor, this attitude is particularly useful for remaining calm with students!). But karma can work in good ways too and when I'm faced with challenges, it gives me strength to believe that there is a bigger plan; as long as I'm trying to be a good person, things will work out eventually. For example, I tend not to have regrets because even if things haven't gone the way I'd like, I can usually see that if X (bad) hadn't happened, Y (good) might not have happened either.

This is on my mind tonight in particular because I spent a good bit of time this past week with my ex. We are supposedly still friends but I got home from spending the afternoon with him and all I could think was, "Oh my god, I cannot believe I wasted so many years on this guy!" It's not so much that I don't know what I saw in him - he's still smart, funny and charming, like he always has been. But now I also see all his flaws, and I can see that they were always there. Basically, I now realize just how insecure I must have been, and how low my self-esteem must have been, to have been so infatuated that I overlooked all these other incredibly annoying things about him [and yes, I know that overlooking someone's flaws is typical in relationships but a) according to him, we were never really dating or in a capital-R Relationship and b) we're talking seven years].

But even as I sit here dismayed/embarrassed/incredulous that I was ever so into this guy, a part of me knows that if it hadn't been for that whole experience, I would not be the person I am today. If he hadn't left me a sobbing incoherent mess (repeatedly), I would not have gotten the help that I needed to deal with the issues that led me to want him the first place. If he hadn't made me feel so needy and insecure, I would not have worked so hard to be confidently independent, and I would not have grown to the point where I can now say with confidence that I will never choose someone like him again.

I will also admit that a big contributor to my reaction this weekend is that my current relationship is so vastly different, and the contrast is both painful and wonderful. If I had to go through the hell that was my ex in order to find my way to this relationship on the other side, well, then I guess I can't regret the hell. I just keep thinking of one of my favorite songs, "Bless the Broken Road" by Rascal Flatts:

I think about the years I've spent just passin' through.
I'd like to have the time I lost and give it back to you.
But you just smile and take my hand,
you've been there, you understand
it's all part of a grander plan that is comin' true...

Every long lost dream led me to where you are.
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
pointing me on my way into your loving arms.
This much I know is true:
that God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you.

Now if I can just figure out what lessons I'm supposed to be learning from certain challenges I'm facing at work, I'll be all set...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Dating advice from an economist?

Someone who just happens to stumble onto this blog might wonder about the name, since most of the time, my posts don't really have anything to do with economics. I tend to think that my take on life as a happily single woman is simply informed, but not determined, by the fact that I am also an economist. But every once in a while, I can actually offer something that explicitly shows what I mean by that, such as this clip from Tim Harford (the Undercover Economist):

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Do I have to stay single to prove I am happy being single?

I've started dating someone. It actually has taken me a while, and a lot of false starts, to even write that sentence, partly because I don't want to jinx it (things are definitely still in the beginning stages), but partly because I'm not sure how I feel about admitting that I'm dating someone on a blog that, to this point, has been so much about being happily single (of course, if you're the type that only defines 'single' as 'not married' then nevermind). But after some hard thinking, I realized that I shouldn't need to be single to promote the idea that one can be happily single. And more generally, I think of this blog as being about everyone's right to be happy being whatever the heck they want to be, without other people making a bunch of assumptions about them, and I shouldn't need to be single to champion that.

My hesitation to share the fact that I'm dating is, itself, an indication of how hard I think it is for people to accept that one CAN be happily single. My biggest fear is that people will say, "Oh, I knew Jenn was just in denial all that time she was saying she was perfectly happy being single. She just hadn't met the right guy yet; NOW she's really happy." What crap. Anyone who says that just doesn't get it. I'll probably tackle this in more detail in a future post but the reality is that if I hadn't grown to the point where I was perfectly happy being single, I don't think I'd ever have developed the self-esteem I need to have a truly healthy relationship. God knows my past relationships weren't healthy and I wasn't happy. And I'm already finding that simply being in a relationship at all is bringing out insecurities I thought I had conquered. But whereas past boyfriends made me feel like a needy freak when I voiced those insecurities, I've grown enough to choose to be with someone who helps me confront those insecurities head on, in a mature way. I'm also finding it easier to be more assertive about what I need from him because I know I'm just fine on my own - after all, if this relationship isn't better than staying single (which I already know is pretty darn good), then what's the point?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Get government out of marriage

In a fitting follow-up to my last post about the discrimination suit in Massachusetts over the Defense of Marriage Act, there is a group trying to get an initiative on the California ballot to replace the term "marriage" with "domestic partnership" in all of California's laws. Here's the summary:

SUBSTITUTES DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP FOR MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA LAW. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Replaces the term “marriage” with the term “domestic partnership” throughout California law, but preserves the rights provided in marriage. Applies equally to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. Repeals the provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: This measure would have an unknown fiscal effect on state and local governments. (09-0003.)

On the Facebook group site, the authors of the initiative explain:
The idea behind this compromise is to provide equal rights, without offending the religious community who claim that "marriage" is a religious institution. Thus, "Marriage" itself would become a social ceremony instead of a political institution.

I'm not sure why they included specific language about repealing Prop 8 (which reinforced the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman) since if all laws apply to domestic partners, the definition of marriage seems a bit moot and simply would create more political difficulties. Regardless, it seems that there are plenty of people on both sides of the issue that hate this initiative (conservatives for the reasons you would expect, liberals because it doesn't go far enough), and it's a long shot that it will even get on the ballot, let alone pass, but if you want to sign the petition or or learn more, you can visit their website: (though apparently, they've been having some server issues due to higher-than-expected interest so the site's been down the last few days).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's about time

One thing I have never been able to figure out about the gay-marriage issue is why no one has sued state or federal governments over policies that confer benefits based on being married. In California, I think (but someone please correct me if I'm wrong!) that almost any policy that applies to spouses also applies to domestic partners (and I'm talking legally, setting aside whether hospitals or other institutions actually make it equally easy for partners to exercise those rights). But in other states, and in federal policies, there are all kinds of things that give benefits to married couples that are not available to 'domestic partners'. It has always seemed so strange to me that you could have one law that says "Group X gets this benefit", another law that says, "You are not allowed to be part of Group X", and not have the first law considered discriminatory. I assume it has to do with some legal issue about 'protected class' or appropriate grounds for 'discrimination', but it just seems wrong.

So I was really happy to hear that a group of same-sex couples and gay widowers in Massachusetts have finally filed a discrimination suit against the federal government over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I think the likelihood that they prevail is probably pretty low but I'll certainly be rooting for them...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anne Hathaway rocks

I've always been a big Anne Hathaway fan but I'm an even bigger fan after seeing her interview with Barbara Walters after the Oscars (relevant bit starts at 5:30 in):

What is so awesome is that she clearly makes a distinction between being in love and being married. Love her!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Economists are not the most romantic people in the world

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Self-confidence and He's Just Not That Into You

I saw the movie He's Just Not That Into You last weekend and basically hated it. CAUTION: there's sort of a spoiler ahead so if you haven't seen the movie but plan to, feel free to stop reading. On the other hand, I don't think anything I write here can really be considered a 'spoiler' because do you really not know how it's all going to turn out?

The only storyline I found somewhat appealing was the one with Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck - she basically issues an ultimatum and actually follows through with leaving him when he won't marry her after 7 years together. They get back together when she realizes that having a man who loves her and who IS committed to her even if he doesn't want to pin the label of marriage on that commitment, is more important than having that label. I would have felt the movie was actually worth my money if they had ended with that and shown a couple that was truly happy and committed without being married, but I guess that's too much to ask for.

Part of what was so disappointing is that I'm actually a huge fan of the book. I know there are plenty of women out there who think it's too simplistic but like Miranda in the SITC episode where the phrase first appeared, I find the idea liberating - forget the games, give up the drama, just accept that he's not into you and move on. In the book (but, I felt, mostly missing from the movie), Greg Behrendt makes the point repeatedly that we all deserve someone who recognizes our fabulousness, that if someone is not acting like he's into you, you deserve better. And the first time I read that, I did my impression of Carrie Fisher in When Harry Met Sally - you know, where she keeps saying "you're right, you're right, I know you're right" when Meg Ryan tells her that her married boyfriend is never going to leave his wife. We all know that we are supposed to be with someone who thinks we're fabulous and that we should walk away from anyone who doesn't treat us as we deserve to be treated. However, what Behrendt doesn't tell you in his book (and CERTAINLY is not shown in this movie) is how to do that, how to stop wanting someone who isn't into us, how to actually walk away and let it go.

The problem is that you have to have a certain level of self-confidence to shrug it off when someone (who you presumably are into) is not that into you. There's an irony here that took me years to appreciate: if you think you're awesome, it's a lot easier to accept that someone else doesn't think so. It's not personal, it's not damaging to your own self-esteem, so you don't need to dissect it, you can just let it go. And the even more ironic catch-22 is that the more you chase after people who are not that into you, the harder it is to find that self confidence, but actually BEING with someone who believes you're fabulous - or simply surrounding yourself with supportive friends who always make you feel great about yourself - can't help but make you feel more self-confident.

I wish they made more movies that showed that!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

News flash: I don't hate Valentine's Day!

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, which means that it's time for me to pull out every ounce of patience I've got to tolerate the nonsense that happy singles are about to be subjected to. I'm not talking about the overwhelming commercialism of a day dedicated to romance and the inevitable focus on coupledom. I'm talking about the well-meaning but completely clueless people who will assume that because I'm single, Valentine's Day must make me suicidal. For example, Allison on (a blog supposedly about inspiring and supporting women) believes that the world is made up of only three kinds of people:
Category 1 is for those for whom Valentine’s Day is a BIG full blown deal they celebrate with their romantic partner. Category 2 includes those who are in a relationship but frankly, can take it or leave it. The third category is for those who get irritated and depressed about Cupid’s Day because it inevitably makes them feel that they are SINGLE LOSERS (emphasis in original) because they don’t have a significant other. It’s a day on which the entire freaking country conspires to make you think you’re an oddball of the highest order because you’re on your own.

Ironically, Allison goes on to say that she knows (and admires) plenty of singles who throw Valentine's parties for themselves and their friends, celebrating the fact that there's plenty of love outside of coupledom. I'm not sure what world Allison thinks these people live on, since they certainly don't fall into one of her 'three kinds of people'.

I get that some singles hate Valentine's Day; heck, I know plenty of coupled people who think it's stupid too. I also know singles who choose to use February 14th to celebrate their singledom - that's the whole idea behind International Quirkyalone Day. And I know singles who are completely indifferent about Valentine's and treat it like any other day. My point is this: don't assume that just because someone is single, they must be miserable this time of year. Personally, I love Valentine's Day - I think it's awesome to have a day specifically devoted to the idea of telling people we love them. When I'm in a relationship, I love to make a big deal about it, being romantic and gushy. But whether I'm in a relationship or not, I look forward to the candy I know my mom is going to send (and the fact that I get a believable excuse for having lots of chocolate in the house), and I usually wish everyone I see a happy Valentine's Day. I think Quirkyalone's description of International Quirkyalone Day sums it up best: "IQD is a celebration of romance, freedom and individuality. It celebrates true romance (as opposed to the fake versions presented to us in reality dating shows), independence, creativity, friendship, and all kinds of love--including love for yourself."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Maybe it's genetic

I'm sure that every family has their quirks and mine is no exception. In particular, there are certain things that always lead someone in the room to say, "It must be genetic" because the behavior is something that other people in the family do too - like the way that I, my mom and my aunt all tend to crack ourselves up with our jokes, even if no one else is really laughing, or the look that my sister and aunts have perfected when someone does something completely stupid (and yes, I realize these things are more nurture than nature but that's not the point).

Along similar lines, it dawned on me recently that I can probably credit my family with my single status, or rather, with being so comfortable about my single status. In my family, being married seems more the exception than the rule. Perhaps even more interesting is that I still have plenty of relatives who are in committed, long-term relationships, just not married. For example, my mom's older sister has been with the same man for over thirty years but they never got married (both are divorced and decided they just didn't want/need the marriage thing). My mom's younger sister got divorced when I was four and raised a son by herself; nowadays, she has more of a social life than I do, with a tight-knit 'tribe' of lifetime friends. I have three cousins on my dad's side who are all in committed relationships but not married; in one case, my cousin was planning to get married, had to postpone the wedding, then got pregnant and although she and her partner are still together (and now with three kids), they never got around to having that wedding.

My own parents have one of those 40-plus-year, rock-solid marriages but I think even that has made me feel more OK about staying single, not less, since I tend to think that unless I can find what they have, what's the point in getting married? It also helps that I get absolutely no pressure from my family whatsoever about my relationship status. I realize this probably puts me in a minority among thirty-something single women (and certainly among Asian-American women!). I'm always a little incredulous when I hear other women talk about the bizarre (to me) things that their families have said to them about 'settling down' or 'finding a nice man', partly because I honestly can't imagine my family ever saying those things to me.

Maybe it's because my family is all in the Bay Area, where the idea of 'non-traditional lifestyles' was practically invented. Or maybe it's genetic. Whatever the reason, I am deeply grateful to have the family that I do...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Are you reading Bella DePaulo?

If you are single, whether you are happy about that status or not, you should be. DePaulo, the author of Singled Out, is simply really good. In a recent post, she methodically dissects the singlism in a recent study about how singles are no more likely than coupled people to have "issues with attachment". What I love about her work is that she is so careful to avoid the same kind of bias that she is critiquing in others; for example, she often makes a point to say that she is not suggesting that all single people are happy, have full lives, or whatever else people are saying they aren't. She's just trying to get people to see the biases and flaws in so many of the 'studies' often touted as claiming marrieds are better in some way than singles.

What I find interesting is that she has gotten slammed by some commenters as being 'extreme'. And I'll admit that there have been times when I'm reading her blog and I think maybe she's reading more into something than is really there. But then she also comes up with posts like this one, where the examples of singlism are so acute (and obvious) that I just want to scream. And that makes me wonder - those times when I am resistant to the idea that singlism is rampant, is it because I buy into it myself? Or because I want to believe it isn't there? And do I only think DePaulo is biased because it's so weird to have someone point out singlism? That's why I think DePaulo is so good, because she makes me ask those questions.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Today, the internet is full of bloggers making resolutions (nothing like announcing your intentions to the world to create accountability!) and I'm tempted to add my list to the mix. But everything on my list really boils down to only one thing: balance. Life in 2008 was definitely out of balance; it was all about work. Fortunately, I love my work (shouldn't there be some other word for work when it doesn't seem like work?), but I want life in 2009 to include a lot more. I want to get back in a kayak more regularly, I want to get away from the computer more often, I want to meet new people and re-connect with old friends. With everything going on in the world, particularly with the Obamas moving into the White House, 2009 has the potential to be an amazing year. I hope it lives up to that potential for all of us...