I have to respectfully disagree with Alexandra Gekas’ recent Soapbox excoriating Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones for considering her virginity “a gift I want to give my husband.” Taking Jones to task for how she’s decided to pursue her sexuality strikes me as yet another way to be holier-than-thou, through a feminist lens, almost the opposite of slut-shaming (conservative-shaming? virgin-shaming?). There are a seemingly infinite number of ways women are told we are expressing ourselves, sexually and otherwise, incorrectly. Are we showing too much cleavage? Putting out too soon? Living in sin? It’s like we can’t win, and while I’m not in Jones’ position, I’d like to think anyone who’s been judged for being “slutty” can empathize with being judged in this way. Keep reading »
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at my boyfriend’s living room table, alone, in the middle of a weekday afternoon, my laptop open, trying to fend off both a cold and a bad mood. I was frustrated that I couldn’t pick amongst the multiple documents I had open that required my urgent attention, and angry at myself for feeling tired and frustrated, a vicious cycle of inertia and self-hatred. Rationally, I know that I’m lucky to be able to be my own boss and make my own schedule, so when I fall down on the job, I get upset. I was also antsy because I was in suburbia; I live in New York City, and right outside my door, within a one-block walk, are a bagel shop, a diner, three 24-hour delis, a nail salon, a dry cleaner and more. Where he lives, I can walk for coffee in just five minutes, but I’m pretty much the only one walking. I felt trapped, and stressed, and cranky, and turned to something I thought would soothe those feelings: food. Keep reading »
Some women shy away from divorced guys, but I’m grateful my new boyfriend is divorced—or at least, on the way there (he is at the end of the process, in the final stages of paperwork). This is not a situation where someone says they’re getting divorced but is really just having an affair. They’ve been living apart for two years, and I would barely know he’s divorced except that it came up on our first date, one that neither of us knew was a date until the end. “Never get married,” he told me half-jokingly as he described the saga of the paperwork, and I smiled, because I have no plans to. When we started dating more seriously, I realized pretty quickly that I had nothing to feel threatened about, and that in fact, I was reaping the benefits of his divorce. Keep reading »
A few months ago, I went on two dates with a guy I met on the online dating site OKCupid. We emailed and talked a bit before the first; I was looking forward to meeting him and wanted to look good. I usually date people I’m friends with first, so the blind date aspect of online dating makes me want to put forward a greater first impression. Keep reading »
Two days before my birthday last November, I got a facial at my favorite spa. I lay down on the bed, with the paper gown tucked around me, and the technician went about working her magic on my pores. She put a mask on my face and left me to relax for 10 minutes, with cucumbers resting gently over my eyes, the lights dimmed, and soothing music playing. The setting should’ve been everything I needed to stay calm, and it was … for about two minutes. Then my phone beeped, and I saw a text from a friend telling me to check her Twitter stream ASAP. Of course, I was curious, but I couldn’t get a signal, and spent the rest of the “rest period” feeling antsy, continually picking up my phone to see if suddenly service had been restored. The serenity that I look for when I go to the spa, the chance to shut off my mind while getting my skin rejuvenated, wasn’t there, because all I could think about was when I could get out of the room to check my phone. Keep reading »
Relatively recently, I dated two men in a row with the same first name—I’ll call them both Tom for the sake of this essay. One I fell in love with, and while I’m mostly over him, I’m not there all the way. Both are guys I was friends with before dating them, and I considered the possibility that the name thing would get weird with Tom 2.0, but I’d had a crush on him, so I overlooked it. They’re fairly different in personality, but the fact that in addition to sharing a name, both Toms have similar body types and professions adds to my sense that men with this name are not my type. Not to mention the fact that after I dated Tom 1.0, I had to keep calling Tom 2.0 by his full name when telling my friends about him, lest anyone get confused. Keep reading »
The other night, I met a fellow writer at a dinner party. I’d read her work and followed her online but had no idea what she was really like. I think I assumed because she’s 10 years younger than me and, in my mind, part of the “cool” crowd, that we wouldn’t get along, but we did and were soon chatting away about mutual friends and work and gossip and pop culture.
We took the train back to our neighborhood, and she asked if I wanted to get a drink. I realized in that moment that even though it was freezing cold out, I did want to keep talking. The truth is, though, if one of my other friends had suggested getting a drink at 10:30, I probably would’ve begged off with the excuse that I had overdue work waiting for me. That wouldn’t have been a lie—as a freelancer, I always have something hanging over my head—but it could wait an hour or two. In the same way that I might skip a weekly comedy show because I can always go another time but would get tickets to a special one-night-only event, it seemed like I should take advantage of this opportunity because it was something special. Keep reading »
I was at the bar at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas enjoying a glass of champagne and having an intense one-in-the-morning chat with a new friend about raising kids (she’s a mom, I want to be one) when a young, casually-dressed guy came over and put his hand on both our backs. He was cute and friendly and something about his unexpected approach sparked my interest. I wasn’t there looking to meet anyone, but I rarely get hit on, so I paid attention. My friend was married and not too impressed with him but she retired and let me judge for myself. Keep reading »
I’m not an addict, and I’m not an alcoholic. But as offensive as this may sound, I sometimes I wish I were, if only so I could have a language and a community to help me deal with what often seem like out of control urges—a structure surrounding me to help me cope with, well, life. But there are no 12-step meetings for people who simply have trouble getting up every day, who feel hollow and weak and unworthy, but who don’t gloss over those feelings with a single, predictable vice. Over the course of my life, I’ve certainly used alcohol, sex, shopping and food to help quell those feelings, and they’ve each worked, in limited doses, but eventually their effects wore off.
The thing is, though, my rock bottom moments don’t revolve around alcohol, though I’ve consumed my share, or drugs (I’ve attempted to smoke pot twice, and basically failed each time); sometimes it’s food, sometimes it’s sex, sometimes it’s shopping, but I fundamentally believe that the core part of me that hates myself in those moments when I’m eating an entire box of cereal, screwing someone I’m not that into, or buying a pair of shoes I don’t need and can’t afford, is the same impulse that drove, say, my father or grandfather to drink (both are recovering alcoholics). Keep reading »
What would you do if you wound up single on what was to be one of the most special days of your life—your wedding day? My friend Desiree did something remarkable and revolutionary: instead of hiding away, she marched boldly into a proud new future, and in the process became an inspiration to me and, hopefully, some of you as well.
On a recent Sunday, when I would have been attending her wedding to a man, I stood on Bow Bridge in Central Park and witnessed Desiree get married—to herself. A circle of her friends surrounded her while her cousin officiated, reciting vows she had written for herself, which included the lines, “I will make my happiness a priority and forgive myself when I’m not perfect. I will trust myself and stand within the power of my own strength. I will love myself forever more, through good and bad, thick and thin, and for exactly who I am today. I promise I will never, ever, ever, settle for less than what my heart and soul desire.”
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