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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Working Relationship

As my match.com experiment is coming to a close, I realize that I have learned quite a bit from dating. It wasn't anything I didn't already know but dating allowed me to put into practice my newfound standards, boundaries and ideals. I'm happy to say that I am no longer a desperate dater and I now have the experience and newfound confidence to prove it.

This freedom from desperate dating comes from knowing myself and enjoying my life. Its a lot harder to compromise myself into oblivion when I already love the life I am living. If a date doesn't call me I don't sit around thinking about all the things I might change about myself so that I would be more acceptable or attractive, I just shrug my shoulders and go look at the pumpkin vine in my backyard and marvel at how fast it is growing. I no longer expect first dates to lead to second dates which then lead to happily-ever-after. In fact, I don't expect some knight in shining armor to walk into my life, be perfectly compatible with me and sweep me off my feet. I'm just not worried about it.

Plus, its hard to sweep me off my feet without a struggle. I don't want to ride off into the sunset. I want to watch my garden grow and harvest the vegetables and carve jack-o-lanterns. I have roots and I have dreams and I'm not particularly keen on being carried off on a horse so that I can clean someone else's stables. 

I'm unwilling to give up the good things about myself in order to please or appease another person.

Lately, I'm having a parallel revelation in regards to my (nonexistent) acting career. I've spent so much time trying to be acceptable and marketable that I have totally forgotten who I am as an actor. I don't even enjoy acting. I don't even remember what good acting feels like. All I do is try and figure out what the agent, casting director, coach, client wants me to be. 

No wonder it isn't working out.

Just like any relationship-gone-wrong, I went into acting for love. I loved the way I felt when I was acting, I loved telling stories and I loved the way movies are made. I loved the collaboration and the project-centered work and I thought I had something to contribute. And I most likely did and I most certainly still do. 

But then came the advice. Relationships and acting are two things that everyone seems to unreservedly give advice on even if they suck at them themselves (look at me and all the relationship advice I give, for example)! Here is some of the advice I would constantly get as an actor: Why don't you change your image? Have nice nails, get a good haircut, look more asian, wear brighter colors, be skinny. Why don't you work on your audition technique? Don't blink too much, be confident, be relaxed, learn to speak with accents, learn to cheerlead, learn to ride a horse, learn martial arts. Why don't you: move there or move here or attend this function or that function or talk to this cousin of mine or that friend of my sister or why don't you hang out at this coffee shop? Why don't you take this class because the teacher is awesome and then you have to take that workshop because it will change your life and then you have to kiss this person's ass because it tastes like marshmallows. 

And in all this din, somewhere, was me. But I was fading by the second. No wonder I didn't feel confident and relaxed when I knew that inherently I had already screwed up by not having the right skills, the right personality, the right clothes, the right look

I don't know when it happened exactly, but over time this relationship stopped being about love and became about trying to be someone or something I am not so that I could be more attractive, more desirable, more bookable. And what for? What was I trying to attract? Did I really want to book that commercial with the cheesy script after all? How desperate was I for money/acceptance/success? How much money had I already spent on trying to improve my image or my resume? How much career success in other fields had passed me by while I was desperately trying to get ahead? How many days had I put off working on my car so I wouldn't have grease under my nails? How much of my own life had I sacrificed for this career and what was I getting out of it?


So I'm breaking up with show business. One day I'd like to be friends with it but on my own terms; with dirt under my nails and wearing Birkenstocks (I don't really own any Birkenstocks but I couldn't find a better way to sum up my lack of desire to look like a proper Hollywood actress). Right now I just have to spend some time with myself and find an acting class which isn't about technique or auditioning and is just about acting for the sake of acting. Because good stories are still worth telling. And somewhere inside me there is still a good actor and I really need to find her. 

Awesomely enough, in the synchronicity of single blogs, Christina at Onely posted a humorous bit today about her romantic entanglements with her writing (aka Mr. Mike Rosoft Word).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Footloose Femails: An Email Group!

I wrote in my previous post that I would keep y'all updated as to when my dear Australian Reader began her email group. Well, now, from Singal we have Footloose Femails! Its a friendship email group for single women at yahoogroups and you can find it here:


I am on my way to join right now! 

Also, I know that I haven't been posting as often lately. Its not cause I've been busy but I have been overwhelmed! But I will get back on track sooner or later!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear Singlutionary!

I know that I gush a lot about the fantastic sense of support and community that I get from the singles blogging community and from writing Singlutionary. Well, that sense expanded even more this week when I received emails seeking advice/support from two readers:

The first reader is from Australia and wrote that she is looking for an online community of single female friends through an email group. Of course an email group has no geographical boundaries but can offer a great deal of support and more intimate friendship to folks the world over. Friends are IMPORTANT to Singlutionaries so I am all for the idea of people starting email groups especially when not everyone lives in a wonderful vibrant city and might *need* to connect beyond their neighborhood to find some single kindred spirits. As I hear more details about this email group, I will be sure to blog about it.

The second reader found me by doing an internet search for Susan Boyle. How did THAT happen? I was going to post something about Susan Boyle but haven't yet. Anyways, this reader asked that I write about two things: newly coupled people ditching their single friends only to come crawling back after-the-fact and choosing singleness over ickypoo relationships. Here is what I have to say about each of those issues:

Newly Coupled People Ditching Their Single Friends
Ew. Gross. There is nothing more rude or heartbreaking than having a BFF one day and no BFF the next. This is really really hurtful and I know because I have been through it. Our friends are essential pillars in our support networks and are sometimes more capable of being "there" for us than family. Sometimes friends ARE family especially if family is absent or dysfunctional or can't relate to a certain aspect of your life. Unfortunately, I don't think that our culture reveres friendship very much. Friends are something for childhood before the "real" stuff like marriage and children comes into play. There is this perception that when we grow up we don't "need" our friends anymore. Unfortunately, this assumption lies on the premise that every one "grows up" when they get married and that everyone gets married at exactly the same time as all their other friends so that nobody is left out. And that is a faulty concept because married people still need friends, and good ones too!

So, why do people ditch their friends when they get into a relationship? Sigh. I think this is partly due to culture and this concept that romantic love "sweeps you off your feet". There are people who want to feel so wrapped up in their partner that they can not see or hear anyone else. Also, as a practical matter, people only have a certain number of social hours and when a new person comes on the scene, they have to balance out those hours with the time they usually spend with friends. Part of the Singlutionary mindset is to have a full satisfying life with our without a partner. If your life is full and satisfying and you're not wah-wah-waiting for Mr./Mrs. Right all day long, the chances that you're going to run off in the sunset (never to be seen again) with him/her are more slim. Still, while I hope to contribute to the singles movement where singledom and friendship are honored and revered just as much as romantic relationships, I can't just cast a magical Singlutionary spell on the world so that everyone behaves the way I want no matter how much I want to.

What I can do is offer up what I have learned from my own hard knocks with friends:

1. Seek out friends who are happy, satisfied singles (or coupled Singlutionaries). A big red flag for me when making a new friend is if she only wants to do men-seeking activities like go to bars to talk to meet guys, etc. Our interests must be beyond finding a man together. 

2. Learn to enjoy at least a little bit of solitude. I know that this is super hard for people with the opposite personality type of me. I love alone time but some people feel antsy and anxious when alone. Might I be a little cliche and suggest taking a yoga or meditation class? There, in the company of others, you'll clear out your mind and be alone in there and see that its not so scary after all. Its just . . . peaceful. If you learn how to be your own best friend, you'll realize that you're never totally alone.

3. Get good at making new friends because no matter how awesome your current friends are, there are times in life where they won't (for whatever valid reasons) be able to be there for you. They might be sick or overwhelmed or getting a divorce and simply unable to be a friend because they are struggling so hard just to keep their own life together. Its easy to feel angry and abandoned anytime someone you count on goes missing from your life but sometimes you just have to let them be. This is a great time to make new friends. Meetup.com is a great resource but if you don't live in a major city, try an online community for singles or take classes, join a group that interests you, hang out at the coffee shop or any place where people gather. Practice spotting people who look like they might have something in common with you. Finding new friends is like dating so try not to feel rejected when it doesn't work out at first. Most of the time, its just a timing thing: you need a new friend and the potential new friend is trying to juggle too many other commitments at the moment.

4. Explore your interests. I think a lot of people have things they really want to do (mine is: take a day trip out to that one little town and explore) but they are waiting to be in a relationship to do it. Do it yourself. If you can afford to, take surfing classes instead of waiting for a hunky surfer to walk into your life, take you in his/her strong arms and show you how its done. I know its scary to join up in things all on your own and ideally you'd have a friend to go with you but if you just buck up and do it anyways, chances are you'll meet a new friend doing the very thing you sat around for three months wishing you had a friend to it with. And even if you don't make a new friend, this is another opportunity to get to know yourself better!

The same reader also asked about accepting being single after a series of really bad relationships. This is what I have to offer up on THAT one:

I have so been there. I too felt like I was behind since the time I was 13! Yes! 13! I know, I am a total nutcase. When I was 13, I felt like it was too late for me, that I would never catch up and that I would never be happy in a relationship. Of course my adolescent despair proved to be somewhat correct because for the next 15 years I would continue to feel like I was behind, like I would never be in a good relationship and that there was something inherently and essentially wrong with me which made all this the case. And my thinking played out in real life creating a vicious cycle.

All of my relationships were lacking. Some were better than others. Some even bordered on being good but for the most part the suffering I experienced far outweighed the pleasure. 

I was desperate. I took up with anyone who could put two sentences together. I didn't even ask if maybe they could do a third sentence just to be sure they were competent. If a guy liked me and wasn't too annoying, I liked him. That was the way it worked. 

And that is why I now love being single! I think that the very first thing in finding a partner who isn't going to use and abuse you is to know your own worth. How could I know my own worth if I was running around with idiots who wanted the world from me in exchange for a cheese cracker? I needed some time and space to get to know myself. Now I am learning about myself and every day I am impressed by how amazing I am. I guess you could say that I am falling in love with myself but that is super cheesy and the fact that I wrote that kinda makes me want to barf. Anyways, I am wonderful! I value myself and the things I can do with my life more and more every day. More than that, I value, for the first time, the life that I have built for myself. Because of this, I would never let some idiot guy come in and smash up my awesome little life with his sledgehammer of idiocy. 

One thing I've noticed about myself in the past months is that I am way more picky about who I let into my life. This goes for men and for women, for guys I meet on match.com and people I meet in my community. Because I have taken the time to get to know myself and realize all that I have to offer, I want to be around people who also have a lot to offer and know how to share it. 

I used to live my life like a love free-for-all. I was that girl on the parade float throwing out candy to the crowd. I just gave myself away. I worked for far less money than I was worth, I gave away my time to anyone who asked for it, I supported freeloaders, etc. Now I am still riding in the parade but I am just sitting there satisfied basking in my own joyfulness and hanging out with the other folks on my float and smelling the zillions of flowers all around me (in this fantasy I have no allergies). 

I guess what I am trying to say is that being single is not sad or lonely or depressing. It can be one of the best opportunities of your life. And being single does not mean giving up on love. In fact, I think that choosing to be single is exactly the opposite!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Single or Singlutionary?

Until my recent revelation in regards to my roommates and my need for community, I thought that I wanted a community of Singles. I was very adamant that everyone be single. I even posted a post on craigslist for single friends. I had one woman respond who was married but wasn't "connected at the hip" with her husband. She seemed super cool but I honestly wasn't really interested because I wanted single friends.

Single means unattached. For many people being single is a temporary state and eventually they'll be in a relationship again. Being single doesn't really mean that a person is happy or active for fun or even available. And making friends with single people doesn't guarantee that, as soon as they become coupled, they won't run off with their partner and abandon their loyal friends.

So while I was looking for single friends, I was also wary of single friends. I've met a lot of singles in my life who just use friends as a filler until they find a mate. I found myself in a catch 22 with my own thinking.

So when I found community with my roommates, it was strange to realize that not all of them are single. In fact, two of them aren't single. Two of them have serious long-term boyfriends. This fact rarely occurs to me because, at home, they are functionally single. 

I make it really clear to prospective roommates that their significant other is not welcome to live here. If he/she comes over once a week, that is fine but the house is too small for everyone to have their partner over all the time. Plus, when a couple is making breakfast or watching a movie, its pretty easy for them to make the other people in the house feel kinda uncomfortable (depending on how obnoxious they are). Couples tend to take over in domestic spaces. Not only that, this is my home and I want to be able to walk around without a bra on with my hair all messed up and not feel awkward when my nipples bump into someone's significant other. So I seek out roommates who feel the same way about the situation. 

So far my adamance about: "YOU live here but your partner does not" has been very effective. I've seen one roommate's boyfriend about four times and the other roommate's boyfriend, I have NEVER met although he did hook us up with free cable. The roommates disappear over the weekends to their boyfriend's places where roommates aren't an issue. 

Still, if two of my three roommates are coupled, how could it be that I've found the single community I was seeking right here at home?

What I was seeking wasn't a singles community at all? It was a Singlutionary community that I really wanted! Even if/when I find myself in a relationship, certain basic things aren't going to change about my life. I am still going to keep up with my friends, my dog, my house, my hobbies. My lifestyle won't change nor will my way of thinking. (I know because whenever I have gotten into a relationship in the past, things HAVE changed and ultimately, I got pissed off and ended it.) Having a Singlutionary mindset is what is important, not whether you happen to be single or coupled.

Being Singlutionary is: Thinking and speaking as an "I" not a "we". Having strong relationships (outside of coupledom). Owning your own happiness and not waiting for another person to deliver it to you. Enjoying time and space alone. Pursing your dreams independent of a romantic relationship (even if pursue your dream with your partner, you would still pursue it alone if he/she weren't in the picture). 

Me and my dog and my three roommates are all Singlutionaries and that is why this works. We all have a strong sense of self and enjoy our lives as individuals. I am sure my two coupled roommates also enjoy their lives as part of a couple, but I suspect that they still see themselves as individuals even on their weekends at the boyfriend's. Their sense of identity isn't entirely dependent on their man. In fact, it isn't dependent at all on their man although they do love and respect him. 

So I guess I was being narrow minded and prejudiced when I was exclusively looking for an exclusively single community. Of course, there are typically some differences between the lifestyle/needs/availability of single vs. married people. My roommates don't live with their boyfriends and that obviously is a key factor. Geographical proximity seems to be a big deal when it comes to community. I think this is the case now more than ever as traffic gets worse, gas gets more expensive and people seek a higher quality of life. 

So Singlutionary community blossoms everywhere, even in my own backyard and even with people who aren't even single!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Singlutionary Community

I've mentioned creating a Meetup group for fellow Singlutionaries in a previous post but I have been reluctant to actually put this plan into action. 

In the meantime, the women over at Single Women Rule started a Meetup group which prompted me to start doing some brainstorming for my own version. But I still couldn't get anywhere. It seemed like a lot of work for something I wasn't sure I wanted.

I mean, I want a warm community of singles in my life but I am not sure I want to be the leader of it. I've led a meetup group before and it takes a while to get it off the ground during which time there may be one other person attending your "Satisfied Singles Potluck". Meetup is a people potluck after all. This can be a blessing,  especially creating community, but I'm just not sure that I want to put a whole lot of effort into spearheading it.

And I might not be able to put a lot of effort into it anyways. I'm going back to work full time (I've been underemployed and working as a homemaker/landlord/lost dog mother/actor this whole time). I've actually started a short-term blog chronicling my days until I attain full time employment-- it might be very boring to read but it provides me with some accountability for my goals which is nice. If you're also looking for work, please read and comment!

Going back to work full time (in addition to Bosslady and keeping up with my beloved projects) severely limits the amount of time I can commit to new projects. 

But today I realized that all my reluctance was irrelevant because I no longer feel the desperate need for a singles community: I have community with my roommates!

Until a few weeks ago, this wasn't really the case. I rent out rooms in my house and I love everyone who lives here but we mainly just interacted in passing. We didn't hang out much together and we never really did things outside of the house together. We all had good, yet minimal, relationships with each other.

Then a couple things happened: 

I decided to plant a food garden (inspired by approximately 7 garbage bags of mulch given to me by Bosslady's husband). One of my roommates works at a garden store. I knew I was in over my head so I invited her to help. Another roommate had grown a rooftop garden while she was growing up and knew how to plant ginger and onions and garlic from scratch. And the other roommate had some general gardening knowledge and helped me pick out tomatos. Little by little the garden grows. Today we picked the first fruit from the garden: one red strawberry. I sliced it into four dainty slices. Three of us ate our slices promptly (it was tart but good) and I wrapped up the final remaining slice for the absent roommate. It was so small that we all laughed when I set it on top of her food in the fridge. 

One of my roommates decided to foster a dog through the rescue organization that I've worked with for three years. With a new puppy in the house, everyone was enchanted and everyone pitched in. The puppy chewed shoes and raced around and snuggled and melted everyone's heart. So when I went out of town everyone offered to care for my dog who they'd also gotten to know better. One of my roommates told me today that she has been walking my dog and she hoped that was OK with me. Ahh. The secret life of dog!

Of the four of us who live here, two are single and two have boyfriends. But we're all pretty independent women. 

Tonight (on the almost 1 year anniversary of my downward spiral in regards to fitness/diet and overall health), I went to the gym! I haven't intentionally exercised in, well, a year. I went with one of my roommates and we'll continue to motivate each other into the indefinite future.

Now I have plenty of community in my life. And it all started with some plants and a puppy. It turns out that I wasn't craving singles community as much as I was craving people to take delight in life with, to do projects with and to share laughter and stories with. Turns out they had been here all along, I just never thought to ask!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Singlutionary on ONELY and SINGLE WOMEN RULE!

Last week Singlutionary was profiled by Lisa and Christina at Onely in their "Some Like it Single" series!

And the week before that Singlutionary was mentioned in a "Sisters in the Struggle" post by Keysha Whitaker on Single Women Rule!

I wanted very much to celebrate these two blogs and their contribution to happy satisfied singledom in a more timely matter but I am learning that I am anything BUT timely!

Regardless, if you haven't subscribed to Onely or to Single Women Rule, you should. Both blogs offer insight, fun and a variety of voices on the Single life from a happy non-hostile perspective. They're uplifting. And they both boast a great list of resources on their blogrolls! Check them out.

If you're looking for more singles blogs than you could ever process in one lifetime, there is a list of the "Top 100 Dating, Relationship and Singles Blogs" on The Toronto Speed Dating blog.
This obscenely comprehensive list includes Onely and Single Women Rule and breaks down the blogs by cities and topic. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Its a Man Hailstorm

One of the Onelys suggested to me a while back that I call up match.com and quit for good even though I still had a month to go already paid. But I didn't. And for two or three weeks there was so little activity anyways that it hardly mattered.

Then two unrelated things happened which are totally (and only) related in my brain:

1. I sat next to a hot guy on the airplane. We're not talking about a hot guy in terms of tall dark and handsome. We're not talking about a hot guy in terms of young and buff. We're not even really talking about a guy. We're talking about a MAN. Said Man was not wearing a ring. He was obviously at least 10 years my senior, most likely 15-20 years. He had the body of a man who had played high school football as a teenager, had gotten laid in the back of a american-made vehicle with one of the most popular cheerleaders and he spoke with the warm, comfortable Texas accent which I have grown accustomed to. He is most likely a good person and a big republican, a provider, a protector and a gun owner. For someone, like me, brought up on the West Coast in a city that passed a bill requiring folks to check your gun at the city limits, this type of man is utterly exotic.

Mr. Man must have accidentally lost his ring in the airport bathroom or something because he was pretty quick to bring up his wife and kids that live up in the suburbs (of course). Still, he just dripped of hotness.

After I got off the plane, retrieved my suitcase loaded to the limit with Trader Joes and lined up to wait for my ride, I found myself thinking that I would really like some physical intimacy in my life. That is my only beef with being single. 

And that brings me to:

2. I get home from the airport and match.com is raining idiots. There are a few guys who actually seem to be capable of putting together a profile that actually says something about themselves. There are even a few who don't look like serial killers in their profile picture. But in the past 24 hours I've gotten 20 winks or emails from match.com, two of which are remotely articulate and/or interesting.

I've already been on a date with one of them. A perfectly acceptable lad who is younger than me and randomly used to work with Bosslady (if this world gets any smaller, I am going to start saving up to have my cremated ashes shot out into space). I had fun with the lad but I somewhat doubt that I will be attracted to him. Too young and just not exotic enough. 

There was also a filmmaker Aussie who seemed like a decent guy who winked at me. I winked back. He favorited me. Great. We're at an impasse. I might just give up and ask him to a movie hoping that I could make friends with one filmmaker in this town based on a connection OUTSIDE of the industry. 

I am not sure what the moral of this story is supposed to be except that I seem to be attracted to everyone who isn't me. The tough part about that is that MOST people tend to socialize within their comfort zone with people most like themselves. If I keep seeking out people who are so vastly different from me, how am I ever going to find a social circle which fits together and offers some community?  How am I going to find friends/parters who fit into my life and I into theirs?

Who knows. I am not going to think about that right now. Instead I am going to go drink some emergen-c and make plans for tomorrow. 

Are you attracted to people who are very different from you or very similar? What kinds of differences or similarities do you find yourself drawn to in other folks?