Choosing to be Single?

Yesterday, I had one of those days where it is hard to be single.  Not hard in the emotional, “oh I wish I had someone” way- but hard in the sometimes things are just easier with another person to help you out, kind of way.

I live alone (well, alone with a cat), and usually I love it.  I like coming home and not having to worry that the mess I create while making dinner will bother anyone if it does not all get cleaned up in the same night.  I like to be able to re-charge by vegging out if that is all I have the energy for, and I am completely in control of what will be watched.  As a rather large Introvert on the Meyer’s Briggs scale, I need a lot of me time to feel re-energized and balanced, and living alone allows that.  This does not mean that I don’t get lonely from time to time- but the positives outweigh the negatives, and my cat is pretty good company most of the time.

However, there are times when it would just be helpful to have someone else around.  My predicament yesterday was that my shower backed up- not just running slow, but full on standing water.  I tried everything I could possibly think of, and when none of them worked, I went to the internet for more ideas.  Finally, defeated, I called my landlord and let him know the issue.  He had me call a plumber and it was both a relief and a disappointment.  It was nice to know that I no longer needed to handle the issue alone, but I had really wanted to tackle the problem myself and feel self sufficient.  In the end, it did drain on it’s own before the plumber returned my call, it just took six hours for the liquid plumber to work.

During this whole ordeal I kept thinking how nice it would be to have a guy I could call to come help me out.  This may be very un-feminist of me, but sometimes it’s just reassuring to have a male presence in the face of household dilemmas- even if they themselves don’t know how to fix the problem.  It is a nice feeling to have someone to share the burden.

I don’t run into these types of situations often, but when I do I always find myself contemplating my singleness.  I read an article once that said it takes courage to remain single in our society.  At first I did not think this was true because courage implied a choice and I did not think I was choosing to be single, it was just my state of being.  I also did not feel personally that my single state was me acting courageously, it was simply the only way I knew how to live.  I’ve been single my entire life.  At 29 I still have never had a relationship.  This is all I know, there cannot be anything courageous in that.

But the more I thought about it, the more I began to identify with it.  While I still did not feel courageous, I understood what the article was trying to say.  We live in a world today that is built around couples.  When was the last time you went to an arts event and saw someone sitting by themselves?  It feels like there is an underlying social tabu about not going to events alone.  I actually love going to the movies by myself and do so often, but I feel uncomfortable doing many other things by myself such as eating in any place that is a step up from a coffee shop.

In trying to become more comfortable with doing things by myself I want to take a trip on my own.  This has become a very frustrating process.  When looking through living social getaway packages, they are all directed at couples.  Romantic getaway for two!- they all proclaim.  OK, two is not a problem I think, I’ll find a friend to come along or enlist my Father- he’s wanted to explore some of these places.  But then as I read the details, it’s always for a King room and will have champagne or something waiting.  Not really the vibe you want on a trip with your Dad.  These kinds of promotions only remind me of my single state and make me feel like there is something else I am left out of because of it.

While all of this can be infuriating, I am still going it alone, and in a lot of ways it really is a choice.  One of my favorite go to guilty pleasure movies is The Wedding Date with Debra Messing.  In the movie, faced with the prospect of showing up to her sister’s wedding alone, Kat (Messing) hires an escort to come along and pose as her boyfriend.  One of the main messages of the movie is expressed when Kat asks her date Nick (Hello, Dermot Mulroney!) about a quote of his from an article stating that every woman has the love life that she wants.  Kat is furious-  “Do you think I want to be alone and miserable?” she throws at Nick.

Movie_TheWeddingDate

I agree with Nick, I think the answer is yes.  While I don’t believe that Kat wants to be miserable, I do believe that if she really did not want to be alone she did not have to be.  The same goes for me.  If all I wanted was to go on a date, I could make that happen.  I could find someone to ask out or join an online dating site.  Finding someone is not the problem; finding the right someone is.  I have never desired to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in one.  Yes, it would be nice to always have someone to go to a concert with or to help me with things around the house.  It would be helpful financially to share the rent if I were ever to live with someone, or even to be able to take advantage of those travel deals.  But as great as all of that would be, it doesn’t really mean anything to me if I’m not sharing it with the right person.  I don’t want to have a boyfriend just because it is great to have a boyfriend- I want it to be special.  So, until I meet that person- yes, I am choosing to remain single, and maybe it is a bit courageous.

I’ll fix that drain on my own.  And if not- that’s what plumbers are for.

The Amazing Art of David “Sketch” Butler

As you may know from my last post, a few years ago I went to Grad School.  While I never finished, I don’t for one moment regret the decision, and one of the main reasons are the great people that I met while there.  One of the friends I made while in Ohio is David, an absolutely amazing human being and a spectacular artist.  The things that this man can do with a pain brush will amaze you.  Well, I’ll just let him show you…

David is incredible, but what is even better is what he is trying to do with his art.  David is currently working on putting together a show called the “My Idyll” project.  With this series, David is re-interpreting the covers of old romance novels and making them more realistic depictions of the real world around us.  In the video below (which you should really watch because he explains the project much more profoundly that I can) he describes how most romance novels all have white people on the covers and the settings don’t look like real life.  And the titles?  Give me a break.  So, David is re-depicting the novels in a more contemporary and realistic way.  The focus on romance is because is it such a large part of our cultural narrative- we are taught a fantasy that may not match our own experiences (this is something I can relate to as a woman obsessed with romantic comedies).  Never the less, love is important and should be explored.

Really, just watch this video and let David explain:

I wrote this post today because I believe in what David is doing and I want to share his beautiful work.  Check out more of David’s pieces at www.sketchbutler.com and on www.youtube.com/sketchbutlertv.  And, if you feel so moved, consider giving a little something to the My Idyll project.  David- you’re the best, keep doing what you are doing!

On an only slightly related note, I wanted to share a video from Upworthy.com that one of my friends posted on facebook today.  Take a moment to laugh with Louis C.K. and hear the message about white privilege and not forgetting our history.  I think it’s too important and funny to not share.  Enjoy!

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All the Single Ladies- a.k.a. My Valentine’s Playlist

Everyone has heard of the 5 stages of grief.  Well, I believe that there are also 5 stages of emotion that single women go through on Valentine’s Day.  And I truly believe it’s important to deeply feel each emotion, the good and the bad.  Acknowledge it, live it, and move forward.  We can tell ourselves to be strong, or we can live in despair; but I think it’s healthier to feel each deeply as they come and then find the balance somewhere between.

To aid in the process of moving through all 5 stages, I am providing a playlist of songs that I feel exemplify each stage.  OK ladies- here we go….

Stage 1: Wallowing– All by Myself, Celine Dion

Let’s face it- it is Valentine’s, so let’s start with the hard part and just wallow in the feeling of being alone.  There is absolutely no better song to aid a good single lady wallow than All by Myself, and we can all benefit from having our own Bridget Jones moment every now and then to emotionally cleans.  While there are many versions of this song, I have to recommend Celine.  Love her or hate her- there is no denying that the woman can SING.  When she lets loose on that long drawn out anymooooooooooorrrre-oooore…chills.  Whew- can someone please pass the wine?  I have some wallowing to do.

Stage 2: Frustration– Love Song for No One- John Mayer

Now that we’ve wallowed, it’s normal to get just a bit exasperated over our perpetually single state.  I know of no better refrain to express this feeling than- I’m tired of being alone, so hurry up and get here.  Ah yes- a love song for no one indeed.  John Mayer may not be the greatest person to look to when it comes to relationships, but he kind of nails it with his observations on how scary it can be to think that we have already met the person and didn’t know it- letting our chance slip away.  What if we did meet him in the sandbox and then watched him walk away?  Frustration complete.

Stage 3: Acknowledgment- I’ve Got This Friend- The Civil Wars

We’ve been sad, we’ve gotten angry, now we start to think a bit more rationally.  Maybe, just maybe, we have a part to play in this as well.  I know that personally, I’m very guarded with my heart.  I love how in this song they sing as if they are discussing a friend when really they are talking about themselves.  The Lyric about how she hides her heart away like it’s a little secret and it’s all she has to give- yeah, I can maybe relate to that.  They say the first step is acknowledging that you have a problem- I guess I can own up that it takes two so I can be ready if that right one comes along.

Stage 4: Hope- Haven’t Met You Yet, Michael Buble

Now that we are taking a more realistic look at our single status and thinking a bit more rationally, we can start to get a bit excited again.  Yeah, that’s it- I’m just holding out for the good one, the one I can give my heart to.  I just haven’t met him yet!  Also, the blaring trumpets in this song just make me feel better- there is still hope for us singletons!  Sing it, you beautiful Canadian, you!

Stage 5: Celebration- Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It), Beyonce

Ironically, now that we have worked ourselves from face down in our gigantic bowl of ice cream to feeling optimistically Mindyish (can someone give a shot out for The Mindy Project?), we can start to see that being single really isn’t all that bad.  In fact, it can be pretty great sometimes.  We don’t need a man- without one we are pretty damn amazing and can do whatever the hell we want to.  So let’s get our Beyonce moves on and feel like the fierce and fabulous ladies that we are!

Honorable Mentions-

Standing Right In Front Of You- Keith Urban: This song is for that person you always see and think, “what if?”

Nothing In My Way- Keane: Just for the line- For a lonely soul, you’re having such a nice time… feels appropriate sometimes.

Caravan- Van Morrison:  You can’t listen to this song and not just want to be happy and hang out with your friends.  All you need is the ladies, no man required!

Thank you for taking this musical journey with me.  Own your singleness, feel the stages, and have a fantastic Valentine’s!