Failing at Dating

Hi, new followers!

I’m excited that your here and humbled by your attention. I’ve been working on a book called Single & Happy since the end of last year, and I’ve been posting excerpts here. The book will be published by 2013.

I appreciate your feedback and thanks again for reading.

From the book:

Nothing sucks as much about being single as the pressure to date. I wouldn’t even get to the second syllable of single in a conversation before someone asked me why I wasn’t proactively working to change my relationship status on Facebook.

“I have a great time being single,” I would reply. “Dating can be fun, but it can also be hard.”

“Have you tried? Are you dating anyone now?”

Yes. No. It’s bizarre.

It did not occur to me to actually ask my friends to hook me up on dates until I was in my twenties, in the weird Twilight Zone where I found myself outside of a social context that would be helpful for meeting people (college) and in a work situation where the majority of my colleagues were older and married, so all of their friends were older and married.

My guiding principles aren’t that lofty. Some of these relationship guru people will tell you that all black women want partners who are rich and drive Maybachs. I have dated men who took the bus regularly. Nothing wrong with a little public transportation.

I don’t, however, date or have affairs with people who are already in committed relationships. My heart is big and strong, but it also breaks easily. I don’t want to share, and I know that I can’t.

The problem with being all open and bohemian, though, is that you get something like a box of chocolates left out overnight on a Texas porch in midsummer: A mess.

I met one guy in California who was a bus driver,  for instance. He was a good example of how being open got me in trouble. He took me out to dinner at Fresh Choice, a salad buffet place (yes, with trays) and insisted that I dress up for the occasion.

It is the only date that I left before it was officially supposed to be over.

I was later assigned to write a speed-dating story for the San Francisco Chronicle when I was a features reporter there.  It was an introvert’s nightmare, but I’m glad I experienced it.

I distinctly remember two guys – a hot black man who told me he was in pharmaceutical sales (the legal kind. Hardy, har!) and a Persian man who was missing part of his finger and started yelling at me when he thought I was staring at it. I had only been fixing my nametag, which I wrongly put on my thigh to keep the thing from peeling off of my polyester shirt.

So bus drivers and speed dating were both out next time I felt brave enough to date. In fact, I was pretty much over attempting to meet men in real life. The next logical step, of course, was the world of online dating.

Zen and the Art of Single Lady Car Maintenance

One of the things that makes me not that happy about single life is the sheer amount of panic that ensues when something goes wrong and a significant other could absolutely make everything so much better. At least in theory.


I think I have Car Attention Deficit Disorder. I grew up on subways and walking around New York. I do not get cars. I will not apologize for it.

I learned how to drive when I was already ancient in car driving years — 22. (I fondly remember my newspaper colleagues telling me stories about learning how to drive tractors when they were 12, and I didn’t know whether I should be impressed or depressed by that.) I had a driving instructor who had a face like Bill Clinton and wore tiny shorts like Richard Simmons.

You know, the kind of thing you can’t make up.

So, two weeks after I got my car, if that, I got into an accident. I rear ended a lady. I busted my front tail light and the hood of my Toyota Corolla was bent a little. I had to drive to East Texas and work for six months. I figured it would be fine.

And then, there was Tropical Storm Allison, and everything flooded. Including the car. And on my way to work one evening, the hood flipped up and cracked the windshield. My city editor, Jim, met me in a random parking lot to help me tie the thing down to the fender or whatever big metal piece was available for his boating rope.

The love of my life would have said, “You really need to get that fixed.” Or, “I can come pick you up when you drop it off to get fixed.”

A partner would have also dissuaded me from parking in front of a fire hydrant in Seattle, which is what I did after I drove there from East Texas in 2001. Again, I had no frame of reference for fire hydrants and cars and the fact that they did not go together.

Not long after I arrived in Seattle, I walked down the hill from my lower Queen Anne apartment into the Seattle P-I newsroom, bereft.

“Someone stole my car!” I was about to toss myself on the floor.

“Where did you park it?” One of my stoic editors asked.

“Right outside of my apartment, near the fire hydrant.”

They did not laugh openly at me. Someone suggested I check the nearest towing company.

Had I missed that in the driver’s handbook? Apparently, yes.

In California, I had the mother of all single lady car problems. On my way to work at the San Francisco Chronicle, a motorcycle cop pulled me over for…I’m not sure what. I had not updated the registration on my car for at least two years, because I’d been moving. I had not renewed my driver’s license within the allotted 10 days of arriving in the city. I did not have current insurance.

It was his dream come true. “I am going to have to impound this,” he said, asking for my keys.

A features editor loaned me the money it took for me to undo the $2,000 worth of neglect, to bring my car current. It would be about five years before I mangled that car and had to buy another used car. (Editors and co-workers have always come to my rescue during these things. It’s amazing.)

My biggest problem in my latest car are the tires. I feel like a jerk, but I am always in danger of a flat. I run over nails, I bang the tires against the curb. I am just generally not good at tire maintenance.

This summer, the issue is my battery. My car is old enough that it takes water in the top. Who knew? At this point, I will know more about my car than I do about relationships. Or maybe my car trouble is a huge metaphor for my relationships & tending to them and learning about them. It is all very mysterious. I do know that I no longer take it for granted when I get in my car that the thing is going to start. As my friend Pamay posted on Facebook not long ago: “It’s all fun and games until the check engine light comes on.” Welcome to my world.

What The Notebook & Ryan Gosling taught me about love

It’s summer and I love being in love in summer and thinking about love in summer.

I never feel like more of a romantic sap than when I see Ryan Gosling in a meme, or just in general. In my brain, he’d be the perfect boyfriend, but I’m basing that silly notion completely on the 500 times I’ve watched “The Notebook.”

You should know that when I was a little girl, I had a thing for Harlequin Romances. Like, the kind with Fabio on the cover.

And so, because I don’t have a Kindle or other e-reading device, and I can’t hide the cover, I don’t really indulge in reading too many bodice-rippers anymore. But something good and sappy like “The Notebook” is totally within my rights! So are all the subplots on “True Blood” related to unrequited love and every other rom com imaginable.

Anyway, I started thinking about the things I’ve learned about love and dating from “The Notebook.” I have no idea if this is good or bad or what, but here goes:

  • Romance never dies: I mean *spoiler alert!* isn’t it the goal of relationships to not have to even die alone and perhaps die in your lover’s arms?
  • If you’re a bird, I’m a bird. Yeah, this is the mind-meld thing that sometimes happens in relationships. And it’s always nice at first. But sometimes I want to be a night owl and my partner wants to be a pigeon. That’s no good.
  • Love letters beat everything. Even if the post office is dying and some hater might hide them all for 20 years in the trunk of her damn car.
  • You want to date someone who will just burst out laughing as soon as there’s a torrential downpour in the middle of a lake and you’re surrounded by haughty (but very very pretty) swans.

I know, there are some of you out there who will never understand what the big deal is about “The Notebook” or Ryan Gosling. But I’m telling you, there’s lots of wisdom there. I totally get it, Gosling. If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.

Date the Artists, Please.

I was at an amazing craft fair with a few friends recently, and I stopped by a booth that was looking for women who make things.

This confused me, since as a writer, a lot of what I make consists of images and concepts on paper. The first image that popped in my mind (which I did not share) was Demi Moore with Patrick Swayze in Ghost “Making Clay Pots.”

“We include writers,” she said. “We are especially look for screenwriters.”

Oh. Well. I gave her my email address anyway.

But then I saw this list on How About We, (which I’ve never used or visited before, but that I’ve heard about) and it reinvigorated my artistic spirit: 10 Reasons to Date Someone in the Arts.

I like the whole list. Especially this one:

Artists lead exciting, passionate lives.

And when you date them, you get to be a part of it for a while.

Yes! Just make sure you date a real artist. Writers are definitely on that list. Because I said so.

Top Posts in April: Standardized Tests, Recommended Reading & Single lady blogging

It turns out that even though I am not betrothed & I am a woman, I can still have a sense of humor. Welcome to my new followers/visitors from around the world. I’m humbled that you were entertained by some of my musings in April. It makes all of the pain of studying for the GRE totally worth it. Almost.

Here were some of the greatest hits this month:

Why Standardized Tests are a lot like being single

The New Yorker on why so many Americans are single

The Good Men Project on why dating bloggers (like me? I guess?) are single

Commenters go a little crazy over Staceyann Chin’s Guardian piece about lesbians who chase straight girls

I wrote a piece about a relationship that both broke my heart, ruined a nine-year friendship and taught me more than any other relationship I’d had up to that point for GOOD’s Dealbreaker series.

Why standardized tests are a lot like being single

Seems like a stretch, I know. Bear with me, my brain is a little mushy from all those special triangles:

  • Arbitrary assessment of your human capacity/worth as a human being
  • You can study as much as you want, but you’re pretty much always going to perform the same way
  • People say the scores don’t matter, but schools require that you take them. It’s like when your married/coupled friends say they wish you could hang out more…but they only ever hang out with couples. So you better get on that if you want to see them again. (No pressure.)
  • Shocker! Race matters. Black people don’t do so great on these tests.
  • The test doesn’t test your ability to reason verbally or quantitatively as much as it measures your ability to take a test.

I took the GRE last week.  I got called an hour and a half early, answered the call, and went to the center clutching sharpened Number 2 pencils and my driver’s license like I was ready for the world.

I wore my favorite t-shirt. It bears the first names of black women writers. The first thing the guy at the desk said to me: “Zora, Toni, Alice & Octavia…” I nodded.

“Your kids?”

“Writers,” I responded, frowning.

Anyway. Three and a half hours later, I was done. Went and got a mani/pedi and a cheeseburger. Fell asleep at 9 p.m.

Like a boss.

Gizmodo: Nope, Men don’t have to worry about becoming extinct

I’m not a big science person — if anything, I’m a social science nerd — but this Gizmodo post intrigued me. The snark in the Gawker media family gets tiresome, but every now and then, they have a good find:

For a long time, biologists have predicted that the Y chromosome—the DNA that makes men men—was gradually dying out, and that it would eventually lead to the extiniction of the male of the species. Fortunately, a team of researchers has proven that isn’t the case.

It used to be, a long time ago, that the X and Y chromosomes were the same size and shape. Then, about 166 million years ago, a huge chunk of the Y chromosome was turned upside down and reinserted. Nobody quite knows why. Since, the Y chromosome has lost 781 of the 800 genes it originally shared with the X chromosome, all thanks to mutation. It’s this which led to speculation that it would eventually disappear.

But according to research from the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that’s not the case. A team of researchers has compared the human Y chromosome to that of the rhesus macaque – a primate that diverged from humans around 25 million years ago. The monkey’s Y chromosome contains just 20 genes, and 19 of them are identical to those of the human Y.

Phew! What a relief. Dear dudes: Do not become extinct. That is not what we want. This is just a note to your DNA, apparently.

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