On the day I adopted my cat/son Chester, I went to the leasing office to register him so I could have the joyful experience of placing a pet deposit of $150 and adding $30 per month to my rent. In my current DC locale, there was no deposit, but I still pay an extra $50 per month on top of my rent.
My friend Heather and I conversed as we waited for a private dolphin experience at Baltimore’s National Aquarium, and I brought up my rent, and we agreed “pet rent” is an industry-wide scam perpetuated by the apartment leasing industry. It brought back memories of postings I’ve read in various Childfree groups. After all, human babies make way more mess than pets do (as do some toddlers, teenagers, and adults as well).
Some justification behind this policy is that the paws of pets can cause more “wear and tear” on carpet than humans. And babies don’t make puke? Toddlers don’t write on walls? Hell, drunk teenagers (and adults) don’t punch holes in walls?
Kids can cause as much (if more) damage than humans. If the apartment leasing industry is really hell-bent on making money, they could charge a “kid deposit,” which should be equal to the “pet deposit” if not more so. But since this would be a violation of federal law (and I do empathize with single parents), I don’t endorse that route.
But if you do want to ensure that pet owners are going to be responsible, you could have the pet owners sign an agreement which requires them to pay for any damages caused by the pet. I consider myself a responsible cat Dad, so I’d sign it. But you’d have to do it for parents of human children as well. Most are responsible, but some aren’t. The same goes with pet owners.
Leasing companies, if you’re all about equality for “families,” extend it to pet families too.
One thing I’ve learned from teaching and doing faculty meetings via video chat is this: Zoom fatigue is real. And over the winter months, my social interaction has consisted of phone calls and Zoom chats. Not that I don’t value them, but I’ve missed the days when I could go to a concert, restaurant, or museum with friends without catching a deadly disease.
I’m blessed to have a job that gives me a week off in March, and although there will be some work involved, I can do at my own pace, and I can go out of town if I’d like. I decided I needed to spend one night out of my apartment and city. As much as I love both things, a change of scenery was necessary. So I hopped an Amtrak from Union Station to Baltimore. I got to the station early and walked around the neighborhood. I ambled toward the Capitol Building, and I got teary-eyed with longing when I saw that fence blocking the path toward it. I remember this part of the city being packed with tourists going to admire these national landmarks; I remember BEING one of those tourists. I then wrote an idea in my notepad for a personal essay on such a longing that I could submit to The Washington Post or The Atlantic.
I wore my face shield on top of the mask for the train ride because, well, security. It felt nice being able to stare out the window and admire the scenery (even if it consisted mostly of family homes in suburban neighborhoods) because, well, it reminded me there’s a world outside of my neighborhood and these video screens. I also brought a good book called The Age of The Bachelor, recommended by Joan DelFattore, which gives an interesting history of bachelor subculture in the United States.
When I arrived at the hotel, I took a solo stroll at the Inner Harbor and walked down Light Street looking for outdoor dining, of which there was very little. I also craved Thai food, so I ordered spring rolls and Pad Thai from a place called Be More Thai and took it to the Harbor. Sadly, it had gotten dark, and if I can’t see/photograph what I’m eating, I can’t enjoy it. So I stopped off at Moo Moo Cow’s Ice Cream and picked up a single scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge for dessert. I then went back to my room and gorged on my dinner and dessert over a new Netflix movie called Moxie, about a teenage feminist revolution (my kinda movie if you don’t count the two romantic subplots, which I can overlook in favor of the feminist empowerment message).
The next morning, I met Heather at the National Aquarium at 8:45, fifteen minutes prior to our scheduled meeting time (a fellow stickler for punctuality!). She pointed out a Chester Street on a nearby map, which, of course, we’d have to get pictures of later.
We made our way in and saw all kinds of cool sea life, to which I may have kept saying “Hellwoooo, Chester,” as it is my common saying to anything cute (cats, dogs, birds, fish, even babies). The highlight was the private dolphin encounter Heather booked for us, where I learned that male dolphins live in “bachelor pods,” which I love. I don’t love the fact that they get the females pregnant and then leave (our guide, Grey, referred to them as “deadbeat Dads”). Another highlight was when Heather typed “Animals are awesome, humans are waste” into a computer they’d set up for a “phrase wall.” There are times I can get on board with that.
After the museum, we found Chester Street, where we got this cool picture. From there, we stopped for lunch at Kooper’s Tavern, the feature of which was these plastic bubbles that they had set up for outdoor dining (as seen at the top of this post). “Bubbles!” Heather yelled as we passed it on the way to Chester Street. We agreed that life in a bubble would be great: people not getting too close to us, but still able to enjoy life.
Since it’s my Spring Break, I continued my break from my usual low-carb, high-protein diet and indulged in a sausage-adorned seafood gumbo as an appetizer and devoured a crab cake with coleslaw and fries (crab cakes are a requirement when touring Baltimore IMHO). Our conversational topics included 80s and 90s musical acts, politics, and some deeper stuff.
After lunch, we walked back to Heather’s car, and on the way, I got a Fells Point refrigerator magnet to add to my collection. Anytime I travel to a new city, a refrigerator magnet gets added.
After we parted ways, I began a 1.6 mile walk to the train station. I had time to spare, so I looked up “Bakeries near me.” I have a proclivity toward pastries, as anybody who’s seen my cupboard and/or freezer will tell you, and I like “collecting places.” So I found The Bun Shop not too far away, where I tried a chocolate rotiboy bun with some Nutella spread inside. It was mmmm, mmmm, good. And as Heather informed me later, her Fitbit said we walked something like seven miles today, so I think I come out ahead (not that I’m justifying, of course).
I always get ideas for writing projects when I travel, and Heather helped inspire one. A blog post or op-ed piece about pet rent. Seriously, what’s the deal? Babies cause way more damage than Chester ever could. Why do I have to pay $50 a month for Chester when the parent of a human child gets off scot-free? Stay tuned…
This outing was much needed. While this introvert loves hanging solo in his apartment, it was nice to explore a city with a friend I can truly connect with. With all the Zoom fatigue I was going through, this was much needed. Thanks for everything, Heather. We’ll do it again!
I love the fact that Valentine’s Day and Singles Empowerment Day fell on a three-day weekend this year. I love the fact that I have President’s Day off at my new school. Thanks to being single, I can move wherever without having to worry about a spouse/partner and kids, unlike some colleagues I have who are stuck and are just trying to survive.
My stomach barely survived my overindulgence last night, as I woke up at 6:30 this morning with some pains. Fortunately, Tums and Gas-X helped. My plan was to get that discount candy first thing in the morning before everyone else made their way in. I was told the manager at the Giant Food hadn’t come in to guide employees on the discount, so I took a nice walk to the Target at Cleveland Park and made my purchase, which will probably stay in my closet for a few months. I was the only customer in there at 7:15 this morning. Now that’s dedication!
After I made my way back, I used the weight room to work my biceps and back. This was followed by some reading and watching the 60 Minutes episode I DVRed last night. The topics: Solarwinds, Bill Gates’s plan to combat climate change, and a gymnast’s strategy to keep training through COVID. The last one was my favorite. Afterwards, I fell asleep with Chester on my stomach.
When I woke up at about 11, I had an appetite, so I ate the last bagel I had transported from New York (insert product placement for Suffern, NY’s Bagel Train, a must-visit when I go there). It was perfect timing, because I finished up my cream cheese too. After this, I did some binging of that show Community, about community college students. The characters are terrible people, but their antics are amusing.
After a few episodes, another nap was in order (also with Chester on my stomach). I then spent some time working on an article for Syllabus, a free online academic journal that showcases innovative syllabi. I’m developing one for a course on How to be Single and Happy, but this one’s more developed than the one I taught last year. I’m also including a unit on Global Singlehood, where students read about singlehood in European and Asian countries and compile a research project on singlehood in a country of their choice. I can’t wait to teach that someday!
I was supposed to attend a virtual workshop on Antiracist Practices in Grading, but there were some power outages in College Station, Texas, the host site, it was postponed indefinitely. I was slightly disappointed, but that freed up more time to write, read, and play my guitar. I also remembered I needed to reread Chapter 6 of Bella’s Singled Out to formulate some discussion in my class Wednesday (they’re reading the book and will have the opportunity to meet with Bella).
For dinner, it was some leftover Super Bowl chili and I finished up some taco shells and taco meat. For dessert, it was some Valentine’s Day candy. I had to have some of the discount candy on Discount Candy Day. Over dinner/dessert, I watched The Super, an early 1990s comedy starting Joe Pesci as a slumlord sentenced to live in his own Harlem tenement. When I got done, I saw Bella posted an article about Dr. Ruth and her stupid Tweet about hunting for the one for next Valentine’s Day. Could Ruth be any more unenlightened? I was delighted to see a number of people tear Ruth down, and of course, I Tweeted my comments as well. It’s Singles Empowerment Day; how can I not? I also did the same thing to my cleaning service, who opened with the line “You had a great weekend, you set the table for Two…” and closed with “…let your partner know you appreciate them.” We have to speak up!
As I write this, I’m grateful to have had a fun weekend, but I realized I made some grave omissions: while I spent the weekend indoors, I also had some texting contact with Misti, Heather, and Emily, fellow singletons and awesome friends. And Elyakim invited me to be an admin on his Happy Singlehood Group, and we’re meeting tomorrow with Kris Marsh to discuss a possible collaboration for a TV show. My background in Mass Media can hopefully help with this.
Back to the real world tomorrow. Fellow singletons (and even you coupled folks), I hope your weekend rocked as hard as mine did. Now, time to wind down for the night.
To say that Valentine’s Day would be different during COVID is a lot like saying water is wet. For the last couple of years I’ve blogged about my V-Day experience, I’ve spent a typical day at work followed by that nice special at Hooter’s where you go in, shred a picture of your ex in front of them, and get a dozen free boneless wings.
Two changes: 1) the pandemic; 2) I’ve moved from the traditional suburb of Newport News, Virginia to the urban landscape of Washington, DC. The nearest Hooter’s is thirty minutes away, in Fairfax, Virginia, and even in “normal” circumstances, I’m just not inclined to make that trip just for wings (they’re not even the best I’ve had, and I don’t exactly support their objectification of the waitresses).
Anyway, as an introvert, I’m quite adept at creating fun of the things within the four walls of my 1-bedroom apartment. But I did venture out this morning – all the way to the weight room in my building’s basement. Sundays are typically an upper body day.
After this, I did some reading (this book, Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town, by Into the Wild author Jon Krakauer, exposes some horrifying information about rape on college campus) and binge-watched Rick, Corey, Chum Li, and the Old Man negotiate for historical artifacts on Pawn Stars on Netflix. After an episode, I remembered that I didn’t have the grated parmesan cheese I needed to make that veal parmigiana I’ve been chomping at the bit to make this past week, so I grabbed my shopping cart and headed down to Giant Food (there were a few other items I needed to get too).
After a nap (accompanied by Chester on my stomach), there was some more fun with Pawn Stars, followed by a jam session with my guitars (the acoustic case is another one of Chester's favorite spots). I had played on and off since I was in high school, but the pandemic motivated me to spend some quality time playing every night, and lately, I’ve been teaching myself some blues. Every time I try to follow the tablature in the book, I end up making up my own licks. I’m trying to figure out where I want to go with this. Obviously, I’m not going to be a world-famous blues guitarist, but I’d like to find some people to play out with after the pandemic. But that’s for another post.
, Anyhow, I had been on pins and needles waiting for my article on “How to Write Single Characters” to drop on the Writer’s Digest website. I had taken a virtual workshop on Sensitivity Reading at Norfolk, Virginia’s Muse Writers Center last May. Sensitivity reading is a new trend in writing, where somebody reads a work to make sure marginalized groups are represented accurately, and my work on the portrayal of singlehood in popular culture. I got the idea to write an article about the portrayal of single characters in fiction. I sent it out last May, and two weeks ago, I got an email from Writer’s Digest asking if I’d allow them to publish. I was told it would come out today, and I’d been anticipating its release all day, right up until about 3 p.m. when it dropped.
I celebrated with my inaugural veal parm dish. I overcooked it in the pan, but it still came out well. I also got to celebrate via a Zoom dinner with my Mom and brother, Jeremy, who’s going to teach me how to make tomato sauce from scratch. A pic of the finished product below, along with my appetizer of salami, prosciutto, mozzarella, and a nice bialy (New York was the theme here). Jeremy and I got Mom a ticket to see a virtual Air Supply, so she had to log off after an hour so she could charge her iPad for the concert. From there, I popped in a DVD I bought from Amazon (I like to collect them), Little Man Tate, a 1991 gem about a child genius, accompanied by a brownie sundae, some V-Day chocolate, and too many chocolate almonds. The movie was even better than I remembered it.
As I type this post, I’m grateful that this weekend, V-Day fell on a Sunday and I have off tomorrow for President’s Day, which this year, falls on the same day as Singles Empowerment Day (the acronym for Singles Awareness Day sucks, so I renamed it), so I can relish in my experiences outside of strictly work. Till tomorrow, folks!
I have to give Lisa Vita credit for this post. For so long, politicians have been using the word “family” to emphasize the importance of what they do, especially Democrats. If I had a nickel for every time President Joe Biden mentioned the importance of “working families,” I wouldn’t even need to work.
Fortunately, Bella’s offered up a lot of Tweets in which she responded to these progressives making mention of the fact that individuals should be included in their plans. I think they do mean “people,” but why say “families” when they mean “people?” Is there some kind of expectation that we’re not aware of?
Fortunately, thanks to Lisa, I had the opportunity to research Stephanie Schmidt. Born and raised in Bergen County, New Jersey (just a few feet from the New York suburb where I grew up, and also where I lived for a year for my life), Stephanie appears to be a model for single women – well, women. Actually, people, no matter what the gender! She’s traveled the world, interacted with political leaders, and owns her home in Little Silver, New Jersey. In that last paragraph of the profile where the politicians typically mention the spouse/children, she discusses hobbies, including cooking for family and friends. Sounds like she’s living a full live outside of work!
Most noteworthy are recent Tweets where she actually advocates for fellow singles, like this one:
This is 2021, not 1950. 50.2% of adults are single today vs. 22% in 1950. It’s time we stop reflexively legislating from a 1950s assumption of what the American family/household/lived experience looks like, particularly when it comes to economic & tax policy.
Amen! I wrote a piece a few years ago about how politicians will eventually pay attention to singles due to the projected decline in marriage, although it may take a few generations for that to take effect. My hope is that pioneers like Schmid will ultimately quicken that process. After all, why does a married couple deserve $2,800 as opposed to $1,400 for an individual? They’re already splitting things like rent and mortgage. A single person doesn’t get to “pay half rent” as “LovinLife” said. So why should we get half the money?
I’m only saddened that I found out about her campaign; I would have chipped in some money to help. Definitely next time, though!
I’m part of a number of non-singles Facebook groups, and the holidays brings “cuffing season,” and with that has been coming a lot of posts complaining about how hard dating is, along with dating horror stories.
Having dated, I can identify and empathize. And I used to get into relationships that I had no business being in because I had bought into the societal narrative that I “needed” to have a partner, or at least be looking for one. Then I had an epiphany, largely due in part to the Community of Single People page and how it was shaping me.
Why? Why do we “need” to be dating? The idea of “marrying for love” didn’t even come about until fairly recently; before that, marriage was a business arrangement. Some of the happiest people I know don’t date and are totally fine with it. And some people date but don’t have the expectation that it’s going to “go anywhere,” which, in my opinion, is the healthiest way to do it.
I undertook a no-dating challenge for 90 days after my last breakup, back in 2017. I found that during those 90 days, I felt happier and more serene than I’d ever been, and I was working on me. That ninety days has “sort of” turned into four years, with a few dates sprinkled in, and I’ve found that it was a lot happier because I had done a lot of work on myself and had learned that being single isn’t this disease society wants us to believe it is.
And this leads me to my proposal: I think every singleton who has a habit of dating or being in a relationship should undertake a Ninety-Day No-Dating Challenge. Stop trying to put your happiness in the hands of another person; it’s not fair to them or to you. Focus on you. Engage in hobbies. Spend time with friends and family. Binge a Netflix series by yourself. Go to a restaurant, movie, or even a museum by yourself. Travel. These are the things that truly liberate us.
Know that I’m not against dating or relationships (I may even do it again myself one day). But this challenge reset my mental patterns around it, in that I’ll do because I want to, not because I have to. And I’m a lot happier as a result. You can be too. Contact me for more details about how to go about it.
To say 2020 was a rough, strange year is an understatement. As an introvert, when they first told us to “stay home” at the beginning of the pandemic, I thought, what’s the catch? The host of Breaking Pod, a podcast on Breaking Bad, even said, “For an introvert who lives alone, this must be heaven.” But even I need to get out and interact once in a while.
Which brings me to New Year’s Eve traditions. The last time I spent it alone was 2003/2004, and that was because I had to catch an early flight to Israel on New Year’s Day. Normally, NYE might be spent at a concert or with friends, but because I’m being cautious due to the pandemic, I elected to spend it alone. There was a brief conversation on Zoom with some fellow CoSPers, which was interrupted by my delivery of some Indian tapas.
I watched a movie, The Music Never Stopped, finished binging the first season of Community on Netflix, began to learn the Grateful Dead’s “Till the Morning Comes,” and watched a bit of Anderson Cooper’s New Year’s Countdown on CNN before settling in.
When I announced my plans on CoSP, someone said that they typically do that alone and that they’re governed by social norms. As much as I’d love to say the same thing, I guess there’s some conditioning I still have. That being said, next year, if there’s a band I love playing on NYE in New York or DC or somewhere in between, I’ll probably make plans to see them. Still, it was nice to just treat NYE like a regular evening in with Chester.
Here’s to a better 2021 for all of us!
Saturdays have become routinized for me since my move to DC. Jog, buy romaine lettuce from farmer’s market, intermittent fasting while I grade papers, Netflix, and/or write. But with the COVID-19 rates predicted to surge and the cold weather coming, I’m planning on becoming a hermit this winter. So I’m trying to get outside while the weather still cooperatives. With that in mind, I had enjoyed some witty banter with my good friend Misti, whom I know from CoSPers, so I proposed brunch.
After a jog, I rode my Bikeshare from my place down to Woodley Park and walked to Mission, where I met up with Misti for an outdoor Mexican brunch. I had been craving a breakfast burrito, but after hearing Misti order breakfast quesadillas with chorizo, those seemed too good to pass up. And I devoured them with gusto.
Of course, the food wasn’t the highlight of the outing; the conversation was. Misti commented on how our young, Gen-Z waitress, Erin, probably uses Instagram regularly. Erin’s utterance of having eaten some Swedish Fish and jalapeno-flavored kettle chips confirmed that assumption. The dance music brought me back to my clubbing days in my 20s, and the Gen-Zs next to us in their costumes and heavy makeup added to it.
We saw a giant Great Dane named Clifford, who came up to us with his owner for petting, and a cute bird who pecked at the crumbs on the ground, both of whom I greeted with “Hellwooo, Chester.” Conversational topics included author platforms (Instagram over Twitter!), how human energy is lacking on Zoom meetups, DIYs in the house, and the concept of a “handyperson hub,” as Peter McGraw discussed on his latest Solo podcast, and the fact that when they told us to “stay home” at the beginning of the pandemic, both of us thought, sure!
Introverts, unite in your separate homes.
On the walk/bike ride home, I stocked up on carby treats for the winter: a whole-wheat everything bagel and piece of coffee cake from Bethesda Bagels (along with a coffee for the walk home), and two cake pops from Baked by Yael.
All in all, a kickass outing with a kickass friend.
I joked I’d be missing the first of the Biden-Cheeto debate because I had a song to learn on my guitar. I don’t regret it, but I felt like I needed to be “a part of” things after hearing about all the commotion (“Will you shut up, man!?”), so I watched the Harris-Pence exchange during which that fly was literally drawn to shit when appearing on Pence’s head, and then came a more “civil” exchange between Biden and Trump in Nashville. During both debates, I heard all of the candidates refer to “American families.” The constant mention of the word “family” in political rhetoric has become a pet peeve of mine since I began my work in Singles Studies. I mean, what, individuals don’t count?
However, during the Biden-Trump debate, I had a thought: maybe, in this context, it’s best for me to let that one slide. While we in CoSP as well as those in major cities and on the coasts tend to be more enlightened when it comes to issues of singlism and familism, that’s probably not true for folks in the heartland (the Midwest, the South), even if they do consider themselves liberal, and especially, if they’re undecided. So in order to conquer the great Orange Empire, the good people probably need to use language that those folks are familiar with in order to get their votes. Plus, Biden and Harris are a lot more teachable when it comes to these issues, particularly Harris, who gave multiple definitions of how family operates at her speech at the Democratic National Convention this past August.
Sometimes, we have to make sacrifices in order to achieve a bigger purpose, like with pawns in a chess match. If it helps to move our world’s thinking forward, I’m willing to put my peeves aside (especially since the opposition thinks like it’s 1935). Besides, my son/cat Chester and I are a family unit.
I earned my Ph.D. on May 2, 2014. If you had walked up to me on that day and told me that one day, I’d be co-organizing a Singles Studies Conference, I would probably give you a side-eye. But life has its surprises for sure.
Ketaki Chowkhani and I and spent some time writing up a CFP, looking at proposals, communicating with correspondents, promoting, and performing all kinds of other administrative tasks we academics hate doing. But it was all in a good cause. There were challenges and twists, the details of which not need be mentioned here, but we pulled through.
I had some anxiety the day before. What if my Internet stops working? What if I mess something up? But I found an evening with Netflix and a good night’s sleep helped a lot.
I woke up the morning of and did my usual routine: meditation, stretches, breakfast, and I added coffee to the mix. I logged on at about 8 a.m. EST to see that we already had thirty people signed in. I was quite impressed to see that all the presenters, no matter what time they were scheduled to present, were on before the festivities started and they stayed on the entire time. I was particularly impressed at those who logged on late and stayed on until morning (Laura Dales, I’m talking to you especially).
Bella’s keynote set the stage for the conference, and I thought it was a good primer for the validity of Singles Studies as a discipline – Singles Studies 101. Adriana Savu provided what I thought was a very interesting linguistic breakdown of the word “single” as it is used in Romanian culture. Laura examined the plight of single women in Japan. Lots of questions emanated from those two talks; mine was, “I wonder why divorced women in Japan are more than likely to marry than men. The research I’ve read suggests the opposite.”
In the next session on “Singlehood and Space,” Nora Kottman examined the living spaces of single Japanese women, which brought me back to Eric Klinenberg’s Going Solo, which had me wanting to advocate for more solo-occupancy dwellings, which may become more commonplace as marital rates continue to decline. Paromita Chakravarti examined single women’s residencies in hostels in Kolkata, India, which had me thinking of my observations of the badasses who hostel-hop. While I like the privacy afforded by AirBnBs, I do dig the “adventurer” vibe that comes from the singles who’ve populated the hostels I’ve stayed in.
The next panel was on Singlehood and Literature, which appeals to my inner English major. Katherine Fama analyzed Edith Wharton’s work as having a substantial connection with singles studies per her Wharton’s depictions of divorcees and widows in her work. Joan DelFattore analyzed Wit, a play about a single professor who is depicted in terms of singlist stereotypes.
I gave my presentation on how the nuclear family is prioritized in pharmaceutical advertisements, and Katherine’s comment about a Bechdel test for singlism gave me an idea to develop an instrument to create such a test. Saumya Sharma critically analyzed the discourse presented to singles on Valentine’s Day (which I typically celebrate by doing fun “singly” things).
Finally, Dominika Ochnik conducted an empirical study on satisfaction related to singlehood, and Elyakim Kislev, author of Happy Singlehood, in which we discussed the finding that singles have more social networks, which is correlated with happiness.
I couldn’t engage with the presentations as much as I would have liked due to doing some behind-the-scenes administrative responsibilities, but I’m glad as hell these conversations happened. And I got some great ideas from the conversations and presentations. And I look forward to Ketaki and I turning this conference into an essay collection.
My favorite part: living my fun solo life with a jog, a bike ride, and a solo (outdoor) dining experience out with some Italian food at a lovely restaurant called Tesoro’s on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, DC (they didn’t sponsor this post).
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.