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).
Last year, I blogged about my activities for each day of this delightful week devoted to us singletons. This year, since I’m adjusting to a new job in a pandemic (and I spent most of my time inside), I’m just writing one blog posting.
I’ve recently moved to Washington, DC, a VERY singles-friendly environment. Sunday was the most interesting. I met up with a new friend, Joe, a singleton, and we checked out the memorial to recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The flowers and notes brought goosebumps to my skin.
Joe is an extrovert and highly knowledgeable in all things DC-related (I guess living year for a decade will do that), so he pointed out all the cool sights, such as The Library of Congress and Mitch McConnell’s house, which we saw two other people flip off.
The work week was action-packed, involving teaching and me getting to know my students. Some highlights: a presentation on low-stakes writing instruction for faculty in different disciplines, which was successful. I also got a nice email from one of the attendees, a psychology professor, who asked me to be a guest speaker on the topic of writing anxiety, my dissertation topic (which I revisited in planning for the presentation). And Ketaki and I exchanged correspondence on our upcoming Singles Studies Conference.
I’ve been doing some solo exploration of my city too (well, as much as could be done during the pandemic). I recently got a Capital Bikeshare membership, which only cost me $25 for the year thanks to my city employee discount, so I’m riding a few times a week. It’s quite the rush riding in city traffic.
Watching Premium Rush Saturday night indulged my fantasy about being a bike messenger (even though I could never weave through traffic like the people in that movie), which I followed with The Warriors, a guilty pleasure. While written, acted, and directed stiffly, I still enjoy those grungy New York City locales in that movie. I also rewatched the first season of Cobra Kai now that it’s on Netflix (even though I’m one of the few that watched it on YouTube Red) , that Karate Kid sequel that shows Daniel and Johnny as three-dimensional characters.
On the culinary front, I reheated some mac and cheese I had made the week before with some cut-up bratwurst for my Friday cheat. Saturday’s a fasting day, but I bought some romaine lettuce and a giant green pepper at the farmer’s market that takes place every Saturday morning less than a block from where I live. That pepper will get cut up with a remaining piece of bratwurst, both of which will be placed on a club roll, for my Sunday cheat.
For my Saturday cheat, I devoured a pair of crispy spring rolls and a chicken Banh Mi sandwich from Viet Chops, one of two Pho places within a half-mile radius of my domicile. Each week, I try a new restaurant. I start in Van Ness, my neighborhood, and work my way out. I also felt the need to get a pair of cupcakes from the Red Velvet Cupcakery, up on the DC/Chevy Chase border. I thought I could only get one, but that didn’t happen. Limiting to two is good for me. After dinner, I thought I’d only have the Southern Belle (ostensibly a red velvet cupcake), but after about an hour, I felt the Peanut Butter Cup calling my name. It went well with coffee. Ehhh, I’d be lifting weights and biking the next day.
Oh, and I got a ticket to see the Yonder Mountain String Band, the recap of which will go on my Not Enough Concerts blog. While the weather's still nice, I'd like to spend as much as time as possible outdoors before I essentially become a hermit this winter.
And, all the while, Chester was grabbing at my leg and saying, “It’s time to give me treats, human!” I did what the cat said.
Now that I’m in singles-friendly DC, where a number of us members of Community of Single People (CoSPers) are located, I can hang out with other happy singletons, and whenever I do, it’s going on the blog. Discussing policies and criticizing the media are fun and useful, but social interaction is important for me as well, and these days, well, I just prefer to do it with other happy singletons.
So I got up at 6:45 on Sunday morning to have a quick breakfast, shower, and walk to the National Zoo to meet Heather, who had come down from the Baltimore area. After some confusion involving where to meet, we got together in the panda section (she loves pandas!). A few weeks earlier, I had gotten together with a few other friends for the zoo, which was fun, but they didn’t quite have the passion for animals that Heather does, so that increased my enjoyment of the experience.
Among the things we watched included monkeys climbing across high-wires, wallabies being wallabies, a lion being a lion, cows being cows, and pandas between pandas. And Heather and I had some good conversation. I found out she was from New Jersey, which always brings me home. I love meeting people from the Northeast; I find there’s usually a psychic connection of some sort. We talked our jobs, politics, music, and life in general. And of course, our cats. Cat people are the best people ever! We pondered hopping the fences around the carousel so Heather could get a picture, but three would have been too complicated. But it did inspire a microfiction piece to come.
We broke from the zoo for a bit to get brunch at the Woodley Cafe (for me, it was second breakfast a la Pippin). Heather inspired me to order an omelette with garlic mashed potatoes in it, and I’m still thinking about it the next day. And it was there where she found out my real name (I have an alias on Facebook). And that’s very interesting in this era of social media how we can get to know each other without really needing to know the basics (I mean, Craig is just a name, really). And it inspired another microfiction piece to come.
Eventually, a group of us COSPers will get together. Stay tuned!
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.