Sailin' with Savannah
I was excited about meeting up with fellow CoSPers, but I hadn’t had the best night’s sleep, so I wasn’t totally feeling. But I was gonna do it anyway, FOMO and all.
It ended up just being myself and Savannah due to COVID scares and work demands. We decided to meet up near the PATH station in Midtown Manhattan. I got there early and saw a group of marchers with signs about “Keeping Our Streets Safe,” no doubt related to SCOTUS’s overruling of the New York gun law restricting concealed carry (they’re not doing too well in this week, IMHO). They were accompanied by a dance class. Me, I chose to find a table and read, introvert that I am.
Savannah and I met at a TD Bank and decided to walk down Sixth Avenue until we found a place that suited our respective fancies, L’Amico. It looks hip and upscale, not the place I typically frequent, but as I’ve heard before, flexibility is a key component of happiness.
On this trip, I’ve been eating a lot more red meat and dairy than I normally do, so I ordered an avocado salad, as did Savannah. Of course, the free housemade chips they gave defeated the purpose of that, and we split a brick oven pizza (see top). Savannah revealed that even though she had gone the “escalator” route (married, children), she always considered herself a single-at-heart. She talked about going to plays with her “spinster” cousin (who turned her on to theater), and her mother remarking that they had a lot in common. She has a lot in common with a few folks who love theater in NYC, and I hope she can see some shows with them.
I also showed her, as I had Doug earlier this month, my copy of Bella’s Alone: The Badass Psychology of People Who Like Being Alone, and she appeared enamored. While younger folks seem to be pretty enlightened about the validity of singlehood these days (even those who want to travel a more conventional route), it’s nice to see people from previous generations start to “get” the message about singlehood.
I was glad I made it out and even happier that the social interaction allowed me to spend enough energy where I had an amazing night’s sleep.
Despite the fact that most teachers I know lean left on the political spectrum, education is a very conservative profession. This statement seems obvious; after all, teachers are supposed to be role models for students, so everything we do is under scrutiny from students, parents (even for us college professors), and the general public. But it’s interesting to observe.
I recently went down to Tampa, Florida to grade Advanced Placement examinations for the College Board. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, high school students take them through the College Board and can earn college credit if they attain a certain score. So why am I talking about this in a blog related to singlehood?
I didn’t take a formal sample, but I’d say about 98% of the people I met at the AP reading were wearing rings on the index fingers of their left hands, and yes, the females had diamonds. I couldn’t walk fifty feet without hearing “my kids,” “my husband,” “my wife,” etc. I’m well aware that as singles, we’re minorities, but in the past few years, I’ve surrounded myself with people who tend to think like me, as is human nature.
While I have some friends I’ve seen every year who know and appear to respect my work in Singles Studies, it’s still hard not to feel like a minority in this more conventional crowd. And I understand why teachers would logically be drawn to conventional lifestyles. Most teachers and professors I know were the types of people that followed all the “rules” and social norms in school and in life (and of course, we tend to enforce those things in our classrooms), so it would make sense they would want more conventional escalator-style relationships and lifestyles. Here’s where being a singleton does have its advantages when traveling a new city.
Each year, I like to take a solo trek on the city’s free trolley from downtown Tampa to Ybor City, a neighborhood known for its classy ancient Spanish architecture and copious amount of cigar shops. Some people I talk to (mostly married folks) actually say they’re afraid to venture out alone (or they stay in their hotel rooms the entire time) because they’ve never done it before without a person. I can understand the security issues females face in that regard, but as someone’s who’s always been somewhat of a loner (like it’s a bad thing?) and has always been comfortable doing things solo, I generally can’t fathom people’s fears of doing things alone.
I was inspired by someone to take part in a “Professional Night,” where we had the opportunity to share stories about things we learned or things we taught. Since the first chapter of my book, How to be a Happy Bachelor, is all about how I learned to become a happy singleton. I was nervous about it at first, as I knew I’d be facing an audience that’s well, not single-at-heart. But, one thing I’ve learned is that if you’re scared of something, the best thing to do is run toward it rather than run away from it (I also had a little encouragement from my fellow singleton Heather through text).
When I did get up to read it, it got some appreciative laughs, especially when I mentioned how I like to subvert the “crazy cat lady” stereotype by constantly posting pics of my cat/son Chester. When I mentioned microaggressions such as “you don’t even have a cat?”, I got a couple of “ewww”s, which appeared to be supportive of my message.
The next day, I talked to a fellow reader, Chris, who’d attended my reading; he told me about a friend of his who teaches elementary school. His female colleagues repeatedly taunt, “When are you gonna get a girlfriend?” The dude responds, “When you get our nose out of my business.” I suggested his friend say, “Whenever you get divorced.” He laughed pretty hard.
The following day, Chris was talking to another guy, Matt; I gave Chris my card to give to my friend, and Matt said, “Oh, you’re the happy bachelor!” Inference: I’d been talked about. “You’re the guy who’s doing all that traveling!”
“Oh no,” Chris said. “That’s another friend of mine.”
Many of us do like to travel. And why shouldn’t we? There’s a big world out there, and we’re the badasses who don’t wait for anybody to join us.
If I go back next year, I’ll read more about my work in singlehood. And the next year. And the next. And I’ll keep spreading that message until the world accepts singledom. Granted, that probably will happen after I’ve passed on, but I can pave the way for future generations.
After all, we’re already on our way.
I’ve fallen in love with Hoboken in the last few years. While I did spend much of my early-to-mid 20s carousing around Hudson Street and Washington Street until the last trains home at 1:30 a.m., I appreciate it much more during the day. Hoboken Riverside Park has some great views of the waterfront and a nice greenery, and the streets have a vibrant feel.
Today was my meeting with Doug, the first guy outing I’ve had specifically from the CoSP page (unless you count Alan from Childfree & Single). My train was scheduled to arrive about 45 minutes before our meeting time, so I figured I’d walk around the park, but it turns out Doug’s an early bird like me, so we met up at Hidden Grounds Coffee Shop where we talked a nice variety of topics, my favorite of which was restaurants. Doug’s recommendations including Denic’s in Philly (I’ll have to try the pork sandwich with broccoli rabe), and the Dutch Eating Place in Reading Terminal Market, which (I think) fellow CoSPer Melissa and I went to when we saw Phish in nearby Camden, NJ back in 2018. Other places now on my list are Maruca’s in Seaside Heights and Dominic’s on Arthur Avenue.
After we finished our coffees, we walked back over to the park, took some pictures, and discussed male perspectives on single life, as well as some personal things males don’t typically share with each other. Essentially, we share many of the same experiences navigating happy singlehood as 40something-year-old males. We get those well-meaning “oh you’ll find someone” microaggressions. Maybe not as much as females, but we get them some. Doug and I agree that when we go out to do stuff, we’d rather not have to report back to a spouse, the way some partners make each other do (case in point: past friends of mine and Doug’s).
We made our way over to the Black Bear Bar & Grill for lunch, where I ordered a lovely hamburger mac & cheese wrap with a side Caesar. We walked around for a bit more, and when I see a bookstore, I can’t not buy something (or at least that’s been the theme during this trip). I went with two used classics for $8.
Doug and I parted ways at 4:30, and he’s off to Cleveland. I love your trips, dude. That’s a nice thing about being an employed (knocking on wood) single person; we can travel to places and not have to worry about partners, kids, etc. And we talked about visiting each other in our respective cities.
I wish more guys could do what we did yesterday. The world would be a happier, safer place for everyone.
Dropping Some NYC - Again
Thanks to the pandemic, it had been a great while since I’d gotten together with anybody from CoSP (five months, when Michelle and I met for dinner that Indian taco restaurant in the East Village). My last trip in NY was mostly spent on lockdown, and I still managed to catch the Omicron. But this year, as things are opening up, I feel I should get back to doing the things I enjoy doing, like hiking, shopping, and meeting up with my fellow singletons. This particular was my second outing with Laura, my fellow CoSPer from Brooklyn.
After a day of work on my tenure packet, and of course, writing, I took the New Jersey Transit to Hoboken and caught a path across the Hudson to Christopher Street, from which I walked to Poke Bowl on Canal Street. Usually, I start my trips to Manhattan by indulging in an authentic NYC pizza slice and a street hot dog, but I’m trying to be somewhat good.
I got to the spot at about a quarter to 6, fifteen minutes before our meeting time, and as I was getting ready to text Laura, she appeared. I got this lovely miso chicken and shrimp combo, mixed with some green vegetables. While eating, Laura and I shared our future adventures, and I’m enthralled and impressed by the amount of biking she does (i.e.; triple-digit-mile treks through Pennsylvania). I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was eleven; when I moved to DC, I became a Capital Bikeshare subscriber, and for me, riding from my apartment in Van Ness to Dupont Circle is an adventure. I’ve got a bunch of concerts and hiking planned, and as I write, I realize there are many ways to adventure through singlehood (yes, I used the word “adventure” as a verb).
We walked over to Ferrara’s in Little Italy. She got a truffle cake, while I ordered my customary chocolate-dipped cannoli. We sat on bench in a little covered area, where we got real about singlehood, which is a conversation that always ignites lots of emotions. Excitement, anger, passion, all at once. Then the “monsoon” came; rain, thunder, lightning, which enabled our conversation to continue. Between Laura’s umbrella and my rain jacket, we were one prepared being.
Eventually, we decided to brave the raindrops, and it started to lighten a tad. Not wanting to traverse through puddles, when we parted ways, I decided to brave the subway to get to the PATH, and my brief jaunt on the Q line reminded me of a brief shot in Eddie Murphy’s Coming to America, where we see a subway adorned with graffiti, which was characteristic of 1980s New York City. It wasn’t quite as violated, but my fellow passengers included a dude sleeping across three seats and another guy yelling in gibberish and cursing to the air. Not quite the subway I remember.
Anywho, as I walked from Union Square to the 9th Street PATH, the rain turned to a light drizzle, and I was at peace, as I always am when I hang another CoSPer. Laura, you rock!
While I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m grateful for the pandemic, there are some good things that have emanated from it, namely Zoom conference. While I do prefer the Brigadoon-like feel of the in-person conference (being in a world of people interested in what I do), Zoom has given me a chance to connect with scholars in Singles Studies, many of whom are based globally. NeMLA was fun and insightful, and I always learn from the Popular Culture Association and Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC), but with Singles Studies, the work reaches beyond the intellectual and hits me emotionally.
Ketaki Chowkhani and I have developed a wonderful connection through our work, which led to the International Singles Studies Conference, and through that, I’ve developed another friendship with Elizabeth Foulke. There have also been Zoom chats with Elyakim Kislev, and Bella DePaulo even spoke to one of my classes last year about her work in Singles Studies. This might have still happened with Skype, but the pandemic has amplified the opportunity for this remote conversations.
Such a remote conversation occurred on May 3, 2022. I usually rise at about 7, but since this talk was being offered by the University of Cambridge at noon, my alarm went off at 5:30, to which I said, “Okay, I’m up!” After making breakfast and coffee, I logged onto the platform. Ketaki and I have been working on our Singles Studies collection, so we each presented part of the introduction, which essentially defines the oppressive problems of singlism and matrimania, delineates some of the key players who’ve brought these issues to light, and discusses how our collaboration (and subsequent conference and collection) came to be.
We also presented work from our courses in Singles Studies. I shared the various activities my students engage in so they can be comfortable with their singlehood, whether it be for now or forever (dining solo, analyzing popular culture elements for singlist messages).
Ketaki’s syllabus fascinated me when I first read it; students examine and discuss a number of seminal works from our field (i.e.,; Singled Out, Happy Singlehood, Table for One) and some lesser-known, though no less important, pieces (“Death by Stereotype,” “Single But Not Alone”). The memes her students created on the class’ Instagram page were fantastic as well:
Katherine Fama’s talk about singles studies scholarship hiding in a range of places, such as fiction, in which there are both explicit and implicit celebrations and expressions of and advocacy for single lives waiting to be recovered and included. I was delighted to see a full schedule for a conference called “Single Lives: 200 Years of Independent Woman in Literature and Popular Culture,” which was just that: a conference devoted to legitimizing single women in our media. Scholars from all over the world presented (including from the University of Texas at El Paso, my alma mater), and now that virtual conferences have become normalized, I’m hoping for more of these international gatherings.
The discussion portion brought some great questions, including one from Elizabeth on singlehood as viewed the lenses of religious institutions, whether widowhood qualifies as “being single,” portrayals of single television characters, and whether a married woman who regularly does things alone qualifies as single. Here are some of my thoughts:
Religion – Steph Penny writes regularly about this topic, and Ketaki cited Single Friendly Church, a group striving to help churches become more inclusive of singles.
Widowhood – I would say “yes,” as many widows and widowers struggle to adjust to single life after their partners pass. This is why everyone should practice being alone, because at some point, even in the best of marriages, one spouse will pass, and the other will have to adapt. Conversely, widowhood is also seen as the only acceptable type of singlehood, given the stigma attached to divorce and having never married.
TV characters – Katherine said it all here; while singlehood isn’t portrayed as negatively on TV as it used to be, we still have some work to do. Even Sex and the City, edgy as it was at the time, ended with all four characters coupling up.
Married women doing things alone – This woman might fall under the category of what DePaulo would define as “single at heart.” This woman might live her best life as a single person; she just happens to be partnered.
Another random thought that occurred was the abundance of scholarship occurring in the Eastern Hemisphere. And I realized that while many of us advocate with fury in the US, it’s even more pronounced in India. Ketaki introduced me to Bachelor Girls, a horrifying documentary about the inhumane treatment of single woman trying to found housing in Mumbai. In India, marriage is such a centralized part of life that when rebellion occurs, it comes like fire. And I feel it coming from scholars like my friend Ketaki, as well as Saumya Sharma. And I love that heat.
The panel ended at 8:30, which is usually the time I’m getting out of the shower. While I was still tired, I felt the same degree of sadness I did when our Singles Studies: Global Perspectives conference ended. I spent hours connecting with people I’m connected to beyond the surface level, and once it ends, I’m back in the world. But I’m more determined to do my part for the cause afterwards. And Chester was waiting for me too, as he nudged me toward the couch for a power nap. I followed his order, and this reward was definitely earned.
Thank you, Reetika, for organizing and facilitating, and a special thanks to Ketaki for thinking of me.
We’ve made plenty of progress in the area of what it means to be “masculine,” but we still have a great deal of work to do. Opinions like the one spouted by Scott Galloway in “The Most Dangerous Person in the World: A Young Man Who’s Broke and Alone”, as published on CNN.com, represent a dangerous way of thinking.
I concede he makes a few good points about toxic masculinity. Our society teaches men to be competitive, and this can extend to not “take s**t from anybody,” which, in turn, can lead to violence. However, most of Galloway’s advice to these “dangerous,” “broke,” and “alone” men is regressive. Here’s why:
Galloway attributes this “problem” to the fact that “people don’t go to church as often.” However, to attribute it to a lack of churchgoing is at best, simplistic, and at worst, harmful, particularly as the author is a self-identified atheist. In fact, our history has shown that much of the world’s violence has been perpetrated in the name of religion (i.e., the Holocaust, the Spanish Inquisition).
He then cites a decrease in college enrollment from the male side. This citation is emblematic of a systemic problem: that of a declining return on investment. As a college professor myself, I advocate for students to go to college. But not every person is suited for college; some are better off in trade schools, and people like me (those not great with their hands) need carpenters, plumbers, and electricians to do the kind of work that escapes my mechanically disinclined brain. The cost of college continues to rise, leaving many millennials in debt, as well as unable to find jobs that meet their costs of living.
Moreover, his advice at the end to make money, get strong, and have sex is misguided and offensive. I’m not going to argue that making money isn’t essential to one’s survival; you need it to pay for necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing. But it’s the desire for (egregious amounts of money that has fueled criminal acts committed by people like Bernie Madoff, Jordan Belfort, and Barry Jay Minkow, whose actions resulted in a lot of broke people, a problem Galloway mentions in his very title.
As someone who jogs, hikes, bikes, and lifts weights regularly, I agree in part with Galloway’s contention that men should become “super strong.” But to be able to “eat everybody’s lunch – or at least outrun them?” Mr. Galloway, didn’t you say earlier that we don’t have to “be ahead in every interaction?”
And finally, Galloway’s insistence that men need to have sex is indicative of the toxic masculinity problem that still occurs today. In many social circles, and in society at large, men are conditioned to hunt for sex and told that “they’re not men” if they’re not having it or at least seeking it out. Such social pressure contributes to coercion and rape. Moreover, Many men are beginning to identify as asexual and aromantic; Galloway’s comment is exclusionary and dismissive of this growing population who don’t gravitate toward sex.
Additionally, many young males’ unmet “need” for sex has resulted in the Incel movement, a hate group that’s based on a collective anger toward women for not finding them attractive. A few of their members have even perpetrated violence. Elliot Rodger went on a killing spree at the University of California at Santa Barbara because women would not sleep with him. Rhetoric such as Galloway’s may not necessarily lead all men, or even all incels to commit crimes such as assault and murder, but it can result in the types of mental health problems he references, as they can stem from low self-esteem based on not being able to have sex.
If the most dangerous person in the world is the young man who is “broke and alone,” then views like the ones written by Galloway are a direct contribution to the problems he’s citing. His advice is not doing society any favors.
April Fool's! Part Two
Back in 2016, when I was first discovering the world of Singles Studies, I conducted an April Fool’s experiment on Facebook where I changed my relationship status to “In a Relationship.” It received 90 likes, most of whom I hadn’t tipped off about my plan to use this as an April Fool’s joke, so I assumed most of them were genuine. I then compared them with the 40 I received for an article I published in an academic journal, 40 I obtained when I found out I was recruited to teach an SAT Prep course in Malaysia for a week and a half, and 113 for when received my Ph.D., which was 23 more likes than the relationship status change, but when you consider it, only 1% of the United States population has received a Ph.D, while being in a relationship the majority of the world has done, so 23 extra likes is fairly small. Ultimately, it proved my hypothesis, which is the world values romance more so than professional accomplishments.
In the last six years, I’ve met a lot of new people, so I thought it would be fun to replicate this experiment. This time, the reactions were markedly different. This time I got 25 “laughs,” 14 “likes”, and 1 “love,” and that “love” came from a person who commented with a GIF that read “April Fool’s.” Four comments referred to my cat/son Chester, one had a GIF of a cat winking, and another even said, “Cats don’t count!” to which I disagree.
In short, the experiment failed. But Sylvia, one of my fellow CoSPers, that I’ve become more vocal about my single status and love of it over the past six years, so people know better than to come at it with singlist or matrimaniacal comments (even if they’re thinking them).
And that leads me to a point. Confidence is key when you live an unconventional lifestyle. And it applies everywhere. Dating “gurus” will tell you that if you approach someone with confidence, they’re more likely to be attracted to you. Interview experts recommend confidence in an interview, because that attracts an employer. The simple principle applies to be single, whether you’re single by choice, by circumstance, or some measure of both. It comes naturally to a lot of people, and others have to learn it. In some cases, we have to deprogram ourselves from the conditioning that marriage is the path to happiness. And while government, the media, and everyday life continues to give us that message, this skill will be needed.
The Pen Is Mightier than the Slap
I have to credit Joan DelFattore with the title. Within hours of Will Smith’s legendary slap of Chris Rock at the Oscars, memes and articles crowded up the Web, and I got to see arguments for Team Will/Jada, and others condemning the slap.
I’m more in the latter camp; while the joke about Jada’s alopecia was definitely in poor taste, there are better ways to react to being disrespected, and I immediately thought about my own Bella DePaulo-inspired crusade against singlism and matrimania, which came from a place of anger.
Many decry anger, but anger can be beneficial if used appropriately and constructively. Before I discovered Singles Studies, I was subject to microaggressive comments like “Why aren’t you married” and unsolicited dating advice and offers to be set up. And those types of interactions led me to make relationship decisions that weren’t healthy for me (like getting into them, for example).
By the time I was introduced to Bella’s work through her website, that anger had built me up, and reading her work helped to give it a name. Writing about such experiences helped to dilute the anger, as writing tends to do (journaling is another area of scholarship I’m looking to pursue). I wrote about comments I’d heard, microaggressions I’d received, reflections on material I’d read and shows/movies I’d watched, among other things. Around the time I started writing, I discovered Community of Single People, a group started by Bella to finally provide a space for singles that wasn’t focused around dating. My blog found an audience, and this regular writing practice eventually led to my publication of several articles and a book.
The point is there are better ways to address disrespect than walking up to someone and hitting them. There’s Tweeting (even Trump knew how to do that). Will Smith is an articulate person (after all, he is a performeer); he could have easily said something in his Oscar acceptance speech or to Chris privately. They’re adults! There have been instances where I’ve wanted to throw water in someone’s face or introduce them to the back of my hand when they made a singlist comment, but I don’t do it because that’s just not what an adult does.
But perhaps I’m being self-righteous. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes of Jada and Will’s union. And I don’t know the history of Chris/Will/Jada. But what I do is that when I felt anger at singlism, I used writing, which is a tool that has way greater impact than that of the fist.
The Conference as a Solo Outing
After two years of teaching to video screens, I finally went back into the in-person classroom, which gave me a newfound energy (teaching to black boxes just isn’t the same as being able to see my students, even if I’m only seeing the tops of their faces). Similarly, the last in-person academic conference I attended was the National Popular Culture Association, held in Washington, DC, April 2019. After a few rounds of presenting to video screens, I was ready to go back to the in-person conference experience, complete with hotel lobbies, Ubers, and city travel.
The trip was to Baltimore, a quick 40-minute Amtrak ride from DC. After checking into my Airbnb, I had a nice solo dinner at Mother’s Federal Hill, where I got my needed crab cake fix (along with crab soup and crab pretzels), par for the course for every trip to Baltimore. I burned all those carbs with a one-and-a-half mile walk to the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront to hear Judith Butler, legendary philosopher and idol of many in the humanities, speak. I also met up with Elizabeth, my session co-chair and fellow singleton. I sat next to a very nice English professor named Rachel who flew all the way from London for the talk. While much of the language she (as well as most academics) was dense, I got the gist of her talk, which was essentially that the pandemic has divided us up in ways we never thought possible, and that it’s important to find human connections where we can (which has proved to be true for me, outside of romance, of course).
After a nice sleep, I woke at about 6, watched an episode of Inventing Anna (about a detestable yet fascinating figure), showered, got into my “academic” wardrobe, which was essentially a brown, hipsterish sweater, and walked another mile and a half through the cold rain and snow to the hotel, uphill, both ways, yada yada. I indulged in the free breakfast provided by the conference (bagel with cream cheese, an apple, and much-needed coffee) before heading to a session about German life writers. I like going to sessions related to topics about which I know nothing, so I can learn. I learned that life writing differs a great deal from memoir writing and autobiography in that such prose contains family history.
After the session, I met up with a young gentleman whom I coached for the job clinic offered by the conference. That was a rewarding experience, as I got to help someone navigate the nebulous path that is the academic job market. I then met up with Elizabeth for lunch; we went to Kooper’s Tavern in Fells Point where Heather and I were introduced to “bubbles” the year prior. Sadly, they no longer serve crab cakes, but their meat loaf sandwich did the trick. We had great conversation about writing, life, and of course, a favorite topic, singlehood. Our walk back to the hotel was fraught with more cold rain and snow, but we made it through.
After a session involving digital assignments that encourage radical thinking among students (and learning that YouTube was started by a quest involving toxic masculinity, i.e., three preteens trying to locate the video of Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the Super Bowl 2004 halftime show), I went into our conference room and discovered that I had forgotten my laptop charger, and my computer was at 58%. Fortunately, Elizabeth’s battery was at much higher capacity, and it turned out the adapter I purchased fit into her computer, but not mine. Interesting turn of events for sure. After some technological bumps, we met up with Debadrita, our remote presenter, on the Whova platform used by the conference. Thanks to the goodwill of one of the conference assistants, we were able to get some of the CoSPers on to view the talk, including Heather and Laura.
Despite several technological snafus (including a high-pitched sound from what appeared to be the heating vent, we rolled on. Debadrita offered an interesting talk about the portrayal of single women in film, from the traditional (Clueless, Bridget Jones’s Diary) to the slightly less traditional (the Sex in the City franchise) to the progressive (Frances Ha). I then gave my draft of a Bechdel-like test that measures how singles are portrayed in film (I wonder how the test got publicized, and as I’m writing, I’d like to research that test more to refine mine). And I think I’ll publish mine on this blog soon. Perhaps that’s how such experimental work gets noticed; an academic journal probably isn’t the best fit for this work. Elizabeth concluded with a pro-single analysis of Nomadland, a pro-single film about a woman who goes on the road after her husband’s death.
Some great questions came up from the audience, including one from a French professor named Rebecca about the plight of those who identify as asexual and aromantic and how it relates to the societal implications of singlism and matrimania. This part was where we were able to discuss why Singles Studies is an important field. It’s not just a field of academic study, but it has implications as far as the law (it favors the traditional, escalator-style narrative), which also can influence people’s relationship choices, oftentimes bad ones. Another attendee’s questions about socioeconomic ramifications got me thinking about an idea for a paper I’ve been tossing around involving the show Shameless; at the end of the series, most of the characters are coupled up, but due to economic necessity, not necessarily out of romantic attraction. It was the kind of “coupling” conclusion that left me not frustrated, but sad. But I’m glad to have gotten in touch with those feelings because I was in somewhat of a dry period with writing about Singles Studies; my idea well had been tapped, but I found something new, and I’m glad to be reinvigorated.
I celebrated my productive academic day with a solo concertgoing experience at the Baltimore Soundstage, a friendly venue, to see Shout at the Devil (a Motley Crue tribute) and Fade to Black (a Metallica tribute). Live music has always been a self-care practice of mine, and metal, however aggressive it may seem, can be quite the release. After the show, I hopped an Uber home and fell right to bed.
My solo excursion continued the next morning. The clocks sprung an hour forward, and I was up at 7. I watched another episode of Inventing Anna before taking a walk over to DiPasquale’s, an Italian deli my friend Jack had informed me about. This spot didn’t have any of the prepackaged Italian salamis or sausages I was hoping for, but I did get their homemade marinara sauce and two bags of tricolor pasta, good for some Bachelor Cooking. And then breakfast at Cross Street Market, another new spot.
The trip to the Amtrak from the Airbnb was circuitous in nature; I got on the Charm City Circulator, a free bus, but the route got blocked by the St. Patrick’s Day parade, so it was a mile walk, suitcase in hand and backpack on back. But it was good cardio, and I made a stop to add carbs at The Bun Shop.
As I sit here at Penn Station-Baltimore, I reflect. An academic conference is always good for reinvigorating my motivation to research and write, and live music is a great tool to balance that energy. And solo travel, well, the benefits of that are innumerable. Thank you to those who made this weekend what it was, and I hope to see you all soon, in-person and online.
Normally, I create two separate blog posts for Valentine’s Day and Singles Empowerment Day (the acronym for Singles Awareness Day is horrible, so I had to change it), but since I’ve gone back to teaching in-person and have been socializing a lot more than normal, my energy’s a bit sapped, so I’m combining.
Valentine’s Day wasn’t that exciting. I taught in-person; when I got home, I remembered that Seinfeld episode where George Costanza’s boss, a fictionalized George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, had him buying him a daily calzone, with hilarious results, and I had a craving for a calzone.
Upon seeing this behemoth, I knew I wasn’t going to finish it in one sitting. So I had part of it and froze the rest. From there, I indulged in some lovely Valentine’s Day chocolate. #allforcraig
I’m part of an Aces Meetup Group out of New York, and they sponsored a “Palentine’s Day” movie screening during which we watched Moana, a delightful animated tale about a teenager’s quest for self-discovery as she navigates across treacherous waters. The thing that makes it fit: no romantic subplot!
Singles Empowerment Day was slightly more exciting. I don’t teach on Tuesdays, but my office hours were packed with students needing assistance with papers. A power nap followed this, then a run, then more work emailing. From there, I made my way to Washington, DC’s Chinatown (not at the level of New York or San Francisco’s Chinatowns, but not bad either). Upon walking around, I picked a palatial-looking building in which to have dinner, which turned out to be Tony Cheng’s Seafood House. The place was near-desolate, which I both expected on a Tuesday evening, and enjoyed. With all the garbage I had eaten over the weekend (fried shrimp, the calzone, chocolate, Super Bowl food), I wanted something with vegetables, so I ordered a beef with broccoli platter, part of which I ended up taking home. As I ate, I listened to a group of what appeared to be sales representatives talk in numbers. I love listening to others’ conversations, even if I can’t understand the content; it reminds me I’m just one piece in a very, very large puzzle that is the world’s population.
After that, I headed back to my place; the nice thing about Singles Empowerment Day is that it also falls on that day after Valentine’s Day when all the candy goes on sale at half-price. As a confirmed chocoholic, I made my way to the Giant Food at 9 a.m., just on my work, to pick up a few items, which I indulged in as I watched The Karate Kid Part 3. Now, it’s a pretty bad movie, but it came when I purchased my Karate Kid collection, just after watching the first season of Cobra Kai back in 2018. There were two things about that movie I liked: 1) no romantic subplot; Daniel’s “interest” is a platonic one; and 2) Thomas Ian Griffith’s fun performance as Bondesque supervillain Terry Silver, who was made three-dimensional in the latest season of Cobra Kai. It was interesting watching him, knowing about his background and dynamic with Kreese.
Overall, it’s been a crazy time, but I was glad to have a relatively mellow last couple of days. But it goes back to full speed this upcoming weekend with at least two social outings. But, for now, I have some evenings in with protein and green vegetables. And Chester.
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.