The Focused Female

There’s a scene in The Devil Wears Prada, one where Andrea says to Nigel, “My personal life is falling apart.” And Nigel responds: “That’s what happens when you start doing well at work. Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke, then it’s time for a promotion.” Boy do I know the truth of those words. I’ve ended a relationship over a career move and turned down most inklings of potential over work and college pursuits. Because of this and other reasons, I have come to the conclusion that even before it starts, I can guarantee “It’s me, not you.”

Once I accepted the fact that my ambitions exceed my desire to be cuddled and have an ever present plus one, I was able to let go of the guilt. I was able to be present with my life, even if that life means long days of work and homework and solo dining to focus on the aforementioned endeavors.

As I write this post, I’m sipping the most embarrassing (yet unexpectedly strong) “bitch drink” and picking at a plate of Indonesian minced chicken with string beans, while simultaneously checking in and out of college course discussion posts. It’s virtually impossible at this point for me to recall a time when I didn’t have impending tasks. Then I remember the times I lacked clarity, and the activities that led to my engagement in and the people’s whose presence I found myself in; and I feel overcome with gratitude.

I don’t believe that you can have it all, though. Call me cynical, but I simply don’t think I could crush college with A’s and B’s, be on top of work, be an attentive/nurturing mother, maintain self-care and female friendships, while also tending to a romantic relationship. The fact of the matter is, there’s only so much of ME to go around. But there are seasons in life, all of which eventually fuse together to become our ultimate being. And if we look at them as what they truly are, fleeting…..we may be more inclined to appreciate their intrinsic placement in our journey.

Reno Roulette

It’s June, and like 4,000,000 other confused individuals, I couldn’t fathom how this year had reached it’s half-way point (relax calendar Karen’s, I know its not technically half-way, but damn near close enough). And having been nursing a bad case of the quarantines, I decided I needed to get the heck out of dodge on my kid free weekend. So I used some hotel points, packed my bags, and headed to the desert state of all night casinos. Reno is only a three hour drive from me, and for someone that enjoys iced coffee and a good, solid car karaoke sesh’…….the drive is more or less a breeze.

Emigrant Gap, CA – Road trip pit stop

First order of business upon arrival was lunch, poolside. It was a breezy 70 degrees; not anything to boast about by California standards, but given the pool at my complex has been closed for months due to COVID, I was all in. Right away I met a couple of interesting guys from San Diego, who were there on vacation to go hiking in Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe. They gave me some good insights for future visits to both Tahoe and San Diego, so I was engaged and appreciative. Muscles weren’t terrible to look at either….

Knowing I would have some free time, I had randomly and somewhat impulsively hit up a Reno “friend” of mine, a real estate agent that I had randomly met once years ago that lives in the area. We had kept in touch via social media enough to not make a spontaneous night out completely awkward (or so I thought). He said he would love to take me to dinner. There was only one catch: friends of his were hosting a surprise vow renewal in one of the Penthouses at the GSR (Grand Sierra Resort) there in Reno. He asked if we could make a brief show of face, before dinner. Of course, I told him. I mean, given I had no REAL agenda and I am literally always game to meet new people, I figured it would be fun. So I dolled myself up, summoned an Uber, and headed to the GSR.

What was meant to be a friendly pop-in, lingered on to an hours long affair. It became more and more clear to me that the dinner we had arranged, simply wasn’t going to happen. So as the night wore on and my social battery began to drain, I decided it was time to bow out as gracefully as possible. However, Mr. Reno seemed to have thought I made the trip just to see him, and didn’t take the sudden news of my departure very well. Given, he’d had a bit too much to drink which never mixes well with a fragile ego. His immature texts were yet another reminder that my gambling skills were better left at the roulette table, and not the male pool.

A night that was meant to end in a fancy dinner and drinks under the sparkling chandeliers of the GSR, became me alone in my hotel bed with Door Dashed tacos and the first chick flick I stumbled upon. But if there’s anything I have learned in life, it’s to sit with these moments of solitude. Because life is simply too short to be spent forcing things that don’t feel right. Whether that includes friendships, relationships, jobs, or those trendy high waisted jeans.

Wanting to savor the remainder of my trip, I booked an incredible morning at the the Refuge Spa, inside the hotel. There’s not much that can lift this gals spirits as well as a spa day. The plush robes, the smell of diffused oils, and the promise of soothing away the stresses of work, kids, men……suck me in every time. Eighty luxurious minutes of a hot stone massage later….I felt like a new woman. Ready to shake off Mr. Reno, take on the open road, and head back home to the lovely solo life I call mine.

Refuge Spa, Reno, NV

Music Man

I met this older guy online months ago. His pictures told me we weren’t a match (due to the content, not his physical appearance), but it was a hushed Thursday in SF when he asked me to come by his place, so I obliged. Mind you, he lived in Pacific Heights… affluent neighborhood in which he boasted a phenomenal view of the city from his three story rental. Also, he described himself to me as a “sapiosexual”. Now if you aren’t familiar with that term, it means:

“One who finds the content’s of someone else’s mind to be their most attractive attribute, above and before their physical characteristics.”

Cool, a thinker! I can dig that (I ever so optimistically surmised).

He had me park in his private garage. Instead of impressed, I was a bit sketched out. “Should I be sending out an SOS to my friends??” (was my initial thought). But as is often the case, curiosity got the best of me.

As he lead me into this 70’s inspired maze of a house, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. There were rooms every which way, a bed next to the living room, and a build-in bar in the third story room, leading to the massive patio overlooking the city. It was messy but unique, and by majority standards, a bachelor pad. The best part was a dressing room, just off of the master bedroom, with 360 degree mirrors. I wasn’t sure if I was on an episode of Cribs, or in a nightmare, just before a posse of clowns appeared in the mirrors surrounding me.

He asked me if I would like a cocktail and of course I couldn’t turn him down, simply to ease the awkwardness of the moment. At this point in the meet, I realized he was one of those “loves to hear his own voice” type of guys. The second I started talking, he would talk over me. His stories being far more important than mine, apparently. Also, all of the things I had told him online about my line of work and current studies in school, had clearly gone in one ear and out the other….as he asked me yet again upon meeting, then acted as if it were new information to him. Turns out, he is one of those EDM enthusiasts. A full grown raver with an evident admiration of well known DJ’s. A business owner; a successful one at that. Although, he seemed uninterested in business talk. So I navigated the conversation to the very safe “what are your other hobbies” zone.

“Well, those plants out there are my hobby right now”, he answered. He points to the handful of large succulents on his oversized patio. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but to my knowledge, succulents are the least needy of all plant life. And based on the rest of my observations, his life was pretty devoid of any real meaning. He works a ton, but doesn’t care to talk about it. His home is unique but completely unkempt. And his amazing view of this city by the bay is scarcely adorned with mega speakers and succulents. His disinterest in getting to know me was keenly obvious at that point and I wondered why I was sitting on that couch attempting to engage with someone who had no real intent of engaging back.

His drink making skills were above average, I’ll give him that. But at this point, there were no cocktails strong enough to deter me from planning my exit strategy. To my advantage, he kept checking his phone. Apologizing for the distraction, but continually saying his company was in the middle of mergers and acquisitions agreements. I assured him he didn’t need to apologize, nor did I need to be entertained. So I crept out onto the magnificent, yet neglected terrace and snapped a few pics, for my own enjoyment.

Assuming he sensed my boredom and apprehension, he then offered for us to get together the coming weekend instead. I told him I had my kids and maybe some other time. He walked me to my car and waved me off.

Our hearts were clearly beating to the beat of very different drums. His more of the auto tune type. But thanks for the stiff drink and the view, sir.

Another one bites the dust.

Bumble BFF

One crucial aspect of a successful single life is having a quality circle of friends. The older I get, I definitely lean toward the “quality over quantity” motto. Now I do believe that having friends for different parts of you and your life is important. For example, I have my single Mom friends, that I can bring my own kids around and we can be a listening ear when things get difficult with the kids, co-parenting, balancing work life with motherhood, you name it. Having someone that simply understands, is an understated blessing. I also have my city/career girlfriends, that I can meet for weekday lunches or happy hour, blow off steam about work, and discuss future goals with, as well as networking opportunities.

Throughout my tenure as a 21st Century single gal, I think I’ve tried just about every online dating platform there is. All relatively brief stints, but I have dabbled enough to know that while some are more female friendly than others, they all inevitably lead to a great deal of meaningless and repetitive conversations. Conversations that I, personally, just can’t stomach anymore. I guess I am among the dying breed that hopes to just meet someone “organically” somewhere down the line, and it just make perfect sense. But until then, I will mention one benefit I found from the dating app BUMBLE.

As that usual feeling of discouragement and exasperation poured over me for the umpteenth time, I decided to delete my Bumble dating app and just redirect my focus in life. However, as I was deleting the app, I was offered two other Bumble options, BUMBLE BFF, and one for networking/career oriented. I thought, well, what do I have to lose, a new gal pal is always welcome. So I created a profile, which if I’m being honest, was much more ME than the one I created for dating. Not intentionally, but that’s the beauty of building female friendships (healthy ones at least). We can be exactly who and what we are. No sucking in the gut, no push up bra, no qualms about coming off “clingy” or needy.

I am very much an extrovert. Making friends has always come relatively easy to me. But because I split so much of my time between the city and my hometown (over an hour away), I decided this might allow me a bit more freedom and opportunity . It was fascinating to me, the idea that you could screen friends. You could specify what you were looking for (other Mom’s with young children for play dates; gal pals to go wine tasting with; women with fur babies for dog park dates; and the list goes on). Finding common ground with someone before you ever even have to endure an awkward coffee date was appealing on both sides of the spectrum.

I didn’t waste much time reaching out to potential “BFF’s” and soon enough I had some friend dates lined up that gave me a lot to look forward to. There are a couple of women that I now schedule periodic dinner dates with and keep in contact with via social media. Although we don’t see each other TOO often, I will say they have been an asset to my life. Whether it’s catching up on fashion, chick flicks, or work, shopping or finding new hip restaurants to try together, it’s always time well spent.

Brunch date with my Bumble BFF friend Robyn

Date Your Damn Self!

Just because there’s no plus one, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! Ok, ok, that was cheesy. But I am here to attest to it’s truth.

When you are single, you are in a relationship with yourself. In fact, our relationship with ourselves is the longest relationship we will sustain in a lifetime, so we should damn well make it a good one. You’ve heard that how we talk to ourselves, our inner dialogue, sets the precedent for our confidence, our actions (or lack thereof), as well as how we believe others perceive us. We know we need to drink water, get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, take our vitamins……all of the ingredients to a healthy physical state. But equally as important, is our self care and our not just DEALING with being single, but actually ENJOYING the hell out of it.

One way we can do that, is by setting aside a day or night every week for a solo date! It may take a bit of an adjustment period to be comfortable doing things like dining alone, but once you embrace it, I assure you it will be something you look forward to!

Some of my favorite things to do alone are:

Live music – I love an intimate venue, maybe that’s the 33 year old in me talking, but gone are my days of wanting to be shoved and squished in a crowd of people. Working in the City, there are multiple venues I enjoy regularly that offer food, beverages, and comfortable seating, along with some talented artists. And don’t be afraid to dress up, put on those heels and that bright lipstick that your ex said he didn’t like. Looking good always makes you feel good as well. Below is from a night I took myself to the Black Cat club for a jazz show.

Solo date in SF. Dinner & a show.

Day Hikes – Nothing clears your mind and lifts your spirits like some fresh air, good tunes in your headphones, natural beauty, and some exercise. Below is a picture of one of my favorite day hikes along the ocean in San Francisco. For those natives reading, you know it as Lands End.

Spa Days – Need I say more?? Who doesn’t love to be pampered? And since spa time is traditionally quiet, alone time anyway, what better way to refresh yourself?! Be sure to look up spa packages well ahead of time, as they often book up quickly. I like to plan mine toward the evening, if possible, so I can just enjoy a solo Netflix and chill night after.

Farmer’s Market – When the season is right, definitely hit up your local farmers market. It’s another opportunity to enjoy some sunshine, grab some fresh produce and goodies, support local vendors, and maybe catch some live music.

When it comes to solo dates, there’s an ease that comes along with the lack of obligation to make conversation and engage the person(s) around you. It’s freeing and allows your mind to wander, to get lost in a good book, or simply sight see. Oh and if you want to commemorate your date, don’t be afraid to ask someone to take your picture! You’ll be surprised at how many passerby will oblige (and I always offer to return the favor).

Whatever you do, don’t knock it ’til you try it!

Where’s My Mr. Big??

For as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of the fabulous four…..that is, Miranda, Charlotte, Samantha, and Carrie. The tale of four unlikely friends in New York City, with love lives as varied as their wardrobes, cocktails always in hand, and a plethora of juicy stories to tell around the brunch table. The thought of city life always excited me, and my friends have always played an integral part in my life, especially in the past six years since the big “D”. Divorce. Second only to the F word. For fucks sake, it may even be worse.

While most of my 20’s could be summarized as “Bored in Suburbia” vs “Sex and the City”, I can say that the space in between domesticated housewife and flourishing single has been blog worthy. So here I am.

I spent countless lonely hours swiping on dating profiles, trying to make things work with exes that well, just weren’t meant to work, and convincing myself that there was a Mr. Big out there for me, to fill the heartache that divorce inevitably left behind. But the truth is, the day I really came into my singleness, my “self partnered” life, if you will, was the day I realized I didn’t need a Big. I didn’t even really want a Big. Because the things I had inside me and ahead of me were far BIGGER, then a relationship could provide.

So this blog, this is for all of the single women out there, with kids, without, divorced, committed to their work, their craft, their friends, who are defying the cultural odds, and proving that single is not only a status, it’s a thriving one.

Until next time ladies, cheers

It may not be a Manhattan, but authentic Sangria is always a go to for this single gal