My Deepest Secret Revealed

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Side Note: My book should be out in a few weeks so get ready! I think you will really like it. If you are a blogger with pretty good traffic or know of any bloggers or authors that could help me out, could you message me via my website? I can send them a free book to review.

On to the post!

I have a secret to tell you. It is a secret I have only told a few of my closest friends. It is such a stunning secret that I never even hinted at it to my last boyfriend, and I told him pretty much everything about my life. But not this. I knew that his view of me would change if I told him.

First, let me add here that I am a pretty deep person. As stated in a previous post, I have gone to monasteries all over the world to have solitude retreats. I work with homeless people on a regular basis and have even gone so far as to be homeless for a few days to understand them. I write music that makes people cry at times. I love books by contemplatives like Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton.

I would like to make you believe that the deep, beautiful, mystical Kate is who I am all the time. To convince you that there is no such thing as the weak, insecure Kate.

But your view of me is about to change when I reveal my secret. Making this confession is especially scary to me, because you are now going to know a part of me that I don’t like very much.

OK. Here I go. Here is my secret: I watch The Bachelor.

Now I feel much shallower than I make myself out to be. I honestly would rather have admitted that I used to be a drug dealer.

I have always secretly looked down on people that watch a lot of TV. I was better than them. I would read books instead of watching television. I would not be materialistic. I would be counter-culture. I would be deep. I would be a super-non-TV-watching-intriguing-indie-music-listening-mystical-social- justice-loving-follower-of-Jesus-who-wears-Toms-shoes.

But during the last few years, when I was in ministry school and being taught about spiritual things all the time, when I was working with homeless people and feeling so sad for them, when I was touring and meeting so many people that I was sapped of all my energy, well, sometimes I just wanted to stop thinking.

During these difficult seasons, I realized that I could have TV on my own laptop and hide it a little more. It became less of a social event and more of a private event. So I started watching it. And The Bachelor became my one staple TV show.

I know, I know. If I’m going to watch one show, why would I choose this one? It is just ridiculous. Every season it is the same. The man with the perfect chest and perfect charm. The synthetically-endowed, bikini-wearing, bleached-hair-perfect, gorgeous women. Some of them are sweet; some of them are psycho. In fact, I heard a radio program in which a reality show producer admitted to trying to cast forty percent narcissists and people who are crazy enough to make good television but not crazy enough to bash the camera in with a bat.

And for some mysterious reason, I love every minute of it.

I admit, I have a problem. I all but tap my arm before I shoot myself up with a new season. Why, I ask myself? Why would I want to watch this show?

In order to feel less shallow, I like to tell myself that I’m not just watching TV, I am observing a sociological experiment. I ask myself with a very scientific air, “What is the psychological process of a man who is put into a room with a number of beautiful women? When he has to choose who he wants to break up with and who he wants to keep?”

I convince myself that I’m a lot like Jane Goodall, only instead of watching monkeys and the way they interact, I’m observing a bunch of hot people.

I’m not watching this for entertainment, people! I’m watching it for research! Under my blanket and with my headphones on, so my housemates won’t hear the mumbling of romantic TV encounters coming from under the door. What’s wrong with that?

There. I feel better now. I just admitted to you some of my strongest parts and some of my weakest parts. I hope you will choose to love both sides, and I pray that I will do the same for others, especially if I get married. If  marriage is what God has for me, my spouse will be real and he will be hard to live with at times. But that is okay because I will be real, too, and I will be hard to live with at times, too. When I don’t expect my mate to be ideal, I won’t expect myself to be ideal. I will feel more free to be the imperfect me. I won’t need to hide anymore. I won’t need to have secrets. I can confess things and not be afraid that it will make me unlovable.

Even now, while we are single, it is important to love our friends and family for who they are, not for who we want them to be.

As my friend Brandon says, marriage should not be about finding a perfect person who will meet all of your needs. Marriage should be about creating a room where both of you can be human.

And I wouldn’t mind a room in which I am occasionally allowed to watch reality television.

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Dating With Speed

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I went speed dating the other night. Yes, you heard right, speed dating.

“Kate,” you say”didn’t say in your post on online dating about how you felt like you were sinking down the dating totem pole by getting into that? I have news for you, my friend. The only thing lower on the dating totem pole than online dating is speed dating.”

I know. Whatever. You’ve got to take risks every once in a while, right?

Everyone I mention this adventure to is really curious. “Oh reeeeally?” they say. “You went speed dating? What was it like?” I want to retort “It was like an auction only with semi good looking men. The bachelor walked across the stage and the caller said very quickly and with a singsongy voice ‘Look at this lovely specimen of a man with the argyle socks and nice jawline. Can I get one date one date one date? Come on ladies how about a nice dinner and a movie? I see your one. One date one date can I get two dates?  Come on you lonely ladies wouldn’t you love for this handsome young man to take you bowling? I see you lady in the fur coat, make that two dates two dates.”

Okay, it was nothing like that, but it felt almost that frantic.

The party started out with mingling, an awkward but endearing stance at any party. The mingling was especially awkward and endearing at this particular party, since we knew that we were all there for the same reason; to get ourselves a few slow dates after these really fast ones.

Next, all the girls were asked to sit in a chair. The hosts explained that a man would sit in the seat next to us, we would get three minutes to talk, and then a gong would ring. Then the men would move clockwise to the next seat.

This is when I started realizing something. I hate first dates. All the small talk makes me more nervous than a man with a combover in a wind tunnel. Now I was going to go through twelve awkward first dates in the space of an hour. What the heck had I gotten myself into? This was either going to be a whole lot of fun or a whole lot of horrible.

I felt a little panicky. But like someone who decides to try taking a dip in a river in December, I just had to close my eyes and jump.

Here is a loosely translated rendition of what happened…

GONG (Enter sweet short man with glasses who is balding a little bit) “Hi my name’s Ed!” ” Hi Ed! ” “I hate these things.” ” I hate them too.” “Why are we even here?” “Well, they said there would be good hummus.” Chuckle chuckle. “Have you ever tried online dating? That’s even harder.” “Yes I hated online dating.” “Why did you even do that” “I heard there would be good cyber hummus” fake chuckle chuckle…

GONG (Enter taller guy who is geeky but in kind of a cute way) “Hi my name is Walter.” “Hello Walter!” “So you live in Boulder? Do you ever go to that great little ice cream shop on Pearl?” “Oh yes I love that ice cream shop! In fact, me and my friends have this really fun thing we do where we dress up like pirates and ride around on our bikes and end up there and eat ice cream with our patches on.” Very intrigued look from Walter. “Oh really? Do you like reenacting characters?” “Well, kind of. Just when me and my friends dress up and ride our bikes.” “That is fascinating, because I am really into civil war reenactments.” “You are? Where do you do that?” “In California.” “Oh really? Was California even around for the civil war?” Death look. “You obviously don’t know much about the history of the Civil War.” “Well in truth, Walter, I’m a pacifist. I don’t really like war when it really happens, let alone try to make it happen when it’s not happening.” Shock and horror ensuing. Much happiness when the three minutes are over.

GONG (Enter my friend Brian) “Hey Bri!” “Hey” laughing laughing laughing louder than we should because we are so happy to see someone we know and want people to be impressed with how much fun we’re having. “So it looks like you decided to go as low on the dating totem pole as you could possibly go.” “Well, looks like you did the same thing.” Laughter laughter.

GONG (Enter hippie looking guy named Ben.) “Dude what’s up?” “Hey there.” “So are you a vegetarian? Because I’m a vegetarian.” “Well, no, actually I am hypoglycemic so I eat copious amounts of meat every day.” “Murderer.” Stunning silence. “Just kidding man, just kidding.”

GONG (Enter cute hipster boy named Roy.) “So, I have an idea, let’s promise to not ask each other predictable questions. Ready, go!” Awkward silence. “I can’t think of anything that’s not predictable.” Chuckle chuckle. “How about, what do you like on your pizza?” “Ummm, do you really think that will help us know if we should go on a real date?” “I’m only going to date you if you like anchovies.” Chuckle chuckle. “What’s your take on predestination?” “I’m an arian.” “Wasn’t Hitler an arian?” No chuckling. Awkward. Horrifying and awkward. “So, what do you like on your pizza?” Chuckle Chuckle.

GONG “Hey you look familiar!” “That’s because we’ve been matched on match.com before.” “Oh, yes, of course.” “You never answered my message to you.” “You’re right, I never did answer that.” “Why not?” “Because you looked like a guy with a combover in a wind tunnel.” (Ok I didn’t say that, I just had to squeeze that in.) Totally horrible awkward for 2.75 more minutes.

I got through it. I did get one real date out of the whole experience, which was very flattering since there were so many pretty girls there. It made me feel special. And I no longer have to say that I had only been on two dates since my last big breakup two years ago. I can now say that I have been on 14. Six times as many dates as I have been on in two years. Three times as many as I’ve been on in $200 worth of the online dating over the years.

Score.

I love dating with speed!

Do I Really Need A Minivan In The Game Of Life?

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I was playing cards with my little friend Isabella the other day. We were playing Old Maid.

You know the game: each person has a set of cards. You draw from the other player, and lay down the pairs that you find. Twos twos twos. There is a sense of anticipation every time a card is drawn from the other player’s hand. Who will pair up next?

Another pair, and another pair, and another pair. Each laid down, one right next to the other.

There was one card left in my hand at the end of the game. The Old Maid. The card had a picture an older woman surrounded by cats. Apparently cats are the only creatures that will live with single ladies that are mature in age.

Isabella pointed at me and said “Look Kate! You have the Old Maid! That means you are the loser.

I didn’t know what to do with this statement, or with this game. I don’t usually mind losing games to five year olds. But I was a little more sensitive about losing this time. “Am I the loser?” I thought.

I decided to lean more about the history of the game. Here’s what I found out: it is a very old victorian game. There are versions around the world, many with different names. In Brazil, it goes by the flattering name Stink. The English version is called Scabby Queen, a name brings up even worse images than the picture of the American cat lady. And my personal favorite, the French version that is known as Le Pouilleux, which means the louse. Just in case you don’t know what that is, it’s a parasitic insect. Another word for louse is cootie. Awesome.

In my research, I also found pictures of some vintage Old Maid games. My favorite was a 1940‘s deck that had wonderful cartoons of very attractive curvy women. One woman was riding on an airplane. Another was surfing. A third looked like a successful business lady.

The Old Maid? A little old single lady, sitting in a rocking chair knitting, which is quite appropriate, since that is where the word spinster comes from. One who spins. It seems that single people who are a little older have nothing better to do than sit in a rocking chair and knit some booties for their favorite nephew.

A few weeks after this incident, I was playing another game with my ten year old friend, Collin. The Game Of Life. This game has versions of it dating all the way back to 1860. It has a track in which players move in little plastic cars through various life scenarios. Consequently, in the late 80’s the game changed the car from a convertible to a Chrysler-esque minivan.

“Wait a second.” I said to Collin. “What if I want a four wheel drive Subaru instead of a minivan?” Collin retorted “you have to have a mini van in the game of life.”

Well, I realized, it makes sense that you need to have decent leg space in your car, since you have to put your growing family in it.

This family is acquired towards the beginning of the game, when you hit a stop sign in front of a three dimensional chapel. It is here that you must get married and put a new blue or pink peg beside you in your minivan.  I looked at Collin and said “Hey, what if I don’t want to get married? Or what if, by some crazy turn of circumstances, it just doesn’t happen for me?” Collin gave me a quizzical look and said, “You can’t do that Kate! You have to get married in the game of life.”

It’s true. I did. If I didn’t, I would be stuck at the beginning of the game. Forever. I gave in, but mostly because you get $5,000 worth of wedding gifts on the next space.

At the end of the game, the bank paid out money for various things. I wasn’t at all surprised that you received a decent amount for each child that you were able to raise in your minivan. It seems that in the game of life, he who dies with the most kids gets the most cash.

Really, Milton Bradley? Really?

These are some of the stereotypes that are placed in our minds at a very young age, and I admit I can relate to some of them. Like the Old Maid, I have seen my friends pair up two by two. I am not as old as she is, but I am in my thirties, which is pretty old to be single, especially in Christian circles. And yes, I do put my knitted creations on etsy.

But that’s where the similarities stop. I hate cats, I have many other things to do with my time than sit in a rocking chair, and I am really, honestly, not a loser.

Those are good signs that I am not really an Old Maid, right?

There are also things in The Game of Life that I can relate to. I often feel like society says to me “You’re not married? You don’t have children? How could you possibly ride around in your plastic car with one lonely plastic peg in it? Is there something wrong? Are you going to get stuck at the beginning of life and never move on to the rest of your game because of your singleness?”

At this point, I have no idea if I will ever get married. I have stopped trying to control it. I do know that I want to make a new game of life. One in which I can go anywhere I want to go, even if no one is with me in the plastic minivan.

Anyone else out there have childhood memories that made it feel like being married was the only thing that would bring happiness or value to your life?

Adventures In Pity Partying

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Today we will talk about pity parties. I have been the event planner for quite a few of these festivities, so I can talk about them with some expertise.

Okay, I’ll stop being modest and just and say it:  I am pretty much the Martha Stewart of pity parties

Here are some of my pity party planning tips:

1) Come depressed. Your goal should be to obsess about how crappy your life is, and to have your guests comfort you as you talk about how crappy your life is.

2) Be selective about who you invite. Don’t include people who will say things like “get over yourself”or “it’s time to move on.” They will ruin everything.

3) Wear the proper outfit. This usually includes glasses, pajamas, and rabbit slippers.

4) Plan your menu! I like to have potato chips as my appetizer, Ben and Jerry’s as the main course, and maybe another kind of Ben and Jerry’s for dessert. An assortment of deep fried foods works great for side dishes. If you want to get especially fancy, add garnishes of marshmallows and tootsie rolls.

5) Mood music is very important! I have a mix tape labeled Kate’s Songs That Allow Her To Wallow In The Depths Of Despair.

This tape contains such classics as:

“All By Myself”- made popular by our mentor,  Bridget Jones.

“Against All Odds”by Phil Collins- you cannot get a more apt song for a pity party than one that contains phrases like “How can you just walk away from me?” “Theres nothing left here to remind me, just the memory of your face,” and “I wish I could make you turn around, turn around and see me cry.” Classic.

“Baby Got Back: by Sir Mixalot- Wait, how did that get on here?

6) Plan some really fun games! My favorites are “Pin the Tail On the X-Boyfriend” and “The Pinata That Looks Remarkably Like Someone I Used To Kiss.”

7) Make sure to light lots of candles. If the pity party goes really well, you and your guests can burn love notes and pictures as the finale of your shindig.

8) If you want to provide party favors, I can hook you up with some nice pity party T-Shirts. I have soft gray ones that you can wear to bed, hot pink ones with sparkles for when you go out with the girls that come in sets of three, and light blue ones that have “Pity Party” written on them very subtly that are especially nice to wear to church. I also have pity party mugs and pity party signature kleenex.

Follow these tips, and you too can have a great (read: pathetic and soul draining) pity party!

In all seriousness, the reason I am such an expert in this area is that I have thrown many pity parties in this season. I am getting older. I don’t have a lot of years left to have biological children. It has been on my mind all the time, and my patient friends (including you, dear readers) have had to endure a lot of conversations about it. I have been walking around saying “how could this be my life?”

This week, the darkness of this season grew to a crescendo when my long time counselor challenged me to really examine what I would do if I never got married and didn’t have biological children. How would I go about rearranging my life if my only choice to have a child was to adopt? She also asked me if I thought that my life would be valuable if I never had a traditional family. It was almost impossible for me to say yes.

I have been devastated for days. At the same time, though, I am recognizing how much these thoughts have been consuming me lately. I haven’t been sleeping very well. My mind has been mulling over my difficult childhood, wondering if that contributed to people not falling in love with me. I have been bitter towards x-boyfriends for rejecting me. I have been doubting God’s goodness and even existence because he was not given this deep desire. In other words, I have been trying to blame anyone I can for my pain.

This difficult counseling session helped purge this deep sadness in me, and also made me realize that I am spiritually “hung over” and exhausted from the pity parties I have been throwing. I have had the mantra “denial and bitterness, denial and bitterness, denial and bitterness” pounding in my head, and it is stealing away my life.

So this week, I have tried to fill my mind with different thoughts. I have literally repeated the words: “acceptance and gratefulness, acceptance and gratefulness, acceptance and gratefulness” in order to replace the other hopeless words.

Someone asked me the other day “if you were to lose everything you haven’t been thankful for this month, what would you have left?” This really humbled me. I realized that I have been focusing so much on everything I don’t have, and missing what I do have.

I realize now that pity parties are okay every once in a while because they allow me  to express my pain, but  parties that celebrate my life are the ones I should throw on  a more regular basis.

90’s Dating Gone Bad #2: You Shouldn’t Date, You Should Only Court

My friend Jordan told me the other day that one of his coworkers who is unchurched read my blog via a link on Jordan’s facebook. I perked my ears, expecting Jordan to tell me that it changed his friend’s life. Not quite. In fact, what the coworker said was,“Jordan, that’s some weird crap on that blog. “

I started thinking about how foreign this entire blog would sound to unchurched people, about how very strange the Christian dating culture can be at times.  This is especially true about this latest series I’m writing exploring  “rules” that came out of our 90’s I Kissed Dating Goodbye culture. (see 90’s Dating Gone Bad #1: Dating Isn’t Biblical.) I think it’s time that we corporately admit that we have all believed some weird crap.

One of the weird things we believed was this rule: You shouldn’t date, you should only court.

When I was in college, I was with my first serious boyfriend, and was in the throes of first love. The same was true of two of my best friends.  One of the couples was on the verge of getting engaged.

One weekend, our boyfriends all went to a men’s retreat. The speaker announced that dating wasn’t biblical. Our passionate naïve men got together and decided that they should keep each other accountable to breaking up with us that very day.

One dumped woman is bad. But three simultaneously dumped women? That, my friends, is a nightmare.

Needless to say, the three of us gathered together after that horrible night and became a heaping pile of feminine despair. Our now x-boyfriends were shocked that we reacted so with so much emotion. I think they were expecting us to say “Oh thank you for being such Godly men and breaking up with us. That was so noble of you! “ Instead, we wanted to slash their tires.

The three men got together and discussed the issue again. They came back to us, saying that they didn’t have to break up with us if they could court us instead of date us. We were so relieved. There was only one problem: none of us knew what courting was.  Within a few weeks, our courting life looked pretty much exactly like our dating life. But at least we were socially acceptable now.

Here is the first irony involving this rule: the word “courting” is not in the Bible, just like the word “dating” is not in the Bible. Therefore, courting is not biblical, which was the initial argument for why we should not date. Most of us assumed that courting was the biblical model for eventually marrying someone. Not true. Marriage in biblical culture was almost always arranged.

After googling “the history of courting” many times and getting nowhere, I finally figured out that courting did not come from the Bible, but centuries later, from the Amish.

In Amish culture, young people get together most Sundays after church for “socials.” Aha! You say! Group dating! But that is not the end of the story. If two people are interested in getting to know each other, they can go in a “courting buggy” which is an open horse drawn carriage. They will ride in the buggy and talk, maybe hold hands. According to my research, going on a buggy ride does not mean that it is a sure thing that the Amish people are going to get married. It is much more casual than that.  It is simply a way to get to know someone. Often, the parents don’t even know who their kids are going on buggy rides with until it gets serious.

I actually think this Amish way of going about dating makes more sense than “courting” version that we were taught. Our strict 90’s Christian version said that we should not be alone and that we shouldn’t spend intentional time with someone unless we were pretty sure we were going to marry them. But how do you get to know someone enough to know that you will marry them if you are not allowed to spend time with them to get to know them? It doesn’t make much sense.

In the Amish courting buggying system,  they get good information to assess over time whether this is a good match, which I have said several times is a very wise way to date.There doesn’t seem to be a lot of pressure if you buggy with someone. You are just getting to know them. They have lots of alone time that focuses on conversing, on getting good information, rather than focusing too much on anything physical.

(The rare Amish community does accept the practice “bundling” or “bed courting” which involves a courting couple sleeping in the same bed as long as they are clothed and the woman has the sheet wrapped around her. I’m not sure if this rule is for me. My inner dragon might come out in that situation. And inner dragons are not often Amish.)

One of my readers the other day commented that we should start a revolution that is more realistic than courting but more committed than dating. I liked her idea of balance. Balance is a good answer to almost everything in life.

But then I pictured my book becoming a phenom like I Kissed Dating Goodbye where people started a revolution that was right in the middle of dating and courting like she suggested.

“Maybe they would call it dorting!” I thought. “Or catering! Oh wait that doesn’t work. Buggying! That’s it ! Buggying!

People will say ‘Hey I really don’t want to date you but I don’t really want to court you either. I want to be right in the middle. I want to buggy you. We could cruise around in my convertible with the top down so people can see us that way we are in a semi public place but still alone. What do you think?’”

Then I realized that I didn’t want that to happen. You know why?

Because that’s some weird crap, y’all.

Let’s just try to date well. How does that sound?

Valentine’s Day Vs. The Single’s Lib Movement

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  I have slowly but surely identified myself as the Sexy Celibate, much to the chagrin and constant teasing of my friends. Except I don’t really know what chagrin means.

And so, I am required to write about this holiday: the holiday in which most singles are pretty mad at the world. Here I am. Ready to write the Angry Blog Post.

Actually, because I love you all, I’m going to do more than write the Angry Blog Post.  I am going to be the instigator and leader of the Angry Singles Protest.

Time magazine named “The Protester” the 2011 Person of the Year. (This was a fascinating article by the way. I highly recommend it.) There have been more protests this past year than in all of history. One street vendor protesting in Tunisia inspired a protest in Egypt (which was greatly fueled by Facebook) which sparked protests in Spain and Greece and England, and then helped inspire the Occupy movement here in the U.S.

And today, thanks to me, a new movement has started: The Singles Lib Movement. We, the single people, are ready to wage war against the Valentine’s Day Machine. I, your fearless leader, am ready and waiting for you to come in droves to my headquarters in Boulder.

I’ve already made signs. “Singles Pride!” “Singles are people too!” and “I’m so angry, I made a sign!”

We will build bonfires and burn cheesy valentines and wedding magazines. We will march around in front of Hallmark stores, chanting “Hell no, we won’t vow!” We will write a Singles Manifesto and yell it out to all of those couples  trying to enter the store, holding hands and looking at us with dumbfounded expressions.*

(*Let me sheepishly add an important note here: we won’t be able to protest the Hallmark store on February 15th. That’s the day that all the chocolates go on sale, a day that I fondly refer to as Eat Ridiculous Amounts of Chocolate Day. It is my favorite day of the year. I wouldn’t want to ruin it by being thrown in jail.)

But on Valentine’s Day, we will PROTEST and we will PROTEST HARD!

Oh wait. I forgot one little thing. I follow the teachings of Jesus. Dang. I guess that means I’ll have to shut my headquarters and also probably my protesting, angry mouth.

I’m not saying that Jesus wouldn’t protest. In fact, he is the Great Protester. Of legalism. Of hatred. Of poverty. Of separation from God. Of bigotry, sexism, racism.  But always, always, he protests with the underlying motivation of love.

As I mentioned in another post, married people and couples aren’t the enemy. They get lonely too. Probably a lot of people around you have people to spend Valentine’s day with, but are struggling with the holiday because it can be a mirror of their unhappiness if romance is lacking. We need to remember them. Even the couples that are very happy and are flaunting their flowers and cards and expressing lots of public displays of affection aren’t the enemy.

We are all family.

I have a little secret to tell. I kind of like Valentine’s Day. Back in college I decided to make it a day of love for whoever was in front of me, whether it be God or friends or a boyfriend or people who were lonely.

There was the first year when I went to my special “me and God” places all over my city, singing a song of remembrance at each place. I tried to leave marks of remembrance.at each place as well. I really, honest to God, carved a verse in the bottom of the altar at my college chapel. It’s still there, I’ve looked. Apparently God doesn’t mind the act of defacing public property on Valentine’s Day,  because I haven’t been struck by lightening or anything.

There was the year that my friend and I  bought a huge bouquet of flowers and left a few flowers on each of the doorsteps around our dorm.

There was the year when my best single girl friends made dinner for my best single guy friends. They surprised us with flowers. We went around and told each person what we loved about them.  We also went swing dancing which was ridiculously fun.

There were the two years that some married friends invited me and my other single friend over and all their kids gave us valentines and chocolates and we watched war movies because they could potentially get our minds off of love. (Except we would inevitably follow them up with a chick flick because we liked those better.)

Then there was last year, when my  friend and I bought some flowers and gave them out to homeless people and other lonely people standing on the streets or in shops and asked them about their lives. Some of them were close to tears. Almost all of them said “this was the only valentine I got today! Thank you.”

Granted, I wasn’t quite so excited about the two years that the most serious boyfriends of my life broke up with me the week before Valentine’s Day. That was pretty horrible. But one of those years was the same year that I handed out the lonely people flowers, and that made me feel a lot better.

Granted, just like most of you, Valentine’s Day does make me aware that I am single and can make me really sad.

So maybe it’s ok to have a pity party for a while. But let’s make a pact to not let it last the whole day. Maybe we should limit it to an hour or so.  After that, I think it would be healthy  to make Valentine’s Day a practice for how we should live every day: able to get our eyes off of ourselves for a moment and think about people who are lonelier than we are. To think about the people in our lives that do love us. Jesus asks us to love, and this is a really good day to do just that.

Plus, celebrating the people we love is a really backhanded way to stick it to the big bad companies that made up Valentine’s Day so that they could get boatloads of money. And we’ll spend lots of money doing it.  That’ll show ’em!

By the end of the day, if you are still struggling with all of the reminders of how single you are,  remember, you’re only a few hours away from Eat Ridiculous Amounts of Chocolates Day.

Thirty, Flirty, and Fertile (Part I)

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Recently, my roommates and I (all of whom are over 30 and single) went to a 90s roller skating party.  At first, we couldn’t think of  what to wear. We decided to look online for inspiration. Suddenly many bad fashion memories came back to us.  The Jennifer Anniston haircut. The little plastic circle that you could slip onto your t-shirt to make it look almost like you tied it, but not quite. The hat with the big sunflower it that could have come right off the show “Blossom.”

My roommate Jess decided to go for the mid 90’s grunge look. She had a morose spirit hanging over her that was obviously inspired by Pearl Jam. Jess dressed the part perfectly with cotton leggings, converse, and an oversized flannel shirt. (I recently learned that the flannel shirt craze was inspired by Kurt Cobain. When Cobain was asked why he wore them, he said “I live in Seattle. I get cold.”) The little detail that pulled Jess’ look together was a velvet ribbon choker with a cross on it.  She parted her bangs down the middle, put some black makeup around her eyes, and wore bright red lipstick.

At first I was amused when I saw her outfit.  I thought to myself ” that looks just like what I wore almost every day when I was in college.”

Then, I had my first freak out of the night. ” THAT LOOKS JUST LIKE WHAT I WORE ALMOST EVERY DAY WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE!” What? How could this be? How could we be going to a decade theme party and I was having flashbacks of my high school and college days?

I started counting backward. Twenty years since the early 90’s. TWENTY YEARS?  Is it possible? I began to realize that going to this party was the equivalent of my mom going to a “Remember the 60’s” party when I was growing up.  I honestly couldn’t believe it.

I calmed myself down, gathered up my courage, put on my florescent orange shirt, applied a ridiculous amount of hairspray,  and headed off to the party.

I got even more freaked out once we got there.  This rollerskating joint  looked like every single rollerskating place I ever went to when I was in middle school.

The orange carpet. The disco balls and lights that put patterns on the dance floor. The brown roller skates that have dangerous orange shoelaces that are way too long.  (Doesn’t anyone even TEST those roller skates? There are CHILDREN wearing these things, for heaven’s sake!) The people going at very high speeds who suddenly swerve around the gateway on the verge of crashing, flashing a smile at you to cover up the fact that they are about to knock six people over. The couples holding hands. The awkward people inching forward very slowly along the walls, trying to pretend they have some semblance of balance.   The inevitable game of crack the whip where a line of people skate around in circles, forgetting that the unfortunate person at the end of the line is rolling so fast that they could at any moment be propelled against the wall.

I went out to skate and found myself wondering (in a very teen-agery way)  if anyone was watching me. I was quite cognizant of the way I smoothly ran my wheels across the floor, how hot I probably looked in my 90’s shirt with one sleeve, how all the 25 year old guys there probably had no idea that I was in High School in the 90s because I still looked so young and vivacious. But those thoughts all stopped abruptly because my too long shoe laces got caught up in my wheels and I fell flat on my face.

Just like in middle school.

After I brushed myself off and started making another lap,  I started listening to the music that was playing.

Even. More. Freaked. Out.

I know Ice Ice Baby was from the 90’s It seems like it belongs in the 90’s. The same goes for Milli Vanilli and Can’t Touch This. But what about Mr. Jones by Counting Crows? Semi Charmed Kinda Life?  One Headlight by the Wallflowers? It does not seem like fifteen plus years since I first heard those songs.

I came home from that party feeling pretty old.

People say to me all the time “Well, age doesn’t matter. It’s just a number.”

You know what my response always is?

“Tell that to my uterus. ”

….To Be Continued