The Spinster Wish: A Book Review

“I was twenty-eight. It was the year 2000. Nobody was making me marry anyone. But the pull toward it felt as strong as an undertow, the obvious next step in a mature and orderly existence. And when I thought about being alone at forty – the inconceivable far future – I froze.” Spinster (100)

Whether you’re engaged, comfortably coupled up, or so single you can’t remember how to talk to boys, you can probably relate to Kate Bolick as she describes what it feels like to be twenty-eight. If you’re on the cusp of thirty and marriage still feels like a big fat maybe, your grandparents have definitely expressed concern and you’re likely having terrifying thoughts of the title of Bolick’s book, thoughts of becoming a Spinster.

I turned 29 yesterday – I can absolutely feel ‘the pull’ and have for a long time. I’m not single, but I am far from living out a “mature and orderly existence.” There is no stable career and no foreseeable engagements or pregnancies. Instead, I’m getting everything in order to move across the ocean and work abroad for a year. 

When the people in my life found out about my travel plans, the number one question asked was, “What about x?” where x denotes my amazing, handsome, kind, sexy, supportive, perfect boyfriend.

Of course that’s their number one concern; I probably would have asked that same question if roles were reversed.

Surely my decisions must hinge on the fact that I am in a relationship. And here is why:

“Whom to marry, and when will it happen – these two questions define every woman’s existence, regardless of where she was raised or what religion she does or doesn’t practice. She may grow up to love women instead of men, or to decide she simply doesn’t believe in marriage. No matter. These dual contingencies govern her until they’re answered, even if the answers are nobody and never.” (1)

This is how the book starts. I knew I was going to dig this half-memoir/ half-history lesson as soon as I finished reading that sentence. It came as a blinding flash of the obvious to me; it was true, from the moment boys no longer had cooties, this had been the heart of the matter for myself and the females in my life in most romantic encounters, give or take a few nights of careless debauchery.

It’s always a question of whether or not you want to date them, followed promptly by the question of whether or not you think they are it, a conversation that gets really old, really fast, the longer you’ve been on the hunt. Eventually, we get sick of the search for stability and soulmates, and that’s when thoughts of spinsterhood become a regular occurrence.

In Spinster, a title that seems to turn a lot of people off when I suggest they read it, Bolick dives into the lives of five women in history who weren’t necessarily spinsters as the term is defined, but were women who definitely took the road less traveled. Fused together with her own refreshing perspectives on marriage and the single life, Spinster reveals all the ways in which the world around us makes remaining single seem like a terrible existence. She simultaneously offers up examples of the complete opposite – women who remained single and were happy anyway. This is not an angry feminist rant but side effects may include loving your single status more than ever – maybe even wanting to keep it more than you want a diamond ring. 

After revealing the story of one such woman, Kate Bolick writes, “Finally, here it was, the conversation I’d been looking for.” What she had been looking for was a conversation that I didn’t know I had also been looking for, until, of course, I found it in her book.

In her own life, Bolick grapples with a desire to be alone, even when coupled up with seemingly amazing men. Her willingness to tell the truth about her feelings pulled me right in – I underlined the shit out of that chapter.

Here it was, the conversation I’d been looking for. Nowhere have I ever found the conversation that let me know I wasn’t crazy for not remaining in perfectly stable relationships.

Once, back when I thought I was letting go of a pretty great relationship, one that seems painfully mediocre when I compare it to the one I’m in now, I remember thinking, “I know why so many people just stay together.” It hurt so much to walk away, and I was doing it to myself. But in that case, the only thing that felt more impossible than leaving was staying when deep down I wasn’t happy. And so once again I found myself single.

I always thought the problem was that I wasn’t with the right person. Otherwise, why would I have this strange desire to be alone? It wasn’t about wanting to keep playing the field; trust me, dating is not my sport.

The truth is, after a breakup I would always feel incredibly free, almost blissful. Colors seemed brighter, I’d play my music louder, I’d get more excited about my future… Often I’d be pulled back into the comforts of him one last time, whether it was his friendship, company, the sex, or something else. The comforts of relationships can be hard to say no to; I have not yet mastered the art of letting go. But I have always instinctively known the final outcome.

What I realized reading Spinster was that relationships always feeling stifling to me was never about the guy – it was about me. The huge success of self-help has taught us to always point the finger at ourselves. So I used to think that meant there was something wrong with me, some fucked up beliefs about marriage that needed to be sought out and let go of.

But finally, thanks to this book introducing me to a different conversation, one that had apparently been happening for centuries, I finally felt like maybe there was something right with me. Or that, at the very least, I wasn’t alone in my mixed up desires. This isn’t, and never was, about the guy in question.

Unlike the five women she writes about in history, as far back as the turn of the last century, the choices I am making are far from radical, These women were actually doing something worth writing about; they were, as the subtitle suggests, making a life of their own.

Bolick also gets us to consider the similarities and differences between her 5 single women of the last century, to the single woman today:

“Transport Edna to our own era, and she’s a lot like the rest of us – a woman who wanted to enjoy her youth as long as she could … with one crucial difference: How many of us today are able to unlace our contemporary corsetry of received attitudes? …I suspect she’d have told us that if there is a point to all of this, it’s to take life very, very seriously, and to love whomever you want, as abundantly as you can. Her legacy wasn’t recklessness, but a fierce individualism that even now evades our grasp.” (152)

Though we’ve come a long way, the single woman today doesn’t have it easy. We express worry for the thirty-two-year-old woman alone at a wedding, we half-jokingly make fun of ourselves for not being able to keep a man, we walk home from bars feeling lonely and fed up. Bolick pulls back the curtains and looks atwhy.

All my single ladies – please know that in my opinion, both existences can be wonderful and the grass is never greener. I love love and I love the man I’m with. He lets me be me, even if I’m kind of an asshole from time to time. I feel free to choose for myself, be myself, and create a life for myself. There’s this strange understanding between us mixed up with all the love. That we have to let one another be, to grow into who we are as individuals. We love each other independent of being in a couple; it’s quite possibly the best kind of love. 

It’s not that he, or any of them, were not the right guy. Any one of them could have been “the one,” but this was my part to play – this rather inconvenient wish to be in an incredible relationship, and to also be free.

I suppose I have what Bolick calls the “Spinster Wish”.

Sometimes I wish I was like the ‘vast majority’ that she references. I think life would be a lot easier that way. I wish all I wanted was to follow my boyfriend wherever he may go, never questioning my life and my love for him. To be a wonderful wife, and someday a wonderful mother.

Bolick eventually comes to the understanding, and allows us to do the same, that we don’t need to justify our lifestyles. We can decide which measures of adulthood we want to take up, and which to leave behind.

Kate Bolick helped me find my tribe, women whose “personal freedom is more precious to them than the protection of the best men” – Josephine Redding, 1895.

I just had no idea they’d been around for so long.  My overwhelming feeling after I had finished the book, the feeling that makes literature so beautiful, was, “I’m not the only one that feels this way.”

Read Spinster. It will make you rethink why you want what you want, and if anything, will make you see that it’s okay if you happen to want something different. 

On Being Alone

In this summer’s issue of FLARE, Briony Smith wrote an article called “The L Word”, and no she wasn’t writing about love. Instead, she wrote about a topic much less talked about: That of loneliness.

It made me think about two summers ago when I was one of the only single people at a friend’s wedding.

I was in a coral lace dress sitting alone at a table for 10 waiting for my friends and their dates. We had some time to kill between ceremony and reception so we all met for drinks in Eau Claire. I was more comfortable sitting there overdressed and alone sipping my drink than I was two hours later when it dawned on me that I was the only solo person at the table.

But wasn’t I having fun until that moment of single girl panic? I was drinking and laughing with the dudes that my friends had chosen. I was absolutely, positively okay.

Later that week I was alone in the middle of my condo with boxes and pillows and books everywhere. Sixteen months had gone by since I moved there. It boggled my mind how much had happened, but also how much hadn’t. I never brought any guys home. A few slept on the couch, but it was only my girlfriends or coworkers that had slept in my bedroom. Shouldn’t I be having loads of sex and dates and choosing which guy I thought was a keeper? I thought.

And who put this idea in my head-that my mid-twenties should be bursting with men?

See, I wasn’t lonely until I was surrounded by couples at that table two summers ago. And I wasn’t lonely in my mid-twenties until I was packing up my apartment and realized I hadn’t brought anyone home the entire time I lived there. I wasn’t lonely until some expectation about what my life should have been like started to sink in.

Now, two years later, on the other side of singledom, I sometimes feel weird talking about “what worked” or offering up any kind of advice. Who am I to talk? I was making mistakes right up until the day my boyfriend made a move on me. *

There is nothing more annoying than being single in a group of girls, (or even worse – family members) who decide they ought to start dishing up advice.

Stop focusing on it.

Maybe you’re looking in all the wrong places.

You’re being too picky. What about [insert name of guy you’ve friend zoned here]

It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it.

Join a beer league.

And my personal favorite, “Just focus on yourself”

Are you kidding me? I’ve had half a decade worth of ‘me-time’, self-improvement, and staying selfishly busy. 

Hearing “Just focus on yourself” just pissed me off.

Single girls don’t want advice. As Briony Smith points out in her article, all a single girl needs is some empathy and your hot friend’s number. (2015, Summer) The L Word. Flare, page 92.

But if there’s any advice I wish I had let sink in as a single lady, it’s that I never needed to be anything more or less than what I already was.

All that self-awareness stuff, sure it’s worth it in a lot of ways. But is it necessary to find love? Aren’t we supposed to be loveable just as we are? And why did it always feel so weak to admit that “Yeah, I’d really like to have someone to go home and have relationship-y sex with.”

I would have really enjoyed a date sitting beside me at that wedding two summers ago, but I shouldn’t have felt, even for a moment, like there was anything wrong with me because I didn’t.

“This obsession with dating success by way of self-improvement is a by-product of western society’s can-do ideal …. I tried, for a long time, to eradicate my undesirable bits. Some changes made me a better person, like going to the gym and softening my bitchy resting face … I eventually gave up. There’s only so much of myself I can change before there’s nothing left.” Smith, Briony (2015, Summer) The L Word. Flare, page 94.

As the months went by and my single status never changed, I really started to feel like I wasn’t pretty enough, skinny enough, witty enough, smart enough, and so on and so forth. It makes me cringe that some nights, the lack of some drunk guy hitting on me had that much of an impact on my self-worth. And even worse, that the same kind of guy also had the ability to make my self-confidence soar.

“You’re gorgeous” said the devil.

I believed him. And I believed all sorts of other vain compliments from guys over the years. But when the guy who is falling in love with me says the same words, I automatically think, “He has to say that”.

I’m admitting this because I wish I could tell my fifteen year old self that even if no one is loving you at certain points in your life, you’re still super loveable. I wish I had never given my power away to this idea that I needed to be better in order to be desirable.

So no. You don’t have to master self-confidence in order to find love. You do not have to be the smartest or wittiest girl in the bar. You don’t have to start or stop anything. You’re not doing anything wrong. Stop giving away that much power to the idea of romance, when most of what our dating lives consist of is meaningless hookups and mediocre dates. It’s not worth beating yourself up over.

You can want it as much as you want, just don’t base your self worth on whether the real thing is in your life yet or not.

It’s easier said than done. But I wish I could make that feeling disappear for every girl and guy in the world. Because it’s a liar.

Fresh out of dating, newly retired if you will, I don’t miss being single at all. I suppose there was something thrilling about knowing it was all ahead of you – the meet, the first kiss, the falling. But what’s better than all of that is the kiss that says “I missed you.” 

The difference now is that being alone doesn’t worry me anymore. Not that heartbreak doesn’t scare me – nobody likes heartbreak; it’s what fucks us all up. Even our parents heartbreak can have a huge impact on us.

#daddyissues

But the being alone bit, the waiting for love to show up again, that I can do. Because now I know for sure that you can be totally surprised by it. It can show up in the most unlikely of ways, when you least deserve it. And you don’t have to change a single thing about yourself. I really didn’t think I was going to be surprised by love ever again. 

“You might already know him.”

Pffffft. YA right.

I was surprised, to say the least.

No advice here. Just a message to future romantics and seekers of love (and to my fifteen year old self if I could talk to her):

Someone will get over themselves and their shit and go to the depths it takes to love somebody like you. In the meantime, be as much of yourself as humanely possible because even though at times it will feel like a game that you desperately want to tap out of, the right person will want you. Including the undesirable bits.

Ugh. I feel like the advice that annoyed me the most probably annoyed me so much because it’s TRUE.

“Just focus on yourself”

But don’t make that mean that you have to focus on changing yourself. You don’t have to change a thing.

*I was still sleeping with the devil

Get Your Eggs Out of My Basket

Originally published on It’s Date Night

I’ve heard this dating advice many times over the last few years – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

I can’t say I’ve followed this advice religiously, or at all for that matter. When I meet someone I like, I like them and only them. I’m kind of like a bug. If the men in my life are a bunch of glowing lights, I go for the shiniest one and he’s got my full attention. 

I put all my eggs in one basket you could say. His basket.

This keeps biting me in the ass. 

Another problem has arisen since that terrible mercury retrograde we went through in February. Even though nothing has panned out [clearly still single]they keep lingering. It’s like I still have a few egg shells out there that I haven’t collected.

Now they’re the bugs. Annoying ones that keep buzzing around my periphery. 

I’m partially to blame for this.  Whenever I get a brazilian wax I tend to make bad decisions. [Don’t judge me, I know I’m not the only one.] My new year’s resolution was to not sleep with any assholes. Then it came time for my next wax. 

Two days after the fact I had failed my 2015 promise to myself and brought one of them back into the mix. Self-restraint? What’s that?

Then there’s this guy I dated last year for awhile. I keep randomly hearing from him. Maybe he thinks it’s nice of him to “check in”. I know better – His check in’s are usually in between his spurts on Tinder.

And then there’s Carlton. 

There’s a common sentiment that exists within my friend circle. “Poor Carlton.”

Now, I definitely don’t like being pitied, and there’s really no reason for us to feel pity for Carlton either. He’s smart, sexy, tall, kind, etc, etc. There would have been some definite perks to dating him. My mother would have been very excited if I had brought him home for Easter this weekend. 

Except I wasn’t into him. I tried, but the elusive spark was not there. After a month of dating I realized that I had put him in the friend zone and as much as I tried to convince myself that continuing to see him was a good idea, I knew doing so wasn’t fair to him, or to myself. 

And unfortunately, he was one of those guys who just wasn’t getting the hint.  

In fact, I can’t even call it hinting. I was very straight and clear with him, multiple times.

Initial break up text: “I don’t see this going any further for me.”

Two weeks later: “No I don’t think going for wine is a good idea.”

Four weeks later: “No Carlton I don’t want to sleep with you. Yes, I realize you mean friends-with-benefits but I don’t want that either.”

Then the final straw. I was very excited when I found out that he had gone on a couple of dates with a girl I knew. When I heard from him again I asked him about it. “I heard you went on a few dates with Hannah! She’s great!” 

He must have taken my inquiry as jealousy. 

His response: “What, did you think I was going to put all my eggs in one basket with you?”

I DON’T WANT ANY OF YOUR EGGS IN MY BASKET CARL.  

Yes I actually texted him that and yes I still heard from him a few months later offering to take me for dinner. 

So here’s what I’ve learned. Sometimes we put our eggs in people’s baskets too soon. Sometimes they still have one of our eggs even when they shouldn’t. And sometimes you get eggs put into your basket that you really don’t want but if the other person won’t take it back, there’s not much you can do about it. 

Part of my spring cleaning is going to involve organizing my egg collection if you will. 

Happy Easter everyone! The hunt continues.

Girlfriend Zone: The Grey Area

Published on It’s Date Night

“Katie, I think he thinks I’m his girlfriend.”

Like it or not, if you live with me, you’re going to become someones girlfriend. I’m sort of like Good Luck Chuck. Except if I remember correctly he had to sleep with a girl in order for her to find true love. That’s not the case here, I assure you.

Before you start lining up to be my next roommate I should put a disclaimer on this.

*These relationships don’t necessarily last. So far I’m 4 for 4, but only one past roommate is with the same guy and my current roommates situation is yet to be determined. It’s in the grey area. 

My absolute favorite and least favorite part of dating is when you don’t know where it’s going. I love it because it’s thrilling and exciting and you spend most of your time day dreaming about seeing them again/taking their pants off. 

I hate it for the same reason I love it: Like I said, you don’t know where it’s going.

A friend recently asked me, “I have a toothbrush at his place – what does this mean??”

“That you care about your oral hygiene?”

Obviously it means more than that in our girl brains. A tooth brush is not just a tooth brush. I even think something of it when my girlfriends leave toothbrushes at my apartment. It’s like our relationship has reached new heights. You are officially one of my people.

I’m gonna make the assumption that if there are oral hygiene products being left places, you are slowly but surely leaving the grey area that we all love and hate so much.

Other pieces of evidence I personally watch for: men’s hoodies, his favorite beer in my fridge, and extra lint rollers. 

Let me explain.

I am reluctant to sleep in a guys oversized university hoodie unless I think it’s going somewhere. It’s like forehead kisses. There’s something mushy and relationship-y about it.

Beer in the fridge is an obvious one. It means we have established our drinking buddy dynamic and the relationship is off to a good start.

Extra lint rollers is a big one because while I don’t really care about kitten fur on my lululemon leggings, I do care about kitten fur on his jeans. It’s sort of like how you’ll clean up your apartment when you have people coming over but if it’s just you, you’re fine to let the dust and wine bottles collect.

One time my cat threw up on a guys pants that had been laying on the floor beside my bed. This, and the fact that I didn’t own a lint roller at the time, were very clear indicators that the relationship was doomed.

Things are changing in my world. I have extra lint rollers laying around and I’m sleeping in a men’s hoodie.

Here’s what I’m realizing. The grey area is either one of two things; amazing, or torture. If it feels good, you don’t listen to any dating rules or the plethora of advice that we’re bombarded with all of the time.

But if it feels like torture you’ll start clinging to the rules, steps, and advice you think will land you what you really want. [To get your butt out of that grey area.]

“Follow these 12 rules and you’ll find lasting happiness.”

“7 steps to nailing the relationship you want.”

“Don’t do x,y and z or you’ll come across as bat shit crazy.”

“But do a, b and c and he’ll fall madly in love with you.”

Usually all of these recipes for success and happiness just cloud my brain and my own intuition. Which, as the universe keeps reminding me over and over and over again, never fails me. I just ignore it sometimes. 

Mistakes

If the grey area feels sticky and stressful and hard, it’s probably because it’s not right, and you probably already know it.

Whereas if the grey area feels fun and light and easy, you can’t really fuck up and you don’t mind sitting in it. If it’s right, it’s just gonna work. You can be completely uncool and he’s still going to leave his toothbrush at your place, give you a hoodie to sleep in, and think your drunk sloppy self is adorable. Remember this?

He can kiss you on the forehead and you won’t freak out because you both know there really isn’t much of a grey area to begin with. 

What I’ve suspected all along might actually be true. There are no rules and there is no recipe.

Boston Pizza

Written February 2015

Apparently Mercury is in retrograde. I don’t really know what that means but based on my research (my friends + google) weird shit happens and your intuition is heightened.

So I had an upcoming date that I was really excited for. Re: my last blog post. Via text and FaceTime I hit it off with this guy. I know – you can’t really say you’ve hit it off with someone you haven’t met, but in the land of Tinder FaceTiming felt like a big step. Not to mention we had been talking for three weeks and nothing he had said sent any red flags up for me. I had a good feeling about him. He said he had a good feeling about me.

[Lesson: Don’t believe anything anyone says to you]

Because of his work and my impromptu girls trip to Phoenix/Vegas [blog coming soon] we couldn’t get together until this weekend.

Date night rolls around.

For no logical reason I had some serious anxiety late in the afternoon. My intuition, thanks to Mercury I guess, was screaming at me. I just had a bad feeling. My heart was pounding and I felt exactly how I felt when I realized that I had been stood up last spring by camping guy.

Negative energy. Bad vibes. Impending doom.

I texted a couple of my friends and told them about my bad feeling. Obviously they all told me I was being irrational.

“You’re being crazy.”

“He’s been so excited to meet you this whole time – tonight is going to be great! Relax.”

“He is NOT going to stand you up. That’s already happened to you – twice. You can’t have that bad of luck.”

Etc, etc.

I get a text from him around 6:00pm.

“Finally got back into town. Drinking at Boston Pizza tho lol”

First of all what’s with the ‘lol’? Nothing about that is funny. It’s actually quite sad. I should have told him to fuck off right then and there but I’m too nice, so I played along for awhile.

He tells me, “We can still go on our date but I might be a little tipsy. I’ll need to cab it.”

[again, fuck you]

I asked if he still wanted to get dinner.

Silence.

Then I gave him a chance to stop bullshitting me. “I was really looking forward to tonight, but if you don’t want to go you can just say so.”

Silence.

Everyone I’ve told this story to has had the same reaction: Who gets drunk at Boston Pizza????

And also, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I will not even attempt to understand or ask why. All I know is that this was the last straw. Everything I said in my last blog post I take back. Don’t download Tinder – ever. I am no longer a supporter of online dating or dating at all for that matter. (We all know this isn’t true. I love love. I just need to let myself be angry about this for a day or so)

So I went out for dinner with my friends instead. Things started looking up when I saw that double mojitios were on special.

A couple hours later while dancing around my friends penthouse to yes, Taylor Swift, a charm on my necklace fell off, unbeknownst to me. This necklace was a birthday gift from a couple of years ago. The charm that fell off said: believe in love.

I must have been in the washroom or maybe just in my own world because I missed my friends finding it on the floor, reading it, pondering whether to give it back to me, and then coming to the conclusion to throw it off the balcony.

That’s a metaphor if I’ve ever seen one.

Klara admitted to me in the morning that it was she who chucked the charm into oblivion.

She felt bad. I laughed. It was too perfect.

I’m not sure if it was before or after the destruction of the love charm when I sent my Tinder flake one last message: “I hope Boston Pizza treated you well. And I hope next time you try and convince some girl what a gentleman you are you remember what a coward you were in this situation. Thanks for wasting my time.” Followed my two emojis: a passive aggressive thumbs up and a pizza slice. [Jill’s brilliant idea].

Pizza emoji. Take that asshole.

Other strange occurrences since Mercury has been in retrograde include me hearing about a strangely high number of break ups and a very unexpected blast from the past.

Guess who texted me last night?

No, not “Come over” guy though it’s been a week so I should be expecting a text soon.

Camping guy – the first guy to ever stand me up. He picked a bad time to ask me what was new.

Cut it out Mercury. The irony is that I’m sitting on my bed writing this wearing an oversized t-shirt that says “Love Is In The Air”

No. No it is not.

How To Never Get Laid And/Or Find A Girlfriend

Published on It’s Date Night

Brought to you by my friends Steven and Ty

Valentines weekend had the potential to turn into a successful double date getaway to Banff. My girlfriend and I decided to drive to the mountains last minute and meet one of her coworkers and his friend visiting from Ontario.

It was going to be a standard Banff Saturday night; Grizzly House, hotel pre-drinks, Aurora, Dancing Sasquatch, McDonald’s.

And possibly even Valentines Day brunch at the Banff Springs in the morning.

But alas, the boys failed miserably at whatever it was they were trying to achieve. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say their goal was sex…based on this hotel room conversation at 3:00 am:

“Ty why are you pouting?”

“I’m fine.”

“No Tyler – you’re obviously upset about something. Do you regret not getting McDonalds?”

Slouched over in bed he tells me, “I’m not mad that you didn’t have sex with me; I’m just mad that nobody did.”

There I was, consoling a thirty one year old male who I may or may not have mistakenly made out with 5 hours prior because nobody wanted to have sex with him.

Another Valentines Day for the books.

I felt sorry for the guys. Not because they didn’t get laid, but because they seemingly had no clue as to why their behavior produced those results. Or rather, no results.

But I can definitely tell you what happened.

For reference, a backhanded compliment is an insult disguised as a compliment. Usually a person will recognize when they’ve delivered one of these by accident. Both parties will have a chuckle as one person says, “I didn’t mean it like that!”

Or sometimes a guy will give a girl a backhanded compliment on purpose to get her attention and undermine her self confidence. Neil Strauss, author of The Game, calls this “negging”. It’s like the adult version of teasing the girl you had a crush on in elementary school. For example, one guy I was seeing for a little while told me, “You’re a 6.5/7.” He explained his completely superficial 7 point rating system that included legs, hair, eyes, breasts, etc, etc. Not a bad rating [that’s the compliment part] but he obviously got my attention with the 0.5 point loss.

“You lose half a point because you kind of sound like a little mouse.” [There’s the insult meant to shock me, cut me down a little, and then cause me to want his approval. It’s a mean little trick.]

Ya – he was a dick. But that was a perfect example of negging. He knew what he was doing.

Steven and Ty did not know what they were doing. Zero game. And zero apologies for their accidental insults.

One way to not get laid? Unintentional backhanded compliments followed by no recognition makes you look both inconsiderate and unintelligent. And this is what Steven and Ty did. All. Night. Long.

Examples:

When we arrived in Banff we met the guys at Earls for double mojitos.

Steven to Julia: “You look better with glasses on.”

Ty to Julia: “You’re prettier than I remember.”

They sure know how to make a girl feel beautiful.

Then we all went to the Grizzly House for fondue where I’m sure we disturbed the couples around us with our completely inappropriate conversation topics.

Ty to Katie: “You have big boobs but you’re trying to hide them in that dress. Can I see?”

No.

“I just want to see what you bring to the table.”

Are you kidding me? This guy is 31 years old.

Later on in Aurora we were all on the dance floor. Incase you’ve never been to this night club let me give you some context: It’s very dark in there.

Ty to Katie: “You look amazing in this lighting”

It’s DARK in here Ty. Was that supposed to make me feel pretty??

By the time we arrived at Dancing Sasquatch Julia and I were almost ready to call it a night [probably because we felt ugly]. Things turned around when we met a bachelor party inside. Our “valentines dates” pouted in the corner until we decided it was time for chicken mcnuggets and cheese burgers.

Julia met an attractive Australian outside of McDonald’s and made out with him (obviously). The whole way home the guys whined and bitched about “Australians” and how “You girls could go home with anyone you wanted” followed by “Can we cuddle when we get back?”

YA. RIGHT.

Don’t get me wrong. These two were hilarious and really fun to spend a Saturday night with in Banff. [Ok, mostly they were just fun to make fun of] But never in my wildest dreams would I date either of them.

I’m not sure what was worse; the backhanded compliments, the fact that they didn’t recognize how insulting they were being, or the pouting.

Needless to say we skipped out on Valentines Brunch. Julia and I put on our glasses and went to Starbucks by ourselves where the lighting was dark and moody so I’m sure we looked amazing.

What’s the greatest/worst back handed compliment you’ve ever received? I’d love to hear. If anything, you might make Steven and Ty not look so bad.

Best of luck to them both.

A Grumpy Cat and Two Flamingos Walk Into a Bar

“We lost the kitten to a heterosexual drag queen.”

So said a text between two of my friends.

Halloween. It was like every other mediocre Friday night at National, except there were costumes. The best part of the night was in my condo. Girls, “punch”, and Taylor Swifts new album on repeat.

Shortly after we arrived my friends found a large group of Waldo’s.

I don’t have anything against Waldo, but I was not into being chatted up by these guys. Maybe I was just getting into character. I was Grumpy Cat. And the grumpy part set in as soon as I was surrounded by men dressed in red and white stripes.

I was contemplating leaving when my friend and I noticed a large woman in a revealing tight pink dress with cupcakes all over it. She was wearing a curly hot pink wig and looked kind of sad.

She waved; we waved back and went to sit with her.

Okay so, not a woman.

“Hey gorgeous how are you?” he said to my friend. My girlfriend would go on to say that she loved gay guys; she instantly felt incredibly comfortable with the guy in the pink wig and thick falsies.

Eventually my friend went back to her Waldo of choice and I got into conversation with the drag queen.

“Why do you look so grumpy babe?”

Because I’m Grumpy Cat, obviously.

He didn’t fall for that answer. You know when you don’t feel like talking about your problems with a stranger dressed as a drag queen but for some reason they feel compelled to give you a bunch of life advice anyways?

Eventually he stopped and said, “Take my arm darling, I’m not going to buy you a drink because there’s another girl here that I’m into, but I’m going to show you a good time.”

Wait, what? Apparently not gay either.

I decided to take his arm and do one lap. I’d have one more drink, go get a slice of pepperoni, and call it a night.

Unfortunately for my drag queen who had coined himself my fairy godmother, we ran into the mystery girl that he was into. But she didn’t see that he was just my fairy godmother, holding my hand in friendly companionship.

“What the fuck Dustin.”

I immediately snatched my hand away as he tried to reason with her. Was I going to get into a cat fight dressed as Grumpy Cat? That would be kind of funny.

She stormed off; he looked defeated.

“She wasn’t even dressed up. Look at you, Dustin. You deserve someone who will put as much effort into a costume as you did tonight. I seriously thought you were a woman.”

It was my turn to cheer him up. We spent the rest of the night standing at the bar. He started slurring and complimenting me way too much in between more life advice.

“Look at you. You’re so pretty. Except is your nose always that pink?”

No Dustin. It’s part of the kitty costume.

My phone buzzed. “Where are you Grumpy Cat!?” My friends noticed I was missing.

“Still with the drag queen. Pizza time?”

We all got given a phone number that night. 2 Waldo’s and 1 heterosexual drag queen.

Will I be calling my fairy godmother? Probably not. There’s something about thinking a guy is a woman, and then gay, and then realizing he’s as straight as can be that kind of kills any potential attraction.

But I made sure he knew how much I appreciated his kindness. He could have spent his night trying to pick up (and probably confusing) any of the witches, animals, nurses, slutty ____’s in the place, but he chose to try and cheer up a grumpy cat.

Seventeen Didn’t Last Forever

If having a boyfriend was a skill, I used to be pretty good at it. I was good at finding them, keeping them, and not ever making them too mad. Things always, without fail, would progress from crush to boyfriend. Remember when there was always a great guy to tell your friends about?

Things are a little different now. We spend the majority of our time deciphering text messages and cringing at the selection of people on tinder. I go on dates with guys who think it’s okay to call me baby after 45 minutes. It’s not.

I’d like to share just how smitten and perfect my love life was at seventeen. Prepare to be sick. When I moved last summer I found a box full of notes from an ex-boyfriend that my mother had failed to throw out when a decade ago, in tears, I had ordered her to burn them. Here are some excerpts:

I picked up a note titled: Happy 2 Months! He tells me that the picture I gave him of myself–the 2003 version of a selfie–is in a silver frame with a red heart sitting above his bed. Then this: “I think I would go on a few double dates at least until I start getting made fun of really really bad. I’m entering uncharted territory with you Katie, so I apologize in advance for when I do something stupid. I just hope we can keep having a good time and who knows what will happen. Wherever we end up, I hope we’re both still really, really ridiculously good looking.”

For our 2 month anniversary I also received a crayon colored coupon book that allowed me several back massages–20 minutes max–and multiple sexual favors which I checked off every time they were redeemed. There is no check mark on the last page which was a “FREE coupon of KT’s choice”

Shit, why didn’t I use that?

There’s nothing written about an expiry date…

His fiance would not appreciate that joke.

But seriously what a great gift! Who wouldn’t want a coupon book full of sexual favors that you could redeem whenever you wanted? I had it pretty good back then.

Then I picked up a break up note. “I miss everything about you Katie, especially making you laugh. I wanna be with you, but you don’t trust me anymore and more importantly I don’t trust myself. Your feelings are way more important than mine; you have been hurt enough and it would be selfish of me to try and make this work again. I’m sorry I said things that I could not back up. Thank you for being the best girlfriend a guy could ask for. I didn’t deserve you. I hope you find someone who does.”

That is actually a really nice apology. Like, way nicer than any apology or explanation I’ve gotten from anyone since.

Then of course we got back together and there were a lot of notes with promises not to give up on each other. This one I probably showed all of my friends: “For some reason whenever I watch Newly Weds I always think of us. Maybe because we’re also really hot…” He was a bit full of himself. But then again I’m the one who framed a picture of myself. Not of the two of us, just myself. “…but I always get this tingly feeling about us getting married. I know, weird, I’ll stop there. I love you Katie. You’re 99% of my heart. (Ya gotta have 1% for other stuff).”

In a time before cell phones or cars and when we still had our virginity in tact, there were exciting notes like this one: “Even though I’m nowhere near having enough money to buy a car I’m sure excited about it! Then we could make out in the back, or something like that. I love you; I was so happy when I realized that I did (smiley face). Now all we have left to do is just chill and make each other laugh and have sex…I guess..I’m not really sure what that is (winky face) but I hear it’s okay. We’ll see. I don’t want to yet and neither do you so that’s cool. We can talk about it again at 6 months!”

I just miss the simplicity of my first slightly cocky boyfriend and I. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect relationship? You realize you love each other and then you can just chill, make each other laugh, and have lots of sex. “I love you” meant all you had to do was keep making each other laugh. Now “I love you” is often followed by a whole ton of questions and fears.

What was nice about being seventeen and in love was that there was never any doubt in my mind that he was who I wanted to be with. We weren’t thinking about where we were headed or whether or not we had the same values. It didn’t matter if our vision for what we wanted our lives to look like ten years later matched up. I didn’t have a list of must-haves that needed checking off and neither of us had any baggage. We just had crushes on each other, decided to date, declared that we were in love, and that was enough.

It wasn’t until I was twenty four and dated my first older guy that I was slapped in the face when our little crush didn’t effortlessly turn into a happy relationship. But what he said was perfectly true and accurate: “We’re just too different.”

We were. But that never seemed to matter before. Before being a decade ago when we were all young and innocent and no one had hurt us yet. Now I have friends tell me that if for some reason their happy long term relationship didn’t work out, they would have no clue how to navigate the world I live in.

I’ll admit that as much fun as I’m having navigating this hook up culture and world of dating apps, sometimes I miss being seventeen. You weren’t afraid to give someone 100%, or in my ex’s words, 99% of your heart. Where is this going?didn’t matter. We took things slow in all the right ways and went too fast in the best of ways. We poured our hearts out on lined paper and sticky notes. It was a time where love actually was enough and kissing in cars was the best thing ever.

An Attempt To Understand the Universe

The last time I tried to go camping I decided to drive out alone late on a Saturday evening to where my brother and our mutual friends were.

Except Google maps took me to a dead end on a dirt road with no cell service. By the time I hit the dead end it was pitch dark out.

‘THIS is how horror movies start’, was all I could think. And later, ‘fuck you Google.’

Luckily no axe murderer appeared in the truck behind me and I didn’t let myself cry until I had cell service and could see signs of civilization. So no camping for me that summer.

The next chance I had to go camping was a few months ago. I said yes to this opportunity for a few reasons. I really liked the douche bag that invited me and surely I wouldn’t get lost this time because I wouldn’t be driving, he would. I felt better knowing there wasn’t a chance of reliving my dead end nightmare because he had taken me up to the camping spot for the day the weekend before; no dead ends. I was excited.

Except he never came to pick me up.

In fact, I never heard from him again.

I went through various stages of anger as the days went on with no sign of him. I went from making excuses for him, to disbelief, to thinking ‘maybe he’s dead,’ to hoping he was dead, to planning on killing him myself.

But this story isn’t about him. It’s actually about a neck injury I endured the week after scheming about killing him. And about my theory that the Universe just doesn’t want me to go camping.

It’s the best conclusion I could come to. One other possible theory: Perhaps I’m meant to stay single for another Calgary stampede. I do love a rowdy July.

So about my neck injury. I wish I could tell you something serious had happened to me, or that I was in a really difficult & impressive yoga pose, or at the very least had fallen down the stairs. But no-I hurt my neck so badly that I had to take time off of work because apparently shaving your armpit in the shower is actually quite dangerous.

The worst part is that I was unnecessarily shaving my armpit. But my thought process went like this:

‘They’re still perfectly smooth’

‘But I probably won’t shower tomorrow and then they won’t be in condition for going out tomorrow night’

‘If I see that idiot tomorrow night I’m going to give him a piece of my mind and look really pretty doing it’

‘Better shave them now.’

Crack.

Then I almost threw up.

Somehow I managed to put a shirt on and arrive at work without shoulder checking. Sitting hurt, walking made me cry, talking was frequently interrupted by flashes of pain. My coworkers insisted I go home, rest, and think of a better story as to how I hurt myself.

My friends are wonderful; I was very well taken care of. I even received homemade chocolate chip cookies with a note that said, Rx: take 3 cookies daily until neck pain subsides which obviously I overdosed on that afternoon.

But the best diagnosis I got came from my energy healer friend. She fixed me up with magnesium, some energy healing magic, a bean bag, and the root of my problem:

“Honey, has anyone been a real pain in your neck lately?”

That ASSHOLE, I immediately thought.

I have heard many, many times that stress causes illness. But never have I actually recognized it working that way in my life. I’m a generally stress free person. Until I start dating cowardly camping ditchers.

It does seem fishy that I hurt my neck that badly by turning my head slightly to the left to perform a task that most females do every other morning. I run, I work my butt off in spin classes, I take power yoga classes, and I party like a rockstar.

So how I cracked my neck shaving my armpit is beyond me. So I’ll take her assessment of the situation as correct. “This guy was nothing but a pain in your neck, literally”.

When the neck pain finally subsided and I still hadn’t heard from him I got a little too drunk with my roommate and impulsively got an eharmony account. I swore off Tinder.

This was a bad decision. Don’t let those well-crafted commercials convince you. I went on the worst dates of all time. I would have rather relived my first date with that French guy who wouldn’t stop calling me baby. That says something.

This series of bad dates ended with a bang when I got stood up for the first time. I was at my hairdressers house; we were hanging out on the front porch. This guy was meant to pick me up from her place at 7:00. 7:30 rolls around and he’s not responding to my text so I call a cab.

My hairdresser tries to make me feel better. “Maybe he died too.”

On the way home I decided three things.

1. eHarmony had already paid for itself; I had been taken out for enough dinners and drinks and coffees to make it worth it.

2. The All Mighty Universe doesn’t want me to go camping.

3. And it wants me to stay single.

I paid my cab driver and felt kind of sad that only my hairdresser and him got to see my cute date outfit. But I also felt at peace with my conclusions. After a string of bad dates and a neck injury, I was ready to pack it in for the summer and dust off my cowboy boots.

But as I approached my building a handsome man was running across 11th Avenue towards me.

“Hey! Is Sunterra closed? I’m starving and there’s nothing in my fridge.”

“I hope so; I’m hungry too.”

It was closed.

Two starving strangers stood at the doors of Sunterra. I blurted out to him why I was so hungry-he was the first person I told about being stood up for the first time.

“Oh no, it wasn’t Tinder was it?”

Then he asked me if I wanted to get a coffee. What the fuck Universe. We literally just decided no more dates. That included coffee dates.

…stay tuned.

Shania Twain & The Australian Invasion

My last blog post ended with that handsome neighbor offering to buy me a coffee outside of Sunterra after I had been stood up.

What happened next was he took me for coffee and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Just kidding.

What actually happened next was that I said “No, it’s okay” which I immediately regretted as soon as I stepped into my elevator. I guess I had had a shitty enough day and wasn’t interested in a pity coffee. I just wanted to curl up on the couch and watch The Mindy Project.

My energy healer friend told me, “You need to learn how to be a better receiver”.

My roommate called me an idiot. “He lives in the LOFTS!? Those are expensive!!”

Coworkers shook their heads in disappointment.

I know!! I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I was being stubborn with the pact I had only moments ago made with the universe to stop dating for the rest of summer. But it’s okay because the next weekend the British Army was in town. And I was practicing being a better receiver.

Enter Stew. I actually don’t really like the British accent except for a select few people. My roommate, Bridget Jones, and my roommate’s handsome friend that she FaceTimes on a weekly basis. They are charming and intelligent. Most often I find the accent quite arrogant and snobby sounding.

So Stew’s accent wasn’t doing him any favors. But the drinks I had were working and I was trying to be a good receiver of his affection. I thought he was quite handsome but my coworker kept telling me, “He is NOT handsome Katie”.

I concluded that we must just have different types.

So my three friends, Stew, and the rest of the British Army ended up at Cowboys. I should grow up, I know. But it’s the only place I really like to dance. Or maybe I should just move to the South. I should also note that Stew and all of his friends were wearing literally the same thing. Blue jeans and baby blue checkered button ups. You couldn’t tell who was who.

Stew got real sloppy so I wandered off. There was a handsome guy in a striped sweater that caught my eye. I went up and said hello. Also British. Also sloppy drunk.

Then my roommate and I spotted a tall guy from across the room. She bet me ten dollars that he was also British. Even though this bar seemed to be bursting with the UK I was still skeptical. How could she possibly tell? He wasn’t wearing a checkered blue shirt.

But sure enough when I went up to speak to him I was greeted with the same accent. This one’s name was Robert. My roommate and Robert got talking as I wandered the crowd of British men in checkered shirts. Turns out Robert lived in the lofts across the street from our building.

Roommate: “Katie got asked out by a guy that lives in your building after she got stood up one night, but she was rude and said no.”

Robert: “No way! I’ve heard that story before. I know the guy!”

Robert may or may not have been pulling our leg. His friend who we all thought may have been the same guy who asked me out was supposedly from Australia but I’m pretty sure I would have remembered an Australian accent.

Remember, I wasn’t drunk at the time. I was hungry, pissed off, and dead sober.

I learned a few things about British men that night. They are very convincing; whether it’s to let them buy you a drink, kiss you, or convince you they know the guy you regret shutting down.

That night will forever be known as the British Invasion because of the three of us, we were at the very least kissed by one (or two) and there may or may not have been a few British men in my apartment that night.

So that was the British Invasion, but we’re not finished with Australia yet.

On Sunday, July 13th, a little after midnight, my phone kept buzzing. It was the last night of Stampede. Snoop-dog was playing in the Cowboys tent across the street and all I could hear were sirens-most of them headed towards the tent. I watched the fireworks from my balcony. Despite a bad case of FOMO I had convinced myself to stay in and drink a detox tea because Stampede 2014 took a serious toll on my body. I had enough stories and I had lost my voice; I couldn’t handle one more night.

Usually I watch the last set of thundering fireworks and feel like crying knowing that I have to wait three hundred and fifty five more days to do it all over again. But on this summer night I felt content and complete, besides the hoarse smoker cough. It had been a fun, eventful year full of questionable decisions and new memories.

So my phone was buzzing nonstop.

“Hey it’s the Bear from Cowboys” Of all the pretend cowboys this year by far my favorite was the man wearing a stuffed animal bear head. I spotted him on the dance floor and wanted nothing more than to two step with this adorable fuzzy bear with great biceps. I don’t know what his name is. He knows mine because I’m in his phone as “Katie She Likes Bears”

Then there was small town Ontario guy. In our drunken stupor he had said to me, “I haven’t had a kiss like that in a decade”. I wonder how many people think they’ve found love in that tent. We definitely thought we had. I smile at the blurry memory of it. It was like being eighteen and in love on the Cowboys dance floor all over again.

And then there’s Tom. It was the night of Shania Twain’s first show. A Wednesday. The plan was to have a few drinks at my condo, go see the concert, and be home at a respectable hour. I should know better. Those nights never, ever, turn out as such.

I almost want to skip to the part, seven hours later, where there’s three Australian men on my balcony.

We drank a few spiked Twisted Tea’s before heading over to Shania. Obviously, she was UNREAL. To the annoyance of the old people behind us we belted out her entire concert and even got to touch her hand.

“SHE LOOKED AT ME!!” was what I texted nearly my entire contact list.

The Twisted Tea’s had worn off but the buzz we had got from Shania wasn’t going anywhere so obviously we thought it was a good idea to head to one of the tents. “The night is young!” we screeched. My voice was already starting to go.

I saw him in the lineup. He had the jawline of a model, dark brown hair, and piercing come at me eyes. That’s the best way I can describe them. Way too good looking, so I looked away. My wimpy signature move.

Inside I was standing at a bar waiting for a drink when he turned around and grabbed at my nose. An odd yet slightly charming gesture. Up close I saw that he had a lip ring. Not sure how I felt about that, but then he spoke.

“You’re gorgeous.”

Shit, Australian.

“I saw you in line…” he continued.

He was thrilled to meet a born-and-raised Calgarian girl and his friends were just as excited to meet my friends. Before long we were in the middle of the dance floor singing the Canadian anthem with a bunch of good looking Aussies.

I would like to mention that I have never had a one night stand.

I never really felt the need to. Take the night of Stew and the British Invasion for example. I was satisfied with a few hours of flirting and kissing. To his frustration I insisted on walking home without him. I’ve done this many, many times.

Until Australia.

Usually in order for me to be attracted enough to someone to take them home I have to be somewhat emotionally invested. I’ll give it four or five dates. I have to find you intriguing and intelligent.

Unless we’re on the Cowboys dance floor and you have an Australian accent and a lip ring that seems to serve the purpose of a “peacock effect.”

Yes I’ve read the book The Game. It’s genius.

It was nearing the end of the night and Tom kept tugging at my cut offs. I glanced at my friend Amanda and telecommunicated “Should I do this?” with my eyes. She nodded a definite yes.

Ten minutes later Tom, one of his friends, Amanda and I were drinking on my balcony watching the lights from the rides and the drunks stumble across Macleod Trail. It wasn’t long until my roommate walked through the door with a man behind her. I don’t remember his name, but he was also from Australia, yet not from the same Australian posse as Tom and the redhead on my balcony.

How she happened to find another Australian in that gigantic tent beats me. Obviously this night will be forever known as the Australian Invasion and yes we’ve already half-jokingly pondered what country will be next.

I’m not really sure if there’s a lesson in any of this. Perhaps this: If one is feeling frustrated with the lack of men in her life she should simply make a pact with the universe to stop dating and then prepare to be showered with a variety of men with accents.

Or maybe I was right in thinking that I was meant to stay single for another Calgary Stampede because of all the summers and tents I’ve romped around in, this has been the most memorable, and not just because Shania locked eyes with me.

I’ll be forever grateful to Dean Brody’s incredible kick off on Canada Day (I wish I could remember him singing Canadian Girls; I was really excited for that), my roommate who is the only friend I’ve ever had that can keep up with me, and to Cowboy’s serving chicken fingers & fries. And to Tom of course.

Alternative Shania Twain song titles for this blog:

Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?

Rock This Country

I’m Not in the Mood (To Say No)