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Single’s Survival

One of the perks of being married (or cohabitating) MUST be the not-living-alone thing.

I’m sorry if this makes me sound un-independent, foolish, or silly, but: I hate living a-l-o-n-e.

Now, I’m not talking about having someone to share bills with {or mooch off of} or to otherwise rely on through thick and thin. Or the whole not-just-talking-to-yourself aspect. Those things are, I’m sure, really cool. Right now I’m just talking about how truly, utterly scared out of my wits I can get from being all alone in a big place at night…whether city or suburb.

Even when I lived alone in my studio apartment in Hampton (until a month ago, when a burglary in the complex put two bullets through my car windows), I made it OK but it wasn’t ideal. I had taken precautions. It was, after all, studio-ized. There was just one big room, so I could take in the entire square footage and watch out for potential big bad wolves lurking in one fell swoop. Still, if I’d been wearing boots at night, there’d have been some quaking in them.

Anyway, the situation right now is that I’m “in between” quasi-permanent residences so to speak, and I’m living with my parents until I figure some stuff out. (Hence the massive, ongoing purge of childhood belongings I keep talking about–you didn’t think I declutter for fun, did you?) Living with your parents post-college, no matter how temporary, has a price all its own…still, as much as I look forward to having my own place again sometime in the near future, I am relishing knowing that  it’s not just me in there.

So who’s afraid of the big bad wolf? That’s right, I am, at times. Just another perk to look forward to in the “someday” category I suppose. True love? Pshhh. The real awesomeness of commitment will be having someone to face the scary, creaking sounds and unidentifiable shadows on the wall with (and, er, the world too of course). Kidding! Sort of.

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I know this post is a bit late, but I just found this interesting tidbit out, and actually, I keep hearing this from friends as well. Even if it’s just a myth it’s worth the pause: If you’ve been trying to fit in a monumental Decision before February is out—don’t. Here’s why.

Call it post-January failed-resolutions blues maybe, because all the excitement of a new year is beginning to wear off, holiday bills start coming in, and Valentine’s Day hits you in the face. February is NOT a month to make any life-altering decisions. Whatever it is, it’s definitely testing my resolve on many itching-to-make-a-change fronts.

Unless you’re totally sure and this decision is coming at the tail end of lots of introspection (as in, months’ worth), another week won’t kill you, and will probably help you make a better decision.

Thinking of quitting your job or throwing in the towel for a resolution? Give it some more time.

Itching to be proactive and meet someone new? Wait till spring…you know, love is in the air and all that stuff? Did your significant other just propose? Tell them to hold on a sec (just kidding, of course).

They say timing is everything. Did you make any big decisions this month?

It doesn’t matter if you’re single or not; happy or sullen. People will ask:

Why are you still single? Not engaged yet? Not married yet?” Etc.

The question is super annoying, but it won’t go away. And it seems like this time of year, holidays in full swing and reunions with loved ones and old friends aplenty, the question comes at you from left and right. And yeah, it can suck. But it happens, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of asking it of friends myself, even though I know how exasperating it can be to be on the receiving end.

So, how to handle those awkward inquisitions that are sure to come your way?

Turn the question around
Ask the person about his or her significant other. Be nice–it can be tempting if you know the friend is kind of miserable in his/her relationship to lash out for their insensitivity, but be the bigger person and leave out any sardonic undertones. And if they’re happy, be happy for them. People love talking about themselves, so it can be quite easy to bury the question!

Be honest
“I just haven’t met someone yet” or “Things just haven’t worked out” or “I haven’t thought about it lately, I’m pretty busy with [school, work, other commitments]” are perfectly fine answers. Don’t make up a false significant other just to shut them up. 😀

…But be interesting
By the same token, the honest answer might be kind of trite. Melodrama that turns into a good narrative is always a better option (“I just ended it with the craziest person I’ve ever met. Funny story…”) Because there’s always a juicy twist, and even the politest friends will love to hear it! Just be sure you can actually quip about it, but hey, nothing like tears to make sure the other person NEVER asks you that question again…

And finally—

Just be flattered!
If your relationship status puzzles someone, it probably means they think you deserve the next logical step (relationship if you’re single, engagement if you’re dating, kids if you’re married…etc). So swallow your irritation, pick one of the methods above, and take the compliment!

How do YOU handle The Question?

You know what sucks about being single? For all that sweet independence, you are in fact, alone a lot. More time for all those thoughts to marinate in your head and work you up into a mess of what-ifs and what-thens and what-did-THAT-means. You have all the choices in the world, so you second guess every move you make.

Is it just me, or does it seem that in your 20s and 30s, all can be going quite well except for one thing? (Except for the days when nothing is going well.)

Or, one thing can suddenly make a huge leap of progress and after a short-lived respite of happiness, panic sets in that it was just a fluke. And that never-satisfied mind of yours, it only serves to pain you to remember there are some things that seem ever stuck in a rut.

Maybe that’s why I’m so terrified – there, I said it – to want a relationship or anything close to love. If what I want today is not what I want tomorrow, well—who am I to inflict the consequences of my uncertainty on another person? And I don’t mean that in a 100% selfless way…because I worry that what I might like/love today I might not tomorrow…

I read somewhere recently that the way to conquer these types of crises is to do one thing: “don’t focus on your emotions, only on your actions.”

Great. Now, how do I forget my emotions? And what if I can’t figure out WHAT to do? Is some sort of forward momentum better than no action at all?

Thoughts? Comments? Tips? I’ll take anything!
(Except comments along the lines that I should remember how blessed I am, etc. Duh. I know that. Quarterlife crises can’t be guilted out of…I’ve tried.)

It’s the 21st century, but I know a lot of women definitely feel like the guy should pay for dates. On a first date, if the guy asked the girl out, I agree – that’s a given. But how much longer till the girl insists on paying or insists on a split check? And when I say insist, I mean like for real, not as some sort of hoop-jumping test to see if the guy lets her.

Personally, until and unless there’s exclusivity or some regularity of seeing each other, I think the girl and guy should pay their own way. I’m not a hardcore feminist, but I always feel like there’s some sort of indebtedness if I don’t pay my way almost all of the time…it’s just a feeling, but I hate it. And shouldn’t all relationships end up in a 50-50 split anyway, both financially and emotionally? (Ideally. Humor me.)

What do you think? Are there are any hard and fast rules you follow?

And on that note, being one in the “Go Dutch” camp as much as possible, how does one finance a dating life these days anyway? Drop $30 bucks for dinner here, $10 for coffee or a drink there – just for the sake of getting to know someone a tiny bit better? SHEESH!

It started out so well, my apple pie:


Why apple pie? Well, I was enticed by the saying “easy as pie.” Easy? Ok. If you say so, colloquial English expression. I also wasn’t quite ready to tackle something meatier – in recipe complexity or literally speaking.

Somehow, despite following the recipe to a T (umm, okay, I admit I used lime juice instead of  the prescribed lemon juice – the store was out!), there wasn’t enough dough for the crust to cover the pie dish all the way around. Oh and um, I didn’t have saran wrap, so I just covered the dough for 4 hours in a bowl…but don’t I get points for improvising instead of throwing in the towel?
Thanks apple pie, I think you’re hilarious too! Hmph. Oh well – maybe next time! Next time, think I’ll buy a ready-made crust instead anyway. In my defense, the filling is DELICIOUS! Too bad I can’t eat it as a pie. But it tastes excellent as a topping to cereal or ice cream…

Upcoming to-cook list: pork chops, something to do with eggs, and some kind of simpler dessert. But I won’t bore you readers with too many details of those escapades. You know what’s still easier and funner than cooking for one? Waxing overphilosophical about relationship theories and commitment when finding one for yourself is not a priority! 😀 Stay tuned!

My kitchen and I have been having a staring contest since I moved in. So far, I think I’m losing.

I know plenty of people who are single and living alone who are perfectly capable of cooking somewhat delicious tasting, non-takeout or non-microwaveable meals—but I’ll let you know something: I’m not one of them.

And while I could probably continue to subsist on cold milk and cereal, or Subway and Pizza Hut, for dinner, I realized something over the past year.

would like to be married and have kids someday. And according to Ms. Irene in New Orleans, I’ll have a daughter and a son. The realization came with not just a little soul searching, and well, who am I deny the words of a New Orleans palm reader? All well and good. But then it hit me:

These kids are gonna have to eat.

And while having kids might be years away, it will be nice not to starve until then. So since cooking has always intimidated me, I’ve named November the month to start getting over my tendency to default toward Ramen-like meals.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Buy only the essential essentials…for now
Saucepans, mixing bowls, a baking sheet, and staples like butter, flour, sugar and salt. If you had all these things already, you are way ahead of where I was, um, a few weeks ago. With everything else, you can improvise when you get there. And if you get as easily stressed out by endless recipes as I do, baby steps are the only to preserve sanity.

Find one good cookbook and cling to it for dear life
For me, that’s Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food. She does make it simple, and the hand-drawn illustrations make the read non-threatening.

Mise en Place (that’s Le Français for “everything in its place”)
This one’s a gem from Alice. She recommends reading a recipe ahead of time and laying out not only the ingredients but also the utensils and equipment needed. My own suggestion: read the recipe multiple times and highlight. It’s really annoying to buy all the ingredients you didn’t have on Sunday and be all excited on Monday evening to put it all together—only to read that one portion of your recipe calls for 4 hours of refrigeration. GREAT!

Beg, borrow, steal
There’s nothing wrong with borrowing or pinching ingredients from mom and dad. Nothing can deter a zealous culinary-unhopeful such as myself like a long list of the smaller, less obvious ingredients. Like, for example, a recipe I tried out yesterday that called for ground nutmeg. Ground nutmeg? I’m sure it’s important, but what exactly does it DO? When else will I need it? Right now I need simplicity, not answers. So I (unintentionally) displayed my ignorance to the parents, and they were more than happy to let me take the called-for tablespoon in a plastic Ziploc bag. Crisis averted.

Get used to inconvenience
Like many awesome things, good-tasting and healthy meals  come at a price, mainly inconvenience. I can’t name many drool-worthy Indian meals my parents make (and yes, I WILL most definitely be learning that too!) that don’t require the oven and/or stovetop.

So for now I’ve decided that everything that needs heating or reheating needs to NOT go in the microwave anymore (little steps, remember?). I may not be ready to cook a pot roast yet, but the  shiny new cookware I bought recently mainly for the sake of the next generation (Lord help them) has got to come out of the box!

This week I’m trying to make apple pie and get used to using real, LIVE cookware. Updates to come, and don’t worry, more over-opinionated relationship analysis forthcoming as well!

Any tips from you experienced home cooks out there? Am I missing something?