Men are like buses???

What’s that phrase you use…the one when a friend’s just been unceremoniously dumped by a man, or is afraid to let go of a man for fear of being lonely?

I ask because I just took a bus. It was a bus that picks me up near my friend’s apartment in Albany, my favorite Indian place in Berkeley and my niece’s house in the same town, the day center for homeless seniors I often visit and then literally drops me off two blocks from my home.

Except that it no longer drops me off there. The bus that comes to my immediate neighborhood takes me on a meandering route that ends up in the Oakland hills where I never have a reason to go.

The other bus I used to use all the time because it got me to the church in East Oakland and also to the monthly meeting of Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy in Berkeley no longer exists.

My favorite bus that used to get me to Alameda and the Fruitvale and also to my favorite Indian place is now two bus lines to make sure the line runs more on time, except it runs LESS on time.

I do not think that saying men are like buses will ever bring comfort to those of us who rely on public transit. Because all that tells me is that they’re often late, unreliable, changing routes with little notice, and leaving me stranded in random places I didn’t intend to visit, forestalling my more immediate and meaningful plans. And that’s just not true. Right?



My season of singleness – Final entry

If you’d like some theme music while you read this, I highly recommend the smash-hit Valentine’s Day mashup “Single Loser” by Beckyonce. I’m listening to it as I write this.

When I started writing this back in September, I wasn’t sure anyone was reading my series on being intentionally single for a season (by clicking on the link, you can read the series from the beginning with the September entry). I was doing it mostly for myself, to chase down a few ghosts and maybe stop holding on to some stuff that wasn’t good for me.

Then in November a friend across the country, with whom I was having drinks while I was in her hometown, asked, “So? Did you decide to keep going through December?” and mentioned that my blogs had been taking up a lot of her time in therapy lately. And the Young Clergy Women Project, for whom I have the utmost regard, asked me to write a piece for them because they had gotten word that I was wrestling with the issue theologically. And then a friend (who said she recommended this series to several of her straight single female friends) offered to write a fun-spirited single-positivity guest blog.

I’ve had more broadly read blogs, but I don’t know that I’ve had many that have come with more human interactions (including one of my favorite South Asian elders offering to help me find a good Indian husband).

I’ll catch you up on my personal journey in a moment, but first I wanted to reflect on a story that was making people insane a few weeks back: (more…)

Guest post: A celebration of singleness (Or, as originally titled, “I s***.” Just so you’re warned.)

Many of you have been following my posts about my Season of Singleness, which officially ended on December 31, although I’m definitely not rushing into anything serious right now. One of my good friends from the justice movement, Beth Trimarco, was inspired enough by the series to write her own observations about what is GREAT about being single as a source of joyous reflection for all of us who are single, whether by choice or not. And she does not spare her candid observations about what seems potentially UNfun about partnered life. ENJOY this piece by Beth! And I promise to do a final installment myself by the end of the week. And for those of you who know me as a pastor and are shocked by the curse words and sex references below, please know that I thought this piece was really fun. 🙂 And if you have a perfect married life with lots of sex and no chores, tell your married friends about it.

I shit. It stinks. And I get to leave the bathroom door open when I do it. That’s just one of the benefits of being a single gal in my 40’s. At every twist and turn in American culture: from the media to the workplace to our communities, single women hear messages designed to make us feel less than everyone else. But I am here to celebrate being single and invite you to join me.

Firstly, there’s sex. Unlike my coupled friends, I actually have it. My friends in long-term relationships all seem to have an endless list of “chores” to do regarding their households. Empirical evidence shows time and again that when people decide to cohabitate, their chores exponentially grow. By the end of a day full of laundry, rearranging the furniture, toilet scrubbing, and cat food making, no one has the energy for sex.

In contrast as a solo habitator, my dishes don’t get done for a week, and I don’t care. I go out to eat; I have friend dates; I have date dates; and sometimes, I have sex with a woman I’m dating.

Secondly, there’s money. Almost all of my coupled friends have disparate incomes. One partner makes like $25-50K more than the other partner. The low-earner feels powerless, like they can’t keep up, and in a constant state of having to put constraints on the relationship. The high-earner feels guilty for having too much power, resentful that they foot more of the bills, and in a constant state of pretending like it doesn’t bother them that the couple can’t do more. This dynamic plays out through terrible power dynamics and people feeling bad about themselves.

In contrast, I have a middle class income which no one tells me how to spend. Sure, I work at a nonprofit and will likely be living under a bridge, eating cat food in my retirement (and not the homemade kind.) But right now, I have total authority over my funds, and I don’t have to be in comparison with somebody else. I can either afford something, or I can’t.

Lastly, there’s freedom. And friends. When I try to make a plan with a friend who’s in a couple, they have to either ask their partner’s permission, or they drag their partner along. Coupled people act like they have an overzealous mom at home overseeing their schedules who also need to chaperone on friend dates.

In contrast, I want quality one-on-one time with friends to have coffee, go out to dinner, go on hikes, or just visit. As a single gal, I have total freedom over my schedule. I do what I want, go where I want, and never have to compromise how I spend my time.

I’m sure you’re saying, “Yeah, that sounds great, but what about loneliness; solo holidays; no family; the lack of security of a double income; and not having someone who always has your back?” Okay, I hear you, and yeah – I’m sure I’ll meet someone special someday and trade it all in for a life of chores.

But I ask you, when was the last time you thought about the positives of single life? It’s time for single women to start enjoying our singleness instead of bemoaning it. And through that enjoyment, there’s power. We have so few role models for this kind of powerful woman, so it makes sense that we all walk around hating ourselves and wondering what’s wrong with us that we are still single. I say “STOP!” Every minute not spent sitting in that power is a minute we deny ourselves the joy of freedom. And the joy of spending time with some amazing people: ourselves.

The Single Rev by Choice – For a Season


You know the poem about how people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime?

Singleness sometimes feels like it has come into my life (unbidden) for a lifetime, but I’m choosing it for this season.

God and I have had words about this singleness business on more than one occasion. The arguments were particularly intense when I was in seminary in my late twenties and still remembered the comforts of a stable, long-term relationship. The conversation generally went like this:

Me: You know, you didn’t have to wrestle me to get me to follow my calling. I came to this faithfully. I gave up a high powered political path with no complaint. I was glad to accept a life of poverty since you called me to urban ministry and congregational transformation. But I never thought you would make me do it ALONE. It never crossed my mind that you wouldn’t supply me with a partner.

God: <crickets>

And because I was raised not to call God a dick, that was usually where it ended.

The last of those one-sided fights was probably ten years ago, but for about ten years I’ve tried to take matters into my own hands with hundreds of Internet dates and even a few dates with people I met in person. I’ve even dated a few guys for as long as six months (although usually just about two).

But the resentment has lingered. It’s flared up when I think about how many men I’ve let treat me badly in the hopes that they were who would be a companion, or just because I wanted the company or the intimacy. And it has smoldered when I chose casual flings because I had given up on finding someone who could actually meet me as an equal in relationship.

And then this summer I did what a good feminist or a woman who doesn’t want to appear pathetic should never do: I admitted, out loud, that I’m lonely. And I’ve been lonely on and off for thirteen years. And the friend I told said, “See, you’re my cautionary tale. I don’t want that to be me.”

Fortunately, I had other friends, one of whom encouraged me to engage in a season of singleness to mourn the fact that I may never have that type of partnership in my life, to actually confront it and ritualize it and pray on it.

So September 1 (two months after my last boyfriend disappeared when I suggested that maybe we both had baggage and that wasn’t a sign that a relationship couldn’t work), I started to do just that. I started a season of singleness that would go through Thanksgiving (although I recently extended it to the new year because it feels so good).

My Day 30 breakthrough was huge: trying to hide from lonely doesn’t make it go away. I need to find a way to co-exist with lonely. (A book I read later noted that part of what makes loneliness so terrifying isn’t just the loneliness but the fact that it’s layered with shame and judgment. Letting go of those other things and letting myself just feel lonely has made me realize it’s a feeling I can live with when it shows up.)

The next thirty days made me aware that part of what was hard about not having a partner was how little control I felt about my situation. And that led me to put up with treatment that I didn’t deserve from guys who probably didn’t deserve me. Part of what’s fun about my season of singleness has been that even if my situation is exactly the same as it would have been if I were unintentionally single, I feel less helpless. Plus, the single life is monumentally less bad than the awful stuff God put Jeremiah through with his wife. That guy gets to complain about his relationship status to the divine. (Note: Days 30-60 were aided monumentally by the podcast series Strangers by Lea Thau, who did a four-parter on her struggles with singleness and also the book It’s Not You about the 27 lousy things people say to singles about what we should fix in order to be partnered and how those things are all wrong.)

As I approach Day 90, I’m getting honest about the fact that there are things about living alone I really don’t like and recognizing there might be things I actually have some power over, like considering community living. Extroversion and living alone aren’t always a fun combination.

But what’s probably most important is that I’m taking a little more ownership and am finally at a place of considering other options instead of remaining in a resentful stalemate with the All Powerful.

I still wish I could find someone to be a source of support, someone to share my joy-filled moments as well as my struggles. But I’m less afraid of feeling lonely and more open to other ways of getting my companionship needs met.

And I haven’t wanted to call God a dick in a couple of months, so the most serious relationship in my life is showing definite signs of improvement.


Singleness Day 60 — Extending Singleness

I love the series Sex and the City more than is healthy. I mean, I love it enough that at regional church women gatherings, I might covertly whisper to a church woman, “I know I shouldn’t watch it, but there’s an episode of Sex and the City,” and the woman would respond, “You know you have a Sex and the City story for every occasion, so you don’t have to treat it like your dirty secret. We all know you watch it.” I love it enough I’m pretty sure I’ve quoted it in sermons.

So you won’t be surprised to hear me say tht there’s an episode of Sex and the City that I believe fits my current situation. It’s where Miranda announces that she’s on strike. She hasn’t had a boyfriend in 6 months, and so she’s on strike.

“Honey, that’s not a strike, that’s a slump,” responds Samantha, vaguely horrified.

“No, at first it was a slump, but I’ve taken charge of the situation,” responds Miranda. “I’m on strike until conditions improve.”

“Who’s affected by this strike?” asks Carrie.

“So far, just me,” says Miranda, then with a tip of her head, she cracks, “but I’m optimistic.”

And yes, that’s from memory.



Being Single On Purpose Day 36 – Accepting Loneliness and Being Willing to Trade Away a Lifetime of Good Sex for a Really Good Online Fundraising Genius

So in September I chose to take on a season of singleness (3 months, although I’m thinking I’ll make it four and see out 2014 without another bad date).

I did it mostly to figure out how to overcome the loneliness that has been haunting this usually single extrovert on and off for the better part of 12 years. And the ironic plot twist that the rest of you saw coming:

I finally realized around Day 30 that I can’t overcome loneliness.

I have to figure out how to accept the reality of it.

Yeah, sure, YOU know that. But it was a big punch in the face to me. (more…)