At Least I’ve Learned A Few Things

The Breakup Chronicles: Part 2

First off, y’all are wonderful.  Thank you for your outpouring of support.  Sometimes we write just needing to get it out, and forget that people will have things to say.  And what you did say to me meant more to me than I can express.  You didn’t have to take the time to say a word, but you did, and it helped me a lot.  Never double that your kind words in a tough time are doing so much for someone.

Things are still uncertain and who likes uncertainty?  Not this girl.  I had grand plans to talk to Francois about it – a little check in, if you will – but when we last chatted I was tired and worried that I wouldn’t be quite eloquent enough.  So here we are.  Breakup week the second, confusion week the second.

I’m determined not to text him (or, you know, at least until Saturday).  Do you know how hard it is not to text?  It’s like when you’ve had a drink or two, and you know you really shouldn’t drunk text but you do because it’s so fun!  You’re so funny!  People must love you!  And then in the midst of that fun, when you’re trying to tell Grace one thing, you get drunk digits and instead ask her to milk you.  You know. Awkward times. (For the record, I don’t remember what I meant to tell her, but it was most certainly not for her to milk me.)    Right. Where were we?  Oh yes… I’ve been getting mixed signals out the wazoo which feels great because it feeds that little bit of hope I have, but it’s crappy because it keeps him in my thoughts.  And at the back of my mind I know that 99% of the time this sort of thing isn’t going to work out but those mixed signals are very powerful.  You tell yourself that you might be the situation that works.  It could be you!  Which is all to say, if you see me with a cell in my hand this week, you have permission to yell, “KATE, STEP AWAY FROM THE PHONE.”

Here we are.  Day 9.   Here is what I’ve learned thus far:

When your bestie offers to drive in to see you?  Take her up on it.  Best friend therapy often can’t be topped and you’ll kick yourself for missing that needed time with her.  True, you will probably talk her ears off but she’s a doctor and can sew them back on.

Hang out with people, no matter how much you want to wallow or stay glued to Facebook checking for signs of activity.  (It’s unseemly the amount of time I’ve spent checking to see if he’s been active.  Someone save me.)  It’s very possible Francois will pull himself out of my life for good, but my friends aren’t leaving me anytime soon.  In times like these they are especially supportive and say the kind of thoughtful things that make you cry not because of sadness, but because you’re not sure how you got lucky enough to have them in your life.

Wine is delicious.

Pathetic walks by the lake aside, exercise is healthy.  Go on an extra long run but this time focus on overtaking the guy in front of you rather than checking the parking lots for signs of Francois.  Admire the runner’s calves as you approach.  Race past him.  Feel victorious when you leave him in the dust.  Round the corner so he can’t see you.  Walk.

Hug your cats.  I’m still missing the lazy mornings in bed with Francois but little furry gatos can be pretty comforting.  I will be not ashamed of my cat lady status.

Listen to your mother:

I hope for Francois’ sake he realizes he’s being a dick.  Because he is not going to find another Kate Hepburn.  Sometimes guys need a hammer to the head.  Just a little tap.

and later…

If things don’t work out, since you keep finding better and better guys, I think you should set your cap for…Prince Harry? Why not?

Also, two solid hours of dancing around in one’s underwear and lip syncing to Bruno Mars and Carole King is recommended.  Not that I have experience with such a thing.


The Stages of a Breakup

The Breakup Chronicles: Part 1

Spinster friends, I was in relationship bliss over the past several months.  We’ll call him Francois the Dapper because he really is dapper and he’s kind and interesting and smart and funny and pretty damn attractive.  So you can imagine my…

1.  Shock

…when he texted me the other night and asked to come over.  I knew something was up, as he never asked to come over before (we’re, after all, of the generation where nobody can seem to make a decision: “What are you up to?”  “Nothing much.  You?”  “Nothing much.”  “Wanna do something?”  “Yah, what were you thinking?”  “Not really sure.  You?”  “I don’t care.”).  He walked through the door, stopped me when I tried to kiss him, and my heart plummeted.  A chill of dread spread through me, I felt hot, and all I could do was look at the floor, avoiding eye contact as I stated to myself over and over, “I will not cry, I will not cry!”  I’ll spare you the upsetting details but suffice it to say it involved a past relationship, lingering baggage, and confusion over his feelings.  My heart was wrenched apart, but I quite calmly offered my support and understanding.  I also offered him a piece of cake.  Then that night that I poured my feelings onto 4 single-spaced pages of nearly 2,000 words.  Y’all, I could not stop the words or the feelings.  I knew I was in…

2.  Mourning

There weren’t enough tea bags in the world to shrink the bags under my eyes.  You know the feeling; it’s where the tears roll down your cheeks in fat drops and you’re just not sure they’re going to stop this time.  It – I – was just so sad.  I re-lived every good time, every future plan.  I tried outlining the bad times I could think of, hoping they’d make me feel better, but they were only a reminder of how well I felt we worked through our problems.  I texted Francois, and asked to meet him again.  He agreed.  It gave me…

3.  Hope

Not only did we chat, but we got pastries.  I poured out my feelings.  I told him all my fears about the situation and my hopes.  He listened, he told me he had a lot to think about, and then he asked me if I wanted to hang out.  Can you blame me for saying yes?  And it was pretty nearly great, save for that two hours of a movie we spent without holding hands for the first time since I’d known him.  We parted ways in the evening and I sobbed my feelings to Grace and to my mother, but I maintained the day meant something.  He was thinking about it.  The next day I contemplated all the possibilities.  Things were looking up so I took a walk around the lake which only served to send me to a whole new level of…

4. Patheticism

Shut up.  That’s a word.  And that walk?  It was to take advantage of the sunshine and the beautiful weather!  To clear my mind and increase my endorphins!  To watch the sunset!  Or so I fooled myself to think.  I looked in every parking lot for his car, hoping that the distant runner was him coming toward me.  By the end of the walk, I was dragging my sobbing, puddly mess into the car, dialing Grace and asking her to tell me that I wasn’t the most pathetic person that ever lived.  She’s a good friend, she told me I was normal.  And then later that night, Francois called me.  We talked for 30 minutes and my hope was renewed.  And it was then that I began seeking …

5. Validation

…from nearly anyone who would listen.  Grace and my mother?  Check, check.  My coworkers?  Check.  The mailman? Check.  It was really important to talk it out.  Really damn important to tell my side of things and have others tell me that my feelings were reasonable.  I need them to confirm my interpretation of how he should feel and how it made sense.

6.  Obsession

There was also a really low moment in there.  Like, really, freakin’, low.  As in, I figured out the mysterious her.  And when I say “figured out” I mean I went through every length of internet stalking I could think of.  I’m so good at it, people should pay me.  We went to the same college.  We share a couple of friends.  She’s funny.  She works in advertising and marketing.  She’s a runner.  She has a gummy smile.  The list…it goes on.  You can bet I revisited the same pages over and over and over again, obsessing about why she should have left such an impression on this guy that I cared about, why their old relationship was ruining mine.

6. Anger at Him

This came on just a fast as it ended.  I think the outrage of my friends seeped into my own mind and I was so angry that he would contemplate giving up on us and giving in to something that wasn’t ever going to be.  There isn’t doubt that I won’t feel anger again, but it was short lived because I soon directed all my…

7. Anger at Her

Sure, this might not be the most logical thing, but I go back to what Francois told me about the relationship and it makes me steaming mad.  They were that on-again-off-again couple, and based on what very little I know (read: I’m a writer and I’ve crafted an entire relationship story from a few limited comments), I’ve concluded she was a terrible, no-good person who didn’t deserve Francois.  That’s a little harsh.  But you know, people you care about deserve better.  Also: sometimes I’m petty and I act like a 12-year-old.

8. Confusion

Rehashing every look, action, and word of this breakup sent me into confusion in the end.  Francois never called it a breakup, he just said he had to think about things.  I gave him so many easy outs in our conversations, and he never took them.  I even asked that whatever the answer was, that I just got a clearly defined one.  None of this casual conversation that fades into nothing because he’s trying to spare my feelings.  Please not that.  He agreed.

So here we are.  The stages aren’t complete. I don’t doubt that most people feel they can see this for what it is, but I’m still confused and waiting.  There’s also the responsibility that one needs to place on Francois, lest you think I’m ignoring that. But I gave myself permission to stop feeling embarrassed about my feelings – my hope – and I’m just riding the emotions for now, rather than forcing myself out of them.  It was a debate to share this with you, Spinster friends.  There’s always that fear of looking ridiculous, but I can’t be the only one who has experienced all of the above, and sometimes it’s good to put it out there because someone else might read it and have that sigh of relief that their own similar situation is… normal.

The Best Worst Honeymoon Ever

1282199049757270I don’t know when the epiphany came—whether during my third night of uncontrollable sobbing or the hundred year flood—but it was clear and true: Professor McGregor and I had the worst honeymoon ever. I would like to say it was all my fault, but no matter how hard I try, I’ve yet to control the weather or checked baggage or broken toilet seats. The sobbing, though, was definitely all me.

Darlings, there is a reason people fantasize about beach honeymoons. They’re easy! Hop on a plane, get picked up by a resort shuttle, then happily sip neon drinks under an umbrella for seven days. It’s a good recipe. Unless, of course, you’re the type who poo-poos this whole fancy umbrella thing in favor of exploration and the ever-present excitement of “Will there be bedbugs in this hotel room?” Spoiler alert: the professor and I are the latter type. Instead of a nice, relaxing trip to a warm beach, we went to Ireland. In the middle of winter. Without hats.

To be fair, Dublin was utterly lovely for the first week. The sun was shining. it softly rained a handful of times, and the people were doggedly friendly. Unfortunately, I spent that week 100% convinced that I would drop dead on the cobblestones at any moment. Omnipresent fear of your Untimely Doom does put a damper on romantic strolls, kittens. Our second day in Ireland, I was hit by these odd lightheaded spells, accompanied by nausea and fatigue. Then it happened again on the third day, then the fourth, and so on. Luckily, I had enough medical knowledge to know what was up: I was experiencing symptoms of DVT—thanks to use of birth control—and a blood clot was going to travel to my lungs, turn into a pulmonary embolism and kill me dead. There were no other possibilities. (She said in a fearful, crazed tone to her beloved at 3 AM.)

On one hand, my legs weren’t achy or swollen and there were zero chest pains, but on the other…THESE THINGS CAN BE ASYMPTOMATIC. I WAS DEFINITELY GOING TO DIE ON MY HONEYMOON AND LEAVE A GRIEF-STRICKEN PROFESSOR BEHIND ALL BY HIMSELF. HE WOULD THEN, HAUNTED BY MY MEMORY, TURN INTO A BITTER, ANGRY WIDOWER WHO KICKED BABY ARMADILLOS AND NEVER TRAVELED OR FELT JOY AGAIN AND IT WAS ALL MY FAULT FOR BEING AFRAID OF BABIES! *SOB* By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, and I’d been unable to sleep for three nights in a row for fear of my imminent corpsehood, Professor McG had the hotel find an open minor emergency clinic and shuttled me to a Dublin suburb to check things out. After all sorts of tests, I was pronounced completely fine, except for the prolonged lady dark times I’d also been experiencing. Exact prescription: “Rest and eat red meat. You’re probably vitamin-deficient from all the blood pouring from your uterus. Duh.”

images (1)By the time I felt better, it was our day to depart Dublin for the picturesque western coast. Galway, our destination, was famous for its seaside village shops and proximity to amazing natural wonders, like the Cliffs of Moher. We were going to experience real Ireland, by walking on bluffs and drinking tea in cutesy tea shops! It was going to be…awesome hit by a once-in-a-century winter storm! Yes, we arrived in Galway, just in time to be hit by Winter Storm Christine. Fun fact: when they name the weather system that’s about to hit you, the scenic cliffs turn into terrifying death traps. The cutesy tea shop I’d been stoked about? Flooded. The lovely seaside walk? Under water. The meandering stroll to city center from our hotel? Aided by 70 mph wind gusts and sideways hail. Adventures!

Even better, the “four star” hotel we were staying at made Motel 6 look posh. We arrived to a suspiciously stained comforter, broken-in-half toilet seat, and one of those king beds that is really just two twins, with a totally comfortable metal bar joining them together. Trip Advisor had let us down in a rather epic manner. Adventures!

Honestly, the list of travel disasters that hit us could be a mile long. Delta lost my baggage on the way back the States, Irish cashiers were utterly flummoxed by our chipless credit cards, and my umbrella was defenseless against winter storms. And yet…we had a blast.

shameless-honeymoon-movie-poster-9999-1010429406Through fear of my untimely demise and hurricane force breezes, Professor McGregor made me laugh and smile and fall in love with him all over again. He twice walked to the pharmacy to retrieve lady devices (tampons, yo), made sure I was always in reach of hot chocolate, and assured me over and over again that I had not ruined our honeymoon with my weird illness. And you know what? He was right. We had so much fun! It turns out that Irish food is really good, we both look fetching in wool hats, and getting away together was a much needed respite…even with all the crying. Plus, my beloved left with a new favorite whiskey and I with intimate knowledge of the Irish medical system.

So, perhaps I should revise: Professor McGregor and I had the best worst honeymoon ever. 


P.S. Thank you all so much for your good wishes and congratulations on my last post! The wedding went off without a hitch – lovely weather, lovely food, and lovely conversation. Just like we wanted.


The Apathetic Bride Weeps Over Mini-Quiche

001Last week, I had a meltdown. One minute I was calmly sitting in my office chair, returning e-mails, then the next I was sobbing like a fourteen year-old Taylor Swift fan—loudly, accompanied by flails.

This crying jag was, of course, brought on by pancakes. It’s totally normal to have a prolonged breakdown over fluffy breakfast foods, right? RIGHT? Fine, I concede. It was crazy and I lost my damned mind. There is only one thing to blame: the wedding.

My impending nuptials to Professor McGregor are making me have heart palpitations. It’s not that I’m worried about things going well, or stressed over what sort of quiche to serve, it’s that I don’t want to think about any of it. These aren’t Bridezilla moments, these are apathetic bridal nightmares. Sending the catering costs to my father made my want to jump off a tall bridge. Reading the word “tablescape,” as if it is a real, important thing to be concerned over—like the Sudan or whether or not to cut my own bangs—has me reaching for the hemlock. I want to get married, not plan an event.

And yet…apart from chucking the whole thing and eloping to Vegas, there’s no way to avoid it. People want to know what your colors are and how it’s all going and whether or not they can bring a plus one. Everyone wants to talk about our wedding, but it’s the last thing I want to dwell on. Because if I were honest with people, they’d be horrified. My bridal concerns, the things that keep me up at night and create untold numbers of tears, make me sound like an evil, ungrateful scalawag.

Naturally, I’m going to share them with you.

Wedding Things That Make Grace Cry: A List

  1. People RSVP-ing Yes –  Too many people love us. Throwing a wedding, and all that entails, has turned me into a person who actively wishes for people to dislike her. The more people who RSVP yes to this shindig, the more money we spend and the more people will be there to watch it go down. When we were initially drafting a guest list, I was super smug about my methodology, having a list of invitees and a running total of likely yeses. People, it turns out, are totally unpredictable. Maiden aunts we’d never considered attending have already bought plane tickets. Family friends are changing vacation plans around our wedding day. People are saying yes and are so excited about participating, but all I feel is nauseated, then guilty about feeling nauseated. If I post a bigoted political rant on Facebook, will my college friends bail out, at least?
  2. Having Events About Us – Part of getting married is being a rare and sparkling jewel. As a bride, you get not only a day of marriage, but wedding showers and bachelorette parties and lots of people wanting to hear about your plans. This makes me super uncomfortable. Professor McGregor and I fell in love and decided to spend our lives together, we didn’t cure cancer or hike across Antarctica in swimsuits. I didn’t do anything to deserve such attention! I wish there was a societal program, which allowed you to decide which major life events deserved epic parties. I’d choose first book deal and perfect macaron baking every time!
  3. The Cost of Mini-Quiche – Each mini-quiche produced costs $2. Apparently, those little egg pies are made not just of eggs and cheese,but gold passed through the digestive track of a rare Australian water ostrich. I never wanted to know this, darlings, but now I do. I also know the exact price of peppermint sticks, rented champagne flutes, and maple syrup. All of these numbers, swirling around my mind in a budgetary conga line, make me want to hurl. There is a reason I didn’t go into finance. Money stresses me out; spending vast quantities of it on one day stresses me out even more. As someone having a relatively modest & simple wedding, it boggles my mind what more mainstream brides must feel. Congress, won’t you do something about the inflation of mini-quiche?

If you need me, I’m just going to be over there in that corner, curled into a ball. Any wails you may hear are probably me, not actually a dying, rabid bat. I’m told this is totally normal behavior for a bride. When you’re planning The Happiest Day Of Your Life Ever, Including Major Career Milestones and Birth of Spawn, “happy” tears are natural.

– Grace

I Miss The City, Roach Friend

movingA funny thing happens, when you fall in love. You start spending as much time as possible together—cooking lovely meals, educating your beloved on Mean Girls because he’s somehow never seen it, and gazing happily into each other’s corneas. It’s delightful. It is also the first step on the path to that great relationship milestone: living together.

Professor McGregor and I, much to the scandal of his grandmothers, have reached this sinful destination. We are living together. Since his job is tied to being at a certain university, I made the move. Armed with boxes of books and novelty fabrics, I trekked the 90 miles up Interstate 35 and into Professor McGregor’s delightful 1950s bungalow. This also meant leaving the wonderful, eclectic city I grew up in for a blue collar crossroads town of about 80,000 people. Cue the cultural shellshock. I quite like our little town, but it has been a change.

Readers, I miss Persian food.

That may actually be an understatement. Readers, I would sell my soul and half of my pre-censorship Nancy Drew collection for some sour cherry rice and properly made flat bread. When the dear professor and I go out to eat, we have three options: Mexican food (because this is Texas, not the hinterlands), Italian food, or American food. That’s it! If it’s from an Eastern continent, forget about it. Only heathens would want to eat curry! Saffron is the spice of the very, very delicious devil!  I’m now one of those people who, when traveling, insists on eating things I can’t get at home. Upon visiting Kate last weekend, I even turned down my beloved Dallas street taco place, because surely there was something more exotic. Namely: German food, French sandwiches, and my weight in pastries.

That’s alright, though, really. The professor is a pretty wonderful cook and has promised to make foreign foods for me. At least, my new town has good grocery stores and other places to pick up things on a whim. Except, of course, anything that looks like an upscale beauty store. You know all that fancy makeup we’ve waxed poetic about on Spinsters? I have to order it online. Along with my shampoo and detangler and cardigans and pants and thread, because even the JoAnn Fabrics here is small and terrifying. I’m pretty sure it’s staffed by quilted gargoyles, not humans. When I asked for Swedish tracing paper last week, one of them growled at me. The days of fashion emergencies—”This outfit will only work with a ribbon-trimmed puce skirt!”—are gone. If Target or Loft doesn’t have it, I’m out of luck.

You know what we do have, instead? Giant effing roaches, like the one that just now crawled in our house from the back porch, when I opened the sliding door. Sure, the city has roaches, but they aren’t allowed to get chihuahua sized! I swear to God this one is five inches long and wearing fingers. As I am sitting here, boarded into my office, it’s out there in the living room waiting for me. It’s because I bought that bug throw pillow, isn’t it? The roach is punishing me for cultural misappropriation.

If Professor McGregor doesn’t get home soon, I’m either going to die of thirst or brave the walk to the kitchen, be surprised by the mutant roach, scream, and have it fly into my mouth. Upon whence, I will die of a terror-induced heart attack. This is life away from the big city.

This is love.

– Grace

Where Have All the Love Letters Gone?


My workplace is limiting my email storage so I’ve been forced to look at emails I wrote back in the day.  It’s fun to see how unprofessional I was when I was a wee little Kate, making my foray into the business world.  Like the time I used 17 exclamation points in one message.  That was really cool.  I’m sure the Vice President who got my three-paragraph thank you email about lunch thought that was really cute.  But I digress. It was during this clean-up that I came across a rather large group of emails from my last official boyfriend in ::coughcough2007coughcough::. It would have been weird to go through them, re-read them, re-live my mindset from back then, so I quickly glanced at a couple then did a mass delete and it felt good.  But! I was reminded of something missing in my life and the lives of others.

Where have all the cowboys love letters gone? [It adds a little something if you sing it to the tune of that Paula Cole song.  Is it stuck in your head now?  You’re welcome.]

We live in an age where the love letter has been replaced with the email or the text message.  While some could use this as a platform to lament the use of the email or the text message, I will not.  You see, I actually like them quite a bit.  As opposed to a letter, they’re something you can get unexpectedly, any time of the day.*  That text message I got after a grueling meeting, the one from a date telling me he looks forward to seeing me tonight?  Yah, I’ll never object to it.

However, it’s the sheer volume of text messages and emails, and the obvious ease of sending them, which makes the love letter special, coveted, and missed.  It says something when your significant other takes the time to pull out the nice paper, a pen, and spend the time to come up with the perfect way to describe your golden locks or the way he goes all mushy when you tilt your head just so.  Or maybe he’s just letting you know how much he enjoyed the road trip to that one vineyard, and how he got to spend so much time with you.  I tear up just thinking about it!  Really.

Further, love letters provide the perfect opportunity for you to use your lover’s full name in a way that’s really sexy.  In romance novels, the heroine always notices when the hero uses her first name for the first time.  I don’t know about you, but seeing My Dearest Katharine** on the page would definitely make my lady parts quiver a little bit more than seeing plan ol’ Kate.  And that’s just the first few words!

Love letters are an acceptable place to describe that weird quirk about your lover that you never knew how to say in person.  Or maybe shouldn’t say.  Like the fact that in the mornings you like watching his nostrils flare while he’s still sleeping.  You think it’s cute.  But maybe that conversation is one that doesn’t go as smoothly in person.  The love letter, instead, lets you express these things and you get to avoid seeing the weird look on his face. But know that the weird look will probably turn into a blush and he’ll take a certain pride knowing his nostrils give you so much pleasure.

Love letters have an enduring and tangible aspect that just isn’t with an email or a text.  No digging through filed emails or trying to remember that sweet text message from five years ago.  The letters are there, in your hands, always available, and looking more loved and cherished over time.  Someday, your kids might even think they’d be great scrapbook material!

The road goes both ways on this one.  Men enjoy getting letters just as much as women.  Dare I say they even enjoy the well-thought letter even more than many women do?

How many of you get handwritten love letters on a regular basis?  Do tell!


*But to that guy, who texted me at 11:30 P.M., telling me he only wanted me to sit next to him in bed and talk and “nothing more.”  Yah, you didn’t fool me.  Less than subtle and highly offensive.
**But while we’re on this topic, a note of caution; the love letter is not the place to test out that new “pumpkin cheeks” name you thought of when you saw your loved one bending over in the supermarket aisle to reach for that can of green beans.

The Hickey: A Plague! A Mythical Love Plague!

Iil_570xN.392181666_nxoln eighth grade, I knew a lot about kissing.

I hadn’t actually done a lot of kissing, mind you, but I’d heard expert advice on such matters. (Note: For a thirteen year-old Grace, those experts were Dawson’s Creek, the classic movie channels, and Ashley Lindsey from my US History class who made out with her boyfriend in the canyon behind school every afternoon.) In my mind, there were three absolute rules of kisses:

  1. The greatest one of all time had already happened, thanks to Wesley and Buttercup, so the pressure was off.
  2. Boys tasted like Doritos and rubber orthodontia bands.
  3. If you really made out with someone, you’d have to wear a turtleneck the next day.

Two of these things ended up being true. The third, however, was a load of hippopotamus vomit. Do you know how bloody impossible it is to give someone a hickey, kittens? In order to make that perfectly crimson blemish, a delicate balance of sucking and biting must occur. All of this must happen while making noises of make out delight and balancing atop your prey partner. So: biting, sucking, and balancing. These things do not go together seamlessly, unless you are a world-renowned lollipop gymnast. You’re not. You will bite too hard, or suck with too much effort. Unless your kissing partner is a masochist, such attempts shall result in high-pitched squeals of pain, not a hickey.

How did this become our visual shorthand for passionate encounters? Give me tousled hair! Give me beard burn! Instead, we’re left with rare painful welts. Kissing shouldn’t have so much in common with Ebola, friends. What’s next? Using Black Death-esque buboes as code for “We’re pregnant!”? Nothing says bundle-of-joy like massively swollen lymph glands!

What’s more, if my kissing partner ever actually marked me in such a way, I’d be enraged. Deigning to make out with someone does not make you theirs to mark! If you want to tell the world you like me, buy some damned flowers. Roses speak of affection more efficiently than scabs. If Professor McGregor broke skin during our canoodling, I’d have grave concerns about his mortality. Have you encountered anyone who sparkles lately, love? Is your skin turning to ash in the sun?

We brand cattle, not romantic partners. If you’ve practiced giving hickeys enough to actually be able to pull them off, please put your free time to better use. You’d, no doubt, be good at imitating a blowfish. Perhaps join a circus as The Human Sea Porcupine? Whatever you do, don’t hickey any more unsuspecting souls. That’s how these ridiculous tropes get started. Now, if you’d share what you’ve learned here today with Those Construction Workers Who Whistle at Women Pedestrians, it would save me ever so much time.

So, am I the only one who’s never displayed this ultimate sign of passion? Tell me true, love hamsters. Hickeys: fact or fiction?

– Grace

Ask A Spinster: Beware the Affair

Once again, it’s time for Ask A Spinster!, the long beloved post series in which Grace answers all your questions. today’s question is especially interesting, but controversial.Neither bottles nor insults should be slung, whilst we discuss in the comments.

Dear Spinsters,
I have a thing for married men / men in relationships and cannot seem to settle for a real relationship. Can I just do my thing and date these guys or should morality prevail and I should steer clear from them?
Yours truly,

mailgirlMy dear Mademoiselle C,

What a brave question! Most people will have an automatic response to your inquiry. You’ve probably encountered this already: rotten tomatoes launched, heads shook in horror, and defenses for the sisterhood of women made. When it comes to affairs, modern ethics are black-and-white.

The short answer, which matches mine, is: steer clear from the attached men. My reasoning, however, is complicated.

I find that society can be all too quick to blame “the other woman” in these situations, rather than the person who actually took a vow of commitment. We cast women as opportunistic harlots preying on the weak wills of poor, tempted menfolk. This is ridiculously unfair. If you’ve made a promise to someone, don’t act like an asshole and give in to sexual longings! Men are not animals. We cannot blame every sin on their penises, then make negative character assumptions about the women involved.

If a married man makes an advance towards you, do I think you’re automatically a harlot for accepting it? Of course, not. This isn’t always a straight-forward situation, from any side, so we need approach the larger questions for you. What worries me is the health, emotionally and physically, of such a relationship. What is your end goal here? Do you want one of these affairs to turn into a real relationship?

If the answer is yes, then I caution you. The covenant of commitment is important. When we enter a monogamous relationship with someone, we expect it to stay monogamous. We’re more vulnerable, both sexually and mentally, because of that implicit exchange of trust. Anyone who can throw away such trust so easily once, can surely do it again. If you want a solid relationship, then starting with a broken promise is a bad way to get there. Even if he turns out completely committed to you, how will you ever know?

Additionally, if a committed relationship comes out of an affair, will your conscience be able to reconcile your happiness with being complicit in the hurt of another person? While there are some marriages in which affairs don’t cause harm, because of emotional or relational circumstances, most spouses expect—rightfully—fidelity from their partners. The realization that a spouse is cheating is, for most people, world shattering. It’s hard to shatter worlds, even when love is involved, and not feel guilt. It’s human nature, thank heavens. Living with such guilt, the kind that stays and festers, is no easy feat.

If you don’t expect these relationships to go anywhere, then my concerns are graver still. There are less emotionally destructive ways to have casual relationships. Affairs, from all sides, are messy. If a spouse or girlfriend discovers the affair, what will she do? Most women are sane, coping through a nice bout of chunking shit out windows and impressive streaks of cussing, but there are the Lifetime movie girls. Having affairs really increases the chance that someone will plot your demise. Meanwhile, a nice friends-with-benefits tryst usually ends in awkward small talk at a grocery store. Grace’s Rule for Life #42:Try to avoid encouraging other people to plot your demise. 

Why risk becoming fodder for Nancy Grace, if you don’t have to? I’ve done the pro/con and it never looks rosy for the side of affairs. They may be more exciting, but you can always go cliff diving instead. Some people find their true love, because of an affair—take Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, for example—but more end in tears or cyanide. Even Tracy and Hepburn had issues—despite over two decades of love, Hepburn didn’t feel right attending his funeral, out of respect for his wife. If even she had heartbreaking complications, surely us mere mortals will? Real relationships may not fare any better, but at least they have a fighting chance.

Good luck, my dear, whatever you choose.

With love and pie,

Grace, Giver of Advice

If you have questions you’d like answered by your friendly local spinster, leave them in the comments or e-mail them to us!

Men of the Produce Aisle

noted_shoppingmen_headerAlternately titled: Shopping for Men at the Grocery Store

Two years ago the husband of a best friend suggested I look for dates at the grocery store.  “This,” he proclaimed, “Is where you will find a man!”  He directed me to our local specialty grocer after declaring that it was not acceptable to date men who regularly shop at the organic grocer (“Granola-eating pretentious pricks. Don’t go there.  Well, only if you shop in the pre-made section. Even then, tread with caution.”).  And he forbade I even think about Walmart.  It’s been our little joke and we’ve been making veiled references to falafel balls and jumbo dill pickles.

This has caused my Kate mind to get a churnin’.  What would be the strategy for finding a man in such a way?  What does it say about the guy if he’s buying gummy worms in the bulk aisle?  Or scones in the bakery?

Thus, I offer to you my sage insight (read: random natterings) into manly grocery habits, and how you, too (!), can turn a run-of-the-mill dash into the store for toilet paper into a burgeoning romance. (We fell in love while I had indigestion!)

Establishment of a Schedule

It is not enough that you should visit the grocery store, but you must do so at predetermined, regular times.  I like to consult my horoscope to find the most auspicious hour, but if 6:15 after work and pre-workout is best for you…  There’s a reason for a schedule.  One must allow oneself to stake out an aisle and scope out the options.  Avoid gold and silver bands on the left hand.  Carefully weed out the men with curry and Pepto-Bismol in the basket.  Stalk the men with Nutella and crescent rolls.  Once you’ve latched onto this rare connoisseur you may begin the elaborate mating dance of grains and spreads.  And if 7:23 P.M. isn’t yielding any promising results, you switch your schedule an begin anew.


If he’s purchasing eggs and milk, this is a clear signal of pending french toast breakfasts in bed.  Worthy!  Any penchant for chocolate milk must be heeded with caution. Does he have childhood issues of which he’s still working out?  Is he a mama’s boy?  Is he fueling for a marathon? Does he have the kids for the weekend? And if he’s buying chocolate Hagen Daz, he has a girlfriend or a pregnant wife.  Stay far, far away.

The Beer and Wine Aisle(s)

Don’t hang out here on a regular schedule.  Instead of chatting up the men they might start delivering flyers for the local AA meeting.  Or they might ask if they can join you.  Even if the man isn’t an alcoholic, you’ve likely stumbled across the local college men.  If you’re into the puma scene, have at it.

The Cheese Section

If he’s perusing the cheese curds, you’ve found a Minnesotan.  If he’s buying parmesan he’s a boring dud.  Gruyere indicates an appreciation for French cooking.  If he’s checking out the Gorgonzola he knows a long finish and is promising for a roll in the hay.

Bulk Dry Goods

Frugal.  Possibly cheap.  Proceed with caution.  This is either the guy who can renovate your kitchen for a mere $9,000 or he’s the guy who will take you on a romantic picnic dinner of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Gatorade.  Then, mid-dinner, he’ll pull a rifle out of his truck causing you to panic, knowing this is your end.  A buttered biscuit and a chicken leg would be your last earthly meal.  Surely your body will be dumped in the field and your face will be the one splashed across Nancy Grace headlines.  But wait!  He only wants to teach  you how to shoot a gun.  You’ll then spend the rest of your night trying to hit the Gatorade bottles he insists on chucking across the field for target practice.  This may or may not have been a young Kate’s first picnic experience.  I’m just telling you to watch out for these ones.

The Produce Aisle

The man who delicately fondles the peaches is a desirable mate.  Stay away from the dude who is attracted to the cucumbers.

The Olive Bar

This is the cultured man.  The holy grail of grocery store mates.  How many men do you know who can speak intelligently to olive varietals?  This implies of a man with off-the-beaten-track interests, but not so off-the-track that you’re forced to follow him with a machete and bug spray.  He could probably still hang with a Miller in hand while playing kickball.  A suggested pick-up line might be, “Olive your taste in Oleaceae.  Care to make peace over a cup of coffee at the cafe?”  Witty and alliterative.

Shopping for men doesn’t come without its share of spoiled goods.  Nothing is more disheartening than finding your perfect man sneaking down the feminine hygiene aisle, tossing tampons into his cart as he tosses your heart out the window.

Have patience, spinster grasshoppers.  There’s always the chance that special someone will show up with his green plastic and wire chariot cart as you’re checking out the specialty balsamic and be so taken by your superior taste that he’ll offer to cook an Italian dinner for you.  He might even insist upon massaging your feet, calluses and all.

And to that I can only say… clean up on aisle 5!

Commentary and further analysis welcome.  After all, I haven’t even touched upon the man who buys salmon versus the man buying tilapia.  Or guy buying hot apple pie in the bakery section.

Special thanks to my friend Adminderella for her collaboration on this one!


She’s Just Desperate (for Something Normal)

gil-005bKittens, have you heard about Prunella? She’s signed up for one of those online dating sites. Clutch your pearls!  It’s so unseemly, admitting that you’d like to find someone to love and share your life with. Women should get married, of course, but they shouldn’t admit that they want a romantic partner. That’s how you scare the men off! Everyone knows that. Men are attracted to the unattainable, not the open and friendly. What Prunella should do, obviously, is wait for some nice man to decide he wants to settle down, then pose outside his door in a short dress, with a basket of bread she baked and a three-legged puppy she’s nursed back to health, hoping he’ll notice her. She should not approach or—Mary Tyler Moore forbid!—talk to him. Just smile and wait. A true woman never looks desperate.

Pardon me for a moment, lieblings. I have to go beat society senseless with a potted plant. I shall smite your ignorance with a ficus!

Alright, I feel mildly better, if still excessively annoyed. Have you ever noticed that the only thing worse than being a single woman is being a desperate single woman? In men, a desire for a relationship is called “settling down,” but in women it’s sad desperation. As soon as a single woman admits to wanting love, people pull out the pitying looks and sharpen their old maid lampoons. You shouldn’t be single, society insists, but if you do find yourself in that “unfortunate” state, pretend to be outrageously happy about it. Remember how sad Jennifer Aniston looked for all those years, dating man after man trying to find a loving relationship? You don’t want to be like her, do you? She’s only gorgeous and successful and widely beloved.

Look, sometimes people are single. For many women, it’s a conscious choice that they’re happy about, but for others it’s not something they want. That’s totally okay, y’all. Why shouldn’t Prunella want to find a loving, committed relationship? Being in love is lovely! Meeting Professor McGregor was one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, personally. Not only do I have someone snuggle up to at night, but also someone to watch all the Star Trek movies with and send lewd greeting cards to. That’s fucking awesome. And if such a thing sounds similarly awesome to you, say so!

It’s not pitiful to want love. It’s not embarrassing to admit you want to eventually get married. Should it be everything you want from life and the thing that drives your every thought? Uh, no. But obsessive thoughts about anything are detrimental, be they regarding romance or flamingos.  We seem to think that a woman who actively seeks a relationship is sad, sitting at home eating ice cream and reading Jane Austen. That’s ludicrous. Not only are Persuasion ice cream nights awesome, but such stereotypes are hurting us all. Everyone wants things in life that they don’t yet have. I’m not a bestselling author yet, but it doesn’t make me a tragic figure. It makes me someone who knows herself and her goals.

If you want to find love, why not shout it to the world? Or, at least, feel comfortable enough to admit it to your family and friends? In a society that so values coupling up, it seems odd to insist that a single woman has to be happy with her state. If she is, that’s wonderful, but if she isn’t, we shouldn’t cast judgment. We applaud people who actively pursue other goals, so why not this one? It’s not that I think a man completes you or that you should throw yourself at all available specimens, but only that emotional honesty is good for us all.

I’m desperate for a trip to Paris and a giant book contract. If you’re desperate for a life partner and a pilot’s license, that’s wonderful. Good luck to us both!

– Grace