In the Playoff Games of Love, I’m totally Billy Cundiff

It was a 32 yard field goal for love and I missed.

Sometimes, I feel like an a-hole. Like a few weeks ago on that first date. Enter seasonal sports analogy: Team Kathleen was in the playoff game for love and I was the team’s equivalent of Billy Cundiff. That’s right, I was the kicker who only had 32 yards to a game-winning field goal but MISSED. Yea, this was the date that was going to put me in the SuperLoveBowl and I had just kicked wide and had to go home without getting to play for the “championship” ring.

There’s nothing more disappointing than sitting across from someone you think could be “it” and feeling like you’re just not on your A-game. It turns into an almost outer-body experience where you get to watch yourself plummet faster and faster, but can’t seem to come to your own rescue.  My heart kept bouncing back and forth between my stomach and my throat – had it been only a flutter, I might have been able to get it under control and build myself a life raft. Instead, I found myself head under water, drowning in flatly-told stories and saying “all-the-wrong-things.”

Somewhere between the sandwich and the dessert menu, I sighed with the thought that “this just isn’t going to amount to anything.”

The walk to my next destination might as well have been a walk along the green mile.

The farewell walk might as well have been a walk along the green mile. He had been thoughtful enough to accompany me to my next destination, but I almost wished he had shown less chivalry. Mediocrity is exhausting, and I was plum worn out from three hours being a mediocre date.  I needed to walk briskly, add a few extra blocks to my trek and let the winter air numb an already aching heart.

The good-bye was awkward enough that, if I tried really hard, I could find a glimmer of hope that not all was lost. But I knew better. As I made my way home later that evening, I resigned to what would become the reality – he would evaporate as quickly as he had appeared.

Love really is a game. Luckily, I’ve been an athlete my whole life, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned on the sports field that’s also applicable to the quest for love it’s this: there’s always another season to be played, which means there’s always another chance for victory… that is, as long as you’re not too quick to throw in the towel.

When You’re Having a Bad Dating Week Just Don’t Read “He’s Just Not that into You”

Jack Berger was my favorite S&TC boyfriend... even if he was insecure and emotionally handicapped

I’ll never forget the first time I saw that episode of Sex & the City where Jack Berger (incidentally, my favorite of Carrie’s emotionally inadequate boyfriends) bursts Miranda’s bubble with the simple phrase “He’s just not that into you.” The scene struck a chord as I had recently tired to tell a good girlfriend exactly the same thing:

“Listen, Jess, he took the evil red-headed stick figure actress to his office party. And the book signing. And dinner. He’s not dating you. He just d0esn’t, ya know, like you.”

Albeit, my phrasing was perhaps a big meaner. But frankly, we had consumed so many bottles of sake that she didn’t pay much attention to my solo shake-up in a chorus of “He’s totally waiting for the right moment to tell you he loves you.”

Gag me with a spoon.

Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy claims: A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.” I’ve never been one of those girls. But that doesn’t mean that once in a rare, rare while, I haven’t found myself face-to-face with a man who ignites daydreams of the possible. Once in a rare, rare while, this pragmatic romantic loses the pragmatic and becomes a full-fledged romantic.

I think the post-it notes say it all...

And it was one of these rare, rare moments that sent me running to the book that came out of that Sex & the City episode, that book “He’s Just Not That Into You.” I had bought it to give to my aforementioned friend. I kept it instead. She clearly had no intentions to read it anyway.

The writers confirmed my intuitions — his lack of follow-up to our enjoyable early dates were sign that he wasn’t interested enough. The reasons were irrelevant, all that mattered was he didn’t like me as much as I had liked him. Ouch.

The book may have been right on some points, but it was wrong to tell me not to chase a little. Years later, when he was on to someone else, he confessed:

“I didn’t think you were that interested. If you had called, I absolutely would have seen you again.”

Some women are barracudas -- flashy fighters worthy of a trophy mount

New York is a man’s world when it comes to dating — this was a conclusion a male friend and I came to not so long ago over coffee. In NYC, an accomplished man with taste and half-way decent looks is the fisherman that doesn’t have to drop a line into the water to catch a fish. The fish just jump into the boat.

In a sea full of well-educated, well-dressed, good-looking fish, a man has options. Some of those women are barracuda — flashy fighters worthy of a wall mount. Which means sometimes, if you don’t want to lose out on a happily ever after, you have to get in the game and hop into that boat.

Women Can Have a Graduate Degree or Love, but Not Both?

Back at the end of December, the New York Times ran an article on women and post-graduate education. The piece, written by Catherine Rampell and entitled “Instead of Work, Younger Women Head to School,” offered me no new news — effectively, all of my female friends have gone on to receive/pursue Masters, Doctorates, or their equivalents within the 5 years since we graduated college, while only two of my male friends has decided to return to school for an advanced degree outside of the medical variety.

My MA degree represents more than more schooling -- it represents cultivated interests.

The article presented some interesting statistics but some pretty traditional explanations for the reasons why, in this particular economic climate, women might be more inclined to return to school than men.

Moments after skimming the piece, I got an email from Columbia’s Art History Department announcing a post-doc program at Duke. The following line was bolded in red:

Particular focus is on fields in which women and minorities are under-represented.

In all the studies Ms. Rampell cited, she forgot to look at the number of scholarships/grants set aside specifically to serve women who choose to pursue education beyond the college level.

I’m not going to find the numbers for you. You’re a grown up. You can google. I have bigger fish to fry…

The day after the article ran, I got an email from a friend pointing me to a Gwaker response:

“Women be schooling! [Pause for laughter.]…Which, ironically, only isolates them further from the majority of men in the dating pool, leaving them to fight over the relatively scarce (and concomitantly self-entitled) educated men of their age.”

I wish Mr. Gwaker was wrong, but here’s thing:

A graduate degree represents more than a few more years of schooling. It represents cultivated interests and a self-awareness of what things, beyond shelter, food and an income, are really important to you.

Once upon a time, I may have been happy with a Hendrix-loving sporty type, but now, I need someone who enjoys spending afternoons here too.

Mr. Gwaker, like the woman who told me “you’ll never find a husband, half the men aren’t good enough for you, the other half will think you’re too good for them,” you’re tragically onto something.

When I graduated from college, I would have been content saying “I do” to a sporty Wall Street type with a dog and a predilection for striped shirts and Jimi Hendrix. An MA, PhD application, and several curating attempts later, I realize he also needs to enjoy museum-going and have the “intellectual bandwidth” to discuss the merits of Braque vs. Picasso over coffee shortly there after.

The dating pool is a lot smaller for me than it was a few years ago.

So yes, splashing around in the dating pool is harder for me now than it was 4  years ago. It’s a tall order to ask for a literary, sporty, artsy, humorous, dog-loving outdoorsman with good taste in music, a joy for cooking, a sophisticated sense of style and a stable career… who likes you back.

But I’m reasonably optimistic… mostly, because I know that if all else fails, I’ve at least got my glorious gaggle of fellow over-educated females who’ll join me at MoMA for the Diego Rivera murals.

Take that, Mr. Gawker.

I’m Sorry, Friend, I love You, But I Don’t Care About Your Boyfriend

I have an aversion to telephones, just like I have an aversion to another story about your boyfriend.

I have an strong aversion to telephones. It might even be classified as a phobia. Someone asks me to make a phone call, and I start to have a panic attack. I’ve learned to control it to a degree over the years, but still, it’s something of a handicap.

I blame Erin for my problem. When we were 12, she used to call me every day after dinner to talk about Dan — the boy she was “dating.” We were 12. It was the conservative 1990s. We listened to the Backstreet Boys and wore our hair in braided pigtails. We really had nothing to talk about when it came to relationships, but somehow she found a way to spend 2 hours a day gushing over how cute his hair was, or how he waited for her at her locker, or how jealous Libby was.

The novelty of a friend with a boyfriend wore off. I quickly stopped giving a sh*t.

There’s a great scene in an episode of Sex & the City when Miranda, in a fit of frustration, scolds her gal pals — we’re 4 smart women with careers and lives, she says (I’m paraphrasing, here), why is it that all we talk about is men? Surely, there’s more to us than that!?!

Crushes, first dates, budding romances, heart aches, and their aftermath are all things our friends help us navigate through. When it comes to matters related to love, we seek the approval, advice, and empathy of our friends, hoping they’ll knock the sense into us or share our joy — whatever the situation requires.

sometimes we have to remember, our girlfriends are there because they love us, not because they love our boyfriends.

But even when friends are willing listeners, it’s important to remember, your friends are friends with you because you’ve got more going on in your life than your boyfriend.

Eventually, the novelty of your relationship wears off. For your friends far sooner than it does for you.

Not every conversation is a door opener to another reason why you and your boyfriend are so cute. Puppies are cute. Once that guy is your boyfriend, he’s not cute. He’s someone else we’re competing with for your time. So when you’re with your friends, we want you with us. We’re not an alternative to his company. For better or for worst, we were there first. It’s you we’re interested in, honey, not your boyfriend.

Odds that the Next Guy I date Will…

Have a tattooed sleeve: 1 in 2

David, did you borrow my lace top again? Oh wait, those are your tats!

From the chef with the butcher’s map of a pig tattooed from this wrist to elbow to the Frye Boots specialist with the Man Ray photograph etched into his left forearm, it seems every man I share a drink or afternoon with is a painted gentleman.

According to a survey published by the Pew Research Center in 2008, 4 in 10 Millennials (the young adults of the early 2000’s) sport tattoos. Within this group, more men have tattoos than women.

Sometimes, I find the tattooed sleeve disarming — what’s he doing wearing my Zara lace top? But on the whole, I don’t mind it. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve always found a lil ink to be very sexy.

Live with his mother: 1 in 4

The most recent census revealed that nearly 6 million Americans between the ages of 25 and 34 lived at their parents’ homes last year. I was one of them. But on the whole, young men are nearly twice as likely as women to live with their parents. Of the last 5 guys I’ve met in this age group, 3 have lived with their parents.

These days, if he lives with his mother, it's not a strike against... it all depends on when he decides to tell you

Statistics and personal experience show, if I’m dating in my age group, a romantic night in, cooking dinner for him at his place, might entail cooking dinner for his mother (and father? and sister?).

So, in 2011, is it a strike against if a guy lives with his parents? I guess it all depends on a number of factors. But in this day and age, if all other signs of adulthood are neatly intact, it’s hard to call him anything but sensible.

Have traveled outside the US: 1 in 3

For the 2008/9 academic year, 260,327 students studied abroad, according to the Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange. With NYU as the leading sending school in the US, this means odds are pretty good that a Manhattanite has traveled and even spent a significant time outside his homeland.

Only 30% of Americans have a passport, but odds that my next date will have traveled abroad are still pretty good.

But what about non-NYC educated folks? Or what about the possibility of meeting someone who’s seen the world without the help of academic programs? The numbers suggest my next date will have at least a willingness to journey in a foreign land.

Of the 308 million-plus citizens in the United States, 30% have passports. Owning a passport, of course, doesn’t guarantee that it’s been put to use. CNN posted some interesting stats: There were 61.5 million trips outside the United States in 2009 and about 50% of those trips were to either Mexico or Canada.

And yes, Canada is a foreign country, eh.

Have a graduate degree: 1 in 9

On eharmony, you can limit your dating pool according to education. If it’s a priority that your mate have at least as many degrees as you, then check a box, and the logarithm will take care of the rest.

As of 2003, approximately 25% of all Americans could boast a bachelor’s degree or higher. In a region like the North East, odds of landing a date who’s graduated from college is probably closer to 1 in 2. But a graduate degree? Well that gets tougher.

Only 9% of Americans have a masters degree, but New York is not America.

Only 9% of Americans can say they have an MA or MS or MBA. But again, New York isn’t America. New York City has the most post-graduate life sciences degrees awarded annually in the United States while Columbia University alone currently has approximately 17,833 students enrolled in various graduate programs.

Looking at these regional statistics, along with the contemporary reality that an increasing number of people are turning to graduate school as an alternative to a sucky job market, it seems the odds of finding a guy with “at least my level of education” would be in my favor… eventually.

There's nothing classy about a Red Sox fan.

Be a Red Sox Fan: 0

The Red Sox nation has a surprisingly strong representation in New York. It’s uncomfortable, and I won’t deny, I have a terrible habit of falling for fans of my team’s arch-nemesis.

But the chances I’ll actually allow myself to date one? Not a shot in hell.

They Warned Me I’d Find Love, the Summer 2011 Edition

The mating rituals of Banana Slugs give new meaning to the term "cock-blocking"

The Ariolimax columbianus, more commonly known as the Banana Slug, is ubiquitous in the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. The Banana Slug is a hermaphrodite. When mating time rolls around, Banana Slugs engage in an act called “penis jousting.” Somehow, the slugs fight until one slug’s penis gets knocked off. The winner gets to be “the man.” The loser has to carry the eggs.

“Banana Slug mating rituals sound a lot like a Friday night in a Manhattan bar,” I told my guide as we sloshed through the green squishy stuff that covers the floor of the rainforest on Meares Island, a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Cock-blocking had suddenly taken on a new, more serious meaning.

My guide chuckled and, lost in the mental comparison I was drawing between slug life on Vancouver Island and the NYC dating scene, I slipped on a cedar plank.

Whoosh, slap, squish, thud <– Those are the sounds an eco-tourist makes as she falls in the forest.

There's a lot of green squooshy stuff in the rainforest. Where's my mountain man to help me up when I fall?

Down the trail, a fiance hoisted his fallen fiancee back to her feet —  another victim of the squooshy green stuff — while I flopped around, clumsily trying to make it onto all fours without eating anymore lichen in the process.

Where was my mountain man in shining plaid when I needed him?

A few days earlier, I arrived in the great Canadian City of Vancouver ready for 10 days in the woods, away from work, domestic duties, and dating in the city. Or so I thought.

As soon as my rental car drove across Vancouver’s city limits, my phone started beeping relentlessly. The little blue light that illuminates whenever I have an OkCupid message was flashing like a lighthouse beacon in a hurricane. When they warned me I’d find love on this Canadian adventure, they weren’t kidding.

Hello, Mr. Vancouver. I knew I had a lot to look forward to on this vacation...

Warning! New matches ahead! Warning! New messages!

I opened the alerts icon in disbelief. I had been in Vancouver not more than 30 minutes, and already my inbox was overflowing.  There were notable similarities between the Vancouver men and the Brooklyn men OKCupid frequently found for me (why are they always in Brooklyn?!) — beards and plaid, in all their incarnations, were the standard uniform and a commitment to “sustainable living” was high on lists of interest. That’s where the similarities ended.

Good-bye hipster. Hello mountain man.

Good-bye bike-riding, semi-unemployed, struggling artist. Hello banker-turned-kayak-instructor who plays in two hockey leagues, sails on weekend and skis in the winter.

I knew I had a lot to look forward to on this vacation. And apparently, it wasn’t just the sea-kayaking.