Never Trust the Zodiac When You Want to Fall in Love

In my teen years, every crush was measured against the horoscope. I believed that the alignment of the planets dictated my soulmate and was quick to consult the stars. But when every so-called perfectly-paired Virgo, Taurus, and Scorpio I fell for in high school proved duds, I retired my astrology chart.

Then this past April I met Zev, a sensual Scorpio with a scorpion tattooed on his neck and his zodiac symbol stamped on his forearm, and I became 13 again.

“You know, Cancers and Scorpios are a perfect match,” he said as he took a long sip from his scotch and soda.

Cancers and Scorpios make love like it's an Olympic sport. Maybe, I'd make it to London afterall.

I rolled my eyes. He persisted and pulled out his smartphone to show off a website that proved his point.

“The Cancer-Scorpio match is a match made in heaven” it read. “The the two of you could literally see fireworks.”

He leaned over and pointed to the screen with a wink: “the two of you will make love like it’s an Olympic sport.”

I admit, I was intrigued and agreed to dinner a week later.

Dinner was where things with Zev ended.

So much for “this passionate connection can develop into the perfect marriage.” As I adjusted my skirt and stomped off into the pouring rain, I promised I would never trust the Zodiac again.

When the next boy came around and our connection was as deep as it was instantaneous, I couldn’t help but wonder: is this written in the stars?

Enter the “daily horoscope” app for my smartphone.

Water-sign + water-sign = deluge

Apparently, two crabby Cancers make a terrible match. Water-sign + water-sign = deluge. Forget bad romance. Think a Chernobyl romance, overwrought with “I feel…” and moon-phase-induced emotional mood-swing nuclear spills.

“You run the risk of mirroring each others weaknesses…A marriage would be work for this pair” — that’s the way the astrology site phrased it — a euphemistic way to say, you’ll need more than a pre-nup going into this, you’ll need an excellent lawyer, or hell, an army of lawyers…and a box of tissues…and a therapist.

Bummer.

I shrugged and considered the unfavorable forecast. True, we had quickly committed to sharing our feelings about, not only each other, but everything — from the challenges of our respective workplaces to our inner-deepest reflections on love.

This type of display was totally out of character for me. I refused to believe that our instant connection wasn’t endorsed by the celestial bodies.

I googled “astrological compatibility,” and read until I found a glimmer of hope to cling to. 4 result pages in, I found it: “On the whole, this is quite a good match…and the sexual chemistry with be high!”

Phew!

I bookmarked that astrology page and decided it would be the only one I’d consult…at least, until the deluge.

Insert Groom Here

“Married women don’t get enough credit,” my mother said one afternoon a few weeks back. “Marriage is all about being able to deal with assholes.”

I don’t know what my father had done that day, but clearly, it wasn’t good.

With my great-grandmother's wedding ring in hand, I suddenly felt the weight of the generations.

My mother’s wisdom is always appreciated, but that day’s insight may not have been what I should have heard the night my cousin Julie arrived from Canada with my Great-Grandmother’s wedding ring.

Julie passed the generations-old, Irish-made gold band on to me in an understated ceremony in my kitchen, over a beer. I think the theme from Riverdance was playing from the Bose in the background, then again, my memory could just be over-romanticizing the significance of the scene and the transcendence of my Celtic heritage.

“I don’t doubt you’ll put it to good use,” she said as I slipped the ring out of the silk sack and onto my finger.

Mistake. I was stuck with it as we headed out the door. Cute waiters were no longer fair game – I was, for the night, a taken female.

Starring down at the ring through dinner, watching my finger change colors from peach to blue, I grew strangely sentimental and slightly anxious. Few things have been passed successfully through the generations in my family – a blue vase and a fetish for hats – and to have my great-grandmother’s wedding ring bestowed on me was to have an unexpected amount of pressure on my shoulders.

I guess I was going to have to get married after all.

Another Blue Moon and a bar of soap when I got home made removing the ring somewhat less painful than I had anticipated.

A week later, my friend Julia posted on my Facebook wall: “I had a dream you were engaged!” And then last week a woman stopped me at the cross walk for a chat. She was eager to make a friend and seemed slightly crazed from the hot summer sun. Midway through my story about my hat, she interrupted me: “You’re going to get married. I just know it! You’re going to get married.”

It seems the voices have changed their tune from prescriptions (you need to find a nice rich husband) to premonitions. Luckily, I don’t put much weight in the predictions of raving women on crowded street corners.

Then again, the soothsayer in the crowd advised Julius Caesar to beware the ides of March… and, well, we all know how that turned out.

I don't necessarily put much weight in the perdictions of raving women... but then I remember Julius Caesar

Today I’m 26. Does This Mean My Quarter Life Crisis is Over?

Today, my first quarter century fades behind me and I embrace my 26th birthday. I’m not one prone to reminiscing on days gone by, but when I realized I was about to start a new year, it occurred to me that a lot of life happens in the 12 months between birthdays.

Armed with optimism and a gimlet, I headed out into the world to search for employment and prince charming. it's been a long year

I started “They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband” when I was 24 going on 25 and standing on the cusp of a quarter-life crisis. I was single, jobless, and homeless. Luckily, I was a girl with a plan, armed with optimism and motivational tarot card readings. So I ventured out into the world with the blinding confidence that eventually everything would fall into place.

All I needed was some elbow grease.

And a good pair of shoes.

And a gimlet…or two.

Last year, I spent my birthday in a Chelsea gallery interviewing for a job I had no intention of taking. Uncertainty surrounded me, and when my parents and I shared some biltong and a bottle of white in a small Hell’s Kitchen South African wine bar, I confessed to being a bit panicked.

A lot has changed since that birthday dinner.

I landed a budding-curator’s dream job. I learned to love the suburbs. I’ve (temporarily) retired from the sport that defined a decade of my life. I lost a beloved dog. I gained a beloved puppy. I learned German. I discovered yoga. I learned how to garden. I presented on stage in front of 1,800 people. I lost my favorite Bob Dylan CD. I renewed my faith in romance.

And so, as I weigh in on the things lost and gained since July 1, 2010, I ask the question: is my quarter life crisis over?

It’s been several months since I’ve heard “you need to find yourself a nice rich husband.” So, maybe I’m starting to hit my prime. Or maybe my mother’s right — the crisis is just beginning.

I’d prefer to think it’s the fun that’s just beginning…

Stay tuned to find out.

A lot of things change from birthday to birthday, but some things never change

How Complimentary

“I just don’t understand how you could want to be with someone who’s always telling you how beautiful and wonderful you are. Doesn’t that get tiresome?”

I admit, when a guy gives me a compliment, my response is very Miranda Hobbes -- skeptical.

This was my mother’s response when I told her the guy I was dating had a way of stopping mid-conversation to tell me he thought I was “gorgeous” or that “no other woman in the room came close.”

I looked at her in a way that suggested she should be put in a straight jacket and sent to Bedlam. Last I checked, it was nice for a boy to call a girl pretty every once in a while.

But, I’ll confess: when a guy tells me I’m beautiful, my response is very Hobbesian… Miranda Hobbes that is. The “Sex and the City” starlet always took Steve’s outpouring of niceties with a grain of salt — her inner cynic couldn’t help it.

Talking to Annie a few days after another absurdly perfect date, we realized  that modern women have been ruined — we’ve been raised to be Mirandas, distrusting of compliments, skeptical about sincerity. When I hear “you’re beautiful,” an internal eyebrow raises and the compliment is met with a tidal wave of skepticism. Why’s he saying that? What’s his deal? Is there really spinach on my face and he’s trying to tell me there’s spinach on my face without directly saying “there’s spinach on your face?”

It's hard for my inner cynic to shut-up... but slowly, it's learning

It doesn’t help that I matured in the company of men — compliments were frequently followed by a request for my economics homework.

Eventually, Miranda wised up — Steve really did just like her that much…and as it turned out, she really liked him that much.

As for me? Well, I think my inner cynic is starting to shut up and accept this for what it is — something nice. I’m not sure I’ll ever be good at taking compliments, or that the voice in my head will ever totally stop saying “you’re lying” when he says “you look wonderful,” but if there’s one thing I have decided, it’s that hearing “you’re beautiful” and “I like you” will never get tiresome.

My Adopted Extended Family Weighs in on My Love Life

It could have been a scene out of Steel Magnolias.

As they grilled me about the boy who wanted a second date, I thought It could have been a scene out of Steel Magnolias.

My finger nails were wrapped in acetone-soaked cotton balls, one foot splashed in a tub of soapy water, the other foot was being assaulted by a file, and I was surrounded by a team of women in white lab coats all asking the same questions: What’s his name? How’d ya meet him? What does he do? Where are you going? Is he good enough for you?

Marbella, Linda, Suzan, and Margaritte — these are the women that keep my hair neat, my nails manicured, and my bikini-line in check. They’re also my adopted extended family. With relationships forged in my pre-teen years, they’ve followed me as I passed from one phase of  young adulthood into the next. We’ve traded life stories, swapped allergy remedies, rejoiced in each other’s successes, and lamented one another’s losses.

So, if there’s one group that has a right to weigh in on my love life, it’s these women. Not only have they all called dibs on wedding-day preparations, they’ve reserved the right to inspect all potential suitors.

If there's one thing I've learned in dating, it's to never put the cart before the horse

I sat there like a deer in the headlights, trying to keep my composure while Marbella swiped on a second coat of “fruit sangria” as they all grilled me about the guy who sent sweet text messages, made me laugh, and wanted another date. I knew if I started to talk, I’d start to gush, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the great game of dating, it’s to never to put a cart before the horse.

“Just tell us! Do you like him?!?!?”

My lips were sealed, but my cheeks, which had just changed to match my neon-pink toenails, provided answer enough.

The Online Dating Match Approval Matrix: Or, a Road Map to Choosing Mr. (Almost) Right Online

Online dating is a challenge. As websites bombard you with supposedly viable matches and your inbox fills with messages and winks from men who think you’re “a cutie” or “reeeeeally cool,”  you think: it would be nice if there was a road map to help me weed out the guys I could walk arm in arm with from the ones I may need a restraining order against.

After months of scanning, surveying, replying, blocking, and first-dating, here it is, to your rescue:

The Online Dating Match Approval Matrix.

(in the style of New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix)

The Online Dating Approval Matrix -- Your Guide to Finding Mr. (Almost) Right Online