Where My Girls At?

Wandering the streets of Mexico City during the day, there’s no shortage of ladies. They are selling food, flowers and souvenirs in sidewalk stalls. They are cutting hair in chic salons. Having a leisurely lunch with co-workers. Walking to yoga with mats in tow. Pushing little ones in strollers.

But after dark, things change. The streets empty of females.

My second night here in Mexico City, I treated myself to dinner at a trendy eatery. I wasn’t surprised that there were no other lone females, but I was surprised that there were very few females in the restaurant at all. 80% of the tables were men with another man or two or a large party of 6-8 men. The balance was a man alone or a male/female couple on a date.

Where were the girls out for a drink after work? The two-to-four female friends catching up over dinner and drinks? Or two girls swiping through Tinder profiles sharing laughs and margaritas?

My mental rolodex considered a few possibilities:

  • Perhaps I stumbled upon a gay restaurant. Not entirely unlikely. In the loves of my life, I count several gay men, so it’s reasonable to assume that I’d find comfort in a gay enclave. But alas, I was in the business district. And I have to say that even in the states, I’ve never been to an entirely gay restaurant — now a bar is another story…
  • Perhaps it’s a Cantina – which according to my travel book is a place where men in the community gather. Ok…why would men need a place to gather.? Don’t they have strip clubs? But fine, lets say this place was a cantina, what’s the opposite for females?
  • Perhaps the women are at home taking care of family. I WhatsApp’ed a friend from Chile (I know, a totally different country, but still Latin America so I thought he could shed some light. I asked him where are the females at night? He said at home cooking, cleaning and taking care of the kids. And my response to him:

That’s bullshit.

One of the reasons for this trip was to give me the space to decide whether or not I want kids. I’ve always been on the fence about the situation and now that I’m biologically running out of time, a fact I should have come to terms with years ago at age 35, I must decide. 

Do I want to be committed for 18+ years to care for a child or (fill in the blank with anything else I think of)?

There are pros and cons to both, of course. At this point in my life, whichever choice I make is irreversible. And the option to do both is certainly more challenging since I would be raising a child alone. (I am completely separating my desire for a mate from this because I believe you can fall in love at any point in your lifetime. You don’t run out of time for that. You do however run out of time to create biological babies – and it’s too late for me to freeze my eggs.).

Being smacked in the face with women who aren’t even out in public in their own city screams of every fear I’ve ever had about being a parent.

I look at women who are mothers and I admire the loving, nurturing and care taking in them. I fear that it’s a skill I don’t possess.  I have some personal limitations that have given me pause on procreation:

I’m no domestic diva – I prefer beauty products over the latest cleaning products 

I’m not into cleaning or other domesticated chores. And even when I was discussing the possibility of having a baby by myself with my mom, I said I thought the first two years are all about feeding, changing diapers, cleaning them up, etc, I could just outsource that to a nanny. I thought, my value as a parent wouldn’t really come into play until it was time to read to them and teach them stuff.

Janice gently said (and mom Janice isn’t typically gentle), that the first two years couldn’t be outsourced. They are about bonding. 

It made me think, would I still be happy on the 12th night in a row, at home alone mopping up spit-up and doing laundry (who am I kidding, laundry CAN’T be a bonding experience. I’m outsourcing that). Would I be happy with that choice?

Or, how about when I’m 80 and living in a retirement village and other people’s children and grandchildren come to visit them and I’m that weird old lady that keeps asking strangers if they want to look at my photos or hear my stories.

Or maybe I could be the one to find the balance of both? But how could that be possible, when I’m witnessing that out of a city of 25 million, the females are relegated to home after dark?

I’m not nurturing 

Back when I was in the workplace, as a leader, one of the complaints about me was the way I gave feedback. 

The very first time I was a supervisor in my 20s, I was once overheard saying, “Out of the 10 things I asked you to do, 8 of them were wrong.”

Sure, I got much better. But it has taken a lot of work. It’s not a natural instinct. I’m more about facts and efficiency than feelings.

In fact, I wanted to give the dog back after the first month of Cupcake’s puppyhood was much harder than I expected. But Janice said you couldn’t give puppies back (and I let myself believe her!).

I’m selfish and believe in taking care of myself 

I feel that culturally, including in the US, the expectations for women to give up themselves to care for others are too high. 

Have you heard of mom jeans? Yep, a mom can’t be sexy (unless she’s objectified as a MILF). And women buy into this and run around in mini-vans with no makeup, a messy ponytail and unlabeled yoga pants as a uniform. 

Recently, when Kim Kardashian posted “empowering” naked photos of herself, so many people said, “but she’s a mom!” What does being a mom have to do with it? Moms are held to a higher standard than other women.

And how about those moms who put their child’s photo as their own on social media? No, thanks. It’s MY profile, you will be seeing MY latest pics. Can I have a child even if I don’t want to BECOME my child?

Or how about when it’s his birthday. Do I have to dig up every photo from the last 20 years and let that take over my feed? Or, instead, would it be ok for me to share my latest fancy martini or interesting article on activism, like I’m allowed to do now?

The research continues 

I’ve been keeping my eyes open, looking into every restaurant I passed after dark. It seems that the trendy restaurants – dark lighting, cocktails, live music, ladies in heels – are the domain of men and couples.

I found the ladies at family style restaurants. They were there with family, often their husband and an older adult as well. And their kids were with them, having a great time with chocolate milk and jello. And the food was usually…a buffet. 

I hate, really hate buffets.

Why I’m NOT Sad Even Though I’m Single on Valentine’s Day

It seems that everyone thinks I should be sad on Valentine’s Day, as if it’s a natural state for a single woman. My email box has been filled, not only with reminders to buy a gift or to book a table for this eventful day (I’m sure that yours have been too). No, there’s more. These are the subject lines I’ve been bombarded with over the past few weeks:

  • Sick of Valentine’s Day? Here’s How to Get Even with Cupid
  • No Valentine? Find The Right Man Now
  • Don’t miss NYC’s LARGEST Anti-Valentine Singles Party…15 years running!
  • My Best Valentine’s Offer Yet – A Lifetime of Love
  • Oh no! Lamenting on Valentine’s Day
  • How I’ve Helped Women Find Real Love After 50

You might be thinking that I’m on the wrong email lists. And you’re right. Yet the question remains, why does everyone assume that single people are pitifully sad because it’s Valentine’s Day? Like we’re destined to put on our gray sweatpants, throw our hair into a messy ponytail, grab a pint of ice cream and a box of tissue and sit in the corner until we rock ourselves to sleep. Why ARE some single people sad sacks on Valentine’s Day? I’m surprised at the number of singles who spend the day feeling sorry for themselves (maybe that’s why people assume it’s all of us), or worse, angry.

When the bouquets begin to show up at work on Valentine’s Day and everyone huddles around oooing and aahing. “Four for you, Glen Coco! You go Glen Coco!”* Do I feel something? Of course! Despite my mother’s argument that black women don’t like flowers (her thought, if you’ve got $75 to spend, don’t send something that dies) — I LOVE flowers. They’re beautiful. They smell great, what’s not to love?

Yet, as you’re giggling and clipping those long stems, walking around a bit more than you really need to, I’m thinking about the time you told me the sender, your beloved, ate your last Jenny Craig cheesecake — the dessert you’d been thinking about all day as you ate your cardboard, flavorless food — and any longing to be in your place wisps away faster than a $200 size 38 Louboutin platform heels at the Barney’s Sample Sale (in it’s last year for women, quelle horror!).

There’s not one married woman whose life I’d rather have than my own. Despite my extreme fandom, NOT even Beyonce. I could have traded with her for a good long while – smart, uber talented, beautiful. Her voice is a little like Lurch’s sister trying to sound sexy, but I figured I could pay someone to correct that. But then, she got a ring on it and any desire I had to be Beyonce abruptly ended. Can you imagine rolling over in your bed and seeing Jay-Z sharing your pillow? It’d be like waking up to a camel. And beyond that, given his past, I’d be scared to know what skeletons are stuffed in his closet and would fear whether I’d ever be joining them if we disagreed. Plus he seems mopey. So, no, not even Beyonce.

Isn’t the point of Valentine’s Day to acknowledge your love for people? That love can be from people all around you. I want to see and feel — and most importantly recognize — that affection all the time – all year long. PLUS, it includes love for yourself. To me that means IF you’re going to stay in, put on your favorite pretty lounging items (seriously ladies, I can’t with the sweats. Where are you even finding those schlubby things?), order in your favorite food, pop open your favorite bottle of wine or mix up your favorite cocktail and watch your favorite show or read your favorite book. Sounds like a better plan to me. So thank you very much, but I’m not going to spend Valentine’s Day at an anti-Valentine’s Day Party or figuring out how that woman can find me love after 50.

I’ll be at LINCOLN CENTER at New York Fashion Week. That’s right, I’m in the tents (or the stage, really), baby!!!! Loving fashion all these years has finally paid off! I will be feeling love. Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient  consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love.** And it’s hard to imagine the relationship getting any better. xoxo

*Mean Girls reference, of course.

**Sex and the City, final episode.

Straight men, I put the footnotes in just for you.

Getting Past the First Question

If something happens often enough, it can no longer be considered a coincidence. I’ve discovered there’s a standard phrase my friends ask the first time I mention a new guy. This happens well before we assign him a code name (like Home Depot for the guy I met when picking up paint or “the Sicilian” for obvious reasons), and even before the analysis of the first date. This is even before mentioning how we met. The first question seems to go like this:

“Is he cute?” My gay friends quip, quickly followed by “Show me his picture.”

“What does he do?” My white friends ask.

“Where did he go to school?” My African and Asian friends must know.

“Is he white?” An obsessive-level query by many of my black girlfriends. I might say, “I went to karaoke last night,” not even mention a guy, and they’ll ask “Is he black?” Obsessed!

That covers my typical focus group. I”ll do some undercover research to determine if other people fall back on one of these as the go-to question. Does this hold true for your group of friends? What do your friends say when you mention a new guy?

Single, Double, Triple Threat

I don’t believe the Mayans. 2012 can’t be the end of the world. Things just got good. Plus, Prince didn’t make a song about 2012. He did one on 1999 and that came and went without a wrinkle. Not even one dove cried.

2012 was the year that my sister gave birth to the first grandchild, I quit my job and started my own business, and my brother graduated from college. My mom, much like a room full of labradoodle puppies, is typically wired, bouncing from one topic to the next. One room to the next. One website to the next. But with her kids becoming an entrepreneur, a mother and a graduate in the same year, that woman doesn’t have one nerve left. IMG_1442

This isn’t the first time my sibs and I have done this. A few years ago, I got a promotion, my sister got married and my brother moved to another state. All within months of each other. Prior to that, I moved to another state and my sister graduated from college, all within a 12-month period. I can’t remember what was going on with my brother at that time, but being the boy and the youngest, whatever it could have been, it was remarkable.

What is it about me, my sister and brother that makes these events all trigger at the same time?

It’s not terrible problem, obviously. However, my promotion to Principal, a role I felt was quite an accomplishment, being celebrated in the same conversation as the discussion about whether we should fire the florist (again), did leave me feeling a little cheated. Or maybe that feeling was anger over how difficult it was to find a competent florist. Next to impossible, in fact. (Finally, we were forced to settle on one simply because it was three days before the wedding.)

I thought about why this phenomenon keeps happening to us. Could it be competition? Did the knowledge of my sister having a baby compel me to change careers and encourage my brother to wrap up his studies? Did we not want to be outdone?

Maybe now that my little nephew was going to bear witness to my life, did I want to be a good example? That’s a pretty thin explanation  The only thing I’m concerned about regarding my little neffie is whatever I need to do to keep him from having a Houston accent.

Could it be that we are inspired by each other? One of us gets on a roll and the others feel a fire in the belly? Maybe that has some merit, but I don’t see babies and weddings being things that require inspiration, necessarily.

Could it be that we’re all just coincidentally on the same cycle of success? Perhaps.

Then it hit me. The real thing that’s going on here. It became clear when one of my brother’s professors said that he overanalyzed everything. My sister and I immediately rushed to his defense. Clearly, we all have the same problem.

So I’m going to chalk this question  up as an example of overanalysis. Instead of continuing to meander down this path, I’m going to be grateful for an amazing year and toast to whatever’s coming up next.