Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Following Your Bliss: Take Two

Last summer, I did a blog post about following your bliss prompted by the departure of three Quinn & Co. colleagues who left to pursue new paths. With a new trifecta of co-workers taking their final bows, I can’t help revisiting the subject -- and thinking about what it means during these tough economic times.

Following Their Bliss: (from left) Allie, Alexis and Eileen with me at Q&C

Two of the exiting Quinnsters have an idea of where they’re headed next. Spunky social media maven Allie is returning to Texas to concentrate on digital PR (and reunite with her beau). Five-year Q&C veteran Eileen will be transferring her signature warmth and nurturing style to a career in education.

Alexis, the third to leave the fold, is doing something many would consider radical in a recession – taking the summer off to do some soul searching and figure out where exactly her bliss lies. With her attention to detail and true team spirit, I have no doubt she’ll be fabulous wherever she ends up.

Each of these bright and beautiful twentysomethings are inspiring examples that the sky’s the limit when you’re being true to yourself. Recession or not, that’s a lesson always worth remembering.

Monday, June 29, 2009

SGITC Happy Hour

Last Tuesday, a dozen friends joined me at Haven, a luxe lounge on NYC’s Upper East Side, to celebrate one year of Single Gal In The City.

SGITC Happy Hour: Celebrating with (from left) galpals Marisa, Andrea and Louise

While enjoying Haven’s drink specials -- including pitchers of grape cosmos for $13 -- I filled everyone in about upcoming SGITC developments (singles survey, t-shirt contest…stay tuned!) and caught up on news of both the personal and professional variety.

Tim, producer of The Set, filled me in about the monthly variety show’s upcoming move to a new downtown location, Le Poisson Rouge. Actor and cable TV show host Chance made a brief appearance before jetting off to film a segment for an upcoming episode, floating the possibility of me appearing as a guest sometime.

Old flames were the hot topic with work galpals Katie and Marisa. We talked about the need to revisit former boyfriends that tends to precede letting go for good and the unnerving ease with which exes use the likes of Facebook and text messaging to keep in touch.

Also on the conversational menu, upcoming travels. Longtime pal Sara invited me and our mutual friend Leila to spend Labor Day weekend at her parents’ home in New Hampshire. Sign me up.

As the evening drew to a close, I found myself thinking for the umpteenth time how milestones mean so much when you have great girlfriends to celebrate them with.

Here’s to many more years of female bonding with my fabulous friends -- and to many more years of SGITC!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Week To Remember

Once in awhile, a vacation offers up the perfect mix of rejuvenation, romance and female bonding. This week, that’s exactly what I enjoyed.

It began with a festive happy hour for Single Gal In The City’s upcoming one-year anniversary. The high from celebrating continued when I learned on Friday that I’ve made the Top 50 shortlist for A Really Goode Job -- the highly coveted California vineyard gig that received nearly 2,000 applicants.

Kicking Back in CT: relaxing at The Spa At Norwich Inn

The relaxation apex of my week off -- a Connecticut getaway with good friend Bobbi to the fabulous Spa At Norwich Inn.

Add to all of this excitement date #2 with adorable, intriguing cop Rich and winning $50 at Mohegan Sun and you’ve got a perfect respite from work.

Coming up….details about my action-packed vaca and a look at the parental relationship effect.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Singles Event Pick: South Street Seaport Party

One of the best places to enjoy a night out in NYC is on the water. Tonight, that’s what Gemini & Scorpio is offering with “Hobos & Mermaids on The High Seas” at the South Street Seaport.

The themed sunset dance party will take place aboard New York’s only tall ship, Clipper City. Says the invite on Facebook--

“We'll bring the party on board with DJ Jon Margulies, originator of hobo-tech: depression era techno-contemporary music that nods to a forgotten America, celebrating half-smoked cigars and steaming cauldrons of stew.”

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the dock. The boat leaves from Pier 17. Only 125 tickets will be sold first come, first served. For more information, click here.

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Exhilarating Second Date

Monday night, I went on a second date with Rich, an adorable, engaging cop I met on Match.com.

A month had elapsed since our first date. Why? After Rich’s follow up call, he never received the voicemail I left and assumed I wasn’t interested. I opted to send him an email last weekend saying hello, which is when we discovered technological gremlins had gotten in the way.

We met up for drinks at Midtown watering hole Turtle Bay. More comfortable with each other this time around, we fell quickly into flirting mode, leaning in close as we sat at the bar.

Turtle Bay: my eventful second date with Rich kicked off here

I learned more about Rich, namely that he’s of Aruban descent and knows his stuff when it comes to art and current events. We tested our mutual knowledge of the latter with trivia night at nearby pub Pig ‘N’ Whistle.

It was here that we shared our first kiss of the night. As I told my best friend via text later, major sparks.

After falling from second to third place in the trivia ranks, Rich suggested we move on to our next activity -- karaoke at Mustang Grill on the Upper East Side. I was impressed with his version of the 80’s hit “Here In My Car,” and exhilarated by the chemistry between us.

When we parted, Rich pulled me into his arms for another kiss.

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot about you in a short space of time,” he said.

I felt the same about him. As far as second dates go, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Maybelline's Colorful Contest

As someone who works in PR, I always appreciate a great marketing idea. Maybelline has launched a fun and fabulous contest, Colorful Life, that’s worth checking out.

Maybelline’s Colorful Life contest offers some fabulous prizes

The cosmetics giant is looking for “colorful women” to submit their stories for the chance to star in a Maybelline New York short film, win a trip to NYC and meet “Sex And the City” author Candace Bushnell at her Webisode Premiere Party.

According to a member of Maybelline’s marketing team, here’s the kind of women they’re looking for--

“Maybe you’ve started your own business based on a personal passion, or you’re a community leader everyone looks up to. Perhaps you’ve dedicated time and energy to a cause, or use art as a means of creative expression.”

The contest deadline is June 30th. Click here for more information.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering Michael Jackson

It’s often said that death comes in threes. This week, the entertainment world lost three beloved figures -- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

RIP King of Pop: Michael Jackson circa 1984

Like everyone else, I was shocked to hear the news today of Michael’s passing from cardiac arrest at the age of 50. As seminal images from his life flashed across the TV, I couldn’t help thinking about my own memories of him.

I was just eight years old when Michael reached the apex of his stardom with the release of “Thriller.” I remember covering my bedroom wall with posters of him, and excitedly buying a sequined glove and the “Beat It” zippered jacket.

All About Michael: Wearing a Jacksons t-shirt and sequined glove in front of my Michael-themed wall, summer 1984

I also recall tuning in with my cousins for Michael’s iconic performance of “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25 Anniversary special. We also memorized his “Thriller” routine, dancing every single step of it together while watching the video again and again.

I had the good fortune to be at the September 2001 tribute concert celebrating Michael at Madison Square Garden. He only took the stage briefly, with his brothers in tow, but I’ll never forget it. As a performer, no one could top him.

It’s fair to say that, in recent years, Michael was known more for his personal dramas than his music. Whatever his idiosyncrasies may have been, though, he left an indelible mark on those of us who grew up listening to him.

In his biography of another legendary musician--Frank Sinatra--Pete Hamill wrote the following:

“In their work, all great artists help transcend the solitude of individuals…they supply a partial response to the urging of writer E.M. Forster: ‘Only Connect.’ ”

Like Old Blue Eyes, that’s exactly what Michael did. Rest in peace, King of Pop.

My Internet Radio Debut

Tuesday, I had the pleasure of appearing on Dating Coach Kira Sabin’s weekly show on Blog Talk Radio.

Joined by her sassy, charming British co-host Richard, we talked about making time for romance in your thirties and starting an offline dating revolution -- i.e., encouraging singles to limit their online interacting and get back out in the real world.

Kira cited a sobering statistic about dating websites, and that is they only have a 5% success rate. I can vouch for these unfavorable odds.

I’ve been part of the online dating world for nearly five years now and gone out with dozens of men. During that time, I’ve only had real chemistry with two -- my dog-obsessed ex and, more recently, hunky and multifaceted cop Rich.

Rich and I had our second date earlier this week. Tomorrow…more details about our eventful evening.

Why A Woman Needs Friends

In a recent Kansas City Star column, Jenée Osterheldt talked about the importance of having friends regardless of your relationship status. As I read her wise words, I couldn’t help thinking about my own experience of galpals who have forsaken friendship because romance came their way.

One formerly close friend of mine dropped out of sight after meeting the love of her life, resurfacing only sporadically to make plans. I didn’t know what was more upsetting -- her lack of communication or her decision to abandon interests that don’t involve her significant other.

I’ve heard enough stories to know this isn’t an isolated phenomenon -- and to feel grateful that I learned the importance of friendship from my beloved mom.

When it comes to friends, this picture says it all

Mom ingrained this in me by setting a great example herself of sisterhood. She and my dad were madly in love but that didn’t stop her from making her friends a priority. When we moved to Canada for a few years, I remember Dad saying we would need a dedicated phone line to cover Mom’s frequent calls to her female posse. She managed to juggle being a devoted wife and mother and still sustain her friendships.

Friends will carry you through triumphs and trials alike, and be there for you when the object of your affections is driving you crazy. It is a support system worth nurturing, whether you’re single or not.

After my above mentioned galpal pulled her disappearing act, I did a gut check with other friends, asking if I’ve ever done the same in the throes of romance. I’m happy to say I haven’t. Because the greatest man in the world could never take the place of a girlfriend. Why would you want him to?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Unwinding With A Staycation

For as much as I love to travel, there's something to be said for staying put. This week, I'm doing just that and enjoying a staycation.

According to a 2008 survey by the Travel Industry Association, about 9% of Americans were planning a staycation this year.

Lunch At the Times: Today, I caught up with a j-school friend over lunch at the NYT's cafeteria with sweeping city views

For my hometown retreat, I'm availing myself of the best of the Big Apple -- including happy hour at swanky Haven on NYC's Upper East Side -- and catching up with friends old and new, from lunch with a journalism school buddy at the New York Times to drinks with a veteran news editor at Star magazine.

And yes, I'm doing my best to follow one of the top rules for a successful staycation -- telling my nearest and dearest I'll be unreachable. Because sometimes you have to completely disconnect to reconnect with yourself.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Return To The Airwaves

Years ago, during my broadcast news days, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Magic 95.1 FM’s morning show with veteran host Pat Benton. Tonight marks my return to the airwaves, with an appearance on dating coach Kira Sabin’s Weekly Dating Makeover program on Blog Talk Radio.

I’ll be joining Kira and her sidekick Richard for a conversation about making room for romance in your thirties. Click here for more info about tuning in and, even better, being part of the discussion. The show airs at 11pm Eastern Time.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be calling into Sex Drive, Dr. Ava Cadell’s weekly online radio show about love, sex and relationships. The show airs at 10pm Eastern Time.

Coming up…a girlfriends getaway to one of Connecticut’s top spas and the SGITC anniversary festivities begin!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Date With A Witty Accountant

Last night, I went out with Patrick, a 43-year-old real estate accountant and part-time comedian.

Patrick I and first connected back in March through TheSquare.com. With tax season finally over (his clients include Blue Parrot, the Hamptons restaurant co-owned by Jon Bon Jovi), he resurfaced a couple of weeks ago.

Accademia di Vino: This UES wine bar has a great menu…and mouth-watering cheese plate

We met up for drinks at my favorite neighborhood date spot, Accademia di Vino on NYC’s Upper East Side. Over a couple of glasses of white wine and a heavenly shared cheese plate -- five varieties including pecorino and parmigiano -- we talked about far-flung travel destinations and juggling our respective day jobs with extracurricular pursuits.

In addition to being a veteran of Gotham’s comedy club scene, Patrick has tried out for NBC’s “Last Comic Standing.” He gave me a sample of his repertoire and I was impressed with his ability to deliver a good punch line.

Also refreshing -- his honesty about how being single past a certain age often leads to questions. Nice to know women aren’t the only ones on the receiving end of this.

Patrick says he tells inquiring minds that, with life in New York being as full-on as it is, thirty and even fortysomething single hood isn’t so unusual. Truer words were never spoken.

Patrick walked me home and said he’d like to go out again, maybe even have me come and watch him perform. I’m not sure I felt sparks between us…which is why I’m looking forward even more to my long-awaited second date tonight with Rich.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Celebrating An SGITC Milestone

Next week, Single Gal In The City will hit the one year mark. This week, I’ll be celebrating the 365-day milestone with a festive happy hour at Haven, a fabulous new restaurant and lounge in Midtown NYC.

A duplex venue with what New York magazine describes as “the air of a cigar club,” Haven is decorated with such exotic accents as velvet wallpaper, Chinese swords and Balinese masks. Perfect for singles, the bar offers themed nights such as Jezebel Thursdays and sweet drink specials ($13 for a pitcher of the mixed drink of the day).

The SGITC Anniversary Party will take place on Tuesday June 23rd at 630pm. I’m looking forward to raising a glass to my first year of life in the blogosphere. If you’re in the neighborhood, feel free to stop by and join me.

Coming up...a first date with a lengthy preamble and a look at friends who exit when romance arrives.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty

When you’re coasting along in a relationship, sometimes you find yourself wondering -- is there such a thing as being too comfortable? That question crossed my mind as I hit the six-month mark with my older boyfriend Larry.

Having experienced plenty of drama with long-distance love Mark (a.k.a Sparky), I wasn’t used to being with a man who knew how to work at a relationship. Complicating matters further -- the 16-year age difference between us. I knew that, as with Sparky, that May-December dynamic would eventually bring Larry and I to an impasse. Had that moment arrived?

I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of ‘96...

August 4th, 1996
Fairfield Beach, CT

Dear Diary,

It’s Larry’s birthday today -- the big 39 -- and we’re enjoying a relaxing afternoon at the beach as part of our special weekend celebrating the occasion.

Fairfield Beach: Larry and I celebrated six months together with a weekend away here

Last night, he wasn’t feeling well so I brought in dinner and dessert for us.

“You’re the best friend a sick man could ever have,” he said, as he drew me toward him for a hug and kiss. Curious about what I’d bought, he asked--

“What’ve you got there, Mel?”

I smiled. He never calls me by my nickname and earlier in the day, I had mentioned that. He listened and paid attention.

And he notices all those details females like me are so conscious about. As we were heading to dinner the other night and I asked him to zip me up, he said--

“This is cute -- have I seen this before?” and then kissing me lightly because he knew I’d just applied my makeup.

I’m so grateful Larry has come into my life. He makes no demands on me and he brings out the woman in me.

* * *

August 11th, 1996
New York, NY

Larry and I celebrated our six-month “anniversary” yesterday and the occasion provided an opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship.

An unsettling conversation with Mom earlier in the week had me questioning everything and wondering if she’s right in assuming I’m not being fair to Larry because of my inability to make a commitment.

Larry put my mind at ease, telling me that I have not led him on.

“I went into our relationship with my eyes open,” he insisted, adding that it’s way too soon for mom to be concerned we’re getting too serious.

Having been out of the dating scene for seven years before we met, Larry seems content to just enjoy the moment.

He asked me if I want to pull back. Given the no strings dynamic between us, I said no -- but I must admit I miss the excitement our chemistry had in the early days. It seem to get harder and harder to keep things interesting between us. I can’t help wondering -- are we fizzling out?

* * *

Though my worries turned out to be in vain, Larry and I did eventually reach a fork in the road about our future together -- one that would coincide with Sparky’s return.

Friday, June 19, 2009

By The Numbers: Professional Gypsy Edition

During my ten year journalism school reunion back in April, I attended a panel about reinventing yourself. I couldn’t help thinking about how that phrase has applied to my career before and since attending Columbia‘s j-school.

Reporting Live: That's me with the microphone during my on-air days at WBOC-TV in Dover, Delaware, 2002

It’s been quite a journey from my days as a fresh-faced college graduate to my current profession of travel PR. I’ve written about municipal bonds for a trade newspaper, reported live during a Delaware blizzard and researched business segments for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Here are some of the bends in the long and winding road of my career -- By The Numbers:

Number of jobs since graduating from Mount Holyoke College: 10
Number of career changes: 2
Number of small market TV news jobs outside of New York: 4
Number of overseas jobs: 1
Number of years spent working in PR: 4.5

Four and a half years after making the transition to travel PR and joining Quinn & Company, I feel the same as I did when I first started -- fortunate to work for talented, honorable people and to be promoting one of my biggest passions, travel. Even better, I get to do this in the world’s greatest city.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dinner With A Dear Friend

Last week, I caught up with my dear friend Marilyn, in town from Ohio, and her lovely daughter Karen.

The three of us met for dinner at Basso 56, a delightful downstairs bistro in NYC’s Theater District with staffers who have mastered the art of swift service that doesn’t feel rushed.

Basso 56: I couldn’t have been happier to stumble upon this slice of Italian charm in NYC’s Theater District

Marilyn and I hadn’t seen each other since our glorious brunch last summer with mutual friend, actor A Martinez. Over a delicious dinner (grilled salmon with roasted pepper puree sauce for me), we talked about A’s recent exit from “One Life To Live,” the five-star entertainment of this year’s Tony Awards and the budding writing talents of Marilyn’s teenage grandson.

Marilyn is an amazing woman. In addition to being a wonderful friend, she’s a devoted mother and grandmother with a great sense of fun and a true appreciation of life’s pleasures, big and small.

I’ve lost count of how many times, over the years, we’ve curled up on her couch and shared hours of effortless conversation over a cup of tea. The pleasure of her company has comforted me through many a trial -- from the deaths of my beloved parents to multiple breakups -- and remains one of life’s sweetest joys.

She and Karen were off to see “Jersey Boys” so our time together was far too brief. Still, I know whenever we see each other again, we’ll pick up right where we left off.

We always do.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Visit To The Isle Of Enchantment

Greetings from Puerto Rico, where I’m enjoying a visit to my new client, the Wyndham Rio Mar.

An oceanfront resort nestled at the base of El Yunque rainforest, Rio Mar is as charming as I expected it be -- especially the warm and gracious staff. Upon arriving yesterday, I was welcomed with a scrumptious fruit and cheese platter and handwritten note from the resort’s PR coordinator Veronica. As Veronica showed me and my boss around, we got caught in a brief downpour that produced this stunning rainbow.

A surprise rainbow lights up the skies over Rio Mar

Like my first visit to the Isle of Enchantment back in ‘07 (to see Ricky Martin in concert twice), this one will be brief. I’m looking forward to returning again someday and exploring where my beloved grandmother grew up and, yes, maybe even catching another Ricky performance here.

In the meantime, I’m thankful all over again to have a job that offers such great perks. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s pre-departure spa treatment!

A Really Goode Job

It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the world of PR and marketing, there’s no better example of that than the many copycat campaigns inspired by my client Tourism Queensland’s Best Job In The World competition.

My favorite Best Job redux -- Murphy-Goode Winery’s A Really Goode Job.

Like Tourism Queensland, the venerable family-owned Sonoma vineyard has launched an online video contest to find a “Wine Country Lifestyle Correspondent.” Unlike TQ’s high-profile blogging gig, though, I’m eligible to apply for this one, and that’s what I’ve done in a 57-second video you can watch here.

The six-month job is perfect for a PR-loving, blog writing oenophile like me. Which is why I’m hoping you’ll click on my video and vote for me so I can make it to the Top 50.

Vote and forward now, and see you at the vineyard!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dating Boot Camp Finale: Part Two

As I was heading out of the Q&A portion of Dating Boot Camp, I was surprised to run into a familiar face -- Patrick, the brother of a guy I dated briefly back in ‘94.

Patrick filled me in about on his family and production gig with a Chinese news service.

We ended up chatting with a British gal about the many rules put forward by matchmakers Matt and Tamsen at Dating Boot Camp. Why, she wondered, should women have to consider so many dos and don’ts when, as Matt said himself during his presentation, men aren’t similarly minded?

I couldn’t help thinking that she had a point. There seems to be an a lot of strategy involved in engaging the self-admittedly simplistic members of the opposite sex.

One eligible bachelor, hunky actor Chance Von Spiessbach gave me his take on how dating in New York differs from other places (England, France, Hong Kong) he’s lived in.

Chance and me at Dating Boot Camp

“Aphrodisiacs vary country to country,” he said. “In New York, the [top] two are power and money -- qualities that have nothing to do with a person’s inside.”

Chance also shared his experience of romances that fizzled out unexpectedly. Like the woman he hit it off with who, after weeks of dating, suddenly stopped returning his calls. He later learned that she was pregnant with someone’s else child.

He admitted there have been times he too has stopped communicating with a woman strictly because of unanticipated developments in his own life. Bottom line, when a man doesn’t call, you shouldn’t (necessarily) take it personally.

Speaking of dating rules, I’ve found a few that seem to work most of the time. Among them -- be yourself, exercise common sense and, of course, don’t be a stalker.

I’ve been on the receiving end of the latter (most memorably, during my high school days). There’s nothing sexy about a date calling to say he’s enjoying the view of your bedroom window from across the street. Especially when you have to see him in class the next day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dating Boot Camp: The Finale

Last week, I attended the fourth and final installment of Lord & Taylor’s Dating Boot Camp.

Once again, Gotham-based married matchmaking duo Matt Titus and Tamsen Fadal led the entertaining seminar, talking about what to do on Date Night. Joined by a panel of men that included Thrillist.com editor Hayden Lynch and actor Chance Von Spiessbach, Matt and Tamsen dished out some first date dos and don’ts.

Panelists Hayden Lynch and Chance Von Spiessbach at Dating Boot Camp

When it comes to attire, be comfortable -- no muffin tops or excessive cleavage, Matt says.

Also off limits on a first date -- talking about therapy, babies or the future. And, don’t invite your date inside, unless your intentions are purely physical.

“The journey to Mr. Right has to be pleasant,” Matt said. “Compartmentalize what you want from a man and act accordingly.”

Tamsen encouraged women to play the field, as she was doing when Matt first asked her out.

“ 'I’ll throw you into the rotation,’ I told him,” she said. “[You should] have three to four guys in your rotation.”

One of the night’s most debated topics – who should pay on a first date.

“Let him be the guy on a first date,” Matt advised.

He’s not alone in what, as I recently discovered, many believe is archaic thinking. According to Match.com survey, a whopping 71% of men think they should pay on a first date (versus 58% of women).

As for the inevitable post-first date question -- why hasn’t he called? -- Matt explained that men have a totem pole of priorities (career, friends, pets, etc.) and it takes time for a new woman time to work her way into it.

“To him, a call equals a commitment,” he said. “If you call first, you’ve shown him all of your cards, establishing who asks and chases. Let him chase you.”

Having experienced the dynamic of male-as-pursuer on more than one occasion, I must admit I’m inclined to agree with him.

Coming up…a brief reunion with a long-distance dear friend and a quick jaunt to Puerto Rico.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Thirty Nine

Much as I’ve tried not to, I have invariably compared Mr. Right For Now to the men who have preceded him. A 1996 weekend getaway to Delaware with my then-beau Larry found me doing exactly that.

Broadkill Beach: This Delaware hamlet was where Larry and I spent our first getaway together

Having endured plenty of highway drama with my California-based ex Mark (a.k.a. Sparky), I was more than a little anxious about my first road trip with Larry. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about -- apart from Sparky’s lingering ghost. I now Open The Vault and take you back to Independence Day of ‘96...

July 4th ,1996
Broadkill Beach, DE

Dear Diary,
Larry and I drove down here this morning. Much to my surprise, our four hours on the road flew by.

During our journey, Larry confided more about his colorful past, namely how he kept himself afloat financially after his father’s death when he was 16. It included stealing from a store he worked at.

I could feel my sense of propriety flare up. Immediately, I caught myself, looked out the window and took a deep breath.

It doesn’t matter, I reminded myself, you’re not going to marry him.

With Sparky, I treated every example of our different upbringings as a catastrophe of epic proportions. I loved him so much that it pained me to know we weren’t compatible, a pain exacerbated by his ability to properly address our problems.

Unlike Sparky, Larry listens to whatever frustrations I feel and try to cease the bothersome habit (e.g. provocative pillow talk). Considering he’s been a part of my life for nearly six months now, I have reached this wonderful comfort zone with him. But, of course, we’ve been together on a regular basis -- a luxury that Sparky and I never had.

When the Eagles’ song “Love Will Keep Us Alive” came on the radio, I couldn’t help wondering how vacations with Sparky might have been different had they been supplemented by a normal relationship.

Our differences notwithstanding, how could I feel anything but self-conscious and insecure during our trips? I felt the tremendous pressure of trying to compress the months we were apart into one isolated holiday.

Still, it seems like another lifetime ago that we were blissfully in love. I was a different person then. I’m more of a woman now -- I only wish Sparky could see that.

* * *

As I tried to convince myself Sparky was in the past, Larry and I were approaching a milestone of sorts. The occasion would prompt me to wonder if it was time to say goodbye.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Singles Event Pick: Let's Get Wild Party

In a city like New York -- where single women outnumber their male counterparts by 200,000 -- finding singles events with a balanced male-female ratio can be a challenge. Which is why I was excited to discover on Facebook AC Productions, a group that knows how to throw a great, truly co-ed party.

On Tuesday June 16th, ACP is hosting Let’s Get Wild, an island-themed event at Retreat Lounge on West 17th Street.

Retreat Lounge: Where this week's Let Get Wild party is taking place

From attire to cocktails, everything tropical applies and entertainment will include a celebrity magician and mentalist. Even better, organizer Amy Herman promises--

“I will be personally matchmaking should you wish to seek me out and show me that special person who you want to be introduced to.”

Admission to the party is $30 (cash only) and more than 100 guests have already confirmed through AC Productions’ Facebook page for the event. For more info, email info@acproductions.us or click here.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Meeting A Member Of The Brat Pack

One of my favorite things about living in New York is random celebrity encounters. Yesterday, I had a most unexpected celeb sighting – at a travel industry event held at the New Yorker hotel in Midtown NYC.

My lovely colleagues Katie and Morgan and I were representing Quinn & Co at Caribbean Media Marketplace, where travel providers in the region (and the PR agencies who rep them) have the opportunity to schmooze with journalists.

Travelgirls: Me, Katie and Morgan at Caribbean Media Marketplace

Imagine my surprise when none other than actor Andrew McCarthy approached our table.

I smiled widely, unable to resist quipping that he’s not a member of the media. He laughed, and genially corrected me – saying he’s moonlighting as a contributing editor for National Geographic Traveler. It turns out he’s been writing for the venerable magazine (and its sister publication, National Geographic Adventure) for years.

Andrew is an absolute charmer in person. He has the same mischievous smile and quick wit that made him so irresistible in many of the classic 80’s movies (“St. Elmo’s Fire,” “Mannequin,” and of course, “Pretty In Pink.”). And yes, he’s still adorable.

I don’t know what made me feel older – remembering those movies, or the fact that my twenty-something colleagues didn’t know who Andrew was. Thankfully, my good friend and fellow PR maven Lauren was in attendance and she shared my excitement about this celebrity blast from the past.

I love New York.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Girls Night Out: Per Lei

Sunday night, my friend Bobbi and I enjoyed one of my favorite summer pleasures – dining al fresco.

We caught up over dinner at Per Lei, a chic Italian bistro on NYC’s Upper East Side with a charming staff that's as European as much of its clientele. While enjoying a scrumptious seafood pairing (tuna tartar with avocado, pan seared Chilean sea bass), I filled Bobbi in on new developments in my work and blog life and she told me about her hunky personal trainer.

Per Lei: delicious Italian fare in a chic setting on NYC’s UES

Eventually, we found ourselves musing about the uncomplicated appeal of boy toys – and the (for me) slightly more complicated merits of Botox.

A physician’s assistant, Bobbi is certified in injecting the popular anti-aging concoction. One of my dearest friends has tried it and looks fantastic. The downside – the more you use Botox, the more of it you tend to need to achieve the desired result.

And I can’t forget the time I sampled Freeze, an anti-aging cream alternative to Botox. My forehead literally felt frozen, a weird sensation I’m not sure I’m vain enough to try again.

Still, it’s nice to know that should I ever want to temporarily halt the aging process, I’ve got a good friend who’s medically qualified to help me.

Coming up…debating the rules at Dating Boot Camp and a random celebrity encounter with a member of the brat pack.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Exit The King: A Royally Good Time

Friday night, my old flame and good friend Steve and I went to see “Exit The King.”

A revival of the 1968 Eugene Ionesco comedy, “Exit The King” is the tale of a 400-year-old monarch coming to grips with his mortality. The king’s first wife Queen Marguerite (Susan Sarandon at her acerbic best) bluntly tells him his fate, while current Queen Marie (a luminous Lauren Ambrose) refuses to believe the end is near.

Behold the monarchs: Lauren Ambrose and Geoffrey Rush in “Exit The King”

Ambrose is excruciatingly heartfelt in her impassioned pleas to King Bergeron (Geoffrey Rush) to will himself to live. Rush turns in a sublime performance -- truly worthy of his recent Tony Award win -- running the gamut of emotion from sentimentality to slapstick. He infuses each line with a lyricism that makes every onstage moment a riveting one.

After the show, Steve and I had a chance to get up close with the cast, all of whom graciously posed for pictures and signed autographs.

Susan Sarandon and me: The Oscar-winning actress is ageless and refreshingly approachable

Rush seemed (understandably) tired but made sure to greet everyone in the crowd – a few of whom had seen the show multiple times.

Having indulged our inner Broadway fan, Steve and I headed downtown for drinks at Telephone, an Anglophile-themed watering hole in NYC’s East Village.

Over a couple of pints of Hoegarten, we reminisced about old times. Like the Cosmopolitan sex quiz I read out loud as we drove across country when I moved from Illinois to Delaware. And what Steve was wearing when we first met back in ‘01.

He mentioned being unlikely to fit into his old clothes, while I lamented the changes in what he once described as my centerfold stomach.

We had a good laugh about the metabolic shift that accompanies getting older. After all, the battle of the bulge is a lot more manageable when you have good friends to commiserate about it with.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Opening The Vault: Party Thirty Eight

When it comes to remaining friends with an ex, being 3,000 miles apart helps -- as I discovered with my Calfornia-based boyfriend Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

Nearly a year after I broke it off between us, Sparky continued to call and we fell into a rhythm of communicating at least a couple of times a month. In the meantime, my romance with brooding and brilliant Larry continued to blossom, as he assured me his recreational drug habit was behind him. I now Open The Vault and take you back the summer of 1996...

May 18th, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

I had the pleasure of seeing Larry twice this week, and both times I rediscovered everything that drew me to him in the first place.

His quick wit and inexhaustible vocabulary engage my intellect, while his attentiveness and sensitivity appeal to the emotional side of me…There isn’t an encounter we’ve had during which Larry has failed to tell me how desirable I am to him.

All smiles during my first road trip with Larry to Broadkill Beach, Delaware, July 1996

As anyone who knows me will tell you, Larry was a very tough nut to crack in the beginning. Hardened by divorce and years of solitude, he was reluctant to get involved with me beyond a very superficial level.

Still, I was patient and willing to accommodate Larry’s hesitancy. Because the more time we’ve spent together, the more apparent it’s become how he feels about me. As his [CFA] exam draws closer, Larry has spoken more and more about being with me more frequently after June 1st.

* * *

May 27th, 1996

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that I still think about Sparky a lot. He’s the only man I ever thought about marrying.

Rationally, I know all of the reasons I ended our relationship. But that hasn’t changed my feelings for him. A few weeks ago, Sparky called and admitted the same thing.

“It was very difficult for me to let go,” he said, “but nothing will ever change my love for you.”

“I love you too, Sparky,” I replied.

“I still think we have a chance,” he said.

“So do I.”

* * *

And so, Sparky and I kept the door open for a reprise between us. I couldn’t have imagined then where the years would take us -- or the ways in which time would only confirm what I already knew about him.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Friday Night Out With An Old Flame

Friday, my old flame Steve and I braved the downpour to enjoy a night out in Times Square.

Our first stop was The Perfect Pint, a lively pub with charming bartenders who know how to mix a great cosmo. Steve filled me in about potential work-related travels in his future (Europe, the Middle East), which got us to talking about our mutual affinity for Sydney. I admitted that if Sydney was situated a little closer to home, it would be hard to resist the urge I felt back in January to move there again.

Saju Bistro: One of my favorite French restaurants in NYC. Delicieux!

Next, we walked over to French bistro Saju, where we shared a sublime plate of escargots in garlic and butter sauce and I enjoyed skirt steak cooked to perfection with pomme frites. Saju never disappoints, serving with panache French provencal fare so authentic that I wasn’t surprised to hear the couple next to us speaking en Français.

Over dinner, we talked about the enduring appeal of “Sex And The City,” and Steve laughed when I told him I only started watching the show during its sanitized TBS run. We agreed that, of the fabulous four, Samantha was the most over the top and the one we’d be least likely to share a cocktail with. After all, there’s only so much risqué talk you can take.

Up next…Tony Award winner Geoffrey Rush dazzles in “Exit The King,” and a friend makes the case for Botox.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

To Pay Or Not To Pay

This week, I was quoted in an Associated Press story about dating and recession that was picked up by New York magazine. My observations sparked some intense conversation, which got me to thinking about the complicated question of who pays on a first date.

Money can be a thorny subject on a first date -- especially when it come to deciding who pays

As I told the AP, I’m a traditionalist in that I think a man should pick up the tab. I’ve always believed that being respected as a woman and treated like a lady are not mutually exclusive -- and I’ve dated enough to know there are many men who are of the same mindset.

“It would make me feel emasculated,” my old flame Steve told me, when I asked for his take on having a woman pay or going Dutch.

Friend and fellow writer Eddie says he was raised to believe a gentleman always treats a lady -- but admits that point of view has gotten him into trouble on occasion.

“I got hammered on dates when I asked for the bill and handed over my credit card,“ he says. “My gesture did not go over well because the dates presumed it meant that I didn't think they could pay their own way. But the old tradition was too ingrained in my soul for me to change. What I did do was a add a line that anticipated the challenge: ‘I have had such a great time with you. Would you mind if I picked up the tab?’ Issue resolved.”

Eddie went on to say that there’s merit to both sides of the argument and I couldn’t agree more. Plenty of men and women are happy to go 50/50 on a first date. And I’d venture to say an equal number of us believe modern-day mores can happily co-exist with the time-honored tradition of a man taking a woman out.

Neither approach is wrong. Recession or not, though, I think a first date should involve more than going for a walk (the suggestion that one guy proposed to a friend of mine). You don’t have to break the bank to come up with something fun -- you just have to exercise a little creativity.

And when it comes to romance, that’s a muscle we could all afford to flex more often.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday Night At Fratelli's

Last Saturday, my galpal Lauren and I met up for dinner at Fratelli’s on the Upper East Side.

A relatively new addition to the neighborhood, Fratelli’s serves up tasty Italian fare in a laidback bistro setting. Co-owners and brothers Mark and John, along with their friendly staff, do a great job of making you feel welcome -- whether you’re a family with kids that need a distraction (like toys, which the restaurant makes available for borrowing) or two single ladies enjoying a night out.

Over a shared pear salad, two generous glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and delicious pasta (gnocchi in tomato sauce for me), Lauren and I found ourselves musing about thirtysomething singlehood.

Though we’re both happy with the choices we’ve made that have led us to where we are today, neither of us anticipated still being minus a plus one at this age. Or having to deconstruct confounding male behavior -- like the guy who regularly texts me sweet nothings yet only suggests last-minute plans. Or the friend of Lauren’s who makes romantic overtures but remains similarly elusive.

There is one upside of such shenanigans -- having fabulous girlfriends to laugh about it with.

Coming up…my appearance in an Associated Press story about dating and the recession, and meeting actress Susan Sarandon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

By The Numbers: Old Flame Edition

Today, I’m enjoying a Summer Friday off from work -- and some quality time with my old flame Steve.

We had planned to catch up during my recent visit to Kansas City, where Steve now lives with his wife. He was (understandably) busy celebrating their first anniversary.

City Gal: Steve took this picture of me when he visited NYC back in 2006

This will be the first time in years we’ve had a full day together, so I can’t help feeling nostalgic about the memorable moments we’ve shared since we met nearly eight years ago. Here are a few of them -- By The Numbers:

Number of cities in which Steve and I have reunited: 5
Number of weeks after meeting that we first said those three little words: 2
Number of steamy clinches in an airport parking lot: 1
Number of aborted breakups via email: 2
Number of giant teddy bears Steve has given me: 1

Steve’s thoughtful gestures went far beyond stuffed animals. A man with the soul of an artist, he’s also written me poetry and music -- and has, throughout the trajectory our relationship has taken, always been in my corner.

Whether it’s encouraging me in my literary aspirations or sending me a comforting email on the anniversary of my dad’s passing, Steve never fails to be there for me. We are that rare exception of former lovers who have become friends. And, really, that’s what love is all about.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catching Up With My Brother

Last Friday, I headed over to the Crowne Plaza hotel in Times Square for drinks and dinner with my brother Andrew, visiting from Houston.

Andrew and me at my Women Rule party, November 2005

A 40-year-old entrepreneur (and former New Yorker) who often schmoozes with movers and shakers from all walks of life, Andrew is a man with many great stories. Over cocktails, he recalled the time he found himself sharing a car with Fergie and Maroon 5 because he’s good friends with Fergie’s driver.

Awhile back, a random night out with actor Jim Carrey and his bodyguard landed all of them in the New York Post’s infamous Page Six gossip column. Andrew and I laughed about the time he refuted my skepticism about his acquaintanceship with Carrey – by having the actor show up to wish me a happy birthday over drink’s at Merchant’s on NYC’s Upper East Side.

Like Carrey, Andrew has had a longstanding penchant for blonde starlet types. Which is why I was pleased to hear that his new ladyfriend is career-minded (she works for an architectural firm) and seems to have a good head on her shoulders.

Equally impressive, that he’s only been back in the Big Apple a few weeks and has already managed to find a semi-significant other. Then again, he’s quite the charmer. After only one night at the hotel, he was on a first name basis with the waitstaff.

Andrew and I have always had lots of fun together. We share a passion for this great city and for making the impossible happen. I’m hoping he sticks around for awhile – and, of course, that he introduces me to some of his single friends.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Singles Fun At Tavern On The Green

The only thing better than celebrating the start of summer and end of the work week is doing it in one of New York’s iconic outdoor spaces. This Friday, that’s what Professionals In The City is offering with its social networking party at Tavern On The Green.

A Great Place To Party: NYC’s iconic Tavern On The Green

The party offers free admission and dancing in Tavern’s lush garden. The giant sculpted animals alone are great conversation starters, and the setting within Central Park (tourists and all) remains one of my favorites.

Doors open at 5pm. For more information and to RSVP, log on to Pros In The City’s website.

Coming up...catching up with an old flame and revisiting the wisdom of playing hard to get.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Girls Night Out: Upper West Side

Last Wednesday, I met up with fabulous and fun travel writer/author Karen Schaler on NYC’s Upper West Side.

After a pair of heavenly pear martinis at the Empire Hotel’s swanky lobby bar, we headed over to Karen’s favorite neighborhood haunt, Riposo 72. A cozy wine bar with a friendly and vino-savvy staff, Riposo also serves up a mean cheese platter and tasty flatbread. I learned the hard way that ordering both is an exercise in overindulgence.

Riposo 72: A cozy haven for oenophiles on NYC’s Upper West Side (photo courtesy: Time Out New York)

Over the course of the evening, Karen and I talked about the highs and lows of our previous lives as TV reporters, the power of serendipity and the impact of dreaming big. Karen is one of those inspiring people who doesn’t ask why, but instead, why not?

In addition to our shared past in front of the lens, we found common ground in life-changing trips (Afghanistan for her, Australia for me) and industry connections -- it turns out the agent I met with last month was Karen’s first agent when she was pitching her new book, Travel Therapy.

Deciding it was definitely kismet that our paths crossed, we made a toast to our new connection and to sharing future successes.

“This is only the beginning,” she texted me after we said goodnight. “Just believe and it will happen!”

That’s the thing about dreaming big -- when you’re lucky enough to have good friends cheering you along, anything is possible.

Monday, June 1, 2009

From Blogging To Books

When you’ve been keeping a journal since childhood like I have, you inevitably find yourself wondering, would my story make for a good book? Thanks to a recent meeting with a top literary agent, it looks like the answer to that frequently pondered question might just be yes.

A few weeks ago, said agent emailed me to say she had read Single Gal In The City and would love to talk to me about writing a book.

The next day I was in her office, learning the importance of having a “platform” (i.e. built-in audience) when pitching publishers and hearing about her ten years of experience representing authors.

From Columnist to Author: Like SATC's Carrie Bradshaw, I’m hoping my musings end up in a book

She encouraged me to stay in touch with her, start reading lots of memoirs (do Tori Spelling and Michael J. Fox's current books count?) and continue spreading the word about SGITC. Her greatest feedback, though, was this--

“There’s definitely a book in there.”

I’m a big believer that serendipitous things start to happen when you believe in your dreams enough to put words to them. Since my agent encounter, I’ve connected with two newly-published authors who were equally positive about my prospects for getting published. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What do you think, SGITC readers? Could I make the same leap Miss Bradshaw did? More importantly, what should I title my memoir?