Friday, July 31, 2009

My First Time At BlogHer

Last Friday, I joined 1,500 other women for BlogHer, the largest annual gathering of female bloggers in the U.S.

The big crowd at BlogHer’s opening session

The Mommy bloggers were out in full force. During the opening breakfast, I had the pleasure of connecting with two of them – Devra of Parentopia and Ellen of Love That Max. In the small world department, Devra mentioned working with a few of my Quinn & Co. PR colleagues, while Ellen and I discovered we have a mutual friend in common.

After a quick round of speed networking with other bloggers, I was off to a series of informative and engaging panels covering topics from owning your expertise to making the transition from blogger to author (Izzy Rose and Stefanie Wilder-Taylor had some fabulous tips to share).

During an afternoon break, I headed onto the expo floor where big brands ranging from Suave to Wal-Mart were showcasing what’s new. My favorite, and most unexpected, attraction, though, was the fabulous Carson Kressley.

Carson Kressley: The style guru and TV personality is equally charming and hilarious in person

On hand to promote BlogHer sponsor Nikon’s "How To Look Good In Pictures"campaign, Carson charmed the crowd and delivered one of the day’s best one-liners. When Mrs. Potato Head approached him for a handshake, Carson quipped that he’s trying to cut back on carbs.

Cheryl of Jack And Jill Politics and I talked about the amazing things that can happen when you start blogging. She had just interviewed President Obama a few days before and marveled that he was well acquainted with her site. I felt the same way when Cheryl said she was familiar with Single Gal In The City.

Stephanie (a.k.a Queen of Quirky) and me at the cocktail reception

Later, at a cocktail reception for attendees, I connected with fun and fabulous Stephanie (a.k.a Queen of Quirky). We talked about our similar career paths – moving from journalism into PR – and the party we’d like to co-host at next year’s BlogHer. I can’t wait, especially since BlogHer 2010 will be in NYC.

After putting in a brief appearance at one of the Mommy blogger-sponsored soirees, I headed back to my room feeling exhausted but inspired. Having met so many smart, accomplished women passionate about contributing to the blogosphere makes me feel even more privileged to be a part of it.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Online Dating: Frogs And Princes

As you venture into the world of online dating, you quickly come to discover that it’s populated with colorful characters – many of whom make unusual choices about what to include in their profile.

Back in ’04, my very first online date was with a guy whose profile included undated pictures of him at three very different weights. I’m guessing this was his litmus test for whether size really does matter.

Then there was the “Italian/Cajen electricion” who emailed me to say he was looking for someone he can’t stop thinking of when she’s not around. Less romantic was what he said about his literary habits—

“I like to read the Daily News in the bathroom.”

By far, though, I think my favorite online profile is one that my friend Andrea forwarded to me from a Russian dating site.

Igor, 49, is looking for a girl aged 16-20 to marry. Igor’s profile features photos of him in silk pajamas, a red smoking jacket and a selection of fur coats. And this one:

Igor: Seeking Cinderella online

“The kingdom is expanding," he writes. “But there’s still no worthy Cinderella…to be transformed into a princess, capable of devotion, faithfulness and love (without an 'intimate' past, knowing what's a maiden's honor...). DO NOT WRITE: with superiority complex, counting herself the last girl (literal translation: ass) on the planet, any used-up losers, dating market discards, PEOPLE WITH NON-TRADITIONAL ORIENTATION, jealous idiots whose discussions, questions or advice nobody here needs…Don’t offer your body for sale – I am squeamish.”

After reading this, I was a little squeamish myself.

Coming up...a chic party at NYC's Hudson Terrace and meeting one of the beauty world's rising stars.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Romance Meets Reality

When you go to a wedding, you can’t help thinking about the trajectory that your own love life has taken. Having just witnessed two couples start their lives together, I’ve found myself pondering what happens as romance first blossoms.

Theoretically, the beginning of a relationship is supposed to be a blissful, effortless time (or, at least, that’s how it is in my fantasy world). But what happens when reality gets in the way?

I’ve experienced my fair share of romantic starts challenged by outside forces. Geography proved to be a foe twice, first when I fell for California native Mark (a.k.a. Sparky), then again when I met Illinois resident Steve days before moving back to New York.

The most devastating trial to coincide with a new love -- losing my mother just five weeks into dating noble and dashing Brit David.

Sometimes it’s a less dramatic circumstance that poses a threat to growing chemistry. Like dating someone who’s obsessed with his dogs or who works completely different hours. It’s hard not to feel like your romantic dreams shrink a little when time doesn’t allow much margin for error.

I guess the trick, as mom used to say, is knowing how to be content with what you have. And, of course, making sure to communicate during any bumps along the way so that the time you do share with your sweetheart is well spent.

Who says romance and reality can’t happily coexist?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Singles Event Pick: Glitz & Glam

This Thursday, Project Runway’s Zulema Griffin is teaming up with Upper East Side hotspot Haven to host Glitz & Glam, a benefit for SMART -- Sisterhood Mobilized for HIV/AIDS Research & Treatment.

Glitz & Glam kicks off at 7pm and will feature cocktails sponsored by Prairie Organic Vodka as well as a surprise show and performance. Proceeds will benefit SMART’s efforts to provide life-sustaining treatment education programming for youth and women affected by or living with HIV/AIDS.

Tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door. Click here for more information or visit the event’s Facebook page.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Night Out In Chicago: Hub 51

Thursday, after dinner at Terzo Piano, I headed over to Hub 51, a lively bar, restaurant and nightclub hybrid with a standing room only crowd.

I soon found myself sitting next to P, an adorable entrepreneur in town from D.C. We quickly fell into easy banter as we talked about a mutual affinity for good wine and Harry Potter.

We continued flirting and the hours flew by. I almost forgot I had to get up early the next morning for day one of the BlogHer conference, that’s how effortless and engaging the conversation between us felt.

Eventually, P leaned in to kiss me. I discovered something unfortunate about him when he was thisclose -- bad breath. Talk about a buzz killer.

Still, as I cabbed back to my room at the Sheraton, I couldn’t help smiling. My eventful evening served as a delightful reminder that you never know when or where you’re going to click with someone.

Coming up…girls night out at one of NYC’s swanky rooftop bars and making connections at a good friend’s nuptials.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Getting To Know Chicago

Thursday, I enjoyed an action-packed day in the Windy City that began with a stroll around Navy Pier.

Attracting more than 8 million visitors a year, Navy Pier offers plenty of food, rides and entertainment.

Shiver Me Timbers: Posing with a few friendly pirates at Chicago’s Navy Pier

After posing with a few friendly pirates and catching a glimpse of Budweiser’s visiting Clydesdale horses, I headed over to the dock for Chicago Line Cruises’ 90-minute architectural tour. Chitown’s sleek, sophisticated skyline boasts rich examples of many different styles and our fabulous guide knew about all of them.

Next stop -- the Museum of Science and Industry to take in Harry Potter: The Exhibition. Featuring more than 200 costumes and props from the Harry Potter films, the 10,000 square foot exhibition is as enchanting as the young wizard himself.

What A View: Shantel and me at Terzo Piano

Having indulged the tourist in me, I was happy to make like a local and do dinner with my friend Shantel at one of Chicago’s hottest new restaurants, Terzo Piano. Located at the Art Institute, Terzo Piano delivers delicious, innovative fare in a chic, modern setting.

Shantel and I chose an outdoor table with a stunning view of the skyline and Millennium Park. A producer at Oprah, Shantel told me about her favorite assignments -- touring Sydney with sweetheart Hugh Jackman, working with Jon Bon Jovi and family during the show’s Inauguration coverage.

We also talked about our shared love of Australia, the slightly more laidback energy of Chicago as compared to NYC and the ups and downs of being single gals in big cities. One of the definite perks -- enjoying a girls night out on a glorious summer evening.

I love Chicago.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Three

Rekindling an old flame can be either a romantic stroll down memory lane or a recipe for disaster (or, sometimes, both). With my high school prom date Hogan, it was unequivocally the former when we reunited during the fall of 1996.

All Smiles: Hogan took this picture of me and our good friend Linda, Toronto, October 1996

At the time, my relationship with then-boyfriend Larry was on the rocks, as I struggled to cope with my mother’s breast cancer. I desperately needed to get away, and so I did -- to Toronto, my former hometown, and Hogan’s loving arms. I now Open The Vault and take you back to October ‘96...

Toronto, Ontario
October 11, 1996

Dear Diary,

Hogey and I spent much of last night reminiscing about the prom and people we knew during our high school days. Then, with some Bordeaux and candlelight to complete the mood, we settled in for some smooching and what was one of the most fulfilling, memorable conversations I’ve ever had with a man.

We talked at great length about our romantic expectations and philosophies on relationships. We are remarkably close in thought on so many things.

It dawned on me that, once again, a man I could have something serious with is too many miles away. But, then again, I wouldn’t change a thing about what Hogan and I have. I think it’s because of the distance that we’ve remained part of each other’s lives and I want that to continue.

At one point, during dinner, I was telling him how my best friend in college had let me down after she moved back to Malaysia. Hogan reached across the table and took my hand. He’s so loving and compassionate. Maybe someday, I’ll be lucky enough to find a guy like him in New York.

* * *

October 14, 1996

After a passionate morning cuddle, Hogey and I walked hand in hand around his neighborhood. He gushed about the spendours of fall and coming to visit me in Kansas if I move there someday to work for a local TV station.

At the airport, we held each other and said what a great time we’ve had. Squeezing Hogan’s hand, I said--

“Don’t ever change.”

He smiled, as he said--

“I’ll change -- but we’ll change together, like we have all of these years.”

I couldn’t agree more. We kissed tenderly before walking arm in arm to the gate. We embraced again.

“I’ll miss you,” Hogan said, kissing me one more time.

“I’ll miss you too,” I said, pulling him even closer. We stole one more kiss and our hands slowly parted as I walked toward the gate. I kept looking back at him until he blew me a final kiss and left.

I told Hogan I have two male categories -- one for the disappointments I’ve dated and another strictly for him. He’ll always be special to me. And I have a sneaking suspicion that the feeling is mutual.

* * *

My blissful reunion with Hogan found me questioning the merit of continuing things with Larry. Once I was back in New York, it didn’t take long for me to do something about it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Chicago: My Kind Of Town

Ever since a brief business trip to Chicago fifteen years ago, I’ve been hankering to return. This week, my wish is coming true, as I enjoy a three-night stay here in this great city.

Cruising Around Chi-town: The view from a cruise covering Chicago’s rich architectural past and present

Since arriving Wednesday night, my whirlwind visit has covered everything from cruising Chicago’s waterways and dinner atop a swanky museum to catching up with a producer at Oprah and mingling with a few adorable locals.

Today, I’m getting some creative inspiration here at BlogHer, the largest annual female blogging conference. It’s impossible not to be inspired when you’re surrounded by 1,500 amazingly talented, accomplished women from all walks of life.

Coming up…more about my eventful jaunt to the Windy City. My kind of town, Chicago is!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Girls Night Out: Astoria

Last Friday, I ventured over to Queens for a girls (plus one) night out at Studio Square, the new beer garden in Astoria.

A cavernous space, Studio Space boasts an indoor bar area adorned with urban murals and an outdoor garden with a stone fire pit and communal, hand-carved tables.

Fun In Astoria: Taking in the scene with (from left) Lauren, Dan, Louise and Leila

Galpals Leila, Louise and Lauren, along with Lauren’s hilarious friend Dan, joined me at SS. We settled ourselves at a center table for an animated conversation about weddings and marriage.

Lauren and Louise told a few cautionary tales about brides who rushed down the aisle only to regret it later.

I shared my optimism about marriage, due in large part to the fact that most of my married friends are actually happy with their respective mates. Dan made the salient point that being single has as much merit as being wedded to another person -- especially when you reside in the people playground that is New York.

Along with a few pints, we indulged in SS’s tasty food menu, including burgers, fries and surprisingly good sushi (the eel avocado roll is delish). Even a brief downpour didn’t dampen the fun.

As we made our way back hours later to Manhattan, it occurred to me that I need to do more inter-borough excursions. That’s the thing about New York -- you don’t have to travel far to be in a completely different world. And when you’ve got great friends to share it with, the journey’s even sweeter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Singles Event Pick: Big Apple Bash

When it comes to knowing what’s hot on the cultural and culinary scenes, there’s no one savvier than my Quinn & Co. colleague David. Which is why I wasn’t surprised to learn that he’s affiliated with the Young Members Circle for the Museum of the City of New York.

Museum of The City of New York: The upcoming Big Apple Bash will take place on the terrace here

On Thursday August 6th from 7-11 pm, the group will host its second annual Big Apple Bash. They have quite a night planned with a fun DJ, eats from Sullivan Street Bakery and Whole Foods and drinks including a cool new potato Vodka. Among the raffle prizes – Circle Line tickets, $100 to Seamless Web and a selection of beauty products.

Tickets are $50 for non-members until August 1st and then $65 afterwards. For more info, click here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

By The Numbers: Always A Bridesmaid Edition

You never know what’s going to happen at a wedding. From unexpected mishaps to surprise connections with members of the opposite sex, a lot can happen when two people are celebrating their I Dos.

All dolled up for a colleague’s wedding in New Jersey last weekend

With nuptial season in full swing -- and a second wedding to attend in as many weekends -- I can’t help thinking about the more memorable ones I’ve attended over the years. Here are a few of them, By The Numbers:

Number of weddings attended: 17
Number of times I’ve been Maid of Honor: 4
Number of weddings that led to romance with the Best Man: 2
Number of weddings made more enjoyable by having gay dance partners: 2
Number of men kissed whose wedding date later showed up: 1
Number of weddings at which I accidentally set my hair on fire: 1

That embarrassing moment happened at my dear friend Camilla’s wedding a few years back. I leaned across the table to flirt with a cute guy, and ended up scorching my hair with a candle. The incident spread like, yes, wildfire around the room and everyone had a good laugh. So much for being a seductress.

What engaging encounters await me this Sunday at galpal Cindy’s nuptials? With an Aussie and a few fellow singles sitting at my table, I can’t wait to find out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Drinks With A Smooth Security Chief

During my visits to the set of the “Sex And The City” movie back in ‘07, I became friendly with security chief K. Last week, I had the pleasure of catching up with K over drinks at the Gansevoort Hotel’s swanky rooftop bar.

A showbiz security veteran who guards A-list stars, K is currently working on the sets of “Gossip Girl,” “Ugly Betty,” and the new Harrison Ford/Rachel McAdams movie “Morning Glory.”

A man of many passions -- travel and entrepreneurial ventures among them -- K is quite the charmer.

“My business is my pleasure and my pleasure is my business,” he said seductively.

As he filled me in on his recent romantic exploits, he leaned in real close. I told him he’s so smooth, you can almost hear a medley of Luther Vandross tunes playing in the background.

We talked at length about the question of when to become intimate with someone you’re dating. K says the timing depends upon the person you’re with -- and that he’s found most women are surprised if he doesn’t make a move on the first date.

I teased him about the way he once described his, ahem, prowess in the bedroom--

“It’s like Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July all rolled into one.”

Sounds like quite the threesome.

Coming up…rediscovering the pleasures of NYC’s other boroughs and returning to the Windy City for a big female powwow.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Treat For Wine Lovers

As someone who enjoys both drinking and learning about wine, I was excited to read The Sipping Point by Laurie Forster, a.k.a. The Wine Coach.

The Wine Coach: Laurie Forster

A crash course for aspiring oenophiles, The Sipping Point is a lighthearted guide that makes understanding wine fun and approachable. Laurie covers everything from food and wine pairings to wine care and handling. Laurie knows her stuff -- she studied with the American Sommelier Association, earning a certificate in Viticulture and Vinification.

Tomorrow, Laurie is bringing her unique brand of wine expertise to NYC, with The Art of Blind Tasting, a two-hour event at the Institute of Culinary Education. Laurie will introduce guests to a variety of wine of different varieties, price ranges and vintages, using the blind tasting technique popular among professionals.

Admission to the event costs $95. For more info, click here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Three

A true crisis can test the mettle of even the best relationship -- and have you wondering if you’re better off going your separate ways. That was the difficult question I was asking myself back in September of ‘96, nine months into my relationship with then-boyfriend Larry.

I had just learned that, after seven years in remission, my mother’s breast cancer had returned. The devastating news coincided with a period of great tension between Larry and me. I now Open The Vault and take you back to September of 1996...

New York, NY
August 14th, 1996

Dear Diary,

It’s been a very rough week. While Mom was in the hospital for a biopsy procedure, there was a complication and her lung collapsed. Memories of Grandpa’s final days on a respirator came back in the most frightening way.

Thank God, she came home yesterday. My friends have been unbelievably supportive. I’m sad to say, though, Larry has truly let me down.

A Day I’ll Never Forget: I was here at work when I learned that Mom’s cancer had come back

Upon informing him of Mom’s condition, I said he would have a tough job cheering me up.

“Well, maybe I’m not the man for the job,” he said.

With those words, Larry sealed his fate the second older man I would walk away from. Though I’ve always known our involvement would be of finite duration, I never expected he would fail to be there when I needed him the most.

When Larry failed his CFA exam and acted like it was the end of the world, I was there for him. There’s no excuse for what he said to me the other day. Sure, he’s called twice since then full of sympathy and concern, but it’s too little too late as far as I’m concerned (and others too -- I’ve polled the masses).

* * *

September 22nd, 1996

Despite his tremendous gaffe a few weeks ago, Larry is still in the picture. After giving him the silent treatment and telling him how much he’d hurt me, Larry displayed the right amount of remorse and apologized.

And given our tiff that immediately preceded Mom’s hospital stay, I can understand his assumption that I wouldn’t want to see him.

Most importantly, Larry’s track record overall is flawless. Every other time when I’ve had a problem, he has given me support and understanding….and some great body massages, but that’s another story!

* * *

Larry and I coasted along for a few more months. But an encounter with an old flame would find me reexamining whether it was finally time to move on.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Parental Relationship Effect

When it comes to what you think about romantic love, it’s no secret that your parents’ relationship tends to exert the greatest influence. Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about how true this is regardless of how well – or not – that relationship stands the test of time.

Much has been said about the impact of divorce. As someone fortunate enough to grow up with a mother and father who genuinely adored each other, though, I can’t help wondering – does that circumstance too bring its own complications?

Having gone through quite a few bumps in the road before getting married (including two divorces between them and a fiery courtship), Mom and Dad were all the more appreciative of what they found in each other.

Like any couple, they had their difficult times. But they never took one another for granted. I remember walking into their room on many occasions to find them giggling and curled up like newlyweds. And seeing Mom run into Dad’s arms whenever he came home at the end of the day.

I also remember a conversation with Dad about my quest to find a similar version of happily ever after.

“Well,” he said bluntly, “You might not find what we had…how many people do you know that have been swept off their feet?”

“I know a few,” I insisted, dismayed at the suggestion that I should lower my expectations – while also understanding the loving intentions behind it.

“I just want to see you settled,” Dad said.

Sometimes I wonder if my fear of settling period – of not doing justice to the legacy of my parents’ love – has kept me from taking the leap of faith that goes along with truly committing to another person. Which is why, for as happy as I am being single, I remind myself of something Mom often told me--

“You can try and you can fail. But if you don’t try, it’s for sure you’re going to fail.”

That’s the great thing about love. As my parents discovered for themselves, you get more than one chance to get it right.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Weekend Jaunt To The Poconos

Last weekend, I left the hustle and bustle behind and headed to the Poconos for some family fun. After a breezy two-hour drive into the heart of Pennsylvania’s lush territory, I arrived at the home of my Uncle Chucky, Titi (a.k.a Auntie) Rosie and younger cousin Melanie.

Family Bonding: (from left) Titi Rosie, my cousin Melanie and Mel’s eight-month-old cutie Caden

Uncle Chuck threw some burgers on the grill and we talked about their upcoming trip to Aruba. The getaway will be their first alone together since Melanie was born 20 years ago, so Rosie was wondering how they’d fare without her. With a laugh, Rosie acknowledged she’s more of a talker than Uncle Chuck, which got us on the subject of women in general needing to converse more than the opposite sex.

Speaking of girl talk, Rosie and I later did plenty of it – about how relationships evolve over time and how, the longer you’re single, the more difficult it can be to open yourself up to someone new.

Rosie empathized, recalling that because of her painful divorce, she had no interest in marriage when she first met Uncle Chuck. She said you never know how a relationship is going to unfold, that even a bumpy start doesn’t necessarily rule out happily ever after.

Her insight gave me pause. As someone who’s made a career out of identifying why Mr. Right For Now can only be just that, it’s nice to think that, someday, I might end up being surprised by his longevity.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Singles Event Pick: Night Under The Stars

One of my favorite things about summer in New York is the rooftop bar experience. On Tuesday July 28th, the Starlight Foundation will host Night Under The Stars, an event at one of Gotham’s swankiest rooftop settings, 230 Fifth.

230 Fifth: The rooftop garden here is NYC’s largest

In addition to hors d’oevures and premium open bar, the three-hour event will feature a raffle with great prizes ranging from a Costa Rican getaway to a $650 La Prairie gift basket. Attire is summer chic and proceed benefits the foundation’s mission to help ill children and their families through entertainment and education.

Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door. Click here for more info.

Coming up...drinks with a globetrotting showbiz security chief and a visit to one of NY's most popular beer gardens.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Girls Night Out: Club Rebel

Last Thursday, I headed to Club Rebel in Midtown West with galpal Bobbi and her friend Michelle. The occasion – a performance by lanky Russian pop star The Oskar and Bobbi’s aspiring rapper beau Pasha (a.k.a. P Gunner).

Hot Stuff: The Oskar, me and P Gunner

As an opening band warmed up the small crowd, we took in the colorful scene. A group of Oskar’s twenty-something fans gathered around him while a crew with NTV, the top Russian-language channel in the U.S. filmed it all.

Over a few cocktails, the three of us dished about dating and nightlife in NYC. I filled the girls in on current distractions of the male variety. Bobbi mentioned a recent night out that found her surrounded by a dozen single men. She agreed to call me next time she finds herself in such a predicament.

Michelle, happily ensconced with her live-in boyfriend, shared details about a swanky tennis-themed party she photographed at NYC’s Hudson Hotel. A true talent behind the lens (she snapped the new signature pic of me you see on the right), she’s been capturing some of Gotham’s hottest events for years.

A little after 11pm, Oskar, joined by a few equally lithe backup dancers, took to the stage. His energetic five-song set included the catchy electro pop rock tune “Barbie Doll” and featured a duet with Pasha.

I missed the finale – sleep was beckoning me – so I’m looking forward to downloading some of The Oskar and Pasha’s repertoire. I can’t wait for their next gig.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Being Happy About Being Single

It’s that time of year again – when the sight of baby bumps and the sound of I Dos are as common as the mercury rising.

The other day, I spotted three pregnant women within a two-block radius. And I’ll be attending two weddings this month.

With all of this exposure to babies and happily ever after, I can’t help thinking about timing and what an impact it has on these milestones.

When I was in my twenties, I never imagined that I would reach my mid-thirties and still be single. Looking back at the trajectory my life has taken, though, I can’t imagine it having gone any other way.

Over the last decade, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of following my dreams wherever they’ve taken me. From chasing on-camera stardom in Illinois and Delaware to living the good Aussie life as a Sydney resident for five months, I have truly enjoyed the freedom that comes with being unattached.

And, of course, along the way, I have made a few pitstops for romance. I’ve experienced my fair share of serious relationships and not so serious dalliances that have helped shape both the woman I’ve become and the partner I look forward to becoming someday. In the meantime, I’m happy to be single – and to be a part of the nuptial and parental rites of passage.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even catch the bouquet.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

An Inspiring Pair

When you’re single and happy, there are some couples that nevertheless manage to get you thinking about domestic bliss. For me, one of those inspiring duos is Morgan and Arthur.

An Inspiring Pair: Morgan and Arthur during their last visit to Africa

Morgan, one of my PR colleagues at Quinn & Co., met her husband of two years when she moved to Paris and became an au pair for his family. It was love at first sight. After a lengthy courtship, they married in a beautiful ceremony by the water in NY’s Westchester County that seemed like something out of a storybook.

One of the truly amazing things about Morgan and Arthur -- they’re as devoted to making a difference as they are to each other. This summer, they’re spending two weeks in Rwanda on a mission trip to help build houses, nurture children orphaned by the country’s 1994 genocide -- and to meet two children that they have sponsored for over a year.

Since 2004, Rwanda Building Blocks, the organization that Morgan and Arthur are working with, has built houses, sponsored more than 800 children and provided medical training for local inhabitants. Click here to learn more about the group’s great work and how you can be a part of it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Two

No matter how strong a relationship is, there are times when you’re unable to comfort your significant other. I experienced the frustration of that back in 1996, after my then-boyfriend Larry failed his CFA exam.

Equally upsetting -- the question of whether our relationship had somehow played a part in what had happened. Initially, Larry had been hesitant to get involved because he wanted to concentrate solely on the exam. Was he now regretting that decision?

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

August 24th, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

The other night [at the East River Promenade], I disentangled myself from Larry’s grasp and sat beside him on the bench. He pouted adorably and I harped on his rejection of me earlier when he said he needed space.

Reassuring me with a hug, he said--

“I only meant it when I said it, and it was not my intention to put any distance between us. I don’t want to push you away.”

He said the exam results have made him reexamine how he’s spent the last six months. I was relieved when he said he doesn’t regret the time we’ve shared.

“Good,” I answered defensively, "Because I decided a long time ago not to feel guilty about this.”

Still, as I said that, I found myself questioning what might have happened had he stayed away from me.

Though Larry walked me back to my building, the distance between us remained

Larry spoke about how much more relentless he’ll have to be on the next CFA go-round (he put in about 500 hours for this year’s attempt). I said I will continue to respect his efforts and not make any demands of him.

“I know,” he said with emotion, “But I don’t want only stolen moments with you.”

“I’ve enjoyed our stolen moments,” I answered, smiling.

“I want more of them,” he declared.

Later, when Larry dropped me off at home, I told him--

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more use to you.”

“I’m much happier now,” he insisted as he held me, “I’m smiling, see?”

“I’ll speak to you next week,” I said tersely.

“Fine, be that way,” he said.

“Fine,” I said as the elevator door closed. I immediately burst into tears. It was the first time Larry and I had parted in anger and I hated it, especially since I wanted so desperately to ease his pain.

* * *

Larry and I would get past this setback, only to soon find the roles reversed -- and me needing his comfort to deal with a devastating revelation.

Friday, July 10, 2009

By The Numbers: Online Dating History Edition

In the world of online dating, chemistry is an elusive thing. My hot and heavy recent encounters with hunky cop and member Rich got me to thinking about my long history with seeking romance in cyberspace.

It was my good friend and diva extraordinaire Heidi who convinced me back in ‘04 to sign up with Since then, I’ve had my share of both lackluster dates and unexpected sparks.

Here are some of my online dating milestones -- By The Numbers:

Number of online dating sites tried: 5
Number of first dates that failed to merit a second: 11
Number of online connections that stretched to two dates: 2
Number of boyfriends whose dogs were a factor in our breakup: 1
Number of weeks spent texting a guy before saying no to date #2: 4

That JDater was Scott, who had a penchant for texting -- and for inviting me out at the last minute. Interestingly, he said I was being ‘difficult’ for not obliging him.

“So difficult,” he wrote in a text message, “I think I may have to kiss u for days to keep you in one place xo.”

Considering we’d only gone out once, his overture seemed creepy rather than cute.

When I finally told him -- by text, of course -- that our scheduling patterns would prohibit a second date, I couldn’t help appreciating the irony. After all, I pointedly mention in my online profile an aversion to interminable email/IM/text communication. With good reason, as Scott reminded me.

Coming up…the effect of weddings and babies season and the importance of a mutual spark.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Drinks At Trata

Tuesday night, after dinner down in the West Village, I headed up to my Upper East Side neighborhood for a late-evening drink with my brother Andrew and his business partner Parker.

I met them at Trata, a trendy Greek seafood bistro that happens to serve delicious white sangria.

Parker, a former financial big wig turned consultant, joined Andrew in giving me the scoop about their current venture capital project involving new medical technology and an heiress investor with spellbinding charm.

We also talked about my shortlived candidacy for Murphy-Goode Winery’s highly coveted Lifestyle Correspondent gig.

Earlier in the day, I had learned that I didn’t make it onto the Top 10 shortlist of contenders. Given how stiff the Top 50 competition was – seven other New Yorkers among them, including a guy with Food & Wine magazine on his resume – I wasn’t too surprised.

Once I got over the disappointment that I won’t be living on a vineyard for six months, I was actually relieved. Had I made the final cut, it would have been tough to weigh my wanderlust against my love for NYC. Because, for as much as I’m a travelgirl at heart, there’s still no place I’d rather be than the Big Apple.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tuesday Night With Lucky Strikes

Last night, I headed down to NYC’s West Village for this month’s meeting of Lucky Strikes, a social media club founded by smart and savvy real estate marketing blogger Rob Hahn (a.k.a. The Notorious R.O.B.).

The dinner confab of a dozen people was held in a cozy, private room at Rocco Restaurant, a venerable Italian eatery that’s been around since the 1920’s and has hosted more than a few mobsters over the years. Rocco serves a mean Caprese salad and the proscuitto and melon is equally mouthwatering.

Rocco Ristorante: Tasty Italian fare served by a truly charming staff

I had the chance to catch up with former Quinn & Co. colleague Allie, who spoke excitedly about her plans to start a freelance digital PR practice when she returns to her native Texas next month. Is there anything more inspiring than someone in the throes of making their entrepreneurial dreams come true?

Rob was joined by marketing maven Michael in a fascinating presentation about social media metrics that engaged everyone.

Once the official conversation was over, talk turned to the single life. New Jersey-based real estate agent (and webisode star) Sarah Bandy and I discussed a future girls night out, never mind her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Michael, who met his last significant other through, shared a laugh with me over our mutual disdain for the site. Too much time involved, too little of a payoff.

Still, I will say this for the world of online dating. When you least expect it, it's full of surprises.

Coming up...a weekend jaunt to The Poconos and a look at an up and coming rapper.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Allure Of The Unattainable

At last month’s Dating Boot Camp event, NYC-based matchmaker Matt Titus talked about the rules of attraction. When a woman makes herself too available to a guy, he warned, it’s “game over.” I couldn’t help thinking of my own experience with that age-old rule of playing hard to get – and wondering if it still applies today.

Is there any value in playing hard to get?

Years ago, during my complicated relationship with California-based beau Mark (a.k.a Sparky), I had a feeling that the built-in tension of our situation had a lot to do with his ardent pursuit of me.

Several months into our long-distance romance, I called him on it. Sparky insisted his only motivation was love. When I asked him a second time why he was so persistent, he gave me a different answer.

“Sometimes, it’s the quest of knowing what you can’t have that makes you so persistent,” he said.

Sparky’s observation made sense. After all, having grown up watching both soap operas and two parents whose enduring love had been preceded by a fiery courtship, I couldn’t help being enticed by the drama too. But is drama a prerequisite for passion? And does playing hard to get have to be a part of it?

Maybe not, says my good friend Heidi. Her new boyfriend recently told her that if they’re still together in a year, they should get married.

“This,” she told me, “is how our relationships should be... easy. I know the whole thing about ‘if it's not worth fighting for, it's not worth having,’ but I like this way much, much better.”

I think it’s easier to do without the drama – self-made or otherwise – when it feels like a relationship is progressing naturally over time and, of course, when you’re both on the same page about the direction in which it’s heading.

As for playing it cool, I’ve come to think of it more in terms of taking things slowly. Because when you’re making room for romance in your life, and balancing that with staying true to yourself, why rush it?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer Sunday At The Parker Meridien

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed some memorable meals at NYC’s Parker Meridien. Back in 1993, I enjoyed my second lunch with actor and friend A Martinez. In 2004, my then-boyfriend and I scarfed down a delicious meal at the upscale hotel’s legendary Burger Joint.

Yesterday, it was pampering that was on the menu.

Eager to take advantage of sublime weather (upper 70’s, low humidity), I headed to the hotel’s Gravity Fitness & Spa to buy a $100 day pass for the pool. I was delighted to learn that, with the Summer Sunday package, an additional $50 would get me a treatment and access to all of Gravity’s facilities for the afternoon. Believe it or not, $150 for the twin perks of cooling off and indulging in spa relaxation is actually a pretty good deal here in the Big Apple.

Parker Meridien’s rooftop pool: A heavenly oasis 40 stories above Midtown Manhattan

I happily headed upstairs to the Meridien’s penthouse oasis. First up, kicking back in a lounge chair on the Astroturf sundeck with sweeping skyscraper views. Then, a refreshing dip in the atrium rooftop pool – heaven.

Equally sublime was my massage with Rich, a 30-year spa veteran who knows how to work out the kinks and does a good job of explaining what he’s doing along the way. As he kneaded a tight spot in my shoulder, he quipped--

“You’ve got enough energy balled up there to fly to New Orleans. Not California, but definitely New Orleans.”

I laughed. It just so happened that, as he said it, I was thinking about the West Coast and my bid for Murphy-Goode Winery’s lifestyle correspondent gig in Sonoma.

I’ll find out tomorrow if I move beyond the Top 50 shortlist to the Top 10. Could a true blue native New Yorker like me handle life on the left coast? Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty One

When you’re in a relationship, one of the greatest tests is how you cope as a couple with bumps in the road. Back in 1996, then-beau Larry and I faced an especially big bump when he didn’t pass his CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exam.

Having logged hundreds of hours in studying, Larry was devastated by the failure. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the summer of 1996...

August 23, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

I saw Larry last night and the evening was replete with the post-failure fallout I’d anticipated.

When we met downtown, I could see Larry’s melancholy immediately. His face and body were wrought with tension. Every other word was a negative, self-deprecating remark and I realized it would be nearly impossible to comfort him.

I foolishly tried to convince him he has plenty of time to retake and pass the exam. He coldly rebuffed me, saying the years matter more to him and this is an obvious example of the age gap between us.

I moved my knee away from his grasp and looked away from him with resentment. It seemed like Larry was condescending to me the way my ex Sparky once did. Though I will admit Larry’s never patronized me before, I was stung by his comment anyway.

East River Promenade: A walk along here paved the way for an important moment between me and Larry

Dinner was strained, as we spent most of it in silence. I was at a complete loss for words, knowing Larry didn’t want to hear my optimism.

Considering that he’d only slept two hours the night before, I was surprised when he said softly--

“A walk by the river?”

“Sure,” I said, happy for the invitation to revisit a place that was special to us.

He suggested we sit down on a bench and I smiled, recalling how much I’d wanted him to make that invitation back in January. As if he’d read my mind, Larry said--

“You were disappointed I didn’t kiss you the last time -- let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

With his hands holding me tightly, Larry pulled me toward him until our lips met. I felt a surge of relief. In that moment, Larry and I being close was all that mattered.

* * *

Though Larry softened as the evening progressed, the night would raise a troubling question about what might have contributed to his CFA setback. Little did we know that another crisis was looming right around the corner.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Drinks With A Celeb Mag Veteran

Wednesday night, I met up for drinks with Alex, deputy news editor for one of the top celebrity magazines, at Midtown bar and lounge Bogart’s.

Alex and I connected via phone a few weeks ago, after I submitted an email tip about the upcoming “Sex And The City” sequel. We discovered we had a few things in common -- a love of Australia and cynical take on celebrity journalism among them -- so it only seemed fitting to meet in person.

Bogart’s: This Midtown bar and restaurant on NYC's Park Avenue serves up a mixed crowd of suits and grizzled-looking types

Alex has seen it all in his 20+ years covering Hollywood’s bold-faced names. He admitted to work-induced Michael Jackson fatigue, but didn’t get a break from it since Bogart’s was playing a medley of MJ’s greatest hits while we imbibed.

We eventually moved on from the topics of the gloved one and TLC’s Jon and Kate divorce drama to Alex’s history as a musician and my ignorance when it comes to Led Zeppelin. We also talked briefly about the possibility of working together on some travel promotions with my clients. Synergy is a beautiful thing.

Happy Fourth, All!

Friday, July 3, 2009

By The Numbers: One Year Anniversary Edition

It’s official -- Single Gal In The City is one year old.

Much has happened since, at the prompting of my good friend Carla, I entered the blogosphere 365 days ago. From multiple first dates to old flame disappointments, from foot surgery to climbing Sydney’s majestic Harbor Bridge, I’ve covered a lot of ground. Along the way, I’ve fallen in love all over again with my beloved NYC, and with the joys of being single.

Sky high Smile: The view from Sydney’s Harbor Bridge, January 2009

Here are some of the highlights of SGITC’s first year -- By The Numbers:

Number of blog posts (including this one): 386
Number of men mentioned: 22
Number of dates with men met online: 8
Number of encounters with old flames: 3
Number of Opening The Vault posts with entries from old diaries: 40
Number of trips: 9

A travelgirl at heart, I’m excited about the journeys coming up -- including a trip to Chicago and, fingers crossed, my first-ever jaunt to California wine country if I make Murphy-Goode Winery’s Top 10.

And I’m looking forward to many more years of blogging about my adventures. Thanks to all of you out there for joining me in the fun!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Catching Up With The Lost Girls

Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of catching up with friends (and writers extraordinaire) Amanda, Holly and Jen, a.k.a The Lost Girls.

I joined the ladies for a happy hour at The Australian, an Oz-themed bar in Midtown West. With a perfect glass of rose in hand, I filled Amanda in about my recent dating adventures and making the Top 50 for Murphy-Goode Winery’s A Really Goode Job. She and her sweet boyfriend Jeff were gearing up for three-week vacation to one of my favorite countries, Costa Rica.

Speaking of significant others, Jen was all aglow about her new beau whom she met unexpectedly a month ago at a party.

“We started talking and haven’t stopped,” she said with a smile.

In reflecting on the early days of getting to know someone new, Jen and I talked about how men in New York differ from, say, their counterparts in the South. Southern males, Jen observed, assume women will be a little coy and play hard to get while Gotham guys expect more assertiveness. As a modern woman who’s still a traditional girl at heart, I have to say Jen gave me food for thought.

We also found ourselves talking about something that seems to be coming up a lot lately for me -- the challenges of making time for romance when you’re juggling a career, friends and the generally frenetic pace of life in NYC.

Just back from China and a stint in upstate New York, Holly shared the welcome news that she’s moved to the Upper East Side, just a few blocks away from me. We shared a cab uptown, parting with promises to take in some of my favorite neighborhood haunts together. Busy or not, there’s always time for a girls night out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Weekend Of Pampering

Last weekend, my friend Bobbi and I enjoyed a much-needed getaway to The Spa at Norwich Inn.

Nestled in the heart of Connecticut, it was exactly what I always imagined a destination spa to be – bucolic setting, soft-spoken and friendly staff and bathrobe-glad guests (most of whom were female) strolling the grounds.

Bobbi and I all aglow after our treatments at The Spa At Norwich Inn

Saturday afternoon was devoted to on-property pampering, including a rejuvenating facial and massage combo. Continuing the relaxation vibe, Bobbi and I went from the hot tub to the indoor pool before making our way to complimentary afternoon tea.

Over buttermilk scones with clotted cream and blackcurrant tea, we talked about old boyfriends, new romantic prospects and the importance of paying attention to dating dealbreakers. We applauded ourselves for finally learning how to move on from Mr. Wrong more swiftly -- Bobbi ended her last ill-fated romance after six months, I exited from my most recent entanglement after only three.

After lounging by the outdoor pool and one more dip inside, we spruced ourselves up and headed over to nearby casino Mohegan Sun. Bobbi lost $200 playing roulette and I picked up $50, buying us a round of drinks with my small winnings.

Bobbi and I are already planning our next getaway, and a future return to Norwich. Because the joys of pampering are always multiplied when they’re shared.

Up next...drinks with a handsome, charismatic tabloid newsman and the allure of the unattainable.