Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Radio Gig

Back in June, I had the pleasure of appearing on Dating Makeover Coach Kira Sabin’s Blog Talk Radio show. This week, I’ll be returning to the Internet airwaves on The Love Coach show with relationship expert Debra Berndt.

Author of "Let Love In: How to Open Your Heart and Mind to Attract Your Ideal Partner," Debra is a renowned hypnotherapist.

Debra and I will be talking about the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone as a single gal.

What are some of your top tips when it comes to mingling and putting yourself out there? Post them here and I’ll give you a shoutout during the show!

I’ll be appearing on this Wednesday’s edition of The Love Coach at 4pm EST. Click here for more info about tuning and calling in to the show.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Farewell To Online Dating

Today, I’m taking down my profile -- and bidding farewell for the last time to the world of online dating.

After nearly five years of looking for love in cyberspace, and belonging at one time or another to half a dozen different sites, I’ve decided that I belong to the 95% of subscribers who don’t find their match on the Internet.

Much like some of the breakups I‘ve experienced, my exit from online dating has had its false starts. I’ve taken several respites from Match, and the like, returning each time to find it even more like seeking out a needle in a haystack.

That said, a few eccentric characters notwithstanding, the parade of men I’ve met online have been decent, respectable types. I even managed to eke out a one year+ relationship and, more recently, a summer romance, from my tenure.

I’ve witnessed several Internet dating success stories, the last wedding I attended being one of them. But, as with speed dating and various other modern mechanisms for meeting the opposite sex, betting on the online universe is a gamble. And I’m excited to refocus my attentions on vehicles with better odds.

So, as summer draws to a close, I look forward to leaving the virtual singles world behind and fully rediscovering everything that NYC has to offer. After all, in a city ranked by Forbes as being #1 for singles, the possibilities are endless!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Eight

When you reconcile with an ex, there’s always the risk that it won’t be as good the second time around. Back in ‘96, the gamble paid off -- briefly, anyway -- for me and then-boyfriend Larry.

With a new understanding based upon the fact that I couldn’t make a long-term commitment to him, Larry did his best to make me happy and to make up for what had contributed to our breakup -- his failure to support me through my mother’s illness. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the winter of 1996...

November 28th, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

Thursday night, Larry treated us to a big night out -- dinner, drinks at Naked Lunch in the Village and dancing at Windows on the World.

Windows on the World: A romantic evening here with Larry found me thinking briefly of my ex

Thoughts of Sparky came up when a love song by Sting came on, but my usual wistfulness was happily supplanted by the gratification of knowing I’m with a much better man now.

“I want us to have a wonderful relationship,” Larry murmured as we held hands across the table. “You deserve that.”

* * *

December 4th, 1996

I’m nursing a bad cold at the moment. Sleep deprivation has wreaked havoc on my body -- though, on the bright side, it’s resulted in lots of TLC from Larry.

As we held each other last night, I looked at Larry and found myself wishing I could give him more. While talking about our relationship, he said--

“Neither of us lives in a dream world. When we spend more time together, you’ll know. And so will I.”

The ominous foreboding of his words made me bury my head in Larry’s chest, hating the thought of our eventual parting. I don’t want to think of us as marking time, I want what we have to last as long as it can.

“It’s there, you know,” he said as we embraced.

“What is?” I wondered.

“The L word,” he said softly.

I know it is.

* * *

It was the closest that Larry and I would ever come to saying those three little words. And it took our final weeks together for me to realize just how much he had done -- and what it would cost him -- to express that sentiment.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Charitable Event Pick: Schneider's Soirée

One of NYC’s hottest new outdoor venues is Water Taxi Beach at the South Street Seaport. On Wednesday September 9th, Schneider Children’s Hospital is taking over the space for its Inaugural Summer Soirée.

Water Taxi Beach: The new downtown location is a popular hotspot

Proceeds from the event will help support the hospital’s $132 million campaign to renovate and expand with the construction of a four-story, 100,000 square foot Inpatient Pavilion. Schneider recently added a new atrium, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Ambulatory Chemotherapy Center.

The soirée will feature three-hour open bar (beer, wine and sangria), appetizers and -- here’s the fun part -- unlimited games including mini golf, skee ball and ping pong.

Tickets are $50 until September 1st, and $60 thereafter. For more information, click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Girls Night Out: Connolly's Klub

Last weekend, I headed down to Connolly’s Klub in Times Square to catch up with my good friend Amanda and see cover band M-Theory.

Amanda and me

Fronted by Amanda’s galpal Courtney, M-Theory performed an energetic mix of Top 40/pop rock tunes. During a rousing rendition of “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” Courtney came into the audience and gave me the chance to sing a few notes – when it comes to indulging your inner karaoke diva, nothing’s better than 80’s music.

Rocking It Out: Amanda and M-Theory revved up the crowd at Connolly’s Klub 45

Amanda briefly took to the stage to lead the band on Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold,” dedicating the song to all the ladies who’ve dated men that fit this description.

Over a few cocktails, we talked about our own hot and cold exes, and about her upcoming trip to Panama with fellow Lost Girls authors Holly and Jen to pen the epilogue for their eagerly-anticipated memoir (due out in spring 2010 from HarperCollins). I’ve had the privilege of getting a sneak peak at the book and it’s fabulous. You’ll fall in love with The Lost Girls and find yourself itching to follow in their footsteps and embark on your own year-long journey around the globe.

A mutual love of travel is what first brought Amanda and I together back in ’05, a tale that she chronicles with her inimitable flair here. She’s one of my heroes – as a writer, intrepid globetrotter and all around fabulous woman. I can’t wait to be first in line at The Lost Girls book signing.

Coming up…a farewell to online dating and a review of a departing Broadway hit.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Fickle Finger Of Fate

The other day, my trainer Raj told me about a few recent dating mishaps with his new love interest.

Date one ended in his parents interrupting their goodnight kiss, while date #2 found him in a brawl defending her from the advances of some brutish men. Raj’s date suggested that all of the drama was fate’s way of saying they’re not meant for each other.

As he shared this, I couldn’t help thinking about the fickle finger of fate – and the role it’s played in my own love life.

I’m a believer in signs, especially when it comes to make or break decisions about romance. Recently, I was on the fence about continuing to date hunky cop Rich, largely because of opposite schedules and (very) different emotional styles. After an intense two-hour phone conversation, he told me to sleep on it. Upon later discovering that Rich had logged into within an hour of our heart to heart, I knew for sure it was time to call it quits.

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve experienced how the hand of fate can make romance happen against all odds. For me, there’s been no greater example of this than my ill-fated love affair with California-based Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

A confluence of events led to our unlikely meeting back in ‘94. Knowing we were fans of “NYPD Blue,” a family friend invited us to watch the show filming in the East Village -- an invite that arrived while I was home from college on spring break. I happened to visit the set just a few days before Sparky headed back to L.A., and the rest, as they say, is history.

Though neither Rich nor Sparky turned out to be Mr. Right, they both reinforced my belief that every significant other crosses your path for a reason. If you’re lucky, each partner teaches you something -- whether it’s about yourself, or about what you want (and don’t want) in a partner.

That’s the thing about fate -- it‘s usually a lot smarter than we give it credit for.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Taste Of France With Friends

Last week, I joined my friend Katherine for an intimate gathering at her French beau Bernard’s rooftop terrace.

Along with easy conversation, we enjoyed some French delights, from a selection of cheeses to chilled wines that included a heavenly Bordeaux.

Rooftop Fun: Katherine and me enjoyed a balmy night under the New York sky

A handful of Katherine’s charming and, to my great delight, single male friends were on hand, namely two charismatic Brits, Mudi and Nick.

Nick and I talked about our respective careers in PR – happily discovering Nick has worked with one of my best buddies in London and a mutual affinity for Australia. I learned he’s been Down Under seven times. I said that, for me, four times and five months in Sydney simply isn’t enough.

I also hit it off with visual artist Claire, recently back from making a splash in Venice and having her work featured in the New York Times. We mused about the allure of trying on other destinations for size and the perils of dating in NYC.

Mudi disputed my assumption that men in Gotham have it easier based upon the lopsided male-female ratio here. I was surprised, given that he has the additional advantage of an irresistible accent.

Yes, singlehood in the Big Apple has its ups and downs. All the more reason to be grateful for fabulous friends who throw impromptu parties where singles can commiserate or, ahem, connect.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Celebration Of Guiding Light: Part Two

During last Wednesday’s celebration of “Guiding Light” at the Paley Center for Media, the panel conversation eventually turned to some of the more outrageous plot twists unique to the soap genre.

Bradley Cole (Jeffrey) signing autographs

“Where else can you get away with playing a prince on a white horse but on a soap opera?” quipped Bradley Cole (Jeffrey), who went from being a prince in his first GL incarnation to a district attorney in his second.

Michael O’Leary (Rick) laughed about his character’s overnight development as a doctor.

“I went from being an orderly one day to doing brain surgery the next.”

Cast members and executive producer Ellen Wheeler alike spoke with great affection for the strong work ethic and closeness on the “Guiding Light” set.

“It gets passed down from generation to generation,” Wheeler said, adding that the show’s cancellation won’t diminish what cast, crew and audience have experienced together.

“No one can take that shared moment away from us.”

During the Q&A portion of the evening, many GL fans in the audience articulated that same sentiment, sharing personal stories about how they’ve been affected by the show. A recently widowed woman moved Kim Zimmer (Reva) to tears when she said the character of Reva has taught her that it’s okay to grieve in a big way.

Kim Zimmer and me: The GL veteran was as bubbly and charming as she’s been every other time I’ve met her through the years

Fans swarmed the charming Miss Zimmer at the post-panel cocktail reception. One of daytime’s greatest and most gracious stars, she made time for everyone who approached her, thanking everyone for their good wishes and support.

Naysayers and poor ratings be damned, GL’s exec producer says the future of soaps may not be so bleak after all.

“There’s something uniting about serial storytelling,” Wheeler said. “And there are plenty of fans who want to see stories.”

If the outpouring of love at this celebration is any indication, she’s absolutely right.

Coming up…a new chapter in my love life begins and a look at what happens when work gets in the way of romance.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Celebration of Guiding Light: Part One

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a soap opera buff. I’ve joined soap fan clubs (and even started one) and attended the Daytime Emmy Awards many times.

Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of attending “Good-bye to Guiding Light, 72 Years Young” at the Paley Center for Media.

Still Shining: "Guiding Light" cast members Ellen Dolan, Grant Aleksander, Liz Keifer and Kurt McKinney at Wednesday night’s tribute

The longest-running program in broadcast history, “Guiding Light” takes its final bow on September 18th. Several GL cast members and 100+ fans were on hand for an engaging panel discussion about the show and its lasting contribution to television.

Participating in the conversation were four-time Emmy winner Kim Zimmer (Reva), Grant Aleksander (Phillip), Bradley Cole (Jeffrey), Elizabeth Keifer (Blake), Michael O’Leary (Rick), head writer Jill Lorie Hurst and executive producer Ellen Wheeler.

GL exec producer Ellen Wheeler and me

After a retrospective video montage, moderator and Paley Center curator Ron Simon asked the panelists about their experiences on GL. Everyone spoke with great candor and heartfelt feeling, expressing what it’s meant to be part of such a beloved show.

“I’ve always bragged that I’ve met five generations of Guiding Light viewers. This is our little heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation,” said Zimmer, who’s played Reva on and off for 26 years.

GL’s multi-generational appeal and unparalleled knack for integrating cast members of all ages was one of the main topics of the night.

Head writer Hurst shared that she came to "Guiding Light" as someone who’d watched the show from the age of 3 with her mother and grandmothers.

When asked about the 80’s -- widely considered to be the heyday of soaps -- everyone agreed it was a magical time.

“It was great--big hair, big earrings, big shoulder pads,” Zimmer quipped. “There was nothing they wouldn’t spend money on,” she added, speaking fondly of lavish location shoots that were a lot less common during the 90’s.

“We didn’t know we were arriving for the pinnacle,” said Aleksander, who joined GL in the 80’s. “It was the Great Gatsby of our medium.”

Up next…mingling with the GL cast and a look at the role of fate in romance.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Seven

Sometimes it takes revisiting your past to appreciate what you have in the present. That’s what happened after my rocky reunion back in ‘96 with California-based ex Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

Our tumultuous two days together found me reevaluating the relationship I had just exited, with captivating but complicated teddy bear Larry. Sure enough, I found my way back to Larry, albeit with very specific restrictions about what might (and might not) be in store for us. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November of 1996...

November 11th, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

I think I’m becoming a pretty fickle woman when it comes to romantic entanglements. Today, Larry and I got back together -- just one day after a hot and heavy makeout session with my hairdresser and less than a week after my reunion with Mark. My emotions are all over the place these days.

After Mark left, for the first time, I started wondering if Mom was right when she once surmised that I’m “in love with love” rather than still smitten with my on-again/off-again. I also found myself comparing Mark to Larry and feeling that Larry is unquestionably the better man.

Last Thursday, Larry had been on my mind quite a bit so I was surprised to come home and find a card from him -- with the most beautiful words a man has ever articulated to me.

He wrote at great length about how I’ve changed his life and how much he regrets not being there for me when Mom first got sick. I knew we needed to see each other again, if only so I could say a lot of what I failed to during our “Last Supper,” as he called it.

Nobu: A delicious lunch here with Larry led to a reprise for us

Well, what was intended to be a farewell lunch turned into a stroll down memory lane. Eventually, Larry took my hand and we were in each other’s arms. All of the old feelings were there, and every part of me melted as he squeezed me tightly.

I reiterated my inability to make a commitment and, as always, Larry listened and heard me. What impressed me most, though, was the soul searching he’s done during our 3 weeks apart. He seems committed to leaving his emotional baggage in the past.

No matter how many times I kept coming back to my restrictions, he insisted he can accept them.

“I just want it to be as good as it can be,” he said, hastening to add, “Until we’re done.”

“No strings?” I replied cautiously.

“None,” he said.

Things are different this time. I’ve indicated we should date other people and we’re not going to see each other as much as we did before. But that doesn’t mean we can’t add to one another’s lives. There is a level of affection and understanding between Larry and I that I’ve had with no other man.

And now that I’ve shelved most of my wistfulness about Mark, I feel freer to enjoy Larry without any baggage of my own. Here’s hoping the second time around for us is as good as the first.

* * *

Larry and I managed to fall back into a nice groove with each other, one that would continue for a couple of months. Much like what happened with Mark, though, the age gap between us would become impossible to overcome.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why Chemistry Counts

Imagine going out with a guy more than half a dozen times and not kissing. That’s the scenario a good friend of mine, B, has just experienced – one that got me to thinking about just how important (and elusive) physical chemistry is.

B attributes her man’s circumspect behavior to the fact that he’s religious. For her part, she’s trying hard to develop an attraction toward him because he’s a nice guy. The thing is, as I told B, a spark either exists or it doesn't. And there’s only so much time during which it might develop.

I’m certainly no stranger to allowing some wiggle room—a maximum of three dates--for an attraction to emerge. Last fall, three evenings with a charming Englishman failed to yield a kiss goodnight. But, years ago, it was my third date with dog lover Shawn that sparked fireworks and a year-long relationship. More recently, date #2 with hunky cop Rich lit the match between us.

As far as mutual attraction only happening quickly, there is one exception to the rule and that’s what I call the “When Harry Met Sally” principle – i.e., longtime friends who end up becoming more. I’ve experienced it twice in my life. When it comes to crossing the platonic line, years of knowing someone can be pretty powerful foreplay.

However it unfolds, physical chemistry is kind of like yeast is to bread. It’s the key ingredient in a recipe without which nothing else can rise. And who really likes flatbread anyway?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Singles Event Pick: Summer Sundays

Summer may be winding down, but the singles event scene in NYC continues to heat up. This weekend, the Empire Hotel’s popular rooftop lounge is hosting Summer Sunday.

The Empire Hotel Rooftop: Enjoy Summer Sundays right here

A seasonal series, Summer Sundays offer sunset cocktails, a view of Central Park and house Djs spinning down tempo and chill beats. The free six-hour event kicks off at 5pm and you can RSVP here.

I learned about Summer Sundays through a fabulous Facebook group co-founded by hostess with the mostess April Lynn Martin. From fashion events and charity galas to gallery openings and art parties, this is the group to sign up for if you’re a single New Yorker and want to be in the know.

Coming up…a memorable tribute to TV’s longest running show and a taste of France right here in Gotham.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Girls Night Out: Uva

Last night, I caught up with my good friend Sara at Uva, a charmingly rustic wine bar and restaurant on NYC's Upper East Side.

Uva: One of the most inviting wine bars on the UES

I could feel myself unwinding as I enjoyed a delicious (and affordable --$13) flight of three white wine varieties. Over a delicious dinner – tuna carpaccio and veal melanzane for me, heavenly prosciutto-filled ravioli with cream sauce for Sara – we talked about workplace politics, our upcoming Labor Day getaway to New Hampshire and friends who are tying the knot this year.

While discussing the latter, we found ourselves musing about complications that seem to throw a wrench into thirtysomething dating, namely the challenge of sustaining that carefree attitude which seems so effortless before crossing the 3-0 threshhold.

After dinner, we put in an appearance at my newlywedded friend Cindy’s farewell-to-the-city soiree. Just back from an African safari honeymoon, Cindy and her hubby are moving to New Jersey on Friday. As she begins this new chapter in her life, I feel a mixture of excitement for her and wistfulness for the days when she was my number one wing woman.

I look forward to visiting Cindy in the burbs – and to the girls nights out yet to come with Sara and my other galpals who are still on the prowl.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Singles Vs. The Marrieds

Not too long ago, I blogged about friends with significant others ditching their single galpals. The post prompted a friend of mine to mention she’s experienced the reverse phenomenon – single friends shying away after she got married.

I couldn’t help thinking, does it really have to become an us versus them dynamic when you no longer have the same marital status in common?

Another friend, D, recently experienced a rather extreme take on the idea that singles and marrieds don’t mix. Her aunt assembled a collage of all the cousins’ weddings. She used pictures of each bridal couple together, and then group photos of all of the girls at each wedding. All except D, who was literally cut out of every group shot. Why?

“Because,” she says. “I’m the only single one and don’t have my own bridal photo and therefore, do not count.”

Her aunt’s cutting move is a good example of the self-segregating that often happens between singles and marrieds. What is it that makes this peculiar pattern take place? Do singles resent being around the type of committed relationship they have yet to find? Are married folk uncomfortable with reminders of the footloose and fancy-free days they’ve left behind?

Perhaps, most simply, it’s that singles and marrieds often end up traveling in different circles. Most recently, I noticed this when I attended last month’s BlogHer conference, and most of the Mommy Blogger contingent seemed to travel in packs, veering away from those of us who are child-free.

Yes, it’s all too easy to keep your distance from peers with a different relationship status. The thing is, there’s much to be said for keeping the lines of communication open. Because, when it comes to navigating the tricky terrain of relationships -- married or not -- the larger the conversation, the better.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Visit To The Buckeye State

This weekend, I headed to the Youngstown area of Ohio to visit my dear friend Marilyn.

Just an hour from the Pennsylvania-Ohio border on the Pittsburgh side, Youngstown and its surrounding environs boast warm and friendly locals, a robust arts scene and several fabulous restaurants.

In between shopping and catching up, Marilyn and I experienced a few mouthwatering meals. Friday, we continued a longstanding tradition and had dinner at Springfield Grille. I enjoyed pan seared scallops in sweet sherry sauce with smashed red potatoes, while Marilyn had petit filet mignon -- and her first cosmo ever.

A Toast To Friendship: Marilyn and I at Springfield Grille

Along with great dining, the Youngstown area has a knack for cleverly named stores. From La Ti Da apparel and Elmo’s Bras & Girdles to the Flaming Ice Cube gift shop, there’s no shortage of them. My personal favorite -- The Bone Bucket, a barbecue joint with a banner that reads, “Man Food.”

Marilyn and I had a good laugh over that one -- and over the many times we’ve driven past the right highway exit because we’re so absorbed in conversation. Having been friends for nearly twenty years, we never run out of things to talk about. Or, of course, great restaurants to try.

Back In The Big Apple

Single Gal In The City is back! After a three-destination vacation, I’m happy to report that daily posts have resumed – and that the best of summer is yet to come.

From an exclusive look at “Project Runway: All-Star Challenge” and a visit to the set of SATC 2 to a glimpse inside one of NYC’s hottest spas, SGITC has plenty in store this month. And stay tuned for the chance to weigh in about recession dating and win an SGITC t-shirt!

Coming up…the singles vs. marrieds dilemma and a visit to the Buckeye State.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Six

After you break up with someone and enough time passes, it’s easy for nostalgia to obscure why the relationship ended in the first place. That’s what happened with me and my California-based ex Mark (a.k.a. Sparky).

A little over a year after I broke it off with Sparky, he came to New York on business. Following a blissful first night together, the downside of our roller coaster chemistry kicked in. I now Open The Vault and take you back to the fall of ‘96...

November 3rd, 1996
New York, NY

Dear Diary,

In keeping with tradition, the day after with Sparky was disappointing, upsetting and ridden with reminders of why I broke up with him.

No matter how hard I try not to let his insensitive, egocentric ways get to me, Mark invariably manages to do it anyway. He loves me and yet never fails to be condescending and cold when we’re together.

Today, he dominated every conversation. He went on and on about his job, his aspirations, barely letting me get a word in edgewise. You’d think after 11 months apart, he would be interested in knowing more about where I'm at. Not so.

* * *

November 4th, 1996

Armed with twenty-four hours worth of pent up frustration, I confronted Mark over dinner at Raffaele tonight.

Raffaele: Sparky and I had a heated argument at this cozy UES Italian restaurant

Not surprisingly, he didn’t want to hear what was upsetting me and I saw a flash of the angry side of him which has brought about some horrible fights between us in the past. He came thisclose to getting up and leaving the restaurant. I must admit it felt good to put him on the defensive for a change.

I calmly told Mark that I feel like my pursuits don’t interest him. As usual, he disagreed, maintaining that I was taking things out of context.

He said he wouldn’t remain in touch if he didn’t love me, but that he can’t allow himself to get too emotional when we’re together. This push-pull dynamic has been a constant with us and I suspect will continue until such time as our situation becomes a more normal one (IF that ever happens).

Later, wonder of wonders, Sparky actually asked about my work and we started laughing and cuddling. Even though we didn’t necessarily resolve anything -- do we ever? -- I felt like he really heard me for once, like we were truly communicating.

In my heart, I know the chemistry we have is too volatile to sustain anything permanent. But I also believe we will continue to be a part of each other’s lives for years to come. A part of me is forever his.

* * *

After Sparky’s hurricane-like visit, romantic dramas of the more local variety resurfaced as the month’s theme of revisiting old flames continued.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Jaunt To The Hamptons

Nestled in the South Fork of Long Island, the Hamptons are known as a ritzy playground for the well-heeled. Earlier this week, my brother Andrew and I experienced the area’s quieter side during an overnight getaway to Westhampton.

Summer tends to be the quiet season when it comes to charity social events in New York. Which is why I was excited to hear about WGirlsNYC’s upcoming cocktail party on Thursday August 20th.

After a two-hour drive from NYC, we arrived at the neighboring hamlet of Quogue. Once we checked in (and switched rooms because of an overpowering Lysol stench) and picked up some sandwiches at the local market, we were off to Quogue Beach.

A view of Quogue Beach on a perfect summer day

Having been landlocked for most of the summer, I felt exhilarated to finally be oceanside and soak up some rays.

A few hours later, Andy and I cruised around town, taking in the sprawling homes lining nearly every bucolic street. With stately, gated entrances and perfectly trimmed hedges de rigeur here, I kept waiting to hear the theme from "Dynasty" around each corner.

Back at the Inn -- after another room upgrade because of dysfunctional air conditioning -- I freshened up, changing into one of my favorite new recessionista purchases, a $30 bubble dress from Kohl’s.

Strike A Pose: All smiles in my new bubble dress, Quogue, NY

Then, Andy and I headed over to Oakland’s, a charming seafood restaurant with sweeping views of the marina.

Over a delicious dinner (pan seared salmon with beet relish and creamy risotto for me), we talked about our favorite travel fantasies, and our least favorite thing about dating, i.e., the games people play.

Though summer is ostensibly supposed to be a time of carefree romance, we both agreed it’s been anything but for us -- and for others, based upon the tales of woe we’ve heard from numerous friends. Which is why we’ve decided to help Cupid along and co-host a singles party.

The last party I co-hosted -- back in ‘07 with fabulous galpal Amanda -- led to some unexpectedly exhibitionist behavior from an ex’s best friend. At the night’s end, I went into my room to find him sprawled across my bed completely naked (and completely uninvited). It’s safe to say he won’t be on the guest list this time around.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Singles Event Pick: WGirls Cocktail Party

Summer tends to be the quiet season when it comes to charity social events in New York. Which is why I was excited to hear about WGirlsNYC’s upcoming cocktail party on Thursday August 20th.

Founded by a small group of professional woman, WGirls is a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping underprivileged women and children and distributing grants to other non-profits.

Sidebar: This lively venue at Irving Place is where WGirls' upcoming soiree will take place

Next Thursday’s cocktail party kicks off at 630pm at Sidebar near Union Square. For $15 ($20 at the door), you can enjoy open bar for an hour, along with 2 for 1 happy hour specials and discounts on assorted specialty cocktails and mixed drinks.

Proceeds from the event will benefit College Bound, a WGirls original program set to launch in 2010. College Bound is a youth summit and online community designed to assist economically disadvantaged youth succeed in their transition to college.

To buy tickets, click here. For more information about WGirls, visit their website.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Top Five: Best Burgers

New York magazine recently came out with its annual list of best burgers. As I scanned their worthy selections, I couldn’t help thinking about my own favorites -- and how I’ve experienced most of them with the opposite sex.

In my experience, the pleasure of a perfect burger is doubled when it’s shared with someone special. Even the fast food variety is fun a deux. When I think of unforgettable burgers, these are the Top 5 that make the cut:

5 - Jackson Hole: Dashing British beau David and I enjoyed a meal at this cozy New York City staple back in 1999. Home of the seven ounce burger -- juicy and perfectly cooked -- Jackson Hole has been dishing it out since 1972.

4 - The Apple Pan: California-based beau Sparky introduced me to this legendary burger shack on L.A.’s Westside. Fully deserving of all the hype, Apple Pan takes ground beef preparation to a new level. Their burgers come wrapped in paper, served with crisp lettuce, dill pickles, sweet relish and a slice of Tillamook cheddar (no tomato is also part of the signature recipe here). The hickory burger is to die for.

Heaven In A Wrapper: The Apple Pan’s hickory burger has been delighting Angelenos for more than 60 years

3 - Steak ’N’ Shake:
Illinois-born sweetheart Steve and I indulged our hearty appetites at this veteran Midwestern chain. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, Steak ‘N’ Shake is known for its steak burger, made with real cuts of steak, perfectly seared and enhanced with a choice of toppings including Frisco sauce and mustard relish.

2 - Burger Joint: Dog lover Shawn took me to this tiny, renowned eatery, tucked away in the lobby of NYC’s Parker Meridien hotel. It’s no accident that Burger Joint shows up repeatedly on food critic favorite lists. Their thick, tasty burger -- served on a fluffy bun with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles -- is about as good as it gets.

1 - Five Napkin Burger: Hunky cop (and big time foodie) Rich gets the credit for acquainting me with, for my taste, the best burger I’ve ever had. A relative newcomer to Gotham’s crowded restaurant scene, Five Napkin opened last year as a spinoff of a popular menu item at Upper West Side hotspot Nice Matin. Its namesake is beyond mouth-watering -- 10 ounces of fresh ground chuck topped with comte cheese, caramelized onions and rosemary aioli. Delish.

Rich thinks it’s the soft bun that makes 5NB’s signature burger so special. I think it’s the entire heavenly concoction, one that will leave you hungering for more.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

SGITC Takes A Break

I’m a big believer in the restorative power of travel. So far this year, I’ve been to Australia, Puerto Rico and, closer to home, Chicago, Kansas City and Norwich, Connecticut.

This week, I’m taking a vacation that will encompass three destinations -- Delaware, Ohio and The Hamptons -- and truly disconnecting. As part of my mission to unwind completely, Single Gal In The City will go on a slightly different schedule (temporarily), with new posts every other day.

During my downtime, I’ll be turning my attention to a little makeover for SGITC. Stay tuned for some fun new features -- including regular coverage of “Sex And The City 2” after filming in NYC begins August 19th.

In the meantime, Single Gal In The City wants to know: what would you like to see happen to Carrie & Co? I would love to join the fab four when they head across the pond to London for part of their on-screen adventures. A single gal can dream, can't she?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Five

Regardless of time and distance, there are some old loves that linger long after a relationship formally ends. For me, that’s never been the case more than it was with my California-based ex Mark (a.k.a Sparky).

After breaking up with Sparky in June of 1995, we remained in touch. Six months later, he flew to New York for the holidays -- an encounter that confirmed both our lingering feelings and the explosive differences that made me walk away.

About a year later and just days after my breakup with subsequent boyfriend Larry, Sparky found himself in New York again, this time on business. I now Open The Vault and take you back to November of ‘96...

New York, NY
November 2, 1996

Dear Diary,

Sparky and I were reunited tonight -- and, amazingly so, that old magic is still there between us.

When he arrived at my place, I gave him a quick hug and peck on the cheek, uncertain of how affectionate to be. Then, in my room, Sparky beckoned--

“Come here -- I need a better hug,” and we embraced gain.

As I squeezed him tightly, all those familiar warm feelings flooded every part of me. And he noticed how I looked -- several times.

“I never think you can get more beautiful,” he murmured. “But you always do.”

Girafe: Sparky and I reunited over dinner at this fabulous (and now, sadly, long gone) UES restaurant

Sparky pulled me close to him and held my hand as we walked to Girafe restaurant for dinner. He complimented me again and then we finally kissed, a brief but loving kiss.

Our conversation was full of reminiscing and references to what we’ve experienced separately since seeing each other last Christmas. Sparky mentioned his new live-in girlfriend. I filled him in on romantic and career events of the past year, unable to resist dredging up the problems we’ve had. He wistfully observed that I only seem to remember the “bad stuff.”

Attempting to justify some of the conflict between us, he reiterated his frustration about our geographically and age challenged situation.

“I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you,” he said tenderly. “I would have married you -- I still would.”

We kissed again, a passionate kiss that felt so much like years ago, and Sparky quipped that we should leave everything behind and fly to Fiji.

Back at my place, we fell onto the bed, hugging and kissing again and again.

“So what else do you have to tell me?” I asked.

“Just I love you,” he said, reading my mind.

“I love you too,” I said.

* * *

Yes, the first night of a reunion with Sparky never failed to be blissful. The problem was we couldn’t seem to maintain that high -- a fact of which I was painfully reminded the next day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

By The Numbers: Art Of Courtship Edition

When it comes to dating, there’s a lot to be said for the art of courtship.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of dating a variety of men who know what it means to truly woo a woman. In this day and age, that’s no easy feat given how modern mores seem to scoff at the very idea of romance – and imply that being an independent woman is somehow at odds with wanting (and enjoying) the rites of courtship.

During those heady first days and weeks of getting to know a new love interest, I'm a big fan of mixing it up. A combination of spontaneity and planning, of the grand gesture and the little things, goes a long way toward getting off on the right foot romantically speaking. Here are a few of the memorable ways I’ve been wooed – By The Numbers:

Number of men who said it with flowers early on: 5
Number of men whose initial courting tactics included a concert or Broadway show: 5
Number of men who whisked me away on a romantic trip: 3
Number of men who added to my menagerie of stuffed animals: 3
Number of men with whom I’ve done karaoke (and not lived to regret it): 3

My most recent karaoke outing was with hunky cop and member Rich. He belted out Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive,” while I made like Tina Turner and sang “The Best.” Never underestimate the icebreaking effect of warbling after you’ve had a few drinks.

What are some of your top picks for great dates?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Girls Night Out: Midtown West

Last Thursday, after the Lauren Luke/Sephora event, I met up with my good friend and colleague Caroline for a girls night out.

Our first stop, Haru in Times Square, where we were well tended to by a solicitous waiter and charmed by the Japanese eatery’s twinkling lights. Over some hot sake and delicious sushi, we talked about old flames that can’t be rekindled, the healing power of friends when coping with loss and making progress toward big dreams.

Caroline is one of my favorite people. She’s irresistibly fun to be around, has a huge heart and an infectious laugh that makes me smile every time I hear it. We were both smiling when we stumbled upon a new eatery that shares her name.

Sweet Caroline: A beloved Neil Diamond ditty and now, a lively new NYC eatery in Midtown

Our last stop of the night was Hudson Terrace for a swanky party sponsored by Take A Chance TV for the upcoming “GI Joe” movie. Caroline and I enjoyed a few cocktails (mojito for her, vodka and cranberry for me) and took in the crowd of pretty people. Though we didn’t spot any celebs, we did encounter plenty of boldfaced name wannabes. I think we almost got knocked over by one partygoer’s enhanced cleavage.

Coming up…a look at the art of courtship and SGITC takes off.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Up Close With Lauren Luke

Thursday, I headed over to Sephora’s brand-new location in Times Square for the U.S. launch of Lauren Luke’s new makeup kits.

With her wildly popular makeup tutorial videos on YouTube -- broadcast from a webcam in her bedroom -- Lauren has become an international sensation beloved by her fans for her sense of humor and down-to-earth personality.

Meeting Miss Luke: Lauren and me at her Sephora debut

After an inspiring video about her rise to fame (that included a meet and greet with Queen Elizabeth), I had the pleasure of chatting with the 27-year-old England-born single mom. Soft spoken and absolutely charming, Lauren said she first fell in love with cosmetics as a teen. Her top beauty inspirations -- Megan Fox and Deeta Von Teese.

Even with her phenomenal success, Lauren remains approachable and fully connected to her thousands of followers via Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. She’s an awesome example of what can happen when true passion and talent intersect with the power of social media.

Lauren has developed five fabulous makeup kits that you can order here. Sephora will launch the kits nationwide across 135 stores next month.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Night Under The Stars

Last Tuesday, I headed over to swanky rooftop bar 230 Fifth for the Starlight Foundation’s Night Under The Stars.

The three-hour event -- which raised $20,000 -- boasted a posh sold-out crowd of 250 people, open bar and delicious hors d’oeuvres that included sliders, chicken fingers and Asian fare.

Smiling Under The Stars: (from left) Lauren, me and Donna at Starlight’s summer affair

My good friend Lauren, part of Starlight’s benefit committee, introduced me to executive director Elaine Siver. I also met some of Lauren’s fabulous galpals from her Fire Island summer share days and caught up with her sister Donna.

Among the topics of conversation – to date or not to date someone a decade younger, addressing the thorny subject of money with a significant other and whether there’s any value in using canned pick up lines.

The latter subject came up with Jamie, a male buddy of one of Lauren’s friends. Jamie told me he doesn’t have a standard pick up tactic when approaching women. I said that’s probably a good thing, the caveat being that a line can be an effective ice breaker if it’s delivered with just the right balance of playfulness and sincerity.

What are some of the most outrageous pick up lines you've heard?

Starlight’s next party is set for September 23rd at the Frying Pan in Chelsea. Sign me up.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Wonderful Wedding

When you’re a thirtysomething single who’s lost both parents, attending a wedding can be bittersweet. Thankfully, my friend Cindy’s wedding last Sunday proved to be anything but.

Held at the Garrison, a charming inn and golf course nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley, the beautiful affair boasted a picturesque setting and an animated, sociable crowd of about 150 people.

The bride and groom: Me, Cindy and Jason

Before the ceremony, I chatted with amiable British groomsmen Dave, who managed to be cheerful despite having to linger in the blistering heat to distribute programs to the guests.

After Cindy and her beloved Jason exchanged their outdoor I dos, everyone headed inside for the reception. Much to my great delight, I ended up at a table with fun and fabulous people, including one of the groom’s handsome cousins and a few of Cindy’s other galpals -- Sydney-born Rachel among them.

Rachel and I danced and gabbed the night away, talking about our love for Sydney and NYC and our respective adventures in online dating. We both admitted that Cindy was the go-to wing woman back in her single days and decided to fill the void for each other and do a girls night out soon.

What are some of your most memorable moments as a wedding guest?

Coming up…a visit to one of NYC’s hottest burger joints and gearing up for SATC 2.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Opening The Vault: Part Forty Four

When it comes to making a decision about your future, sometimes it takes reaching in to your past to do it. That’s what happened back in 1996, as I was contemplating the fate of my relationship with then-boyfriend Larry.

A trip to Toronto, where I reunited with high school sweetheart Hogan, amplified my doubts about continuing to see Larry. I now Open The Vault and take you back to October of ‘96...

October 17, 1996, New York, NY

Dear Diary,

Larry and I broke up last night. Although my decision was a long time in coming, our final moments together were excruciating -- especially because of how much I hurt him.

The man who so fiercely put his guard up months ago and who, more often than not, keeps his emotions in check, couldn’t hide the pain he was feeling. I’ve never seen the sadness that I did in his eyes, nor have I ever felt such remorse about hurting someone.

Larry is the first man who truly respected me as an equal. Despite the 16 year age difference between us, or perhaps because of it, he was sensitive enough to avoid patronizing and understanding about my insecurities.

His unconditional acceptance and affection freed me to express myself in ways I never have before. I felt safe and secure, knowing I could trust him completely and that he appreciated every part of me. If I now know the basic tenets of a good relationship, it’s because he taught them to me.

So why did I choose to leave him? Because, for all of his good intentions and honorable ways, our relationship was no longer making me happy.

Mom’s illness sharply illustrated Larry’s faults -- his dark and jaded nature most especially-- and that I could no longer endure them. He was incapable of giving me the support I needed. Right now, I need to be able to lean on someone who can lift me up, not bring me down.

Admittedly, Larry hasn’t had a great year. He failed the CFA, lost a friend to melanoma and recently, lost another to suicide. He couldn’t deal with my crisis compounding his own -- or at least, didn’t know what to do.

I feel terrible about adding to the emotional weight he’s carrying around. I just hope he knows how sorry I am -- and that I feel lucky to have had him in my life.

* * *

My breakup with Larry wasn’t the final chapter for us. Much to my great surprise, our split dovetailed with the return of a big love who continued to haunt me -- Sparky.