Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles

Singletude is a positive, supportive singles blog about life choices for the new single majority. It's about dating and relationships, yes, but it's also about the other 90% of your life--family, friends, career, hobbies--and flying solo and sane in this crazy, coupled world. Singletude isn't about denying loneliness. It's about realizing that whether you're single by choice or by circumstance, this single life is your life to live.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Single on Halloween: Ten Fun Ways to Scare Yourself

As far as holidays go, Halloween is singles-friendly. While there are plenty of sexy singles showing off in costumes that make the most of it, there is little emphasis on romance or family. No one is waiting to pounce on you with mistletoe, though they may pounce with an ax or chainsaw, and when the clock strikes midnight, it's not your cue to plant a wet one on the nearest eligible bachelor(ette) but to cringe and cower at a host of ghouls and goblins.

Still, if you haven't been invited to a party this year and don't have small children to chaperone, you may wonder how to raise your Halloween spirits. That's why Singletude has picked ten frighteningly fun ways to give yourself the chills this Halloween. Try them alone (if you dare), or double your fun with a friend!

1. Host a horror movie fest.
Pop some corn, dim the lights, and treat yourself to a selection of horror classics that will keep you on the edge of your seat, questioning every bump and creak in the house throughout the night. Add some friends to the mix if you don't want to sleep alone! Visit's Horror Storefor inspiration. If you're creative and handy with a video camera, you may even want to shoot your own bloodbath! (When I was young, one of my friends and I passed hours writing and shooting our own amateur vignettes. Closer to comedy than horror, they weren't exactly film festival material, but they entertain us on dark and stormy nights to this day.)

2. Bake some Halloween treats for the tricksters.
If you're at home in the kitchen, whip up some Halloween-themed cookies or cupcakes for the trick-or-treaters on your block. Take the leftovers in to work the next day and surprise your coworkers. To get your creative juices flowing (and your mouth watering), check out these scarily good Halloween recipes from!

3. Be crafty.
You don't have to be a witch or warlock to have some serious craft. Is painting your cup of tea? Light up a dark, spooky night with this Glow-in-the-Dark Mural! Do you quilt? Keep warm with this Ghoulies and Ghosties Quilt! Or maybe you like to keep the home lights burning? Practice the ancient art of candle making when you hand-dip these Easy-to-Make Gourd Candles! Whether you want to spruce up your own home or sell your wares at the local market, crafting is a fun and relatively inexpensive way to express your, um, inner demons on Halloween. Get more Halloween craft ideas from

4. Be designing.
Design your own costume or, better yet, a costume for a child in your life. Unless you go to a high-end costume rental, most packaged costumes look cheap, generic, and scream "Halloween store." That's not the kind of scream you're looking for! If you're nimble with a needle and thread, consider sewing a homemade costume, which can be as simple or elaborate as you'd like and can be fine-tuned to your measurements and color and texture preferences. McCall's, Butterick, and Simplicity are among the most popular designers of costume patterns for those who like to do it themselves. If the sewing machine is not your friend, put your creative genius to work and mix and match what you have. An embroidered blouse and peasant skirt befit a gypsy, while a straw hat and overalls are the building blocks for a scarecrow. Or, if you're skilled with hair or make-up, create a lavish cat face that will bring sparkle to a black bodysuit or mad scientist hair for a young Einstein. When you bring a touch of costume magic to the kids in your world, they'll think you're really cool, and there's nothing more heartwarming than watching a child live the role of his or her favorite character for one enchanted night.

5. Bury yourself in a book...of ghost stories, of course.
Dig up an old book of ghostly tales, heat the hot chocolate, and delight in the chills racing up and down your spine! If you have friends over, gather around the fireplace or light candles and take turns reading or telling stories to each other. Even better, prepare the stories in advance and act them out for your captive audience. Don't forget to toast the marshmallows! Click herefor a selection of literary thrillers from

6. Do the "Monster Mash."
From Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain to Zevon's "Werewolves of London," the musically inclined have tried to capture the sounds of the spooky and the kooky for centuries. This year, make a Halloween mixtape of your favorites and make copies for friends and family or listen to it yourself to get in the mood for a howling good time. If you're feeling adventurous (or have had a few drinks), sing along! Should the spirit really move you, take a handful of friends and a page out of small-town Christmas traditions and go "Halloween caroling" door to door. (Whaddaya know? Amazon has something for everyone today. Add these spine-tinglersto your mixtape!)

7. Build a haunted house.
Every neighborhood has that one house that goes all out for Halloween, the one with animated skeletons singing and dancing in the front yard, a soundtrack of moans, groans, and scraping chains triggered by little footsteps on the stairs, and a basement that every kid begs to see. Why not make that house yours? Transforming your basement into the land of the undead requires a substantial investment of time, money, and physical labor, but the emotional payoff is big when yours is the house that people drive 30 miles to see. Moreover, you can use your local celebrity for a good cause. If your haunted house is thrilling enough to charge admission, you can donate the proceeds to charity. See for tips on constructing your own house of fear!

8. Relive our haunted history.
Though the U.S. has a relatively short history, it produced the Salem Witch Trials, Washington Irving, and the Winchester House. If the macabre in our history captures your imagination, this Halloween visit a museum or take a tour at a historic site with a gruesome past. Who knows? You just might witness something the history books can't explain! Here are some landmarks to get you started:
The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa
Alcatraz Island
The Bell Witch Cave Farm
Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast/Museum
Danvers State Insane Asylum
Gettysburg, PA
The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
Hotel del Coronado
Hotel Provincial
The House of Mystery (The Oregon Vortex)
Hull House
Jim Thorpe, PA (The Hand Print)
The Knickerbocker Hotel
The Lincoln Theater
The Myrtles Plantation
New Orleans, LA
The Queen Mary
Washington Irving House
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum
Salem, MA
The Stanley Hotel
Tombstone, AZ
The Whaley House
The White House
Winchester Mystery House

9. Honor the dead.
The word "Halloween" is derived from All Hallows Day (a.k.a. All Saints Day), which, in many European and Central/South American cultures is a holy day on which families honor their ancestors who have passed on to the next life. Mexico, for example, arguably the country with the most colorful All Hallows Day festivities, parties hard in its cemeteries, adorning loved ones' graves in wreaths and streamers and breaking out the tequila and mariachi bands for a toast to the dead. While dancing on the graves of your deceased relatives may hold little appeal, you can still find meaningful ways to honor them. From leaving fresh flowers at a grave site to revisiting family photo albums, you too can set aside this day to remember important people who are no longer with you. Take this a step farther, if you will, and commit the day to something your loved one cared about. Do an activity the two of you enjoyed together, volunteer for a cause he or she supported, or spend some time with someone else he or she loved, keeping your memories alive.

10. Be a ghost hunter.
These days, anyone can get in on the action, whether or not you have an electromagnetic field detector (EMF). Of course, if you want proof that what you saw wasn't just your own shadow, infrared cameras, EVP recorders, and other pro paraphernalia are a necessity. You can pick up your own at web retailers like Ghost-Mart, Ghosthunter Store, or The EMF Safety Superstore, although Singletude can't vouch for the quality of the equipment. Even if you don't buy the goods of the trade, you can still investigate hotbeds of paranormal activity for your own amusement and edification. The Shadowlands has what might be the most comprehensive inventory of reputedly haunted locations in the U.S. and has recently expanded its listings beyond our borders. With such an extensive collection of sightings, you should be able to find at least one or two near your hometown. Since the site depends on user updates, be sure to report any new findings! On a note of caution, though, many of these sites are not open to the public. You should always get permission before exploring private property.

No matter what you do this Halloween, alone or accompanied, have fun, stay safe, and don't eat too much candy--it'll rot your teeth. Unless your dental plan covers caps. Then go for it. :)

If you'll be single this Halloween, how are you planning to celebrate? If you've ever tried any of the above suggestions on Halloween, what was your experience like? What other ways can you think of to celebrate Halloween on your own?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Forbes Best Cities for Singles, 2008

I'm late to the game on this one, folks, but on September 4, 2008, Forbes announced its annual rankings of the most singles-friendly American cities. This year, Atlanta tops the list, bumping last year's champ, San Francisco, to second best, while Dallas takes home the bronze.

The cities were rated on six factors--number of singles, culture, nightlife, job growth, cost of living, and online dating activity. Atlanta's solid scores on job growth and nightlife propelled it to first place. Although San Francisco scored poorly on job growth and cost of living, it held onto second because it houses more singles than any other U.S. city (a whopping 30% of its residents are unmarried) and has a thriving cultural scene. Last year's runner-up, New York, dropped to eighth in view of its inflated cost of living, stalled job growth, and stagnant online dating scene. Dallas, on the other hand, saw a meteoric rise from ninth to third due to its affordability, job growth, and hot nightlife, even as former third-place finisher, Los Angeles, plummeted to sixteenth, following New York's downward trajectory for the same reasons. Rounding out the top 10 were Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Boston, New York, Orlando, and Phoenix. The worst city for singles was Jacksonville, sitting dead last in fortieth place.

Cities boasting a claim to number one in any category included the aforementioned San Fran for most singles, L.A. for richest culture, NYC for hippest nightlife, Austin for fastest job growth, San Antonio for most affordable cost of living, and Charlotte for most happening online dating scene. Their counterparts languishing at the bottom of the ladder were Tampa-St. Petersburg, Jacksonville, Charlotte (a city of extremes, apparently), Milwaukee, New York (another city of extremes), and Memphis. To see a complete list of cities and how they fared among singles, click here.

A cursory glance at these results suggests that Texas is muy caliente, which should come as no surprise to those who are used to its blistering summers. The Southeast, however, is a mixed bag, and the Rust Belt and Midwest aren't exactly singles meccas.

Of course, not everyone will agree with some of the measures used to draw these conclusions. For instance, the nightlife rating was determined by calculating the total restaurants, bars, and nightclubs per person. However, a report on the quantity of eateries in a metro area says nothing of their quality or attractiveness to the single population. As another example, only data from was used to assess each city's online dating culture, a measurement which excludes many other online dating heavyweights. For a more detailed explanation of the scoring system, read this.

Still, the Forbes study, fast becoming the definitive ranking system for singles searching for a change of pace via a change of place, provides valuable data that not only reveals which cities are home to the most singles but how each city serves its singles. So if you like to hit the bars on the weekend, you may want to pack your bags for New York, whereas if you intend to circulate online, Charlotte might be more your speed. Wherever you hang your hat, though, take your positive singletude with you!

Do you live in or near any of the cities on the Forbes Best Cities for Singles list? If so, how do you think your city stacks up? Do you think the measures used for this study can provide valid conclusions about which cities are best for singles? If not, what measures would you use?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Singles and PDA: Dealing with Public Displays of Affection

As a blogger, I try to keep my writing in the public eye and my personal life out of it. But this time I have to blur the boundaries because--let's face it--there aren't any boundaries when a guy standing close enough to kiss you is slipping the tongue to the girl next to him along with whatever fingers he can get inside her shirt.

As the October air gets nippy, couples huddling for warmth have become a frequent sight on street corners, park benches, and trains. Out in the open, we're under a big enough sky that we don't need to test physics by occupying the same space at the same time. When a touchy-feely couple gets cozy on a picnic blanket, anyone who doesn't want to see the show can appropriate a different patch of grass.

But it's more difficult to avoid the lovebirds when they insist on performing their mating ritual in an enclosed space such as a movie theater, shopping aisle, bus, or train. For instance, at least once or twice a week on the train, I have an uncomfortably close encounter of the following kind: There I am, staking my claim to a mere inch or two of poll, maintaining a zenlike focus on avoiding eye contact with fellow passengers and staying upright despite the bucking B line's best attempts to throw me. While innocently awaiting my stop, barricaded in my mental fortress of solitude, a couple, usually but not always under the age after which adults are supposedly not to be trusted, enter the car and take up residence at my poll.

In case you've never been on a subway, when passengers join you at your poll, you are forced to part with your personal space, and you won't see it again until they disembark. Since most people don't like to part with their personal space, there is an unwritten rule that you dignify this loss by keeping your body parts to yourself and making a good faith effort to be as invisible as a muggle can. So when you have nowhere to look but at the couple in front of you and their giggling and eye flirting gives way to spit swapping, they're not only flaunting their PDA but breaking the subway code big time.

Now, one kiss--okay, fine, whatever. I'll avert my eyes and pretend I didn't see. But when you punctuate every sentence by locking lips over and over in an enclosed space where I have no choice but to be an onlooker, you might as well jab me in the shoulder with a pointy nail every 10 seconds. It's visual torture. And these aren't just teenagers with untamable hormones and no manners. These are adults, some of them dressed for work, where, in 20 minutes or so, they will have no problem exercising the self-control that somehow eludes them on the train.

When singles complain about PDA, inevitably there are accusations of envy and bitterness. But I'm going to lay those to rest right here: I may not be in a committed relationship, but I am regularly on the receiving end of kisses, so I have nothing to be envious about. Even if I weren't, though, that wouldn't change the fact that I don't want to watch a couple's intimate romantic moments played out in front of me any more than I want to watch them scream and curse at each other, get sick and vomit, or give birth. Some things are private, and just because we can see most of them on cable TV doesn't mean they shouldn't be. When someone force-feeds the public a slice of his or her sexuality, it can be embarrassing, distasteful, and even somewhat violating to unwitting bystanders.

For some singles, of course, PDA does also trigger envy, insecurity, and depression as an in-your-face reminder of what they want but don't have. In fact, sometimes, I wonder if, for at least quite a few couples, this is the unconscious objective of PDA--to show off their relationship, something widely perceived as an asset, in the same way one might roll up a sleeve to show off a Rolex or take the new Lexus on a grocery run. After all, it's hard to believe that these couples go home and sit through dinner, dishwashing, dog feeding, their favorite weekly drama, and the news while staring into each other's eyes and recreating living Rodin sculptures. At least a good part of their public canoodling must be exhibitionism rather than sheer overflow of love.

Whether PDA makes you blush, brings out your green-eyed monster, or sends you running for comfort food, there are ways to restore privacy to your personal space:

1. Lock down the liplockers.
Though some with a laissez-faire philosophy may protest that getting frisky outside the bedroom is harmless, there's a reason every state has laws prohibiting public nudity and sexual activity. Public spaces are for the public, and it's only fair that we all cooperate so everyone can enjoy them. You don't have to be exposed to someone else's indecent exposure. If a couple is being so inappropriate that you feel uncomfortable sharing the same steamy air, you have the right to report them to the authorities. Yes, it's harsh and not to be done willy-nilly, but sometimes people don't consider how their actions (or, um, attempts to get some action) affect others until they're face to face with the consequences.

2. Bounce them to a bedroom.
Most PDAs skirt a finer line between in flagrante and innocent. Such instances may not be a case for the police, but if you're in an establishment like a restaurant or movie theater, the management will want to hear about it if the patrons are unhappy. If the cooing and cuddling is making you too queasy to eat dinner or if you have to crane your neck around the neckers to see the movie screen, complain to a manager. He or she may discreetly ask the couple to dial it down a notch, or you may be given a discount or refund.

3. If they really want a show, give them an audience.
When reinforcements aren't available, such as in a bus, train, or store aisle, you may have to take matters into your own hands. Sometimes couples deep into a display of PDA may be ignorant of the attention they're drawing to themselves. Give them a funny wake-up call with hoots, whistles, cheers, or jeers to remind them that they're not in the privacy of their own home. This may embarrass them into an early curtain on their performance. Other options: Pretend to snap some pictures with your camera phone, start directing them as though they're shooting a love scene, or, if all else fails, use the tried and true exhortation to get a room. (Note: If you don't know the sappy sweethearts, use caution. Even if your intentions are to make light of the situation while getting your point across, there are always those unhinged sorts who will react violently to teasing and many more who will be anything but embarrassed and flip you the bird before progressing to second base. And, of course, you risk being as obnoxious as the offending parties.)

Now, when the tables have turned and you're out on a date, make sure you don't hand out an unwanted helping of PDA to those around you! Wandering fingers are bad enough; pointing the finger at others only to slobber on your significant other is even worse. Contribute to a PDA-free society by saving your bedroom eyes for the bedroom.

How do you feel as a single when you're unwittingly treated to a display of PDA? If it bothers you, why do you think that is and how do you respond to it? Have you ever done anything to discourage an overly amorous couple, and, if so, did it work?

Fun Link of the Day

Do you have a question for Clever Elsie about some aspect of the single life? Have a rant or rave about singlehood? Write in, and you just might see your question in a Singletude Q&A or your rant or rave in a Singletude Sound-off!