Boobs on the beach

Its mid summer and as thoughts turn to sand and surf, its time for the dreaded death bikinimarch known as ‘swimwear shopping’. I’m not going to moan about crappy lighting, lumps and bumps or the awful southern migration of everything once pointing north. Thats not my problem.

After all, having no kids means I’ll probably die alone and unloved, but I won’t have saggy tits or a mom pouch. Hey, there’s an upside to everything. So what’s my problem with swimwear?

Its boobs. Specifically big boobs.

Living in the US means 90% of all female attire is designed for 5ft 10 waifs with flat chests and a 34 inch inseam. Clothing options for big boobs are limited to the ‘Misses’ section, Fredricks of Hollywood hoochy section or the nude granny bra’s hidden next to the flannel nightgowns. Its like the tits fell off the immigrants when they came over on the Mayflower or something, because America sure doesn’t provide for those of us who are blessed in the breast department.

And before you start playing the worlds smallest violin, check out Miss Tits in the picture. See the challenge? Nuff said.

Hailing from the UK – the original land of the pendulous breast – I was used to skinny model clothing everywhere, but stores did still recognize that women – by and large – have tits. And sometimes, big tits, monster tits. Check out a lingerie department in the UK and be awestruck at the sizes. Most Americans would claim ‘fake news’ in the face of a 28GG. But I’m here to tell you – its normal and it does exist. In fact, I’ve seen more than a few IRL.

But here in the US, you’d think that big boobs don’t exist, young chicks definitely don’t have them and they certainly don’t exist the moment you step on a beach.

I discovered this my first year in the US during one of the most depressing days of my life. With a beach vacation looming (and many years before online shopping), I spent 8 hours traipsing around every store I knew in search of something, anything that would cover more than a nipple.

Every store was the same. Tiny triangles designed for mutant sexless elves. Fabric so thin you could see my heart beat through it. And for every top, a bottom designed for an 8-year-old boy. I sized up. I sized up again. I moved into the plus section. And still I couldn’t find anything that covered more than my nipples or my ass crack. I wound up eventually in the ‘Big Girls’ section of a department store, flicking through swim suits with skirts and spaces for my future mastectomy. I felt like a mutant.

So that was my choice. Sexless grandma, cancer survivor or porno reject.

I wound up laying out in a Speedo that year.

Thankfully these days we have the world at our fingertips and I can summon the best swimwear from anywhere (where women have tits), for just $4.99 shipping.

I can look like a 50s pinup, an LA madam or even Aquaman if thats my thing. There’s  ‘full coverage’ or ‘partial coverage’, underwired, ‘bandeau’ (aka wrapping them around your back) and even the mumsy ‘tankini’ to hide that lunchtime prosecco pot belly. Hell you can even go whole hog and grab a burkini. And of course, they still make those triangles.. just bigger and with sturdier straps for us grown up girls.

I still struggle to find options that don’t push my tits up to my chin or come with extra padding (because my DD’s NEED TO BE BIGGER?) but at least there are possibilities.

So thank you internets. Thank you Brazil, Canada, Germany and the UK for acknowledging that women do indeed come with chesticals which we can’t remove for our summer vacation. That our asses have curves bigger than two limes and most of us don’t shave from here to next Tuesday just to pop for a swim.

And for those considering heading out to find that suit for Labor day. Don’t bother. Google ‘bikini’ and your chest size on Amazon and be prepared for the onslaught. It’ll be the best bikini shop of your life.






Its not all about the bike Lance…


Its not all about the bike as Lance said (further proof of his ‘not quite human’ reputation).

As every cyclist knows, it’s about the bike, but it’s really all about the GEAR.

For me the obsession started young. Entering Davis’s Bike Shop, the local temple for the serious Sunday road junkie, I was awed by the ceiling of wheel-sets, the racks of steel greyhounds, and the unholy price tagged to each handlebar. I knew at a tender age that these four figured racehorses were out of my league (well, until my paper route started upping my 1 pound weekly salary), but those $6 gloves… THOSE I could afford. Sure they weren’t going to make me go any faster, but they did make me feel like Eddie Merckx, even if I was riding a second-hand racer with bald tires and non-existent brake pads.

And so my obsession was born.

It started small (at $1 a week, it had to). Gloves were followed by my first pair of tights (unpadded). A helmet entered my world in college, and padded shorts arrived with my first post college spurge. With the arrival of mountain biking in 1986, and my first Muddy Fox (RIP), I bought my first lock, gloves with padding and a bike bag. With a water bottle and cage, I was really cruising… until all of it was stolen on my first trip out. Thanks to insurance, I was able to quickly replace everything… until it was all stolen again 6 months later. And so began my entry into ‘insurance upping’ my bike kit.

Lets just say, I went to college on a Muddy Fox and left college on a Kona. With non standard pedals.

But my lust for accessories continued unabated. Mountain biking demanded it. Things broke. New things were invented. Friends had stuff you hadn’t even heard of…and then there were the boys.

Cycling meant riding with boys. Which inevitably led to the nightmare that is ‘dating a fellow cyclist’. Otherwise known as crack addicts with 2 wallets and zero judgement between them. Who better to encourage you onto a new ride, hell, 2 bikes, 3, do we have room for 4? My knowledge of wheel sets, rims, cranks and gears hit ‘professional’ by the time I hit 26. My ability to discourse on steel vs. aluminum, single speed vs. fixie bored even my local bike shop crew but my husband could listen for hours. We sneered along with Bike Snob, and spent our Sunday afternoons checking out the accessories section of every local bike shop we could find. We’re now divorced but I still miss him.. and his extensive knowledge of the one day classic winners (1980-). He also bought the BEST Christmas gifts, though my parents were less impressed with my new pedals than I was.

At the age of 43 I can finally afford to turn over those tags hanging from the handlebars of  ‘greyhound’ bikes. I can, if I’m willing to forgo protein for a few months, afford that new full suspension 26.5 to sit alongside my 29-er.

Instead you’ll usually find me hanging out in the gear section of my local bike shop with my fellow gear heads. We’re checking out the accessories to make our rides faster, our butts less offensive and our gear changing smoother. We’re grabbing the new bike tee and you always need more tubes right? We’re rejecting the big name stores who only stock 1 type of bike cage for the local shop that totally understands you need to choose from 15. Local bike shops we love you. You get it. Its all about the gear. Boulders University Bikes, Buena Vista’s Boneshaker Cycles, Aptos Bike Station.. you get it. And thank you for getting as excited about my new gloves as I am.

Sorry Lance. It’s not ALL about the bike. We know it’s all about the GEAR.  But while I’ve got you, do you know what a Surly Tugnut is for and why do I need it? Because I’m  definitely buying one.

In Search of the Holy Grail.. pain free kick ass shoes

heelsI have a secret. I have the feet of a Hobbit. Scrawny, knobbly, bent and twisted. Not quite the ragged hairy nubbins of Frodo, but my feet do seem to have channeled Shrek. Lets just say my bi weekly pedicures are necessary for the sake of humanity, and those attending my yoga class.

After 4 years working from home, my hobbit feet had become accustomed to the comforts of home. Clogs, Tevas, Ascis and Frye boots litter my closet. Wool socks formed the basis of most outfits.

I did wear heels .. but only on dates with tall guys or when I needed to feel particularly girlie.

So basically once or twice a year. And mainly for sitting down.

Then I moved to CA, moved back to working in an office environment and tried to reintroduce my feet to footwear that didn’t resemble something available with a prescription or worn exclusively by retirees.

The result, unsurprisingly, was pain. Lots of pain. Pain that radiated from my toes all the way up my legs and at one point through my eyeballs. Trying to walk into a meeting with aplomb was akin to firewalking. Best achieved at high-speed and with quick intakes of breath. I managed to make it to my car with a combination of tip toeing and waddling.. anything to avoid the feeling of nails being driven through my toes and heels simultaneously.

Why bother you might be thinking? Why no just sling on some flats and be comfortable?

I tried flats. I really did. But several comments about my ‘little girl’ height and jokes about me not seeming like my usual confident self made me question what heels did for me. Heels gave me authority. Heels enabled me to look people in the eye instead of the nipple. Heels enabled me to wear pants without paying $25 per pair in alterations.

Hey, I’m cheap.

Of course I could straighten my spine and walk tall (5 ft 2 isn’t quite midget status), but honestly I’d rather look my boss in the eye and who can resist looking more authoritative, slimmer and just a little sexy? After all, I am single, I work with senior execs all day and hell..if I have to dress up for work, I’d rather not be the poster girl for lesbian chic. I left that look back in Colorado. There has to be some version of heels which doesn’t result in sobbing …right? I mean people have been rocking these things for 50 years.

I started with a few requirements…..

  • The ability to walk at high-speed without losing them. My job involves running across conference halls/ airports/ hallways on a regular basis and I have left at least 2 shoes in the middle of a cross walk before now. Straps or laces, however it works.. but ‘firm fit’ is key.
  • Able to fit my weirdly skinny ankles and bizarrely shaped toes without causing nail loss. I don’t rule out square toes, but I’d prefer if my heels didn’t resemble something from the early 90s.
  • Suitability for a hetero 30-40 something woman who wears skirts, dresses and pants. i.e. Huge platform soles and knee-length lacing are out.. along with anything with the name ‘comfort’ in the title.

But since I’m wearing them all day every day, I figured.. money no object. At least for one pair.  No problem right?


A Facebook request to friends led me to Franco Sarto, Cole Haan and Nine West. A gift certificate led me to Macys. After exhausting everything from kitten heels to wedges, Sam Edelson to Prada and an entire weekend I came to several conclusions.

  • It doesn’t matter how much you spend.. boots win out every time for comfort, fit and style. Bummer because I now live in CA. Where its warm. All year.
  • Elastic or leather with stretch are your friends.
  • Most shoes will fit your heels or your toes.. but rarely both.
  • Fancy straps, chains, buckles or slingbacks generally result in blisters about 30 mins after you wear them for the first time. Wear them around the house for a few hours – vacuum, clean, cook, do laundry. By the time your clothes are in the dryer, you’ll know. (plus if you live with someone, kinda kinky).
  • Expensive ($250+) does generally get more comfortable and more long-lasting but you’re going to be spending a minimum of $250, $400 or $1000. Which to most single chicas who aren’t Meg Whitman means an annual treat if that.
  • Comfort and style don’t mix. I’ve tried all of the ‘so called’ solutions and the closest I came was a $550 spanish brand that still resembled something you’d wear to perform a stompy fiesta dance with a tambourine. Fine if I were living in Spain, or about to head out for the evening, but a tough mix with my all black, formal wear, wardrobe.

So in the end I wound up settling for slightly uncomfortable, slightly more than I could afford, and perfectly office appropriate. I’ve already taken them out for a test run up and down the halls a few times, and I can stand in them for about 6 hours. Not perfect, but hey.. at least I can make it to the car without walking like a constipated duck, no-one is making comments about ‘the single chick with comfortable shoes’ and I’ve not broken out a single band-aid yet. Yay for Donald J. Pilner.

But in the meantime I’ll continue my search. I figure anyone who finds that ‘style and comfort’ solution for women’s heels will make millions.

If I find them first, I’m buying stock.


Dilemma: Christmas gifting for kids

American-Girl-DollI don’t have kids.


Or maybe I do, I just haven’t met them yet or I misplaced them somewhere. I am, after all, terribly irresponsible.

However when it comes to Christmas and gifts for kids, I become the worst kind of non parent. The one who tries to overcompensate, fix everything which might be wrong  or bad in their little world AND have the gift be so memorable that they actually use it past December 25th. Clearly not a parent. Its the Aunt curse.

Hello. My name is Aunt<blank>..and I’m a gifting fascist.

I’ve always been obsessed with gift giving. Not in terms of volume but in terms of perfection. I love love love finding the perfect something that I know will result in a) tears of joy b) amazement that I know them so well or c) out and out screams of delight. If someone pees their pants.. I’m not adverse to finding out.

No. Its not selfish or needy or fucked up at all.

And I’m certainly not buying love. Really.

I just think if I’m going to invest my $50 in something, I don’t want it to be tossed aside, regifted or used as a referendum on our relationship for the rest of eternity. Plus parting with cash when I’m in the midst of ‘Debt Free by 2015’ is a bitch. Do you KNOW how much I could be paying off my credit cards if we didn’t have birthdays and Christmas?

(FYI if you’re one of those ‘send love not gifts’ people, stop reading now and to be honest, delete my phone number.. you are dead to me. Gifts rock).

So, armed with a strict budget and a ridiculous deadline (gifts have to sent to the UK before Thanksgiving to even have a hope of getting their before December 25th), I’m Christmas shopping like a motherfucker this week.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. Where as I am content to peruse my mental aisles, the physical stores and chase down the perfect gift that a grown up has asked for .. when it comes to kids I’ve always gone with the ‘anti-norm’. If they’ve asked for it, its not arriving. I am anti pink, anti- fairys, anti- princess and I am certainly anti ‘Easy Bake Oven’. If they want a toy machine gun -fine – but no baking. Not when you’re 6.

Now I’ve not stooped to wooden toys but I refuse to follow the herd of norm with a polyester tutu and a white skinny doll called Bitchface (actually its Barbie, but I prefer Bitchface). Instead I’ve bought books, I’ve bought pirate costumes, swimming pool games and even a roll up piano one year. No dolls, no trends and no no no American kiddie crap.

But this year as the deadline looms and my knowledge of what a precocious, already has more ‘i’ things than me, girlie 8 year old wants is pretty damn thin. I mean, she went to see One Direction this year. An 8 year old. Does this mean I’m meant to accept that she’s already  a tween and head off in search of makeup and CDs? or can I ignore the obvious ‘they grow up so fast now’ torment and try to expand her mind or athletic ability with something less obviously ‘girl’ oriented? Hell I really want to buy her some cool custom Chucks but is she already obsessed with heels? At 8???

Her sister is easy… at 6, she remains a tomboy, she idolizes her sister, reads years above her age and is a pain in the basically me, 36 years ago. I could shop for her every day of the week and not miss. But a girlie 8 year old? I’m stuck.

So, in my first sign of weakness in years I had to call my sister and actually ask for ideas.


The suggestion – American Girl outfits.

American Girl.

The pink palace of polyester playmates.

Can you get more ‘American’ ? More commercial, thoughtless and unimaginative? More girlie and traditional, role reinforcing, anti feminist? My knee jerk reaction is ‘oh hells no’ but I’m desperate. Which means this afternoon I’ll be heading to the mall.

To the mall.

To American Girl.

To buy two outfits (and shoes) for 2 dolls.

Called ‘American Girl’.

I think I’ll need to reread ‘the Female Enuch’ when I get back just to realign my spine.


The Myth of Retail ‘Therapy’

Shopping and Retail ‘Therapy’

I like ‘stuff’.

Like Madonna, (one of the few things we can agree on), I’m living in a material world and I am, or was, a material girl. Nothing beats the smell of a new leather purse, shoes without a scuff or the feel of fresh cotton that’s never been worn. Its clean, crisp and full of promise.

I grew up in a culture where you ‘went to town’ to wander around and buy stuff – just ‘stuff’ to make you feel better, cheer you up, or just to get out of the house. Clothes, trinkets, shoes or even just a new spatula…Stuff made you happy. Shopping was an indulgence, even a hobby for some, and sitting on the bus on the way home, a delightful review of goods amassed was one of life’s simple joys. I was taught that shopping was just something that everyone did.. even if there wasn’t a specific ‘thing’ needed, and that looking at and wanting stuff, all the time, was just how everyone felt. If you couldn’t afford it, you saved for it, took on another Saturday job or ‘visited it’ for weeks until your hearts desire was replaced with something else equally shiny and desirous.

(NOTE: I still want the game Operation and I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten those Doc Martens with daisies painted on them).

Fast forward to 2012 and a whole bunch of credit card debt. 

When you’re 14 and you’re spending your cash on a t shirt to make you feel happier is one thing. When you’re 39 and you’re buying a $4,000 sofa to cheer yourself up… well that’s someone in need of therapy.

With solid earning potential and a love of all things ‘quality’ I spent my 20s and 30s developing quite the taste for expensive articles. 600 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets,  Bang and Olufsen stereo. Manolos. A Burberry coat. Non of which fit within my actual budget or my needs. Buying expensive beautiful things made me feel expensive and beautiful? Maybe. The more likely scenario is that in the face of debt, a little more debt doesn’t feel painful at all and along with my taste, my credit card balance was on an upward trajectory.

I got divorced and bought stuff to make myself feel pretty. I dated unsuccessfully and soothed each failed date with a little ‘something’. Every purchase somehow acting as a consolation prize.. yes, even that new zester from Williams and Sonoma. It was what I knew, a pattern I’d followed since I was old enough to have money. You’re sad =  buy yourself something to feel better.

I often didn’t need the things I bought, and if I did, it seemed to give me extra room to splurge.. after all ‘I needed it’ so the $200 version was clearly better quality and a better investment that the one from Target.

Last year -after my $4,000 sofa – I decided to see what was behind my shopping weirdness. I was so in debt from my house renovations that the sofa barely registered in my psyche and I knew that wasn’t a good sign. Especially not on my salary. And while I loved (and still love), my sofa, I was scared at this coping habit I’d developed which was actually spiraling me out of control. My ‘self soothing’ wasn’t working any more.

A recent article in The Atlantic shared the life changing insight that its actually all of the steps leading up to the actual purchase that makes us happy, not the actual buying and ‘having’. In fact, the actual purchase transaction and what follows can make us less happy (how many of us have walked away from a counter thinking ‘Can’t afford it.. guess I can return it ‘??).  It appears that wanting something is a trait we all enjoy, and actually being able to afford it not only makes us even happier, it also makes us less likely to actually buy the thing we want. Because we can afford it, we get more particular..more discerning and less likely to buy something ‘just because’.
Sadly its actually those who want something they can’t afford who buy on a whim.. and due to the circumstances of their purchase (they can’t afford it), they don’t actually derive any sustained pleasure from the experience. Buying stuff when you’re poor and depressed, makes you poorer and more depressed.

Guess my family habit of ‘cheering yourself up’ with some retail therapy is actually bunkum. 

To which my therapist added that we all need to differentiate between a ‘want’ and a ‘need’. To discern whether we can actually afford something and to postpone decision making until after the ‘buy’ endorphins have subsided. That ‘I want..I want’ chant in your head? Yes, that’s actually the pleasure of shopping. Not the purchase. So enjoy wanting but don’t think you need to hand over the AMEX to feel even better. In all likelihood, you feel better (rich or poor) if you don’t. According to the Atlantic, its actually experiences that give us happiness. Not stuff. And while you can still buy experiences, they don’t have to cost anything except time.

So today I find myself saving for a trip, planning a vacation and excited for my evening with a girlfriend walking around the park. These days, now I can actually afford things,  I find that I don’t want them. I’m loath to buy on a whim and I don’t buy anything without stepping away for a while first.  Shopping is no longer my Valium or my inner cheerleader. I don’t need ‘stuff’ to ‘cheer myself up’ or validate my dateability.  And while I’ll never deny the joy of a new pair of Manolos or the scent of a new leather tote, I derive equal joy from a fantastic meal with friends or a long weekend for no specific reason. 

Amazon recommends….

Amazon Recommends…

Amazon, Facebook, and yes, even you Google. We need to talk.

Just because I once decided to check out corsets (upcoming formal event for which I couldn’t be bothered to diet), does not mean that I might therefore be interested in all manner of  AARP approved ‘foundation’ garments. Nor does my one time search for motorcycle chaps mean that I now need to see all manner of leather gear (of all persuasions) every time I check my email.

Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed that anytime you’ve searched recently, you are bombarded by ads ‘especially tailored’ to your interests? Which means if you’re a random online shopper, you could be staring at ads for insoles on every single website for a week, or as I found myself last week, staring at  Spanx ads and all manner of ‘skinnifiers’ every time I opened a browser.

What bothers me most isn’t that I’m reminded of all the random things that I look for and buy on line.. (running the gamete from the usual handbags and shoes to random items including dry shampoo and ear plugs).. its that every time someone looks over my shoulder in the office they can see exactly where my shopping interests lie. Which is embarrassing not least for the casual office mate who can’t help but notice that your interest in leather gear might be getting slightly out of control. It also made for an awkward interaction with my CEO last week when – during an online demo-  he noticed the 30% off bra sale going on at Bare Necessities.

I get that ‘big data’ is where the future is at. Lord, knows I work for a company that does it and yes, on occasion its interesting to know that something I was considering buying is now on sale.. but do I really need to be bombarded by potential shopping interests every time I log on? The internet isn’t just for shopping and can’t I read the Huffington Post without needing to refill my shampoo collection.  And don’t get me started on Amazon.

Yes, I bought 50 Shades of Grey when it came out.. (I didn’t know it was garbage and I was interested in the potential fruity contents) but this does not mean that from now on, my Amazon home page needs to offer up all manner of romantic trash, erotica and suggestive titles exclusively. I have bought other books Amazon. And just because I once pressed ‘Buy now’ on a particularly lonely Friday night, does not mitigate the other 137 books I have also purchased this year.

‘Other readers who purchased ’50 Shades of Grey’ also enjoyed ….’

Seriously Amazon? Thanks for letting me know what other trash trends I need to avoid and wow, some people really read a lot of erotica.  And no, just because I made one mistake does not mean that I need to consider exploring the frightening world of soft core badly written mommy porn.

In fact Amazon, I’d be more inclined to shop if you maybe suggested some things that I don’t need to be reading.

‘You have purchased 43 chick lit novels Rachael, we would recommend that you prehaps try some mystery thrillers or science fictions novels’

‘Other readers who purchased 43 chick lit novels, also purchased cat litter and Meg Ryan DVDs. Get a life Rachael’

‘Seriously Rachael, stop with the ‘girl meets boy’ books. You now have over 200 books on your Kindle and not one history book. How about a biography of a former President?’

Now that’s a recommendation I could use.  You might want to get on that Amazon.

Post Divorce Insanity

A friend of mine just sent out her “Yippee! my divorce is finalized” email. Unfortunately a frequent occurrence these days, these ‘divorce emails’ are an encouraging sign that old friends will now have time for dinners, weekend adventures and irresponsible mid week drinking.
I always did like to be first, and as an early ‘divorcee’ (why do I suddenly feel like I should be smoking with lipstick on my teeth), I find myself in a rare ‘mother hen’ role as I watch the ‘post divorce insanity (PDI)’ start to unfold. For those in the fortunate position of an impending ‘decree nisi’, here’s my guide to getting through your next few months of post divorce insanity. 
1. Drinking.
You know you’re entering the world of PDI when you first find yourself ¾ of your way into a bottle of wine and its 5.45pm. It may start with a bottle on a Friday night, a martini on a ‘hump day’ Wednesday, maybe the occasional beer on the porch while you watch functional neighborhood couples walk their perfect Golden Retrievers. Then The guy from the liquor store starts to nod at you and you invest in some new glasses (since you seem to not be able to fill the dishwasher that often these days, you’re getting bored of rinsing your wine glasses under the tap). Full blown PDI sets in with the purchase of your first case. You rationalize it – “I’ll always have a bottle if friends come over” or “I’m saving 20% with the case discount” – but deep down you know it’s merely because you’re lazy and no one likes to drive to the liquor store on a daily basis (unless you’re 75 and don’t get out much). Thankfully friends and the need to work limits this phase before full blow alcoholism sets it. You know you’re moving out of Phase 1 of PDI when you run out of friends to meet you after work for a drink, your kidneys start to fail and you’re forced to look for something else. Time to move to Phase 2.

2. Hooking up.
This phase varies in length, entirely depending on the size of your ‘little black book’, the length of your marriage, your network of single friends and your ability to masque your insanity with heavy makeup and a pushup bra. In this phase, you replace alcohol with a warm body, a nice smile and the feeling that someone, somewhere thinks you’re hot. Hooking up centers on calling, meeting and hooking up with any available male within a 100 mile radius (more if you’re willing to spring for airfare), for no reason other than to make yourself feel better and get in a little cardio (which d
oes wonders for the drinking weight). Unfortunately, like Phase 1, Phase 2 is dependent on the willingness of other participants and at some point your black book is empty, your Facebook page deserted and you can’t afford to fly Bob out from Michigan. Time to move to Phase 3.
This phase is a mandatory step in every PDI experience, though its name may vary. eHarmony,,, jDate… all basically the same premise. A new way to find people to hook up with. You might be thinking that you’re ready for a ‘relationship’ and so lured by your ‘free matches’ you sign up. Beware, you have entered the 7 circles of hell – all for $39.95 a month. After spending a couple of hours writing something witty and cropped your ex out of your photos, you start looking for someone to catch your eye. At this point you may be tempted to return to Phase 1, and many do – especially as the apparent sparseness of future mates becomes apparent, but don’t be tempted. In time you’ll find a few cute guys. Especially as your 1 month subscription nears its end. You send some ‘winks’, you might receive a few emails, even engage in some light flirting over your single phone call, and then you agree to a date. Having not dated in a while you psyche yourself up, spend some serious dough on a new ‘trying, but not too hard’ outfit, and dance around the house in your underwear like you used to. Full of expectation you head out the door. 30 minutes later you’re back, wide eyed and bushy haired in shock. You forgot how awful it is to meet a stranger. How people can misrepresent themselves so cruelly. How hard it can be to climb out a bathroom window. 
Never mind, in a few days you’re back at the site, seeing who else might be interested and writing the first one off to bad luck. Writing lighthearted responses becomes a full time job. Squinting at blurry photos and trying to guess the year based on his sneakers becomes a new skill you never knew you needed. Flirt after Flirt, Email after Email, Date after Date… most find a few, and dump even more as you realize you’re entering Phase 4.
4. Fear
This phase tends to be short, painful and really hard on your friends. 
Warn them in advance they’re about to get bombarded by calls from you asking for potential suitors. This phase sets in when you find yourself on the 6th date with a guy you wouldn’t employ to clean your car. A guy who has the conversational prowess of a 2 x 4. Yep, that cold nausea setting in is the start of Fear. Fear that you’ll never find someone. Fear that you’ll never approximate a family and that the first marriage was a fluke and you’re never going to find anyone mad enough to take you on again. Fear that you’re too old, too fat, too thin, too picky, too accommodating, too … YOU. Symptoms of this phase include calling everyone you know, including husbands of people you barely know, and asking ‘do you have any single friends?’, dating really unattractive guys with warped personalities, watching chick flicks with tears in your eyes on a Saturday night and inviting yourself to any social event where the opposite sex might be (Temple anyone?). Luckily ‘Fear’ runs in course when, in the midst of your 100th chick flick you notice a really cute ‘something’ the main character is wearing and think ‘if I had THAT I’d be much more attractive’. Enter Phase 5.
5. Shopping
This phase is the most fun phase of your PDI. Hard on your wallet, your savings, potentially your 401K and (if you have no shame), your parents and friends.. but fun!! Shoppaholicism is characterized by desire and the need to acquire stuff. Anything which you can justify as ‘this really represents who I am ‘. Clothes, shoes, furniture, cars, jewelry, houses, vacations, heck even new hair or a new face can all go some way towards conquering fear’. Once you’ve acquired this purse/ shoe/ pant/watch/ lipstick you know you’re going to feel and look better, cute guys will notice you more and the fear of being ‘on the shelf’ subsides. Of course Shoppaholicsm is horribly limited by funds –  so be prepared for the final death throes of this phase – the purchasing of expensive matching underwear sets. Of course, someone, sometime is going to be seeing you naked and the grey cotton underpants just aren’t suitable. So you buy the matching underwear set, and then another, and then another, plus the stockings and mules to match until your dresser looks like Victoria Secret. Once you find yourself armed with enough bras to see you through the next millennium and you’re holding your breath every time you hand over your plastic, its time to move to Phase 6.

6. Loneliness
This phase, our most tragic, is characterized by exhaustion. You’ve drank, hooked up, dated and shopped yourself into a coma. And you can’t afford to go out or spend another cent. So its you, your plant and your tv remote for the foreseeable future. Welcome to ‘loneliness’. When Friday and Saturday nights loom large in your mind, and pass slower than a bad sermon. Loneliness comes in two parts – feeling alone, and then not caring about being alone. The time between part 1 and part 2 can be weeks, months.. even years (gulp). This phase is unique in that most don’t recognize they’re in it until they’re through it. But for those who find themselves wallowing in Julie Roberts/ Meg Ryan movies on a Saturday afternoon… know that it too will pass. The key to exiting loneliness – start to date yourself. Take a trip by yourself. Invite yourself out to dinner and order the most expensive thing on the menu. Make it through to dessert and coffee. Dress up. Take yourself out to a movie. Fill your schedule. When you find you don’t have time or inclination to even think about a date with a guy you know you’re in the final phase.

7. Acceptance
This final phase of PDI is our Oprah moment. When you actually start planning future activities without the caveat “…if I’m still single”. When you finally take that trip to Alaska, get that tattoo, take yourself out for that $100 lobster dinner or just find yourself at a party NOT looking for a hook up. When you start to live by your own rules and get yourself a dog. PDI has to have some limits – make sure to warn your friends that any expressed desire to move to Istanbul should be rebuffed, and any tattoos larger than a softball should not be attempted. But this is your time of rediscovery, the sign that PDI is waning, that you’ve made it through to the other side. And weirdly, you’re actually feeling like you understand yourself like you never did before. That you actually like yourself. 
Congratulations, your insanity is over.
The only thing you need to worry about is your friend who’s getting that divorce.