A Thirty-Something Year Old Virgin

Sex is something some people like to talk about and some people don’t.

I always thought the people who didn’t talk about it were just private people, or very conservative, or  just not into TMI, or found talking about sex to be crude. But a few people aren’t talking because they’re virgins.

Actually, 4% of the US population are virgins (according to the Center For Disease Control’s Health Statistics Report.) It makes sense that some of those 4% of virgins are in their 30’s.

I remember directing a production of Savage In Limbo in college and thinking that it’s crazy and impossible to be a 32 year old virgin. I was 19 at the time and didn’t really understand the play the way I do now. All of the 5 characters in the play are 32, lost, and frequenting the same tired bar that they went to in high school together. Not much has changed in their lives.

The 32 year old main character, Denise Savage, has never had sex. When asked what it’s like to still be a virgin, Denise says:

“In the beginning, it was just bad luck.  I’m not like you, and I got a big mouth, and well, it’s easy not to lose it at first.  You’re scared, they’re scared, somebody says: Boo, and everybody runs away.  At least that’s the way it was for me.  To start with.  But then it became a thing.  Most everybody I knew lost it, you know, over a certain period a time, and there I was, still in the wrapper.  It woulda been easy to lose it then.  But it became a thing, you know?  I felt different.  I felt like I was holdin out for somethin, sayin no, no, I’m not takin that life just cause it was the first one I was offered. So here I am.  I’m thirty-two.  And I’m still sayin no, no.  And I still only got offered the one life, and I still don’t want that one.”

Savage In Limbo is about 32 year olds who’ve stagnated and aren’t moving along with their lives. They all worry about the accidental limbo they’re stuck in, the ever-present and problematic “sameness.” But for some 30-something year old virgins, virginity isn’t accidental and it definitely isn’t problematic.

In an article I read recently, It Makes For Awkward Conversation: What It’s Like To Be A 30-Year-Old Virgin, one woman talks happily and openly about her decision to maintain abstinence. She even wrote a book about it! She says,

“I decided to write my book on my abstinence experience when people were continually shocked that I was a virgin. People’s first response after being informed that I’m a virgin is usually, ‘No you’re not,’ justifying their claim by pointing out the way I dress or my outgoing attitude. Then there are people who are confused and ask, ‘But why? You’re pretty’ as if every virgin is a virgin because no one desires them. I began to realize that my look and attitude did not fit the idea of a virgin that many had. So, I decided to share my journey and give a new face, dress and attitude to the virgin. As readers are invited on my journey of abstinence they will realize that I have had plenty of guys who were willing to introduce me to the pleasures of sex and that I have even had to suppress my own urges when my body’s desires were not aligned with my decision. I want to make it clear that there are women and men who are adult virgins not because we are not desired by the opposite sex, but for reasons that all drive the choice that we have made.”

In the comments section of the article, many virgins, men and women, anonymously write about how they’ve been afraid to share their stories, and don’t like when conversations turn to sex, because they have nothing to add, or are ashamed to talk about it, even when it’s a personal choice.

I believe that no one should be made to feel ashamed for their choice to stay abstinent- it just may not be well- understood. I didn’t know that so many 30-somethings are virgins, by choice or otherwise, but I’ve actually had more than one 30-something friend open up to me about it! If you are a 30-something virgin, don’t be ashamed or feel the need to hide! You don’t need any more pressure added to the already long list of pressures in your thirties. The aforementioned article says it best:

“The Dirty Thirty. It’s an age where your concept of what being old is has changed because you are now at the age you once thought was on the precipice of old. You are finally making strides in your career while your student loan payments are devouring your income. You are getting a grasp on your life goals and have set a plan in motion to achieve them. The idea of becoming a responsible adult begins to set in, and the pressure of settling down becomes a reality. With all of the adulthood responsibilities your thirties bring, a few women have added “maintaining abstinence” to their list.”

I couldn't find any of my  photos from my college production of Savage In Limbo (sadness), but I did find quite the provocative photo from a University of Alberta production in 2010.

I couldn’t find any photos from my college production of Savage In Limbo (sadness- they’re on my old hard drive), but I did find quite the  intensely provocative postcard image from a University of Alberta production in 2010.

What’s Your Skincare Routine?

Now that you’re in your 30s, has your skincare routine changed at all from your younger years? Do you take better care of the LARGEST ORGAN IN YOUR BODY now that you’re older? Sorry for the caps there, but it boggles my mind that our skin is indeed the largest organ in our bodies.

I certainly have changed my routine. Well, now I actually have a routine whereas in my twenties it was wash and go, with a little Clean and Clear acne cream when needed. I’m in preservation mode these days. I want to keep the wrinkles at bay and keep my youthful glow (I’ve still got it, right? Right?!!).

So, here are a few of my favorite products in my bathroom cabinet.

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Starting from the right hand side, I love L’Oréal’s Revitalift Miracle Blur – it’s a primer that smoothes out pores, wrinkles and any other imperfections you may have. You can wear it under makeup or in lieu of makeup. The best part is that it’s seriously like velvet on your skin. It’s very similar to Benefit’s POREfessional, but a bit cheaper, so Miracle Blur is what I’m using now.

In the middle, is Olay’s Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir. The name of the product basically says it all, but it’s a exfoliating treatment with glycolic acid. My skin feels clearer and more glowy than normal when I use this consistently before bedtime.

Then, there’s the Zinc tablets. Not only does zinc possibly boost your immune system, it helps make your skin look dewy. If you take zinc for two days straight, you’ll definitely notice a certain glow. I only take zinc tablets when I’m feeling saucy because they tend to give me an upset stomach. Maybe it’s because my zinc tablets are high-potency.

And last but certainly not least. I’m loving the Face Yoga Method. I have a very expressive forehead, which is awesome (I guess? People know how umm…emotional I am.), but I have forehead wrinkles already and it drives me bonkers! A few months ago I researched all-natural ways to reduce your forehead wrinkles and I found this amazing website: Face Yoga Method. Okay, yes, the whole thing may seem a bit kooky, BUT, I can honestly say I’ve seen results. You may feel a little silly doing the exercises, but they work.

These are my tips and tricks. Got any to share?

The Best Foods For Your Thirties

What foods do you love now but hated before? I made a list of foods that I’m now obsessed with including:

1. Mushrooms

I used to HATE mushrooms- it’s a texture thing. Now I really love them. This is partially because of my forays into cooking- mushrooms add a ton of flavor to everything.  I still can’t do a huge portobello in a burger, though. Gross.

2. Hot Sauce

I used to really dislike hot sauce and couldn’t figure out why people were into it. Now it’s everything. It’s especially good on mac and cheese that’s too bland…like most vegan mac and cheeses.

3. Jalapenos

Like hot sauce, these were avoided like the plague. Now, I like to infuse my sauces, and even my drinks, with jalepenos.

4. Lemons

Was never a big citrus fan. But now with the whole lemon water craze, I’ve been trying lemons as a condiment…making salad dressings out of them and even squeezing them in my water glass way more often.

5. Wasabi

I must just have a higher tolerance for spicy foods nowadays, but suddenly no sushi meal is complete without this previously hated side paste.

6. Whisky

Okay, not a food, but I now seriously love me some Old Fashioneds…and I’m the girl who used to spit them out.

7. Beer

Another non-food, but I never liked beer, and for quite awhile I thought I was allergic to it. Now I’m all about it- especially craft beer and beyond …I’ll always love my usual belgian favorites but I’ve moved on to beefier porters and stouts…plus strawberry beer!

So those are the foods (and drinks) that my tastebuds have added to their happiness repertoire in my thirties.

I googled “best foods for your thirties,” and found a bunch of articles with foods that are reccomended for this time in our lives. You can check on some of them them here and here and here. Below is a summary list of the foods that repeated the most, the ones I think are best, and why they are important:

  1. Water– Essential nutrient. If you add nothing else to your diet, add more water. It’s everything, no matter what your age.
  2. Bananas– Good source of potassium. Helps with high blood pressure/ hypertension. (I love these. They’re almost an everyday occurrence for me.)
  3. Beans– Rich in antioxidants, protein, and fiber. Good for your skin. (I’ve already been adding these to everything I can for years- they’re a great vegetarian source of protein. )
  4. Nuts– Loaded with Vitamin E and B which both boost the immune system. Walnuts are known to soothe stress. Nuts are also good for your skin. And, because of their arginine content, they’re known to boost sex drive as well! Just don’t overdo it now that you know their benefits- a handful a day is plenty 🙂
  5. Fish– Full of essential fatty acids. Good source of vitamin A and reduces cartilage swelling and inflammation. For vegetarians like myself, try ground flaxseed instead.
  6. Avocados (a superfood, and quite delicious- loaded with folate for fertility, good fat for your skin, and lots of vitamins B and E). Guacamole, anyone?? 😀
  7. Oatmeal (One of my favorite diet staples- an amazing source of iron, full of fiber, plus magnesium to tame muscle stress)
  8. Leafy greens, broccoli, bell peppers– full of vitamin c, protein, vitamin e, and antioxidants. Spinach, ounce for ounce, has more protein than steak!
  9. Berries: Great sources of vitamin C and antioxidants, plus they’re just plain delicious. Blueberries are the ultimate superfood.

So enjoy the foods that are great for your health, and the foods and drinks that taste even better as you get older. Stay healthy and enjoy your thirties to their fullest…even if that means adding hot sauce to everything and going for the absolute tastiest top shelf whisky! 😉

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Staying Friends in Your 30s

How do you maintain your friendships as life gets busier and busier in your 30s? Four hour boozy dinners and impromptu afternoons of lunch and wandering the city become near impossible when you’ve got work to finish, spouses to see and kids to take care of. While I don’t have kids yet, I definitely find myself strapped for time and not feeling as carefree about my time as I did in my 20s.

This article in NY Mag, The Secret to Staying Friends in Your 30s, was fascinating and awesome because the author, Ada Clahoun, basically makes the case for what she calls, “disjointed, casual and improvised” friendship. What she means by this is, instead of having long hangouts that are hard to schedule, have snippets of in-person friend bonding time whenever you can. In my own circle, I can point to the example of one of my friends who enjoys “errand running” with her other friend whenever he’s in town. When they met up a few days after Christmas this past year, they both went on a gift returning expedition. I love that! There’s a deep comfort in a friendship when you’re able to do errands together.

I love this part of the article:

Friendships these days require both recklessness and ingenuity — the willingness to try hard, but also to settle for scraps. So you see friends when and where you can: say, at a coffee shop around the corner from a drop-off birthday party while working side by side on laptops. “I only have friends who will go to CVS with me,” my best friend, Tara, once announced while we were making our way through Chelsea. I had picked her up at Penn Station (she lives in D.C.) and I was walking her to a meeting. We covered a lot of emotional territory as we marched downtown carrying heavy bags. “How much time do we have?” she will ask most days when we get on the phone. “Six blocks,” I will say. “Okay,” she’ll say. “Go.”

The way Tara and I have stayed close for something like 15 years is that long ago we lowered the bar, accepting that so-called quality time is for other people and that it is our lot instead to tell each other stories one bit of dialogue at a time in ten short phone calls spread out over a week.

When I first started reading this article, I thought “Eh, but it’s not the same as a three hour dinner!” but by the time I finished reading the article, I had changed my tune. I’d rather see my friends more frequently and become more a part of the fabric of their lives than only seeing them the rare times they both have 3-4 hours consecutively to spare.

Not only is the frequency nice, but there’s something very intimate about picking up dry cleaning or going grocery shopping with a friend. I wish I could do more of that, as corny as it sounds. I recently went with my friend to pick up her son at daycare just so we’d get the brief drive to the daycare place together to talk, and it was so wonderful. Aside from our chat, I got to see a whole new side to  her life that I really appreciated.

Here’s to weaving our friends into the fabric of our everyday lives!

You Kinda Just Had To Be There. (or- The Bats Fly At Sundown)

I used to have a boyfriend who didn’t understand travel. He had no idea why I liked traveling so much or why I felt the need to personally go and see so many different places.

“You can see them online,” he said, (he was a major techie), “you can see photos and videos and you can read about any place you want on the internet with some googling. There are so many travel blogs and there’s Wikipedia. Why do you need to go there?”

It always made me sad that some people (especially ones close to me) don’t understand how the internet can’t capture the feeling of a place. Photos and video and even the most beautiful words aren’t the same as actually being somewhere.

In my thirties I travel more than ever. I travel for work most of the time, but I’d love to travel more for pleasure (Soon! Right now, I usually stay put in New York when I’m off from work..this is because of financial reasons mainly (darn you, student loan!)), but soon I shall whip out my international bucket list once again.

I advise everyone to travel because it exposes you to all types of details and feelings you may miss where you are. Changing your location can really change your mindset- and your preconceived notions of the way other places (and other people) are.

This weekend I’ve been working in Austin, Texas. I went here once before with Jane, just for fun. We had the best time, and discovered that Austin was nothing like our preconceived ideas of Texas…even though we’d never been to Texas before. Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and the whole place reminds me more of the hipsterville that is Williamsburg, Brooklyn than the cowboytown that I thought Texas would be.

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

Jane and I circa 2009 having a blast in Austin with the Longhorns!

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Yum!

Jane and I Yelping the best Mexican food in Austin...all cheesy goodness!

We Yelped all the best Mexican food in Austin…lots of cheesy goodness!

This time Austin brought a completely different feeling…though also very good. Firstly, I’m here with different people (my coworkers) and at a completely different time in my life. Austin feels almost like a totally different place – even though it’s still as fun as I remember.

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Something I missed last time in Austin with Jane was the fact that there’s a bridge downtown where 1.5 million bats live. They stay under the bridge until sundown when they all fly out to feed.

My coworkers and I were told we needed to see these bats fly out from underneath the bridge, so we arrived at 8pm and waited together. It was pretty exciting. We expected to see this sight:

Photo we saw online.

Photo of what the internet told us we would see.

But instead we saw this:

Nice view. But no bats.

Nice view. But no bats.

And then this:

It got dark. We could kind of see some bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

Darkness. The bats were late. Then we could kind of see lots of bats, but not the way we thought we would (they were quickly flying out from under the bridge and then back in. Not doing a mass exodus like we saw in the photos.) Alas, it was too dark and they could not be captured with our cameras anymore.

But we had a good time anyway because we got to hang out together in Austin and watch for bats. And we did eventually see bats. And heard bats. Even though it was different than we thought it would be.

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And I can’t imagine getting the all the feelings I get from Austin just from googling it online. Because I felt this:

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And those pictures and my description can’t capture it.

Austin is weird. And young. And hipster. And Southern. And party. And foodie. And wild. And sunset. And morning. And healthy. And unhealthy. And night time. And yoga. And whisky. And bikes. And dancing. And all. And none.

It will be different for you.

You just have to go there.

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Was that a gorilla I just saw on my run?

Elvis? Is that you?

Elvis? Is that you? Are you in Austin?

The trash cans are solar powered? For reals?

The trash cans are solar powered here? For real?

Ladybird Lake

Ladybird Lake- I had no idea there was a running trail here.

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Wait, what’s this natural pool?

Wait, they made a pool out of LadyBird lake!

They made a pool out of LadyBird lake! Awesome!

You never know what you'll find once you're here

And who knows what you’ll find once you’re here…

Do You Have Home-Cooked Dinners with Friends?

I wish I did! It’s a rare occurrence when I have a home cooked meal with friends. When I do have dinner with my friends, it’s normally at a restaurant. The main home-cooked meals I have outside my home are in either with my fiancé’s family or with one of my parents. Back in NY, we have a few foodie friends and they invited us over. When we did have home-cooked meals with them, it was a treat.

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And so when I read about Sarah Grey’s “Friday Night Meatballs” tradition, I fell in love. Sarah and her husband were feeling disconnected from their community and social circle, and finding themselves spending more time on the couch with Netflix than they would have liked. On her 33rd birthday, she went on her Facebook wall and wrote:

“So here’s what Joe and I have decided to do, in my 33rd year, to make our lives happier: we are instituting a new tradition we call Friday Night Meatballs. Starting next Friday, we’re cooking up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday night and sitting down at the dining room table as a family—along with anyone else who’d like to join us. Friends, neighbors, relatives, clients, Facebook friends who’d like to hang out in real life, travelers passing through: you are welcome at our table. We’ll just ask folks to let us know by Thursday night so we know how many meatballs to make. You can bring something, but you don’t have to. Kids, vegetarians, gluten-free types, etc. will all be taken care of. The house will be messy. There might be card and/or board games. There might be good Scotch. You might be asked to read picture books. You might make new friends. We’ll just have to find out. This is our little attempt to spend more time with our village. You’re invited.”

She was overwhelmed with likes and visitors, and eighteen months later, she’s created a personal family tradition. But she’s also starting a movement of sorts. Check out her website, FridayNightMeatballs.com.

Once I’m more settled and have a bigger place, I’d love to try something like this out. Would you ever host your own regular dinner? Or do you already?

A Different Kind of Marriage in your Thirties

Ellen McCarthy, a wedding and relationships reporter at the Washington Post, spent years interviewing hundreds of couples about what makes relationships work and what doesn’t for the paper’s On Love column. Her book, The Real Thing, is an insiders scoop into what makes some marriages work and others..not work..and possibly end in divorce.

According to McCarthy, there seems to be two major keys to finding a marriage partner to be with for (hopefully) your entire life. They weren’t what I thought they’d be. At first I found them way too simple. But simplicity can be deceptive…

The two keys are:

1. Comfort
It turns out that so many of the spouses in successful marriages used the word ‘comfortable’ when talking about their significant other that McCarthy began to get worried when couples didn’t mention that word.
Comfortable in this case didn’t mean settling or boring. It meant that both spouses felt very much themselves in the relationship. The couple still had to work on the relationship of course, but the marriage just felt natural and they didn’t have to second guess themselves or tiptoe around one another. Both husband and wife were comfortably able to express themselves without fear. One person even said that the marriage sometimes felt like being alone while together …in the best way. They both still felt extremely free and independent while together in the relationship. This is the best kind of interdependence, I think.

2. Kindness
When asked what the most important quality a potential life partner could have, the answer was kindness, hands down. The marriages that lasted consisted of partners who were kind to one another…and kind people overall. One respondent said that her significant other was kind to everyone- kind to her, kind to himself, kind to friends, kind to dogs. Kindness is everything in a lasting marriage.
And why shouldn’t it be?

If you’re going to be with someone for life- and in this day and age that means another 60 possible years from your thirties(!)- why wouldn’t you choose someone who’s kind and who you can comfortably be yourself with?

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t butterflies, super hot moments, and great chemistry, and it doesn’t mean that everything is boring and tranquil. It just means that when looking for a life partner, kindness and comfort are great places to start…and continue.

Are you in an amazing marriage with a kind partner who you feel extremely comfortable with? Are these traits valuable to you? I know that I never had them high enough on my radar before, and they’ve recently moved to the top of my list. I don’t want to be with a person who seems great on paper, but isn’t kind. I want to be with a kind person who makes me feel comfortable and good about myself. The rest can be figured out thereafter.

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