Meetup Saved My Life (as published by Powder Room Graffiti)

I knew New York well but this was the first time I had gone for weeks, possibly months, to focus on writing and take a few classes. I was leaving my cherished network of solid friends behind me so I needed guidance and support. I needed to know the real deal, not the tourist info. I needed friends.

One of my buddies recommended Meetup, a website that allows you to join groups anywhere in the world with whom you have something in common. It’s still relatively new to the UK but in New York, where Meetup HQ is located, there is a fantastic array of suitable groups. It was as simple as popping my favourite things into the search box and before I knew it I was a member of the Expats group, New in Town, New York Brunch club, Live Music group, Jazz club, NY Pubs group, English Premier League Football group, and Cupcake group………Almost immediately I was getting invited to events East Side, West Side and Downtown via my home page.

Initially, I decided on an ‘Expats evening’ and invited my new roommate along as a cushion. We were pleasantly surprised on entering Taj on 21st Street; firstly, because it was full and secondly there was a combination of no less than three other groups besides my fellow expats.

Initially, I was surprised there were no formal introductions or ice breakers, after all, couldn’t I just walk into any bar and make friends? I was, however, thrilled with the numbers of people that were just coming right up and politely introducing themselves. Then it dawned on me, of course, people were here to make new friends so there were self-introductions aplenty. That’s what’s so great about Meetup. We met many new people at this first event and it gave me the confidence to go to more gatherings.

Next, I RSVP-ed to join the Live Music group and hooked up with the organiser, Mike, at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Annex. I met fellow music fan and Deborah Harry lookalike, Susan from the Bronx and we chatted effortlessly about all the obscure bands that none of our non-music friends have heard of. I loved meeting fellow writers and creative types at the Writing Group which took me all the way to 207th St and therefore has the distinction of the furthest North I have ever been. But the best was Uptown Downtown; Ladies take Manhattan, run by the effervescent Sarah, which was the delightful habitat of a number of animated, sparkling and diverse ladies.

I first met them for afternoon tea, at Alice’s Tea Cup, so I couldn’t help but enjoy what is my best meal to date in the city. I sat between Carol, the Harlem school teacher by day, sex crazed Upper East Side Princess by night and Susan, the straight-laced New Jersey housewife, which made for an interesting afternoon. After the scrumptious meal we all walked out with a box of goodies ‘to go’ and nearly a year later and an ocean apart, Sarah and I are still friends.

Meetup allows you to contact other members safely via the site and then make arrangements to meet up. Whilst browsing members before deciding to join a Cinema group, I was intrigued by the following profile; ‘I miss having close, long-lasting friendships, since this is such a transient city. I’m looking to make friends with amazing, dependable women, who are into more than shopping, bags and hair.’ I was able to contact Katy from New Jersey safely, and we went on to visit the cinema many times and have become firm friends.

I have met loads of folks, been to new places and made some new friends, all of which helped to make my stay in New York full of adventure, fun and camaraderie. I even met my boyfriend at a Meetup Christmas party and we’re presently enjoying a romantic, transatlantic relationship, 10 months after meeting.

So Meetup really did save my life – well, my social life at least.
Published by Powder Room Graffiti

Social Meltdown in New York

(Serial dating)

For a city where everyone, I mean everyone seems to be obsessed with dating, why are there still so many single people?  Why have they not found each other yet?

According to Forbes, New York is the 8th best city in the US to live if you are single although they admit it is the most expensive, a fact I can vouch for. San Francisco is 2nd and Washington 5th but I’m guessing there are more singles in those places for differing reasons. Dallas being 3rd is an interesting proposition.

I’ve heard rumours about married people in New York but I have not met any. I’m pretty sure I have seen some.

Most of the single people I have met have mentioned married friends but they have not introduced me to them. In the 3 months I have been in New York, I have met just one recently married mother who came to a ladies meet up brunch to meet new friends. Perhaps they live in a parallel world and are never to meet.

In that time, none of the single ladies I have met have started dating someone that became their boyfriend. Not the crazy ones or the intelligent ones. And yet I have met quite a few men, dated the odd one or 2 and I’ve been seeing one for a few weeks.

It’s not that I have low standards, quite the opposite as I’m probably the only woman in New York not looking to settle into a relationship. I don’t see the need to date just for the sake of it but I just happened to have met people whom I enjoyed the company of.

One can only assume women in New York are looking for perfection. Not just to marry or have a long term relationship with but even just to say yes to a date. A single friend of mine put it down to the current ‘Me’ generation.

It seems to me that I can split New York ladies into two categories: Serial Daters and Non Daters.

Serial daters are desperate to find ‘the one’ but are they? If they were, would they not concentrate on one person at a time and give the relationship a chance to blossom?

I don’t think they know who ‘the one’ is. They don’t seem to have a wish list of what they want in a man, at least they don’t tell me but they sure come up with a lot of faults after 2-3 dates.

I’ve never heard one say they like someone but the feeling is not mutual, Un-requited love, or lust, must have happened to most of us at least once in a lifetime.

Don’t people have crushes any more?!

Mostly I find it strange when a New York woman professes her fondness for a man but continues to date other people. There are only 7 days in a week. Who has that kind of time?

If serial daters are not happy by themselves, then what have they got to offer someone else?

Are ‘desperate’ and ‘unhappy’ really qualities that will attract?

Who is going to tell them?

Non daters, on the other hand are tired of the dating scene which is especially of concern if they are under 30 when surely they should be out there having fun rather than thinking of settling down.

Some over 40 seem pretty keen to want to date and settle down but don’t seem to ever go on dates. With all these single men everywhere, how is that possible?

Furthermore, I’ve always thought that if a woman needs a man to make her happy, it means they are unhappy single. Why would anyone want an unhappy girlfriend who is so dependant on them for their happiness?

Surely men would prefer a little less dependence?

Published on Dating New York Style

Who’s Zooming Who?

Initially, I felt that everyone just seemed friendly towards me. Maybe I was a new face in an old bar in a crowded city where socially, frazzled folks welcomed adding another phone number to their already heaving, long lists.

I have always been told it’s rude to stare, a notion I still subscribe to. So why does it seem acceptable, in this, a crowded, downtown New York bar?

Just into my first, beautifully crafted glass of refreshingly chilled wine, I realised that all and sundry were looking at everyone else.  At no other time has the phrase ‘checking them out’ been more apt.

The blonde in the slim jeans tucked into boots, seemingly the uniform of the moment, was checking out the all-American denim guy. The all-American denim guy was checking out the petite Latino lady. The petite Latino lady was checking out everyone taller than her.

Who’s Zooming Who? I like the way the old Aretha track put it; literarily everyone seemed to be looking at everyone else.

I’m hoping time will prove me wrong and this is just the cynic in me and perhaps this behaviour is just prevalent in certain bars in particular neighbourhoods, but it smacks of desperation when everyone is looking over shoulders to see if anyone better has just walked in. What are they missing out on? Could they be the person of their dreams? Could they be missing out on a chance of happiness?

Yes, I know I would have had to been looking myself to have observed all this strange behaviour but I am a new face in a new town – just curious, innocent people-watching on my part.

Other than a couple of obvious Queens, with whom I exchanged cursory glances and delightful banter with, this was the West Village after all, I was here solely to be acquainted with one person.  I gave up just a few hours of my life to be here. I have the other 164 hours in the week to see other people, do other things, go other places.

Is it too much to ask of New Yorkers to concentrate on one person at a time?

Published on Dating New York Style

November 9th 2008

To Pay or Not To Pay

This one may be controversial but …..

No wonder people think dating in New York is so complicated and tiresome. It seems to me that women expect men to pay for them and men expect to pay. Why is this? 

If you expect someone else to pay for you, isn’t it just saying ‘I’m not clever enough to earn my own money’?

If the man is doing the paying, does it not bring back the argument that men then have to earn more if they are to pay for women too? In which case women cannot demand or expect equal pay.

How far back are women going to go? Do we want to vote? Do we want to work? Do we want to be able to ask for our own drink at the bar? Do we want to be able to wear trousers?

Yes really!  I remember going to a bar for lunch with my male boss when working in Fleet Street, London in the late 1980’s. Luckily I was wearing a skirt suit, as is my personal preference, as not only did they not serve women at the bar, they didn’t like women wearing trousers! I never went back but I’m guessing that they soon moved into the 20th Century as had most places in the UK by then.

So in 2009 New York, what do women do with their own money if they’re not paying for themselves? I think spending it on the wrong things (excessive plastic surgery and ‘medical’ spa visits spring to mind).

Don’t get me wrong, I believe chivalry is all well and good. Politeness costs nothing and should be expected from everyone, both sexes. Offering to pay is chivalrous, again from both parties, but being expected to pay is a different issue.

There’s the argument that whoever asks for the date should pay. This should work as after the first or second date, surely both parties will be making suggestions as to where to go so all will be square.

I believe some women disguise the desire for men to pay for them by declaring, perhaps sub-consciously, that they are old fashioned, or traditional. Do they really they just want to give up work? I’m surprised they have time for work anyway if they are too busy serial dating in desperation looking for ‘the one’!

If they are that old fashioned, are they going to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping and looking after the house? I think not.

I heard the most ridiculous argument the other day; women expect the men to pay because they spend the most money on grooming themselves for dates, to look good for men.

That is stretching the imagination to the extreme.

I do like to make an effort not just for men but because I like to look my best. Last time I looked, there were plenty of choices on where to buy clothes and makeup and spas etc are optional. Women looked good before L’Oreal’s, ‘Because I’m worth it’ slogan came along and I believe there was a much higher ratio of successful marriages in decades gone buy. Yes we are worth it. So do we really want to share our lives with a man who is so shallow that looks are so high on the agenda?

The one issue that throws the argument out is if one person earns/has considerably more than the other. They are going to have a higher living standard and not going to lower it so are more likely to treat their date to places they are happy to go to themselves.  

Doesn’t have to always be that way though.

Published on Dating New York Style

November 25th 2008