The Stuff I Leave Behind

Carly and I wrote once about the stuff left behind, by guys. But I haven’t touched on the stuff, the baggage, the things I have discarded in apartments, lost under beds, throughout a multitude of neighborhoods in this city.

I got a text from a dude who I dated for a minute saying, “You will be pleased to know I found your earrings.” (I seem to lose many a pair of earrings.)

I have not talked to this guy in at least 6 months. And just now you have found those earrings that I asked you to search for 6 months ago?

I once started something with an old flame because we met up again so he could return my stuff. Nothing all that important— a scarf, a Bears t-shirt, a hat. But he had that stuff for almost two years. I hadn’t spoke to him in over a year. He moved this random crap from apartment to apartment with that stuff still in hand, so why just now decide to give it back?

Here’s my theory:

Guys (and all people possibly) hold onto the stuff left behind until they decide they want to see you again. It’s held as a type of personal collateral for when they’re feeling lonely, bored, or undersexed, and then BAM, a solid excuse to see you. Currently, a dude is holding onto (yet another) pair of earrings and a hand knit scarf (I’m also really great at leaving scarves around town apparently). Sure, the earrings cost $3 at H&M and the scarf was a Columbia student’s art project, but damn it, I want them back. But I also know sometimes it’s just not worth it, and sometimes it’s better to cry about those super cute earrings you’ll never see again rather than cry because homedude disappointed you, yet again.

What I hadn’t considered is what people hold onto that isn’t physical stuff. The quirks that only a few people know. The intimate details of the sound of my teeth grinding while I sleep or my super ugly toenails. But deeper than that too. The knowledge of the raw details about me as a person— my fears, my scars, my insecurities.

This is the stuff, the collateral, the ransom, much more difficult to leave behind. So when your ex tells you he misses you, this is what surfaces. This is the stuff left behind that you’re not sure you ever want to share with anyone else. Why sometimes it’s easier to want to get it back and in turn, just get back with him.

I’ve evaluated this concept quite deeply today, and while it’s tempting to answer that call of “I miss you” and regain that collateral, sometimes, just like that hand knit scarf, you have to let it go and go back to H&M and buy a new $3 pair of earrings. Or in this case OkCupid and for a new dude. The new ones are more modern, sturdy, taller, shinier, exciting, supportive, and hot anyway. You may have to take some time to search, but don’t go back just to find what you thought you lost.


My First (and last) BuzzFeed Reference Post. (Or, don’t be bashful about your wants)

I know. I know. Buzzfeed has completely taken over your Facebook walls and everyone is finding ways to block the time consuming, brain killing website that overflows with cats, Mean Girl quotes, and quizzes that reveals what Saved By The Bell character you really are. I get it. But something snuck onto my wall a few days ago that I wanted to share with the fam:

So many of my “friends” (it’s Facebook, ya’ll-let’s not kid ourselves) have been sharing this link that gives you ‘23 Ways You Know You’re Not The Romantic Type’. I finally read it today and by the time I got to the 13th Way, I chose not to gag myself and instead, write about it.

(Side note: I know, I’ve been neglecting you guys. I feel horrible but life is just sooooo busy. How busy? I can give you 13 Ways You Know You’re Busy as Fuck. #1 There is a permanent drool stain on your face from the 2.5 hrs of sleep you’re averaging a night…)

But I digress.

I started reading this just as a way to fill time and I ended actually getting a little upset. The post, however in jest it may be, pretty much scoffs at romance. Because no one likes romance. Because romance is so annoying. Because romance is for LOSERS. But not just any losers, losers who have decided to couple up and become COMBO LOSERS.

Look, I get it. You’re single and your best friend comes to dinner with her boyfriend and they’re practicing their Eskimo kisses and that shit is disgusting. I understand. But think about that last time you were in a relationship (or, at least, a respectable fuck buddy partnership). You went through times when you probably wanted to gag yourself with how in love-or in lust-you were, and what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with leaning into love and like and lust and sharing that with the person who, at least for that moment, feels exactly the same way? If you’ve ever gone through a break up, you know that time is fleeting and precious, so making fun of people who are going through it seems a bit like Hateration.

I recently had a meeting with this person in charge of a fellowship I received and she told me, after asking me what I wanted in life and making me cry a little because I thought this was just a 15 minute information session but ended up being the Most Real of Real Talks I’ve had in a while, she told me: Don’t be bashful about your wants.
That simple piece of advice resonates with me.
Of course, I think she meant about what I wanted career wise but I’m thinking this can apply in all aspects of life.
Love is good-you can want it.
Being treated nice is ok-you deserve it. (Or maybe you’re a douche and you don’t but I don’t know you personally so I’m just gonna assume good stuff)

No matter how anti-affection you are, I think everyone, deep down inside, wants a little TLC with a lover or lovers and people shouldn’t be ridiculed for it.

I’ll start:
I want romance. I want someone I can depend on and be strong for and do stupid things in public like sit on his lap in crowded spaces and wear matching sweaters. I wanna eat, fuck and sleep in during the week. I want someone I can cook for and buy silly gifts and share dumb jokes that only we get. I’m into all of that.

And that’s ok.

But not now, of course.
No. Now, all I wanna do is bang hot-ish dudes, pass out in my shower with a bottle of wine and eat tamales in bed.

I’m a work in progress.


Flakes are for Corn and Soap

“Yo, what’s up wit these chicks flaking out online?”

Actual line of gchat conversation received this Tuesday morning from a friend.

So being the good dating advice giver that I am, I helped him diagnose the problem of the flaky chicks. I’ve decided to share these thoughts with you. You’re welcome.

1) Get off, take that $30 a month, and buy a girl from Tinder a few drinks. My friend, being recently single, hasn’t joined the 2014, cough, or 2009, online dating scene. Stop paying for online dating people, really. Especially here in Chicago. Because if you’re on, you’re also on OkCupid (free), Tinder (free), Hinge (free), Plenty of Fish (free but horrid), (even FetLife (free) if that’s your thing) and the copious amounts of other free services made for meeting people to bang date within minutes of the Magnificent Mile.

This city is small, with not that many single people in your age/height/body type/miles range who are willing to date online. Instead, take that money and god forbid, pay for a drink or two. You don’t have to take her to the Aviary, but stop spending your time emailing and meet for drinks or coffee in person. She’ll be much more impressed with your ability to discuss your man crush on Derrick Rose rather than read your boring emails about what your dog did today.

2) Which brings me to my next point (which I have reiterated many times), stop spending six years crafting witty emails before you meet in person. This is exactly why girls be flaking. Sh*t or get off the pot, as they say. I’ve made the mistake of dreaming about my future wedding with some dude I was emailing/texting/Tinder messaging with only to meet him in person and realize I’d have more fun watching my mother check her email. You’ll spend your relationship in person, mostly, rather than communicating in writing, so just go ahead and meet in person and get used to it.

My friend explained he needs five messages before setting up a date. FIVE?! And you’re asking me why women are flaking!? He also explained he needs a screening process. In modern dating times, swiping right is the only screening process there is anymore. Get over it. If a girl is crazy, she’ll be crazy after 1 email or 5. Just get it over with.

3) If you don’t have lots of time, arrange to meet the person before another commitment. Or lie, I don’t care. If you’re worried about the time it takes to screen the ladies or gents in person, arrange a happy hour date and explain you have to volunteer at the dog shelter at 7:30 (or you have a date with a frozen pizza, your couch, and your cat), so you only can stay for a drink or two. You know when there is chemistry and when there isn’t. Remember, time, place, date, is all we need.

Give two options for a time to meet, “Does Tuesday or Wednesday at 5:30 work for you? If not, when are you free?” BOOM. Stop it with the, “Maybe next week sometime when I’m not so busy” because we’ll get ADD and move on to the next cute dude sending us messages.

If you follow all these rules and a person is still flaky, dump them and move on to the next on your feed. If they’re not actually wanting to use online dating applications, for ya know, dating, then the person isn’t worth the trouble or your time crafting all those witty emails anyway.



Jump, What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

I read this piece a few weeks back at the fantastic show Serving the Sentence at Tow Bar in Roger’s Park. Check it out every second Sunday at 7 pm.

Jump, what’s the worst thing that can happen? After six years of being single, this is what I tell myself after confessing to an old coworker my copious crushing for him.

Even his name is perfect. Jack Summers**. He sounds like a made up character on Dawson’s Creek. And he has this smile. I can’t even pretend it doesn’t make me want to fall out of my shit. He owns his own condo. Getting his MBA. Has a good job. Works a 2nd one at Jcrew for the discount. He looks like he belongs in that damned catalogue with the skinny models and the Labrador retrievers, tall, dark, handsome and stylish in that way that looks like he isn’t trying too hard.

Damn. I haven’t seen or talked to him in months. It’s a week after my break up with the latest, right before the new year. I am unemployed, depressed, and have spent the last few days on an ambien high sleeping in my flannel scottie dog sheets, eating leftover Christmas fudge, and not showering. I’ve spent my time watching re-runs of The Wire, again, and eating random combinations of whatever I have in my sparse fridge or ordering large pizzas which I consume within a day. Shockingly, since unemployment and this break up, I’ve gained 15 lbs.

And bam! An email from Jack. Out of the goddamned blue. He gives me his number. Tells me to get back to him. SAY WHAT?! I lose my cool and text him back answering his question immediately.

We catch up a bit, and what the hell right?, I jump and confess my long time crush on him. Has god sent me him right now (nevermind I don’t usually believe in god)? Just a week after I dumped the last loser? The timing is honestly heavenly. We send each other photos, since I went redhead now, and because I just wanted to see his face. OMG. I forgot how cute he is. AND HE JUST SENT ME HIS PICTURE.

A few days later I’m still mourning and dealing with the loss of the last ex, and have let Jack’s face disappear from my daydreams. I’m on the delayed train back to Chicago about 5 inches into a 10 inch snowstorm, when my text message sound goes off. “What r u up to?”

OMG my heart flutters like I’m 13 and the boy at school is sort of paying attention to me. Dude is seriously hotter than Idris Elba.

I try to make conversation. I’m clearly the wittier of the two of us, which will work great as I continue to pursue my writing career and he does whatever dudes with MBAs do.

OMG my double chin! OMG my lack of employment! I totally had both of these issues under control when I last saw him. I was at the pinnacle of having my shit together, well, not really, but at the surface I was. Plus we were working at Jcrew together where the dress code made me wear so many accessories and cute shoes and all that shit so he probably gets an idea I like actually care about my appearance, when for the last 3 months I have solely worn leggings as pants.

“If it wasn’t horrible weather, I’d tell you to come into the city,” I say, all slyly.

“Ditto,” he answers. His text messages aren’t long. But all that meaning simply the word, “ditto”, I think to myself.

“Snow check?” I ask. Man I AM SO witty.

“Ha,” he replies. OMG He thinks I am FUNNY. I AM SO FUNNY, GUYS.

“Fo sho,” he says.

Ok, Jack Summers, can you tell me when that ‘fo sho’ is gonna be? Because I’m going to need to dye my roots and buy some fresh Spanx for that day.

OMG our biracial children are so going to be fucking Jcrew models. I can feel it. I’m imaging our photo shoots with Jenna Lyons and our beautiful offspring, and he asks for my email address.

OMG WHAT WILL HE SEND ME!? Oh my god. He is so thoughtful. Sent me an article on job interviewing, as he knows I have one this week. I AM IN LOVE.

Mr. Summers, YOU WILL BE MY FUTURE HUSBAND. Let’s do this.

If you are my husband, I will stop eating Express Grill cheeseburgers at 3 am. I’ll shave my legs regularly. I’ll work out. I’ll finally read War and Peace. I’ll wash all the dishes in my sink. I’ll start sleeping 8 hours a night.

Who am I kidding? I promise, I’ll try.

A few weeks later we go on our first date. He lives in the suburbs, which you know he’s cute if I’m willing to date a dude in the ‘burbs. We meet halfway at a Glenview bar to have a few drinks. I beat him there and sit at the bar, attempting to play it cool. He walks in a few minutes later, wearing a camel overcoat and plaid scarf over a Ludlow suit and Ray Bans black rimmed glasses. We hug hello. I about die.

So here I am jumping. What is the worst that can happen?

Hmm, let me see. Humiliation, heartbreak, crying rivers after he breaks my heart.

Here’s a few examples of the worst things that happened:

“I’m a Christian,” he says, emphasized at least 3 times.

“I am divorced. Just a year ago.”

“We didn’t have sex until we got married.”

“I don’t have any interest in moving back to the city.”

The man I’m infatuated with is a celibate, suburban Christian divorcee.

This may be the worst that can happen.

But what is the best?

That question and possibility is what keeps me going. Maybe this man will or won’t be the love of my life, maybe I’ll convince him to move to the city, maybe I can put off sex for a few months.

I have to keep jumping, right? Because whatever it is that’s the best possibility will always trump what is the worst.


**not his name

The Art of Messing Up Names (or, I wanna be John Travolta when I grow up)

By this time, we have all seen or heard about John Travolta’s Oscar Night gaffe: he not only mispronounced Broadway star Idina Menzel’s name, he made up an entirely new one: Adele Dazeem.

Now, I was all ready to jump on the “Down with Travolta” bandwagon until I took a pause from my late night pancakes and moscato and really thought about it: I’ve done worse.

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve called some dude the wrong name-in bed-I’d have a total of 8 dollars, which-I think-is about 7 bucks too many, right?

I’ve confessed my transgressions with friends and they all look at me with the same incredulous, disappointed face.

How could you do that, Sam?

Did he hear you?

Did you do it on purpose?

Do you know his name now?

I always feel bad, but there’s never anything I can do before it happens. I’m a talker in bed and after a bot of wine, 2 PBRs, and a couple of tequila shots I’m most definitely going to call you my ex-boyfriend’s name. Or the name I thought I heard you say at the bonfire we stumbled home from. I have a hard enough time remembering names when I’m sober (and I work in customer service so it’s really embarrassing when someone tells me their name and I just look at them blindly for a few heavy seconds until it actually registers in my mind) but throw in the mix anything that will alter the little activity my brain has left, and it doesn’t matter how many times you told me your name was Zach; I will continue calling you Justin until you text me the next day and I’m too ashamed to ask you your name so I just respond with a casual “Hey…dude!”

When you’re single and trying to mend a broken heart, you throw yourself out there and sometimes there’s just too many names to remember. How am I supposed to remember which one is Joey, Justin, JC, Lance or Chris?! This is a real problem.

Seriously you guys, it’s gotten so bad that I’ve introduced men by the wrong name to my friends. This scenario has happened to me exactly twice:

I’m walking down the street with a friend when John Doe comes up behind me-

John Doe: Hey Sam!

Me: Hey…dude.

John Doe: What’s up, I haven’t seen you at [insert bougie tap room here] in awhile.

Me: Oh I know, I’ve just been so busy with rehearsals. Ughhh.

John Doe recognizes my friend.

Me: Oh, Megz this is [with as much confidence as I can muster] Dan.

John Doe: Brian.

Me: Brian. Shit. I’m sorry we were just talking about Dan. Her ex. Who beat her. Beats. He beats her. It’s really…traumatic. Ok, that’s our bus, see you later Dan.

John Doe: uh.

Me: Brian. Brian. I know that Ahhh. Text me!

We run off.

It’s horrible and I know if some guy I just banged introduced me to his friends as Tricia, all hell would break loose.

I’ve tried different tactics to combat the issue:

-Banging from behind allows your voice to be muffled

-Immediately leaving before the guy awakens so there’s no opportunity for potential slip ups.

-Only going home with guys named John.

-Making a joke out of it (this has yet to work)

This evening, John Travolta finally responded to the Idina fiasco:

“I’ve been beating myself up all day,” the Be Cool star said in a statement to E! News. “Then I thought…What would Idina Menzel say? She’d say, ‘Let it go, let it go!”

Truth telling moment: I never saw Frozen. But, if Idina is telling me to let that shit go and not get hung up on something as trivial as someone’s name-then I’m going to take that advice. Because there’s very little a sense of humor can’t fix.

That, and a boyfriend with a one syllable name.


Where You Been, Girl?

Hey Melinda, where you been?

Good question. I know you’ve all missed me.

Well the short answer is I started a new job, work a 2nd and third job, been hella sick for like a month, and I’m in love.

Yep, you read correctly. I’m in love. In a relationship, like Facebook official and all that shit. Yep, it’s a true story. So writing about my dating life hasn’t been all that exciting.

But damn it’s fucking hard. We got back together. So I’m learning what’s it’s like to not be solo anymore, again.

Melinda, will you still write for this blog since you got that boyfriend?

Probably. I’ve never written this blog solely for other people. If other people read it, that’s pretty great. I still got things to say. Also, I’m going to be writing for the blog on The Tequila Tales, which is an amazing live show about love and lust, and now a blog too. I’m going to cover my transition to being in a relationship and how that all works. Because, like I said, it’s fucking hard. So Solo in the 2nd City still will be here.

And because this is my blog, I’m giving myself a shameless plug—

I’m coming back from my storytelling hibernation and reading a story tonight at Comedy Sandwich (I’m the sandwich, though my story is funny, I promise) and on Tuesday at The Seven Deadly Sins at Cafe Mustache. Come out!



Welcome Sam!


Super excited to announce a new contributor here at SITSC. Read here for more about her adventures in single life and dating in the Second City. Welcome Sam!

Sam Bailey is an actor and writer, born and raised in Logan Square. Since she’s officially given up on getting that Columbia College acting degree, she’s been performing her own work lately at events including Salonathon, BYOB Story Hour and The Paper Machete. Sam really enjoys crappy horror movies, bougie beer, the entire Real World/Road Rules Challenge Series, and acting like she doesn’t give a fuck. Which isn’t true. She actually has all the fucks in the world to give.

On Boys Who French Press and Breaking Patterns

For the past three years, every guy I’ve been with uses a French Press as their main source of coffee making. Dudes I bang for a night, Dudes I bang for multiple nights, Dudes I’ve chosen to bang, exclusively, for years-the one thing they have in common (besides being selfish, insecure, perpetual men children who I am obsessed with) is that they all love to French Press. It took me until this last guy to figure out how to use one without a tablespoon full of stray coffee grains at the bottom of our mugs and at the end of a very drawn out break up, I look at that small accomplishment as the one positive thing I took from him…along with his parent’s netflix account.

I’m an actor. Most of the guys I date are actors or artists of some sort. One of the great things about living in Chicago as an actor is the sheer amount of theatre we have and the size of the artistic community. While the community is big, for a girl who grew up and went to college here, it can seem pretty tiny. It sounds cliche, but everyone does know everyone. As a single person you can either make an active, yet difficult choice to not dip into that pool or, if you’re like me, you’ll take your chances swimming with the sharks. Thus, I find myself, more often than not, underneath (or on top if I’m really into it) some hipster actor I saw tear up the stage in a new adaptation of Sophocles’ Antigone on Roller Skates. I’m a sucker for it. I’ve never been too impressed by the big stages, but show me some theatre in a dark basement with shoe-string lights and a crap ton of stage blood and all of a sudden I’ve dissolved into a fangirl who is not ashamed to practice her surfboard** skills on the lead actor in honor of his performance.

The first non-actor I’ve ever been with was Jon, a barista in Logan Square who looked like the poor man’s Gael Garcia Bernal. After using his cafe as my personal rehearsal room for about a month, I ended up naked in his bed one afternoon listening to him cry about how much he missed his ex-girlfriend. Who was also his roommate. I started laughing out of complete horror and he offered to make me coffee before I left. That was the first time I encountered the french press and all I could think during his sob story was how amazingly fresh and rich it tasted and if his misplaced tears were worth a perfect cup. It was. I stayed with him off and on for the better part of three years.

I was never a big coffee drinker until I lived in New York. Every corner, no matter what time of day, had coffee readily available for a buck. So I got used to drinking crappy coffee loaded with sugar and cream until I started seeing Greg, a graphic artist who was squatting in this loft in Harlem with a bunch of his friends. Being with him was like living the theatre dream: Here I was, in New York for the first time, coupling up with this dude who was living the real life RENT. Greg scoffed at the idea of replying to all those notices left on their doors about paying back-rent, but he’d be damned if he was going to drink Folgers drip coffee on any given day. He never had a phone that was regularly on (damn you boost mobile) nor did he ever have any money to go anywhere for dates, but what he did have was bougie taste in coffee…and an air mattress. I was in love.

I’ve always dated the same type of guys. I like to be needed so I’m a magnet for boys who need someone to take care of them. I’m incredibly attracted to dependency and talent, which makes me prime real estate for an artist looking to park his cock somewhere safe for the winter. While I’m not, in any way shape or form, ok with being some dude’s stepford chick, I do enjoy taking care of the men I’m with. Even as I type that I get a little nauseous, but it’s true! I  have this deep need to be the perfect partner in a relationship and I get pleasure in making people happy; whether that’s making them laugh or making them dinner, my natural inclination (in love) is to try to make the other person happy and in turn I will be too. But only after they are happy. I know this about myself and my sensors go into overdrive anytime I’m about to go down the path again. But I can’t help it, it’s habitual.

Until now.

A few days ago, I slept over another actor dude’s apartment and when I woke up he was making us coffee. Out of his French Press. In the agonizingly slow 7 minutes it took to make this perfect batch of dream coffee I saw our entire future:

He’ll give me his dirty Mickey Mouse shirt to wear one day along with a toothbrush to keep at his place.

I’ll start sleeping over every night, only seeing him between the hours of 11pm and 8am because we’re both in shows.

We won’t ever fight because I don’t like confrontation and he’s too high to care.

He’ll tell me he wants to move in together-because Rent.

We’ll get a place in Lincoln Square because that’s where people go to couple up and die.

He’ll wake up one day and decide he’s “not into it anymore”, and while he thinks I’m “very talented” he just feels he needs to “work on himself and rage while he still can”

He’ll be very close to 30 years old.

By the time he had poured my coffee in a mason jar to bring it over to me, I had my boots on and was halfway out the door.

I think I’ve learned my lesson.

So here it is, I’m breaking my patterns: I’m taking a break from banging selfish artists and I’m switching to Ginger Tea. I heard it’s good for cramps.


(no normal person should actually attempt the Surf Board. Leave it to Yonce)


Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thank you! I want to thank everyone and anyone who came out last night to our final live lit show! We love you and can’t thank you enough for your support. I’d also like to thank Beauty Bar, DJ Continental, and all of our readers. Thanks to JW Reese for designing our poster (and for reading too).

New website! As you can see we have sort of a new look to hopefully be more readable. If anyone needs like an extra project for their portfolio and wants to make a website pretty for us, I’ll send you all the love, and maybe a few bucks. Email [email protected]

All my love to Carly and welcome to a new contributor! As you may have seen, Carly, my co-founder here at Solo in the 2nd City will be moving on to greater things. Since I know you don’t want to only hear about my sad dating life, I am welcoming a new contributor to the blog. Woot! I’m going to officially welcome and introduce her on Monday, so look out.

In the meantime, please enjoy your weekend. Don’t be a hater to Valentine’s Day and instead enjoy all the love you have for your friends, family, chocolate, and wine.