Valentine’s For One

Valentine’s Day has become nothing more than a cheap, manufactured holiday designed to maximize the profits of florists and card companies. This alleged paean to romantic love and coupledom—perhaps once meaningful, but then again perhaps never meaningful—sends countless duos out to overcrowded restaurants for overpriced and underwhelming meals. Prices for red roses seemingly double that day and all sorts of heart-shaped boxes filled with waxy, mass-produced chocolates wend their ways into grocery baskets, to be presented with a similarly mass-produced card for the object of one’s affection. And one thing that certainly stands out on this madly marketed winter holiday is that Coupledom Reigns Supreme, so much so that it sends some singletons to the retreat of their own homes, afraid or embarrassed to venture forth in public without some complementary partner on their arms.

I’ve been both single and coupled on Valentine’s Day and, friends, but for the past 15 or so years I’ve celebrated even if I was outside the target demographic of V-Day marketers. And I am genuinely curious why Valentine’s Day is aimed at couples and not EVERYONE. As a society, we are becoming more “single”—witness the rise in adults living alone by intention (read Eric Klinenberg’s excellent Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone for a wonderfully readable examination of this phenomenon). Age of first marriage is progressively getting older and many adults eschew traditional marriage for something else (singlehood, cohabitation, serial monogamy, polyamory, etc.) Sex is just a Tinder swipe away. Millennials are eschewing tradition (and, while we’re at it, cars). Our definitions of family are evolving. The times, they are a’changing. So, why isn’t Valentine’s Day? Yes, there are stirrings indicating some change afoot (consider the “Galentine’s” parties), but V-Day still focuses on the notion that love can only be experienced by a two-person bond.

From my David Orelick calendar.

From my David Orelick calendar.

Perhaps our culture still doesn’t know what to do with the unmarried adult (especially the one that actually celebrates singlehood). Why are singles still seen as “lesser”, entities to be pitied? It’s time to revisit our prejudices and recognize that singlehood and coupledom are merely two different ways of living adult lives, one every bit as good as the other.

I’m in a relationship and am very happy. But I still cringe at the thought of the near worship of The Duo. When I throw a dinner party, I don’t want my guest list to be all couples. I have great single friends (and I’ve been a great single friend). I’ve known plenty of single assholes (as well as married assholes). Seriously, the time to stop venerating couples is now; the time to start honoring all adults, regardless of relationship status is now.

As I mentioned earlier, I celebrate(d) Valentine’s Day even when single. I’d buy myself a card, and a present (usually a book and always wrapped with a bow!). I’d eat some decadent pastry (or, as I did a couple of times, bake myself a layer cake). I’d indulge in a Reese’s something with breakfast. I’d open a bottle of bubbly and indulge.

Our most important relationship is with ourselves. If we can’t love ourselves (even if we don’t always LIKE ourselves), we can’t really love anybody else—friend, family, lover. This is what Valentine’s Day should be—a celebration of the love and acceptance of one’s self.

New Blog

I’ve been away from this blog for a while, but I’m still around and doing well. The new blog, which I’m not going to publicize until I’ve build up a decent archive, is nonetheless available for viewing. You can find it at

My Tenth Mini!

The semester is over and now I have a little time for a half-marathon report. On Saturday, I completed the 2014 Indianapolis Mini-Marathon, the nation’s largest half-marathon. It was my 10th year in a row! Last year’s time was my slowest ever (but I was, nonetheless, delighted with the fact that I finished it). Anyway, this year I finished with almost a full minute-per-mile pace FASTER than 2013! Needless to say, I walked around grinning afterward (even before I knew my finishing time). In fact, I registered for next year’s race almost as soon as I got home.

A couple of firsts this year. My first first: I’d always run in ordinary running tights or shorts, but I used compression capris this year (having only ever done a single short run with them previously, as I just got them). My second first: I’d always traveled there by myself, but this year a friend of mine joined me. Andy retired from my department a few years ago and has been running for a long time. He hadn’t run the Mini for 9 years, but did it this year (much faster than me, of course!) I really enjoyed having someone to hang around with until the start of the race, especially since it was quite windy and cool. Having conversations helped me forget about the chill!

So, what’s up next in this slow-but-ecstatic runner’s plans? I’ve registered for a half-marathon in October, the Urban Bourbon in Louisville, Kentucky. You have to be 21 or older, because there’s bourbon at the finish line!


One more day!

Tomorrow morning I run my 10th Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in a row (it’s the nation’s largest half-marathon). Am I ready for it? Well, I’ve certainly gotten my fill of carbohydrates!

My annual day-before-the-race meal is pancakes at IHOP, no butter, swimming (née DROWNING) in syrup. Today I was joined by my friend Andy (also running the race tomorrow) and his wife Leslie (she of fantastic cooking skills!) I happily devoured my stack of pancakes with strawberries and bananas and should have plenty of glycogen in my body for tomorrow. These carbs, plus the energy drink with caffeine, should supply me with the fuel I need to finish. That, and a traditional breakfast of one sleeve of marshmallow Peeps, that is!

And the end of the semester is upon us

Monday is the last day of classes, with final exams scheduled for Tuesday through Friday. My grades must be submitted to the registrar’s office by noon on Monday. What I’ll be doing between now and then is grading (okay, I pretty much do this all semester long). And grading. And grading. And running a half-marathon on Saturday.

The end of the spring semester, for some reason*, puts me in more of a time crunch. So, while I have a slight respite this weekend, it’ll be a grading marathon (on top of the running half-marathon!) after Monday!

*Okay, that half-marathon is the reason! I have to drive down to Indianapolis to pick up my race packet on Thursday, and then drive down again Saturday (early!) morning for the actual race. I’ll get back to Muncie around 1:00, after which I’ll be too physically tired to grade until evening.

Signs of Spring

Mowing (part) of the lawn yesterday. Saucer magnolia tree in front yard starting to bloom. And, most importantly, I saw the first dandelion of the season in my back yard.

Forget Ham. Forget Lamb. This is THE perfect Easter dinner.

Yes, it’s the world1 famous Peeps-Nini. After all, what would Easter be without marshmallow Peeps! Allow me to share with you step-by-step instructions so that you, too, can create this gastronomic masterpiece!

First, assemble the ingredients:

  • bread
  • peanut butter (I like the natural style with salt)
  • butter
  • Peeps! (preferably chicks or bunnies) BTW, do not make eye contact with them. Do not give them names. Do not start forming attachments to them or you will never be able to make this sandwich, let alone eat it. You do know that you have to kill those Peeps to cook this, don’t you?
  • ingredients

    1. Assemble your ingredients. Mies en place, people!
    2. Butter the bottom of one piece of bread. Turn it over.
    3. Spread peanut butter on the other side of the piece of bread you just buttered. Place Peeps on top of the peanut butter. Then put the bread/Peeps concoction on top of the panini press.
    4. setupPeepsnini

      Don’t look at their eyes! You’ll feel so guilty knowing that you are about to send them to a gooey, heated, Smores-like death!

    5. Place second piece of bread on top of the Peeps. AND DON’T LOOK AT THEIR EYES BEFORE YOU DO THIS!
    6. PeepNini Before

    7. Butter the top of the second piece of bread.
    8. Place in your preheated Panini press and close the lid. Cook until Peeps have melted. If you do not have a Panini press, you can use a sturdy pan and place a heavy weight on top of your sandwich.
    9. GooeyGoodness

    10. Eat and enjoy! Well, if you named your Peeps Peter Rabbit and Thumper and Fluffy and Bugs, you may not enjoy the sandwich that much. But I warned you about this. I WARNED YOU NOT TO FORM EMOTIONAL BONDS WITH THEM!

    Now that you know how to make this epicurean delight, you’ll be wanting to make a variation of this for ALL of the holidays!

    1My world, anyway!

    The Columbia Restaurant—Ybor City, Tampa, Florida

    I spent most of last week at the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in
    Tampa, missing some actual springlike days in Muncie (yes, we are headed to highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s on Tuesday—blechhhh). Although I saw some interesting research presented (and shared some of my own), perhaps the best part of these conferences is connecting with friends one sees only rarely (often at academic conferences!) And, as a corollary, one tends to dine with them, a chance to visit local restaurants.

    My dear friend Nellie and I chose to dine at The Columbia Restaurant, located in Tampa’s historic Ybor City (once known as the Cigar Capital of the World—in its heyday, Spanish, Cuban, and Italian immigrants were employed to handroll the cigars). The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant (since 1905) and I believe that many of the waiters were original. The place is huge! I am not exaggerating—15 dining rooms that can seat up to 1700 people (some of these are used for private functions). The place was also jam-packed with diners—we arrived quite early and were lucky to wait only 20 minutes for a table. Anyway, Nellie and I shared a variety of tapas—scallops, grilled meat skewers, queso fundido, and my personal favorite, piquillo peppers stuffed with chorizo, mushrooms, and Manchego cheese. As delicious as these were, especially with a glass of sangria, it was the dessert that may have been the meal’s high point, the Guava Turnover. Imagine sweetened cream cheese and guava paste, enveloped in puff pastry, on a bed of vanilla sauce with extra dollops of guava paste. Then imagine forkfuls of this entering your mouth. I do watch my sugar intake, but this was worth every single gram of it!