Then Chelsea Handler tweeted about how much she loved it, but that's not what hooked us.
Instead we fell hard for Kristen's straight-up, this-is-what-being-single-is-really-like tone from page one. And when a writer has you laughing out loud after you've only cracked the cover, you know you're in for a treat. Here's how she describes herself going into this surprisingly spiritual journey:
"I am a secretary with a fancy college degree and more books in my kitchen than cooking ability. I am the only child of an incarcerated drug smuggler and a woman who won't even steal pens from the office. I am the granddaughter of a woman who regularly insists I should just marry rich. I am a transplanted Los Angeleno with a questioning belief in the great powers above and an awful sense that I have more solo Saturday night trips to Trader Joe's and Blockbuster in store ..."
Tell us more, we thought. And she did. Lemondrop sat down for a chat with Kristen, who, when she started this dating rampage was 30 and hopeful. It had been, she says, five years since any man told her he loved her. Three years since there was anyone close to a boyfriend in her life. And a year and a half since she'd, well, anyway. Ouch.
But in the course of her memoir, she (ready, girls?): kicked her coke addiction, went on multiple dates with a bad-boy electrician, and formed a lasting relationship with a Jewish–Native American shaman who taught her the truth about love. Below, check out one very wise woman's version of Happily Ever After.
You say what you wanted most was to be in love again -- to hold someone's hand in a movie theater, to put them down as your emergency contact at the doctor's office. How do you feel about love 51 dates later?
Well, the book wound up being much more than a journey about coffee with men. In all the interviews I've done, I wanted to get that point across: This wasn't just a dating book.
I would go on dates with my dad in prison. And whether it was dates with my mom, dates with a shaman, or dates with the cities of New York and L.A. -- both of which have chapters devoted to them -- it became a greater adventure. It was about finding true love, and that's about people healing themselves. To find the person who is right for us, we have to be right within ourselves.
And what did you learn about getting right? You said that you finally got sober -- kicking alcoholism and coke to the curb -- at 27. How did that, and having a dad behind bars, affect your relationship patterns?
My father was incarcerated when I was 4. He was one of the major marijuana kingpins of the '70s. He was given 66 years, no parole, and he served 25 of them. But he wound up going back to the business and going in an out of prison. A few months into the book he's released for the last time. So, he was pretty much there through the whole [dating] thing. He was supposed to be my 50th date, and we made all of these plans for me to go meet him in Texas, and then he bails -- and that's sort of who my father was.
Then he passed away in 2009.
I had to realize that he influenced who I looked for. Men like him were the men I met. Men who made promises, who told me I was the sun, the moon and the stars in between, and then, when I needed them most, wouldn't show up.
That was my pattern, but that's what I was giving off, too: Those men that I met, they've gone on to marry and do plenty of other things, but in my relationships with men, I was demanding that they play my father, and they were playing that role: men who won't be there.
Wow, that's a pretty big realization. I think a lot of women in their 20s chase bad boys for their own reasons. But tell us, how did the shaman come into play? When I hit a low point in the dating, near the beginning, my boss at the nonprofit where I worked said, "I have someone for you."
I had just come off of dating a guy I nicknamed Jimmy Voltage, who literally wore a belt with a buckle that said "VOLTAGE" in studs. I was heartbroken by him at the time. I said, "I'm not ready for another guy." She said no, this is a shaman -- a woman.
She was actually a Jewish–Native American shaman, if you can imagine that. The power of the two greatest tribes in one small woman! She becomes a recurring character throughout the book.
And what did she teach you?
The big thing she helped me do was find my honesty. I wasn't honest at first. If i had a date and I was in a bad mood, or in a bad place, I wouldn't go. It was learning to speak my truth without the fear that the men wouldn't leave. I got to learn through the dates to be honest, and that taught me that I had nothing to lose.
Once I learned that, I didn't go to the dates with my best face on. If I had a bad day, I wasn't afraid to share it. And when I was my most honest, that's when the men wanted to keep dating me. When it was picture-perfect Kristen who showed up, they didn't. People -- that is, those who are really worth dating -- really relate to honesty. I mean, plenty of people do respond to BS, but they're probably not going to make a dream husband!
What other everyday lessons did you learn that might help single women looking for love?
When I started the book, I was like a lot of women: I went to the gym after work, turned on "Law and Order," and ate diet snack foods. If it was in a 100-calorie pack, I ate it. In fact, I had five!
I was saying, "Where is he?" If he wasn't coming to my door and knocking on it on a Wednesday night, I thought I'd never find him. I was looking, I told myself, so why isn't he coming? And I hated when people would say, "It will happen when you least expect it."
I said, "When is that?" I always expect it. I go to the gynecologist's office and I expect it. There's nothing worse than happy couples counseling you on finding love. But I had stopped living because of it. In this book, and at the beginning, in the first 10 dates, I'm dating, I'm out there, I'm getting my heart broken, and I'm doing what everyone is telling me to do to meet a man. But I wasn't living.
I had to learn that life was my adventure to be had. I could either focus on "him," or I could live. I went back to school for fund-raising because I was working at a nonprofit. I started riding horses, which I had loved as a little girl, and I started doing all the other things that I was interested in doing -- like going to the sweat lodge -- that I hadn't been doing because I didn't have a partner to do them with. I entered into a spiritual life. Mine was a life of faith and believing that everything was going to be fine. But I was only going to be taken care of if I was out in the world, living it.
And who was the guy you were looking for?
Well, that changed, too. Before I thought either he had to be a bad boy or a lawyer with a BMW -- and I really wanted him to be both.
I realized through the course of the book that I was looking for someone adventurous and kind who had a spiritual life, too. Someone who had a gratitude for living. I wasn't looking for a player anymore, or the man who cuts through crowds and turns heads, and who everybody listens to. I was looking for someone who adores me, and I wound up finding him.
That's awesome! Where on this adventure did you find him?
When I finally met him, he was a friend. I had known him for years, and I realized what I was looking for at the beginning of the book, and at the end of the book, and because of that I found him. I also think that, through the course of dating, I learned how to be in a relationship. When I first started dating, I had never done it sober before. Dating for me, before sobriety, was pretty much regular one-night stands that lasted for years.
I had never gone on dates, so I had to learn about them -- and I learned from them, too. I was going to basketball games. I was going to movies. I was going to the gun club to shoot guns on a Friday night, things when I would otherwise have been sitting home in my big pity party.
I mean, God love the one-night stand -- I've had plenty of them -- but that didn't give me the opportunity to really know somebody.
So, tell us about the guy you found.
He's adorable. For the first time in my life, I'm with someone who takes care of me. I wasn't ready for a man who was doing that. For a really long time if you weren't a jerk to me, I was a jerk to you. Now I'm with this loving, caretaking personality, and I know I couldn't have handled that five years ago. But today I respect it.
I've been able to keep my adventurous life and take him with me. I found a fellow magical adventurer. I found out that before we start dating, he used the term "magical" to describe anything that was past daily-life amazing. And I didn't know that about him. When he realized the subtitle of my book was the "Magical Adventures of Single Life," he said, "It couldn't be more perfect."
Your magical adventure really did have a happy ending.
We're moving in together tomorrow. I fly into LAX at 9:15 and pick up the keys at 11.
Wow, we can't wait to hear what happens from here. But is there any other truth you've realized in the course of all this?
Yes, this was also a book about family. I've realized how much my mom and my grandmother and the relationship with the women in our lives influences us. We learn who we want to be -- and who we don't want to be -- from them. I have a nutty grandmother who could be played by Betty White. But my grandmother is blond and looks like she's 16. She's the mean girl in the locker room, who's all like, "What are you wearing?"
I had to realize I'm not my grandmother's granddaughter, and I'm not my mother's daughter. I'm me, capable of making my own decisions, for better or worse. At 30 years old, I was still really attached to what my family thought. I had been an alcoholic and a coke addict, and I was still really attached to what my mother thought.
For a long time I thought my mom would never accept anything but an accountant with an Audi, and now I'm dating a surfer who's in hair school. She loves him, but I've also really gained my independence and become my own woman.
You can continue to follow Kristen's adventures at A Single Life -- and here on Lemondrop, where she'll be writing more often about life, love and the magical process of moving in together.
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