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Shock yourself with honesty, or, how I got started as a writer

Holding my copy of the Riot Grrrl Collection, I'm so proud and happy my zine writings from Cupsize are in this book!

Holding my copy of the Riot Grrrl Collection, I’m so proud and happy my zine writings from Cupsize are in this book!

When people ask me how I got my start as a writer, I say Cupsize. Cupsize was the stapled-and-photocopied zine that I wrote with my friend Tara Emelye. We wrote our zine back in the nineties before the Internet took off, when email was still exotic and blogs did not yet exist. The Internet has been a huge force for my work to take off, especially quirkyalone, but there was such an amazing power in making something tactile like a paper zine.

Tara and I called our zine Cupsize to ironically reclaim our ample bosoms. Our zine wasn’t about women’s issues, per se, but we were young women and we wrote honestly about our lives. We wrote Cupsize when we were in college. I also wrote for newspapers and magazines. It was thrilling to see my byline on the cover of the Village Voice, but it was really through Cupsize that I learned how to just say it. To explore whatever called to me. Tara and I had a great creative chemistry and we egged each other on, whether we were writing about the taste of grape soda or visiting a peep show in Times Square, bisexual chic or feminism and class. Read more ›

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Posted in Books, Creativity, My Life, Personal Growth

Poignant Tango Moment

rsz_dsci3499 Poignant tango moment last night in a cab. I had gone to Villa Malcolm Cachirulo and it was awful from the start. Nowhere to sit, no host to seat me, so many women sitting at tables with hard expressions of waiting. I had only gone once before and had a beautiful night there but this time I felt totally invisible. My thought was, I do not go out on a Saturday night to suffer, so after five tandas of sitting and waiting I decided to leave.

On the street I decided to give Milonga 10 a try which was better.

I took a cab home and when I got in the cab the driver told me he saw me at Cachirulo.

“Disfrutaste?” I asked. “Did you enjoy it?”

“Baile.” he said. “I danced.”

I didn’t dance, I told him. I proceeded to tell him about all the reasons I did not like Cachirulo last night, including the feeling of desperation of waiting to be chosen, how frustrating that can feel. I felt invisible, I said.

“I saw you,” he said.

“Did you see me?” he asked.

“No,” I had to admit. And I wondered if I had even been looking at anyone at all, maybe I just gave up from the start.

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Posted in Argentina, Life as adventure, My Life, Tango

The Hidden Plus Side of Rejection

“Letting go of the strain of yearning was a relief, like stretched elastic retracting.”–Tessa Hadley, “Experience,” The New Yorker, January 21, 2013

I have been thinking for the last 24 hours about what a relief–and even a blessing–it can be to be rejected. How liberating really.

You see, I had a crush. A crush that was bothering me. I wondered if I had been clear enough. If I had done all I could to show my interest. Maybe he was a shy guy. Maybe I would have to really put myself out there. Showing my interest felt like a to-do list item to cross off to make him really know that I was interested.

So I chatted him up. I told him, I have a story to tell you. And he acted like he was interested and then he got quickly bored and abruptly latched on to another woman walking by. He acted like I was telling a very boring story and I do not tell boring stories. Ha. What happened was not so important. What was important was the knowledge: this man is not interested. And obviously I/we want the person who is interested.

At first I felt a hot flash of humiliation. What? How could you so abruptly cut off our conversation to talk with another woman? Then I realized, I could stop thinking I need to do something about this crush! He had made it so clear; I could move on. My crush could shrivel up and die leaving space in my brain (and soul) for other crushes to take root. Fantasies about other people, or other places, or other things. I actually felt so cleansed. It was hard to believe but after an hour of feeling dejected I felt light and free.

The hidden plus side of rejection is this impetus for movement. Get out of endless fantasy, collide with reality, and see what happens. Act on the crush, business idea, creative project, travel plan. If you fail, great, you can move on to the next person, thing, crush, place, dream.

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Posted in Advice, Dating, My Life

Tale of Quirky Living: Tantric Men in Buenos Aires

There must be something about my “energy” that is radiating out in the world, “I want a Tantric lover.”

I have a completely bizarre (or amazing) tendency to attract Argentine men who on our first meeting sit across from the table from me and tell me–at length–about their knowledge of Tantra. This has now happened twice in a row in one month. I hardly know what to say. “Great!” “We just met!” I know they are trying to impress me but it feels fast. They want me to know I know they are not like all the other Argentine men. Typical Argentines, they say, want to score with as many women as possible to prove their masculinity.

A male tango teacher used the word “horny” to describe Buenos Aires. “Sexy” would be nice, but “horny”? “Horny” sounds like a city of teenage boys. Everyone is on the prowl for sex, but I get the sense (especially from talking to these chaps) that the norm for sex is traditional and fast. It’s a macho culture.

These non-macho men tell me about how most heterosexuals orient sex toward men’s needs. Until men realize that women have more sexual energy then men, and orient sex around women (learning how to make sex slower and more sensual, and to delay ejaculation), women will not be satisfied and men will have a cheaper version of sex than what’s possible. Read more ›

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Posted in Argentina, Dating, Feminism, My Life, Sex

My Tango Journey

My tango journey continues and it teaches me so much about life. I’m writing about my revelations through tango for my new book so those are still getting formed and I’m excited to share them with you–not because everyone needs to learn tango to grow, but as an example of how we can grow in many surprising ways when we dedicate ourselves to something we love. Tango happens to be particularly rich because it offers so many metaphors about being strong in yourself and intimate with another. For now I will share a recent dance with you . . . this took place in Buenos Aires but I’m dancing with a Colombian teacher.

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Posted in Argentina, My Life, Tango

Where We Shine Most

It’s my two-year anniversary of discovering one of the bigger passions in my life, tango. I was just in Cali, Colombia, the place where I serendipitously discovered tango, this past week and danced again with my original teachers. So I am fresh with the impression of my “before and after”–I am struck by how much progress I have made in two years. Which leads me to consider how we make progress in life. Making progress in tango has not been a matter of grim work and determination. I’ve made progress because I discovered something that I genuinely love. That’s where we shine the most, where we practice the things we love.

Here is my dance when I started in 2010 (the one isn’t even so bad–there are much more awkward ones that never made it to YouTube!):

And here is a video from this past week in Cali, two years later. I still have miles to go but I have come far:

I am rarely so dedicated to a hobby. I don’t think I even had a hobby before tango. I wanted one.

From the very first moment that I saw tango performed in Cali, Colombia, I fell in love. With the sense of connection between two human beings. The beauty of it. And luckily, I quickly found a teacher, Carlos Paredes, who insisted that tango is all about love. When we dance, he whispers, “Love me, love me.” Not because he is coming on to me (I wish–he’s adorable!) but because he teaches that love is a way to listen to your partner; to love is a way to relax and feel another human being. When we feel love in the dance, we feel a different kind of relaxed bliss. I rarely get that perspective in San Francisco where the classes are more focused on technique. And yet I have only been able to be so consistent in taking classes and practicing because I found something that makes me feel so good, that gives me a high, that has taught me so much about myself on and off the dance floor. I can only be dedicated to things that I really love.

I use tango as a guide for how to live my life in general. For example, I seek to find the same sense of concentration and absorption when I write, or when I am spending time with someone I care about. To love a person is this way is to be relaxed, attentive, and absorbed. I don’t always achieve that, but I use the way I feel in a great tango as a benchmark, as a place to aim. And I can see that anything I do gets better and better when I infuse and polish that thing with love.

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Posted in Advice, My Life

Calling in the One, or, When a Quirkyalone Is Ready to Become Quirkytogether

Earlier this year I stumbled on a website for a seven-week online course Calling in the One. The website looked pink and frilly. Not for me. Then I listened to a free call from the creators Katherine Woodward Thomas and Claire Zammit and immediately I knew this course was for me. Why? They described my situation to a tee.

Yearning for a great love relationship and at the same time in despair about my ability to actually attract and sustain one.

I signed up for their seven-week course last June. The course absolutely rocked my world and gave me so much insight into myself and my patterns in love. In painful ways. Painful and necessary. I grew so much by taking this course. They are opening up another session of this October and registration is still open until Thursday, October 11, so I want to share this course with you now and encourage you to take it.

Their message is profound and simple. The real obstacles to attracting love are not outside us, but within us. Read more ›

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Posted in My Life, Quirkyalone

Faith and Heartbreak

I am in Colombia (Cali, to be exact) where I am beginning my 4-6 month experiment in location-independent working in South America. And it is not so easy, as the beginnings of most big adventures often are not. I came to Cali for two weeks before heading to Buenos Aires. I first discovered tango here, and that’s an odd thing because Cali is the world capital of salsa. I wanted to see my old tango teachers, who teach in a more playful, freewheeling style than teachers in San Francisco or Buenos Aires. I wanted to feel the vibe of this magnetic, jolie-laide (ugly-beautiful) city so that I can write about it with more color in the memoir I am working on. Read more ›

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Posted in My Life, Travels

Pre-Trip Anxiety

A shoe store in my living room

Before I leave on a big trip, there is always at least one thing that I focus all my anxiety on. Usually it’s shoes. I ordered 10 pairs of shoes from Zappo’s at three days before leaving in the quest for a comfortable travel sandal. I found two that work and I’ll return eight. Two out of ten is a pretty good success rate. Preparing for a big trip has a way of making me feel crazy, but I didn’t say that.

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Posted in My Life, Travels

100% Awesome Birthday Mug

my birthday mug from brilliant quirky Liz Worthy

Could I be any luckier on my birthday? My birthday triplet Liz Worthy and her equally creative twin Sonya Worthy share my birthday; it is very awesome to share a birthday with good friends. We have been celebrating together since 2004. This year, Liz, a brilliant ceramicist made me and Sonya mugs. She arranged for the waiter to bring mine to me with the Earl Gray tea I ordered at our birthday dinner. I screamed in response! This mug brings together three parts of who I am: 100% tangoawesomeness (in love with tango), 100% gluten-free (because I have celiac disease and am 100% committed to my health) and 100% quirkyalone (while also 100% wanting a serious long-term relationship in my life). With “love” in the middle of the Venn Diagram, adding up to 100% me at the bottom. Thank you Liz! You rock beyond words! Everyone should get such a cool mug on their birthday. So happy to have friends like Liz and Sonya to share my birthday. Check out Liz’s fabulous work here.

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Posted in My Life

Hello. . . I’m a writer and a life coach for quirky independent singles.

rsz_untitled-4098-edit"We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once."--Nietzsche

Back in 2000 I started the quirkyalone movement helping women and men celebrate their lives whether they are single or in a relationship. According to the New York Times, "Ms. Cagen is not against setups or dating, online or otherwise. She is emphatically not against sex. Rather, she writes, she is anti-dull relationship." Here's my story and how I help you.

Come away with me to Buenos Aires

Get Wet

wet_brazilCheck out my book-in-progress Wet and be part of defining "wet" with me.

Take the quiz

quirkyalonequiz

Watch Sara and I Discuss Single Shame