Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye California, hello Cleveland!

So continues the adventure! Goodbye California...

While most families are opening gifts and warming up with hot chocolate, we spent Christmas Day flying over eight states at 50,000 feet in the air. After bidding a tearful farewell to family and friends in California, we boarded a plane to start our new lives on the East Coast.

So here we are. And what a magical, wintery wonderland it is!

...Hello Cleveland!
Since we arrived in Cleveland, we've spent almost every day in the snow. The kids love it!

Let it snow let it snow let it snow.

For a family accustomed to year-round summer and sun-drenched beaches, I think we're making the adjustment to snow drifts, icy driveways and 20-degree weather just fine. 

I look forward to a cozy winter here in Ohio. Not sure how long we'll stay and when New York will come calling. 'Til then, we're embracing the unknown and the adventure that comes with it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

From our home to yours: Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lucky number 7

Seven years ago today this boy stole my heart. 
Happy Birthday to you, Caden! 
My handsome little man with a heart of gold. 
You make me proud every single day!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

We will never forget you

Our hearts grieve for these beautiful children and courageous women whose lives were cut too short. We will never forget you. You are missed dearly. May you fly with angels now.

         Charlotte Bacon, 6          Jack Pinto, 6
         Daniel Barden, 7            Noah Pozner, 6
         Olivia Engel, 6             Caroline Previdi, 6
         Dylan Hockley, 6            Jessica Rekos, 6
         Jesse Lewis, 6              Avielle Richman, 6
         Josephine Gay, 7            Benjamin Wheeler, 6
         Ana Marquez-Green, 6        Allison Wyatt, 6
         Madeleine Hsu, 6            Rachel D'Avino, 29
         Catherine Hubbard, 6        Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47
         Chase Kowalski, 7           Anne Marie Murphy, 52
         James Mattioli, 6           Lauren Rousseau, 30
         Grace McDonnell, 7          Mary Sherlach, 56
         Emilie Parker, 6            Victoria Soto, 27

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

From my table to yours: Korean-inspired latkes

This dish kinda sums up my marriage =  Korean + Jewish + warm + comforting.

Just in time for Hanukkah, I wanted to share a simple recipe I created using some of my favorite foods: kimchi and potatoes. These Korean-inspired latkes are wonderful to eat, not just during the holidays, but any time of year. They are comforting, delicious and the perfect balance of spicy and hearty.

Happy Hanukkah! 


Basic ingredients for a fantastic fusion.

Korean-inspired latkes

What you'll need:
  • potato pancake mix (I like Streit's Potato Pancake Latkes Mix)
  • 1/2 cup whole kernel corn (frozen or from the can)
  • handful chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup kimchi (you can get this from the Asian market or even in some American grocery stores)
  • you can also add chopped Italian flat leaf parsley, sauteed mushrooms, peas or whatever else suits your taste!

Mix together and fry!

What to do:

  • Follow instructions on potato pancake mix box. 
  • Add kimchi, green onions and corn. Mix all the ingredients together. Set aside. 
  • Put 2-3 tbsp of oil (I like canola) in a pan over medium-high heat. 
  • Scoop latke mix (about the size of a large meatball) onto the hot pan. Flatten to make a pancake. Fry each side until crisp and golden brown (about 5 minutes each side -- you should hear it sizzle). 
  • Remove with spatula and place on a paper towel to soak up excess oil. 
  • Serve immediately with a dollop of sour cream. Totally batamt! 

p.s. I rarely measure when cooking, so the portions in the ingredients list is an approximate. General rule: go with your gut -- literally. Try as you go. Your taste buds will be your guide.

He's getting in tune with his Korean-Jewish roots and he's one very happy customer!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Girl before a mirror

Picasso's Girl Before a Mirror informs me that the artist understood women very, very well.

How did Pablo Picasso know women so well? Perhaps it was because he loved so many of them. From his wives to numerous mistresses (some say hundreds), Picasso certainly seemed to fall under a female spell. He was as passionate about women as he was his art (and that's putting it nicely -- I would argue Picasso's sexual appetite was irrepressible).    

I've always had a love-hate relationship with the Spanish master. I absolutely adore the man's work. I cried when I visited the Museu Picasso in Barcelona (I don't think any other artist has brought me to tears the way Picasso has through his brushstrokes). His paintings help me express what I cannot do with words. But the man himself? He has always struck me as equal parts intoxicating and egomaniacal. Both tender and tyrannical. How are you to feel about an artistic genius who called all women goddesses or doormats and drove his lovers to despair (two were driven to mental breakdowns and two committed suicide)?   

Les Demoiselles d'Avignon portrays five nude prostitutes from a brothel on Carrer d'Aviyo in Barcelona.

Oh, Pablo. How you loved and loathed us. 

My favorite of Picasso's work is Girl Before a Mirror. The painting shows one of his favorite mistresses Marie-Therese Walter, who was just 17 when she met a 46-year-old Picasso. I identify with the woman in this painting, both loving and hating myself, depending on my life stage. I look back on photos taken during my 20s and wonder why I was so unforgiving. This, when I could eat whatever I wanted and actually had an enviable waistline. Then in my 30s and two children later, my body morphed. Childbirth left me feeling distorted, sometimes grotesque. Much like how Marie-Therese confronted her mortality, I faced what I was now left with -- a softer, squishier me.  

But now, as I head into my 40s I'm finding grace is good medicine for vanity and seeking perfection is an imperfect way to live. Finding charm in the unexpected is what I have always loved about Picasso's work. It took me a while, but I'm now starting to apply that perspective to my own body. Which is a work of art.           

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The road less easy

"The mystical path will involve pain as well as joy. 
To reach the 'point of burning love of Christ,' as 
the English medieval mystic Richard Rolle (1290-1349) 
expressed it, requires discipline and commitment. 
According to him, the empty values of the world should 
be rejected. The soul's attachment to the world 
has to be broken before union with the divine 
can be achieved. And this will mean seeking 
the road less easy." 
-- Malcolm Day, writer and theologian

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The (impossible) dream unfolds

One door closes. Another door opens...

It's been about six months since my husband and I hatched our crazy idea of moving the family across the country from sunny California to (now storm-drenched) New York City. Six months of waiting, praying, hoping. When you're looking at the next chapter of life and you want it to start NOW, the days seem like weeks. Weeks seem like months. Your new adventure is just within reach, but you're still on the tarmac waiting to take off. 

Our plan = sell our home, use the money to start our new life in NYC + I would pursue the journalism career I've always wanted + my husband would set up shop in the most creative place on the planet. We had the highest of hopes when we put our OC loft on the market last summer. "We'll sell it, pack up and start brand new in the city!" we cheered. Then we heard nothing but crickets. Some interest, some potential buyers, but no offers.

Every time our realtor called to say someone was coming to look at our place, we would do this mad dash to get our home "show ready." Throw the kids' toys into their closets, hide kitchen knick-knacks in the pantry, swipe countertops of every crumb, sweep the floors, fluff the pillows. It was exhausting. And not just because we were physically doing the cleaning, tidying up, etc. It was more of the emotional toll. The anticipation coupled with anxiety: "Will this be the ONE?" "When will we be released of this place?" "Will we EVER get to New York?"

Life in 43 boxes.

Six months is a long time to watch sand fall through the hourglass. At times, I felt like an ancient Israelite wandering in the desert, wondering hoping complaining to God to take us to the Promised Land. But I forgot that we would have to slay giants, just as the Israelites were told to do, on our journey to a land flowing with milk and honey (or in our case, skyscrapers and power brokers). Though our "giants" weren't men seven feet tall, they were just as menacing: fear, doubt, disbelief. These things are crippling if you allow them to seep into your heart.

And finding a writing job in New York is no small feat. This is definitely a snarling, scowling giant. There's a tiny space in my head where a doubt monster screams, "How do YOU think you're gonna make it in a city as great as New York?" "You're just a minor league player wanting to play with the big boys!" "Do you know how many writers try to make a career there and fail?"

That's when I take a deep breath and tell the little bugger to please f*ck off. I politely thank him for the tension he's creating between doubt and belief because it's only making me stronger. "You think I can't do it? Well just watch me!" I tell him. Then I put words into action. And I feel my power again.

It's funny how life can change in a day. Especially when you're living in a dry season. Here we were, our six months-worth of savings down to the last drop. No prospects of selling or renting our home and no job offers yet. Life felt stagnant and then we got the phone call. "We found your new tenants!" our realtor gleefully proclaimed. A retired NFL cornerback and his girlfriend were looking to start their new lives in California. The moment they stepped foot into our loft, they fell in love. They wanted to move in right away.

And that's how our impossible dream unfolds. 

Last days in our OC loft. So many good memories were made here.
So many more will be had in NY!

Our Thanksgiving holiday was one cranker of a week. Packing boxes and shipping via FedEx, selling stuff on Craigslist, donating to Goodwill and giving things to friends and family. It was a lesson in materialism and being less of a consumer. Ten years building a life in California and packing only what you need for a new life on the East Coast? By the end of the week, I had sore muscles in my fingertips and my body ached down to my bones. But I'd never felt so alive. I was so thankful. "It's finally happening. We're doing this. We're starting our adventure..."          

So at the moment, we're homeless. My folks have been generous enough to let us crash at their house through the holidays. Then Christmas Day, we fly to Cleveland and stay with the husband's family until I get that job I really, really want. We're slowly but surely inching our way to the city. 

New York, we're on our way!!

Never lose faith.

Read the first post about the (impossible) dream here      

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The morning after

I volunteered at the Obama-Biden phone bank in Anaheim yesterday.
The place was buzzing with energy, enthusiasm and unity. 

What a privilege it was to volunteer at the Obama campaign phone bank yesterday. Black, White, Asian, Latin, young, retired, student, veteran -- it was a snapshot of America that I was so proud to be a part of.

There, I met Phoebe Chen. Turns out I went to high school with her daughter! (What a small world, indeed!)

Phoebe and I made hundreds of phone calls to undecided voters in 
Virginia, Wisconsin and Ohio. Our efforts were not in vain, for our President will get four more years! Hooray! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go vote!

Today's the day, folks. 

Whether you lean red, blue or purple, exercise your privilege and let your voice be heardFor a little perspective, watch this cool video about the history of voting in the United States.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Progress doesn't happen overnight. Let's give Obama an opportunity to finish 
the good work he's started. (Original artwork by Shepard Fairey 
with added Photoshop by Yours Truly)

Every four years we do this powerful thing. For some of us it's a quiet and understated affair. For others it's loud and quite frankly, annoying (ex: Facebook + espousing political doctrine = fast way to lose friends). 

Tomorrow, the American people will vote to give President Obama another four years or give Mitt Romney the opportunity to be #45. I don't know about you, but for me the tension is palpable. This race is so close that at times my stomach is in knots. I just pray there is a clear winner tomorrow and we don't revisit the "hanging chad" fiasco from the 2000 elections (Bush v. Gore, anyone?). 

As I was driving my daughter to grandma's this morning, I caught a glimpse of her in my rearview mirror. She was admiring the mountains outside, the strong California sunshine framing her beautiful, innocent face. In that moment, I flashed forward 20 years. What kind of world do I want my daughter to thrive in? She'll be a young woman of 22, probably looking for her first job out of college, pursuing her dreams, putting her passions into action, traveling the world... I want her to think anything is possible, just as I did when I was 22. 

Putting yourself out there during a presidential election is very much like exposing your spiritual beliefs (there's a reason why people say you should never discuss politics or religion at a dinner party -- food is bound to end up on the wall or on someone's face). Your support (or vehement opposition) of Obama or Romney will put you in a box, whether you like it or not. You will be summarized in a few words. Progressive. Backwards. Open-minded. Myopic. Conservative. Bleeding-heart. Fundamentalist. Socialist. Pro-big government. Pro-choice. Pro-life. Pro-gun control. Anti-war. Anti-immigration. Your politics inform how you view society, how you look at the world, and how you define words like liberty, responsibility and opportunity.  

I've hesitated using Facebook or my blog to write about my political beliefs. I just can't stand the divisiveness and I hate the thought of people categorizing me. But I also don't want to be silent about something or someone I very much believe in. If anything, I want my children to know who I stood by and why I did. 

Four years ago, Barack Obama promised to bring change to a country that desperately needed it. I voted for him back then because I believed he was the best person to lead that charge. I'm voting for him again because I believe we need to give him an opportunity to finish the good work he started. I'm not going to list his accomplishments and sound like a political ad (I respect the fact you've done your research, too). It simply comes down to this: I want to move forward.

Tomorrow, let's make that happen.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Love letter

When I'm having a bad day, I will read this as a reminder that I'm doing all the important things right.
Thank you, Caden.

Monday, October 29, 2012

An onslaught of trolls

Sometimes, the Internet disgusts me. As much as I rely on cyberspace for my connection to the world, it really does bring out the trolls. I'm always kicking myself after I've scrolled down to the bottom of an article to read people's comments. "Geez, why did I just do that? Why would someone say that? WTF??" 

Good grief, there's so much negativity out there. So much cruelty. So much poison.  

Last week's gruesome murder of two New York children, apparently by their nanny, have opened those floodgates even wider. The trolls are feasting on this story. Taking a big, juicy bite and regurgitating it to readers in the most awful ways.

I can't think of a better way to describe this social malady than John Gabriel's Greater Internet Dickwad Theory. You take a normal person, give him an audience and absolute anonymity and zero accountability, and what do you get 90 percent of the time? Yep, total dick.

And really, that could be any of us. It's tempting to indulge in our knee jerk reactions and lash out. It's easy to spit venom when you're in the safety of your bedroom, cubicle, school library, coffee shop, etc. And let's be honest, we all have the capability of tapping into our inner troll. We have the same twisted thoughts and ask the same judgmental questions. All it takes is a computer or smart phone and Internet connection.  

This is the way I see it. The Internet and all platforms of social media -- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Foursquare, Yelp, etc. -- is like being at a cocktail party. You wouldn't want to be known as the heartless jerk at the cool soiree. So THINK before you speak. Or in this case, THINK before you type. Please refrain from verbal diarrhea and when in doubt, edit edit edit.

Your fellow Internet party-goers will thank you.

Read below for an articulate response to the trolls writing carelessly about the Krim family tragedy.

The Krim family tragedy unleashes an onslaught of trolls
By Mary Elizabeth Williams (October 29, 2012)

Shortly after the news broke Thursday that Marina Krim had discovered her 6-year-old daughter, Lucia, and her 2-year-old son, Leo, had been stabbed to death in their Upper West Side Manhattan apartment, allegedly by the children’s nanny, Yoselyn Ortega, my friend and fellow NYC mother lamented wearily that she was bracing herself for the inevitable trend pieces and ugly comments the tragedy was about to inspire. And sure enough, we didn’t have to wait long for them to erupt.
It’s understandable how the Krim murders — two defenseless children brutally killed by, it appears, the very person entrusted to care for them — would provoke a primal response. It’s the stuff of nightmares. The demoralizing aspect of the story is how quickly it’s been exploited as an opportunity, both by the media and the sanctimonious troll community, for all kinds of judging.

An outpouring of love and support seen outside the Krim's Upper West Side apartment.
We need less trolling and more of this in the online community. (Photo:

How many different terrible ways can this story be spun? There’s been the subtle and not-so-subtle observation that this happened to a well-to-do family, evidenced by the Schadenfreude-tinged commentary about their “luxury” apartment and Greyhound dog. On the perennially loathsome Urban Baby, which Gawker astutely describes as “the 4chan of rich New York parents,” members are busily speculating, “How much money do you think Krim made? Did they own or were they renting? Does anyone know if he went straight from working at Bloomberg to CNBC, or was there a period of unemployment? How much do you think they paid the nanny?”
At the other end of the economic scale, there’s been, simultaneously, a wave of kicked-up suspicion of foreigners, evidenced most tidily by the HuffPo commenter who demanded about Yoselyn Ortega, “Where was she from?” CBS news commenters likewise couldn’t wait to rail on how crime represents “a problem with illegal aliens” and “all those idiots employing them” — despite the fact the suspect was a naturalized citizen. And the Daily News promptly ran a don’t-let-this-happen-to-you trend piece on “How to run a background check on your nanny” – your no-doubt homicidal, foreign nanny — accompanied by smiling photos of the young murder victims.
There’s also been a lot of rubbernecking because Marina Krim kept a blog, which the family has since taken down. The blog has quickly become to certain empathy-deprived Internet posters another piece of damning evidence against the family. A commenter on Urban Baby noted that Krim “posted a photograph of one of her girls on the toilet while the other was on her potty chair. She posted a photograph of her older daughter just wearing her underpants. I’m sorry, but I find that grossly inappropriate. It’s an example of poor judgment at the least, which I find very revealing.” And on the New York Times, another commenter blasted Krim’s blog as “a venue for a pure display of the Upper West Side lifestyle that not only women magazine and mom blog readers tend to fantasize about.”
Appalling as all of the above is, the most revolting aspect of the reactions has been the nakedly hostile backlash the crime has triggered against mothers. Fox News, of course, was right out of the gate with a piece on how the crime “has sent a chill through working mothers already conflicted over the often agonizing decision to leave their children in the care of others while they work to put food on the family table.” Writer Cristina Corbin broke the mind-boggling news that, “the deaths, while tragic and disturbing, did not seem to have an immediate effect on the decision by most working mothers to go off to the job.” The implication is clear: It’s “agonizing” for a mother to go to work, especially because someone might butcher her kids, and yet mothers continue to work anyway. Never mind that Marina Krim was actually at a swim lesson with her other daughter, Nessie, when the murders occurred.
Even more despicably, there’s been the tsunami of self-congratulating from other mothers who don’t employ nannies, because I guess otherwise their children would be brutally slaughtered. As one mother on Twitter wrote (I won’t link because I’m too disgusted), “This is the reason I stay home with my kids and work in the evenings while my husband can be home. #soscary.” Similarly, a mother on Urban Baby wrote, “My fears, some would say irrational, kept me out of the work force for six years to raise my kids myself,” as the conversation then segued into how day care is also dangerous: “What about kids who were molested at day-care centers?”
The range of revealingly fear-based reactions to the murders definitely serves as a window into our darkest anxieties, ranging from comments that “I think menopause was a contributor” to the disdainful observation of Krim’s blog that her “apt furnishings looked like IKEA.” But while it’s clear that we have a long, long, long way to go in our country before we work out our collective baggage about class, about foreigners, about motherhood, about how our children are cared for, the Krim tragedy isn’t the litmus test of any of those things. It’s a unique and heartbreaking story. And it is also, sadly, a barometer of the soul of the online community. If you need the death of two small children as an excuse to validate your own paranoias or life choices, there’s a lesson about humanity there all right. But it’s not about the Krims.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Love in the Millenial Age

In this case, judge a book by it's cover.
(Illustration: Lucas Aardvark Novak/

I came across this article in last Thursday's New York Times and was so disturbed. Disturbed on many levels: firstly, that so many single women today, especially in their 30s-- smart, beautiful, lovely-- have found success in all areas (education, career, financial independence) except for one (love). Secondly, that single men aren't stepping up and embracing their call to gentleman-hood (I know that's not a word, but more on that later). Thirdly, that self-professed relationship gurus, like the duo mentioned in the article, are dishing out the worst dating advice, ever.

Now, I'm no relationship expert. But as someone who has kissed her fair share of frogs and who's had many insightful (and heartbreaking) conversations with girlfriends who are still waiting, praying and hoping to find Prince Charming (yes, the idea still exists!), I wonder if such cavalier attitudes toward dating and relationships only hurt us.

"If you want to hook up, hook up... And afterward, be natural. Crack a joke. Have some food. Act as if fun, casual sex is just that: fun, casual sex-- nothing more." -Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand, founders of The Gaggle.

Really? Crack a joke? Have some food? And this is supposed to be empowering? It's sex, people. Not a night at the Improv.

Call me a romantic. Call me an idealist. You can even call me old fashioned. But I think sex is a really big deal. It's a beautiful act shared by two people who love and honor and cherish one another. Hookups are not awesome. Ambiguity is not cool. And I hope non-commital attitudes will never be considered "the new norm."

When did we women relinquish our strength? When did we decide that selfish, non-chalant attitudes (usually reserved for what women in my mother's generation called "male chauvinists") toward sex and relationships would amount to equality? Is feminist progress, as Hanna Rosin writes in "The End of Men: And the Rise of Women," now largely dependent on hookup culture? I hope to God it isn't.

The kind of feminism our great-great-grandmothers established defended equal political, social and economic rights for women (namely, the right to vote, get an education and seek employment). We've come a long way since the Seneca Falls Convention some 160 years ago. But if Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were alive today, I wonder if they would find our current pursuit of feminism fruitful. 

Woman warriors (clockwise from top left): Alice Paul, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott,
Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.

If feminism is about empowerment, the question is: how do we meet that end? Do we make progress by adhering to a philosophy that casual relationships are just that-- casual and nothing more? If this kind of thinking is prevalent in a man's world, are we to consider ourselves "equal" because we adopt the same perspective? Why should we lower our standards? Why should we descend into a dead end? Eventually, men find this kind of life empty and lonely. And guess what? Women will find it, too. 

Our bodies are our temples. We are spectacular, shining pearls with equally radiating souls. We are unique and beautifully crafted. We have been made with intention and purpose. We are like the Taj Mahal, the Sistine Chapel or the Sacred Temples of Angkor. We are a treasure. And we should expect men to treat us accordingly.

Back to the article. Some specific things I found troubling:
"We're dealing with a different generation of men," [Jessica Massa] said. "We're dealing with technology. We're dealing with changing norms."
A different generation of men, huh? Well, this generation of dudes needs to wake up and stop being so pathetic. If you like a girl, then ask her out (and don't do it by text messaging her!). Call her, take her out on a date. Court her. Do men even do this anymore? I can't tell you how many lame things my girlfriends have had to put up with. "When he came to pick me up, he didn't even come to my door. He texted me that he was outside!" and "He sent me a text message to say he was breaking up with me." Guys, take up your torch. You can be a gentleman. So Be. A. Gentleman.

Nowadays, young men and women often hang out together in groups, leaving some of them uncertain about where friendship ends and relationships begin. A series of hookups may or may not lead to a relationship, which can mean a longer period of uncertainty for women who are increasingly delaying marriage.
One time, a girlfriend of mine was at a party and met a man she was interested in. He too, seemed interested in her. But instead of asking her out, "He said, 'Let's hang out,' which usually meant going bowling with a group of people.'" Now sometimes I can understand that safety comes in numbers. But when it comes to dating, we shouldn't be afraid to put ourselves out there (that goes for us women, too-- if you've never asked a guy out, try it. It's exhilarating!) After all, love means taking risks. 

"We live in a confusing, ambiguous post-dating world," said [Rebecca] Wiegand. "We cannot expect to impose upon this world a set of rules, a set of regulations, a set of expectations."
I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. This is the kind of social relavitism that only hurts feminism and hinders female empowerment. We CAN impose a set of rules, regulations and expectations. If you demand that men treat you with respect, guess what? Men will treat you with respect. 

"They all like to communicate via text message," [Charlise] Ferguson said. "When you tell a guy you want to talk on the phone, it's like you want to get married to him."
It's no wonder women in the Millenial Age are having a hard time communing with men. Again guys, put some effort into it! If a woman gives you her number, it doesn't mean she expects an engagement ring. It means she thinks you're cute and WANTS to hear your voice again. 

OK. Enough of my soapbox. Read the article below and let me know what you think.

Seeking Love? Find Strength in Numbers
By Rachel L. Swarns
The New York Times, 10/25/12

The young, single women flocked to a dimly lighted wine bar in TriBeCa in their skinny jeans and stylish dresses. They were writers, lawyers and advertising types, among others, who were gathering for a most unusual how-to session, a primer of sorts on how to find love in the millennial age.

The 20-something relationship gurus of the evening, Jessica Massa and Rebecca Wiegand, had a blunt message: Praying for that prince with a dozen roses and a dinner reservation for Friday night? Forget it. Clinging to your mother’s rules about waiting for his e-mail or phone call? So last century.
Their advice: Embrace all of the men in your orbit, whether they text or G-Chat, whether they’re hunky or grungy. Savor every connection — the drunken conversation at the bar, the casual sexual fling and the impassioned philosophical debate over pumpkin lattes — without worrying whether any of it will lead to love. And in the midst of this confusing, messy muddle, the young women argued, romance can (sometimes) bloom.
Every generation has its relationship sage: There was Helen Gurley Brown in the 1960s with her best seller, “Sex and the Single Girl”; Dr. Ruth Westheimer, with her radio and TV shows in the 1980s; and Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider, who wrote the best seller “The Rules: Time-Tested Secrets for Capturing the Heart of Mr. Right” in the 1990s.
Now the focus is on the so-called millennials, the young women in their 20s and early 30s, many of whom are struggling to find their way at a time when traditional dating seems like a quaint relic.
“If you’re following the rules, that just doesn’t work anymore,” said Ms. Massa, 29, who is the author of “The Gaggle: How the Guys You Know Will Help You Find the Love You Want.”
“We’re dealing with a different generation of men,” she said. “We’re dealing with technology. We’re dealing with changing norms.”
Ms. Massa, whose book has been featured in Elle and Cosmopolitan, released her new guide to the lovelorn in June. Lena Dunham, the writer and star of the HBO comedy “Girls,” landed a multimillion-dollar deal this month to write a book that will offer “frank and funny advice on everything from sex to eating to traveling to work.”
And in January, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Ms. Fein and Ms. Schneider will jump back into action with their new guide, “Not Your Mother’s Rules: The New Secrets for Dating.” The book will include tips on instant messaging and a helpful chart with text-back times for women paralyzed by the thorny question of when to and when not to text.
Of course, romance has resisted such rules since the days of the Montagues and the Capulets. But that has yet to stop the lonely from seeking romantic advice or the commercially minded from selling it.
To the women sipping sauvignon blanc and vodka cocktails as they listened to Ms. Massa in TriBeCa, the flurry of books from professed relationship writers makes perfect sense. As professional women accustomed to forging their own way, many have been struck by how hard it has been to navigate their love lives, which seem so different from the ones described by their mothers or depicted in movies.
“Nobody picks me up, nobody drops me off at home,” said Anne Zelek, a 27-year-old marketing manager, who says she has embraced Ms. Massa’s approach of simply enjoying the company of the men she meets without focusing on finding Mr. Right.
“Oftentimes I don’t really know that I’ve been on a date until I get home from one,” she said. “It’s confusing. All of our love lives are confusing.”
Nowadays, young men and women often hang out together in groups, leaving some of them uncertain about where friendship ends and relationships begin. A series of hookups may or may not lead to a relationship, which can mean a longer period of uncertainty for women who are increasingly delaying marriage.
“I think a lot of women might prefer a regime of serial monogamy rather than serial hookups, but that doesn’t seem to be emerging so much,” said Paula England, a sociologist at New York University who said she has conducted online surveys with more than 14,000 women at 21 colleges and universities. “There’s this much murkier thing that’s taking place. You can tell that they are trying to figure out how they stand with these guys. They are struggling with the ambiguity of the situation.”
Some writers have argued that the hookup culture makes women more vulnerable to depression, feelings of low self-esteem and sexually transmitted diseases. But others have embraced the shift, arguing that it allows women the freedom to enjoy their sexuality without getting locked into serious relationships or marriage, which might impede their efforts to further their careers or education.
In her new book, “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women,” Hanna Rosin writes, “To put it crudely, now feminist progress is largely dependent on hookup culture.”
She acknowledges that many young women lament the lack of traditional dating, but says that many are still looking for “fulfilling relationships that exist outside the path of marriage.”
“Nobody says, ‘I love the hookup culture,’ and nobody says, ‘I want it to change and go back,’ ” Ms. Rosin said. “They sense that it’s more liberating, but there are still kinks.”
Ms. Massa and her best friend and business partner, Ms. Wiegand, share a similar philosophy. They urged the young women gathered at the happy hour in TriBeCa to embrace their sexuality. If you want to hook up, hook up, they said. And afterward, they advised, be natural. Crack a joke. Have some food. Act as if fun, casual sex is just that: fun, casual sex — nothing more.
“We live in this confusing, ambiguous post-dating world, and we need to embrace that,” said Ms. Wiegand, 29, who, along with Ms. Massa, is the co-creator of the Gaggle concept. “We cannot expect to impose upon this world a set of rules, a set of regulations, a set of expectations.”
Nonsense, say Ms. Fein and Ms. Schneider, the authors of the new “Rules” book. Romance and dating are alive and well for women who refuse to settle for anything less, they insist. They argue that women should try to preserve an alluring air of mystery — no easy task given that many young people chronicle their every move on social media.
“It is harder today,” Ms. Schneider said. “But the reality is that you can still pretend it’s the 1950s when we didn’t have all of this technology. Don’t answer the phone. Don’t answer the text.”
At the happy hour in TriBeCa, the young women drank, laughed and shared stories about how Ms. Massa’s advice had played out in their lives. Charlise Ferguson, a 28-year-old magazine editor, savored the camaraderie, saying it felt like a “group therapy session” with like-minded women who know exactly how hard it is to commune with men these days.
“They all like to communicate via text message,” Ms. Ferguson said. “When you tell a guy you want to talk on the phone, it’s like you want to get married to him.”
Nafeesa Saboor, a 33-year-old blogger and freelance writer, said she recognized Ms. Massa’s description of a post-dating world and liked her suggestion that women should enjoy their connections with men regardless of whether they were going out on formal dates. (“The only people who make reservations when I go out are men in their 50s,” she sighed.)
But she disagreed with Ms. Massa and Ms. Wiegand’s unabashed endorsement of hookups and with their idea that women shouldn’t make some more demands of men.
“There’s no one answer, no one book for everybody,” Ms. Saboor said. “It’s going with your gut and using your discernment. That’s frustrating and exciting. But that’s the way love is. You just never know.”