Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rachel Machacek talks about dating and The Science of Single

I first met Rachel Machacek at a writers' dinner at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. I was hot, tired, low-energy and the truth was, I really wanted to just go to sleep, but I loved the writers I knew who were coming to the dinner and I wasn't about to pass it up. The fabulous Eleanor Brown (The Weird Sisters) brought Rachel and as soon as she told me that Rachel was writing a book about the dating scene, I was interested. Rachel was so funny, so entrancing, and her stories so wonderful, I knew I had to read her book and have her on here.  Thanks, thanks, thanks, Rachel!

So what IS the science of single?

I think there are two parts to being single. Like, literally, learning to be single and enjoying your own company. The other part is learning to date, the inference being that one is looking for some sort of a relationship. I believe most of us are. Ultimately, it’s less of a science, more the art of delicate negotiation between embracing your singledom and being open to the possibility of something more. Seems like a no brainer, but sometimes it’s like opposing forces pulling you in two different directions, arm tendons straining.

What was really fascinating was how your relationship with Jeb actually suffered because of the book you were writing. Care to tell that story?

Oh Jeb. That relationship was going to suffer no matter what. When you get involved with someone and dig into their life, there’s always something. Some sort of issue, boundary, stuffed-to-the-gills luggage that you uncover, cross, unpack. And whatever it is that you find out about the other person, well, it’s either a dealbreaker or it’s not.

When Jeb found out I was writing a book about my dating experience, we weren’t even two weeks into dating each other and I hadn’t had a chance (found the nerve) to tell him yet. I still don’t know how he found out. But me writing about dating – writing about me and him – coupled with a number of difficult things going on in his life – it all became one big ole dealbreaker. I sort of understood. I sort of didn’t. He was a private person, so I think that probably had a lot to do with it.

Of all the dating sites you tried out, which was the best and which was the worse, and why?

They all worked. I found dates under every single cyber rock I overturned. I prefer the ones that are easy on the pockets or, even better, free. OK Cupid is my current go-to. It’s free, it’s well designed and it’s one of the most popular sites in DC right now, so lots of people looking for dates there. I disliked eHarmony the most because there was so much ePaperwork. Pages and pages of questions and forms. Took me 30 minutes to get through it all. The dates were fine, but not worth the fuss. And it’s pricey.

What was the writing of this book like? Did you have a preconceived idea of how the book might end? What did you learn that surprised you?

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into with this book. If I had, I still don’t know if I would have been able to finish it. (I would have. But you know what I mean.) All that dating. All those men. All the break ups. The self discovery. It was traumatic and dramatic and sometimes really wonderful. I had a magnifying glass on my thought process and feelings for a full year while I experimented with dating, and then after all the dating was said and done, I sat down to write it all out, reliving the entire year in roughly five weeks. There were a lot of tears. A lot of worry about hurting the feelings of the people I went out with. (I used aliases, but they know who they are.) Laughing too.

The thing that surprised me: I thought my problem was not being able to meet men. Turns out, that was the least of my problems. As one salty reviewer indicated, the problem was me. I had a terrible of cycle of being way too picky and then not picky enough. Filter on. Filter off. And I was looking for this chemistry. Like the entire fireworks display in DC crashing over my head at once. It’s just not practical. There should be some chemistry, but you gotta let a relationship grow.

What's obsessing you now? 

Baking. Moving beyond the casual date. Portulaca and my garden in general. Sitting with uncertainty. Zucchini bread. La Roux. Moon phases. Off-the-cuff haiku. Knee-Jerk mag. My Second Book.

Of course I have to ask, how are you dating now?

I’m dating someone who I feel like I should have met years and years ago. (It’s pretty new, him and I.) But we’ve been in each other’s stratosphere for a long time. While I was too chicken to actually walk up to him when I was three feet away from him on the metro a few months ago, I finally friended him on Facebook. Thank you Mark Zuckerburg for allowing me to be simultaneously introverted and outgoing in the click of a button. My old dating coach would have failed me. But hey, he emailed.


Eleanor Brown said...

Caroline, I was hot and tired at that dinner, too, but I'm so glad we all went - you are all lovely, and I'm thrilled you and Rachel connected.

Rachel, it's so interesting hearing you continue to talk about the book, because it sounds like you're still learning things about the experience, even though it's been over for a while.

Rachel Machacek said...

Thanks Eleanor! And you're so right. I keep having these epiphanies. They're kinda wearing me out :) But I'll take 'em.

Ted Moore said...

What a wonderful post on discussing about the online dating sites advantages and disadvantages.

african girl said...

What a nice post! I really do admire authors like you. Specially if you write your own experience in online dating, your relationship with someone so and so forth. I will surely read and buy a copy of your book it will surely a worth remembering experience of yours.

Thai girl said...

I think I allow my relationship with dates to unfold a little longer now, even if there's not a ton of chemistry.

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