The following is an excerpt from Jenny Bahn’s piece for Cartel III (Fall, 2012), which can be purchased for $2.99 as an Amazon Kindle e-book or as a PDF.

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For the most part, I’ve enjoyed being single. Actually, strike that. I’ve found value in being single, in that “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” way. I’ve become calloused and hardened in a manner that makes me a dating machine. I am unshakeable.

Oh? You’re not that into me? Cool, because I think you’re a douche. Oh? You got back together with your ex-girlfriend? I could have seen that coming. Hello? Are you there? It appears you’ve gone. Surprised it took you so long, frankly! Toodle loo!

When I walk around the streets of New York, I hear Beyoncé bellowing with each and every step, “All my women, who independent, throw your hands up at me…” I am an ass-kicking, talented force to be reckoned with. I’m doing things, meeting people, I’m on top of the world and I don’t need a man for anything. I’m a neo-fucking-Mary-Tyler-Moore.

ALL MY WOMEN! WHO INDEPENDENT! THROW YOUR HAN…

Until I get home and sit down in my breakfast nook, and my Beyoncé soundtrack grinds to a screeching halt, replaced with contemplative winter sounds. Elliott Smith starts singing tracks he couldn’t even bother to give titles to he was so depressed when he wrote them. All the arrogant self-hype propping me up throughout the day is rendered into a sad little puddle.

The benefit of having someone around – even a psychotic roommate – is that you can fill that aforementioned nothingness with something. And that something will keep you from the spiraling thoughts of an existential crisis, your panicked sobs trapped between the bare walls of your nearly empty apartment.

And for me, this seems to happen while I’m eating.

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Like any maladjusted, yet self-aware person, I recognize my trigger foods. That is, which meals make me noticeably more depressed than the others. It’s not that I go out of my way to avoid these foods now. I just know what the emotional outcome will likely be after I’ve cleared my plate.

In my two years being single, I have come up with the following list:

1. Tuna fish for dinner – This indicates that you had zero time to hit the super market for some fresh produce and also, zero respect for yourself. Your apartment fills with the noxious stench of what can only be compared to beached marine life. If anyone were in your kitchen right now, they’d likely leave.

2. Soup from a can – Generally speaking, all canned goods are signifiers of singlehood and should be avoided at all costs. Exempt products are beans and legumes, because who the hell has the time to soak beans overnight and use them the next day except people in healthy, loving relationships or Mediterranean mothers. If you must sup on soup, singularly, as it were, make sure to get the reduced sodium option; your tears will provide adequate saline content for your minestrone.

3. Hummus and chicken – This is a meal combo that reminds me of my single years, before I met my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend, obviously). I hated my kitchen and refused to cook for myself, so dinner every single goddamn night was the rotisserie chicken from Trader Joe’s accompanied by spoonfuls of hummus. This of course is a very personal trigger food. You can replace it with another dish with your own side serving of bad memories.

4. Ice cream – Single people are not allowed to be fat and happy. You can start going HAM on Häagen-Dazs once you’ve conned someone into sticking around for more than two weeks. Revel in your good fortune…

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To read the rest, including 8 other creations that will make you think, laugh, and wonder, buy Cartel now. (Kindle or PDF.)

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