“What would happen if I told every man I dated that I didn’t want a boyfriend, and I didn’t want a husband, and I didn’t even want a one night stand?”

That was the question to answer back in 2004, when I walked away from monogamy and gave birth to my bachelor life. I had made up my mind to cultivate sex—without love or stigma—so I de-gendered bachelor and claimed that slice of male privilege as my own. With that linguistic gesture, I became a respectable bachelor, and could no longer be called out as a promiscuous slut.      

“Vicki Marie Stolsen delivers a strong, smart, sexy story about defining one’s passion after years of following the rules. In this brave account of charting her own erotic map, Stolsen explores the power to be wildly curious and to declare one’s desires without apology. The Bachelor Chapters is a manifesto on becoming a connoisseur of sexual expression.”       —Elise D’Haene, writer, RED SHOE DIARIES 

With readers at Fit Poling Studio, Panama City

With readers at Fit Poling Studio, Panama City

The Bachelor Chapters tells the story of how my search for sexual satisfaction landed me in unchartered terrain along the margins of the mainstream. I wasn’t the first middle age divorceé to imagine emancipation and a steamy sex-life; what I didn’t imagine was how many ways my life would thrive when I did it.

Signing books at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle

Signing books at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle

     “Not only was it an enjoyable read, but it also explored important themes in a bold and unique way. As a woman, it touched me to read of many issues that unite us as a gender. However, the book also offers new and unfamiliar perspective on race, age, and gender that are both engaging and provocative. Race is explored through interracial love, however clichéd stereotypes are avoided. The Bachelor Chapters is an uncensored and intimate glimpse into the life and mind of Vicki Marie. But no matter what age, gender, race or sexual orientation you claim…there’s something in this book for you!   —Katrin Koscis, University Student, Toronto and Cartagena

In Portland at the Jack London Bar

In Portland at the Jack London Bar

Three months after the release, readers from five different countries have chimed in, and on this they agree; The Bachelor Chapters has enhanced their lives, too. Readers seek me out and explain how my story resonates with their own memories: sometimes it’s the part where I get real about love, or how I come clean on adultery, or when I parse the dissimilarities between black and white men. Or it might be the passages where I raise the curtain on lesbian and gay prejudice of bisexual’s, or how I describe the consequences of female sexual shame, or when I remind every one of the timeless injustice of slut slander and stigma.

Private reading for the taping of the reality pilot, "Lumber Jills" in Panama City

Private reading for the taping of the reality pilot, “Lumber Jills” in Panama City

     “I read Vicki’s book in less than a week. I was mesmerized. There were moments I felt like I was reading my own story—mine’s not quite as glamorous though. I instantly connected with Vicki’s desires to make her own choices and not feel shame. I left a marriage with a man, entered into a relationship with a woman and have since, dated both. Vicki was able to put into words what I felt through the process of “coming out” again. I will re-read this book. —Julie B., Publisher, Woodinville, WA

Family showed up in San Francisco for the reading at Hotel Rex

Family showed up in San Francisco for the reading at Hotel Rex

The Bachelor Chapters is not Fifty Shades of Grey for Forty-Something’s, because my romantic tale is fact driven and could never be managed like fiction. There are more than a handful of scenes where the sex-action fires up the page, but at the same time, this mid-age memoir strives to normalize sex as it broadcasts the truth: sex is rich and rewarding even without love or partnership.

Publication party at The Lobby Bar in Seattle

Publication party at The Lobby Bar in Seattle

   “It has been a while since I sucked a book down so voraciously. The combination of your excellent writing style, brave and confident Bachelor life, humor that I can hear as if you were talking right next to me, and most of all—the truth about us humans spoken so honestly and accurately. There is more, but I am no writer. I wish I had read this book when I was thirty. Thank you for this gift to women’s sexual freedom. Enough shame already. I’m going to give both of my thirty-something daughters a copy.”   —Tamara Cottongim, RN, Ashland, Oregon

Making strangers into fans from Los Angeles to Colombia

Turning strangers into fans from Los Angeles to Colombia

Last Friday night, I did a reading in Panama City, Panama, where I have lived since January. That makes eleven readings, six cities, and three countries so far, and next month we add Toronto, New York, Boston and Chicago to the club. What sounds jet set and glamorous is actually intimate and down to earth. As an unknown author with a new business to run, I am in the grassroots phase of wooing readers one-by-one. As I get better at presenting, the audience questions have deepened, and every exchange with each person teaches me exactly why the story I wrote actually matters to the world.

"Ladies Night Out" in Panama City

“Ladies Night Out” with The Bachelor in Panama City

     “Was not sure what to expect with this book. What I got was more than I expected. The authoress openly tells her story of a chosen lifestyle which is out of the norm, in a way that unexpectedly imparts lessons. Yes, it is hot but also teaches the freedom of a non-judgmental lifestyle. In addition, it also explores the value differences placed on male and female social behavior from a standpoint that most people do not give much thought to. She lives her life in a bold, brave, confident style in everything she does to include business, hobbies and sex. She looks to no one for validation. Such strength is rarely encountered and I sure did not imagine I would receive life-learning moments from a book about sex, love and adultery. Read and enjoy.” —Jackie R., Retired, Panama City

Siren founder, Susie Lee, and guest collaborators in Seattle

Siren founder, Susie Lee, and guest collaborators Amanda Manitach and Jim Demetre in Seattle

It’s too early to call it momentum, but something is resonating, and some of those readers have influence. Because of them, I landed a monthly gig on Huffington Post, which is in the can and ready to launch. I sign on as an advice columnist for the new dating site, Siren, set to release next month. The Bachelor Chapters will contribute to the Barcelona and Guadalajara Book Fair’s in the fall; we’ll be in Cartagena for the Hay Festival come winter. It just seemed good business to channel that energy into a crowd funding campaign, which means we’ll be on Kickstarter soon with a pitch to fund the Spanish translation.

College students in Medellin, Colombia made it clear they want a Spanish edition

College students in Medellin, Colombia made it clear they want a Spanish edition

If you’ve read the book, you’ll remember that potent revelation that I describe while in Paris with my girlfriend:      

“We were a team and we were competitors in collaboration toward rapture. At that moment in my early forties, I started to understand sexual response as not simply pleasure, but as capacity. I could not believe how much I was capable of feeling.”

Recording the audio edition at Rare Bird Lit in Los Angeles

Recording the audio edition at Rare Bird Lit in Los Angeles

The business plan for The Bachelor Chapters echoes the wonder of that epiphany. At this moment in my mid-fifties, I’ve come to understand business as not simply moving product, but as generating energy. My vision for this book will take me to the some of the world’s finest cities, bring me face to face with adventurous readers, spawn an on-line audience through an influential blog, and allow me to offer expert insight to take the edge off of dating confusion. I’m counting on more energy to follow, and I’m not at all shy to tell you where I expect this to land: in bed with a seriously smart production company and their team of brilliant screen writers, making history with a sizzling hot series about a promiscuous, middle age, lady bachelor and her lovers.

Manifesting success with guerrilla product placement at Powell's Books in Portland

Manifesting success with guerrilla product placement at Powell’s Books in Portland

     “I am happy to see a woman live out of the box, challenging what you are supposed to be, to be who you are and feel free. A book full of surprises and encouragement for women to explore, feel curious and feel free. A must read for every women and a should read for men if you want to get to know women.” —Maria Contreras, owner Pole Dance Factory, Barcelona

Pole is the ultimate feminist sport because we make sexy normal and not shameful

Pole is the ultimate feminist sport: just like Vicki Marie’s challenge in The Bachelor Chapters, pole women are making sexy normal and driving out shame

The book is my story, but I already understand, its success will not be about me. Nobody has to be a bachelor to get the meaning of this memoir. Readers see themselves in these pages, and in spite of flaws and fears and episodes of utter dismay, they like who they see.

“I want to read your book!”

I heard that magical line for the first time in Buenos Aires, and then in Cartagena, Medellin, Oakland and once again last night in Sebastopol in the living room salon organized by my childhood friend, Kristy. I’ve been reading The Bachelor Chapters to small groups in both public and private spaces and my take away after each event is consistent:

I am encouraged.

Vicki Marie reads at a salon-style event  Vicki Marie reading at a salon-style event in Sebastopol, California

My audiences have included local college students in Buenos Aires and Medellin; international ex-pats that have landed in Cartagena; high school teachers from the East Bay; and the mélange of disparate individuals who inhabit the California landscapes of wine country.

These future readers are both men and women; they range in age from twenty-something’s to sixty-something’s: many are strangers to me, while others are close friends. In the public readings, I’ve been thrilled by the response from the folks unknown to me—the people who cross the room to express their enthusiasm for the story from the unheard of author who comments unabashedly about the power of a woman’s pussy. “I want to read your book,” they tell me, before describing the specific passage or over-arching theme that snagged their attention and makes them want more.

The private readings are always followed by a group conversation, where the informal scene has been charged by the performance of a story spoken out loud. I have presented enough times now to start tracking responses: “universal,” “authentic,” “comic,” “sexy,” and “succinct,” have been repeated again and again. This encourages me about the future success of the title, and it also affirms my craft as a writer. With guidance from Stacey Donovan, my editor, I learned how to shape the ambition of the original manuscript into a ubiquitous story that would seize the reader’s attention by virtue of its familiar quest.

As a memoir, the book extracts scenes from my life; but what makes it worth reading is the discovery that this tale reweaves another narrative of our humanity. Infused with commentary about sex, love, adultery, men, women, race, gay identity, body image, and aging, at the end of the day, The Bachelor Chapters is both a coming of age story, and a coming to grips story. It’s about us, and I can’t wait for you to read it.                                   Vicki Marie at the Loring Cafe in Oakland Vicki Marie after her reading at the Loring Cafe in Oakland, California

I rewrote Chapter 38 this morning

and then this afternoon, I rewrote it again. I had closed the manuscript last month; I’d celebrated the finish with a reading in Medellin and whiskey in tall glasses. Since then, I’ve launched my new career as publisher. I’m busy at my new job; there are marketing plans to coordinate, distribution decisions to settle, and the cover art design to complete. I’ve even hired Red14 Films out of Los Angeles to make the trailer—yes, the trailer—even a book needs a video and a YouTube channel to compete for legitimacy these days.

writing is invention Reinventing Chapter 38 for the miracle of a better story. 

So, while I work at my publishing job the manuscript sits dormant, but ready for release and a public life in the very near future. Impulsively, I cracked the spine yesterday. I was suddenly motivated by an immediate curiosity; after eighteen months, thousands of sentences, and four long weeks since I keystroked the final change—was The Bachelor Chapters really complete?

 After a month-long hiatus, I found that the story flowed smoothly, reading exactly as the page-turner I planned for. Until I crossed over to Chapter 38, and that’s when I saw it: somewhat clumsy, slightly confused and missing the mark. Chapter 38 was not bad, but I immediately realized it could be so much more. I’ve no doubt that the few people who’ve read the manuscript will applaud the change, and the rest of you who haven’t would feel the same if you had.

 The sweet miracle of writing is when the invention of ideas transfers from whimsy or opinion to solid form. When I set out to rewrite Chapter 38, I responded to the fact that something was lacking in the chapter—but I could not have told you what was missing, and I sure didn’t have a plan to correct it. Fixing becomes faith in a writer’s repertoire, something I experienced over and over again as I crafted the story. That may be the thing I love the most about my new art form. I have faith I will be able to concoct miracles of invention—everyday that I write—with only a laptop and expertise of the English language.

 Today I present my latest miracle; The Reinvention of Chapter 38. I surprised myself with the arc of the chapter and where it landed. I am beholden to another satisfying miracle of invention from my miraculous writing life.

 

CHAPTER 38 from The Bachelor Chapters: A Thinking Woman’s Romance

Shaun Madison was twenty-seven years old, but I didn’t know that the night he drove me home from Jason Sinclair’s party. Later, when he told me, somehow I heard twenty-nine. In 2005 I still had a bias against men in their twenties because of the obvious; they are men in their twenties.

 It’s just a fact that this is the apprentice decade of adulthood; it’s ground zero for getting it right and amateurs are everywhere. And then there was my own personal handicap; I had missed the entire decade from a heterosexual perspective. Twenty-something year old men were foreigners to me. I didn’t speak their language and I was certain there was no reason to learn.

Already though, younger men swarmed in and out of my bachelor chapters, discrediting forever the myth that heterosexual desire is aimed exclusively at queen bees below thirty. It was on my first date with Tyrone, when he confessed to his irrepressible erection, that I began my tour of duty with the proud army of men who saluted God’s truth; older women were just about as hot as it got. From that point forward, the thirty-something’s made it clear that they wanted me, and I instantly discovered that this is the decade where men perfect marathon sex.

I dated men of all ages, but the way things trended, my lovers were younger. I would have been labeled a Cougar if that title had existed in the early years of my bachelorhood. When I was inevitably accused of it, I rejected it like I’d rejected the unsavory booty-call. These were slams that stunk just as much as slut, casting women who have sex as lecherous or desperate. My title was bachelor, a term that elevated promiscuity to social acceptance.

The younger men in my life either preferred older women or did not discriminate. After Shaun Madison, it became clear that I could consider men from every adult decade for my bachelor pool. Born in 1979, this Jamaican American, Buddhist-mediating chef and Kama Sutra-inspired lover walked into my world, and gave me reason to revise my bias. We stood on opposite sides of a twenty-one year age gap, but with the grace of destiny, we stretched across that divide into a sensational sexual fit.

As the years moved along, and my collection of men expanded, I began to think of their birth years as vintages. The year 1969 was a good one for me, and over time, I continued to add spicy reserves from that season to my collection. Worthy varietals from my birth decade, the 1950’s, were in dwindling supply. Still, I continued to uncover those select Super Tuscan’s that shattered expectations, their silky flavor a mouthful to remember. Most of my tastings were from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and never a green batch among them. I was just lucky that way, like I had a filter that trapped quality.

I had almost crossed over into my fifth decade when I was tempted by the bouquet of an earthy 1985, an adventurous surfer-boy, while both of us were vacationing on the Pacific Coast of Panama. My surfer buddy was barely twenty-two when he smoothly hit-on me after dinner one night. He laid a steamy kiss on my lips, than strung a rosary of kisses around my neck. His passion was absolute and my arousal was immediate. The man was hot, and he had me, until that same passion broke the spell. “Do you know how sexy you are?” he whispered, before bringing me in for another kiss. I couldn’t answer with his tongue in my mouth, but I did the calculations. My tempting ocean athlete had been having adult sex for a mere twelve months: I’d been in the same club for twenty-eight years. Liberated I may have been, but the consequence of his question came at me like a bucket of ice water upended; in the shock of social context, the heat was just gone. I’d bumped into a virtual border and found a line I could not cross: the anti-age blow that I was older than his mom. We all draw the line somewhere; as individuals it’s our call. But in society others draw the lines and call the shots. We call those boundaries normal, but it’s a fact of history that sometimes normal is in need of a change.

“How old were you when you first had sex with an older woman?”

That was something I asked all my young lovers, and I learned quickly I was never the first—far from it—their experience had been initiated years earlier, always as adolescents. “I was fifteen; she was twenty-eight.” “I had just turned seventeen, and she was forty-one.” “I was dating her daughter—I think she was thirty-nine.” Of course I was stunned: until I heard it every time. My sex-positive bachelor lifestyle had uncovered a secret sub-culture of women breaking taboos—and often the law. These teenage lovers had adopted a code of silence: not because they felt odd about their desire for older women, but because they had to protect their adult lovers from the consequences. I was often the first person they had ever told.

If these were adult men with teenage girls we would label them predators and charge them with rape and put them in jail. By contrast, the truth expressed by all of these adult men was gratitude. They were grateful for their sexual apprenticeships. All these men were masters at sex, and every single one was proud he’d been trained. They felt fortunate to have studied early, that they had learned a valuable skill, and that they had become great lovers for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a writer, and my craft requires a reader

My job is to weave the tale toward a universal truth—to give the reader a reason to turn the page: a reason to care. Many months ago, the memoir I call “The Bachelor Chapters” quit being about my story, and instead, became a story. That was my plan, and after eighteen months, thousands of words, and as many decisions—I’m calling it “done.”

I’m releasing the book in January 2014—but I celebrated the final manuscript last Wednesday with a reading at Eco-Bar, in the mountain city of Medellin, Colombia. This place is one of my home’s—a place where I live and write—but only for two or three months at a time. Like Cartagena, Barcelona, and Buenos Aires, in Medellin I have a small and growing community of locals and ex-pat’s: as well as service provider’s and neighbor’s, dance teachers and bartenders. No matter where I live, I always have bartenders. And I always have dance teachers.

The audience on Wednesday night represented a keen reality of my global lifestyle—I have many young friends in my community—and I mean twenty-something young. These adults were born between the early nineteen eighties and nineties—the years I was the age that they are now.

A crowd of locals and a few ex-pats listen as Vicki Marie reads "The Bachelor Chapters" at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

A crowd of locals and a few ex-pats listen as Vicki Marie reads “The Bachelor Chapters” at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

 

So when I picked up the microphone last week, before I was welcomed by a few dozen polite listener’s, I took note that there was not a single person born before 1980 in my audience; and three quarter’s of them were natives of Medellin—a city and a country very different from my own.

The story I tell in “The Bachelor Chapters” features a forty-something year old woman, who decides to change the game on romance and love, in a thoughtful and deliberate way. This is a story I could not have written before now, because it depends on wisdom and life experience and reflection culled from more than fifty years of birthdays.

Reading a book out loud is very different than acting, which I had done long ago. Because I don’t memorize the text, because I have to keep my eyes on the pages, I have little interaction with the audience. There is the occasional glance into the crowd to emphasize a point or a good line—but the experience is essentially a one-way performance. I have no idea during the thirty minutes of airtime if my audience is engaged, bored, or merely exercising good manners.

I had great doubts that the mixed crowd of young men and women would relate to the story, or be persuaded to pay attention to the fruits of my labor. Their lives are so different than mine—I am the age of their parents—and we all know the decade of the twenties is when we break childhood bonds, and exercise adulthood. Parents lose relevance, at least for a while. It’s just the way it works; it’s what has to happen.Vicki Marie reads "The Bachelor Chapters" at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

Vicki Marie reads “The Bachelor Chapters” at Eco-Bar in Medellin, Colombia

 

So, it is with shock and awe that I report that “The Bachelor Chapters”—the story that is bigger than my life—captivated and inspired young adults in a way I never could have imagined. Women and men—yes, men—came to me afterwards, and told me they wanted to read my book. The enthusiasm and appreciation gave me the miracle of affirmation and the sweet scent of success. I did it. I hooked readers. I transcended self. I tapped into human relevance. I wrote a good story.

Celebrating a successful reading of "The Bachelor Chapters" by mounting a stump: a Vicki Marie tradition that usually involves a chair

Celebrating a successful reading of “The Bachelor Chapters” by mounting a stump: a Vicki Marie tradition that usually involves a chair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I gave him a pole dance for his thirty-seventh birthday

last Friday night. I worked it for three weeks, after picking his romantic favorite from my playlist. Bianca did the choreography, my pole teacher from Holland, whom everyone believes is my twin sister. Well, I won’t argue we’re not sisters—the best kind—separated at birth until the stars lined up for us once again in the streets of Cartagena.

I took on pole when I was living in Medellin. Catalina Tobon’s studio is fine-tuned for fitness, and I learned the inversions with names like Géminis, Escorpio, El Libro, and Superman. The classes were in Spanish, and “pero, me duele!” entered my vocabulary. It was tough and it hurt in ways I could not believe I agreed to endure. The bare skin on the pole is a safety device, the slow drag of flesh on steel brakes downward momentum, and can even imitate Spiderman suction. The consequences are broadcast in purple and black, on thighs and biceps. Blood can be drawn; the face of my foot sprung open again and again from the repetition of climbing a twelve-foot rod.

Gemini Over Cartagena

I keep a strong body; so a few things came easy, which sucked me into the rest without a second thought. The impossible positions were even more satisfying; beating it up, day after day, until finally—those stars again—everything lined up and I pinned a new badge on my chest.

In Cartagena my progress was interrupted by ninety percent humidity in a gym with two windows and a fan. Tough was now swimming in sweat. I was eight feet from the floor, and threw my legs into Gemini when my flesh failed to grip and I dropped like an egg from a countertop, gravity working faster than reflex, nothing left to do but wait the sound of the break. There was luck in that fall, and when Bianca and I locked eyes from my position on the floor we gave thanks to the Angel de Tube de Gymnasio Atlantis.

I live in the small and elegant studio apartment that overlooks the old city of Cartagena, and her Caribbean coastline. This is the highest floor, twelve stories above the street that feeds Puente Roman, the bridge to Getsemani and Cartagena’s walled city. The sky-rises of Bocagrande tower the horizon on the left, and the sixteenth century fortress of San Felipe dominates the view to my right. The two hundred and forty degree view is easily described as breathtaking, and when I moved here in March to finish the revision of The Bachelor Chapters, I planned my days around puesta del sol—the sunset that amazes every evening after six. This is where we moved the pole: to the entrance of my balcony, between the two-meter gap of the sliding glass doors.

With a camera and a tabletop tripod, I repeated the routine, again and again, moving from awkward mimicry to personal style. New bruises erupted, faded, and were replaced by fresh markers. When it was too hot, which was every eight to ten minutes, I closed the doors and blasted the air conditioning, bringing my body temperature down, evaporating sweat, and reviewing the fresh video, the honest mirror of my progress.

Finally, on the eve of his birthday, my young lover found himself in a transformed apartment; an elegant and sophisticated lounge I had created by rearranging furniture and lighting on the balcony. I cued the playlist for the performance, left the room to mix his drink, and returned in my costume of bra and panties to deliver it to his hand, a soft kiss meeting his smiling lips. With my back against the glass railing, the sea wind lifting my hair, I faced the pole with the attitude of a seasoned entertainer, my ear alert for the cue to enter the open-air stage, present Bianca’s invention and my labor; and premiere the sensual athletics of my new sport that fooled as dance.

There was a grace that led me through the following four minutes; the athletics of body memory, united with the soaring soundtrack, against the backdrop of his eager eyes and applause. I found my flow, and connected the transitions between the inversions and spins as spontaneous punctuation and not the well-rehearsed details of footfall and hand positions. It was more fun than I had expected—motivated by love I fell easily over to joy. In a world full of stuff, I had elevated experience as the gift worth giving. In a world obsessed with instant gratification, I had revived the practice of practice: of moving from the unknown, through the sweat of failure, toward the acquisition of skill.

Feliz cumpleaños a mi amante de Cartagena, con todo mi agradecimiento por nuestras vidas y por todos los que nos hemos atrevido a compartir. Que Dios te bendiga, mi amor. 

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There are 88,642 words

in the revised edition of The Bachelor Chapters, and yesterday, I read every one. Out loud—and to myself. I know now that it takes nine hours to read 88,642 words. My mouth was dry and my spirits were high. The book sounds good.   

.Vicki Marie Reads The Revised Manuscript

I added 16,703 words to this edition—started in the mountains of Medellin on February 19th, and finished yesterday, on the coast in Cartagena. I also deleted distracting scenes, re-sequenced several chapters, conflated a few characters, and gave birth to a few more. I’m a writer. That’s what I do. My job is to lead you to turn the page: again, then again, because you can’t wait to discover what happens next. I know there are other places you could be. My work moves to art when I’ve designed a world where you have no desire but to stay.

On Tuesday, the manuscript is due. Stacey Donovan, the formidable editor I drafted to edit the first manuscript, will have a second shot. Her sharp commentary and forensic detail guided me to mine deeper, and overturn a few boulders, so I could find the story that takes more risks, reveals more depth, and shines with more heart. If Stacey Donovan needed fresh evidence of her value and expertise, the revised manuscript delivers.

Thank you, Stacey, for challenging The Bachelor Chapters to be the story it could be. And in the process, daring me, to become a better writer. Meet you on the backside.

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one year ago I sat down to write a story

vms writing      and found my bright life.

Today, I’m a writer in the world and this life is a dream. I’ve lived in Buenos Aires, Antigua, Palm Springs, Medellin, and Cartagena with The Bachelor Chapters. It’s a solo life, but I’m not alone—I’ve been welcomed by strangers, and made rich with friendship.

I love my work as an artist, and today I am celebrating a year—and a lifetime—that brought me to this moment of honor in my fifty-fourth year.

So on my day—Dia de Soy Escritora—I’m here to push out the love and remind you all: When you follow your heart you’ll never be let down.

Con muchos gracias a dios—y gracias a todo.

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