Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dear Mr. Wrong

Dear Mr. Wrong,
  You wrote that your dream girl was a certain A-list movie star or at the very least someone who looked like her. I think that I could look like her, if I had a personal trainer, a chef, and a team of makeup artists and stylists, as well as a photographer to airbrush all flaws from my pictures. I have to say that you don't resemble any movie stars, though. Therefore, alas, it will never work between us.

Dear Mr. Wrong,
  In your profile you wrote about one of your dates; you made fun of her because she didn't know where your home state was. I suppose it is important to study maps before going on dates, because you never know when geography will be a deal breaker.

Dear Mr. Wrong,
  I guess I can understand why you wrote in your profile that you wouldn't date anyone who weighed more than 125 pounds. After all, it's not like you can tell from a woman's pictures whether she is thin or not. Oh, wait a minute...YES YOU CAN!

Dear Mr. Wrong,
  I think it's nice that you described yourself as "entilligent" and that you like to "reed" in your spare time. Tell me, have you ever read a dictionary?

Dear Mr. Wrong,
  I  noticed in the headline for your profile you wrote that you were "looking for a few good hotties". Does that mean that you aren't willing to settle for just one hottie? Although I don't expect exclusivity right away, I don't think I'd be willing to be one of many girlfriends, even though the girls in your photos look really happy to be sitting in your lap.

Dear Mr. Wrong,
  I couldn't help noticing that you used the words "sex" and "virgin" more than once in your profile. I'm guessing that a relationship is not the number one thing that you're looking for?

One of the blogs I follow, Cruel Smooches, included some funny posts about the e-mails that the blogger was getting on match.com and her responses to those e-mails. It gave me the idea for this post and the e-mails that I write to potential matches.

On chemistry.com, there are three different ways to contact someone: send a "chemistry starter", which is something like a fill-in-the-blank game; send an e-mail; click on the "I'm interested" link. Almost all of the guys who have contacted me first have just clicked on the "I'm interested" link rather than send a note. I can understand how difficult it can be to send that first e-mail, because you're not quite sure what to say to introduce yourself in a way that will make yourself attractive to your potential match. However, it is slightly annoying that the guys can't or won't actually send a note rather than just click on "I'm interested", because then it's like they're transferring the task of sending the first e-mail to me.

When I contact a guy for the first time, I always write a note. I usually respond to certain things that the guy wrote in his profile, like what he likes to do in his free time or which neighborhood in Chicago that he lives in. I ask him questions and I say a little bit about myself.

Obviously, I don't write e-mails like the ones above to any of my potential matches. But sometimes, I wish that I could, just so they'll see that they should put more thought into writing their profiles. I've seen profiles where the pictures of the guys looked good, but what they wrote in their profiles was either a) insulting to women; b) creepy, in the "I think that being in a Freddy Krueger movie would be less frightening than going on a date with you" kind of way; c) uninformative, as in there was hardly anything written in their profiles and made me think that they were either too lazy or unimaginative to write anything or were only on the site for one thing (wink, wink). Because of those things, I decided not to contact them or respond to them.

Of course, not all the profiles on chemistry.com are less than appealing. The guys that I've contacted and responded to are the ones who wrote interesting things in their profiles. Although writing an online dating profile obviously isn't the same thing as writing a short story or a novel, I think it is important to keep your audience in mind. If your profile is full of cliches, misspelled words, or offensive statements, you're going to turn your audience off and make them stop reading.

Recently, I've gotten some e-mails from a few guys who seem okay, although one guy wanted me to give him my contact information right away because he had only signed up for the "free communication weekend" and apparently he didn't want to pay for a regular membership. Gee. Stuff like that makes me feel as if I've finally found "the one".

If you were to write an "introductory" e-mail to someone on an online dating site, what kinds of things would you write?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Little White Lies

Recently a blogger started a discussion on 20-Something Bloggers about how honest we should be on our blogs. I can't remember the specifics of the discussion, but I think the blogger asked if it would matter if some of the stuff on our blogs wasn't 100% true. That made me think of people who write memoirs, particularly the ones like James Frey who have taken "creative liberties" with nonfiction.

When I read a blog I simply assume that whatever is on there is true. What is on my blog is actually what happened. I started a blog because I had never really shared my writing with anyone before, and I thought that this would be a good start. I didn't want to reveal the complete truth about my life, such as my real name, which neighborhood I live in, and what school I go to or where I've taught. Nothing against anyone who isn't anonymous online, of course, because I figure it's your prerogative to reveal who you are or not to. And for now, I've just chosen not to.

What matters to me is the story and whether or not it entertains me and inspires me. It doesn't necessarily have to be what really happened. But on the other hand, I have to admit that it would bother me a little if a nonfiction writer specifically made a false claim about something being true. I can understand why people would be upset with authors like James Frey who misled their audience. But I guess it depends on the reader and what you want or expect from a book or a blog.

If I was going to lie on my blog, I'd probably write the following things:

1. I never thought about filling a big bucket of ice cold water and dumping it on the heads of the people who smoke outside my window every night (I live right above the front door), even though their cigarette smoke fills my apartment every time I open my window. (I have to open my window, even in the winter, because it's incredibly stuffy in my apartment and it feels like it's eighty degrees even when the heat's turned off.)

2. I don't even really need an online dating membership; I just signed up for fun. In fact, whenever I go out, all I have to do is flip my hair over one shoulder and the guys all start arm-wrestling to see who can buy me a drink. (In reality, when I flip my hair, it's more than likely that my hair is going to get caught in my watch and I'll start trying to yank my wrist away from my hair, shrieking, "Ow! I can't get it out! I think I'm stuck!")

3. It doesn't bother me at all when I'm woken up in the middle of the night because somebody is leaning on their car horn or some drunk people outside have decided that it's much more fun to start singing in the street than have some consideration for the people who are trying to sleep. (What, did I get trapped in a Broadway musical or something?) In fact, I'd open my window and call out to them, "It's 3 A.M.!  You should totally sing louder! I just love it when your voices crack on the high notes! Encore!"

4. When a guy suggests that we go out for "drinks and appetizers," I never feel tempted to say, 'Maybe you can be satisfied with just an appetizer, but I'm going to have an actual dinner that I'll pay for myself, okay? And FYI? I'm going to eat every bite of it without sharing it with you, so PBBBPPTTHHH!"

5. When a guy I meet online pulls a disappearing act on me after sending me a few e-mails, I never have the urge to e-mail him an award that says, "Tool of the Year". And it's not like I would ever want to e-mail that same award along with all of his information to every female I know.

6. When there's a person in front of me in line in the grocery store who's buying fruit, vegetables, nonfat yogurt, and fish, I never feel guilty that I'm buying Froot Loops and chocolate.

7. I write every day and I never procrastinate by watching crime dramas or Youtube videos of The Office bloopers. I also never procrastinate by thinking of all the things I would do if I ruled the world. (#1: My slogan as World Leader would be, "Workaholics of the world, unite!")

What do you think? Would you still be willing to read blogs or memoirs that aren't 100% true? If you were going to write "little white lies" on your blog, what kinds of things would you write?

Monday, March 21, 2011

7 Facts About Me

I mentioned in a recent post that the amazing Alice X gave me this award:

What I didn't mention was that I am supposed to include seven facts about myself; I held off on doing that so that I could describe my online dating (mis)adventures. But here are seven facts about myself and my life in Chicago.

1. I gave up M&Ms for Lent just because I love them so much. (Also, if I gave up caffeine I just might turn into Godzilla and start stomping around the city while growling menacingly and throwing things.)  That might explain why I keep having dreams about the talking M&Ms from the commercial. In the dreams they are laughing and mocking me because I can't eat them, and there are a bunch of other people in the dream; they too are laughing and mocking me while they eat candy. That might also explain why I sometimes wake up by weeping into my pillow.

Forty days never seemed so long...

2. The grad students at my school sometimes like to go to neighborhood bars to hang out and socialize. I dislike going to bars because I don't drink alcohol and also because I think that most bars are adult versions of recess in grade school. (The main difference is that at bars people are drinking from beer bottles instead of from juice boxes or milk cartons.) Everyone is standing or sitting around in groups and pairs, gossiping about each other while not-so-discreetly checking out other people and hoping that other people are checking them out. Instead of showing off for the girls by playing football in front of them the way the boys did in grade school, the men show off in front of the women by yelling authoritatively at the game on TV. And just like at grade school recess, I'm on the sidelines, talking with different groups of people while pretending to feel like it doesn't bother me that I don't belong to any of the cliques.

3. When I show a movie in class, I tell my students about how it relates to the themes that we're studying. But a part of me is just relieved that I don't have to give a lecture that day. I also can't even watch most of the movie, since I have to keep telling students to wake up or to turn off their cell phones.

4. When I have to sit through another lecture that I either only understand 2% of or that has nothing to do with my graduate research, I want to jump up in front of the other grad students and professors and yell, "Why does this even matter?" Then I want to run off and watch an episode of Jersey Shore, because watching it doesn't make me feel like I'm the most clueless person in the room. But I don't, because I know that would really bug me if my own students were to do that.

5. Whenever it's a really windy day in Chicago, so that I feel like I'm going to get knocked over if I just stand still for a minute, I find myself muttering with determination, "Must...make...it...through! Must...get...to...Starbucks!"

6. When I'm using one of the Nautilus machines at the gym and one of the personal trainers is nearby, I'll add more weight to whatever I'm lifting and do another set so the trainer won't think I'm lazy. I also think of how I first learned to bench press in high school, when the gym teacher leaned over me and said, "Is that all you can lift? You're WEAK!" And of course all the other girls could lift more than me. Show-offs.

7. I think I'm one of the few Chicagoans who actually likes winter more than summer. I don't like the freezing temperatures, icy roads, or slushy sidewalks. I like that there are less people outside, which makes it far less likely that I'm going to get all impatient and yell, "GET OUT OF THE WAY!" (I don't really do that. Well. I haven't done that in a couple weeks, at least.)

According to Alice X, the rules for this award are that you not only list seven facts about yourself but that you also pass it on to other bloggers. So I'd like to give this award to these amazing bloggers (and check out their blogs!):

lalalalauren at lauren vs. reality
Theresa Milstein at Substitute Teacher's Saga
FreeFlying at Tickets for Two
Anna at Anna Saikin
The Unprofessional Critic

Have a great Monday everyone! And does it say something about me that when I tried to type "Monday", I ended up typing "M&Ms" instead?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Way You Make Me Neurotic

Last weekend I went on a date with chemistry bachelor #3. We went out for dinner, but it was difficult for us to have a conversation because it was the weekend before St. Patrick's Day. Therefore, apparently every bar and restaurant in Chicago was full of drunk people wearing green. Also, bar owners everywhere apparently thought that drunk people in green clothes like loud music a LOT because the music was blaring; everyone had to yell to make themselves heard.

Here is a little bit of what our conversation was like:

CB #3: So, have you ever been here before?
Me: What?
At that moment, a drunk guy at a table nearby jumped up and started dancing while waving a glass of beer around.
Drunk Guy: WHOOOO!!! I LOVE St. Paddy's Day! Everybody DRINK!
Drunk Guy's friend: Keep dancing! I want to get a video of you so I can put it on Youtube, hahaha!
Drunk Guy: WHOOO, YOUTUBE! Everybody DRINK!

After yelling over the music for a while, we went to a coffeehouse, where, despite the large amounts of caffeine everyone was drinking, the atmosphere was much more tranquil. Unless you count all the people running back and forth in front of the cafe who were screaming for no reason and spilling beer on the sidewalk. (Gotta love Chicago.)

What made this guy different from the last several guys I've gone out with was that I actually liked him. Those feelings that just weren't there when I dated chemistry bachelor #2 all came rushing back when I was with this guy. How did I know I liked him? I mentioned in last week's post that when I'm around a guy I like, I become overly self-conscious. With this guy, I was way too aware of how I thought he must have seen me; because of that I became Super Klutz. (Neurotic Workaholic is my not-so-mild-mannered alter ego; Super Klutz is the superhero I become when I go around trying to save people but end up knocking things over and falling down instead.)

I normally carry Band-Aids with me just because I trip and fall that often, but when I'm around a guy I like it's even worse. I didn't fall down during the date, but I did accidentally knock over my drink. I also made the mistake of talking with my mouth full at one point, so that a piece of bread fell out of my mouth and onto the table in front of him. I was so embarrassed I wanted to distract him by pointing to Drunk Guy, who was now acting like he was going to take off his shirt and do a striptease in front of his cheering friends, and then I wanted to run out of the restaurant and never eat bread again.

The problem was, chemistry bachelor #3 didn't feel the same way about me. I couldn't help noticing that at one point during the evening he spent more time looking around the room than he did at me, as if he was looking for the nearest exit or at least for a less neurotic girl with nicer legs whom he could finish the date with. I sent him a message to say hi the next day, but he didn't answer. And that, in itself, was an answer.

Even though it's too bad that we didn't make a connection, a part of me was still glad that I went on a date with him because for just a little while I got to feel those emotions that I hadn't felt in a long time. Before that night I'd started to think that I'd become some kind of robot who was incapable of feeling anything, the kind you'd see in a science fiction movie who looks and talks like a regular girl, right before she malfunctions and turns into Evil Robot Chick with scary red eyes and then starts attacking everyone.

I have to admit that I briefly had a "woe is me" pity party when he didn't call. I started thinking that maybe I really am the problem. I wondered if there was something about me that repels every guy I'm interested in, yet somehow attracts every guy I would never be interested in.

I thought about how maybe there's a reason that I'm a workaholic. Maybe I'm not meant to become anybody's "one true love" someday. I thought that maybe I should just forget about dating and focus on making my other dreams of becoming a published writer and a respected college professor come true instead. That's not to say that being a workaholic means that you'll be single forever, because of course there are plenty of people who are addicted to work and still manage to have successful relationships. But maybe the fact that my work has always been more important to me than any guy I've ever met means that I'm just not the marrying kind, or even the dating kind.

But I stopped feeling sorry for myself long enough to realize that I haven't given up hope of finding the right guy, at least not yet. "The one" for me will be someone with whom I can be my true neurotic self without making me feel self-conscious about it and who will love me in spite of (or because of) that. I also think "the one" will be someone I'd be willing to take a day off from work for, just so I could spend some time with him.

But I wouldn't take too many days off, of course. Maybe it could just be an occasional afternoon off instead of an entire workday. What can I say? I am and always will be a workaholic. 

Check out Daniel Powter's video for his song that came out a few years ago; it's called "Bad Day". I like watching it after a bad day (or a bad date), not only because the song is good but also because of the video's hopeful ending. In a way, watching the video motivates me to keep hoping that something good really will happen for me.

What kinds of things do you do to motivate yourself to keep hoping for what you want?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Does This Outfit Make Me Look Single?

Recently, I read an article on match.com's blog called "Your Perfect Date Night Color: What to Wear". According to match.com, it's not only what you wear that's significant; the color(s) of your clothes matters too. That makes me think that if I wear the wrong color, my date might think, "Oh, that color totally makes her look like she's the kind of girl who will always love her cats more than me. I'm out of here."

According to the article, "White symbolizes purity (the traditional bridal dress), spirituality, and silence." The article also says, " If you love to wear some white, you are probably seen as clean and orderly, but you may want to work on breaking the silence a bit as well." I suppose it would be good if the guy saw me as "clean", because I wouldn't want him to think that I'm the kind of girl who doesn't believe in showers. (FYI: I shower every day, thank you very much.) I'm not sure if I really want him to think of me as "orderly" though, because then he might not think of me as the woman who could possibly be the mother of his future children but the woman who could reorganize his apartment for him.

Also, if I show up wearing a white dress, I'm not sure I want him to immediately think I'm practicing for when I put on my wedding dress. On the other hand, I suppose he's less likely to think that as long as I leave the veil at home.

The article also says, "Though they say black is the most flattering color on all, there’s no denying the sense of mystery and allure you portray." Great! I've always wanted to be seen as alluring, but that's not why I have so many black clothes. I usually wear black (not just on dates, but every day) because that way if I spill coffee or food on my clothes the stains will be less noticeable. I guess that could be construed as being "mysterious", because then my date could think, "Hmm, I wonder what food stain that is on her sleeve? Could it be macaroni and cheese? Or Cheetos? That is a mystery. I should ask her out again just so I can find out."

"Blue is a color of simplicity, truth, and intellect. Regardless of the shade, this color says 'I like to be understood' to your date." I don't typically wear blue on dates, unless you count blue jeans. But is it a total fashion faux pax to wear jeans on the first date, especially if you're just going out for coffee or drinks to a casual bar? Besides, if I do wear jeans, I wear the one pair I own that doesn't have holes in them, and that says something, right? (What? I'm a broke grad student. I can barely afford to replace the clothes that have holes in them; you think I have the cash to to buy new outfits every time I go out?)

I do want "to be understood" by my date, though. I want it to be understood that if he makes fun of me for not making as much as money as he does just because I am in grad school and work multiple part-time jobs, I'm out of there. But not before I throw my drink at him.

What do you think? Do you think that the colors that a person wears reveals something about his or her personality?

For my date with chemistry bachelor #3, I wore dark colors. Did they have any effect on him? I'll let you know in my next blog post.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Making Conversation

One of my fabulous fellow bloggers, Talli Roland, has a new book out called The Hating Game. The Kindle edition is available on Amazon.com, and the paperback version is available on Amazon.co.uk. In the meantime, you can also buy the paperback at bookdepository.com, which offers free shipping to orders in the U.S. Check out her book and stop by her blog, too!

Another one of my fabulous fellow bloggers, Alice X, who writes the blog Guys, Boys, and Men, was nice enough to give me this award. Thank you, Alice X! I love awards. Check out her blog, too! Like Talli's blog, Alice X's blog is a lot of fun to read.

I'm supposed to list seven facts, but I'm going to hold off on that for later so I can update you on what's been happening in my dating life. Last weekend I went on my third date with chemistry bachelor #2.

Unlike a few of the other guys I've gone out with, when I first met him I didn't immediately think, "Is karma out to get me or am I just a freak magnet?"

This guy is nice, attractive, and he is easy to talk to. Unlike with chemistry bachelor #1, there were never any awkward pauses in our conversations, because we always had something to talk about. But nevertheless, as you know, I felt ambivalent about this guy, because I wasn't sure if I felt any sparks with him. Some of you who left comments on my earlier posts said that sometimes it can take a while for real feelings to develop, and I think that's true. I do agree that some of the best relationships can start from friendships. Other times you can think you don't feel anything romantic for someone, and then eventually you realize that you feel more for that person than you ever thought you could.

So even though I kind of rejected him after he asked me out for a third date, I eventually decided to give him another chance and I asked him out a few days later. Fortunately, he gave me another chance too, and we went out for dinner and a movie this past weekend.

As we sat together in the movie theater, I couldn't help feeling like I was watching the movie by myself, and he just happened to be sitting next to me. And it wasn't like he ignored me. We talked before the movie started, and we whispered to each other a few times during the show and shared popcorn and soda. But I still couldn't get myself to feel anything romantic for him.

In the past, whenever I've been around a guy I have a crush on, I feel overly self-conscious (even more so than usual) around him. It's even worse if we're eating together. Then I keep worrying that I have food in my teeth so that I'll keep discreetly checking my reflection in my knife when he isn't looking. Then I worry that he'll see me staring at my reflection in my knife and say, "The food isn't in your teeth; it's on your blouse." I'll find myself touching my hair a lot, as if I'm afraid it's going to frizz out on me and his eyes will widen and he'll say, "Umm...did you accidentally get struck by lightning or something when I was in the bathroom?"

But I didn't feel like that around this guy. I felt comfortable around him, but not in a "he makes me feel like I can just be myself around him" kind of way. I just didn't feel like I had to impress him, or even like I wanted to. During the date, as on the previous two times we went out, it felt like we were just making conversation.

After our first two dates, he texted me less than a couple hours after we said goodbye. But now it's several days after our third date and I haven't heard from him. And I don't plan on calling him either.

At first I thought that maybe I could keep dating him for a little longer, just to see if I was wrong and if maybe something good could happen. But on my way home that night, I passed a guy and a girl who looked like they were about my age; they were waiting for a bus. They weren't making out or anything, but the girl was leaning against her boyfriend, and his arms were wrapped around her. They didn't say anything. They just looked content. I wondered for a moment if chemistry bachelor #2 and I could ever have that kind of closeness someday down the road. I wondered if I really wanted us to have that closeness. The answer to both questions was no.

I also wondered if couples in love like the one I saw somehow manage to sense it whenever an unattached person is coming near. Maybe they have some kind of sixth sense that makes them stop arguing over whose turn it is to take out the trash long enough to look like they've already got their happy ending and never feel lonely EVER. I imagined couples everywhere saying, "Look, there's another one! Quick, strike a pose!" And then they all suddenly appear, fall into each other's arms and look happy and in love as the single people like me walk by, and then they go back to arguing after the single people go away.

Do I sound bitter, cynical, and slightly paranoid? Sorry. Now I know why the ladies on Sex and the City (a show that I love) were often so pessimistic about men. But at least they had their great clothes and cute shoes to make themselves feel better.

Crap. Now I just sound superficial.

Anyway, like I said before, I do agree that it can take a while for romantic feelings to develop. But those feelings are part of what make dating worthwhile and fun, because otherwise you really are just making conversation. (Or at least that's how it is for me.) I think that going on dates like this one makes me realize that I want to meet a guy that doesn't make me keep asking myself if I feel anything real for him.

I've got a date with chemistry bachelor #3 this weekend. This guy is actually the same guy I mentioned in my last post, the 30-something guy who said last week that he wanted to go out, but then he didn't call until after I'd already given up on hearing from him. But I'll try to reserve any more judgment on him, at least until after we meet in person.

Here's hoping the third guy's the charm, you know? (But technically he's not the third guy I've ever dated. I'm not going to say how many guys I've gone out with since I first started dating years ago, because the number is just getting depressing at this point. But he is the third guy I met on this site that I've made plans to go out with, so there.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'm Getting Too Old for This

At least, according to many of the guys on chemistry.com I am.

On chemistry.com, in addition to writing a few paragraphs to describe yourself in your profile, there's also a section that lists the basic facts of who you are and what you're looking for in your "ideal match". For example, in my profile, I wrote down that I don't smoke at all and that my ideal match would also be a nonsmoker. Unfortunately, I can't write down other things that are deal breakers for me; for example, I can't put down that I'd rather not date a guy who will say, "I'll call you," when what he really means is "I never want to see you again. In fact, if we do happen to cross paths again someday, I will grab whoever is nearest me and use them as a human shield in case you try to come near me."

You can also write down the age range that your ideal match would fall into. In my profile, I put down that my match would be somewhere between the ages of 25 and 35, though now that I'm turning 30 soon I'm thinking of raising the age range so that it'll be between the ages of 27 and 37 (you might wonder why I'm willing to date a guy in his mid-to-late thirties but not someone who's in his early twenties, but one reason is that the guys in their early twenties also generally prefer younger women). It just so happens that I prefer to date guys who are close to my age; the oldest guy I ever dated was seven years older than me, and the youngest guy I dated was four years younger than me.

Some people say that age is just a number. But I don't really buy that, because at 29 I am not the same person that I was at 19. For example, now that I'm 29 I'm not willing to spend an hour on the phone just so I can try to get tickets to see a boy band's concert (I never got to see N'Sync perform live, and now I never will! Why do these things always happen to ME?).

Of course, there are people who have really good romantic relationships with partners who are significantly older or younger. Sometimes age just really doesn't matter if you're in love. Everyone has the right to make their own choices about that kind of thing, and we all have our own preferences anyway. And I do firmly believe that you don't get to choose who you fall in love with; it just happens. So maybe I will end up falling for someone who is a lot older or younger. But on the other hand, I am still actively looking for someone who's close to my own age.

I think that part of it has to do with the fact that I'm usually likely to have more in common with guys my own age. Emphasis on "usually", because sometimes guys my own age are more immature than kids in grade school. (And I will admit that I am often immature too, seeing as how I will throw a fit if someone tries to steal the prize in my cereal box away from me.)

The problem is that many (though not all) of the guys on chemistry.com who are my age make it clear that they want to date younger women. One 35-year-old guy wrote down that his ideal match would be between the ages of 18-24. I mean, really? Really? When I was 18 I thought that anyone over the age of 22 was old, so I never would have considered dating a 35-year-old.

Other guys will go a little higher; that is, if the guy is 30 he'll put down that he wants to date someone who's between the ages of 21-28. It makes me think of the bachelors on the reality show Millionaire Matchmaker. The majority of them want to date younger women. One guy who was 48 told Patti Stanger, the matchmaker, that he didn't want to date anyone over the age of 29. Another guy who was in his late 30s refused to go on a second date with a gorgeous, perfectly nice woman just because she was in her early 30s. Again I must ask, Really?

The guys on that show rationalize their preferences by saying that they want to have kids someday, so they think it'll be easier to do that if they date someone younger. But I think it's less about the desire of starting a family and more about the desire to look like a stud who can still get a beautiful young woman. I mean, just look at Hugh Hefner, who's like, what, 100? And his "girlfriends" are young enough to be his granddaughters, and now he's engaged to one of them!

Don't get me wrong. Women do it too. But it does still seem like women get a lot more flack for dating younger men than men do for dating younger women, which is totally unfair. And there are definitely guys on the site who don't restrict themselves to dating younger women, so I'm not saying that all men are like the ones I described. And again, I'm not trying to condemn anyone whose partner is significantly older/younger, or who does prefer to date someone who isn't his or her age. Like I said before, that's your choice, and if it works for you, why not?

But for me, it does get to be a little disheartening to know that a lot of the guys that are out there wouldn't even consider me because of my "advanced age". And the thing is, this ageist thing isn't exclusive to chemistry.com. When I was on match.com and okcupid a lot of the guys who contacted me were in their late 40s and 50s (I didn't date any of them, though). Maybe I'm feeling overly self-conscious because my thirtieth birthday is rapidly approaching and I'll never be in my twenties again.

Maybe it's because there was this 35-year-old guy who'd been sending me e-mails last week on chemistry.com; in his most recent e-mail, he suggested that we go out this past weekend. I e-mailed him my phone number so that he could call me and we could make definite plans, but then he never called. I couldn't help wondering if he just flaked out about meeting in person and pulled a disappearing act (which has happened with several other guys I met online), or if he's holding out for someone younger. Not to mention the cutoff age for his ideal match in his profile is 29. (I did, however, go out on a third date with chemistry bachelor #2 this past weekend, but that's for another post.)

Or maybe I just want to track down those guys who prefer younger women and ask them exactly how many younger women they've succeeded in dating. I'm willing to bet that the number isn't nearly as high as they'd like it to be.

What's your opinion on dating someone who's a lot older or younger?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Do Not Disturb...or I Will GET You

Recently, the brilliant Theresa Milstein, who writes the blog Substitute Teacher's Saga, wrote a post about the role that writing plays in her life and how sometimes life gets in the way of her writing. And yet she still manages to get a lot of writing done, so that I envy her. I think a lot of people could relate to that post in particular, especially me.

As a teacher and as a graduate student, I do a lot of my work at home. In addition to teaching classes, holding office hours, and attending lectures, workshops and department meetings, I also have to spend a lot of time grading papers, making lesson plans, doing research, and working on my dissertation. I also work for a website that allows me to complete my projects from my own laptop. Not to mention I also have to make time for my fiction writing, but I actually prefer to do that at coffeehouses because the coffee and chocolate somehow make me feel creative. Or maybe it just makes me hyper and that makes me think I'm being creative...

I don't like working in the library for too long, because apparently it's no longer considered a quiet place to work, at least not according to a lot of the students who go there. To a lot of them, the library is the place where you go to talk with your friends at the top of your voice and ignore the people who glare at you until it feels like their eyeballs are going to fall out. Or it's the place where you do anything BUT study and hog the computers so you can update your Facebook pages or play computer games or watch Youtube videos for hours because it's not like anyone else needs those computers to do RESEARCH....but I digress.

I do have my own workspace at the schools where I teach, but I typically have to share an office with several other people. At one school where I used to teach, I didn't even get my own desk because there were so many more instructors than desks available; we had to sign up to use the desks for a couple hours at a time. And it's hard to work in shared offices, because sometimes the other instructors are just as loud as the students; if they're not meeting with students to discuss assignments, they'll talk about their teaching, what happened on last night's episode of American Idol, where they're going to go to eat, etc., until I want to stand up on my desk and yell, "Would you please keep it down!" But I don't, because one of my students might walk in at that moment and then they might tweet about it or something and then I'll be known as the teacher who throws tantrums and pulls her hair out in front of her colleagues.

So I generally prefer to work at home, even though my neighbors don't make it any easier for me to work either. But at least I don't have to be in the same room with them, because then I just might attack them for leaving their garbage bags in the elevator or getting drunk outside my apartment window at two A.M. again. (You might say that I have anger issues. I would reply that everyone ELSE has issues, and that's why I get angry.)

A lot of people think it's great to work at home, because then they can work in their pajamas and set their own schedule. But I don't like to work in my pajamas, because what if there's a fire and I have to run out in the street in my pajamas and then everyone will laugh and say, "Why are you wearing such a long nightgown with all those ruffles and teddy bears on it?" And even if there wasn't a fire, I'd still just get sleepy in my pajamas and doze off at my desk; then I'll wake up and start berating myself for not working, and then I'll feel bad for not being disciplined, and then I'll start wondering if I really do have issues, and...

Since I don't have a typical 9-5 job, and since I work at home, some people seem to think that my schedule is more flexible. That would be why they think I should be able to spend time with them whenever it's convenient for them, or why they call at all hours of the day, interrupting me when I'm working. They think that since my boss isn't there to supervise what I'm doing that I can set my own schedule and do whatever I want. But even if I am working independently a lot of the time, it's still work. And I still have deadlines, especially when it comes to grading papers. I often get e-mails from anxious students saying stuff like, "Have you finished grading my paper yet? I turned it in hours ago and I should think that you'd be done grading it by now!"

That's why I hate answering the phone, because it keeps me from getting my work done. I've tried telling the person on the other end of the line that I'm busy and will have to call him or her back, but more often than not the person will keep talking (or texting). I've tried not answering the phone at all when I'm working and just letting the machine take my messages, but then the people calling will say stuff like, "Why didn't you pick up your phone? I know you were home when I called so why didn't you want to talk to me?"

It's something that's happened again and again for years, no matter how many times I try to explain to people that it's nothing personal; I'm just busy working. After all, I wouldn't bother them when they're working; it's not like I would walk into their offices or wherever they work and expect them to drop everything and talk to me. But because I'm at home some people think that I have more time to socialize. And I don't.

How do you deal with it when people interrupt you when you're trying to work?